Letters Jan. 2007 III



Internal World: Idolatrous

Doug: If, according to Maimonides, sacrifice was initiated because the Jewish people were heavily exposed to animal worship in Egypt and the new Torah command of sacrifice served to redirect this energy to Hashem, what about when the Temple is rebuilt? We don’t see that animal worship among the Jewish people is an issue today (at least as far as I’m aware), yet the commandments surrounding sacrifices will still stand. We do see other peoples that worship animals, but they’re not Jewish and thus wouldn’t be required to bring sacrifices.

My suggestion for an answer is that there are multiple reasons for the sacrifices, and the issue about animal worship in Egypt is only one of the reasons. Although that specific issue may not be a concern when the Temple is rebuilt, I wonder if the other reasons will still be valid, and therefore it made sense to have sacrifices as a permanent part of the law.


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: I’ve thought about that. It is not the distorted act of animal worship as seen in Egypt, which demands a redirection towards God worship in the form of sacrifice. For if this were the case, then as you said, the future Messianic era including Temple, should omit sacrifice since animal worship has predominantly ceased. Why then is sacrifice to be resumed in the future?

The reason is because what requires correction through sacrifice to God, is not the animal worship “act” per se, but the internal, human “inclination” towards animal deification. This inclination, which caused original animal worship always exists...and thus, must always be addressed. Man has not been changed, so the Temple’s future sacrificial component addresses this very real, enduring tendency.

And other nations will bring sacrifices in future times, as they too share the exact human design as the Jew. Hence, we share the same perfections in the same acts.




External World: Harmonious

Reader: Dear Jewish Times: Could you please comment on the Mishna in tractate Shabbat, chapter 6, Mishna 10. This Mishna talks about types of healing.  In Artscroll mishnayos, in the Yad Avraham, it says that things that have a medicinal purpose are permitted and are not prohibited because of ways of the Emorites. The Bartenura also discusses this.


Nachum Rhodes


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Nachum, I am glad you raised this point. On this Mishna (Sabbath 67a) both Abaye and Rava agree:

“Whatever has medicinal value is not prohibited as an Emorite practice. Therefore, what has no medicinal value is an Emorite (prohibited) practice.”

Rashi call Emorite practices Nichush. That is, the prohibition to engage in actions with the expectation of non-causative results. What we call magic.

We learn that the Torah does not contradict reality, but in fact, endorses it fully. Certain practices were validated as offering a curing value. Therefore, they were not prohibited as idolatrous, i.e., baseless actions. Those practices included roots of plants offering proven medicinal cures, and certain passages of text which offered psychological cures. Man is both physical, and mental, and therefore, only two areas of amulets were permitted…after a trial of three successes was validated.

However, all acts which were only assumed to have some effects, but were never witnessed, and contradicted natural law, are considered Nichush, and prohibited. This Mishna and the Rabbis’ comments further demonstrate that Torah follows reason, supporting all that is proven in nature, and denounces all that contradicts it. When amulets were proven effective after three successful applications, they were deemed permitted, and thus, not heathen practices.

We see that God’s two creations – nature and Torah – are in complete harmony, and should be the case, since God does not contradict Himself.




Non–Existing World: Segulas

Response to post on Jewish Community Email List


I continue to read your posts about challa baking to help the sick and the unfortunate. While your intentions are praiseworthy, the practices you endorse are not.

Instead of promoting practices prohibited by Torah, we should follow the Torah’s prescriptions alone, and avoid violations like segulas. Do not assume practices common today are of value to God, simply because other misled Jews follow them.

Refer to what the Rabbis cited. Think about why the Torah prohibited Nichush. These practices do not work, and assume powers to exist, that do not, and prohibited by God. God instructs us in another path when we are in need, and His ways do not include baking challas, red bendels, checking mezuzas, or any other common practice today. The Matriarchs did not practice nichush, but prayed to God. Only perfection can remove someone’s punishment...not some act unrelated to their flaw. When Chana finally dedicated her would-be son Shmuel to the Mikdash, only then did God remove her infertile state, and grant her a child. That is what you should teach, not challa baking, but the ways of the Matriarchs.

Otherwise, you are misleading people to false beliefs that will keep them barren longer, since you do not help them reflect on their imperfections, as did Chana and the Matriarchs.

Please teach others what God writes in His precious Torah, not the prohibitions that foolish people practice.




Never–Existing World: Christianity

Chaplain: Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Dear Sir, you can deny Christ as much as you want. Spreading your falsehood and denial, yet those who truly know God believes what the Holy Bible has to say. I love the Jews and support Israel completely. It breaks my heart how so many has denied the mission of Christ. His mission was completed because He was obedient to His Father God. No matter how many times you convince yourself that Jesus is not your Messiah and mine, will by no means change the fact that it is true. The Bible clearly tells us in the Book of Daniel that the children of Israel will have a veil blinding their eyes until the time set by God will remove your blinders. It saddens me when I think how His own people helped crucify Him, yet I know this was a part of God’s redemptive plan. Israel will continue to suffer until you all accept Christ as your Messiah. My prayer is for all Rabbi’s to realize that Jesus was the greatest Rabbi of all! Why do you deny what the Book of Psalm, Ezekiel, and Isaiah prophesizes about Jesus? For your own sake and the sake of all other non-believing Jews, please wake up before it is too late. God clearly states that if you do not accept His only Begotten Son, then no matter how self-righteous you think you are and how long you pray, God will turn away from you on the Day of Judgment. I implore you to search your heart and ask God to take your blinders off before it is too late. I speak to you with love and all sincerity. I am not trying to offend you or disrespect you. I have as much faith in God as you do, we serve the same God and it is my duty to try and get you to understand the truth. We serve the same God so please do not be offended by this e-mail. You stated your opinion and now I have stated mine. Praise be to Almighty God, the Maker and Creator of heaven and earth. The God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, your God and my God.


-Chaplain RG


P.S. If you care to answer, show me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was not who He said He was.




Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: One need not disprove that which is unproven. Jesus did not comply with the Torah’s formula for who is the messiah. The Torah is the Jews’ inheritance, and the greatest of Jews, such as Maimonides and other brilliant teachers and possessors of the Oral law outright denounced Jesus as a fraud. We do not look to alien religions to tech us what Judaism is. Similarly, Henry Ford did not look to the Dodge’s when creating a Ford. Not only was Jesus never validated as messiah; Torah authorities unanimously denounce him as a fraud.

Furthermore, Jesus/Christianity says Jesus died for the sins of others. Thereby, he denies God’ very words: “Each man in his own sin shall be killed”. (Deut. 24:16) This unveils Jesus as ignoring God, not following him. Nothing could be straighter to the point.

Christianity’s concept of salvation, the “martyr” approach, completely denies God’s Torah principles, and the teachings of all the true prophets. Moses’ message was to follow God alone. There is no place in all of Torah where belief in a man is suggested. Just the opposite is true: all Torah leaders from Moses at Sinai, to Moses Maimonides teach the true Torah ideal: God is the sole focus, and belief in man is sinful. King David said this so well, “Do not trust in princes, in the son of man, who offers no salvation. His soul leaves him, he returns to his dust; on that day his plans cease. Happy is he, who has the God of Jacob at his side; who relies on God, his Governor”. (Psalm 146:3-5) King David said “man offers no salvation”.

Now, if you will ignore this part of Torah, why do you accept other parts to prove you faulty case? Either accept all of Torah, or none of it.

Jesus also denies Micha’s words, “Let us search and examine our ways and return to God”. (Lamentations, 3:40) Micha teaches that repentance is the only route back to God: not the belief in man…not Jesus.

This is sensible…this is Torah, and these are God’s words and the unanimous view of all Jews. We do not need Christians to educate us on what we alone received, at the only mass witnessed revelation; long before multiple, conflicting gospels were ‘voted’ into history.

As for you interpretation of the Prophets, understand that you are bereft of half of the Torah: the Oral Law. This explains why you accept your fabricated, subjective distortions of the Prophets, making equally distorted conclusions.

If you trust the Jews to give you the “objectively” true Written Law and the Prophets, why do you abandon our Oral Law?


Please see this link for an example of one of the most famous Christian blunders in regards to Isaiah 53:  http://www.mesora.org/isaiah53.htm





The Entire World

Reader: I am placing a prayer for them at the Kotel through virtualjerusalem.com where, according to the site, they place the prayers for us at the Wall.

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: The end of parshas Yisro says, "And every place I permit you to call My name, I will come to you and bless you". (Exod. 20:21) God associated Himself with the Temple in a few locations, and those who seek Him out there, He responds to. (Ibn Ezra)

God hears equally well from all corners of the Earth.




The Future World

Reader: Each day before Yishtabach, we state, “And the saviors will ascend to judge Esav’s mountain, and to God will be the kingdom.” Who are the saviors? What are they judging? How will this judging give God the kingdom?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Ibn Ezra says the savior refers to the Jewish judges in the messianic era. They will bring justice to the descendants of Esav (Jacob’s brother) for all the evil they caused us. The ascension is referring to Mount Zion where it appears Esav has a foothold, or some city according to the Targum. And when the world is rid of those who oppose the Jews – God’s chosen nation – then the name of God and His kingdom will be recognized without the dilution or taint caused by opposition.

When a candidate runs for office, his reputation is tainted by the very presence of opposition. Why would one oppose the first candidate, if he were 100% fit? The fact that another candidate opposes him is a stain on his reputation…even if no stones are cast. So once Esav is destroyed, God’s kingdom will be whole. For only then will the last of the opposition be gone, and will God alone reign unchallenged. This idea is rooted in the Chumash, when God says regarding Amalek that His throne is incomplete until Amalek is destroyed. His incomplete reign or throne is hinted to by the deficient spelling of the word throne. In Hebrew, throne is spelled KSA (Kaf-Samech-Alef). But here in the last verse of Bishalach, the Alef is missing. (Exod. 17:16) That is, God’s throne is incomplete while Amalek’s name survives. (Rashi)