Friday, August 25, 2006

A Rock'n Good Shabbos

Hi All!

Sense Reb Chaim is way for Yeshiva for the near future, he asked me to take over his little blog. Normally, I would turn him down, and possibly smack him around a little for this kind of request. Let’s be honest about this alright, blogging is for losers. If anybody cared what you had to write, someone actually pay you to write it. Ideal, only people with something important to say get a voice to say it. Not anymore. These days any nutjob with a DSL lines gets his own little soapbox to explain why the government is trying to eat your grandmother or how donuts are really the herald of the apocalypse.

Let’s look at what someone who actully gets paid real money to write thinks about blogging

"Isn't blogging basically for angry, semi-employed losers who are too untalented or too lazy to get real jobs in journalism?"

"If the market really valued what you have to say, wouldn't someone pay you for it?"

-Garry Trudeau, of Doonesbury fame.

Truer words, old chum. Incidentally, I am a writer, although currently out of work one. The principle still stands. I get paid real, none digital money for what I write. The idea of a blog says that I should do what I usually charge quite a bit to do, and do it for free. It’s like asking a lumberjack to chop down your trees for free, because you really want to see how he cuts.

But sense I like Reb Chaim I’m supposed to go his jamboree for him. Well, we don’t do that here. Why not you ask? Because, this is a Jewish site. The whole concept of Judaism is against religious pluralism. As Jews, we are supposed to be leading people away form the kind of stuff on the daily scribe. If I post links there, I will be leading other Jews astray, which violates a major commandment in the torah. I’m not going to have that on my check list with Elul just starting. I’m screwing up enough thank you very much.

Instead, here are some sits helpful for growth in torah.

There. Now go learn and quit looking at new age hippy junk. Go. Now.

Good Shabbos.

Ilan, the Portlander Rebbe.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Going off

I will be going off to Yeshiva on Saturday night and will likely have no access to a computer, and for sure to the internet, until after Yom Kippur. I'm thinking of this as a fourty-day Kallah in which I can totally immerse myself into my Talmudic studies without any distractions coming from the internet. It's been a great year here on this blog, I think I've learned as much as my readers have learned through this blog. I'm not sure about the future of this blog, but I did ask some people to temporarily replace me in my absence for about the next fourty days. After that time, I will re-evaluate the need for this blog and perhaps shut it down or change its direction. At this point, I would like to ask Ilan the Portlander Rebbe, Chaim Braverman, and Roman Polansky to start their writing for this blog. Perhaps I will get more people to join the crew in the next day.

Have a happy and sweet New Year and may it be His will that this year shall be the end and culmination of all our pains, and the beginning and start of the redemption of our souls.
לשנה טובה ומתוקה ויה"ר שתהא השנה הזה סוף וקץ לכל צרתנו תחילה וראש לפדיון נפשנו

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ideal Jew

In the ideal situation, every Jew should follow the customs (Minhagim) of his family. However, when a penitent (Ba'al T'shuva) returns to the true Torah faith (i.e. Orthodox Judaism) after generations of having been astray, there are no traditions to compliment normative Halacha for them to follow. His parents—and possibly even their parents and parents—were either non-observant or were minimally observant. In such a situation, the penitent traditionally adopts the customs (Minhagim) of those who brought him or her back to religion. This can refer to a specific movement, organization, or individual who influenced the penitent's theodology. The problem arises when a person finds religion by himself through such means as research. If this person does not consult with Rabbis on a regular basis or even just affiliate himself with an official faction of Orthodoxy, then this person would be exposed to all kinds of fallacious ideas; he would then just accept these falsehoods as truth. The left-leaning academia tries to defame various forms of right (meaning both correct and conservative, pun intended) Judaism[1]. Therefore, when this person decides to follow the path of Orthodox Judaism, to steer clear from the groups, which he learned are "evil" because he does not want to contribute to the rightward shift in World Jewry[2]; therefore, he resolves to belong to "Normative Orthodoxy". However, the reality is that such a movement is nonexistent. In the end, either this penitent will adopt the routine of one group over another, but will inevitably label that group the real Orthodoxy, or he will "pick and choose" from various groups until he finds a lifestyle that is more convenient for him. Both of these conclusions are unacceptable.

A true Chareidi (literally "trembler", i.e., one who trembles before the existence of HaShem) fears G-d in his own way. By definition, he follows Halacha to the utmost detail and is scrupulous in his decisions, traditionally following opinions that are more stringent when there are conflicting acceptable rulings on a matter. This is in contrast to modern Orthodox movements who adopt views that are still legitimate in Halacha, but are more lenient in many instances. Discouraging secular education and assuming that grown children will get married and learn Torah for the rest of their lives without getting a job is not the definition of Chareidism. There are Chareidi colleges or Yeshivas that find college acceptable, some even encourage such collegiate education; there are even Chareidi university professors and Ivy-league educated Rabbonim. Not all Chareidim outright prohibit movies or the internet; it is a matter of opinion. However, most of them do follow the opinions that such worldly activities are forbidden because they tend to rule stringently in general terms. Dress is also not a defining factor as to who is a Chareidi; some wear a shtreimel on Shabbos, some a spudnik, some a Fedora or Hamburg hat ("black hat"), yet others bare their heads of a hat and wear merely a yarmulka, whether knitted, suede, or velvet.

True Torah Judaism is made up of various factions, and none is superior to another. As postulated above, the correct path in Judaism is to follow the tradition of one's ancestors. Therefore, descendants of one geopolitical nationality differ from the descendants of another in terms of customs. The Yekkis from Germany, Litvoks from Lithuania, and Ungarians from Hungary each have different customs. Nonetheless, each one is doing what is halachikly required of them. The "Black Hatters" differ from the Sepharadim, yet they are both correct in their fashion of Avodas HaShem (serving G-d). There is no faction within Torah Judaism that is "more correct" than another. When a penitent decides to brand one type of Judaism the authentic one, he effectively tries to invalidate the other varieties, and he is thus violating the cardinal rule of unity. One's only mission is to remain observant in the Torah's tradition, as it has been passed down to him.

A frum person (colloquially, "religious") is, by literal definition, "tied up." He is bound by Halacha; he is in servitude to his creator and the Rabbis who decide the parameters of this responsibility. A frei person is "free" from his G-d-given obligations because he refuses to acknowledge rabbinical authority and HaShem's supremacy and authority in the world. Such a person is, in actuality, a slave to his own his temptations and pursuit of physical pleasure. This is why he rejects the self-evident truisms about HaShem and His Torah. In contrast, a frum person is free from his bodily enticements and consequently has the liberty to serve G-d properly, and thus he can fulfill the purpose of his existence. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman (1875-1941), may his blood be avenged, explained[3] that any thinking person can recognize the hand of HaShem unless he has been brainwashed to not be able to do so. A majority of irreligious Jews fall into this category. They are known in Halacha as Tinokos She'nishbu, meaning "children who were kidnapped", they were never exposed to the Torah True ideals, so their sinning is beyond their control for lack of better knowledge. In present days, some say that the Secular Israelis are not of this status because since Torah observance in the Land of Israel is so prevalent, these Secularists are constantly actually exposed to Torah ideals. Nonetheless, many Secular Jews have always grown up in closed communities (like their religious brothers) which do not accept change and eschew influence from Torah observant Jews, so the malediction that these Secular Jews suffer from is a result of their upbringing; they cannot all be branded sinners.

Whether in America, where the majority of Jewry belongs to the Reform Movement, in Israel, where the majority of Jewry is plainly secular, or in any place of the world, religious Jews are a minority of Jews, who make up a small minority of the world population. In response to this sad state of events, organizations of kiruv (such as Ohr Somayach, Aish HaTorah, Lev L'Achim, Arachim, and many others), which attempt to "bring closer" those Jews who are far away from the Authentic Judaism, have sprung up all over the world to spread awareness of the Torah. The more academically inclined leftists like to claim that Orthodox Judaism in its present state does not address issues of science, social and moral ills, history, and deep theological concepts. However, these same people call those Rabbis who do indeed address such issues "Jewish apologetics". In doing so, they defame such luminaries of the Torah world as Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001), Rabbi Berel Wein (a Rosh Yeshiva who heads the Destiny Foundation and writes a weekly column in the Jerusalem Post), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1934 - 1983), Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller (of Yeshivas Telz in Chicago).

As long as one stays within the realm of Halacha, and feels bound by the Torah law, one is still within the spectrum of Orthodox Judaism. The moment that one has rejected or tried to modify a Halacha, one is no longer within the range of what can be considered acceptable for Orthodox Judaism, rather that person is treading on ground reserved for Conservadox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and other progressive movements which have come into existence since the Reform Judaism. Starting in 1806, in the midst of the European Enlightenment, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France proclaimed that Jews were equal to all other Frenchman. This essentially broke down the ghettoes, which had separated the Jews from their gentile neighbors for centuries. Napoleon's goal was for the Jews to assimilate into mainstream French culture; Napoleon's "Sanhedrin" furthered Napoleon's purpose of transforming all the Jews into good little Frenchmen. The result of his work was the German Reform Judaism Movement that eventually spread and developed splinter groups, which mimicked their ideology across the globe. This emancipation of European Jewry was arguably more gruesome than Hitler's Holocaust did because spiritual death is much worse a fate than physical death. Judaism has still not recovered the ills that it faced because of the rise of progressive Jews ideals, which essentially led to rejection HaShem, and the Torah, as well as to assimilation and the adoption of Christian practices and rituals within the Jewish synagogue.

[1] This is because of an interesting phenomenon in the academic world whereby the more left wing a school is, the more prestige it carries.
[2] See the multitude of works which vilify Hareidi/"Ultra-Orthodox" Judaism including, "Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy" by Haym Soloveitchik, Tradition, Summer 1994 and the multitudes of books and articles written by Professors Samuel Heilman and Noah J. Efron on the subject.
[3] Kovetz Mamaarim §1

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

YESHIVA WORLD NEWS » Blog Archive » Yated article on Neturei Karta

The Yated addresses the issue of the Neturei Karta: YESHIVA WORLD NEWS » Blog Archive » Yated article on Neturei Karta

Freedom and Torah Supremacy

Many accuse the Jewish people of running a vast worldwide conspiracy in allegedly controlling various media outlets and governments. Former Senator David Ernest Duke wrote a book entitled, Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question, which echoes the accusations made against the Jewish nation in the well-known forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. “Jewish supremacy,” as the notion is popularly referred to as, is a non-existent concept. There are so many Jews in the higher echelons of world society simply because Jews generally have greater minds than their gentile counterparts do. Scientifically, this can be explained by Natural Selection in which the higher intellect has been naturally selected in the Jewish communities over the past thousands of years[1]. Contradistinctively, in the Christian communities, higher intellect has been selected against because their best and brightest have been pressured to become priests and nuns with a vow of celibacy to discontinue their lineage from that generation and on, without passing on their intelligent or enhanced genes. Since only the Jews have a commandment to follow all 613 mitzvahs –especially to learn the Torah— HaShem gave them better minds to be able to complete their special tasks. In an ideal world, all Jews should use this intellectual potential for their spiritual pursuits, to devote their mental power to Torah. However, it is a sad reality that many Jews do not follow the proper path and take advantage of their God-given minds to excel in the improper fields (such as politics, sports, sciences, movies, television, and other such mediums). Even if the Protocols accusations against World Jewry were true, those who would have been running the conspiracy would be doing so against the Torah.

Many charge that Judaism is an anti-gentile iconoclastic religion and that Jews hate goyim[2]. Although everyone should hate those who are the enemies of G-d, only those who are licentious, corrupt, and evil deserve the hatred due to them. All of humanity should join in the battle against evil. However, those who act correctly—Jews who keep their commandments and non-Jews who keep their commandments—should be commended and loved by all. The parents of the Jewish Nation, Abraham and Sarah, were renowned for their extreme hospitality. Their tent was open from all four sides to invite all guests looking for a place[3]. They were the epitome of humanism in a place where, not too far away in Sodom, people were being lynched for acts of kindness and guests were regularly murdered. Their tent came to be the embodiment of kindheartedness and benevolence. Even after their deaths, the couple's tent was still a place to which people turned[4]—the museum of hospitality. There were no Jews in the times of Avraham and Sara; ergo, their hospitality must have been to non-Jews. This lesson of being hospitable to non-Jews is something that all Jews, as the inheritors of the Abrahamic tradition, should learn from their ancestors.

Due to the unique relationship between HaShem and His chosen nation, the Jews, HaShem granted the Jews certain privileges and merits. A mere four generations after Abraham lived, the wicked King Pharaoh of Egypt, tricked Abraham's family, the ancient Israelites, into becoming his slaves. Jews in the licentious and ethically degenerated Egypt were at the complete mercy of their immoral Egyptian masters. Their backbreaking slave labor produced no results, as they were building a city on quicksand[5]. Such fruitless toil should theoretically have lead to the demise of the Jewish people, but as history shows, they survived. The Midrash famously explained that those Jews preserved their Jewish identity by retaining their names, clothes[6], and language. In addition, the holy Torah, which was studied by the tribe of Levi, who were exempt from work, united the people. However, these positive factors did not negate the coerced, hard work that the Jews did, which eventually worsened their spirits. The depravity and corruption of the Egyptians also began to influence the Jews and so their level of purity began to degenerate. As a result, after two hundred and ten years, the morale and morality of the Jewish people was at an all-time low. Therefore, it was the perfect time for salvation. Miriam broke the standard of her time of possessing a submissive and docile attitude and persuaded her parents, Jochebed and Amram, to remarry. This sanctified union produced Moses. Moses exhibited the characteristics of a slave: he was timid and bashful. On the other hand, he grew up in the royal palace of Egypt and thus attained the necessary traits for a leader. He was the ideal candidate to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt, and so he did on HaShem’s imperative command, after initially refusing the position.

At first, HaShem warned the Egyptians ten times with His “finger”[7] like a father who shakes his finger to caution his child. He then saved the Jewish nation at the Red Sea from the Egyptians by using His outstretched hand[8] to punish the Egyptians like a father who finally has to smack his child with his hand, after having warned him many times already. On 14 Nissan 2448, HaShem took the Jewish people from servitude in Egypt to the Sinai desert. In doing so, HaShem took off the description “slaves” from the Jewish people, and redeemed them from their Egyptian overlords. Additionally, as a sign of freedom from Egypt, HaShem took them into the desert and put them under His wings for forty years to display their servility to the King-of-all-Kings. After passing numerous tests of loyalty to HaShem, HaShem finally brought His nation to the land of Israel and gave it to them as an everlasting inheritance, just as He swore to their ancestors. Over half a century after they first departed, the conquering and dividing of the blessed land of Israel between the tribes supplemented the nation’s newly earned freedom. They finally achieved their well-earned freedom. No longer was the Jewish nation responsible to a king of mere flesh and blood like Pharaoh; they now reported directly to HaShem, the eternal King, who would grant them a gift—the Torah. The ultimate freedom is keeping the laws of HaShem and learning His Torah because in doing so one is not bound by physical restrictions and thus has a limitless spiritual potential. The Torah is the raison d'etre of the Jewish existence, for it not only unifies the Jewish nation, but also dictates the exact lifestyle that of a Jew to serve better his creator. The Zohar explains that HaShem, Israel, and the Torah are one unified entity[9]; after all, the Torah was the blueprints from which the world was created.

Immediately upon the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, they were attacked by the Nation of Amalek. The utter cruelty and negligence involved in baselessly attacking a weakened nation of recently freed slaves caused HaShem to command His people to destroy the nation of Amalek. The commandment is, in essence, to wipe out such overly evil from the world and make the world a haven. Maimonides explains that the obligation is not to actually kill the descendants of Amalek, but rather to cause them to accept upon themselves the Seven Noahide Laws and thereby rid themselves of their inherent evil. Throughout history, malicious people have been given the appellation “Amalek” as if to say those people inherited their cruelty from the hated ancient civilization of Amalek. A recent example of such branding is the World War Two/Holocaust Germans/Nazis; Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849-1932), Chief Rabbi of pre-War Jerusalem, was reputed to have called the Kaiser of Germany a descendant of Amalek, and therefore he refused to meet with him when the latter came for a visit to Jerusalem[10]. Similarly, Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner (1749-1821) purportedly described the royal family in Tsarist Russia as being descendants of Amalek. Haman, the notorious villain from the book of Esther, is also branded in rabbinical literature a scion of the Amalekite clan. To abate the Amalak-like influences in the world will cause a decline in anti-Semitism because Amalek is the fighting antithesis to the Jewish ideal.

It was highly appropriate that in 2006 the National Geographic published its findings regarding the Gospel of Judas around the time of the year that NBC plays The Ten Commandments, that is, the Easter and Passover season. The Gospel of Judas (carbon-dated to circa. 200-300 A.D.) tells a story in which Judas Iscariot did not betray his supposed teacher, Jesus, but rather handed him over to the Roman authorities because his teacher told him to do so. All the anti-Semitism that the Passion play stories, especially around the Easter and Passover season, have caused throughout history were by insinuating that all Jews are betrayers of Jesus like Judas was. However, this logic does not really follow because many of Jesus’ students were Jewish, so if one betrays him that should not necessarily brand all Jews greedy, avaricious, mosers. When the French bishop Irenaeus (ca. 130-202 CE) banned the Gospel of Judas, he purposefully wanted the church to become anti-Jewish. If the Christians were only exposed to the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John they would get a bad picture of Judas and effectively apply that to all Jews. Even if this was not his intent, he at least, wanted to distinguish Christianity from Judaism for whatever reasons[11] by demonizing the Jew. The Gospel of Judas will never be given the same credit as the other gospels within the Christian communities because it would take away their justification for many acts of anti-Semitism they committed throughout history.

The Sabbatarians (e.g., the Seventh Day Adventists) claim that Saturday was kept by all Christian groups as the Sabbath until the second and third century, by most until the fourth and fifth century, and a few thereafter, but because of opposition to Judaism after the Jewish-Roman wars, the original custom was gradually replaced by Sunday as the day of worship. They often teach that this history has been lost, because of suppression of the facts by a conspiracy of the pagans of the Roman Empire and the clergymen of the Catholic Church. From this, one sees that even Christians themselves agree that the Church changed itself in order to distance itself from Judaism and the Catholic Church concealed this information. It is therefore very likely that they did the same concerning Judas' Gospel in order to justify their Amalek-like actions over the past centuries. Church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) also exhibited this type of hypocrisy: in his early writings, he praised the Jewish Nation, but then vilified them in his later writings[12]. Once he realized that the Jews were not going to support his cause against the Catholic Church, he had no need for them, so he denigrated them.

According to a Jewish tradition[13], the Rabbis were very scared of early Christianity and knew that the religion would go on to become successful. In order to save future Jews from both death and definite assimilation, the Rabbis of the time sent a man to infiltrate the Christian communities and change the Christian doctrine to become so distinct from Judaism that it is proselytizing will focus on gentiles and not Jews. He was also to change the Christian doctrine to become favorable to Jews, even outlawing the murder of Jews. This man was named Saul, who later became known as Paul. Paul, who may or may not have been a student of Rabban Gamliel,[14] helped shape the Pauline doctrine that forbade Christians from killing Jews[15] and switched the Christian day of rest from Saturday to Sunday to alienate more Jews as a way of maintaining Judaism without having more Jews succumb to the Christian religion[16]. The first pope, Peter Kephas, is known as Shimon Keifa in Jewish tradition, and he was the author of the liturgical poem Nishmas Kol Chai[17]. Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid of Regensburg (1150-1217) even called[18] Peter a righteous man who had good intentions in his seeming apostasy. Others explain that he was not a secret agent of the Pharisee Rabbis in an attempt to undermine Christianity, but rather he was a total apostate and only repented on his deathbed whereupon he wrote Nishmas.

Philo-Semitism is also a practice, which can be dangerous to the Jews. Many Evangelical Christians seem to practice Philo-Semitism and Zionism and in attempt to fulfill a prophecy of all Jews returning to Israel before the Second Coming of their savior. When Televangelists like Reverends John Hagee and Pat Robertson seem to support the state of Israel, they are actually supporting its demise. Many Christian Zionists view Israel as a fulfillment of a prophecy whereby all Jews will either convert to Christianity or be killed in the "end of days." Some scholars, like Norman G. Finkelstein[19] (b. 1953) and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (b. 1959), argue that Philo-Semitism and Christian Zionism are actually the latest incarnations of the now-socially unacceptable Anti-Semitism. Indeed, Christians have a potential for causing more damage to World Jewry by pretending to befriend the Jews than by outright attacking them as the present-day Muslim fascists do. Their “friendly influence” includes global missionaries whose sole purpose in life is to cause Jews to believe in the Christian savior. If more Jews that are uneducated fall for this trap, they will end up, heaven forbid, losing their special protection afforded to them by G-d. They will stop keeping the Mitzvos and learning the Torah, which makes them into ordinary gentiles, but even worse, into apostate Jews. Indeed this friendliness is what Jacob, feared from his brother Esau, when Esau was acting like his brother as opposed to acting like his arch-nemesis[20]. There is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian culture or ideals, Judaism and Christianity are two distinct concepts.[21]

A pattern has developed throughout Jewish History: Every time that the gentiles plan to destroy the Jewish Nation, they use a two-pronged attack like Esau. Esau both prepared to do battle with his brother Jacob to physically to destroy the latter, but when that did not work successfully--because all of his four hundred general deserted him[22]-- he decided to "kiss" Jacob[23] and befriend to assimilate him. Both failed. Generations later, the Moabites wanted to destroy the Jews physically, so their king hired Balaam to curse the Jewish nation. When this failed, they sent Midianite women to entice the Jews to sin (and of course, intermarriage is the worst type of assimilation). Again, they first attacked the physical being of the Jews and then their spiritual being. Afterwards, King Ahasuerus invited all the Jews to his party in an attempt to assimilate, when, in the end, this attempt failed, Haman convinced the king simply to wipe out all the Jews by the sword. The Syrian-Greeks and later the Romans did the same, first outlawing Torah observance, and then simply killing Jews. Emperor Napoleon of France, the man who brought about the European Age of Enlightenment attempted to destroy the Jewish community through the Reform Judaism movement. He proved unsuccessful in his efforts, but Adolf Hitler tried to finish the job by trying to murder all the Jews. In present times, the Christian Zionists are continuing the goal of Nazism by preaching assimilation for Jews in their thinly veiled support for the Jews using the State of Israel as a proxy.

As stated above, the Jews evaded assimilation whilst exiled in Egypt by retaining their names, clothing, and language. The Yalkut Shimoni states[24] that in the merit of four things were the Jews redeemed from Egypt: They did not change their names, they did not change their languages, they did not speak slanderously about each other, and they did not violate the rules governing sexual relations. Not only were all of these necessary precautions to avoid assimilating into the Egyptian culture, but they are also the methods with which current Jews can battle assimilation. It is less likely that someone named "Tzvi Dov" was assimilate into his surrounding non-Jewish society than it is that someone named "Harry" would do so. Furthermore, it is less likely that someone whose native language is Yiddish or Yeshivish would assimilate than it is likely that someone whose native language matches those of non-Jews (or non-practicing Jews in the case of Secular Israel). This is why the born-and-raised American Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001) never spoke English at home; he wanted his family to be separated from their gentile neighbors and so he encouraged Jews to speak Yiddish. Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001), a friend and contemporary of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, had a different approach. He felt that Jews should speak a higher brow level of the English language to distinguish themselves from the generally lower brow vernacular of the common people. As Rabbi Dovid Grossman (of Los Angeles, the voice of Shaspod) explained, the point is that a Jew should not speak goyish, but rather should speak in a distinctly Jewish fashion. Although in some places, the Midrash says[25] that the Jews in Egyptian were redeemed because they refrained from speaking slanderous tales about each other, in other places, the Midrash says[26] that it was because they refrained from revealing each other's secrets. In practice, both explanations are the same because revealing others' secrets is forbidden in Halacha just as spreading slanderous—even if true—tales about another is forbidden; this is about what the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation is trying to spread awareness. The fourth cause for merit was the fact that the ancient Israelites retained their clothing. By maintaining the modest attire, which so appropriately defines Torah Judaism, temptations for forbidden sexual acts were drastically decreased to the point that no one broke any of those prohibitions and that served to help the Jews merit their redemption. In the current exile too, Torah True Jews have a distinct dress, which cut back on such evil temptations and serve as a uniform for the army of HaShem. The Chareidi[27] men wear black shoes, black socks, black slacks, black velvet yarmulkes, black jackets, black hats, and white neatly tucked shirts with Tzitzis hanging from its sides. The women wear likewise modest garments so as not to attract needless attention to them, an idea that organizations such as Bnos Melochim are trying to spread throughout the Jewish communities.

Rabbi Shimon Yerucham Green (Rosh Yeshiva of Bircas HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem) points out that both the Western World and the Moslem World agree on one fundamental point. They both preach that G-d and Freedom are opposites; one cannot have both religion and Freedom. The only difference is that the Muslims choose G-d, while the West chooses Freedom (i.e. secularism, even if not atheism, but a theistic secularism by separating church and state). However, both the Muslim approach and the Western approach are wrong. It is the duty of the Jews to show the world that proper worship of G-d is indeed in of itself a freedom. The Jewish nation was freed from slavery in Egypt only to be indentured as slaves again, but this time to the Almighty. In the first of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), G-d tells the Jews[28], “I am HaShem your Lord, who took you [singular] from the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves.” The implication is that the Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt; they are now slaves to Him. The American[29] religious philosophy can be summarized in a few words, as President George W. Bush said, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is G-d’s gift to mankind.” True freedom is the ability to serve HaShem in the way He intended.

Only Jews merited HaShem saving and redeeming them from slavery throughout history. Concerning only the Jews, does HaShem reveal himself to the world and “personally” punish his enemies and liberate his nation, just at the right moment. With regard to other nations who were indentured as slaves (i.e. the Africans who were bought and sold as if they were mere property, or young women who would “sell” themselves as prostitutes in order to make a living), HaShem allowed human intervention His own plan to save them. In those instances, HaShem’s role remained debatable because the hand of HaShem did not directly bring about their emancipation.[30] However, as is historically proven, HaShem Himself redeems the Jews. The conclusion of Tosafos Shantz[31] to the fifth chapter of Sotah reads, “He redeemed us from Pharaoh, He redeemed us from Sisra, He redeemed us from Nebuchadnezzar, and He will continue to rescue His nation accordingly until the ultimate salvation with the coming of the Moshiach, speedily and in our days: Amen.

[1] See "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" by Professor Gregory Cochran in the Journal of Biosocial Science, summer 2005.
[2] This term literally means "nations" in Hebrew, but in popular usage in Yiddish and its derivatives, goyim refer specifically to the gentile nations.
[3] Genesis Rabbah 48:9
[4] See Sotah 10a
[5] Sotah 11a
[6] Mechilta to Exodus, Chapter 5
[7] Exodus 8:15
[8] Exodus 14:30
[9] See Nefesh HaChaim, which explicates this general concept in detail.
[10] Perhaps this is the source of the popular idea that Adolph Hitler was also a descendant of Amalek.
[11] National Geographic hypothesizes that they possibly tried to appease the Romans of their anger at the Jews who participated in the Bar Kochba Revolution, even though that revolution occurred almost one century before Irenaeus lived.
[12] The most famous of which was published in 1543 as “On the Jews and Their Lies" and served as the blueprints of Hitler’s “Final Solution”
[13] See Otzar Midrashim pg. 557 (1915 edition, edited by Judah David Eisenstein, 1854-1956)
[14] Acts 22:3
[15] Those murders of Jews, which were carried out during the Crusades in the name of the Christian faith, were actually done by the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, who were Noahidic pagans not believing Christians. Freemasons rejected the teachings of Paul and Peter whom they believed corrupted the "true" teaching of Jesus. The American founding founder Thomas Jefferson, a freemason, was ridiculed as a heretic by his Christian contemporaries for excising the Pauline books from the biblical canon. Jefferson once wrote that "Paul was the first corrupter of the teachings of Jesus." Indeed, he was unknowingly correct.
[16] See Toldos Yeshu
[17] See Machzor Vitri compiled by students of Rashi. Although elsewhere in Machzor Vitri, an opinion is recorded that one who believes that Peter wrote Nishmas would be obligated to bring a Korban Chatas when the Holy Temple will be rebuild.
[18] Sefer HaChassidim §191
[19] This son of Holocaust survivors has been attacked as being a denier of the Holocaust, although that discussion is not relevant here to Finkelstein's stance on philo-Semitism.
[20] See Genesis 32:12 and the Beis HaLevi to that verse
[21] It should be noted that other scholars, like David Klinghoffer, preach that Christian embracement of Judaism is a good thing. Klinghoffer himself argues in Why the Jews rejected Jesus that the Jewish rejection of Christian theology is itself what caused the Christian success in the last two millennia. He cites a comment from the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, 1817-1893) who wrote (in his commentary to Genesis 33:4) that the Jews should recognize their “brothers” who descended from Esau (i.e. Rome and the rest of Christianity and Western society) and should reunite with them after many years of estrangement. Perhaps one can trace the dispute between modern secular academia regarding the proper Jewish response to a dispute between the great Roshei HaYeshiva of Volozhin (although no comparison of the individuals or their rationale is meant, only of their practical ideals). The Beis HaLevi and the Netziv argued about many issues, eventually causing the former to leave Volozhin and serve as the community Rabbi of Slutsk, Warsaw, and Brisk. As cited above, the Beis HaLevi felt that Philo-Semitism is a dangerous concept, while the Netziv urged his readers to embrace their Christian brethren—just not their ideals.
[22] Genesis 32:7
[23] Genesis 33:4
[24] Torah, Emor §657
[25] Song of Songs Rabbah 1:12, Leviticus Rabbah 26:5
[26] Midrash Tanchuma, Balak §16
[27] This is the politically correct term for what was called "Ultra-Orthodox Judaism."
[28] Exodus 20:2
[29] Regarding the general European attitude towards G-d (i.e. European Secularism) and their role in the conflict between the Western society and Islamofascism, see Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too by Claire Berlinski (2006)
[30] Although a person with a strong conviction in his belief in HaShem should be able to see His part in everything.
[31] Compiled by Rabbi Shimshon of Sanz in the early 13th century

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Daily Scribe » Blog Archive » Interview: Reb Chaim HaQoton of Reb Chaim HaQoton

See my interview at The Daily Scribe » Blog Archive » Interview: Reb Chaim HaQoton of Reb Chaim HaQoton. Here's a small quotation from the interview:

3.) Why is your Orthodoxy so important to you?

I view myself as the continuing link in a chain lasting already a few millenia. I can trace my teachers and their teachers, and their’s, all the way up to Moses who received his tradition all the way from G-d at Mount Sinai. I’m just continuing this line of tradition, called the Mesorah, and I hope to teach it to my children and students to continue the everlasting tradition of the Torah. The Reform and Conservative live a fake Jewish life, they don’t live Jewishly, they don’t live the Torah. They just affiliate with the Jewish movement, whatever that means. They don’t seem themselves as bound to His laws, and some of their prominent leaders do not even beleive in G-d. I wholeheartedly beleive in HaShem (”the name” of G-d). I wholeheartedly beleive the entire Torah was given by HaShem to Moses at Mount Sinai.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Exodus Decoded

Exodus Decoded

Did anyone besides me actually sit down and watch this program?

I have some interesting points to make:
1) They misunderstood what the fourth plague was.
2) The word Keren does not always mean "horn" it can mean corner sometimes.
3) They made way to many baseless assumptions.

On the positive side, they had an interesting scientifcal explanation for the tenth plague.

The show will be replayed tonight in fifty-five minutes (9PM PST). It runs for two hours.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The future of Reb Chaim HaQoton

Just post a comment, the voting thing doesn't work.

Next Motzei Shabbos (Saturday Night), I will be returning to Yeshiva. I dorm away in an out-of-town Yeshiva, so I will likely not be home to have access to a computer until our first break which starts in the beginning of October, after Yom Kippur. Therefore, I had originally planned to get some other people to take over this blog and continue posting the same type of articles which you have seen here in the past year (yes, it is the blog's one year anniversary this month). In doing so, I had commissioned Ilan the Portlander Rebbe and Chaim Braverman to continue this blog in my absence. However, a reader, Ronald Coleman, had privately suggested to me that I call it quits, at least temporarily and not ask others to replace me own my blog while I am away. I am torn; I'm not sure which idea is the best. So I am leaving it up to the readers what I should do. After you make your vote, please post a comment explaining your rationale and any questions that you might have.

(By the way, if I decide to let others run the blop while I'm gone, I will probably need more than two people, so if you would also like the job of blogging here, please email me privately at or comment to this post.)

In short, I am going off to Yeshiva and won't be able to even visit this blog for a month. So should I get some other people to take over the blog, or temporarily close until I'm back and post sporadically?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Friday Scribe Jamboree

(Disclaimer: Certain links in this post are not necessarily appropriate for Torah True Jews)

It's that time of the week again (technically, it's thursday night at 9:50PM right now wherever it is that I am, but on the East Coast it's been Friday for one hour already, plus Europe has to count for something). That is, time to link to five posts from around the Daily Scribe community. Mr. Anthony has presented a post comparing the Christian messiah to Buddha. I had a nice long discussion with him in the comments section of that post, which were watched by an eavesdropper.

On a lighter note, it is nice to see that baseball is still the National Pastime of America. I love hotdogs, I think tonight was the fourth time this week that I had hot dogs for dinner.

Although religious plurality is likely a good thing, I think everyone can agree that whatever Madonna is up to with her crazy antics are a disgrace to the Catholic and Jewish communities. I will leave with a picture portraying religious pluralism:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Choshvei Shemo - חשבי שמו: August 22 - Iran Threatens to Attack the West? Torah and Insights

According to this article, we are at the birth-pangs of the arrival of Moshiach. Hopefully, he will come sooner rather than later. See Choshvei Shemo - חשבי שמו: August 22 - Iran Threatens to Attack the West? Torah and Insights.

יה"ר שיבנה בהמ"ק בב"א

Torah's Beauty

An oft-repeated cliché says, "Beauty is more than skin deep." To explain this popular cliché about beauty, another cliché can be employed: beauty is not one's outer appearance but is rather an inner beauty. King Solomon writes that beauty is vain[1]. The Torah refers to the beauty of certain characters. The simple understanding cannot be that the Holy Scriptures are referring to the crude physical attractiveness, which defines beauty in current popular culture. Physical beauty is used as a metaphor for true beauty, which can take on different forms. Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer of Vilna (1720-1797) explains that when the Torah describes someone as beautiful, the Torah is referring to the entirety of the person. That person is wholly beautiful in terms of both inner beauty and physical "outer" beauty. Nonetheless, beauty is not limited to the appearance of women, even though such context is its most popular usage.

The difference between the two types of beauty can be characterized by the attitudes of two ancient brothers: Shem and Japheth, two sons of Noah. After properly covering the nakedness of their father, these two sons were blessed (in comparison to their evil brother Cham who was cursed): "HaShem has granted beauty to Yefes, and he will dwell in the tents of Shem.[2]" Yefes—whose name actually means "beauty" in Hebrew—was blessed with beauty. This beauty was deified by Yefes' descendants, the ancient Greeks. Obviously, this beauty refers to the external beauty of men who paraded unclothed in the name of fine arts (like the Ancient Greeks did and like many in Western civilizations still do). In contrast, the descendants of Shem, the Jews[3], recognize the inner beauty, not the external beauty. The inner beauty is the eternal truths of the Torah and those who properly follow what the Torah says. This can be used to explain several instances of the usage of "beauty" in the Torah even in places where it is seemingly inappropriate. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and famed American author, poet, and philosopher, wrote, "Beauty is its own excuse for being.[4]" The Torah exists in order to be learned for the sake of learning Torah, the Torah is its own reason for existence[5].

During the travels of Abraham and his wife Sarah, Abraham suddenly tells his wife on the road to Egypt, "Behold now I know that you are a woman of beautiful appearance.[6]" While this seemingly refers to the physical appearance of Sarah, it cannot be that her husband Abraham had never recognized her physical appearance prior to this engagement[7] because the Talmud rules[8] that a man is forbidden to marry a woman unless he sees her first, so Abraham must have seen Sarah before marrying. Why then is he suddenly noticing her beauty? The Midrash explains[9] that while traveling in Egypt, they passed by the Nile River and Abraham saw the reflection of his wife. Normally, when Abraham would see things, he would see beyond the physical perception in his optical cortex, and would actually see the underlying spiritual elements in that which he was seeing. Therefore, every time Abraham looked at his wife Sarah, he did not notice her outer beauty, but rather he only noticed her inner beauty and exceptionally modesty. It was only when he saw a vision of Sarah not attached to her spiritual self, a reflection in the water, that he saw Sarah in a purely physical sense. Rabbi Elimelech Weissblum/Lipman of Lezhinsk (1717-1786) explains[10] that Abraham never intended to mate with her to please his carnal instincts; he rather viewed each act as a divine commandment[11] and completely ignored the physical properties of his dear wife. It was only when their travels brought them to Egypt did Abraham experience the physical pleasure of his wife for the first time because of the influences of the licentious Egyptians who surrounded him and engaged in promiscuous activities on a regular basis. It was of these self-same Egyptians whom Abraham was scared of and so he put on a façade calling Sarah his sister, so that those sinister men would not abduct Sarah for their own sick purposes, killing Abraham, the would-have-been husband, before doing so[12].

In describing Sarah's age at death, the Torah says[13] that she was the years of her life were "hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years." The Midrash interprets[14] when she was one hundred years old; she was as innocent in terms of sin as she was when she was twenty years old. When she was twenty years old, she was as beautiful as she was when she was seven years old. Had the Midrash been referring to Sarah's physical beauty, then it would have used another physical property as a parallel instead of using purity from sin, which is a spiritual trait. The same could be said of Sarah's replacement, Rivkah, who mimicked Sarah in all ways[15]. This accounts for the Torah's seemingly crude assessment of Rebecca that she was "very good looking.[16]" Although the Torah describes[17] Abishag the Shunamite, a female companion of King David, as being beautiful, the Talmud asserts[18] that she was not even half as beautiful as Sarah was, for Sarah was exceedingly/very beautiful, while she was "only 'until very beautiful' but not including 'very beautiful'."

Elsewhere, the Torah seemingly again discusses the degree of beauty of the matriarchs. The Torah says[19] that of the two daughters of Laban, Leah's eyes were worn-out, while Rachel was beautiful in both appearance and countenance. The Talmud immediately understood[20] that the Torah was obviously not referring to the physical beauty of these two sisters because it would otherwise be demeaning the physical properties of Leah. The Talmud reasoned that if the Torah went out of the way in order to not demean animals[21], then surely the Torah would not demean one of the founding mothers of the Jewish nation. Rather the Talmud explains that Leah's worn-out eyes represent her dignified offspring who will become Kings, Levites, and Kohanim. Alternatively, her eyes were worn out because—in her great righteousness—she cried for fear that she might have to become the wife of the wicked Esau; in the end, her worries were unfounded and she became the first wife of the righteous Jacob. The Torah's description of Rachel's beauty is immediately juxtaposed to the account of Jacob's love for Rachel. Rabbi Chaim ben Moses Ibn Attar (1696-1743) deviates from the simple understanding of this verse and points[22] out that Jacob did not love Rachel because she was beautiful; he loved her because she was his soul mate. The fact that she was physically beautiful was just an added extra. Nonetheless, the beauty seems to have some bearing on his love for her because the Torah did juxtapose the two. It is clear then, that the Torah must have been referring not to a physical beauty, but to a spiritual type of beauty.

Joseph, the eldest son of Jacob and Rachel, was described as beautiful in form and appearance[23]. In all previous instances that the Scripture described someone as beautiful, the Bible did so when first introducing that character into the text; however, by Joseph in the middle of an already on-going account of Joseph's life, HaShem seemingly inserted a reference to his beauty, as if to teach a lesson. Nachmanides explains that his beauty is mentioned immediately before his would-be affair with the wife of Potiphar to teach that she sought after him because of his extraordinary good looks. In fact, the Midrash[24] relates that the women who were peeling vegetables who saw Joseph became so preoccupied with his beauty, that they would not realize that they were cutting themselves. Rashi cites a Midrash[25] that criticizes Joseph for his beauty: He was to busy fixing his hair, eating, and drinking while he attained a high position in the House of Potiphar, that he acted almost juvenile. It was inappropriate for Joseph to act in such a way in Egypt at the same time that his father in Canaan was mourning his loss. For this, Joseph was punished with his tribulations with the wife of Potiphar and by being incarcerated for over a decade.

Perhaps the dispute between these two understandings of the seemingly out-of-place description of Joseph's beauty can be sourced in a dispute between Rashi and the Ibn Ezra. Rabbi Avraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1092-1167) writes that Joseph's beauty was inherited from his mother. This beauty, therefore, does not necessarily refer to a physical beauty, but rather to an inner beauty, which Rachel possessed. Therefore, there was nothing inherently critical of Joseph from the fact that the Torah mentioned his beauty, so Nachmanides would explain that his beauty is mentioned to explain the reasoning behind the actions behind the wife of Potiphar. Rashi[26], on the hand, understood that Joseph inherited his beauty from his father, Jacob. Jacob had physical strength (he lifted a boulder which stuffed a well)[27] and beauty, as in Kabbalah he represents the sphere of Gevurah. If the Torah was referring to physical beauty, then there is no reason other than criticism to describe Joseph as being physically beautiful. Therefore, Rashi understood that the Torah was pointing out a flaw in Joseph's character that he too engaged in trying to beautify himself instead of trying to beatify himself.

There is a passage in the Torah[28] that discusses the laws of the "Beautiful wife." This particular wife was a woman who was captured by Jewish forces in combat. In this instance, a Jewish soldier, who finds this woman overly beautiful, is overcome with such a fervent desire to marry her that the Torah allowed for such a marriage, under certain parameters. The most popular example of such a marriage was the marriage of King David to Maachah, the daughter of King Talmai, the king of Geshur[29]. Rabbi Dovid Kimchi (1160-1235) explains that she was a beautiful war captive whom David married on an expedition to Geshur[30]. King David fathered two children through this woman: Absalom and Tamar. Both are described in the book of Samuel as being exceedingly beautiful, like their mother was[31]. Furthermore, the Talmud relates that David had four hundred children who were all described as beautiful[32].

In Song of Songs, King Solomon uses allegory to express the love between HaShem and His nation. In one passage, the Creator tells the nation of Israel, "Behold you are beautiful, My friend. Behold you are beautiful; your eyes are like doves.[33]" To this, Israel responded, "[No], behold it is You my beloved who is beautiful.[34]" Obviously, HaShem and His nation are not merely arguing over who is more physically beautiful because such an argument is not possible, for neither HaShem nor the nation of Israel are visibly physical entities and such a dispute would have been too trivial to have been canonized in the most important set of books in history (the Bible). Furthermore, if the passage was discussing mere physical beauty, then when did G-d repeat twice that Israel is beautiful, one statement to that effect could have produced the same result? The Midrash homiletically interprets this passage of beauty to be referring to spiritual beauty. This Midrash says that the double are justified because G-d is saying that Israel is beautiful both in their performance of mitzvos for HaShem and kind deeds to others, or both in performing the positive commandments and observing the negative commandments, or beautiful in This World and beautiful in the World to Come. Nonetheless, the verse compares the beauty of Israels' eyes to that of doves, which implies a physical beauty? Furthermore, Rashi even understands from this verse than if a bride has beautiful eyes, he need not check the rest of her, for she can be assumed wholly beautiful. "Eyes", according to the Midrash, are the Torah leaders of a generation because just as eyes control the vision of the body, the leading Torah scholars of a generation set the direction for the entire nation. By referring to Israels' eyes as dove-like, G-d is actually complimenting the Torah scholars. When Israel responded that G-d is the One who is beautiful, Israel was saying that G-d is more beautiful because He so easily forgives sins through repentance. Again, beauty is not referring to a physical property, but rather to a state of mind where one (or One) easily forgives others[35]. In a similar vein, King Solomon wrote, "You are completely beautiful, and there is no blemish within you.[36]" The Midrash understood that this refers to the gathering of Israel at Mount Sinai, and the lack of blemishes refers to a lack of physical impediments at that time, because the power of the giving of the Torah healed all those who were sick or impaired.

The Talmud tells[37] that the fabled Queen Esther of the Persian-Median Empire, the celebrated heroine of the Book of Esther, had a greenish complexion. If this is true then why was she selected by King Ahasuerus to be his queen, if she lacked a certain physical attractiveness to men? Furthermore, why then does the Torah bear testimony to Esther's beauty[38]? The Talmud explains says that HaShem blessed Esther with a certain charm, which made others miraculously seek her out even though she was quite homely. Nonetheless, when one looked at her, she still appeared with her green complexion, yet she was still chosen to marry the Persian-Median monarch. Perhaps this is the source of the popular adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Although she was decidedly not beautiful, in the eye of Ahasuerus, the beholder, she was indeed beautiful and therefore merited to become the queen, which allowed her to save the Jewish nation from its demise.

The Talmud explains[39] that Rabbi Yochanan was forced to sleep on his back because of his enormous mass; Rabbi Yochanan was very much overweight. Under contemporary society's definitions of beauty, obesity is not a beautiful attribute. Furthermore, Rabbi Yochanan had huge bushy eyebrows, which had to be lifted by his assistants in order for him to see properly[40]. Nonetheless, the Talmud in multiple places describes Rabbi Yochanan as being physically attractive. Women who were trying to conceive would go gaze at Rabbi Yochanan so that when they conceive their children born would be as beautiful as Rabbi Yochanan was[41]. Furthermore, in one incident, Rabbi Yochanan rescued a drowning bandit who he convinced to repent and become a Torah scholar. This bandit, who was later to be known as Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, was taken aback by Rabbi Yochanan's beauty and was convinced to return to Torah after Rabbi Yochanan promised him his equally beautiful sister[42]. From these Talmudic descriptions, it is clear that Rabbi Yochanan was "beautiful" but lacked certain physical elements, which are now used to define beauty.

The famous novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910, author of War and Peace) once remarked, "It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." However, in the Talmudic vernacular, to do something beautifully, is to do that action properly[43] and correctly. Beauty is goodness. The Talmud in many instances refers to favorable omens as "beautiful signs." Rabban Gamliel son of Rebbi says[44] that Torah study is only beautiful if supplemented with Derech Eretz. The Mishnah rules[45] that one moment of repentance or good deeds in This World is more beautiful than life in the World to Come. Conversely, one moment of peace of mind in the World to Come is more beautiful than all of life in This World. Maimonides rules[46] that it is not "beautiful" for a woman to leave the corners of her house, because like a princess, her honor is supposed to be confined to the inside, not to be revealed to the world[47]. According to Maimonides, it is not considered acting properly for a Jewish housewife to leave her house because she is a princess who deserves to be inside her palace. Beauty is also a means of defining the price or worth of something. When the Talmud refers to evaluating damages, the Talmud writes that one should "examine how beautiful it was before, and how beautiful it was after [and pay the difference].[48]"

Even inanimate objects can sometimes be referred to as beauty. Wine can be described as beautiful[49]. The Talmud writes[50] that a beautiful cup is a cup over which a Bracha (benediction/blessing) is said. The fat cows from the dreams of Pharaoh, which Joseph interpreted using his expertise in oneiromancy, were described three times as being beautiful.[51] The Talmud writes[52] that in the creation of the world, ten Kav[53] of beauty was set aside for the entire world. Nine of those Kav was granted to the City of Jerusalem, while the rest of the world split the remaining one Kav. This means that the Holy City of Gold, Yerushalayim, is ten times as beautiful as the rest of the world's beauty combined. This is because Jerusalem is the seat of two special monarchs: HaShem, the King of Kings, and the Davidic Dynasty. Despite Jerusalem being the most beautiful city in the world, it now lays desolate and its street are crumbling. This is because the beauty refers not to the city's physical appearance, but rather to the spiritual state of the city. Jerusalem is the most beautiful city in the world because it is the world's capital of Torah study with its multitude of Yeshivas and Beis Midrashim. As the verse says[54], "For from Zion does the Torah come out, and the word of HaShem from Yerushalayim." May it be the will that HaShem to restore the physical beauty of Jerusalem with the rebuilding of His Holy Temple, may it come speedily and in our days: Amen.

[1] Proverbs 31:30
[2] Genesis 9:27
[3] To prove that that Jews are the inheritors of Shem's tradition, one need only look at the phrase defining the enemies of the Jews: Anti-Semites. No other religions of peoples who descend from Shem are called Semitic besides Judaism.
[4] "Rhodora" published in Poems in 1847
[5] See Nefesh HaChaim Gate 4
[6] Genesis 12:11
[7] As the Talmud seems to understand in Bava Basra 16a
[8] Kiddushin 41a
[9] Midrash Tanchuma 5
[10] Noam Elimelech to Genesis 4:1
[11] See Sichos Mussar, Shaarei Chaim §10 of Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz (1902–1978) who considered Abraham angelic for such the ability to have such an attitude of self-control which is virtually unattainable
[12] Even these morally degenerated ancient Egyptians respected the terms of Holy Matrimony, and would not have acted upon a married woman; they would have just killed the husband so that she becomes single.
[13] Genesis 23:1
[14] Genesis Rabbah 58:1
[15] See Rashi to Genesis 24:67
[16] Genesis 24:16
[17] Kings 1 1:3
[18] Sanhedrin 39b
[19] Genesis 29:17
[20] Bava Basra 123a
[21] See Genesis 7:3 were impure animals are called "animals which are not pure" instead of simply "impure animals"
[22] Ohr HaChaim to Genesis 29:18
[23] Genesis 39:6
[24] To Genesis 49:22
[25] Midrash Tanchuma to Vayeshev 8
[26] To Daniel 8:16
[27] Genesis 29:2-3
[28] Deuteronomy 21:10-14
[29] Samuel 2 3:3
[30] See Samuel 1 27:8
[31] Samuel 2 14:25 and Samuel 2 14:27 respectively
[32] Sanhedrin 21a, Sanhedrin 49a, Kiddushin 76b
[33] Song of Songs 1:15
[34] Song of Songs 1:16
[35] This also explains the charges of "beauty" in Song of Songs 4:1 and 7:7
[36] Song of Songs 4:7
[37] Megillah 13a
[38] See Esther 2:7
[39] Brachos 12b
[40] Ta'anis 9a, Bava Kamma 117a
[41] Brachos 20a
[42] Bava Metzia 84a
[43] See Maimonides Laws of Divorce 11:7 and Laws of Marriage 4:9, which refer to "beautifully" examining someone's intentions. In Halacha, when one properly salts meat, he is called "beautifully" salting the meat.
[44] Avos 2:2
[45] Avos 4:22
[46] Maimonides, Laws of Marriage 13:14
[47] See Psalms 45:14
[48] There are many instances of this usage in the Talmud in Bava Kamma, Kesubos, Zevachim, and virtually almost every other tractate.
[49] See Bava Basra 95a
[50] Shabbos 76b
[51] Genesis 41:2, 41:4, 41:18
[52] Kiddushin 49b
[53] A dry measurement used during the Tannaic and Amoraic periods
[54] Isaiah 2:3

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mishmar: Samuel Francis and The Enigma of Modern Liberalism

I knew I coudn't be the only one who thinks that liberals make absolutely no sense whatsoever. See Mishmar: Samuel Francis and The Enigma of Modern Liberalism

Forbidden Fruit and Names of Man

The name of the first man created and the name of his descendants who make up the human race is the same: Adam. Adam is the name of humanity when humanity reaches the highest possible planes at the pinnacle of existence. Technically, in the Torah the term Adam may refer to certain exclusive types of people, but generally the term Adam can be applied to humanity as a whole. Because of his perfection, Adam is sometimes called the "son of HaShem"[1], which leads many Christians to compare him to their savior's corporeal existence[2], even though such a comparison is not justified. Even though Adam is a phrase commonly used by the Torah to describe people, there are other terms also which describe people and each term has its own connotations.

The opening words of Chronicles[3] not only echo three generations of world humanity, but they are also an allusion to the three levels of human being. Each word in this verse can be used to refer to humanity as a whole. The creation of these three types of people is hinted to in Genesis 1:27, which uses variations of the word for creation three times[4]. Rabbi Moshe Eisemann (of Yeshiva Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Baltimore, MD, and Yeshiva Kishiniev in Moldova) explains that the word Enosh describes man at man's lowest state of being[5]. Many times in the Torah, the word Enosh is used to describe humanity in a state of degradation[6], lost hope[7], and in pursuance of epicurean physical fulfillments[8]. Noted Hebrew linguist and grammarian, Rabbi Dovid ben Yosef Kimchi (1160-1235) writes[9] that the root of the word Enosh means weak and sickly. This accurately describes the state of humanity when the term Enosh is used, for it is said that during the time of Enosh (a third generation human), idol worship began to develop in the world[10], which brought about weakness to humankind[11], and even caused the faces of people to look like apes[12]. Seth (known as Shes in Hebrew) was born "similar to and in the image of" his father, Adam[13]. The perfections exhibited in Adam himself were passed onto his son, Seth. In fact, the Midrash[14] and Mishnah[15] say that when Seth was born, he was already circumcised. Nonetheless, he was not an exact carbon copy of his father Adam, because the level of the generations decline as history progresses; every copy loses a little bit of the original. Adam was created by HaShem Himself, to be a physical manifestation of the characteristics found before him in the angels who served Him. Adam contained none of the imperfections that are so prevalent in people born of human parents because Adam was the progenitor of humankind, and therefore had no parents.

The Talmud records[16] an Amoraic and Tannaic disagreement as to whether the Shekhina, the Holy Presence of HaShem, rested specifically in the west or this spirit could be found in all directions[17]. A marginal note to Tosafos records an explanation in the name of Rabbi Yitzchok bar Yehuda of Magentza/Mainz (a teacher and relative of Rashi). He explains that when Adam was created, in his final form, he was facing eastward. This side-note asks according to Rabbeinu Yitzchok bar Yehuda, it is unlikely that Adam would have been created with his back facing toward his Creator (according to the opinion that HaShem rests in the west), and therefore, the editor of the Gilyon disagrees with this premise. Nonetheless, Rabbi Yechiel ben Shlomo Halperin of Minsk writes[18] that when Adam was created, his face turned toward the east. Rabbeinu Bechaye ben Asher (d. 1340) cites[19] a Midrash which explicitly says, "Adam was formed from east to west. His face was in the east, and is back was to the west. [This is] like it says, 'I was formed back and east'.[20]" Rabbeinu Bechaye then proceeds to explain the Kabbalistic implications of this Midrash[21]. This Midrash is not to be found anywhere, and a footnote to the Mossad HaRav Kook edition of Rabbeinu Bachaya attests to the fact that this Midrash is no longer extent. It is a pity that such important Midrashim have been lost.

Many explain that Adam was called so because the word Adam comes from Adamah which means "ground" and Adam was created from the earth. However, this cannot be true because all the animals were also created from the earth[22], so the animals should also have been given the title Adam and the title is not so special because it could easily apply to all animals. It is clear from the Scriptural usages of the word Adam that Adam never refers to animals, only the first man and his descendants are called Adam. The Maharal, Rabbi Yehuda ben Betzalel Loew of Prague (1525-1609), explains[23] why Adam's name is associated with the ground. HaShem named the first man "Adam" in order to remind him that just as the ground is worthless yet has great potential and everything is in essence from the ground, so too a person is physically worthless (he is only made of dust and ashes), but has infinite potential for growth and development. It is for this reason that HaShem originally created Man as a singular entity as opposed to a couple (like the other animals that HaShem created a male form and a female form from the start); this singularity of humanity shows that each person has an infinite potential. Because of this infinite potential the Mishnah rules[24] that if one destroys a single Jewish soul, one has destroyed an entire world, while one who saves one Jewish soul has sustained the whole world[25]. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) offers another explanation[26] as to why the first man was called "Adam"; the word Adam comes from the word Hadam that means "footstool". Adam was supposed to reach such high spiritual planes that he was destined to sit at the footstool of G-d Himself, as His deputy. However, since Adam sinned, he was not able to attain such a high stature in the cosmic hierarchy.

A unique title is conferred by G-d specifically upon Ezekiel, and upon no other prophet. Through the book of Ezekiel, G-d refers to the prophet Yechezkel as the "son of Adam." In addition, He refers to the Jewish Nation as "Adam", for example, He says, "You [plural tense] are Adam[27]" and "The entire house of Israel is Adam.[28]" That which HaShem expected of the first Adam became the standard in judging how well people have fulfilled their role. Adam was perfect and was supposed to continue on that path. However, he failed in his mission by eating from the Forbidden Fruit, so he was evicted from the Garden of Eden. Nonetheless, the Israelites carried on his mission, as did their forefathers, Noach, and other select individuals who continued the legacy of Adam. In explaining this concept, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1934-1983) quoted[29] the famous Rashi[30] that writes that the entire world was created for the Torah and for Israel. Just as the world was created precisely for Adam[31], the world was created specifically for the nation of Israel[32]. Israel is the subject of many admonitions from Ezekiel because of the constant sinning in pre-Babylonian exile Jewry. This sinning is Israel straying from the path originally set aside for Adam. During the times of Ezekiel, only Ezekiel was the Torah True Jew who clung to the ways of the Torah; therefore, he deserved the title "son of Adam" because only he continued the Adamic tradition then. This deep connection between Ezekiel and his spiritual predecessor is exemplified in the Zohar, which teaches[33] that Kabbalistically the creation of Adam included two of the most important events in world history: the creation of the world and the vision of the chariot when Ezekiel saw a glimpse of the Heavenly happenings.

The author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, rules[34] that the corpse of a gentile does not ritually contaminate. The Talmud explains that the Torah writes, "When an Adam dies in a tent"[35], and the term Adam only applies to Jews, not to gentiles. This latter assertion is based on the words of the prophet Ezekiel who said, "'Now you are My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are Adam, and I am your G-d'—the word of HaShem, the G-d." In this verse, HaShem says that only His flock, the Jewish Nation, deserve the title "Adam". However, this is not an axiom accepted by all because Tosafos points out[36] that Rabbi Meir[37] dissents and feels that the term can appropriately be applied to gentiles[38]. Rabbeinu Yaakov Ish Tam (a 12th century Tosafist) explains that only when the term Adam is used without any modifying definite articles does it refer specifically to Jews, but when the term is used with such articles (e.g. "the Adam"), then it can refer to even gentiles as the Talmud itself understands[39]. The Talmud understood[40] that even a gentile who learns the portions of the Torah relevant to him could receive the same reward as a Kohen Gadol (High Priest). Rabbeinu Meshullam ben Nosson of Melun (a contemporary of Rabbeinu Tam) explained that only concerning punishments does the Talmudic dictum that only Jews are called Adam applies[41]. This is because HaShem uses the euphemism of Adam when referring to punishments for His nation instead of actually referring to His nation explicitly. However, concerning other matters, all of humanity (both Jews and non-Jews alike) can be called "Children of Adam", because in such contexts the term means "descendants of Adam" which can apply to everyone[42].

In his marginal glosses to Yevamos 61a, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Chayos (1805-1855) explains that the intent of the Talmud was not to exclude the gentile nations from being under the general category of the human race. Rather the Talmud was saying that when the Written Torah refers to Adam, it is another name of referring to the Nation of Israel. Similarly, in other books of religious ethics and manners, when the book writes that "people are obligated to do such-and-such" or "people are not allowed to do such-and-such", it does not refer to all people, rather it only refers to adherents of those specific religions or philosophies. So too, when the Torah refers to "people" without specification, it refers to the Israelite nation. Nonetheless, others argue on the Maharitz Chayes' understanding of this discussion, and they adopt a seemingly "racist" view of why the Torah only refers to Israelites as man. The Maharal explains[43] that the difference between a Jew and a gentile is as great as the difference between a person and an animal; they are in different categories.

Rabbi Meir Kahane (1932-1990) explains[44] why only Jews are called Adam. He says that HaShem created Adam with one responsibility, namely, to worship Himself wholly. Nevertheless, after Adam sinned, he was no longer suitable for this mission, and so this role shifted from being his role to his descendant's role. However, not all of Adam's descendants are included in this obligation. Only a specific nation, which HaShem has specially selected for recognizing His sovereignty, is charged with the mission of spreading awareness of His existence throughout the world. That nation descends from Abraham, who was the first to recognize HaShem on his own. Moses, at his deathbed told the Jewish Nation, "HaShem only sought to desire your forefather, and He chose their offspring after them, from all the [other] nations.[45]" It was for this purpose that the Jewish Nation was chosen above all the other nations, to fulfill this mission. Just as the Messiah will be anointed with the special role of uniting Jewry and bringing world peace, so too the Jewish nation was appointed to serve as a continuation of the role of Adam by accepting HaShem as their King. In the moments preceding the infamous sin of the Forbidden Fruit, the Serpent (Nachash, commonly translated as "snake") seduced the only living female woman and engaged in relations with her. At that moment, the snake injected a spiritual impurity into Eve, which continued to be present in all future humans. However, when the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai after their exodus from Egypt, that impurity was removed from them; the gentiles, who never stood present at Mount Sinai, never had their impurity from then removed from them[46]. Since the Jewish people "reversed" the effects of Original Sin on themselves, it is only appropriate that they be the ones who continue the Adamic mission that Adam could not fulfill because of said sin.

Rabbi Shlomo (Gustav Karl Friedrich) Wolbe (1914- 2005) explains[47] what it means to "be a man." He writes that a man recognizes his places in the world. Great men recognize their role and understand that there are those who are superior to themselves and there are those inferior to themselves. Evil men, on the other hand, become haughty, and many instances become bent on world domination[48]. This can explain why Rabbi Yochanan said[49] that Adam is an acronym for ash, blood, and bile in the middle of a Talmudic discussion about haughtiness and superficial pride. When a human realizes who insignificant he truly is, he will see that he is only a conglomeration of blood, ashes, and bile. According to this understanding, one can even understand that Adam refers to the Adamah (ground), and that the fact that humans are made from the ground and destined to be buried there serves to remind man about his role in the great scheme of existence and especially in comparison to the greatness of man's creation. A man, by nature, is a damager, whether intentional or inadvertent[50]. A man must also rely on others, therefore only a married man is a true man,[51] and so the Rabbis introduced a blessing detailing the creation of man to be said at every Jewish wedding[52]. Since a man needs to rely on others, he needs land upon which to stand, so the Talmud also said[53] that a man who does not own real property is not called a man because the Torah says, "And the land was given to the sons of Adam.[54]" Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman (1875-1941) writes[55] that the degree of one's manhood is measured by his amount of fear of heaven, as King Solomon wrote, "In the end, [after] all is heard, fearing HaShem and observing His commandments is all [there is to the definition of] man.[56]"

During the years 1911 through 1913, anti-Semitism was at a high in Kiev, Ukraine during the Menachem Mendel Beilis trial. In this trial, a Jew was accused of ritual murder, which incited claims all over Russia that the Torah had a low opinion of non-Jews because they are not called Adam as Jews are. In response to this claim Rabbi Meir Shapiro (1887-1933, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chochmas Lublin, originator of Daf Yomi, and member of the Polish parliament) authored a famous letter. In his letter, he explained why the Talmud said that only Jews are called Adam. Grammatically, Adam is a unique word in the Hebrew language because it is both the male and female form and is both plural and singular in tense. Every other word is either male or female and singular or plural. The Talmud says[57] that all Jews are responsible for each other; they are like "guarantors" on each other's observance of the Torah. Jews are all one unit, therefore, the term Adam can apply to them, because there is no male, female, plural, or singular. Non-Jews, on the other hand, are not collectively united and therefore can only be described with words like Enosh[58] or Gever[59], which have both male and female forms, and plural and singular forms. Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaKohen-Heller (1745--1813)[60] writes[61] that this is the reason why non-Jews do not have the impurity of tzara'as because they are not united and therefore slandering one another is expected and is not liable for punishment as it is within the Jewish Nation[62].

In contrast to the term Adam, the term Enosh and its parallel plural form refer specifically to male men, not to females[63]. Although the term Enosh embodies a lower form of man, the pluralized form of Enosh, Anoshim ("men") is sometimes a higher form of man. Rashi explains[64] that every instance of the phrase Anoshim refers to important righteous people. He explains that the spies were important and righteous people—even Zimri ben Salu of the tribe of Shimon—before their sins, they were leaders of their respective tribes. The same is found regarding those Tzaddikim who made up Pinchas and Elazar's army[65]. This terminology is also used by Chanah in her supplication to G-d that she should bear Anoshim equal in stature to Moses and Aharon[66]. Even later in Jewish history, the Men of the Great Assembly, who succeeded the prophets during the period of the Second Holy Temple, were called the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah, with the word Anshe ("men of") referring to the Rabbis on the Sanhedrin[67]. However, Rashi's comment obviously does not literally mean that every instance in the Torah where it says Anoshim is a reference to good people because in many places the Torah, refers to Dathan and Abiram, who vilified HaShem the Torah, and Moses, as Anoshim[68]. Rather one must explain that Anoshim is not the plural form of the word Enosh as was previously assumed, rather Anoshim is the plural of the word Ish[69]. Alternatively, one can say that Rashi meant that every instance of a seemingly superfluous addition of Anoshim in the text of the Torah refers to righteous men.

The term Ish and its female parallel, Isha[70], mean "man" and "woman", respectively, but they can also mean "husband" and "wife"[71]. The Talmud understood that the term Ish could refer to a few people or entities. In once instance, the Talmud[72] proves from various Scriptural verses that Ish refers to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. The Scripture refers to Moses as both an Ish and an Adam in the self-same verse[73]. Moses' protégé, Joshua is also described as an Ish[74] whom the spirit of HaShem had entered[75]. Furthermore, the Talmud understands the phrase Ish to refer to the angel Gabriel[76]. The Talmud also understands[77] that Ish can sometimes refer to HaShem Himself. Save for the last two examples, all peoples who have been described as an Ish have been married, and in the verse where Moses was described as an Adam, he was in the midst of being criticized by his older sister, Miriam, for separating from his wife. Therefore, the terms Ish and Isha must have some connection to the relationship between man and wife. The Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchok ben Shlomo Ashkenazi Luria, 1534-1572) explains the origins of the words Ish and Isha. Talmud famously says[78] that there are three partners in the creation of any person. There is the mother, father, and HaShem. This is hinted to in the words for man/husband and woman/wife. Man is Ish and woman is Isha. They come from the same root word, Aish, meaning "fire". This fact teaches that if ones removes the yud from Ish and the hey from Isha, then the relationship between a man and woman is as dangerous as fire. This is because only if a man and woman are united with the name of HaShem, both the yud and the hey, are they actually considered a man and woman; otherwise they are just a fire, that is, a disaster waiting to happen[79].

The Talmud writes[80] that in each of the twelve hours of the day that Adam was created, something significant occurred. In the first hour, HaShem gathered dirt from all over the world to create Adam. His head was made from the dirt of the Land of Israel, his body from Babylon, and his other limbs from various other parts of the world. In the second hour, Adam took on the form of a golem when the dirt was kneaded into a shapeless hunk. In the third hour, HaShem formed the limbs, which made up Adam. In the fourth hour, He put a soul (Neshama) into Adam. In the next hour, Adam was finally able to stand on his own. Halfway through the day, in the sixth hour, Adam named the all animals. Presumably, it was during this time that Adam had relations with all the animals of the world and was not satisfied until he met his future Chavah[81], in the seventh hour. In the eighth hour, the two went to bed together and when they came down from their bed, there were four humans: Odom, Chava, Kayin, and Kayin's twin sister (whom he later married). In the ninth hour, the Adamic family was commanded not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge or from the Tree of Life. One hour later, the Serpent convinced Eve, who convinced her husband, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. In the eleventh hour, they were judged, and in the twelfth hour, they were banished from the Garden of Eden.

By eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam "opened" the "Pandora's box." According to Christian theology, this sin had implications for the entire history of the world; they understand that because of this sin, the "Original Sin", all of humanity was damned and people therefore have to work their entire lives to achieve salvation from this damnation. Christianity believes that by default people are bad and must work to achieve forgiveness to enter heaven—they believe the only way to achieve forgiveness is for one to believe in their messiah who will save them. In Jewish thought, this original sin has no bearing on the conscious of future people and all people are essentially born with a clean slate. Perhaps, that impurity which the Serpent injected into Eve is the case for the gentiles' feeling guilt over this sin, while the Jews have long since had this impurity removed. The Christians view Jesus as the continuation and fulfillment of the full potential Adamic, and that Adam represents the corporeal being of the spirit of the Christian man-god. While there is reason to connect Adam to the Messiah, there is no justification in correlating Adam's being to the Christian messiah. According to Kabbalah, the root of the soul of the Moshiach (Messiah) can be found in Adam. Indeed, King David, who is often refer to in Jewish literature and liturgy as the "anointed one of HaShem"[82] is reincarnation of Adam.[83] Adam was supposed to live forever, however, after his sin; the concept of death was introduced into the world; nonetheless, Adam was still destined to live for one millennium. However, in actuality, Adam only lived nine hundred and thirty years—seventy years less of his allotted one thousand years. This teaches that Adam gave up seventy years of his life to be given to the future King David[84]. Rabbi Yishayah Horowitz (1565-1630) writes[85] that the Hebrew word Adam is an acronym for three men: Adam, David, and Moshiach.

Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar (1696-1743) explains the supernatural effect that Adam's sin had on the world. As part of Adam's punishment, all physical pleasures, which feel "good", have some bad mixed into them. This explains why wheat's kernels, used to make many staple foods, are naturally mixed with the stalk's chaff. Even though not all good has its bad mixed in so visibly like wheat, the hidden evils within physicals pleasures are still very dangerous. Some fleeting physical pleasures cause an evil to be rooted inside a person, which creates an unnatural addiction to that particular pleasure. This is true about smoking, alcohol, financial profit, and other worldly pursuits. If a person has one hundred coins, he desires two hundred[86]. The physical good itself creates an evil addiction, which can ultimately destroy a person. The Talmud says[87] that there is a small limb in a person—one's sense of pursuit of physical fulfillment—which if fed grows hungry, and if starved is satisfied. Adam understood this underlying principle, and so he wrote[88] that Shabbos is a day, which is wholly good, with no evil mixed into the pleasures of Shabbos.

In the infamous "Original Sin", Adam was convinced by his wife, Chava, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, from which G-d had warned them not to eat. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam brought upon the world an entire slew of supernatural changes. Included in these changes was the new intellect and knowledge to which humans were now exposed. Regarding the exact species of the Forbidden Fruit, the Talmud records[89] a Beraisa expressing the four different views of four different Tannaim. Nonetheless, it was surely not an apple like is popularly believed. Rabbi Meir understood that the forbidden fruit was a grape because wine is the one food that brings trouble upon people, like when Noah drank wine, and was subsequently castrated in his drunken stupor by his son. Rabbi Yehuda maintained that the fruit was wheat[90] because just as a child does not recognize his parents until he is at the age that he can eat what and wheat-related products, so too Adam had to have eaten wheat in order to sin. Rabbi Nechemiah asserted that the fruit with which Adam sinned was a fig. He reasons that after sinning with the Tree of Knowledge, Adam realized that he was naked, and so he affixed a fig leaf onto himself to cover his shame[91]. That which brought about the ruination of humanity is what Adam used to clothe himself. Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel (1250-1328) explains[92] that this is the reason why wood from fig trees was commonly used in the fire on the altar in the Holy Temple, as the Mishnah says[93]. The fig is the fruit that fixed the errors of the Original Sin; while, the sacrificial offerings burnt on the Altar offered atonement for the sins of Israel throughout history. May it be the will of HaShem that the Holy Temple shall be rebuilt speedily and in our days: Amen.

[1] Nachmanides to Genesis 6:4

[2] See "Original Sin: A Disputation" by Edward T. Oakes (First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, November 1998)

[3] Chronicles 1 1:1

[4] See also Pekudecha Darashti by Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi ben Moshe Handelsman

[5] See his Artscroll commentary to Divrei HaYamim, Section Two, Chapter 1, and his Overview to Yechezkel, Section IV.

[6] E.g. Isaiah 51:12

[7] E.g. Job 14:19

[8] E.g. Psalms 104:15

[9] Sefer HaShorashim

[10] Maimonides, Laws of Idolatry 1:1

[11] Nachmanides to Genesis 6:4

[12] Genesis Rabbah 23:8

[13] Genesis 5:3

[14] Midrash Shocher Tov (on Tehillim) 9:17

[15] Avos D'Rabbi Nosson 2:5

[16] Bava Basra 25a

[17] This dispute does not have anything to do with whether or not Panentheism has a place within the theology of Judaism because the Rabbis do not disagree about where G-d Himself can be found, they only argue about where His Holy Presence may be found.

[18] Seder HaDoros, s.v. Adam

[19] Rabbeinu Bachaya to Deuteronomy 3:27

[20] Psalms 139:5

[21] The Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchack Luria (1534-1572), also explains this Midrash according Lurianic Kabbalah. See Eitz Chaim, Gate 43, Chapter 1

[22] Genesis 1:24

[23] Tiferes Yisrael §3

[24] Sanhedrin 31a

[25] See Maharsha there who also discusses the concept on singularity concerning Adam and the creation of man.

[26] See Rabbi S.R. Hirsch's commentary to Genesis 1:26

[27] Ezekiel 34:31

[28] Ezekiel 36:10

[29] Torath HaAdam

[30] To Genesis 1:1

[31] Sanhedrin 37a

[32] Song of Songs Rabbah 2:2

[33] Parshas Yisro, pg. 72. Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explains (Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1, Chapter 5) that this refers to the breath of HaShem, which was blown into Adam following his formation, prior to his animation.

[34] Bava Metzia 114b

[35] Numbers 19:14

[36] To Yevamos 61a

[37] Kerisos 6b

[38] This is evident from the fact that he uses a logical sequence of saying that only those who are not warned not to smear the oil of anointing are liable for having the oil illegally smeared upon them, which means a gentile is not liable for having the oil smeared upon him. The other Tannaim understand this law because the Torah says (Exodus 30:32) that it cannot be smeared upon an Adam, which excludes gentiles from this prohibition. Since Rabbi Meir did not use this latter reasoning, he must have felt that a gentile could be considered an Adam.

[39] Bava Kamma 38a, Avodah Zarah 3a, Sanhedrin 59a

[40] Ibid.

[41] Examples of this include tzara'as and the curses at Mount Eival (Tosafos HaRosh to Yevamos 61a and Shittah Mekubetzes to Bava Kamma 38a).

[42] See Nachmanides and Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderes (1235-1310) to Yevamos 61a who discuss various Scriptural verses and Talmudic passages, which seem to imply that the Adam applies to gentiles. They also discuss whether we legally rule like Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai in practical Halacha. See Tosafos Yom Tov by Rabbi Yom Tov Lipmann-Heller HaLevi (1579-1654) To Negaim 12:1. Tosafos to Bava Kamma 38a and to Nazir 34a write that the terminology had different meanings before and after the revelation at Mount Sinai.

[43] Netzach Yisroel, Chapter 14

[44] Ohr HaRa'ayon, Chapters 1,21, and 23

[45] Deuteronomy 10:15

[46] Yevamos 103b. Torah has the power to purify that, which is impure, so it removed the zoohama from the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

[47] Alei Shur, Volume 2, 1:1

[48] See Chullin 89a

[49] Sotah 5a

[50] Bava Kamma 3b

[51] Yevamos 63a

[52] Kesubos 8a

[53] Yevamos 63a

[54] Psalms 115:16

[55] Kovetz Mamaarim

[56] Ecclesiastes 12:13

[57] Shavuos 39a

[58] Or Inish, in Aramaic

[59] Or Gavra, in Aramaic

[60] Author of the Ketzos HaChoshen, Avnei Milluim, and Shuv Shmaytsa

[61] In Apiryon

[62] See the words of his ancestor, Tosfos Yom Tov to Negaim 12:1. The Torah says (Leviticus 13:2) Adam in regarding to tzara'as. See also the words of Rabbi Chaim ben Moshe Ibn Attar (1696-1743) in Ohr HaChaim to Leviticus 13:2.

[63] According to some, this is the source that women cannot be Rabbis. When Moses considered appointing judges (i.e. rabbis), he wanted to appoint Anoshim (Deuteronomy 1:13), which specifically means men, not women who are Nashim.

[64] To Numbers 13:3

[65] See Numbers 31:3

[66] Brachos 31b

[67] See Avos 1:1

[68] See Exodus 2:13, Exodus 4:19, Exodus 16:20, and Numbers 16:26 and Rashi ad loc.

[69] See Avos 2:6, which says, "In a place where there are no Anoshim, aspire to become an Ish."

[70] These terms are distinct from Adam in usage and context, so Dick Fischer's hypothesis that the terms have different meaning is therefore semi-correct. The words technically mean the same, but have different connotations.

[71] Despite what some progressive scholars make up, the Hebrew word Isha translated into Aramaic is Itsa. Therefore, one cannot claim that Halachos about women only apply to Isha (pl. Nashim) but not Itsa, because they mean the same thing. Even Marcus Jastrow (1829-1903) in his "Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature" translates Itsa as "woman" or "wife" and refers the researcher to his entry on Isha. See also Rashbam to Bava Basra 113a.

[72] Sanhedrin 50a

[73] I.e. Numbers 12:3

[74] See Yoma 76a and Brachos 54b

[75] See Numbers 27:18. The same description also applied to Joseph in Genesis 41:38

[76] Brachos 4b, Jerusalemic Rosh HaShannah 1:2

[77] Sanhedrin 93a, Sotah 48a, Sotah 42b

[78] Niddah 31a

[79] Furthermore, the numerical value of b'ahavah, "in love," is 15 which is also the numerical value of the name of HaShem spelled yud-hey.

[80] Sanhedrin 38b

[81] Yevamos 63a

[82] And of course Messiah and Moshiach mean "anointed one"

[83] See Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1, Chapter 20

[84] See Genesis Rabbah to Genesis 5:5

[85] Shnei Luchos HaBris (Shelah) to Parshas Miketz

[86] Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:34

[87] Sukkah 52b, Jerusalem Kesubos 5:8

[88] See Psalms 92:1-2

[89] Brachos 40a

[90] According to the Talmudic definition of "fruit" (ibid.), wheat can be considered a fruit because it re-grows every harvesting season only if it is replanted.

[91] Genesis 3:7

[92] Pirush HaRosh to Tamid 28a (and Rashi to Zevachim 58a)

[93] Tamid 28a

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