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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
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Letters To The Editor


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Most recently, we had planned a protest for December 9, to be held outside the U.S. mission to the United Nations. We were prepared to denounce the dangerous and immoral Geneva accord with Iran, supposedly resulting in the cessation of Iran’s nuclear program. Unfortunately, we could not get the support of the 52 major Jewish organizations that make up the Conference of Presidents. And there was no other scheduled demonstration we could have joined. Finally, the weather was stormy, so the entire effort was canceled.

As Ms. Lehman pointed out, we are admonished in our prayers not to put our trust in “princes.” Apparently we have no leaders in whom we can place our trust to speak for the American Jewish population. Perhaps that is one reason the masses are so silent. History will record this as one of the great tragedies of our time.

Helen Freedman
Executive Director
Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI

Chazal And Science: Rabbi Meiselman Responds

In his Dec. 13 letter concerning the Nov. 29 Jewish Press article about my new book, Torah, Chazal & Science, reader Avi Goldstein states that the Talmud clearly believed the earth is flat with a hard-shell, semispherical top.

While this may be the respondent’s view of the Talmud, such significant Talmudic scholars as Tosafos (Avodah Zarah 41a s.v. Kekadur), Rabbeinu Yonah, Meiri, and countless other rishonim say clearly that the Mishnah is based on the fact that the earth is spherical. What is clear to Mr. Goldstein was not clear to these significant rishonim.

I discuss the Gemara in Pesachim in my book (pp. 143-149). It would have been more productive had the respondent taken the time to read the book, especially this section, rather than just referring to the review.

The length of the solar year is discussed on pp. 63-69 and if Mr. Goldstein will read these pages he will learn that I never say what he claims but rather that all rishonim are of the opinion that these are two approximations that are used for different purposes. For practical reasons, we are given approximations to function with in this world. This is stated clearly in rishonim and this is clearly documented in the book.

The respondent neglects to mention that I discuss at length (pp. 273- 295) the Pachad Yitzchak’s view on lice. But I do this within the context of his comments in his section on Chokrim where he clearly states that when there is a conflict between Chazal and science, then Chazal trump science. He then cross-references the section on lice. This was the basis of my statement that he backtracked. In the section on Nikkur he further says that whoever doubts that the words of Chazal on scientific issues are God-given has heretical tendencies and should be put in cherem and prevented from holding a communal position.

In the interests of honesty Mr. Goldstein should have quoted these as well.

I do not know where I have ever quoted my revered uncle HaRav HaGaon Aharon Soloveichik, zt”l, as my mentor. I mention him only once in my book, quoting his statement that Chazal never err in realia. He was a major talmid chacham from whom I learned many things. I have had only one rebbe in my life. That is why I refer throughout my book to HaRav HaGaon Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l, as mori ve’rebbi. This does not minimize my respect and reverence for my other uncle.

Furthermore, I never heard from him anything about evolution and I would want to know the exact context in which he said those words. Whereas he made the above statement about Chazal not erring in realia, I highly doubt he believed in evolution.

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