Volume 9 Number 40
                       Produced: Wed Sep 29  7:19:09 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Robert A. Book]
Evolution and the Mabul
         [David Sherman]
Evolution vs. Creation
         [David Charlap]
First Temple
         [Ed Cohen]
Gradual Evolution?
         [Frank Silbermann]
Jewish Fiction (2)
         [Shaul Wallach, Mike Gerver]
Rabin and Moshiach
         [Yisroel Silberstein]


From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 15:38:22 -0400
Subject: Cosmology

Ben Svetitsky writes:
> A personal note.  Mr. Hendeles writes, "... modern day science does not
> and cannot posit the existance (sic) of a Creator...".  Permit me
> humbly to offer myself -- a modern-day scientist -- as a counter-example.
> I can and I do.

The fact the you, a modern-day scienTIST posits the existence of a
Creator, does not indicate that SCIENCE as a discipline can do the same
thing.  Science is a study of observable an measurable phenomena; the
Creator, by His very nature cannot be measures, and in the scientific
sense of the word, cannot be observed either.  While you are a
scientist, and you do posit the existence of a Creator, you do not do so
in your capacity as a scientist.

In all fairness, of course, it must be pointed out that science also
cannot posit the NON-existence of a Creator, though certainly many
scientists, acting in other capacities, do assert such a non-existence.

I might also point out that there is one important analogy between
Judaism and science, and that is that where science postulates that the
universe is governed by a set of immutable and universally applicable
laws, Judaism postulates that the universe is governed by an eternal and
universal G-d.  If both Judaism and science are true (as I blieve they
are), then these are effectively different aspects of the same thing,
the scientific laws being (some of) the rules by which the Creator rules
His universe.

--Robert Book


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 12:31:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Evolution and the Mabul

> From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
> I think there are lots of problems with the Mabul besides the Australian
> fauna (and those of many isolated groups of islands).

Is there a school of thought within traditional Judaism that maintains
the Mabul [Flood] story is not to be taken literally, but rather as an
allegory?  I have certainly heard such views expressed with respect to
Adam HaRishon, and, for example, the recounting in the Chumash of Chava
[Eve] being created from Adam's rib.

The Mabul poses such problems of literal credibility that I'd be
interested in reading of alternative interpretations within Orthodox

David Sherman


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 93 12:05:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Evolution vs. Creation

Frank Silbermann <fs@...> writes:
>I think it's rather more like their presentation of Einstein's Theory of
>General Relativity as fact.  Here, too, we are baffled as to what might
>be the mechanism, but the theory is remarkably consistant with our

But there is still a bit of a difference.  In the case of relativity,
many scientists now accept it as a law, since time dilation has been
empirically observed in orbiting spacecraft.

Unfortunately, this can't be done for evolution, since man hasn't
existed long enough to actually observe soemthing evolve from one
species to another.  So it is doomed to remain a theory.

But all this is moot, given the generally accepted view on the
Creation within Judaism:

<leah@...> (Leah S. Reingold) writes:
>Creationism in its purest form (i.e. the world was created, step by
>step, over the course of a week, and has been around for about six
>thousand years) has no evidence to support it except for people's
>beliefs and religious texts.
>In no way, however, are Jews bound to believe that the time scale
>discussed in the Torah is the same as our own.  It is easily conceivable
>that a "day" in Bereshit is equivalent to several million years.  Why
>not; that would help explain the curiously long lifetimes attributed to
>biblical figures.

In fact, every rabbi I've spoken with holds that one can make absolutely
no assumptions with regard to the flow of time before the Flood.  The
Six Days of Creation are very often considered merely six "phases" of
creation.  And when the Torah speaks of pre-Flood people living to be
hundreds of years old, it is not meant to be understood in terms of our

Given this, I see no _contradiction_ between the biblical and scientific
account of the creation of the Universe.  The only real discrepancy
between them is the time-span.

And as the "grand unifying" theory of creation, I've heard the

According to Carl Sagan, if you were to create a black hole with the
entire mass/energy of the Universe in it, and calculate it's size, you
would come up with something the size of the Universe.  (the size of a
black hole can be calculated as a function of it's mass).

Now (as someone else continued this theory), if you calculate the time
dilation that this Universe-sized black hole would cause, an observer
outside of the Universe (say, God) would have experienced between six
and seven days, while those inside the system (us) would experience
billions and billions of years.  (relativity explains that large masses
distort time - this has been demonstrated emiprically - and the amount
of the distortion is calculatable).

In other words, six days of creation is consistant with science's
billions of years.  It just depends on your point of view.  To one
within the Universe, it's billions of years, but to one outside the
Universe, it's six days.  Considering that man didn't exist before the
sixth day, it wouldn't really make sense to use man's timekeeping system
before that point, now would it?


From: Ed Cohen <ELCSG@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 93 15:17:17 EDT
Subject: First Temple

In Edgar Frank's book, "Talmudic and Rabbinical Chronology," Feldheim
Publishing, Jerusalem/New York, 1956, 1977, the author's aim is to date
important events in Jewish history properly.  He starts from the birth
of Adam, but his main *interest* is to date the destruction of the
Second Temple, starting from 3 different methods of counting the Era of
Creation used in the Talmud and rabbinical literature.  He comes to the
conclusion that the second destruction occurred in the year 3828 or
70CE; not 68CE or 69CE.  The first of his 109 footnotes is as follows:
"It is a well known fact, for instance, that the First Temple was
destroyed in 586 and the Second consecrated in 516 BCE and destroyed in
70 CE.  The Second Temple, therefore, stood 585 years (not 586), while
according to Jewish chronology, it stood only 420 years.  See Yoma 9a
and Yerushalmi, Megillah I.  According to the Seder Olam Zutta and
Ab.Zar. 9a, during the Second Commonwealth the Persians reigned 34
years, the Greeks 180, the Hasmoneans 103 and the Romans 103 years,
which gave us a total of 420 or, compared with 585 years, a difference
of 165 years.  This mistake seems to lie in the time of the reign of the
Persians which was much longer than 34 years. For explanations of this
discrepancy see Dr. M.S. Zuckermandl in *Monatschrift* XX, Breslau 1871,
page 460; Lauterbach in *Proceedings* vol. 5, 1934; Biberfeld,
*Universal Jewish History*, vol. 1, page 29ff.; A. Marcus, *Jahrbuch der
Juedisch-Literarischen Gesellschaft, Frankfurt* a.M., 1906, p. 331.  See
also Dr. Bondi in *Jahrbuch der Jued. Lit. Gesellschaft,* XVII, p. 325,
Elfenbein, *Teshuboth Rashi,* resp. 19., and Ruehl, *Der Ursprung der
juedischen Weltaera* in Deutsche Zeitschrift fuer
Geschichtswissenschaft, N.F. vol. II, 1897, p. 185ff. and 342."  I have
none of the papers mentioned above; however, if any of you do obtain
copies of any of these, I would appreciate if you would send me a copy.

Prof. Edward L. Cohen       Department of Mathematics
University of Ottawa        Ottawa, ON, CANADA  K1N 6N5


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 11:31:58 -0400
Subject: Gradual Evolution?

In Vol9 #37 Meylekh Viswanath comments:
> a basic prediction of the theory of evolution as understood till
> recently, was that there was a gradual change in organisms,
> leading to the development of new species.  ...
> Consistent failure to find such evidence, would normally lead one
> to reject the theory, or at least start looking for another theory.
> Instead, we find that many scientists continue to accept the theory,
> but instead tinker with details.

The prediction of gradual change in organisms is not necessarily
inconsistent with the evidence.  One would expect most such development
to occur in small isolated pockets where environmental niches remained
unfilled for long eras.  That is why isolated islands so often provide
us with rare and unique species.  Now and then, after a long period of
development, a new organism might escape its isolation and quickly
spread into a much larger area, perhaps leading to the sudden demise of
competitor species.

Assuming the gradual changes occured within a tiny population inhabiting
a tiny pocket only to spread suddenly over a large area, it is not
surprising that the fossil record seems to show discrete leaps in
development.  It is quite unlikely that the history of the tiny pocket
would be found in the fossil record.  In any geological era only an tiny
proportion of animals were recorded as fossils.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 93 15:31:38 -0400
Subject: Jewish Fiction

     In the ongoing discussions of Jewish fiction, I haven't yet seen
anyone mention the literary masterpieces written by Rabbi Meir Lehman
ZS"L. Rabbi Lehman witnessed the inroads Reform was making in
European Jewry during the 19th century and wrote his novels for the
wayward younger generation of his day. In our generation his novels
have been translated and adapted into Hebrew by the Israeli novelist
Rivqa Friedman, whose publishing firm has received the approval of
the Badatz of the `Eida Haredit. I would be most interested to know
whether R. Lehman's novels have been translated into English as well.

     Another contemporary Israeli novelist of note - also a woman,
for the feminists :-) - is Menuha Beckerman. Her series "Yaldei
Shai", for example, is very sensitive and full of authentic Jewish


Shaul Wallach

From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1993 3:28:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Jewish Fiction

In v9n14, Esther Posen, commenting on Norman Miller's question about why
so few observant Jews write fiction, said

> I've always said I could write a good novel if I wanted to but that
> if I did none of my family or friends would ever talk to me again.

While this is an exaggeration, I think the experiment has been done--
by Rebecca Goldstein, who is herself observant. I don't know if any of
her friends have stopped talking to her, but I know that some of her
friends, including me, felt very uncomfortable reading certain parts
of "The Mind-Body Problem" (although on the whole I enjoyed it very
much); other friends of hers, whose opinions I greatly respect,
have told me they thought she was very courageous for including these

There is definitely a conflict between certain aspects of halacha,
concerning hirhurim tamei'im [impure thoughts] for example, and the
freedom of expression needed to write good fiction. Within the observant
community, in the spectrum from haredi to modern orthodox, there is
a wide range of ways in which this conflict is resolved, but I'm sure
it has a lot to do with the lack of good fiction written by observant
Jews (or observers of any religion, as Bob Werman pointed out).

This wide range of attitudes was brought home to me recently by the
slichot shiur given by the Boston Rebbe. He spoke about a young man,
Jewish but with no background, who became a ba'al tshuva, and went to
a yeshiva. When speaking of what had led him to do this, he said that
what most influenced him originally were the stories of Isaac Bashevis
Singer. This was surprising, commented the Rebbe in his shiur. After
all, Singer's stories are dirty, and they certainly should not be read.
When asked what it was in Singer's stories that had so affected him, the
young man said it was the depiction of the Jewish family. The Rebbe 
imagined Isaac Bashevis Singer knocking on the gates of shamayim, and when
asked why he should be allowed in, could say that, because of his stories,
this young man was going to yeshiva.

Now I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the Bostoner Rebbe.
He is by no means isolated from the non-frum Jewish world, but is actively
involved in dealing with all kinds of non-observant Jews, from Teddy
Kollek to college students who come to shabbatons, and he is sensitive
to their attitudes. He is also, in telling this story, well aware that 
things are not all black and white, that there are redeeming features in
Singer's stories, and he obviously likes the idea that this would allow
Singer to get into shamayim. Nevertheless, I found it jarring to realize
that he takes it for granted that no frum Jew ought to read Singer's
stories, and kal vechomer [all the more so] that no frum Jew should
write stories like that.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: sherman!<isrsil@...> (Yisroel Silberstein)
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 93 14:12:36 -0400
Subject: Rabin and Moshiach

This is in response to Ezra Bob Tanenbaum's assertion that Yitzchak
Rabin is the closest thing we have to moshiach. He implies that it may
be "nice" for the orthodox to wish moshiach to be a shomer torah
umitzvot ; but at best it is a fanciful flight of fantasy . Let us
examine the Rambam's view .
	I don't have the text in front of me, but the rambam towards the
latter P'rokim ( chapters ) of hilchos mlochim speaks of the 'job
description' of the melech hamoshiach as such :
	If a melech arises from the house of David who is 'hogeh batorah 
k'dovid oviv' or who is diligent in the study of torah as was David, 
his grandfather, and who will prod ( or coerce ) the rest of the jews in the
observance of Torah and mitzvos, etc. ( here the rambam follows with more 
adminstrative duties as the waging of wars and the winning of same. ) 
	But shmiras hamitzvas and  Limud Hatorah IS part of the job skills;
as is agressively promoting  the observance of torah and mitzvos.  
Yitzchak Rabin ? ? You be the Judge.
						Yisroel Silberstein


End of Volume 9 Issue 40