Hombre y Mujer: Una Visión Judía Acerca de la Diferencia de Géneros

por Rebetzin Tziporah Heller

Hombre y Mujer: Una Visión Judía Acerca de la Diferencia de Géneros

El hecho que el primer ser humano fue creado como un ser andrógino nos deja mucho para aprender sobre la relación Hombre-Mujer.


Para tener una idea clara del rol de la mujer en el judaísmo, tenemos que ir al principio, a la Torá.

En el primer capítulo de génesis, la Torá se refiere a Adán en plural:

“Dios creó al hombre a su imagen; a su imagen Dios lo creó, hombre y mujer Los creó. Y Dios los bendijo” (Génesis 1:27,28)

¿Por qué la Torá dice ” los” creó? ¡Esto fue antes de la creación de Eva!

La tradición oral judía nos provee una fascinante explicación a esta irregularidad gramatical. La primera persona era verdaderamente un ser andrógino, era hombre y mujer en un solo cuerpo, sofisticado y autosuficiente.

Pero si Dios había creado un ser humano tan completo, entonces ¿por qué luego los separo en dos, Adán y Eva?

Una de las respuestas dadas, es que Dios no quería que este primer hombre estuviera solo, ya que esto iba a crear en él, una sensación de autosuficiencia. Podemos notar que en el hebreo clásico, no existe una palabra para referirse a “independencia”. (La que usamos ahora, atzmaut, es del hebreo moderno). El concepto de independencia no existe en la tradición judía. Aparte de Dios, nada ni nadie es realmente independiente. Ya que debemos enraizar en nuestro corazón que Dios es la fuente de todo, la autosuficiencia sería una derrota espiritual.

El ser humano no está destinado a estar solo, ya que no tendría con quien crecer, ni nada por lo cual esforzarse.

Dios quería crear al ser humano en dos seres distintos, para así crear una sana relación de dependencia, anhelo y entrega mutua. El ser humano no está destinado a estar solo, ya que no tendría a quien darle, no tendría con quien crecer, ni nada por lo cual esforzarse.

¿Por qué no los Creó Mellizos Idénticos?

Pero, ¿por qué entonces Dios no creó dos seres idénticos? La respuesta es, que para poder aumentar la acción de dar al prójimo, el receptor debe ser distinto al dador. Si los dos fueran idénticos, el darle al otro puede ocurrir, pero limitadamente. La persona daría, basado en sus propias necesidades, ya que el receptor tendría las mismas necesidades que el dador. Para ser verdaderamente un dador, la persona tiene que tener en cuenta lo que el receptor necesita y no lo que él quiere dar. Al darle a otro, que tiene necesidades diferentes, la persona aprende a pensar y a dar en términos que no son los suyos propios.

Entonces vemos, que la separación tenía que expresarse en dos seres distintos, para así nosotros llegar a apreciar, amar, dar y preocuparnos por personas distintas.

Esto es fundamental para todo crecimiento moral y espiritual. También podemos entender, porque Dios no creó dos seres desde el comienzo: al comenzar como uno, podemos saber, y sentir, que nuestra pareja es nuestro verdadero complemento y que la necesitamos con sus diferencias así como ella nos necesita con las nuestras.

Diferencia entre los Géneros

La Torá es el camino hacia el crecimiento espiritual. Hemos visto que para poder crecer, una persona no puede estar sola. Por lo tanto, dos seres fueron creados. Para aumentar el crecimiento, los seres necesitan ser distintos, y por ello el hombre y la mujer fueron creados como seres distintos. ¿Pero cuáles son estas diferencias?

En los textos que hablan de la creación, en el libro de Génesis, la forma en que Dios separa al hombre y la mujer nos da una idea acerca de la diferencia entre los dos géneros, el masculino y el femenino. Brevemente discutiremos acerca de las poderosas diferencias. Nótese, que las diferencias masculinas-femeninas que vamos a analizar, no aplican exactamente de la misma manera a cada hombre y mujer, ya que todos fuimos creados como seres únicos. Sin embargo, lo que la Torá describe se aplica a todas las personas en algún grado.

Adán no fue dividido en dos; sino que Eva fue creada de un órgano interno: su costilla.

Es interesante notar, que Adán no fue dividido en dos; sino que Eva fue creada de un órgano interno: su costilla. Al mencionar la costilla, la Torá nos enseña un principio para entender la naturaleza de la fuerza masculina y de la fuerza femenina, a saber, que la manifestación y fuerza femenina es más interna, mientras que el enfoque y expresión masculina es más externa.

La naturaleza interna femenina, puede ser observada en la enorme importancia que tienen las relaciones (que por definición son personales y privadas) para la mujer. La psicología moderna confirma esta diferencia. El best seller, “Los Hombres son de Marte y las Mujeres son de Venus” por el Dr. John Gray, extiende esta idea y dice que las mujeres están más orientadas a basarse en las relaciones que los hombres.

El énfasis en lo interno tiene muchas consecuencias prácticas. Mientras que la mayoría de los preceptos del judaísmo se aplican por igual al hombre y a la mujer, incluyendo las ideas centrales de celebrar el Shabat y comer casher, no todos los mandamientos se aplican de la misma manera. El sistema de la Torá para lograr el desarrollo espiritual y la felicidad, se aplica de manera diferente en los dos sexos.

Por ejemplo, las mujeres al ser su naturaleza más interna, y ser más reservadas, generalmente encuentran su conexión directa con Dios a través de los rezos personales. Por eso, el judaísmo las anima a expresar su conexión a través de los rezos diarios individuales, aunque obviamente, que de así preferirlo, pueden rezar en la sinagoga. Los hombres son más externos (vemos evidencias de esto en el mundo en que vivimos, ya que los hombres están más inclinados a ser parte de un grupo o un equipo). Esto forma parte del espíritu masculino, y explica porque el camino espiritual del hombre esta más relacionado con los rezos públicos.

Razonamiento Interno

La Torá también describe el proceso de la creación de Eva usando la palabra vayiven, “Dios construyó”. Esta palabra comparte la misma raíz en hebreo que la palabra biná, que significa “perspicacia” o entendimiento. Esto sugiere, como dice el Talmud, que las mujeres fueron creadas con una dosis extra de sabiduría yentendimiento.

Biná significa mucho más que “intuición femenina”, significa tener la habilidad de compenetrarse con algo y entenderlo desde su interior, lo que también se conoce como “razonamiento interno”.

Los hombres tienen más de lo que se llama daat, un entendimiento que viene del exterior

Los hombres tienen más de lo que se llama daat, un entendimiento que viene del exterior, un tipo de entendimiento que tiende a estar más conectado a los hechos y figuras.

La sociedad pierde un gran recurso cuando sólo uno de estos dos aspectos es valorado. Así como dos ojos nos permiten ver las cosas con más precisión, el ver las cosas desde la perspectiva masculina y femenina nos da un entendimiento más completo de la vida.

Hay que tener en cuenta que la ciencia moderna apoya este antiguo punto de vista del judaísmo de que la mente de los hombres y de las mujeres funcionan diferente.

Un caso acerca de esto ha sido investigado por Ralph Holloway, Christine de Lacoste-Utamsing, Jeanette McGlone y Doreen Kimura. Esta investigación ha probado más allá de toda duda, que el cerebro del hombre y de la mujer tienen diferencias físicas menores. Por ello, no es sorpresivo que cientistas sociales estén centrándose más y más en la fisiología como fuente de explicación de las diferencias en el comportamiento y el pensar, y así también como factor determinante en las áreas de interés y excelencia.

Igual pero diferente

El género es una cualidad crucial en la identidad de cada persona. El hombre y la mujer son totalmente iguales, pero diferentes – y esa diferencia es positiva. Con sus talentos y naturalezas especiales pueden dar el uno al otro y ayudarse mutuamente a lo largo del camino de la vida.

Ya que los géneros son distintos, sería contraproducente forzarlos a comportarse de manera idéntica

Dios, en Su infinita sabiduría, creó al ser humano en dos géneros distintos para permitirles complementarse y completarse. Cada género debe apreciar y usar su fuerza especial. Ya que los géneros son distintos, sería contraproducente forzarlos a comportarse de manera idéntica, lo que ayuda a un hombre, no necesariamente ayuda a una mujer y viceversa.

El bello poema del Rey Salomón llamado Eshet Jail, “Mujer Virtuosa”, describe toda la gama de roles que una mujer puede llevar a cabo, incluyendo profesora, mujer de negocios, madre, esposa, pero todos ellos como una mujer.

Cuando le preguntan a una mujer a que se dedica, ella generalmente responderá nombrando su profesión. Pero la verdad es que no somos meramente doctoras, ingenieras, secretarias, educadoras. Somos seres humanos tratando de realizar nuestro potencial.

Al darle las herramientas para crecer moral y espiritualmente, mientras que desarrolla sus fuerzas especiales, la Torá libera a la mujer para que sea ella misma con autoestima y alegría, y sin pedir disculpas.

Según tomado de, https://www.aishlatino.com/a/m/48417947.html?s=mpw

¿Cuál es la edad del universo?

por Daniel Friedmann

¿Cuál es la edad del universo?

¿El universo tiene 13,8 mil millones de años o 5.780 años?


¿El universo tiene 13,8 mil millones de años como dicen los científicos, o casi 6.000 años, como muchos interpretan que dice el Génesis?

Los científicos observan el cosmos; ellos miden algo que asumen que ocurrió de forma natural y tratan de determinar su edad. Tomemos un ejemplo. Observamos el sol y podemos tratar de medir con satélites exactamente cuánto hidrógeno y helio hay hoy en día en el sol. También sabemos, asumiendo que todo ocurrió de forma natural, cuánto hidrógeno y helio hubo presente al comienzo del universo.

Finalmente, entendemos la reacción nuclear que convierte al hidrógeno en helio, qué es lo que hace el sol, y así podemos decir cuánto lleva para que cierta cantidad de hidrógeno se convierta en helio. Por lo tanto, si sabemos cuánto hidrógeno había al comienzo, cuánto hidrógeno hay en la actualidad y cuánto tiempo es necesario para convertir esa cantidad de hidrógeno en helio, podemos calcular que para tener esa proporción de hidrógeno y helio, el sol tiene que haber ardido durante 4,5 mil millones de años.(1)

En otras áreas de la ciencia se usan otros métodos, pero todos son similares. Se asume que todo ocurre de forma natural, mides algo y calculas cuánto tiempo es necesario para que ocurra ese cambio.

Pero en la Torá todo es muy diferente. En la Torá, la línea temporal es clara: tenemos seis días de la creación, seguidos por 5780 años hasta el 2020, porque Rosh HaShaná, el día del nacimiento de Adam, fue el sexto día, y desde el sexto día hasta hoy contamos usando el calendario judío.

Sin embargo, la hipótesis de la Torá es que las cosas no comenzaron desde cero. La Torá dice claramente que las cosas fueron creadas “listas para usarlas”, en su forma final. Eso es lo que significa cuando el Génesis dice que algo: “era bueno”. Estaba listo para que lo usemos.

Por ejemplo, Adam no fue creado como un pequeño feto. Fue creado como una persona de veinte años, tal como nos dice el Midrash (2), y del Génesis queda claro que era una persona adulta, que podía tomar la decisión de pecar.

Los árboles en el Jardín del Edén fueron creados de tal forma que si Adam hubiera cortado uno y contado sus anillos habría podido llegar a cien, lo que haría parecer que el árbol tenía 100 años. Pero no era así, porque lo acababan de crear, listo para ser usado.

De forma similar, cuando el sol fue creado el cuarto día, estaba listo para ser usado, lo que significa que tenía la composición actual de hidrógeno y de helio. Todo fue creado listo para ser usado y sólo parecía ser antiguo porque fue creado para que se viera de esa manera.(3)

Por lo tanto, vemos que la ciencia asume que todo ocurrió de forma natural desde un comienzo y no mide la edad, sino algún parámetro que llevó mucho tiempo hasta que apareció, tal como la cantidad de hidrógeno y helio en el sol. Si uno parte de esa suposición, el resultado es correcto; el parámetro hubiera llevado todo ese tiempo en aparecer. Pero la Torá nos dice que no, que todo fue creado listo para su uso. Esto significa que las mediciones científicas son correctas, la descripción de la Torá es correcta y el universo tiene 6.000 años (4), sólo que estamos midiendo cosas que nos llevan a creer que tiene miles de millones de años de existencia.
___________________________________________________________

Notas:

  1. https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/sun-age/sp
  2. Midrash Rabá Génesis 14:7
  3. The Age of the Universe18th of Teveth, 5722 [December 25, 1961] Brooklyn, NY
  4. “Dialogue: The Rebbe and the Professor. Contradictions Between Torah and Science

Según tomado de, https://www.aishlatino.com/a/cym/Cual-es-la-edad-del-universo.html?s=hp3

Kohelet, Tolstoy and the red heifer

by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Slow motion with center composition: Sprinkling salt on top of camera view with copy space and black background.

Slow motion with center composition: Sprinkling salt on top of camera view with copy space and black background.

The command of the parah adumah, the Red Heifer, with which our parsha begins, is known as the hardest of the mitzvot to understand. The opening words, zot chukat ha-Torah, are taken to mean, this is the supreme example of a chok in the Torah, that is, a law whose logic is obscure, perhaps unfathomable.

It was a ritual for the purification of those who had been in contact with, or in, certain forms of proximity to a dead body. A dead body is the primary source of impurity, and the defilement it caused to the living meant that the person so affected could not enter the precincts of the Tabernacle or Temple until cleansed, in a process that lasted seven days.

A key element of the purification process involved a Priest sprinkling the person so affected, on the third and seventh day, with a specially prepared liquid known as “the water of cleansing.” First a Red Heifer had to be found, without a blemish, and which had never been used to perform work: a yoke had never been placed on it. This was ritually killed and burned outside the camp. Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool were added to the fire, and the ashes placed in a vessel containing “living” i.e. fresh water. It was this that was sprinkled on those who had become impure by contact with death. One of the more paradoxical features of the rite is that though it cleansed the impure, it rendered impure those who were involved with the preparation of the water of cleansing.

Though the ritual has not been practiced since the days of the Temple, it nonetheless remains significant, in itself and for an understanding of what a chok, usually translated as “statute,” actually is. Other instances include the prohibition against eating meat and milk together, wearing clothes of mixed wool and linen (shatnez) and sowing a field with two kinds of grain (kilayim). There have been several very different explanations of chukim.

The most famous is that a chok is a law whose logic we cannot understand. It makes sense to God, but it makes no sense to us. We cannot aspire to the kind of cosmic wisdom that would allow us to see its point and purpose. Or perhaps, as Rav Saadia Gaon put it, it is a command issued for no other reason than to reward us for obeying it.[1]

The Sages recognized that whereas Gentiles might understand Jewish laws based on social justice (mishpatim) or historical memory (edot), commands such as the prohibition of eating meat and milk together seemed irrational and superstitious. The chukim were laws of which “Satan and the nations of the world made fun.”[2]

Maimonides had a quite different view. He believed that no Divine command was irrational. To suppose otherwise was to think God inferior to human beings. The chukim only appear to be inexplicable because we have forgotten the original context in which they were ordained. Each of them was a rejection of, and education against, some idolatrous practice. For the most part, however, such practises have died out, which is why we now find the commands hard to understand.[3]

A third view, adopted by Nahmanides in the thirteenth century[4] and further articulated by Samson Raphael Hirsch in the nineteenth, is that the chukim were laws designed to teach the integrity of nature. Nature has its own laws, domains and boundaries, to cross which is to dishonour the divinely created order, and to threaten nature itself. So we do not combine animal (wool) and vegetable (linen) textiles, or mix animal life (milk) and animal death (meat). As for the Red Heifer, Hirsch says that the ritual is to cleanse humans from depression brought about by reminders of human mortality.

My own view is that chukim are commands deliberately intended to bypass the rational brain, the pre-frontal cortex. The root from which the word chok comes is h-k-k, meaning, “to engrave.” Writing is on the surface; engraving cuts much deeper than the surface. Rituals go deep below the surface of the mind, and for an important reason. We are not fully rational animals, and we can make momentous mistakes if we think we are. We have a limbic system, an emotional brain. We also have an extremely powerful set of reactions to potential danger, located in the amygdala, that lead us to flee, freeze or fight. A moral system, to be adequate to the human condition, must recognise the nature of the human condition. It must speak to our fears.

The most profound fear most of us have is of death. As La Rochefoucauld said, “Neither the sun nor death can be looked on with a steady eye.” Few have explored death and the tragic shadow it casts over life more profoundly than the author of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes):

“The fate of man is the fate of cattle; the same fate awaits them both, the death of one is like the death of the other, their spirits are the same, and the pre-eminence of man over beast is nothing, for it is all shallow breath. All end in the same place; all emerge from dust and all go back to dust” (Eccl. 3:19-20).

The knowledge that he will die robs Kohelet of any sense of the meaningfulness of life. We have no idea what will happen, after our death, to what we have achieved in life. Death makes mockery of virtue: the hero may die young while the coward lives to old age. And bereavement is tragic in a different way. To lose those we love is to have the fabric of our life torn, perhaps irreparably. Death defiles in the simplest, starkest sense: mortality opens an abyss between us and God’s eternity.

It is this fear, existential and elemental, to which the rite of the Heifer is addressed. The animal itself is the starkest symbol of pure, animal life, untamed, undomesticated. The red, like the scarlet of the wool, is the colour of blood, the essence of life. The cedar, tallest of trees, represents vegetative life. The hyssop symbolises purity. All these were reduced to ash in the fire, a powerful drama of mortality. The ash itself was then dissolved in water, symbolising continuity, the flow of life, and the potential of rebirth. The body dies but the spirit flows on. A generation dies but another is born. Lives may end but life does not. Those who live after us continue what we began, and we live on in them. Life is a never-ending stream, and a trace of us is carried onward to the future.

The person in modern times who most deeply experienced and expressed what Kohelet felt was Tolstoy, who told the story in his essay, A Confession.[5] By the time he wrote it, in his early 50s, he had already published two of the greatest novels ever written, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. His literary legacy was secure. His greatness was universally recognised. He was married, with children. He had a large estate. His health was good. Yet he was overcome with a sense of the meaninglessness of life in the face of the knowledge that we will all die. He quoted Kohelet at length. He contemplated suicide. The question that haunted him was: “Is there any meaning in my life that will not be annihilated by the inevitability of death which awaits me?”[6]

He searched for an answer in science, but all it told him was that “in the infinity of space and the infinity of time infinitely small particles mutate with infinite complexity.” Science deals in causes and effects, not purpose and meaning. In the end, he concluded that only religious faith rescues life from meaninglessness. “Rational knowledge, as presented by the learned and wise, negates the meaning of life.”[7] What is needed is something other than rational knowledge. “Faith is the force of life. If a man lives, then he must believe in something … If he does understand the illusion of the finite, he is bound to believe in the infinite. Without faith it is impossible to live.”[8]

That is why, to defeat the defilement of contact with death, there must be a ritual that bypasses rational knowledge. Hence the rite of the Red Heifer, in which death is dissolved in the waters of life, and those on whom it is sprinkled are made pure again so that they can enter the precincts of the Shechinah and re-establish contact with eternity.

We no longer have the Red Heifer and its seven-day purification ritual, but we do have the shiva, the seven days of mourning during which we are comforted by others and thus reconnected with life. Our grief is gradually dissolved by the contact with friends and family, as the ashes of the Heifer were dissolved in the “living water.” We emerge, still bereaved, but in some measure cleansed, purified, able again to face life.

I believe that we can emerge from the shadow of death if we allow ourselves to be healed by the God of life. To do so, though, we need the help of others. “A prisoner cannot release himself from prison,”[9] says the Talmud. It took a Kohen to sprinkle the waters of cleansing. It takes comforters to lift our grief. But faith – faith from the world of chok, deeper than the rational mind – can help cure our deepest fears.  

Shabbat Shalom

_________

[1] Saadia Gaon, Beliefs and Opinions, Book III.

[2] Yoma 67b.

[3] The Guide for the Perplexed, III:31.

[4] Commentary to Leviticus 19:19.

[5] Leo Tolstoy, A Confession and Other Religious Writings, Penguin Classics, 1987.

[6] Ibid., 35.

[7] Ibid., 50.

[8] Ibid., 54.

[9] Brachot 5b.

As taken from, https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/kohelet-tolstoy-and-the-red-heifer-chukat-5780/

Jerusalem, Jordan and the Jews

Reconnaissance de Jérusalem: Le NYT veut-il la paix au Moyen ...

By Daniel Pipes

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas famously deny any historic or religious connection of Jews to Jerusalem. To cite one example, Ikrima Sabri, the city’s mufti, announced in 2001 that “there is not the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history.” This bizarre fraud, Itamar Marcus has explained, is based on a simple switch: Take authentic Jewish history, “documented by thousands of years of continuous literature,” cross out the word “Jewish” and replace it with “Arab.”

So much for the rejectionist Palestinians. What about the moderate and sober Jordanian government, Israel’s long-time, discreet partner; what says it? Amman does not go so far as to deny any Jewish connection, but it too makes a hash of history.

Consider the just-issued 108-page, English-language-only white paper, “The Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian Holy Sites 1917–2020 CE,” published by The Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. (Aal al-Bayt means “family of the house,” or the family of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet.) Although nominally an independent non-governmental organization, the institute was founded by King Hussein in 1980 and since then has continuously been headed by a member of the royal family. Secretive about its lavish funding, it appears to depend completely on government largesse.

“Hashemite Custodianship” baldly states:

• “Jerusalem was always an Arab city.”

• “When the Ancient Jews came, they attacked, killed and destroyed everyone and everything they could.”

• “Even after they conquered the city of Jerusalem, however, [the Jews] were never able to expel all the original Arab inhabitants.”

• “The Palestinian Arabs of today are largely the direct descendants of the indigenous Canaanite Arabs who were there over 5,000 years ago.”

There are just a few problems with this account. The Arab (or more accurately, Arabian) identity does not go back 5,000 years; even 3,000 stretches the record. The Canaanites were not Arabians. The ancient Jews did a little bit more than “attack, kill and destroy everyone and everything they could”; does one really have to point out that the Bible they wrote serves as the basis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, whose adherents make up over half the world’s population?

And while DNA evidence shows that descendants of the Canaanites in Palestine survive throughout the Middle East, the great majority of its Muslims and Christians descend from immigrants. Writing in 1911, before the many twentieth-century immigrations, Irish archeologist Robert Macalister already listed 19 foreign ethnicities in addition to native farmers and Jews in Palestine: Algerian, Arabian, Armenian, Assyrian, Bosnian, Circassian, Crusader, German, Greek, Italian, Kurd, Motawila, Nawar, Persian, Roman, Samaritan, Sudanese, Turkic and Turkoman.

How disappointing that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which wishes to be seen as responsible and moderate, publishes such twaddle in a purported scholarly study. It is the more dismaying when one recalls that King Abdullah II, Jordan’s ruler since 1999, has taken a brave and forthright stand against Islamists, denouncing them as “religious totalitarians … who seek power by intimidation, violence and thuggery.” He has also called for “a dynamic, moderate Islam—an Islam that upholds the sanctity of human life, reaches out to the oppressed, respects men and women alike, and insists on the fellowship of all humankind.” An Islamist-style white paper applauded by a Palestinian anti-Zionist substantially undercuts these bold words.

The white paper promotes a familiar Islamic imperialism. Other recent examples include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government insisting that the Hagia Sophia Cathedral was originally a mosque; Muslims pressing to use the Cordoba Cathedral as a mosque; and the so-called Ground-Zero Mosque near the obliterated World Trade Center in New York City.

Ironically, the English-language “Hashemite Custodianship” meant for international consumption distorts history more than Arabic materials intended for locals. For example, Jordan’s Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs only asserts Arabs founded Jerusalem 5,000 years ago, without the nasty corollary that Jews “attacked, killed and destroyed everyone and everything they could.”

The Jordanian government can and should do better. If falsifying ancient history seems like a small matter, it is not; such errors form opinions, shape governments, and potentially lead to renewed hostilities.

Where are the historians and theologians to denounce these falsehoods? Where are the friends of Jordan to urge a responsible course? Where are the Israelis, inhibited by an ever-present mistress syndrome, to protest this calumny?

As taken from, https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/153635/jerusalem-jordan-and-the-jews-opinion/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Petition+Launched+to+Name+Historic+Israeli+City+After+President+Trump&utm_campaign=BIN+-+PM+-+JUNE+24%2C+2020

La belleza de la oscuridad

Por Menajem Feldman

No nos confundamos. Kóraj no fue desde el principio un hombre celoso y ávido de poder que eligió rebelarse contra Moshé y Aarón por ambición personal. De hecho, los cabalistas explican que Kóraj tenía una profunda disputa filosófica con el enfoque de Aarón respecto de la espiritualidad.

El argumento de Kóraj era más o menos así: la luz espiritual es sólo una manifestación de la infinita fuente de energía, así como los rayos del sol son emanaciones del sol. Pero el sol no tiene luz en sí mismo. Para entender la esencia, la luz debe estar sumergida en su fuente. Sólo la oscuridad puede capturar la verdadera esencia de la fuente infinita.

Kóraj le tenía resentimiento a Aarón, específicamente porque Aarón estaba vinculado con la luz. Todos los días se ocupaba de encender la menorá en el Tabernáculo así como de encender la menorá que habita, en sentido metafórico, en el corazón de cada judío. Aarón se dedicaba a inspirar a las personas a despertar la luz espiritual de sus vidas a través del estudio de la Torá y de la observancia de las mitzvot, a que emplearan su tiempo y su energía en búsquedas espirituales y a iluminar sus almas con el amor a Di-s. Aarón era la encarnación del atributo divino de la jésed, la amabilidad/el compartir/la luz.

Kóraj creía que el enfoque que tenía Aarón para desarrollar la espiritualidad carecía de una verdad más profunda.

Kóraj discutía: “Déjenme ser el sumo sacerdote y yo introduciré un modelo de espiritualidad por completo diferente. Enseñaré que no importa con qué se comprometan las personas, siempre son sagradas: ‘Porque toda la congregación, todos ellos son santos, y Hashem está en medio de ellos’.1 No se necesita luz espiritual. No se necesita inspirar a las personas para que busquen aferrarse a su fuente, que está en los cielos. No se necesita buscar inspiración para escapar de las tentaciones materiales. Lo que yo voy a predicar es la celebración de lo físico. Es precisamente gracias a que lo físico representa la ausencia de luz espiritual que es capaz de dirigir nuestra atención a la esencia, a la infinita fuente tanto de luz como de oscuridad”.

Kóraj despreciaba la luz. Según su visión, la oscuridad era la que rodeaba por completo la verdad absoluta del Creador infinito.

Según el plan de Kóraj, la gente viviría una vida materialista, sin tener que soportar la carga que implica buscar inspiración espiritual. Con el tiempo, cada vez más gente comenzaría a apreciar las cosas como él las entendía. Comprenderían que el materialismo podía satisfacerlos y que eso constituía una evidencia de que Di-s no se puede expresar en una medida limitada de luz.

¿En qué se equivocaba Kóraj?

Comencemos por señalar en qué tenía razón:

Tenía razón en que la oscuridad tiene una fuente más elevada que la luz.

Tenía razón en que lo material tiene una fuente más elevada que lo espiritual.

Y aun así, su filosofía era por completo errónea.

Estaba equivocado porque para entender la verdad de la oscuridad se necesita de luz. Sí, por supuesto que lo material es la más grande manifestación de la esencia. En la era mesiánica, lo material manifestará su propia fuerza, como dice el profeta: “Toda carne como una sola verá que la boca de Hashem ha hablado”.2 Aun así, la única manera en la que una persona puede penetrar la coraza de lo material y conectarse con su fuente es subyugar lo material a lo espiritual.

Sólo cuando permitimos que la Torá ilumine la vida con su luz espiritual, con un deseo de santidad, somos capaces de apreciar que lo material es expresión de la esencia de Di-s. Sólo un alma inspirada por Aarón puede revelar la esencia superior del cuerpo y conectarse con ella. Sólo la luz puede reconectar la oscuridad con su fuente noble.

Un alma iluminada con luz espiritual puede encontrar a Di-s adonde sea que mire. No sólo en la luz, sino también en la oscuridad; no sólo en lo sagrado, sino también en lo mundano; no sólo en el cielo, sino también en la tierra.3

NOTAS AL PIE

  1. Bamidbar 16:3.

2. Ieshaiau 40:5.

3. Or Hatorá, Bamidbar, p. 722; Maamar Hasam Nafsheinu Bajaim 5718.

Segun tomado de, https://es.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3708796/jewish/La-belleza-de-la-oscuridad.htm

5 Rituales judíos para la hora de irse a la cama

por Yvette Alt Miller

5 Rituales judíos para la hora de irse a la cama

Transforma la rutina nocturna de tus hijos en un poderoso momento espiritual.


Llevar a los niños a dormir siempre fue mi parte preferida del día. Es cierto, algunas noches ese momento parece extenderse eternamente, y es a la vez la mejor y la peor hora del día. Pero ese es el momento cuando disfruto con mis hijos nuestros mejores momentos de “calidad”. También es la oportunidad en la que exploramos algunas ideas y tradiciones judías, y terminamos el día con plegarias y canciones judías.

Aquí hay cinco rituales judíos nocturnos corroborados que ayudan a que el momento de irse a la cama sea una oportunidad para conectarnos con nuestros pequeños y con las tradiciones judías.

Historias con un tinte judío.

Una buena amiga tuvo su primer bebé y cuando buscaba qué regalarle a ella y a su nueva beba, encontré un libro de historias judías para la hora de irse a la cama. Me preocupó un poco que el libro pareciera demasiado religioso, pero las ilustraciones eran llamativas y divertidas. Algunos años más tarde mi amiga me dijo que ese era el libro favorito de su hija para que le leyeran antes de irse a dormir.

Mi amiga y su hija no son particularmente observantes, y ese libro con historias judías se convirtió en su principal fuente de conocimientos. “A mi hija le fascinan las historias, son poco usuales”. Mi amiga terminó comprando para su hija una serie completa de libros con temas judíos. Ese era el lugar especial en el que aprendían sobre los valores y las tradiciones judías.

Shemá Israel

El Shemá es la plegaria judía básica antes de irse a dormir, en la que declaramos nuestra fe en un Dios único. Shemá Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Ejad – Escucha oh Israel, Hashem es nuestro Dios, Hashem es Uno. Tradicionalmente nos cubrimos los ojos al decirlo, para ayudar a concentrarnos en el impresionante significado de estas palabras.

Estas palabras judías eternas ayudan a los niños a entender claramente quienes son. Una generación atrás, el Shemá incluso permitió que algunos judíos pudieran regresar con sus familias después del Holocausto.

Rav Iosef Kahaneman (1888-1969), un brillante erudito, educador, miembro del parlamento de Lituania y director de la famosa Ieshivá Ponevitz, reconoció el peligro que enfrentaban muchos niños judíos. Mientras la Segunda Guerra Mundial arrasaba en Europa, Rav Kahaneman abrió en Israel un orfanato para niños judíos europeos. En 1946 él regresó a Europa para buscar niños judíos que hubieran sobrevivido al Holocausto.

En un pueblo, le dijeron que muchas familias judías desesperadas habían entregado a sus hijos al orfanato local. El sacerdote cristiano que dirigía el lugar negó que allí hubiera niños judíos. Rav Kahaneman le pidió que tan sólo le permitiera encontrarse con los niños, y el sacerdote aceptó. Rav Kahaneman se paró en medio de los huérfanos y comenzó a recitar el Shemá. De inmediato, los niños judíos que habían escuchado esas palabras muchos años antes, comenzaron a llorar: “¡Mamá, mamá!” y colocaron sus manos sobre los ojos. Entonces, como ahora, escuchar el Shemá a la hora de irse a la cama es un momento judío definitivo para los niños judíos.

Decir gracias

Una forma maravillosa de poner fin al día es conversar sobre las cosas por las que estamos agradecidos, además de ser una manera creativa de dar comienzo a una charla. Sentirse agradecido también se asocia con la resiliencia emocional, mejora la salud y provee niveles más elevados de felicidad.

El profesor Robert A. Emmons de la Universidad de California, y el profesor Michael E. McCullough de la Universidad de Miami, le pidieron a dos grupos de estudiantes que escribieran un diario personal. A un grupo le pidieron que registrara sus actividades diarias y al segundo grupo le pidieron registrar aquellas cosas por las que estaban agradecidos. Los resultados fueron dramáticos. Los estudiantes que cada día dedicaron tiempo a registrar aquello por lo que se sentían agradecidos, se sentían mucho más optimistas y felices con sus vidas. (Los estudiantes que registraron en sus diarios eventos neutros no reportaron ningún cambio).

Sentirse agradecido es un profundo valor judío. Considera pedirles a tus hijos que compartan cada noche algo por lo que se sienten agradecidos y tú también pruébalo. Este ritual nocturno puede mejorar el estado de ánimo y el bienestar de todo el mundo.

Historias familiares

“¿Por quién me pusieron este nombre?” “Cuéntame otra vez la historia de cómo se conocieron los abuelos”. A mis hijos les encanta oír historias sobre sus parientes, y es especialmente divertido cuando algo de las historias les permite conectarse con ellos mismos.

Hace algunos años, un estudio de los psicólogos Robyn Fivush y Marshal Duke de la Universidad Emory, reveló la fuerza que tiene transmitir el legado familiar. Los niños que conocían detalles sobre las vidas de sus parientes e historias familiares, mostraban mayor resiliencia y más salud emocional. Dedicar tiempo a relatar lo que vivió nuestra familia y las experiencias que formaron a nuestros ancestros es uno de los mejores regalos que podemos darles a nuestros hijos. Los momentos de calma antes de irse a dormir son un momento ideal para comenzar a compartir estas historias.

Repasar el día

En el judaísmo se acostumbra a tomarse unos momentos antes de dormir para pensar en el día que termina y tratar de corregir los errores que podemos haber cometido. Muchos judíos repasan su día y se esfuerzan por perdonar a cualquiera que pueda haberlos dañado. Aunque esta idea puede parecer un poco difícil, para muchos niños repasar los acontecimientos del día con uno de sus padres antes de irse a dormir, permite que los padres sepan lo que ocurre en sus vidas y les da la oportunidad de compartir con los niños técnicas de resolución de problemas.

Formular preguntas como: “¿Cómo te sentiste cuando pasó eso?”, “¿Qué te gustaría haber hecho de otra forma?” y “¿Qué piensas que debes hacer la próxima vez?”, puede abrir la discusión y ayudar a los niños a resolver problemas. El momento de irse a la cama es un lugar de calma que permite hablar sobre los desafíos del día y las esperanzas para el día siguiente.

Segun tomado de, https://www.aishlatino.com/fm/sp/5-Rituales-judios-para-la-hora-de-irse-a-la-cama.html?s=mm

Korach and the Failure of Anarchy

Rebelión de Coré - EcuRed

by Pini Dunner

Those familiar with the history of British cinema will certainly have heard of a genre of films known as the Ealing Comedies, a series of comedy films produced by Ealing Studios in London between 1947 and 1957.

Among the light-touch dry comedic Ealing masterpieces were movies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Ladykillers (1955), starring, among others, Sir Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim, Margaret Rutherford, and Stanley Holloway.

But although all of these movies were groundbreaking, as well as hugely entertaining, there is one that sticks out in particular in terms of its originality — and its prescience. That movie is Passport to Pimlico (1949).

Pimlico is an upscale residential neighborhood in central London, just south of Belgravia, best known for its imposing Regency townhouses and famous residents, which in the past have included Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Laurence Olivier.

The rather far-fetched premise of Passport to Pimlico hinges on the discovery of a buried treasure in Pimlico after an unexploded wartime bomb is triggered by accident. Alongside the treasure is an ancient document which reveals that the area now known as Pimlico was originally gifted to the Duke of Burgundy in 1477 — and is in fact its own legal entity, and crucially, it is not governed by British law.

Overwhelmed by the opportunity this presents in the rather grim postwar climate, Pimlico residents decide to declare their independence from the United Kingdom. But although this leads to a short-term economic boom, very soon the area descends into complete chaos.

With its tongue firmly in its cheek, the movie explores the tension between the human desire to be free of any external control versus the benefits and safety that such control brings to society.

Although Passport to Pimlico principally reflects the irrepressible spirit of Londoners in the wake of the devastating war years and the difficult period of postwar austerity, in an uncanny way the film foreshadows many aspects of the political climate of today, with ordinary people banding together and resisting the ruling classes who they see as oppressive and retrograde.

But be that as it may, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that the movie’s central premise would one day become a reality. How wrong I was. Approximately two weeks ago, six blocks in Seattle, Washington, “ceded” from the United States after the Seattle Police Department (SPD) vacated its East Precinct building. This area is now a self-declared autonomous zone known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

On June 9, the activists behind CHAZ listed 30 of their demands online, which, among other things, included the abolition of SPD and the Seattle court system; defunding SPD and reallocating those funds to health costs; banning police use of firearms, batons, riot shields, and chemical agents; the release of prisoners serving time for marijuana-related offenses or resisting arrest; mandatory retrials for people of color who are serving sentences for violent crimes; and prison abolition.

I have puzzled over why this group of urban anarchists think the US authorities should take any notice of the demands of self-declared foreign nationals, but I am guessing the irony of that particular observation would be lost on them.

It is also unclear to me what exactly the United States would get in return for agreeing to the demands, and it’s not as if CHAZ has either military or diplomatic leverage.

But most intriguing of all — I am really struggling to work out on what basis a bunch of street activists can decide to seize sovereign territory. At least the silver-screen Pimlico group had an ancient manuscript to underscore their claim. These guys have nothing.

John Lennon, a great songwriter who was simultaneously an insidious nihilist, released a song in 1971 titled Power to the People. The song utilized a slogan that had gained traction through the 1960s among antiwar protesters and radical elements of the civil rights movement whose aim was to foment rebellion against the establishment.

But like so many other slogans concocted and popularized by champagne revolutionaries, the reality of “people power” has always proven to be more suffering, not less. Abuses of power are the tragic consequence of power, and every system needs checks and balances to mitigate and reduce the ill effects of corruption.

But to abandon the system altogether and put the lives of ordinary citizens in the hands of people driven by slogans is unquestionably a far greater threat than anything a faulty system is guilty of.

The Book of Bamidbar contains a number of narratives featuring “people power” as their central theme. The most prominent of these narratives are the story of the spies in Shelach, and the story of Korach’s rebellion in Korach. In both of them the driving force was ostensibly a popular revolt against top-down authority, but that was not the case at all. In reality, sinister forces were at work, manipulating the masses into believing they would be better off, when actually it was not true, and nor was this the aim of those behind the insurgency.

The spies were all princes of their tribes, and their motivation was a desire to retain power over the people, who they feared would depose them if they moved into the Land of Israel. Meanwhile, Korach presented his revolt as a “people power” revolution, but he was really just a power-hungry plutocrat using popular discontent to propel him into a leadership position.

There is something strangely alluring about “people power” — a kind of idealism that seizes and dazzles us. Somehow we think, not unreasonably, that those in authority could be doing a better job, and that if we clipped their wings and devolved power to the people, the world would be a better place. But history has proven time and time again that the very opposite is true. Most “people power” revolutions have resulted in nothing but suffering and misery, even as a handful of devious insurrectionists have taken advantage of our idealistic naiveté and seized control in the power vacuum the revolution has created.

In Passport to Pimlico, Pimlico ultimately returns to the fold, abandoning its independence aspirations and reuniting with Britain while life returns to “normal.” The message seems to be that despite all the sacrifices and enthusiastic optimism, when push comes to shove, anarchy serves nothing but itself, and all efforts to completely rewrite the human rule-book are doomed to failure. Before it is too late, we need to realize that those behind CHAZ are not just a bunch of cheeky chaps thumbing their nose at the system; rather they represent a real threat to our hard-earned democracy and freedoms, and the sooner they are shut down for good, the better.

As taken from, https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/06/19/korach-and-the-failure-of-anarchy/

Seis preguntas famosas de la Torá

por Rav Dovid Rosenfeld

Seis preguntas famosas de la Torá

Seis preguntas que siguen siendo tan verdaderas como cuando fueron formuladas por primera vez.


Aunque toda la Torá es significativa y relevante, algunas líneas nos impresionan por su fuerza y su actualidad. A mí, por lo general lo que me habla de forma más directa son las preguntas de la Torá. Aquí hay seis preguntas que me resultan especialmente profundas.

1. Y Hashem Dios llamó a Adam y le dijo: “¿Dónde estás?” (Génesis 3:9)

Esta, la primera pregunta de la Torá, quizás es la más fuerte. Después de que Adam y Javá comieron del Árbol del Conocimiento, Dios fue a “buscarlos”. ¿Acaso un Dios omnisciente realmente tiene que preguntarle a Adam en dónde está?

Obviamente Dios sabía dónde estaban físicamente Adam y Javá. Pero su pregunta era mucho más profunda: ¿Dónde están realmente? Obsérvense honestamente. ¿Allí es donde quieren estar en la vida? ¿Están desarrollando su potencial? ¿O se están subestimando? Esta es una pregunta que debemos volver a formularnos constantemente a lo largo de nuestra vida.

2. Y Dios le dijo a Caín: “¿Dónde está tu hermano Ével?” (Génesis 4:9)

No puede haber una actitud menos judía que “ese no es mi problema”.

En claro contraste con la conocida respuesta de Caín, sí, somos responsables de nuestros hermanos. Debemos saber cómo le va a nuestro prójimo; debemos preocuparnos. Si mi hermano o mi hermana sufren, ya sea en la puerta del frente o en el otro rincón del mundo, debe importarme. No puede haber una actitud menos judía que “ese no es mi problema”.

3. ¿Acaso el Juez de toda la tierra no hará justicia? (Génesis 18:25)

Cuando Abraham le suplicó a Dios que perdonara a la malvada ciudad de Sodoma, lo desafió con esta pregunta. Seguro, en Sodoma había personas malvadas, ¿pero acaso era posible que no hubiesa personas buenas que no merecieran la destrucción? Abraham, con su profunda creencia en la justicia perfecta de Dios, no podía soportar que el mundo fuera juzgado con tanta dureza. Y no podía seguir viviendo callado en un mundo que no podía entender. Tenía que hablar.

Pero Sodoma era irremediablemente malvada y ninguna súplica de Abraham podía alterar esa realidad.

4. Yo soy Iosef. ¿Mi padre aún vive? (Génesis 45:3)

Esta es la primera pregunta que Iosef formuló a sus hermanos tras revelarles su identidad. ¿Acaso Iosef no sabía ya la respuesta? Ya les había formulado esa misma pregunta antes y le respondieron afirmativamente. (43:27-28).

El Midrash considera que esta pregunta es un reproche: “¿Mi padre sigue vivo a pesar de todo lo que le hicieron pasar durante todos estos años?” Los hermanos podían sentir que estaban justificados al condenar a Iosef a la esclavitud, ¿pero habían considerado realmente las ramificaciones de sus actos? ¿Habían comprendido cuánto dolor provocó su decisión a su anciano padre, cuántos años él sufriría por su culpa? Dios no nos juzga sólo por nuestro comportamiento personal, sino por todo lo que se desprende del mismo y cómo impacta a quienes nos rodean.

5. Moshé dijo: “Me apartaré ahora y contemplaré esta gran visión. ¿Por qué la zarza no se quema?” (Éxodo 3:3)

Esta fue la reacción de Moshé cuando vio la zarza ardiente. Moshé vio algo raro y fue a investigarlo.

¿Cuántas veces vemos algo extraño y simplemente encogemos los hombros y seguimos adelante?

¿Acaso el acto de Moshé fue tan extraordinario? Sí, lo fue. ¿Cuántas veces vemos algo extraño y simplemente encogemos los hombros y seguimos adelante? Podemos ver la milagrosa intervención de Dios en el mundo o podemos notar un rostro infeliz. ¿Pero nos detenemos a hacer algo al respecto o simplemente seguimos ocupados con nuestra propia vida?

Dios no llamó a Moshé desde la zarza ardiente. Él esperó a ver la reacción de Moshé. Sólo después de que Moshé se diera vuelta Dios lo llamó y le encomendó su misión cósmica.

6. ¿Qué es lo que te pide Dios excepto que le temas? (Deuteronomio 10:12)

Moshé les dijo esto a los hijos de Israel en sus palabras de reproche al fin de sus días. ¿Piensas que la religión es demasiado difícil y demandante? ¿Tienes miedo de comenzar? En definitiva Dios sólo nos pide una cosa: que Él nos importe. Vivir con la realidad de la presencia de Dios. Él nos ama y nos cuida, pero insiste en que vivamos de acuerdo con nuestro potencial. No podemos ocultarnos de Él. Si vivimos teniendo consciencia de esto, todo lo demás sigue de forma natural.

Segun tomado de,

Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven: How to be a Genuine Halachic Expert

Nathan Lopes Cardozo: “De halacha moet worden bevrijd” - NIW NIW

by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Filling the position of Posek HaDor, the leading halachic arbiter of the Jewish people, has become an almost hopeless undertaking in our complicated and troubled times. We are told that the Posek HaDor must be someone whose halachic knowledge is greater than anyone else’s; someone who is so imbued with Torah knowledge, and has acquired Torah values and refined his character to such a degree that he represents and is qualified to offer Da’as Torah (an authentic and authoritative Jewish view on all matters), which is close to prophecy thereby making him beyond reproach.[1] He has to decide on issues of life and death, literally and figuratively. He must make judgments about political matters—especially in and concerning the Land of Israel—which are so complicated that they are nearly beyond anyone’s grasp. People insist that this person must have wisdom that surpasses anything ordinary mortals could ever dream of. He is asked to singlehandedly decide on matters that will affect hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews and, by extension, millions of secular Jews.

This is most dangerous.

The establishment of the State of Israel cast all Jews around the globe into a new world order and created a need for pioneering religious leadership and a completely new kind of halachic arbiter. Social and economic conditions as well as ideologies have changed radically, creating major upheavals in Jewish life. As a result, unprecedented possibilities have arisen that need to be translated into reality. The question is whether the Posek HaDor will grasp these opportunities and turn them into major victories so as to inspire his people. Developments in the rabbinical world clearly show that we no longer have such extraordinary people. Most of the time, halachic authorities have withdrawn, living in denial and continuing to believe that the world has not evolved and nothing of substance has happened that requires an altogether new approach.

Today, halachic authorities need to lead religious Jewry through a new world order. They must realize that their views will affect Jews as well as gentiles, for their voice will be heard far beyond the Jewish community, transmitted via the Internet; and their observations may cause ridicule and even anti-Semitism if they misrepresent Judaism and Jewish law. Rather unfortunately, this has happened on more than a few occasions.

The posek has to understand that he may be called upon to give guidance to an often extremely secular and troubled world that is in great need of hearing the words of a Jewish sage. His decisions must reflect the imperative that we Jews are to be a light unto the nations—a light that must shine everywhere. It is no longer possible to focus on the often narrow world of Orthodoxy and look down on or ignore the secular and gentile world.

Most Jews today are no longer observant; nor are they even inspired by Judaism. To them, it has become irrelevant and outdated. The reasons for this tragedy are many, but no doubt a major cause is the failure to convey halacha as something exciting and ennobling, like the music of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. Only when a Jew is taught why halacha offers him the musical notes with which he can play his soul’s sonata will he be able to hear its magnificent music.

Just as great scientists are fascinated when they investigate the properties of DNA, or the habits of a tiny insect under a microscope, so should even a secular Jew be deeply moved when he encounters the colors and fine subtleties of the world of halacha. But does the posek realize this, and does he know how to convey that message when he deals with halachic inquiries?

Many religious Jews are nearsighted and in dire need of a wider vision. Is making sure that a chicken is kosher all that there is to kashrut? Or, are the laws of kashrut just one element of a grand Weltanschauung that defines the mission of the People of Israel; a mission whose importance surpasses by far the single question of a chicken’s kashrut? Such inquiries are but one small component of a larger question concerning the plague of consumerism and mankind’s obsessive pursuit of ever-increasing comfort. Should the posek who is asked about the kashrut of someone’s tefillin not ask that person: And what about the kashrut of your much-too-expensive and ostentatious car? After all, the posek needs, foremost, to be an educator. Hard-line narrow rulings will not create the future for a deeply spiritual Judaism.

The first requirement of a posek is to live in radical amazement and see God’s fingers in every dimension of human existence, including the Torah, Talmud, science, technology, and above all the constant changing of history, which may well mean that God demands different decisions from those of the past. Today’s halachic living is severely impeded by observance having become mere habit. As Avraham Joshua Heschel put it so beautifully:

Indeed, the essence of observance has, at times, become encrusted with so many customs and conventions that the jewel was lost in the setting. Outward compliance with externalities of the law took the place of the engagement of the whole person to the living God.[2]

Over the years, this problem has become exacerbated because everything in Judaism has been turned into a halachic issue.

The future posek must reverse this crisis. He can do so only if he is touched by something much larger than himself. It is entirely impossible to pasken (render a halachic ruling) when his own soul is cold and all he does is go by the book. He must live the Divine, and the Divine must emerge from his decisions. To paraphrase Heschel: The posek must feel more than he understands in order to understand more than he grasps. He must touch Heaven while standing with both his feet on the ground, similar to what takes place when one hears the music of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven and suddenly feels that he is taken on a journey to unknown landscapes. I would even suggest that some poskim actually listen to this kind of heavenly music while contemplating halachic problems presented to them. It will broaden their minds and hearts, and they will see a world emerging that opens halachic possibilities they never contemplated before. They will sense God’s presence because music sets the soul free and evokes in us wonder about who we are and what we live for. As Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth once wrote, “Whether the angels play only Bach in praising God, I am not quite sure; I am sure, however, that en famille they play Mozart.”[3]

It is the posek’s task to ensure that Judaism is not identified only with legalism. There is an entire religious world beyond halacha—one of aggadah, philosophy, deep emotional experiences, devotion and often un-finalized beliefs. Shouldn’t these be part of the process of deciding how halacha is to be applied? The task of halacha has always been to ensure that Judaism does not evaporate into a utopian reverie, a superficial spiritualism. But the facts on the ground suggest something entirely different. Judaism has developed in a way that has destroyed the delicate balance between law and spirit, and it has turned into a type of sacred behaviorism. Halacha is supposed to be the practical upshot of even un-finalized beliefs. Judaism was never supposed to become a religion that is paralyzed in its awe of rigid tradition. It is a fluid liquid that must be transformed into a solid substance so as to enable the Jew to act. It must chill the heated steel of exalted ideas and turn them into pragmatic deeds without allowing the inner heat to cool off entirely.

Halacha is the midwife that assists in the birth of not only answers but also profound spiritual questions created by that very halacha. As such, we must ensure that the Posek HaDor does not turn into someone who gives automatic answers on the spot. Instead, he should walk the person through a landscape in which these questions are properly discussed.

It is high time that a group of women, particularly the posek’s wife, be deeply involved in certain halachic decisions when they touch on emotions and social conditions that they may understand better than the posek/husband. Why do we almost never hear about the wife of the Posek HaDor, her wisdom, and especially the sacrifice entailed in being married to such a great man who is needed by so many and often has little time for his own family?[4] And why not making sure that we have female Poskot HaDor who are able to decide on many matters, especially those relating to the concerns of women which male poskim will never fully grasp?

Today’s Posek HaDor is often absolutely sure of the truth of his religion but not informed or aware of the many challenges today’s world presents to religious faith and Judaism. How could such a person be able to understand the many issues of people who live in doubt? The first requirement is to sincerely appreciate the plight and pain of the confused teenager; the Jewish Ethiopian; the bereaved parent; the struggling religious homosexual; the child of a mixed marriage with only a Jewish father; even the Christian or Buddhist who has an affinity for Judaism and asks for guidance.

Is there anyone in this world who has all the qualities necessary to singlehandedly rule on these matters? It is entirely unfair and extremely dangerous to ask one person, however pious and wise, to adequately respond to all these issues. It requires teamwork with fellow rabbis and teachers, who may not be as learned in halacha but are much more familiar with many of the problems of which the Posek HaDor may not be aware. The Posek HaDor should be advised by a team of highly experienced professionals—psychologists, social workers, scientists and even poets and musicians—before giving a ruling, so as to prevent major pitfalls. Halacha should be decided by consensus instead of by one person, even if he is the greatest. Centralized authority has become a dangerous matter. It may be wise to allow people, with some guidance, to decide on their own after having heard all the halachic views and spiritual dimensions of their question.

Poskim should encourage new Torah ideas and shun the denunciation of those books that try to bring together religion and science in harmony. Instead of banning them, as the Vatican used to do in former times, they should encourage these works. In the last few years, powerful rabbis have tried to prevent books from being published, or have condemned them, because they did not agree with their content claiming them to contain heresy. In their ignorance, they tried to ban them and their authors, causing a terrible chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) after secular newspapers were informed of these condemnations and ridiculed them, since they indicated a total lack of scientific knowledge on the part of those who signed and endorsed them. Some of these great rabbis should stop the banning and instead learn to offer scientific and philosophical solutions to possible conflicts between Torah, science and philosophy. But to do so, they need to acquire enough knowledge! What is the point of labeling certain ideas as heresy when one does not have the knowledge to understand the issues involved? In any case, bans and inquisitions have no place in Judaism.

The Posek HaDor must have shoulders broad enough to carry and appreciate different worldviews, including Zionist, non-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox. And he must ensure that all these denominations feel his impartiality and his allowance of space for their varied ideologies. Perhaps he could even have an open ear for Reform and Conservative Judaism and realize that many of their adherents are serious about their religion, even though he would not agree with these movements. And when he disagrees, he should be sophisticated enough to explain why he indeed differs.

A true posek should visit women’s shelters, speak personally with abused women and children, and perhaps deny himself food and drink so that he feels the real horror of poverty and rejection. Unless he is a very sensitive soul, he should perhaps get himself hospitalized and spend time observing and even experiencing the lives of sick people. They are in the hands of doctors and nurses who do not always deal with their patients in an adequately compassionate manner, whether due to lack of time, insensitivity, or some other reason. He should also carefully listen to the complaints, problems and frustrations of the medical staff.

Before dealing with the question of agunot and the refusal of husbands to grant their wives a get (writ of divorce), it would perhaps be a good idea for the posek to leave his wife for a period of time (with her consent, of course) and live in total loneliness, so as to understand what it means to live in utter silence and have no life partner.

Above all, it is the Posek HaDor’s responsibility to narrow the serious gap between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society and to come up with creative halachic solutions that will boggle the minds of all branches of Jewry.

Poskim must be people who will propose unprecedented solutions for the status of the tens of thousands of non-Jews with Jewish roots living in Israel. They must ensure that courses on Judaism are so attractive that halacha becomes irresistible. They should instruct their students to welcome these people with open arms, knowing quite well that otherwise we will be confronted with a huge problem of intermarriage in Israel, which threatens the very existence of the Jewish state.

The posek’s farsighted and long-term view must ensure that major problems, such as the exemption of yeshiva students from army service, will be resolved once and for all.

For nearly 2,000 years, Jewish Law has been developing into a “waiting mode” in which it has become the great “Preserver of the Precepts.” It has been protective and defensive, and mainly committed to conformity, in order to ensure the survival of Judaism and the Jews who were surrounded by a non-Jewish, mostly hostile society. It became a “galut halacha”— an exilic code — in which the Torah sometimes became too stultified. It may have worked in the Diaspora, but it can no longer offer sufficient guidance in today’s world and in Israel.[5]

The State of Israel is the great catalyst for this new situation, which we have not experienced during the past two thousand years. Consequently, we are in dire need of “prophetic halacha,” in which not only the rules of halacha are applied but also the perspectives of our prophets who spoke of burning social and ethical issues. This should be combined with melodious spiritual sounds that introduce new points of view on genuine and deep religiosity.

Isn’t it time to leave the final codification of Jewish law behind us; to unfreeze halacha and begin reading between the lines of the Talmud to recapture halacha’s authentic nature?

To be an arbiter of Jewish law is to be the conductor of an orchestra. It is not coercion but persuasion that makes it possible for the other to hear the beauty of the music and to accept a halachic decision, just as one would willingly listen to the interpretation of a conductor—because one is deeply inspired.

To be a posek means to be a person of unprecedented courage; one who is willing to initiate a spiritual storm that will shake up the entire Jewish community. A storm that will free conventional and codified halacha from the sandbank in which it has been stuck. In a revolutionary shift, poskim should lead the ship of Torah, in full sail, right into the heart of the Jewish nation, creating such a shock that it will take days, weeks, or even months before it is able to get back on its feet. With knives between their teeth, like the prophets of biblical days, these great halachic arbiters, of impeccable and uncompromising conduct, should create a religious uproar that will scare the moral wits out of both secular and religious Jews and weigh heavily on their souls.

Poskim should not be “honored,” “valued,” or “well-respected,” as they are now. As men of truth, they should be both feared and deeply loved. Jews of all backgrounds should be shaking in their shoes at the thought of meeting them, while simultaneously being incapable of staying away from their towering, fascinating, and above all, warm personalities.

Halachic decision-making is a great art. The posek should never forget that he is the soil in which the halacha is to grow, while the Torah is the seed and God is the sun.[6]

We are in need of decentralized rabbinical authority in which many more rabbis will have a personal relationship with their flock and consequently be able to respond to the often difficult and very personal questions their followers are asking. There are no longer such unusual great rabbis who know the art of reading people’s minds and hearts without having a personal relationship with them. This was exactly the point that Yitro made when he told his son-in-law Moshe Rabeinu to appoint princes “as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens.”[7] Only the major cases would be brought to a giant authority like Moshe. But alas, they no longer exist.

We should be very thankful that we witness the disintegration of rabbinical authority in our days. Nothing could be worse for Judaism and the Jewish people than having rabbis who are admired as great spiritual halachic leaders when for the most part they are not. We will witness, slowly but surely, the rise of a completely new rabbinical world, which will give us more reason to be proud Jews and live a spiritual halachic life. Yes, it will take time; but it will surely come.

Perhaps our future rabbis should first listen to the heavenly music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, after which they will be able to render a truthful halachic decision. It might do wonders!

With thanks to the David Cardozo Academy’s Think Tank.


Notes:

[1] The concept of Da’as Torah is highly questionable and in fact incompatible with Jewish Tradition. Too many rabbis whose Da’as Torah is accepted contradict each other in many profound and disturbing ways, which makes a farce of the whole idea. See the highly critical article by Professor Lawrence Kaplan, “Daas Torah: A Modern Conception of Rabbinic Authority” in Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy—The Orthodox Forum, ed. Moshe Z. Sokol (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1992) pp. 1-60. I would suggest that there is something we can call Ruach HaTorah according to which differing opinions are stated, which are all rooted in diverse readings of our traditional rabbinic literature.

[2] A. J. Heschel, God In Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976) p. 326.

[3] Karl Barth, “A Letter of Thanks to Mozart,” from the Round Robin in the weekly supplement of the Luzerner Neuesten Nachrichten, Jan. 21, 1956. This is also quoted in his obituary, The New York Times, December 11, 1968.

[4] Artscroll Publications did publish a book about the wife of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, well-known leader and halachic authority in Israel’s Chareidi community: Naftali and Naomi Weinberger with Nina Indig, Rebbetzin Kanievsky: A Legendary Mother to All (New York: Mesorah Publications Ltd., 2012). But this is a drop in the bucket to what should and could be done.

[5] See: Ha-Halacha, Koha V’Tafkida by Eliezer Berkovits, (Mosad Ha-Rav Kook, 1981) English: Not in Heaven, The Nature and Function of Halakha,( Ktav, NY, 1983).

[6] See Samuel H. Dresner, Heschel, Hasidism, and Halakha (Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press, 2002) p. 108.

[7] Shemot 18: 21-23.

As taken from, https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/bach-mozart-and-beethoven-how-to-be-a-genuine-halachic-expert/?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=b67f537e2c-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dd05790c6d-b67f537e2c-242341409

What is going on?

by Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks

In March 2020, whilst launching a new book,[1] I took part in a BBC radio programme along with Mervyn King, who had been governor of the Bank of England at the time of the financial crash of 2008. He, together with the economist John Kay, had also brought out a new book, Radical Uncertainty: decision-making for an unknowable future.[2]

The coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to make itself felt in Britain, and it had the effect of making both of our books relevant in a way that neither of us could have predicted. Mine is about the precarious balance between the “I” and the “we”: individualism versus the common good. Theirs is about how to make decisions when you cannot tell what the future holds.

The modern response to this latter question has been to hone and refine predictive techniques using mathematical modelling. The trouble is that mathematical models work in a relatively abstract, delimited, quantifiable world and cannot deal with the messy, unpredictable character of reality. They don’t and cannot consider what Donald Rumsfeld called the “unknown unknowns” and Nicholas Taleb termed “black swans” – things that no one expected but that change the environment. We live in a world of radical uncertainty.

Accordingly, they propose a different approach. In any critical situation, ask: “What is happening?” They quote Richard Rumelt: “A great deal of strategy work is trying to figure out what is going on. Not just deciding what to do, but the more fundamental problem of comprehending the situation.”[3] Narrative plays a major role in making good decisions in an uncertain world. We need to ask: of what story is this a part?

Neither Rumelt nor King and Kay quote Amy Chua, but her book Political Tribes is a classic account of failing to understand the situation.[4] Chapter by chapter she documents American foreign policy disasters from Vietnam to Iraq because policy-makers did not comprehend tribal societies. You cannot use war to turn them into liberal democracies. Fail to understand this and you will waste many years, trillions of dollars, and tens of thousands of lives.

It might seem odd to suggest that a book by two contemporary economists holds the clue to unravelling the mystery of the spies in our parsha. But it does.

We think we know the story. Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land. Ten of them came back with a negative report. The land is good, but unconquerable. The people are strong, the cities impregnable, the inhabitants are giants and we are grasshoppers. Only two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, took a different view. We can win. The land is good. God is on our side. With His help, we cannot fail.

On this reading, Joshua and Caleb had faith, courage and confidence, while the other ten did not. But this is hard to understand. The ten – not just Joshua and Caleb – knew that God was with them. He had crushed Egypt. The Israelites had just defeated the Amalekites. How could these ten – leaders, princes – not know that they could defeat the inhabitants of the land?

What if the story were not this at all? What if it was not about faith, confidence, or courage. What if it was about “What is going on?” – understanding the situation and what happens when you don’t. The Torah tells us that this is the correct reading, and it signals it in a most striking way.

Biblical Hebrew has two verbs that mean “to spy”: lachpor and leragel (from which we get the word meraglim, “spies”). Neither of these words appear in our parsha. That is the point. Instead, no less than twelve times, we encounter the rare verb, la-tur. It was revived in modern Hebrew and means (and sounds like) “to tour.” Tayar is a tourist. There is all the difference in the world between a tourist and a spy.

Malbim explains the difference simply. Latur means to seek out the good. That is what tourists do. They go to the beautiful, the majestic, the inspiring. They don’t spend their time trying to find out what is bad. Lachpor and leragel are the opposite. They are about searching out a place’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. That is what spying is about. The exclusive use of the verb latur in our parsha – repeated twelve times – is there to tell us that the twelve men were not sent to spy. But only two of them understood this.

Almost forty years later, when Moses retells the episode in Devarim 1:22-24, he does use the verbs lachpor and leragel. In Genesis 42, when the brothers come before Joseph in Egypt to buy food, he accuses them of being meraglim, “spies”, a word that appears seven times in that one chapter. He also defines what it is to be a spy: “You have come to see the nakedness of the land” (i.e. where it is undefended).

The reason ten of the twelve men came back with a negative report is not because they lacked courage or confidence or faith. It was because they completely misunderstood their mission. They thought they had been sent to be spies. But the Torah never uses the word “spy” in our chapter. The ten simply did not understand what was going on.

They believed it was their role to find out the “nakedness” of the land, where it was vulnerable, where its defences could be overcome. They looked and could not find. The people were strong, and the cities impregnable. The bad news about the land was that there was not enough bad news to make it weak and thus conquerable. They thought their task was to be spies and they did their job. They were honest and open. They reported what they had seen. Based on the intelligence they had gathered, they advised the people not to attack – not now, and not from here.

Their mistake was that they were not meant to be spies. They were told latur, not lachpor or leragel. Their job was to tour, explore, travel, see what the land was like and report back. They were to see what was good about the land, not what was bad. So, if they were not meant to be spies, what was the purpose of this mission?

I suggest that the answer is to be found in a passage in the Talmud[5] that states: it is forbidden for a man to marry a woman without seeing her first. The reason? Were he to marry without having seen her first, he might, when he does see her, find he is not attracted to her. Tensions will inevitably arise. Hence the idea: first see, then love.

The same applies to a marriage between a people and its land. The Israelites were travelling to the country promised to their ancestors. But none of them had ever seen it. How then could they be expected to muster the energies necessary to fight the battles involved in conquering the land? They were about to marry a land they had not seen. They had no idea what they were fighting for.

The twelve were sent latur: to explore and report on the good things of the land so that the people would know it was worth fighting for. Their task was to tour and explore, not spy and decry. But only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, listened carefully and understood what their mission was: to be the eyes of the congregation, letting them know the beauty and goodness of what lay ahead, the land that had been their destiny since the days of their ancestor Abraham.

The Israelites at that stage did not need spies. As Moses said many years later: “You did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go” (Deut. 1:32-33). God was going to show them where to go and where to attack.

The people needed something else entirely. Moses had told them that the land was good. It was “flowing with milk and honey.” But Moses had never seen the land. Why should they believe him? They needed the independent testimony of eyewitnesses. That was the mission of the twelve. And in fact, all twelve fulfilled that mission. When they returned, the first thing they said was: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Num. 13:27). But because ten of them thought their task was to be spies, they went on to say that the conquest was impossible, and from then on, tragedy was inevitable.

The difference between the ten and Joshua and Caleb is not that the latter had the faith, courage and confidence the former did not. It is that they understood the story; the ten did not.

I find it fascinating that a leading economist and a former Governor of the Bank of England should argue for the importance of narrative when it comes to decision-making under conditions of radical uncertainty. Yet that is the profound truth in our parsha.

Ten of the twelve men thought they were part of a story of espionage. The result was that they looked for the wrong things, came to the wrong conclusion, demoralised the people, destroyed the hope of an entire generation, and will eternally be remembered as responsible for one of the worst failures in Jewish history.

Read Amy Chua’s Political Tribes, mentioned earlier, and you will discover a very similar analysis of America’s devastating failures in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.[6]

I write these words while the Coronavirus pandemic is at its height. Has anyone yet identified the narrative of which it and we are a part? I believe that the story we tell affects the decisions we make. Get the story wrong and we can rob an entire generation of their future. Get it right, as did Joshua and Caleb, and we can achieve greatness.  

Shabbat Shalom

[1] Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, Hodder, 2020.

[2] John Kay and Mervyn King, Radical Uncertainty, Bridge Street, 2020. I referred to this book in Covenant and Conversation Emor.

[3] Richard Rumelt, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, Crown Business, 2011, 79.

[4] Amy Chua, Political Tribes, Penguin, 2018.

[5] Kiddushin 41a.

[6] A more positive example would be to contrast the Marshall Plan after World War 2 with the punitive provisions of the Treaty of Versailles after World War 1. These were the result of two different narratives: victors punishing the vanquished, and victors helping both sides to rebuild.  

As taken from, https://rabbisacks.org/SHELACH-LECHA-5780/