Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Israeli elections Exit Polls

JPost Exit polls, 10:00p Israel time

Kadima - 29 [prediction: 30 or less]
Labor - 22 [20]
Y.Beiteinu - 14 [12]
Shas - 11 [11]
Likud - 11 [18]
NU/NRP - 8 [12]
Gil - 8 [0]
UTJ - 6 [4]
Arab parties - 6 [8]
Meretz - 5 [5]

Kadima/Labor/Shas/UTJ have 68, but I would be surprised if Gil didn't enter the government, also, for a total of 76. Latest reports still indicate the Y.Beiteinu will join the government. I suppose that with 76 solid seats, Olmert might be willing to take them in in order to create a 90 seat bloc, since he wouldn't lose anything from dumping them if they decide not to toe the line or if they demand too many ministries. This being the case, he doesn't have to take in the chareidi parties immediately, as he would still have a 73 seat government, anyway, but there isn't really anything to lose, from his perspective, by bringing them in to the government. Now that I think about it, Meretz was part of the government not too long ago, so Olmert might decide to bring them in, also, for a total of 81/95 seats.

I think it's time for the Israeli right to seriously take a look at itself and figure out what it's doing wrong.

Update, 4/4:

Labor has lost 3 seats since the exit polls, dropping them from 22 to 19, so that I overshot by 1 rather than undershot by 2. Shas gained 1, from 11 to 12, so that I undershot by 1, rather than getting exact. Likud gained one, decreasing my overprojection from 7 to 6. Y.B. dropped from 14 to 11, so that I overshot by 1 rather than undershooting by 2. Mafdal gained one - a change of a 4-overshoot to a 3-overshoot. Gil fell to 7, as did my undershoot (I'd be amazed if anyone predicted more than 2-3 seats for them). Finally, the Arab parties gained 4 (!), reversing my overshoot to an undershoot.
Kadima/Labor/Meretz/Gil now have only 60 seats (the last caused by a last minute revelation of a recording error (or "error"?) that changed a village's Chadash votes to Cherut, thereby giving Labor an extra seat), so they'll probably still end up pulling in Shas and UTJ, if for no other reason than that the party they choose will hold out until the other is also invited, so as not to be the only religious party in the government.

Israeli elections II

Article about the Gil (Pensioners) Party.


One Gil supporter saying she was "voting for the pensioners because they're the only party with a platform I can support. Actually, I'm not sure what the platform is," she admitted, "but I know that old people and poor people are sitting in the streets, and I feel bad and I want to do something to help them."

Back at Rabin Square, a crowd of teenage girls chanted "Save our grandfathers" on Tuesday afternoon. They said they had no official affiliation with any party, but had decided to come to the square at the last moment because "the old people need all the help they can get."
Labor's Shely Yacimovich was concerned over the phenomenon. She expressed concern on Tuesday with Tel Aviv youth she had met who said they were voting Gil because, well, it was trendy.

I've always had a special place in my heart for third parties (or, in this case, thirtieth parties). This is, perhaps, why the Israeli elections so fascinate me, in that each party has its own character and priorities, as opposed to the boring two-party system that reigns in many countries, that tries to fit every citizen into one of two boxes. Granted, a two-party system is probably a good way to avoid having 4 national elections in 7 years.

However, I would still be very shocked if Gil, Aleh Yarok, Chazit, Cheirut, Tafnit, Shinui(!), or any of the other sundry boutique parties manage to pass the 2% threshold.

Israeli elections

Despite all of the clamor about the elections being held today, the participation rate is rather low. It would be too silly if it were because of the far right feeling disenchanted with all of the existing parties and choosing to vote by not voting. Which, of course, means that that is precisely one of the reasons for the low turnout, in addition to overconfidence by Kadima voters and disenchantment among the chareidi population with certain UTJ knesset members expressing some independence from their gedolim. Anyway, as of 2p Israel time, the participation rate was 30.9%, which, according to Jpost is only a 5% drop from the last election at this time of day (apparently approximately 32.5%), so the drop is much less than people are making it out to be.

Kadima will be lucky to get 30 seats.
Labor will come in at 20.
Likud at 18. They can't possibly do as badly as the most recent polls say.
Y.Beiteinu at 12.
NU/NRP 12. Call it a hunch.
Shas 11.
Arab parties 8.
Meretz 5.
UTJ 4.

Marzel would have easily nailed a two-seat mandate, if it weren't for the "A-vote-for-Marzel-is-a-vote for Kadima" campaign - but the campaign will still result in an extra seat for NU/NRP (with the second seat being in the form of wasted votes that will, indeed, add to Kadima's mandate).

The government will be built around Kadima, Labor, and Shas, with UTJ pulled in for good measure - 65 seats. The chareidi parties are the best option for Olmert, since their political views are perpendicular to those of Kadima - as long as they get funding, they'll agree to anything Olmert wants to do (I don't think he'd be foolish enough to do anything that would offend them on a religious level). A friend of mine once criticized Shas to me, complaining about how they're willing to flipflop for money, but this is precisely their platform - if one accepts the fact that the borders of Israel are not the only issue that's important, it makes perfect sense. Olmert won't want to trust Y.Beiteinu to consistently support the pullout, no one likes Meretz, and the Arab parties are against a unilateral pullout, but rather are in favor of negotiations (in addition to the fact that inviting them into the government would be politically suicidal).

Besides the fact that predicting the "right/religious bloc" to get 61 seats is amazingly optimistic, what incentive would the chareidi parties have to turn down what Olmert offers them in favor of causing Katzav to invite Netanyahu to form a government - who says they'll get a better offer that way? As it is, I have Likud, YB, NU/NRP, Shas, and UTJ coming in at only 57 seats combined.

In conclusion, as my great-grandmother used to say, "No matter who gets in, he should be good for the Jews". I'm fairly unconfortable with Kadima, so likely would not have voted for them, but if that's who the people of Eretz Yisroel want, that's fine with me.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vayak'heil-Pekudei - Thoughts from Shabbos

1) Why in 37:29 is the Shemen HaMishchah referred to as "kodesh" while the K'tores is referred to as "tahor", as opposed to vice versa? (credit: Sam)

My immediate reaction was to recall a sugya that I saw in Menachos (96b) earlier this week in which the description "tahor" as applied to the shulchan of the Mishkan teaches us that it is m'kabeil tum'a (the gemara's initial thought is that it not be, since it is an immobile wooden object, although it resolves the problem by explaining that they would bring the shulchan out to show the olei r'galim the warm bread on it, so it was not actually immobile). The only way that incense could be m'kabeil tum'a would seem to be through tum'as ochlim, and only a handful of the spices are edible (according to Wikipedia: cassia, saffron, costus and cinnamon - perhaps also spikenard, which apparently has medicinal purposes - does that qualify?), so perhaps one could apply a similar idea to the k'tores, that all of it be m'kabeil tum'a. The shemen ha-mishchah would not need such a d'rasha, since all of the spices are immersed in the olive oil, which is m'kabeil tum'a, so really have no identity on their own (Perhaps one could also attribute it to an issue of rov, where rov of the k'tores is not m'kabeil tum'a while rov of the shemen ha-mishchah is? What would the halacha be for a regular mixture of edible and inedible spices used for fragrance?)

Of course, I don't think that we would be able to make such a drasha on our own, but it would be interesting if such is, indeed, the halacha.

A cursory glance at the m'farshim produced the S'forno, who says that "tahor" means that the spices of the k'tores must be pure from any impurities - and this adjective is also applied to it in P' Ki Tisa. The question would still remain, though: why only the k'tores and not the oil? S'forno also comments that kodesh by the oil means "bilti nifsad", in the sense of "It should be holy to Me for your generations in P' Ki Tisa" - but I don't understand what this means.

Chizkuni explains "tahor" that the incense requires purity, and quotes the passuk of "Dead flies putrify the perfumer's oil" (Koheles 10:2) to prove his point. I am ignorant, also, of how this verse specifically applies to the incense, and not the oil.

Alternatively, one could answer that "tahor" as describing the k'tores is juxtaposed to the oil, so that it applies to both - this would answer the questions on both of the m'farshim's comments, as well as eliminating the need for any explanation of the differentiation between the two. The gemara says in several places that the concept of hekeish is d'oraissa, but I think that we still need a mesorah in order to invoke a hekeish.

The opposite question, regarding why only the oil is called kodesh is not a question, as the incense is also called kodesh, in P' Ki Tisa.

2) Pekudei is one of the 5 parshiyos in the first four chumashim that do not start with a vav ha-chibbur. The others are Bereishis, Noach, and - interestingly - B'chukosai and Mas'ei. The significance to this tidbit is dependent on who is responsible for our system of parsha divisions. It would be interesting if the three aforementioned sets were the most often doubled up, so that we had parshiyos starting without a vav ha-chibbur as seldom as possible, but this is not the case (IIRC, T-M and/or A-K are doubled more frequently that V-P). Perhaps Bereishis and Noach are just too long to double up (they would even dwarf this week's gargantuan leining).

3) Did anyone else think about R' Nosson Kaminetzky and R' Slifkin while listening to today's haftarah reading? Granted, Yechezkeil's (near-)ban was a bit different, in that it was being done over 500 years following his death (as indicated by the fact that Chananya ben Chizkiyah ben Garon, one of the students of Shammai, successfully defended against it). One can ask why specifically the Rabbis of that generation felt the need to put it in genizah when their predecessors did not, but precedents do exist - 2 of them by Chizkiyahu in the 4th perek of Pesachim.

Addendum (transferred from my comments section): R' Moshe Feinstein touches on the issue of the ban on Yechezkeil in one of his pieces about the peirush on chumash attributed to R' Yehuda HaChassid (whose authenticity he speaks out very strongly against), explaining that, despite the prohibition against stifling a nevuah, Chazal saw that there was a good rationale for doing so, in the case of Yechezkeil. I didn't read it so closely, but, IIRC, it's in the 2nd or 3rd volume of Igros Moshe, Yoreh Dei'ah.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Lab Notebook

Once of the first rules of the lab that I recall learning - presumably back in general chemistry or thereabout - was to never tear pages out of the our lab notebooks or to cross things out to the extent of unreadability (although a single strikethrough is OK). The reason for this is that, in science, one never quite knows what information will turn out to be useful or which mistakes will become new and exciting pathways to follow up on. While a simple strikethrough can note that a mistake was made, keeping the data on hand maintains this knowledge in storage, where it can be retrieved in the event that there is something to be learned from it.

Rereading some of the posts on my blog, I've contemplated scrapping one or two of them. However, I've decided that, rather than striving for a non-existent perfection of expression, it would be more worthwhile to either tweak the wording of the offending posts or to write other posts that may head off misunderstanding of the ideas that I was trying to express.

This post was partially, if not entirely, inspired by a couple of blogs that I follow on which the author decided to delete a post. In both cases, the deletions were warranted, I believe, as the authors realized that they said things that they never should have said. Such is not the case with my own missteps, and is also never the case in the lab. It's nice how science often turns out to be a microcosm of the real world, only with the stakes on a lower order of magnitude.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Meit Mitzvah

I thought I would shift some posts that I wrote on a now-defunct blog to this one. This post is from 2/05, with minor edits and comments:
I was browsing through R' Irving Bunim's "Ever Since Sinai" today. It looks like a very interesting sefer of essays on a variety of topics, written in the same style as his "Ethics From Sinai" work on Pirkei Avos which I very much enjoy. One of his essays was regarding the reasoning behind the importance of a meit mitzvah, in that it overrides so many other mitzvos, such as property rights (a meit mitzvah is koneh his 4 amos for burial) and the issurim for a nazir or kohein gadol to become tamei meit. This brought me to think about some of the dinim of meit mitzvah. The answers to these questions are likely stated b'feirush in the poskim, but I don't have time now to look things up.
  • What is the din of a meit mitzvah by nochriim? Is m"m a din of Yisr'elim, or do we invoke tzelem Elokim even by nochriim? {I don't recall why I thought that m"m is connected to tzelem Elokim, but it's a possibility)
  • Does it apply equally in Chu"L? My recollection is that the right of a meit mitzvah to acquire his 4 amos was one of the 10 t'naim of Yehoshua when the Jews entered the land, which would imply that he can't be necessarily buried on the spot in Chu"L. If so, would the finder be obligated to attend to his burial elsewhere? Would this extra tircha and cost exempt him from the chiyuv (I find it hard to believe that it would)?
  • Does a meit mitzvah acquire 4 amos even in private property? What if he was there illegally?
  • If an unattended corpse is found in an abandoned building, does he have to be buried inside the building? [Say that it has a stone foundation]
  • What is the interplay between meit mitzvah and eglah arufah? Is it possible for a corpse to qualify for both sets of dinim?
  • As a follow up to the previous question, what is the time frame of a meit mitzvah? Granted, one probably cannot leave the corpse unattended, but if 2 people find it, can 1 stay and watch the corpse while the other makes arrangements of some sort (read further on)? If so, for how long can this go on? Would the same dinim apply by a regular corpse? In Yerushalayim, we can never leave a corpse unburied overnight, but elsewhere, we're more meikel for special cases (e.g., close relatives have to fly in from abroad). Taking the case of a regular identified corpse, is there any time limit for delaying the levaya? Does it make a difference if part of the post-death process has been done? [I'm particularly thinking of the case of the Rambam, whose coffin was transported from Egypt to T'verya after his death].
  • How does one know that a body is a meit mitzvah? Maybe he has relatives in the city? Relatives in the next town over? Is there some process to announce the finding of a meit mitzvah before/after the burial? Bear in mind that once the burial is done, positive identification is nigh impossible - so the burying of a meit mitzvah by a solitary stranger who doesn't announce it or who cannot testify as to the identification of the corpse is potentially creating an aguna and all sorts of other halachic complications. Maybe kavod ha-meit overrides these issues? [I can't rule it out].
Food for thought. Maybe I'll do some research when I have time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


This past fall, the artist of a popular web comic about graduate students (fascinating topic, I know) visited my school and gave a talk. The topic of his talk was the value of procrastination. One thing that stands out in my mind was an idea that he repeated several time: When you're procrastinating, you're not wasting time. Rather, you're doing exactly what you want to be doing. He didn't elaborate much on what he meant by this, but I think it has a frightening profundity to it. Often, when people (by what I mean myself) procrastinate, they rationalize it by arguing that they need a breather in order to recharge and work better. This is only true to a limited extent. Ultimately, the way that one chooses to procrastinate and the frequency and duration at which he does so speaks about his priorities and what's truly important to him. There is always more to be done in numerous areas of life. If one idly surfs the web while taking a break rather than shifting his focus to something else of greater utility, it may be saying more about him than he'd like it to be.

Of course, the reluctance to be the subject of such a sweeping condemnation will lead a person to poke holes in this concept, and ultimately discard it. But then, "Let he who listens listen and let he who forbears forbear" (Yechezkel 3:27).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ki Tisa 2

I was browsing through my new copy of Sichos Mussar by R' Chaim Shmulevitz earlier this week, and saw that he has a piece on the Cheit Ha-Eigel. He asks what is probably one of the most popular questions on a parsha in Chumash - namely, what's up with the calf? How can people who just 6 weeks ago heard HaShem speak to them suddenly turn and build an idol? There are many answers given to this question, such as that it was only meant as an replacement for Moshe and that it was only 3000 bad eggs who were looking for an excuse to worship avodah zarah. R' Shmulevitz has an interesting take on the matter.

He quotes the gemara in Chagiga in which Rebbi, when reading from Megillas Kinos, accidentally drops it, and exclaims, "From a great height to a deep pit!" R' Shmulevitz explains the significance of this statement by contrasting a book with a person. A book, when it falls, can be damaged by the impact. However, it does not inherently suffer from its displacement from a high place to a low place. A human being, on the other hand, not only can be injured from the impact, but also simply from the change in location. It was this dual injury that led Bnei Yisroel to sin with the eigel. When the Satan misled them into thinking that Moshe died in heaven, it had a cataclysmic effect on them, that led them into a downwards tailspin that they were unable to break out of until they hit rock bottom, worshipping avodah zara.

R' Chaim contrasts this to the downfall of Shlomo. He quotes a midrash whose location (Koheles Rabbah?), context, and exact wording escape me, but it goes something like "Shlomo started out ruling over the entire world, then part of the world, then over Eretz Yisroel, and finally he only ruled over his staff." R' Shmulevitz notes the significance of this last clause. Even when Shlomo had frightening downfall, he refused to let himself hit rock bottom, but rather maintained his mida of malchus at the very least over his own staff. This alone could be seen as a very minor distinction from ruling over nothing at all, but to the contrary, it was this small elevation from rock bottom, this small measure of maintaining self-control, that enabled him to ultimately return to his full powers. Had the Jews been able to stop their downfall at any point, they never would have fallen to such a depth. However, as they kept falling further and further down, there was nothing to stop them from reaching this low level.

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Ki Tisa 1

Pop quiz - Where are cinnamon and myrrh mentioned in this week's parsha?

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Haftarah Thought

In last week's haftarah for P' Zachor, the navi mentioned that the army of Sha'ul consisted of 200,000 men and 10,000 men of Yehudah. If all of the tribes had even representation, the number of soldiers from shevet Yehudah should have been closer to 20,000, or 10%. Indeed, such a ratio is observed at the war to save the city of Yaveish Gil'ad from Nachash the Ammonite (11:18), in which the muster of soldiers counts 300,000 men and 30,000 men of Yehudah. What is the cause of this oddly low number? The question is strengthened by the fact that Amaleik was based to the south of Israel, next to the territory of Yehudah, so that regionalism cannot be a factor.

The RI"D (R' Yeshaya da Trani) suggests that the men of Yehudah did not fully accept the authority of Sha'ul over them, so therefore contributed a smaller number of men than the other tribes did. This would seem to be startling, in that such would imply a rebellion against the word of an accepted prophet (3:20 says that everyone from Dan to Be'eir Sheva, the latter in Yehudah, knew that Shmuel was trustworthy as a prophet of HaShem).

Some observations:

* When Sha'ul was first coronated, the navi relates that there were certain b'nei b'liya'al who disparaged Sha'ul, saying, "Shall this one save us?" (10:27). Therefore, we do see that Sha'ul's kingship was not uncontested. After Sha'ul's successful military foray, the people wanted to execute the people who disparaged Sha'ul, but Sha'ul demurred. The fact that the navi emphasizes this incident implies that it was more than just a few people who were against Sha'ul.

* The event that directly led to a request for a king was the "corrupt" policies of Shmuel's two sons in their positions as judges. Shabbos 56a praises Shmuel's policy of rotating his court to different regions of the country to judge people in their hometowns, as opposed to his sons who stayed stationed in one place (and interprets the corruption of Yo'el and Aviyah in this light, as opposed to true corruption). The navi (7:17) notes that Shmuel rotated through Beit-El, Gilgal, and Mitzpah (along with his own city of Ramah). Beit-El is in the territory of Yoseif, and I believe that Gilgal and Mitzpah are in the territory of Binyamin (this despite the fact that Mitzpah was the jumping off point in the war against Binyamin some centuries earlier) {As a side note, it should be noted that Shmuel's circuit was entirely in the heartland of the country, and seems to not have passed through the Galil or Eiver HaYardein. This underemphasis of these regions of the country is not surprising, based on the postcedent of the monarchial period in general}. His sons, on the other hand, set up their court in Be'eir Sheva (8:2), in the south of the territory of the tribe of Yehudah. In response to this, the people complained to Shmuel, requesting that he appoint for them a king. It would seem like the people of Yehudah would view Shmuel's sons as a change for the better, as the new judges were now based in their home region year-round. Combining this with the fact that the king was not from their own tribe, which had been promised the monarchy by Yaakov, perhaps they did not support the new king. When it came to saving Yaveish-Gil'ad, they were willing to rally together with the rest of the nation under one leader, but when it came to an offensive war, even a milchemes mitzvah, perhaps they were more ambivalent.

These observations provide evidence and a reason for the explanation of the RI"D, but do not deal with the problematic aspect of disobeying the appointee of the prophet. This question is analogous to questions that arise throughout Tanach when we do not understand the motivation behind certain actions that seem obviously questionable in retrospect, and that leave us with the two options of either to defend or to condemn.

Parenthetical note: The other answer that I was playing with before I saw the answer of the RI"D (and before I saw the other pesukim) was that Yehudah was either smaller than many of the other tribes or was more reluctant to go to war in general. My basis for this supposition was based on the fact that during the civil war against Binyamin in the aftermath of the incident of the pilegesh b'Giv'a, the other tribes were routed in the first two battles, losing 22,000 and 18,000 men respectively, out of the 400,000 men who came. Prior to the first battle, HaShem instructs the tribes that Yehudah should lead them into war. It would seem, then, that Yehudah's manpower could have been considerably decreased, to an extent that would be noticeable even 400 years later. This theory is not supported, though, by the larger number present at the war to save Yaveish-Gil'ad.

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A Purim thought

This past Shabbos, a certain R' Reider spoke after mussaf regarding "chayav inish liv'sumei ad d'lo yada bein arur Haman l'varuch Mordechai". He asked the usual questions on this statement in Megillah and proposed (I don't recall his source, if he quoted one) an interesting reading. In the world around us, there are certain things that are clearly evil (arur Haman) and certain things that are clearly good (baruch Mordechai). Additionally, there is a large grey area made up of matters in which the two polar opposites compromise - this is what is 'bein ahlv"m'. When one drinks, one becomes bolder and less able to see shades of grey, and his opinions polarize. On Purim, one should drink to the point that he no longer feels the need to compromise his beliefs regarding what is good in the world, so that he truly does not see what is "between" Haman and Mordechai; either something is good or it is not.

I'm probably missing some fine point of what he said, but it's still an interesting point to keep in the back of one's mind.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


"The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant" - Socrates

"The beginning of knowledge is fear of God" - David

A few weeks back, I came across the first of those three quotes, and decided that it was an interesting thought that would serve me well to keep in mind, so used it as the first entry in what I thought would become a quote wall inside my cubicle (as you can see, I tend to start things and then forget about them). While working today on a transport phenomena problem set, I looked up at that quote, and began to think about it (anything to avoid working on my homework, after all). The second quote, from the last verse of Tehillim 110 (111?), sprang into my head.

To provide a little bit of background information about what I spend my days doing, transport phenomena is, in the general sense, the study of gradients, that is, the study of differences in a system's properties over space that serve as a driving force for changes in the system's properties over time, to the point of reaching some steady state where the system's properties do not change over time (which may or may not be an equilibrium, which refers to the case when not only do the properties not change with time, they are also constant for all spatial locations within the system). The field deals with the transfer of heat (conduction, convection, and radiation), the transfer of mass (diffusion and convection), and the transfer of momentum (fluid flow).

The equations that are used in this field are differential equations, that correlate changes in spatial and temporal dimensions to one another. When one integrates a differential, one always ends up with some unknown constant. This is logical; if one travels east at 60 mph for 3 hours, one knows that one is 180 miles east of one's starting point, but still has no idea where one is. In mathematical terms, one's location would be expressed as C + 180 - but C could be anywhere in the world. The only way that one can determine one's spatial location based on a differential equation is if one knows one's starting point. In engineering patois, this is called a boundary condition. If one has enough boundary conditions based on knowledge of a system's temperature at given points in space and time or based on knowledge of a solution's concentration, one can obtain real, useful results. If not, one's final answer will be nothing more than an academic exercise.

The statements of King David and Socrates appear to be expressing this dichotomy. Socrates points out that before one acquires knowledge, one has to realize that one must start from a blank slate, with no preconceptions and no loyalties that will cause one to pervert the knowledge that one will obtain in order to fit into a pre-existing system. David, on the other hand, notes that the beginning of knowledge is fear of God. Rather than fear of God being a hindrance to knowledge, in that it forces one to subjugate one's intellect to a system whose reasons one may not intellectually understand, fear of God is actually a prerequisite to knowledge. No one has a monopoly on logic; the world is full of intelligent people of all stripes and of all ideologies. How, then, is the world filled with such differences of opinion? The key factor, I believe, is boundary conditions. To use a previous metaphor, if two people each drive 60 mph east for 3 hours, but one starts from Los Angeles and one starts from Paris, they may have traveled down identical strips of asphalt in identical vehicles, listening to identical CDs, but they will end up in very different locations.

According to the relativist, this is a natural situation in the world. Since there is no right and wrong, no absolute morality, it can not be any other way but that people will come to different conclusions; this one will be a liberal and that one a conservative and this one a capitalist and that one a socialist. And the world is better this way, reasons he, as it allows for full intellectual expression. David, though, notes that this is not the case. We do have boundary conditions and initial states - and, rather than stifling the power of the intellect, they channel it, allowing for us to come to absolute definitive answers, rather than relative solutions that use unknown constants. The Torah is the source of our boundary conditions. If the Torah says that something is good, we know that it is good, and we can use our intellects to apply this knowledge to situations that are not stated explicitly.

The source of our knowledge that these are our boundary conditions is another discussion whose place is not here. The analogy is not exact, of course, as even starting from the same boundary conditions, there are still differences in opinion in the interpretation of the Torah for our everyday lives. However, it must be noted that the differences are nearly negligible relative to the full scale of the system. This being understood, it comes out that the analogy is not so inexact after all, as what we call temperature is never based on absolutely uniform physical conditions, but rather is based on the average motion of the molecules of a system. When dealing with the motion of a fluid, this concept is known as Brownian motion. In light of this, perhaps we can also arrive at a better understanding of the concept of "Eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim chayim" - These are the words of God and those are the words of God, and despite their mutual contradiction, both are entirely true.

To know what we know and to know what we do not know: This is knowledge. - Confucius

The opposite of a truth is a lie. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. - Niels Bohr