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Succos_Dinner_5774

 

You will be able to view our Succos function by pressing the Live Now button on our English home page at http://dvar.org.il/index.php?lang=en at the time of the function.

 

 We have pleasure in inviting you to our 43rd Anniversary Dinner

 

in our Sukkah on Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

19:00   - Maariv followed by Dinner

Message of the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav B. Horovitz

Honorary Guest: Israel's Chief Rabbi Hagaon Rav David Lau Shlit"a

Awards for their outstanding contribution to our Yeshiva will be presented to

Cantor Sidney and Mrs. Inge Selig

Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, represented by their son Rabbi Daniel

Dinner Chairman - Dr. Mori Bank                            Musical Entertainment

21:30  Simchas Bes Hashoeva after the Dinner

 

אנו מתכבדים להזמינכם לדינר השנתי לציון 43 שנה לישיבתינו

שיתקיים בסוכת הישיבה ביום ראשון, י''ח  תשרי  תשע"ד

 19:00 מעריב  וסעודה  

דבר ראש הישיבה – הרב ברוך הורוויץ שליט''א

משא מרכזי: הרב הראשי לישראל, הרה"ג ר' דוד לאו שליט"א

תעודות הוקרה: החזן וגב' זליג וכן ד"ר ארווינג וצ'רנה מוסקוביץ

לציון עזרתם

יושב ראש הדינר – ד''ר מורי בנק                           שירת הלויים

שמחת בית השואבה   21:30


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Alienation & Exodus

Alienation & Exodus

by Harry Marcell

Three things our Father Abraham was told would befall his children. 
On that night of terror and thick darkness,
Of the fiery torch and smoking furnace, he was told.
“How shall I know that I shall inherit it?” he asked.
“You shall know, you shall know,” came the answer, reverberating
through the darkened world. “Because your seed shall be aliens
in an alien land, enslaved, tortured…for four hundred years.”
Alienation…enslavement…suffering…gerut, avdut, innui….
Is there a way out? Do Pesach, matzah, maror hold the key?

ALIENATION…
Four thousand years pass. Exiles, dispersions come and go…
Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, Spain, Germany…
The fiery torch, the smoking furnace…Russia…America…Israel…
Aliens in an alien land…The alienated Jew. The non-Jewish Jew.
Alienated from his people, from his past, from his future. Alienated from his culture.
A culture of non-Jewish Jews.
Try a kibbutz. Is picking cotton Jewish? Is it Jewish cotton? Is it Jewish land?
I don’t know. Maybe the Arabs were here longer. Are we racists? Who knows?
IS it that a lot of Jews live here together? There are places aplenty 
Outside Israel where this holds true. Does that make it Jewish land?
Try the city. Dizengoff. Steak-bar. Bright lights. Drugstore. Drug pusher.
Protection racket. Gang war. Sex store.
You like, mister? Just like America, no?
Just like America. Almost just like America.
Then what the hell kind of fool am I to come here for?
For a bad imitation when I can get the real thing at home? If I want it.
But do I want it?
Who am I?
Where do I belong?
Here we go again…Alienation…An alien in an alien land.
Oh please please whoever you are please show me a home…

ENSLAVEMENT
Enslavement.
A slave of the technological society.
Technosoc.
Capitalist, Marxist, what’s the difference?
What am I? They tell me I’m animal. The top of the evolutionary tree.
Or an over-developed, top-heavy, evolutionary misfit.
Who knows?
But that’s all a lot of junk. I’m much much less than an animal.
Computerised, automised, atomised, numeralised, mechanised.
I’m a cybernetic servo mechanism. A feedback device. Devised by
Whom? For what? Feed and feedback. Feedback and feed. Stimulus 
and response. Rats in the maze. Rats in the rat-race. Conditioning.
Manipulation. Subliminal advertising. Consumer-response-mechanism.
Programmed enslaved. Trapped in the consumption/production syndrome.
Things. Things. Gadgets. Circuitry. Drowned in things. Swamped by things. Things
Are the measure of all man. No time of my own. No space of my own. No my own.
A slave owns nothing. Not even himself. Above all not himself.
O God, tell me where is my self?

SUFFERING
Torture. Pain in the midst of
Pleasure. Misery in the midst of
Affluence. The worm of the heart. The cancer in the bone. Worthlessness.
SO what’s the use? What’s it all for anyway?
The nagging hurt. The nothingness at the heart of existence. Nothing hurts
Like nothing. We go through the motions of pleasure but…Nothing
Means anything anymore. This is the worst wound of all.
So why not get it over with? How long O Lord how long?

THE ALIEN COMES HOME
Alien Jew, you wanted a home? You have a home. Its name is Pesach. Pesach is a holiday. It is also a family. It belongs together.
Its symbol is a lamb. A lamb belongs to a flock. It knows where it belongs.
It knows its shepherd.
Pesach is a seder table. The food, the wine, the symbols. The bright-eyed, eager children.
The white-clad father, the quiet and gracious mother. The people’s first altar, in alien Egypt, was the inside of a home. The door-post and the lintel, brushed by the angel’s wings.
Pesach means the Jewish people are a family.
A family means a shared experience, a sense of continuity, a protecting presence. 
Or is it a protecting Presence?
Who knows? All I know is that here is where I feel at home.
Maybe Jung was right about racial consciousness. Or maybe it’s the Jewish soul
The Hasidim love to talk about. I don’t know. And I don’t care very much. All I know is I’ve come home.
Pesach. The family feels the Presence, acknowledges the Presence. The familoy
Sacrifice, the family’s act of service. The family’s bond.
Home means whatever you may have done there is always an open door. Home is where
You are accepted as one of the family. Home is where you belong. Where you are no longer an alien. This is your country, this is your home. This is where you were heading for all the time.
Without knowing it.
Pesach is home.

THE TASTE OF FREEDOM
Listen, slave. There is a haven of freedom. Its symbol is matzah.
Matzah? What is this brittle bread with the flavor all its own? Brown and white,
crisp and hard, serrated rows of pinhead holes…What is this matzah?
Matzah is the taste of freedom. Bread of speed, bread of haste, bread of yeastless dough. Flour and water. Nothing else. Simple. Uncomplicated. Needs no outside help.
No time for floating yeast spore to ferment, aerate.
Simple. Independent. Finding its strength within itself.
Inner strength. This is freedom.
Slave of technosociety, the taste of matzah is freedom. Be in the technoworld, but not of it.
Don’t let its yeast spores enter your heart. The pesach family eats matzah bread, declaring its independence of the powerful, pitiful pride-puffed, puny yeast culture of the technocrats.
Defiant as always.
Rebels against the crowd.
Four thousand years of rebellion.
Matzah sounds the doom of slavery. It heralds the victory of inner freedom.

BITTERSWEET BATTLE FOR THE SELF
Maror. The herbs of bitterness. But is lettuce really bitter? They say it’s bitter to start with but improves with age. Is horseradish really bitter? Sharp perhaps; shockingly sharp; but bitter? With the matzah of freedom comes the bittersweet battle for the re-found self.
Remember the empty misery of the unfound, despaired-of self? Forget it! We have found ourself.
Pesach gives us our home. Matzah our freedom. Maror the growing-pains of the new-found self. The bittersweet battle. The muscle-stretch of spiritual growth.
Exchange the foul, poisonous bitterness of life without meaning for the refreshing bitter tang of the challenge of self-renewal. Maror says: Don’t think it’s easy.
Realising self needs effort. And effort is pain. But not like that other pain, the misery of nothingness. 
This pain is a welcome pain; the pain of all new growth.
“Whoever has not said these three things on the Passover night has not filled the commandment. What three things? Pesach, matzah and maror.
 

The Meaning of the Mitzvot according to Rabbi S.R. Hirsch

The Meaning of the Mitzvot according to Rabbi S.R. Hirsch

Rav Baruch Horovitz

Adapted from a lecture at the Rabbi S.R. Hirsch Centre of the Jerusalem Academy, Pesach 5749. (With thanks to Rav A. Carmell, Prof. M. Breuer and Prof. L. Levi for their comments, some of which have been included.)

1. THE UNIQUENESS OF TORAH

The major characteristic of the teachings of Rav Hirsch in his time, and also for our time, is his demonstration of the uniqueness and unity of the Torah.

This approach of “Gaining a deep understanding of every aspect of the Torah, and also of life, by studying the Torah’s outlook from its own sources (sich-selbst-begreifendes Judenthum)”, characterised every aspect of his educational and communal activities. This is related to the absolute truth of the Torah as God’s word; other human, relative knowledge is true only in relationship to Torah1.

 

Explanation of the Tenach

In contrast to other modernist commentators, who compared aspects of the Tenach to situations in the environment, Rav Hirsch explained both the simple and deeper meaning of every word and phrase by comparing it to other phrases throughout the Tenach. He demonstrated a psychological ‘close reading’ of the narratives. Taking as the basic axiom the Divinity and authenticity of the Written and Oral Traditions he showed how these were not two separate aspects, but were intertwined one with the other, and that the nuances of the verses were explained through the Oral Tradition2.

Analysis of the Hebrew Language

He went to the root of every word comparing it to similar roots that were phonetically connected in Tenach, Talmud and Midrash, formulating a “Speculative Etymology”, demonstrating a deep understanding of language in general and of the Hebrew roots. Every Hebrew word-root has three letters which go back to two basic letters, the third one being a variant. He built up a unified outlook upon life according to his system of the psychological and philosophical roots which are expressed in the Hebrew, without reference to comparative philology3.

Understanding the Mitzvot

Nearly all Jewish thinkers declare that the Mitzvot have reasons. These were often found in environmental factors. For example, Maimonides explained many Mitzvot as opposing idolatorous practices of the time. Rav Hirsch, however, made a detailed study of the Mitzvah trying to understand it from its stucture and from its sources in Tenach, Talmud and Midrash, elucidating the symbolic significance, based on its root4.

Torah with Derech Eretz

The Torah is a total system of how to answer all the problems of life for Jew and Gentile, for the individual and the nation, producing a dynamic unified harmonious approach. This is the deeper meaning of his principle of Torah im Derech Eretz which is often (mis)understood to be a synthesis and fusion of Judaism with the humanism of his day. However, he understood the Torah to be the guide for all aspects of life. By applying the yardstick of the Torah to different situations one sees the Torah in action, with the Derech Eretz being the transitory element in every age, group and environment6. One should dedicate oneself to Torah not only in the Bet Hamidrash, but also in business life, in the use of technology and in politics. This is not a combination between Torah and secularism7, for Torah im Derech Eretz means sanctifying all that is secular8.

In Rav Hirsch’s time and environment therefore Derech Eretz also meant teaching Schiller9. Today, however, if we are going to be true to Rav Hirsch’s principle we must reject the morally bankrupt German culture and apply Derech Eretz to our scientific, post-Holocaust, ecology-conscious nuclear age, with its completely different problems. Dr. Yitzchak Breuer developed the concept of Torah and Derech Eretz Yisrael10. The renewed life here in Eretz Israel with its national environment gives an opportunity to act out Torah and Derech Eretz far more completely in accordance with Rav Hirsch’s initial teaching than was ever possible in the educational program of the Hirschian Schools where there was an imbalance with far less Torah than culture11. Now in Eretz Israel, more time can be spent on mastering Torah subjects in order to apply the Torah’s criteria to the study of nature, history and other subjects.

The Jewish Community

Why should a Torah community be dependent upon a larger community that is not guided by Torah values? This was the basis for “Austritt”12. If we are to translate Rav Hirsch’s communal approach from Frankfurt to the present situation in Eretz Israel, it means as far as possible being independent of a national communal structure and government which oppose Torah values. The Torah community would gain self-respect and respect from others.

All the above aspects of his teaching share the common factor of understanding and application of Torah ‘from itself with consistency, thoroughness and independence. This, and not preconceived terms of reference from prevailing cultures, is the true science of Judaism.

2. THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF THE MITZVOT

The Nature of the Symbol

We are surrounded in life by “natural” and “conventional” symbols. “Natural” refer to the sounds, facial expressions and bodily gestures that we and animals make to express feelings. There are also many “conventional” symbols, including language, artistic expression, clothing, the handshake, flags and other social gestures13.

Symbolism in the Torah

Examples:

“Let there be light-giving bodies in the firmament of the heavens and they shall be for signs”14. The symbolical significance of the sun, moon, and the stars is mentioned before their function as time-guides and light-givers.

God established a covenant of “peace” after the flood with the sign of the rainbow15. This could mean that rainfall and clouds have a “silver lining,” that we should never give up hope when we experience destruction. Or it represents a “bow” which is not turned against the earth, as a sign of armistice and peace. Or the various colours of the spectrum symbolise different shades of human beings and character that all contribute to the pure light of Hashem16. There are many more such symbols instituted by Hashem mentioned in the Tenach. Most dreams related in the Tenach, both those that are direct prophecies and others, contain ideas and messages connected with symbols17. There are also prophecies which are not dreams combining a prophetic message with a symbol18.

The Mitzva as an Explicit Symbol

It is not surprising that Mitzvot are described in similar manner. There are some Mitzvot where the symbol and the meaning are explicit:

Some are called ot, a sign: - Circumcision - milah - is described as a “Sign of the Covenant’, the meaning of which is contained in the phrase “Walk in front of Me and become perfect.’’19

The tefillin “should be a sign on your arm and a remembrance between your eyes, so that the teaching of God should remain in your mouth.”20

The Shabbat is described as “an everlasting covenant. Between Me and the children of Israel it is a sign forever that in six days did God create heaven and earth, and with the seventh day he ceased and withdrew.”21

The Mitzvah as an Implicit Symbol

Those Mitzvot where a reason is stated, although the term ot is not used, are also symbolic. Rav Hirsch in his writings analysed the details of the above and the following categories of Mitzvot, basing himself upon the reasons declared or implied:

After Yaakov’s struggle during the night of his encounter with Esau, it is written: “therefore the children of Israel do not eat the sinew on the joint of the thigh.”22

The precept to eat matza and refrain from chametz is to remember that “in haste did you go out from the land of Egypt; that God delivered you with strength of hand.”23

“God slew all the first-born... therefore do I offer to God every first-born male.” 24

“Take the beautiful fruit, the branches of palm trees, myrtles and willows, and rejoice before God.” 25

“You shall dwell in huts for seven days, so that your generations will know that I caused the children of Israel do dwell in huts when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” 26

“This shall be to you for tzitzit so that you may see them and remember all the commandments of God and do them.” 27

There is a view that where the reason is mentioned there is a Mitzvah Min HaTorah to be conscious of this reason when fulfilling the Mitzvah. 28

The Apparently Super-Rational Laws (Hukkim) 29

Whilst the above two categories of Mitzvot and Edot (“testimonies”) have a rationale, there are other laws in the Torah where there is only a general motif of “holiness,” Kedushah, “purity” or Divine closeness. This includes the sexual and dietary code, the prohibition of intermingling species, the Priestly Code, the offerings, and the laws of purification. 30

The Sages say that hukkim are those Mitzvot opposed by the nations of the world and the Evil Inclination (yetzer hara) saying they do not have a reason. 31 According to Gentile culture and materialism they do not seem rational. Ramban32 and others, explain that they all have reasons though it may be difficult for us to understand them, hence they are not mentioned explicitly. Rav Hirsch analyses them deeply showing that these also have a moral symbolic significance.

Addressing himself to a generation that considered these laws obsolete and meaningless, he elaborated upon their detailed meaning is relationship to religious, moral and social principles, and a constructive approach to the animal and plant world, demonstrating that they are relevant today. 33

The Rational Law

The rational law includes the humanitarian social code of the Torah — justice and charity; love of man, kindness to animals; personal morality and self-discipline; improvement of character and the religious “direct” mitzvot of faith, awe, love and worship of God.

These are the principles of life which form the spiritual foundation for the symbolic pattern of the other Mitzvot.

The Talmud relates: a non-Jew came to Hillel and said “Teach me the whole Torah while I am standing on one leg.” Hillel replied, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary; go and learn.” 34

Is this the whole Torah? Rashi explains: “Robbery, theft, adultery and most Mitzvot.” How is the love of man involved in most Mitzvot? According to Rav Hirsch’s symbolic interpretation, every Mitzvah, including hukkim, improve our character. Drawing nearer to Hashem means to come closer to the moral idea of kedushah (holiness), which is ‘wholeness’ and saintliness. It means developing moral characteristics to their highest potential. So Hillel’s dictum means that all the mitzvot strengthen our attachment to Hashem, who is the moral ideal, and improve our character in relationship to our fellow man; some directly, but others indirectly through the power of the symbol. 235

3. PATTERNS

Time

The day represents independence and activity; the night, dependence and weakness. Rav Hirsch explains: the emphasis of the Torah is not that we should feel our weakness and our dependence upon Hashem; instead He wants each human being and the people of Israel to reach the highest level of activity. Most symbolic Mitzvot, that are meant to develop character, are only done in the daytime. 36

The months have a special significance in that all the festivals are based upon the lunar calendar. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun to the earth and waxes and wanes, so also Israel should reflect the glory of Hashem to the world, as they have the ability of renewal, failure and rejuvenation. 37

The seasons of nature also teach us the meaning of spiritual seasons. For example, the festival of Pesach is in Spring, the time of the awakening of nature. So the spirit of Israel, every year, should be reawakened from winter slumber. 38 “The Jewish calendar is the catechism of the Jew. 39

Numbers

The six days of the creation of the material world and the seventh day of Shabbat, the eighth day of Milah, the seven times seven days of counting the Omer, followed by Shavuot, reveal the symbol of six as the world of nature, seven as nature pervaded by the power of Hashem, and eight being supernature40. The eighth level of creation is that of Klal Israel and Torah which is a ‘metahistorical’ phenomenon. The fiftieth day comes after the seven and represents the supernatural level of the giving of the Torah. This is why seven days are the days of purification, culminating in the eighth day when a person brings the offering in the Sanctuary and reaches his highest, almost supernatural, level. As Shavuot is after seven times seven days, so Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day after Succot, representing the spiritual preservation of Israel through the joy of the Torah. The Shmittah and Jubilee years extend the symbolic pattern to the Land and State of Israel. The eight threads of the tzitzit and the High Priest’s eight garments represent transcendent sanctity as the ultimate mission of Israel. This is why there are eight days of Chanukah, celebrating consecration of the Menorah and the Temple, which represent dedication to the metahistorical powers of the Torah. 41

Species

The origin and variety of species of animals and plants has puzzled many who have studied the environment. Rav Hirsch emphasises the principle of lemino (“after its kind”), which is emphasized at the beginning of the Humash; the plants and animals were given a blessing that they should multiply and develop “according to their species” 42. The law not to mix varying types of seeds, not to crossbreed animals, nor even to use them together, not to eat milk and meat cooked together, and not to wear a mixture of wool and linen, are based on the awareness of the unique function of differing species. This is to teach us that human beings have a unique specific task, just like the other species. He developed this concept in contrast to the theory which became popular in his time, that one species develops from another; that man descended from the mammals and the plants. The varied groups within mankind have specific functions, and especially the people of Israel have their unique function, outlined in the Torah43. Priests, Levites, men and women, each have a specific role44.

Man has within him levels in common with the plant and animal world. The “vegetable,” “animal,” “human” and “divine” levels are contained within the personality. The divine level should rule the human, the human should rule the animal, and the animal — the vegetable; and not vice-versa. The plant element (feeding and reproduction) should be subjected to the animal element (perception, motion and emotion) which should be subjected to the human element (mind, and creativity) which should be subjected to the divine soul — (conscience, transcendence, and awareness of God45).

Wool, an animal product, and flax, a plant product, when together, represent a creature whose perception and emotion are devoted entirely to food and sex. In man the food and sex instinct should be separated and subjected to perception and emotion, which in turn should be placed at the service of God46.

So also with milk and meat. Meat as muscles and organs of motion represents the specific animal side, and milk which is the specific food for carrying on the species. characterises the vegetative side within the animal. Their separation symbolises that vegetative be subject to animal and both submit to the human spirit. Just as in his upright position, in contrast to the horizontal position of the animals, the animal part of man is above the vegetative aild the human part above both, that is, the head which rises heavenwards; so in man, his animal forces are not to sink to vegetative allurements47.

Colours

These are mentioned in connection with the priestly garments, the coverings and curtains of the Sanctuary, and the Tzitzit.

Techelet (blue-violet), whose Hebrew root is k-l-h, “to come to end,’ is the colour at the end of the spectrum. It represent the tachlit (same root) — that “end” to which all is striving. This symbolises the divine element in man. Shani (scarlet) is the animal aspect. Argaman (purple i.e. red and blue together) represents the human aspect. Then the shesh, white linen, represents the purified vegetative element48.

These are just a few symbolic patterns amongst many.

4. SOME QUESTIONS

 

Commandments of God or Reason?

If a person fulfils a Mizvah because of some reason or because it represents a moral concept is he really doing it for the purpose of fulfilling the will of God?

Rav Hirsch writes: “If one asks why should you do this and not do that there is but one answer: because it is the will of God and it is your duty to serve him. But the Torah calls upon you by deep reflection to trace the wisdom of God in his word, to understand why God commanded us to fulfil them. With Edoth this deeper penetration into their significance and interpretation of all their parts adds to their proper fulfilment50.

We Jews are the pilots of a space-craft called “the earth.” We have been given a book of instructions — the Torah — which shows us how to keep the Earth running smoothly, and to keep all the passengers, including ourselves, safe and sound. The pilot may also investigate the reasons for the instructions, prepared by the Divine Engineer. However, if he is to act upon his understanding, thinking he may disregard the detailed instructions, then he is likely to bring the spacecraft to disaster.

The Mussar of the Mitzvot

Faced with the challenge of modernism and emancipation, it was found necessary in the Nineteenth-Century traditional communities to emphasize that Torah observance does not mean just studying Tenach, Gemarah, Shulchan Aruch and keeping the Mitzvot. Hassidut emphasized the inner depths of the Torah: to study and experience some of the deeper qualities of the service of God, communion with God, and closeness to the Rebbe51. In the non-hassidic circles in Eastern Europe, the Mussar (ethical) movement arose. Rav Yisrael Salanter and his disciples introduced into the Yeshivah program and also for the Ba’ale Habatim — the working populace — the daily learning of Mussar books. These stress the improvement of character and behaviour, increasing an awareness of God and of responsibility towards fellow men. In Mussar the text studied is the personality of the student for self-improvement in light of the ethical aphorisms52.

Rav Hirsch taught that Mussar is contained in each Mitzvah. In most Yeshivot one learns Gemarah, sometimes omitting the Aggadic passages, and one learns Shulchan Aruch and Mussar, as three different subjects. Rav Hirsch pointed out the unity of all these — that they are one and the same53.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said, “Learn Mesilat Yesharim ‘Path of the Upright,’54 and ‘the Duties of the Heart55 to improve character”. Rav Hirsch illustrated that all the Mitzvot are uprightness and that the “Duties of the Heart” are contained within the duties of the “Limbs”.

It is written: “Love your neighbour like yourself, I am God. Keep my statutes, do not crossbreed your animals, do not mix seeds in your fields, do not wear shaatnez — a mixture of wool and flax.”56

In order to develop true love of one’s fellow-man one must have an awareness of one’s specific mission in life, as shown by the principle of separation of species outlined above. You can only love your fellow man if you learn to discipline your own desires in favour of helping your fellow man. When man learns that the animal aspects of motion and perception should rule over his food and sex instincts (shaatnez — as explained above)57, only then he can love his fellow man.

“The love of man” is understood today in many circles to mean that you should treat everyone in the same way. There should be no difference between Jew and Gentile, men and women, adult and child, between one person and the other. This has developed the concept of “unisex”; and in some families the children are given the same vote as the parents. (So in large families parents will be out-voted.) In such an egalitarian society a uniformity is introduced, although some are often more ‘equal’ than others. But the Torah says “Love your fellow man,” “Keep my hukkim and do not mix.” Each seed, each animal and even each type of grain has its specific purpose. “Love” does not mean that everyone is to be treated equally. A husband cannot treat his wife as he would treat himself or vice-versa. He should know that a woman is different in character and role to a man, as parents are to children. Each group has a different role to fulfil: Priests, Levites, Israelites and Gentiles. This is not an egalitarian, but a functional approach, to love a person according to his role, and not to make a blanket rule that everyone is the same58.

Ethics is the essence of the laws of mixing, as it is with the laws of the Sanctuary, of Impurity, and of Diet. Mussar is the warp and woof of all the Mitzvot.

Intention-Kavanah

How can the mitzvot have this symbolic significance when many do not require intention.

The Talmudic debate on this59 refers to having the intention to fulfil the Mitzvot and has a limited application. Awareness of meaning is essential for prayers. “Prayer without heart and head, is like a body that is dead”60. But, for example, does one need to know when wearing Tzitzit that the eight threads represent the eighth dimension, the eighth creation, and the people of Israel? That the knots represent the need to tie and discipline ourselves? That one-third of the Tzitzit is knotted and two- thirds are left free to teach that one measure of self-discipline will lead to a double measure of creative freedom?61 If a person is not aware of this is his fulfilment incomplete? There are more complex symbols with the offerings and the Bigdei Kehuna (priestly garments). Do we have to assume that the Kohanim understood the symbols? There is no hint in the Gemarah that the Kohanim or the Kohen Gadol were aware of the symbolic significance of the animals, textiles, colors or numbers. Does the Jew need to have an awareness of the subtle symbolic distinctions between meat and milk, wool and flax?’ Rav Hirsch regarded his system as being scientific and as being proven by consistency with all the details of the Halachah62. How can we assume a complex symbolism as the basis of the Mitzvah when we fulfil the Mitzvah completely without any knowledge of that complexity?

The relationship between dream symbolism and mitzvot symbolism (as desribed in the Tenach, in the Talmud, and by Rav Hirsch) shows that the concept is not just conscious but also subconscious. It is a principle, exphasized by the author of Sefer Ha-hinuch63, that the purpose of many Mitzvot is to influence character by means of actions. Performing certain deeds in a specific manner, frequently, even though we do not think of their meaning as rooted in symbolism, will affect our subconscious mind. Rav Hirsch avoided discussions about the subconscious self in order to emphasize the importance of conscious moral awareness. But his symbolic system cannot be explained without assuming the subconscious impact. It is implied in his comments on incest, the prohibited animals, and the laws of impurity64.

Mysticism-Kabbalah

Although Rav Hirsch does not refer explicitly to the Kabbalah as a basis for his system we do know from his notes that he studied the Zohar and other Kabbalistic sources65. He gives symbolic interpretations similar to those given by some of the Kabbalists. The basic approach of the mystics is that the actions which we do here below have a cosmic impact — they affect the higher worlds66. Rav Hirsch spoke to a generation that, for many reasons, was far removed from such concepts67. But it is not surprising that the symbolism to which he refers as being conscious moral education or self- education has its parallel in the Kabbalah, although he was non-Kabbalistic in the substance of his thinking68.

Moral Autonomy and Heteronomy

Should we strive for virtue because it is good or because God wants us to follow virtue?

This is referred to philosophically as moral autonomy v. moral theonomy. Moral autonomy means, according to Kant and others, that a person’s action cannot be considered virtuous unless it is done out of his own free will. But if he does it because a gun is put in his back or because he thinks God or his parents are telling him to do it, then it is not virtuous. This is moral heteronomy, or with Mitzvot — theonomy versus autonomy69.

This is discussed in the Talmud70. Rav Yoseph who was blind said: “Originally, if someone would have told me that the blind are not obliged to fulfill the Mitzvot, I would have made a celebration as I perform the Mitzvot voluntarily. But now that I have heard that Rav Chanina said, ‘One who is commanded to do something is greater than one who is not commanded to do something, I will make a celebration if someone tells me that the blind are obliged to fulfil the Mitzvot.”71 For the commandment implies that this is his Divinely appointed task, or because he has to overcome rebelliousness against Divine authority.72 On the other hand, there is greater spontaneous free-will spirit involved in that which is not commanded, and the ideal saint fulfills all the Mitzvot because he recognizes that they are innately good73.

The answer to this question is given in the Ethics of the Fathers, “You should make your will to be like the will of God.” You have to do it because God commanded you to do it, but you should try to bring yourself to the level where you so much identify with and understand the will of God, that you also do it out of your own free will. Make an equivalence between autonomy and theonomy.

A person may be in a situation that he does not feel like “davening” (praying), so he says, “Hashem says I have do daven now.” He forces himself to daven and the experience brings him into a mood in which he wants, and is happy, to daven75. A person does not want to give charity, but Hashem says he has to make a habit of it until he brings himself to the level where he will want to give.

It is written in Shemot Ch. 23: — “If you meet the animal of your enemy going astray you should return it to him. If you see the ass of one whom you hate lying under its burden, you should hasten to his aid76.” In Devarim Ch. 22 it says: “You should return your brother’s animal to him and help your brother’s animal which has fallen77.” Why does it say in the earlier passage of the Torah “your enemy” and in the last book of the Torah “your brother”? Why is there such a large separation between the two otherwise similar passages? The answer could be that when beginning Mitzvah observance, you may not want to help your enemy, so the Torah says you have to help him. Through frequent deeds of this nature, and continuing right through the Torah and all the Mitzvot, you will reach the level when your enemy will become like your brother and you will want to help him. The Torah says: “Take it on as a Mitzvah even if it is difficult for you, and in the end, it will train you in doing kindness until your enemies become your brothers78”.

This applies even to the Hukkim which we cannot understand easily but also have an ethical purpose. They also do not pose a contradiction between autonomy and theonomy79.

The Torah discipline becomes a self-discipline, and what was at first a Mitzvah ultimately becomes part of one’s character. It is also true that good characteristics (Middot) lead to Mitzvah fulfilment. It works in both directions: The more good Middot one has, the more Mitzvot he wants to do, he will want to increase the challenge: he will want to do Mitzvot that are difficult for him, and that will, in turn, raise his level of Middot80.

Sow a deed, reap a habit,

Sow a habit, reap a character,

Sow a character, reap a destiny.

5. RAV HIRSCH’S TEACHING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW

Nineteenth Century Germany

Some have claimed that Rav Hirsch was influenced by Kant, Hegel and Nineteenth- Century German ideas81.

He possessed a thorough understanding of German idealistic philosophers. He read widely, but primarily studied deeply all Torah sources, developing his independent approach82.

 

The Most Comprehensive Symbolism

Rav Hirsch’s symbolism represents a more systematic attempt at explaining the details of the Mitzvot than can be found elsewhere. Philo’s symbolic interpretation was philosophical. The Sefer Hahinuch’s educational, Recanati in his Ta’amei HaMitzvot, mystical, and the Remah in his Torat HaOlah explained rationally and kabbalistically details of many of the Mitzvot; but nobody dealt with the subject comprehensively as did Rav Hirsch.

Further Development

It is written84 “One generation to another should praise your actions.” A Hirschian-like interpretation of the word “Yeshabah” is given by the Malbim: le-shabbe’ah ‘to praise’, is connected to the word ‘shevah’ — ‘improvement’.” Leshabbe’ah means to praise a person in the sense of improving on what is already known about him, or to praise Hashem on a higher level, according to the greater knowledge that has been gained.88 In this way we can today build up the teachings of Rav Hirsch and reach a more comprehensive and deeper approach to the understanding of the Mitzvot.

Kabbalah

In our generation the inner tradition of Jewish thought found in the Kabbalah is widely accepted as part and parcel of the deeper aspects of Torah, and can be understood much more easily because of the spread of Hassidut, Mussar, and the intermingling of varying Torah approaches86. There are many aspects in Kabbalistic literature that are related to symbolism87.

In Depth Psychology

There are today many differing schools of in-depth psychology which connect the symbols of life with man’s inner feelings. This is shown in the analysis of dreams, myths, language, and symbols used by groups and nations88. By a deeper study of in-depth psychology, one can come to a better appreciation and application of Ray Hirsch’s ideas.89.

Parapsychology

Today many assume that the human being is more than a psychosomatic unity. The mind of man is connected to matter but also extends further than his own person. The mind of one person is connected to the mind of another, as shown by hypnotism, telepathy and other parapsychological phenomena, such as near-death experiences. These have shown the existence of the power of the mind outside the body and the material world90.

 

Archetypes

There is a parallel between times, sounds, numbers, colours, bodies, objects, and the feelings that they engender within us and within other people. When Jews of many generations in many countries all wear tzitzit, put on tefillin, observe the Shabbat in a special manner, this creates archetypes: basic national, and sometimes also universal principles that enter into many areas of life91.

For example: the impact of the sound of the Shofar on the New Year is called zichron teru’ah — ‘retrospection from the broken sound’92 - it should arouse within us national memories. The sound of the Shofar has an impact upon Jews, joining their minds and hearts with the minds of Jews from previous generations. It happens that a young person experiences in a dream something which took place some generations ago in the family or in the nation although he could not have heard or read about it from anybody. This is an archetype experience. The sound of the Shofar arouses within Jews the memory of the experiences of Mt. Sinai where there was the sound of the Shofar93 arousing their hearts. The symbolic subconscious power of the Mitzvot arouses the mind and heart to span time and space, and reach closeness to God.

Kedushah

The Mitzvot create, consciously and subconsciously, for the individual and for the nation, a power of kedushah, holiness and wholeness. As we say in many blessings:

“Sanctify us through Your commandments”94 This is the ultimate purpose of Torah life.

NOTES

  1. 1.The Nineteen letters, Letter 2 & 8; S.A. Hirsch ‘Jewish Philisophy of Religion of S.R. Hirsch; the parallels to Hegelian concepts outlined by N. Rosenbloom in Historia Judaica XXII. no.1, demonstrate no indebtedness, as shown by Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, Introd. to Horeb p.XLI, and applies equally to N.R.’s remarks in his ‘Tradition in an age of reform’ 174 ff. On Absolute Truth, Comm. on Bereshit Ch2, v.19; Ch9, v.27.
  2. 2.Introduction by Dayan Dr. Grunfeld to English Edition of Rabbi S.R.H.’s Commentary on the Torah.’
  3. 3.Rabbi S.R.H., Jüdische Welt- und Lebeasanschauung, Gesammelte Schriften V 143ff. T. Thas Thienemann. The Interpretation of Language.
  4. 4.R.S.R.H. in 18th Letter preferred Mendelssohn to Maimonides in the approach and not in general, as implied by chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovts, The Timely and the Timeless, 253.
  5. 5.Prof. M. Breuer, Torah Im Derech Eretz of R.S.R.H., 1970.
  6. 6.C.R. Jakobovits’ claim of contradiction to not admitting foreign influences in interpreting Judaism (ibid.255) is therefore invalid.
  7. 7.Comm. Of R.S.R.H., Devarim Ch.4, v.6
  8. 8.Nineteen Letters, 2nd letter; The Festival of Revelation in Coll. Writings I 183 ff.
  9. 9.Schiller Gedenkrede, Ges. Schriften VI, 308 ff.
  10. 10.Essay in Nachlat Zvi, Vol. III 338 f.; Weltwende 152.
  11. 11.M. Breuer, Jud. Orthodoxie im Deutschen Reich 106 ff.
  12. 12.Ges. Schriften IV ff; Historia Judaica, X, 2; Prof. M. Breuer’s vie, .in lecture this year at Jerusalem Academy, that according R.S.R.H. there should be separation of Religion and State in Israel. Chief Rabbi Jakobovits, R.S.R.H. sees contradiction to re-claiming estranged Jews; but his independent model-role brought respect and attracted them.
  13. 13.As above (3) & Collected Writings Vol III 3 ff; Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, Introduction to Horeb. CVII ff.; A.N. Whitehead, Symbolism, E. Cassirer, Symbo1ic Forms; Symbolism in Religion and Literatue.
  14. 14.Bereshit Ch. 1, v. 14. Shemoth Ch. 12. v.2. Commentary of R.S.R.H.
  15. 15.Bereshit, Ch. 9, v.12 ff. Commentary of Ramban.
  16. 16.Comm. of R.S.R.H. ibid.
  17. 17.Bereshit, Ch. 20, v.3, Ch,40 v.5 ff Commentary of R.S.R.H.
  18. 18.E.g. Bereshit, Ch.16; Ch. 28 v. 11ff Comm. of R.S.R.H.
  19. 19.Bereshit, Ch. 17, Comm. of R.S.R.H. & Coll. Writings IV 65 ff.
  20. 20.Shemot, Ch. 13, v. 1-6; Devarim Ch. 6, 4-9, Ch. 11, 13-21, Comment. of R.S.R.H. & Collected Writings, III 140 ff.
  21. 21.Shemot, Ch. 31, v. 17, Commentary of R.S.R.H.; Der Juedische Sabbath, Ges. Schriften I, 170 ff.
  22. 22.Bereshit, Ch. 32 v. 33, Comm. of R.S.R.H.
  23. 23.Shemot, Ch. 12, 14-17, Ch. 13, 3-9, Commentary of R.S.R.H.
  24. 24.Shemot, Ch. 23, v. 24, Commentary of R.S.R.H.
  25. 25.Vayikra, Ch. 23, v. 40, Comment, of R. S. R. H.
  26. 26.Vayikra, Ch. 23, v. 42-43, Comment, of R.S.R.H.
  27. 27.Bamidbar, Ch. 15, v. 37-41, Comment, of R.S.R.H., Coll. Writing III, 111 ff.
  28. 28.Bach & Bikure Ya’akov on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 625.
  29. 29.Nineteen Letters, Letter II. Horeb, Section 4.
  30. 30.Comment, of R.S.R.H. on Shemot & Vayikra
  31. 31.Bamidbar, Ch. 29 v. 2. Comm. of Midrashim and Rashi
  32. 32.Ramban ibid & on Devarim, Ch. 22. v. 6.
  33. 33.This explains his especially detailed exposition of the Sanctuary & the priestly service — the offerings — laws of purity and intermingling; Jewish Dietary Laws by Dayan Dr. Grunfeld.
  34. 34.Shabbat 3la
  35. 35.Comment. of R.S.R.H. on Vayikra Ch. 19, v. 18
  36. 36.Collected Writings III, 86 ff.
  37. 37.Comment. of R.S.R.H. on Shemot Ch. 12, v. 2. Bamidbar Ch. 28, v. 15, Comment. of Seforno and R.S.R.H.
  38. 38.Comment, of R.S.R.H. Shemot Ch. 12 & Vaykra Ch. 23.
  39. 39.Judaism Eternal I Ch. l. (p.3)
  40. 40.Coll. Writings III 96 ff.
  41. 41.The concept of metahistory was developed by R.S.R.H’s grandson, Yitzchak Breuer, Concepts of Judaism.
  42. 42.Bereshit ch. 1.v.11-13, Comment. of R.S.R.H.
  43. 43.Vayikra Ch. 19. v. 19, Comment, of R.S.R.H.
  44. 44.Devarim Ch. 22, v. 5-11, Comm. of R.S.R.H.
  45. 45.Coll. Writings 111 p. 181.
  46. 46.Coll. Writings III p. 175 ff. Vayikra Ch. 19, v. 19. comments, of R.S.R.H.
  47. 47.Shemot, Ch. 23. v. 19, comment. of R.S.R.H., Dayan Dr. Grunfeld: Jewish Dietary Laws 1.
  48. 48.He identifies the four levels &.colours of the ‘Cherubim’- tapestry of the Sanctuary — The pure vegetative element shesh with shor the form of the ox in Yecheskel 10:20; the crimson shani animal level with ari ; the purple human argaman with adam; and the sky-blue godly level techelet with nesher . This seems to contradict his view in Commentary on Bereshit, Ch. 1, v. 26 & Ch. 9 v. 15. that adam the red one is nearest to the godly as the least broken ray of the spectrum — nearest to the pure ray of light of God, & techeler the most distant from the pure light, losing itself in darkness.
  49. 49.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, Introduction to Horeb cvii ff.
  50. 50.Foreword to Horeb
  51. 51.Movements in Contemporary Judaism, R. Joseph Elias, New York
  52. 52.The Mussar Movement, R. Dov Katz.
  53. 53.R. Yechiel Weinberg, Das Volk der Religion; ‘Seride Esh’ IV 372 ff.
  54. 54.By R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
  55. 55.By R. Bachy Ibn Pakuda
  56. 56.Vayikra Ch. 19v. 18-19
  57. 57.Coll. Writings 111. 175 ff. Comment. on Devarim Ch. 23 v. 11-12.
  58. 58.The Meaning of Kashrut — B. Horovitz, Jewish Study Magazine 12, p. 17.
  59. 59.Berachot 13 b; Pesachim 114 b; Rosh Hashana 28 b.
  60. 60.Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 98; Rav A. Carmell, Concentration in Prayer, Jewish Study Magazine 20, p. 12; B. Horovitz Jewish Prayer, Jerusalem Academy Publication.
  61. 61.Collected Writings I I I 111 ff.
  62. 62.Nineteen Letters, 18th Letter;Foreword to Horeb; M. Munk, Zum Problem ein. jud. Symbolik, Fests. Realschule, 1928
  63. 63.By R. Aharon Halevi of Barcelona; A Philosophy of Mizvot G. Appel.
  64. 64.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, Introduction to Horeb p, cviii R. Dr. B. Cohen, Ex Profundis, Nachlat Z’vi I, 137 ff, 297 ff; Comm. of R.S.R.H. Br. Ch. v. 24, Vay. Ch. 11-12, 18; Bam. Ch. 19.
  65. 65.R.J. Breuer Aus den Vorarbeiten zum Horeb, Nachiat Z’vi V 142 ff mentions more sources from Zohar than from any other text. Dayan Dr. Grunfeld “Introd. to Horeb” cxx ff. There are many parallels to teaching of Maharal. Chief R. Jakobovits sees contradiction in H.’s admiration of Ramban the Kabbalist and H’s criticism of Kabbalah; but he opposed the abuse of Kabbalah.
  66. 66.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, The Jewish Dietary Laws, 12 ff.
  67. 67.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, “Introduction to Horeb,” cxxiii.
  68. 68.E. Munk. R. Hirsch als Rationalist der Kabbalah, Nachlat Z’vi 111.54 ff.
  69. 69.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld. Introd. to Horeb lx ff, B. Horovitz, Law & Morality, Jewish Study Magazine no. 14, 5 ff.
  70. 70.Kidushin 31 a, Bava Kama 38 a, 87 a.
  71. 71.Maharal, Tiferet Yisrael, 20.
  72. 72.Maharsha, Tosafot & commentaries on Kidushin 31a.
  73. 73.Magid Mishna on Rambam. Mishneh Torah, end of Hilchot Sukah.
  74. 74.Ch.2,4.
  75. 75.B. Horovitz, Jewish Prayer.
  76. 76.v. 4-5. Comm of Rashi, R.S.R.H. Torah Temimah.
  77. 77.v.-4, Commentary of Rashi, R.S.R.H. & Meshech Chochmah.
  78. 78.Bava kama 32 b — ‘To overcome his evil inclination of hatred’ — Tosafoth.
  79. 79.Devarim Ch. 4, v. 6— ‘will hear these hukkim, and will say only a wise and understanding people.’ (Comment. of R.S.R.H. Malbim)
  80. 80.Gaon of Vilna. Even Shlema, commentary on Mishle.
  81. 81.N. H. Rosenbloom, Tradition in Age of Reform, 152 ff. and throughout; M. Breuer, Juedische Orthodoxie, 62 ff.
  82. 82.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, Introduction to Horeb, lxxix If. This explains his preference for Yehuda Halevi against Maimonides, despite the former’s nationalistic views.
  83. 83.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld. The Jewish Dietary laws. I Ch. 1.
  84. 84.Tehillim Ch. 145, v. 4 Commentaries of Malbim & R.S.R.H.
  85. 85.M. Breuer. Juedische Orthodoxie 51ff.
  86. 86.Dayan Dr. Grunfeld, S.R.H. & the Kabbalah, Introd. to Horeb. cxx ff.
  87. 87.E. Munk, R. Hirsch alr Rationalist der Kabbalah, Nachlat Zwi III 54ff. M. Breuer J. Orthodoxie 71-2.
  88. 88.Works of C. Jung; E. Fromm, The Forgotten Language; T. Tass-Thienenman The Interpretation of Language.
  89. 89.RB. Cohen. Ex Profundis, Nachlat Zwi 137 ff.
  90. 90.Y. Neumann. Judgement After Life, Jew Study Mag 31.
  91. 91.Works of C. Jung; R.B. Cohen, Ex profundis, Nachalat Zvi 1,137 ff.
  92. 92.Vayikra Ch. 23, v. 24. Comm. R.S.R.H.
  93. 93.Shemoth, Ch. 19, v. 16, H. Wouk, This is my God.
  94. 94.Shabbath Synagogue Service.

The Superior Mind

The Superior Mind

Science and advanced technology appear to have brought us to the pinnacle of the Biblical mandate to subdue the world (Genesis 1:28). Not only has man conquered the world of outer space, he is achieving domination in the inner space of the nucleus. He is unravelling the mysteries of genetic codes and engineering new life forms.

The computer and the technology of robotics and artificial intelligence stand at the frontier of man’s efforts to master his world. A computer is capable of doing calculations that exceed the capacity of any single mind. Robots are increasingly replacing workers who perform repetitive tasks. What are the limits of these developments? Could a computer or robot replace the human mind?

Human intelligence is not the ability to follow instructions, which can also be done by a robot. What is the essence of the human being? Who is the real you?

Some say that man is like a machine, a body that can perform certain functions. In times past, a person could consider his own body as an integral part of himself. But scientific progress has changed this concept of personality. Today, a man can live with another person’s heart beating in his breast. If he is asked, “Who are YOU?” he cannot point to his heart, because it is someone else’s.

Let us imagine what it would be like to undergo a brain transplant. A person might be suffering from an incurable disease in his body, but still have a healthy brain. The donor, on the other hand, would have suffered irreparable brain damage, but otherwise have a perfectly sound body. So the brain is removed from the sick body and placed in the healthy one. Who is the new man? We have an old brain with all its memories, personality traits and behavior patterns, but it has a brand new body. The old body might have been old and sick, while the new one may be young and full of energy. Let us ask this man to point to himself. Will he point to his body, or will he point to his head? Probably the latter.

Computer technology allows one to perform a memory transfer, taking the information in one computer system and transferring it to another. What if this were done to the human brain? Let us envision a memory transfer. Assume that we have a person with an incurable disease, and neither his body nor his brain can be salvaged. We clone a new body for this individual, brain and all. This new body has a blank, new brain capable of functioning, but without any memories. We bring all of the information of the sick person into the brain of the new body. If all of man’s memories, thought patterns and personality traits are transferred to a new body and brain, then this person literally exists in his new body, but nothing physical has been transferred, only the information. But then

the question arises, who is the real you?

It is not your body, nor your brain; it is the information contained in your brain — the personality traits, memories and thought patterns, the non- material ego.

After the body ceases to function, what happens to the real you, the human personality? What happens to all the memories, thought patterns and personality traits? When a book is burnt, its contents are no longer available. When a computer is smashed, the information in it is also destroyed. But, when a man dies, everything still remains in

G-d’s memory. We may think of something existing only in memory as being static, but G-d’s memory is dynamic and still maintains its identity. This is the meaning of immortality, the Garden of Eden, the World to Come, the world of souls, the bond of eternal life. ‘Dust returns to the dust as it was, but the spirit returns to the G-d who gave it.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

A person is theoretically able to perceive everything that that surrounds him and to remember everything. But if all of this information poured into his mind continuously, it would overwhelm him, Therefore, the brain screens out most of what we perceive and remember. It functions in part as a reducing valve, to limit the information that enters our awareness so that we encounter the constant data from the world as a gentle stream rather than as a tidal wave. A hint of what the brain excludes can be understood if one closes his eyes and views the kaleidoscope of random pictures that enter the mind.

Let us now imagine the mental activity of a disembodied head, naked in front of G-d, as it were. The reducing valve is gone; the mind is open and transparent. Then one can perceive everything in a way impossible to a mind which is held back by a body and a nervous system. That is why the Sages describe the World to Come with the following imagery: The righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the rays of glory of the Divine Presence. The Book of Job states: ‘ After my skin is destroyed, then without my flesh I shall see G-d.’ (Job 19:26) This is reflected in Near Death experiences which have recently been scientifically explored.

In this disembodied state, the individual will see himself in a new light. He will see himself for the first time without the jamming that shuts out most thoughts. Even in our mortal, physical state, looking at oneself can sometimes be pleasing and at other times painful. Even more so, when one stands with one’s memory open in front of G-d, one will feel enormous pleasure from all of the good deeds that one has done and which G-d approves. For the opposite, one will feel great shame: ‘Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting shame. And them that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.’ (Daniel 12:2-3) This concept of the human personality is totally unlike the mechanism and data of the computer.

Another major difference between the mind and the computer is that the individuality of man is associated with thought patterns, traits and the memories in one unit. In contrast, computer operations are discrete, not unified; there is no ego in the computer, no unifying force.

Usually, we behold hundreds of objects and dozens of colors. The eye functions as a lens, similar to a camera, and focuses an image on the retina. Attached to the retina are millions of nerve endings that convey the impulses created by that image through the optic nerve to the brain. And the optic nerve has a cable, as it were, that contains a great number of parallel strands each carrying a separate message. What happens when these messages arrive at the brain?

For example, when we are looking at two points of light, one bundle of nerves carries the message of one of the lights to one part of the brain, and another bundle to another point, another part of the brain, and the total message is spread out in space. The nerves with their messages cannot converge on one point or on one particle because the size of the nerve is far in excess of any particle. Therefore, since these nerve endings are in different parts of the brain, one producing the impression of light here and another over there, what entity in physics can account for our seeing two lights at the same time? These two discrete things must be in two places at the same time and there is no physical entity where this can possibly be true. In physics, there are four known forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. None of these can help us to see how a physical entity can have been in two places at once. The entity that encompasses the two points of light together as a unity cannot be a physical entity. It is the mind which has the unique function of holding disparate things together in a unity and which spreads over matter.

The ego is situated in many places at once. For example, we look out of both eyes and see our nose. Is my nose to the right or to the left? It is to the right of one eye and to the left of the other. So where am I? I must be situated behind both eyes, and therefore I cannot say that the nose is to my right or to my left.

For example, when I look at a table, I know that it has legs underneath and a side to it. But I only know it because my mind can hold together images that are separate. My eyes see the whole top of the table at once. Even that is only possible because of the unifying, integrating part of the mind. I can only see the total table by having an image of the top, an image of the bottom, an image of one side and the other side; then I take all of the images together and create the reality of the table through the power of my mind. And that can never be done by any machine.

Cornputerised axial tomography (CAT) is a medical diagnostic technology that scans cross-sections of the human body and assembles via computer graphics a three-dimensional image. The CAT scanner only concatenates a myriad of two-dimensional slices, and then projects images onto a viewing screen. The computer does not present a single, unified image of the body or object being viewed. Only the human mind, with its unique conceptualizing power, can extract a unified concept of a body or object.

Some believe that the physical brain does the thinking. But the physical brain is just like a machine; the thinking is done by something non-physical, the mind, which joins together the conceptual correlate of the impulses of the brain. There is a correlation between brain activity and the thoughts that produce this activity. But the mind is the ultimate reality. The body, including the brain, exists more like a shadow in comparison with the mind. It is the mind that holds together the diverse aspects of space and objects and also the separate points of time.

The individuality of man is expressed through the power of his mind. The source of this power of the individual? The influx that comes from a higher Source, from G-d Himself. That is how G-d is described as being the source of the Divine Breath, ‘Neshama’ — the soul power of the human being. The Deity is a larger Mind of which our own minds are elements, but which still permits the mind of man to have its own individuality.

When one sees a glorious sunset or a majestic landscape one feels in touch with a greater Mind because then the ego shrinks. We realize that petty concerns are small in comparison to the great harmony we perceive. This is why the Sages have given us a blessing to say for all the wonders of nature, which make us conscious of the transcendental world. Through immersing oneself in the great harmony of life and Divinity which is contained in the Torah, one encounters the spiritual space, where the soul-mind of man resides.

In our day, when man so readily likens himself to a machine and regards the computer as having greater abilities than himself, we must reaffirm the superiority of the mind and soul. All man-made creations will bring solace and harmony only if they are dedicated to G-d, the Mind of the universe.

The Messiah: the Future of Israel and Humanity

BS”D

 

Tuesday 4th Shvat 5767

The Messiah: the Future of Israel and Humanity

Last week the giant hand of the Doomsday clock of the greatest scientists of the world was moved from 11.53 to 11.55 towards midnight which represents Doomsday. With the following warning, ‘as scientists we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons, and we are learning how human interference is affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on earth. So say the scientists, including Stephen Hawking. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks which we live with every day and the [perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.

What can, indeed, guarantee the survival of man and the world? The response is given in the Bible which is the book that G-d has given to mankind through the people of Israel in order to bring about the survival of the world. The relationship between G-d who is the creator of the world and the creator of man, in that he has given freedom and a mission to man, by revealing his word to him in order that man should guarantee that this world remain a paradise. When man no longer listens to the word of G-d,       he was driven out of paradise with a mission that he and his descendants should keep to the divine codes for man has the potential to hear the voice of G-d, through conscience and through revelation; and if not it brings about the destruction of mankind and the world around him. So, as the human species became more and more corrupt, forgetting the revelation from G-d, after the deluge Noah remained as one who was close to G-d. And he was given the universal code of how mankind could survive. Unfortunately the nations descended from Noah were not sufficiently close to the moral principles which can guarantee the survival of man and the world until Abraham attached himself to follow closely, G-d and therefore he was given the blessing. That he should go to the land which is at the centre of three continents and there become the forefather of a nation and build up the state that should become a source of blessing to all families of the earth. This universal mission was expressed in the name-change of his grandson to Yisroel which means, it is a task of this nation to demonstrate to all human beings that it is G-d who rules all. And the further significance of this name is that to bring about such situations, it is a struggle for G-d. Just like in the physical world, where we struggle for life, it is the fittest that survive, and that continue to keep up the species, similarly also in the spiritual world. And this task was given to the people who were told just like Abraham means to become the teacher of mankind, today, the children of Abraham should become a special people for G-d, to become a kingdom of priests, that is a model for all peoples of the earth. By becoming a holy nation, in the desert of Sinai which was no man’s land, intended for all mankind.

And the gentile prophet Bilam proves there were higher spirits also amongst the nations of the world who realize that it is this people that guarantees and can bring about the survival of mankind and the world. And he foresaw that since Moses was not able to bring about a complete transformation of mankind, to recognize the kingdom of G-d, there would arise a star from this nation, the power of light, led by an individual, who would transform the people of Israel to become the one to demonstrate the right path to all human beings. At the same time he also foresaw that there will be opposition. Just like was already said at the beginning of the task of Abraham those who curse you will I curse. Those who bless you will I bless. Nations might arise and the most violent amongst them will be the nation that follows Ishmael. Because they are the ones that will rise in opposition to the people of Israel and will endanger the whole human species.

Then, the books of Moses describes, if the people of Israel will fulfil their mission in the world, enormous blessing will come upon them, the nations of the world will respect them and they will learn the path of awe of G-d from the people of Israel. Form the individual saintliness and from their national structure of society, which will be guided by the teaching of G-d.

And even when the people of Israel go astray, they always have the opportunity to return to G-d. It says, when troubles will come and exile because they have not been sufficiently observant of the special task which G-d has given them, there will always be a remnant that will return. And then G-d will shower them with blessings. And their position will always be as one that stands among the nations so that he nations will learn their message directly and indirectly. And when they will come into their land and build a spiritual centre, which is the Temple, that will become a magnet which will attract all people of true conscience to the teaching of G-d. When King Solomon consecrated the Temple he emphasized that the strangers who don’t belong to the people of Israel, they will also come and pray towards this house, and he said to G-d here in heaven true Do according to all the stranger calls to you for, that all the people of the earth may know your name ... (I Kings 8, 41-43) to follow the path that is represented by the people of Israel.

And similarly, Isaiah and Micah look forward to the time in the acharis hayamim, the end of the days, the period of time when one thinks the world might end, unless mankind returns to G-d, ‘that the mountain of the L-rd’s house will be established on the top of the mountains, shall be exalted above all hills”, which is not a geographical expression but a spiritual one. That mankind will recognize that the ultimate Everest of the human species is to reach the spiritual peak of closeness to the Creator. And many people go and say, let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the house of the G-d of Jacob, who will teach him His ways and you will walk in His paths. Out of Zion shall go forth teaching to the whole world. And the representative of the nation of Israel who will influence mankind, he will judge among the nations and make decisions. And the peoples of the world will beat their swords into plowshares. They recognize that instead of using their energy and their possessions in order to bring destruction upon their fellow men, they will use it in order to relieve poverty. Nation will not lift up sword against nation and they will stop learning warfare. They’ll recognize education, has to be from childhood upwards dedicated towards love and peace for all human beings. How is this possible? How will it happen? It is clearly described in the Bible, it will happen through a great individual. And today we know that individuals who are totally dedicated to an ideal they have, almost like a mania, they can have an enormous impact upon human society. There is no-one who has felt this so strongly as the people of Israel from the hands of the tyrant in recent times. What have the people of Israel, and mankind, suffered from one person dedicated to evil? From the powers of Satan, like Hitler may his name be blotted out. And like others who have tried to follow that method, like Stalin. Like we see today, individual tyrants threatening the world, we see how much power can be given to individuals. The world today was never known before in human history and the Bible has the following basic principle, that the power of good is greater than the power of evil. Evil is only permitted here in the world as an obstacle for human beings to overcome, to strengthen their dedication to virtue and to the good. So there will arise a Messiah, Moshiach, from the root, to anoint with oil because oil is that which brings warmth and light. And that is why oil was used not only for the sanctification of all vessels used in the Temple but also, all the more spiritual leaders of the people, the Kings were supposed to be spiritual leaders, all were anointed with all. All have to be a source of enlightening the mind and warming the heart with the power of godliness.

That is the concept of the Moshiach and it is said explicitly in the prophets that there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Yishai/Jesse, from the one who has raised up mankind to the depths of feeling in times of trouble, times of joy in closeness to G-d is the psalmist, King David. His whole life was one of turmoil and difficulties, he found his refuge in G-d. Until today, his word was so inspired, they have brought help and inspiration to human beings from all areas of mankind and from that power will come the Moshiach. ‘A branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him’. The spirit of wisdom and understanding. That is a very high intellectual level as great as a counsellor might, he will also be able to translate the high intellectual concepts into practical advice, how to create practical changes of a concrete manner in society. He will have the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. It will all be inspired by his closeness to the creator. He will not judge according to the sight of his eye, superficially. He will judge with righteousness the poor and decide with righteousness for the meek of the earth. He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth which is a stronger weapon for good than any physical weapon. And with the breath of his slips he will slay the wicked. And righteousness will be the girdle of his loins. And faithfulness, the girdle of his reigns. The wolf will dwell with the lamb. That means the violent instinct of mankind will be controlled. Or become tamed. The leopard will lie down with the kid. They shall not hurt or destroy in my holy mountain and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the seabed. (Isaiah 11, 1-12) The holy mountain is in Jerusalem, the Temple and the teaching of the Temple. And this teaching shall spread to the whole earth. And even the deepest points in the earth will transform society so that not only will mankind in the world survive but they will flourish as they enter into a new era of a paradise. And who will lead them? It says in Ezekiel, David my servant shall be king over them. Or the one who is continuing the lifestyle of King David. They shall have one shepherd. This is if mankind follows the message of the prophets of the Bible. But the Bible recognizes that it might turn out differently. There might come powers in the world, especially if the people of Israel do not sufficiently fulfil their task, that they will base themselves on human power. Represented by Gog, which comes from the Hebrew word which means material roof, that is made to protect man. In contrast to the people of Israel who put their trust in G-d, who is spiritual. But, many of the nations they recognize and feel that the way we can survive      is through the power of man. It is said these nations in the latter the years might have in those days which are called the end of the days, they will come and start battling and fighting with weapons, weapons which perhaps can only be described in terms of non-conventional weapons, the way they are given with their metaphors in the prophet of Ezekiel and other places. And when the people of Israel will come back to their land, with an attempt to come back to our true mission, they are in that land which is the source of life of mankind, they will arise and they say no, we want to destroy you. The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, against his anointed they want to destroy them. They will say, as it says in the Psalms, ‘Come let us cut off this Bnei Yisroel from being a nation so the name of Israel may no more be remembered. We are to blot it out. They have consulted together one consent. They are all against you, the tents of Edom, and Ishmaelim.

Now Edom represents the western anti-semitic forces. Ismael, the Middle East, anti-Israel forces. And they are likely to want to gather together to want wipe Israel off the map, as it says in the prophets. So G-d says, that I am not going to allow. They will become destroyed. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their G-d from that day onwards. He describes the attempt of the people of Israel when we come back into our land to say, let us be like all the other nations. Have our own land and live with them in the union. Who says we’ve got to follow a special way of life? It is not necessary. So,  G-d will say, if you do that, it’s going to express itself in destruction. I’m not going to allow us to be totally destroyed. And I will bring a downfall to the enemies of the people. The nations shall know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity, for they broke faith with me, that’s why I hid my face from them. And I gave them over into the hands of their enemies. And they fell by the sword. But in the end, G-d says, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole of Israel. Because I will be zealous for my Holy Name. The nation will no longer say that G-d is not interested in the survival of Israel. And that is why G-d says, there is going to be the following trend in society. It’s true that some will want to oppose Israel and oppose godliness. But the day will come, says the prophet Amos that I will send a famine upon the earth. Not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water. But to hear the words of G-d. And young people will wander from sea to sea, from ocean to ocean, from the north even to the far east. They shall run to and from to seek the word of the L-rd, but they wont find it. And he says, but at the same time I am going to bring back the captivity of my people, and they shall build the waste cities in their land. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. …I will plant upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked out of their land which I have given them, says the L-rd your G-d. (Amos 9, 14-15) Also, to solve this problem that from the teaching that will go out from the Land of Israel those human beings who are teaching for the truth, shall find it in Israel. They will find it in the teaching of Israel.

So we have a description of the coming of the Messiah given by Daniel. He will come like a man who comes with a cloud of heaven. He will come in a situation where the heavenly power will become stronger in the understanding of mankind than in one movement which spells out the future paradise for mankind. Because at that time I will convert the nations of the world to a pure language. That they will all call on the name of the L-rd, to serve him with one consent. , ‘It shall come to pass that many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the L-rd of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray to him. And in those days it will come about that ten men out of all the languages of the nations on the earth will come and take hold of the garment of a Jew, and will say to him ‘teach us your ways, for we know G-d is with you”. This is the concept that the Sages say is expressed through the law of fringes that Jews wear fringes, four, on four-cornered garments. In fact I know more than one Jew who knew nothing about Judaism and what triggered his interest was when he saw Jews wearing these fringes. What this teaches us, its significance is like this, the Jew who follows in the path of G-d feels himself enveloped by spirituality. And the fringes are there to represent the way that spirituality becomes part of the image of the Jew. Spirituality spreads out to the four corners of the earth. And ultimately, the concept of being a Jew is to be a kingdom of priests. That the power of spirituality will spread out and nations all over the world people will say, we want to grasp hold of you, help us, to enter also into the spiritual dimension. That we won’t all drown in the sea of permissiveness and external materialism, warfare and troubles. So this is a movement that is taking place in the world today, a movement to spirituality. Which can be strengthened through the teachings of the bible. That is one possibility. But there is also another description of the messiah. Not that he comes, bringing a heavenly power above. But he is a humble person riding upon a donkey. And the concept of the donkey represents materialism. Throughout the Bible, if one looks at it more deeply, it is the symbolic language of the Bible. In fact the tradition is that that donkey was the same donkey upon which Abraham, rode and saddled in order to perform his highest test of faith. The same donkey which Moses took to convey his glorious message, the same donkey that will also be carrying the Messiah. And it represents self-discipline, to control materialism. In Jewish tradition, the same word for donkey is also used to describe the physical aspects of life, that man can control his animal instincts on the highest level.

This also represents the difficulties of life. That it doesn’t come easy. It comes through overcoming all obstacles. The concept is he is coming here as a low down person, that means the generation when the messiah might come, if a Jew does not as a whole represent sufficient power to bring about the redemption then G-d will have mercy upon the Jewish people and mercy on mankind. He does not want the end of the world. He does not want a doomsday. Therefore G-d will bring such a charismatic figure and put into him such a strong spirit that it will overturn the spirit of mankind in the direction of following the voice of G-d. That is why the last word of the last prophet says that before the coming of the Messiah, so there is going to be an option laid in front of mankind. An option of survival or extinction. Of life, or death. And it will be dependant on the power of Teshuva, which means return. When the Pope came here to Israel last time, he came to the Western Wall and said, when he was at the Western Wall, he called upon all mankind to go and to, he called it the Hebrew phrase, teshuva. Return. Return to the voice of G-d. And return when you are at the brink, almost at midnight of Doomsday, it is called upon us that we should return. That is why all prophets always ended with a note of hope. The last prophet Malachi said, the people of Israel have to come back to the teachings of G-d. Take the message of Elijah which goes through all the prophecies that the people have to return. If not, I will come and smite the whole earth with Doomsday destruction. That is the last word of prophecy ever heard by mankind. Doomsday. What is the choice? That comes before the coming of the great and awesome day. It can be a great day which ushers in a new era of spirituality and morality which exemplifies all the teachings of the Bible and maybe we will come such a situation that we will have no choice because we will recognize that if we don’t follow that path then it means the midnight clock of the scientists will reach midnight, that’s the end. But we’ve got a choice. So let us all choose then, the path of the Bible which is the book of prophecy for all mankind which indeed brings many teachings from the past, but in order that the could be applied, and the way it applies is described in the Bible in the present, in the future, that all mankind will indeed experience the complete change through the power of the people of Israel, and through the strength of the Israel, Israel’s teachings. And all those who want to absorb the teachings of the Bible. In that way we will all, not just have survival, but we will have a new paradise for all human beings. Amen.