Volume 9 Number 69
                       Produced: Sun Oct 24 19:48:55 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Age of the Universe
         [Tom Rosenfeld]
Creation and Science
         [Shlomo H. Pick]
Pronunciation - Havara
         [David Charlap]
Torah and Science
         [Shaya Karlinsky]


From: <tom@...> (Tom Rosenfeld)
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 93 05:14:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Age of the Universe

In Vol 9 No 66 Joe Abeles writes:

    The inconsistency remains: Why would Hashem have told us that the world
    was created 5000 to 6000 years ago if indeed it would later emerge that
    we observe the world to be billions of years old?  This is a very key
    question which has not received any satisfactory response (IMHO) to

Without getting drawn into this debate, I think Joe asks an important
question.  I think the answer lies in that the question assumes an
incorrect assumption.

The Torah is neither a history book or a scientific manual. It is a book
of moral & spiritual guidance. The Torah is trying to convey a moral
lesson from Genesis (see your LOR for the lesson) and not teaching
cosmology or evolution.  (To do so, the Torah would have required
several introductory chapters in quantum dynamics and chemistry).

There have been many explanation, given here & elsewhere, that show that
the Torah does not necessarily _contradict_ either cosmology or
evolution. The general points are in agreement (e.g. that universe was
created ex nihilo, life began from simple to more complex), but since
the goals of a scientific text and a moral one differ, both will
describe the same event in different language.

Tom Rosenfeld


From: Shlomo H. Pick <F12013@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 93 03:12:26 -0400
Subject: Creation and Science

Prof.NATHAN AVIEZER has recently published a book "In the Beginning..."
and just last week the Hebrew translation came out.  At any rate, using
the latest scientific evidence, he attempts (and on some points quite
succesfully in my opinion - especially in his interpretation of the
creation of light) to explain the story of creation in light of "modern"
science.  The advantage of the hebrew edition is the introduction by
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein of gush etzion.
 At any rate, i would be interested - and so would probably Prof Aviezer
- for opinions on the book by members of the list. (I wrote a short
review on it in the latest Alei Sefer put out by Bar Ilan U.)  Aviezer's
book is published by KTAV Publishing House, Inc. Hoboken n.j.  1990
(isbn 0-88125-328-6).



From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 93 13:21:02 -0400
Subject: Pronunciation - Havara

<stevee@...> (Steve Ehrlich) writes:
>I find the discussion on pronunciation to be almost entirely off the
>mark. The notion that there is one model/"correct" way to speak a
>language and that people ought to be castigated from deviating from this
>"correct" speech is, IMHO, nonsense.
>It seems to me that languages and accents are nothing but conventions
>used by masses of people to convey meanings to each other.

In most cases, I would agree.  But Hebrew is the Lashon Ha'Kodesh (Holy
language).  There is additional merit in davening in Hebrew.  Certainly
God will accept your prayers if you use some other language (like
English) but Hebrew is special.

The debate is not so much over which accent to use, but how much
variation from the original Hebrew can be accomodated before it is
considered a separate language.  A perfect example is Aramaic - it is
very similar to Hebrew, but it's variations in spelling and
pronunciation are enough for it not to have any Kedusha (holiness)
associated with it.

>It is no more or less correct to call a Machzor a "festival prayer
>book" or a "Machzor" or a "Machzoir" or the French or Swahili word,
>as long as the meaning is conveyed. If enough people got together and
>called it a "ungadaga" that would be okay too.

Yes, but if they decide to read the Sh'ma and say "unga bunga
kookamunga" instead of "Sh'ma Yisrael", that would not be OK.  There's a
difference between what is acceptible for conversational Hebrew (which
is little more than any other language) and what is acceptible for
davening and other holy activities (where the words have extra kedusha
in the original language.)

>I find it hard to believe that if my Hebrew has an American accent
>instead of the Ukranian accent that my father had, my davening is
>somehow defective.

I'm no expert on the subject, but what you (or I) find hard to believe
has little bearing in my opinion.  There are plenty of aspects of
Judaism that people (not necessarily you) have hard times believing in,
including the Creation of the universe by God.

What's important is not whether an American or Ukranian accent is
permissible.  It is whether either is close enough to the original to
remain Lashon Ha'Kodesh.  Obviously, neither American nor Ukranian is
it, but the more one changes a dialect, the more removed it gets.
Trying to mimic your forefather's customs is a way to minimize this
removal.  I think it is the best thing we can go on until we can learn
the original dialect.

>People do not learn their language skills from their parents as much
>as from their general environment, and there is nothing wrong with

Maybe.  The dialect used when davening may have requirements that
everyday speech doesn't.  (Everyday speech has none, if your party can
understand you).

A good analogy is to the royalty in England.  They use a dialect that is
markedly different from the common speech.  And anyone living/ working
in the Royal houses are expected to use this dialect.  Similarly, the
original dialect of Hebrew is God's dialect, and it would be proper to
use it when addressing Him.


From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1993 08:44 IST
Subject: Torah and Science

     Thanks to everyone who answered my query about the position of
the earth in the universe.  I got some interesting insights from
unexpected directions.  Unfortuantely, not all were sent to Avi for
posting, and I think many MJ readers would have enjoyed reading
     In addition to the very helpful scientific perspectives, there
were 2 points that seemed to appear in a number of responses that I
would like to relate to.
     1) The statement about the center is one of either semantics or
is relative: the center of "what?".  And, as Leah Reingold asked:
>What the religious implications are (if any) of a geocentric view
>of the universe.(MJ 9/67)
     2) A few respondents said that the Rabbis weren't talking from
a scientific perspective (and if they were, they adopted Aristotle's
mistaken notion that the sun revolved around the earth), but "our
sages seldom, if ever discussed the geometric shape of the physical
universe; they correctly focused on the underlying spiritual nature
of the HaShem's creation" as Keith Bierman wrote me directly.  Or as
David Charlap wrote in MJ 9/60:
>I would guess that these people meant it as a more spiritual
>center, than a physical center.  Judaism teaches that the entire
>Universe was created by God for the purpose of containing the
>Earth, and the Earth was created to be a place for human beings to
>live in.
>So, "center" here probably means that the Earth is the main focus
>of God's attention.  Not that it is equidistant from all the edges
>of the Universe.  (wherever they may be)

     I agree with Keith and David and others, certainly when
referring to the words of CHAZAL in the Gemara and Midrash, and even
many times in the Rishonim.  But there are times when I think later
Rishonim  were talking from a "tangible" perspective.  It certainly
sounds that way from numerous places in the Maharal, where he uses
examples of what appear to me to be potentially observable phenomena
to explain or validate what are clearly spiritual concepts.  It
would be assuming what you are trying to prove if the example used
was also really the underlying spiritual concept.  I think we too
often take the easy way out - and deprive ourselves of deeper
understandings of both Torah and reality that could put us closer to
a kind of "grand unification theory" - if our first reaction is to
simply say that everything refers to the "underlying spiritual
     I would like to take this a step further.  For I think the
"underlying spiritual reality" that Chazal were certainly referring
to is _outwardly manifested in observable phenomena_ and is
reflected in (TRUE) scientific observation.  (I added and emphasized
the word "true" because my laymen's reading of much science today
leaves me with the distinct impression that scientists have more of
an ideological, political and/or philosophical agenda than they are
allowed to have in their roles as scientists.)  It behooves us to
analyze, explore, and discover how that underlying spiritual reality
is being revealed to us by G-d in the physical world He created.  To
quote a famous pasuk in Tehilim (Ch. 19, V. 2):  "The heavens tell
the glory of G-d, and the "rakia" tells of his handiwork."  The
Malbim explains that G-d is revealed to man in two ways.  One is
through the Torah which was given to man through prophecy.  The
other way is through man's investigation of the things we can
observe in G-d's creation.  The physical creation was done by G-d in
a very specific way to materialistically represent spiritual and
metaphysical realities.  (This is one of the ideas embodied in the
descending spheres taught about in Kabalah).  One of the ways to
gain a deeper insight into those realities is by working backwards -
by exploring the physical realities that represent the higher
metaphysical reality.  The clearer our picture of the physical
reality, the deeper and clearer can be our understanding of the
spiritual realities that they represent.  Ultimately, this is what
we are aiming for -  a better understanding and knowledge of G-d.
The Rambam in the beginning of Chapter 2 Yosodei Hatorah teaches us
that it is a Mitzvah to love and fear G-d, and the way to attain
that love and fear is by examining and analyzing the elements of his
wondrous creations, seeing G-d's infinite wisdom, which leads to
love and praise of G-d and an immediate desire to know more of Him.
     So I have a different perspective on the apparent conflict
between science and Judaism.  IMHO, the TRUE scientific reality will
always reveal the underlying spiritual reality taught to us by the
Torah.  It should always help us get a better insight and
understanding of the Torah and of G-d.  So how do we respond to
apparent conflicts?  I am always willing to reexamine whether WE
have been understanding our "divrei Torah" correctly (that means
both written and Oral Torah, all the while remembering that they are
to know if the science that is being presented is GOOD SCIENCE.  Or
is it being colored by political agendas (very common in "social
science"), theological agendas (common in "evolutionary science" and
some aspects of physics), etc.  Both of these, by the way, require
EXPERT knowledge, rather than just a layman's familiarity with the
material, whether it be the divrei Torah that need deeper
understanding, or (lehavdil) the science that needs to be assessed.
Because of the ultimate unity of the entire creation, when ALL the
evidence is in we should have a universally recognized "Grand
Unification Theory."  Bayom hahu yiyeh Hasem echad ushmo echad!

Shaya Karlinsky
Yeshivat Darche Noam / Shapell's
POB 35209 - Jerusalem, ISRAEL


End of Volume 9 Issue 69