Volume 62 Number 24 
      Produced: Fri, 11 Jul 14 02:00:38 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys 
    [Carl Singer]
Darwinian Evulution and Dinosaurs 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Different types of inhabitants? 
    [Martin Stern]
Is there an obligation to serve in the Army? 
    [Carl Singer]
Od Avinu Hai 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Tachanun Erev Rosh Hashana 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 6,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys

There was a mix-up with the seating cards at a wedding that I recently attended.
My card (in the "Men's section") and My wife's card (on the "Women's section")
each had the same table number. Realizing that she was on the men's side of the
mehitzah my wife went to the other side and found seating. I, it turned out, was
the only person at my table above the age of 23 - the other 7 at my table were
all yeshiva students or graduates, several now in college - all fine young men.

Two questions arose during our conversations:   One young man was looking for a
ride back to his community.  Thus far the only available ride was a car with 4
young women. He asked one of the many Rebbeim present  (I don't know which, nor
do I know if he had any link with this Rabbi) and was told that it was "not

The conversation expanded at the table -- there were approximately 40 young
(single) men on this side of the mehitzah and likely the same number of young
(single) women on the other side. Is there any appropriate way for these 40 + 40
to at least say hello to each other and, perhaps, start towards a relationship:

(1) exchanging contact information so their parents or a shadchun or a Rabbi
might check out credentials.

(2) exchanging contact information so that they might have a telephone
conversation ....

We hear terms like "Shidduch Crisis" -- but seem to provide few sensible and
tsniusdik alternatives. Must there really be a complex, lengthy vetting process
before a young man and young woman may speak with each other to see if, perhaps,
they might click?

Carl Singer


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 25,2014 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evulution and Dinosaurs

Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 62#23):

> First of all, science is not now and never has been a democracy...
> It does not matter what "most respectable scientists" think, because they do
> not determine fact. ... Science ... cannot provide any facts ... only
> observations and conclusions.

It isn't, but it can and does because they do. We humans do not fully understand
nature (although over the centuries, and particularly over the last decades, we
have gotten much better about it). Our understanding, in the modern era at
least, is based on scientists coming up with hypotheses (theories) that best
match the observed data. A hypothesis which, over sufficient time, 
matches the data and is generally accepted by the vast bulk of professional
scientists - even if there are outliers -- becomes fact. That a new hypothesis
might hypothetically arise, and overthrow the old one, does not matter. I do not
think that Ari (or very many people on this mailing list) would argue that the
statements the earth is not flat and the earth revolves around the sun are not
facts, even though for centuries it was thought otherwise.

And I should point out that AFIK nobody on this list has cited any hypothesis 
that competes with the so-called theory of evolution. (Whether random point
mutations are necessarily part of that theory is a different matter.) There are
none. The objections on-list to evolution are, instead, that scientists have
been wrong before, and therefore maybe they are wrong now. As others have
pointed out, that is an argument not to teach science at all.

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

Halacha, as the word implies, determines how we act, not how we view the world.
(See discussion below.) There may be a conflict between what the Torah teaches
in a non-halachic sense (like other posters, I am not convinced this is true),
but even if so, it is another matter. That the Torah (based on the Gemara) 
teaches that fleas arise by spontaneous generation and therefore may be killed
on Shabbat is relevant to my right to kill the fleas but certainly does not
require me to believe the underlying reason.

But I do wonder: would Ari say that the theory that acquired immune deficiency
is caused by the HIV virus is mere unverifiable scientific dogma, and not a
fact? If so, he is in good company (the president of South Africa).

Perets Mett wrote (MJ 62#23) that he would certainly hope that Martin really
thinks that Hashem sits on His throne constantly deciding which oxygen molecules
are to go on which direction because It's one of the Thirteen Principles of
Faith.  I'm guessing he's referring to the first of these articles, which says
(in the ArtScroll translation I have handy) that Hashem creates and guides all
creatures, and that He alone made, makes and will make everything. That is very
different, but it comforts me to know that Perets is busy davening that Hashem
will not stop facilitating what appears to be the Brownian movement of molecules
in the air and cause the atmosphere to collapse, because that leaves me to daven
about more immediate concerns.

He also wrote that Evolution is not a physical law. Of course it is, as much as
Ohm's law is a physical law. It is a law because it describes what we see as
physical reality, and there are no competing hypotheses. (BTW, I own a bumper
sticker reading, Repeal Ohms Law.)

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#23):

> ... 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.

I don't know that Martin's first point is true, but his second might be. See e.g. 


The problem is that life on earth is a lot younger than that, a billion years or
so. If it's dinosaurs, the time frame is hundreds of millions of years, and if
it's humans, it is perhaps a couple of million years. On a cosmic scale, life -
certainly, the life we see today - emerged recently. So using Martin's criteria,
it is certainly reasonable to extrapolate unless one takes the problematic
position that we don't know for certain what happened yesterday.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 29,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Different types of inhabitants?

I have previously raised some problems regarding the ta'amei hakra
[cantillation / punctuation notation in the Torah] but there seems to be a
glaring discrepancy in the Shirah (Shem. 15) we say each morning.

In verse 14 we have the phrase "yoshevei pelashet [inhabitants of Philistia]"
and in verse 15 "yoshevei kenaan [inhabitants of Canaan]". In the former the
word "yoshevei" is marked with a tippecha which separates it from the word
"pelashet" to which it would appear to be connected by the sense of the words
whereas, in the latter, it is marked with a merecha which connects it with the
word "kenaan" as might have been expected.

Does anyone have any idea why the two places, Philistia and Canaan, or their
inhabitants, should be treated differently in what is clearly a single passage?

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 24,2014 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

In "The Israeli Army:  A New Halachic Paradigm" by Aron White


there is an interesting discussion of the helachic status of military service.

The article begins with the author's conclusion that:

1 - There is a halachic obligation on all people living in Israel to serve in
the Israeli Army

2 - The service of all people should be of equal length.

Lest I do damage to the discussion by paraphrasing the halachic arguments, I
encourage everyone to read the article for themselves.

The discussion focuses on

(1) Milchemes Mitzvah - an obligatory war and

(2) that per the Gemorah in Sanhedren (20b) that a government has the right
to draft soldiers into the army and that one is obligated to listen to that
government order.

So the question is:  

Is there an obligation to serve in the Army

(1) if one lives in Israel  or

(2) in one's home country - if Chutz l'Aretz?

I should note that I joined the U.S. Army upon receiving a personal letter
from the President of the United States.  It began with the word "greetings".

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D., Colonel, U.S. Army Retired
70 Howard Avenue


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 3,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Od Avinu Hai

In a plenary talk in honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's yahrzeit, Rabbi Shlomo
Riskin, modern orthodox chief rabbi of Efrat, made a climactic comment to the
effect "just like we say od avinu hai [our father still lives], so may we say od
rabbeinu hai [our rabbi still lives]".

1.  What do we mean by "od avinu hai" or the more pointed "David Melekh Israel
hai v'kayam" [David, king of Israel, lives and exists]?

2.  What could "od rabbeinu hai" mean, and, specifically, what would it mean to
a largely Chabad audience?

3.  What is the analogy that Rabbi Riskin is making?

Please constrain responses to this specific question, and not Rabbi Riskin's
other rulings or Chabad as a whole.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 23,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Tachanun Erev Rosh Hashana

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#23):

> 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].

That we do not say tachanun in the morning on an erev chag is incidental to
other considerations:

1. We do not say it the whole of Nisan which includes Erev Pesach

2. We do not say it from Rosh Chodesh Sivan which includes Erev Shavuot

3. We do not say it after Yom Kippur which includes Erev Succot

There is no similar reason for Erev Rosh Hashanah.
> 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.

We DO say tachanun at shacharit on Erev Tisha B'Av and only omit it at
minchah in accord with the general rule to omit it at minchah on a day
preceding a day on which it is totally omitted.

According to Yisrael's interpretation of Rav Kohen, we would never say
tachanun since each day preceding a non-tachanun day becomes itself a
non-tachanun day and so, by recursion, would its predecessor etc. This is
absurd since Chazal would not have instituted something that could never

Martin Stern


End of Volume 62 Issue 24