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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

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Serious Notions with a Smile


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Mark Perakh's Web Site

Response to Rabbi Segal

By Naftali Zeligman

Posted February 13, 2007

Dear Rav Segal,

Some time ago you published a brochure Zachor Cherpatcha Mini Naval ("Remember Your Shame of a Villain") as an attempt to answer the claims of the Daat Emet pamphlets. Maybe your intention was to defend our Torah and to sanctify the name of G-d, but you missed the mark because of your lack of knowledge in the matters spoken of, because of arrogance and grumbling, and because of even more severe things, as we shall show. You wrote 53 pages to answer 5 Daat Emet pamphlets and even complained that doing this is a bitul Torah, but half of the things written are abuse, cursing, and bad language. You called the author of the pamphlets "a villain," "a sick person," "a crazy one," compared him to Hitler, and used many other harmful and offensive titles hardly conceivable for the Sons of Israel, "bashful, merciful, and performing charity" (Yevamot 79a). All this writing is a definite bitul Torah and isn't a way to sanctify G-d's name, nor does it help to answer the Daat Emet questions, so it's a pity for us that a rabbi wrote this.

Maybe the fact people you wrote about left the way of Torah frustrated you so much you had no control of your instincts, but even this does not come from piety nor from love of Torah, but rather from a lack of knowledge in those matters, unforgivable for a person writing about them. You should know about the responsa of the Ridbaz, part 4, section 187, in which the Ridbaz was asked about a preacher in a synagogue whose speech seemed to emit an air of heresy. In his answer he agreed that the things spoken were heresy, and then wrote in these plain words: "And I have not found a reason why he should be exempted from the punishment except that he is mistaken in his deductions, and his hope is his failure. This is surely no more severe than somebody who makes mistakes in any of the fundamentals of the faith because of his erroneous deductions, yet he isn't called a heretic for this. Hillel was a great man, yet he erred on one of the fundamentals of the faith when he said, 'There's no Mashiach for Israel, for they had already devoured him in the days of Hezekiah.' Despite this mistake he was not thought a heretic, G-d forbid, for if he was, how could we learn from his words? And the reason is clear -- for his heresy lies only in thinking his deductive conclusions are true, so he is like one compelled to do a sin and therefore is exempted." Until here the words of the Ridbaz, and the conclusion is clear: one who leaves the way of Torah because of his logical conclusions is not a heretic, and the author of the pamphlets should be compared to Hillel rather than to Hitler.

Not only did you not know this, despite being a Rosh Yeshiva, you also do not know lot of more trivial and well-published things you wrote about in your brochure, and we shall explain each one in turn. On the first page of your work you stated that the sun sets in the west, as proof of what is written: "And the host of Heaven bows down to You," for the Divine Presence is in the west. But this you forgot: the moon moves around the Earth from west to east, in just the opposite direction to the sun (Encyclopaedia Britannica, moon). Is the moon not part of "the host of Heaven"? Or does the Divine Presence move from west to east at night? This whole claim is ridiculous and worthless; why do you write about things you haven't even begun to study?

On page 5 you cited the prophet Amos' famous words as referring to the outreach movement in our days: "A time is coming -- declares my Lord G-d when I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Lord." True enough, this is Amos 8:11, but for some reason you forgot the next verse, Amos 8:12 -- "Men shall wander from sea to sea and from north to east to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it." Rashi writes about these verses: "The Divine Spirit will leave them." It's clear that Amos described not a return to G-d, but G-d leaving his people helpless and losing holiness; the prophet's intention was the opposite of yours.

Then you went on, and like a peddler, pulled out all those arguments for "Torah from Heaven" given at seminars by Arachim and similar organizations. You did this several more times, without any connection to the Daat Emet questions, fulfilling our rabbis' saying ,"he was called about wheat and confessed about barley." Regarding the matter of rational proofs for the Torah, there is a book titled "Guidance for the Yeshiva student from the letters of Rav Ya'akov Yisrael Kannevsky," which includes a letter to the Steipler Rebbe from a yeshiva student who had questions in matters of faith, asking for a solution. The Steipler's answer was that there's no rational solution for this problem, only meritorious suggestions. He advised the student to study Torah assiduously and to observe the Sabbath in all its nuances. If this young man was ready to observe the Sabbath stringently and with all his might, surely he didn't want to become an apostate. At that point, had there been any rational proof for Torah from Heaven, the Steipler would have given it to him; since he didn't give it, it means there's no such proof.

But even in those "proofs" you made many mistakes. First you wrote (on page 6) that on Mount Sinai G-d revealed Himself to all the People of Israel in a prophetic vision, which is above the vision of the senses. Then they passed this knowledge on to all their sons, and their sons to their sons, etc. until our days, so that for us it has more validity as a historical event than World War I, which only some people saw and reported to their sons. Until here are your words, and in only these few sentences you erred at least three times:

1) Rambam describes the Sinai Revelation as an event experienced by the senses alone: "Our eyes and not a stranger's saw, and our ears and not another's heard the fire and the voices and the torches" (Laws of the Torah Fundamentals, 8:1).

2) The fathers told this to their sons not as a personal testimony (we do not have 600,000 personal testimonies nor any other number), but as the performance of a commandment. What they must say is also strictly defined by Halacha, not by what they heard from their fathers. All that recitation of these stories testifies to is that the teller has accepted the yoke of the Torah and commandments for his own reasons, not necessarily because of this or any other historical event.

3) About World War I we know not only and not mainly from personal stories, but from historical evidence: documents, chronicles, news items of the war period, and so on. All this evidence has come from different sources, not always with a personal interest in the content of their testimony. All the evidence has been thoroughly cross-checked; the picture we have today is the result of all those verifications, so that it is quite an objective description of reality. Not so for the Sinai Revelation, which is not reported in any independent historic sources whose validity may be verified, nor is there any archeological evidence it really happened. For example, there's not a single remnant of the altar and the twelve stone pillars Moses built at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:4). In short, the Sinai Revelation clearly fails to meet the criteria of a historical event.

You made all these mistakes in just a few lines of your work. There are many other places in which you didn't understand the matter you were writing about. On page 6 you claimed that the Torah contains Halachic guidance even for the age of modern technology, as brought by the later poskim. But you must understand: if you accept any specific document as a guide for all times and make all your conclusions based on it, it is you (or those whose authority you accept) who find the connections between the letter of the law and the current situation; the law itself, though, says nothing about it. Neither the Torah nor the Talmud mention a motor car and both of them are full of regulations on how to deal with oxen and donkeys, but when the motor car was invented, people asked their rabbis about it, and they tried to find something similar in the Torah and Talmud -- not always successfully.

Concerning the drashot of the Sages and their derivation from the rules of grammar of the Holy Tongue, another grievous failure was made. First, no one before Malbim (19th century CE) mentions that opinion; the Rambam, in comparison, recognizes only "the 13 ways in which Torah is elucidated, and similar things." But even Malbim's opinion is too problematic to rely upon as you do. The first of Malbim's 613 rules is: "The opinion of Chazal agrees with the opinion of the linguists that there's no root in the Holy Language longer than three letters. It is said that those of four are composed of two or three words and some of them came from other languages." This clearly contradicts what is claimed by the Jewish tradition, that the whole world was created in the Holy Tongue and it is the source of all languages.

In rule 259 Malbim states: "The word nefesh includes the adult and the minor, males and females…" But what can we do? In Exodus 12:16 it is written -- "For seven days should you eat matzot… for everyone who eats leaven, that nefesh will be cut off from Israel, from the first day till the seventh." It is the law of Torah that any punishment for sin, including "cutting off the nefesh," is only meted out to those over the age of 13. Here the word nefesh does not include the minor, and so Malbim was clearly wrong. But even these "rules" of Malbim's are not really rules, and Chazal did with them as they pleased, as we shall see immediately. Rule 613 states: "In the place where the word et or any preposition was expected and it is absent, we may interpret it as we want. And thus, since it is written three times ve-samach yado without an et, they elucidated three laws as though it were written ve-samach be-yado, and this is the rule for all such cases." According to the rules of the Holy Tongue G-d gave us the freedom to interpret such cases as we want, yet Chazal came and took this freedom from us by elucidating from these words of the Torah three very specific laws -- "his hand (yado) and not his son's hand, his hand and not his slave's hand, his hand and not his emissary's hand" (see Malbim on parashat Vayikra, paragraph 28).

Concerning the principles you claimed the Torah first formulated and which now have become the basics of world morality, you should know that all the commandments "between a man and his fellow", including the ban on killing and the ban on stealing, charity, loving one's neighbor, care for slaves and disdain of slavery, and even the returning of lost property, are, according to the Torah, between Jews only. One may not cure Gentiles on the Sabbath nor return their loss, and there is a commandment to enslave them forever (Leviticus 25:45-46). This is hardly the basics of world morality.

About "deep Halachic definitions for all the matters of Torah" (page 7 of Zachor Cherpatcha), we wonder how you did not know that the rule of chazaka, for example, was very commonly accepted in the Roman legal system as presumptio (even now in all the European languages it is called by variants of this name) hundreds of years before it was stated in the Mishna.

The "practical recommendations" of the Torah are also not very practical. Ikvota Di-M'shicha, paragraph 27, advises dividing one's money into three parts: one third should be buried, one third invested in business, and one third kept as cash on hand. The economic effect of following such advice is rather doubtful; the money buried will certainly be eaten by inflation in a few years. If everybody followed this advice the amount of investment in the economy would decrease, and the economy's growth would come to a stand-still. Maybe in Talmudic times this advice was clever, but it clearly contradicts the rules of a modern economy. In general, isn't it wiser to consult a stockbroker when investing money, and a doctor when ill? Incidentally, how much time did you invest in studying geometry? You are so amazed by the Vilna Gaon's Ayil Meshulash, quite a primitive description of the simple Euclidian geometry taught in any high school in the Gaon's era.

This is not the place to discuss prophecies in the Torah, but it should be noted that the contemporary "Ingathering of Exiles" was accompanied not by a return to Judaism, but rather by massive leaving of the faith which has created a clear secular majority in modern Israel. It is also useful to remember that hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews left the country seeking a better life -- is this the "Ingathering of Exiles" the Torah wrote about?

And after this foreword, let us move on to your arguments against Daat Emet. The whole issue of the hare eating its excrement is an insult to the Torah and should certainly be considered a public desecration of G-d's name. That phenomenon has nothing to do with the concept of ha'alaat gerah, which quite clearly assumes something is brought up, not thrown down like excrement. About this sort of claim Ibn Ezra said in his commentary on Daniel 1:1 "How is it possible that a man should say one word and mean another; one who says this would be thought mad, etc., and it would be better were he to say he does not know than to twist the words of the Living G-d." You remarked that "ma'aleh gerah does not necessarily come up from the bowels, because according to Rashi's gerah is the chewed food itself, and ma'aleh gerah means eating the chewed food." This is simply a lie, for Rashi himself (on Leviticus 11:3) stated that "Ma'alat gerah means that [an animal] brings its food up and vomits it from its bowels and returns it to its mouth to pound it and to grind it well." Nowhere does Rashi state that gerah is chewed food, nor do any of the Bible commentators. What happened to "Keep away from lies" (Exodus 23:7)?

The eating of excrement is very common in many kinds of animals, including lemurs (a kind of monkeys); if this is considered ha'alaat gerah, there are many more than four species of animals with one sign of kashrut.

But how far shall we go with ignorance and lack of thought? On page 15 you wrote that "Were the hyrax permitted for eating because it is ma'aleh gerah, it would be possible to say that the question… is a good question … and the only reason the Torah gave signs of kashrut was so one who sees that animal will not mistakenly say the animal is kosher for it is ma'aleh gerah." Yet how could one say the hyrax is kosher when it doesn't have split hooves?

The shesu'a (an animal with a split spine) is also a very problematic issue, one you don't seem to have the slightest clue about. Why do you write about things you don't understand? The Malbim on Leviticus 11 paragraph 73, which you cited as a source, was seriously mistaken, perhaps because he did not study the matter either, and the deeds of the fathers are a sign for the sons. He wrote about a South American animal called tayassu which has two spines; he meant the animal named peccary, whose Latin name is indeed tayassu. But this animal doesn't have two spines; it has one, like all other animals, and Malbim simply was wrong. Since this animal is not a pig but a different species (peccaries divide into three species, actually), and yet has split hooves and is not ma'aleh gerah in any way at all, the words of the Gemara that "there's none with split hooves and impure but the pig" (Hulin 59a) are false, and the wise one will fall silent.

Concerning fish, you cited the Mishnah in Nidah 51: "All that have scales have fins", and to prove this you wrote (on page 18) that there's no edible fish which has scales and doesn't have fins. But the Mishnah didn't speak of edible fish only, nor only of all fish, but of all the water creatures in the world ("All that have scales…") Surely your intention was to the case described by the Ma'adaney Yom-Tov on Hulin 66b about stinkus marinus -- a fish with scales and without fins. The Ma'adaney Yom-Tov himself asked how this can be reconciled with the words of Gemara, but his explanation is totally different from yours. In any case, if you take the text of the Mishnah literally, it is not true. If you have arrived at a question, why not give a halachic source where it is discussed, for the one who quotes a matter in the name of its author...?

You made another very large and serious mistake when you wrote, after once again listing all the "proofs" for Torah from Heaven: "But what are all those things compared to the hare's calmly chewing jaws… See what can be done to somebody by one small hyrax…" (page 20). This is a complete misunderstanding of the scientific method, and certain to lead to the disgrace of the Torah and its scholars. Any research in our world is based on facts discovered through experiments; even if we have a strong, well-based theory which explains all the experiments done until now and then a completely anonymous student comes along and conducts one small experiment that cannot be explained by the theory -- the theory isn't right, no matter who constructed it and how many proofs there are for it. If a theory doesn't correctly describe reality, it is wrong, period. All its proofs must still be dealt with, but this doesn't convert wrong to right.

In particular, the "Torah codes" to which you appealed as a rescue from "questions on Torah" are completely ridiculous. No one in the mathematical world today takes it seriously; it is mere trickery and fraud. The mechanisms of the trickery perpetrated by Witztum et al. were thoroughly described by Prof. Brendan McKay et al. in their paper in Statistical Science, June 1999, and there is even a letter signed by more than 50 of the world's most prominent mathematicians (PhDs and senior academic personnel) calling the "Torah codes" "a theory without foundation." Among those who signed this petition are G-d-fearing Jews, and the issue doesn't make any difference in their faith. Maybe you didn't study the matter properly before writing about it, but now you can get the relevant information. The petition is published at http://math.caltech.edu/code/petition.html.

It is also not clear why you again and again number the great sages of Israel of different generations like some peddler, recounting their praises and returning again and again to the idea that it's impossible for all of them to be liars. As though it were impossible for good people to mistake complete lies for truth! Even Rambam himself considered Ptolemaic astronomic theory, which had Earth in the center of the Universe and the sun and stars and planets revolving around it, true. Rambam even gave his Halachic verdict that this picture of the world is true in Laws of Torah Fundamentals, chapter 3. But now every schoolchild knows this theory is wrong, and Earth revolves around the sun. Was Rambam a liar? No, he was just mistaken.

You wrote that Chazal could err, as could any other person, and proved this by plain words from Halachic sources. Then you cited the Sefer Hachinuch as saying that "even if [the Sages] err in any matter, it is not appropriate for us to argue with them; we shall follow their error. It is better to make one mistake as long as everybody is obliged to follow their always good opinion." But this is the whole issue -- if they can err like anybody else, is their opinion really "always good"? Isn't the opinion of those who do not err in these matters better? Forget Einstein's complicated formulas -- if he would say that 2x2 are not 4, would he still be considered a wise man, and should we follow his theories blindly? See what we wrote above about the scientific method.

Ramban did write that Chazal received their knowledge in matters of nature from Moses our Teacher: "All that was said through prophecy, from the matter of the chariot and the matter of creation, and what was received of them by the sages, with the four lower powers -- mineral, vegetable, the mobile soul and the speaking soul -- all were said to Moses our Teacher" (foreword to Ramban's commentary on Genesis), and all your shouting at the Daat Emet author that he faked Ramban's words is nothing but a lack of attention and bad character. Then you sinned once more through a lack of attention when writing (on page 23) that Chazal could not know the whole truth in "other wisdoms [not Halacha] that are less practical." But Daat Emet showed clearly that not only did the Sages err in "external sciences," but that based on their errors they made Halachic verdicts for generations; if the laws of Shabbat and kashrut are "not practical," what is practical? Then you again peddled all the good characteristics of Chazal, this time from the Steipler's Hayei Olam: holiness, awareness, piety, etc. What has this to do with their lack of knowledge on matters of reality?

Not only did you lack attention, you even distorted the explicit words of our sages. Igrot Moshe on Even HaEzer, part 2, paragraph 3 which you referred to on page 26 as something to rely on, does state that the laws of treifot in animals were determined according to reality at the time of the Sinai Revelation, but he clearly determines it for treifot in animals only! For treifot in people, concerning the laws of a murderer, it is actual reality which determines, and this is even more true for other laws which have no connection to treifot at all (like the killing of lice on Shabbat, which that section of your work deals with). Is somebody who cannot repeat his rabbi's words worthy of being a Rosh Yeshiva?

You wrote many more ridiculous things about those lice. You totally misunderstood the whole matter of parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is regular sexual reproduction except that the female provides her own impregnating material for the egg she produces. Is this "creation from mold"? Is this reproduction in which there is no resemblance between the inanimate material which births and the living thing which is born? Something born through parthenogenesis is exactly like the being which birthed it, with its genes. On the other hand, what similarity is there between mold (or flesh, sweat, or rags) and a living, crawling louse? The lice which reproduce by parthenogenesis exist mainly on birds, and a few exist on mammals; there is no way they can survive on humans. Therefore, of course, they have no relation to this topic, which deals with lice on people's heads and clothing.

And what knowledge does one need to say that lice reproduction "is not like the reproduction of rams which can grow in all circumstances" (page 28). Can the red rams grow on the North Pole? Or in the depths of the Sahara desert? Surely not, for they can not accommodate themselves to such places. Maybe we should say, following your logic, that red rams are born from the plants they eat?

"The whole lice species" cannot be "a less vital creature," as you write, for there's no connection between one species of lice and another. To refer to all lice as a "lice species" is like referring to cows and camels as one species -- the absurdity is clear. Moreover, there are other creatures which reproduce parthenogenetically. You wrote that it's actually permitted to kill them on Shabbat, but the sages forbade it because of a doubt. But if parthenogenesis is a permit to kill creatures which reproduce that way, what kind of doubt is there?

You also did not understand the issue of evolution, because according to modern biology it took billions of years before high-level creatures like mammals evolved from single-cell creatures. The development of a human embryo really does resemble the stages of evolution, as does the development of other embryos. This is a scientific fact which was made abundantly clear hundreds of times (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, evolution, Embryonic development and vestiges). There's nothing "ridiculous" in it (as you wrote on page 29), just as there's nothing ridiculous in the law of gravity. All this happens before a human (or an animal) is born, but a human is born as a human from another human; this is the case for all other creatures. Nowhere and in no way could a mouse, a very complicated mammal, "evolve" directly from dirt, and all these stories are absurd.

You also didn't fully understand the issue of the drusa, and followed a false path. Ribash's quote about doctors and natural scientists who "are without any doubt mocking us" about the laws of drisa and the like is simply ridiculous. Are all the doctors and all the natural scientists in the world busy with mocking Halacha? Tens of thousands of these scientists never even heard about the laws of drisa, so they cannot mock them. Those who close their eyes so as not to see the truth are making fools of themselves, nothing more. Even if an animal is determined as treifa because of drisa only when it is impossible to check the matter, why should we wonder whether it was damaged by a "venom" which never existed? The fact that the drusa is the only treifa stated explicitly in the Torah just makes the matter worse -- the only treifa stated in the Torah is a total fiction, for there's no reason at all for an animal being damaged in that way. In any case, viruses and poison have nothing in common. The word 'virus,' aside from 'venom,' also means 'vile liquid.' But viruses are neither liquid nor poison. They can even reproduce, and who has ever seen liquid reproducing? One cannot 'project' viruses, they spread by themselves, and the Gemara definitely says the beast which attacks the drusa "projects its venom when retracting its nails" (Hulin 53a). Viruses also spread from the moment the predator sticks its nails into the prey's flesh, not when it retracts its nails, and if the predator's paw was cut off after it was stuck into the prey's flesh, the viruses have much more time to spread and damage the prey, but according to the Gemara it's still kosher. Our Sages thought not of viruses, but of a real and perceptible venom which does not exist.

The matter of gestation periods of snakes and other creatures is much more interesting, but the picture is actually just the opposite of what you have described. For many years scientists thought that in some species of snakes the female can in some way preserve semen for several years after intercourse. But no one ever thought it could be preserved for seven years; even in your citation from the encyclopedia HaChai VehaTzomeach Shel Eretz Yisrael the maximal period of such preservation is reported as only six years. Recently researchers found that no preservation occurs at all, but that some species of snakes reproduce parthenogenetically, that is, a female produces an egg and it develops without fertilization by spermatozoa. This fact was officially recognized by several scientific associations including the Colorado Herpetological Society (see http://coloherp.org/cb-news/cbn-9811/Parthenogenesis.html). When a snake is seen to give birth six years after intercourse with a male, this doesn't mean it preserved the semen for years -- the offspring was brought into the world by parthenogenesis. Never is the gestation period of a snake longer than 24 months, so Chazal definitely erred. But that's not what's important. What this story does is compare two ways of seeking the truth: the first by experimenting and watching the results, and the second by elucidating the words of a text considered holy. What we must accept is that the first way, the scientific method, always gives the true result, while the second way might be good for interpreting the text, but clearly fails to determine anything about reality.

In vain did you blame the author of Daat Emet of roguery concerning different animals' gestation periods. He didn't mention dogs, pigs, and cats due to a lack of space, but that Chazal was mistaken about the length of animals' pregnancies is quite clear from what was said, so he only cited the Gemara phrase in which they spoke of animals "giving birth once in three years." The gestation periods of the cat, dog, and others are just more testimony of Chazal's lack of knowledge in matters of nature. Similarly, their Halachic determination that a woman gives birth only after 271 days of pregnancy (Nidah 38b) -- they just calculated the gematria of the word herayon (pregnancy), and who cares what happens in real life?! And none of these animals in the Gemara are like the adder, for whom 70 years is the period from birth to pregnancy, not the gestation period. The Gemara there (Bechorot 8a) determines a correspondence between the gestation periods of animals and times of fruit ripening on trees. The adder is compared to the carob, which the Gemara explicitly says takes 70 years from planting to giving fruit; the logical conclusion is that it also takes the adder 70 years before it becomes pregnant. But nothing like that is said of other animals! Only their gestation periods are mentioned along with the periods of trees' fruit ripening. What reason do we have to think something other than what is written? And besides, can a dog become pregnant 50 days after it is born? Chazal definitely didn't know the gestation periods of the animals living in their own homes, nor did they perform any special observations to learn them -- the scientific method of experiment and observation was totally alien to them, as it was to most of the world until the modern era.

You also did not refute the Daat Emet claims about anatomy, nor did you write anything consistent and clear. On page 33 you wrote that Rashi "didn't enlarge upon the explanation" of cardiac anatomy, because "it makes no difference in Halacha". Only a fool does not see that Rashi's whole explanation is incorrect. He didn't need "to enlarge upon" it, he needed to write it correctly, which he didn't. There is no "middle chamber" of the heart, or there are two "middle chambers" if one wants to call them that. And again you followed the primrose path of kal vachomer taken from the Yad Yehuda, who "didn't turn apostate." When researching any part of reality, it doesn't matter what the previous researchers did in their personal lives. The only thing that does matter is what the facts say. See what we cited above from the Ridbaz's responsa.

Again, in vain did you accuse the author of Daat Emet of distorting the Yad Yehuda's words. Never did the pamphlet say Chazal erred on the issue of the heart! All that he said is that Rashba, Rashi, and Ran erred, and that following them the Shulchan Aruch ruled their error into Halacha. As one who has read the 'anatomy' entry in Encyclopaedia Hebraica (see below), you should cite here the encyclopedia's words that in the Talmud "there's no mention of Aristotle's erroneous opinion, accepted by Ibn Sina, that there are three chambers in the heart" (page 407). Perhaps you were frightened that this citation could not only lead your readers to understand that this opinion held by the Rashba and others is erroneous, they would also figure out that the Rishonim learned it from Gentile researchers and thus turned the Gentiles' erroneous opinion into Halacha forever.

What about your sentence "Even in [the Daat Emet author's] opinion there's no need to turn apostate because of the error of a Rishon" (page 34)? He does not speak of turning apostate. He states that Halachic rulings are not from the Heavens but are man-made and therefore may and do contain a lot of errors. It is inconceivable that all of these came from the Divine Presence at Sinai.

Not only do you lack integrity, you lack understanding, too. You counted some of Rashba's writings (on page 35) as evidence for his "wide knowledge" in matters of reality. It is not knowledge that may be seen in those sections of Rashba's responsa, but rather the opposite: in part 1, section 9, he denounced the sciences and revealed a complete misunderstanding of a magnet's function, in section 413 he spoke of the healing powers of different things (which is mystics, but not science), and in section 415 he went so far as to forbid the study of natural sciences for anybody less than 25 years old! A wise man will be frustrated to think of how many diseases would not have been healed and how many pious Jews would have died if everybody strictly followed Rashba's ruling. What Rashba wrote about anatomy in part 1, section 29, was taken completely from the Gemara. It is not a witness to his knowledge of anatomy but of his knowledge of Gemara. Where the Gemara erred or said nothing, he certainly would have misspoken, as happened on the issue of the heart.

Don't you realize the absurdity in a sentence like "as though they had never checked a human heart after death" (page 35). How could Rishonim, who were like angels, perform autopsies? It is forbidden by Halacha and many Hareidi leaders fought against it during the early years of the State of Israel?! Do you think your readers are fools who can neither read nor understand and do not know the events of not-so-ancient history? Or do you think any means are permitted to prevent a person from leaving Orthodox beliefs?

You continued on this path when discussing the Tania's words that "there is no blood in the heart's right chamber." If "For blood is the soul" may only be said of blood containing oxygen, should blood from the right chamber be exempted from the prohibition against blood eating learned from this verse in Deuteronomy 12:23? Or do you simply use any excuse, hoping something would be persuasive?

So, too, with the issue of windpipes, did you err and lead your readers into error or even worse. Thus you wrote that the "Gemara in Hulin 45a says there are three tubes in the body: one spreads out to the heart, one spreads out to the lungs, and one spreads out to the liver… And it is not written [in the Gemara] where these tubes start, just where they end" (page 36). You meant that the Gemara was not mistaken, "only" the Rishonim were, but how could you forget that in all Talmudic sources the anatomical term kaneh (tube) stands for the windpipe only, that is, a tube or system of tubes that carries air? There never has been any tube that carries air to the heart or to the liver; they receive oxygen from blood. The Gemara also states that those "tubes" do "spread out" to the heart, liver and lungs; from the context it is clear that there is one tube (windpipe) from which all three spread. This is clearly an error and an absurdity in the words of the Gemara itself. Therefore the Yad Yehuda wrote that Rashba erred because "this is what seemed to him the import of the words of the Gemara." All your accusations against Daat Emet for faking are baseless and nothing but lashon hara. It is useful to note that the Steipler wrote (on Hulin, paragraph 17) that "there is a vein that goes from the liver to the lungs," and this is wrong. This is the error Daat Emet spoke of, and even you admitted that "there is no visible path from the lungs to the liver" (page 37). Thus, even you point out our Sages' errors, as is proper for a learned person, but then why be angry with Daat Emet? They do exactly the same!

Even after admitting the main point of the Daat Emet pamphlets, you went on for some reason, blaming and cursing, until you started faking and distorting. On page 37 you cited the Encyclopaedia Hebraica (entry anatomy) in support of your claims: "The anatomy in the Talmud is rich in details, and its function is the description of normal and abnormal forms of the body, in place of the Greek theory of humors. The details are sometimes amazing in their precision -- to the extent of mentioning small cartilages in the structure of the windpipe which were discovered by Western anatomy only in the 17th century." "And then," you wrote [in your own name and not as a citation], "it [Hebraica] continues and states that all those amazingly exact details are brought in the Gemara not systematically, but 'only as they were needed for the solution of Halachic problems'." Maybe in the hopes of strengthening the faith you didn't cite the exact words of the Hebraica. It said: "…which were discovered by Western anatomy only in the 17th century. On the other hand, they [the anatomic details in the Talmud] are deficient -- probably because they are not brought systematically, but randomly: only as they were needed for the solution of Halachic problems" end of citation (Encyclopaedia Hebraica, anatomy, p. 408). The Hebraica's words mean quite the opposite of what you say. If this is not faking and distortion, what is??? Maybe you forgot that a sect of liars doesn't receive the Divine Presence (Sanhedrin 103a).

Similarly did you err and fake and curse on issues of astronomy. First you assaulted the Daat Emet author for continuing his claims against Chazal after he brought proof that Torah is not from Heaven, as though it were forbidden to ask questions. Even the Talmud commentators like Rashi and Tosfot sometimes give a number of different suppositions on a Talmudic issue. Since when is a high-level discussion on matters of Torah "fire and blood," as you wrote on page 41? After finally confessing that you simply don't understand the Daat Emet claims (why, then, did you write 53 pages about them?), you blamed its author for your lack of understanding and called him "insane," "a sadist and a masochist at the same time," and other obscene names, and for some reason brought his family life into things -- do you really think it helps you refute his claims, which are strictly based on reality? On page 42 you went so far as to write that the Daat Emet author even served jail time -- a complete lie. How can you be unafraid of the Halachic (and civil) prohibition against slandering? Is this the proper behavior of a pious Jew or, more likely, a desecration of G-d's name, G-d forbid?

Even here you couldn't stop yourself from distorting the explicit words of our Sages. Thus, on the issue of the sunset and twilight you cited the words of Daat Emet that "[the Jews] always acted according to Rabeinu Tam, and there wasn't any other Halachic viewpoint," and then you cited the Chida's Birkei Yosef on Orach Chayim 261 as a ruling that the custom of Halachic behavior in the Land of Israel was always that of the Geonim, not of Rabeinu Tam. What kind of fool doesn't see that in Birkei Yosef on Orach Chayim 261 the words "Land of Israel" do not appear at all? What appears is "the districts of Israel" (gelilot Yisrael), meaning 'the different places of the Jewish Diaspora,' not 'the Land of Israel' (Eretz Yisrael). But what is more important, all the Chida does in Birkei Yosef there is: 1) refute all attempts to rule Halacha according to the "viewpoint of Geonim"; 2) deny such a viewpoint ever existed, and 3) state that all the Rishonim shared Rabeinu Tam's opinion, because it is obvious from the words of the Talmud. On all of these he disagrees with Maharam Alashkar, but he is a real tana demesayea to the Daat Emet author, and you are the one who helped to find such an honorable Halachic foundation for his words, thus earning the merit of Torah study.

Then you distorted the Daat Emet citation from Rav Tikutchinsky, "the erroneous calculation of the calendar is somewhat of a desecration of G-d's name." Never did Daat Emet say it specifically concerns Rabeinu Tam's opinion. It is, rather, a general remark, and a very reasonable one.

Your lack of understanding showed itself once more on page 44, where you wrote that it is obvious Chazal had a Divine tradition concerning astronomy, for they had their own opinion in those matters, different from the Gentile scholars, "and where could they [Chazal] 'invent' such an opinion from, if not of the tradition or of their Divine Spirit?" Do you think Chazal couldn't have had their own theories on astronomy? After all, they dealt with it; albeit not too successfully, but they must have had some theories on the matter. Even more interesting is what you wrote on page 44 about Malbim's interpretation of the word raki'a (firmament): "After he [Malbim] considered some different opinions of the Rishonim and rejected them according to the knowledge of our days…" And here you, too, accepted that our Sages OBM, Rishonim who were like angels, simply erred in matters of reality. Such an error may be recognized not only by themselves, as you claimed on page 21, but even by one who lives centuries after them, based only on reality itself. Again, this is exactly what Daat Emet says, so why do you curse and blame them? From the words of approbation for your brochure from Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinmann, may he live long, we should conclude that the Daat Emet author was absolutely right on that point and that his pamphlets are worthy of study in Torah strongholds just as Rav Steinmann's own words are.

The Daat Emet author managed not to make errors in the simplest and basic matters of understanding our world, which you failed to do. What, if not a harmful and serious error, is your claim that "it is impossible to rely on the scientists… because scientific theories replace one another every morning and night" (pages 44-45)? Or a similar remark on page 47 about "a leavening power" present in water that was hot and got cold, whose existence is denied by science: "But does science already explain everything?" True, scientific theories do not always survive for a long time, but scientific observations do; seeing a bottle is an observation, and no theory could ever suppose it is a cup. The fact of Earth being a sphere is a scientific observation, and every theory should simply accept it as stipulated. The fact is that there's nothing special in formerly hot cold water compared to regular cold water, nor does it affect in any special way the process of dough becoming leaven. The difference between theory and perception is a basic rule known to every beginner who studies matters of reality.

Another example of your lack of knowledge of very simple things is a statement that "the matters of the firmament are secrets of the Torah" (page 45). How could astronomy, studied by all Gentile schoolchildren, be "secrets of the Torah"? You also write that "even from the scientific viewpoint it is impossible to define exactly the movement of the stars, which are really 'flying in the air,' because those stars are connected to each other by the complicated forces of gravity." Don't you even know the simplest facts? 1) There's nothing complicated about gravity itself; it is the large number of objects which creates sophistication. 2) The problem of calculating the movements of the heavenly bodies is merely technical, not essential. 3) Nowadays, with the aid of computers, the astronomers can perform all such calculations with astonishing accuracy. Your description of gravity as "an undefined force" is nothing but an error -- since Newton (17th century) gravity has been well-defined; what is undefined is the cause for it being this way and not another, if there is any meaning to the term 'cause' concerning this matter.

By the way, Edison didn't "invent" electricity. Electricity cannot be "invented" at all, for it is an existing natural phenomenon, it can only be discovered. Static electricity had already been discovered by ancient Greeks, and electric current was discovered in the beginning of the 19th century, decades before Edison was born. What Edison really invented were electric lights for everyday use; he also constructed the first central power station (Encyclopaedia Britannica, electricity).

You also erred in your statement that our notion of Earth revolving around the sun is only "deceptive, for according to Einstein all motion is only one object moving relative to another, so it is impossible to define what revolves and what does not, and both of them [the sun and Earth] revolve one around the other" (page 47). Anyone the least bit acquainted with the theory of relativity should know that this sentence is correct only when speaking of constant-speed motion [without acceleration] on a straight line; when speaking of revolution, even constant-speed, there's always a centripetal acceleration, and thus it is possible to define what revolves around what. It is, of course, Earth that revolves around the sun, regardless of Rambam's Halachic rulings in Laws of the Torah Fundamentals, part 3. And even you, following your own trend to find mistakes about reality in our Sages' words, wrote on page 46 that "nowadays, Earth isn't considered the center of the Universe," and even tried to learn a moral lesson from this fact -- in clear contrast to Rambam's words there. You did what was right, for Rambam simply erred.

But in vain did you try to present (on page 46) the statement of the Jerusalem Talmud (Avodah Zarah chapter 3) "that the world is made like a ball" as evidence of Chazal's knowledge of astronomy. For the full statement of the Jerusalem Talmud is: "…that the world is made like a ball. Rabbi Yonah said: Alexander the Macedonian, when he wanted to rise above, rose and rose until he saw the world like a ball, and the sea like a plate." Here is how these words are interpreted by Tosfot (Avodah Zarah, 41a): "Like a ball -- that the world is round, as is said in the Jerusalem Talmud, … the sea like a plate -- it means the ocean which surrounds all the world." According to our sages, the ocean isn't a part of the world. It is something plate-like which surrounds the ball-like world. This can be hardly considered knowledge of astronomy. What is more crucial is that the Jerusalem Talmud describes a Greek statue of a goddess holding a ball and rules that it is forbidden, for holding a ball may be interpreted as an expression of the goddess' power over the world. The Talmud itself rules that knowledge of the world's shape was Greek, not Jewish! Our Sages were so amazed about the source of this knowledge that they found no better source for it than to "send" Alexander the Great on a "space flight." This shows exactly how vast was Chazal's lack of natural knowledge.

The Greeks already knew the true shape of Earth in the 5th century BCE -- 800 years before the Jerusalem Talmud was written and 200 years before Alexander the Great, when Philoleas, a pupil of Pythagoras, stated that the Earth is spherical (Encyclopaedia Hebraica, astronomy, p. 780). Claudius Ptolemy, in the 2nd century CE, even managed to measure Earth's perimeter quite exactly, and the results of his measures are cited, among others, by Rambam in his Foreword to the Mishna Commentary. Knowledge of astronomic matters came to our Sages not from Sinai, but from Greek pagan worshippers. And Alexander the Great, of course, never made a space flight -- the first one who did so was Yuri Gagarin, 2300 years after him.

Another of your harmful and severe errors is the following explanation: "… how is it that the springs in the Land of Israel are warm at night when the sun shines over America? That would be possible only if Earth was thin or the springs so deep they went through to the opposite side of the world, which is not the reality. Maybe a special natural phenomenon occurs there, not known nowadays" (page 46). But every child in the third grade knows the cause for this phenomenon: after being warmed during the daytime, the ground (and the water, too) loses heat slower than the air, so relative to the air, springs are warm at night. You'd better study nature before writing about it, for your writing makes Torah scholars look like clowns.

You wrote that the Chazon Ish's viewpoint about when the stars appear is in full accordance with the Vilna Gaon's ruling that the time mentioned in the Gemara (three quarters of a mil) is specific to the Babylonian geographic parallel and the months of Tishrei and Nissan, and must be recalculated in every place according to its geographic coordinates. But the parallel of Babylon (Iraq) is more or less the same as of the Land of Israel, so according to Chazon Ish the Vilna Gaon erred, as did the Gemara! About that Daat Emet said: "Every Halachic authority has its reason, each one has its explanation, and the words of the Gemara fall into a deep pit."

You continued with absurdities even on Pamphlet 5, writing quantities of text without the slightest understanding of the matters you're writing about. You brought the Targum on I Chronicles 12:33 as evidence of our Sages' knowledge of calendar calculation. Didn't you know that the Targum was written in the 2nd century CE, long after the legend of the tribe of Issachar as outstanding astronomers was spread far and wide? The tribe of Issachar itself, however, was exiled to Assyria, along with the rest of the 10 tribes, 900 years before. There was then and there is now no way of determining what kind of astronomic knowledge they had, if any. The Book of Chronicles itself says nothing about astronomy -- its words are "And of the sons of Issachar, able to understand the times, to know what Israel will do…" Nothing more. Nor can we know what was written in "the books written by the Sages of Israel of the tribe of Issachar during the prophetic period," mentioned by Rambam (Laws of Sanctifying the Month, 17:24). What we can determine definitely is that the present Judaic calendar was based on the calculations made by pagan-worshipping Gentile astronomers, as Rambam himself wrote. Daat Emet merely cited his words.

You also wrote that our present method of calendar calculation is Halacha given to Moses at Sinai, and cited Rambam's words in Laws of Sanctifying the Month 5:1 as saying that nowadays, when we have no Sanhedrin, it is Halacha to Moses from Sinai to determine the calendar according to those calculations. But how could you forget that Rambam himself relates those calculations to the Greek astronomers? Do you see yourself as more pious than the Chazon Ish, who wrote (on Orach Chayim, 140) that "[Rambam's] meaning was not that all the details were transmitted in Halacha, but it was transmitted that the Sages have the power to establish a consistent calculation according to which the years will be determined, so that the solar years will match the lunar ones… But it is not impossible to establish another calculation that will adjust the lunar and the solar years."

You also erred in stating (on page 50) that Socrates received his wisdom from Asaf HaKorchi and Achitophel, because those two lived at the time of David, while Socrates lived 500 years later. If you cited this from Torat Ha'Olah by Rema, then Rema erred, too. Plato never traveled to the Land of Israel, despite what you wrote on page 51, but he traveled to Italy, Greece, and Egypt (Encyclopaedia Britannica). There's no evidence of basic changes in his philosophy after those travels. There is no trustworthy report that Aristotle ever met any Jewish sage, nor is there any of so drastic a change in his philosophy as acceptance of the Jewish faith. The life of Aristotle is known to us in detail to his very last days, and the lack of evidence of such a dramatic change is evidence of its absence.

Then you again gave your readers an illustration of our Sages' misunderstanding of both the simplest matters of reality and the words of their predecessors. We mean your reference to the Chatam Sofer's novella on Bava Batra 21a, where he states that though Rambam said Gentile calculations of intercalation are faultless, this is not correct, for "fault has already been found in them… anyway, they err in the 11 days that are between the festivals of Russia and the Germans, which error is known to originate with the Pope… but in our traditional calculation, no mistake nor change was found…." He (and you, which isn't surprising) didn't understand the difference between solar- and lunisolar-year intercalation! The difference between the festivals of Russia and the Germans is nothing but the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, adopted by the Greek-Orthodox and the Catholic churches correspondingly. This has nothing to do with the calculations of the lunar month, to which Rambam referred in his words about Gentile calculations being faultless. And they are really faultless, for the 19-year cycle you so praised in the name of Abarbanel was introduced by the Greek astronomer Meton in the 5th century BCE, and probably was known to the Chinese in the 8th century BCE (Encyclopaedia Britannica, calendar). So Ptolemy never could praise the Jews for this calculation; it was not theirs.

But you did a fine thing in finding another tana demesayea for Daat Emet, this time Rabbi David Ganz. But again you show your lack of understanding, for never did Daat Emet state that the Gemara itself didn't distinguish between the average lunar month and the real one. The one who really didn't distinguish between them was the late forger who added the "12 and 793" to the Gemara many years after it was written. The tradition of incompetent forgers is a very ancient one, and a wise man will understand.

Nor did the Daat Emet author blame Maharil for not understanding the difference between the real and the average month; he blamed Chafetz Chayim and our generation's rabbis. It is now possible to calculate every real lunar month with a high degree of accuracy, so there's no need to rely on the average of "29, 12 and 793" as they do in their lack of knowledge. But even the Maharil's instruction to rely on that average is highly problematic, for what does the general correspondence of this calculation with the natural calendar have to do with any specific month, which can differ from the average by a whole 14 hours?

Though you also revealed complete ignorance and misunderstanding in matters of astronomy, you nevertheless tried to rely on experts when defending the Halachic calculations and refuting the Gentile ones. You wrote "and an expert told me" (pages 47, 49), but it's a pity you didn't specify the names of those experts so your readers could verify your words. Based on previous experience, we might well consider that the way you used those "references" fulfilled our Sages' words: "And the one who wants to lie will push aside evidence, for this is the way of the men of mockery who don't have any clue and do not know what they are saying: they draw on subjects whose study and knowledge are not well-publicized" (The Responsa of Noda BiYehudah, second edition, Yore De'ah, paragraph 181).

You have done nothing in Zachor Cherpatcha but curse, use foul language, reveal ignorance and misunderstanding, and sometimes even fake and distort, as we have seen above. Maybe you forgot the words of Yam Shel Shlomo on Bava Kama, page 38, that it is better to die than to lie in matters of Torah. It seems clear that your point was not discussing matters and answering the questions, but by any means preventing your religious readers from becoming secular. It shouldn't be called "answers to the words of a mentally disturbed person," as you wrote, but religious propaganda.

For example, just after you began discussing anatomy (on page 34), you made sure to write that "meanwhile, the Reform Jews stood right up and pinned up the filth written by their new hero, the man who will wage their struggle, for he even knows Aramaic." First, where did you get such information about the Reform community, whose members you probably never met? Second and most important, what does this have to do with the facts described in the Daat Emet pamphlets? Another example is your strange habit of hawking the Sages of Israel at every opportunity like a peddler and singing their praises without any connection to the context. Even if all that praise is true, what does it have to do with the simple fact that those Sages frequently erred on matters of reality? Maybe you tried to find an excuse for yourself using a kal vachomer: "If those great Sages were able to err, my words are certainly allowed to be wrong and erroneous." This kal vachomer is true, for your words are wrong and erroneous and even worse, as we have shown above.

We can only conclude with the words of our teacher Rambam in the foreword to his Eight Chapters: "accept the truth from anybody who said it." We will wish that upon ourselves, upon you, and upon all the House of Israel; G-d's seal is truth.


Naftali Zeligman