charliehall

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  • in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669919
    charliehall
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin,

    Anti-Semitism in Europe was a problem before Islam even exited. Europe has done a terrible job at integrating immigrants into its societies even though the numbers are small relative to the US. (3 out of every 8 residents of New York City were born outside the US and the immigrants are making huge contributions to our society as immigrants have for hundreds of years.) Europe’s problem isn’t Islam, it is xenophobia, racism, and good old fashioned anti-Semitism.

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669692
    charliehall
    Participant

    gavra_at_work,

    Regarding your question of “who should decide”, most decisions on health care coverage today are maid by for profit companies whose first responsibility must be to their stockholder-owners. Most actually do try to do the right thing but it is a very difficult system. I knew a medical director of an insurer who decided he couldn’t cover smoking cessation despite the huge medical benefits because they would not save the company money for decades. He just couldn’t demand that the stockholders foot the bill. A government plan, or government regulations, can eliminate this terrible situation.

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669691
    charliehall
    Participant

    Ben Levi,

    Have you ever spoken with a posek about abortion? My wife asked one whether it was permissible for her to teach medical residents how to perform an abortion. To her surprise (mine, too) the answer was yes, because some abortions are mandatory under halachah and therefore we must train physicians in how to perform them.

    The fact is, the vast majority of poskim do not consider abortion to be murder. (IIRC, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was a daat yachid here.) For Jews it is not a capital offense even when prohibited. Some poskim even permit aborting a child with a chromosomal defect; Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg z’tz’l was as prominent a posek in Eretz Yisrael as Rav Moshe and he permitted aborting a Tay-Sachs fetus and recently Rabbi Shlomo Aviner permitted aborting a Down’s syndrome fetus. For non-Jews it can be a capital offense but so too theft of less than a pruta! Our religion does not view abortion the same way as the Catholic church which treats a fertilized ovum as a full human (hence their opposition to the assisted reproductive technologies we frum folks support) not the same way as the mainline Protestants who do not see abortion as inherently evil at all.

    Furthermore most administrations of capital punishment in the US would likely be murder because the administration of death penalties here does not meet even the minimum Noachide standards, such as the requirement for an eyewitness. Do you object to your tax dollars going to prosecutions?

    in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669915
    charliehall
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin,

    I have never defended the Nordic countries’ bans on shechita. I would point out that all but Sweden have official state religions (and Sweden did until just a few years ago, and most of Switzerland does to this day). Secularization?

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669690
    charliehall
    Participant

    Bemused,

    You have just made the argument for a single payer system that will cover everyone. There really isn’t any justification to have you slightly above a threshold and getting nothing. But since we aren’t willing to have a single payer system, you are stuck.

    gavra_at_work,

    You are completely misinformed about the Canadian system. Most physicians in Canada are actually self-employed. My wife and I met a Canadian family physician last winter and the picture he painted of the Canadian system was so favorable we investigated emigrating there. Basically, he NEVER has an insurance company deny coverage for something he recommends, he NEVER has to worry about not getting paid, he NEVER has to worry about his patients being able to afford the treatments he recommends, and he doesn’t have to worry about getting sued, either!

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669679
    charliehall
    Participant

    One more thing on abortion: the country with the lowest abortion rates in the world among countries with reliable statistics is The Netherlands — about half the rate in the US. Yet abortions are free to citizens through their national health insurance program. The culture there abhors abortion while promoting contraception and responsibilty. Interestingly, its teen birth rate is about one tenth that of the US. If you want to stop abortions, forget about laws and insurance — change the culture!

    in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669913
    charliehall
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin,

    You clearly were not paying attention. Two days after the minaret vote, the leader of the mainstream conservative party in Switzerland — not the nutty far right People’s Party — proposed banning Jewish and Muslim cemetaries because they were segregated.

    And I don’t think Christians should be prohibited from wearing crosses. When I teach medical students I wear a black velvet yarmulke and I am glad that I live in a country that lets me do that.

    And Europe is not being Islamicized. No country in Central or Western Europe has more than a 9% Muslim population according to both the Pew Foundation and the CIA World Factbook. When I was in Spain I never found a single Muslim building, or a single Muslim. I did see a beautiful mosque in Ireland but the only Muslim I found was an Jordanian professor who was attending the same conference I was attending.

    Regarding Jewish schools accepting non-Jews, that was necessary to continue to receive government funds because the schools are too small to operate with the small number of Jewish students. If you take government funds, you accept government rules — and there would be no Jewish school without those government funds. In Ireland, that would mean Jewish students would have to attend schools run by Christian churches as essentially all schools in that country are run by churches. The community determined that it was better to have a school run by Jews even if non-Jews attended. (And while I was there I met a Christian Irishman who proudly he told me that he went out of his way to send his kids to the Jewish school because he thought Jews would give his children a better education!) I don’t know much about the situation in Spain.

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669677
    charliehall
    Participant

    The issue of abortion in health care reform is a red herring. Most private health care policies cover elective abortions and don’t charge less if abortion coverage is excluded. Abortions are inexpensive (particularly the early trimester medical abortions done with methotrexate or mifepristone which might well not even have halachic problems), and certainly are less expensive to an insurer than prenatal care, labor and delivery. All the proposals currently under consideration prohibit federal government funds from paying for abortions. (It should be noted that New York Medicaid pays for abortions for any reason to anyone it covers.)

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669676
    charliehall
    Participant

    Ben Levi,

    Health care for the elderly in the US is almost entirely paid for by a government health insurer and has been for 44 years. This will not change under any plan under consideration. Thus your concern about end of life care is not necessary. And yes, it would be cheaper to replace private health insurance with a government plan, even for congressmen — Medicare is the most efficient health insurer in America and Medicaid is second — but that isn’t going to happen.

    tzippi,

    Health care is and has been “rationed” ever since the first health insurance plans were created about 70 years ago. The question is, how should it be rationed. Right now, if you don’t have insurance, you have been rationed to almost no care except immediate life threatening emergencies. Private health plans and Medicare deny coverage all the time. (My wife, a family physician, tells me that NY Medicaid has never denied coverage for any treatment she has recommended, so maybe that should be the model for coverage? But NY Medicaid is very costly.) The issue of mammography is about using the best scientific evidence for medical decision making, and unfortunately there has never been any evidence to support mammography screening in the general population for women under the age of 50. The US Preventive Services Task Force should never have recommended it when they did, and they were absolutely correct in changing it to something more sensible. (The best studies don’t even show that mammography screening saves life in women *over* 50; I can post the evidence if there is interest.) The situation for prostate cancer in men is about as disappointing. The situation is very depressing but we can’t allow politics to interfere here as some pro-screening advocates want to do.

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669675
    charliehall
    Participant

    haifagirl,

    Rabbi Dr. Tendler didn’t distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, but it would be reasonable that the chiyuv would be on Jews to provide healthcare to all other Jews. So far our community leaders have not done anything about this, in fact, they are busy trying to get the mostly non-Jewish population to provide funding for Jewish schools in America. I can’t see how we can afford to provide health insurance when we can’t pay for our schools.

    Bemused,

    There is no need for the government to sponsor health insurance for anyone other than those who can’t get it themselves, such as the poor who can’t afford it, those with pre-existing conditions for whom no sane insurer would ever issue a policy, or the elderly whom no sane insurer would ever insure. France and Israel cover everyone with no government programs (although the government does subsidize the cost and regulate the coverage).

    Gavra,

    You are correct about the desirability of tort reform; there is certainly a Torah right to actual damages but I’ve seen nothing about punative damages. My wife is a practicing physician and she would love to see tort reform! But it is desireable independent of universal coverage, and won’t solve any of the many other problems in our health care system. Texas enacted the most dramatic tort reforms ever but today it has the most dysfunctional health care system in America, with fewer people covered by insurance than any other state. Also, the federal government may have no constitutional authority to regulate damage suits in state courts. You are also incorrect about the lack of pikuach nefesh. While it is true that everyone is entitled to emergency care, people regularly die from chronic conditions because they can’t get non-emergency treatment or medications. It is a shonda that this happens in one of the wealthiest societies in history. And another problem is that someone has to pay for that emergency care, and generally it is those of us with insurance.

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669674
    charliehall
    Participant

    Here is my summary of Rabbi Dr. Tendler’s comments, from a shiur given September 10, 2006. The original is online at YU’s Torah site. (YWN does not permit outside links, even to other Torah sites.) Translations from 1917 JPS (in public domain). All errors are mine.

    Exodus 21:18-19.

    ?? ?????-???????? ?????????–????? ???-????? ???-???????, ???????? ??? ?????????; ????? ??????, ??????? ???????????

    And if men contend, and one smite the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keep his bed;

    ?? ???-?????? ????????????? ???????, ???-???????????& #1493;?–???????? ?????????: ??? ????????? ??????, ???????? ????????

    if he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.

    — This means that we are supposed to get real healing from real doctors, and not just accept illness as God’s will.

    Deuteronomy 22:2

    ? ?????-??? ?????? ??????? ???????, ????? ??????????–???? ????????, ???-?????? ????????, ??????? ??????? ??? ??????? ??????? ?????, ???????????? ???

    And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, and thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it home to thy house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother require it, and thou shalt restore it to him.

    This means that if someone can heal someone else, one must try to do so.

    Leviticus 19:16.

    ?? ???-?????? ?????? ???????????, ??? ??????? ???-???? ??????: ?????, ??????

    Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

    This means that even if you can’t heal the sick person, you must find someone else who can rather than standing idly by — even paying for the healing. In other words, we have to provide healthcare for all!

    in reply to: Health Care Overhaul #669664
    charliehall
    Participant

    It may be a chiyuv on the community to provide health care for all — Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler (yes, he is a modern orthodox Zionist but he is also a leading posek for medical matters) gave a pretty convincing proof to this a few years ago and I’ve seen no counterargument. (Is there *any* rabbi who says that we are permitted to stand by and let someone die because they can’t pay for medical treatment? It happens, more often then people believe.) Most developed countries in the world, including Israel, do this.

    End of life care isn’t going to be affected much (either expanded or restricted) by the various proposals in Congress, except that if we do manage to get universal coverage after that it will become more possible to provide halachically acceptable end of life care without bankrupting a family with no or inadequate insurance. This alone would seem to make health insurance reform a good thing. Whether it is done through public or private plans would not seem to matter. (I can’t understand why people are so upset about a “public option” or lack of one.) I will add that my wife is a physician who treats Medicaid patients and she tells me that in the four plus years she has done this in New York they have never denied coverage for treatment she has recommended.

    in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669911
    charliehall
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin,

    The Jewish schools in Spain and Ireland accept non-Jews.

    in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669910
    charliehall
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin,

    Your comparison between crosses and minarets is totally erroneous. I support the right of Christian churches to have crosses on their own property. I see no reason why they need to put crosses on public property. (That goes for us and menorahs, too.) In this case, the minarets are not on public property. While every civilized society maintains the right to impose some limits what people do on their own property (zoning is an example) we must oppose those limits if they are based on a religious test, if for no other reason than we will likely be the next targets of such discriminatory rules.

    in reply to: Swiss Ban on Minarets #669901
    charliehall
    Participant

    I completely and totally oppose the Swiss vote. Saudi Arabia is not any kind of model for any enlightened community to follow. To the contrary we should be strong supporters of the rights of other minority religions in the diaspora because we are all potential victims of the majority. And this is clearly true in Switzerland, which banned shechita decades ago, and in which there is already a serious proposal to ban Jewish and Muslim cemetaries. We should listen to the European Conference of Rabbis; they know the situation in Europe far better than we do.

    in reply to: English Music #746403
    charliehall
    Participant

    happyOOTer,

    Rov Soloveitchik matired all classical music, including opera, as not falling under the kol isha prohibition. I’ve discussed this at length with my rabbi, a talmid of The Rov, who actually attended an opera himself for the first time last spring (at the age of 70!). That this was intended not as a theoretical statement but practical halachah le-maaseh is that Yeshiva University has been holding an opera fundraiser for decades. This year it was Puccini’s “Turandot”.

    If your rabbi holds like The Rov, do try to see Verdi’s Nabucco. It is a very moving opera with a happier ending than what happened in real life.

    in reply to: Support Group for Epilepsy #669175
    charliehall
    Participant

    I just called a colleague who is a frum neurologist specializing in epilepsy with many frum patients. Unfortunately, she did not think there is any support group for Jews with epilepsy.

    in reply to: Support Group for Epilepsy #669174
    charliehall
    Participant

    I work with frum neurologist who specialize in epilepsy. They have many frum patients. I will ask one of them if they know about any support groups like this.

    in reply to: Jewish Doctor Death Penalty #668898
    charliehall
    Participant

    I’ve had two different rabbis tell me that it is not permitted for a Jew to serve on a jury on a capital case in the United States because the standards for administering a death penalty fall far below what the Torah requires even for Noachide courts. I would presume that a prohibition of a doctor participating would be a kal v’chomer.

    in reply to: English Music #746394
    charliehall
    Participant

    A spectacularly example of uplifting “non-Jewish” music is “Va, pensiero”. It was written by the non-Jewish but philo-Semitic Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. It expresses musically the composer’s feelings about what Jews in Babylon must have felt while in exile longing for their land. I find it as moving as Psalm 137.

    in reply to: Should We Give The H1N1 Vaccine For Kids #671971
    charliehall
    Participant

    I just got the H1N1 vaccine today. I am considered high risk because I am over 50 and have asthma. I would have gotten it sooner except that it wasn’t available.

    We don’t take influenza seriously. Tens of thousands of Americans die from seasonal flu every year. Millions died in 1918-1919. Vaccines offer quite a bit of protection and the risk of serious adverse events in people in whom the vaccine isn’t contraindicated (such as people with allergies to eggs) is miniscule. I will accept the protection, as should anyone without contraindications.

    in reply to: I have a BRILLIANT idea! #669502
    charliehall
    Participant

    I would recommend the frum novelist Herman Wouk’s three works of historical fiction set in and around World War II: *The Caine Mutiny*, *The Winds of War*, and *War and Remembrance. (The first is not Jewish-themed.) Wouk also wrote two great non-fiction books about Judaism, *This Is My God*, and *The Will to Live on: Reclaiming the Jewish Heritage*.

    in reply to: Should We Give The H1N1 Vaccine For Kids #671910
    charliehall
    Participant

    Praying for the end to the epidemic without getting vaccinated — and getting your children and family members vaccinated — is like praying for a shidduch while never going out on a date. HaShem often gives us the tools but we have the free will to decline them. The yetzer hara is very strong.

    in reply to: Cantorial Music #667824
    charliehall
    Participant

    Do we really require a shliach tzibbur to be of sound levels of observance and morality? I’ve been in many, many minyanim in which someone they’ve never seen before walks in and asks to daven from the amud because of a yahretzeit. I’ve never seen the request refused on an ordinary weekday unless someone else was celebrating a yahretzeit. How did they even know the guy is Jewish at all, much less shomer Shabat?

    in reply to: Federal Grant To Learn Arabic #667547
    charliehall
    Participant

    shaatra,

    If Arabic is such a bad language, how come so many important sefarim were written in it?

    And how is Aramaic holy? None of chumash is written in Aramaic, almost none of Navi, and just a few sections of Ketubim.

    in reply to: Yeshiva Guys’ Dress #818349
    charliehall
    Participant

    Insides are more important than outsides. There are some amazing talmidei chachamim in Israel who always dress very casually.

    in reply to: Chanukah 5770 #911012
    charliehall
    Participant

    I will sing Hallel eight days in a row.

    in reply to: Obama: Jail Time for Those without Health Care Insurance? #667459
    charliehall
    Participant

    The fact is, America’s health system will continue to be totally dysfunctional until everyone has insurance. Even the health insurance lobby agrees with this; they support mandatory insurance. Israel has universal health insurance; Theodore Roosevelt promoted it 97 years ago! It is high time the United States did this, too.

    in reply to: Anyone Else Worried About Today’s Frum Music? #793118
    charliehall
    Participant

    Regarding permitting music in general (not just Jewish music): Rov Soloveitchik permitted all classical music, even when a woman was singing, and even opera. He said that it elevated us. And he meant it as halachah le’maaseh: Yeshiva University held a fundraiser tonight at the Metropolitan Opera and has been doing so for many years, and my own rabbi, a talmid of The Rov, attended an opera last spring.

    in reply to: Debate Lakewood VS Chovevei Torah #667745
    charliehall
    Participant

    As to the “What’s the point”? I would think that Torah would be the point — these are both Orthodox yeshivot!

    What I would really love to see would be for Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon to debate Rabbi Hershel Schachter on Zionism.

    in reply to: Owning a Gun ? #717548
    charliehall
    Participant

    I don’t own a gun and don’t particularly want to. Once in my life a friend who is a prosecutor took me to a shooting range and I discovered how hard it was to hit a stationary target with a handgun; kal v’chomer a target like an intruder who does not want to be hit. Furthermore an awful lot of illegal guns started out as legal guns and were stolen, as rosnr points out; it is critical that legal guns (the only kind us Jews should ever own) be stored in a very secure locked case. Another problem is that your gun might be used against you; the father of a dear friend was killed by his own handgun. The chance that a gun will be of any use to me in this relatively safe city of New York are very small.

    in reply to: Should We Give The H1N1 Vaccine For Kids #671889
    charliehall
    Participant

    It should be pointed out that the scare about vaccines causing autism in children was based on one tiny study that appears to have been faked. The authors are under investigation for scientific misconduct. Since then, millions of dollars have been wasted on studies all of which confirm that children who get vaccinated develop autism at the same rate as children who do not. Yet people still believe the falsehood. There never was any *real* evidence that vaccines cause autism, and it has now been proven conclusively that they do not. If you don’t believe it you should never bother going to a doctor or a hospital for anything, because very little they do is as clearly understood as the fact that vaccines do not cause autism. Get your children vaccinated!

    in reply to: Federal Grant To Learn Arabic #667542
    charliehall
    Participant

    I think it is great that more people will learn Arabic. It will allow us access to the original writings of (among others) Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, Rabbeinu Bachya, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, and Rambam, without having to rely on translation!

    in reply to: Debate Lakewood VS Chovevei Torah #667737
    charliehall
    Participant

    YCT is Orthodox; I know a number of students there. And I know a Lakewood-trained rabbi who has had YCT Rosh Yeshiva Dov Linzer give shiurim at his shul.

    I personally think joint appearances with rabbis from two yeshivot that have different hashkafot is very dangerous. If we religious Jews actually can get along with each other while disagreeing, that might bring mashiach. We can’t possibly permit that!

    in reply to: Should We Give The H1N1 Vaccine For Kids #671875
    charliehall
    Participant

    I am going to get it myself as soon as I can; kal v’chomer for children who have no immunity to strains similar to H1N1. (Those who received the 1976 swine flue vaccine may have some protection against H1N1.)

    This is serious. folks; tens of thousands of Americans each year die from the normal seasonal flu, and H1N1 may be more dangerous. This is no time to be spreading misinformation or putting your children at risk.

    in reply to: Cantorial Music #667814
    charliehall
    Participant

    Cantorial music concert, Saturday, December 5, 2009, 8pm, at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, with music by Cantors Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and Sol Zim, accompanied by the Park East Synagogue Choir and Cantor Daniel Gildar on piano. 163 East 67th Street. Contact the synagogue for further information. (I’d post a link but YWN doesn’t allow outside links.)

    in reply to: Cantorial Music #667813
    charliehall
    Participant

    I can’t believe that people here suggest that it is good to cut short our communication with our Creator!

    in reply to: Anyone Else Worried About Today’s Frum Music? #793093
    charliehall
    Participant

    The tune usually used for “Maoz Tzur” is a German tune used by none other than Martin Luther HaRasha for Christian hymns.

    I once spent a Shabat at Mikveh Israel, the old Sefardic congregation in Philadelphia that has been existence for over 250 years — and is famed for refusing to permit any departures from its minhagim. The tunes were very much in the style of 18th century American colonial music.

    So just what *is* “Jewish” music as opposed to “goyish” music?

    in reply to: Broken Telephone #659981
    charliehall
    Participant

    And he suggested I show it to a rabbi because this year we don’t fulfill the d’oraita commanment of lulav and it might still be kosher for the d’rabbanan.

    in reply to: Things To Do In Niagara #788784
    charliehall
    Participant

    Enjoy one of HaShem’s amazing creations, and stay away from the casinos.

    If you are up to it, drive through some of the less well off parts of Niagra Falls, New York. It is actually the most depressing place I’ve ever seen in the United States — worse than the South Bronx, the rural South, or Applachia. It causes me to appreciate the blessings that HaShem has bestowed on me.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660516
    charliehall
    Participant

    “Why is anyone so intent on disproving the scientific statements of Chazal?”

    I’m not. I’m objecting to people who insist on *proving* the scientific statements of Chazal when the halachah has been since the time of the Gaonim that we *don’t* follow their science.

    “Could not Hashem have created a universe that was billions of years old?”

    Of course the answer to this is yes, but that is a Christian idea with no basis in our mesorah. In our mesorah we find opinions that follow the apparent pshat which would be that the universe is thousands of years old (see Seder Olam Rabbah) and other opinions alluded to by others that say that the universe is much older. There is no psak for aggadata.

    “in the gemara you will find math and science too “

    Correct.

    “perhaps it is not an halachic issue, so we should not be so concerned about it”

    Correct.

    “So if they misspoke about lice and its source, or if they understood it differently, big deal. They still knew what was treif and what was kosher. “

    Correct again.

    in reply to: Rosh Hashana – What Time Did You Finish Davening? #659928
    charliehall
    Participant

    Day 1: Start 8:15am. Finish 1pm. 10 minute sermon.

    Day 2: Start 8:15am. Finish 1:30pm. 25 minute sermon.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660433
    charliehall
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Regarding the “evidence” for a young universe, that position is not specified directly from the Torah but from Seder Olam Rabbah; there are other sources from our mesorah that would permit an ancient universe. Rambam, Ramban, and especially Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam all agree that there is no chiyuv to believe the literal truth of any particular midrash/aggadata. Rabbi Avraham’s position is very clear that on that is not the purpose of midrash/aggadata and this position is accepted as seen by the fact that his essay forms the preface to the Ein Yaakov.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660430
    charliehall
    Participant

    Joseph,

    If someone tells me something is permissible and it isn’t, but I do it anyway, I’m over the aveirah, not the person who tells me it is permissible. *I* am responsible for my mitzvah observance. Other rishonim argued with Rashi on that comment, and I’ve seen Rabbi Hershel Schachter write that if was are certain that a rabbi is mistaken in his psak, we MUST not follow it. (Such situations would of course be very rare, and any rabbi would take very seriously any report of a frum Jew telling him that a kosher slaughterhouse was replacing cow with pig meat!)

    in reply to: Talking During Davening #663961
    charliehall
    Participant

    We are blessed that two blocks from the home we moved into two weeks ago there is a Yomim Noraim minyan that prohibits talking and provides low cost child care for families.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660426
    charliehall
    Participant

    Joseph, I’m stunned.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660422
    charliehall
    Participant

    “Smarter than the Rema, the Maharal, Aruch Hashulchan, Chasam Sofer, Rabbeinu Bachyai, the Alshich, the Radvaz, and the Chida combined?”

    Probably smarter than none of them individually, certainly not smarter than all combined. But today we have access to information they did not have.

    As an example, Rabbeinu Bachya in Chovot HaLevavot has a proof of the existence of God that involves severaly descriptions of the concept of infinity. Many centuries later, it was discovered that his description of the nature of infinity were not accurate. Today any good high school calculus student understands this material. Does that make thousands of high school calculus students smarter than Rabbeinu Bachya? Chas v’shalom! That proof is not necessary for the important spritual truths contained in that sefer.

    The sceptics will use this to disparage everything from Rabbeinu Bachya and to disparage our sages in general. We must not allow this to go unanswered! But denying that our sages did not have access to all the modern information we have at our disposal today is not an valid argument.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660420
    charliehall
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Would you eat a piece of meat that the author of one of your sources had told you was kosher, when you yourself had seen it taken from the carcass of a pig?

    None of the people you cite lived long enough to hear of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, which proved beyond any doubt (1) the big bang, and (2) the ancient universe. We cannot conjecture what they would have said had they lived into the 1960s and studied the data carefully.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660414
    charliehall
    Participant

    ames,

    I wasn’t offended at all, but thank you. There *are* indeed scientists who are anti-religion; I’ve had disputations with them in the past. They abuse science by trying to make it do things it can’t do.

    But just as science can’t prove or disprove our basic religious principles, religion can’t disprove empirical facts!

    May all our conversations be in pursuit of spiritual and empirical truth.

    in reply to: Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous? #660411
    charliehall
    Participant

    An example of where modern science expands our awe of our creator: The pshat of Seder Olam Rabbah would indicate that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, but that is contradicted by empirical evidence, which clearly shows that the universe is billions of years old. The evidence shows that HaShem’s creation is far more vast than Chazal could ever have imagined. We should tremble that even our greatest sages could not comprehend the power and majesty of our creator; kal v’chomer must we feel humble as a result! How appropriate for this time of year to meditate on this in order to improve our yirat shemayim.

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