Tag Archives: psychology

Shomer Emunim #B20-B21

18 Feb

Shomer Emunim #B20-B21

2-15-2016
Reminder: Translation is by;
 The Horonsteipler Rav; Rabbi Mordechai Twerski, Shlita,
Edited & transcribed by his talmid, Shaul Taub.
Brackets are notes by Rabbi Twerski, Braces are editors’ notes.

She’altiel: We know that The Infinite is simple in the ultimate simplicity. You cannot refer to Him as having any complexity or multiplicity, Chas Veshalom. While all the Mekubalim agreed with that, how is it that afterwards, the Ari, Z”LHH, wrote in the beginning of the Sefer Otzros Chaim: “When it occurred to Hashem’s simple Will to emanate all of the emanated Sefiros…”. If we say that He has a will; that suggests complexity in His essence and will, for the will is something added above and beyond an existence, as is well known. Also, a will is one of the expressions of a personality, and you’re not allowed to attribute that term to The Infinite. And as the Ra’avad, Z”L, wrote in the beginning of his introduction to his commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, that anyone that even thinks about saying that the First Cause has personality traits, that person has no part in the G-d of Yisrael nor His Torah. Refer there for more research. Also the great Mekubal, R’ Ezriel, Z”L, who received his Kabballah from the Rav, the Chassid, R’ Yitzchok Sagi Nahor [the blind one], who was the son of the Ra’avad, Z”L, wrote: “You should know that when referring to The Infinite, you cannot use the terms Will, nor desire, nor intent, nor thoughts, nor expressions, nor actions. Even though there is nothing outside of Him [everything is within Him], and you cannot refer to Him in any way that attributes to Him any limits, because anything that has limits can change, and Hashem has neither change, nor anything new, nor a substitute.” If so, that when referring to The Infinite, there is no term that applies for Will, so how is it that the Ari, Z”LHH, wrote: “When it occurred to Hashem’s simple Will…” ?

YehoyadaBoth statements are true and there’s no conflict. The Ari was referring to how Hashem’s Will is complete within creation, and R’ Ezriel was talking about any limitations that would be defined by Will. So the truth is that they’re both true and upstanding. That which R’ Ezriel said that you cannot describe The Infinite in any expression such as Will or anything similar to that, is because these terms suggest changes and shortcomings. For the essence of Will within creation shows that it’s possible to change. Sometimes He wants and sometimes He does not want. It also shows complexity and multiplicity, because Will is something that’s over and above the essence of the one who has it. And there’s no way that this type of Will can be found to be within The Infinite at all, since He is true simplicity. And there is no complexity within Him, nor is there any change at all. And one that thinks that Hashem has a Will or a desire is suggesting that there’s something missing within Hashem, and that person has no part in the G-d of Yisrael nor His Torah, as the Ra’avad, Z”L, wrote.

But they did not mean to suggest removing from The Infinite, the Will, from the perspective that implies completeness and true praiseworthiness. As if to say that He, Y.S., causes actions to occur because of His Will, which praises Hashem and shows completeness. For the most praiseworthy action is an action with intent and will, and you’re compelled to say that the completeness of that which is created will be found within the Creator since He brought it into existence. And if you DON’T say that He brought it into existence, then you’re suggesting that He was forced to do that action, and that he was acting without His will, that’s even a greater flaw and shortcoming. You’re thereby tossing to the wind the premise that is accepted by all the Mekubalim, that The Infinite has no flaws or shortcomings. Even R’ Ezriel, Z”L, himself wrote there that The Infinite is complete without any flaws or shortcomings. If so, you’re compelled to use the term Will, because it implies Hashem’s completeness and true praiseworthiness, and it removes from Him any implications of deterioration or shortcomings. And what the Ari, Z”LHH, was trying to tell us was that the actions of Hashem were made by His desire and His will. Not that it was His nature to do that or that He was compelled to do so when it occurred to Hashem’s simple Will to emanate all of creation. For when [the Ari] used those words; “Occurred to His Will”, he was saying that Hashem does it because He wants it, not because He is compelled to nor that it happens by happenstance, Chas Veshalom. And when he uses the term “simple Will”, he’s hinting to us that his intention was never to attribute to The Infinite, any type of will that adds to His essence, nor a will that changes, but rather a simple Will. For His Will is His simple essence, without any changes or multiplicity at all. For more research, look in Sefer Alimah, in the section called Ayin Kol – The All-Seeing Eye, To’ar 2, Chapter 6.

[This may mean that when we use Hashem’s Will, we’re referring to creation within time. So we can use Will as it attributes to creation. In creation we see a will, but before creation there is no will. R’ Ezriel was referring to before creation you cannot attribute will to Hashem, and the Ari was saying that once we talk about the existence of creation, we see that His Will is in the creation. The term “His Will” occurs in the process of creation. His “Will” WAS the creation.]

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Shomer Emunim #B10-B11

17 Jan

Shomer Emunim #B10-B11

 11-26-2015
Reminder: Translation is by;
 The Horonsteipler Rav; Rabbi Mordechai Twerski, Shlita,
Edited & transcribed by his talmid, Shaul Taub.
Brackets are notes by Rabbi Twerski, Braces are editors’ notes.

She’altiel: Those statements are true and accurate, because by understanding the Neshamah that’s inside us and how it influences the various functions of the body, we can envision the will of Hashem. It also helps us validate some of the cornerstone essential principals [of Kabballah] as you’ve done by the quote from Chazal that you brought. However, since that quote is somewhat encrypted {and CAN be misinterpreted}, it’s debatable whether or not {your interpretation of} those essential principals is actually what Chazal meant to teach us, since it CAN be interpreted differently. So can you please tell me whether those principals that you mentioned are openly discussed anywhere among the writings of the Mekubalim, {the way you explained them,} or not. It’s actually inappropriate to base the foundations of the principals of Emunah or to validate them, upon such hidden and encrypted quotes, which CAN be interpreted in different ways.

Yehoyada: The principals that I mentioned, including the way I explained them, are indisputable, because they can be found explicitly listed in The Zohar, and in all other handwritten manuscripts and printed Seforim of the Mekubalim. I’ll also bring you some small snippets from their lengthy discussions on that which has already been clarified.

  1. The 1st essential principal that we find is that Hashem fills the entire universe, and that there is no place that is not under His control. This is what’s written in the section of The Zohar called Ra’aya Mehemnah (The Trusty Shepherd), Parshas Pinchas, Page 257b: “Just like the master of the world has no known name and no known location, and yet He controls everything everywhere; similarly, the Neshamah, which has no known name and no known location within the entire body, and yet the entire body is under its control. And there is no limb or organ in the body that is not under its control.” Also written in the same section on page 225a: “He encompasses all of the worlds, and there is nothing anywhere, whether above, below or in the four directions, other than Him. And there is nothing that is outside of His domain. He fills all of the worlds, and there is no other power that fills all of them except for Him. He gives life to everything, and there is no other power that gives Him life.” As is written in the Possuk: “You give life to everything.” (Nechemiah 9:6). And in The Zohar, Parshas Behar, Page 109b, it says: “You are the Neshamah of all Neshamos. There is no Neshamah above you, and there is no power above you. You are above and beyond everything, and are greater than everything everywhere, etc.” Refer there for more research. And in the Zohar Chadash, Parshas Yisro, Page 55, Column 3, it says: “There is no place that He is not, whether above unto infinity or below unto no limit, and in all directions there is no power other than Him.” So we see that it’s explained very clearly that there is one existence that is imperative to all of existence that is not dependent on anything other than Himself, as he said [in the above quote from The Zohar]: “He gives life to everything, and there is no other power that gives Him life.” And He rules over all of existence, for there is nothing outside of His domain. Even the lowest of existences such as the “superficial powers” *, all came from His power and remain standing with His consent. As is written in the Zohar Chadash, Parshas Yisro, Page 55, Column 4: “Even the other powers that are part of the power of Tumah, are all in His power to do with as He pleases, etc.” Refer there for more research.                                                                            [* “Superficial powers” = Powers that appear to be distant from Hashem and things that appear to be obstacles to Hashem’s Will such as powers of nature that appear to function on their own.]                                                                                                        
  2. The 2nd principal that we find is that Hashem tolerates the universe, and He guides, supervises and intervenes. This is what’s written in the Zohar Chadash, Page 55: “He tolerates higher and lower worlds. And if He were to withdraw from them, they would not be sustained, would not be known, nor would they have life, etc.” And in the introduction to the Tikunei Zohar, Page 17b, it says: “You fill all of the names, and You are that which makes all the names of Hashem complete. And if You were to withdraw from them, all the names would remain like a body without a Neshamah.” Also in the introduction to the Tikunei Zohar, Page 3b, it says: “You are above all, and illuminate the ten Sefiros of Atzilus, the ten Sefiros of Briyah, the ten groups of Malachim [which as he said before; refers to the level of Yetzirah], and all the levels of heavens [which is ultimately the level of Asiyah], and You don’t change in any of the different levels.” We see from this that The Infinite is the foundation that is the catalyst and sustains all of existence in the higher and lower worlds. For not only did He fabricate and create them, but He also sustains, guides and directs them. For the Creator is not like a human builder that builds a house, and then the house no longer needs the builder to remain standing. But rather He, Y.S. (may His name be blessed), is the cause for everything to function and is the cause that watches over and sustains the universe [He is the reason that everything remains existing], for He continuously gives everything the ability to exist and to be sustained. Therefore we say in the part of Shacharis called Yotzer Hame’oros (in the Brachos of Kriyas Shemah): “With His goodness, day after day, He continuously renews the process of creation.” [Which is a continual sustaining of all of creation.] And if He were to withdraw His influence from the universe, it would become empty and everything would cease to exist. This is the insight that is learned from: “And if He were to withdraw His spirit and His Neshamah, all flesh would die.” (Iyov, 34:14-15).                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  3. The 3rd essential principal is that Hashem is Yachid Ba’olamo – unique in the world. What that means is that it is The Infinite that makes it possible for all the Sefiros to function, and He alone therefore, is its essence. And as is written in the Zohar Chadash, Parshas Yisro, Page 55, Column 3: “He created everything with understanding, and nothing created Him. He is the designer and He designed everything beautifully, and He has neither a form nor a designer. He makes everything function at the level of Malchus, and there is nothing that makes Him function, etc.” The Ari, Z”LHH, wrote in the Sefer Adam Yashar (The Straight Man), Page 2; that The Infinite emanated, created, formed and made everything. Refer there for more research. You’ll find the same [type of quotes] in all the Sifrei Mekubalim. So we see from this that even though all functions were performed by The Infinite through the Sefiros; never the less, He still remains unique in His universe. For justifiably, one cannot truthfully attribute the performance of the functions to the Sefiros, but rather to the One that performs them, which is The Infinite, Y.S., as I already demonstrated in the first dialogue, paragraph 71.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  4. The 4th essential principal that we find is that Hashem doesn’t derive any benefit from anything that exists, as is written (Iyov, 35:7): “If you are righteous, what have you given Him, or what would He take from your hand.” [I.e. What can you give Hashem, or what can Hashem take from you that He doesn’t already have?] And as is written in the Tikunei Zohar, Page 131b: “He is the one that gives blessings to everything, etc., and does not need blessings from anyone, for there is nothing that sustains or can influence Him.” And in the section of The Zohar called Ra’aya Mehemnah (The Trusty Shepherd), Parshas Pinchas, Page 225a; it says: “He gives life to everything, and there is no other power that gives Him life.” As is written in the Possuk (Nechemiah 9:6): “You give life to everything.” And it’s not enough to just say that He doesn’t benefit from anything else, but also that He is not compelled to benefit or to influence as a result of complaints or Tfilos (prayers) outside of Himself. The same goes for anything that exists. We cannot say that being influenced by anything outside of Himself stimulates The Infinite, neither does He need assistance with the functioning of all the lower worlds and the like. There’s no justification for that because He is not affected by anything other than Himself. If we were to say that He is influenced by any other cause or that He is stimulated through any other cause, Chas Veshalom, then that would mean that He IS affected by something other than Himself, as R’ Moshe Cordevero wrote in his Sefer Alimah, in the section called Ayin Kol – The All-Seeing Eye, Gate 1, Chapter 12. Refer there for more research.                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  5. The 5th essential principal is that Hashem has no body, nor does He function with physical powers. Hashem also doesn’t join or participate with anything else that exists. So therefore, this concept of distancing any materiality or physicality to Hashem, is one of those true principals that have been agreed upon by all of our Chachamim, Z”L. We’re compelled logically and from Tanach. However, not everybody understands what material qualities means, nor do they understand the meaning of spiritual simplicity. [When we say that Hashem does not have a body, people agree, but say that He is a spiritual being. People don’t understand the meaning of no material qualities, and question the meaning of spiritual simplicity. People may have some sort of a blended thought of what that might be, but don’t really understand what that means.] Therefore, I’d like to elaborate on this topic, in order to save you from making the same mistake that many people of our generation have made. Many people attempt to metaphorically compare Hashem to a great pure and shining light, or the like, because they see light as something that is not physical. [They use light as a way to draw comparisons to Hashem]. That is an essential blunder and a mistake, because although it’s true that light is one of the most intangible of all the things that we can sense, light is nevertheless still part of the physical world. And there’s no image that one can imagine, that does not have the appearance of physical qualities. [Therefore you cannot use it as a metaphor even though it doesn’t have a physical body attached to it.] As the Ari Z”LHH writes at the end of the Sefer Mavo Hashe’arim, Gate 6, Section 2, Chapter 10: “The human mind only has the capacity to imagine that which has some sort of a physical form and some materiality, but it cannot grasp that which is a spiritual format called Tzurah V’nefesh – form and Neshamah. {I.e.: The imagination can ONLY paint a picture of something that has physical and/or material attributes, regardless if it is physical or spiritual.} But through mans’ ability of abstract thinking, one CAN grasp the concept of Tzurah, but will associate materiality and a quantitative nature to it. However, this is specifically due to the power of imagination, which is a tool of abstract thinking, because abstract thinking alone would not associate any materiality or quantitative nature to it whatsoever.” [But whatever we’re using is still nevertheless an imagination that’s a tool of our intellect. Because our mind can only conceptualize that which has sequence and qualities that have some sort of physical association.] This concludes the summary of what The Ari says about this subject.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   So from this we can learn and understand the meaning of spiritual simplicity, and what it means when we say that something has material qualities to it. For the intellect CAN perceive something that’s simple because it’s abstract, and abstract comprehension is [not limited by materiality since it is] NOT physical. But the moment it moves into the imagination, it becomes physical. And therefore, there is no way to avoid making associations to the physical, because our imagination is a result of our physical being. So therefore, the mind will attribute physicality even to things that have no physical or material qualities within them, whatsoever. [Note: In the era of R’ Yosef Irgis, Sechel was defined as the power of the Neshamah (not the mind) to perceive, which gives us the capability of abstract thinking. They did not define Sechel as a process of the gray matter called our brain. They saw Sechel as a spiritual capacity to conceptualize. One of the Ramchals’ debates was between Sechel and the Neshamah. The Neshamah is what it is, and the Sechel is the capacity to conceptualize. Today, we comprehend thinking as the product of neurons in our brain moving around and making connections or associations, which are all physical occurrences.] {So what R’ Yosef Irgis is saying above, is that the intellect can perceive that which has no image, through abstract thinking. But once it hits our imagination, the mind automatically attributes physical qualities to it. Abstract thinking is fine unless one thinks too deeply into the subject. Once the mind starts to delve into the unknown, a picture begins to form. Once a picture is formed the imagination attributes physicality to it.}

As an example; abstract thinking can reason through deductive reasoning, that there are other forms of existence other than matter. However, if you try to imagine any of those other forms of existence in your mind, {such as anti-matter,} even if you purify your mind and refine your imagination to its loftiest purity, nevertheless, the imagination is still physical. And it’s not the same type of existence as Malachim, and not the same type of existence as Neshamos. Therefore, you cannot use your imagination for spiritual concepts because you WILL ultimately end up imagining things with physical attributes.

So be very careful when you start thinking about the Sefiros. Do not use your imagination to compare them because your imagination will lead you to attributing physicality or materiality to the Sefiros. That is an absolute mistake and a terrible transgression. However, if you use your intellect [the process of the Neshamah] to think about abstract concepts, you CAN imagine them as having the form of letters of the G-dly names, which you’re allowed to do. But if you use your imagination to imagine anything other than the letters themselves, you’ll end up attributing physical qualities to them. Imagining them as letters is something that abstract thought can use because the name of Hashem of Y-K-V-K is a guide to the inner secrets of any particular Sefirah as is understood from the Sefer Hakavonos [by the Ari Z”L]. And the same is written in the Sefer Alimah [by R’ Moshe Cordevero], in the section called Ayin Kol (The All-Seeing Eye), Section 1, Chapter 5.

However, when talking about The Infinite, you’re not even allowed to imagine any type of image whatsoever. Neither the image of letters nor any comparison, whatsoever. You can only use abstract thought [the process of the Neshamah] to conceptualize that there IS an abstract simplicity above and beyond all other abstract simplicity. And then above and beyond that is The Infinite, Y.S., of whom we know nothing about other than that He exists, and that His existence is imperative. Therefore be very careful when contemplating the existence of Hashem, that it be merely a momentary fleeting thought that you run towards and immediately withdraw. Run to embrace in your mind the obviousness of His existence, and immediately withdraw from additional contemplation to avoid building any sort of image or form whatsoever in your mind, for the imagination pursues abstract thinking. That’s why it says in the Sefer Yetzirah, Chapter 1, Mishna 8: “If your heart runs, return to the place.” [Once your heart is moving into a thought, you have to withdraw from it.] And be very careful with this concept because it’s one of the great essential principals of Emunah.

Additionally, part of this essential principal is that you’re not allowed to allow yourself to think that The Infinite has any sort of life force, Chas Veshalom. As the Ra’avad, Z”L wrote in the beginning of his introduction to his explanation on Sefer Yetzirah: “Let your soul be very careful because what I’m about to talk about is thoughts regarding the wisdom of understanding Hashem. Don’t allow the thought to enter your mind that there is any life force in the cause of all causes, Chas Veshalom. And anyone that thinks about saying such things has no part of the spiritual portion of Yisrael and His Torah.” It says the same thing in the section of the Zohar called Ra’aya Mehemnah, on Parshas Pinchas, Page 258a: “Just like you find that the Neshamah has power over all the limbs of the body, you can use a metaphor for this even though it’s not a comparison which is at its essence, because Hashem created it (the Neshamah), but there is no power that created Him. [So even if you would want to use the Neshamah as a metaphor, it’s still not right because the Neshamah was created, whereas nothing created Hashem.] And besides that, the Neshamah can be affected by changes, occurrences and causes, which is not so by the Master of everything. Because of this, you can imagine that the Neshamah has power over all the limbs of the body. But that’s the only thing that you can use to imagine, and do not extend the metaphor any more than that.” So we can understand from this that there is no comparison between the Neshamah and The Infinite, Baruch Hu, other than the comparison that the Neshamah has power over all the limbs of the body [the movements of the body]. Chazal list six specific essential types of affects over the body that the Neshamah has over us, which we are preoccupied trying to describe [that are really humanistic descriptions of attributes for the Sefiros]. But from a different perspective, you cannot use this to make any comparisons to Hashem, because the changes, occurrences and powers that CAN affect the Neshamah, are shortcomings that cannot be compared to The Infinite. You can’t even use them as a metaphor because there are no shortcomings by Hashem whatsoever. As the Mekubalim wrote; that The Infinite is complete perfection without any shortcoming.

However, the term that you’ll find being used in Sifrei Mekubalim when they talk about the functions of the Infinite and the Sefiros, is light. Not because they ARE light, but because as long as our intellect is still attached to our physical body, our power of abstract thinking is limited in the comprehension of the essence of spiritual existence. So therefore, we can’t imagine what spiritual functions are really like so that we can describe them with a true description. Therefore they classified them {spiritual functions} with the term “Light” to help us understand it, because light is the most intangible of all our senses.

Additionally, light has within it characteristics and concepts that we can use to draw comparisons to those levels of emanation. The first of them that we can use to draw a comparison, is that light is emanated from its source without ever being disconnected from it. [They’re referring to spiritual or philosophical light, not physical light, as we describe it.*] Because if the source were to be hidden, you would not see any light at all, which is not true when we talk about things that were created. Once something was created, even though it was disconnected from its source, it retains its own independent existence. For example; if you cut down a tree, and it’s disconnected from its roots, you’ll still end up with a dry piece of wood that came from that tree. And if the source of a wellspring should dry up, the water that previously came from that source is still around and doesn’t disappear. The same goes for wind/air. If you inflate a leather flask [or a balloon] with air, and tie the end really well, the air that’s inside will still remain there even though it’s been disconnected from the source that inflated it. But light is not the same, for if you close the window shutters {curtains/shades} from whence the sun’s rays entered the house, the light will instantly stop flowing into the house for it was separated from its source. So we understand from this that light as we use it, is always connected to its source and its cause, and is never disconnected from it. That’s why we can use light as a metaphor for the Sefiros, because they {the Sefiros} are coming out and being emanated from a G-dly source of light and are never separated from Him, Chas Veshalom. The emanated is forever connected to its source and the power of the Emanator is always within the emanated.

*[Here we need to take a step back from scientific description. WE understand light as energy that once it leaves its source, is disconnected. What they used was referred to as philosophical light, of which the light that’s emanated is always attached to its source. The radiance of the light was never disconnected from its source. The use of the metaphor of light is good because if we understand philosophical light, it emanates light, and the light never gets disconnected from its source. If you stop the source, the light will stop. They were not restricted by scientific descriptions as we are.]

There are additional comparisons that we can attribute to light in order to help us describe spiritual concepts. And they are:

B.  Light expands instantaneously and not in increments. [Again, they were not limited by the scientific principal of the speed of light. They perceived light as something that immediately extends itself and radiates.]
C.  Light [which represents the power of Hashem] immediately permeates all matter, regardless of its density or thickness. As long as it is translucent, light will pass through it, and nothing can hold it back.

D.  It never blends or becomes connected with what it’s passing through.

E.  It never changes nor is it affected by what it’s passing through. Even if light passes through a lens, which may be green, red, white or black; no color is actually captured, and the light itself never changes. The change of color that we observe when the light passes through the lens is not in the light. The light itself never changes its color. [If you pass a light through a colored lens, the light wave itself doesn’t change.]

F.  Light is also what makes the physical possible to exist, because through it, life can flourish. {I.e.: Life could not exist without light.*} The light makes it possible for vegetation to grow, as well as anything that lives. Generally speaking, light is what sustains everything that was ever created.

{ * Can the universe exist without light? *
( https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100406035734AA5Q7Rj )
Answer: No light means no electromagnetic waves of any frequency since if they exist at a single frequency, you can always blue-shift or red-shift them by changing frame until they enter the visible spectrum. Electromagnetic waves are an unavoidable consequence of the electromagnetic interactions. Remember that Maxwell predicted them on the basis of his equations, and afterwards proposed that light was part of the spectrum. So no light means no electromagnetic interactions. In particular, no Coulomb forces. But that means no atoms, no molecules, no chemistry, no matter as we know it. No electromagnetic interactions mean no weak interactions as we know them for the SU2-X-U1 gauge theory would have to be replaced by something else (or nothing) since electromagnetism is an unavoidable consequence of it. So the slow process of hydrogen fusion which is the basis of stellar energy would not exist. Actually, much faster processes would replace it. Indeed, if things like (chargeless) protons and neutrons existed, they could rapidly fuse to make a monstrous nucleus without the limits in size that are imposed by the electromagnetic repulsion in our world. All baryons in the universe could collapse in a gigantic nucleus. Leptons would all be neutrino like. Maybe they could make a gigantic, unique, gravitational atom with the monster nucleus. We could figure that out easily. Apart from that, you could still have dark matter and dark energy and you could call that the universe. Clearly not one of the most hospitable kind. Note that in the landscape of the possible vacuum of string theory, you can certainly find many places corresponding to electroweakless theories. So if you believe in megaverse…but the adequate word here is really ‘believe’, I don’t consider it as a scientifically decidable possibility.
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Um, contrary to what many people say here, the answer is NO. The Universe CANNOT exist, AS WE KNOW IT without light. It doesn’t matter if you mean “visible light only” or “all electromagnetic radiation”. The reason our Universe could not exist, is that light is an integral part of it. Our universe is not made up of separate, discrete things. It’s made of various types of intimately related matter and energy. In fact, matter and energy are constantly turning into one another. Atoms of matter give off light, and atoms and matter absorb light. But when an atom gives off light, it loses energy and ACTUALLY LOSES MASS. Because light and matter are two different aspects of the same thing. They readily turn into one another. So you cannot have one without the other, unless you had a Universe where there was matter that only remained at exactly the same energy level and never did anything at all. Also, light is made up of electromagnetic energy, which is itself, a part of the “weak force”, which is itself, postulated to be part of the “strong force”. Everything in our Universe is related to everything else, so you can’t really remove any part of it… because the rest cannot exist without it (at least in any recognizable form).
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Light is just a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. You could not eliminate light without eliminating all the other forms of radiation. Since radiation in whatever form is a fundamental property of matter, for it not to exist, neither would matter. So the universe as we know it would be impossible.}

Similarly, the Sefiros pass through all the different levels that come thereafter with much more exaltation and strength. The radiance of the Sefiros are never distorted, and their functions move through all the different levels of all the different worlds, and they sustain and fill all that which exists, spiritual and physical. And even though they are a fundamental part of that which they now exist, they’re really nothing like the physical embodiment that they’re in. Additionally, they are really what cause everything to exist and they direct all of the different levels in their parts, and their details. Nevertheless, they are continuously connected and never separated from that spiritual light source, which is the Infinite, Y.S.

G.  Another metaphor is that the nature of light is to illuminate everything according to its capacity to receive. As is well known, a dark item doesn’t receive as much light as one that is translucent. And there are other bodies that not only do not become illuminated, but actually become darker. There are also bodies that receive light due to their mass, and there are bodies that receive light that are tough or coagulated / jelled.

[So just like light appears to change based upon what it reaches, metaphorically speaking] the same thing occurs by the functions of the Sefiros. The changes that occur, are not in the function of the Sefirah per se’, but rather are based upon what the recipient [or what is being illuminated] can tolerate. As is written in the Zohar, Parshas Terumah, Page 176a: “We learned that all that which is Sefiros can only be described based upon OUR perspectives. But from our perspective we get to understand all of them. Because at the highest level they’re all part of one process, one measure. They do not change nor CAN they be changed. As it says: “I am G-d, I never change.” (Malachi 3:6). And in Medrash Tanchuma, Parshas Yisro, Siman 11, regarding the Possuk: “Hashem answered with a loud voice” (Shmos, 19:19), Chazal say that Moshe perceived that voice according to his potential, and Yisrael perceived it according to what they were capable of perceiving. So we see from this that if some things are influenced more than others, and some things change more than others, it’s based upon the recipient’s capability to tolerate it, and not because there was a change in the Sefirah at its source above.

So we find that we can really learn from everything that we just discussed. For since light can be metaphorically compared to the spiritual powers of creation in a few different ways, therefore it’s possible to use those descriptions to relate to the Sefiros and how they function as lights, as the Mekubalim did and wrote. And NOT that they meant to say that the Sefiros are light, because the Sefiros have no materiality Chas Veshalom; whereas we know that light IS matter {See * Can the universe exist without light? *, above}. See also in Sefer Alimah, in the section called Ayin Kol (“The All-Seeing Eye”), Tamar 6, Chapter 3; other comparisons and reasons that he brings there, with which to compare light as a metaphor for the Sefiros. Study there for more research.

6. The 6th essential principal is that Hashem sees but cannot be seen, which really means that we cannot grasp Hashem at all. Even though we can know that He exists, and that His existence is imperative, we nevertheless do not know what He is. As the Ari, Z”LHH, wrote in the Sefer “Adam Yashar” (“The Straight Man”), Column 1: “We know that the source of spiritual light is loftier than all loftiness, ad-infinitum, which is called the Infinite. The name “Infinite” or “No-End” itself is self-descriptive, for there is no way to grasp it neither by thought nor by contemplation at all. And He is truly divested and separate from all thought, etc.” So we see here specifically stated that there is no thought process that can comprehend or grasp the Infinite. Even the Sefiros themselves don’t have a clue as to the substance of His essence. And just like people do not perceive the essence of the Neshamah that is within them, but know that the Neshamah does influence them; so too the Sefiros do not perceive the essence of the Infinite, but are to the Infinite like the relationship of the body is to the Neshamah. They know that their power and their influence comes from Him, but they still can only recognize Him through His actions. This is an essential principal of our belief, that there is no one that can ever know His true essence, except for He Himself. The reason for that is because if we were to say that His true essence is known, that would assert limits and boundaries within Him. {If a finite being would be capable of comprehending the Infinite, that would mean that the Infinite is really NOT infinite. A finite being cannot fathom nor comprehend an infinite being.} We also cannot break down this concept into different fragments and say that PART of His essence can be understood by something other than Himself, because that would compel a multiplicity of His essence that has different levels, part of which we can grasp and part of which we cannot. But Hashem Y.S., has neither parts nor different aspects, but is rather a simple Oneness that is the purest of simplicities. Therefore if we were to say that we could know a part of Hashem, then we would be able to understand everything. And if one can grasp part of Him, then one can grasp ALL of Him. And both of those are unacceptable. This is also what it says in the Tikunei Zohar, Page 17a: “Master of the world, You are One, but not a numerical One. You are the loftiest of all that is lofty, the most hidden of all that is hidden, and no thought can grasp You at all. Etc.” And in the Zohar Chadash, Parshas Yisro, Page 55; it says: “No thought process can contemplate Him, and there is not a single mind that can understand and grasp Him, etc. He is capable of encompassing all thought, but no thought can know Him, etc.” Study there for more research.

And if you’ll say that in [the section of the Zohar known as] the Ra’aya Mehemnah, on Parshas Bo, Page 42; it says that the reason why Hashem needed to emanate the emanated worlds, was so that we would be able to know His attributes. And from that expression it would be understood that we COULD know and grasp His essence through the means of the Sefiros. You definitely cannot say that, because when they said that the reason why Hashem made this happen is so that we can know Him, they didn’t mean to know His essence. For His essence is hidden and cannot be grasped neither after the world was already created, the same as it couldn’t be grasped before creation. But [what the Zohar meant to say was that] we can grasp a little bit of His greatness through observing His actions. Because through the process of Atzilus – Emanation, the power of His greatness, and the intervention of His power throughout all the worlds, and how He directs all of creation, is revealed and understood. For through the Sefiros, the Infinite can make change appear, and Hashem intervenes and makes many things happen, which does not affect Him at all, Chas Veshalom. [No change takes place in Him.] That could not happen without the emanation of the Sefiros. The same goes for many different aspects of the Torah that can only be ascertained using the tools of Torah itself. As we have seen by the philosophers, that because they distanced multiplicity, change and actions from the Infinite; Hashem’s true G-dliness was hidden from them, they denied His involvement and direction, and other things that are not even worth committing to print. Unlike Klal Yisrael who believe in the existence of the Sefiros, because through the Sefiros, the principals of Torah and its many facets will be justified and understood. And this is why Chazal said, that Atzilus [the process of emanation of the Sefiros] was necessary so that we can know Him. For even His actions and His Divine Intervention are incomprehensible and could not be revealed without the means of the Sefiros, as we mentioned earlier.

However, the comprehension of His essence is concealed from both higher and lower forms of existence. Anything created can only comprehend His actions at best. The whole process of Keser [which we spoke about in the first dialogue] is able to contemplate and comprehend itself, and that which is caused by it, through the means of the power of the Infinite that acts through it. Everything else that exists as well, can only comprehend the Infinite through His actions. And there’s nothing else that can truly grasp the actual actions and their true source, as well as the originator of those actions Himself. And beyond that, the level of comprehension decreases according to the descent of the different levels of existence, and therefore the ability to understand the imperativeness of His existence becomes either greater or smaller. The reason for that is because WE can understand the imperativeness of His existence through one or two proofs, whereas the Malachim are able to affirm the imperativeness of His existence through 100 proofs. The level above the Malachim is able to affirm it through 1,000 proofs, and the level above that is able to affirm it through 100,000 proofs. And besides that, WE affirm the proof of His existence through the power that sustains matter, which is the lowest of the wondrous, higher levels. And the higher levels are able to affirm the proof of His existence through the amazing levels that are higher and more exalted than they are. Therefore, the strength of the bond of their belief in Hashem becomes more permanent. A powerful bond with an impressive yearning. And they’re able to treasure this concept to its ultimate sensitivity.

So we therefore find that even though we [Mankind, Malachim and the Sefiros] are somewhat equal in that we have a common level of overall Emunah, that we know that there is a G-d, we’re nevertheless not all equal in the imperativeness of this knowledge. One [Mankind] that merely recognizes the finite universe and other physical creations only, and proves the existence of a power that sustains them by observing them, cannot be compared to one [Malachim or Sefiros] that recognize the specifics of the creations of the world or level of Asiyah – Action, the world or level of Yetzirah – Formation, the world or level of Briyah – Creation, and the world or level of Atzilus – Emanation. And through them, the imperativeness of His existence, Y.S., becomes compelling, because it in itself will compel us with an amazing compelling force.

Nevertheless, to comprehend His essence and what He is, cannot be grasped at all. The Ramak, Z”LHH, already gave a lengthy discourse on this subject in the Sefer Alimah, in the section called Ayin Kol (“The All-Seeing Eye”), Tamar 1, Chapter 3; and the same thing was written by all the remaining Mekubalim, Z”LHH.

So I have hereby proven all of the six essential principals written in the Zohar, that we started off with. So now, my dear friend She’altiel, inscribe them on the tablets of your heart, for they are great essential principals that anyone that desires to accept the special yoke of Shamayim must believe in. And anyone that rejects any one of them has no part of the G-d of Klal Yisrael and His Torah. Therefore you need to master those principals and all the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub

 

 

 

Shomer Emunim #B8-B9

23 Nov

Shomer Emunim #B8-B9

 11-16-2015

She’altielYou have your master’s [Hashem’s] wisdom within you, in that you share your knowledge with those who love you {as Hashem does}, and those who seek completeness through you {as Hashem does}. And so now, before anything else, please explain to me what proof there is with regards to the existence of Hashem, Y.S., and what are the primary principals of Emunah that we are obligated to believe in, regarding the essence of Y.S.

YehoyadaThe Chachamim, the ones that have extensively researched spirituality, have already written many proofs with regards to the existence of Hashem, Y.S. One proof is the very existence of the world. For it is not possible for a new thing to come into existence without something that caused it to come into existence. [How can there be something new without something that caused it to be new? or… How can there be something that was created that didn’t have somebody create it?] Another proof is the continuous motion of the universe and the structure and organization of everything that exists. So from those logical arguments they’ve proven that it’s impossible for the world to exist without a continuous director and a primary originator, and THAT is Hashem.

[Besides the above logical proofs,] the Mekubalim also brought proof from the very Neshamah of man, for it is well accepted among all the Chachamim that man is a microcosm of the structure of the universe. For within the microcosm of man lies the structure of everything that exists. So from understanding the structure of a person, we are able to prove the existence of a much greater universe, a macro concept. For just as we understand that it is not possible for the small microcosm (the human being) to live and be sustained without a director, which is the Neshamah of a person; so too, it is not possible for the entire universe to exist without a director, which is Hashem. {We can now compare the microcosm to the macrocosm.}

And this is what’s written in the section of The Zohar called Ra’aya Mehemnah (The Trusty Shepherd), Parshas Pinchas, Page 257b: “We know that we can refer to Hashem as the wisest of all wisdoms, etc. [So just like He is the source of all wisdom,] so too, He created a Neshamah to follow that same format. It would be called by the name of the functions that it performs in each and every limb and organ of the body. Therefore it’s called a small world (microcosm).” Refer there for more research. So he therefore brings a proof to the existence of the Infinite, who is the master of all of creation, from the understanding of how the Neshamah functions within the body. For in order to grasp these hidden concepts, we need to go from that which comes afterwards to understand the premise of what was there before, because by observing the lower worlds, we can come to an understanding of the higher worlds.

So now we can also understand, that just like the Neshamah, which is the intellect of man that controls all the functions of his body, and is therefore called a small world (a microcosm); that is a testimony and demonstrates proof to the existence of Hashem, Who rules over all of the details of the universe, which are directed by His will, Y.S.

We also find that Chazal, in Medrash Tehilim, Chapter 113; meant to bring a proof from the Neshamah of a person, that Hashem exists and directs the universe. And this is how they phrased it: “Bless my soul, Hashem.” (Tehilim, 103:1). Why does Dovid Hamelech use the soul as a way to praise Hashem? The answer is that Dovid Hamelech was saying that just like the Neshamah fulfills (gives life to, and sustains) the body; so too, Hashem fulfills (gives life to, and sustains) the world. And just like the Neshamah tolerates the connection to a physical body; so too, Hashem tolerates a connection to the physical universe. And just like there is one unique Neshamah per body; so too, Hashem is unique and One in the entire universe. And just like the Neshamah doesn’t eat or drink; so too, Hashem doesn’t eat or drink. And just like the Neshamah is pure; so too, Hashem is pure, for He is loftier than the world that He created. And just like the Neshamah sees but cannot be seen; so too, Hashem sees but cannot be seen. Therefore, Dovid was saying; let the Neshamah, that has all those attributes, be a way to praise Hashem, for Hashem can also be described as having those same qualities.

So we see from the words of the Medrash that they have demonstrated the existence of the Creator and how He directs the world; from that which we find in the microcosm of a person, which is the body. For the human being has that which directs it, namely the Neshamah, which directs that microcosm with the following attributes:

  1. The 1st comparison that he uses there in the Medrash is: “Just like the Neshamah fulfills the body; so too, Hashem fulfills the world.” What he means to say is that by the acknowledgement of the existence of the Neshamah in the body, where there is no part of the body that is void of the Neshamah, for the Neshamah dominates and controls the entire body; that in itself clarifies in the same manner, the truthfulness of His existence in the entire universe and that there is no place in the universe that is void of His presence and dominance.
  2. The 2nd comparison that he uses is: “Just like the Neshamah tolerates the connection to a physical body; so too, Hashem tolerates a connection to the physical universe.” What he means by that is that even though the Neshamah is on a much loftier level than that which the body is, and is never the less not restrained from supervising, intervening and directing all the parts of the body; so too is it with Hashem. Even though He is obviously so much loftier in ultimate difference from that which is the existence of the universe, He still tolerates the universe, and supervises, intervenes and directs all the different parts of the universe with the proper direction.
  3. The 3rd comparison that he uses is: “Just like there is one unique Neshamah per body; so too, Hashem is unique and One in the entire universe.” He’s teaching us with this that even though the Neshamah functions in the body through various mediums, never the less, the different parts of the body are like tools for the Neshamah to perform its functions with the body. This is because the primary cause of functions throughout the body can only be honestly attributed to the Neshamah. So too, Hashem is unique to His world [the universe] because only through Him can everything function. And even though we observe His functions through many different means, those means are not the cause for the function, for they are merely tools to bring His G-dly direction into physical functionality.
  4. The 4th comparison is: “Just like the Neshamah doesn’t eat or drink; so too, Hashem doesn’t eat or drink.” What he means to say by this is that the Neshamah doesn’t derive any benefit by the fact that the body needs to eat and drink, but never the less, it IS through eating and drinking that the body is able to remain alive and connect to the Neshamah. “So too, Hashem does not eat or drink”, for He doesn’t derive any benefit from anything that exists, but never the less, by virtue of our observing the Torah and serving Hashem, His sustaining of the universe is insured. For it is the nature of good to give benefit to those who are ready to receive His goodness.
  5. The 5th comparison that he uses is: “Just like the Neshamah is pure; so too, Hashem is pure, for He is loftier than the world that He created.” What he means to say by that, is that the Neshamah has no material essence for it is as pure as the heavens are, and is completely detached from any materiality without any attachment to the body. It has a completely different type of existence. It is way above it in stature like a coachman is to his wagon or like a captain is to his ship, where they only direct them. They {the coachman or captain} can exist without them {the coach or ship}, they are very often found together with each other, and yet they are quite different from one another. And just like the sun shines on lowly bodies and warms them up, but {the sun} is not strengthened with them thereby {I.e.: The sun derives no benefit from warming the Earth and its life, whereas the Earth and all of life does.}. “So too, Hashem is pure”, for He is totally detached from anything material, nor is He lacking anything. Never the less, He still directs all parts of the universe as a Neshamah for the universe, and He is not compromised nor bound to it in any way, Chas Veshalom. As to what he said that: “He is loftier than the world that He created”, what he means to say is that even at the level of the highest world of Oneness, He is not bound or associated, as is written in Tikunei HaZohar, Page 115b. Refer there for more research.
  6. The 6th comparison that he uses is: “Just like the Neshamah sees but cannot be seen; so too, Hashem sees but cannot be seen.” What he means by that, is that the Neshamah grasps and sees all the parts of the body, but the body cannot really grasp what the Neshamah is; because the spiritual can grasp the physical, but the physical cannot grasp that which is spiritual. “So too, Hashem cannot be seen”, for He sees and grasps everything that exists, but there is nothing that exists that can grasp His essence. Neither before nor after the world was created.
Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub

Shomer Emunim #B4-B5

16 Nov

Shomer Emunim #B4-B5

 11-12-2015
Reminder: Translation is by;
 The Horonsteipler Rav; Rabbi Mordechai Twerski, Shlita,
Edited & transcribed by his talmid, Shaul Taub.
Brackets are notes by Rabbi Twerski, Braces are editors’ notes.

She’altielMy mentor knows that once I yearned to understand the wisdom of Kabballah I broke the rules because I started learning it without a mentor. And when I came to {learning} it with all of my intensity and energy, Hashem made it possible for me to find many Seforim, which are more valuable than gold and silver. I did not remain silent and did not rest until I found among those Seforim these wonderful very important thoughts, which are really very helpful, and I crowned myself with its knowledge. I absolutely believe and understand that without Kabballah, one really cannot know what the essential principals of Emunah are, because only from Kabballah would one come to know that Hashem is loftier than all loftiness. Hashem is distant from any materiality and is not missing anything. And within that Oneness, we distant any attempt to describe Him, and we learn how to understand the various descriptions of limbs and organs [which are physical traits] that are written in the Torah. And among the benefits {of knowing Kabballah}, is being able to serve with a complete heart and a yearning soul, for he who knows his Creator can serve Him truthfully. That’s why Dovid Hamelech, A”H, said (Divrei Hayamim 1, 28:9): “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him.” And with this knowledge of Kabballah, one will find all sorts of ethical and moral guidelines, and he will not be lacking in any good mannerisms. One that learns this Chochmah for its rightful purpose will be filled with Yir’as Shamayim – The Fear of Heaven and the fear of sin. It will also help him to intensify his own serving of Hashem. And among the benefits {of knowing Kabballah}, is the knowledge of His precious names, which are mentioned in those holy books. Also among the benefits {of knowing Kabballah}, is understanding the reasons for Mitzvos and the secrets of the Torah. Also to understand why some of the letters are large and some are small, and to understand why words are sometimes written and not read as they are written, and sometimes words are read but not written the way they are read. Also to understand the secret of why sometimes letters are missing and sometimes there are extra letters. For example: “Because (in) six days Hashem made the heaven.” (Shmos, 31:17). Also: “I did not allow them to know me (by) my name; Hashem.” (Shmos, 6:3). Both of those Psukim are missing the letter Beis {meaning in or by} according to the simple meaning of the Possuk. And there are innumerable examples such as these, where those that are trying to reconcile simple interpretations have to take away or add letters or words in order to understand the simple meaning of the Possuk. But [if you understand the true knowledge of why they’re written that way, then] the truth is that they’re complete the way they are, with nothing extra and nothing missing. Among the other benefits {of knowing Kabballah}, is being able to understand Hashem’s supervision and direction. To understand how it is that The Infinite, who has no complexity whatsoever, still knows, intervenes and supervises all the details with straightforward guidance. Another benefit {of knowing Kabballah} is to understand the secrets of how the Neshamah functions. To understand what it’s all about, why the Neshamah had to come into this world and be cloaked in a human body and to understand how it’s reward and punishment works. Included in this also as a general approach of Kabballah, is understanding the secrets of Gilgul – Reincarnation, the rebirth of Neshamos and how all the different bodies will come back to life when Techiyas Hamesim – Resurrection of the dead, occurs.

And ultimately, this Chochmah is really the path of life. It’s the Neshamah of the Torah – the soul of the Torah. To understand the true intent of the Torah and to understand the true meanings of Chazal’s Agadatas, which always confused the understanding of people that tried to learn them literally. Therefore, one that never saw the light of this wisdom, never really saw true light in his life. And all those who have turned away from this Chochmah are as though they have turned away from eternal life. However, I do have many doubts that seem to center around the essentials of Emunah. I have not been able to resolve them, due to my limited knowledge and the depth of their intangibility. Therefore, I’m coming to you to be enlightened by your face and to request from you to enlighten the darkness of my thoughts. My yearning has become a yearning of darkness. [A play on the words said by Yermiyahu, 2:31 – “The earth was darkened”.] May you bring me out and quench my thirst, for there’s very few lofty people that really understand the essence of the truthfulness of this wisdom. You, I know. You have dealt with it honestly and have fulfilled what it says in Sefer Yetzirah (Chapter 1, Mishna 3): “Understand the wisdom and become wise with the understanding. Test them and delve with them. Establish with clarity, and resolve everything in its proper place.”

YehoyadaWhat you have said makes me very happy, She’altiel my brother, for your yearning to seek out the wisdom of the secrets is indeed great, and your eyes have opened with the introductions to spirituality. You have merited to understanding the purpose of this wisdom and why we are compelled to learn it. But it pains me to hear that you’re confused about the essential principals of Emunah and it’s causing me to sigh deeply. I’m worried that this might be because you got hold of the wrong kind of books and pamphlets that were composed by very sinful people who describe themselves as true believers, but are really detached from true Emunah and Emunah is really very distant from them. For they have corrupted and destroyed, thereby turning Torah into descriptions, which undermine it and have therefore caused this lofty wall to collapse. They have turned its sweetness into bitterness. Instead of wheat they came up with thorns, instead of barley they came up with putrefied food. So at least let me know which Seforim you’ve dealt with and learned from because if I know the cause for your illness, it will make it easier to find the cure.

[You either didn’t understand what you learned, or you learned from corrupted sources. In the time of R’ Yosef Irgis, that’s what they were fighting. They were fighting the corruption of Shabtai Tzvi and his followers who claimed to be teaching Kabballah.]

Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub

Shomer Emunim #B2-B3

16 Nov

Shomer Emunim #B2-B3

 11-12-2015

She’altielBehold, I am coming to you Yehoyada my brother, so that you can guide me with your truthfulness. Allow me to drink from the wellsprings of your knowledge, the source of living waters, in pondering the G-dly concepts which you know and comprehend, for your eyes have seen its real value. Add your righteousness to my life. Show me and teach me.

YehoyadaWhat happened to you my brother She’altiel? What is it that you’re asking of me? I’ve never held anything back from you. I see that you have intensified your study at the doors of wisdom and you’re continuously immersing in its shade; and the Torah always returns to its original habitat. [The Torah itself should have provided you with the knowledge that you needed.]

Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub

Shomer Emunim #B1

16 Nov

SECOND DIALOGUE

Shomer Emunim #B1

 11-12-2015
Reminder: Translation is by;
 The Horonsteipler Rav; Rabbi Mordechai Twerski, Shlita,
Edited & transcribed by his talmid, Shaul Taub.
Brackets are notes by Rabbi Twerski, Braces are editors’ notes.

Introduction: After the previous dialogue, She’altiel resolved to know the entire wisdom of Chochmas Kabballah. And because of his desire to understand every last detail about it and to come to know its ultimate purpose, he came to the decision to stop learning Gemara, Rashi and Tosfos; and to let go of the other ways of learning the simple approaches to Torah. So he secluded himself in his home and became his own student. He enjoyed progressing day by day learning the prominent Seforim that were written on the subject of Kabballah. And he got his value from Hashem, because in a very short period of time, he started amassing sack-fulls of its knowledge and he became familiar with all of its tools. He bonded lovingly with them and did not stop enjoying it until he found his real purpose in it.

However, since he learned it from Seforim, but did not receive it as a Mesorah from those who taught it, he couldn’t escape some doubts and questions that would arise from ancient words and deep concepts. That’s because he was missing some of the prerequisites and underlying premises and introductions which are really necessary in order to go into the orchard of this lofty Chochmah, to avoid misunderstanding the intent of the Mekubalim and to correctly understand their paths and the righteousness of their approaches. After getting entangled in his doubts day after day, and going back and forth between both sides of the discussion, Hashem revived his spirit by saying: “Why are you sitting and trying to do this on your own with loads of doubts hovering over you? If you really desire to understand the approaches and measures of this Chochmah, and to enjoy the fragrance of its fields and the flow of its sweetness, find yourself a Rebbi. Your conversations with him will make it sweet, he will satisfy your thirst and enlighten your eyes. His wisdom will come into your heart and the understanding will give sweetness to your soul.” And so She’altiel arose and traveled, and he went to seek Hashem in Yehoyada’s Beis Medrash. When he approached Yehoyada, he started the conversation and said…

Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub

Shomer Emunim #36-37

14 Apr

Shomer Emunim #36-37  

4-9-2015

She’altiel: I am surprised at you my brother Yehoyada, that you’re so critical of the beliefs of the Talmudic scholars of our generation, and that you don’t have the same attitude towards the philosophers that have proliferated amongst our people. On the contrary, I would think that you would do just the opposite like the Gaon Rabbeinu Hai, Z”L, did when he profusely ridiculed those that studied philosophy. You can find his quotes in the Sefer “Ein Yisroel” on Mesechta Chagiga, in the section that discusses the four great sages that entered the garden of Kabbalah. This is what he says: “It is well known that since our beginnings as a people, it is not our way to fabricate and to make interpretations without attributing the source that it comes from, like those others [the philosophers] do.” What Rabbeinu Hai Gaon meant by this, was that those who translate and interpret Psukim from the Torah and quotes from Chazal with a philosophical approach, fabricate interpretations regarding Torah that are not true, and that no-one ever intended for those interpretations to be translated in such a way.

Rabbeinu Hai Gaon also said: “It is well known that the following is something that has been accepted by all the Rishonim, and none of them ever disputed it. They said that Hashem makes miracles and awesome events through the means of Tzadikim just like He did through the hands of the Nevi’im, and He lets the Tzadikim see awesome visions just like He showed to the Nevi’im…. When R’ Shmuel Gaon became famous, along with others like him that read many Greek books, they disputed all the stories of miracles that happened to Tzadikim…. Any person that gets involved in this type of philosophical pursuit will end up removing the fear of heaven from himself, and will become lost with those ideas because he’ll end up removing from himself all Torah values. This distortion happens to people who become confused with their theories, and they end up so confused that they no longer care about abandoning the involvement of Davening and other Mitzvos. If those who are preoccupied with those ideas and the paths of the philosophers will tell you that they have a clear path, and that through it you will come to know the creator, don’t listen to them and don’t even desire to follow them. The truth is that they will be dishonest with you. You will find neither the fear of sin nor zealousness, nor humility, nor purity, nor holiness. Only those that are involved in Mishna and Gemara {will find those things}.” This was the quote from Rabbeinu Hai Gaon, Z”L. The Rashba, in his Responsa #414, also profusely ridiculed those that studied philosophy. As did the Rosh, in his Responsa #55, and the Rivash, in #45.

The great prince, scholar and physician R’ Yehudah Ibn Alfachar wrote to the Radak (published in the “letters of the Rambam” in Warsaw 5638 (1878 CE) Page 18) in this fashion: “Tell me please Kimchi [Radak = R’ Dovid Kimchi] who’s name means growth, [At that time, the Radak was criticized for his interpretation of Tanach, and was thought to have been tainted by philosophy.] since when have the Psukim of the Torah been given to be explained using Greek philosophy, whose path distorts interpretations? Since when do we give preference to Aram (Greeks) over Efrayim? Haven’t we gone up and escaped the chariots of Egypt? [Historical note: Egypt was then one of the centers for Greek philosophy. Egypt thereby saved Greek philosophy. If not for Arabic philosophers, Greek philosophy would have been lost.] This is improper, for Torah comes from Tzion and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim.” [Rather than coming from Egyptian or Greek philosophers.] Some of the Achronim [later generations] also forbade learning philosophy, and rejected it with both hands.

[So She’altiel’s criticism is “Why are you criticizing those who learn Gemara, Mishnayos and Agadata and take them literally, while you’re being so lenient with the philosophers!? It should be just the opposite. You should be MUCH more critical of the philosophers. Look at all of the other criticisms that come from the philosophers. Why are you justifying their interpretation of G-dliness, instead of rejecting what they have to say. Instead of criticizing US you should be criticizing THEM!”

Yehoyada: I never said that the path of the philosophers is the correct path, Chas Veshalom. On the contrary, I already hinted to you before, in paragraph 13, how great their distortion is, with their rejection of the words of Chazal. However, the truth is that there are some truths in philosophy, which are consistent with what we have accepted from our teachings of the Mekubalim. Such as what is written in the Sefer Hapliya, [early Kabbalah Sefer, probably attributed to the Tanna; R’ Nechunia Ben Hakaneh] Page 19b. This is what he says: “There are three things that you have to be very careful about. Multiplicity in Hashem, distance from Hashem and physical attributes.” He also wrote there: “The Infinite has no boundaries. And since there are no boundaries, there’s nothing outside of Him and there is no change that can take place. And since there is no change, there is no limit. And since there is no limit, there is no way to ponder Him. And since there is no way to ponder Him, there is no way to describe a beginning. And since there is no beginning, there is no end. That is Hashem, Y.S..” He also wrote there: “Hashem’s infiniteness is complete without missing anything.” Study there. These various principals [as quoted in the Sefer Hapliya] are brought down and discussed in the writings of the Mekubalim in great length. And with all this, the philosophers DID come to an agreement with regards to G-dliness, and they proved with very clear irrefutable proofs that one must stay away from any material descriptions of Hashem, multiplicity, actions or reactions, or changeability. It also appears that even they agree and believe in the concept of a simple Oneness. So, on that particular point, I have no complaints about their approach, whereas I did have a complaint on the Talmudic scholars of our generation that still attribute to Hashem many changes and physical functions. That’s why it says in the Zohar, Parshas Pekudei, Page 237a, on the Possuk referring to a Parah Adumah that cannot have any blemish (Bamidbar 19:2): “This is referring to the kingdom of the Greeks, which have come close to our approaches of Emunah.” The Rav, R’ Moshe Rikanti, Z”L, explains on Parshas Chukas, that these are the philosophers that preceded Aristotle, for some of their teachings are similar to the teachings of Chazal.

But the truth is that among the writings of the philosophers are many false understandings and heretical statements. And because of that, Chazal forbade to read them. And in the Zohar, Parshas Mishpatim, Page 124a, they wrote: “R’ Chiya said on the Possuk: “You shall not refer to other Gods” (Shmos 23:13), This is referring to a person that involves himself in other writings that are not part of the approach of Torah. It should not be heard coming from your lips, and it’s forbidden even to mention them to learn from them any form of reasoning. Definitely not to use them to describe the Torah.” Actually, you can’t fault the philosophers for having this corrupt thinking because they are a people that never received the Torah nor Prophecy. As the Rashba writes in Volume 1, #9: “The problem is that some of our own people are to blame for trying to reconcile the words of the Torah and the Nevi’im with the theories of the philosophers. Because of that, they contradicted and uprooted a number of essential beliefs and many aspects of Torah that were explained by Chazal that we received from the Nevi’im, because philosophy contradicts and rejects them, such as the idea of sorcery, or the existence of Shedim, and the idea of amulets, and the phenomena of using Holy names to cause certain affects, and especially with regards to Hashem’s Hashgacha (intervention), and the idea of the existence of the Nefesh and its punishments. The philosophers wrote things that one is not even allowed to listen to. Unfortunately, due to our many sins and this plague that has spread itself among some of our own people, our own population of true believers has decreased. Additionally, the true Mekubalim among them maintained a code of silence in order to conceal their true identities. They should have come out to undo the lies, and silence those who told them.”

As the Great Rabbi, the Ramban, Z”L, wrote in Parshas Achrei-Mos, (Vayikra 16:8): “I don’t have an explanation as to why we didn’t silence the scientists that followed Greek thinking that reject anything that they cannot feel. They and their wicked students corrupted their own thinking. Anything that they could not grasp and didn’t make sense to them, they couldn’t accept as true.” Superbly written.

The truth is that those Jews astound me. Who gave them permission to reinterpret the Torah using philosophical premises and thoughts, which contradict the explanations of Chazal. How could they overlook what our Chachamim have told us (Avos Chapter 3, Mishna 11): “Whosoever brazenly reinterprets Torah inconsistent with Halacha, even if he knows Torah well and does good deeds, will not merit any portion of the world to come.” Take a look and see what’s written in the Zohar, Parshas Yisro, Page 87a: “Reb Yitzchok began his speech with: “Don’t let your mouth sin against your body.” (Koheles 5:5). How careful people must be when quoting the Torah. How careful they must be to avoid making mistakes, and not to bring out from Torah that which they do not know and did not receive from their teachers. Because any person that quotes from the Torah incorrectly or says something that he did not receive from his teachers, about that person is written: “Do not make for yourself any idol or image.” (Shmos 20:4). [Regarding that way of learning Torah is what this Possuk meant.] Hakadosh-Baruh-Hu has prepared the punishment for this person in the world to come, at the time when the Neshama wants to elevate itself to its designated place. The Neshama will be expelled and disconnected from that bond of eternal life that is guaranteed to all other Neshamos, etc. [Continuing the quote, reinterpreting the Possuk;] “Do not make for yourself another Torah that you do not know and that your Rebbi did not teach you.””

It also says there on page 86b: “As it says: “This is the Torah that Moshe gave over to us.” (Devorim 4:44). So the Zohar says: “That which Moshe said, we have permission to repeat. That which Moshe did not say, we do not have permission to say.” Look how much our Chachamim warned us to be careful not to be seduced after the yearnings of our own heart. Not to conjecture words from our own thoughts, to use them to explain the Torah, and especially if those explanations contradict the cornerstones and beliefs that we received from Chazal.

The end result is, that even though in the writings of the philosophers, there are a few good thoughts to describe the belief in the simple Oneness of Hashem, and to dispel any materiality, physicality, complexity, action or reaction, or changes in Hashem; never-the-less, for us who have accepted Torah this is not adequate, because to master the Torah and Mitzvos we need to understand the underlying premise of existence and the chain of cause and effect and the interim process which are the Sefiros that come from the infinite Oneness of Hashem, Y.S.. Most of the benefit from the things that we do to serve Hashem is dependant upon the knowledge of how these existences came into being, and the structure of the connection and the Oneness that comes through the actions of Mitzvos and the learning of Torah. No one can serve Hashem completely until he comes to a true knowledge of this Wisdom. And through this Wisdom one will grasp and understand the secret of Hashem’s ways, the various levels of Malachim and Neshamos, a true comprehension of reincarnation, the existence of Shedim and the various different Klipos (obstacles), a true comprehension of the concepts of Gan Eden and Gehenom, and other various details that never reached the scholars of the nations of the world.

For us, the chosen people, who have accepted upon ourselves Hashem’s G-dliness and His Torah at Har Sinai, and have accepted upon ourselves the responsibility to delve into it and live by it day and night, for {we know that} everything is all-inclusive and alluded to in the Torah. For us, the chain of Kabbalah has descended from our forefathers and our teachers, from the lofty righteous, generation after generation, to those select few firm believers that are closest to Hashem.

Also, by having this knowledge of Kabbalah, one can completely fulfill the Mitzvah of loving Hashem and being in awe of Hashem. The simpletons who do not understand the great loftiness of Hashem’s G-dliness, and that He is elevated above all other existences, they can only attain fear of punishment, which is a very lowly form of motivation. However, those who seek the Wisdom of Truth, can fulfill the depth of a Mitzvah, which includes the awesomeness of Hashem’s greatness. When a person contemplates the greatness of Hashem and His loftiness, he comes to great awe and fear of not being able to truly approach, or that he will never be allowed into the palace of the King, to become among those that serve Him and can perceive His countenance. Therefore, a person would be very careful not to allow any blemish or any dishonesty lest he be rejected from the palace of the King. He will continuously add greater Holiness and purity upon himself, and adorn himself with appropriate and desirable actions before Hashem, and will continuously be introspective of all his paths to make them consistent with that of Hashem, the Holy King. As is written: “You shall walk in His ways.” (Shmos 28:9). Also, through the knowledge of Kabbalah, it will intensify a person’s ability to fulfill the Mitzvah of loving Hashem, so that he will come to love Him with an intense love, until his own soul will be bonded with a continuous love of Hashem, and will never separate from it even for a moment. As it says: “Hashem is always before me.” (Tehilim 16:8). Also, one who serves Hashem, following the path of Kabbalah, will ascend many more virtuous levels, than one who serves Hashem out of simple dedication. As would be understood by anyone that comprehends the depth of this knowledge.

Copyright © 2015 Shaul Taub