Monday, December 26, 2005

Erev Shabbat Creations - What the Godol Hador Never Addressed.

If you read the GodolHador blog, you'll see he's not the biggest believer in literal translation of the 6 days of creation. He'll massage the text into an evolutionary story spanning millions of years, and his bottom line is that the entire Story of Creation and the Flood, up to parashat Lech-Lecha are stories meant to teach us lessons in morality.

Yet, the GodolHador blog never addresses a critical issue which is also brought down in the mishna and relates to the story of Creation. What about the objects G-d created in those last 18 minutes before the world's first shabbat started at the end of the 6 day (or according to GodolHador, sixty million year) period?

We're all familiar with the erev shabbat 18 minutes -- when guys dash to the shower, set up the plata/blech for shabbat, set the shabbat clock, and do countless last minute things. Its a trying point for every marriage -- women light shabbat candles and for them everything calms down, while guys have to try and finish everything they were supposed to have done all day (or week?) in only 18 minutes.

And what did we forget this week? Oh right, getting to shul on time for mincha.

The mishna in Pirkei Avot (5:6) lists the last minute items:

Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Shabbat at twilight:

The Mouth of the Earth
The Mouth of the Well
The Mouth of the Donkey
The Rainbow
The Manna
The Staff
The Shamir
The Written Characters
The Writing
The Tablets of the Law.
Others include the Demons, the Grave of Moshe, the Ram of our Fore-Father Abraham. Others say: also the Tongs made by tongs.

Quite an impressive list. I wonder what GH has to say about the mishna? Was that also a myth/moshol? The Holy Hyrax blogger even wondered what the Jews in the desert knew about Creation. Did they believe it? If according to GH the first 2 parshiyot of the Torah are myth/moshol, then is the mishna as well? I'll leave this for GH to answer, but I'm troubled by something else.

The problem with the mishna is that it forgot the 11th item. I know about the 11th item since I personally merited from its creation.

The following is a true story.

When I was learning in Yeshiva in Israel a few years ago (you may use myth/moshol interpretation for the words "few" and "years"), I used to hang out in the Jerusalem Geula neighborhood during Bein Hazmanim - yeshiva vacation time from Yom Kippur through Rosh Chodesh Heshvan. For entertainment, I used to go watch the charedi demonstrations against the Zionist Imperialists. I was only 17 at the time and I admit I was rather clueless, but it seemed like something worth watching.

At kikar shabbat, the main intersection in the Geula neighborhood, hundreds of charedi kids gathered to burn a huge garbage container and throw bottles at buses (I think they were plastic). My friend and I took pictures of everything going on -- as it was rather unbelievable for someone who grew up in North America to see such a bizarre demonstration.

At some point, a rather large chareidi man came over to my friend and I, and started yelling at us. The crowd quickly surrounded us as his screams grew louder.

"What are you doing taking pictures?!"
"It's assur! It's forbidden! Get out of here!"

As calmly as possible, we replied that we were just taking pictures (very stupid move), and we weren't bothering anyone. As the man continued to rant at us, the crowd also started yelling along with the man against us. At this point, my friend discretely handed me my camera, I shoved it into my pocket, and then...bolted through the crowd like a banshee.

To this day, I don't know why I didn't run down the street, but instead, I fatefully chose to run into the apartment building across the street. With my feet barely touching the floor, I scampered up 4 flights of stairs...and at the top was a single apartment. No door to the roof, no escape hatch, just a door to an apartment with a baby carriage next to it. I breathlessly banged on the door, but no one answered.

Suddenly, the click sound of a lightswitch illuminated the entire old hallway and stairwell.

Turning around, I found myself staring at hundreds of people (and the ranting man) who had raced up the stairs after me. They were shoved up against the black metal stair railing to maximum capacity, all waiting for the show to start.

The scary man snarled at me, shook the baby carriage, and then...the hall light timer went off, plunging us all into an eerie darkness.

A split second the later, the light was back on, and the scary man was bounding down the stairs with the crowd running after him.

What just happened?! Why were they running downstairs? I felt for my camera, and it was still secure in my pocket. Slowly going down the stairs, I emerged from the building a minute later and the crowd had dispersed. My friend apologized profusely and said he would pay for half.

"What are you talking about, pay for half of what?", I whispered.

"Your camera", he mumbled, feeling rather guilty that he had suggested going to the demonstration in the first place.

"It's right here in my pocket", I hissed back at him.

My friend's eyes looked as if he'd seen a ghost. He said, "That's impossible, look over there!"

On the ground were the shattered remains of a camera -- the identical brand and model as the camera in my pocket!

"The guy came out with the mob following him...he raised his hand in the air holding your camera...and then he smashed it against the sidewalk as the entire crowd cheered him on", said my disbelieving friend.

When the lights went out upstairs in the apartment building, the man apparently found an identical camera to my own in the babycarriage next to the top floor apartment. He smashed it outside to the delight of the mob.

That camera which saved my life, was the 11th item created on the Erev Shabbat of Creation.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Jerusalemcop said...

very nice story.

did you ever go back and see what else was in that magic carriage?


Jerusalemcop said...

the actual question is what was a 17 year old arab boy from the muqata doing in the middle of mea shearim friday afternoon, shouldn't u have been on the temple mount in your "yeshiva" (if thats what you call it)


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

J-cop; Thats not me on the left.

Elchonon said...

J: the first few pesukim are both literal and mystical.. My favorite rashi is the first rashi of the torah! i also learnt that the donkey of moshiach was created bein hashmashos. "v'ruach elokim m'rachefes al pnei hamayim" refers to moshiach.

Anonymous said...

kilroy was here

(not a random spam, but I have nothing else to say)

Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

very interesting observation come to my site and discuss kosher sex within marriage
what the rabbis never told me

Shifra said...

What a fantastic story- well framed too!

When you developed your film was there anything strange about the photos?

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Muqata,

Forgive the seeming naivete of the question, but you were being attacked why ..... ?

When I was last in israel, I took ... oh maybe fifty photos within Mea Shearim without anyone uttering a peep; but I was there doing some shopping, spending quite a lot of money as a matter of fact on a Friday morning ... I gather the mob, whatever its stripe, does not like being photographed ... lest their true colors are exposed ..

And had they caught you, what might the headline have read? ...


Anyway, 'twas a great story.

Irina Tsukerman said...

What a story! That's so creepy... But what does the Mouth of the Donkey have to do with the rest of the items created? Does it have any special significance?

Anonymous said...

Hey Jameel

Nice to see my name in the post :) Anyways, I would guess that GH would state that all those things there were created are not to be taken literally. I don't take them literally for instance. The Rambam never took the talking donkey as literal, but a dream. Its really not that problematic to someone who thinks the entire bereshit story is a metaphor. I would suggest the biggest problem, that GH has "tried" to deal with, is the issue of the Torah explicitly naming the lineage from Noah to Abraham. If Noah is a moshol then what about the rest of the family tree all the way to Abraham? Where does myth end and reality begin? A possible answer to that might be that there really WAS an person called Noah that God used for the story. But then you get into other questions of why would God use this particular Noah for the story and create a myth around him. Unless perhaps some sort of flood did happen. I think Gil wrote about this subject once. He stated that some stories about bereshit were known well before and some may have been passed down in writing. Perhaps this would explain some of these questions, considering over time, some of the stories may have been distorted.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I'm a bit busy at home and will answer some questions about the story soon.

However, the pictures that came out weren't overly impressive (which is probably the downside to the entire story).

I'll look for them after the kids are in bed.

FrumGirl said...

What a story!

Unknown said...

Jameel, great post. Only suggestion: Don't try to get into a debate on B'reishis... :)

Anonymous said...

Ezzie is right. Those that dwell too much into Bereshit turn insane. The last person to get into Bereshit too much was an incredibly bright writer. He ended up turning into some Ultra left leaning quack blogger. :)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ezzie: I can't touch GH on B'reishis :)

Alan: It was very weird, but the guy definitly wanted to kill me. I don't know if the same hatred would be there today...but this did take place a few years back.

Irina: All the items in the mishna are slightly "odd". The mouth of the ground is what swallowed up Korach and his followers...the talking Donkey was that of Bila'am.

Email me for more info on the mishna

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

HH: I have NO clue who you're talking about!


Anonymous said...

Wow. That is a great story.

The whole 18 minutes thing was never totally clear to me. In our house when I was growing up, once my mother benched lecht, it was Shabbos, and that's that. I can't imagine seeing my Dad doing un-Shabbostic things while the candles were lit.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I'm sure R' Gil can enlighten us with some fascinating info about the 18 minutes before shabbat rush.

(And in Jerusalem, its alot longer - close to 40 minutes)

MC Aryeh said...

I love this post. Feel bad for the family who were out a camera and probably some nice photos of their baby, though....I am willing to get behind the "camera as 11th item" movement. You have made me a believer....

Unknown said...

Sorry, Mirty - I'm almost always doing last-second things after the 18 minute mark... Fridays just seem to be too short. A friend noted to me this Shabbos about himself: "Why is it that no matter how little I have to do, and what time Shabbos is, I still find myself rushing to take a shower right before shabbos?! I had NOTHING to do today - and I still barely made it. Why?!"

yitz said...

GReat post and story!

Mirty, are you kidding? It's after Licht-benching [a FULL 40 minutes before sunset here in Yerushalayim!] that my wife asks me, "Oh, I forgot...", "could you please......." etc.

Good Shabbos, y'all !

Truth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Truth said...


Your blog is getting better by the minute...

I actually answered some of those 'Bereisheit' [regarding the first six days] questions, using a clear evaluation of the pshat text.

This is my response from that 'discussion' on the GH blog:

"By the 7th Day, Shabbat, the 'man' and 'woman' in their final form had been created, as well as vegetation and animal life, and all of the 'natural laws' [which if you look into it, Bereishit 1:14-1:19, on the 'fourth day'] you will see that it's a logical theory to presume that a 'day was a [24 hour] day' by the time 'man' was there.

It says there clearly, ..."l'havdil ben haYom u'ben halaila"... [to seperate between the Day and the Night. Now, please note, here when referring to creation of Day, Night and furthermore, "l'otot u'l'moadim u'l'yamim u'l'shanim" [for signications/signs(time itself, IMO) and seasons and days and years].

Therefore, the straight pshat is that before the fourth day, there was no time, seasons, days or years.

No need to do mental gymnastics or torturous contortions to see that, is there?

The kicker is, GH spoke so vehimently about how, "A [yom]/day is a day, that's all!"

OK, so following that logic, why does the Torah say there, "the Day" and "the Night" in that part, and then refers to "Yom Revi'i"[4th Day, note, there is no letter 'hey' there] - it seems kind of clear that in the first case the Torah means 'a [24 hour] day' in the usual sense, whereas a 'Day' of creation is something else [perhaps an era?], exactly what else is something to look into more deeply.

Unless of course, some pesky 'Rabbinical Jew[s]' saw this problem however many years ago after you hold 'they wrote' the Torah, and inserted the extra 'hey' letters ['the' in English, an article specifier] where appropriate "just to make it [the Torah] work out".

Finally, once the 'Creation was Finished', in Bereishit 1:31:

' was very good...It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.' [yom haShishi]

There we go, now the world/universe was done, it was very good [instead of just good, therby indicating a finished product], and 'Day' [era?] of creation becomes 'the Day' [as in what we have now], and this is apparently where we begin our 'count' from.

No need for the 'created old' foolishness, 'planted evidence in the fossil record [sic]' nonsense.

The universe took however long it took to be Created, and time only became relevant from when this process was finished [yes, it had to be a process, otherwise the Torah could easily just have said, "God created everything", in one pasuk, then 'gotten on with the story'. Also, the 'Mystics'(Kabbalists) wouldn't call it 'a series of Divine utterances', they could've just called it a 'snapping of the fingers', so to speak].

Finally, that's my personal theory, and to me it really doesn't matter if I'm correct or not - God did it, He knows the details, and the best we can do is try to do what He wants us to do, in order to fulfil the purpose for this Creation - after all, it's kind of useless to understand the mechanics [or even try to], without actually trying our best to use it properly..."

No one 'flamed' me for that, but interestingly enough, GH's only reply to that was [more or less], "OK, so fine, but what about the other ten chapters following that."

I didn't respond to that question on the GH blog, but I will say what I think here: The actual decription of 'the Days of Creation' are a completely literal description of Creation, as I explained above [as long as one has enough reading comprehension in Hebrew to prevent 'mangling' the text through faulty 'translation', like the famous 'thou shalt not kill' mis-interpretation (which is really written, 'thou shalt not murder), for example].

God told us:

1) that He made everything.
2) how He made it. [The more one learns, of both Torah, 'metaphysics' [ie, 'drash' and 'sod'] and Science fact, the deeper understanding one can aquire, up to the limits of human capacity.

After clearly establishing these facts of Creation [and the most important fact: God is the Cause, the creation is the effect, and how we act/what we do effects how it all turns out], the Torah goes on to tell us how to use this Creation that God gave us.

Don't forget, it's clearly written there in Beresheit, that God tells us [mankind], that now that He's done with Creation, we have to abide by the natural laws [ie, not to wreck the planet (physically)], because He won't fix it.

Naturally, there is far more to say about this, but this post is already exceedingly lengthy.


8:15 AM

Jack Steiner said...

That is a hell of story.

JoeSettler said...

Truth: Interesting.

Cosmic X said...

Great post!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Truth: Thanks for the compliment and interesting reply. I'll have to invite GH himself to reply.

Jack, Joe, and Cosmic: Mrs. Muqata mentioned to me earlier today that while she found the above posting interesting and well-written, she doubted whether all the details were precise or slightly exaggerated.

I would like to categorically state that I would sign an affidavit affirming the truthfulness of the posting. There is one blogger out there who reads my blog who can vouch for the story, as he was there with me at the time.

Karl said...

I was reminded of my experience in a hafgana (the same one?) where my camera was saved too and I managed take some photos. I have dug them out and have posted about it over on my blog.

Tovya @ Zion Report said...

heck, a lot of comments lately

JoeSettler said...

This makes 30!

Truth said...

Zion Report:
heck, a lot of comments lately

"If you build it they will come"...


Anonymous said...

Whats the kashye? That mishneh is not literal. Rambam holds the donkey didn't talk, so you could ask the same kashye on the Rambam. Remember: Aggadata is not literal. Not a hard conceptr to grasp.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

GH: We're honored to have you drop in for a look. its a question on the Rambam. I wonder what he would say about my camera?

New post coming later today....



Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Jameel...a truly amazing story! Thanks for providing such interesting material on your site. I visit rarely but enjoy my visit every time!

Be'tikva, Eitan.

p.s. You've probably seen the new posters w/ Omri and Ariel sharon reading "Kadima le'keleh"-I thought that was real good stuff when I saw one here in telli. As u probably are well aware of, tel-aviv is a gigantic dump aka "Yeshiva Meretz" as a good friend of mine once alluded to it:)

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answer-man said...

ps I'm having a little trouble sending comments so if I do it twice please excuse me and I apologize.

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