Volume 62 Number 23 
      Produced: Mon, 23 Jun 14 01:46:45 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Dairy on Shavuot (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Martin Stern]
Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs (6)
    [Keith Bierman  Ari Trachtenberg  Reuben Freeman  Perets Mett  Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
Tachanun Erev Rosh Hashana 
    [Yisrael Medad]
The Torah and Darwinian Evolution 
    [Chaim Casper]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Dairy on Shavuot

I am not sure if the post by Eliezer Brodt, located at the Seforim Blog, was
mentioned here but I'll just select something related to my remark (MJ 62#21):

> Meat should have been available, no?

which drew the comment of Martin Stern (MJ 62#22) that 

> This fits well enough with the opinion that Yitro came before Matan Torah [the
> giving of the Torah -mod] but there is the alternative opinion

but there was meat:---


> Rabbi Yeshuyah Singer in *Zichron Bsefer* (printed in 1900) writes an
> interesting reason which he had heard. The Torah was given on Shabbos. The
> meat they had prepared before learning the halachos of *shechita* was
> *assur* to eat. It is not permitted to *shecht* on Shabbos. Therefore Bnei
> Yisrael had to eat *milchigs,* as they could not eat the food that they had
> prepared beforehand.[24]

The *Mishna Berurah* mentions a similar reason that he heard in the name of
*gadol echad*. Immediately after Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah, they were
unable to eat anything but *milchigs*. The reason for that is because the
preparation of kosher meat is very involved. A kosher knife and kosher utensils
are necessary. Since this takes a long time, they just cooked *milchigs*. Who is
the *gadol echad* mentioned here? Rabbi Nachum Greenwald located this idea in
the work *Toldos Yitzchak,* first printed in 1868. This idea is mentioned in the
name of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak from Berditchev. It is interesting that the Chofetz
Chaim did not say the name of the person he heard this idea from. A similar idea
can be found in the work *Geulas Yisroel* first printed in 1821.

Rabbi Kapach says that the Jews in Yemen expressed wonder at those who ate just
*milchigs* on Shavuos. They did not like the reason given (as we mentioned
before) that the meat slaughtered prior to *Matan Torah* would be *neveilah*
afterwards, because they argued that only the *Erev Rav* were unable to *shecht*
before *Matan Torah*. The rest of the Jews, they claimed, were *shechting*
before *Matan Torah*, just as we know that the Gemara says that Avraham Avinu
kept all the* mitzvos* of the Torah before they were given. However this
statement is not so simple, because even if they were *shechting* and doing
*mitzvos* before it is heavily debated what that would be considered, since
their status as Jews may have changed during Matan Torah. According to many it
would follow that after *Matan Torah* they would need to *kasher* the utensils
and *shecht* new animals.

Rav Yissachar Teichtal deals with a related issue. He asks that since the Torah
was given on Shabbos and they couldnt *shecht* and their prior *shechita* was
not kosher, how did they fulfill the obligation of eating meat on Shabbos? Rav
Teichtal first mentions the answer of the *Zichron Basefer* quoted above, which
is that they didnt eat meat that Shabbos. However, Rav Teichtel disagrees. He
has an interesting answer to explain how they did indeed have meat on this
Shabbos. Basing himself on various sources, he says that they had meat created
through the *Sefer Yetzirah*. The Gemara relates that there were those who were
able to create an animal via the*Sefer Yetzirah*; Rav Teichtal says that that
was done here.

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 20,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Dairy on Shavuot

Wendy Baker wrote (MJ 62#22):

> Michael Rogovin (MJ 62#21), in writing on reasons for Dairy on Shavuot, gave
> an excellent account of how the realities of animal husbandry led to excess of
> milk in the spring, as well as surplus of bulls in the fall after the mating
> season. This is a most interesting point and makes agricultural and economic
> sense.  
> ... 
> I still hold by this idea and it seems to make sense for God to have made this
> system the least costly for the health and wealth of the community and the
> individual.   It looks like good teamwork between God and Chazal with Shavuot

Or, as the Gemara puts it (Rosh Hashanah 27a) "Hatorah chasah al mamonam
shel Yisrael [The Torah is not profligate with the property of the Jewish
people]". How this can be reconciled with the principle (Shabbat 102b) "Ein
aniyut bemakom ashirut [There is no poverty where there is wealth]", which often
mandates the opposite, especially when applied to communal matters such as the
building of the Mishkan, is a matter of discussion throughout the generations.
How the two should be balanced under present circumstances is a topic worthy of

Martin Stern


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#22):

> Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics suggests such multiple (and mutually
> incompatible) scientific theories may be possible.

Newtonian physics is essentially a special case of Einsteinian mechanics
where various variables are held constant (to oversimplify of course, low
velocity and relatively low mass ... no pun intended!). Surely this isn't a
very firm basis for arguing that multiple theories are equally plausible,
as it really is quite the opposite.

In science there are two different "modalities"

1) "new" theory completely replaces the old e.g. germ theory vs. "evil spirits"

2) "new" theory augments the old (Einstein with Newton)

If string theory (or something else) someday augments quantum mechanics it will
be more of the second, augmenting Einstein and Newton and not replacing it.

It seems likely, based on the last hundred plus years of development, that any
scientific adjustments to Darwin will be of the same ilk ... not replacing it
with a completely different basis e.g. Lamarckian genetics.

Obviously, viruses that carry gene expressions from one animal species to
another could impact the "random mutation" bit, but that is a fine point about
the mechanics and not a fundamental shift.

As for "where does HaShem fit" aside from setting up the natural laws, there
would be no violation of the core theory if the mutations aren't *only* random  ;>

Keith Bierman

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62322):
> I am increasingly appalled by this discussion:

Alas, this is one of the few points on which I agree :-)

> ... By contrast, no reputable scientist espouses a scientific
> theory other than evolution to explain the species of life now on
> this planet. There are certainly other "theories", but they are not
> scientific theories. The "theory" of evolution is a scientific
> fact.

I think that this snippet encapsulates the crux of the argument.

First of all, science is not now and never has been a democracy.  For thousands
of years, there was not a single respectable scientist who claimed that:

(i) time is dilated according to velocity

(ii) the milky-way is one of many galaxies

(iii) a machine is capable of doing 10^15 floating point operations per second

It does not matter what "most respectable scientists" think, because they do not
determine fact.  In the end, the bridge will stand or fall based on the laws of
nature, and not based on the eloquence or credentials of the scientist who knows

Martin is objecting to dogmatic terms such as "scientific fact".  Such terms
take common terms that lay people know ("fact") and drape them with
authoritative language ("scientific") in order to perpetuate a scientific dogma
that persuasion and logic otherwise fail to support (in some). Science is about
attempting to provide reasonably logical explanations for experimental
observations.  It cannot provide any facts ... only observations and conclusions.

This mailing list is predicated on a different dogma - halakhic dogma - and when
the two dogmas clash, we cede to halakha (on mail-jewish).

From: Reuben Freeman <freeman@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#22):

> Though "the science of evolution" might explain the fossil record, it is not
> certain that some other theory might not also do so. The analogy of
> Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics suggests such multiple (and mutually
> incompatible) scientific theories may be possible. To assert the contrary is
> unscientific and an example of the so-called "religion of scientism" which
> raises a current scientific theory to the level of dogmatically accepted
> truth, disagreement with which might be fraught with dire consequences as
> the examples of Giordano Bruno and Galileo demonstrate.

Newtonian mechanics can be extracted as a limit from quantum mechanics. Galilean
relativity is but a limit of Einsteinian special relativity. Maxwellian
electrodynamics is but a limit of quantum electrodynamics And so on.  Nowadays
new theories encompass older theories. This does not make the limit theory
"wrong" but only "approximately right" and usually more than adequate in a
tremendous number of practical applications.

Martin's position would seem to push in the direction of not teaching any
science at all since what is taught may eventually be shown to be wrong.  But
*any* scientific theory is tentative and not final. And any scientific paradigm
may one day be shown to be lacking and replaced by a better paradigm. Shall we
therefore hide from scientific theories that are not "the final permanent
word"?  There may not be a "last word" in scientific development.

Actually the real proof of whether one "believes" or "doesn't believe" a
scientific theory is not a matter of stating or averring a position but rather
whether one is willing to risk/bet one's life  on technology derived from the
scientific theory.  For example, it makes little sense to claim to have no
belief in quantum mechanics yet use transistor technology.  It makes little
sense to claim no belief in Einstein's general gravitation, yet use a cell
phone. etc.  Betting your life  on the functioning of an airplane and yet
claiming not to believe in modern science is simply foolishness.

So unless there is necessarily a  fundamental problem/incompatibility between
Torah values and science, then why make an artificial issue when nowadays there
is no real problem.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#22):

> Does Martin really think that Hashem sits on His throne constantly deciding
> which oxygen molecules are to go on which direction?

I would certainly hope so. It"s one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith

> And if the answer is, "of course not, Hashem set out basic physical laws", why
> isn't evolution one of them?

Because Evolution is not a physical law.

Perets Mett

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 19,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#20):
> 1. The fossil evidence "tends to suggest" that dinosaurs once roamed the
> earth? You mean, maybe they didn't? Is there a scientific alternative? And
> as for the laws of nature "as we now observe them" possibly not being in
> operation "in the distant past", I would be curious how Martin defines "the
> distant past" and why he evidently thinks the "recent past" is not in
> question.

Perhaps I did not express myself clearly enough when I wrote

>> PROVIDED the laws of nature AS WE NOW OBSERVE THEM were in operation in the
>> distant past

The point I was trying to make was that extrapolation from present-day
observations becomes increasingly unreliable the further back (or forward)
we go. If, for example, the speed of light were not constant but varied in
some way that was too small for us to detect within our limited time span,
this might make an enormous difference to the way the world developed in the
postulated billions of years.

While our understanding of scientific data may be sufficient for practical
application now, to assert on the strength of it what may have happened long
before or after our times is fraught with uncertainty. So it is not entirely
unreasonable to question such purported scenarios.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 19,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution and Dinosaurs

Wendy Baker wrote (MJ 62#22):
> As to teaching evolution etc. to younger children, I remember some 70 years
> ago, when I was in third grade (8 years old) we had a big project ... It was >
educational and it didn't make me question my simple faith in God at all...
> it made a big impression on me as I still
> remember it very clearly in quite some detail.

This illustrates perfectly the point I originally made in objecting to
teaching Darwinian Evolution to such young children (MJ 62#16):

>> Hopefully some of these arguments will cause even those who previously
>> accepted the Theory of Evolution to think again. Of course, they are too
>> sophisticated for primary school children, which is why its introduction
>> into the curriculum should be resisted.

Obviously Wendy was led to believe that the evolutionary scenario was a
description of reality and, though it

> didn't make me question my simple faith in God at all ... it made a big
> impression on me as I still remember it very clearly in quite some detail.

Having planted the seeds in young minds, it is relatively easy to convince
them at a later age that science can explain everything and, therefore,
there is no need to accept existence of an all-powerful God in charge of the
universe. As I wrote (MJ 62#19):

>> The successes of Newtonian mechanics led to a similar hubris, as Laplace's
>> response to Napoleon's query regarding the absence of any mention of God in
>> his Mechanique Celeste "That is a hypothesis of which I have no need". That 
>> is why evolution is not a subject suitable for teaching to children under
>> the age of ten, as is proposed by the UK government guidelines.

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 18,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Tachanun Erev Rosh Hashana

In reply to my response (MJ 62#21), Martin Stern (MJ 62#22) fears that I
misunderstood what he wrote. He confirms that 

> Obviously Rosh Hashana is a chag (as I wrote) but no part of Erev Rosh Hashanah
> is, not even in ITS afternoon, which was the point of my comment.

I can only quote the Mishneh Brurah, para. 581:3, note 22: 

> because it is as other erev chag [days].

In an online response (http://www.ykr.org.il/modules/Ask/answer/5012), Rav
Adir Kohen writes:

> after all, it's erev chag, and every erev chag we do not say tachanun and even
> erev Tisha B'Av we do not say tachanun since the day is termed as a moed
> (holiday), see: Para. 552:12.
Yisrael Medad


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 22,2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: The Torah and Darwinian Evolution

A number of writers (including, but not limited to, Wendy Baker, Orrin Tilevitz,
Martin Stern, Perets Mett, Carl Singer, Leah Gordon and Keith Bierman) over the
last few issues (from MJ 62#16 to 62#22) have weighed in on the issue of
Judaism and Evolution.   While many in the Modern and Centrist communities (even
a few in the Haredi commuity) have accepted the age of the universe as being +/-
18 billion of today's years, there has always been reluctance and even disdain
at accepting evolution.    The discussions in our group are reflective of those
differences. So I direct the reader's attention to an article by Baruch Sterman
in the Fall, 1994 edition of Tradition (Volume 29:1) on "Judaism and Darwinian
Evolution" where Dr Sterman, based on a thought by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein,
shlit"a, attempts to reconcile traditional Jewish thought with the possibility
of Darwinian Evolution.    I do not expect the article to change the mind of
those who are committed to the issue on one side or the other, but for those who
are troubled by the question can find Dr Sterman's paper interesting and

Rabbi Natan Slifkin in his blog, "Rationalist Judaism", has pointed out that
much of the Orthodox world outside of the the Israeli Haredi community has long
accepted that classical Jewish thought can be reconciled with modern science. 
(If I remember correctly, the former Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Rabbi
Joseph Hertz, zt"l, wrote 100 years ago that science can tell us "How something
occurred" while the Torah can tell us "Why it occurred.")    Is there a dividing
line beyond which we of the diaspora and the Israel dati-l'eumi community say
that science cannot be reconciled with Jewish thought?   If so, where is that
line?   And who sets that line?   Is the age of the universe acceptable as 18
billion years while Darwinian evolution is not acceptable? 

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


End of Volume 62 Issue 23