God vs The Multiverse

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Switcharoo (Part 1: Facts)

We know that the following sugya is in an unfamiliar area (תמורה) for most people, but we'll try to give the appropriate background that will allow you to think about the problem.  Feel free to ask any questions if you think you need more information.

The Torah in Vayikra 27:10 discuses an animal that has the sanctity of a קרבן (i.e. it is designated to be brought as a sacrifice on the alter):
לֹא יַחֲלִיפֶנּוּ וְלֹא יָמִיר אֹתוֹ טוֹב בְּרָע אוֹ רַע בְּטוֹב וְאִם הָמֵר יָמִיר בְּהֵמָה בִּבְהֵמָה וְהָיָה הוּא וּתְמוּרָתוֹ יִהְיֶה קֹּדֶשׁ
You are not allowed to switch the sanctified animal for a different animal.  It doesn't matter if the original קרבן was good (i.e. has no blemish), and the substituted animal (תמורה) is bad (i.e. has a blemish); or if the original קרבן was bad, and the substituted animal is good.  If you try to switch the original קרבן for another animal, both the original animal and the substitute end up consecrated, and you get lashes. (Not a good idea to try.)

The gemara in Temura 9a brings down an argument between Rava and Abaye regarding substitution when both animals are good (a case not explicitly taken up in the verse):
תנו רבנן ממירין מן בעלי מומין על התמימים ומן התמימים על בעלי מומין... רבא אמר... חד טוב, אפי' בטוב נמי כי ממיר לקי ואביי אמר קל וחומר הוא ומה טוב ברע דעלויי קא מעלי ליה לקי טוב בטוב דכי הדדי נינהו לא כל שכן דלקי ורבא אין עונשין מן הדין ואביי אמר לך האי לאו עונשין מן הדין הוא מי גרע טוב מרע
The basic machlokes between Abaye and Rava revolves around whether we need an extra word 'טוב' in order to derive the law that you get the punishment of lashes for a substitution when both animals are good.

Rava:  We need an extra word 'טוב' to teach us that you get the punishment of lashes for substitution when both animals are good.

Abaye:  We don't need the extra word 'טוב', as we would already know it from basic logic (קל וחומר):  If the Torah explicitly prohibits substituting a good animal in the place of bad animal (where you are improving upon the original קרבן), of course you get lashes for substituting a good animal for another good animal.

Rava:  Your logic Abaye is impeccable.  Nevertheless, we do need the extra word 'טוב', as we have a general principle throughout the Torah of אין עונשין מן הדין (you cannot derive a punishment through the logic of קל וחומר).

Abaye:  This is not a problem of עונשין מן הדין.  How could substituting a good one in place of a good one, be any less prohibited than in place of a bad one?!

Rashi explains this last reply of Abaye:
ואביי אמר לך האי לאו עונשין מן הדין הוא. אלא אגלויי מילתא בעלמא היא דהיכא דגלי קרא דלקי אטוב דחולין כי מימר ליה ברע דקדש גלי נמי דאי מימר ליה בטוב דקדש לקי: דמי גרע טוב מרע. כלומר מי גרע טוב דקדש מרע דקדש כי היכי דרע דקדש כי מחליף ליה לקי ה"ה לטוב דקדש דרחמנא לא קפיד אלא דלא יחליף מידי דקדש
It's not a problem of עונשין מן הדין, as the logical reasoning is simply being used to reveal the true intent of the Torah; when it said "don't switch a good for a bad" (where you're improving the situation), what the Torah was really saying is "don't switch at all, in any situation".  This obviously includes the case of a good animal in place of another good one, as how could this be any better than switching a good animal in place of a bad one?!

How can we define the machlokes between Rava and Abaye?  What do have to understand first, before we can even begin to try to define the machlokes?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Women in Miracles (Post 5: More Svara)

We suggest that according to Tosafos, the primary obligation to publicize is only on men, those ordinarily obligated in time bound mitzvos.  However, the fact that men are involved in publicizing a miracle in which women were also beneficiaries, creates a secondary obligation on women to involve themselves too.  For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them.

Thus, that which creates the obligation upon women is not the time itself (the calender day of the anniversary of the event), but rather the event of the men publicizing the miracle.  It is therefore not included under the exemption of women from time bound mitzvos.  (A similar idea was given by Rav Soloveitchik to explain why kiddush levana is not time bound.  Although the obligation takes place at a fixed time, it is not conceptually the time which obligates, but the event of the new moon.)

The new idea in Tosafos is that the obligation of women in these mitzvos is not the same as that of men.  Men have a primary obligation whereas women's obligation is secondary.

A proof for this distinction can be derived from a Tosafos in Megilla 4a which brings the position of the Behag that women cannot read the megilla for men, because men are obligated in קריאה (reading) whereas women are only obligated in שמיעה (hearing).

At first sight, this position is puzzling. Who ever heard of a mitzvah with two different forms for two groups which are both obligated?  The above svara answers this question. The primary obligation of megilla is קריאה, and this only applies to men. However, since when women witness men reading the megilla they must be involved as well, the nature of their obligation is secondary and therefore differs from that of the men.  (For a further development of the Behag's thought, see the first comment below.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Women in Miracles (Part 4: More Svara)

We are going to try to learn Tosafos as agreeing with the Rashbam about the main idea of publicizing a miracle, and only differing in a particular of that obligation.  This difference leads Tosafos to reject the Rashbam's approach to explaining אף הן היו באותו הנס, and to suggest their own approach.  In this post, we will clarify the approach of the Rashbam and discuss Tosafos' argument with the Rashbam.  (We will discuss Tosafos' own approach in the next post.)

The Rashbam maintains that the chain that perpetuates the information about the miracle is one continuous chain which is begun with those who witnessed the miracle and continued by succeeding generations.  Although the specific form of this publicizing has varied at the different stages in history, the underlying involvement in maintaining the memory of the miracle is one continuous activity of the nation, and the historical information being transmitted has never changed.  The mitzva merely gave a particular concrete form (reading megilla, lighting candles, drinking four cups of wine) to that which was being done beforehand in a more informal manner.

The key to perceiving the unity between the publicizing of the miracle that the original woman did, with the activities that we do nowadays, is to look at the information that is being transmitted in each stage.  The specific form that the message is transmitted through has been standardized (i.e. lighting a menora as opposed to the words of Yehudis telling a story), but the information content that is being transmitted is identical, and hence it is one chain of transmission.

Since it is one involvement throughout the generations, the group which is obligated to perpetuate this chain is the same at all stages of the institution.  This group is defined as all those people who were carriers of the message from the first woman until the modern era.  Since women had to be involved in the initial stage (because of their unique role), the concretization of this pirsumei nisa in the mitzva must also apply to women as well.  The mitzva is simply a standardization of the form in which the future transmission of the information continues.  The chain predates the mitzva, and the chain of necessity includes woman.

Tosafos argues that the transient obligation of pirsumei nisa upon those who witness the miracle is distinct from the permanent obligation of future generations.  The creation of a formal structure to the transmission of the information presents a clear break from the informal transmission of the message up until the institution of the mitzva.  Tosafos postulates that there is an essential difference between a chain of transmission where there is no structured form to the message, and a chain of transmission with a definite and fixed form.

Those who witnessed and were involved in the miracle publicized it to their generation in any way that was most effective.  Additionally, they also set up an independent mitzva which has a definite form for the purpose of publicizing it to all future generations. As such, the fact that women were directly involved in the miracle and in its initial transmission is irrelevant with respect to the form that the mitzva le'doros takes on.  While the information content of the two transmissions are identical, the form of the transmissions are different, and as such, they are not one chain.  Those involved in the initial transmission of the miracle (men and women) are not necessarily identical with those who constitute the chain of transmission in the future.

Why then, according to Tosafos were women included in the Rabanan's formulation of the mitzva le'doros, contrary to the ordinary pattern of mitzvos in which women are exempt from time bound mitzvos?  Tosafos explains because women too were saved/redeemed by the miracle.  What is the idea behind this answer and how does it get around the fact that ultimately, the mitzva is still time bound?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Women in Miracles (Part 3: Svara)

Far and away, what is most difficult in this sugya is explaining the Rashbam.  What is the connection between the miracle being done through a particular woman, and women of all future generations being obligated in a mitzva that publicizes the miracle?

Miracles are unique phenomenon that occur infrequently.  As the Ramban explains at the end of Bo, a miracle testifies to many important and fundamental ideas.
וכאשר ירצה האלוהים בעדה או ביחיד ויעשה עימהם מופת בשנוי מנהגו של עולם וטבעו, יתברר לכל בטול הדעות האלה כלם, כי המופת הנפלא מורה שיש לעולם אלוה מחדשו, ויודע ומשגיח ויכול...ובעבור כי הקב"ה לא יעשה אות ומופת בכל דור לעיני כל רשע או כופר, יצווה אותנו שנעשה תמיד זיכרון ואות לאשר ראו עינינו, ונעתיק הדבר אל בנינו, ובניהם לבניהם, ובניהם לדור אחרון
A miracle proves that God created the world in so far as He has dominion over the laws of nature.  It shows that God knows mankind, and that He is involved in man's affairs.  These particular miracles (Pesach, Purim, and Chanuka) also show that Hashem is close to Bnei Yisroel; when we cry out to Hashem in prayer, He answers us.  The Rambam at the very end of his introduction to the Mishne Torah explicitly says that this is one of the purposes of reading the megila:
אלא כך אנו אומרין, שהנביאים עם בית דין תיקנו וציוו לקרות המגילה בעונתה כדי להזכיר שבחו של הקדוש ברוך הוא ותשועות שעשה לנו, והיה קרוב לשווענו כדי לברכו ולהללו, וכדי להודיע לדורות הבאים שאמת מה שהבטיחנו בתורה: ומי גוי גדול אשר לו אלוהים קרובים אליו
However, God does not perform open miracles in every generation.  It is therefore incumbent upon the people who witness a miracle to spread that knowledge to others in their generation, as well as to preserve that knowledge for all future generations by relating the events they personally witnessed to their offspring.

In other words, a miracle creates an obligation to establish a transmission process that maintains the memory of the empirical observation of the miracle.  The chain of transmission starts with the first people who witnessed the miracle and continues with every generation adding another link to the chain that ultimately connects back to the original witnesses.  The people of the first generation in the chain are not merely acting to set up the mitzva, but are the first performers of the mitzva which is continued by future generations.  They are the first link in the chain.

The people of the original generation were not all equally involved in the miracle.  A few select individuals were involved in a unique way.  These were the righteous individuals that the miracle was done through.  Who the miracle is done through is not merely an afterthought.  Rather, they have a superior perspective from which to observe and transmit the miracle.

It is for this reason that the chain of transmission begins with those individuals in particular, and not from those with an inferior perspective.  Future generations continue the knowledge given to us by those select people who have the best access to the miraculous events.

Since, in these three cases (the four cups, Chanuka candles, and megila) a woman was among the select individuals who the miracle itself was done through, women as a whole must be part of the chain.  It would be impossible to exclude women from being the gavra of the mitzva for future generations, being that they are necessarily part of the mitzva in the first generation.  In other words, since a woman is at the beginning of the chain, women by definition are part of the chain of transmission and are therefore obligated in the mitzva.
Thus, in setting up these mitzvos, the Rabanan had no choice but to go against the ordinary principle of not obligating women in time bound mitzvos.

This explains the reasoning of the Rashbam.  Does Tosafos fundamentally disagree about the nature of publicizing miracles, or is there a way we can understand the position of Tosafos which is consonant with this general understanding?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Women in Miracles (Part 2: Questions and Methodology)

One issue that needs to be addressed according to both the Rashbam and Tosafos is how אף הן gets around the fact that these mitzvos are still time dependent.  Women are certainly obligated to accept the sovereignty of Heaven and the unity of God, yet they are nevertheless exempt from reading shema!  What is the rationale for אף הן היו באותו הנס circumventing this issue?

What most disturbs us in this sugya is the position of the Rashbam.  What is the connection between the miracle being done through a particular woman, and women of all future generations being obligated in a mitzva that publicizes the miracle?  Are we trying to publicize that it was done by a woman?  Why is that even relevant?  How would men and woman doing the mitzva show that the miracle was done by a woman?

At this stage, we are going to largely ignore Tosafos' question on the Rashbam, of why it says אף (also), if woman were the עיקר הנס (the main part of the miracle).  There were two reasons for this.  Firstly, it seems like a weak question that is only based upon a particular language choice.  Secondly, the text of the Rashbam we have never actually says women were the עיקר הנס.  (It seems that Tosafos' version of the Rashbam did have that, but our's does not.)  We also thought our version made more sense as it is hard to believe that Yehudis was more essential than the Maccabees and the events in the mikdash.

As a final methodological point, we think that you can not begin to define the difference between the Rashbam and Tosafos, or explain how אף הן היו באותו הנס gets around the problem that these mitzvos are still time dependent (according to the Rashbam), before you can make make plain factual sense of the Rashbam's explanation.  

What does the fact that the miracle was done through a particular woman, have anything to do with women in general being obligated in the commandment of publicizing the miracle?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Women in Miracles (Part 1: Facts)

The gemara on the top of Psachim 108b states:
אמר ר' יהושע בן לוי נשים חייבות בארבעה כוסות הללו שאף הן היו באותו הנס
Women are obligated in the 4 cups because they too were in the miracle.  Similar gemaras state the same reason for their inclusion in the obligations of Chanuka candles and reading the megila.   Tosafos here explains that we would have otherwise excluded women, as all 3 are positive commandments that are dependent on a particular time, in which they are not usually obligated.  (Even though these 3 are all of Rabbinic origin, the Rabanun formulate mitzvos in a similar manner to the Torah.)

The Rashbam explains further:
שאף הן היו באותו הנס. דאמר במס' סוטה (ד' יא:) בשכר נשים צדקניות שהיו באותו הדור נגאלו וכן גבי מקרא מגילה אמר הכי משום דעל ידי אסתר הוה וכן גבי חנוכה
The reason women are obligated, is that the miracle was done through them.  The redemption from Egypt was a reward of the righteous women of that generation; Purim was done through Ester; and Chanuka was done through Yehudis.

Tosafos in Megila 4a quotes the Rashbam's opinion (which he has slightly differently), rejects it, and then gives his own opinion:
פירש רשב"ם שעיקר הנס היה על ידן בפורים על ידי אסתר בחנוכה על ידי יהודית בפסח שבזכות צדקניות שבאותו הדור נגאלו וקשה דלשון שאף הן משמע שהן טפלות ולפירושו היה לו לומר שהן לכך נראה לי שאף הן היו בספק דלהשמיד ולהרוג וכן בפסח שהיו משועבדות לפרעה במצרים וכן בחנוכה הגזירה היתה מאד עליהן 
Tosafos argues that the reason women are obligated is that the miracle was also done to them, in so far as they were saved by the miracle too.  Tosafos justifies this interpretation based on the phrase "אף הן" (women were also), which implies that women are included secondarily. Since according to the Rashbam, women were primary, it should have left out the word "also".

How do the Rashbam and Tosafos understand the halacha of  אף הן היו באותו הנס?  How should we approach an understanding of the issue?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 5: Philosophy)

We would like to try to answer a philosophical question that bothered us at the end of the last series of posts (see parts 5 and 6 of "Half a Tree").  According to the Ramban's explanation elaborated on there, ערלה is intimately tied to the institution of bringing the fourth year's fruits to Jerusalem.  If so, why did the Torah extend the prohibition of ערלה to outside of Israel (through the הלכה למשה מסיני)?  Since there is no institution of the fourth year fruits outside the land of Israel, it doesn't seem to make sense to have the prohibition of ערלה there either!

We think that the unique halachik formulation of the הלכה למשה מסיני that we have suggested in the prior posts helps point to the direction of the solution to this philosophical question.  First, we want to bring down the Ramban's summary for the reason for ערלה as given by the Rambam (Guide 3:37):
כי היו לחרטומים ולמכשפים בזמן ההוא מיני כשוף יעשו אותם בעת נטיעת האילנות ויחשבו כי בהם ימהר האילן להוציא פריו קודם זמנו הידוע במנהגו של עולם, ובבואו יקריבו את הפרי לפני העבודה זרה שעשו בשמה הכשוף ההוא, ולכך ציותה התורה באסור הפרי הבא קודם שלוש שנים שלא יבאו לעשות המעשים הרעים ההם, כי רובי האילנות יביאו פירות בשנה הרביעית. ושנאכלהו לפני השם, הפך אכלם אותו לפני עבודה זרה
The Rambam's understanding of ערלה is in line with his general custom of explaining many of the Torah's commandments based upon ancient idolatrous practices that the Torah tried to uproot.  Ancient pagans used to perform magical ceremonies before their false gods in an attempt to cause a newly planted tree to produce good fruit earlier than it naturally would (in about three years).  They would then eat this fruit in their temples before their false gods as an act of worship.  This practice was supposed to be necessary for the tree to be fruitful over the course of its entire life.

For that reason, the Torah prohibited the fruit in the first three years of the tree's life.  If the fruits are prohibited, it would not benefit the owner to try these mystical practices that allegedly cause it to give fruit earlier.  The Torah commanded us to eat the fourth year's fruits before the true God, and promised that as a result of us keeping this commandment, we will be blessed and the tree will produce an abundance of fruits.

This reason that the Rambam gives for the prohibition of ערלה, naturally explains why the Torah posited a הלכה למשה מסיני that extended it to all places.  Idol worship is not limited to Israel, and the prohibition is necessary to uproot these primitive practices wherever the person may be.

We think that the unique formulation of the הלכה למשה מסיני, in fact, points to this type of explanation.  As developed in Post 4, the object that the הלכה למשה מסיני prohibited is the object as it is subjectively perceived by the person, not the object as it exists in itself.  This subjective entity corresponds to the fruits as they are perceived in the imagination of the idol worshipers.  The magical practices that they perform, and the resultant mystical fruits which they bring before their false gods, are all products of fantasy.  They have no objective basis in reality.

Therefore, the הלכה למשה מסיני forbid us to eat the fruits as they are subjectively perceived by the individual.  The forbidden fruits exist only in the imagination of the person, while in reality the fruits are permissible.  All idolatry, magic, and mystical practices have no basis in reality, but exist solely in the fantasy and imagination of its deluded worshipers.

We would like to thank Rabbi Chait for directing us to the idea of the correspondence between the prohibition of ערלה outside the land of Israel and idol worship.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 4: More Svara)

We left off the previous post with the difficult problem of making sense of the הלכה למשה מסיני that only fruit that is definitely ערלה is prohibited, but fruit about which one is uncertain is permitted.  Therefore, even an unreasonable doubt will prevent the fruit from being prohibited.

The difficulty is that our knowledge about the fruit shouldn't play a role in determining whether the fruit is ערלה or not.  Our knowledge, or lack thereof, should determine our actions regarding the fruit, but it should not play an integral role in defining the fruit itself.

It would seem that to answer this question we have to look at the הלכה למשה מסיני in a new light.  It is true that normally a prohibited food is defined based upon its objective characteristics, and as such a person's knowledge is something extraneous to the fruit itself.  However the הלכה למשה מסיני here has a unique formulation that enables the person's uncertainty to play an essential role in defining the fruit.

The entity that the הלכה למשה מסיני prohibits is the entity as it is subjectively perceived by the person.  The object of the prohibition is not the objective entity, but is rather fruit as a subjective phenomenon of human perception.

The observer's knowledge is extraneous to the fruit as a thing in itself.  It is the same objective fruit, whether or not you are certain or uncertain about it.  However, as an object of subjective perception, uncertainty plays an essential role in distinguishing between two objects.  There is an essential difference between the perceived object of certain ערלה (fruit definitely within the first three years), and an object that is perceived as uncertain ערלה.  They are two qualitatively different objects relative to a person's idea of them.  Knowledge about an object (certainty and uncertainty) is extraneous to the object in itself, but is essential to the subjective object of perception.  The הלכה למשה מסיני only prohibits that which you perceive as certain ערלה.

We can understand what compelled the הלכה למשה מסיני to use such a unique formulation of the prohibition outside the land of Israel.  Since there is no inherent holiness in the land, none of the general agricultural laws and entities can exist in their usual manner, as they are generated by the unique status of the land of Israel.  The הלכה למשה מסיני used a definition of the fruit that isn't based upon its objective status, but is based upon the person's subjective perception of it.

This idea also explains why you are allowed to give your friend fruit which you know with certainty is ערלה.  If the fruit in itself was prohibited, you would not be able to give it to him, even if he didn't know at all what it was.  You still know that it is objectively prohibited, and would be prohibited from giving it to him.  However, here the entity that is prohibited is the subjective phenomenon of definite ערלה.  The entity as it exists relative to you is not the same as it exists relative to him.  You perceive it as definite ערלה, but he perceives it as uncertain ערלה.  It is one objective entity, but two different subjective entities.

(We realize that the distinction between the object in itself, and the subjective perception of the entity is a bit abstract.  There is a similarity between the formulation of this הלכה למשה מסיני and the famous distinction made by the philosopher Immanuel Kant between the noumenon (thing-in-itself) and the phenomenon (thing-perceived).  They are not identical distinctions, but seeing a slightly different application might help you grasp the concept.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 3: Svara)

We'll take a small step and define the difference between סוריא and all other lands. We base this step on the fact (mentioned in the previous post) that סוריא has a Rabbinic prohibition, while all other lands are only the pure instance of the הלכה למשה מסיני.

In order to permit the איסור דרבנן on the fruits from סוריא (using the principle of ספק דרבנן לקולא), it is necessary to have a reasonable doubt regarding their status.  If you see grapes being sold outside a vineyard of ערלה and you are unsure of their origin, that uncertainty functions to create a status of ספק (doubt) in the fruits and thereby permits them.

However, if you see a basket of grapes coming out of the vineyard of ערלה, you are pretty certain that the grapes are ערלה.  Is there some far out possibility that the grapes are from somewhere else?  Isn't it possible that they happened to find their way into the vineyard in a basket, and are now being brought out?  It is possible, but it is not a reasonable doubt. Therefore, there is no status of ספק in these fruits, and they remain prohibited.

This is regarding סוריא, where there is a separate איסור דרבנן besides for the הלכה למשה מסיני.  But in other lands, there is only the pure הלכה למשה מסיני.  In this case, the fruits are permitted even when there is no reasonable doubt, but only a far out possibility that they are not ערלה.  The הלכה למשה מסיני says that only fruits that are definitely ערלה are prohibited.  An unreasonable doubt will prevent the fruits from having the status of an absolute ודאי (definite), and therefore will be sufficient to permit the fruits.

The main concept is that in סוריא the status of ספק is necessary to permit the fruits, while in all other lands the status of ודאי is necessary to prohibit the fruits.  The case which brings out this difference is where there is an unreasonable doubt.  Only a reasonable doubt can legitimately create the status of ספק, but even an unreasonable doubt can prevent the fruits from being ודאי ערלה.

This understanding of the הלכה למשה מסיני allows us to ask the next critical question:  What sense does it make to say that only fruits that are ודאי ערלה are prohibited?  Our knowledge about the fruit is something external to them, and it doesn't seem to make sense to distinguish between two types of fruit based upon our knowledge of them!  For example, if you are in doubt, but your friend knows for sure, the fruit itself is the same for both of you.  What sense does it make to have ודאי be the essential definition of the prohibition?

This is a subtle question, and it is important to appreciate the problem in order to move forward.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 2: Approach)

The first thing to realize when approaching this sugya is that we are dealing with a הלכה למשה מסיני.  While a הלכה למשה מסיני has the status of a Biblical law, it often times has a unique halachic structure compared to a regular law.  In fact, if the law could have been smoothly incorporated into the regular halachic structure without making recourse to a specific הלכה למשה מסיני, then presumably it would have been!

It is hard to describe what we mean by "unique halachic structure", and it is something that you'll get a better feel for as you come across and define more of them.  In any event, "unique" does not mean that you can just say anything you want.  It still has to make sense, and you still need to clearly define what the הלכה למשה מסיני is doing. (For an excellent series of shiurim which develops this idea of הלכה למשה מסיני, among other important topics, listen to Rabbi Yisroel Chait's Mesora 1-3, found here.)

What about the situation of ערלה outside Israel demands a הלכה למשה מסיני?   In general, only the land of Israel (which has holiness) is able to endow things that grow in it with a special status.  It is most unusual to find any agricultural laws applying to something grown outside the land of Israel.  It would seem that the Torah, in seeking to overcome this obstacle of giving a status of ערלה to fruits grown outside the land of Israel, had to make recourse to a הלכה למשה מסיני.

The second thing to realize is that the pure case of the הלכה למשה מסיני is found only in the case of all other lands (other than Suria and Israel).  Suria, because of its proximity to the land of Israel, has an additional Rabbinic status of ערלה which mimics the status of ערלה in Israel itself.

This Rabbinic status of fruits in Suria (in addition to the הלכה למשה מסיני that of course also applies there) is what is responsible for its stringency relative to all other lands.  This is a bit of a paradoxical situation, as normally we would regard a הלכה למשה מסיני as being more stringent than a Rabbinical decree.  No doubt this results from the fact that the הלכה למשה מסיני specifically states that only definite ערלה is prohibited, while uncertain ערלה  is permissible.

Let's first define the exact difference between the doubt (ספק) required for permitting a regular Rabbinic prohibition (the case of fruits from Suria), as opposed to the doubt needed to permit the pure case of the הלכה למשה מסיני.  After we do that, we'll be in a better position to clearly see what we need to define in order to really make sense of the הלכה למשה מסיני itself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 1: Facts)

The Rambam in the Laws of Forbidden Foods (10:9-11) says:
הערלה כיצד כל הנוטע אילן מאכל כל פירות שעושה אותו אילן שלש שנים משנטע הרי הן אסורין באכילה ובהנאה...במה דברים אמורים בנוטע בארץ ישראל שנאמר כי תבאו אל הארץ וגו'. אבל איסור ערלה בחוצה לארץ הלכה למשה מסיני שודאי הערלה בחוצה לארץ אסורה וספיקה מותר
Fruits that grow from a tree in its first three years after being planted (ערלה) are forbidden to be eaten or enjoyed.  This is only prohibited by the written Torah in the land of Israel.

The prohibition of ערלה outside Israel is based on a הלכה למשה מסיני, a specific law that was axiomatically given to Moshe at Sinai.  This law posits that only fruit which is definitely ערלה is prohibited, while if you are in doubt over whether the fruit is ערלה or not, it is permissible.

In general, we treat a doubt in a הלכה למשה מסיני like any other uncertain Biblical prohibition, and have ruled stringently that it is prohibited.  Here however, the הלכה למשה מסיני itself tells us to be lenient in a case of doubt, and to permit the fruit.

The Rambam continues to explain the situation of uncertain ערלה:
ספק ערלה בארץ ישראל אסור. בסוריא והיא ארצות שכבש דוד מותר. כיצד היה כרם ערלה וענבים נמכרות חוצה לו. שמא ממנו הוא זה שמא מאחר. בסוריא מותר ובחוצה לארץ אפילו ראה הענבים יוצאות מכרם ערלה לוקח מהן. והוא שלא יראה אותו בוצר מן הערלה בידו
If you see them selling grapes outside a vineyard that you know is definitely ערלה, and you are unsure as to whether the grapes are from that vineyard or from somewhere else:

1) In Israel the fruits are prohibited; 
2) In Suria (lands very close to Israel) they are permissible; 
3) In all other lands they are permissible to the extent that even if you see them carrying out a basket of grapes from the vineyard itself, as long as you don't see them actually cutting the grapes off the vine!  This last case is prohibited even in Suria, and is only permissible in all other lands.

How can we define and understand the difference between Suria and all other lands?

The gemara in Kiddushin 39a goes further in explaining just how lenient uncertain ערלה is:
אמר ליה לוי לשמואל אריוך ספק לי ואנא איכול רב אויא ורבה בר רב חנן מספקו ספוקי להדדי
In Bavel, Levi would ask Shmuel to make him some uncertain ערלה, and they would do this for each other.  This would entail each one cutting the fruit (which they knew to be definitely ערלה) without the other one seeing, and then giving it to them!  This is a very unusual leniency.  How is this permissible?

How can we define the הלכה למשה מסיני in a way that makes clear sense of these extreme cases?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 6: More Philosophy)

After we wrote the last post that was based on the philosophical explanation of orlah by the Ramban on Vayikrah 19:23, we thought about a question on his approach from one of the basic halachos of orlah.  The Rambam writes in 10:1-2
כל שהוא חייב בערלה יש לו רבעי. וכל שפטור מן הערלה אינו חייב ברבעי שנאמר שלש שנים יהיה לכם ערלים וגו' ובשנה הרביעית...נטעו שלש שנים לסייג ומכאן ואילך למאכל אין לו רבעי. שכל שאין לו ערלה אין לו רבעי
The institution neteh revai is contingent on the prior existence in the fruits of the tree as orlah.  If the tree was never subject to orlah (i.e. you had intent for a fence for the first three years, and only in the fourth year did you change your mind for food), then the tree is exempt from neteh revai.

This seems backwards according the way we understood the Ramban (that the prohibition of orlah is an accidental result of neteh revai).  We could understand if the halacha was that if there was no neteh revai then the tree would be exempt from orlah, but the other way doesn't seem to make sense.  In so far as neteh revai is the primary institution, it should still exist even if the tree was never subject to orlah!

We think that this problem can best be solved by first defining the halachic structure that underlies the relationship between orlah and revai.  They are two independent mitzvos (irrespective of their intimate philosophical connection), so how are they halachickly bound to each other?

It would seem that the way revai is contingent on orlah is through the entity of the fruit.  Namely, the entity upon which revai exists is the fruits of a tree that went through the prohibition of orlah.  How does this work?

The fruits of revai are viewed by the halacha as being the first fruits of the tree.  How is this true when the tree, in fact, produces fruits before the fourth year?  The answer lies in the verse, as explained by the Ramban.  The verse says that the tree should be "closed" for three years.  The Ramban says that it is as if the fruits are closed on the trees, and have not yet blossomed. This is because the fruits of the first three years are defined as waste products, and not food.  Only in the fourth year are they considered to open up and blossom.  It is those fourth year fruits, which are viewed by the halacha as the first fruits of the tree's life, that are obligated in revai. You use these first fruits to eat in Jerusalem and praise Hashem.

Conceptually, the prohibition of orlah is a necessary prerequisite for the institution of revai to exist.  If the tree never went through orlah, its fruits in the fourth year are not considered its first fruits and are therefore not subject to revai.  This is why the Ramban compares the mitzva of revai, which is the first fruits of a tree's life, to bikkurim, which are the first fruits of every individual crop year.

It would seem that our understanding of the Ramban in the previous post was erroneous.  The prohibition of orlah is not an accidental result of revai; it is not simply wrong to eat the fruits for the first three years because it is before you have brought them in the fourth year to Jerusalem.  (We made a mistake in comparing this prohibition to eating before making a bracha, which is a comparison the Ramban himself does not explicitly make.)  Rather, the prohibition of orlah is a necessary prerequisite in order for the fourth year fruits to be defined by the halacha as the first fruits of the tree and thereby subject to institution of revai.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 5: Philosophy)

The basic idea that emerges from this sugya is that the definition of a fruit tree in the framework of orlah is not absolute, but is defined relative to man. We think that this idea naturally points to the essential philosophical reason behind the prohibition of eating fruits from a tree in the first three years after it was planted.  (This philosophical idea is stated by the Ramban on Vayikrah 19:23, as well as being implicit in the psukim themselves.)

If the primary reason for the prohibition was that the Torah believed there was something intrinsically harmful (whether physically or spiritually) about fruits in the first three years, it should have chosen an absolute definition of a fruit tree.  If there was something intrinsically bad about eating them, then they should've been prohibited even if you plant the tree as a fence. Apparently, this is not the reason.

Rather, the idea of orlah is tied to the positive idea of bringing the fruits to Jerusalem in the forth year and eating them there before God (the institution of neteh revai).  It is  prohibited to derive benefit from them during the first three years because it is improper to benefit from the fruits before first bringing them before God.  Essentially, the Torah is saying that you first have to recognize the true source of your blessing of fruits of the land, and only afterwards is it permissible to enjoy them.  This philosophical idea is similar to the basis of the requirement to recite a blessing before benefiting from anything in this world, as well as the concept that underlies the mitzva of giving the first fruits of every year's crop to Hashem (bikurim).

You might ask a simple question:  Why not just bring the first year's fruits to Jerusalem?  Why did the Torah prohibit the first three years, and only command bringing the forth years fruits?

The Ramban provides a very compelling explanation.  Almost all fruit trees do not produce good fruits for the first three years after they are planted.  The fruits are small, have a poor taste and smell, and are inferior to the fruits that the mature tree will produce.  As such, it is inappropriate to bring these sub-par fruits to be eaten before Hashem. The Torah therefore commanded us to wait until the forth year before the fruits could be brought.

When seen in this light, the prohibition of orlah is almost an accident of the fact that you have to wait four years to get fruit that is appropriate to bring to Jerusalem.  If fruit trees generally produced good fruit after two years, the Torah would have said to bring the second year's fruit and only prohibited the first year's fruit.  The essence of the prohibition is eating the fruits before first recognizing the true source of the good that Hashem has given us in the land of Israel and its fruits.

This explanation might sound troubling because of the fact that the prohibition of orlah applies even outside of Eretz Yisrael, where there is no institution of bringing the fruits that grow there to Jerusalem.  How are we to understand this prohibition in light of the Ramban's explanation? We hope to answer this question at the end of our next series of posts on the halacha of orlah outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 4: More Svara)

We explain the conceptual basis for the machlokes between TK and RY about how the prohibition of orlah is formulated:

TK:  When you have a tree which is a fruit tree relative to man, then its fruits are subject to the prohibition of orlah.  If so, there's no such thing as a half of a tree.  A tree is a singular entity.  If you plant a tree, half for fruits and half for a fence, it is either entirely a fruit tree or not a fruit tree.

It would seem that since the inherent nature of the tree is that it produces fruits, and you do want its fruits (albeit only on half), it is defined as a fruit tree and all the fruits are therefore prohibited.  It is only excluded from being a fruit tree if you completely remove it from being defined as a fruit tree relative to you, by planting it for the exclusive purpose of something other than fruits.

RY: The law of orlah is not inherently one of trees, but is one of fruits.  Namely, fruits which are produced by the מלאכת האדם (human productivity) of planting fruit trees are included in orlah.  Wild, spontaneous fruits are not.

If so, when a person plants a tree, half for fruits and half for a fence, then the fruits which emerge on the "fruit side" are resultant from the human productivity of planting fruit trees and are included in orlah.  However, the fruits which emerge on the "fence side" are not.  They are a spontaneous, accidental result of fence building.

The main idea is that since, according to RY, we are not defining the tree in its own right, but are looking at the fruits of the tree, there is no problem in looking at half of the fruits of the tree in one way and the other half in another way.  This is in contrast to the TK who views orlah as being predicated on the tree itself, and is therefore forced to define the entire tree either as a fruit tree or as something else.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 3: Svara)

The halacha of orlah applies to trees which have the property of being "fruit trees". We will investigate this property by first distinguishing between two types of properties:

(A) a property intrinsic in an object.  For example, we can talk about a dog being a carnivore.  The property of eating meat has to do with the inherent characteristics of the dog.

(B) a relative property of an object as it exists relative to man.  For example, we can talk about a dog having the property that it is a pet. The concept of a pet has no meaning independent of a relationship to an owner.  A pet exists under man's care, while a stray dog does not.

These same two possibilities can be applied regarding how the Torah defines a tree as a fruit tree, and thereby subjects it to the prohibition of orlah.  If it were defined based upon the intrinsic properties of the object (A), then all trees which grow fruit should be included, irrespective of why man planted it.  But this is not the halacha.

Rather, a fruit tree is defined relative to man (B).  It is a tree which man utilizes for producing fruit. Thus, if a person plants a fruit tree for a fence, it is not defined as a fruit tree relative to man, but as a fence which happens to grow fruit. Such a tree is not included in the prohibition of orlah.

With this in mind, we're ready to take up our second question from the previous post and define the machlokes.  Besides for trying to understand the conceptual basis for the machlokes, we asked specifically about the position of RY.  If you plant a tree, half for fruits and half for a fence, is it a fruit tree or not?  How can orlah apply to only half of a tree?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 2: Questions and Methodology)

In approaching this area, we have two questions:

(1) Why is it relevant whether you plant a fruit-tree for fruits or for a fence?  Either way, it is still a fruit tree and should come under the prohibition of orlah. What insight does this give us into the nature of the prohibition of orlah?

(2) In approaching the machlokes, the opinion of RY seems especially difficult to define.  How can a tree be half chayav and half pattur in orlah?  This seems to be an awkward formulation.

Which of these two questions should be approached first?

Often, one has a tendency to jump right to defining the machlokes; however, this is frequently a methodological error. Without first understanding the basic law in the area, that orlah depends upon one's mindset regarding the tree, it seems premature to define RY's position or the machlokes as a whole, which are detailed applications of this basic law.

Let us therefore first try to answer question (1) and then move to the second question.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Half a Tree (Part 1: Facts)

In Vayikra 19:23-25, the Torah tells us about the institution of orlah.
כג) וְכִי-תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל-עֵץ מַאֲכָל וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עָרְלָתוֹ, אֶת-פִּרְיוֹ; שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים, יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֲרֵלִים, לֹא יֵאָכֵל.  כד) וּבַשָּׁנָה, הָרְבִיעִת, יִהְיֶה, כָּל פִּרְיוֹ קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים, לַיהוָה.  כה) וּבַשָּׁנָה הַחֲמִישִׁת, תֹּאכְלוּ אֶת-פִּרְיוֹ, לְהוֹסִיף לָכֶם, תְּבוּאָתוֹ:  אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 
When you plant a new fruit tree in Eretz Yisrael, you are prohibited from eating the fruits it produces for the first 3 years.  These prohibited fruits are called orlah.

The first mishna in Orlah qualifies this halacha:
א,א  הנוטע לסייג ולקורות, פטור מן העורלה.  רבי יוסי אומר, אפילו אמר הפנימי למאכל והחיצון לסייג--הפנימי חייב, והחיצון פטור
If you plant a fruit tree for a different purpose then for growing fruit (i.e., as a fence or for the purpose of using its wood as beams), then the fruits are exempt from the prohibition of orlah, and you are therefore allowed to eat them.  (If you later change the way you relate to the tree, it becomes prohibited - see Rambam, 10:2).

There is a dispute between the Tanna Kamma (TK) and Rabbi Yosi (RY) about what happens if you plant a tree, half for fruits and half for a fence (i.e., the outer and inner halves):

TK: All the fruits are prohibited, as you can not say that the tree is entirely for a fence. 

RY: Only the outer fruits are prohibited, while the inner fruits are permitted. 

The Rambam (10:3) holds like RY and explains that the reason is "because the matter is contingent on the mind of the person who plants the tree."
נטע אילן וחשב שיהיה הצד הפנימי שלו למאכל והחיצון לסייג. או שיהיה הצד התחתון למאכל והעליון לסייג. זה שחשב עליו למאכל חייב בערלה. וזה שחשב עליו לסייג או לעצים פטור. שהדבר תלוי בדעתו של נוטע
We would like to first  understand the basic halacha that the prohibition of orlah goes by the mind of the person who plants the tree, and then give a svara for the machlokes.  What questions should we ask in approaching this area?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Table of Contents)

Below is the table of contents for God vs The Multiverse: a rational argument for the Existence of One God who intelligently designed one universe.  The argument does not rely on any religious beliefs, but is rather based entirely on modern science and rational philosophy.  We have assumed that the reader has no background in physics or mathematics, above a basic high school education.  However, we have also assumed that the reader compensates for this with a genuine motivation to understand the argument, and is willing to spend the requisite time and energy that is necessary for acquiring first hand knowledge of God's Existence.  (Click here for a PDF compilation of all the posts.)

Stage One - Evidence for an Intelligent Designer

Stage 1a - The fine tuning of the constants of nature and the initial conditions of the Big Bang

Stage 1b - Elaboration and clarification of the two pillars of support

Stage Two - The Multiverse

Stage 2a - Major flaws with multiverse theory

Stage 2b - Breakdown of the three pillars of support for multiverse theory

Stage 2c - Absurdities of multiverse theory

Stage 3 - One God

Stage 3a - One Simple Necessary Existence

Stage 3b - God's complex actions

God vs The Multiverse (Part 27: Summary of Stage Three)

Since this is the final post of the proof, we are going to quickly summarize the first two stages of the proof and present a more elaborate summary of the third stage.

In Stage One, we established that the constants of nature and the initial conditions of the big bang were fine tuned for the purpose of producing an ordered universe, with a hierarchy of complex structures on all orders of magnitude.  This is based upon the fact (that is accepted by almost every physicist and cosmologist) that if the constants or initial conditions were significantly different from their known values, our entire universe would be an unstructured, chaotic soup of elementary particles instead of the interesting complex universe that we exist in.

In Post 17, we showed that although the fine tuning naturally points to an Intelligent Designer, there are three, and only three, possible alternative explanations for this fact.  Throughout Stage One we explained why almost all scientists reject two of the alternatives: the Master Mathematical Equation, and the possibility that the constants and initial conditions are themselves Necessary Existences.  The remaining alternative explanation for the fine tuning was random chance with infinite tries (the multiverse).

In Stage Two, we exposed major problems with the multiverse, and undermined the 'supports' of multiverse theory.  Even though multiverse theory is embraced by most scientists (rather than an Intelligent Designer), it is a fundamentally flawed theory that upon deeper investigation, fails as an explanation.  We summarized most of these difficulties and failed supports in Post 17.

It remained for us to show how it was possible to formulate the explanation of an Intelligent Designer, in a way that did not suffer from the critical flaws that scientists lodge against God.  We want to stress again that we are not simply accepting an Intelligent Designer as the explanation for the fine tuning because it is the only viable possibility remaining.  Rather, in addition to being the only possible explanation left, the fine tuning in Stage One directly points to Intelligence as its natural explanation.

We began Stage Three by presenting (in Post 18) the God of Abraham, which we formulated as One Simple Necessary Existence.  We showed how this ancient concept of God is free from the many questions that atheistic scientists raise against God, and is the proper explanation for the fine tuning.

Specifically, in Post 19, we answered:
  • 1) Who caused God?  
  • 2) If God has no cause, then why does He even exist?

In Post 20we answered:
  • 3) Who designed the complex intelligent designer?
  • 4) Why is God this way rather than some other way?
  • 5) How do you know there aren't two or more Gods?

In Post 21we answered:
  • 6) What does the word 'God' even mean?  It merely signifies an empty mysterious Being, which does not explain how order, complexity, and fine tuning come from this Being!
  • 7) How could the God of Abraham (One Simple Necessary Existence) possibly be the Intelligent Designer of the universe?  Doesn't saying that God is Intelligent, necessarily imply complexity in His Absolutely Simple Essence?

In Post 22, we explained how the God of Abraham is an intellectually satisfying idea, even though it does not cater to a person's primitive desires for gods that he can identify with.  However, for an emotionally mature person, the God of Abraham is an emotionally satisfying idea.

The main idea throughout Stage Three was to differentiate between God's Essence and His actions.   The separation between the Absolutely Simple Existence and the universe He created, is the critical philosophical concept from which everything else follows.

God's Essence is Absolutely Simple, and therefore, intrinsically does not lend itself to being understood in terms of anything simpler.  The idea of a fundamental principle is something integral to modern science, as well as any system that follows from first principles.  By definition, something fundamental can not be understood in terms of something simpler.  We illustrated this key point with analogies from the fundamental particles and the fundamental interactions of modern physics (in Post 18 and 21).

The only possible knowledge about the Essence of One Absolutely Simple Necessary Existence is negative knowledge.  This means that we can know that He is not two; His Essence has no complexity; there is no other cause for His Existence; He Exists in Reality, and is not a figment of the imagination.

However, we can have positive knowledge about God's complex actions.  We developed this idea in the second part of Stage Three.  We can study the laws of nature and the universe that results from those laws, and see God's infinite intelligence manifest throughout His creations.  We can see the infinite power of the God of the Universe, when we realize that He created everything from absolute nothing.

We observe that the King of the Universe's actions result in order and stability, and we therefore say He acts harmoniously and justly.  As humans are also a small part of the design, this recognition obligates us to act in line with our design and purpose.  This does not mean that the laws of nature exists solely for the purpose of making human beings.  On the contrary, the true anthropic principle that a person should believe is that a human being is just a small part of the vast cosmic design for the universe as a whole.  Nevertheless, we are a part of the whole, and as such, we should act accordingly.

Throughout the proof, we have emphasized that we as human beings have the freedom to ascertain what we believe to be true and real. This can not be denied without skeptically denying the truth-discerning ability of the mind itself.  We have the internal perception that we are free to choose to live according to the dictates of our minds, and we are also free to reject our minds and live according to our emotions and desires. This proof, as well as any other proof of anything, rests upon this assumption.

One final point.  We are not missionaries, and we have no desire to intellectually or emotionally bully anyone into believing something they do not truly accept.  The question of God vs the multiverse, is something that you can not rely upon authorities to decide for you.  You can only rely on your own mind and choose freely for yourself.  We hope that this proof has helped to give you the knowledge that is a prerequisite for an informed free choice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 26: Blind Faith)

We would like to conclude the proof with a slightly humorous story which helps explain one of the most disturbing things about "multiverse science."  Besides for the fact that multiverse theory itself is intrinsically untestable, it also renders the correct alternative explanation for the fine tuning of the universe, the action of an Intelligent Agent, impossible to prove.  Any proof for God, becomes a proof for the multiverse.  (It's cheating.)

To illustrate this point, consider the following fictitious story.  At the international physics conference Multiverse 2020, an amazing event takes place.  An immense voice, apparently coming from the heavens (or some other universe in the multiverse), declares the following: 
"I am the God of the Universe.  I designed the laws of nature, carefully chose exact values for the constants, and precisely arranged the initial conditions of the universe in order to bring about the structured, beautiful universe that you are fortunate to live in.  In specific, I made the fine structure constant equal to  0.08542455 because if it were any larger, then... and if it were any smaller, then... Similarly, I set the cosmological constant... (continues thus for all known constants).
I only created one universe.  There is no multiverse.  All multiverse theories are false unfounded speculations which were posited to avoid the manifest indications of My Existence. As I will not appear to every generation of physicists, make sure to tell your descendants this important message and prevent them from wasting their time and energy pursuing a nonexistent multiverse."
At first, the physicists are awed, impressed, and stunned. After a few minutes, one multiverse theorist begins to stir.  He starts scribbling some calculations.  Suddenly, he leaps to his feat and exclaims:
"How did that happen?  That was one highly improbable random fluctuation!  In fact, I estimate that the probability of such a sound wave occurring by chance alone is about 1 part in 10500.  Since we all know and have agreed that God cannot possibly exist, how can we explain the occurrence of such an unlikely event? 
The necessary conclusion is that this is yet another confirmation of the existence of the multiverse.  There has to be at least one universe (actually an infinite number of universes) in the great big infinite set of universes in the multiverse, in which the constants are fine tuned, the initial conditions are properly set, and the laws of nature are perfectly constructed, for the emergence of an ordered structured universe AND for that immense voice to be produced by chance.
By the weak anthropic principle, it is obvious that the intelligent observers who hear this voice and wonder what caused it, will be in this improbable universe.  It is no evidence for the existence of God, as then we are left with the question of what caused Him?  How would it help to posit God anyway, as we wouldn't know anything about Him? 
Rather, it is the ultimate pillar of support for our well-grounded theory that we are living in just one universe out of infinitely many universes.  There are probably other universes where similar voices appeared at biology conferences, or at a Rolling Stones concert, or in the desert on Mount Sinai.  None of this should be a surprise, given the infinite number of universes that truly exist.
Wait a minute...In fact, multiverse theory predicts that there are an infinite number of multiverses that have these apparent revelations!  Finally, we have empirical confirmation for predictions of our theory.  A mass revelation in favor of the multiverse!  It is something impossible to be faked.  We could never have dreamed of better evidence.  The ultimate pillar of support!  We must diligently pass on this empirical confirmation of multiverse theory to all future generations, as we will probably never have any other observational evidence to support the multiverse."
A multiverse theorist might claim that we are attacking a straw man; fine tuned constants are a necessary precondition for intelligent observers, but mass revelations are not.  We will quickly review their argument from the weak anthropic principle (post 5) to explain how they would try to distinguish between the two cases.

In order for us as intelligent observers to ask about the constants, the constants must already be fine tuned in our universe.  Since that is the case, of course we happen to be in a universe in which they are fine tuned, as there aren't any intelligent observers in the infinity of other universes to ask the question.  Someone had to "win the lottery" and we happen to have "the lucky ticket".

In fact, their argument goes further than just explaining how the constants seem so fine tuned.  Since an Intelligent Designer cannot possibly exist, the only possible explanation for us having these special values is that we are part of an infinite multiverse.  This then becomes one of the three pillars of support that allegedly prove that the multiverse really exists.

However, a multiverse theorist will argue, it is certainly possible to have a universe with intelligent observers, but without a mass revelation. Thus, if they were to actually witness such a revelation, they claim that they would accept the existence of an Intelligent Designer.  They therefore state that the multiverse is falsifiable.  (See the Weinberg video from post 20.) 

Although we agree with this distinction between the constants and a mass revelation, we think that it is irrelevant in terms of the falsifiability of multiverse theory.  According to multiverse theory, there are infinitely many universes of every type: some with fine tuned constants, some with constants that are not fine tuned; some with fine tuned constants and revelations, some with fine tuned constants and no revelations.

In a minority of fine tuned multiverses in the infinite multiverse, there are some universes with apparent revelations that occur through random fluctuations.  Despite this, we would not predict observing such a revelation in advance. Since most universes do not have revelations, we would assume that we are in the most common universe that is consistent with all our prior observations.  

However, once we observe a revelation, it becomes clear that we are in one of the "lucky" universes which do have apparent revelations.  Someone has to be in them, just like someone has to win the lottery and someone has to have fine tuned constants.  In fact, since an Intelligent Designer cannot possibly exist, the only possible explanation for this apparent revelation is that we exist as part of an infinite multiverse.

The reasoning in the two cases is nearly identical.  The fact that the existence of an intelligent observer is not contingent upon a revelation is irrelevant to the discussion.  An honest multiverse theorist has faith that there are an infinite number of fine tuned multiverses with intelligent observers who do witness revelations. Thus, a witness of such a revelation should conclude that he is in the subset of multiverses that is still consistent with all his prior observations (that now include an apparent revelation).

The concept of this fictitious story presents a serious problem for a multiverse theorist.  If he would be moved by such a revelation and accept an Intelligent Designer, he would be contradicting the very line of reasoning which led him to believe that the incredible fine tuning found in our universe is actually a pillar of support for the multiverse.  If on the other hand, he would deny God and actually respond in a similar manner as is parodied above, he is guilty of assuming his conclusion.  He may as well say that God does not exist because he has faith that God does not exist.  There is absolutely nothing that could ever convince him otherwise.  The greater the miracle, the greater the pillar of support for the multiverse.  This is a excellent example of the fallacy we called multiverse of the gaps.

There is no logical justification for assuming a priori that the ultimate cause of the universe is unintelligent randomness as opposed to an Intelligent Agent.  Rather, the question is logically one of an a posteriori nature; it demands observation of the universe in order to be determined.  It is hard not to draw the conclusion from some of the statements multiverse scientists make (throughout the articles and videos we have linked to in these posts) that they have already made up their minds about God, irrespective of the actual evidence.  They have decided as a group that God does not exist, and they have shut down their minds to honest inquiry.

Blind faith that God does not exist, has no more rational justification than the blind faith that He does exist.  It behooves you to use your own mind, and not rely on expert physicists and cosmologists to teach you philosophical truths, especially when you know how much emotional baggage is tied up with the idea of God.  You need to investigate the Ultimate Cause of the universe, so that you can decide for yourself what is true.