Shomer Emunim Prologue (part one)

10 Jan

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1. And it was in the days of the rule of the Judges that there was a hunger in the land. Not a hunger for food, and not a thirst for water, rather it was to hear the word of God. The nation of Israel then split into two camps. [1] One camp said that the entire Torah can be understood according to the literal explanation alone. They denied the existence of any inner meaning to the Torah. Only the revealed meaning of it had credence along with the root theological teachings which were handed down to our Rabbis z”l to explain it.

This, they said, is the obligation of every man, through all the days of life that God has given him: To explain and try to understand the arguments of Abaye and Rava [2] and the laws contained in the Talmud and the Torah verses, in order to guard, to do, and to keep all of it’s commandments [3]

The other camp said that besides for the literal, revealed explanation, there is also an inner, hidden meaning to the commandments and to the details of the Biblical stories. The point of knowing this meaning is to understand the secrets on which King David said, “Open my eyes and I will see wonders from your Torah” [4].

And it was that when the people started to fight that the land was destroyed because of the mixture [5] and confusion of these two ideologies. They were all struggling against each other, each one yelling and saying that the truth was on his side, “This is the way, go on it! Turn left, turn right! [6] Listen to my directions!”

After the argument had dragged on between the wise men for many days, the Prince, Zachariah son of Yevarchiyahu [7] got up and said to them, “Please, let there not be an argument amongst you, listen to my advice and your souls shall live [8]. Take one man from each group who will state his arguments before us. From the discussion that follows, it will become clear as to who’s side the truth rests on, and who is cutting down the trees. So, if you will listen to me, let Shealtiel stand up to represent the Talmudists [9], for he is man of subtle wisdom and filled with the spirit of wisdom and reason [10]. And to represent the side of the Mekubalim, Yehoyada, a man as wise as Chalcol and Darda [11]. And the entire nation gathered at the city gate answered, “It is good.”


[1] These first 3 sentences are a blend of Ruth 1:1, Amos 8:11, 1 Kings 16:21. The author is probably drawing a parallel to his own times.

[2] Two sages in the Talmud famous for their numerous, thought out arguments on the revealed Torah laws.

[3] A phrase from the blessings of the morning reading of the Shema.

[4] Psalms 119:18

[5] Phrase is a blending of Genesis 6:1, Genesis 6:11 and Exodus 8:20. In Exodus, the word translated as “mixture” here, means “wild beasts” in context.

[6] Paraphrase of Isaiah 30:21

[7] The Biblical Zachariah was actually the son of Berechiya, which has the same Hebrew word-root as Yevarchiyahu, B-R-C.

[8] Isaiah 55:3

[9] I.e. the ‘literalist’ group.

[10] The use of the word “Madah” here is probably a play on the title of the Rambam’s popular book of Jewish theology.

[11] Two men listed in 1 Kings 5:11 as being among the wise men whom King Shlomo eclipsed in knowledge.


2 Responses to “Shomer Emunim Prologue (part one)”

  1. sage650 August 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    I greatly appreciate the translation you and provided, and I am very interested in this sefer, but how do I know if I am ready for it? I have been shomer Shabbat and Kashrut for 5 years, not a long time. Last Pesach I became very upset with concern that I wasn’t frum enough and putting my family in spiritual jeopardy after learning about Rambam’s interpretation of Adam and Chava’s expulsion from Gan Eden and what it means for two Cheruvim to stand guard with firey swards. I ran to my rabbi so he could calm me down. How do I know if I am ready for Shomer Emunim? I wish your introduction included an explanation about for whom this was translated.

    • Mr. Bookman August 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

      The Sefer shouldn’t make you upset at all chas veshalom. However, your situation sounds delicate and I think you should ask your rabbi who seems to know you best and whom you trust. As a general rule, don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’ll make you choke.
      All the best.

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