Question: In your last JewishTimes (#345 & 346) "Is God Running My Life", you conclude that man controls his own life. How then can I understand the gemara in Berachot "hakol min hashomayim", "Everything is is from Heaven aside from free will"?
Answer: "Everything is is from Heaven" aside from free will, or "fear" as the gemara says.
This means that God controls all things except man's choices. But when we say God "controls" all things, this does not mean He wills every action everywhere. It means God set up laws of nature and they run on their own.
The article I wrote quotes Rambam's Eight Chapters. Did you read Rambam's words there? He says this idea, that nature is at work, ad not that God wills everything.
It is a manner of speech that we say "God does all". It means he set of the laws, and rested, as He says in Beraishis. God's "rest" means He now allows the laws to operate on their own, without His constant, direct involvement.
Question: Recently, I have had a few Evangelical Christians who have asked me if they could wear their prayer shawls (they were purchased in Israel)in the midst of the Jewish Community at public functions where the Jewish Community and the Evangelical Community are gathered together. I was not quite sure how to answer this since we stopped wearing the four cornered garment in public for persection reasons. I think what the Evangelicals desire to do is to show their solidarity with the Jewish People and the Nation of Israel and their way seems practical from their point of view. Please give me some advice as to how I respond to this issue? Todah.
Answer: As Christians, they do not follow Torah. I would not encourage them to wear a Tallis (prayer shawl).
What I WOULD do, is educate them on the idea of ONE God, and that Tallis is a service to this God. Once they first appreciate and agree with the One God we follow, only then does any act of Mitzvah make sense for them.
But simply going through a ritual of wearing a Tallis is meaningless, and renders our great Mitzvah's into simplified ceremony. It distorts what Mitzvah truly is, and misleads them from the truth behind Tallis.
Question: What is done to end shiva?
Answer: Rabbi Reuven Mann stated that Shiva ends with a final small act of someone consoling you, thereby allowing you to enter the 7th day as a mourner for a few moments of that day, which also concludes the Shiva.
The principle of "part of the day is equal to the whole" allows a momentary act of mourning on day 7 to render you as if you sat the entire day 7.
Nothing else need be done for Shiva to end.
Question: Would you be able to tell me exactly what is the purpose of tuveling kaelim, and why would silverware just purchased from a store have to be tuveled? Thank you.
Answer: Tavilas kaylim (immersion of utensils) is not about cleanliness. It is about breaking our association with alien cultures.
Tavilas kaylim is only required when purchasing from a gentile. This is another of many laws enacted to create a breach between Jews and idolatrous notions. By requiring an interruption (immersion of utensils) prior to our usage, we thereby recognize a distance between their ways and ours. In other words, we cannot simply use what we purchase from them, for this could create identification i us, towards them.
Similarly, a man must not take an object from his wife's hand directly when she has her period. For this closeness or identification might lead to intimacy. Instead, the wife places it down, and the husband takes it from there.
Question:I have discovered last week, that when I read Psalm 119 (in English) out loud to myself while I was alone, I felt very captivated by the material and particular passages would "jump out" at me intellectually, almost to the point of distraction, that the world seemed for a few minutes to close in around me. I was reading at a medium rhythmic pace, almost a chant, and I discovered that it took me the same time to read/chant the transliterated verses from the Hebrew. I gathered that Hebrew speakers are doing the same thing that I can do in English, reading the prayers out loud at a reasonable pace, which only seems to me to be too fast, because I am so poor in my Hebrew.
My questions: Is what I felt more likely to have been just more emotional deception or is this the way Jews are supposed to pray (albeit in Hebrew)? Is this the intellectual joy that is so often described on your website, where one is captivated by the text during prayer, and yet is actually understanding/reading the text, if even at a rapid pace?
Answer: Prayers can be understood even at a faster pace, but there should be no rush, as this is not condoned. The Talmud teaches that one who makes his prayers a "burden" (i.e., he rushes through them) then his prayers carry no sentiment of supplication. A true prayer is where one contemplates to Whom he prays, he is sincere in his utterances, and seeks reflection and self improvement via the comprehension of his lips, and he seeks Divine assistance for what he asks. This means, by definition, that he understands his words. The pace plays no role. He may move swiftly or slowly, provided he is aware of his words, and he means them. The enjoyment in reciting what your mind sees as truths, is a proper reaction. And yes, it is an emotional response. Our emotions, when following truth, will generate pleasant sensations, as this is how we are designed, i.e., that our emotional highs reach their zenith when we contemplate that which we see as truth. When you pray, and it is clear that these ideas are truths, you will enjoy the prayers. It was no deception, the most enjoyable, emotional state is our perception of new truths.
Question: I am a tenth grade student learning at the Yeshiva of xxxxxx. We are very priveledged to learn from Rav Chaim, a talmud mehuvak of Rav Moshe. Rav Chaim's philosophies, halachos, and hashkafos are different but very logical. One thing that came up was the concept of Gilgul and Dybuk. Gigul is easy to understand because Rav Chaim says it makes more sense to him to hold like R' Saadyah Gaon, Sefer Yikarem, Rambam, etc. He said that we dont believe in reusing neshamos and we say every morning we got a pure soul - but its not pure if its a gilgul. However I have a problem with the Dybuk which Rav Chaim says likewise is not true. How could R' Elchonon Wasserman clearly say he saw it if it didnt happen. Now I do not know how you hold in this case but if you do hold like the oponion of no Dybuk how do you explain the chofetz Chaim and Rav Wasserman?
Answer: We don't follow what people say, if it contradicts reason. Additionally, many foolish individuals misquote the Rabbis, believing that they said something, when in fact - they didn't. Stories being told to you are no grounds for your belief, or that the Rabbi stated nonsense. Even the Gra was forged in one section - and in the Shulchan Aruch itself. We follow reason, not what is in print if it contradicts reason.
Follow reason, this is why God gave it to us. Don't believe every story you hear. Realize that crazy stores must be false, by definition.
Question: What is your opinion of miraculous stories happening to Rabbis?
Answer: One must not accept stories of miracles, unless witnessed by masses. This is the reason why God created the event of Mount Sinai as "proof" of His existence. God understands that man must not accept miracles, unless he either sees them, or learns by proof that there were masses at the event who witnessed the miracle. There were no masses at event such as you describe, so by Torah standards, and rationality, we cannot accept such stories. For if we do, then why should one not accept Jesus?
Question: So you are saying not to read the stories of Rabbis' miracles?
Answer: I am saying that without proof, we do not accept stories of miracles, be it about Rabbis, or about Moses. Proof is the basis of all knowledge. We don't "believe" stories because they are popular, found in books, or repeated by Rabbis. The only proof is what is rational, and what God instructed: that masses be verified at the event, and the miracle was intelligible by a regular person.
I don't mean that we don't fully accept all the miracles in the Torah about Moses. We most certainly do. This is because all miracles God performed in connection with Moses and the Jews, were witnessed by masses. If we were told about someone as great as Moses, that a miracle happened, we would not accept this as truth,...unless there were masses who witnessed it.
It is for this reason that we don't believe in Jesus. There were no masses of witnesses, so the stories of his supposed miracles cannot be true.
God wanted a proof for Judaism, so He made a miracle for masses. This is the purpose for the miracles at Mount Sinai. God wants man to use his mind, and follow only what is provable, and reasonable. That is why He gave us intelligence.
I hope this is clear.
Question: Your site is quite odd.
You seem to negate any idea of any arguments throughout Jewish History and presume yourself as the sole source on what is considered "correct" and "truth", whether it be in areas of Philosophy or Halacha. To presume either is quite laughable even for the greatest talmid chacham, which I'm sorry to say from reading through your website, you do not seem to be.
You quote the Rambam a great deal despite many views (especially in areas of philosophy) that clearly argue with his views. To presume any of these views as the "correct one" or "truth" is a) quote presumptuous b) a dangerous foolish move. There are many philosophical and spiritual views in Judaism, yet you claim your opinions are correct.
In my experience the beauty of Orthodox Judaism, from both a halachic and philosophical perspective is the wealth of views we have in people trying to better find how Hashem fits their lives. To make a statement that your view is correct or "better" than someone else's is wrong and can lead that person astray.
You should really consider placing on your site a greater variety of views and quote sources from many different philosophical backgrounds. You should also get an education... many of your claims are clearly stated from a lack of one.
Answer: Answer a few questions to yourself:
1) Why did all the Rabbis and Sages argue on each other, stating their views with absolute conviction, equally convinced their opponent was wrong? They should have accepted other views equally, but they didn't.
2) You write, "the beauty of Orthodox Judaism, from both a halachic and philosophical perspective is the wealth of views..." According to you, my view should be equally acceptable as yours, which places you in an unanswerable contradiction.
3) You claim that by many people arguing on Rambam, this validates their positions as equally tenable. I fail to see the logic in your argument. Perhaps today, I will argue on Einstein. I doubt my position will ever be viewed as entering the arena with that "heavyweight". The validity of a position does not emerge from either, numbers of supporters, nor from the simple act of opening one's mouth in opposition. Credence for one's argument emerges though a single criterion: rationality.
4) Your most obvious problem is your statement, "people trying to better find how Hashem fits their lives". You thereby suggest that what is absolute, is one's predefined life. From that 'starting point', according to you, only then do we seek how God "fits" into our predefined philosophy. You miss the entire point of Torah, that God's knowledge is absolute, and the purpose in life is for man to "fit" himself into God's philosophy. Not the opposite as you state.
God's Torah contains no problems. All is true and harmonious. The Torah has only one position on each concept, i.e., "absolute truth" reflecting God's knowledge The Rabbis taught, (paraphrased) "originally, there were no arguments in Torah. It was only due to man's ignorance that arguments arose." It is for this reason that we find the Rabbis so vehement in their positions, not accepting what their minds saw as incorrect. They did not accept a "wealth of views" as you do. They understood the concept that truth is 'singular' by definition. There cannot be two true views on a single point.
If you condone Maimonides' teaching of his own view, to the exclusion of others, than you must be consistent with all teachers. Maimonides taught what he saw as truth, although others taught differently than he taught. Do you feel Maimonides should teach other opinions, with which he disagreed? This makes no sense.
Question: I therefore hope that you do not hold it against me when you see that I write to tell you that I think that Moshe Ben Chaim's article on Jewish suffering is totally wrong. I believe that his view is called theodicy. In this philosophy one blames the victim for his own suffering. Disease in Mr. Ben Chaim's family is not caused by germs, by deficiencies in the immune system, and problems with DNA, but simply because Mr. Ben Chaim is such a deficient person, an unrighteous person.
Answer: Refer to the Torah verses quoted, as well as Maimonides' and the Talmudic quotes - they are not my own. You consistently repeat my name as the one who has violently erred, as if I authored all the verses I quote. Your critique is of the wrong party. Isn't this one of the 'Ten Commandments' which columnists must not violate?
Question: If he truly is so wicked then he surely can not be a reliable teacher and should not have written in the first place. Not only is Mr. Ben Chaim unrighteous, but his problem is multi-generational since each earlier generation has died to prove their own unrighteousness. Nevertheless, if Mr. Ben Chaim believes that he is deserving of disease and suffering, I sincerely respect his preference.
Answer: Your eloquent use of sarcasm does not help your arguments. King David taught - through Divine inspiration of God - verses which describe the protection of "all the righteous' bones being unharmed". This does not mean people do not die. You have become confused.
Question: However, it is more than outrageous to impose such a belief on others. When he does so he judges them as a god and makes the 6 million of the Holocaust into the unrighteous and Hitler and the Gestapo into the agents of God. Is that not a firm proof that Mr. Ben Chaim is incapable of judging?
Answer: Here, you project your own views onto me. Each member of mankind possesses free will. They may use that free will to kill others. If however those others are undeserving of punishment, Kind David teaches that "all the bones of the righteous will go unharmed." Your questions are not on myself, but on Maimonides', King David, the Talmud, and the Torah's verses. You question actually doubts the truth of what you later call "Holy Words". Make up your mind.
Throughout your entire critique, you have fallen prey to common pitfalls: You offer no rational explanations for Torah statements which you feel I have distorted. Your certainty in my error would be validated if you would offer your own explanations of the real 'truths' behind my quoted verses.
Question: Theodicy arose in response to medieval ignorance and fear. They lived in a sea of disease. Life was short. There was no science. Fear gripped their hearts. In search of an explanation, even our holy ones jumped on the idea that the cause must lie within the victim's character. It's absurd to deny all that we now know. Is every medically cured patient from cancer to be viewed as a rejection of God's intent? If one would have died in a medieval period but he now lives as a result of using modern technology, is this to be viewed as a weakening of God's power, according to Mr. Ben Chaim? Of what use are such strange and miserable ruminations?
Answer: Maimonides' teaches that many individuals not on a deserving level, will not be shielded by God's providence, but will fall prey to natural laws. As natural laws were circumvented through the development of modern technology and new solutions, man cured his diseases, which were not of Divine origin. Conversely, a Divine punishment has no cure other than repentance.
Question: It would take a long article, but each verse cited by Mr. Ben Chaim can be given an alternative explanation. The words of Torah are holy, and should not be misinterpreted or used as an accusatory weapon against another Jew. To accuse the afflicted of being unrighteous is never how one walks humbly with God. Mr. Ben Chaim cites this verse but cannot walk the walk. Is it just to cite verses and not to find justice and kindness that God has given us the power to reason? His article is unworthy and should be rewritten.
Answer: All areas of Torah are open to honest inquiry, even if this results in a negative status of man. Feel free to suggest your own understanding of each verse cited in the article. Your passion displayed in such a response indicates your wish that others to be corrected of my faulty teachings. I await your interpretation of what I see as so clear. Moshe Ben-Chaim
Question: There is a midrash that Mt. Sinai was held over the Jewish people's head forcing them to accept it. Can you please explain this?
Answer: It means that Sinai was so undeniably the act of God. As Sinai carried with it inescapable responsibility, it was as if they were forced to accept the Torah, as if God held the mountain over their heads saying, "accept this Torah, otherwise this will be your burial spot."
Question: What is the interpretation of "created in God's image"?
Answer: "God's image" refers to the spiritual element we refer to as intelligence. "Created in God's image" means created with intelligence.
Question: Other than dessert, what is the Afikomen? Is is similar in scope as the cup of wine for Elijah? Thank you
Answer: Afikomen replaces the actual sacrificial lamb at our seder. We eat it after the meal as its eating is not for satiety, but for the command of the destruction of the Egyptian god, and its use in the service of the Real God.
The cup of Elijah is a representation of the reality of the the final redemption. Just as we feel Elijah can come at any moment, so we feel God can enact the final salvation at any time. By preparing the cup of Elijah, we thereby demonstrate our conviction in God's ability to render the salvation at any moment.
Question: In the case of Sinai you have a group of people who claim that their ancestors witnessed something amazing. None of the original witnesses is still alive, so you can't ask them about it.
Answer: You would admit that George Washington, Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Columbus existed, although you cannot ask anyone about them. One need not ask someone else in order to have proof of something. I'm sure you visit doctors when ill, and would even allow surgery, even though you never saw this doctor attend medical school. How do you know he is a doctor? Answer, you use second hand knowledge, even when you need surgery! You attest that even though there are no witnesses, and the doctor could be lying,you accept second hand knowledge. Well, that is what we use to prove that Sinai existed. The same method you employ to accept someone as a doctor, or that the world had leaders thousands of years ago, even though there is "no one to ask."
Question: In the case of the Jews, none of these alleged witnesses (except the author of Exodus) recorded his testimony, so you can't examine that, either.
Answer: Your error here is that if there were no other witnesses, then why did the story have survive? Imagine your argument as true for a moment: Moses would go to a people called Jews, telling them that they were all at an event. If they weren't there they would not agree that their history as a nation was "X" when it wasn't. I would be akin to someone telling the us today that we really never had Kennedy for president. Moses could not get a nation to accept that their history was something other than what it was. In such a scenario, Moses would be a laughing stock, and not one person would accept his "book". He would not be remembered either. But by the very fact that this event at Sinai is accepted on not only a national level, but on a world scale, that is the very proof that the story must have happened, otherwise the Jews would not have circulated it. At worst, we would at least have an alternate history of the Jews at that time period of what you suggest "really" took place. But we don't. Why then according to you is there no alternate history? The answer is precisely that; there is no alternate history. Sinai actually took place.
Question: I am aware that there is a Talmudic law that says that one must feed one's animals first before eating oneself. What if the person is in the hospital, and unable to get someone to feed his/her pet at home? Or if the person manages to get another person to feed it, but that person, due to some unexpected circumstances, is unable to carry the job out properly?
Your thoughts would be very appreciated.
Answer: Torah exempts us from not fulfilling a command when circumstances are out of our control. And this makes sense, for God only holds one guilty who is negligent; not one under coercion.
In this case, one is not guilty. As a matter of fact, if someone attempted to do all possible to feed the animal, they are praiseworthy.
Question: I need an unusual topic for my Havarah that will lead to an active discussion. What is the history of Judaism and the Zodiac? Did the ancient Jews follow the Greek signs of the zodiac?
Answer: Judaism is patently against attributing causal relationships to any event in our lives, except of our own doing, or God's interaction with us, if we merit His attention. But to suggest that a star's "influence" is a reality is false. Stars, zodiacs, comets, and all physical objects are just that, simple, physical dust, dirt and water. They have no ability to create themselves, how then can they have an effect on man? The have no power over their own existence, much less mankind! It is simply against reason. And reason is how God desires man live his life. God therefore gave man the one treasured gift above all other creatures - the intellect. We are the beneficiaries of such a lofty faculty so as to use it, and not ignore it in favor of fables accepted by the Greeks and others following fantasies.
Einstein, Columbus, Newton and others did not successfully perceive realities about the universe by resorting to palm readers, enchanters, and astrologers. Additionally, God prohibits these practices in the Torah.
God gave us intellect because this is how the world operates, and God desires man to understand the world.
Question: Is it considered "bad luck" to get married in between Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur?
Answer: Judaism does not partake of "luck". Something is either a rational activity and therefore part of Jewish law, or it is irrational, and not part of the law. Luck is idolatrous at its root, as the entire concept of luck means to say that there are forces of "good" outside of God working in the world. The only thing working in the world is either cause and effect, or God's intervention. Since Judaism says "ain somchin al hanase", "don't rely on miracles", Judaism opts that man must follow his mind, an choose the most rational plans in life. Luck does not come into the equation, as it is a fallacy. Einstein did not believe in luck. Judaism follows the same scientific approach and applies it to Judaism, as the Torah system was created by the same God who created the scientific world. Both systems, science and Torah, follow rational principles, created by the One and the same Creator.
Question: I read that the rabbi who performed the wedding held in the catering hall which tragically collapsed last week proclaimed that the reason for the disaster was that men and women were dancing together at the wedding, and that the Torah says the penalty for this is death. I find this view abhorrent and wonder if this is indeed the position of Orthodox Judaism.
Answer: I had originally stated the halacha incorrectly here. Jewish law is that mixed dancing is prohibited. However, the penalty is not death. Additionally, man cannot know what God decrees in specific cases. This is very haughty to state that one knows why certain people died. I cannot think of something more presumptuous and egotistical, than to suggest that he knows what God has planned. How absurd. To this attitude King Solomon referred, (Koheles, 5:1) "Don't be excited (with) your mouth, and do not hasten to bring forth words before God, for God is heaven and you are on Earth, therefore let your words be few".
Question: If it can be proven that the world is like 16,000,000,000 years old then is it possible that someone 5761 years ago made up this book called "The Torah" and taught it to a lot of people and said it was a bible he found?
Answer: If someone tried this, it would be as if I tried to prove to people today that some miraculous thing happened, like aliens giving me some book. If I can't prove it by having millions of witnesses, they will not believe me. So if someone tried this years ago, he would have the same impossibility of people believing him, as he also has no one else to corroborate his story. The bottom line is: If you don't have masses of witnesses, all you have is a story. This is why Christianity is based on "belief", because it has no proof. Judaism has proof, its the only religion which does. Read this article: Torah from Sinai
Question: Where, in the Torah, is it recorded that three million Jews were present at Mount Sinai and heard the voice of G-D?
Answer: Numbers (Parshas Bamidbar) records the population of males over 20 years of age to be 600,000. Include males below 20 and all females and you arrive at approximately 2-3 million people. This was recorded shortly after the event of God's revelation at Sinai, so this population was present at Sinai. Sources for the Jews hearing God's voice: (Deut. 4:9): "Guard yourselves and guard your souls exceedingly, lest you forget the things your eyes saw...", (Deut. 4:34)"all the signs and wonders which God has performed for you in Egypt as your eyes have seen". (Deut. 4:35) "You have been demonstrated to know that God is Elokim, there is no other besides Him". (Deut. 4:36) "From the heavens He made heard His voice to prove you, and on land He showed you His great fire and His words you heard from amidst the fire".
Question: What are the main differences between the Conservative and Reform movements?
Answer: The differences are of no consequence, as these two movements are both corruptions of the authentic and originally given Orthodox Judaism. The founders of these movements weren't even wise enough to name them otherwise, as both "Conservative" and "Reform" mean "alteration" to some degree. They thereby admit to an original form of Judaism, and they admit that they are man-made. Judaism's distinction over all other religions is it's provable, Divine origin. I also group together with these movements, those Chassidic sects which violate certain of Maimonides' 13 Principles. Such a deviation is seen where certain Chassidim believe in the permeation of God or "parts" of God in all physical matter. Maimonides clearly states this notion is false, and he states that one who believes it forfeits his share in the next world.
Any deviation from authentic Torah laws or ideals removes the movement from being accurately defined as Judaism. It makes no difference if such movements keep 99% of the Torah. If even one of their ideas opposes a Torah principle or law, the entire movement is no longer Judaism. Maimonides and the Torah' s text bear out the severity of such violations. Chassidic ideas opposing Judaism's tenets can be read in more detail here.
Question: Who said "If you dream it, it will come true"?
Answer: Someone stated it was Herzl made this statement, talking figuratively, or optimistically.
Taken scientifically however, this statement misleads others into believing that dreams are causative. In fact it is impossible that workings of the mind have any effect on physical objects or events.
Question: I realize the importance of learning Talmud and Chumash when it comes to a religious point of view but are there any advantages or benefits to learning from a secular point of view?
Answer: Please read the article Why Learn Torah. I feel it will address your question very well.
Question: Is it a sin not to live in Israel even if you have the perfect chance to?
Answer: Its not a sin to live outside Israel, but its a positive command to live there according to some rabbis, and others don't say its a command at all.
Question: Will Moshiach come no matter what? Yes. And will whatever is going to happen when he does happen to all the Jews or only the good ones?
Answer: What will happen will be on earth, so all people will benefit. Not only Jews.
Question: can god create a rock he cannot lift?
Answer: God does not perform useless actions. Read this article: Can God Do Anything?
Question: ok before in some anti-Semitism thing you wrote you said that it al start at Sinai and everyone got jealous cause god chose the Jews etc. something like that any ways, what made god choose Avraham and wouldn't he expect other people would be jealous and hate Avraham for being the "chosen one"? i mean it sounds like god is the one that started anti-Semitism.
Answer: God chose Avraham for good reason and although people got jealous, God doesn't hold back from doing a "good" for the world because some fools will become jealous, even if the fools will be millions, the Talmud discusses this thinking in tractate Avoda Zara 54b in the Mishna. Read this article I wrote: Why God Created Bnei Yisroel
Question: Is there a visible or physical for of an angel from God today?
Answer: God can never be physical, as that is a limitation, and an impossibility for the One who created all physical things. It is somewhat like asking, "can a man create himself?" How can he, if he is already there? God also cannot be physical, as a body is a creation, and God is not something "made".
Question: you said once before in an article about "tests" that god gives and that he only tests the people that he knows will pass or whatever, but god put nice people here with alcoholic parents. cheating boyfriends, sick relatives or friends, and pretty much anything that causes depression and in the end most people end up committing suicide cause they can't deal anymore, wouldn't that be considered a test from god to see how strong they were or whatever that failed?
Answer: We can't say when God is testing someone. God wants free will, and if some people use their free will to become alcoholics, God won't step in to stop them, even if their child will be hurt. But the child also has free will, so he or she can determine what is the best life for THEM and not follow their foolish parents.
Question: does god create miracles today like he did back in the beginning of time like the ark, splitting of sea and all that good stuff?
Answer: He certainly can but we don't know for sure when he does. But that is not the lifestyle God wants for us. God does not want that we follow him out of an astonished and amazed attitude based on miracles. Even the Jews didn't follow Moses based on the miracles back then as taught by Rambam in his Mishneh Torah. Otherwise He never would have given us a mind, or a Torah. These two things require man to operate out of an intellectual approach to life, thinking through all of his moves, and arriving at a path which is sound and makes sense.
Question: is it possible that god can be explained as some unknown force of power of some sort instead of like some holy thing creature?
Answer: as long as we refer to God as the Creator of the universe, we have the correct idea. We should stick to the opinions of the Rabbis who had the interpretations of the Torah which is God's intended understanding for us of His nature. There is very little we can know about God anyway, being that He is not physical, and that our minds are very limited. We should not come up with our own definitions of God.
Question: do you believe in the "Codes"?
Answer: It could be that God placed that knowledge in the Torah, but that's not the focus of the Torah, or of the Rabbis studies. We see them studying the content of the Torah, not the codes.
Question: What is the source of the custom of hassidic men spitting in the direction of non-Jewish women during the menstruation of their wives?
Answer: This does not sound like an authentic, Jewish law. Chassidim in general have distorted many of the laws, giving Judaism a poor representation to the world. Our goal is to impress the world that God's laws are beautiful in all aspects. Spitting towards a gentile surely will make them despise us, exactly the opposite of God's words, (Deut. 4:6-8): "And you shall watch them and keep them as they (the commands) are your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations, who will hear all these statutes and declare 'what a wise and understanding people is this great nation. Because what great nation has God close to them like God, whenever (they) call to Him? And what great nation has statutes and laws as righteous as this entire Torah'......."
Question: Do believers in Judaism still offer sacrifices today as described and prescribed in the Old Testament?
Answer: Sacrifice cannot be carried out without the Temple. Once the Temple is rebuilt, sacrifice will be reinstituted. If an idea is part of the Torah, it is so as it addresses something required by man's nature. As man's nature does not change, the Torah will not change.
Question: If not, what do they do that satisfies the purpose of a sacrifice?
Answer: This is a good question, as it is based on your understanding that man's nature requires to be addressed in some form. The Rabbis already taught in talmud Brachos that prayer is in place of sacrifice. Both are activities in which man approaches God.
Question: I don't know if you know or heard of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, but I heard him along with Rabbi Tovia Singer say something that I'm not sure I agree with and i wanted your input. They both claim that xtianity was a way to spread the knowledge to the world of the True God of Israel . . . I'm not sure about this statement. As you probably know, they are both Orthodox rabbis and I do trust them, but this seems a little far-fetched. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks!
Answer: Your question is, "does something corrupt which creates some good, get sanctioned by the Torah based on the good, regardless of the harm." The Torah does not favor Christianity or any other religion. We cannot veer from the Torah which in so many commands endeavors to uproot idolatrous practice and teachings. If the Torah condemns other religions unconditionally, in their entireties, there is reason to abstain from praising any element of such religions. There may be a benefit realized by Christianity's spread, but this is after the fact. The never changing Torah remains firm in its position that all religions except Judaism are false, and all elements of other religions require extermination. Judaism goes so far to distance us from other religions, that we are commanded not to even admire a beautiful heathen lest this admiration causes an attraction to the religion itself. If we are not to even admire that which is removed from the religion, certainly we must not admire any aspect of the religion itself, thus answering your question.
Question: It is "sinas chinum" (unwarranted hatred) to talk the way you do about Chassidim.
Answer: If you read our articles with more than just a cursory glance, you will see that first, we do not denounce people, but rather, false ideas. All Rabbis have done this, and should do this. Maimonides teaches what exactly will cause a person to forfeit his share in the next world - perhaps in part out of his concern for others. Certain Chassidic beliefs which arose subsequent to Maimonides' time, fall under those ideas warned against by his 13 Principles. The 13 Principles existed prior to Chassidism, so it could not be said that Maimonides ridiculed these people, since his principles predated them. Maimonides denounced ideas, not due to hatred towards the practitioners, but because the ideas are against Torah philosophy.
It is unfortunate, but the reverse is actually true. Those who read our articles superficially accusing us of sinas chinam, thereby demonstrate the very sinas chinam which they accuse. Had they taken the time to read our articles, they would see that we denounce false ideas, as all other honest teachers have done, teachers who cared to remove stumbling blocks from society. And I must add that there are times when we must speak against an individual. The destruction of Torah and Jewish souls by allowing false ideas to spread must not be sacrificed for the sake of preservation of harmony among fellow Jews with false notions.
To ridicule us or anyone because we oppose philosophies of other "well accepted" groups, is not a wise or productive approach for discussing issues. Instead, explain your formulated arguments on any content of our articles, and we would gladly respond.