Letters – Succos 5765
Rabi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Mesora: As a final refutation of the claim made in Tanya, that man’s soul is “part” of G-d, we quote: “…and I have made the souls.” (Isaiah, 57:16) G-d declares that souls are created things, not part of His indivisible nature. Division is inapplicable to G-d.
Reader: Where is it written that we fast on Yom Kippur and other holidays? Is it in the Torah, the Commentaries etc?
Mesora: The Torah states that we “afflict” ourselves son Yom Kippur, and the Talmud bears out what those afflictions are. The Talmud is the record of the Oral Law, also received at Sinai from G-d to Moses and the Jews, along with the Written law, and is essential to understanding the Torah’s words.
Reader: I was told that Ezra is entitled as “son of G-d” in Koran, Sura 9:30. Would you please let me know your point of view about this? Thank you very much for your kind help. With best regards, David.
Mesora: We do not recognize any work or religion outside of the Torah and Orthodox Judaism. This is the only religion given by G-d, attested to by millions of witnesses...all other religions are based on the word of a single person, and thus, are not provable. See “Torah from Sinai” on our site: www.Mesora.org (by Rabbi Chait) Therefore, quotes from the Koran are meaningless, and are corrupt by definition. G-d said He gave one Torah, one Bible and one religion, and He will never change it. Reason also demands this to be so: as G-d knows all future generations, only ignorance would demand an “update” to a formerly given religion, and G-d possesses no ignorance. Thus, the Torah is the only religion, for all times.
Even when we find a statement that bears some similarity to a Torah concept, be mindful that you must view the entire scope of a religion to understand their particulars. For example, the concept of ‘prayer’ is found in most religions, not just in Judaism. However, if another religion subscribes to a broader view that “man makes G-d happy”, then this religion’s prayer is heresy. G-d teaches that we cannot affect Him, and that He is beyond “needs” or emotions. We have no concept what he is. Therefore, we cannot say anything about Him, other than what He stated in His Torah. It is only when we possess accurate knowledge of reality that our actions in fact reflect what is real and true. This is why it is so essential that as a starting point, every member of mankind must study the Torah’s ideas on G-d, His actions, and His commands. It is through this only, revealed, Divine law that mankind may obtain truth, and what G-d desires of us, and what is proper to think. While Abraham demonstrated that this may be arrived at without the Torah, it is highly unlikely that normal individuals as ourselves will compare to Abraham’s intelligence. Therefore, we must study the Torah, Prophets and Writings. We are also bound to follow commands to guide our actions, as thought alone does not perfect mankind.
Reader: A very dear friend and his family lost their son, who was just getting a start in life. This friend and family are not “Orthodox” however they do keep the Sabbath, etc. He in particular is kind, generous, good, and well liked by all. What can I do to be a friend and support him/them? Since G-d has taken their son and they have observed the Laws, they are losing their faith. Should or could I say anything to help? He says there is nothing you can say. Their loss is recent. I recently brought the pomegranates for the meal. They were quite pleased with the choice for the serving of fruit. At this holiday in particular their loss is of great stress.
What can I do? Should/could I help spiritually, or let them see the Rabbi themselves? Either way I want to offer comfort and support. Rabbi, thank you for taking the time to be of help
Mesora: While it is true that we do not possess all of the answers, and this is certainly the worst tragedy - to lose a child, however, such a loss does not detract at all from the perfection G-d desires we obtain by adhering to His only religion: orthodox Judaism. Although we cannot answer specific cases all of the time, the Torah’s lifestyle is the best for mankind, and our losses do not mitigate the Torah’s benefits. I would be happy to talk with the parents.
I wrote an article addressing the loss of children on our site www.Mesora.org but I do not know that this will remove the pain of the parents. In time, I hope they will heal and be able to move forward.
We don’t know why conclusively, that G-d allows children to die; no one has G-d’s knowledge except G-d. But one explanation offered by the Rabbis is that it may be a punishment for the parents, if the child was not yet responsible for his own actions, meaning, he was less than 13 years of age. If he was older, he may have sinned, and this is why he was taken. G-d does not kill unjustly...He is the Creator of justice, so He acts with pure justice.
Additionally, we do not know what the future might have held for their child, and G-d has stated that He took Chanoch early (Genesis 5:24) although “he walked with G-d”, to prevent his latter downfall, caused by others, and not because he was evil of his own doing. Please show this passage to the parents, and they should read Rashi’s commentary. Perhaps this knowledge will allow them to feel grateful to G-d, perhaps G-d saved their son from a future evil, by taking him sooner. This is certainly a kindness, which G-d follows, as expressed in that passage.
Please offer them my sincere condolences, and again, they may contact me directly.
Reader: How does Judaism justify the violence of G-d in Hebrew Scriptures such as the command in Deuteronomy 7 to destroy the Canaanites and other nations? Are these simply stories to explain a facet of G-d’s character; are they historical events? If they were historical events, why would G-d command the utter destruction of an entire race of people?
Mesora: Just as with the Flood, G-d’s destruction of many nations was based on their violation of morality, and worse, their utter evil, expressed in rape, robbery, and murder. See the verses in the Torah that teach why G-d destroyed the Generation of the Flood. (Gen: 6:1-8) “...they took wives from whomever they desired.” (Rashi states even married women, even homosexuality, and even beastiality) Also in those verses the Torah states, “Man’s thoughts were evil all day long...” Their ultimate fate was sealed due to robbery, a breakdown of the most fundamental foundations for societies basic function. (See Rabbi Israel Chait’s articles; “Noah & the Generation of the Flood” and “The Tower of Babel”)
G-d created mankind offering him life - provided he abides by basic, decent laws, and protects others. But in the cases where G-d annihilated nations, this was due to their extreme sins, which removed their entitlement to life. See Genesis 15:16, and Rashi’s commentary where he states that G-d does not punish a nation until they have a full measure of sin deserving of punishment. Rashi quotes Isaiah 27:8, “according to its measure of sin...”
Yes - these stories are historical truths. You will learn what G-d’s justice is, and that He does not punish the completely innocent, as stated so clearly in Ezekiel 18. Only the man who sins is punished.
Reader: I would like to ask you why Angels (Sons of G-d) liked daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-11)? How is this possible that creations of two different worlds had relations with each other, without permission of G-d? Angels and men are two different creations of G-d. It is very disturbing that creations cross the limits for their lust.
The second question is, did daughters of men, or men, recognize them? Did they struggle to not mix up with angels? And why did G-d reduce man’s years? Also, why did G-d say that My spirit will not always strive in man? Are not men made in G-d’s image? Thank you very much for your kind consideration.
Mesora: “Children of G-d” (“binay elohim”) is not how to understand this phrase. This verse (Gen. 6:2) does not refer to angels. Rather, it refers to children of prominent figures (Rashi) of that generation. The term “elohim” can also mean “judge”, or prominent people. This generation’s leaders were rebellious due to their high rank in society. As such, none opposed them, and they used their status to overpower whomever they wished, similar to today’s many corrupt leaders. Regarding Gen. 6:3, where G-d states, “My spirit will not abide in man forever, for he is flesh, and his days will be 120 years”, Unkelos teaches the following: “this evil generation will not be sustained”. G-d will wipe out these sinners. “For he is flesh” is G-d’s method of indicating the cause of their imminent destruction. “Flesh” means that this generation attached themselves to flesh, i.e., to lusts. However, the term of 120 years was not a limit on man’s lifespan, but the number of years remaining until the Flood. Later on, in the post-Flood era, G-d did reduce man’s age and stature, as these contributed to his invincibility, and thus, his rebellion against G-d.
Reader: There have been discussions saying tattoos are wrong for today, citing the “law”. What laws are applicable for today? I have a problem with people who pick and choose which to follow and which ones they say no longer apply.
Mesora: The Torah was designed by G-d. He knows the future, all generations. To say His law(s) are inapplicable today is to say that He could not anticipate the needs of future generations.
All Torah laws will be applicable forever. These are G-d’s own words in Isaiah 59:21.
Reader: I am a Ben Noach and I’m wondering what a Gentile’s role is in Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, vs. a Jew. Toda raba, Meichey.
Mesora: Gentiles are prohibited from making a holiday for themselves. However, mankind as a whole is judged on Rosh Hashannah, so I would deem it appropriate that all members of mankind examine their ways before this day and repent. Certainly, one should take stock of his actions daily, as the Rabbis teach, “Repent one day before you die. But how can I know when I will die? Therefore, repent every day.”
Observance of any holiday is prohibited for the Gentile. This is not so much a restriction on him, as it is a means of focusing the role of “educator” on the Jew. Restriction of one group, may be – as in this case – a means to highlight another, i.e., the Jew. A Gentile’s holiday observance would dilute the Jews’ role as the sole teachers of G-d’s Torah, and would cause many people to consult with those not well learned. By limiting Holiday and Sabbath practice to the Jews alone, the Jews – those engaged daily in rigorous Talmudic study – remain the only recognized teachers of G-d’s Torah. This is good for the entire world population, that the most advanced Torah students remain the only teachers.