Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Does God have a body?


Maimonides also deemed the early mystical work Shiur Koma, a midrashic work from the Heichalot literature that graphically depicts God’s exact measurements, as heretical and stemming from non-Jewish hands. Following in his father’s footsteps, Maimonides’s son Abraham maintained that believing in a corporeal God was equivalent to worshiping demons or idols, and further sniped that it was no surprise that Christians were generally supportive of those Ashkenazi scholars who vociferously opposed Maimonidean teachings.

Maimonides #3 - God's Incorporeality


Although the concept of God's incorporeality is generally understood, the parallel concept of His non-spirituality is not well known. Although God is frequently referred to as a spiritual Being, we apply the term loosely for lack of another word. If a material object is defined as being confined to time and space, while something spiritual is confined in terms of time but not in terms of space, then it must be concluded that God is neither physical nor spiritual. The Almighty is confined neither in space nor in time. All material and spiritual beings were created by Him, as it is written (Genesis 1:1): "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell Highlights: Feb. 2

Fox News bomb goes off: Murdoch confesses they endorsed the lie as billion dollar case heats up

Tucker Carlson Thinks Ohio Train Tracks Are Anti-White


Fox News’ Tucker Carlson hinted at a new conspiracy theory to explain the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and it’s that the train coming off the tracks in an area with a lot of white people was probably on purpose.

“East Palestine is overwhelmingly white and it’s politically conservative and that shouldn’t be relevant, but it very much is,” Tucker is quoted as saying.

McCarthy Gave Tucker the Jan. 6 Tapes. Trump Allies Are Threatening to Sue


“Why not other media? Why not Newsmax? Why did he just give one host, on one cable network, this information?” Eric Bolling, another longtime friend of Trump’s, said on his Newsmax TV show on Thursday. During Trump’s failed effort to cling to power following the 2020 presidential election, Fox brass were actively worried that Newsmax was pulling away too many of the cable-news giant’s viewers, as the two channels competed to attract Trump-loving, election-denying demographics.

Covid ‘lab leak theory’: What we’ve learned


The change in opinion by the Energy Department’s intelligence office is far from a total backing of the “lab leak” theory.

For starters, the conclusion was reached only with “low confidence,” as opposed to medium or high confidence.

Zero-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds


n response to the study, the Calorie Control Council, an industry association, told CNN that “the results of this study are contrary to decades of scientific research showing reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages,” said Robert Rankin, the council’s executive director, in an email.

The results “should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events,” Rankin said.

Rupert Murdoch Admits He ‘Could Have’ Prevented Rudy’s Lies on Fox but ‘Didn’t’


Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch admitted in a deposition that while he had the opportunity to stop former President Donald Trump’s legal team from peddling election fraud lies on his network, he decided not to take it.

“I could have. But I didn’t,” Murdoch told lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems when asked if he could have ordered Fox News to keep Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell off the air following the 2020 election.

Fauci Speaks Out About COVID Lab Leak Theory After Report


In a video interview with The Boston Globe, Fauci—who retired as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of last year—urged people not to jump to conclusions. He said the DOE report was made with "low confidence" and he hasn't seen the data used to compile the report.

Instead, Fauci shared data submitted by evolutionary virologists in peer-reviewed journals. He said the information "strongly suggests" the virus was a natural occurrence.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Dead rabbi’s pants expected to fetch thousands pulled from NJ auction


An auction house planned to sell a top Orthodox Jewish leader’s pants, but pulled the dead rabbi’s trousers off the block after an inquiry by The Post.

Hannity admits the lie as 'time travel' scandal hits Fox News empire

Social pressure

 Shabbos(118b) I have never disregarded the words of my neighbours. I know of myself that I am not a priest, yet if my neighbours were to tell me to ascend the dais, I would ascend it R. Jose also said: I have never in my life said anything from which I retracted.[Rashi refers this] to his opinions on other people: even if unfavourable he did not retract even in the owner's presence, because he did not state them in the first place without being perfectly sure of their truth.


אילו היו אומרים לי חברי עלה לדוכן - לא ידע ר"י מה איסור יש בזר העולה לדוכן אם לא משום ברכה לבטלה של כהנים אמרה תורה לברך את ישראל: 

Darchei Moshe, Orach Chaim 128:1:1

כתבו התוס' פרק כל כתבי (שבת קיח:) לא ידעתי מה איסור יש בזר העולה לדוכן אם לא משום ברכה לבטלה שלכהנים אמרה תורה לברך עכ"ל. ומצאתי כתוב ע"ז ולפ"ז יכול הישראל לעלות עם הכהנים והם יברכו לרוב עם הדרת מלך מה טוב אכן לא נהגו באולי אשר אף בלא כהנים יעלו עכ"ל ועל דברי התוס' קשה לי דהא איתא בהדיא בכתובות פרק שני (כד:) דזר הנושא את כפיו עובר בעשה ואפשר דר"י לא קאמר אלא כשעולה עם כהנים אחרים אבל לבד הוא עובר בעשה וצ"ע:  

Sunday, February 26, 2023


 Ohr HaChaim (Vayikra 26:09 Israel is not subject to the restrictions inherent in the term mazzal, G-d will turn aside the horoscopic influences and apply a different set of rules to the dispensation of the blessings involving the three areas to which G-d personally holds the keys. Although, our Sages say life children and food are dependent on mazal, G-d will make an exception to this rule by "moving the relevant constellation  "aside," to enable Israel to overcome negative influences. 



There is probably no other scientific discipline in which fads come and go so quickly, and with so much hype, as psychology. In his Quick Fix, Jesse Singal discusses eight different psychological ideas that have been promoted as quick fixes for different social problems. He refers to these as “halfbaked ideas—ideas that may not be 100 percent bunk but which are severely overhyped” (p. 6)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Torn pants of late haredi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky will be auctioned starting at $3,200


Rather, the pants once belonged to the late Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, an Israeli haredi Orthodox leader considered by his followers to be the leading Jewish authority of his generation. Kanievsky died last year at age 94, and now anyone can be the owner of his trousers – provided they can afford them. The starting bid is $3,200. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Meiri - some statements of Chazal are because they were confused!?

 Meiri (Shabbos 156): …. In general Jews are not controlled absolutely by mazal. Don’t pay attention to the alternative view that says that Jews are in fact controlled by mazal. That view is the result of some of the sages became confused after they saw the lack of order in the manner of mankind’s reward and punishment. This confusion is also manifest in Moed Koton(28a) which states that “Lifespan, children and livelihood are not the result of merit but rather mazal.” This statement was made only because the author saw someone who was a tzadik and great scholar who was unsuccessful in these three areas. 

Meiri (Shabbos 156): Another one of these confused sages stated in Bava Kama (80b): “A door which is locked is not readily opened” and “All those who suffer misfortune do not quickly obtain good fortune” while another one of this group said, “He will never obtain good fortune” . This statement was only made because of bad personal experience as the gemora itself concludes that it was not a general rule but he was only describing his own personal experience. All this shows that these statements asserting the importance of mazal were only made in response to their authors’ personal experiences or what they observed with others. Thus these are only exceptions to the general rule that “Jews are not governed by mazal.” In other words reward and punishment typically determines what happens to a person and not mazal. 

Halacha and Arizal

The following is a transcript I wrote from memory about 2 weeks after I spoke to Rav Shapiro regarding various topics including whether I should publish my sefer Daas Torah. He was very generous with his time and very patient with my questions and poor Hebrew. I added footnotes to clarify what the issues were. This transcript was never reviewed or approved by Rav Shapiro and he obviously should not be responsible for my limited understanding and recall. I thought it was appropriate to publish on the day of his levayah 

Mystical Significance of Hair


Kabbalistic and Chasidic practice don't avail themselves of these lenient halachic opinions (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:3 see Veyesh Osrim & 181:11 and the Arizal quoted above), and so Kabbalistic principles differs in the following ways:

1. A man does not shave, nor permit others to shave, his beard at all, with the exception of the mustache that overlaps the top lip, and this is only to be trimmed to above the lip with a scissors. (Writings of the Ari, Taamei Hamitzvot, parashat Kedoshim)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Anti Kabbalah

 Rivash (157)שואח מאד נעלה ישמרך השומר רגלי חסידיו. הגיעוני כתביך האחד על יד היהודי משביליא עוד הגיעני כתב שני על ידי בן ביטש ולשניהם עשו הקהל כראוי. ולבן ביטש חתמתי בשטרו לכבודך כי הולך הוא לבגאי"ה ולקוסטנטי"נה. עוד הגיעני כתב שלישי בחול הסוכות על ידי היקר גיסי. ולכל אלה הכתבים לא הי' לי פנאי ויכולת לענות אליך זולתי בכתב הראשון אשר בו החלוף עניתיך על יד היהודי ההוא והודעתיך איך כתבתי לך דרך הוניי"ן ע"י סוחר נכבד מתלמסאן מכירו של הנעלה רבי אברהם ששפ"ו י"א. ועם כתביו שלחתי לך טופס תשובתי למלק"א וכן מה שנ"ל מתשובתך לשם. ואין ספק אצלי שהגיע אליך או יגיעך ואם לא הגיעך הודיעני ואוסיף שנית לכתבה אליך. 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 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 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. ומה ששאלת אם הספירות למטה ממעלת המלאכים או למעלה מהם, אין ספק כי הספירות הם למעלה והם נאצלו ראשונה מן העשירות נאצלו המלאכים לדעת המקובלים, וכ"כ בפירוש רבי שם טוב בן גאון ז"ל בתחלת באורו לסודות הרמב"ן ז"ל. ורבי יהודה הלוי ז"ל כתב בסלוק אחד שעשה ליום הכפורים היו אומרים אותו בברצלונה בהיותה בשלותה כי דוד ע"ה באמרו ברכו ה' מלאכיו רמז לעולם המלאכים. ובאמרו ברכו ה' כל צבאיו רמז לעולם האמצעי. ובאמרו ברכו ה' כל מעשיו רמז לעולם התחתון. ובעולם המלאכים אמר כלשון הזה וכמה פנים לפני' הנוראים וכמה אחורים לאחורים הנוראים. והספר ההוא אשר אמרת שהוא לחכם רבי יצחק בן לטף קראו צורת עולם הנה הוא אצלי ובו כ"ז פרקים. וכן ספר אחר לו קראו צרור המור ובו י"א פרקים, וענין הספר הזה מענין הספר הקודם. עוד ספר אחר קטן מחזיק ק' עלין קראו רב פעלים לפי שהוא מדבר במינין רבים, וזה לא חלקו לפרקים כי אם למאמרים והם פ"ח מאמרים. עוד לו פירוש קהלת והוא פירוש נאה על דרך הפשט נוטה אל המושכל והחכמה הטבעית. עוד הספר הגדול והנאה שבספריו קראו שער השמים והוא כעין מורה הנבוכים חלקו לארבעה שערי' השער האחד יש בו כ"ח פרקי' השער הב' יש בו כ"ה פרקי' השער הג' יש בו י"ב פרקים השער הרביעי יש בו י"ו פרקים. והספר הזה הוא נכבד מאד ומדבר בו כפי המושכל והחקירה הפילוסופי' אבל מבטל דעותיהם במה שהם כנגד תורתנו. כי החכם הזה נראה שראה הרבה בפילוסופי' והיה עם זה תוריי וחסיד. וכן כתב בו טעמי מצות, ולא ראיתי בספר ההוא שיזכיר עשר ספירות רק עשר מעלות המלאכים כפי שהזכירה הרמב"ם ז"ל בספר המדע. ובספר הזה מרחיב בו הבאור בכל דרכיו זולתי בקצת דברים שמעלים ואומר והבן זה. אבל בספר שרמזת אליו כל דבריו סתומי' אין אדם מבין בהם, ומי שיקדים לזה הספר קריא' ספר שער השמי' יהי' לו תוספת הבנה בזה. ובספ' הזה הסתום הזכיר עשר ספירות אבל לא כדרך קבלת הרמב"ן ז"ל והנמשכים אחר קבלתו. כי בספר הזה נראה כי דעתו שמעלות המלאכים הם מכלל העשר ועשה שלש מעלות ראשונות מן המלאכים המתוארו' באש ובמים ורוח. וכבר הזכירו כי הנברא הראשון נקרא אש לוהט והצורה הרביעית היא אור השמש והחמישית היא גלגל השכל והוא כלל הגלגלי' והארבע צורות הנשארות הם ד' צורות היסודיות, כמש"כ זה בפ"כ מן הספר. ואין זה כלל דעת חכמי הקבלה ונראה שהם דברים בדא אותם מלבו ומשכלו בלי קבלה, וכן הזכיר זה הוא עצמו בפ"ה מן הספר. ומי יטריח מחשבתו להבין הדברים החדשים העולים בלבו והוא מסתיר ומכסה אותם, ולכן אמרתי בלבי יהיו לו לבדו ואין לאחרים אתו. הן אמת פירש ל"ב נתיבות כדרך המקובלים שהם עשר ספירות וכ"ב אותיות שבהם יסוד הדבו' ושהם נרמזות במלות שעולה כ"ב וי' וזה נאה, אך בעצם הספירות בירר דרך לעצמו מלבו. ולזה אני אומר שאין לסמוך בדברים כאלו אלא מפי חכם מקובל ועדיין אולי. 

First reading of bills related to the judicial reform approved in the Knesset


 The Knesset on Monday night approved the first reading of the first two laws of the judicial reform being promoted by Minister Yariv Levin.

Two bills, which relate to the Basic Law: The Judiciary, were voted upon. The two clauses which were approved are a clause dealing with changing the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee, so that it has a majority of members of the coalition, as well as a clause that will prevent the Supreme Court from striking down Basic Laws.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Biden’s Trip to Kyiv is the Ultimate Humiliation for Putin—and Trump


Biden went to Europe to send Putin a message of American and allied strength. Trump went to grovel before Putin. Biden stood up for American values and our allies. Trump said he trusted Putin more than America’s own intelligence and law enforcement services. Biden embodied America’s strength. Trump illustrated and represented our greatest weakness.

A year after Trump embarrassed the country in Helsinki, he compounded the offense by withholding aid from Ukraine in an attempt to extort Zelensky into doing political dirty work against Biden to help Trump’s reelection efforts. It was an illegal act that ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment. At the same time and throughout the following year according to reports from Trump’s own top advisors, he was actively advocating to withdraw American troops from Europe.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Rolling Stone's disastrous story of gang rape and R Gottesman, Chicago Beis Din & the bloggers Lopin, Maryles and Morris

Now that the Seminary scandal is winding down or rather unraveling from a story of a massive sex scandal where a respected rabbi was accused in federal court of  running four seminaries for the sole purpose of  having girls available for his sexual satisfaction to a growing realization that it was only an inexcusable hug given by a respected rabbi to a student  after which he was promptly kicked out by the staff and he readily acknowledged his misdeed in front of beis din. Headlines of seminaries being run as houses of prostitution has become nothing more than  an inappropriate hug.

The question is why has such a relatively minor - though inexcusable transgression - triggered such strong emotions. Why have sincere and intelligent people believed the worst - even in the face of clear unambiguous facts? A similar thing happened in American in the 1970's and 1980's where thousands were falsely accused of child abuse in a hysteric atmosphere based on no evidence. Many reputations were destroyed and some spent many years in jail. See   Modern Day Witch Trial
 Father Goron Macrae..  Nachlaot     Tablet Magazine regarding Nachlaot

Part of the answer is that serious abuse does occur.  Abuse is so horrible and disgusting that it and the abuser have to be destroyed.  Lives have in fact been ruined by abuse and the betrayal of family and community when the abuse was reported. The reality is that Orthodox community - like the rest of the world - has until recently not dealt properly with abuse. But that is not enough to explain what has happened in terms of peoples emotion and propagation of baseless accusations

I would like to suggest another dynamic. There seems to be the need for people to not only have abuse prevented and abusers jailed - but that they have to be the ones who save the world from abuse. These people lose all objectively when dealing with abuse. They lose all ability to consider alternative explanations of events. They take an extreme position - if there is smoke if there are rumors if there was an over friendly personality - he must have done it.  It is a lynch mob attitude combined with being a savior of mankind from abuse.

Over and over in the comments on the blogs and in the comments of certain people who have led the attack on the seminaries we hear:
"He must have been guilty - did you see the way he conducted himself?"  Of course he is guilty of rape - my wife heard that 40 girls were raped." He must have been guilty if the beis din has suspicions - they would not publicize suspicions unless it really happened." " I am going to close down those seminaries - there is no such thing as a seminary where staff failed to stop abuse that can serve as an educational institution and even if the accusations aren't true but we can't allow a seminary where such rumors exist." "Don't confuse the issue by demanding evidence - everyone knows that in rape cases the girls don't say anything - but he is guilty and the seminaries were guilty because that's what everyone says." "Not only is he guilty of the worst that everyone says - but given the enormity of what is claimed about him the staff obviously knew about it and not only did nothing but they facilitated his abuse - don't defend him by saying there is no evidence. Commonsense tells you that he is guilty and if you don't believe it you are also a facilitator of abuse." "It is better that a 1000 innocent people lives be destroyed if it prevents an abuser from getting away with his crime."
Following is another example where a distinguished University accepted the gang rape charges made by a student because of the investigation of a reporter who wanted to believe it happened and ignored anything which would have ruined her "righteous" expose. Fortunately the Washington Post took the time to check the facts and the "facts" unraveled. The accused must be given the chance to self-defense and the lynch mob must be replaced by a calm and rational evaluation of the evidence

Washington Post   On Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest podcast last month, reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely explained why she had settled on the University of Virginia as the focus for her investigative story on a horrific 2012 gang rape of a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. “First I looked around at a number of different campuses,” said Erdely. “It took me a while to figure out where I wanted to focus on. But when I finally decided on the University of Virginia — one of the compelling reasons that made me focus on the University of Virginia was when I found Jackie. I made contact with a student activist at the school who told me a lot about the culture of the school — that was one of the important things, sort of criteria that I wanted when I was looking for the right school to focus on.”

Rolling Stone thought it had found the “right” campus and the right alleged crime: Following her Nov. 19 story on Jackie’s alleged assault in a dark room at the Phi Kappa Psi house, the university suspended all fraternity activities and a national spotlight fell on the issue of campus rape.

Now it’s all falling apart. Thanks to several days of reporting by the Washington Post’s T. Rees Shapiro, Rolling Stone’s account is not even a semester away from becoming part of journalism classes around the country. Jackie’s friends now doubt her account of the traumatic event, reports Shapiro, and the fraternity insists it never held a “a date function or social event” on the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012, which is the date cited by Jackie in the Rolling Stone story.

Rolling Stone has issued a statement apologizing for the story, which includes this misogynistic, victim-blaming line: “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.” But Jackie was a freshman in college when her episode allegedly took place; the story itself references her misgivings about putting her life into the public realm; she requested that Rolling Stone not contact “Drew,” the ringleader of the alleged assault; the alleged sequence of events — nine college men conspiring to attack a freshman and sexually assaulting her for three hours — should have triggered every skeptical twitch in the Rolling Stone staff. This disaster is the sole property of editors and a reporter. [...]

The Printed Page of the Talmud by Rabbi HAYM SOLOVEITCHIK

0PEN ANY COPY of the Talmud printed within the past half millennium and you will find on the inner side of the page the commentary of Rashi  and on the outer side of the page Tosafot, the glosses of the French talmudists of the twelfth and thirteenth century. Why did Rashi and Tosafot become so central to talmudic study and why is their study the core of the traditional Jewish canon?

If one reads an accurate translation of the Talmud, such as the translation published by the Soncino press, one will understand all the words of the text and the general line of argument, but the individual steps lack clarity and the argument as a whole hangs loosely together. The reason is that the Talmud is, as it were, a "telegramatic" text, the main points are stated, but the flow, the linkage of the various points, is left up to the reader to reconstruct. It is this flow and linkage that Rashi supplies, and with remarkably few words. Rashi was gifted with an inordinate ability to detect both minor gaps in a presentation and the slightest ambiguity oflanguage and correct them succinctly. Realizing the cumulative effect of trivial errors, he deftly guides the student through the text with a mere word or two, preventing a host of possible misunderstandings. So definitively did Rashi solve these problems that no one ever attempted again to write another commentary to the Talmud and all other commentaries were swiftly consigned to oblivion. Provence discarded its classic commentary, that of R. Abraham ben David of Posquieres (r125-rr98), and even Yemenite Jewry, who revered Maimonides (rr35-1204) as few other Jewish cultures have venerated a scholar, allowed Maimonides' commentary to the Talmud to disappear.

Rashi's commentary did not arise out of nowhere. Genius alone could never discern the meaning of the innumerable Persian, Greek, and Latin words that abound in the Talmud. Behind Rashi stood the traditions of talmudic interpretation of the academies of the Rhineland, the famed yeshivot of Mainz and Worms that Rashi attended as a youth. Those traditions are now known as the Com­mentaries of Rabbenu Gershom Maor ha-Golah (Light of the Exile). Like the ban of polygamy that is attributed to Rabbenu Gershom but is actually a longstanding communal ban, the Commentaries are not his but rather the collective work of the academy of Mainz in the eleventh century.' The com­mentary on several tractates has been preserved and a comparison with that of Rashi is illuminating. Much of the exegetical material of Rashi is already found there, but the commentary lacks those crucial words and comments that give bite and tightness to the talmudic arguments. Much as a great lawyer takes a brief of a competent one and, with an insertion of a phrase or two, transforms the reasonable argument into a convincing one, so Rashi transformed his heritage. The bricks and mortar of his ceuvre are to be found in the works of his predecessors. What those commentaries lack is the magic touch of Rashi's masonry.

The commentaries of Rashi democratized talmudic scholarship. Prior to his work, the only way to master a tractate was to travel to a talmudic academy and study at the feet of a master. No writ¬ten work could systematically convey with any degree of sustained accuracy the precise line of a talmudic argument. That could be conveyed only by oral instruction, by the vibrant voice of gifted teachers. With the appearance of Rashi's work, anyone, regardless of means, could by dint of talent and effort master any talmudic topic. It further expanded the range of knowledge of most scholars. Previously, one knew accurately only what one had been fortunate to study at an academy. Once one departed, one could scarcely expand his range of knowledge, at least not with equal precision. The lifelong study of Talmud, the constant conquest of new tractates, and the unlimited personal acquisi¬tion of knowledge was in many ways the consequence ofRashi's inimitable work of exposition.

This is not to say that Rashi's explanations were definitive. Far from it. For some three hundred years scholars scrutinized his commentary, criticized innumerable passages, and demanded their reinterpretation. Yet, all realized that the problem that had confronted scholars for close to half a millennium- how to turn the abrupt and sometimes gnomic formulations of the Talmud into a coherent and smoothly flowing text- had been solved definitively by Rashi. The subsequent task of scholars, therefore, was to emend and add to his interpretations. Thus came into existence the subsequent genre of talmudic commentary, the Tosafot, or "additions" to Rashi that are printed along side his commentary.

What are the Tosafot? The glosses of scholastic dialectics, the product of collation, contradiction, and distinction. The Talmud is a vast, loosely organized corpus with many overlapping discussions. The tosafists undertook on each and every given topic to collate all the discussions of a given issue in the entire Talmud, to note any contradictions between the different passages, and to resolve them by distinguishing between the cases under discussion. Not that the tosafists were the first to note contradictions in the Talmud. Contradictions have been noted from the moment that the Talmud became normative. The approach that had previously prevailed was to follow, in cases of contradiction, the sugya de-shematsa (dominant discussion). There is generally one major treatment of an issue in the Talmud, though that issue may reappear in the course of many other discussions. When confronted with a contradiction, one should follow the conclusions of the dominant discussion, even if other talmudic discussions of the problem would seem to imply a different outcome. The premise of dialectic is, however, that there are no "major" and "minor" passages in the corpus. All passages are of equal valence. The Talmud in its totality is a harmonious whole. Talmudic discussions are indeed "telegrammatic," and thus, though certain conditions of the case at bar are not always expressly spelled out, they are inferable from the discussion. The task of the scholar is to ferret out the distinctiveness of each of the seemingly similar cases under discussion and, thereby, restore harmony to an apparently dissonant corpus. Not that the tosafists were the first people to distinguish between seemingly similar cases. Just as contradictions were noted from the very outset of talmudic study, so too were distinctions made and contradictions resolved from the beginning. Maimonides often quietly resolved contradictions with an added word or two, and few scholars quietly anticipated and resolved more questions that way than did Rashi. 

Anyone familiar with the super-commentarial works on Rashi knows how frequently the authors note, "and Rashi forfended the problem by .... " What was new in the dialectical approach is the systematic quest for, and resolution of, contradictions. It demanded a new mode of study, in a sense, even a new curriculum. The Talmud could no longer be studied "vertically," or consecutively, line after line, page after page, as had been done previously. It demanded "horizontal" study, where each line of the Talmud was sys¬tematically collated with all parallel passages found in the vast talmudic corpus, and contradictions were uncovered and resolved. The fruit of their labor of some two centuries is Tosafot, the glosses printed alongside Rashi.
Anonymity reigns in the Tosafot. Only too often questions are raised without the name of the interlocutor. We find simply, "ve-temah" (objection) or "im tomar" (should you say). Nevertheless, the acronyms of two speakers do stand out: I1"i and '"i. The former designates Rabbenu Tam, the universally accepted moniker for R. Jacob hen Meir of Ramerupt (r roc--r r yr}; the latter indicates his nephew, R. Isaac of Dampierre ( d. II 8 9). 2 Most of the famed thought of the tosafists is actually the product of these two men. Who were they and why their prominence?

The dialectical method, omnipresent in the Talmud, was revived by Rabbenu Tam. Dialectic was the dominant mode of scholastic thinking in the Middle Ages- it obtained in Roman and canon law and in theology. Was Rabbenu Tam influenced by developments in his surroundings? The revival of Roman law had not come to Champagne by the second or third decade of the twelfth century when Rabbenu Tam began his revolution, and the dialectics of canon law did not appear until later. In theology, dialectics was indeed emerging in northern France at this time, but its concepts and vocabulary were so technical, alien, and, in one sense, repugnant to Jews, that, even if we overlook the fact that these discussions were conducted in Latin, "the language of the priests" as Jews called it, it seems rash to attribute influence to them without concrete evidence. One can of course invoke the zeitgeist (spirit of the age), but that simply is another way of saying we know of parallel develop-
ments without having any evidence of contact.

In one sense the question is bootless. The greatness of Rabbenu Tam did not lie in his discovery of dialectic, which is employed in the talmudic discussions themselves, but rather in the scope and depth of his use of it. Rabbenu Tam's influence extended over the entire talmudic corpus; he scarcely left a topic that he did not revolutionize by dialectic. He was able to offer many hundreds, probably thousands, of legal distinctions that subsequent thinkers found, and to this day still find, essential for any understanding of talmudic law. So fecund were his ideas and so productive was his mode of thinking that this mode of analysis has continued to the present day. Rab¬benu Tam rewrote halakhic thought by his revival and use of dialectic and made this method an indispensable tool of talmudic study.

Though extraordinarily creative, Rabbenu Tam wrote very little. The one small work he authored himself, Sefer ha- Yashar, was first printed in I 8 I I and remains unused to this day. Words came easily enough to Rabbenu Tam when engaged in polemic or in the niceties of polite correspondence, but when called upon to express ideas, the sentences swiftly break down. The flow of words is unable to keep pace with the speed of his thought and with the leaps of his creative association. It is ronic that the one significant tosafist who wielded the metrics of Spanish poetry with any degree of skill was unable to pen a clear sentence, even by the abrupt and inelegant standards of dialectical writing.

Rabbenu Tam's thoughts have come down to us via the agency of his nephew, R. Isaac of Dampierre (Ri). Indeed, were it not for Ri, not only Rabbenu Tam's work, but the very dialectical revolution itself, might well have had no lasting impact. The nephew was the equal of the uncle in genius, but wholly opposite in character. Not for him the communal involvements, the sound and fury of scholarly controversies, the threats of excommunication that characterized the career of his stormy and imperious uncle. Quiet and unassuming, and without any desire to bend others to his will, Ri passed his entire life teaching and writing in a two- or three-street hamlet in Champagne.4 We know little more of his self-effacing life other than that he studied with his uncle, Rabbenu Tam. This meek exterior, however, hid an iron will and a relentless dedication to his craft that few equaled in Jewish history. Just as his great-grandfather, Rashi, humbly but steadfastly sought to explicate the entire Talmud, Ri undertook the protean task of elucidating the entire Talmud in light of dialectic and equally succeeded in his goal. In his school and under his tutelage every line of the Talmud was subjected to the probing light of the newly revived method. The slightest whisper of contradic¬tion was noted and solutions were proffered; solutions and distinctions that have proven so suggestive and fruitful that their study is the staple of the talmudic curriculum to this day. 

Rightly, Nahmanides deemed Ri, baa! ha-Tosafot (the author of the Tosa[ot). Though an easy writer, Ri himself wrote little. He adopted the widely used method of composition, the reportatio.5 The magister (master) would select a stu¬dent to prepare a report of his teaching that he then would correct and certify, or the master would dictate the text himself. While Latin circles attributed these reports to the teacher, the tosafists credited them to the pupil. Nevertheless, all recognized that the work was an accurate report of the master's teachings. Over the course of his life, Ri used four students to write reportatios. The first, his son, R. Elhanan, was in the midst of composing a commentary on the tractate Avodah Zarah when he was murdered in a pogrom in n84. That truncated work is the only one of his many Tosafot that has come down to us. 6 R. Samson of Sens picked up where his fallen colleague had left off and wrote Tosafot on much of the Talmud. These Tosafot form the basis for most of the printed Tosafot on the Talmud. Only three of his original Tosafot have survived, those on Pesabim, Ketubbot, and parts of Avodah Zarah,' R. Judah of Paris penned a third set of reportatios, and those on Berakhot and Avodah Zarah have come down to us.  One student, R. Barukh, felt the need to bring the new discussions and conclusions of the dialectic to a wider audience and to draw practical conclusions from them. That is to say, translate the new ideas of Dampierre into religious practice. He chose several select topics, such as the laws of the Sabbath and kashrut, and composed, under Ri's direction or atleast inspiration, a reportatio elucidating Ri's teachings regarding these matters. Entitled, Sefer ha-Terumah, the work is in every sense a Tosafot from the school of Ri. 

Two areas of Jewish law are not found in either Rashi or Tosafot: agricultural law and the laws of purity. The former, discussed in Zeraim, primarily obtain in the Land of Israel, while the latter, addressed in Tohorot, are operative only when the Temple in Jerusalem is standing. These tractates consist only of Mishnayot. Both Rashi and Tosafot restricted their work to talmudic tractates and therefore left these areas untreated. Ri's pupil, the aforementioned R. Samson of Sens, penned a vast commentary to these Mishnayot, a work that has not been superseded to this day. 10 His departure for Israel in r2II effectively ended the creative period of tosafist thought. 
Most intellectual revolutions take a century or so to be absorbed, not only by the public but also by the discipline itself Such was the case with the joint labors of Rabbenu Tam and Ri. Put differently, intellectual revolutions occur wholesale, their impact is achieved only by retailing it. The thirteenth century witnessed the packaging and delivery, if you wish, of the thoughts of the great men of the twelfth century. This took two forms: the writing of codes and the editing of the Tosafot that had been issued from Ri's academy in Dampierre. 

The first task, foreseen by R. Barukh, was undertaken on a grand scale by R. Moses of Couey, tosafist, preacher, and disputant at the trial of the Talmud in Paris in 1240. Organizing his work according to Maimonides' count of the biblical commandments, he reproduced under the rubric of each commandment, the extensive discussions of the Tosafot of his teacher, R. Judah of Paris. The end product was a massive two-volume work entitled Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, which was accessible only to scholars. II The need for a briefer, practical guide to the tosafists teachings was immediately felt and swiftly met. R. Isaac of Corbeil penned an abridgement of this work called Sefer Mitzvot Katan, which was widely diffused and very influential.  
The editing and abridging of the Dampierre Tosafot occupied such mid- and late-thirteenth-century talmudists as R. Perez of Corbeil and R. Eliezer of Touques. Their works are known, not surprisingly, as Tosafot R. Perez and Tosafot Touques. Oddly enough, these thirteenth-century abridgments became the basis for our printed Tosafot, not the original Tosafot that were issued by Ri's academy in Dampierre. In Italy in the late-fifteenth century, the Tosafot of R. Samson of Sens, were generally available, but by a strange twist of fate this classic set of Tosafot did not make it into the canon. Gershom Soncino, the printer of the first published Talmud, had somehow heard that the Tosafot of Touques and other late Tosafot were the most reliable. So he disregarded the Tosafot of R. Samson that lay readily at hand and at personal risk traveled to France to find these reputedly superior Tosafot. As he wrote thirty years later in a somewhat garbled note: 

I toiled and found books that were previously closed and sealed, and brought them forth to the light of the sun, to shine in the firmament, as the Tosafot from Touques of R. Isaac and Rabbenu Tam(?!). I traveled to France, Charnbery and Geneva, the places where [the books] were conceived, so that the public might benefit from them, for in Spain, Italy and all the lands, we have only heard of the [Tosafot] of Sens, of R. Perez and R. Shimshon and their colleagues. 1 
What he brought back from his foray in France was an assorted mixture of Tosafot from a variety of schools,  and this late medley of Tosafot, wholly derivative of those of Dampierre are what he (and subsequently all other printers of the Talmud) published. And it is they that have become the canonical Tosafot of the printed page. The caliber of Rabbenu Tam and Ri was such, however, that their thinking, even in a somewhat abrupt and abbreviated form, was powerful enough to shape the course of talmudic thought for close to a millennium. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

G-d's partner?!

 Sanhedrin (38b)A certain heretic said to Rav Idit: It is written in the verse concerning God: “And to Moses He said: Come up to the Lord” (Exodus 24:1). The heretic raised a question: It should have stated: Come up to Me. Rav Idit said to him: This term, “the Lord,” in that verse is referring to the angel Metatron, whose name is like the name of his Master, as it is written: “Behold I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Take heed of him and obey his voice; do not defy him; for he will not pardon your transgression, for My name is in him” (Exodus 23:20–21). The heretic said to him: If so, if this angel is equated with God, we should worship him as we worship God. Rav Idit said to him: It is written: “Do not defy [tammer] him,” which alludes to: Do not replace Me [temireni] with him. The heretic said to him: If so, why do I need the clause “For he will not pardon your transgression”? Rav Idit said to him: We believe that we did not accept the angel even as a guide [befarvanka] for the journey, as it is written: “And he said to him: If Your Presence go not with me raise us not up from here” (Exodus 33:15). Moses told God that if God Himself does not accompany the Jewish people they do not want to travel to Eretz Yisrael.  

Ramban (Shemos 24;1) Come up to the Eternal. In line with the simple meaning of Scripture, the reason for this expression [when it should have said: “Come up unto Me”], is because it is the Scriptural style to mention the proper name instead of the pronoun, such as: And Lemech said… Ye wives of Lemech; and the Eternal sent Jerubaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel. A similar case is the verse, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy Sanctuary that is desolate, for the Eternal’s sake. In the Talmud, however, we find that they asked, “It should have said, ‘come up to Me,’” and therefore they said, “this refers to Mattatron, whose name is even as the Name of his Master.” That is to say, “And unto Moses He — the Divine Name mentioned at the beginning of this subject, namely, And the Eternal said unto Moses — said, come up to Mattatron, for My Name is in him.” The meaning is thus: “Come up to the place of the Glory where the great angel is,” and the intention was that Moses should come into the midst of the cloud where the Glory of G-d was, but he should not come right up to the Proper Divine Name, for man shall not see Me, and live. The intention of our Rabbis is thus not at all as Rashi had written above. In Tractate Sanhedrin also the Rabbi [Rashi] turned the subject around. Now I have already mentioned the Rabbis’ intention concerning this name [Mattatron], and all their words are true. In that homily, however, [related in Tractate Sanhedrin, concerning the infidel’s question to Rav Idie], the Sages spoke in an abstract manner, since Rav Idie did not want, Heaven forbid, to reveal to that infidel who asked him the question, the matter of the great Mattatron and its secret! Instead, he mentioned to him that the verse speaks of the angel who is “the guide of the road” of the world below; and hence he told him, that “even as a guide we refused to accept him, for it is written [that Moses said], If ‘panecha’ — [literally: ‘Thy face’ or ‘Thy presence’] go not up, carry us not up hence,” for we accepted no messenger, only the Revered G-d. I have already explained clearly the secret of panim (face) and the whole subject to those learned in the secret lore of the Cabala, in the section of the Giving of the Torah.

Rabbeinu Bachya (Shemos 24;1) instruction by the attribute of Hashem. The meaning of the words עלה אל ה' (which obviously cannot mean that Moses was to ascend to the region of Hashem) is that he was to ascend to the level of the angel Mattatron, the angel whom we have already described as the שר הפנים, “the Minister of the Interior,” the angel to whom G’d normally entrusts the running of His universe. 
 This is also what our sages in Sanhedrin 38 meant when they said that the reason this angel is called Mattatron is that this word combines two meanings (in two separate languages). They are אדון and שליח. The reason that this is so is because in the language of our sages (a mixture of Latin and Greek at the time of the Mishnah) a lady who commands great authority is called Matrona. The word also means שליח, “agent, emissary,” as in Greek such a messenger is known as Mentaur. There is still a third meaning which is associated with the word מטטרן which is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew משמרת, “custody, guard.” The name of that angel is Mattatron as it is the custodian of the world on behalf of G’d who is also known as the שומר ישראל, “the guardian of Israel.” 
Seeing that we have established from the meaning of his very name that he is the master of all that is below him in rank, all the heavenly hosts as well as those on earth are at his command and under his control. He acts as the agent of the One Who is above him, the One who has given him this authority. His name is אדון לביתו ומושל בכל קנינו, “master of His household and governor of all His possessions.” 
You ought to appreciate that in accordance with the meaning of the word אדון, “master,” the letter ט in the name מטטרון appears twice. The reason for this is that the two letters ט when combined have a numerical value of ח'י an allusion to the חי העולמים an expression of supremacy. Alternatively, the extra letter ט is an allusion to the ninth emanation which derives its potency directly from the highest emanation, the tenth emanation
 It is well known (in Kabbalistic circles) that another description of this angel Mattatron is נער. This is the reason the firstborn of the Israelites have been referred to as נערים in verse 5 of our chapter where the Torah writes: וישלח את נערי בני ישראל ויעלו עולות, “He sent the youths of the Children of Israel and they offered burnt-offerings, etc.” 
It is well to realise that at this time it was not an ascent to G’d which G’d had in mind, as if it had been that there would not have been a point in including Aaron, his sons and the elders in any part of this instruction. When the Torah writes here in verse 2 that Moses was to approach the ערפל all by himself, the meaning is also that he would approach the angel Mattatron who was at that time within the thick cloud described as ערפל. Actually, the Torah should have written: ונגשת לבדך “you are to approach all by yourself,” if the Torah had meant for him at this time to ascend all the way to G’d. At this point G’d’s words were directed only at Moses seeing that what was said about Aaron, his sons, and the elders was in the third person, i.e. quite obviously not intended for their ears at this time. G’d had told Moses that Aaron and the elders were to remain at a distance when they would prostrate themselves.
 We need to understand why the direct form of the speech in verse 1, i.e. עלה אל ה' was changed to indirect speech in verse 2 where the Torah writes in indirect speech “and Moses shall approach theערפל .” We must assume that the words in verse 2 for Moses to approach the ערפל all by himself were not spoken by G’d but by the angel Mattatron. In that event he spoke of Moses approaching himself (the angel) within the thick cloud. The entire verse then was primarily a command for Aaron, his sons, and the elders not to approach but to prostrate themselves from a distance. As a consequence of these instructions, the Torah adds immediately that these people who had not approached beheld what is reported in verse 10 i.e. ויראו את אלו-הי ישראל ותחת רגליו כמעשה לבנת הספיר וכעצם השמים לטוהר, “they experienced a vision of the G’d of Israel in the form of a likeness of bricks made of sapphire under His feet, being as pure as the essence of heaven.” In the interval, Moses alone approached more closely to the ערפל, as he had been told in verse 12 עלה אלי ההרה “ascend to Me to the mountain and remain there, etc.” This additional ascent (additional to what was commanded in verse 1 represented an additional spiritual elevation on the part of Moses until he actually entered the cloud. The next step occurred in verse 18 where the Torah reports Moses as entering the cloud, ascending the mountain and remaining there for forty days. 
You are already aware that this (angel) is the one who was the cause of Elisha ben Avuyah making a grievous error, resulting in his heresy when he formed the opinion that there are two domains of divinity (compare Chagigah 15). The same is liable to happen to anyone who does not exercise extreme care in contemplating these verses. Perhaps the reason that this paragraph has been written immediately after the previous paragraph concluded with the word מוקש, “a trap,” in 23,33, is to warn that this chapter must be read with more than ordinary care. It is a veiled warning that he who is not extremely careful when studying this chapter is liable to fall into a theological trap. The error committed by the people who served the golden calf, by Nadav and Avihu (compare our author’s comments on Leviticus 10,1), may be traced to misreading what is written in our chapter. Of all the great scholars delving into the matter only Rabbi Akiva escaped with his mind and body completely intact (Chagigah 14). How was it that only Rabbi Akiva succeeded where others had failed? This is what our sages meant when they said that Rabbi Akiva realized that there are other powerful angels of the caliber of Mattatron thus precluding the error that because Mattatron was unique he was a divinity. The sages based this on Deut. 33,2 אתה מרבבות קודש, that when G’d gave the Torah “He had come with some of the myriads of holy beings.” The reason G’d is called ה' צבאות is precisely because He is the Master of all these holy beings.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Tucker Carlson Calls Trump ‘Demonic Force’ in New Legal Filing


On Jan. 6, 2021 Carlson messaged Pfeiffer, and called Trump “a demonic force, a destroyer,” adding, “But he’s not going to destroy us.” Despite this, just three weeks later, the host invited his leading sponsor Mike Lindell on his show; Lindell proceeded to repeat Powell’s conspiracies on air, even previewing them for Carlson’s staff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Hashgacha protis applies to everything?

 Chinuch (#169): There are some groups that believe that Providence applies to every living creature - both man and animal. There are also those who extend Providence further and say it applies to every entity in the world - living or non living. In other words they say that the smallest entity only moves as response to G d’s will and decrees. They go so far as to say that even when a single leaf falls off a tree that G d decreed that it should fall. That it is impossible that its falling be delayed and advanced by an instant. However such a belief is ridiculous - extremely far from human intelligence. There are also evil groups that assert that there is no such thing as Providence for anything in the world whether for people or the rest of living creatures. This view is the view of heretics and it is evil and bitter. However we Jews believe that Providence applies to living creatures only in general – other than man. In other words, the different species are sustained so that the species themselves don’t become extinct. In contrast we believe that regarding man that there is Providence for each and every person which varies according to his deeds. This teaching we know by tradition passed down by the great sages - as well as many verses that teach these principles.

Everything is for the best

 Recently received an email from someone who deals with those who have had a rough life such as aguna divorce or death of a spouse or child or  debilitating illness or alzheimer's.  He noted for some of these people hearing the reassurance :"All is for the best and G-d is in contol" isn't helping at since they have experienced such devestation without seeing any silver lining in the clouds. There have been no miraculous last minute salvation that people usually talk about to prove that G-d is running the world. He asked whether there is another approach? 

I noted there is another approach which readily acknowledges the tragedy and badness of some people's situation and which makes no attempt to sugar coat the pain. That is to say the suffering is a test and that there is compensation in Olam Haba. One such approach is called  Yessurim from G-d's love. It is described in Berachos 5a

 And if he did attribute his suffering to dereliction in the study of Torah, and did not find this to be so, he may be confident that these are afflictions of love, as it is stated: “For whom the Lord loves, He rebukes, as does a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12).

Sanhedrin (47a) Rabbi Natan says: It is a good sign for the deceased when he is punished after his death and does not receive an honorable burial or eulogy, as his lack of honor brings him atonement for his sins. For example, if the deceased was not eulogized, or if he was not buried, or if a wild animal dragged his corpse, or if rain fell on his bier, this is a good sign for the deceased. Learn from the baraita that a eulogy is delivered for the honor of the dead, so that when he is deprived of this honor, he achieves atonement for his sins. 

However the Rambam says this approach is not Jewish. While the Ramban wrote a sefer on the subject of suffering and ultimately utilized reincarnation to explain suffering. 

Sefer HaIkkarim (4:13): … … 4) Sometimes the tzadik experiences bad because it is beneficial for him. This is called Suffering of Love. It is also called a nisayon (test). There are three aspects of Suffering of Love. a) Suffering that is erase the slightest remnant of sins that are too minor to be atoned for in a prescribed manner or that he is unaware of what he had done. b) Sometimes there is not the slightest sin but the suffering is entirely to test the tzadik whether he serves G d entirely from love…c) Sometimes there is absolutely no sin and there is no need to test the tzadik but it is entirely to increase the reward in the World to Come - such as Avraham’s sacrifice of Yitzchok.

Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:17): The majority of our Sages agree that there is no death or suffering without sin… A person is rewarded according to all the good deeds that he has done even if he wasn’t commanded by the prophet to do them. He is also punished for all the bad things he did, even if he wasn’t forbidden by the prophet. This is true however for those things that his intellect would indicate that they were good or bad.…In the words of our Sages there is something additional which is not found written in the Torah. Some of them talk about yesurim shel ahava which is suffering which occurs even without sin - in order to increase reward. This is also a concept found amongst some Muslims. However there is no verse in the Torah which expresses this idea. 

Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:24): The concept of “testing” is a very difficult and is the most difficult one in the Torah where it is mentioned six times. Most people understand the term to refer to G d bringing suffering and calamities on a person even though the person has not sinned - in order to increase his reward. Such a concept doesn’t have clear support from the Torah and only one of the six examples in the Torah is not inconsistent with this definition. On the other hand there is a clear principle in the Torah which refutes this concept of “testing.” Devarim (32:4): A G d of faithfulness and without iniquity. In addition to this refutation not all of the sages accepted this popular understanding since they said “There is no death without sin and no suffering without transgression.” This view that no undeserved suffering occurs is the one that every adherent to the Torah who has intelligence should believe. This is simply because one should not ascribe injustice to G d and assert that G d subjects people to undeserved suffering.

Rav Saadiya Gaon (Emuna V’De’os 5:3): The righteous suffer for two reasons. The first reason is that it is for the few sins they have committed… The second reason is that it a trial. G d tests them when He knows that they will be able to endure the suffering. Afterwards he will reward them to compensate them for the undeserved suffering. G d does not test a person who cannot endure it - because then it serves no purpose. The purpose in afflicting the righteous is in order that mankind should know that G d did not choose them for nothing. Job and his suffering is an example of this second type of suffering. If the suffering is the result of sin then typically G d will acknowledge that this is the reason - if He is asked. On the other hand if the suffering is because it is a trial - G d typically does not acknowledge it. This we see from the response to Moshe’s complaint “Why are you making it worse for this people.” Similarly Job was not answered when he asked why he was suffering. This lack of explanation is necessary so that the suffering of the righteous should not be simply dismissed by the average man as merely a means for the tzadik of getting additional reward. And I say that even the completely innocent person is sometimes afflicted in order that he gets reward for it. This is obviously the case for the infant who suffers. I have no doubt that they will be compensated for their suffering. A wise person views suffering as the chastisement of a father by means of a beating or detention to keep his son from harm. It is comparable to the disgusting bitter medicine that a person takes to be cured. A person might ask why is this suffering necessary because G d can give the good without the suffering? We answer him that good deservedly given as reward is better than receiving it out of kindness.

Pnei Yehoshua (Berachos 5a): If one cannot find a sin that justifies the suffering then it is suffering of love. Rashi explains that G d afflicts undeserved suffering in order to increase the reward in the World to Come. Why should G d afflict the tzadik when there is no need for the suffering - since no person would torture his friend in order to give him extra presents. And the question seems even stronger since all the worlds belong to G d and He can freely give them to whomever He wants. Furthermore this gemora also states that the World to Come is only given through suffering. Why should this be? An obvious answer is that the soul is not capable - even after it has separated from the body - to receive the light of the transcendent World to Come without suffering…. However this explanation doesn’t fit the language of Rashi that the purpose is to receive greater reward than his merit. The explanation of Rashi could be that the undeserved suffering is to atone for the sin of other Jews as we see in Sanhedrin (39a)… Thus G d does not want the world destroyed. If he brings suffering on the average person it is possible he won’t accept the suffering willingly and will rebel - Heaven forbid. Therefore He brings the suffering on the righteous who are willing to accept it with love for the sake of all Jews. Since this tzadik brought merit to the masses by his suffering he receives his own reward and also their reward in the World to Come. He also obviously receives the portion of the wicked who have lost their portion in the World to Come. This latter explanation seems to be the understanding of Rashi while the original explanation seems to better fit the language of the gemora.

Igros Moshe (YD 1:140): This that you explained that Suffering from Love (Berachos 5a) - that Rashi explains that G d afflicts a person even though he hasn’t done any sin in order to increase his reward - is similar to the issue of a father hitting his son even though he has completed the his required task. The father does it in order to increase the child’s fear and respect for him . Even though the son would fulfill the father’s command anyway he gets additional reward. This is a valid explanation…. However it is necessary to add that G d does not give Suffering from Love to someone who hasn’t sinned at all. … Nevertheless he is chastised in the same way as the son who has completed his task. This is to increase his reward more than his actual merits…. Nevertheless Rashi’s view is that the suffering serves no purpose for the tzadik except to increase his reward. 

Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #118): Since Chazal gave these explanations for suffering of the righteous based upon the traditions they received [alternately: according to their intent] and according to their understanding of the verses in Torah and Neviim - why do we find that the prophets themselves complained about this issue? Why was Yirmiyahu (12:1) perplexed as to why the wicked were successful since G d is righteous? Dovid [Assaf] (Tehilim 73:13) and Yeshaya (63:17) were also mystified by the suffering of the righteous and success of the wicked as was Chavakuk (1:3–4)…. 

Ramchal (Daas Tevunos 8–10): Intellect: There are matters which are very difficult and extremely deep such as the suffering of the righteous and the pleasure of the wicked. This issue was difficult for our Sages as well as the prophets. It was even difficult for Moshe Rabbeinu. They were not able to comprehend this matter. Soul: In fact this inability to comprehend is only for the precise details of concerning a particular individual - however the general principles are understood by every upstanding person. Thus a person needs to realize that while he should strive to comprehend everything - he needs to accept that the goal in unattainable.

Sefer HaIkkarim (4:14): Since we have explained that G d’s judgments are correct without imperfection concerning both the suffering of the tzadik and the pleasure of the wicked, it is necessary to explain the complaints of the prophets and sages concerning this? We see (Berachos 7a) that even Moshe Rabbeinu was bothered by this issue when he asked Please show me Your way so that I can know You. Job complained about this. Assaf (Tehilim 73:2–3; 73:13) stated that because of this issue he almost became a heretic. Yirmiyahu (12:1) asked Why are the wicked successful? Chavakuk (1:13) asked Why do You tolerate those who deal treacherously and keep silent when the wicked swallows up the man who is more righteous than he? Chavakuk (1:4) The wicked surround the righteous and therefore justice comes out perverted. Malachi (2:17): You have wearied G d with your words: Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of G d and He delights in them… Malachi (3:17) those who work wickedness are built up and those who tempt G d - escape. Koheles (8:14) There is a nonsensical thing which is done on the earth that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. There are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. There are many more additional examples found in the words of the prophets. Obviously this matter requires explanation…

Rav Yonason Eibschuetz (Ya’aros Devash 1:10): There are two types of calamities. The first comes from G d and appears bad but in fact it is absolutely good. Its start is difficult but it ends up sweet because its purpose is to cleanse a person from sin. That is because nothing bad ever comes from Heaven. This is what our sages (Berachos 5a) describe as “suffering from love” and “all those that G d loves He chastises.” The second type of calamity is the result of G d removing His Providence and thus leaving the person unprotected from harm - both from the astrological influences and the forces of nature. This resulting multitude of bad is in fact absolutely bad because G d removed His protection and no “suffering from love” results from accident. This second category - because of our many sins - is the source of much of Jewish suffering. It is described in the Torah (Vayikra 26:23–24): If you go with Me incidentally I will also go with you in an incidental manner. That means that if they view misfortune - not as a warning to repent from G d - but rather as an accident then G d will in fact leave them to the vicissitude of nature and mazel. Then they will in fact suffer randomly and thus all their misfortune will be bad. This is especially relevant for Jews since according to the astrological forces they could be destroyed - Heaven forbid - since they are descendants of Avraham. Avraham according to the astrological forces should never have had children and his children resulted only because G d lifted him beyond their influence. Thus in the realm of nature and mazel the Jews have no right to exist and therefore when they are left to these forces they have terrible suffering.

Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #118): To conclude the topic of suffering: It is proper for a person who experienced any mishap or calamity to believe that it is the result of his sins. He should repent for the sins that he is aware of and should confess in general for those he doesn’t remember… If he sees a tzadik who dies as a tzadik, he should try to attribute it to the small number of sins that he committed. Similar one should assume that the tranquility of a wicked person is the result of some good deeds he might have done. If that explanation is not satisfactory because of the apparent greatness of the tzadik his outstanding merit, total freedom from sin and pure heart then he should realize that this is not readily answered about another person…. He should assume however that ultimately the righteous person will be justly rewarded for his righteousness…or that it involves the secret of transmigration of souls… In any case he should believe that there is righteousness, goodness and correct judgment in G d’s decisions - even though it might be concealed from him…. All of this is appropriate for every intelligent person to think about in order to understand how G d runs the world and His goodness with all His creatures. It is also critical that everyone understand the need to accept chastisement in the form of suffering. Nevertheless after saying all this, the question of why the righteous suffer still remains because we lack the ability to see events in its full context. In addition we typically don’t investigate the facts fully. We simply focus on the question of how this person got what he deserved in light of the fact that G d gives everyone what he deserves. In fact we see tzadikim who are killed while studying Torah or while they are fasting and praying with great fervor. Some people are born without organs and limbs. Some die before the age of 20 and yet were tzadikim who devoted their short lives to studying Torah and doing mitzvos. How could they deserve the punishment to die at the hand of Heaven which isn’t applicable until after the age of 20?… The suffering of the righteous Job is another case which is difficult to understand. So is the story of Rabbi Akiva whose Torah was so great and yet died in such a horrible way. Much more common are the cases of the wicked who enjoy peace and prosperity. Nevertheless the validity of the problem of suffering of the righteous and the peace of the wicked is independent upon whether it is rare or common. Our concern is not with man per se…but our questions are directed to G d whose deeds are just without any failing. 

Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #120 chapter 6): In conclusion a person should believe that all mishaps and calamities are the consequence of sin and transgression. He should repent on those sins that he knows about and those that he has forgotten about or wasn’t aware of, he should make a general confession. If he sees a tzadik suffering in spite of his righteousness he should assume it is because of the few sins that he has done. Similarly when he sees a wicked person have a pleasant life, he should ascribe it to the few good deeds that he has done…. Nevertheless, whether he knows or doesn’t know - it is necessary to accept that everything that G d does is absolutely just and merciful - even though the justice and mercy might be hidden. You may ask us that since there is an element that is hidden in divine judgment and consequently that it is necessary to believe in His justice as the True Judge - why do you trouble us and require us to learn the various explanations of why the righteous suffer? Why not just simply rely totally on this principle that G d is inherently righteous and therefore it is impossible that He commit an injustice - either on purpose or by inattention? The answer to this question is that this assertion that we should simply believe that G d’s actions are righteous - without trying to understand how - is the view of fools that despise wisdom. We in fact greatly benefit by learning the various explanations because this is wisdom which helps us become wise men. By this endeavor we also increase our knowledge of G d through understanding His conduct and deeds. Furthermore we will have faith and have trust in our faith - in both the known and the concealed matters - more than other people. That is because we in fact learn about the nature of the concealed matters from that which is knowable. This intellectual involvement leads us to know the righteousness of Divine Judgment and the justness of His Law. Thus it is the obligation of everyone who worships G d from love and fear to search his mind to justify G d’s justice and to validate His decisions the limit of his ability. The explanations, of course, need to be based upon the approach of our Sages as we have already explained. Consequently he will have peace of mind concerning these issues by validating the judgment of G d to the best of his ability. He will then be able to generalize from what he knows to that which he can’t comprehend - especially with the secret that was mentioned previously. He will find that he no longer has any doubts and questions. On the other hand, even if he doesn’t want to go through all this analysis it is legitimate just to accept that whatever G d does is just.

Shem Tov (Moreh Nevuchim 3:17): …However the only thing that is true beyond question is that whatever G d does to us is totally exact and just so that nothing should be added or subtracted from it... Therefore we must exclude from consideration the suffering of the tzadik and the pleasure of the wicked which are solely the result of natural processes or the free will of other people. In fact the majority of evil that happens to a person is the result of his free will and his great lust [and is not from G d]… In addition everything that happens to a person will be subject to review and judgment either in this world or the World to Come and compensation and adjustments will be made. This attitude of compensation for undeserved suffering removes more doubt and confusion than the attitude that everything that happens to a person is totally deserved. As it says in Mishlei(17:15): It is an abomination to G d to justify the wicked and blame the righteous… It is important to fully understand this…

Ramban (Koheles): The truth is that the words of Elihu to Job were ideas that were received by tradition from men of the Torah. Therefore when it says that Elihu was descended from ’the family of Ram” - it is a reference to Avraham. Therefore the principle that is proper to believe is that there is no death without sin and no suffering without transgression [Shabbos 55a]. A person should not assume that he is righteous but should carefully examine his deeds and repent for those sins he is aware of and he should confess about the sins he is not aware of. He should believe that this principle of our sages is true and that G d conducts His world with this principle. Don’t try to refute my assertions with the concept of Suffering of Love that is mentioned by our sages. However in addition to this basic principle that suffering is the result of sin there is in addition a great secret which is impossible to know without kabbala - [i.e. reincarnation]. It is a very clear answer which removes all intellectual doubts. This solution which Elihu offers is alluded to in Tehilim (73:20) and is hinted in the words of Shlomo (Koheles 8:17)..... 

Santos ‘Bestie’ Is Far-Right Activist Tied to Disgraced Albanian Prime Minister


The woman Rep. George Santos called his “best friend” is a Republican fundraiser and conspiracy-theory spreader who spent years promoting an Albanian politician barred from entering the United States for corruption—work that raised concerns among legal and ethics experts who spoke with The Daily Beast.

In the space of two election cycles, Evi Kokalari—who sometimes uses her ex-husband’s surname Angelakis—went from a small-time Queens real estate broker whose dabbling in politics never extended beyond a couple gifts to local campaigns, to a jet-setting Republican operative who hosted events for Santos and GOP luminaries including former Rep. Lee Zeldin and Trump acting intelligence director Ric Grenell.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Woman not happy with Rabbinic ruling

 Gittin (35a) A certain woman appealed to Rabbah son of R. Huna [to enforce payment of her kethubah]. He said to her: What can I do for you seeing that Rab would not enforce payment of a kethubah and my father also would not enforce payment of a kethubah to a widow? She said to him: At least grant me maintenance. He replied: You are not entitled to maintenance either, since Rab Judah has said in the name of Samuel: If a woman claims her kethubah in the Beth din, she has no claim to maintenance. She said to him: Turn his seat upside down! [May he be humiliated (Rashi)] —He gives me the worst of both authorities. They turned his seat over and put it straight again, but even so he did not escape an illness. 

Benefits of having a Rebbe

 Tanis (23b) R. Mani used often to attend the discourses of R. Isaac b. Eliashab and he complained: The rich members of the family of my father-in-law are annoying me. The latter exclaimed: May they become poor! And they became poor. Later on R. Mani complained: They press me for support and R. Isaac exclaimed: Let them become rich! And they became rich. On another occasion he complained: My wife is no longer acceptable to me. R. Isaac thereupon asked: What is her name? He replied: Hannah. Whereupon R. Isaac exclaimed: May Hannah become beautiful! And she became beautiful. He then complained: She is too domineering over me. Whereupon R. Isaac exclaimed: If that is so, let Hannah revert to her former ugliness! And she became once again ugly.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Angel is a name of the Shechinah

 Zohar (3:187a) “The angel which hath redeemed me from all evil bless the lads” (Gen. XLVIII, 16). ‘These words’, he said, ‘were uttered by Jacob in the spirit of holiness, and therefore they must contain some mystery of wisdom.”Angel” is here one of the names of the Shekinah, applied to her when she is a messenger from on high and receives radiance from the supernal mirror, for then she is blessed by the Father and Mother, who say to her: Daughter, go, mind thy house, attend to thy house; go and feed them, go to the lower world where thy household wait for sustenance from thee; here is all which they require. Then she is “angel”. True, she is in many places called “angel” when she does not come to give sustenance to worlds, and further she gives sustenance not in this name but in that of “the Lord”. She is, however, called “angel” when she is sent by the Father and Mother, and “Lord” when she rests on the two Cherubim. When she first appeared to Moses she was called “angel”, but to Jacob she appeared only under the figure of Rachel, as it is written, “And Rachel came with the sheep”.

Leifer held victim’s family problems over her head to discourage outcry, court told


In opening statement, Australian prosecutor says former Haredi school principal told student she’d ‘tell everyone’ about her issues at home if girl disclosed Leifer’s abuse

Science is better than politics


The reason I seek a higher intelligence in outer space is because I do not find it on Earth. To paraphrase on John F. Kennedy’s “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech: We choose to find our interstellar partners not in order to get more likes on social media, but to claim our status in the class of intelligent civilizations within the Milky Way.

Notorious missionaries have moved to Israel after being exposed in the United States.


Two weeks ago, a family calling themselves "Isaacson" arrived in Jerusalem from the United States and settled in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot. This would be an unremarkable piece of news, were it not for the fact that the "Isaacsons," who dress in traditional haredi clothing, are in fact not Jewish at all. Worse still, they are missionaries.



At a wedding some years ago, Rabbi Rosenes asked his rosh yeshivah from ITRI, Rav Shlomo Fisher, if computers are not a “maaseh Satan,” something created for the service of evil. Rav Fisher’s answer shocked him.

“There is no such thing as a maaseh Satan,” Rav Fisher replied. “Computers and cell phones and Internet and all of the technology that is driving the world towards distraction are all only a golem. If we choose to use it for good, Hashem helps us. And if we choose to use it for bad, Hashem helps us.”

אבי הכלה ביטל את השידוך: "ספק נכרי"


רב מחלקת הנישואין סיפר כי בבירור שהתבקש לערוך אחר שורשיו של בחור ישיבה חרדי עלה ספק באשר ליהדותו והשידוך בוטל.

New allegations about another covert Messianic Christian missionary


Timothy Buckles has allegedly sought to infiltrate Orthodox synagogues in the US, and posed as Jewish in Jerusalem where he lives and works

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Why Did Einstein Promote the Talmud When He Couldn’t Read It?


The scientific organization and comprehensive exposition in accessible form of the Talmud has a twofold importance for us Jews. It is important in the first place that the high cultural values of the Talmud should not be lost to modern minds among the Jewish people nor to science, but should operate further as a living force. In the second place, the Talmud must be made an open book to the world, in order to cut the ground from under certain malevolent attacks, of anti-Semitic origin, which borrow countenance from the obscurity and inaccessibility of certain passages in the Talmud.

After helping prince’s rise, Trump and Kushner benefit from Saudi funds


Democrats who have launched congressional investigations into Trump’s and Kushner’s ties to Saudi Arabia said there is no precedent for how the two have relied so significantly on Saudi investments in their businesses after directly helping Mohammed while in office. The lawmakers expressed concern that such business ties could leave them beholden to the crown prince if they return to the White House.

Trump Laptop Reports Spur Calls for Republicans to Hold New Hearing


Meanwhile, social media personality Brian Krassenstein tweeted: "'Accuse your opponent of what you are guilty of...' For the last 3 years we have been hearing about Hunter Biden's 'laptop from hell'. The real laptop from hell could be the #TrumpLaptop in which classified documents were copied onto and found at Mar-a-lago. THAT IS A CRIME!"

Congresswoman claims to be Jewish, revealed to be granddaughter of Nazi - report


Florida Republican congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna was outed by The Washington Post on Friday for lying about her Jewish heritage in a previous interview with the Jewish Insider in November 2022. 

Not only is Luna almost certainly not Jewish, but also according to several family members, reports the Washington Post, Luna's paternal grandfather Heinrich Mayerhofer, who died in 2003, served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany when he was a teenager in the 1940s.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

מיסיונרים מחופשים לחרדים פועלים בלב ירושלים


הרב טוביה סינגר שנאבק בהתבוללות, משוחח עם ללי דרעי על תופעה של אנשים המתחזים לחסידים ומנסים לשכנע יהודים להתנצר