A new sefer on Torah and science does something that shouldn't be possible
There's an important part of that footnote that you didn't bring, he quotes Rabbi Meiselman statement that this only applies to astronomy, and then he says about that statement יש שלא מצאו הכרח לזה (it sounds like he argues).
Either way, the reason why this sefer is unproblematic is precisely because of the statement you quoted "However, since we find that Rebbi was willing to accept an alternate view that seemed more correct, later chachamim had no reluctance to state that the assumption of chachmei Yisrael that the rakia is a dome and the sun travels through windows in the rakia has been disproven." He's approaching it from a serious halacha perspective, not from a kefira perspective. This is similar to what R' Beinish did with the kezayis.
"So you’d think that a new book on a topic of Torah and science, which is endorsed by Rav Miller and cites Rabbi Meiselman to legitimize one of its most crucial points, would be something that I detest. But in fact, I think it’s amazing."
"The answer is that this book says it in such a way as to make it almost unassailable. The reason why the book can do this is that it restricts itself to mentioning this in the context of one very, very specific topic: the sun’s path at night."
Amazing. Just amazing. You know what's even more amazing? BMG has numerous copies of 'tractate pesachim' on their shelves. You can literally walk into their batei midrash and open up to the 'folio' where it says chazal admitted to being wrong. Isn't that shocking???
....Seriously, this post is such click-bait, I was half expecting one of those ads for miraculous anti-aging cream to start popping up.
Your content was never the main issue. It was your confidence and attitude. The I know better than the Rabbis and there are two camps which allows me to deny the Rabbis is a pretty big issue. Not because you're right and we're scared of exposure to you because it undermines our 'fake mesorah.' Rather because you're wrong but its so complex that those who are ignorant on these matters should best leave it to the experts as so not to lead other layman astray.
No one has a problem saying that Chazal didn't know Riemann geometry or the mathematics of the gauge quantum field theory. It isn't such a stretch that they didn't know how astronomy works scientifically. But the mesorah has taught us something along the lines that the way we perceive the world with our eyes has deep meaning which is what matters to the true reality of nature, the spiritual essence. I barely understand these things but if you don't trust that the Gr'a and Ramchal and Arizal understood these essences, why do you believe in anything our mesorah taught us?
This is a big nothingburger. The earth's path at night is the one easy place to admit Chazal erred - only because Chazal tell us just that. It's also the exception that proves the rule that everywhere else we assume they didn't err.
You also quote RMM as admitting Chachamim were wrong in this case - so what's the big chidush?
Hey! Don't give away Lakewood's secret! We don't need another book banned!
Honestly, whether the author believes what he quoted from Rabbi Meiselman or not, makes no difference. He did a great political move by doing so, making his un-apologetic sefer look mainstream.
I agree with Rav Chaim Zimmerman on this point . Chachma bgoyim taamin. Chazal we're busy learning Torah. They didn't spend years doing scientific research. They relied on the best science of the times. If they applied a pasuk to some scientific matter it was just an esmachta balma. Applying sod Hashem lyireiov to mean chazal knew all science is wishful thinking and ignorance of both science and Torah.
I flipped through this book, and it is clear that there is essentially there is no basis for waiting 72 minutes after Shabbos (in the US). The book also quotes - I believe Rav Shlomo Fisher - in a response to someone shocked that the Rabbeinu Tam could be wrong: "It's simple - he was shlugged up!"
(Maybe it's ok if you say they were wrong in a yeshivish way 😉)
"So you’d think that a new book ...would be something that I detest."
No one would think this. You're a contrarian, it's who you are.
"neverthless every single Rishon and numerous Acharonim"
Another excellent post!
As I wrote here https://www.rationalistjudaism.com/p/the-ultimate-mishnah/comment/39785045,
"The latest fad is that a person gets Cheremed for tone, so he gets rid of his name and socks (which thanks to our advanced technology and our being in the Pollak 'back to the future' generation, get erased retroactively, or more likely only m'kan ul'haba l'mafreia) and tone, and repeats his good old ideas in gentler terms.
RDS is an example of this who, having gotten Cheremed for tone, took on the new identity RAN and repeated very gently his ideas in the new 'The Great Z’manim Debate' book. Then he wrote an elaborate denial that it isn't he. Now, in the wake of the Cherem from ~19 years ago, the hoi polloi Cheremed those Machrimim for THEIR tone, (mysteriously but conspicuously absent in some of the English translations). This time that will be corrected. They will reissue their Cherem on the TGZD book, but only in gentler terms.
Just to summarize my position here:
Rabbeinu Tam has a Gemara that taught him that definite nightfall is a fixed amount of time after the Sheki'ah. That fixed amount of time is measured by the amount of time it takes for people to walk four mil. The yardstick used is not a watch, sand timer, candle, or braying horses. It is the time it takes a person to walk four mil. Nowadays, we use the words 72 minutes to denote that.
Throughout history, humans have had legs and they have walked. They could always measure this distance and therefore time. (Yotzros for Shabbos Shekalim discusses the intersection between time and space regarding measurements.)
Our basic attitude to Rishonim and Gedolei Ha'acharonim is that they were not fools. They are not easily refuted with something that they could have figured out easily by themselves. If RT ignored those calculations, and the difference between various points on the globe, when those differences are obvious, he clearly held that those differences are irrelevant. (Quite possibly because the Gemara in Pesachim is referring to people in EY, making their way to Yerushalayim for Pesach.) Some Gedolei Ha'acharonim disagreed and held that those differences are relevant, and with that premise, asked various questions on RT.
Why does RT hold that the differences are irrelevant? I don't know, but not knowing doesn't mean he is wrong. I can hypothesize with the theory of כל מדות חכמים כך הם, that things were measured in absolute terms, rather than relative terms. A שיעור מיל is an absolute measurement, that does not require a person to invent any tools. If we wanted to measure something like time, Chazal decided it based on this. Just like many other subjective sevaros that have objective gedarim - כל מדות חכמים כך הם.
This may not be the pshat, but פון א קשיא שטארבט מען ניט, especially when we would be fools to think that he did not think of it.
The Gra is another opinion, to which he is entitled. But seeing as we are not the Gra, and we accept the Rishonim's words as binding, we are still stuck in a safek between the Gra and RT, among others.
For a scientific explanation of ovi harakia and the gemara in Pesachim about it see the sefer Kanfei Yona on Yore Deah (written by the mchaber of shu"t meil tzedaka and mote, a great gaon who was niftear in the year 1712) siman 69 saif 6.
There u go again, responding to your critics in precisely the wrong way, by screaming at the top of your lungs "YOUR ASSERTIONS ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE!" If they cared about evidence, they'd already be "Jewish rationalists" (and if they REALLY cared about evidence, they'd be just rationalists).
If the Gemara says clearly that the חכמי אומות העולם are correct then essentially Chazal were right, as science has proven.
Someone is obfuscating here and it isn’t Rabbi Meiselman.
There's an excellent three volume set on Zmanim as well.
I have found that Zmanim are an excellent "red-pill" for chareidi people who think chazal and rishonim are always correct scientifically.