Friday, July 03, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #171

  1. Hirhurim on wearing a watch on Shabbos where there is no eruv, and whether the considerations not to are still applicable given today's reality.

  2. Frum Skeptic is upset at a letter writer to the Yated who blames kids going off the derech on timtum halev.

  3. Divrei Chaim on Ramban on how Chazal knew so much about science, based on a midrash rabba, I would guess an attempted response to a point I made about whether sod Hashem liyreav is the exception rather than the rule.
    A certain philosopher wished to know how long the gestation period of a snake was. When he saw two snakes having intercourse he trapped them in a vat and would feed them, watching to see when they would give birth. When the Zekeinim came to Rome, [the Romans] asked Rabban Gamliel how long the gestation period was and he could not answer them. When Rabbi Yehoshua met Rabban Gamliel he saw that his face was sickly looking [because he was unable to answer]... "The answer is seven years," said Rabbi Yehoshua... " A dog is a chaya temeiya and gives birth after 50 days, a beheima temieya gives birth after 12 months, and the snake is described in the pasuk as "more cursed than all animals and chayos of the field." Just as the beheima's gestation period is 7 times longer than the chaya's, so too the snake's gestation is 7 times longer than thebeheima's, hence seven years... When the philosopher heard this he began to bang his head against the wall. He said, "All I have labored to discover in seven years this Chacham was able to give me with the flick of a reed."
    Here is my preliminary take on what that polemical midrash actually means, with another post in the works really analyzing it.

    And at Rationalist Judaism, Rabbi Slifkin explains how a snake can actually give birth seven years after intercourse, though this is not the general pattern of snakes, which makes the meaning of that midrash difficult. To quote:
    On the one hand, there are indeed some cases where individual snakes give birth seven years after mating. On the other hand, this does not appear to be true for any species. There is no type of snake that has a seven-year gestation - instead, individual snakes can give birth for any number of time after mating, from several weeks to nine years or more. Furthermore, some of the other biological information in that section is clearly inaccurate. It is difficult to know what to conclude.
  4. Yeranen Yaakov on validating a segulah, the aravos of the Boyaner Rebbe. I disagree. If these are given out freely as segulahs, it is only a matter of time that something like this happens by random chance. But then this one random occurrence is reported and the thousands of failed instances do not. This is not a scientific way of determining whether a segulah works. Though if the purpose is shemira, how can we know what would have happened in the universe where the person did not receive the willow?

  5. Vos Iz Neias reports how 20 hotels in Israel sign a modesty code in order to attract chareidi guests, effectively imposing chareidi stringencies on the rest of the public. Wolfish Musings is not bothered by this, and explains why.

  6. Menachem Mendel mentions a lecture on Persian influences on Judaism and Islam.

  7. On the Main Line notes Ohev Ger's explanation of the name Maccabee.

  8. Jewish Muzic blog notes new job openings for Orthodox Jewish women, as mashgiach's. Some discussion of the halachic propriety.

  9. At Daat Torah, some discussion of paleontology and creationism, based on a news article about this. Some "interesting" positions in the comment section.

  10. At Shirat Devorah, a taste of moshiach:
    In the Messianic Era, fruit and vegetables will grow much larger... for example.... a strawberry will be the size of a potato.
    I would add that hopefully at that time, we will be able to eat strawberries as well, either because Eliyahu Hanavi paskens that thrips are to small to be problematic; or because Hashem will declare thrips newly kosher, just like pork; or because just like the strawberries becoming larger, the thrips will be to our eyes the size of grasshoppers (and so will they be in their own eyes) such that we can easily remove them.

  11. At parshablog, on parshat Balak, another prominent rabbi in Israel who believes that Jews have more teeth than gentiles.

  12. DovBear has a nice summary of positions on Moshe's sin in the incident in which he hit the rock.

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