Cuando las cosas no salen como quieres

por Eliezer Shemtov

¿Qué te pasa cuando las cosas no salen como a ti te hubiera gustado? ¿Te sentís mal? ¿Fracasado? ¿Desganado?

Esa reacción es natural. A la gente le gusta cuando las cosas salen como a ellos les gusta. Dándole una vuelta de tuerca más, uno se culpe a sí mismo cuando las cosas salen mal. “Si hubiera hecho tal o cual cosa, no pasaría esto.” “Si no fuera tan idiota…”

¿Cómo se hace para combatir dichas actitudes debilitantes y sentirse hasta empoderado y motivado por la adversidad y los fracasos personales?

Hablemos hoy de la humildad y la arrogancia, personificadas por Moisés y el faraón, los dos personajes centrales de la lectura de esta semana, Vaerá1 .

Los dos reaccionaron de maneras totalmente diferentes ante la adversidad. El uno con cada vez mayor sensibilidad y el otro con cada vez mayor insensibilidad. Moisés con su humildad salió triunfante y el faraón con su arrogancia y actitud de invencibilidad terminó derrotado.

A primera vista parecería que la arrogancia es sinónima de fuerza y la humildad de debilidad y en una contienda entre las dos, ganaría la arrogancia. No es así. Para nada. La arrogancia no tiene nada que ver con la auto estima alta y la humildad nada tiene que ver con un complejo de inferioridad. Es todo lo contrario. La arrogancia viene de una necesidad de proyectar fuerza para protegerse contra una sensación de debilidad y vacío interior, mientras que la humildad viene de una fortaleza interior que desafía al individuo a utilizar sus dones de la mejor manera. El arrogante cree que es superior, mientras que el humilde —que a la vez puede ser orgulloso— siente que lo que tiene es superior. El arrogante siente que no debe nada a nadie; al contrario: todos deben todo a él. El humilde siente que dado que tiene algo que los demás no tienen tiene un mayor deber hacia ellos que lo que tienen hacia él.

Esta diferencia de perspectiva desemboca también en actitudes personales muy diferentes. En referencia a los justos —que suelen también ser humildes—el rey Salomón afirma2 que “El justo caerá siete veces y se levantará”. En cuanto a los malvados —que suelen también ser arrogantes— encontramos3 que “los malvados están llenos de arrepentimientos”. A primera vista parecerían muy similares, tanto los justos como los malvados caen, se arrepientan. Pero en realidad hay una gran diferencia. El justo cae y se levanta, mientras que el malvado se levanta y eventualmente cae, en última instancia —si tiene suerte— se arrepienta de su conducta.

El malvado, el arrogante, se desmorona ante una situación que pone en relieve su debilidad o defecto, ya que entiende que es o debería ser perfecto e intachable. El justo, el humilde, no se asusta de sus defectos y debilidades, las ve como desafíos y misiones que Di-s le puso en el camino. Si se topa con un fracaso o una dificultad no es para deprimirse, todo lo contrario: es una señal clara de lo que debe hacer de aquí en más, el desafío puesto en su camino es prueba de que tiene las fuerzas necesarias como para superarla. No está en su camino para negarlo sino para reafirmarlo.

Moisés, al toparse con la adversidad buscó su causa, propósito y sentido y al encontrarlos le dio motivación y alegría, un propósito de vida, por más difícil que parecía ser. El faraón, por otro lado, creyó que todo lo que tenía era producto de su omnipotencia. No debía nada a nadie “No conozco a Di-s”, afirmó cuando Moisés le vino a transmitir lo que él debía hacer. Las dificultades y limitaciones no las soportaba. No encajaban dentro de su perspectiva de que era perfecto y omnipotente.

Al final, el “omnipotente” faraón perdió todo. Por más de que era rey y tenía todo, no tenía nada, ya que lo que el hombre más necesita es un sentido, propósito y razón de ser más allá de su intereses y satisfacciones personales, inmediatos y efímeros. La vida y el legado de Moshé, en cambio, sigue siendo vigente hasta el día de hoy.

Así que al herramienta de esta semana es: no te asustes de los desafíos. Cuanto más difíciles son, tanto más reafirma las fuerzas que tienes. Di-s no crea nada en vano, incluyendo cada coyuntura que te toca vivir. La arrogancia viene por lo que no tienes, la humildad viene por lo que sí tienes.

Notas al Pie

1. Éxodo 6:2 – 9:35

2. Proverbios 24:16

3. Citado en Tania Cap 11. Shévet Musar Cap 25.

Según tomado, https://es.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4623105/jewish/Vaera.htm

Why Was the Talmud Called “Gemara”?

by YehudaShurpin

Talmud (“study”) is the name for the vast collection of texts that covers the full gamut of Jewish law and tradition, compiled and edited between the third and fifth centuries.

There are two parts of the Talmud: the Mishnah, a collection of terse teachings written in Hebrew, redacted by Rabbi Judah the Prince; and a second part that includes elaborations on the Mishnah, citing many teachings, traditions and explanations of the rabbis (read the full history of the Talmud here). This commentary on the Mishnah is labeled “Gemara” in classic editions of the Talmud, but this does not seem to have always been the case.

Furthermore, in many instances, the word talmud itself was removed from the text of the Talmud and replaced with gemara.1 Apparently, this was to avoid Christian censors, who hated the Talmud, which they perceived as a threat to their traditions.2

Why was the word gemara used, and what does it mean?

Meaning of the Word Gemara

The Talmud tells us that the word gemara refers to oral traditions3 and study4 Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi (1040-1105), explains that it connotes the teachings provided by later sages to elucidate and clarify the words of earlier sages.5 Elsewhere, he explains that it refers to the principles and underlying reasoning of the Mishnah and halachah, and how to resolve seeming contradictions in the Mishnah.6

The Talmud

There seems to be only one clear instance in the Babylonian Talmud (and none in the Jerusalem Talmud) where the term gemara is used to refer to the body of the Talmud in general as it is used today.7

At the conclusion of an incident in which a group of rabbis were discussing the laws of an eruv placed under a tree, the Talmud states:

Rav Nachman said to them: “Correct, and so said Shmuel.”

[The rabbis] said to him, “Did you analyze the Mishnah so thoroughly?!”

The Talmud explains: Why were they so amazed [that he studied thoroughly]? They too subjected the Mishnah to rigorous scrutiny. Rather, this is what they said to him: “Did you establish it in the gemara?”8

[To which] Rav Nachman replied, “Yes, [I did].”

Although the term gemara seems to be used here in the conventional sense, it needs to be stressed that the Talmud had not yet been written at the time of this exchange. Rather, as Rabbi Sherira Gaon (c. 906-1006) explains in his famous epistle, during the generations of the Talmudic sages, when a teaching had become unclear due to the diminishing capacity of the students, they would establish the exact wording in carefully kept official oral records, which was called the gemara and later recorded as the Talmud. Thus, the gemara was the official interpretation of the Mishnah accepted and sanctioned by the Talmudic academies of the time. However, the teachings and learning was all done orally. It was only later that it was all written down, as was done with the Mishnah years earlier.9

This further supports the understanding that gemara originally referred to oral traditions and the act of repeating and learning them, not a written body of text.

Additional Meanings

Some explain that the word gemara is related to the Hebrew word gemar, which means “finished” or “conclusion,” since it is the conclusion of the writing of the Oral Torah.10

Fiery Coal

On a deeper level, some explain that the term gemara is rooted in the phrase gumra de’asha, a “fiery coal.”11 For when one learns Torah purely in order to serve G‑d, he ignites within himself a fiery passion.12

Protective Angels

Rabbi Chaim Lowe (brother of the famed Maharal of Prague) explains that Talmud study is a form of spiritual protection. This is alluded to by the word gemara, which is an acronym for the four hosts of angels, each one headed by the archangels, who sing G‑d’s praise and surround the person to save him from harm:13

Gabriel גבריאל
Michael מיכאל
Raphael רפאל
Uriel אוריאל

May the merit of our Torah learning protect us all!

Footnotes

1. See, for example, Talmud, Sukkah 28a, Bava Batra 8a.

2. See W. Bacher “Gemara,” Hebrew Union College Annual 1904, p. 26.

3. Talmud, Avodah Zarah 19a.

4. See, for example, Talmud Bava Metzia 33a-b.

5. Rashi on Talmud, Sukkah 28a.

6. Rashi on Talmud, Bava Metzia 31a.

7. See W. Bacher “Gemara,” Hebrew Union College Annual 1904, p. 26.

8. Talmud, Eruvin 32b.

9. See Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon, p. 73 of Mozanyim ed.; see also notes ad loc.

10. See Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurun, Marbim L’Hadlik Neirot in footnote.

11. See Targum Yonatan on Exodus 27:5.

12. Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, quoted in Beis Aharon, Seder Hayom V’azhorot, R’ Aharon (the second) 65.

13. Sefer Hachaim, Sefer Zechuyot 1:2.

As taken from, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4617587/jewish/Why-Was-the-Talmud-Called-Gemara.htm#utm_medium=email&utm_source=1_chabad.org_magazine_en&utm_campaign=en&utm_content=content

The Tragedy of Jesus and a Hand Wave

by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

The festivities surrounding the birthday of a Jewish child, by the name of Jesus and his brit mila (circumcision) on the first day of January are really more than surprising. The astonishing fact that one Jewish child seems to be at the center of an unprecedented world affair, in which billions of human beings participate, should make us wonder what this is all about.

Maimonides informs us that there must be more than a little religious meaning to all this. In his Mishne Torah (Hilchot Melachim, 11:4) he states that God caused Jesus to have such a great influence on mankind so that it would become accustomed to the concept of the coming of the real mashiach in the future. The great Rav Avraham Yitschak Kook (1865-1935) even went so far as to call Jesus a man with “awesome personal power and spiritual flow” which was misdirected and led to his confusion and apostasy. (Sefer Derech Hatechia, and his letter of June 29,1913 to the famous scholar, the Ridbaz, Rabbi Yacov David Wilovsky z.l.)

Most astonishing is the recounting in the Talmud of the story how Jesus became an apostate.[1] This passage in the Talmud was once censored by the Church, but is now printed in all the new editions. (See Ma’amar Al Hadpasat haTalmud by R.R.N. Rabbinowicz, 1952, 28 n. 26.)

Our rabbis teach us: Always let the left hand repel and the right hand invite…unlike Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perayah who repulsed Jesus with both hands…When King Janai killed our sages, Rabbi Yeshoshua ben Perayah (and Jesus) fled to Alexandria in Egypt. When peace resumed, Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach sent a message to him: ‘From me (in Yerushalayim), the city of holiness, to you, Alexandria, my sister: “My husband stays in your midst, and I sit forsaken.”’ He (Rabbi Yoshua ben Perayah) arose (to return to Yerushalayim) and went and found himself in a certain inn, where great honor was given to him. He said: ‘How beautiful is this achsanai (inn).’ Thereupon Jesus said to him, ‘Rabbi her eyes are narrow.’ (The word ‘achsania’ can mean ‘inn’ or ‘innkeeper,’ Jesus seems to have thought that Rabbi Yehoshua was speaking about the female innkeeper.) So, Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: “Villain, do you behave yourself like that (looking at women)? He sent out four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him. He (Jesus) came before him and said to him: Receive me (let me repent and accept me.) But he would not acknowledge him.

One day he (Rabbi Yehoshua) while reciting the ‘Shema’ (“Hear Israel”) he (Jesus) came before him. He, (Rabbi Yehoshua) intended to receive him (and forgive him), and he made a sign to him. He (Jesus) thought that he repelled him (thinking that sign was dismissive). He went and hung up a tile and worshipped it. He (Rabbi Yehoshua) said to him: ‘Return,’ but he replied: ‘So I have understood from you that everyone who sins and causes the multitude to sin has no chance to repent.’ (Sanhedrin 107b)

(There is much in this passage which is unclear and probably part of the text has been lost.) Is it suggesting that if Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perayah would have been more tolerant towards Jesus, the latter may not have become an apostate, a false mashiach, and Christianity would not have come about?

Whatever the Talmud may have in mind, one is not able to ignore the fact that it seems to teach us that one erroneous hand wave is enough to start an unprecedented outburst of animosity which may result in a new, false religion or movement.

Ramban notes this in his commentary on the event where Sarai afflicted Hagar, which resulted in an ongoing hatred of Arabs for Jews. (See: Bereshith: 16:5,6.)

The Talmud mentions the same problem in relationship to the Amalekites where it discusses the source for Amalek’s hatred of Jews which was caused by an unnecessary rejection of his mother by our forefathers.(See Sanhedrin 99b.)

In all these cases, a minor mistake resulted in hurting people which caused a lot of anti-Semitism.

In his celebrated work, “Makor Baruch”, the well-known sage Rabbi Baruch haLevi Epstein, (1860-1942) the author of the commentary “Torah Temima” on the Torah, notes that a harsh and erroneous approach to those who stand on the edge of leaving the fold of the Jewish people has led to a great amount of damage. In the tractate, Chagiga (15a) we read the story of Elisha ben Avuyah who, after a certain incident, questioned Jewish Tradition and stopped being religious. As soon as the sages said, “Return, backsliding children’ (Yirmiyahu 3:14) but not Acher. (the other one) [the name they gave Elisha ben Avuyah after he turned away from Judaism]” implying that he could not repent. Elisha then decided to leave his people and Judaism entirely.

Most interesting is the following comment by Rabbi Epstein, “This phenomenon, to our sadness, seems to repeat itself in every generation. Whenever people quarrel over matters related to ideology and faith, and a person discovers that his more lenient opinion is in the minority, all too often—although his original view differed only slightly from the majority, the total rejection he experiences pushes him over the brink. Gradually, his views become more and more irrational and he becomes disgusted with his opponents, their Torah and their practices, forsaking them completely.” (Chapter 13.5.)

Rabbi Epstein goes on to discuss the case of Uriel Da Costa (1585-1630) (a Dutch Sephardi Jew who denied the authenticity of Oral Law) and most possibly the well-known Dutch apostate philosopher of Jewish descent, Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). He criticizes the religious Jewish leaders of the city of Amsterdam who excommunicated both these men. Concerning Uriel Da Costa he writes “instead of instructing him with love and patience and extricating him from his maze of doubts by showing him his mistake, they disparaged and ridiculed him. They pursued him with sanctions and excommunication, cursing him until he was eventually driven away completely from his people and his faith and ending his life. (Uriel Da Costa committed suicide) in a most degrading fashion.” (For a full treatment of this in relation to Spinoza, see Spinoza, A Life, Steven Nadler, Cambridge, 1999, Chapter 6.)

While Uriel Da Costa did not do permanent damage to Judaism, Spinoza became the father of a major philosophical school which inflicted great harm to the image of Judaism and encouraged in later days anti-Jewish outbursts just as in the case of Jesus and his followers. (See: To Mend the World, Emile Fackenheim, Schocken, 1982, Chapter 2.)

We wonder what would have happened if religious leaders such as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Parayah and the religious leaders of the Amsterdam Portuguese-Spanish Community had shown more patience and tolerance. Perhaps Spinoza would not have created so much animosity, sometimes deliberately misrepresenting Judaism, and Jesus may have stayed in the fold. It would not have led to so much Christian anti-Semitism in later days.

Who would have imagined that one hand, waved nearly two thousand years ago, could ever cause such upheaval even in our own days?

Whatever the answer to these questions are, we should be careful in the way how we deal with people who are contemplating the possibility of leaving the fold. Much could be prevented, and too much is at stake.


Notes:

[1] Several scholars state that the identity of Jeshu in the Talmud as Jesus is in dispute. See, for example, Rabbi Yechiel of Paris in Vikkuah, edited by R. Margoliot, 1920, 16f.

As taken from, https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/the-tragedy-of-jesus-and-a-hand-wave/

Bilaam, Pontius Pilatus, Jesus and the Jewish Tradition

by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

It is extremely difficult to know whether the stories and observations about Jesus in the Talmud (see Sotah: 43a-b; 47a; Sanhedrin: 47a; Gittin: 56b and 57a) actually refer to the Jesus of the New Testament. Several dates do not correspond, and many other problems exist. Scholars have made the important observation that there is also a very great discrepancy between the picture which emerges from the actual text of the New Testament and the one developed by the church. Even in the New Testament itself there are several readings which do not appear consistent, possibly because of later interpolations.

The observations in the Talmud may therefore quite well refer to the Jesus as projected by the Church and not to those which appear in the New Testament (notwithstanding the inconsistency related to the dating of these stories.)

It is, however, the portrait of Jesus created by the Church which has prevailed as the most common and perhaps the most authoritative one in Western civilization. In its need to separate Christianity from Judaism, the Church went out of its way to rewrite the story of Jesus in such a way that he became a strong opponent of Judaism and above all of Halacha.

A critical reading of the text in the New Testament seems, however, to speak about Jesus as a conservative person who was little interested in starting a new religion. Scholars are of the opinion that neither was he looking for ways to undermine the Halacha as his disciple Paul was. His statements concerning divorce do not support the view that he opposed divorce entirely as was stated by the Church (See, for example, Matthew, 19:9 in comparison with Mark, 10:1-12) In fact, he seems to adhere to the view of Beth Shamai that a man is only allowed to divorce his wife when she has committed adultery! (Mishna, Gittin: 9:10) Nor does the well-known incident where he permitted his disciples to pluck ears of grain on Shabbat prove that he favored Shabbat desecration. The text seems to indicate that it may have been a case of sakanath nefashoth, danger of life. (See Mark, 2:23-28) (For another halachic explanation, see Professor David Flusser, Jesus, page 58, The Magnes Press, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1998)

It may also be suggested that he was not always consistent in his views or perhaps an “am ha’aretz”, a man with little knowledge of the Halacha, lacking an in-depth knowledge of the Torah. To account for the instances in which Jesus is quoted as having spoken against Halachic standards, scholars seem to agree that this is due to later “reworking” of the original texts. (See David Flusser, ibid, chapters 1 and 4.)

This may explain why several rabbis of world renown had a much more positive attitude towards Jesus (although they completely rejected the claim that he was the mashiach) than the talmudic texts seem to indicate.

A most remarkable and surprising statement is found in the preface to “Seder Olam” by the famous halachic authority, Rabbi Yacov Emden (“Yavetz,” 1697-1776):

The founder of Christianity conferred a double blessing upon the world. On the one hand, he strengthened the Torah of Moshe and emphasized that it is eternally binding. On the other hand, he conferred favor upon the gentiles in removing idolatry from them, imposing upon them stricter moral obligations than are contained in the Torah of Moshe. (sic!) There are many Christians of high qualities and excellent morals. Would that all Christians would live in conformity with their precepts. They are not enjoined, like the Israelites to observe the laws of Moshe, nor do they sin if they associate other beings with God. They will receive a reward from God for having propagated a belief in Him among the nations that never heard his name: For He looks into the heart.

On the other hand, it is worthwhile mentioning a controversial Midrash which is rather uncomplimentary of Jesus. On the verse: “There arose no other prophet in Israel like Moshe, who knew God face to face.” (Devarim 34:10) the Sages commented with a most unusual observation: “In Israel none arose, but among the gentiles one did arise. And who was that? Bilaam, son of Peor.” (Sifri ad loc).

Since it is unthinkable that this statement suggests that Bilaam ever rose to the level of Moshe Rabenu, several commentators make the point that the gentiles had someone whose function with regard to the nations of the world was similar to that of Moshe in Israel. Moshe was the great halachic legislator, and the gentiles also had a man who received that kind of authority in their eyes, and that was Bilaam.

While there is no allusion to this to be found in the Torah text, the Midrash quotes a verse from Bilaam’s words in his blessing of the Jewish people: “God is not a man that He should lie” (Bamidbar 23:19).

To this the Midrash Tanchuma (in uncensored printings) adds: “Bilaam foresaw that a man born from a woman would arise and would proclaim himself a god. Therefore, Bilaam’s voice was given the power to inform the gentiles: “Do not go astray after this man, God is not a man, and if he (this man) says he is God, he is lying.” In that sense Bilaam became a “legislator” towards the gentiles warning them for believing in Jesus as the son of God.

Even more interesting is an Aggada in Sanhedrin 106b where a sectarian asked one of the sages: “Do you know how old Bilaam was when he died?” He replied: “It is not actually stated, but since it is written: ‘Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days’ (Tehilim 55:24) he must have been 33 or 34.” He rejoined and said: “You have spoken well. I personally have seen Bilaam’s chronicle in which it is stated Bilaam, the lame, was 33 years old when Pinchas the ‘Lista’a’ killed him.”

What is Bilaam’s chronicle? There is no such book known, but, as one of the later Jewish writers (Geiger) suggested, it may allude to Jesus. The latter died when he was 33 years old and was killed by Pontius Pilatus. The name Pinchas Lista’a may well be corruption of Pontius Pilatus. In that case, the chronicles may refer to Jesus’ death.

Remarkable to say the least!

As taken from, https://us11.campaign-archive.com/?e=ea5f46c325&u=001429d2ea98064eb844c6bf8&id=cf4b28ed92