The Philosophy of Science and truth in Judaism

This talk 'The Philosophy of Science and "truth" in Judaism' was given to mark the Yahrzeit of Etta's father, Rabbi Dr A..Z.Ehrman z.l.. It was given by Etta's brother, Eli, in Israel. The speaker opens by defining the terms used in the title. The recording starts while he is doing this.

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Memorial Evening 2014

The Annual Memorial Evening of Learning on the 19th Yahrzeit of Etta Ehrman Kossowsky was held on January 25th. After the welcome by Esther Ehrman, the learning began with a 'devar Torah' by Michi Kosssowsky. He was followed by the guest speaker, Gila Weinberg on 'Is G-d on Facebook'. The evening closed with a 'devar Torah' by Eli Ehrman. You can listen to all of this on the audio links.

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Shavuot 2014

The Etta Kossowsky Fund News Update
Shavuot 5774/2014

Dear Friend,

As has become customary, this Update reports on the annual Etta Ehrman Kossowsky Memorial Evening - Memorial Evening 2014 - and gives short items of learning that mark our Torah learning of 'leil tikkun Shavuot'. Learning first:

The days of Sefirat Ha'omer are of great significance to us, as they symbolize the period between the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

During this time, we count the number of days out of the sum total of fifty, reciting the count at the eve of each day that passes. The injunction as it is brought in the Torah specifies, to count seven weeks seven times seven days - " And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that ye brought the omer of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete".

Seven weeks, seven times seven days ,equals forty-nine days; yet the period between the Exodus and the receiving of the Torah is fifty days. Why then, do we count a day less? According to the way we usually count, would it not make more sense to start at the beginning, and count one day at a time until the end? Why do we stop one day before the end? Why is there no 'fiftieth' day?

To answer these questions, we need to understand that the process which we undergo during these seven weeks is more than just a waiting period - the seven weeks represent the change the Jewish people underwent between the Exodus and the receiving of the Torah. At the end of seven weeks, Bnei Yisrael became connected to something which is outside of our normal perception of the world. The Torah does not fit into our normal rules and regulations.

Therefore, the period of Sefirat Ha'omer represents the shift from the natural to the supernatural, from 'Olam Hazeh', this word, to 'Olam Habah' the world to come. During the count up until the receiving of the Torah, we count in our normal numbers, day by day in order. However, at the very end, we do not count the last day as we did all the others, symbolically leaving it out as something uncounted, entirely separate and different.

May we be blessed to continue to grow spiritually throughout the period of Sefirat Ha'omer, as Bnei Yisrael did after leaving Egypt. Just as they became worthy of the Torah in the duration of those seven weeks, so must we. (Nesher Ehrman)

Kedusha

The word kedusha is often translated as 'sanctity'. This is somewhat misleading, since 'sanctity' is etymologically linked to the word 'saint','saintliness', terms that describe human conduct of exceptionally high moral standard. But that is not altogether appropriate for kedusha.

When G-d tells the Israelites, just before the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, 'If you obey my voice and keep My covenant atem tiyehu li mamlechet kohanim ve goy kadosh, you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a kadosh nation' (Ex.19,6), the expectation is not that the nation will become saints.

While G-d is the source of kedusha and confers it to everything connected to Him, such as the Temple, Shabbat, His nation, we, too can confer kedusha. Ve kidashto, we are told, you are to make kadosh, the Cohen, because he 'is offering the bread of your Lord' (Lev.21,8).

We have the ability to become, kadosh, to confer kedusha and to sustain a kedusha that is initially inherent. The kedusha of Shabbat and Yom Tov for instance, is only present IF we act in the prescribed way. We 'hallow', 'make holy'. So far, the conduct required is correct rather than moral; incorrect conduct can entail the loss of kedusha. And yet, we read, as the opening statement to a whole set of mainly ethical commandments :' kedoshim tiyehu ki kadosh ani, you are to be kadosh because I am kadosh' (Lev.19,2); here, compassionate and just conduct is required for kedusha.

G-d allows us both to merit and to increase the Divine domain of kedusha in our world.

There is clearly much more to be said about these topics. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Chag Shavuot sameach
Esther Ehrman