Forum Replies Created
Melbournian- I have never learned the sefer Tanya because I get the impression that the entire sefer is one hemshech and it has to be learned from cover to cover, which is quite daunting. Also, the kabbalistic ideas in the sefer are hard to learn on your own without hearing shiurim to explain them.
But I read that perek inside before starting this thread.
Reb Eliezer- I believe Chazal said befeirush that the neshama comes from under the kisei hakavod. But that would seem to be very different from saying that it is an actual part of Hashem.
AviraDeArah- Kol hakavod to you for your explanation to the kids.
Unfortunately, many of us never outgrow our childish understandings of Torah concepts. So many people never stop to think about things from a more mature perspective, so they are left believing all sorts of idiotic, false, or even heretical ideas they heard somewhere. Not everything that has been said by a frum Jew with a beard is true and it is worthwhile to have some sort of critical thinking in order to know what to accept and what not to accept. I don’t mean for people to go around rejecting everything said by gedolim, but if something seems to make no sense, put it aside in your mind until you find a satisfactory explanation instead of insisting that it is absolute truth.
Melbournian- I am not sure what you mean for Hashem to be above “parts” and division. If you mean that He is one unity that cannot be divided into parts, that is what the rishonim said, and that makes it impossible to understand the neshama as being literally “part” of Hashem, despite the word “mamash” in the Tanya. If you mean that it is valid to talk about “parts” of Hashem but that somehow doesn’t detract from His unity, then that needs to be reconciled with these clear statements by rishonim that no one seems to argue with.
CHOOSID- Did you read the original post? There are three main reasons why I think a literal understanding of the concept of חלק א-לוק ממעל is wrong and at least borders on kefirah. You don’t seem to be dealing with any of them.
I also find it interesting that you wrote: “the essence of the soul of man is “literally a part of Hashem above a piece of G‑d in us, so to speak.”
What do you mean “literally, so to speak”? Is it literal or not?
Reb Eliezer- Does R’ Menashe ben Yisrael discuss this particular issue? It looks like he is mainly concerned with trying to prove that the neshama is immortal. When he titles the eight perek of the sefer גם ביד הנביאים רשום בכתב אמת שהנשמות הן חלק א-לוק ממעל it seems clear from context that he is using that phrase to mean that the neshama outlives the guf.
Later in the perek he writes:
כאן הפליג להורות ההשארות הנפשיי, כי כן כתיב “כי רוח מלפני יעטוף”, ר”ל הרוח מלפני הוא ואינו מטבע הארץ כמו הגוף, והנשמות אני עשיתי ואינם נמשכים מהאבות לבנים כמו הגוף, כי שלשה שותפים יש בבריאת האדם- האבות נותנים הגופים וחלק א-לוק ממעל הן הנה הנפשות
It seems that he is using the phrase to mean that the neshama comes from Hashem and therefore outlasts the body.
Nochum- You seem to be making several points.
1) If you don’t believe in Hashem you are still a Yid.
Of course, but if you believe heretical ideas you are a Yid who is nebach a kofer.
2) The sentence in Tanya which says the neshama is a חלק א-לוק ממעל ממש has to be taken in context.
I agree, and I am not qualified to discuss the Tanya, but I have seen people who tried to argue, based on the context, that the Tanya never meant the neshama is literally part of Hashem.
3) The Baal Hatanya was not a kofer.
Agreed, but the fact that someone was moser nefesh for Yiddishkeit as he understood it does not necessarily prove he wasn’t a kofer. I don’t think he was a kofer because I don’t think anyone has said that since the initial charamim against the Chasidim died down almost 200 years ago.
4) People who think all Chabadniks are kofrim are wrong.
I wasn’t trying to bash Chabad as a whole. The last point you made is irrelevant to the discussion at hand and it is a shame to make this thread into yet another one where Chabadniks and misnagdim bash each other. Neither side is going to convince anyone, so that is a huge waste of time.
Duvidf- You wrote “I think the Tanya was well aware of ideas we are not allowed to believe and nevertheless wrote what he wrote including the word “Mamash”.” I understood that to mean that you want to understand him literally and are dismissing any proofs that the literal meaning of his words is kefirah off hand, because the Tanya knew those ideas and wrote what he wrote anyway. That is the idea I am taking issue with.
I don’t actually believe the Baal Hatanya was a kofer since I have seen interpretations of his words that don’t understand them literally (such as R’ Jacobson’s explanation previously mentioned).
Nor do I think that your explanation that the entire universe conceals the presence of Hashem but the neshama is less concealed is kefirah.
Duvidf- I think we have hit an impenetrable divide between Chasidim and misnagdim. The appeal to the Tanya’s authority is not enough for a misnagged – if what the Tanya wrote contradicts basic principles of Yiddishkeit, then either it can’t be meant literally or it is kefirah. If it can be reconciled with these principles then great, but otherwise it isn’t enough to say “the Tanya said so, so it must be true”.
For Chasidim it may be enough, but they are always at risk that someone whose authority they accept will say something truly heretical and they will have no tools left to justify why not to accept it.
Reb Eliezer- Exactly. A lot of people get this wrong but if you are trying to be medakdek you should say gavoah and Eloa-h.
Pekak- The actual shem Hashem has a mappik hei at the end, which is pronounced. So if you say “Eloak” you haven’t finished saying the shem because you haven’t pronounced the hei yet.
Duvidf- The way you are describing the idea of חלק א-לוק ממעל does not sound like kefirah, although it seems that you said two different things:
1) That Hashem concealed Himself in all of creation and concealed Himself less in the neshama
2) That the neshama actually has part of the essence of Hashem in it, like the mashal of a balloon that a person blew into and filled with air
The first concept is not at all objectionable, but the second one still seems problematic.
The concept of חלק א-לוק ממעל is a powerful one whose implications have inspired thousands of Jews. But I still think that the “anatomy” is important because there are certain ideas we are not allowed to believe and the consequences of holding heretical beliefs are so severe. So even if we don’t understand the “anatomy”, the most important thing for us to know is what חלק א-לוק ממעל doesn’t mean. Then we can try to understand what it does mean.
Duvidf- Once we get into אין עוד מלבדו I agree that nothing exists independently of Hashem. I still wouldn’t say that everything is a “part” of Hashem, but that nothing exists outside of Him, like you quoted from the Nefesh Hachaim:
עד שתוכל לומר שאין כאן שום נברא ועולם כלל, רק הכל מלא עצמות אחדותו הפשוט יתברך שמו.
But still, on the day-to-day level where we see the world as having an existence and understand that it was created, the neshama is one of the things that was created, not the Creator.
Philosopher- Everything you wrote is true, except for your wording, when you claim that we are a “part of G-d”. There is no such thing as a part of G-d, by definition. This was stated by the Chovos Halevavos, Rambam, Sefer HaIkkarim, and others, and I have a hard time believing that the Baal Hatanya argues with all Rishonim on such basic concepts.
Reb Eliezer- I am having a hard time figuring out what you hold. The Rambam you quoted says very clearly that Hashem is not a composite being, meaning He cannot be divided into parts.
Obviously, everything emanates from Hashem, just because He existed first and the universe came into being afterwards, so where did it come from if not from Him? That doesn’t mean that the entire universe is G-d.
Philosopher- Can you define “emanate”? Saying the neshama, or the entire universe, emanates from G-d is not at all the same thing as saying it is part of Him.
So too, saying that G-d is constantly granting chiyus to every part of the universe is not the same as saying everything in the universe is actually G-d.
Yes, if G-d were to remove His presence from the universe it would cease to exist. That applies to every Jew’s neshama, as well as to everything physical, including idols and garbage. But that doesn’t make any of those things into parts of Hashem.
This is what the Rambam writes in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah Perek Alef Halacha Zayin:
אלוה זה אחד הוא ואינו שנים ולא יתר על שנים אלא אחד שאין כיחודו אחד מן האחדים הנמצאים בעולם לא אחד כמין שהוא כולל אחדים הרבה ולא אחד כגוף שהוא נחלק למחלקות ולקצוות אלא יחוד שאין יחוד אחר כמותו בעולם
So does the Tanya argue on the Rambam, or are some people misunderstanding the Tanya?
Duvidf- I have learned the Chovos Halevavos’ Shaar Hayichud. I have a hard time believing that you did. He discusses the concept of Yichud Hashem at length in Perek 8-9. For example, he writes in Perek Tes:
וכאשר חקרנו על ענין האחדות האמתית בברואים לא מצאנוה לאחד מהם קיימת אמתית ואם יאמר [על כל אחד מן הסוגים והמינים והאישים והעצמים והמקרים והגרמים העליונים והגופים הרוחניים וכל מנין ומנוי וכל אשר לו תכלה וגבול] אחד ומיחסים אליו ענין האחדות לא יאמר לו אחד אלא על דרך העברה מפני שהוא כולל דברים שנקראו אחד מדרך הדמותם והתחברותם בענין אחד והוא רב מעצמו מפני שמקבל הרבוי והשנוי והחלוק והמחלוקת והחבור והפרידה והתוספת והחסרון והתנועה והמנוחה והדמיון והצורה ושאר המקרים המיוחדים והכוללים לכל אחד מהברואים והאחדות האמתית איננה נמצאת ולא נאמרת באמת על דבר מן היצירות.
Later in the perek he writes:
ידענו דעת ברורה כי האחדות אשר אמרנו על כל אחד מהברואים על דרך העברה נאצלת מענין האחד האמת והאחדות האמתית היא הנאמרת על בורא הכל יתעלה והוא האחד האמת ואין אחד אמת זולתו כמו שהקדמנו. וכל חקי האחד האמת אשר זכרנו לא יאותו כי אם לו לבדו וכן כל עניני הרבוי והמקרים והשנוים והתנועות והדמיונים וכל מה שלא יאות לאחד האמת רחוקים ממנו יתברך
That means that only Hashem is truly One, or like you wrote, Unique / Unequalled / Unlike any other and above time and space. Nothing else created is truly One, because it can be divided into parts. This is true of the Creator, not of anything created, like the neshama.
Lit- Thank you for the mar’eh makom. Duvidf- In that same video, at about minute 20, R’ Jacobson explains what “mamash” means, and he doesn’t explain it like you understood.
“Elokah” is a very common mistake. The ה with a patach under it is pronounced “ah”, not “ha”, the same way that נח is pronounced Noach and not “Nocha”. This is the basic dikduk rule of פתח גנובה.
Duvidf- A basic tenet of Christianity is that a human being is also G-d. Anyone in Judaism who also insists on that is moving dangerously close to Christianity. A basic belief of Judaism is that man is man and G-d is G-d. It is much more dangerous to blur the line between G-d and man than to over-emphasize the gap between us and Hashem, even if that is also a mistake.
Your mashal has no comparison to this discussion. Countries consist of states and cities and can be divided ad infinitum. Hashem cannot be divided.
Duvidf- Are you a Lubavitcher chasid? Have you asked a mashpia if those words in the Tanya are meant literally?
Lit pointed out that R’ Simon Jacobson said in a shiur that those words should not be understood literally.
I also came across an article on the Hidabroot website by a certain R’ Daniel Blass (I have no idea who he is), who tried to prove from Tanya cheilek Dalet perek Zayin that it shouldn’t be understood literally.
I am no expert in Kabbalah, but it seems obvious that non-basic statements in Judaism should be judged based on the basics. The ikkarim of emunah are basics and the Tanya is not basic, even if it is a basic text of Chabad. We still need to judge the Tanya based on Chazal, not vice versa.
I admit that I am not holding in kabbalah, but I don’t think it is fair to say that someone without a solid knowledge of kabbalah has no right to point out that a literal understanding of a kabbalistic statement is kefirah, based on nigleh sources. There is one Judaism – not a religion of nigleh that conflicts with the religion of nistar. Again, I don’t think the Tanya’s statement that the neshama is a חלק א-לוק ממעל is false. I just think it can’t be taken literally.
The Zohar also says ישראל ואורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא חד. I think it is perfectly legitimate to point out that a literal understanding of that is kefirah (thankfully I have never heard anyone claim it should be understood literally). That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, just that it has a deeper meaning. Same thing here.
I am not coming to bash Chabad in general, although I do think that a Chabadnik who literally believes the neshama is part of G-d is on thin ice. I am more concerned that a literal understanding of the Tanya has trickled down to frum Jews outside of Chabad, which I think is a serious mistake.
I don’t think this belief is limited to Chabad and, although I am not holding in Tanya or Kabbalah, I have seen explanations claiming that the Tanya also did not mean that the neshama is literally part of G-d. It is because it seems that the literal understanding of one sentence in the Tanya taken out of context has spread to many non-Chabad books of “machshava”, who quote it without any qualification, that I am so bothered.
I second Toi’s comment. Growing up in America I never heard the term chareidi, and all shomrei mitzvos I knew referred to themselves as “frum”. If they needed to make distinctions, then some people were “yeshivish” or “black hat”, as opposed to “modern Orthodox”.
The difference between yeshivish and chareidi is pretty clear. Chareidim live in Israel; frum Jews in chutz la’aretz aren’t chareidi. The cultural nuances are completely different.
akuperma, what is the definition of yeshivish and what is the definition of chareidi? You seem to be defining yeshivish as “litvish chareidi”, which seems totally arbitrary to me. Do chasidim and sefardim not also have yeshivos?
Growing up in America, I don’t think I ever heard the term chareidi until I was about 15. I think it is still true that most shomrei mitzvos in America describe themselves as “frum”, and if they need to distinguish between different groups of frum Jews they talk about “yeshivish” or “black hat” as opposed to “modern Orthodox” or “kippa seruga”. I think the use of chareidi to describe American frum Jews is a very recent phenomenon, and incorrect, since the nuances between frum Jews in Israel and America are completely different.
Do you all realize that no one here has defined the meaning of “holy”, so everyone here is discussing a different question? From a halchic standpoint, it has been quite obviously shown that Yiddish is a lashon chol with no kedusha. Does Yiddish deserve respect as a time-hallowed, exclusively Jewish language, which can connect Ashkenazi Jews to their European heritage? I think only those with an anti-Yiddish agenda would deny that.October 18, 2018 4:09 pm at 4:09 pm in reply to: Which is Worse Publically Converting or Publically OTD? #1607194
I have no idea what point the OP was making with this question, but some people here seem to have rushed to express their opinion on the kids who go off the derech today and insist that they are in pain, not resha’im. I don’t think that is relevant to this discussion.
To reword what I think the question was: Is it worse for someone who – for whatever reason – doesn’t want to keep mitzvos anymore to go ahead and publically do aveiros, or to convert to some other religion? I think worded that way, the question basically answers itself.
So the reason why the person stopped being frum isn’t relevant to the question. But are all the people insisting that everyone OTD is escaping pain going to say the same thing about people who convert to other religions?
ומה לגבי אנגלית?
Make a point- Nothing about Yiddish or German is Nazi. It’s completely coincidental that the Nazis happened to speak German. Just about every language has been spoken by antisemites, and German has been spoken by Jew-killers probably since the Yiddish language developed. The German language didn’t become pasul because of the Nazis, nor did English become pasul when the Jews were expelled from England, or French during the Crusades.July 14, 2018 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm in reply to: Baltimores chassidish community is growing by leaps and bounds!!!! #1557702
The Yeshiva Lane community isn’t really relevant. You can only live there if you are in the Ner Yisroel kollel and there’s a long waiting list.
Time for Truth- Do you have the text of where R’ Reuven says this? I highly doubt he meant that Yiddish is literally lashon hakodesh. Would he pasken that when the Mishnah says birchas kohanim can only be said in lashon hakodesh, it can also be said in Yiddish?
Yiddish is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It is useful to use a Jewish language to prevent assimilation and keep continuity with previous generations, but no language is holy except the language the Torah was written in. I assume R’ Reuven’s considerations were along these lines, not that he held Yiddish actually has the kedushah of lashon hakodesh.July 12, 2018 5:59 pm at 5:59 pm in reply to: Baltimores chassidish community is growing by leaps and bounds!!!! #1557425
It’s true that the Baltimore is moving more to the right – that’s also true of most frum communities in America. Those in the MO community who are bothered by this trend should do some brainstorming to figure out ways to keep their communities vibrant and inspiring, and encourage serious Torah learning that will produce future MO rabbis.
Still, I think Baltimore, as an “out-of-town” community, is a pretty inclusive place for MO families, and I hope there are still shuls there where no one cares what color your shirt or hat is, or whether you wear one at all (I mean the hat 🙂
I think the claim that most non-frum Jews in America today are goyim is exaggerated. Most American Jews haven’t been in the country more than four or five generations and it’s not hard to trace back to an ancestor who was Jewish in Europe. If someone’s mother’s mother’s mother etc. was considered Jewish in 1880 when they came to America, we can assume that they are also Jewish, no matter how assimilated. The Jews who were in America pre-Civil War are almost all completely assimilated today and don’t even consider themselves Jewish, even if they have Jewish last names. But someone who considers themself Jewish very likely is, or if their mother converted they would know that.
What does it mean for Yiddish to be “holy”? Only Biblical Hebrew is lashon hakodesh, not any other language (like Modern Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Yeshivish, etc.). Knowing Yiddish is very valuable because it allows you to connect with past generations of Jews who used this language and with thousands of Jews who still use it. (This is more relevant if you are Ashkenazi; if you are Sefardi, Yiddish is basically a foreign language). But Yiddish is only a tool, not something of value in its own right.
Randomex- Have the gedolim made such statements about the general population as well? Is it even true that the average Yossel nowadays is on a lower spiritual level than his counterpart living 100, 200 or 1000 years ago?
The mishna in Nega’im (2:1) which mdd quoted is: רבי ישמעאל אומר, בני ישראל, אני כפרתן, הרי הן כאשכרוע, לא שחורים ולא לבנים, אלא בינוניים.
I don’t know what color אשכרוע wood is, but it would seem that most Ashkenazim are lighter than that and many Yemenites, for example, are darker. We see also that the mishna in Nedarim (3:8) says: הנודר משחורי הראש אסור בקירחים ובבעלי שיבות ומותר בנשים ובקטנים שאין נקראין שחורי הראש אלא אנשים.
The Rav explains:
שאין נקראים שחורי הראש אלא אנשים – לפי שהאנשים פעמים מכסים ראשם ופעמים מגלים ומשחרות ראשם ניכר שהם אנשים, אבל נשים לעולם הולכות וראשם מכוסה. והקטנים בין זכרים בין נקבות הולכין בגילוי הראש ואינם ניכרים בין זכר לנקבה, ומשום הכי לא אקרו שחורי הראש אלא האנשים הגדולים:
Clearly the vast majority of Jews in the time of Chazal had black hair. Probably influxes of geirim and changes of climates have changed the appearance of many modern Jews. DNA tests of many different Jewish populations have suggested that we all share Middle Eastern ancestry.October 24, 2017 6:28 pm at 6:28 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1389299
Thanks for the compliments. I’ll try to stick to the ancient Indian proverb from now on.October 24, 2017 5:17 pm at 5:17 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1389257
I apologize for the attack. I posted before your complimentary post cleared.
I misunderstood your point. I personally don’t believe the only choices are to be drafted into the army or to act like a hooligan (or to leave). Even those who support these protests should agree that no one has yet been forced to join the army against their will. If you don’t want to register with the army, you can always get thrown into jail coming back from a bein hazmanim trip. You don’t have to get arrested at a violent hafganah. (Although maybe the police would have an easier time if all those it recognizes as deserters all convened in one large hafganah so they can arrest them all in one place.)October 24, 2017 4:26 pm at 4:26 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1389221
Tom Dick n Harry: Are you really serious that anyone who disagrees with the medinah should leave Eretz Yisrael?! What’s hypocritical about living in Eretz Yisrael, under the rule of the Zionist government, and disagreeing vociferously with some of its policies? True, as the situation is now, the existence of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael depends on army to defend it. But that army does not necessarily have to be against the Torah. The non-Torah lifestyle of the chilonim and their army is not what we are benefitting from; we are benefitting from the fact that there is an army bichlal. Since that army right now is no place for a ben Torah, we can’t be part of it. But it’s ridiculous to claim that our only non-hypocritical choices are to support everything the medinah stands for or leave. Why should we leave? This is our land.October 24, 2017 3:34 pm at 3:34 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1389182
MTAB: I’m not in my comfortable living room chair in America, I’m in Eretz Yisrael and every day I’m unsure of how long it will take me to get home from Yerushalayim because of the actions of a bunch of hooligans.
I understand the fear and panic, but that doesn’t justify this type of behavior. All of this is coming from a sense of panic that the chareidi world as we know it will come to an end. But is that an excuse to change yeshiva bochurim from bnei aliyah who can be recognized for their middos and refined behavior into people who act obnoxiously? Where does this mindset of “the end justifies the means” come from? Isn’t that the antithesis of Torah? I believe it was R’ Yisrael Salanter who said “men darf nit oiftun, men darf tun”. Our job is not to get results; that’s not in our hands. All we can do is carry out what Hashem wants from us.
I realize we live in difficult, scary times. But we have no right to do whatever seems to us most likely to get results if it is not muttar and proper behavior. At the end of the day Hashem is in charge.October 19, 2017 6:20 pm at 6:20 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1387241
In any case, this is a vicious cycle that will continue until one side or the other backs down. The question is how much damage will have been done in the meantime, and will this really have benefitted the chareidi public in Eretz Yisrael?October 19, 2017 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1387238
DY, that’s because it’s unpolitically correct for the cops to be seen as racists. However, it is pretty politically correct to be anti-chareidi, and violent protests seen by the general public as stupid, at best, only make that more politically correct. Look at some of the comments here, posted by frum Jews, about these potesters, and now imagine what the opinion of the chiloni on the street must be of them.
According to dina di’Gmara, there are simanim of which birds are kosher and which only aren’t. The acaharonim were afraid that we can no longer recognize which birds are kosher based on these simanim alone, so they instituted a chumra not to eat birds without a mesorah. The Jews of Bayis Rishon didn’t need a mesorah on chickens since they could use simanim. So would Ravina and Rav Ashi, and probably most rishonim.October 19, 2017 5:43 pm at 5:43 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1387226
DY, I understand what the end game is. What I cannot fathom, though, is how these protests are expected to further that goal.
My understanding of the concept of Daas Torah is that it is wisdom granting a person more shikul daas than non-talmidei chachamim. So your rav may not know more information than trained professionals, but once he is given the information he can weigh both sides of the issue better than a professional who is not a talmid chacham.
Of course, not every guy with smicha possesses that level of wisdom. A real chacham can also recognize when an issue is out of his league and refer the questioner to a greater talmid chacham.October 19, 2017 5:20 pm at 5:20 pm in reply to: Are all these protests in Jerusalem really a kiddush hashem? #1387212
I don’t understand what the hava amina of those who call for these protests is. (I don’t care for the moment whether R’ Shmuel supports these disruptive protests or not.) What are they meant to accomplish, other than inconveniencing thousands of people and making chareidim look really bad? Do they really think the government will say, “Oh, they’re blocking traffic again. Let’s just release all the bochurim who have been arrested and immediately pass a law that no chareidi should ever be required to register for the draft again.” Really?!
Also, what did they expect. Fine, their psak is not to register for the draft. Of course, the police will arrest anyone who does so and becomes a deserter by law. So then they will stage a protest and block traffic, and the police will come and arrest protesters, and then they will protest again, and then they will arrest more people etc. etc. Isn’t this an endless cycle and an exercise in futility?
I think there’s still room for a tefilla for the government, as a government, in the US. We need government to keep order, like Chazal said ????? ????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????, and the common people don’t have that power. That why they elect officials and we have government offices to do those jobs. But I hear akuperma’s point that a tefilla for the president as an individual is un-American. Definitely whoever adapted the European tefilla for America used un-American language. “?????? ???? ????? ????? ???? ????”? Would anyone refer to the POTUS that way?
They don’t, they’re just the ones powerful enough to cover it up.