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April 07, 2009

Comments

David

The idea of applying relativity to this question is proposed by Einstein himself in 'Evolution of Physics';

"The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either Coordinate System could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, "the sun is at rest and the earth moves," or "the sun moves and the earth is at rest," would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS. Could we build a real relativistic physics valid in all CS; a physics in which there would be no place for absolute, but only for relative motion? This is indeed possible! [general relativity]."

osoavakesh

As I wrote, I was told that this was an early step in the development of the Theory. However, I acknowledge that I am no expert on Einstein and am willing to be corrected by those who understand his theory, in its contemporary expression, better than I.

A reader sent me this link, arguing the geocenetrism is Ok with Einstein: http://arniegotfryd.com/content/view/159/68/

This is exactly it!. My expert told me that Mach's conception was a preliminary step in the development of the theory and is antiquated and no longer and for a long time, considered correct.

Micha

Ironically, I think that trying to map Chazal's words into scientific statements is itself assimilationist.

Look at the Rambam... He didn't believe the sun was created on a Wednesday (according to the Moreh the six "days" are logical steps, not a temporal sequence; see the Abarbanel's longer explanation in Bereishis q #9). Nor in Nissan. And he knew that Tequfas Shemuel was over a week off (in his day) compared to tequfas Rav Adda, so the time wasn't even approximately correct. And who knows what he thought of Abayei's reference to Saturn's hour of rule. And yet he codifies Birkhas haChamah.

It seems clear to me that the Rambam (even him!) was able to disassociate the world-as-it-appears from scientific inquiry. It's only in today's zeitgeist, when science and technology are making such phenomenal progress, that we have some need to associate every statement with a scientific explanation.

Birkhas haChamah is a psychological excercise, not an astronomical one. And I can't see how numerous rishonim could have been thinking otherwise when they looked at the gemara.

(On my own blog, I presented this as the flipside of ignoring microscopic bugs. In one case, something is scientifically there but can't be experienced first-hand, so it's ignored. In the other, something isn't a scientific event, but could be made present in the mind of anyone who can think about quarters and the number 7, and therefore it is emphasized. As the Chinukh would say, "Man is influenced according to his actions". What is important is the power to influence; not what's there or isn't there. http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2009/03/halakhah-phenomenology-1.shtml)

-micha

osoavakesh

On the difference between Tekufos Shmuel and R.Ada and the issues that arise from it, see several chapters in Vaiktov Mordechai, published last year.

michael


you got heliocentric and geocentric mixed up through the whole article

osoavakesh

Thank you, corrected

Rael Levinsohn

The scan has some pages missing, can you please provide those missing pages?

Moshe Lerman

"Are the geocentric and heliocentric sustems completely equivalent when one accounts for the relative motion of the sun, the earth and the planets around each other?"

They are, from the point of view of General Relativity, EXCEPT for the rotation of the Earth around its axis. Mach would have relativized that spinning, making it equivalent to the Universe turning around the Earth every day. It was a wild speculation. While developing General Relativity, it confused even Einstein for a while. But in the end: the Earth spins around its axis, absolutely so. And the Rebbe was wrong about this, absolutely so.

Joseph

According to Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (specifically General Relativity’s [laws of gravitation] Principle of Equivalence: “There is no experiment observers can perform to distinguish whether an acceleration arises because of a gravitational force or because their reference frame is accelerating”), the following two statements are functionally equivalent:

1. The Sun rotates around the Earth.
2. The Earth rotates around the Sun.

This is derived on a non-inertial reference frame. From the perspective of an Earth-centered reference frame, the Sun does indeed orbit around the Earth. In General Relativity, all reference frames are equally valid.

To put it more simply, all motion is relative. Relative to humanity, the Earth is not rotating. For most of history, the Sun was said to circle the Earth. Copernicus, changed sciences viewpoint, so that Earth rotated around the Sun. Newton changed it again, and said that Earth and Sun rotate about a common center of gravity. Einstein changed it again. He described General Relativity - in which all motion is relative. In General Relativity, you can use any frame of reference. Relative to humanity, the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Yes, it is a bit harder to explain stellar parallax from the perspective of an Earth-fixed reference frame than from the perspective of a solar system barycentric reference frame.

On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to explain a cyclone from the perspective of a solar system barycentric reference frame. No meteorologist would even think of using anything other than an Earth-fixed reference frame to model the weather.

BTW, it's not all that hard to explain stellar parallax from the perspective of an Earth-centered frame. The motion of the stars can be explained in terms of the "third body effect". People who model the behavior of satellites in Earth orbit vastly prefer to use an "Earth-centered inertial" reference frame (a non-rotating reference frame with origin at the center of the Earth) than a barycentric frame. From the perspective of such a reference frame, the Sun and Moon (and the planets) make the satellite's orbit not quite Keplerian. The perturbation is explained by a pseudo-force called the third body effect.

Einstein's theory holds that gravity accelerates objects equally, regardless of mass, energy, or composition. This notion, called the equivalence principle, has roots reaching back to Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, and beyond (SN: 9/22/90, p. 183).

Joseph

The cosmologies of Copernicus [Heliocentrism] & Ptolemy [Geocentrism] are kinematically equivalent; both of them are descriptions of the same facts, and Ptolemy's epicycles of the planets are the kinematic equivalents of the circular orbits of Copernicus.
Reichenbach, Hans- Philosophy of Space and Time- p210-211

The commonly held view is that Copernicus's heliocentric model vanquished the competition, especially the geocentric view of Ptolemy, because it yielded better predictions of the positions of the celestial bodies. In actual fact, the predictions of the Copernican model were a little worse than those obtained via the complicated series of epicycles... the real selling point of the Copernican model was that it was much simpler than the competition yet still gave a reasonably good account of the observational evidence.
Casti, J.L. & DePauli, W.; Gödel- p166

Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is 'right' and the Ptolemaic theory 'wrong' in any meaningful physical sense.
Fred Hoyle, Nicolaus Copernicus, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973, p78

The Copernican conception is indeed simpler, but this does not make it any "truer" since this simplicity is descriptive ... One description may be simplest for some phenomena while a different description may be simplest for others; but no simplest description is distinguished from other descriptions with regard to truth. The concept of truth does not apply here, since we are dealing with definitions.
Reichenbach, Hans- Philosophy of Space and Time- p219

And hence this affirmation: "the earth turns round" has no meaning, since it cannot be verified by experiment; ... such an experiment ... cannot even be conceived of without contradiction ...
Henri Poincare- Science and Hypothesis- p117

... it is meaningless to talk of absolute motion.
Even the Copernican world-view appears to be shaken by this consideration. It makes no sense accordingly, to speak of a difference in truth between Copernicus and Ptolemy: both conceptions are equally permissible descriptions.
What has been considered as the greatest discovery of [western] wisdom, as opposed to that of antiquity, is questioned as to its truth-value ... the doctrine of relativity does not assert that Ptolemy's view is correct, it rather contests the absolute meaning of either view.
Reichenbach, Hans- From Copernicus to Einstein, p 75,82

There is one more implication that modern science has perceived in the work of Copernicus. The same observational data that Ptolemy organized in his geocentric theory of deferent and epicycle can also be organized under the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. Despite the belief of the latter that the new theory was true, the modern view is that either theory will do and that there is no need to adopt the heliocentric hypothesis except to gain mathematical simplicity. Reality seems far less knowable than Copernicus believed, and today scientific theories are regarded as human inventions.
Morris Kline- Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge, p85

... the Ptolemaic theory of the solar system was abandoned in favor of the Copernican not because it failed to "agree" with all the facts, for it explained as much as the Copernican did, but because the latter, as Copernicus himself said, was "simpler," more elegant mathematically, and a more harmonious addition to the body of science than the former.
... there was no intellectual inconvenience at one time in regarding the earth as the fixed center of the universe, nor was there any particular reason, socially or otherwise, why it should not have been accepted, nor was it inconsistent with the existent body of knowledge.
Randall, J. H.- Philosophy: An Introduction- p135, 139

Two thousand years ago the earth turned; then it remained immobile until recently, when it has again begun to turn. [!!!]
Nicholas Malebranche (1638-1715)- The Search After Truth- p371

All the known celestial movements can be explained on a geocentric theory, if it is sufficiently complex.
Lacey, A.R., Dictionary of Philosophy- p359

... in fact simplicity of the mathematical theory was the only argument Copernicus & Kepler could advance in favor of their heliocentric theory as opposed to the older Ptolemaic theory.

Is the path of the earth around the sun an ellipse? No. Only if the earth & sun are regarded as points and only if all other bodies in the universe are ignored. Do the four seasons on earth repeat themselves year after year? Hardly. Only in their grossest aspects, which are about all men can perceive anyway, do they repeat.
Morris Kline- Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty- p 344, 350

He [Copernicus] was able, in fact, to cite as a distinct advantage only the greater simplicity of his system. ... Here lies one of the reasons which led scientists to accept the Copernican system, even though it must be conceded that, from the modern standpoint, practically identical results could be obtained by means of a somewhat revised Ptolemaic system.
Hans Reichenbach- From Copernicus to Einstein- p18

WE CANNOT PROVE IF THE EARTH IS MOVING THROUGH SPACE OR IF IT IS ROTATING ON ITS AXIS.

Absolute space, that is to say, THE MARK TO WHICH IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO REFER THE EARTH TO KNOW WHETHER IT REALLY MOVES, HAS NO OBJECTIVE EXISTENCE ... THE TWO PROPOSITIONS:
"the earth turns around" and "it's more convenient to suppose the earth turns around" have the same meaning; there is nothing more in the one than in the other.
Henri Poincare, Science & Hypothesis; p116-117.

It may be convenient for certain purposes to regard the earth as the centre; but nothing can oblige us to do so. No part of the universe- Earth, Sun, or anything else- has any unique right to be called the 'centre.' Observed motions are all relative, and it is a matter of decision what point in the universe is to be selected as the central origin of reference.

So the view that the earth is moving is just as admissible as the view that it is at rest.
Toulmin, S. & Goodfield, J.-1961- The Fabric of the Heavens- p169

From the point of view of modern science... there is no absolute frame of reference, only frames which are more or less convenient to use for the purpose at hand. A geocentric frame is useful for everyday activities ... while a heliocentric frame is [useful] for solar-system mechanics ...
Wikipedia- Geocentric Model

Motion is change in position; it is clear, however, that it cannot be observed unless it is a change in position relative to a certain body and not relative to an ideal space point. Is it meaningful, under these circumstances, to speak of absolute motion or of motion relative to space, if motion relative to other bodies only can be observed?
According to this principle there exists only a motion of bodies relative to other bodies, and it is impossible to distinguish one of these bodies as being at rest, because rest means nothing but rest relative to another body, i.e.
rest is itself a relative concept.
Hans Reichenbach- Philosophy of Space and Time- p210

Joseph

The Rema in Toras HaOlah (1:2) states clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete.

-

Medrash Tehillim (19) quotes Shmuel as saying he is an expert in the streets of Nehardea as much as he is an expert in the 'streets' of the heavens. The Medrash asks how Shmule knew all of that, and it answers he knew it all through the Torah. It then quotes a R, Hoshea as saying there is "space" between the upper waters and the firmament, and the Medrash asks how R, Hoshea could know this unless he traveled to space. It answers, he knew it from the Torah.

The Gemora in Bechoros 8a derives from a posuk in Bereishis the fact that gestation period of a snake is longer than the rest of the animal kingdom. This is cited by the Ramban (Toras Hashem Temima p.159 in Chavel edition) as but one example of how Chazal knew facts of science from the pesukim in the Torah that describe Brias HaOlam. He cites more. He says "the sages of Yisroel have knowledge through these pesukim of all of creation."

Rabbeinu Bachyai writes in the Introduction to Chumash that all wisdom and science in existence is contained in Torah.

Some scientific facts were known through rabbinic tradition. The Rashba cites a rabbinic tradition from Sinai that a treifah cannot live more than 12 months. (Rav Yonason Eyebushitz (kreisi Upleisi 40) writes that such traditions are not to be disregarded even if found to be against “all the laws of heaven and earth”, since they are part of Torah shebal peh.

The Maharal, too, states that all science is included in Torah, as Chazal says "hafoch bah hafoch bah d'kulah bah" (Chidushei Agados Menachos 64b). SImilarly, he writes(B’er Hagola 6) that when the sages mentioned a scientific fact, they derived it from their knowledge of the Torah and Hashem, Who is the Cause of all science. He says that science is inferior to Torah even where it comes to scientific knowledge, because scientists base their opinions on what they see, which is a finite and imperfect method of investigation, as opposed to knowledge of science through Torah, which is the root and cause for all facts in the world

The Chosid Yaavatz (Ohr Hachaim) says that chazal knew science form a Mesroah that goes back all the way to the Neviim, who knew it from Hashem, without any effort at all.

Particularly interesting is a statement on this topic in the Aruch Hashulchan (EH 13). Quote:

"I will tell you a great principle: Chazal, besides their holiness and wisdom in the Torah, were also greater scholars in the natural sciences those savants("mischakmim") who would argue against their pure words. And someone who disagrees with them testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright."

Chasam Sofer (Beshalach) writes that this is the meaning of the posuk "Ki hi chachmascha ubinascha l'einei ha'amim" - Chazal were great experts in the secular sciences and disciplines. In fact, you need to know much secular knowledge in mmany areas in order to properly understand the Torah - and he gives several simple examples. However, since we are supposed to be busy learning Torah - not secular science - all day and night, and Hashem has no "nachas ruach" from us learning secular studies at all, how would Chazal have known all the secualr wisdom that they clearly knew, as we see they did from all of Shas?

Answer: They knoew it from the Torah, since the entire body of secular wisdom is included in the Torah, for the Torah is the bluepeint of the world. And so, when the Goyim see that we do not study the secular science books at all - and we even disagree with them! - yet we derive all the secular knowledge, in the most precisely accurate form - from only the Sefer Torah, they will exclaim, "Am chacham v'navon hagoy hagadol hazeh!" (A similar explanation is given by the Raavad-ibn Daud. He says that the posuk refers to the philosophical truths that it took the nations centuries to develop, we knew all the time via tradition from Har Sinai.)

Not only do we see that Chazal learned their science from the Torah, but Rav Breil, the Rebbi of the Pachad Yiztchok teaches us that we do not even entertain the possibility of a scientific statement in Chazal not coming from the Torah .This we see from Rav Briel's answer to the Pachad Yiztchok's question regarding the killing of lice on SHabbos. The Gemora permits it, based on a scientific fact. The Pachad Yiztchok asked his Rebbi that due to the possibility that this scientific fact is incorrect, perhaps we should be machmir and not kill lice on shabbos, just in case.

His Rebbi answered that there is no "just in case". Stating that Chazal’s knowledge is based on the reality, not mere scientific observation, he assures his Talmid that without a doubt the rabbinic science is more accurate than the science of the scientists, and even if currently it appears one way, the rabbinic view will eventually be proven correct. He mentions that in the disagreement between the sages and the scientists regarding whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa, the sages conceded to the scientists, but centuries later, it was proven that the Torah sages were right all along. Thus, he says there is no reaosn to even suspect that Chazal's statement regarding lice is inaccurate, and there is no reason to even be machmir because there is no chance of chilul shabbos at all.

Once we establish that the scientific knowledge that is incorporated into Torah Shebal Peh is derived form the Torah, it has the same status as all of Chazal's interpretaitons of the Torah --- they are binding:

The Gemora in Sanhedrin (100a) tells that R. Yochanan derived from a posuk that when Moshiach comes, the gates of Jerusalem will be made of jewels 30 amos long and 30 amos high. Some student said that such big jewels do not exist - "we do nto even find jewels as big as doves eggs," he said. Then, one day the student saw angels (!) cutting such big stones, and he asked them what they are for. The angels answered: "They are for the gates of Jerusalem". When next he saw R. Yochana, he praised his qualifications for expounding the Torah, based on his "scientific observation" that confirmed the Rebbi's interpretation.

R. Yochanan responded, "Bum! You only believe because of what you see? You dishonor the words of the sages!", and the student died.

The Ran (Drashos #13) points out that the statemnt of R. Yochana had no halachic relevence at all - it was merely an Agadic interpretation, and the disagreement was regarding a scientific fact, yet the student was punished for not believing in its truth. Therefore, he concludes:

"Just as we are commanded to follow their opinions regarding laws of the Torah, so too are we commanded to follow all of what they say from tradtiion in Hashkafa ("Deos"), and medrash on Pesukim. And someone who veers from their words, even in somethgin that has no relevence to any Mitzvah, is an Apikores and has no share in the next world.

The Radvaz (4:232) writes that "Aggadah is part of the Torah shebal peh and is rooted in what Moshe receieved on Har Sinai directly from Hashem, just like the rest of Torah shebal peh".

Similarly from the Alshich: "Nobody has a right in our generation to disagree based on his own opinion, if he did not find such an opinion from his predecessors (Rebbeim). We are commanded "lo sosur", which includes also Agadita." (Shmuel II 21:1)

The Sifri (48) explains the posuk in Devarim 11:22, "And you really follow all this Mitzvah", that "this means to learn Midrash, Halachah, and Agada."

Rav Yiztchok Izak Chaver in Magen Vtzenah (p,49) - there are people who reject Chazal's statements because the secular scientists disagree (he gives examples, such as the sun rising above the firmament at night etc), and they laugh saying that we know its not true. They are fools. The GRA, who even the scientists admit that he knew science much better than them, accepted all words of Chazal as fact, and that the philosophers and scientists (chachmei hatechunah) are all wrong, and he believed in the truth of the simple straightforward understanding of the words of Chazal. The GRA said that the scientists didnt come to the ankles of our sages in any secular discipline or science.

Chida (Shem Hagedolim: "Seforim":5:82) - There are a minority of Gedolim among us who disagree with Chazal because of their scientific knowledge, but they do not understand that Chazal had Eliyhau Hanavi informing them, and they had Ruach HaKodesh to inform them.

Chasam Sofer -- Please see the Chasam Sofer in Beshalach I quoted above. He says the same thing in Drashos Chasam Sofer Vol. 1 p.100b. Our phophets and sages know all the sciences much better than the scientists even though all they learn is Torah. This is because the One Who created nature informs our sages of the corretc facts. This is what amazes the Nations, as it says, Am navon v'chacham hagoy hagodol hazeh!

An identical interpretation to that of the Chasam Sofer's explanation Am navon v'chacham(I quoted one earlier in the name of ibn Daud regaridng philosophical knowledge) is found in the Ramak (Sefer HapPardes 13:6) regarding astronomy.

From the Maharal (Ber Hagolah 6):

The Maharal is explaining why Chazal sometimes seem to contradict what science says:

Some people say that Chazal were not experts in the sciences. They say this because they see things stated by Chazal regarding causes of natural phenomenon that seeem unlikely to be true. But the truth is not as these people claim, because when Chazal spoke about natural causes they did not mean superficial, physically scientific causes - that is fitting for scientists or doctors, not for our sages. Our sages, on the other hand, when they spoke about the causes of nature, were referring not to causes that are natural but to what causes nature to act the way it does. And anyone who disagrees with this disagrees with our Emunah and our Torah ... the idea is this: When the Torah mentions a natural reason for something, that is the real reason, for every natural phenomenon there is a scientific cause, but for that scientific cause there is a spiritual cause – i.e. that cause of the cause – and that is what Chazal were referring to … when they discussed scientific matters, they did not mean to describe the surface-level cause, but rather the reason of the cause….there are people who misunderstand the words of Chazal who criticize them, saying that they did not know things that the non-Jewish scientists knew, but the truth is the very claim they make against [Chazal] applies to them, for they are far from the true science .. I will tell you a rule about the words of the sages: all their words are logical, and represent the true understanding of nature .. and even though some people will find this idea far-flung or doubtful as an explanation of what Chazal meant, but you should know that there is no doubt at in any manner whatsoever that this is what Chazal mean … for their words are correct and reliable, and only someone who does not understand them will have doubts … I have already explained that Chazal were nto discussing the physical aspects of things but rather their essence … the words of Chazal are with wisdom and logic and are not surface-level [physical] descriptions, but rather the words of our sages refer to the essence, and have no relation to the outer, material matter.

-

The majority of Achronim state that Chazal did not go by the scientific knowledge of their time.

The earth revolving around the sun is only relative. Nobody has proven nor even claims that it is absolute. In other words, if the Earth is the center of the universe, and the entire universe revolves around the earth, it will appear form the vantage point of anyone located within the universe that the sun is revolving around the earth, when in reality it is the opposite.

For example, lets say you throw a ball south at the speed of 60 MPH. To you and to those around you it would appear that the ball is moving and you are stationary.

But then, if you and all of those observers were actually riding on a bus traveling north at 60 MPH, then from the perspective of someone outside of the bus that ball, after you threw it, was perfectly still. It was you and your environment that were moving.

But then, what if the world was rotating at a speed of 60 MPH in the direction of south. Then, those observers outside of the bus would be the ones moving, the bus would be stationary, and the ball would indeed be traveling at 60 MPH.

Movement relative to another object depends on your perspective. And in order to know, ultimately, whether the earth revolves around the sun, because the earth is moving, or the sun revolves around the earth because the universe is moving and earth is stationary, you would have to measure form a vantage point outside of the universe, and nobody has been able to do that yet. At least not scientists.

So the idea that the earth revovles around the sun is like saying that the ball is moving inside the bus. Maybe. Or maybe everythign is moving in your immediate area except the ball. You'd have to be outside the bus to know that.

Same thing here. To know whether it is the earth or the sun that is moving, you would have to take into consideration the entire universe's movement, which no scientists has been able to do.

The Rama in Toras HaOlah quotes the Rambam who says that in the days of Neviim and Chazal, the science of astronomy was “incomplete”. The Rama strongly argues, stating clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete.

The Maharal (B’er Hagola 6) writes that when the sages mentioned a scientific fact, they derived it from their knowledge of the Torah and Hashem, Who is the Cause of all science. He says that science is inferior to Torah even where it comes to scientific knowledge, because scientists base their opinions on what they see, which is a finite and imperfect method of investigation, as opposed to knowledge of science through Torah, which is the root and cause for all facts in the world.

The fact that science in Chazal was gathered from “higher sources” was used by Rav Yehuda Breil ZT'L, Rebbi of the author of encyclopedia Pachad Yitzchok, to refute his student’s suggestion that we reconsider Chazal’s leniency of killing lice on Shabbos because lice are spontaneously generated. The Pachad Yitzchok suggested to his Rebbi that now that science has refuted the possibility of spontaneous generation, we should not be lenient in allowing the killing of lice on Shabbos.

But Rav Breil did not accept the suggestion. Stating an idea similar to that of the Maharal, that Chazal’s knowledge is based on the reality, not mere scientific observation, it is certain that the rabbinic science is more accurate than the science of the scientists, and even if currently it appears one way, the rabbinic view will eventually be proven correct. He mentions that in the disagreement between the sages and the scientists regarding whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa, the sages conceded to the scientists, but centuries later, it was proven that the Torah sages were right all along (note: See Shitah Mekubetzes that the sages never conceded that the gentiles were right; they merely “lost the argument”. They knew from tradition that they were right; they just could not defend the correct position). .

(The Pachad Yitzchok never actually took that position in actual practice – I think he prefaces his remarks with lulei demistapinah (“if I wouldn’t be scared, this is what I would say”), meaning that he thought it was a good idea, but he was not certain enough about it for him to actually take it on as his position. So he presented it to his Rebbi for feedback. His Rebbi basically told him that he was right for being scared to say it because it is 100% wrong.)

Subsequent to that post, Volume 10 of Yabia Omer was published, which points this out as well. In YD:24 he discusses a certain Rabbi Shamah who was teaching the opinion of Rabbeinu Avrohom in a Sefardic Yeshiva in Brooklyn. Rav Ovadiah writes that it is wrong to do so, because we do not pasken like that Rabeinu Avrohom. He quotes the Ramah, the Shitah Mekubetzes, and Rav Breil that I mentioned (as well as others, kdarko). After he explains how Chazal and are correct in what they say, both in Halachah and Agada, even if the scientists claim differently, and that in those places where science seems to contradict Chazal – he gives 2 examples: spontaneous generation of lice and the earth beign the center of the solar system – Chazal are correct, afterwards he writes: “And I am not unaware of what Rabeinu Avrohon ben Harambam wrote, that was printed at the beginning of the Ain Yaakov . . . but nevertheless, we [hold] that we [abide] only by Chazal, as per the Achronim that I have quoted. And indeed we see that the doctors and scientists of today, their mouths are full of laughter as they mock the scientists and doctors of previous generations. And there is no doubt that the scientists of the next generation after us will similarly laugh at the scientists and the doctors of our generation, and refute their opinions, and so why should we rely on their opinions over those of Chazal?”

More about the opinion of the Rambam (and Rabeinu Avrohom): Some people wrongly assume that since the Rambam is “more acceptable” to people whose Hashkofos are not very developed, such as in Kiruv situations, it is desirable to teach this Rambam to such people in order to “answer” their questions about scientists contradicting Chazal. This is wrong on many levels:

1) You cant teach someone that something against the Halachah is correct, even if you cant think of a better answer to his question;
2) This is not only a spin on the Halachah, but an unnecessary one as well. There are many other answers available that are Halachicly correct. Instead of using bad but easy answers, work harder and learn the right ones.
3) The Rambam’s answer is fraught with difficulties, which, obviously, like all difficult Rambams, have excellent answers, but until we find them, we are misunderstanding something – very possibly the Rambam itself. If we are going to accept the idea that scientists actually do understand natural science in a realistic manner, and that Chazal would have agreed with the scientists had they known the scientific evidence they know today, we will have difficulty understanding things such as the Halachah in the Yerushalmi at the beginning of Kesuvos, which says that a girl’s besulim, which develop at age three, appear and disappear in accordance with the psakim of Bais Din regarding whether to accept witnesses who testify that her third birthday had arrived (i.e. because of their sighting of the new moon). The girl’s biology, the Yerushalmi says, follows the Halachah. This is not only against today’s scientific understanding, but obviously against the scientific understanding in the days of Chazal. Yet we see that Chazal made statements regarding natural phenomena with both full awareness and utter disregard for the fact that any scientist would laugh. The Rambam’s statement is not going to help us here, and whatever explanation you will use for this Yerushalmi – such as something in the direction of Rav Breil’s words, that Chazal had an extra-scientific awareness of reality that the scientists cannot access – will also explain the other discrepancies between Chazal and scientists, such as lice. So if you use the Rambam’s answer in a Kiruv situation, it may work but only if the person asking the question is sufficiently ignorant about what Chazal say about besulim and other such statements that cannot be reconciled based on the Rambam. If he knows that, using the Rambam to answer his quesitons only makes things more complictaed, not less.

4) Also important to note, is that the Rambam’s statement is in Moreh Mevuchim, not Mishneh Torah, which means that the answer he wrote was not necessarily exclusive of other answers. The Rambam may well have recognized the plausibility of the approach of the Poskim, that Chazal are simply right in a way that the scientists are not aware of, yet he did not record that in his sefer. This is because whereas normally, we would say when a Rishon answers a question one way, he by doing so implicitly rejects other possible answers, with the More Nevuchim this is not the case. This is because the Moreh Nevuchim was written specifically for, well, Nevuchim, and so the Rambam chose to use answers to questions that would be most most understandable and productive for Nevuchim, even if they are not always the best answer objectively, nor the most halchicly accepted one. Similarly, the Poskim write that Rashi’s commentary on Tanach was not meant l’halachah, but rather to give the most straightforward explanation of the posuk. But poshut pshat is not always the actual Halachah. In a similar way the Rambam wrote Moreh Nevuchim as the most understandable pshat for confused people, even if there are other, more complex pshatim that he would pasken like, if given a halachic question. Of course, both pshatim are legitimate, but (a) the rambam never meant to say that other pshatim are wrong, (b) he never meant to say that other peshatim are not preferable objectively, and (c) he never meant that the pshat he is presenting is l’halachah. He merely meant to say that this pshat is more understandable to nevochim, who are perhaps incapable of understanding or accepting the better pshat.

Second: It is not at all clear that this statement in the Maamar al Drashos Chazal, as printed in the Ain Yaakov, was ever written by Rabbeinu Avrohom to begin with.

In the JTS collection in New York (2324.1), there is a different version of the Ksav Yad, in which it says after one paragraph, ad kan leshon HaRav (Avraham). The rest was written by someone called Eliezer Eilenburg, a kabbalist who followed R. Avraham Abulafia's teachings. The ma'amar is interspersed with kabbalistic references and a mention of R. Abulafiah's Imrei Shefer, which obviously were never written by R. Avraham. The manuscript, in fact, is catalogued under the authorship of Eliezer Eilenburg, while the title remains Ma'amar al Drashos Chazal. Everywhere that the Ein Yaakov version says “avi mori”, indicating was written by the Rambam's son, this version instead says “HaRav Moreh Tzeddek”, indicating it was someone else.

There is also a sefer Imrei Yosher on Midrash which quotes the ma'amar of R. Avraham, and does not contain the controversial section.

The Arabic section found in the library of Westminster College in England also does not contain that section. (Regrettably, it is not a complete version, so it cannot offer conclusive proof.)

It is possible that Eilenburg added these ideas on his own. It is possible that he found them elsewhere as a commentary to R. Avraham and therefore, in his edition, listed the ideas as being separate from R. Avraham's own words. The other possibility is that he really was using R. Avraham's words, but lied and pretended they were his own thoughts.

Another interesting difference is that the printed editions have the signature of R. Avrohom at the end of the Maamar, which is clearly a forgery, for in all the kisvei yad of this, Rabbeinu Avraham's signature does not appear at the end.

So we know for a fact that they forged Rabeinu Avrohoms signature at the end of the Maamar. The manuscripts contradict this, and rightly so, because the Maamar Al Drashos Chazal is an excerpt from the Sefer HaMaspik L'Ovdei Hashem, written by Rabbeinu Avrohom ben HaRambam, so why would he sign his name in the middle of a sefer? The maskilim obviously had an agenda, and we know from Rav Tzaddok that they liked to tamper with Kisvei Yad in this way. There is no question at all that the Maskilm tampered wiht the Ksav Yad; the only question is how much. We see they definitely tampered with the end, they sure could have tampered with the beginning, maybe even with the ksav yad they found by Oppenheim.

The first time ma'amar odos drashos chazal was ever printed, it was printed by the Maskilim, in their publication, Kerem Chemed, year 2, in 1836. Later, in 1859 it went to kovetz teshuvos Rambam. Ein Yaakov first printed it in 1877.
Rav Tzaddok (Zichronos 51) writes that a well known tactic of maskilim was to print kisvei yad of rishonim to which they had exclusive access, adding comments to fit their agenda and claiming it was the view of this rishon. He says we should be very wary of new kisvei yad when published, checking for insertions to support the agenda of maskilim, unless you know the motzi la'or.

The manuscript with the controversial segment was in a library in Germany and may have been altered before being sent to the printer and later being placed in Oxford.

-

In Moreh Nevuchim (3:14) the Ranbam writes:

"Do not ask me to reconcile everything that they (i.e. Chazal) mentioned regarding astronomy with what is reality, for the sciences in those days were lacking, and they did not speak about them through traditions from the prophets, but rather on their own independent knowledge or what was obtained from contemporary scientists."

The Rama in Toras HaOlah (1:2) quotes this Rambam and strongly disagrees, stating clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete. The Ramah has stated that we do not pasken like the Rambam here. As do the Maharal and the majority of our Torah authorities throughout the ages, as mentioned above.

Aside from that, it is not clear that the Rambam himself would have applied this position in actual practice. The Rambam’s statement is in Moreh Mevuchim, not Mishneh Torah, which means that the answer he wrote was not necessarily exclusive of other answers. The Rambam may well have recognized the plausibility – and even superiority - of the approach of the majority of our sages, that Chazal are simply right in a way that the scientists are not aware of, yet he did not record that in his sefer. This is because whereas normally, we would say when a Rishon answers a question one way, he by doing so implicitly rejects other possible answers, with the Moreh Nevuchim this is not the case. This is because the Moreh Nevuchim was written specifically for, well, Nevuchim, and so the Rambam chose to use answers to questions that would be most understandable and productive for Nevuchim, even if they are not always the best answer objectively, nor the most halchicly acceptable one. Similarly, the Poskim write that Rashi’s commentary on Tanach was not meant l’halachah, but rather to give the most straightforward explanation of the posuk. But poshut pshat is not always the actual Halachah. In a similar way the Rambam wrote Moreh Nevuchim as the most understandable pshat for confused people, even if there are other, more complex pshatim that he would pasken like, if given a halachic question. Of course, both pshatim are legitimate, but (a) the rambam never meant to say that other pshatim are wrong, (b) he never meant to say that other peshatim are not preferable objectively, and (c) he never meant that the pshat he is presenting is l’halachah. He merely meant to say that this pshat is more understandable to nevochim, who are perhaps incapable of understanding or accepting the better pshat.

Finally, if we take this statement of the Rambam in the context of his own statements elsewhere, what he says in More Nevuchim may mean something entirely different:

In Hilchos Kidush HaChodesh, The Rambam says that in the days of the prophets, we had seforim written on astronomy that were authored by the tribe of Yissachar, regarding whom it is stated (Divrei Hayamim I 12:33), “And of the children of Yissachar, men with understanding of the times (i.e. astronomy)”, and we would normally use the astronomy of the Bnei Yissachar, not the astronomy of contemporary scientists, for Halachic matters, but unfortunaltey, that book has been lost. And so, the Rambam explains that he has to rely on the science of the scientists, adding that because what they write is independently verifiable and based on solid proofs, we may rely on them.

This is why the Rambam states in More Nevuchim that the astronomy of Chazal was based on science “and not tradition from the prophets” – because we did have a tradition from the prophets about astronomy, but it was lost. So that is why Chazal had no choice but to rely on whatever mathematical proofs there existed ain their times. But this loss of ancient tradition is described by the Rambam only in regard to astronomy, and so only in that area, Chazal had to rely on scientists. In other areas of science, our tradition from the prophets – as is described by the Chosid Yaavetz in Ohr Hachaim - was intact.

In summary:
1) The Rambam is opposed by the Ramah and a majority of our Chachomim, and is not accepted l’halachah

2) The Rambam is written in More Nevuchim and therefore not necessarily meant l’halachah to begin with, and proper halachic due procvess is to minimize halachic machlokes as much as possible

3) The Rambam only stated that Chazal relied on the science of their times regarding astronomy, about with the Rambam himself states that we had a tradition from the prophets but it went lost, and that is why we must rely on the science of the gentiles.

-

The Galgalim have sources in Chazal as well, as Rav Chaim Kanievsky points out in Kiryas Melech (Yesodei Hatorah 3:1).

Here's how this works: The Rishonim will quote something from the Greek philosophers but which really comes from Kabbalah. They do this because when citing Kabalistic ideas, they often try to conceal them as much as possible. Therefore, if something is well known as a Greek philosophical concept, they will quote it as such even though its source is Judaism. Example: The Ramban's hyly (hiuli?)at the beginning of Bereishis, which he notes and sources as Greek. Both the Satmar Rebbe (Divrei Yoel Bereishis p.61) and Rav Elya Lopian (quoted by Rav Scwardron) say the hyly is a Kabbalistic, spiritual idea, which the Greeks took from us. The Divrei Yoel explains that the Ramban quoted this in the name of the Greeks because it is the derech of the Ramban to camouphlage such sodos in physical terms - the same as Chazal often did. (see also Rama Toras HaOlah on Boruch Sheamar).

Another one of these concepts is the 4 elements (fire, waster, air, and earth), which is quoted all over by the Greeks but comes from Kabbalah - they took it from us.

The idea that the Greeks took their philosophical ideas from us is all over the Rishonim and Achronim, including the Ramban himself (Toras Hashem Temimah p.162). He says that they lifted their knowledge from the Jews, and eventually it got distorted by them. But the source is Judaism. The Kuzari says the same thing (2:66 - see also 2:19 and 1:62) as does the Shevili Emunah (nesiv 8) the Rama (he brings that Socrates got his wisdom from Asaf and Achitofel (Toras Haolah 1:12), and Chosid Yaavetz (Ohr Hachaim 6). The Chida (Midbar Kadmos - Sheva Chachmos) says this in the name of the Rambam (se also Moreh Nevuchim 1:71).

Basically what happened was, people like Shlomo HaMelech and the Neviim had this chachma, the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle learned from them, we went into Golus and a lot of it got lost, while among the Greeks it got grotesquely distorted. So youll find Torah and Kabbalistic concepts among the Goyim but kind of in a messed up way. Sometimes Rishonim such as the Ramban will identify some crumb of truth among them that comes from us and he will quote it from them if it is known as such.

Regarding Ptolmey himself, the Abarbanel (Shmos 12) quotes Ptolmey as being so impressed with the Jews' astronomical calculations, that he said it proves the Jews had prophecy. In the Sefer Eretz Zvi (by Rav Aryeh Zvi Fromer ZTL, Rosh Yeshiva in Chachmei Lublin), quotes more such sources about Ptolmey.

Eli Turkel

Again, relatively does not apply to non-ineertial systems. If one puts a marble
on a spinning record it will fly off and not because the record is standing still and the room is spinning around it.

The main proofs for a spinning earth are
Corilos forces that shape how the winds move
Foucault pendulum

A proof for a moving earth is the stllar parallaxes

see for example
http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast161/Unit4/movearth.html

Joseph

In General Relativity, it does apply to a non-inertial reference frame.

As far as stellar parallax, I explained above it is possible to describe it in either model.

For a graphical model see:

http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/~zhu/ast210/both.html

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