Progressive Jewish Spirituality
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From Bitterness to Sweetness a New Judaism
The Torah combines in life bitterness and sweetness which is this world and the next world. There are mitzvos which have their reward in this world and the remainder of the reward for the next world. These mitzvos are honor your father, gemilat chesed kindness to your fellow man, attending prayers at the synagogue and attending classes in the Beit Medrash, receiving guests,visiting the sick,marriage and helping to marry off children, burying the dead, prayer, working to make peace between your neighbors, friends, and in your home, and growing in Torah knowledge. The Ethics of the father teaches to love work. The Lubavitcher Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach told me in my personal meeting with him, "Man was born to work." The Rebbe stressed work. Many people make the mistake that work is everything in life. On the gate of Aushwitz was a sign which said, Work makes life sweet. In Egypt the Jews were put to work in hard labor before they were freed my Moshe Rabbeinu. There is a balance between work and pleasure, bitterness and sweetness, this world and the next world.
The Torah teaches that this world is a corridor to the next world. In the next world is the greatest pleasure. However we see from the Mishna that a person needs also pleasure in this world.
The Alter Rebbe the founder of Chabad is quoted as saying, I don't want the next world, and not this world of course, but only God himself. Rebbe Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi lifted up his finger at the end of his life and said I didn't receive any pleasure in this world. Rabbi Akiva left his wife and family for twelve years to study in the Beit Hamedrash. Chazal learn, the Torah is acquired through suffering, the next world is acquired through suffering, Eretz Yisrael is acquired through suffering. There seems to be only bitterness in Judaism. Where is the sweetness?
On Pesach we eat the bitter herbs, but the main mitzva on Pesach is the eating of the Matza and the joy of redemption. There are some that want to make the bitter herbs more important than matza and redemption. Those people who reject the importance of Simcha joy in Torah life use the Galut as their reason why not to be happy. It says that in Galut, the main service of HaShem is the service of fear of God. When we will be redeemed then it will be the joy of God. The Zohar disagrees with this opinion. The Baal Shem Tov also stressed the importance of joy in service of HaShem. Where is the balance between bitterness and sweetness, joy and sorrow.
The Tanya called the Book of the intermediate teaches that not all people are on the level of the completely righteous. The completely righteous like Rebbe did not need pleasure in this world and lived without worldly pleasure. The completely righteous who are special souls live on spiritual pleasure alone and even deny themselves spiritual pleasure in this world like the Alter Rebbe who said that he only wants God himself. Other people need spiritual pleasure which comes from closeness to God, the love of God and the Torah. The intermediates are those that need spiritual pleasure and joy in the service of God. These are two levels the level of the righteous who denies himself even spiritual pleasure and the level of the intermediate who needs spiritual pleasure. The intermediate also needs physical pleasure in marriage and raising children. He needs the pleasure of a good job or profession which gives him satisfaction besides the satisfaction he gets from Torah learning. The Rebbe Melech haMoshiach did not stress to young married men to stay in the Kollel their whole life. The Rebbe stressed a balance between bitterness and sweetness. The Tanya was more strict by denying physical pleasures almost completely. Today many Roshei Yeshiva especially in Eretz Yisrael stress Kollel for young men rather to learn professions. They stress the learning of Gemora and Halacha to be the profession of a Jew rather than the work in Gemilat Chesed. Halacha demands the learning of Torah day and night, like it says you should work in it day and night. The Baal Tanya stressed in his text the severity of the sin of Bitul Torah. This is the Halachic opinion today of Gedolei Torah.
Even though the Baal Tanya calls his book the book for intermediates, when he talks about the sin of Bitul Torah in reference to intermediates, the whole concept of intermediate becomes confusing. He says that the intermediate does not sin in his life. If he considers Bitul torah a sin, then there is no such thing as intermediate. Then he says that Rava considered himself an intermediate who continuosly learned Torah, the concept becomes more confusing.for who is the Baal Tanya really writing his book the Tanya.
The Baal Tanya brings in his book for intermediates aspects of spiritual pleasure of the heart like the Love of Delights. He brings also concepts of intellectual spiritual pleasure throughout his book the Tanya like the Divine Knowledge, Wisdom, understanding and intellect meditation into the greatness of God and creation all parts of the Kabballa of the Arizal and the Zohar. Later on in his Sefer, he contradicts himself when saying that through meditation into the greatness of God without saying the words of Torah does not accomplish any mitzva and might even be Bitul Torah. Is spiritual pleasure permitted or not? Why even mention about spiritual pleasure when it conflicts with the commandment of learning Torah which has to be an action of speech?
The Baal Tanya himself said that he doesn't want any spiritual pleasure and for sure physical pleasures, only God himself. It seems that he cannot even permit these pleasures to other people. Does the Torah have a place for the intermediate? Either you are wicked or righteous but nothing in between according to what the Baal Tanya is teaching. A person tries to be a Tzaddik which he swore before coming into the world, since he has not succeeded in his life, he gets a reward for his effort to be called an intertmediate but he is really a Rasha a wicked person. The concept of intermediate has been distorted to bring Jews back to the Torah. The Baal Tanya cannot create another category called intermediate. In the end either you are a Tzaddik or Rasha. Also spiritual pleasure is a sin because of Bitul Torah and also it says in the Ethics of the father not to serve God for the sake of a reward.
The Mishna says that there is a reward in this world for many mitzvos like mitzvot of kindness. A reward in this world is either in physical pleasure or spiritual pleasure. The Baal Tanya seems to disagree with this Mishna which gives multiple ways of serving God through works besides Torah learning. The Baal Tanya emphasizes in his Book for intermediates that the only time there is permission not to learn Torah is if there is a mitzva that only you can do and not by others. The Baal Tanya is therefore sending everyone to the Beit HaMedrash. This seems to be also the way of the Misnagdim. If so why was the Baal Tanya sent to prison by the Misnagdim if he is agreeing with them?
The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach did not send everyone to learn in Kollel. He encouraged people to learn in Kollel who were suitable for learning a whole day. The Rebbe even encouraged people to leave the Beit Hamedrash to do Mivtzaim. We see changes in Lubavitch from past generations which were going strictly according to the Baal Tanya. Finally the Rebbe was received by his students to be the Moshiach, the seventh generation of Chabad.
In Parsha Mishpatim it says, when the Jews received the Oral teaching of Moshe Rabbeinu, they agreed to do it blindly. When he wrote for them the book of the Covenant, the five books of Moses they agreed to do and to understand Naase VaNishma. The aspect of understanding implies spiritual and intellectual pleasure. There is understanding which is necessary in study of the Oral Law halacha which is to know the commandment in order to do them properly. In this type of understanding there is also pleasure but not the type of pleasure there is in understanding the deepness of the written Torah. The written Torah includes the Oral Torah so when receiving the written Torah the people agreed to do. The aspect of understanding on the level of Pardes all levels of truth is connected to the written Torah where there is abundant pleasure. The Alter Rebbe speaks about two Torah Halacha called Pashat and Sod Kabballa but in their source they are the Oral and the written Torah. The Oral Torah is to know how to do the commandments; the written Torah is filled with hidden secrets. The Gemora today contains also both aspects of written and Oral law but in a limited way does it give deeper meaning within the written law. The Zohar and the Arizal have added understanding of the written Torah and Oral Torah.
The Oral Law and the Written Law are two Torah with two approaches to service of God. The approach of the Oral law is with complete nullification to the divine word called Malcut or kingship. The Oral law is accepted with blind faith and it is prohibited to change it. The mainstream of Judaism follows the approach of the Oral Law. Children are educated in this approach from childhood until Bar Mitzva and after. The problem with this way is that it is very rigid. Any leniency in the keeping of the mitzvos is considered a sin in the light of the stricter interpretation. Orthodox Judaism in this way has divided into Ultra Orthodox, and Modern Orthodox Young Israel. Ultra Orthodox has also divided into Chassidic and Litvish. There is one Shulcan Aruch code of Jewish Law for everyone. A big problem in Judaism is judging your fellow Jew. Even though it says in the Ethics of the father, Don't judge your neighbor until you are in his place, there is also a commandment to rebuke your neighbor. Even the Baal Tanya in Perek 32 justifies judging other Jews. He says that it is part of Love your Neighbor. A Jew that does a sin like desecration of the Sabbath is considered a sinner.
In the light of the Oral law, there are righteous Jews and wicked Jews with nothing in between. Each Jew has made an oath before coming into the world to be righteous and not wicked. The Tanya goes with the Oral law.
The Oral law was given for Tzaddikim. It demands complete nullification. In the Oral law there is no free choice. The laws of the Torah and the laws of the Rabbonim are considered commandments from God. In the light of the Oral Law a Jew is forever a servant of Hashem 24 hours a day. You are never free.
In the written law which the Jewish people received in the way of to do and to understand, there is also freedom. The written law allows the Jew private time for himself and his family. In the written law you are not commanded to do 24 hours a day especially to worry about neglecting Torah learning. In the written law there is rest which the Oral law calls neglect of Torah. In the written law there is personal redemption which comes from Nishma understanding like it says you should know today and take it to your heart that there is unity between YHVH and Elokim. In knowledge there is freedom.
In Jewish history, there was a great conflict between supporters and followers of the Oral law called Perushim and the written law called Tzodokim. The Tzodokim are called rebellious Jews in Talmudic texts as if there is only one Torah the Oral Law. The claim that there is one Torah the Oral law is hard to accept when examining the source of the Oral and written Torah on Mount Sinai where they were given with different instruction. The Oral Torah was accepted to Do. The written Torah was accepted to do and to understand the secrets of God and creation. In the Oral Torah bitterness comers before sweetness or perhaps there is only bitterness without sweetness at all.
The Zohar gave a new approach toward Judaism accepting the Oral Law and giving respect for Talmidei Chochomim, but at the same time revealing a new Jew the Kabbalist the happy man. The Baal Shem Tov and Chassidism tried to bring this new image of a Jew into the world but has really not succeeded. The Alter Rebbe tried to develop this new image within the structure of the Oral law. All the Chabad Rebbe's have tried but the Oral law does not give a place for change. The conflict between the Written law and Oral law remains. They are two Torahs given on Mount Sinai with two interests. The Oral law is for the Jewish people and their nation, the written law is for the World which includes the Jewish nation. The nation of Israel was split at end of the reign of King Solomon into two parts Judah and Israel. In the same way the Torah divides into two Torahs the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Sometimes they combine and sometimes they conflict.
The Alter Rebbe maintained a strict interpretation of the Oral law and at the same time to bring to Am Yisrael the aspect of Nishme which is knowledge of Hashem in the way of the Arizal. He tried to mix Zohar with Arizal and the Oral law but they conflict like the written Torah conflicts with the Oral law. Finally the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach has made the connection in the right way to unite World Unity with Jewish Unity.
Children you are to the Lord your God
Am Yisrael are called servants to Hashem and are also called Children to Hashem. The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach in his talks said that today Am Yisrael has two approaches toward the Torah and Mitzvos which are nullification and favor. The way of nullification is the way of the servant who nullifies his will to his master. The way of Favor called Ratzon is as a son to his father the service of love. These are two approaches with Love and with Fear of God and Fear of Sin. The Tanya and Zohar bring that there is a son who is also a servant, he serves Hashem with Love and Fear. About these Jews the Torah says "You are children to the Lord your God." First comes Love of Hashem and then after Fear of Hashem in their importance. Children of Hashem have free will. They choose to do Hashem's will. They have freedom on one side and are servants also. Freedom comes through knowledge the learning of Pnimiut HaTorah. Freedom comes through receiving the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach who is the true servant of HaShem, his son and his servant. Through learning the Rebbe's talks and understanding his instructions is acquired freedom and truth together. We are children to Hashem and the children of the Rebbe. As Jews we are servants but the Rebbe has given us Freedom.
Every Jew has the choice to accept the Rebbe as Moshiach. By accepting the Rebbe as Moshiach is acquired freedom. There are many Jews that are not ready to receive the Rebbe as Moshiach. Some of them accept Lubavitch Messianic Chassidim but feel that they don't want to change their old approach toward service of Hashem to be Servant rejecting the freedom the Rebbe is giving them. The Rebbe did did not want to force people to believe that he is the Moshiach and gave each person free choice.
In Parsha Mishpatim it writes that on the seventh year a Jewish slave becomes free. If the slave wants to remain in slavery with his master the Torah gives him permission. There is no obligation for Jews that have for thousands of years been servants of Hashem accepting the Torah with blind and simple faith "To Do" to change their approach as long as they accept that there is another approach which the Rebbe has given Am Yisrael. The Zohar introduces the approach of a Son who is also a Servant but also gives honor and respect to the Talmid Chochom who is servant and son. Through the learning of Pnimiut HaTorah a Jew understands that the two approaches are the approach unity of Zeir and Malcut, and the approach of Atik, Zeit and Malcut. The Oral Torah is the approach of unity of Zeir and Malcut. The Written Torah includes in it the second way which has been revealed by the Rebbe and the Zohar. The Arizal described principally the service of the unity of Zeir and Malcut, but at the same time accepted also the second way which is described in the introduction to Eitz Chaim and called the second way, the other knowledge spoken about in Book of Job, "A-L Daot HaShem" in the plural two levels of knowledge.
The Arizal preceded Chassidut. Through Chassidut has been revealed the Moshiach. There are actually two Moshiach who are Moshiach Ben David with a Yud added to the name of David, and Moshiach Ben Yosef with a Hai added to Yosef Yehosef corresponding to the two approaches in service of HaShem as son and servant. The service of HaShem begins with servant and fear like it says, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem." Love is added onto fear through wisdom that comes through learning Pnimiut haTorah and Galut becomes Geula when is added the letter Aleph which includes Love and Fear the two points of the letter Aleph above and below.
There are still two ways in the service of Hashem even after has been revealed the Rebbe Melech HaMoshaich which are the Old approach and the New approach just like the Written Torah begins with the letter Beit, the number two.
Each person has to find the way which is best for him. The Arizal in his introduction to Eitz Chaim stressed the service of Hashem Lishma with complete sincerity for the sake of God's name. In whichever way you choose, Old age or new age most important is Ahavat Yisrael which demands respect between Jews and respect of your fellow man. This is also the instruction of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach.
Criterion of Idolatry
The concept of idolatry has broadened to include the idolatry of lust for money, fame, power, and pleasure. In the past it was worship of physical idols. The idols today are not statues like in the past but the evil in the heart of man.
The Jewish people are descendants of Abraham. The father of Abraham was an idol worshipper. Exactly what type of idols he worshipped is unknown, only that Terach the father of Abraham was an idol worshipper. Abraham rebelled against his father and his practice of idolatry. God advised him to go out of his father's home and settle in the land of Israel. Abraham brought to world the faith in the true God and fought against idolatry. God is not a physical object, not in the heavens and not on the earth, not the planets, the stars and the moon. Abraham established in the world faith in God the creator of the universe who is not to be related to any physical object. He taught people not to make graven images and to worship to these images.
Abraham is the father of the Jewish people and the Muslims which worship God without making any graven images. The Torah classified idolatry as limiting God to something which is known such as an animal, plant or tree, planets or stars in the heavens, the moon, a mountain, a river, or man. All of these images when used for worship are considered idolatry. To make a graven image for worship is considered idolatry.
In the Ten Commandments the Torah specifies "Thou shalt not have other Gods beside me. Thou shalt not make for thyself any carved idol, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, and that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them.
The Jewish people were chosen to bring Monotheism into the world; to destroy the idolatry pagan faiths. When they conquered the land of Israel, they destroyed all the idols in the land. The Nation of Israel was free of idolatry governed according to the Torah of Moses. Strict punishments were given for any type of worship in the country except for Judaism.
In the Torah permission is given for killing, and destroying cities or nations which worship idolatry which today is called genocide. The king of Israel had permission to kill those who rebelled against his kingship. A child who would curse his parents or a rebellious child was punishable by death. Pinchas in the wilderness killed a Jewish man and a gentile woman who were having intercourse. Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar. Obeying the command of God, he was willing to kill the son he loved most. The three most severe commandments in which a person is obligated to sacrifice his life are idolatry, murder, and incest. However, if God commands all three may be permissible. From this can be seen that all the commandments depend upon the word of God and the prophet of God.
Everyone could not understand how Abraham a holy and kind person could attempt to kill his son. Abraham was a prophet of God and was told to do this by God therefore it was permitted. In the same way, Moses could command the Jewish people to do genocide which today is prohibited or unacceptable. In the times of the holy temple, if a child refused to do a mitzvah like Tefillin the parents could beat him to force him to do it. Desecration of the Sabbath was punishable by death. Moses the prophet of God gave the law which was commanded to him by God. The Jewish people accepted the law blindly. They agreed to do it. About the written law the Jews agreed to do it and also to understand it. In the acceptance of the written law there was blind faith but there was also a place for change if necessary.
With the blind acceptance of the law, there was also the command not to change it, to add or subtract from it. Therefore the Ultra Orthodox Jew is very rigid and rejects any reformed movement in Judaism. Moses the true prophet the giver of the law writes in the Torah against reform. Everything that is in the Torah is accepted by the Ultra Orthodox including genocide. There were other Jewish prophets accepted in Judaism who preached reform including Jerimiah who preached a new covenant. Isaiah also mentioned in his prophecies about a new Torah. According to Jewish law a prophet that preaches to change the law is called a false prophet and is punishable by death. Elijah made altars outside the temple area which were against the Torah. Since he did it only to rebuke the false prophets of idolatry it was acceptable according to Torah law. Torah law is very against any change in the Law of Moses.
The Jewish people especially their leaders the Sanhedrin according to Jewish law could not accept another prophet or the religion of another prophet. According to Jewish law this prophet is a false prophet like Jesus and Mohammed. Therefore today Judaism is very rigid not to accept any other religion in the world even if it has a foundation in Monotheism. Christianity allowed prayer using an intermediate the Messiah. Mohammed claimed that there was a new law based upon the Koran. Hindu faith accepted the religion given to them by Krishna. Bhuddism was from Bhudda. These prophets which came after Moses claim that they had true prophecy and received from God instructions to make a new religion. Jewish law cannot accept these prophets and their religions; other people who have free choice did accept these prophets and their religion.
Abraham was given the right to kill his son Isaac by God. Not to kill is one of the seven commandments of the children of Noah. Even the commandment "Not to kill" does not take precedence over the command of God. Therefore a new scripture can be written by a true prophet who is told to change it by God. Moses brought into the world the fear of God. The Nation of Israel was established according to the Torah to teach the world to fear the Lord and to follow his commands which is his law. In the Torah the world is commanded to follow seven commandments and to accept the Nation of Israel to build the holy temple in Jerusalem. The Torah does not give permission for any other prophet to change the law.
The prophets that changed the law claimed to have direct communication with God. They believed God had given them permission to make a new religion. Abraham was given permission to kill his only son that he loved against the commandment not to kill. Mohammed wrote the Koran which contradicted the Torah in many places but did not permit idolatry. Jesus gave the right to pray to the One God through an intermediate which was considered idolatry according to the Law of Moses. The Hindu religion came from their prophet Krishna who preached truth, unity and peace worship of their spiritual master.
Judaism commands the Jew not to accept any reformed movement or religion except for the religion of the prophet Moses who is without a doubt a true prophet of God. Even Christians and Muslims accept Moses as a true prophet of God. Based upon the Torah which gave Abraham the right to kill his only son that he loved, there is a possibility to the Jew that the other religions of the world are true religions of God. However Jews are still commanded not to convert, baptize, or become Muslim. There is a place for a Jew to believe in the authenticity of other monotheist religions in the world of other prophets.
Jerimiah preached a new covenant. Isaiah preached a new Torah and world unity of peace. Their prophecies were accepted to be included in the Tanach. Ezekiel preached that that heart of stone will be changed into a heart of flesh which means that the rigidness and bitterness of Judaism would become sweet which is also the philosophy within the Zohar and Chassidism.
Moses is the prophet of truth. He wrote the Torah the book of truth. He gave the Jewish people their law which is Judaism orally and according to the written law the five books of Moses. In the Torah, he relates the event in Jewish history of the sin of the Golden Calf. Moses was given by God two tablets written by the hand of God inscribed upon them the Ten Commandments. He broke these tablets. In their place God gave him permission to write a new set of tablets to be the law of the nation of Israel forever. The breaking of the first set of tablets which were written by God gave permission to come other prophets to write their own laws for their own religions. Judaism is the Law of Moses. Christianity is the law of Jesus. The Koran is the law of Mohammed. The Gita is the law of Krishna. Each prophet has their own law and their own religion. Rambam ignores the sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the first tablets. The Oral Torah is from the second tablets. The Oral Torah strictly commands the Jewish people not to change the law and not to accept other prophets except for Moses.
In this way, the criterion for idolatry has changed today. Once the concept of the Messiah was considered idolatry. The Messiah is not mentioned in the Oral Torah and the written Torah of Moses. The King of Israel is a man who if he dies his son follows him. Torah law does not a give place for a Messiah after his death. Therefore Jews wait for the Messiah to return them to the land to live according to Jewish law. Even though Moses is called the first redeemer, he is not the Messiah because he died in the wilderness. The prophets spoke about the coming of the Messiah and a new covenant. The Sanhedrin interrupted their words as the Messiah a living person who would return the nation and the people out of exile to rebuild the holy temple which is according to the Torah of Moses restoring the old covenant. They rejected the concept of a new covenant. Moses was rejected to be the Moshiach when the Jews built the Golden Calf and after the breaking of the tablets was given a second set of tablets which is nationalistic Zionist and not Messianic. In the end of tractate Sotah it says that when the world will become filled with uncleanliness like today, you will only have to depend on God, your father in heaven. It does not mention waiting for the Moshiach.
There was another aspect of Messiah which the prophets spoke about when they said, "I will take from you the heart of stone and give to you a heart of flesh. I will throw upon you pure waters. These were prophecies for the Messiah bringing to Israel and the world spirituality, spiritual freedom and healing. This approach was against Zionism especially when the prophets preached world unity.
The prophets Mohammed, Jesus, and Krishna or maybe other smaller prophets if they had direct communication with God, they had the right to change the law of Moses but not for the Jews. The Law of Moses continues because Moses was a true prophet. Through the deep study of the written law of Moses can be accepted other prophets. Moses accepted other prophets specifically Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11, and he even said that he would be happy if all the Jewish people were prophets. A true prophet would not lead his people in the wrong direction. Moses was a true prophet and gave the Jewish people two laws, the Oral law which is strictly Jewish and the written law which has a place for other prophets and religion to join in with it. Christianity prays to God with the Messiah as an intermediate. They even make graven images. The Hindus have a similar approach using idols of their teachers in worship. Judaism does not allow graven images in worship but in the temple at the top of the Arc of the covenant were the graven images of two children called the Cherubim. God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac and Abraham was not afraid of transgressing the law of thou shall not kill.
Jews and Muslims do not allow images or statues in their temples like do Christians and Hindu Bhuddists. These are two styles of worship with and without an intermediates. There is Monotheism without spirituality which is Judaism and Muslim religion. Christianity and Hinduism is monotheism with spirituality. Spirituality which means the attainment of spiritual freedom and spiritual healing require an intermediate a spiritual master. Spirituality is connected to resurrection. Religion is connected to self sacrifice and selfless service. From these two approaches are born two Messiahs of spirituality, the Messiah the son of Joseph through resurrection, the Messiah the son of David through service without death.
Moses gave the Torah to Israel. His Torah is the Torah of truth. Moses is the prophet of truth. There are two approaches to worship of God which are in the five books of Moses. The Jews in the wilderness lived forty years eating food which came from heaven, their clothes did not wither, and they drank from a spiritual well which travelled with them. Spirituality existed once in Judaism. When the Jews worshiped the Golden Calf, the first tablets which were broken by Moses were substituted with a second set of tablets which is Zionist Judaism today without spirituality and without the Messiah. Spirituality came into the world through other prophets after the destruction of the temple. Judaism still exists as monotheism without spirituality. Most Jews are still waiting for the Messiah.
A minority of Jews have accepted the Lubavitcher Rebbe as the Moshiach. The opportunity is available today for Jews to be religious Jews and also spiritual. Even though the Rebbe never made reference to other prophets and religions and even rebuked Jews that went to the Vatican to visit the Pope, he has still initiated a spiritual movement in Judaism through his followers and teachings. The Rebbe in one of his speeches discussed the prohibition written in the Jewish law of Rambam of using intermediate in worship. He said that an intermediate can be permitted in Judaism if he follows Torah righteously. The famous Rabbi Levi of Berdichev honored by all Chassidim wrote on the passage in the Torah, "And you will go to serve other Gods and worship them, and to the sun, to the moon, or to the hosts of the heavens," but to the righteous saints that have Torah this prohibition does not apply. Judaism has become lenient on the issue of intermediate but still has not accepted the prophets of other religions as intermediates.
In the holocaust Jews were taken into Work Camps to work for Hitler who was the enemy of God which many people consider Amelak. Hitler by taking the Jews into these camps was supporting his own claim that the German people, the Arian Race were the superior race and not the Jews who claim to be the chosen people. In this way he refuted the Torah by killing God's people the Jews. Scripture considers bowing before an idol who is the image of a holy saint a sin and a Jew should give his life rather to bow before this idol even if this idol will elevate the Jew spiritually. When the Christians forced Jews to bow before the cross, there was no doubt that the Jew should die rather than bow. But if he is not forced this is much less a sin. The idols of holy saints are used as intermediates to reach deep into the soul to discover God in India. The intentions are for the benefit of people. However to accept to work for Hitler and accept torture may be the essence of idolatry. Even great Rabbis lived out the holocaust and did not surrender their lives rather than accept the rulership of Hitler. They continued to work for Hitler. Idolatry is not the same as it used to be.
Today Ultra Orthodox Jews claim to serve in the Israel Army is idolatry and they should give their lives rather than to serve in the Jewish army to defend their brothers. They base their opinion on the fact that the Nation of Israel is a free state and not a dictatorship like it was in the times of King David. Idolatry is deeper than just bowing before an idol of Krishna or Jesus; it is participating and working for a dictator who is against God and peace. The State of Israel is not against World Peace, and it accepts Judaism. Serving in the Israel Army is not worse than working for Hitler in Concentration camps. Jesus and Krishna were not against peace. Their purpose was peace and unity. For sure a Jew should maintain his custom not to bow before any idol even if the idol is in the image of the holiest saint, but for the other nations of the world it is permitted and not against the seven commandments of the children of Noah. Five hundred thousand Jews pray each year on Lag Bomer at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai where there is a tombstone dedicated to his presence in this place. Thirty thousand Jews go on Rosh HaShannah to the city of Uman where is buried Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and they prostrate themselves at his grave tombstone. When Jews surrender to Haman the wicked man who was Hitler and become his slaves they are serving a greater idol than harmful graven images of the righteous. The criterion of idolatry has changed. The world has united; religions are coming together which once were at war.
The criterion for idolatry has changed. It is almost possible for Judaism to join the movement toward one religion, and interfaith dialogue.
Depression and the Jew
There are many reasons in life to be depressed but the Torah advises us not to be depressed and accept everything as God's will. Sometimes it is easier said than done.
The last generation of Jews suffered the holocaust. About the reason for the holocaust there is no one who can give a reason. There are many reasons which can be considered but there is no one reason. Surely we can say that it was God's will for everything comes from God. We can also say that it was a test given by God to mankind.
There are different types of depression. Depression on the level of neurosis is livable but makes life difficult and takes out of life its pleasure. Manic depression can reach psychotic levels and even cause violence and suicide. The difference between neurosis and psychosis is that in neurosis the person is still in control and is functioning. In psychosis he is losing control or has lost control and needs hospitalization.
Jewish law derived from the Talmud has no special classification for depression. There is a classification for psychotics. They are called crazy or fools. Neurotics are obligated in the commandments like normal people. Psychotics are exempt due to their illness.
This does not change the fact that neurotics suffering mild to moderate depression need help. Severely depressed people are another category; their lives are often in danger. They may be considered exempt from mitzvah performance if they no longer can function. However in Mesechta Gittin Perek6 Page 66, it calls a person that commits suicide healthy. His depression does not disqualify him from giving a divorce to his wife. After he jumps off the roof. There are many other incidents of suicides in the Talmud for many different reasons. It is possible that depression was considered to be a punishment of cutting off from heaven. A physical ailment has a known cause but not an emotional disorder. A person is expected to have control over his emotions. If he loses control because of depression it is no excuse.
Psychosis is treatable with medicine or hospitalization. Mild to moderate depression and anxiety which is very common today can be treated with medicine and psychotherapy. People live with these conditions with or without medicine or without therapy. Religion and faith are very important for people who feel the stress of life. Judaism has just recently recognized the importance of spiritual strengthening for helping people to overcome emotional disorders. Especially the Chassidut of Breslov contains many types of advice for those suffering from depression and anxiety. The help a person can receive for emotional problems is limited by Jewish law. Jewish law permits a person who is sick to go to a doctor. The Torah gives the doctor permission to heal. Doctors or psychiatrists heal with medicine. Until recently Psychology was called quackery by Rabbinical Authorities. Rabbi Avigdor Miller who was from the Gedolei Torah from the previous generation spoke harshly about psychologists and psychology. Today the Rabbis are more lenient and many Rabbis have even studied psychology to help people. Psychology presented two problems in Jewish law. There was the problem of the types of advice which the psychologist would give, that it may contradict with Torah. This problem was solved partially when there became frum psychologists. The other problem with psychology is that the psychologist becomes an intermediary between the sick person and God. The two souls of the psychologist and the patient become connected with each session. Jewish law prohibits using an intermeditate in healing matters of the soul, emotional matters. A person is expected to go to God for help through prayer. Rabbi Miller would advise short talks with the Rosh Yeshiva or Rav. He said that in a short talk the Rosh Yeshiva can accomplish more than the psychologist in long psychotherapy. Another problem about using psychologists according to Jewish law is hypnosis. There is hypnosis where the person completely surrenders his will to the hypnotherapist and semi-hypnosis using relaxation techniques. In these techniques there is also the problem of intermediate. For sure you should know who is the hypnotherapist before trusting him. Similar to this is the new age technique of One Brain. In this technique through trusting and believing in the healer, he can penetrate blockages in the conscious and superconscious mind. The healer is an intermediate between the healing energy and the sick person. People doing One Brain often use pendulums for diagnosis which attach to a specific energy within the person or they may use muscle testing. One Brain is more spiritual than psychology. One brain practioners are spiritual healers. The use of One Brain is allowed in severe illnesses as a last resort. Many Rabbis prohibit it even then.
A book weitten by Rabbi Y. Hillel was published called "Be Tamim" like it says in the Torah "Be Tamim in your belief in God." The book teaches Tamim to mean only God and not through an intermediate. In the book are described various types of intermediates that are used by Jews which the book considers to be against the Torah. Included in these categories are spiritual healers or Jewish spiritual healers called Babas. The book is based mostly on the Talmud Oral law which is very strict against intermediates even forbidding building altars for sacrifice by individuals. These stringencies which existed at the time of the Beit HaMikdash still apply according to Jewish law because the law has not changed. The leniency given today is to use prayers for healing Tehillim or personal prayers even to go to pray at the graves of the righteous.
A very frum Baal Teshuva who lived in Europe suffered severe depression which hindered him from sleep. He couldn't find any answer to his problem until he went to a spiritual healer a Catholic Priest. The Catholic Priest int one session did some sort of intermediary action to enter his subconscious and healed him. He asked the Baal Teshuva What is your faith? The Baal Teshuva said Jewish. That was the end of the story. Christians have a reputation for healing. There science of healing is Christian Science. Eastern mystics are also healers using techniques of breathing and meditation. Some of these techniques of Yoga have no problem in Halacha with chanting names of false Gods but they all have the problem of intermediate. Meditation Eastern style connects with the light within which is prohibited in the Oral Torah. Calling the energies within the body light of God is Avoda Zara. A very frequent question religious people will ask a spiritual healer who has success in healing, From where are these energies coming? Is this witchcraft where you are told to close your eyes and imagine? In the times of the Beit HaMikdash there were strict punishments for those practicing spiritual healing. You could even be called a false prophet if you made judgements or diagnosis which had no basis.
In the times of the Beit Hamikdash with problems of depression and anxiety and other health problems, you had to be Tamim even to the extent of jumping off the roof. You could not accept spiritual healing except what the Torah authorized just like you could not build an altar outside the temple. Jewish law has not changed. You are still prohibited to accept help from an intermediate except for a medical doctor and for sure not from a spiritual healer.
As a result, living in Galut without Moshiach the Rabbis can give no answers to our people but to pray for his coming. You may not have any other alternative but to take pills if you are Tamim.
Development of World Religion
The Bible is the source of all information on the history of World Religion. The beginning of world religion is attributed to Adam and Eve who were the first man and woman of creation. Civilization began with Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. They were commanded to watch over the garden which was the world in which God placed them. God gave them permission to eat from all the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge where is interwoven good and evil. In the garden was also the Tree of Life, the knowledge of the Messiah the son of Joseph.
Adam was created from the dust of the earth. God blew into his nostrils the breath of life. Woman was added onto Adam. God took from the rib of Adam and created woman to be a part of him as it says, the bone of my bones, the flesh of my flesh. Adam and Eve were two souls male and female but part of one body. They enjoyed spiritual pleasure in the Garden of Eden as well as the pleasures that they received from eating from the permissible trees of the garden. Most important to them was the Tree of Life which gave to them peace and tranquility, the feelings of eternal life without sin.
The snake who was the most tricky beast of God's creation enticed Eve to eat from the forbidden tree the tree of knowledge. God warned Man and woman that if they will eat from the tree of knowledge they will be punishable by death. He tricked Eve to eat from the tree. The tree gave her great pleasure and she didn't die like she had been warned. She gave her husband also to eat from the tree. Now they became mortals and they became the father and mother of mortals when Eve gave birth. Human beings are born from sexual intercourse which is pleasant more than any other type of physical pleasure. The other physical pleasures were permitted like foods only sex was prohibited because from sex is born mortals children of man. According to the Bible people are born in sin. They are born from the trickery of the snake who tempted man and woman to have sexual intercourse. As a result the world became populated.
According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were born from the divine word of God. Initially they had no sin. They were not perfect. God created them with an evil inclination which caused them to have to leave the Garden of Eden. The bible relates the history of Adam and Eve from before the sin and after. It also teaches that the Garden of Eden still exists even after the sin but has become covered over and hidden from the children of man. The first religion of the world was returning to the Garden of Eden. Adam had this hidden secret and related it to his children the secret of the way back to the Garden of Eden.
Adam had two children Cain and Abel from Eve. Abel was the prime student of Adam. Cain was jealous because his father favored Abel and gave over to Abel the knowledge of returning to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God male and female. Adam taught to Abel the secret of the image of God which was hidden within mankind.
After Abel was killed by Cain his brother was born Seth. Adam transferred the supernal knowledge of the image of God to Seth until Noah. Noah built the arc to escape the flood. He carried with him the supernal knowledge for future generations. Noah had three sons. He chose Shem as his successor to teach the supernal knowledge.
Besides the knowledge of the image of God called the supernal knowledge, morality was also taught by the fathers to their children from generation to generation not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery. Even though the basics of morality was known to mankind, civilization had no control over the people. There were no laws of morality or law enforcement. Each person did as he pleased. There was idol worship. People worshiped idols that they believed had power.
Abraham grew up in a house of idol worship. His father Terach was an idol worshiper. Abraham received the knowledge of the divine image from Shem the son of Noah. Abraham carried this knowledge to the next generation. He gave this knowledge to his two sons Issac and Ishmael. Issac continued the tradition through his son Jacob. Esau his other son was not interested in spirituality but was more of a hunter. Ishmael the son of Abraham continued the knowledge but it was lost. He did not have a successor and his children married with the children of Esau. Jacob continued the knowledge and expanded on this knowledge to bring it to its highest level from the time of Adam. Jacob gave this knowledge over to his favorite son Joseph. Jacob had twelve sons. The brothers of Jacob were angry that Jacob had chosen to give this knowledge of the image of God to Joseph. Jacob gave special to Joseph a coat of many colors. They were more interested in the teachings of Jacob called the lower knowledge which involved justice and morality. The supernal knowledge is more involved with the attribute of mercy more than justice. The Divine law was divided into two parts the supernal knowledge of the attribute of mercy and the lower knowledge of justice. They felt that Joseph was behaving lightheaded with mercy which contradicted their way of truth which was through justice. There was hatred between Joseph and his brothers. They wanted to kill him but his life was spared and he was sold to a caravan of Egyptian merchants.
Joseph became the second next to the King of Egypt. He was the treasurer of Egypt in charge of distribution of food to the whole world during the years of the famine. Jacob's family grew to be seventy souls. Jacob had learned with his children the lower wisdom and knowledge of the laws and commandments of God. Only Joseph had the supernal knowledge of Adam and the Garden of Eden. The family was forced to move to Egypt because of the famine. They were confronted by Joseph who was the minister and treasurer of all Egypt second to the king. The brothers differed with Joseph on spiritual matters. Joseph who is the attribute of mercy forgave them for attempting to harm him. He gave them to settle in Egypt.
The supernal knowledge of the image of God and the lower knowledge of his justice laws and commandments were known by Jacob and his children. Jacob taught the law in Egypt. His family grew to 600,000 souls in Egypt over a period of 210 years. The Egyptians had forgotten Joseph who had saved their nation during the famine. Pharoah resented that the family of Jacob refused to assimilate with the Egyptians. They were becoming a powerful independent unit in Egypt with their own religion. He knew that eventually they would want to leave Egypt to form their own nation. He tried to stop them but was unsuccessful. God through his prophet Moses redeemed the Jewish people from Egypt. He brought them to Mount Sinai where they received the Torah from God. Moses instructed them how to make their nation when they will arrive in the land of Israel. In the wilderness, the whole nation was given the supernal knowledge when they received the Torah on Mount Sinai. The lower knowledge which was the laws and commandments of the Torah was given directly by God to Moses. Moses gave these laws over to Joshua and the elders called the Oral law. He also wrote the scripture called the five books of Moses also called the Old Testament. The Oral law was to become the law of the nation of Israel which was to be a kingship with a religious congress a National Religious State. There were also instruction about the building of a tabernacle in Jerusalem similar to the tabernacle which they used in the wilderness.
In the wilderness, the people were knowledgeable in the supernal knowledge of the image of God, and also instructed in the laws and commandments of God called the lower knowledge . Moses carried with him the supernal knowledge which he shared with those around him. The supernal knowledge was carried into Israel by the survivors of the generation of the wilderness. These were the prophets of Israel. Those that were born after the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai were learned in the lower knowledge but did not receive the higher spiritual knowledge from Moses.
The law of the new nation of Israel continued the lower knowledge for 900 years. However the higher knowledge was lost. There were no prophets at the time of the second temple. Since Moses had died and did not enter into Israel, the supernal knowledge was lost almost completely. The Nation did not encourage the teaching of prophecy. The religion of the nation of Israel was the religion of Moses and never to be changed as it says in Deuteronomy, there will never be a prophet like Moses in Israel. The lower knowledge of the religion and government was taught in schools according to the Oral teachings of Moses. Jewish religion today is what has survived from the teachings of Moses to the Jewish people in the wilderness which he gave to them orally. He also gave to them the written law the five books of Moses. He instructed them to protect the law and not to change it. The Jewish people today have survived through continuing the religious tradition as taught by Moses. The Oral law was later written down after the destruction of the second temple. Jews continue to study the Oral law and fight for the survival of their people who began as the family of Jacob. Judaism is a family religion. When the family grew it became a nation. They conquered the land of Israel and made their nation according to the laws and commandments of the Torah given by God to Moses. After the destruction of the second temple by the Romans, the people were dispersed throughout the world. They continued the tradition under the supervision of their religious leaders. The family of Jacob continues to survive today. The State of Israel was founded to be a place where Jews came live in their homeland. In the State of Israel Jews can continue to be a family. Marriage and divorce is governed by the religious leaders.
The supernal knowledge of the image of God was lost in the wilderness. Jacob also called Israel possessed the supernal knowledge as well as the lower knowledge. The supernal knowledge he gave only to Joseph but the lower knowledge he handed down to his other sons. Moses also had both the supernal knowledge and the lower knowledge. He gave over to the Jewish people that entered Israel lower knowledge which is the Jewish religion. The upper knowledge was forgotten slowly. After the destruction of the second temple the family of Jacob continued the tradition throughout the world.
The upper knowledge which was given special to Joseph was lost. Judaism follows laws and precepts which are the way of justice and righteousness. Judaism stresses the fear of God. Judah the other special son of Jacob became the king of the nation of Israel which separated into two parts Judah and Israel shortly after the reign of Solomon the son of King David. The kingship of Israel continued for nine hundred years. The National Religious government enforced the laws of the religion. The people did not have free choice to observe the Sabbath and other commandments. Violation of the Sabbath was punishable by death. There was justice in Israel without freedom.
People desire freedom. The people of Israel wanted a free state. There were periods in Jewish history of tension and civil war between the Old law and the New law which gave the people more freedom. In the period of King Yanai the nation became free of the old administration and the nation was governed only by the written law which gave the people more leniency. A new religious movement developed within the nation under the leadership of the first Christians. They declared Jesus as their king and the king of Israel. He was tried by the Sanhedrin and executed as a traitor of the republic. His followers continued to accept him as their king and Messiah after his death. They considered him to be the Messiah the son of Joseph preaching a free Israel a nation of mercy. Through his resurrection he revealed the divine image of Adam who was resurrected from the dust of the earth when he was created. Christianity took hold of the supernal knowledge as its foundation. They connected their movement with Adam as an eternal soul. They removed all restriction to join their movement and opened their movement to all children of Adam without having the obligation of circumcism. Judaism was a family religion based upon lineage to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Christianity found its connection to Adam and the attribute of mercy. Judaism and Christianity became two religions which clashed like Joseph and his brothers. Christianity preached the Messiah of mercy. Judaism preaches and prays for the Messiah of justice. Christianity came to bring religion to the children of Esau who had been denied his birthright by Jacob.
The children of Ishmael had forgotten their heritage. They were the children of Abraham who was a warrior for belief in One God and against idol worship. Mohammed a descendent of Ishmael received prophecy from God which guided him to return his family to the heritage of Abraham. They established the nation of Islam which preached One God and One religion. The religion of Islam was built on the foundations of simple faith in One God similar to the faith of the Jewish people which was according to the lower aspect of knowledge. They made their own religion based on the Koran which contradicted the law of Moses called Sharia. They considered themselves the chosen people carrying the law Sharia with them to convert the whole world to Islam.
The Christians had received the supernal knowledge which had been forgotten from the days of Moses. Jacob had given this knowledge over to his son Joseph. Through the resurrection of Jesus was revealed the eternal life of Adam created in the image of God. However, they needed to establish the lower knowledge to make Christianity a religion. In the beginning it was only a faith believing in the Messiah. Principal in Christianity is the supernal knowledge of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the sin. Unlike Judaism which is a family religion, Christianity established a hierarchy of priests and nuns that were celibates. Sex was considered in Christianity a sin. Mankind was born from sin. In Judaism it is an obligation to marry and have a family. Only in extreme circumstances when a person has complete devotion to learning Torah can he not marry. Christianity encourages its followers to become priests and nuns completely devoted to Jesus and his teachings. Not all people have the will to deny themselves physical pleasures like priests and nuns, so they also needed to make a religion for the everyday man which was partially based on the Torah. For the everyday man, they also needed to make Jesus more attractive, so they produced an image of Jesus as the son of God born through emaculate conception. This contradicts with considering Jesus as a prophet born like Moses and Elijah which is preached by Judaism. Also by calling Jesus the son of God, he was made to be more than a man. People could accept him as God but at the same time was made less important his resurrection. God does not need to resurrect. Resurrection does not add anything to God only to man. By making Jesus God, they were also judging the Jewish people for executing him rather being forgiving since Jesus forgives and resurrects. He lives and does not die. Christianity began as a sincere spiritual movement but became distorted when it was adopted as a National Religion of Rome. The original foundation of Christianity was as the Messiah of mercy and freedom. Now when it became adopted by Rome it became a weapon in the hands of the wicked. The Catholics continued the tradition from before Christianity was distorted by the Romans. However they also were a tool in the hands of the wicked.
The Protestants objected to the image of a priest being a celebate. They wanted to make Christianity more a family religion like Judaism. They allowed for their priests to marry. They also reformed other parts of their religion to make it more attractive for the everyday man.
Now from one religion Judaism came three religions Judaism, Islam and Chrisitanity. The Jews were instructed by their religious leaders to pray three times a day for the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah became very important during the period of the second temple. The Messiah that the Jews are praying for and the redemption of their Messiah is as a national hero. The Messiah which is described in prophecies of Issaih, Ezekiel, etc is for a person to bring to the world and the Jewish people a spiritual redemption and awakening. The Messiah who is the Jewish national hero has still not arrived. The Messiah that is to bring a spiritual redemption has arrived and the spiritual redemption is the work of three prophets Moses, Christ and Mohammed.
Mohammed came to bring his pagan folk to Moneotheism which is one third of the world. Christ revealed the supernal knowledge which was forgotten from the time of Moses, revealed through the resurrection. Moses the first prophet made Judaism the first religion which ignited the spark of Christianity and Islam. Almost the whole world believes in One God in different ways. Judaism and Islam believe in One God through the lower knowledge and Christianity believe in the One God through the supernal knowledge connected to the divine image of man in the Garden of Eden. The lower knowledge has come to bring the law of God to mankind after the sin of the tree of knowledge. The upper knowledge is to connect mankind to before the sin to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Moses the prophet on Mount Sinai gave to the world the Torah. The written Torah includes Man before the sin of the tree of knowledge and after the sin. It includes the upper and lower knowledge. Although Judaism is primarily the vessel of God to bring to the world the lower knowledge which are the laws and commandments, in the last five hundred years Judaism has expanded its borders through the study of the Kabballa which deals with the supernal knowledge the secrets of the Torah. In this way Judaism has connected to Christianity which is primarily the vessel of the supernal knowledge on earth.
Judaism on one side rejects the Kabballa as foreign influences to its tradition. On the other side Kabballa has given to the Jewish people more incentives in keeping the commandments connected to the prophecy "the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of God." The Messiah the Jewish national hero has still not arrived. Instead today in Judaism there are two Messiahs the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rebbe Nachman to compliment the Messiah of the world connected to Adam before the sin. Judaism has found its place in the revelation of the supernal knowledge Adam before the sin and in the lower knowledge of justice and righteousness after the sin. The road to World Unity and Peace can be achieved through Interfaith dialogue when all the parties are willing to accept their own place in World Religion.
As long as each religion denies the other, there cannot be peace. Peace and the revelation of God comes when each religion accepts the other religion and its prophet. The famous Kabballist Rabbi Yitchok Luria explained that there are two ways of praying to God. They are God in heaven distant from man and separate from man and God who is close to man and united with man. The Christian viewpoint of God close to man and united to man should accept also the other aspect which is connected to the lower knowledge. Judaism and Muslim pray to God in the aspect of distant and separate from man without any form or image. Christians pray to God in the image of the Messiah. The two viewpoints can be accepted by both sides for the sake of World Unity and Peace. God is not describable, the combination of both aspects distant and close and above the combinations of these two aspects, the hidden of hiddens.
Free Choice and Judaism
Judaism does not give the Jew free choice. On the eighth day after a Jewish male is born he is circumcised. On that day the child has entered into the covenant of God to be a Jew. At the age of thirteen the child becomes obligated in the fulfillment of the commandments of the Torah. He begins to put on Tefillin. He is obligated to all the commandments of the male adult. The girl at the age of 12 becomes an adult with all the obligations of a Jewish woman. The Torah does not give a Jew free choice.
The Jewish people were given the Oral Torah and the Written Torah. When the nation of Israel was established in the times of King David, the nation of the Jewish people was governed according to the Oral law. Transgressors of the commandments which were statutes given by God to the Jewish people by Moses on Mount Sinai were prosecuted by the justice system according to the punishments written within the law. They were given warnings. If they did not heed to these warnings, they became liable to be punished according to the law. If a man refused to put on the Tefillin, his father could force him under the law even to give him whippings. The laws were strictly enforced and the citizens were encouraged to rebuke those that did not follow the laws and commandments of God.
The Congress of the Nation of Israel was the Sanhedrin which met in the Beit HaMikdash. The Sanhedrin would rule over the judicial system and if necessary institute changes in the law which they felt were necessary to strengthen the judicial system. They could not add or subtract from the existing laws but could make decrees to strengthen the law. These decrees were considered to be the law of God. In the times of David they decreed that no man or woman could have relations out of wedlock. They also made decrees to forbid men and woman to be alone together called Yichud. They strengthened the Sabbath through forbidding certain acts called Muksa. The life of the Jewish people was centered around the Beit Hamikdash. They prohibited making altars and places of worship outside the temple.
No one living in Israel had free choice whether to accept the laws and commandments of God while living in the land of Israel under the Kingship. The laws and commandments were part of the nation. All nations of the world today have their own judicial systems, and their citizens are obligated to the laws of their nation. The difference between the Nation of Israel and the nations that exist today is that in the Nation of Israel there was no freedom of religion or freedom of speech. Judaism was the only religion allowed in the Nation of Israel. No one was allowed to speak out against the Torah the laws and commandments of God governing their state.
A Jew today that chooses to live Orthodox accepts the Oral law just like it was taught in the times of the temple. There are congregations today living under the strictly orthodox law. The leaders of these congregations are considered to be the Gedolei Torah or the leaders of Judaism. They together form a religious bloc amongst the existing religious nation today. Rambam considered by most people to be the major authority on Jewish law in our modern times teaches that Jewish law has not changed. The Moshiach will come to reinforce the law and build again the nation with the Beit Hamikdash.
According to Rambam there is no other authentic religion except for Judaism. A Jew that goes to another religion is considered a traitor and transgressor. A Jew has no free choice other than to choose to accept Jewish law which is the Oral Torah. Rambam does not consider the written Torah which was given to Israel as a separate Torah. Rambam considers the written Torah to be of secondary importance to the Oral Torah and not a factor in Jewish law which is the interpretation of the written law accepted by Judaism. According to Rambam using the written Torah in issues of Halacha or Jewish law is not valid or acceptable. Even though the written law may allow relationships out of wedlock, since they were prohibited by the Sanhedrin there is no permission. Jewish law is governed by the Oral law derived from the Talmud and the written law according to the thirteen principles of Rabbi Ishmael as interpreted by the religious leaders.
The problem with Judaism today is that it has not accepted change. It considers the law sacred even in the light of history which has proved it to have faults. During the period of the second temple there was a great argument between reformed Jews who considered the Written Torah as a second source for Halacha called the Sadducees and Parishees who denied that the law could be modified and changed. There was violence and civil war in the nation because of this controversy. Judaism today ignores these periods in history like the period in history when the nation of Israel was split into two nations after the reign of King Solomon. There was Israel consisting of ten tribes and Judah where remained the kingship of David and the Beit HaMikdash.
Throughout Jewish history there has been reformed movements which have created assimilation. When the people were given more freedom like in Europe there was more assimilation. Sefardim that lived amongst Islamic ruling nations which were governed under dictators had less assimilation than Ashkenazi who lived in Europe. Freedom has been an enemy to Judaism and not a friend.
Freedom reinforces the rights of the individual. In Judaism the individual has no free choice but to be part of the Nation of Israel governed by Jewish law. Today a Jew can be a traitor to his nation and not be punished. He can be a transgressor or convert to another faith. In the times of the Beit Hamikdash, he would be warned and put to death. Freedom is a challenge to Judaism and its leadership. Many leaders have ignored this challenge and accepted assimilation. Those that transgress they leave them to be punished in heaven. They recognize that they can only rebuke those that transgress and try to educate them in the importance of observance of the commandments like Shabbat. They will not change the law and allow desecration of Shabbat. Even though it is considered a great deed to bring the lost souls of Judaism back to their heritage, there is also the danger of losing souls in this battle.
The root of the problem that Judaism has with freedom is that it really cannot accommodate Jews in the Modern society with all their spiritual and emotional needs. Jews would be very happy to accept their religion if it made them happy. In the past whether a Jew was happy with his religion was no factor because living in societies which were governed by dictators, anti-Semites, religious fanatics of other religions, there was no better alternative for them but to remain with their own religion. Now that nations offer their people freedom, they are given free choice which they never had before. They can become reformed or conservative Jews, messianic Christians Jews for Jesus, Bhuddist etc. Judaism today has competition.
Christianity and Islam founded by the prophets Mohammed and Jesus was the first competition for Judaism. Today freedom and modern society has become one type of competition for Judaism a threat to its approach to religion which commands to observe without free choice. Christianity does not give complete free choice and certainly not Islam which is more like Judaism. Even Christians today have lost interest in their religion because it preaches commandments of God. Islam has become attractive to opponents to modern society. Jewish people naturally prefer their own religion but due to its strictness and opposition to all of humanity and all other religions, they feel threatened by Jewish law as taught by its leaders. Therefore when a Jew has already assimilated, he finds it very difficult to accept his own faith and may become attracted to another religion or just prefer to stay free of religion altogether. They are called according to Jewish law wicked if they are not observant. Judaism does not accept the importance of humanitarism as a virtue. Jewish law is very rigid called sacred which gives permission for Jews to hate other human beings or Jews who have become opponents to the Orthodox Jewiswh way.
However only through the Jewish religion does its people continue to survive the pressures of society. Most of its survival comes through the observance of the Ultra-Orthodox and their families which multiply in abundance. There are a few that return to their old faith through Lubavitch or other outreach organizations to marry and make Jewish families. The threat of Freedom is even penetrating into the Ultra Orthodox through improvements in technology principally internet. The children of the Ultra Orthodox are not blind. The world has become a small place and they can no longer hide in their Ghettos. Many of them have become depressed with their religion and feel restricted by its lack of individuality. Bi-Polar disorder is the result of these religious pressures.
Judaism is principally a family religion. The Torah encourages Jews to get married and have families unrestricted. Birth control is discouraged. The family unit is very important and plays a great role in education besides religious schools. When the family unity breaks down due to divorce or problems in child rearing which means kids go out of the way of the religion, it is hard for a Jew to stay happy. Family pressures, religious pressures cause darkness in the lives of Jewish people trying to continue in the way of their heritage. When one of your children has become blemished by the modern society, there may be no other alternative but to send him out of the home. There are dormitory schools for this purpose for young children but for older children it means sending them into the street. The only alternative is to pray to God for help.
Judaism according to the Oral law and Rambam demands the Jew to accept the religion and not to question which means blind faith. Freedom challenges blind acceptance of the law without understanding. The Jewish religion is based upon the Oral law which demands complete nullification to do and not to ask questions. Moshe Rabbeinu gave also to the Jewish people the written law about which is requested them to do and to understand called Naase VaNishma. However Judaism has made the written law of secondary importance even to nullify completely the aspect of Torah called Nishma to understand. A Jew who observes the Torah with free will is called a Sadducee. If he asks questions he is called a non-believer. He can only question to know the halacha better but to ask questions concerning Moshiach or the Geula, his questions are ignored. Delving into the secrets of the Torah is discouraged and truth Emet is secondary to practice.
Most Rabbis accept Judaism with its faults and say there is nothing they can do. They are restricted by the law as interpreted by Rambam which cannot be changed. These Rabbis recognize that changing the law may damage the Jewish family structure and change the model of a Jewish girl to make her more modern. Lubavitch has already forgotten the Judaism of the past even if they learn Rambam every day. They have the Moshiach which no one else accepts. Their goal is not only to change Judaism but also to effect a change in the world. They have accepted to be part of the world which other Ultra Orthodox Jewish groups do not consider important. Modern Orthodox cater to assimilated Jews and try to bring them into their congregations without becoming Messianic. They can succeed to one extent but as their congregants become more learned they begin to reject Judaism and become traditional. Only the Ultra-Orthodox can maintain their belief in Jewish law as authentic today as taught by Rambam.
Another alternative to improve Judaism that will make Jews more happy with their religion is if the religious leaders will endorse Interfaith Dialogue between Jews and other faiths to learn to work together and share their ideas for the sake of World Unity and Peace. A Jew in the modern society living in a small world cannot deny that other people have connected to God in different ways. To call other people and their religion idolatry is a cop out and giving a lack of respect to other human beings. Jewish leaders need to accept the importance of World Unity and Peace. The Rambam rejected other prophets but accepted humanitarian as important even if they were atheists. The Baal Shem Tov on the otherhand accepted other religious leaders and considered them a better vessel to work with then atheist who have no faith in God.
The main question for a Jew living in a free society is how to adapt religion to the world instead of ignoring the world. The Old way which preached that God wants a Jewish world with the nations under our sovereignty with Judaism being the only religion which is the way of Rambam, can only create more anti-Semitism and interfere with the Messianic goal of World Unity and Peace where the whole world will know God and worship the One God together. God will be One and his name will be One; the knowledge of God will fill the whole earth like the waters cover the sea. When in the past was allowed to make the Nation of Israel of greater importance than Unity of God, today Unity of God comes before everything and everything is sacrificed for its sake
The coming of the Messiah which is one of the thirteen principles of faith of Rambam and which the men of the great assembly instituted prayers for his coming each day three times a day has reached a culmination. Finally the messiah has been revealed in Judaism, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita. In the past the Messiah was revealed to the whole world at the time of end of the second Beit Hamikdash. The Jews that already had their religion and law from Moses on Mount Sinai rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Most of the world received him and even made for him a new religion. Another part of the world through another prophet rejected Jesus as their God and went in the way of the Moneotheism of Judaism but made their own law the Koran. The Messianic Era has culminated with two Messiahs who lived for truth and continue to live after their death. The work of building God's kingship on earth has not been completed. The Messiah has been revealed forever; only remains for mankind to receive the Messiah and build the kingship of God on earth through their teachings. The Torah of Moses the written Torah and the Oral Torah began the fulfillment of the Messianic dream. The Oral Torah remains with the Jewish people as the foundation of their religion. The written Torah is shared by the two Messiahs. The Koran exists as a challenge to the Jewish people to accept change and forget the Messiah which never came and never will come. Rabbi Hillel in Mesechta Sanhedrin says, There is no redeemer of Israel. His opinion is written in the Talmud even though it contradicts coming of the Messiah as described by Rambam one of the thirteen principles of faith. The Messiah has already come. The work now is to receive the Messiah and complete their work.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasized in his speeches that the major change in Judaism which has come through the coming of the Messiah is that each Jew today has free choice. There remains from the past the way of service of God without free choice but the service of God with free choice has been added to Judaism. The Rebbe went as far as to say that the Nation of Israel in the future will not be like the dictatorship which was before with marshal law but will be similar to the democracy of today. According to the Rebbe, we have to live with freedom and enjoy it. He said that in spiritual worlds freedom is the highest level coming from the 13 attributes of mercy. One Jew will have no right to judge the other Jew. All Jews will be accepted in the nation with equal love and respect. If the Jew will do wrong he will be punished, which is justice but justice will be united with mercy and love.
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