Thursday, August 31, 2023

Belief required that Rashbi wrote Zohar? - Prof Marc Shapiro

Dr. Marc Shapiro just notified me of two article he wrote regarding the Zohar. One for Seforim Blog  Seforim Blog  as well as a well researched article which he said I could publish here. They address the issues of what is known about the history  and authority of the Zohar as well as whether it is required to believe that the Zohar was written by the Rashbi.

Concerning the Zohar and Other Matters

In the article I cited Bruriah Hutner-David who brings the following proof that R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes rejected the traditional authorship of the Zohar: In order to show that the Targum to Ecclesiastes should be dated to the geonic period, Chajes notes that while the angel Raziel is mentioned in this Targum, he is not mentioned in talmudic literature. Hutner-David notes that Raziel is mentioned in the Zohar, a fact that Chajes was presumably aware of, meaning that he was hinting that the Zohar is also a late work.

This is important information, as Emden confesses that his attack against the Zohar was only designed to pull the wool out from under the Sabbatians, whose ideology was linked to the Zohar. The man who wrote to Or Torah, not knowing anything about Rosenberg, asked for help from the readers. He tried to locate the book Tzur Devash quoted by Rosenberg, but was unable.

the following paragraph  appears in an essay by R. Aryeh Kaplan

One of the first things I discovered was that it was written some 20 years after Rabbi Yitzchok investigated the Zohar. He openly, and clearly and unambiguously states that the Zohar was written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. This is something not known to historians, and this is the first time I am discussing it in a public forum. But the fact is that the one person who is historically known to have investigated the authenticity of the Zohar at the time it was first published, unambiguously came to the conclusion that it was an ancient work written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

Scientists Find There's Usually a Telltale Sign the Day Before a Heart Attack

Women tend to have shortness of breath, while men experience chest pain, according to the researchers who published their findings in the journal Lancet Digital Health.

Judge decries Trump’s reference to Scottsboro Boys case during federal court proceedings

Retired California Superior Court Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell told CNN that comparing the Scottsboro Boys case to Trump’s was “stunningly stupid” and “ridiculous.”

“If you want to alienate a judge in the case, this was exactly what to do,” he added, the network reported. “A female judge, a Black judge, and to talk about that case and compare it to Trump’s case was absurd.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Authority - Making up sources

One of the major problems of relying on authorities is the problem of false or made up sources

The Chasam Sofer once had a problem of a local rabbi making claims which he said falsely in the name of the Chasam Sofer

The Chasam Sofer said to him, "I dont care if you cite my views in your name but I do mind if you say your views in my name."

Rav Hillel Zacks (Grandson of Chofets Chaim said most stories about the Chofetz Chaim are not true.

Rav Moshe complained about things falsely attributed to him. In fact one of the main consequences of my Yad Moshe index was the increased accuracy of citations by Rabbis.

Igros Moshe (OH 4: 31 page 46)

"Many things are said in my name that I didn't say"

The Satmar Rebbe opposed the creation of Chassidic tales to reinforce views of Theology and halacha

As noted elsewhere stories are made up about famous Rabbis to "prove" certain views.

Pesachim (112a): [R’ Akiva told R’ Shimon bar Yochai]: If you want to be strangled be hanged on a tall tree.

Rashi (Pesachim 112a): Be hanged on a tall tree - ascribe your views to a great authority

Stories of gedolim are often fabricated for inspiration

 Originally published 6/14 - relevant to the current discussion of the Chofetz Chaim's Dybuk.

Rav Hillel Zaks (Mishpacha – "Living the Legend" page 55 June 2, 2014): Rebbetzin Faiga Chaya Zaks was once quoted as having said that 85 percent of the stories told about her father aren't reliable. In response, Rav Hillel and his brother Rav Yaakov Yehoshua asked, "How could di Mamme have said that? It's surely over 90 percent?!" 

In the family, the biography written by Rav Moshe Meir Yoshor is considered the most reliable of all that's been written about the Chofetz Chaim, in part because it was done during his lifetime. Reb Yisroel Meir once left a certain work on the Chofetz Chaim on the table just to see Rav Hillel's reaction to it. 

"You know, the writer of this book is afraid to face me," Rav Hillel remarked. 

"What's wrong with it?" Reb Yisroel Meir's wife asked. 

"Let me show you," said Rav Hillel. Opening to a random page, he read out loud a story about a Radin bochur who went to take leave of the Chofetz Chaim before going home, The Chofetz Chaim looked at him and said, "Is that the way a ben Torah looks when he goes home?" At that, he went into the back and came out with a jacket to replace the torn one the bochur was wearing. 

"Now, what do you think," Rav Hillel said. "The Chofetz Chaim had a rack of clothes in the back and said, 'You know, you look like a 45 regular'? The only part of the story that could be true is that somebody came in to say goodbye to him." 

Twenty-two years ago, Rav Hillel, Rav Yaakov Yehoshua, and Rav Yisroel Meir sat shivah in Yerushalayim for their mother. A visitor sat down in the front and said, "I know for certain that the Chofetz Chaim had a ramp in his house, which he'd practice running up and down in anticipation of the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash." 

Just then, the brothers heard someone in the back of the room say with obvious dry humor, "Mir dacht zich az der salon fun der Chofetz Chaim iz nit gevehn azoy groys ... [I don't think the Chofetz Chaim's living room was that big]." 

It was the voice of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik.
======== update  6/20/2014
Rav Nosson Kaminetsky (Making of a Godol page xx):  (In composing this book, I have generally accepted as authentic stories about earlier generations even when they were not conveyed by my father or some other unusually reliable individual. I was reluctant, of course, to rely on reports that emanated from people whom I considered unable to judge events properly, but I did not suspect anyone of prevaricating intentionally. Similarly, unless the writer was blatantly' tendentious, I assumed that printed facts were credible. (I have this faith in people despite a report by R' Velvel Kercerg that Rebbitzen Feigel Zaks, the Chafetz-Chaim's youngest daughter, told him, "Eighty percent of what they tell about [my father] is not true." I cannot help but assume that in order to bring out bluntly the idea that not everything told about R' Yisrael-Meir Kagan, author of Chafetz Chaim, is true, his daughter exaggerated the percentage of untruths.)

Rav Nosson Kaminetsky(Making of a Godol page xxv):
R' Mordkhai Schwab, however, had a negative view of "storytelling" when he told me, "The Satmarer Rav, R' Yoilish Teitelbaum, never told stories because he said, 'You cannot educate through lies - sheker].'" R' Mordkhai agreed with R' Yoilish in reference to stories intended to glorify their principals while dehumanizing them. R' Yoilish echoed a statement by R' Yehoshua'-Yoseph Preil, Rav of the Lithuanian town of Krok. In a 5656 (1896) review of Toldos Yisroel of Zev Ya'avetz, published a year earlier in Warsaw, R' Preil set down the following ethic: "To create stories that never happened and present them as facts for the sake of teaching morals - woe is to the musar precept built on as brittle a foundation as a lie! '' Even hasidim, the celebrated story tellers who are more suspect than others in creating legends about their leaders (from whom the Satmarer Rav was evidently trying to distance himself by his statement), are careful in separating fact from fiction. I was told by R' Shimon Deutchy that he had asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R' Menahem-Mendel Schneerson, whether when writing about the arrest and release of his father-in-law, R' Yoseph-Yitzhaq Schneerson, he should mention or omit the fact that R' Yoseph-Yitzhaq's secretary, R' Hayyim Lieberman, was arrested and released with him. (R' Lieberman was opposed to R' Menahem-Mendel's ascendancy to the Lubavitch throne and did not recognize him as Rebbe after he assumed the position.) R' Menahem-Mendel responded, "History must be written   [true to its truth]" - and explained his redundancy: "This includes not polishing up any word.  Also Pulmus HaMussar  (The Musar Controversy), a book about the dispute in the late 5650's (1890's) in which most of the great Torah figures came out publicly against the Musar movement. The author, Musar adherent R' Dov Katz, tells how "many opinions were heard" by him "that we should avoid the entire affair "; but "several Musar personalities" including R' Yehiel-Yankev Weinberg and R' Hatzqel Sarna insisted not only that he should write about the controversy, but - as R' Sarna put it - that "he set down in writing the full affair without omitting any detail, be what it may." 

Today books are our true teachers - not people

Steipler (Piskei Teshuvos vol 4 age 435:): ...In Orchos Rabbeinu (2:112) the Steipler is quoted as saying that the mitzva of greeting one’s teacher on Yom Tov is only relevant at a time when the Torah was learned orally and the student had acquired most of his Torah learning from his teacher. However in modern times since people learn Torah from gemora and other seforim – the concept of a master teacher is not relevant and therefore there is no obligation to great one’s teacher on Yom Tov. This that a person acquires a method of learning does not give his teacher a special status because it is possible for him to acquire this on his own. Furthermore who knows if the method he was taught was true. There is no obligation to greet a teacher who is not a master teacher on Yom Tov. This that we learn the halacha from the Shunamite woman because she greeted Elisha on Yom Tov - even though it is not relevant that say that he was her master teacher – is because Elisha was the teacher of all Jews and therefore everyone was required to greet him.

Dan l'chaf zechus - What is the obligation to judge favorably?

update - point 5 Chofetz Chaim

One of the major issues when making decisions about other people is the well known principle of dan l'chaf zechus (to judge people favorably). What does that mean and what are the parameters. In this post - I will gradually add up the elements to give a full picture of what is involved. 

1) Firstly what is the source of this principle? While it does state the principle in Avos (1:6) "Appoint a teacher for yourself, acquire a companion and judge all men favorably" - this is not the source of the principle - but it seems to be advice. The actual source of the principle is learned in Shevuos (30a) from Vayikra (19:15) - the verse immediately preceding the prohibition of lashon harah. The end of the verse says "With righteousness you shall judge others" 
Shevuos (30a): Our Rabbis taught: In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour: that one should not sit, and the other stand; one speak all that he wishes, and the other bidden to be brief. Another interpretation: In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour: judge thy neighbour in the scale of merit.
2) There is an obvious problem - as Rav S. R. Hirsch points out. If this verse is referring to judgment in court - it is not dealing with interpersonal relationships. And yet the gemora seems to learn both from the same verse!

The Meiri seems to be the only one who simply says that the verse is about beis din and dan lchaf zechus is merely an asmachta.
Meiri (Shavuos 30b): Even though the majority of what I have written are laws learned directly from the Vayikra (19:15) "b'tzedek tisphot amisecha" [which are laws of beis din] there is also something which is learned indirectly from this verse by asmachta and allusions. That is the principle that a person should judge others favorably giving them the benefit of the doubt (l'kaf zecus) when the case can legitimately be understood in two opposing ways and the only way to decide between them is to rely on what is reasonable. ...
3) The next question is what exactly are the details? The Rambam makes a number of  different statements. For example he clearly indicates it is a desirable personality trait - but not a mitzva in these two places where he doesn't mention an obligation.
Rambam(Sefer haMitzvos 177):... Aside from the laws dealing with beis din, it is also learned from this verse of B'Tzedek that it is proper to judge his fellow man as innocent and not to understand his deeds and words other than being good.
Rambam(Hilchos De'os 5:7):A talmid chachom should have the midos that he does not scream and yell when he is talking to other like a bull or wild animal....and he should judge all men as being innocent and speak of their praise and not degrade them at all. He should love peace and pursue peace...
 However in Avos he makes distinctions based on the type of person - it is no longer "all men"- but judgments of innocence are an act of piety - not obligation. He does however omit the average person and lists 1) unknown person 2) tzadik 3) rasha.
Rambam(Avos 1:6): Judge all people as innocent. This means that if there is a man that you don't know whether he is righteous or wicked and you see him do something or say something that can be interpreted either as good or bad – you should understand it as good and not bad. However if you know the person to be an established tzadik and his deeds are good and he apparently does something that is bad and only by using a far fetched explanation can it be justified – then it is proper to assume that in fact it was good and do not suspect him of evil.... On the other hand a person well established as evil then it is best to avoid such a person and not to believe he is capable of doing anything good – if there is anyway of interpreting it as evil behavior. So if the person is not known to you and his deeds have not been determined to be good or bad – then it is necessary as an act of piety to judge him favorably.
However here in Mishneh Torah the Rambam again states all people
Rambam(Sanhedrin 23:10): When litigants are before the beis din they should be viewed as wicked and with the presumption that both sides are lying and judgments should be based on what seems correct. However when the trial is over and the litigants leave beis din they should be viewed by the judges as righteous people since they have accepted the judgmet of the court. And all people should be judged as innocent.
It would thus seem that the Rambam views dan l'chaf zechus as a principle of midos rather than halachic obligation.

That apparently is the view also of Rabbeinu Yonah for the average person. Viewing the tzadik as innoncent, however, is obligatory unless the evidence is unequivocal.

Rabbeinu Yonah(Shaarei Teshuva 3:218): A person who says something or does something and it is possible to judge his words or his actions either as being good or bad. If he is a G-d fearing man then truth demands that he be judged favorably even if his words or actions are reasonably closer and inclined to being bad.
And if he is of the average class of men, who guard themselves from sinning, but who occasionally succumb. then it is appropriate to cast aside the doubt and decide in favor of his worthiness. As our Sages of blessed memory have said, "One who adjudges his friend as worthy will himself be adjudged worthy by God" (Shabbath 127b). This is a positive commandment of the Torah, as it is said, "In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor" (Leviticus 19: 15). And if the deed points to the side of incrimination, let it be doubtful in your eyes, and do not decide it in favor of incrimination.
But if most of the man's deeds are evil. or if you have established that the fear of God is not present in his heart. incline his deeds and his words to the side of incrimination. as it is said, "The righteous one considereth the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked to their ruin" (Proverbs 21 : 12). We have already interpreted this verse.
Thus it is only for the gadol/tzadik/talmid chachom is one obliged to believe - even reasonable - not not conclusive evidence of wrong doing.

4) However many poskim say that we don't have such people in our times. This is discussed by Minchas Yitzchok (3:112) and stated clearly by the Chavis Ya'ir (#62) and others.

5) All of the above however is only if no one might be hurt be assuming innocence. What is the halacha if there is a possibility of assuming innocence or assuming  that the person did teshuva - but if that judgment is mistaken someone might be hurt?  Clearly it changes the priorities.
Rabbi Dovid Castle [To Live among Friends] notes (page 790) If a teacher was caught child molesting, you should not give him the benefit of the doubt and decide that he probably will not do it anymore. That would be at the expense of others. Similarly if  someone has a history of violent behavior or mental illness, when it comes to shidduchim, you may not hide such information and give him the benefit of the doubt about his future behavior. If someone is suspected of swindling people you should not give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest to someone else to go into business with him. We should not over-emphasize our obligation not to speak lashon hara in situations where we are obliged to speak.
7) Chofetz Chaim strongly disagrees that dan lchaf zechus is only midos chassidus for the average person. He says that is a misunderstanding of the Rambam. Problem is that if the Rambam (Avos 1:6) is talking about the case of an unknown person which is midos chassidus - why doesn't the Rambam mention the normal case? Furthermore Rabbeinu Yonah's language also indicates  that it is midos chassidus for the average person - while he says it is a Torah obligation only for the Tzadik.
Chofetz Chaim  (Essen 3 Be'er Mayim Chaim 3): My good reader, don't try to refute my understanding by saying that the Rambam definitely disagreed with Rabbeinu Yonah, the Semag and the Semaj – and  held that "judging favorably" is only a proper personality trait but not a Torah mitzva. Don't insist that the Rambam held that judging favorably is only a good personality trait and not a Torah obligation based on the fact that the Rambam wrote at the end of his comment to Avos (1:6) that it was only midos chassidus (piety). That is in fact a mistaken understanding of the Rambam's view. The Rambam (Avos 1:6) there is only referring to the case where it is unknown whether the person is righteous or evil. In such a case it is clear that I have no obligation from the Torah to judge him favorably and if I do so it is only a good personality trait – not a Torah obligation. This also explains the Rambam (Hilchos De'os 5:7) where he says it is one of the characteristics of the talmid chachom to judge favorably. The clear inference is that is only a sign of good personality and is not obligatory. But the answer is that (Hilchos De'os 5:7) is also only describing the case of an unknown person.

In the text of the Chofetz Chaim (Essen 3) I quoted the language of Avos (1:6) "Judge everyone favorably" which seems to mean that everyone – even those who are strangers. In fact however it is only a Torah obligation in the case where we know the person is not evil but is an average person.  Proof for this understanding comes from the Rambam himself in Sefer HaMitzvos (177) who explicitly states, "Included in this verse (Yakira 19:15) is also the obligation to judge his friends (chaver) favorably. The clear implication of the word "obligation" is that we are dealing with the case when all men are obligated in this mitzva (not just talmidei chachomim) - since the 613 mitzvos the Rambam is describing applies to all Jews. We can see that our explanation is true from the Rambam in Avos (1:6) and in Hilchos De'os (5:7), that we mentioned above which mentions midos, simply says to "judge all men favorably"   - even if they are strangers. In contrast Shavuos (30a) and Sefer Mitzvos (177) which are describing the Torah obligation of the verse "With righteousness judge your fellow" say "judge your friends favorably". The word "friends" implies that you recognize that he isn't a wicked person.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

"ג'ק סגל" במעצר: ריאיון המתלוננת נגד הרב החרדי שהתחזה ותקף נשים

Clarification of R. Ovadiah Yosef's position

Today Kevod Torato ha-Rav critiqued Rav Gestetner regarding ma'eese alai (in a reprint from several years ago) at . However, I feel that, be-mechilat Kevod Torat'kha, this critique contains a misrepresentation of R. Ovadiah Yosef, a misrepresentation that originates with R. Michael Broyde at , text accompanying footnote 27. For there, Rabbi Broyde claims that R. Ovadiah Yosef, Teshuvot Yabi'a Omer, III, Even ha-Ezer nos. 18-20 allows coercion of the husband in many cases of ma'eese alai. No, unfortunately, with all due respect to Rabbi Broyde, that is a serious misreading of Yabi'a Omer. To understand this better, please see footnote 39 and accompanying text of my prenup essay at . Namely, as I elucidate there, Yabi'a Omer is addressing an extremely narrow case of a Yemenite lady who was forced under threat of physical violence to accept kiddushin from her Yemenite "groom", and soon after this charade-of-a-wedding, she ran away. So, the whole marriage never halakhically took place altogether [for a lady can only receive kiddushin by her free consent, as per the Gemara, Kiddushin 2b]. Still, rather than let the lady walk out without a get [which me-ikar ha-din would be the halakhah], Yabi'a Omer is a little extra-machamir to say "you're both Yemenites, so even according to the so-called groom who claims that a marriage took place [which it really did not], the groom should also accept to be punished with jail as the Rambam holds is appropriate until he writes a get." Now what happened? Rabbi Broyde saw this teshuvah and distorted it (be-mechilat Kevod Torato) as communicating "the Yabi'a Omer allows coercing husbands in many cases of ma'eese alai". So while Rabbi J. David Bleich [in his repudiation of Rabbi Broyde at ] did not specifically respond to this distortion of Rabbi Broyde, I do respond to this distortion in my prenup essay [so as to illustrate that Rabbi Bleich's repudiation of Rabbi Broyde is correct], and I point out that two volumes later, in Teshuvot Yabi'a Omer, V, Even ha-Ezer no. 14, R. Ovadiah Yosef forbids charging mezonot to a recalcitrant husband even in a case of ma'eese alai, since that would constitute coercion. [So, evidently, the general approach of R. Ovadiah Yosef is to forbid coercion (whether incarceration or financial) in a case of ma'eese alai, with the Yemenite groom from two volumes earlier representing a special exception that has no bearing on any case that would ever arise in New York state.] I feel that Kevod Torato ha-Rav must correct this for the sake of halakhic honesty.
Thank you,
Shalom C. Spira

Monday, August 28, 2023

Malka Leifer sentenced to 15 years in prison

Malka Leifer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, with a non-parole period of eleven-and-a-half years. With time already served being taken into account, she could be released in 2029.

Who is the mysterious ‘Jake Segal,’ who tricked women into sex?

“Jake Segal” is the alter ego of Rabbi Yosef Paryzer. Paryzer is a foreign citizen in his 30s who worked at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim as a lecturer for first-year students. The Anglo-centric yeshiva reportedly fired Paryzer upon hearing the news about him and removed his profile from their website. His short biography described him as in “high demand from other yeshivos” and as an alumnus of New York’s Yeshiva Darchei Torah and Jerusalem’s Yeshiva Kodshim.

House Republicans barrel toward Biden impeachment inquiry — but some hesitate

“I think before we move on to [an] impeachment inquiry, we should … there should be a direct link to the president in some evidence,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Hill in an interview. “We should have some clear evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor, not just assuming there may be one. I think we need to have more concrete evidence to go down that path.”

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Request for guest posts

Anyone interested in writing a guest post about my blog that I would include in my selected posts book? 

Critical constructive comments are also welcome!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Haredi students receiving degrees, entering workforce, in droves

The percentage in haredi society of those who officially work has reached a record high of 55.8%

Removing Mention of Michael Hersh/Hirsch


At this time I believe I have removed all previous posts and comments dealing with Michael Hersh/Hirsch  from this blog - because of what has been alleged are legal requirements and consequences. 

I will be providing more details in the near future regarding someone going to the Israeli police and filing a criminal complaint against me - without first going to beis din. Rav Moshe Sternbuch told me this approach is clearly against the halacha so I find it impossible to believe that Rav Aaron Schechter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin has given his approval.

Furthermore it is not clear how removing this material from my blog changes anything. The material which I just deleted from by blog is readily available elsewhere on the internet with a simple Google search e.g., The Jewish Star  which summarizes the history of the case  from different viewpoints and  Guardian/BBC1     Guardian/BBC 2   which explains the nature of Tranquility Bay treatment center. Even the official court papers of the lawsuit Hersh filed are readily available by clicking this link - Kings County court papers

 I am now in the process of reviewing my legal options as well as my priorities. 

Aftermath of rescue: boy’s father sues

A Brooklyn father who sent his son to an abusive boot camp for delinquents in the Caribbean is suing a Far Rockaway couple and 30 others for $411 million, claiming they destroyed his reputation. The lawsuit has the blessing of Rav Aharon Schechter, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, according to a lawyer for the main defendant.

The main defendants in the suit are Michael Hersh’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth Rebecca Cohen and her husband Raphael Cohen, both of Far Rockaway. The lawsuit accuses them of masterminding an international “pernicious and malicious campaign of harassment” against the Hersh parents. This was done, the suit claims, for Rebecca to “feed her own deranged view of life and intense jealousy of her sister, Plaintiff Miriam Hersh.”

Other named defendants include Tzvi Gluck, several families that housed Isaac and his twin brother Shlomo, and the administrators of a Facebook group that sought to have Isaac freed from Tranquility Bay. The suit also lists the anonymous bloggers behind the Vos Iz Neias news aggregation website, Shmarya Rosenberg of the blog Failed Messiah, and 20 John Does. Lawyers representing Hersh have subpoenaed Dr. David Pelcovitz, Rabbi Avrohom Halpern of Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv, and companies like Microsoft, Google, AOL, and the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace, where some of the alleged defamation took place.

Tranquility Bay & the Google subpoena

The following is one of the key documents in the case behind the Google subpoena of this blog and others. It appeared in Jewish Press April 18, 2008

R' Nota Greenblatt denounces those who claim they have secret poskim with secret reasoning

Someone just showed me this letter from Rabbi Nota Greenblatt denouncing as an absurd joke those who claim that in a public matter they have received a heter from a secret posek with secret psak. This is rather amazing since he is claiming that Tamar Epstein was given a heter to remarry without a GET based on secret poskim and a secret heter!

Ort Case files



Regarding the claims in civil court, filed by Mrs. SORO ROCHEL, THE WIFE OF R. BRODERICK shlit”a, MEMBER OF THE KOLLEL IN DALLAS, in my area, against her father R. Avrohom Ort shlit”a who wishes to adjudicate in Bais Din according to the laws of the Torah. They are excusing themselves that they received permission to go to court from someone that is secret, and the reason for the permission is also secret.

But it is absolutely clear that such a critical question whether to adjudicate in the courts, which entails a CHILLUL HASHEM, as Rashi brings in the beginning of Parshas Mishpatim, is not a private shylah, pertaining only to the one making the claim, like a shylah in hilchos Shabbos or something similar. Especially in this country where it necessitates the one being sued to hire lawyers, which, as is well known, is almost an endless expense. and this in itself is A CAUSE OF GREAT MONETARY DAMAGE and surely a reliable Bais Din would not permit to adjudicate before the civil courts EXCEPT AFTER HEARING THE CLAIMS FROM BOTH SIDES, and then after great consideration WRITE THEIR OPINION.

And truthfully there is no need to elucidate on this because EVERYTHING THAT THEY ARE SAYING, THAT THEY HAVE A HETER, IS AN ABSURD JOKE, for if so, no one is left safe, for any claimant who feels that it is better for him to sue in court will say the same, and there need be no more Dinei Torah among the Jewish people chas v’sholom.


To this I have affixed my signature on the date above, here, Memphis, Tenn.

(Rabbi) Nota Tzvi, son of a.a.m.v. Horav Yitzchok Greenblatt

A tzadik is born because of a clothes line - and other false stories

[See updates below] [ See Couple has baby after 25 years]
Where does Jewish hashkofa come from? It is interesting to note that the Chovas HaLevavos says that the Sanhedrin did not deal with hashkofa questions because they can be known through seichel. In fact many hashkofa principles are learned from the proper study of medrashism and agada. However perhaps the most influential source of hashkofa are not seforim written by gedolim but rather stories about gedolim. Unfortunately as the Satmar Rebbe and others have pointed out - there is a problem of stories about gedolim actually being made up to teach hashkofa. The consequences of this is that not only did the events not happen as reported - but often the hashkofa being taught is distorted or is incorrect. But who can argue with frum "reality?"

I recently observed a heated debate between a couple regarding the necessity of being m'vatar ( of not pressing ones legitimate complaints but instead responding passively). The wife (ironically) insisted that it was obvious that one should not be aggressive in demanding one's rights from the following often told story - whose truth has been attested by many. She said triumphantly said, "It is clear from this story that the highest level of response is to be m'vatar. One should not strongly protest and defend one's rights - but simply grin and bear it - and G-d will reward you. If it hadn't been for this attitude of being m'vatar then not only would this woman not have a child - but the Jewish people would have been deprived of the tremendous zechus of having the gadol hador - Rav Eliashiv!"

This story is discussed in great detail in the biography of Rav Eliashiv and the author proves the story is inaccurate in describing the facts of Rav Eliashiv's life - who was not born in Jerusalem. [deletion]. Nonetheless it still is being taught in Beis Yaakovs and repeated by preachers of all types to prove a point. [see Yated editorial for a more detailed version] There's a well-known story of a Yerushalmi woman who'd spent hours washing sheets, stringing up lines, and hanging out her family's wash. A short time later, her upstairs neighbor came home and was annoyed at the lines that had been temporarily strung. Angrily, she cut them down, and the clean laundry fell onto the muddy ground. When the first woman later went to take in her wash, she was dismayed to discover a disaster -- all the clothes were dirty and would have to be rewashed. It was obvious to her exactly what had happened.
However, she said nothing; she took the muddy sheets back into her house and began the whole laborious washing process once again.
When her husband returned home, she made no mention of the afternoon's aggravation. But late that night, there was a frantic knocking at their door. There stood the upstairs neighbor, in tears. Her child had a sudden high fever, and she was asking forgiveness for the laundry incident. The husband, who had answered the door, was surprised to hear about the event. His wife immediately and wholeheartedly forgave the woman and wished her child a full and speedy recovery.
About a year later, this righteous woman gave birth to a special son -- Rabby Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who today is the leading rabbi in Jerusalem.

Update September 9, 2013: First of I agree with some of the comments that the problem with the story is not its historical inaccuracy. 1) It must have happened in Lithuania and not Jerusalem. 2) The claim that his mother was childless for 17 years is problematic because that means that his father got married when he was 13 years. 3) Some versions say that as a result of this incident her great kabbalist father – the Leshem – gave her a beracha. But it only worked because of she restrained her upset. Other versions don't mention any beracha.

Of greater concern is that fact that Rav Eliashiv didn't seem interested in talking about the obvious greatness of his mother expressed in the story – but he just noted that the story wrongly claimed that he was born in Jerusalem! [Contrary what I had originally posted – he didn't claim the story was false.]

However there is something else that bothers me greatly about this story - something which has touched upon in some other comments. My concern is the great weight to miraculous events - or even positive events -  that are brought as proofs that a certain hashkofa or halacha is correct because of some observed differential consequences. 

It is clear that the story is told to prove the desirability of not responding when someone provokes. The "proof" for this assertion is that a woman whose wash was ruined but she didn't react or even comment – was rewarded with a child after 17 years. Not just any child but the gadol hador!

But does it in fact prove such a view? Obviously not. There are many factors that have been responsible for providing the merit of having a child. We simply aren't prophets.  

But doesn't it at least clarify what the ideal response is? The answer again is no!
The Yated's version: With much emotion, she related the story. She explained that the cruel actions of her neighbor had been too much for her to handle in her already fragile state and she couldn’t calm down. But rather than react with angry words to her neighbor, she went inside her home to express her pain in private. She told him how she then went and redid the laundry, without making a machlokes or telling anyone. “The fact that you didn’t respond to her and prevented this from becoming a fight,” said the father, “will be the merit you need to be helped. Your great deed will grant you a child who will be great.”
In fact if a person is hurt or suffers material loss because of the intentional acts of another – it is important to give tochacha. A Torah command. Such incorrect behavior needs to corrected – in a responsible manner. Repressing anger and hurt causes a transgression of "hatred in your heart" which we are told is worse than if we had hit the aggressor. Being m'vatair obviously has its place – especially when there is no constructive response possible e.g., if it causes greater aggression and anger. But acting as if nothing has happened is often not the appropriate response. If we accept  the "lesson" of the story then parent's whose child has been abused should just accept it and go on with life. This story incorrectly teaches that turning the other cheek is the ideal. [see Yoma 23a and Rambam in the comments section]

Another example of this "evidence" based Judaism would be a person who claims that her son's cancer went into remission because she stopped wearing a sheitel. Or a husband's bipolar disorder improved because his wife became a Taliban lady. 

Bottom line is we don't posken based on "simonim" as implied in Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 179). This is explicitly stated in Bava Metzia (59b) which rejects the validity of proofs from the miracles that R' Eliezer brought to prove that the halacha was according to his view.

Update Sept 10, 2013 There is a flip side to this approach "evidence" based approach concerning negative experiences. I remember one morning going to a auto parts store in Far Rockaway and hearing the owner lament the fact that he had just become frum that week. "I was never robbed before I became religious."

A more direct statement of my concern for "evidence" based Judaism is a story I heard regarding Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky from his son-in-law - Rabbi Diskind.
1948 was believed to be a special time for Mosiach coming according to Kabbalistic sources. In Toronto there was a campaign of certain chassidim to get as many Jews to be Shomer Shabbos before Moshiach came. Rav Yaakov was consulted regarding a storekeeper who found the promises very tantalizing and was about to become Shomer Shabbos because of the chance that they might be true. Rav Yaakov's response was that they should stop pressuring the storekeeper to become observant. "Right now he is not observant but at least he is not an apikorus. When the year passes and Moshiach doesn't come he will not only stop being observant but will deliberately reject belief in Moshiach."

Friday, August 25, 2023

Avraham' and his descendants were punished

     Nedarim (32a) R. Abbahu said in R. Eleazar's name: Why was our Father Abraham punished and his children doomed to Egyptian servitude for two hundred and ten years? Because he pressed scholars into his service, as it is written, He armed his dedicated servants born in his own house. Samuel said: Because he went too far in testing the attributes [i.e., the promises] of the Lord, as it is written, [And he sand, Lord God,] whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? R. Johanan sand: Because he prevented men from entering beneath the wings of the Shechinah, as it is written, [And the king of Sodom said it to Abraham,] Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

Innovation in halacha

 Igros Moshe (Y.D. 01:101): My dear friend you ask how is it possible to rely on new views such as I have expressed, in particular when they are against certain achronim? Do you think that there is an end and limitation – G‑d forbid! – to Torah? Do you think that contemporary halachic decisors can only express the views that have previously been published? Do you feel that if a question comes up that has not been previously discussed and published in a book - that we should not issue an opinion - even though we understand the issue and are capable of expressing an opinion? In my humble opinion it is prohibited to say such a thing. There is no question that it is still possible for Torah to expand and develop even in our times. Therefore there is an obligation for all those who are competent to make halachic decisions, to rule on all matters that come to them to the best of their ability after solid research in the Talmud and poskim with the use of clear reasoning and proper proof. Even if this results in something new which has not been previously been discussed in the halachic works. Furthermore even if this has been previously been discussed, there is no question that a posek needs to understand it fully and to clarify it in his mind before he issues a ruling. He should not issue a ruling simply because he saw an authoritative source expressing such an opinion. This is the same as poskening mechanically from one’s notes that the gemora (Sotah 22a) condemns: Tannaim who teach halacha from their notes without paying attention to the reasons behind them destroy the world Even if these rulings are occasionally against the views of Achronim - so what? There is no question that we have the right to disagree with Achronim and also sometimes against particular views of certain Rishonim when we have clear-cut analysis and especially also correct reasons. On such matters our Sages (Bava Basra 131a) say, “A judge can only rely on what he sees” This ability to disagree is in those situations where the ruling doesn’t go against the well-known decisors of the Shulchan Aruch whose views have been accepted everywhere. On a related matter it is said, “They have left us room to be creative.” This is in fact the approach of the majority of the responsa literature of the Achronim when they decide practical halachic issues. However one should not be arrogant in making halachic rulings and it is necessary to show restraint as much as possible. However in a situation of great need and surely in a situation where a woman is an aguna as in our present case – there is no question that we are obligated to make ruling when it seems that we have the basis for a permissive judgment. Furthermore it is prohibited for us to have humility and cause a Jewish woman to remain an aguna or to cause someone to violate a prohibition or even to cause someone to lose money. Gittin (56a) says that the humility of Rav Zechariya ben Avkulas caused the Temple to be destroyed. Why does the gemora blame his humility? What does this have to do with his humility? Maharetz Chajes gives a proper explanation to the matter. This is truly in agreement with what I have said. Therefore we are forced to make halachic rulings in practice when we have convincing proofs and clear understanding and especially in cases of aguna such as this. We need to remove the pitfalls.

Rav Moshe Feinstein:Can one disagree with the Chazon Ish & other gedolim

Igros Moshe (Y.D. 3:88): Is it permitted to argue with the words of our Sages in public – even in their communities? You are concerned about the permissibility of moving to Bnei Brak because there are times when you will be disagreeing with the Chazon Ish zt”l. I really don’t understand why you are concerned. In fact the opposite is true. It is in fact showing respect to the Chazon Ish zt”l by mentioning his Torah view and examining his words – even though you don’t end up agreeing with him. It would be inconceivable to the Chazon Ish zt”l that there shouldn’t be a talmid chachom who disagreed with him. It is simply not possible that he would be bothered by this. In fact the opposite is true. He loved truth and peace as it says in (Yevamos 14b) concerning the dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel. In fact the idea that the deceased talmid chachom gets pleasure from discussion of his Torah work – is even when it is disputed. However, obviously it has to be mentioned respectfully. This that Rabbi Yehoshua suffered (Chagiga 28b) was not because he questioned the words of Beis Shammai but because he spoke in an inappropriate manner against them. But when done respectfully there is absolutely no problem - either with questioning the words of a talmid chachom or disagreeing with them. In fact not only is it permitted but we see from Bava Basra (130) that Rava told his students that they were not allowed to rule according to a view of his that they disagreed with since a judge can only rule based on how he sees things. The same applies with issurim…. As long as a student could not find an explanation for difficulties he had with Rava’s understanding he is not allowed to make a ruling in accord with it - even though Rava was his teacher.. If that were true with Rava and his students than it is surely true that one should not be concerned about questioning and disagreeing with gedolim of our generation – even the highest level gadol – as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Therefore there is absolutely no basis for concern or to feel it is inappropriate to remain in Bnei Brak and to give lectures. Just the opposite is true, the Chazon Ish with be your advocate in Heaven because you study his Torah works in a serious manner.

Israel police arrest U.S. rabbi in bizarre case of sexual abuse, fraud

Rabbi Yosef Mordechai Paryzer, a 35-year-old American teaching at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, is accused of rape and falsifying his identity on Tinder

The Israel Police released Thursday the profile pictures of a Jerusalem yeshiva rabbi arrested on suspicion of rape through fraud, after posing as a secular Jew to seduce women on Tinder. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Malka Leifer sentenced to 15 years for sexual abuse of two students

A former principal who sexually abused two sisters at an Australian Jewish school, before fleeing to Israel and then being extradited back, was sentenced on Thursday to 15 years in jail.

Sentencing judge Mark Gamble said Malka Leifer abused her position within Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox community and her “insidious offending” had scarred the sisters for life.

Demons Rav Tzadok

The following is Rav Tzadok's explanation of demons (Sheidim). I left the Kabbalistic terms in because they are difficult to translate. It is best to study the original text with an expert in Kabbalah.

Rav Tzadok (Sichos Sheidim) This pamphlet called Sichos Sheidim is to explain that small amount mentioned regarding them in the words of our Sages – the true scholars – in the Talmud and Medrashim Eiruvin (18b) All those years that Adam was in Nidoi  he produced spirits and male and female demons It appears to me that in all things there are ten spheres which is Koma Shleima while the Kav HaEmtzoi is Keser Tiferes Yesod Malchus. The ten Spheres of Asiya of the Klippos Tiferes Yesod Malchus of the Kav HaEmtzoi are spirits (Ruchin) and male and female demons. Spirits (Ruchin) are themselves while as is known that Tiferes corresponds to Yesod HaRuach. Also Spirits (Ruchin) is the name given to all types of damages that are brought about by Spirit as it says in Bava Metzia (107b) And the Lord shall take away from thee all sickness. Said Rab: By this, the evil eye is meant. This is in accordance with his opinion expressed elsewhere For Rab went up to a cemetery, performed certain charms, and then said: Ninety-nine have died through an evil eye, and one through natural causes. Samuel said: This refers to the   wind(ruach) . Samuel follows his views, for he said: All illness is caused by the wind(ruach). But according to Samuel, what of those executed by the State? — Those, too, but for the wind (ruach) which enters and plays upon the wound],Thus the damage that results is because of the Klipah of the Sitra Acher which dwells there and this is called Ruach Rah in the terminology of the Bible (Shmuel 1 16:14) and by our Sages (Shabbos 29b).  See Rashi as well as the Aruch’s entry on ruach as well as Eiruvin (41b) with Rashi and Tosfos and other places. There are many different types of damage caused by Ruach e.g.  . Ruach Chazazis, Ruach Ketzara, Ruach Tzereda, Ruach Polga

 [to be continued]

Angels - Rav Tzadok

Rav Tzadok (Sichos Malachei HaShareish 3) the issue of the existence of the spiritual angels is explicitly and clearly stated in the Bible in many places. Even though there are those who are contrary and insist on explaining that many of these statements are referring to prophets or human messengers from G-d- contrary to the words of our Sages – nevertheless there are still many places where it is impossible to give those explanations and they are in describing spiritual angels I don’t want to belabor the point and explain what these sources actually mean contrary to those who belittle the words of our Sages and don’t believe in the wisdom of our chachomim in both talmuds and in medrashim which have been accepted as authoritative by all Jews. That is because my purpose is not to criticize and explain their errors since it is prohibited to answer a Jewish heretic because it could lead to his taking a more extreme position as our Sages have said. Because we are believers in their words and observers of their warnings (Sanhedrin 38b according to Rashi). And anyway our answers will not be accepted by them. It is quite obvious that there is no limit to their nonsensical words and they are capable of twisting and distorting  something that is completely straight and obvious. Our sole concern is to explain the words of our Sages and thus the Truth to those who believe in them. We are not responsible for the fools who distort and deny the Oral Torah, It already happened during the days of the second Temple with the Tzadokim and they are still functioning  amongst us – G-d should send His holy help  and destroy these weeds from our vineyard And  the words of our Sages have already sufficiently and clearly explained the existence of Angels, It is on their words that this pamphlet is based. They have told us that wherever an angel is mentioned in the Bible  it is a spiritual angel and not a physical  prophet or other being.

The main point is that I am going to explain what is necessary to know from the point of the Jewish faith and in particular what is lost by believing that G-d Himself does everything i,e. why was it necessary to create the spiritual angels?

Obviously this is a nonsense question for believing Jews who know the truth since the Torah testifies to its truth as do the true scholars so how could there be a question? If you say it concerns the belief in Angels, But a person who does not believe in them is like one who doesn’t believe that Jerusalem exists in the land of Israel since he never saw it himself. Such a person’s views are rejected and refuted and he is considered crazy and a fool

If, the question is why was it necessary for G-d to create them?

The same question occurs as to why it was necessary to create snakes and insects some of them causing harm and are damgerous and some are so small and can not be seen with the unaided eye but are only seen with a microscope.

Similarly there are many types of plants which seem worthless which our Sages have talked about (Bereishis Rabbah 10, Vayikra Rabbah and Kohles Rabbah) and explained that all are needed (this is also discussed in Shabbos(77b) and Berachos (31b)

 We in fact do not know why the world could not be created without them and yet we think with our puny minds that the world could properly function without them.  In addition our senses tell us that these exist and of their obvious creation without a doubt and they can not be denied so surely concerning creatures  such as Angels which are large sized and extremely beneficial – even though they are also hidden from our physical eyes.  Thus we (the descendants' of Avraham Yitzchok and Yaakov) are forced to rely on testimony of the Torah and the true scholars to know why they are necessary.It is also possible  to find various benefits from them and furthermore this is combined with the words of the philosophers and non Jewish scholars. The philosophers have conducted investigations regarding their characteristics as is noted by the sefer Ikkarim (2:12) However we will not follow that approach of bringing arguments and proof and evidence because that is prohibited as I have written. We are also not utilizing philosophic reasons which are inherently frivolous nonsense to those who adhere to the Torah. Furthermore Torah awareness is not like Non Torah reasoning as is noted in Sefer Ikkarim, My sole concern is to clarify to those who already believe the truth as we have been taught according to the words of our Sages who are the true scholars. I will answer this question from the Torah perspective since this question came about because of the nonsense of non Torah understanding regarding Creation and only believing what they can see.

[to be continued]

This is puzzling since the view Rav Tzadok attacks is stated in Medrash Rabba!

Bereishis Rabbah (75:04) 4. MALAKIM-E.V. MESSENGERS (XXXVII, 4). These were none but human messengers. The Rabbis said: It means literally angels. If an angel escorted Eliezer, who was but a servant of the house,1 how much the more this one [Jacob], who was the beloved of the house! R. Hama b. Hanina observed: Hagar was but Sarah's handmaid, yet five angels appeared to her; how much the more then to this man [Jacob], who was the beloved of the house! R. Jannai said: Joseph was the youngest of the tribal ancestors,2 yet three angels met him, as it is written, And a certain man found him... and the man asked him... and the man said: (Gen. XXXVII, 15 ff.).3 Then how much the more this one Jacob], who was the father of them all!

Best not to study Hashkofah but to have simple faith

 Chavas Ya’ir (#124): In previous generations according to what I have heard, they learned in their youth the Sefer Akeidah, the Sefer HaIkkarim, the Kuzari and other like them. That was because their entire purpose was spiritual perfection which is belief in the foundations of religion. Therefore, they learned books that spoke about and analyzed these issues. However today our approach of avoiding these studies is an excellent idea because it is best for us and our children to believe the required faith without analysis. However, there are still some who learn, because of their desire for spiritual perfection, Chovas HaLevavos which speaks also of analysis in the first section and the rest is full of knowledge and fear of Heaven … Nevertheless without doubt the study which leads to deed is much greater than any other study.

[i] חוות יאיר (סימן קכד) …והנה בדורות הראשונים לפי מה ששמעתי היו שומעים ולומדים בבחרותם ספר העקידה והעקרים והכוזרי ודוגמתן מפני שהיה כל מגמתן להשלמת נפשם שהוא האמונה בשרשי הדת לכן למדו ספרים המדברים וחוקרים בזה. ובזה יפה עושין דורות הללו שמתרחקים מאותן הלימודים כי טוב ויפה לנו ולבנינו להאמין האמונות המוטלים עלינו בלי חקירה והארכתי בזה במקום אחר גם היו קצתם לומדי' מטעם הנ"ל ספר חובת הלבבות והוא מדבר ג"כ בחקירה בשער הראשון ובשאר שערים מלא דעת ויראת ה' ועמ"ש בהקדמה על איש שלמד דיני גיטין וקידושין ולא ידע דבר מחובות הלבבות המוטל על כל איש ישראלי יע"ש ע"ע בספר עיקרים מאמר א' ספ"ג כי שייך למבוקשינו פה כי גם חלק א"ח מוטל על כל איש ישראל לדעת לפחות כלליו ורוב פרטיו והרי זה לימוד המובחר ששנו רז"ל הלמד ע"מ לעשות ולקיים שמספיקין בידו וכו' וידוע שפרי כל לימוד הוא המעשה אף כי הלימוד בתורת ה' מצד עצמו עלה ונתעלה יותר מכל מעשה כדרז"ל על כל חפצים לא ישוו בה גם אגוני מגינה ואצולי מצלי ונמשלה לאור מש"כ המצוה מ"מ בלי ספק המביא לידי מעשה יש בו מעלה יתירה כפול ומכופל מלימוד אחר וכמ"ש גדול תלמוד שמביא לידי מעשה...

Astrology and Jews - Meiri

 בית הבחירה (מאירי) מסכת שבת דף קנו עמוד א

מפנות הדת ומיסודות האמונה להאמין שהבחירה ביד האדם בכל פעולותיו לעשות כרצון איש ואיש ואם נודע מדרך החכמה שממערכת הכוכבים באו בנולד כחות וקנין מדות אם מכח היום אם מכח השעה כמו שתאמר דרך משל שהנולד במאדים יהיה לפי טבעו שופך דמים עד שאם יולד בן מלך באותה שעה ישפטו עליו מצד משפט הכוכב שיהיה בעל מלחמות ונוצח והורג ואם הוא מבני הפחותים יורו עליו שיהיה טבח וקצב וכיוצא באלו וכן בשאר הכוכבים על הדרך שהתבארו משפטיהן הכלליים והפרטיים בספרי החכמות מ"מ יש להאמין שכל זה לא ימנע הבחירה ממנו ולא יקרא בזה מוכרח רק חוטא בבחירה ורצון מפני שהשם נתן בידו בחירה להכריח טבע תולדתו וגדרי הדת ישיבוהו מטבעו למשול בעצמו לבלתי לכת אחרי עקבות תולדתו ויוכל לבחור בעצמו דרך אחרת בזולת טבע תולדתו במעט עמל והשתדלות וכונת התורה באחד מחלקיה סובבת על ענין זה כמו שתאמר דרך משל שאם הוא כילי בטבעו ומאמץ את לבבו וקופץ את ידו הנה מצות הצדקה ונתינת התרומות והמעשרות ודומיהן ירגילוהו להעתק טבעו וכן אם יהיה לפי טבעו תר אחר לבבו ואחר עיניו בדברים המגונים הנה גדרי הדת יגדרו דרכיו באיסורי העריות ומניעת חברת שאר האומות עד שגם באשת חיקו ישימו לו גבול חוק בל יעברנהו וכן בכל המדות אחת לאחת וכן צריך להאמין שהתפלות והזכיות והצדקות ישנו הנגזר עליו לפי מהלכות הכוכבים לטוב גם ממות לחיים מיגון לשמחה ומאבל ליום טוב ובאו בסוגיא זו דברים יורו על זאת האמונה ואמרו דרך כלל אין מזל לישראל ורוצה בשם ישראל הגדור בדרכי הדת ואל תביט למאמר האומר יש מזל לישראל שפעמים היו קצת חכמים נבוכים בראותם העדר הסדור באופני עונש וגמול בני אדם כמאמר האומר חיי בני ומזוני לאו בזכותא תליא מילתא אלא במזלא תליא מילתא וסופר במקומו שלא הביאו לומר כן אלא מה שראה למי שהיה צדיק וחכם וחסיד וראהו קשה יום ובלתי מצליח באלו הענינים וכן אמר א' מהם על אמרם דלת הננעלת לא במהרה תפתח וכן כל שמריעין לו לא במהרה מטיבין לו אמר אחד מהם לעולם אין מטיבין לו וכבר סופר במקומו שלא הביאו לומר כן אלא מה שראה מקשי מזלו עם צדקו נפשו עד שנאמר עליו ולא היא משום מילתא דנפשיה הוא דקאמר הכי וכל זה הוראה שאינם אלא מאמרים נאמרים לפי מה שהיו רואים בעצמם או בזולתם מקשי יומם עם דעתם צדקתם ותומת יושרם אבל המאמר הכללי שאין מזל לישראל ר"ל שאמונת הגמול והעונש יכריח הכל והוא שהעידו בסוגיא זו שאירע להם שבחנו ונתברר להם שבאו עד שערי מות ושנודע להם כן מצד הוברי שמים החוזים בכוכבים וניצולו בזכות הצדקה ואיני צריך להזכיר המעשים שבאו ע"ז בסוגיא זו שכבר הסוגיא פשוטה לפניך ובתלמוד המערב אמרו בששי של מסכתא זו תרין תלמידין הוו נפקין ומייתי קיסין חמתין חד איצטלוגלוגוס אמר אלין תרין נפקין דלא מיעל מן דנפקין פגע בון חד מסכן אמר לון זכוון עמי דאית לי תלתא יומין לא טעמית כלום הוה גבהון חד עגול ר"ל ככר לחם אחד קטן פלגיה ויהבון ליה מן דאכל צלי עליהון אמר לון כמה דיהבתון לי נפשאי בהדין יומא כן יתיהבון לכון נפשכון בהדין יומא קטעון מובליהון ועלון בשלום מן דעלין הוו תמן בני נש דשמעין קליהון אמרי ליה לא אמרית דאילין תרי נפקין דלא מיעל אמר או ההוא גברא שקר או איצטרוגלגיא דידיה שקרא פשפשון מובליהון ואשכחון אובינא פלגא גו מובלא דהן ופלגא גו מובלא דהן אמ' לון מה מצוה עבדתון הנון ליה עובדא אמ' מה אנא יכול עביד ואלהון דיהודאי מתרצי בפלגות עגול וכן העידו שם שאין ראוי לבטוח באלו הענינים ולא לשאול בהם והוא שאמרו חד גיור הוה איצטרוגלוגוס והיה מתעסק בהדין לסוטא חד זמן אתא בעי מיפוק אמר כדון נפקין כלומר שהרהר בעצמו לפי חכמתו במשפטי הכוכב אם היתה אותה שעה ראויה לצאת חזר ואמר כלום דבקית להדין אומתא קדישתא אלא בגין מפרוש מן אלין מליא נפיק על שמיה דרחמנא כיון דמטא מיכסא יהב ליה חמריה ואכליה שבקה ועלת למדינתא אמ' מאן גרם ליה דליפול בגין דהרהר ומאן גרם דאישתיזב דאיתרחיץ בברייה הה"ד והבוטח ביי' חסד יסובבנו וכבר הארכנו בעיקרי אמונות אלו בילדותנו בחיבור התשובה:

Meiri (Shabbos 156): …. The gemora here says that 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. 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. Our gemora here (Shabbos 156a) provides testimony concerning incidents predicted by astrologers such as being on the verge of death and yet nevertheless being saved through the merit of giving charity. There is no need to repeat the events described in this gemora because they are clearly stated.

Evil Eye

 Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 30:38) Do not question how it is possible that the power of the evil eye is so great that it can even interfere with miracles! We find that the birth of Yaakov’s children was influenced by the power of the evil eye. Leah had made a single comment in that she thanked the Lord for allowing her to have born a fourth son, i.e. more than the three sons out of twelve which she could expect to bear by right, and as a result of this comment she became subject to the power of the evil eye. Immediately after she had made this comment we read ותעמוד מלדת “she stopped giving birth.” The mere fact that she had said herself that she had received more than she was entitled to exposed her to the envy of others. Furthermore, we find in connection with the tribe of Joseph who had been favoured by miraculous increases in numbers due to the special blessing of their patriarch Yaakov who had said בן פורת יוסף בן פורת עלי עין, that Joseph’s descendants would prove especially fruitful. When these people told Joshua (Joshua 17,14) that G’d had made them inordinately numerous and the land allocated to them was inadequate for their needs, Joshua answered them that they would be best of to move to a wooded region . Our sages in Sotah 36 comment on this that Joshua (who was also of the tribe of Ephrayim) meant that they should hide in the forests so as not to arouse other people’s evil eye, envy. Furthermore, you will agree that there never was a greater miracle than occurred at the revelation at Mount Sinai, and we find that even on that occasion the evil eye was very much in evidence. In searching for a reason why the first set of Tablets were smashed, Tanchuma Ki Tissa 31 claims that it was because they were given to the Jewish people in public, [I am sure this refers to the text, and not the actual Tablets as the former was announced at the revelation. Ed.] an area where the evil eye is rampant. This is why the second set of Tablets was given in secret, i.e. Moses was told that (Exodus 34,3) ואיש לא יעלה עמך וגם איש אל ירא בכל ההר, “no one is to go up the mountain with you, nor is anyone to be seen at the mountain.” When the second Tablets were given the evil eye as not present, hence they were not smashed [even though the Jews repeatedly served idols after they had lived in the land of Israel for a while. Ed.] Yaakov therefore had good reason not to arouse the envy of Lavan and his sons.

Berachos (20a) Rabbi Yochanan said" I am a descendant of Joseph over whom the evil eye had no control", Rabbi Yosi said, "Just as fish in the sea are covered with water and protected from the evil eye, so too the descendents of Joseph (who are said to multiply like fish) are protected from the evil eye". 

Berachos (55b) One who enters a city and fears the evil eye should hold the thumb of his right hand in his left hand and the thumb of his left hand in his right hand and recite the following: I, so-and-so son of so-and-so, come from the descendants of Joseph, over whom the evil eye has no dominion.

Bava Basra (2b) the rabbis say it is “ is prohibited for a person to stand in another’s field and look at his crop while the grain is standing, because he casts an evil eye upon it and thereby causes him damage, and the same is true for a garden.”

Bava Basra (118a) And if it be said that Scripture recorded the case of him only who complained and benefited, but did not record the case of anyone who complained and did not benefit, it may be retorted: The children of Joseph, surely, complained and did not benefit, and yet Scripture recorded their case. There, it may be replied, Scripture desired to impart to us good advice, namely, that a person should he on his guard against an evil eye. And this indeed is [the purpose of what Joshua said unto them; as it is written, And Joshua said unto them: ‘If thou be a great people, get thee up to the forest’. It is this that he said to them: ‘Go and hide yourselves in the forests so that an evil eye may have no power over you’.

Bava Metzia (84b)   When Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel and R. Joshua b. Karhah sat on benches, R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon and Rabbi sat in front of them on the ground, raising objections and answering them. Said they, ‘We drink their water [i.e., benefit from their learning], yet they sit upon the ground; let seats be placed for them!’ Thus were they promoted. But R. Simeon b. Gamaliel protested: ‘I have a pigeon amongst you, and ye wish to destroy it!’[by the evil eye] So Rabbi was put down. Thereupon R. Joshua b. Karhah said: ‘Shall he, who has a father, live, whilst he who has no father die!’ So R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon too was put down, whereat he felt hurt saying, ‘Ye have made him equal to me!’ Now, until that day, whenever Rabbi made a statement, R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon supported him. But from then onward, when Rabbi said, ‘I have an objection,’ R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon retorted, ‘If you have such and such an objection, this is your answer; now have you encompassed us with loads of answers in which there is no substance.’ Rabbi, being thus humiliated, went and complained to his father. ‘Let it not grieve you,’ he answered, ‘for he is a lion, and the son of a lion, whereas you are a lion, the son of a fox.’ To this Rabbi alluded when he said, Three were humble; viz., my father,

Bereishis Rabbah (91:02) . AND JACOB SAID UNTO HIS SONS: WHY SHOULD YE MAKE YOURSELVES CONSPICUOUS? Do not go out, he bade them, with bread in your hands, and do not all enter through one gate. Do not go out with bread in your hands so as not to arouse ill-feeling, and do not all enter through one gate for fear of the evil eye.

Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 378:5) אפי' בראייתו אם יש בו היזק לחבירו אסור להסתכל בו לפיכך אסור לאדם לעמוד על שדה חבירו בשעה שעומדת בקמותיה: