Monthly Archives: June 2017

When men and women prayed together at the Western Wall

From the mid-1800s, photographs of Jews praying together at the Western Wall became common on the walls of houses across the Western world. Today, a rich collection is found in Washington’s Library of Congress digital archives, in which a jumble of Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, men and women, are depicted in prayer at what has been considered one of Judaism’s holiest sites for the past two millennia.

Mixed prayer, with men and women praying together, appears to be the norm — or at least a viable option — in these archival images, aside from High Holy Day crushes, in which women either were not in attendance, or prayed off to the side.

In fact, the idea of partitioning prayer between men and women at the Western Wall is relatively modern, and due to a variety of sociological and political constraints was only put into practice after the unification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War in 1967. However, for centuries, the wall has had central importance as an anchor of Jewish worship and culture.

For hundreds of years following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Jews were persecuted and eventually forbidden from worshiping in Jerusalem. Only in 325 CE, under the Christian Byzantine Empire, was the ban lifted and were Jews allowed to pray on the ruins of their temple once a year on Tisha B’av, a holiday which memorializes its destruction.

Two Jewish men and two women stand in front of the Western Wall, Jerusalem, circa 1908. (Underwood & Underwood/Library of Congress)

Two Jewish men and two women stand in front of the Western Wall, Jerusalem, circa 1908. (Underwood & Underwood/Library of Congress)

In 361 CE Jews were again able to settle in Jerusalem and by 614 were again present in such numbers as to stage a revolt — siding with the Persians — against the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. Thoroughly trounced by 630, the Jews were generally massacred by returning forces and fled from the city.

In 638, the Arabs conquered Jerusalem and after they granted residents freedom of worship, Jews once again resettled the city. Under Arab rule, the Western Wall became a popular place of worship and was cited by several writers and diarists of the time. In the meantime, the Crusaders besieged Jerusalem in 1099 and slaughtered most Jewish inhabitants.

Following the Crusader conquests, a series of “high-profile” visitors are recorded as having come to the Holy City, among them poet Yehuda Halevi (1141), physician/philosopher Maimonides (1165), and diarist Benjamin of Tudela (1173).

During his 300-city winding pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in 1170 Benjamin of Tudela wrote (in Hebrew), “In front of this place is the Western Wall, which is one of the walls of the Holy of Holies. This is called the Gate of Mercy, and hither come all the Jews to pray before the Wall in the open court.”

Officially, however, only after Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders were Jews again allowed to resettle in 1187. Medieval Jewish scholar Nachmanides visited Jerusalem in 1267 to pray at the Western Wall, but reportedly met just two Jewish families in the city.

Jews at the Western Wall circa 1900 (Ottoman Empire Archives/via Israel Daily Picture)

Jews at the Western Wall circa 1900 (Ottoman Empire Archives/via Israel Daily Picture)

Under the Ottoman Empire, restrictions were again imposed on the Jews by 1705, including the inability to create permanent fixtures such as partitions — or even tables and benches — at the Western Wall, though they were still able to worship there. In 1840 Ibrahim Pasha wrote an edict forbidding Jews from paving a path to the Western Wall. The firman, or decree, also told Jews not to speak or pray loudly or keep books in the area.

The edict from Ibrahim Pasha can be explained by the uptick of Jewish settlement in the mid-1800s. However, even as new Jewish neighborhoods were built outside of the Old City, the Western Wall became ever more central for Jewish prayer.

Western Wall between between 1860 and 1890. (Library of Congress)

Western Wall between between 1860 and 1890. (Library of Congress)

Bavarian-born geographer Joseph Schwarz, a Jerusalem resident until his death in 1865, wrote in 1850 that “the large space at [the Wall’s] foot is often so densely filled up, that all cannot perform their devotions here at the same time.”

By the British Mandate period, the issue of Jewish prayer at the Western Wall came to a head with 1929 riots, which were in part over a new Committee for the Western Wall. Jewish historian and Hebrew literature professor Joseph Klausner established the “Pro-Wailing Wall Committee” to formalize the right to Jewish worship at the wall. The desire to create a prayer partition between sexes was part of the committee’s efforts. For his efforts, alongside massive destruction throughout Mandate Palestine, Klausner’s house in Jerusalem was destroyed.

With the outbreak of the 1948 War of Independence, Jerusalem’s Old City was captured by Jordanian forces and Jews were blocked from the Western Wall until its “redemption” in the 1967 Six Day War.

Images of the Western Wall became the iconic face of unified Jerusalem and the site took on national as well as religious symbolism. Quickly, a 12th-century neighborhood known as the Moroccan Quarter was razed, paving the way for what is today’s Western Wall plaza.

Following Palestine disturbances in 1936. British Lt. General Dill visits the Western Wall. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)

Following Palestine disturbances in 1936. British Lt. General Dill visits the Western Wall. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)

A transfer of authority from the IDF rabbis to the religious affairs minister was enshrined in the 1967 Law of the Conservation of Holy Places, which stated, among other things: “The holy places will be protected against desecration and all other harm, and against all things that may prevent free access of all religions to the holy places, and their feelings for these sites.”

Jews praying at the Western Wall (circa 1917). (public domain/via Israel Daily Picture)

Jews praying at the Western Wall (circa 1917). (public domain/via Israel Daily Picture)

That the wall was originally intended for all Jews — and other religions of the world — is borne out by a statement by then-religious affairs minister Zerach Warhaftig, a legal thinker who signed the Declaration of Independence. About two weeks after the war, Warhaftig told the Knesset that the law would ensure that people of all religions, from all places, have free access to the holy sites.

Men and women together at Jerusalem's Western Wall, between 1900 to 1920. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)

Men and women together at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, between 1900 to 1920. (G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection/Library of Congress)

At the same time, the Western Wall was divided between a prayer section — north of the Mughrabi Bridge leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque — and a southern section for the research and presentation of in situ archaeology.

The Western Wall became a major attraction for spiritual and nationalistic reasons and was visited by droves of Israelis and Diaspora Jews.

The section delineated for prayer was then administered by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which, after salvage archaeological excavations were completed, quickly put up a low separation barrier between men and women’s sections for prayer.

In 1988, The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, a governmental body established by the Ministry of Religion, was created to “cultivate, develop and preserve the Kotel (Western Wall) and its tunnels.”

At the same time, the impulse of Reform and Conservative Jews to worship at the Western Wall also grew. By the late 1980s, there were several instances of interrupted prayer through physical violence and “missiles” of feces-filled diapers thrown at groups made up largely of Diaspora Jews and the fledgling group of female worshipers that came to be known as Women of the Wall in 1988.

Police escort Anat Hoffman holding a Torah scroll from the Western Wall, on July 12, 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police escort Anat Hoffman holding a Torah scroll from the Western Wall, on July 12, 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Alongside Women of the Wall, Reform and Conservative Jewry took the matter of their right to pray at the Western Wall to court. A series of governmental committees began negotiations toward a compromise. By the 1990s, however, after a proposal to dedicate the Robinson’s Arch archaeological park to egalitarian prayer, both the Women of the Wall and Israeli Reform Jewry decided not to continue negotiations to that end.

The Conservative movement moved forward and since 2000 has had a continuous presence at Robinson’s Arch. In 2013, then religious affairs minister Naftali Bennett built a temporary prayer platform there which is in use until today.

Jewish women pray at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 7, 2017. (Nora Savosnick/Flash90)

Jewish women pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 7, 2017. (Nora Savosnick/Flash90)

At the same time, as the Women of the Wall has continued its monthly prayer gatherings at the Western Wall, the Heritage Foundation has built ever-higher prayer separations between the men’s and women’s sections to prevent the smuggling of Torah scrolls into the women’s section.

Jewish women and men pray in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, during the Cohen Benediction priestly blessing at the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 09, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jewish women and men pray in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, during the Cohen Benediction priestly blessing at the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 09, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

After three and a half years of negotiations between Women of the Wall, Reform and Conservative Jewry, as well as Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and government representatives, a January 31, 2016, government decision was passed to create a much enlarged and more contiguous prayer area in Robinson’s Arch.

On Sunday, that plan was officially frozen after a surprise cabinet vote.

Reform female and male rabbis pray together at Robinson's Arch, the Western Wall site slated for future egalitarian services, on Thursday, February 25, 2016. (Y.R/Reform Movement)

Reform female and male rabbis pray together at Robinson’s Arch, the Western Wall site slated for future egalitarian services, on Thursday, February 25, 2016. (Y.R/Reform Movement)

As taken from on June, 29, 2017.

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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Uncategorized


A Question That Deserve An Answer

Spin-off Religions

It was suggested to me the other day that all religions are a spin-off from Judaism. Is this true?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Good question!

Four thousand years ago, the patriarch Abraham went in search of God. The Zohar (1:86a) says: In the morning when Abraham saw the sun rise in the east, he thought, “This is a great power. This sun must surely be the king who created me.” That day he prayed to the sun. In the evening, upon seeing the sun set and the moon rise, Abraham said, “Surely the moon rules even the sun to which I prayed, for it no longer shines!” All night he prayed to the moon. In the morning, upon seeing the darkness pass, and the east light up, he said, “Surely all these have a King and Ruler Who directs them.” When God saw Abraham’s longing for Him, He appeared to Abraham and spoke with him.

Thus the first monotheist was born.

Although there were others who had a tradition of one God, only Abraham went out to teach others. Thus, Abraham became the “founder of monotheism,” and all other religions that believe in one God are, in essence, a derivation (or deviation) of Abraham’s original path. Specifically:

EASTERN RELIGIONS: After the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, the Torah says that Abraham took a wife named Keturah. They had children together, and the Torah says: “Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But to the concubine children, Abraham gave gifts. Then he sent them away… to the land of the East.” (Genesis 25:1-5) The words, “Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac,” indicate that Isaac alone was the spiritual inheritor of Abraham’s legacy – which was the ability to continue the Jewish faith. The other children, however, did not go to the East empty handed. According to the Zohar, the “gifts” refers to many of the mystical traditions of Abraham. Hence, the ancient eastern religions have their roots with Abraham. Some have even suggested that the name Abraham is the source of Brahma, the Buddhist deity. (For more perspective, see “Letters to a Buddhist Jew” by Rabbi Akiva Tatz)

CHRISTIANITY: The basis of Christianity is that Jesus (who was Jewish) was the son of God and messiah – both ideas which Judaism clearly reject. This religion remained mostly unheard of for more than 300 years, due to the fact that the stories of Jesus were regarded as preposterous by almost everyone. In the 4th century CE, the leader of the Roman Empire, Constantine (who was a pagan) had a dream in which he defeated his enemies by passing a cross to all his soldiers. Not knowing what the cross represented (this was not yet the symbol of Christianity), he asked his mother Miriam what it was. Miriam, who was experimenting with Christianity, decided it was the cross of Jesus. Constantine remained skeptical, until, to his amazement, he won the war. Because of his victory, he declared Christianity to be the new religion of the Roman Empire, dismantled all the existing idols, and changed the houses of idolatry into churches. Thus, even though Christianity started off as a small renegade Jewish cult, by the 4th century CE it consisted mostly of recently converted pagans.

ISLAM: Whereas Judaism started 4,000 years ago with Abraham, and Christianity is 2,000 years old, Islam is the baby of them all, having started 1,400 years ago. According to Thomas W. Lippman in his book “Understanding Islam,” Muslims trace their origins to the patriarch Abraham, who, according to the Koran, was neither Jew nor Christian but a universal ancestor of monotheists. Hagar, the Egyptian slave-girl, and Ishmael the son she bore to Abraham, are believed to have reached Mecca in their exile. Abraham himself is believed to have constructed the Kaaba, the sacred shrine of Mecca, which is the object of the annual pilgrimage.

From the above example you can see that although Judaism was the impetus for all the other religions of the world, many of the original tenets have been corrupted or abandoned.

However, Maimonides states that the popularity of Christianity and Islam are part of God’s plan to spread the ideals of Torah throughout the world. This moves society closer toward a greater understanding of God – all in preparation for the Messianic age, may it be speedily in our days.

Taken from, , June 25, 2017.

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Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


A Night of Opportunity

 Lazer Gurkow

At the stroke of midnight, the plague of the firstborn struck Egypt. Pharaoh rushed into the night, frantically looking for Moses and Aaron. He pleaded with them to take their people and depart Egypt immediately.

But Moses refused to hurry. The people would need time to pack and prepare. They would need provisions for their journey. Perhaps the Egyptians would be so kind as to supply them with vessels and garments?

The Egyptians opened their storehouses and bestowed all kinds of gifts upon their former slaves. Jews spent the night racing to and fro, amassing wealth. The poorest Jew was to leave Egypt with ninety donkeys loaded with gold and silver.(1)

It was not only material wealth that the Jews were garnering. Embedded within the gold and silver of Egypt were the “sparks of holiness” that eagerly awaited redemption. These redeemed sparks would constitute the spiritual harvest of the Egyptian exile, in fulfillment of the divine promise to Abrahamthat his children of would depart Egypt with “great wealth.”(2)

One man, however, did not join the frenzy.

Moses was looking for Joseph.

One hundred and thirty-nine years earlier, Joseph had predicted the coming redemption. He had asked his people to swear that when the time came, they would gather his remains and carry them to the Land of Israel for burial. (3)

The children of Israel, busy divesting Egypt of its treasure, all but forgot their sacred oath. Moses remembered and set out in search of Joseph’s grave. He visited the venerable Serach, daughter of Asher, one of the few people alive who could remember Joseph’s final hours. (4)

Serach informed Moses that Joseph had been placed in a metal casket, which had been dropped into the Nile. (5) She led him to the Nile and pointed out the very spot. Moses threw a stone into the river at that spot and called out to Joseph:

“The time of which you prophesied has finally arrived. G‑d has fulfilled his promise, and your children are now redeemed. Except for our responsibility to you, we are all ready to leave. Please arise to the surface and we will commence our exodus.”

Whereupon Joseph’s coffin rose to the surface. (6)

Commenting on this story, the Midrash declares that King Solomon spoke of Moses when he said, “The wise of heart shall choose the mitzvah.” (7)

The night was filled with opportunity. The righteous alongside the wicked, the wise alongside the foolish, and the leaders alongside the lay people — all were running about collecting Egyptian valuables and the spiritual rewards they embodied. The only truly wise man was Moses. He forfeited the opportunity to amass physical and spiritual treasures, and went to fulfill a special, once-in-a-lifetime mitzvah.

The Midrash concludes: Jacob was honored that Joseph, the most powerful man in Egypt, personally took care of his funeral and burial. Joseph was rewarded in kind, when Moses, the greatest Jew in history, assumed the task of caring for Joseph’s remains. And who buried Moses? G‑d himself. (8)

In all the wealth of earth and in all the rewards of heaven, there is nothing greater than a mitzvah.

1. Talmud, Bechorot 5b.
2. Genesis 15:14; see “Sparks” in last week’s Parshah section.
3. Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19.
4. When Moses came to Egypt with his promise of redemption, the Jewish elders went to consult with Serach because “the secret of redemption was given to her.” They wanted to know if Moses was the true redeemer or if his effort would end in infamy, as had previous attempts to break out of Egypt. When she was told that Moses used the same words as Joseph did before his passing, Pakod pakadti (“Remember I have remembered”), she pronounced him the true redeemer. (Tosafot, Sotah 13a)

5. The Egyptians did this for two reasons:

  1. The Nile was their source of sustenance, and they hoped that Joseph’s sacred presence would bring it blessing;
  2. Knowing that Jews were bound by their oath to carry his remains to Israel, the Egyptians resolved to bury him in a manner they hoped was unsalvageable. In this way, they hoped to keep the Jewish people indefinitely enslaved in Egypt. (Talmud, Sotah 13a; Devarim Rabbah, Parshat Berachah.)
6. For more detail see Mechilta 13:19; Midrash Rabbah, Shemot 20:19; Talmud, Sotah 13a. See also Rashi’s commentary to Exodus 32:4.
7. Proverbs 10:8.
8. Deuteronomy 34:6 and Rashi there.
Segun tomado de,  el domingo, 25 de junio de 2017
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Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


¿El judaísmo cree en las castas?

Por Elisha Greenbaum

Cuando era chico, en el shul (la sinagoga), había un señor mayor que solía sentarse siempre al final de la fila y mascullar para sí. Nunca estaba satisfecho. El aire acondicionado no estaba a la temperatura correcta, el minián (cuórum de diez personas) llegaba tarde, el jazán (el oficiante) tardaba demasiado, y el rabino hablaba demasiado lento. No era el hombre más simpático del mundo para interactuar, pero al menos venía al shul.

Una semana, mientras sacaban el séfer Torá del arca, lo escuché diciendo para sí: “¿Por qué ese tipo Kohen siempre se lleva la primera aliá?”.

Cierto, ¿por qué?¿Y por qué su primo, Levi, tiene el segundo puesto? No parece algo democrático; ¿por qué venir de una familia de konahim (sacerdotes) o leviim (levitas) debería hacerlo a uno digno de un honor extra? Deberíamos hacerlos esperar su turno al final de la fila como el resto de nosotros, los plebeyos. ¿Qué hicieron ellos para merecer un lugar en los asientos de adelante del autobús?

En los días del Templo, la casta sacerdotal era seleccionada de entre sus hermanos para servir a Hashem y traer bendición al pueblo. Los leviim cantaban durante el servicio y los kohanim ofrecían sacrificios. Beneficiarios de regalos y diezmos de sus camaradas judíos, se pasaban la vida enseñando la Torá a la comunidad y sirviendo a Di-s en nuestro nombre.

Hoy en día, ellos hacen menos y reciben menos a cambio. La pequeña medida de honor que se les paga es más una referencia histórica a su herencia ancestral que un reflejo de su fama personal. Los kohanim toman la primera aliá en cada lectura de la Torá y las cinco monedas de plata de un pidión habén (redención de un hijo). Bendicen a la congregación del shul en las festividades, y en ocasiones reciben otras sutiles marcas de respeto. Los leviim se llevan la segunda aliá y no mucho más.

Sin embargo, ser un Levi o un Kohen no se trata en realidad de recibir esas marcas públicas de respeto. El éxito en la vida tiene que ver con dar, no con recibir. La verdadera medida de la distinción de las familias sacerdotales residía en su rol de seguidores de las maneras de Di-s y en enseñar a los demás sobre el judaísmo.

Pero no hace falta haber nacido en una familia de sacerdotes para vivir como uno.

El Rambam enseña:

No sólo la tribu de Levi, sino también cualquiera de los habitantes del mundo con un espíritu que lo motive, y que entienda con su sabiduría que debe apartarse y ponerse delante de Di-s para servirle y asistirle y conocer a Di-s […] es santificado como santo entre los santos. Di-s será su parte y su herencia por siempre y le brindará lo que sea para él suficiente, como se lo brinda a los sacerdotes y a los levitas 1 .

Cuán maravilloso. Cuán igualitario. Todos podemos ser sacerdotes. Todos podemos alcanzar la santidad. Es posible que nunca se nos elija para la distinción menor de la primera aliá, pero tenemos la oportunidad infinita de alcanzar la grandeza en nuestro servicio a Di-s y a toda la comunidad.

No pongas el foco en una nimiedad como la distinción de clases; en cambio, observa tu relación con tu Creador. Di-s tiene un sistema: te guía hacia tu destino y te aplaude por tus esfuerzos.

1. Hilijot Shemitá 13:13.
El Rabino Elisha Greenbaum es el lider spiritual de la comunidad Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation y director adjunto de L’Chaim Chabad en Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.
Según tomado de, el viernes, 23 de junio de 2017.
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


Who was Rabbi Ishmael Ben Elisha

By Nissan Mindel

Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society

One of the Tannaim (the great Sages of the Mishnah), was Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, who lived some fifty years after the Destruction of the Second Beth Hamikdosh. He lived at the time of Rabbi Akiva, and like him, he was one of the Ten Martyrs who were cruelly put to death by the Roman governor.

Rabbi Ishmael came from a very distinguished family of High Priests, and he, too, had the title “Kohen Godol.” As a boy, he was unusually good looking and wise, and he was taken to Rome as a captive. The great Sage Rabbi Joshua ben Chanania came to Rome, probably as a messenger of the Jews in the Holy Land, to try to appeal before the Roman Emperor for a more lenient policy towards the persecuted Jews in the Holy Land. He learned that a Jewish boy was held captive in that city. He passed by the place where the boy was kept prisoner, and called out “Who delivered Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?” quoting a passage from the Prophet Isaiah (42:24). And the boy’s voice came back in reply, “Did not G‑d, He against Whom we have sinned?” quoting the words of the prophet from the second part of the same verse. Rabbi Joshua decided to spare no effort to ransom that boy, saying, “I am sure that boy will grow up to be one of our great Sages.” Indeed, for a large sum of money Rabbi Joshua succeeded in ransoming the young boy, whom he took home with him, fed him and clothed him, and taught him the Torah every day. Before long, Rabbi Ishmael became well-known as a distinguished scholar of the Torah. Rabbi Joshua himself now considered him as his colleague, and called him “My brother Ishmael.”

Rabbi Ishmael became a disciple of the famous Tanna, Rabbi Nechunia benHakaneh, and he also studied in the Yeshiva of Yavne. He was greatly respected by the Sages of his time. He and Rabbi Akiva were often engaged in Talmudic discussions, and both of them were called “the fathers of the world.”

Rabbi Ishmael is famous for the thirteen rules of interpretation (middoth) of the Torah. The Beraitba (Tannaic text) which enumerates them is well known, since it is included as a part of our Morning prayers. Well known also is his saying, “Be respectful of the old and kind to the young, and receive every man with gladness” (Aboth 3:12).

His knowledge and sharpness of mind earned him the title “Uprooter of mountains,” for his discussion of a point of the Torah was likened to “tearing up mountains and grinding them against each other.” His colleagues also likened him to a ” department-store” where you can get any merchandise you desire, so full was Rabbi Ishmael of knowledge of the Torah and all wisdoms.

In addition to his many discussions on points of Jewish law and his interpretations of the Torah (the Halachah), he was also well versed in the Aggadah and Midrash. He is the author of the Halachic Midrash, the Mechiltaon the Book of Shemoth, and many of his teachings, as well as those of his school, are to be found in the other Halachic Midrashim, the Sifra on Vayyikra, the Sifre on Bamidbar, and on Devarim, and throughout the Talmud. These teachings and sayings gave expression to his great love of his people, and show also the nobility of his character. He was one of several Sages that declared .”All Israelites are the sons of kings,” impressing upon his brethren that although they are subjugated to the Roman idolworshippers, and are persecuted and down-trodden by them, the Jews are nevertheless “royal princes” and infinitely superior to their oppressors. Thus, he instilled faith and courage in his brethren and was a source of great comfort to them at a very critical time, when the cruel emperor Hadrian tried his utmost to stamp out the Jewish religion and faith.

Rabbi Ishmael was a great friend of the poor, and of poor marriageable girls who could not get married because they were poor. He was especially sorry for those who were sensitive or ashamed to beg, and he helped them greatly by the following teaching: It is written in the Torah, “You shall surely open your hand to your borther, to your poor, your needy, in your land.” (Deut. 15 :11) . This, Rabbi Ishmael explained, means that if a man of good family is ashamed to ask for charity, it is our duty to “open” to him with words, saying, “My son, perhaps you need a loan?” This man would more readily accept, a “loan” which the giver should really treat as a gift.

Rabbi Ishmael also taught: Every “if” (in Heb. im) in the Torah refers to a voluntary act with the exception of three “ifs.” One of these three is, “If you lend money to any of My people with you who is poor” (Exod. 12:2 5) . Here the “if” is an obligation, for it is written, “You shall surely lend him” (Deut. 15:8) .

Once it came to Rabbi Ishmael’s knowledge that a man made a vow that he would not marry his niece because she was not good looking. He had the girl brought to his house, where she was groomed and beautified and dressed nicely. Then he sent for her uncle and asked him, “Is this the girl about whom you made a vow?” The uncle, who hardly recognized the niece after this change, replied, “No, indeed; I had quite another girl in mind when I made the vow.” Then Rabbi Ishmael told him that he was no longer bound by his vow and he could marry his niece. Rabbi Ishmael wept and said, “The daughters of Israel are really beautiful, but it is poverty that makes them look ugly.” When Rabbi Ishmael died, the daughters of Israel bewailed his death as the death of King Saul was lamented.

Rabbi Ishmael’s mother was a very pious woman, and she worshipped her son. But one day she astonished the Sages when she appeared before them to complain about her son. Said she, “Rebuke my son, Ishmael, for he does not show me honor.” The faces of the Sages turned pale, and they asked her, “Is it possible that Rabbi Ishmael should not show honor to his mother? What has he done to you?” She replied, “Before he goes to the Beth Hamidrash, I want to wash his feet, and to drink the water with which I have washed them, but he will not permit it!” Then the Sages said to Rabbi Ishmael, “Since this is her wish, honor her by permitting it.

People often wondered how G‑d does justice to the body and soul in the Day of judgment after life. Rabbi Ishmael explained it as follows:

A king had an orchard with fine fig trees. When the first fruits were about to ripen, he put two keepers in the orchard to keep out birds and thieves. One of the keepers was blind, the other was lame. After a time, the lame man said to the blind man, “I see some juicy figs just ripe for eating.” Said the blind man, “Lead me to them, and we will eat.” The lame man said, “I cannot walk.” The blind man said, “I cannot see.” Then the lame man got on the shoulders of the blind man, and they went and ate the figs, and returned to their places. Later the king came to the orchard, and asked, “Where are my figs?” The blind man said, “Can I see?” and the lame man said, “Can I walk?” But the king was clever. He placed the lame man on the shoulders of the blind man and made them walk. “This is how you did it,” the king said.

So, in the World to Come, G‑d says to the soul, “Why have you sinned?” The soul replies, “How could I have sinned? The body sinned. Since I left the body, I have flown about like an innocent bird in the air. What is my sin?” Then G‑d says to the body, “Why have you sinned?” and the body replies, “I have not sinned; it is the soul which has sinned. Since the soul left me, I lie still, like a stone on the ground. How could I have sinned?” So what does G‑d do? He puts the soul back into the body and judges the two together!”

Rabbi Ishmael knew well how powerful the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) was. And so it was taught in the School of Rabbi Ishamel: “If this abomination (Yetzer) meets you, drag him to the Beth Hamidrash: if it is hard as stone, it will be crushed; if it is as hard as iron, it will be broken in pieces.” In other words, the Torah and Mitzvoth are the only way to break down the evil inclination.

As already mentioned, Rabbi Ishmael was one of the Ten Martyrs who were put to death by the Romans. He faced death without fear. Both in his life and in death, and ever since, Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha has been an everlasting source of inspiration to our people; truly one of our greatest.

Según tomado de,

el lunes, 19 de junio de 2017.

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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cómo Interpretar “Como Ovejas llevadas al matadero”

por Yehuda Ribco

Fiesta del Cordero. ¿Qué es y cómo se celebra en España?

Shalom, gracias por la pregunta.

Veamos el capítulo 53 de Isaías, del cual ya hemos enseñado en varias ocasiones. 

Cuando habla de ovejas no dice en realidad “como ovejas al matadero”, comprobemos:

« כֻּלָּ֨נוּ֙ כַּצֹּ֣אן תָּעִ֔ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ לְדַרְכּ֖וֹ פָּנִ֑ינוּ וַֽה הִפְגִּ֣יעַ בּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת עֲו֥‍ֹן כֻּלָּֽנוּ : Todos nosotros nos descarriamos como ovejas; cada cual se apartó por su camino. Y el Eterno lo hirió, con el pecado de todos nosotros.»
(Ieshaiá/Isaías 53:6)

Esta parte de las ovejas, específicamente son las palabras que dicen los poderosos de las naciones, que no son judíos, por ellos y por sus pueblos. Finalmente toman conciencia de que han sido un rebaño que perdió la guía, detrás de pastores mentirosos y/o confundidos. Adorando al EGO, que es el dios de TODAS las religiones.

Llegado el momento de la revelación, caerán las máscaras y se verán las caras. Será la NESHAMÁ la que guíe con su idioma del AMOR, y no más el EGO, con su lenguaje de sufrimiento.
Mientras tanto, todos vamos como sin rumbo, detrás de jefes y deidades que están tanto o más ciegos que nosotros.

Luego, la segunda parte del versículo las “ovejas” se refieren al siervo sufriente de Dios, que como es sabido y confirmado, para la mayoría de los sabios es el pueblo judío. Pero en verdad no precisamos ir a las exégesis y opiniones, cuando tenemos al propio profeta declarando con claridad a quién identifica él, por Voluntad  Divina, como el siervo de Dios:

« וַיֹּ֥אמֶר לִ֖י עַבְדִּי־אָ֑תָּה יִשְׂרָאֵ֕ל אֲשֶׁר־בְּךָ֖ אֶתְפָּאָֽר: Y me dijo: ‘Mi siervo eres tú, oh Israel; en ti Me gloriaré.’»
(Ieshaiá/Isaías 49:3)

Éste es un siervo real y no un personaje mitológico.

Uno que ha sufrido y lo sigue haciendo, porque los ataques antisemitas contra Israel y su gente no han cesado, de hecho están tristemente incrementando. Como si con la Shoá no se hubiera por fin adquirido la madurez y la conciencia.

El verdadero siervo sufriente, que es el pueblo judío, es uno que pasó por todo tipo de sufrimientos y vejámenes, NO por pecado propio, sino por decisión de los que lo acosaron.
Es que, el EGO busca destronar la presencia del Eterno, por tanto hacernos olvidar de la NESHAMÁ.
Para lo cual, hace uso de todo tipo de estrategias, desde las más ingenuas hasta las más terribles. Y en el medio, no deja de probar lo que sea con tal de lograr su meta.

Para los pueblos adoctrinados por el EGO es necesario borrar a Dios del mundo, no porque lo odie, sino porque siente que es su enemigo ya que no les permite seguir en esclavitud del EGO sino que les insta a liberarse y alcanzar la plenitud. Esto les duele, les incomoda, les molesta, por lo que reaccionan como el EGO hace. Por tanto, tachan a Dios de sus vidas, pero hay algo muy molesto que no les deja olvidar y sumergirse en el EGO.

¿Cúal es esa piedra en el zapato?
Pues, el pueblo judío.
El judío que vive su judaísmo es un representante viviente del Dios Vivo.
Y, aunque no lo pareciera, incluso el judío más alejado del estilo de vida judío, sigue manteniendo encendida de alguna manera la chispa de su NESHAMÁ, y entonces actúa de manera ética aunque el resto se maneje con una moral corrupta; o aspira a grandes cosas, aunque el entorno lo límite; como sea, la vocecita de la esencia espiritual trata de brotar, aunque el judío esté en exilio de sí mismo.

Ésto por supuesto que incomoda a los que se adosan al EGO y temen abandonarlo, por lo cual aborrecen de Dios y Sus cosas. Por tanto, ¡a castigar al judío se ha dicho! Borrando al judío, se borra a Dios del mundo. Tal es la fórmula que se encuentra detrás de la inmensa mayoría de los ataques antisemitas y contra Israel (que es lo mismo, pues el antisionismo moderno es solo otro método de la misma podredumbre).

Volviendo a Isaías, los pueblos llegarán a darse cuenta de los males que han ocasionado a la víctima.
Eso no quitará todo el mal que ya han causado. Pero bueno, no debemos anclarnos al pasado sino vivir el presente, el cual tiene el regalo divino de la TESHUVÁ.

Me di cuenta de que me desvié de la cuestión inicial, aquella de las ovejas al matadero.
Así que vuelvo al camino de la respuesta. El pasuk (verso) siguiente dice:

« נִגַּ֨שׂ וְה֣וּא נַֽעֲנֶה֮ וְלֹ֣א יִפְתַּח־פִּיו֒ כַּשֶּׂה֙ לַטֶּ֣בַח יוּבָ֔ל וּכְרָחֵ֕ל לִפְנֵ֥י גֹֽזְזֶ֖יהָ נֶֽאֱלָ֑מָה וְלֹ֥א יִפְתַּ֖ח פִּֽיו: Él fue oprimido y afligido, pero no abrió su boca. Como un cordero, fue llevado al matadero; y como una oveja que enmudece delante de sus esquiladores, tampoco él abrió su boca.»
(Ieshaiá/Isaías 53:6-7)

Ahí sí habla de UN cordero llevado al matadero, y de una oveja que va a ser esquilada -no matada-.
Ambas imágenes corresponden nuevamente al siervo sufriente de Dios, que es el pueblo judío.
Es el cordero que fue llevado al matadero.

¡Tantas veces! y con tanta impunidad para los asesinos. Miren cómo se celebra cuando los puercos perversos del imperialismo árabe-musulmán asesinan a algún judío, y se les disculpa sus atrocidades con no se qué discurso barato y mal parido de “colonialismo” y otras idioteces sin fundamento.
Pero, todo vale para agredir al judío en la mente confundida y secuestrada de los adoradores del EGO, en cualquiera de sus formas.

Como sea, está llegando pronto la manifestación abierta de la Era Mesiánica, que ya ha dado inicio. Los últimos estertores de la idolatría son los que se escuchan ahora, son las convulsiones finales las que están provocando la escalada del odio contra los judíos e Israel. Se está acabando la era de la perdición, de hecho, ya finalizó en 1948 EC. Estamos entre la oscuridad y el amanecer, por eso cuesta tanto el despertar.

Espero que este estudio sirva no solamente para la cuestión del dicho “como ovejas al matadero”, sino para cosas mucho más profundas y trascendentes.

Shalom y bendición.

Según tomado de, el lunes, 19 de junio de 2017.


Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


What is the Significance of Name Changes in the Torah?

Shlomo Chaim Kesselman

Throughout the Torah various people have their names changed. Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai changes to Sarah and Hoshea to Joshua. Jacob even gets an entirely new name: Israel. What is the significance of these changes?

Like everything in Torah, even minor changes have major significance. To understand these name changes better, let Even minor changes have major significance us analyze the idea of a Hebrew name, and what it means to change one. Then, we will take a closer look at the events surrounding these particular name changes, and their significance.

What’s a Word?

In English, or for that matter in any language, words are essentially arbitrary. The name for an object bears no intrinsic connection with the object itself. For example, water is called “water” not because the word itself, or its component letters, have any connection with the liquid. People simply agreed to call it “water” so they could understand each other and communicate effectively. And so it is with every other name in every other language.

Not so with Hebrew, the holy tongue, the language with which G‑d created the world. The 22 letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet represent 22 different forms of G‑d’s life-giving energy. Through these letters, Divine energy enters the cosmos and enlivens all of creation. The Hebrew letters that make up the name of an object represent the different combinations and distillations of G‑dly energy necessary to keep that particular object in existence. Therefore, Hebrew words are precise, for they are the G‑dly life-energy enlivening any given creation. 1

Now for Names

As it is with physical objects, so it is with people. A person’s Hebrew name is their life-force, and therefore has a tremendous impact on that person. The Kabbalists explain2 that when a child is born, a kind of spirit of prophecy rests on the parents, giving them foresight into what name they should give their child. This is because a name is intrinsically connected with the essence of the child, and is a critical component of the person’s makeup.

(On a side note, this is why many have the custom to change or add a name when a person is sick, usually a name connected with healing, e.g., Baruch or Bracha [blessed], Chaim or Chaya [life]. Because a name draws down G‑dly life-force, names associated with healing and blessing are added in the hope that they will draw down a Divine energy of healing and blessing.)

This is the reason for the name changes of Abraham, Sarah and Joshua. All of them were about to embark on an entirely new life-mission, one for which they required a new, different measure of G‑dly energy. And so, their previous names were insufficient to empower them in fulfilling this new mission, and had to be changed.

Abraham and Sarah

Abram (or Avram) is a contraction of two words, av Aram, meaning “father of Aram,” and Sarai means “my princess.” Avraham and Sarah had always dedicatedTheir previous names were insufficient to empower them in their new mission their lives to inspiring others to abandon idolatry and serve G‑d; nevertheless, it was all in a private capacity. Avram was only the “father of Aram,” his own birthplace, and Sarai was “my princess,” personal and private, not to be shared by all.

G‑d changed their names because they were going global. Abram and Sarai were becoming the father and mother, the king and queen of all of humanity, responsible for and dedicated to everyone’s service of G‑d.

This new mission of theirs was expressed almost immediately and tangibly after their name changes with the birth of Isaac, the forefather of the Jewish people, who are called on to be a “light unto the nations.”3

And so Abram’s name became Abraham, a contraction of the words “av hamon [goyim],” meaning “the father of all nations,”4 and Sarai’s name became “Sarah,” which means “the princess.” By changing their names to reflect a broader leadership, G‑d imbued them with Divine energy commensurate to their new, more global life-mission.

Additionally, the Midrash relates5 that when G‑d told Abraham that he would bear a son from his wife Sarah, he looked into the stars and saw that he and his wife could not have any children. G‑d responded by telling Abraham that, yes, Abram could not have children, and yes, Sarai could not give birth, however Abraham and Sarah could have children. This Midrash also shows how, as explained, when a person’s name changes, their G‑dly life-energy changes, and they become virtually a different person, with a different destiny and a different potential.


Hoshea also required a different, more powerful G‑dly energy to succeed in his mission. He was one of the 12 spies sent to scout out the Land of Israel in preparation for the Jews’ conquest.Joshua was imbued with a new energyMoses foresaw that the spies would report negatively on the land and discourage the Jews from entering. He therefore changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua, which is short for “Kah yoshiacha,” “G‑d should rescue you [from the plot of the spies].” With the letter yud added to the beginning of his name, Joshua was imbued with a new energy, which gave him the capability to stand up to the other spies.

(It is interesting to note that the yud, the letter removed from Sarah’s name, was later “given” to Joshua. More on that here.)

Jacob and Israel

Jacob, too, had his name changed, to Israel. However, unlike the three mentioned above, Jacob was still called by his old name. Whereas Abraham or Sarah were no longer referred to by their old names, the Torah continues to refer to Jacob as Jacob, even after his name was changed to Israel.6 The Torah alternates between the two names, sometimes calling him Jacob and sometimes Israel.

This is because Jacob’s name was changed for a slightly different reason than the others. And so, even after his name changed, his old name remained a part of who he was. As the father of the 12 tribes, Jacob contained within him the entire Jewish nation. Therefore, his service of G‑d and conduct in the world are the prototype for every Jew’s service.

Jacob and Israel represent two different methods of navigating the world and the challenges it presents. In the quest to create a dwelling place for G‑d in this world, a Jew can operate in two ways: as Jacob or as Israel. First comes the Jacob way. The word Jacob comes from the world eikev, “heel,” and also from the word for “cheat.” This name refers to a Jew’s service while impeded by the world. At this point, a Jew is like a heel, at the bottom, having to contend with challenges and actively fight them. He or she is in no way above theA Jew can operate in two ways: as Jacob or as Israel challenges and is not impervious to them. To remain connected to G‑d, this Jew must “cheat” the world, so to speak. Meaning, the struggles and challenges presented by the physical world are never completely overcome, only “cheated,” so that G‑d can be served even in concealment.

Then comes Israel. Israel comes from the word sar, “officer,”7 and from the words G‑d spoke to Jacob when he renamed him: “ki sarisa,” “because you fought with men and angels and triumphed.”8 Israel therefore refers to a Jew who serves G‑d in a way that allows for G‑dliness to be revealed for all to see. This Jew is an “officer,” exalted and raised up high above the world, oblivious to the world’s concealments and challenges.

Jacob began with the name Jacob because that is how a Jew begins service of G‑d. He had to “cheat” his father, his brother and Laban, because he was still involved in the world. Only after he triumphed over Esau’s angel and finally returned to the Land of Israel did he attain the elevated status of Israel. Nevertheless, the name Jacob remained in use, because the method of Jacob is still a necessary component of every Jew’s service of G‑d.9

1. Tanya, Shaar Hayichud Ve’Emunah, ch. 1-2; Basi Legani 5716.
2. Rabbi Chayim ben Attar to Or Hachaim on Deuteronomy 29:17. Sefer Hagilgulim, Introduction 23.
3.Isaiah 49:6.
4.As to why he retained the  reish, and did not change to “Avham,” see Rashi to Genesis 17: 5.
5. See Rashi to Genesis 15:5, Midrash Rabbah Genesis 42: 12.
6. Talmud Berachot 13a.
7. Rashi, Genesis 35:10.
8. Genesis 32:29.
9. Likkutei Sichot, vol. 3, pp. 795-79.
Según tomado de, el sábado, 17 de junio de 2017
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Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


El Talit Según la Cábala

¿Pero cómo puede un ser humano limitado y finito, conectarse a un Di-s infinito e ilimitado?

La idea principal de la plegaria judía es conectarse con Di-s. ¿Pero cómo puede un ser humano limitado y finito, conectarse a un Di-s infinito e ilimitado? Realmente, debería ser imposible. Pero Di-s quiere relacionarse con nosotros, por lo tanto Él se “limitó”. Hizo esto al expresarse Él mismo en la creación. El mundo en que vivimos realmente es una expresión de Di-s, como una pieza musical es una expresión del músico que la compuso, y una pintura es la expresión del pintor, así también este mundo y todo en él es la obra de arte de Di-s. Nosotros no podemos ver a Di-s pero podemos ver Su creación. Al mirar una pintura o escuchar una canción podemos percibir algo acerca de quién es el artista, al observar la belleza de este mundo, su complejidad y sus ritmos podemos empezar a apreciar Di-s.

Pero (y este es un pero grande) aunque la creación exprese a Di-s, nunca podría expresar Su verdadera esencia. Tan hermoso como es el mundo, es sólo un fragmento insignificante de la verdadera sabiduría de Él. Y ahí es donde Di-s es muy diferente de un artista. Para realmente expresarse, el artista tiene que poner toda su concentración, esfuerzo y creatividad en su trabajo. Pero para Di-s, expresarse es exactamente lo contrario–Él se limitó, se rebajó a hacer un mundo físico. Sería como el talentoso músico que tiene que escribir un pegajoso jingle sobre el yogur para un anuncio de radio. ¿Expresa eso su genio? ¡No! ¡Más bien, expresa su paciencia! De manera similar, Di-s no necesitó invertir “esfuerzos” para crear semejante mundo asombroso. El único esfuerzo estuvo en “limitarse” para poder crear esta existencia finita.

El Talit tiene dos partes – el manto mismo y los tzitzit o cordeles. El manto rodea nuestro cuerpo, y los cordeles cuelgan de él. Ellos representan los dos aspectos de Di-s, y su forma de relacionarse con nosotros .El manto representa la esencia de di-s, que nos supera en extremo y no podemos alcanzarla, por ello el manto nos cubre. Los pequeños cordeles que cuelgan de las puntas son sólo una diminuta fracción de Su ser, aquella porción que podemos experimentar.

No importa cuán sagrados nos sintamos, Di-s es infinitamente más santo. Esto es el Talit que nos envuelve. Pero no importa cuán impío nos creamos, Di-s baja hacia nosotros y nos pide que hablemos con Él. Estos son los Tzitzit que cuelgan para que nosotros los tomemos y besemos.

Necesitamos tener esto en mente cuando rezamos, por eso usamos Talit


Según tomado de, el 16 de junio de 2017.

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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


El pecado de los espías: ¿Quién está a cargo?


Shlaj (Números 13-15)

El pecado de los espías: ¿Quién está a cargo?“Moshé renombró a Hoshea hijo de Nun, “Yehoshua”” (Números 13:16)

Antes de la partida de los 12 espías, Moshé le cambió el nombre a su discípulo Hoshea a Yehoshua. Ese cambio contenía en él un rezo para que Dios salvara a Yehoshua del plan de los espías. Sin embargo, aún debe explicarse, por qué Moshé estuvo de acuerdo con mandar espías si él estaba consciente del plan de blasfemar la Tierra de Israel. Además, ¿por qué rezó solamente por Yehoshua y no por Calev y los otros?

El Gaón de Vilna (en Emuná Vehashgajá) explica que hay tres formas en las cuales Dios manifiesta su Divina Providencia. La primera forma se llama hanhagá nisit, la manifestación de milagros abiertos. Esta fue la forma en la cual se relacionó con nosotros durante los 40 años en el desierto. Una Nube de Gloria nos acompañaba de día y un pilar de fuego durante la noche; comíamos el maná que caía del cielo; y nuestra sed se calmaba con agua que provenía de un pozo que fluía desde una roca y que nos acompañaba en nuestro viaje. Cuando pecábamos, la retribución Divina seguía inmediatamente de una forma inequívoca.

El segundo tipo de Providencia Divina se llama hanhagat nisim nistarim. En esta etapa, Dios se relaciona con nosotros a través de milagros ocultos. Esto describe la forma como Dios se relacionaba con nosotros en la Tierra de Israel, antes de nuestro exilio. En ese momento, era evidente una relación directa entre la naturaleza y la observancia de la Torá. Cuando cuidábamos las mitzvot y nos esforzábamos en Torá, las lluvias caían en su tiempo y en cantidad apropiada, la salud y la riqueza era nuestro lote; y cuando pecábamos, había sequía y hambruna.

Desde nuestro exilio de Israel, hemos experimentado la tercera forma de Divina Providencia, hester panim. En esta etapa, Dios esconde Su rostro de nosotros, nuestra habilidad de ver la Divina Providencia de Dios en el mundo se hace defectuosa.

El Gaón de Vilna explica que las variadas manifestaciones de la Divina Providencia difieren sólo en cuanto a nuestra percepción. En realidad, Dios controla y guía el mundo igualmente en un período en el que experimentamos milagros Divinos como algo natural y en períodos donde todo lo que vemos es función de la naturaleza. Simplemente en este último período, Dios esconde Su rostro.

* * *

Nueva tierra

Nuestros patriarcas en el desierto estaban conscientes que al entrar en la Tierra de Israel, la forma en la que Dios se relacionaba con nosotros cambiaría de ser una de milagros revelados a una de milagros dentro de la naturaleza. El maná no iba a caer más del cielo; sino que, íbamos a tener que arar, plantar y cosechar para poder comer. Ya no nos acompañaría un pozo; sino que dependeríamos de la lluvia para saciar nuestra sed.

Sin embargo, su error, fue razonar que si sus vidas iban a estar aparentemente sujetas al mismo orden natural que el resto del mundo, entonces su éxito final o su fracaso dependía de su propio poder militar. Ese fue un error lamentable.

Moshé rezo que Yehoshua se salvara de esa visión errada. Moshé razonó que él podía probarle a la gente su error dejándolos ver la Tierra de Israel. Él esperó que se dieran cuenta de la imposibilidad de la conquista solamente con su propio poder. Y a pesar de eso Dios les aseguró que ellos conquistarían la tierra. Ellos debieron haber concluido que obviamente Dios planeaba seguir ayudándolos, a pesar de que lo haría con milagros menos revelados.

Yehoshua, que debía dirigir al pueblo judío durante la nueva etapa de Divina Providencia, requería un rezo especial para no tener una perspectiva distorsionada sobre la naturaleza. El nombre Yehoshua significa – Hashem Yoshia – Que Dios te salve. El nombre Divino representa la síntesis entre la aparente causa y efecto del mundo natural y el vínculo íntimo espiritual de Dios con el hombre – la yud representa la creación de Dios del Mundo Venidero y la heh la creación de este mundo. Moshé rezó para que Yehoshua viera la naturaleza como nada más que un velo sobre la Divina Providencia directa de Dios. Por eso Naturaleza – Hateva – y el nombre Elokim son numéricamente equivalentes.

* * *

Lluvia y lágrimas

Moshé le dijo a los espías que trajeran las frutas de la Tierra de Israel precisamente para que entendieran la lección de que aún serían completamente dependientes de la beneficencia de Dios. Sin agua, las frutas no pueden crecer, y en Israel, el agua depende sólo de la lluvia que obviamente no está en las manos del hombre. Moshé quería que ellos reconocieran que a pesar de que se iba a requerir más esfuerzo para asegurar la subsistencia en el escenario natural de Israel que en el desierto, el resultado final no dependería menos de Dios que cuando el maná descendía directamente desde el Cielo.

Desafortunadamente, sólo Calev y Yehoshua comprendieron este punto. Los otros sólo vieron que estaba más allá de sus habilidades “naturales” conquistar la tierra y concluyeron que incluso Dios mismo, por así decirlo, no podría ayudar porque Él había elegido que ellos estuvieran gobernados por el orden natural. Este razonamiento los llevó al llanto sin sentido de la noche de Tishá B’Av cuando la gente lloró como señal de desesperanza.

Para corregir las lágrimas sin sentido de esa víspera de Tishá B’Av en el desierto, nuestros Santos Templos fueron destruidos en Tishá B’Av y fuimos expulsados al exilio donde llegaríamos a ver claramente nuestra dependencia de Dios. Pero en vez de llorar de impotencia, nuestras lágrimas en Tishá B’Av deben proclamar: “Dios, Tú prometiste que seríamos redimidos del exilio. No podemos alcanzar esa redención a través de nuestros esfuerzos. Por eso, Tú debes redimirnos”.

El rabino Yerujam Levovitz, el gran Mashguiaj de Mir, explica la Mishná al final de Sotá y dice que el Mashiaj no va a venir mientras nosotros atribuyamos nuestros éxitos y fracasos a las causas “naturales”. Mientras nosotros busquemos explicaciones políticas, económicas y sociológicas para los eventos del mundo y nos excusemos del estudio de la Torá sobre la base de que debemos ganarnos la vida, no mereceremos el fin de nuestro exilio.

Que fortalezcamos nuestra fe y confianza en Dios para que podamos finalmente secar las lágrimas de Tishá B’Av y podamos celebrarlo con júbilo, porque un Redentor habrá llegado a Zión.

Según tomado de, el miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017.

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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


Brujería y Judaísmo

Brujería y judaísmo

Si la magia y las artes ocultas existen, ¿Por qué son tan malas?

por Rav Aarón Lopiansky

La mayoría de los niños se emociona con las historias de brujas y demonios, con Harry Potter y Lord Voldemort. En un mundo seco y racional, esas fuerzas misteriosas le agregan un toque de diversión y excitación a la vida, además de estimular la imaginación. Les permiten a los niños sentir que hay una forma de vencer a un despiadado e insensible sistema.

¿Naciste pobre y no tienes la culpa? No hay problema: un hada mágica vendrá a tu puerta y te dará la fortuna que tanto deseas. ¿Un matón te está atormentando sin piedad? Alguien hará un hechizo que lo convertirá en ardilla por el resto de su vida.

Las películas de terror les dan una inyección momentánea de excitación y terror a los adolescentes junto con una fatídica ilusión de que quizás hay algo de cierto en la trama.

Tres enfoques generales

Cuando una persona madura, comienzan a surgir tres enfoques generales respecto a lo oculto y otras fuerzas extrañas.

Primero están las mentes serias y racionales que se ríen de todo. Para ellas, el mundo es racional y cuantificable y todo lo demás es una absoluta basura.

El mundo tiene una dimensión espiritual con misterios que no podemos comprender.

Hay un segundo grupo de personas, que tienden a ser espirituales, artísticas, poéticas, etc., las cuales sienten que el mundo tiene una dimensión espiritual y que existen todo tipo de fuerzas y misterios que la razón no puede comprender. El mundo de esta gente incluye la lectura de las hojas de té, el tarot, las bolas de cristal y las predicciones psíquicas.

El tercer grupo corresponde a las personas profundamente religiosas, cuyo entendimiento es que hay una gran batalla en el mundo entre dos fuerzas: el bien y el mal. El capitán del equipo bueno es Dios, y es ayudado por una muchedumbre de ángeles, santos, mártires, etc. El capitán del equipo malo es el diablo, y es ayudado por demonios, espíritus malvados y políticos. Su mundo se ve particularmente amenazado por los libros como Harry Potter, principalmente por la severidad con que la Biblia trata a la hechicería.

La visión judía

Ninguna de esas tres formas de ver el mundo se alinea con el judaísmo. ¿Cuál es la opinión de la Torá respecto a la hechicería?

La Torá tiene una actitud muy negativa respecto a la hechicería en sus varias formas. Como está escrito:

“A una hechicera no dejarás vivir” (Éxodo 22:17).

“Cuando vengas a la Tierra que te da Hashem, tu Dios, no aprenderás a actuar de acuerdo con las abominaciones de esas naciones. No se hallará entre ustedes… ningún brujo, nadie que lea presagios, ningún hechicero… o que consulte a los muertos. Pues todo el que hace esto es una abominación para Dios, y a causa de estas abominaciones Dios expulsa a las naciones de ante ti” (Deuteronomio 18:9-12).

Pero, ¿por qué? ¿Qué tienen de malo estas cosas?

El enfoque denominado el “diablo vs. Dios” es aborrecido por el judaísmo por causa de su inherente dualismo. Dios es Uno, y sólo Uno. Actúa de diferentes maneras, pero no hay dos bandos.

El judaísmo sí habla del Satán/diablo, pero considera que el Satán es un emisario de Dios que pone a prueba la sinceridad de las acciones del hombre, la fortaleza de sus convicciones y el vigor de su moral. Si bien este diablo pareciera tentar al hombre para que haga lo equivocado, no es inherentemente un ser malvado, sino que realiza una operación encubierta en la que aparenta tentar hacia el mal, pero en realidad está trabajando para Dios. Una lectura rápida del comienzo de Job transmite este mensaje: Dios envía al Satán para poner a prueba la rectitud de Job.

Tal como un dentista o un doctor ponen a prueba la firmeza de un hueso o de la carne y como un ejército pone a prueba la integridad y fidelidad de sus agentes de inteligencia, de la misma manera Dios pone a prueba al hombre. Una prueba tiene el poder de revelar el valor real de las acciones de una persona, demostrando cuál es su verdadero nivel.

Entonces, si la magia y lo oculto existen, ¿por qué son tan malos?

Magia buena, magia mala

También encontramos la mención de muchos tipos de “magia buena” en las fuentes talmúdicas, como las bendiciones, los amuletos, etc. ¿Cómo podemos distinguir entre los dos tipos de fuerzas espirituales?

El enfoque más aceptado es el de Najmánides, el gran pensador del siglo XII. Trataremos de adaptar y explicar su enfoque.

Si bien Dios fue el único creador del universo, Él creó un sistema autónomo que llamamos ‘naturaleza’, el cual sirve de intermediario entre Dios y el hombre.

El sistema de la naturaleza es independiente y tiene sus leyes, sus causas y sus efectos. Dado que este sistema puede utilizarse sin la asistencia directa de Dios, permite una especie de ateísmo: es fácil pensar que el sistema funciona por sí mismo, independiente de Dios. La gravedad, la inercia, el electromagnetismo, etc., funcionan tanto si la persona es recta como si es pecadora. Una persona que se deja engañar por el fenómeno de la naturaleza sin preguntarse sobre su causa, es engañada por el sistema y termina creyendo que Dios no existe.

El mundo de lo casi espiritual puede quebrar las reglas de la naturaleza por medio de los milagros y la magia.

Entre Dios y este mundo de la naturaleza hay otro puente, al cual llamaremos lo ‘oculto’ o lo ‘casi espiritual’, el cual tiene la capacidad de cambiar y torcer las reglas de la naturaleza por medio de milagros, magia, etc. Si bien este mundo casi espiritual es más elevado que la naturaleza, sigue sin ser Divino. También tiene sus reglas y leyes operativas. Quizás sea más poderoso que el mundo físico, pero con certeza no es omnipotente.

¿Podemos utilizar este mundo de la misma manera que podemos hacer uso del mundo físico?

Najmánides dice que por lo general Dios no quiere que utilicemos este mundo. Dios quiso que tomemos conciencia de Su existencia dentro del mundo natural y por medio de sus fenómenos. Quien subvierte el sistema natural utilizando constantemente el mundo sobrenatural está yendo en contra de la voluntad de Dios.

En las ocasiones en que algunas personas santas han utilizado fuerzas sobrenaturales, siempre han enfatizado que los milagros sólo demuestran la omnipotencia de Dios para pasar por sobre los fenómenos naturales. Esto es similar (aunque ciertamente no lo mismo) a los milagros que hizo Dios para Israel en Egipto con el objetivo de establecer ciertas verdades Divinas. Cuando una persona justa utiliza ocasionalmente la intervención Divina, refuerza esas grandes verdades.

Peligro de equivocarse

Es en este punto que existe el peligro de las grandes equivocaciones. Quien se da cuenta que las leyes de la naturaleza son insuficientes por sí mismas para explicar el mundo, se encontrará con este mundo más espiritual y conocerá una variedad de ‘seres espirituales’. Si entiende que son agentes de Dios, entonces la experiencia se volverá verdaderamente espiritual. Pero si se equivoca y cree que son independientes de Dios, ¡entonces comenzará a hacer idolatría! Por lo tanto, esas fuerzas se convierten en una fuente para el mal cuando son vistas como un poder alternativo a Dios.

Quizás la mejor ilustración de este enfoque dual es inherente a la historia de la serpiente de cobre:

El pueblo habló en contra de Dios y de Moshé… y Dios envió a las temibles serpientes en contra del pueblo y éstas mordieron al pueblo. Una gran multitud de Israel murió… y Dios le dijo a Moshé: “Hazte una serpiente temible [de cobre] y ponla sobre un mástil, y ocurrirá que todo el que fue mordido la mirará y vivirá”. Moshé hizo una serpiente de cobre y la colocó sobre el mástil; y ocurría que si una serpiente había mordido a un hombre, éste miraba a la serpiente de cobre y vivía” (Números 21:5-9).

La Mishná (Rosh Hashaná 29a) pone esto en perspectiva:

¿La serpiente curaba o mataba? [La verdad es que] cuando Israel miraba hacia el Cielo y dirigía su corazón hacia su Padre Celestial [eran sanados]; cuando no, eran eliminados.

Aquí tenemos ambas facetas de lo sobrenatural: al principio, la naturaleza milagrosa de la serpiente hacía que las personas se dieran cuenta de que la plaga provenía de Dios y trataban de mejorarse a sí mismas. En ese caso, fue una experiencia espiritual positiva.

Posteriormente las cosas empeoraron y la serpiente, en lugar de ser un medio para el reconocimiento de Dios, se convirtió en un punto focal, es decir, en la maravillosa serpiente curadora independiente del poder de Dios. Eso es idolatría. Por esta razón, muchos cientos de años después, el Rey Ezequías hizo que esta serpiente de cobre fuera destruida: porque la gente la trataba como un ídolo.

Entendiendo la idolatría

La idolatría es la percepción de que hay muchas fuerzas con muchos poderes sobre la humanidad que podrían actuar incluso sobre Dios. El idólatra cree que puede llegar a utilizar estos poderes en contra de Dios si tan sólo supiera cómo arrebatárselos.

Es como si el poder de Dios yaciera en una pistola que Él tiene en Su mano. El idólatra cree que si pudiera sacarle a Dios la pistola de la mano, entonces tendría ese poder; equipara los hechizos de la brujería con la capacidad de doblegar a Dios.

El mejor ejemplo de este pensamiento es el malvado profeta Bilam, a quien la Torá denomina hechicero. Él era una persona muy sabia en esta área. Se la pasaba tramando usar el mundo de la magia en contra de Dios. Creyó que entendía la mente de Dios y que, con suficiente manipulación, ¡podría superarlo!

En un aspecto, esta es la peor forma posible de idolatría. Por un lado, la persona tiene algo real. No es una roca extraña que una mente primitiva fantaseó que era un dios, sino que es un poder que realmente funciona. Pero de todos modos es esencialmente falso, porque nada es independiente de Dios.

La prueba de fuego de la espiritualidad es la moralidad. Sin moralidad, toda espiritualidad es falsa o malvada.

Para nosotros, la prueba de fuego de la espiritualidad es la moralidad. Toda forma de espiritualidad que no le presenta exigencias morales a la persona, que no busca acercarlo a Dios ni materializar el potencial Divino del hombre, es falsa o malvada.

Si una persona practica ritos ocultos cuyo contenido es un mascullo de palabras extrañas, costumbres bizarras o ritos insólitos, entonces estos ritos o bien son falsos o bien son malvados. Por lo general son falsos, pero en los casos en que ha aprovechado esos poderes, son malvados porque la persona los ha divorciado de Dios.

Los grandes rabinos que realizaron actos sobrenaturales los utilizaron para transmitir un mensaje sobre Dios. Les ordenaban a las personas reconocer al Creador, desarrollar su carácter, ser amables con los demás, ser honestos y fieles, gobernar sus instintos, etc. En el contexto amplio de Dios, la Torá y la moralidad, esos inusuales milagros fueron realmente revelaciones Divinas.

Según tomado de, el miércoles, 14 de junio de 2017.

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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Uncategorized