Monday, July 9, 2007

Rivash - Kabbala is not for everyone

Rivash(#157): You should know that my teacher and master R’ Peretz HaCohen never talked about Sefiros or concerned himself with them. I also heard from his mouth that R’ Shimshon of Keinon - who was the greatest scholar of his time and I also recall him even though I never saw him in person –said that “I pray with the thoughts of a child.” In other words he rejected the approach of the kabbalists who pray sometimes to one Sefira and on other occassions pray to a different Sefira – depending on what they want to accomplish with their prayers. The kabbalists in their own defense say that they are simply following the path of our Sages (Bava Basra 25b) who said, “One who wishes to become wise should turn to the south while wealth is obtained by turning to the north.” In other words the kabbalists say that one should direct one’s attention to the attribute of the right or the attribute of the left. Also when saying the Amida prayer they have particular concentration on a particular Sefira for each one of the berachos. However I - as a non-kabbalist - find all of this very strange and it seems like the heretical belief of secondary deities. I once heard a philosophically oriented person speaking in disparagement of the kabbalists, He said,” the Christians have their belief in the trinity and the kabbalists have their belief in the ten Sefiros.”… [However I also heard the kabbalistic view about Sefiros from] the elderly scholar Don Yosef Ibn Shushan… He was a great talmudic scholar and was familiar with philosophy and he was also a kabbalist. In addition he was very pious and careful in performing the mitzvos. Between us there was great love and affection. Once I asked him how he and the other kabbalists concentrated on one Sefira for a particular beracha and a different Sefira for another beracha? In addition I asked him whether the Sefiros were divinities that a person should pray to them? He replied, “G‑d forbid! Prayer should only be directed to G‑d.” He explained that it is comparable to a person who has a legal dispute and he asks the king to provide justice by asking the judge to hear his case. The person would not ask that the head of the treasury should be involved since that would obviously be a mistake. Similarly if the person was pleading that the king give him a present he would not request the involvement of the judge but one of the king’s attendants. If he was requesting wine from the king he would ask the involvement of the chief of the wine cellar. If he wanted bread he would ask for the involvement of the chief baker. Obviously he would only ask for the involvement of the minister or servant directly involved in what he needed. Prayer is exactly the same. It is obviously always directed to G‑d but there is also a direction of thought to obtain the required bounty from the Sefira which is connected with his needs. For the beracha of “Ahl hatzadikim” there is a direction of thought toward the Sefira which is called chesed (kindness) which is the attribute of mercy. On the other hand for the beracha of “Minim” (heretics) there is a concentration on the Sefira which is called gevura (strength) which is the attribute of strict justice. All of this was explained to me by this pious person concerning the intent of the kabbalists and it is a very good explanation. Nevertheless who should be involved in this approach? Isn’t it better to prayer with full concentration just to G‑d and He knows how to fulfill the requests? This is stated in Tehilim(37:5), “Commit your way to G‑d and trust in Him and He will do.” This is the view of the great master R’ Shimshon of Keinon whom I mentioned before. I also want to tell you in particular what said to me by my teacher and master Rabbeinu Nissim, “The Ramban was too much involved in the kabbalistic beliefs while I was not involved in that wisdom since I had not received knowledge of it from a kabbalistic teacher. Even if I see explanations based on the kabbalistic secrets of the Ramban but they don’t reveal the foundation principles of this wisdom. Thus they reveal a little but conceal even more. It is therefore highly likely that one would err in understanding these matters. Therefore I chose not to be involved in hidden matters”…

ריב"ש (סימן קנז): ...וגם הודעתיך, כי מורי הרב רבי פרץ הכהן ז"ל, לא היה כלל מדבר ולא מחשיב באותן הספירות. גם שמעתי מפיו, שהרב רבי שמשון מקינון ז"ל, שהיה רב גדול מכל בני דורו, וגם אני זכור ממנו ואם לא ראיתיו בעיני, והוא היה אומר: אני מתפלל לדעת זה התינוק; כלומר, להוציא מלב המקובלים, שהם מתפללים פעם לספירה אחת ופעם לספירה אחת, כפי ענין התפלה. והם אומרים, כי זה פי' מה שאז"ל (בבא בתרא כה:): הרוצה להתחכם, ידרים, להתעשר, יצפין; ר"ל, יכוין למדת ימין או למדת שמאל. גם בתפלת שמנה עשרה יש להם בכל אחת ואחת כונה לספירה ידועה. וכל זה הוא דבר זר מאד בעיני מי שאינו מקובל כמו הם; וחושבים, שזה אמונת שניות. וכבר שמעתי אחד מן המתפלספים מספר בגנות המקובלים, והיה אומר: הע"ג מאמיני השלוש, והמקובלים מאמיני העשיריות. וכבר קרה לי בהיותי בסרקסט"ה, שבא לשם החכם הישיש דון יוסף ן' שושאן ז"ל, אשר כבר ראיתי אותו בבלנסיא"ה, והוא היה חכם בתלמוד, וראה בפילוסופיא, והיה מקובל וחסיד גדול ומדקדק במצות, וביני ובינו היתה אהבה וחשק גדול. ופעם אחת שאלתי לו: איך אתם המקובלים, בברכה אחת מכוונים לספירה ידועה, ובברכה אחרת לספירה אחרת? ועוד, הכי יש אלהות לספירות, שיתפלל אדם להן? וענה לי: חלילה שתהיה התפלה כי אם לשם יתברך עלת העלות. אבל הדבר הזה כמו מי שיש לו ריב, ושואל מן המלך שיעשה לו דין, יבקש ממנו שיצוה אל היושב על המשפט שידין לו, לא שיצוה זה אל הסוכן הממונה על האוצרות, כי תהיה שאלתו בטעות. וכן אם ישאל מן המלך שיתן לו מתן, לא יאמר לו שיצוה אל השופט, אבל שיצוה אל הסוכן. וכן אם ישאל ממנו יין, יבקש שיצוה זה לשר המשקים; ואם ישאל לחם, יאמר לשר האופים; לא בהפך זה. כך הוא בענין התפלה, שהיא לעולם לעלת העלות, אלא שמכוין המחשבה להמשיך השפע לאותה ספירה המתיחסת לאותו דבר שהוא מבקש עליו. כמו שתאמר, שבברכת על הצדיקים יכוין לספירה הנקראת חסד, שהיא מדת רחמים, ובברכת המינין יכוין לספירה הנקראת גבורה, שהיא מדת הדין; והקש על זה. זה באר לי החסיד הנז' מכונת המקובלים, והנה טוב מאד. אמנם, מי מכניס אותנו בכל זה? הלא טוב להתפלל סתם לשם יתברך בכונה, והוא ידע באיזה דרך ישלים המבוקש; כמאמר הכתוב (תהילים לז:ה): גול על ה' דרכך, ובטח עליו והוא יעשה. וזה מה שאמר הרב הגדול רבי שמשון דקינון ז"ל, שהזכרתי למעלה. וכן הודעתיך מה שאמר אלי ביחוד מורי הרב רבינו נסים ז"ל, כי הרבה יותר מדאי תקע עצמו הרמב"ן ז"ל להאמין בענין הקבלה ההיא; ולזה איני תוקע עצמי באותה חכמה, אחר שלא קבלתיה מפי מקובל חכם. ואם ראיתי באורים על סודות הרמב"ן ז"ל, וגם הם אינם מגלי' שרשי החכמה ההיא, ומגלים טפח ומכסים כמה טפחים, וקרוב לטעות בדבר מהם; ולכן בחרתי לבל יהיה לי עסק בנסתרות...

Yaakov was called G-d

Megila (18a): R’ Eleazar said, “How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He called Yaakov G‑d? Because it says in Bereishis(33:20), “And the G‑d of Israel called him [Yaakov] G‑d…

מגילה (יח.): ואמר רבי אחא אמר רבי אלעזר: מנין שקראו הקדוש ברוך הוא ליעקב אל? שנאמר (בראשית לג:כ) ויקרא לו אל אלהי ישראל. דאי סלקא דעתך למזבח קרא ליה יעקב אל ויקרא לו יעקב מיבעי ליה, אלא ויקרא לו ליעקב אל, ומי קראו אל אלהי ישראל.

Monday, July 2, 2007

RaP: Proselytization in Latin America

MISHPACHA Jewish Family
Weekly 2 Tammuz 5769
Pages 38 – 45"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire continues in its path of publishing stories that promote proselytization, such as in the path with highlighting reaching out to the doubtful Subbotniks and the questionable Jews of Poland by Shavei Israel, and many such articles that seem to always land up mentioning the Anusim/Marranos in a good light, when their status is highly doubtful after 500 years of being lost.

Puerto Rico to Pupa: Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s Journey from Delivery Boy to Ger Tzedek

By Barbara Bensoussan

With his Monsey residence; Chassidic ensemble of shtreimel, beard, and peyos; and juicy Yiddish, it’s hard to believe that Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s roots lie in Puerto Rico. But that’s precisely where his unusual journey to Judaism began. Goldstein proceeded through a Williamsburg delivery route to an Orthodox conversion, to yeshivos in Baltimore and Brooklyn and the Pupa Chassidus. Now a violin dealer who’s made it his mission to advocate for South American geirim, he approaches all his diverse roles with an unbounded sense of joy in Judaism.

RaP: If this is all there was to his story it would be fine, but he has taken on more roles for himself than merely being a regular Jew.

"…fourteen-year-old Eduardo Torres…wanted nothing more in December of 1981 than to leave Puerto Rico and go to cold, inhospitable New York…some twenty-eight years have passed since then, but today Torres, better known in the community as Rabbi Avraham Goldstein, lives with his wife and children in Monsey, runs his own business and is ceaselessly busy helping geirim, baalei teshuvah, and anyone else who might benefit from his support."

RaP: Nowhere in this article is it made very clear who exactly gave him semicha to be ordained to undertake the rabbinical counseling and pastoral work, even though he spent time in a few yeshivas and some Chasidishe kehilas.

"Goldstein’s efforts to aid converted Jews and baalei teshuvah in South America ultimately culminated in the creation of an organization entitled Toiras Jesed [Chesed], which has the help and haskamah of Rav Chaim Eliezer Brown and Rav Yitzhak Mandel of Monroe"

RaP: What kind of "haskamah" is this? It should at least be in writing and should have been published with the article that is after all promoting this evidently proselytizing missionary cause, to give it proper Halachic legitimacy.

"Toiras Jesed even mounted a brand-new community designed specifically for geirim in the countryside of Puerto Rico

RaP: Throughout this article, the word "geirim" is used VERY loosely and ambiguously and it's very obvious that it often means people who WISH TO BECOME geirim, but who are not yet at the point where they can be Halachically and officially referred to as "geirim". In any case, why would people who have converted 100% need a separate community in far-off Puerto Rico? when almost all dayanim performing legitimate conversions insist that a gentile who has become a ger tzedek must live in a Torah community or be very near to one where geirim can lots of guidance, and not be detached from the world in a far-off Potemkin village of people who are being kept in seclusion it seems until they can become true gerim, but then, why the need to provide such a service at all isn't it according to Halacha to DISCOURAGE geirim and not to help them by building sponsored villages for them?

"In the Beginning. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Rabbi Goldstein’s original name was Torres. “The first Jew to come to America was named Luis de Torres…and Torres was a typical Marrano name.” Many of the early settlers of the New World were practicing Jews or Anusim who came fleeing the Inquisition, and lately it has become something of a fad among Hispanic groups to trace their Jewish origins…"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire has a fatal weakness for somehow or other always bringing around the remotest subjects about dispersed "Jews" to the subject of the Anusim/Marranos. One wonders why that is so and why they are so invested in this very suspicious line of publishing? Hopefully it is not because of some kind of hidden ecumenical agenda that will eventually seek to make most of the Christian world into "Anusim" or whatnot.

"…Finally, almost two years after his arrival in New York, Rabbi Tress and Rabbi Weberman brought the sixteen-year-old young man to the mikveh, where he emerged as Avraham ben Avraham. He later changed his name to Goldstein after the first rabbi who taught him…Rav Yidel Leib Frank, a Breslover Dayan…asked Goldstein to attend his Shemini Atzeres seudah…at the seudah sat the woman who would later become his wife, a young lady from Mexico whose conversion had been overseen by Rav Frank himself. ”My wife is originally from Guadelajara…she was advised to complete her conversion in Israel."

RaP: Seems the whole world wants to become more Jewish except for the millions of born secular Jews who are running the other way as they assimilate, intermarry and apostasize by the millions. It is truly an olam hafuch!

"Reaching Out to Other Newcomers. Rabbi Goldstein’s “family” has expanded yet more as he reaches to other geirim… he formed an organization entitled “Toiras Chesed” (or “Toiras Jesed in Spanish spelling) to help other geirim, particularly those from Spanish-speaking countries. “It’s very hard for geirim in South America",

RaP: This is where the red line is crossed and he leaps into proselytizations as an organization. Note again, that the word "geirim" is used incorrectly here yet again because it's wannabe geirim that are the subject and not people who have undergone a full halachic geirus in front of an established bais din. Also, why is he busy with this? Who asked him to do this? Besides it being a good story-line and a money-magnet this is skating on thin ice whereby any rabbi who is also a ger is NOT allowed Halachically to perform geirus, and here he is obviously pushing to breaking point the boundaries to that..

"he explains, “because many of the Ashkenazim are not so religious, but most of the Sephardic communities hold by an old gezeirah that forbids their congregants to admit geirim"

RaP: No need to knock the Halachically Jewish Ashkenazim they are still 100% Jews and must be approached with total and pure ahavas Yisroel -(even if they be less religious, ga'ava is never nice, especially from a ger) --there is no "mitzva" to love a goy, even if he /she has ambitions to become a ger one day, they can always be encouraged to keep the sheva mitzvos of Bnai Noach which is good enough, they DO NOT require geirus at every twist and turn! -- and the Sefardim (they have their reasons and rabbonim who guided them on this) all in order to make bunch of Hispanic gentiles who are not even Jews to begin with look good. Mishpacha magazine for hire is showing a lack of sechel here for publishing this.

…”It’s hard to find anyone to convert you...”

RaP: And so it should be! This is good Halachically and good for the Jews! Who needs conversion spas and sponsorship of geirim? Is Uncle Tom Kaplan or his nephew of Shavei Israel sponsoring this? Perhaps some Chasidim with cash to burn who want to show that not just Israel can attract and settle geirim (like they recently did with the Yemenites they brought to Monsey)? The article should make clear who is REALLY sponsoring this financially and who is behind paying for the story to be published in Mishpacha magazine for hire yet again on such a theme, is it maybe an Evangelical Christian group? Anything is possible in this day and age.

"Goldstein points out that if there was a large choice of shuls and mikvaos it wouldn’t be a problem"

RaP: Again, as far as geirus, there is NO "problem" because it is good Halachicaly and good for the Jews that these barriers exist. Judaism does not need a flood of Hispanic or any geirim from this.

"but in South America the options are more limited."

RaP: This is GOOD Halachically, and good for the Jews, and NOT "bad" as his statement and Mishpacha make it seem

"In Mexico City, he claims Rabbi Jabra’s shul is the only one that allows geirim to belong. “Rav Pinchas Rabinowitz and Rav Tropper, who do conversions in Monsey, are really trying to stir things up in Mexico to make life easier for geirim,” Goldstein says…"

RaP: Aha, so Tropper and one of his enablers is now part of this story. It figures. Seems Tropper can't resist going down the path of stirring up trouble anywhere and everywhere there is a crack and they let him in. Doesn't Tropper have anything better to do than to facilitate yet another wrong-headed and misguided proselytization effort now in Latin America, when there are millions of born Halachic Jews who are secular closer to home in the USA and Israel who need kiruv.

"Because the options for geirim in South America are so limited,"

RaP: Again, this is good Halachically and good for the Jews, because it has never been the goal or desire of any rov or true manhig in Yisroel to help potentially limitless numbers of goyim become geirim. "Goldstein set about creating his own special community for geirim and baalei teshuvah of all backgrounds in Puerto Rico

RaP: Who asked him to do this? Is it Halachically permissible?

"With the help of other geirim and some sympathizers in New York, he raised funds for his Toiras Jesed organization and bought a small tract of land in Myaguec, Puerto Rico…He has already begun helping establish similar communities in Venezuela and Colombia "

RaP: Who are the mysterious enablers and financiers who are pushing this and obviously using him as the front man, so that they can avoid getting copped for the Halachic avla they are doing by setting up proselytizing communities?

"In other locations in South America, he helps geirim hook up with sympathetic rabbis and community members. “There us such a hunger for Torah,” he maintains, “I went to Colombia for Shabbos Chanukah, invited by 150 people who want to become geirim…"

RaP: Finally, some accuracy. These people are wannabe geirim not the real thing yet. Funny how it's gentiles nowadays who thirst for Torah yet secular Jews couldn't be bothered with it. Olam hafuch.

"In Venezuela, there’s a group of about fifteen families living in the middle of nowhere, who learned about Torah on the Internet and all want to become Jewish. You should see them! They’re all dressed like Jews, and they look like a bunch of Sephardim".”

RaP: Most Hispanics look like "Sefardim", so what? it's no reason to roll out a long-distance red carpet to welcome them as honorary Jews. And yes, the Internet is making a huge impact in the way people learn and live, just take this blog for example...

"Goldstein qualifies that he mostly works with people who have been referred to him by rabbis. “But lots of people approach me, because they see me as a ger who is stable and successful, who has a good track record. The rabbis trust my judgment when I send people to them, and they in turn often send people to me".”

RaP: All this activity, from Goldstein's perspective, is basically for one purpose to promote proselytization which is highly controversial and problematic Halachically and will be bad for the Jews down the line as these nebulous cases are lined up for factory-like conversion in conversion-mills that he is trying to help and grease and kick-start into action.

"Kiruv in Colombia. Reb Avraham sharing his passion for Judaism with local geirim."

RaP: "Kiruv" has NOTHING to do with geirim as such. Kiruv in its strict and classical definition means reaching out to secular and less religious BORN JEWS and bringing them closer to Torah-true Yiddishkeit. On the other hand missionizing and proselytizing to gentiles goes against thousands of years of normative Jewish life, practice and history. "Moving beyond the superficial…

”Judaism is like an air conditioner. You have the mechanical part and the part that brings in fresh air. As I see it, many of us often get too caught up in the mechanics of the system…as a ger…my job is to bring in lots and lots of fresh air.”

RaP: This is one of funniest and yet most revealing comments. Does he honestly think that bringing infinite numbers of Hispanic geirim into Klal Yisroel is like an "air conditioner" bringing in "fresh air" ??? -- has this man never heard of kashim geirim leYisroel kesapachas and all the problems it has and is creating for the world-wide Jewish and Torah communities ??? as they grapple existentially with the onslaughts of all sorts of schemes for gentiles to gain entry into Klal Yisroel, even with the help of ultra-haredi well-meaning rabbis who act more like Christian missionaries, lehavdil than like humble Jews focused on minding their own affairs who should be busy with their own business and not running around the world looking under every rock and in every village if there are any misnamed "lost Jews" or wannabe geirim to bring home like trophies from the hunt.