- Moshe Ben-Chaim Responds to Critiques on His Article,
"Deification of Man"
- Having read the critiques on my article, "Deification of
Man", I would
- like to offer the following response:
- My response to Rochel Keller,
- You state that "there is room for my opinion as long as neither
- other Jews in anyway, nor incites one against another". Have
- seen numerous gemoras, Rishonim, and commentators on the Chumash
- vehemently arguing with each other? Hillel and Shammai. Rambam and
- Ramban. The list is endless. They did not feel that since another
- an opinion, that this rendered it a proper theory. If they saw an
- which they felt was "invalid", they spoke out, and
correctly so. The
- goal of Torah is not to insure that other's opinions have equal
- acceptance, but rather, the goal is to defend that which one feels
- the truth. If this means that one must oppose another, even one
- this person is in accordance with Torah and with the aforementioned
- sages by doing so.
- They are not inciting and neither am I. My intent is as theirs, to
- what I see as the truth.
- You have incorrectly projected motives onto my actions.
- My response to Rabbi Avraham Stone,
- On Total Reverence: I mentioned the gemora where an individual
- that he wouldn't even follow Joshua the son of Nun. This does not
- "total reverence" as you suggest. This is one of many
- emphasizes that one should follow his own mind. How did Aaron argue
- Moshe Rabbeinu? Where was his total reverence? There was a high
- respect of course, Moshe being the great man he was. But to go
- one's mind is patently against the Torah. Aaron was correct in
- questioning the greatest man ever, and Moshe admitted so. If one may
- question Moshe Rabbeinu, certainly one may question one lower in
- The Torah clearly does not hold of your opinion of "total
- the point of disregarding one's intellect.
- On Rabbis and Miracles: I understand that the forefathers had
- performed by Hashem on their behalf. However, aside from the
- T'nach, I don't see where they, or later individuals such as King
- Solomon or King David, for example were known to perform miracles.
- must agree that King Solomon and King David were both on a higher
- than any rabbi today. Yet you claim that rabbis today are
- Divine power". This is false. How is it that these two great
- authors (not the followers) of our mesora didn't perform miracles,
- you claim that individuals of lower stature today have greater
- than they? Again, Avraham referred to himself as "dust and
- you see fit to raise someone lower, to a higher level of a miracle
- worker? I have never seen a Rishon write that rabbis are endowed
- divine power.
- The answer is that miracles are in Hashem's hands. Rabbis don't
- miracles. It is their followers who concoct these fables to raise
- their memories to angelic proportions. What these stories accomplish
- a grave crime. They cause the unlearned to assume a false essence of
- Judaism, i.e., amazing stories. What do you think happens to the
- misguided Jews when they don't see these so called miracles
- today? They question their heritage, and eventually, many times,
- Judaism. When reality falls short of one's expectations, one seeks
- something else which affords the false emotional support they were
- incorrectly taught to seek. All because people taught Judaism as
- something which it is not.
- Interestingly, I have never heard someone say (as prophecy has left
- "I SAW such and such a miracle". People say, "I HEARD
that so and so did
- a miracle". Never first hand knowledge. No one ever claims that
- a miracle with their own eyes, because if they do, they know they
- be asked for proof, and won't be able to offer any. This is why
- miraculous stories are never in the form of first hand knowledge.
- you ever see a rabbi performing miracles yourself? I don't think so.
- Ascribing greatness to one for miracles performed is, as Rambam
- no proof of one's level.
- We should also note that these fables have sprung up relatively
- recently. Prior to certain movements, (not included in the Torah
- gave Moshe), talmudic discussions and appreciation of rational
- were the focus of talmidei chachamim. Tragically, today people have
- trained to accept people instead of concepts, fantasy instead of
- popular opinions in place of those taught by Chazal.
- I will not offer a critique without a solution. What should we do?
- should teach our children, friends and students the true ideas of
- halacha and hashkafa in the rational light it was meant to be
- just as the Rishonim had done. Did the Rishonim get involved in
- stories? No. Aren't they in fact discussing gemora and halacha?
- Understanding principles of shabbos, kashrus, t'filah and the like?
- did not engage in discussions about their rebbe's miracles. This
- obviously was not their value or focus. They were not interested in
- 'person'. They desired one thing, to draw closer to Hashem by
- objectively into Torah study, not in idolizing people through
- What did Moshe Rabbeinu teach us? All of his attempts at teaching
- Jews were to follow Hashem and His Torah. Not once did he talk about
- or another's miracles, to make a mere human the focus.
- Respect and honor is due to those who follow the Torah strictly.
- However, focusing on personalities as the value, removes one from
- focusing on Hashem.
- Anyone in a position who can assist his fellow Jew by teaching the
- ideals based on our mesora, earns in my mind the highest honor. The
- one can teach, the greater the good realized.
- On Mezuza: Your sources do not show that the mezuza has a protective
- quality. On the contrary, as you stated, "Hashem
protects...." This is
- accurate. The physical object of the mezuza however has no more
- than a rock. Hashem is the One who protects, it is not the physical
- parchment. If one perfects himself in other areas, here too Hashem
- provides His Providence over that person. The sources you quoted can
- understood in this light, without resorting to your assumption that
- mezuza has its own power. Rashi on Yuma 11a, describes that in the
- of Mechuza, the rabbis refrained from mounting mezuzot on the city's
- gates so the king would not suspect the Jews of witchcraft. Why did
- refrain from mounting a mezuza if it protects? Evidently, it
- is to function as a reminder of the correct ideas written thereupon.
- These ideas, when reflected upon, are the perfection of man. It is
- this perfected soul which Hashem bestows His providence.
- Rambam clearly holds the opposite of your opinion, and I quote him
- again, (Laws of
- Tefilin 5:4) "....but these (people) who write on the inside of
- mezuza the names of angels or sanctified names or passages or seals,
- they are in the category of those who have no world to come. Because
- is not enough that these fools have taken a command and nullified
- but they rendered a great command - the Unity of G-d, the love of
- and the worship of Him - as if it's an amulet for personal benefit
- they assume in their foolish hearts that this will give them
- their futilities of this world." Rambam clearly shuns the
- physical objects are anything more than mere matter.
- In summary, as the Rishonim urged us, one must use their mind to
- determine whether an idea makes sense. There are many views
- today which oppose each other. They cannot then all be true. Hillel
- Shammai would be first to admit this to us. All we have to do is
- the gemora to see that each rabbi followed what he felt was true,
- fought for their view, unless they were proved wrong through
- The system of Torah was given to man who has a mind, so that we
- use this mind and not blindly follow the masses, or a person's
- reputation. Be not impressed with how many people do something, or
- says something. Be only impressed with wisdom. As Rambam states, one
- should follow the idea, not the speaker. One should not be afraid of
- acting in accordance with the truth, even if it opposes others.
- We are not here to impress man, or be impressed with him.
- Moshe Ben-Chaim