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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 20:07:02 -0400 Subject: We evolve from Adam to Messiah! There has been some discussion in the past month on the old issue of whether the "older" generations were better off than the "newer" generations. I gave a partial defense of "the newer are better" to which Norman Rosenfeld retorted with a witty story which ends >>They descended from the apes while we descend from Adam>> The implication was that if you believe you descended from the apes then it is better to be FAR away; if you believe you descended from Adam it is better to be NEARER. I believe Norman's story (despite its folklorish anectodal nature) correctly defends the "the older are better". However I don't believe adequate clarification to "the newer are better" has been given. In a nutshell--I do believe I descended from Adam--but I nevertheless believe I am evolving (with the rest of the world) to King Messiah. No less an authority that the Midrash Rabbah on Gen 49 mentions how the Messiah will show the world its errors in learning and behavior...in short we are going/evolving TO a state that is better. Norman will retort "What does that have to do with you and me" to which I will respond "Everything". I append a list of "improvements" made by the "newer" generation which have been more or less accepted by Israel. I think this proves that the "newer" have something to contribute. It also answers the questions posed by Rabbi/Dr Chaim Soloveitchick's article and by Chana Luntz's posting...this list will show that we have NOT lost something by being farther than our parents...rather we have gained something ...we have gained an opportunity to contribute which should make us proud. Here are my examples: * Rebbi originally wrote the Mishnah only using Chapters (our present paragraphs or mishnahs are a printers convenience). The Rambam introduced Chapters and Paragraphs and the Shulchan Aruch introduced a modern web like design in which each word "clicks" to a commentary and footnote with glosses on other minhagim. This is improvement in orginazational design. * King Solomon said he didn't understand Parah Adumah. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch gives a very detailed clear account which rests on only a half dozen assumptions. His commentary is the culmination of several centuries of attempted explanation. Many people consider Rav Hirsch's explanation an improvement on King Solomon's ignorance (even if it is not the total explanation). * The old notation of cantillations uses "almost vertical lines" for BOTH Mayrchah and Tipchah. But the Korain Tenach uses curved lines which prevent errors. This is clearly an improvement in an area where tradition should be the only force (but it isn't) * The early authorities say almost nothing about electricity on Shabbath. Modern halachik-scientific authorities have created a rich set of halachas AND technologies (e.g. Shabbath Phones) to deal with electricity on Shabbos. Whether or not you e.g. agree with Rav Hirsch or the Korain notation one point is clear: These people have a sense of pride that they have improved older generations and brought us one step closer to Moshiach. They don't have the "inferiority complex" mentioned by Chana in her posting...they rather have a sense of participation. At this point I would like to suggest to Norman and Chana that the true Jewish view requires looking equally both to the past and future. We must respect tradition and yet also improve on it!! I would be interested in other's point of view on this old and interesting problem Finally...on a more amusing note...a famous gemarrah states: "The Rabbis may know halachas but do they know anything about animals?? The point here is that Apes are socially nice and could offer themselves as a model for honor of parents. Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;ASA rhendel @ mcs drexel edu