Volume 63 Number 91 
      Produced: Fri, 13 Jul 18 12:05:42 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Al naharot bavel 
    [Joel Rich]
An Epistemological Fallacy 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Book question  
    [Joel Rich]
Changes in generally accepted practice 
    [Joel Rich]
Tehillim for non-Jews in danger 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Why such a lengthy detour? (2)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
Yahrtzeit Kaddish? 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 8,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Al naharot bavel

I was discussing with someone their attempt to be melamed zchut [provide a
rationalization] on those who do not say al naharot bavel [by the rivers of
Babylon] during the week before birchat hamazon. I looked into it a number of
years back and cannot convince myself that any of those reasons were really
valid (much the same as the heicha kedusha in most cases). I'm guessing that the
real reason that we don't prioritize it is that we really don't feel the loss
which is a real pity. To quote IIRC R' Asher Weiss - all Jewish tzarot are one
big one, the lack of the beit mikdash. Thoughts?

She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

Joel Rich


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 29,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: An Epistemological Fallacy

Martin Stern writes (MJ 63#90):

> A common argument for teaching Darwinian evolution is the phenomenon of
> mutating bacteria, leading to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains.
> I fear that this is based on an epistemological fallacy.
> ...
> However teaching such philosophical concepts, even to high school pupils, is
> very difficult so evolution is usually presented as established fact with which
> only 'benighted fundamentalists' take issue.
> ...
> Any comments?

I am not a biologist and had to look up the word "epistemological". But I do
have a biochemistry degree from a recognized university, still read widely in
the sciences, and have been through shas a couple of times, albeit in daf yomi.
None of which qualifies me to debate evolutionary biology or Jewish philosophy, but:

Evolution is an established fact. Scientists see it in real time not only in
bacteria but also in insects, and AFIK no other scientific theory exists that is
consistent either with observations or the fossil record. Also, AFIK, no
credentialed biologist rejects or even questions the theory of evolution. It is
no more a "theory" to be distinguished from "fact" than is the "theory" that
AIDS is caused by a virus, or the "theory" that molecules are made of atoms even
though (until recently) we hadn't seen them. By contrast, certain other
scientific orthodoxies are questioned by credentialed scientists in the field,
if a minority. For example, some cosmologists question whether the "big bang"
occurred. I suppose that makes deniers of evolution, in Martin's words,
"benighted fundamentalists".

In my view, the issue is whether, given the apparent conflict of this fact with
Sefer Bereshit, evolution should be taught to impressionable students (assuming
that teaching it is not mandated by the government) or they should be left to
discover it on their own later. Without going into unnecessary detail in a
public forum, my personal belief is that it is far better for them to be taught
the scientific truth in a controlled environment where they can also be taught
that the conflict with Bereshit is more apparent than real.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 1,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Book question 

If anyone has read Chaim Waxman's "Social Change and Halakhic Evolution" could
they contact me offline?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 8,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Changes in generally accepted practice

The Mishna Brurah in Hilchot Beit Knesset often uses the terminology "Lev Beit
Din Matneh Aleiyhem [the heart of the court makes a stipulation concerning them]"
(see for ex. S"A 154:13:52) to explain why some usage of synagogue items that
logically should not be allowed is allowed anyway.

My general take is that it means society (TBD) has changed its mind (in an
internally non-quantifiable manner over time) as to the definition of "generally
accepted" communal rules of the road. Most likely this was an informal process,
and of course begs the question as to when the changeover takes on halachic
force and the status of those who acted in that manner prior to the changeover.

Joel Rich


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 9,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Tehillim for non-Jews in danger

This past Shabbos, before hearing of any rescues, I asked my Rabbi "If the
children in the (Thai) cave were Jewish would we not be saying tehillim?"

Do any others on the list have any thoughts or comments on what our attitude
should be?

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.,
Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 29,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Why such a lengthy detour?

Haim Shalom Snyder wrote (MJ 63#80):

> Martin Stern asked (MJ 63#79):
>> We read in parshat Chukat (Bam. 21:1-3) that the Bnei Yisrael decisively
>> defeated the Kenaani king of Arad shortly after the thirty days of mourning
>> after the death of Aharon. This would have been some time in Ellul in the
>> last year in the midbar. They then skirted the territories of Edom and Moav
>> and fought the two Emori kings of Transjordan, Sichon and Og, before
>> preparing to cross the Yarden to enter Eretz Yisrael from the east.
>> Why did they not overrun it from the south immediately rather than make such
>> a lengthy detour?
> I think that the simple answer is that there were still men alive from the
> time of the Sin of the Spies. Until they died entry into Eretz Yisrael
> couldn't take place.
This seems unlikely since we know Aharon died on Rosh Chodesh Av in the last
year in the midbar (Bam. 33:38-39). However the Gemara in Ta'anit (30b and Rashi
ad loc.) informs us that all those condemned to die rather than enter Eretz
Yisrael must have done so before Tisha be'Av, a few days later, since nobody
died that year on that night as had been the case in all the previous 37 years.
The Bnei Yisrael mourned for Aharon for thirty days (Bam. 20:29) so the war with
the king of Arad must have occurred during Ellul, at the earliest, and so there
could not have been any men alive condemned to die because of the sin of the spies.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 29,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Why such a lengthy detour?

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#90):

> The Soncino Chumash, with commentary written or revised in the mid-1930s by
> Rabbi J.H. Hertz C.H., who was the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, says in
> the commentary of (Bam. 21:3) that:
> "This incident cannot be assigned to the period when the Israelites had begun
> to encompass the land of Edom, for they were nowhere in the neighborhood of
> Arad. It therefore must *precede* that event."
> He cites a Jewish scholar in England named H. M. Wiener (1874-1929) as saying
> this took place before the incident with the Meraglim (spies) and the proof is
> that "Hormah" mentioned in Bam. 21:3 is also mentioned at Bam. 14:45. Wiener
> says it is the same place. We can add that it's "Ha-Hormah" there.
> ...
> Rabbi Hertz also mentions this in his introduction to Parshas Shelach:
> "According to some scholars, the victory of the Israelites over the king of
> Arad in the extreme south of Canaan, recorded in XXI: 1-3, took place at this
> stage....."

This seems highly implausible since the encounter with the king of Arad
mentioned in parshat Shelach clearly took place immediately after, and in
response to, the return of the spies with their dire report, which took place in
the second year after leaving Egypt. It led to a crushing defeat and the
beginning of the wanderings in the midbar - the two encounters were 36 years apart.

> He also mentions the defeat at 14:45 and quotes something from Wiener
> including that no nation invents or accepts accounts of defeats it has never
> experienced.

This provides an answer to one of the arguments put forward by 'Bible scholars'
against the reliability of the Biblical description of the Exodus: that there is
no corroborating evidence from Egyptian sources.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 29,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#90):

> In responding to my comment (MJ 63#88), Martin indicates (MJ 63#89) that he
> relies on the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh.
> That in of itself is problematic.
> Even in my high school yeshiva years, Rav Ganzfried wasn't known as the most
> authoritative source of Halacha Psukah because of his general social outlook.

While I agree with Yisrael that the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh is not the MOST
authoritative source of Halacha Psukah, I never indicated that I relied solely
on it. What I had written was

>> There are rules of precedence clearly set out in, for example, the Kitzur
>> Shulchan Arukh which would apply in any shul which still followed the
>> original Ashkenazi minhag that only one person should say each kaddish.

I would have thought that my use of the qualification "for example" showed that
I was merely giving a reference to an easily obtainable work rather than a key

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 91