THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
You can also read previous studies on this site.
This study is in memory of Yehonatan Morris, z"l, who was inspired and strengthened by God's holy Torah, folk and land, in his constant fight against darkness and disease. He, in turn, inspired so many others in his noble struggle.
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H = S.R. Hirsch; N = Ramban; R = Rashi; Al = Abarbanel; JBS = Rav Soloveichik; OH = Ohr Hachayim; Z = Zohar. Ariel Tzvi Fogelman asks why the Bible doesn't abbreviate -- please relay your theories.
A. AN OVERVIEW OF SHLACH
In this week's reading, God's major theme is a 12 man Israelite spy mission, probing the Holy Land, prior to its imminent conquest. Their defeatist conclusions engender desert life imprisonment for males of that generation. Klei Yakar first claims that Moshe picked only men for the job, as women are naturally derogatory gossips; then he turns to another rabbinic opinion, which notes that women displayed much more love for the Land of Israel than their menfolk; thus God calls the choice of male spies "Moshe's choice", for He Himself would have chosen women! In a JP polemic (He, she & God, 6/17/97), Reform Rabbi David Forman asserts Reform moral superiority over Jewish tradition, in that they fully include women in their communal religious life, implying that Reform women are better off than Orthodox. He slanders our rabbis of yore as servants of their male egos. But a more profound analysis would lead to the conclusion that women do not have an inferior place in an Orthodox shul-- they have none, for everyone's good! The minyan and extra mitzvos are to tame and domesticate the wild male soul; they've produced, en masse, the only civilized male society with a spiritual, intellectual and family focus, all in the woman's own best interests; when she attempts to invade and conqurer this male preserve, the whole system collapses; in its place, arises the fragile modern family structure, so replete with divorce and adultery, so lacking children. Improved relationships between men and women flow from each retaining their own Divine gender uniqueness, not from egalitarianism.
Orthodox women, attending modern Jerusalem Zionist Yeshivot, e.g. Midreshet Rachel, Shearim, Matan and Nishmat, have a far more deep, comprehensive and all-encompassing Jewish experience than their relatively ignorant reform sisters, and, usually, a much richer and happier end, surrounded by their many children and grandchildren. Such women, in essence spiritual, often find fixed liturgical group prayer a shallow experience; those who want it may do so, with other women, in a female milieu.
Last week's O-U Torah Tidbits featured Phil Chernofsky's clear balanced editorial on the Shavuot debacle at The Wall. Phil negates Reform Judaism and its rabbis (not its adherants), who themselves negate the whole concept of Divine communication with man, including the halacha, His Laws of Human Nature. He similarly dismisses Conservative Judaism and its rabbis, tho some claim allegiance to halacha-- but they too do not view it as the word of God; even the few who do so view it legislate halacha that goes against Traditional Authoritative Rulings (not defined; YF: one can get stuck in TAR, preventing his progress!); Phil admits that Orthodoxy does the same, but in a vastly more cautious way. His example of Conservative abuse is egalitarian services, opposed by previous generations of rabbis (see Baruch Litvin's Sanctity of the Synagogue; Rav Moshe Feinstein deemed mixed services a violation of the Torah itself, tho others deemed it only a rabbinic violation). But Rav Steve Wald, a classmate of Rav Dovid Aharon at Yeshivat Hamivtar, justifies egalitarian minyanim halachically, without Forman's self-righteous zeal. Dr. Yisrael Levine noted that the Tosefta, back when each honoree read his own Torah portion, permitted women and children to read too, tho it later prohibits women to read for the public (Meg. 3:11-12, Leiberman, p. 356; see Sh.A.); Tation, daughter of Straton, from Phocaea, Ionia was given the privilege of sitting in the seat of honor, after she donated a synagogue; but that might have been a seat up on the stage, or one used on special communal occasions, not during services.
God Willing, I'll present Wald's arguments in a future issue (perhaps Phil's response too); I personally think that the overall egalitarian effect is negative, even if it is halachically OK (but it's not nearly as bad as the hate, anger and violence, with which some haredim responded to them on Shavuot-- Phil labels their hooliganism a chilul hashem, a disgrace to God's good Name; some charedim defended them). Phil's later example, permitting driving to shul on Shabbat, an open violation of the Torah itself, is a far more blatant and flagrant indictment of Conservative Judaism.
Let's explore the spies' exploration-- was it a good idea? Did God order it? Was His approval required? Given? Conditionally? Did Moshe approve? What did he spies initially intend? Why was Israel so severely punished for simply following their leaders here?
THE BACKGROUND OF SHLACH
The spies' tale follows Miryam's slander of Moshe, for insensitively separating from his sensual Cushite wife. This led to others' blunter attacks -- hence her harsh punishment*; the spies, tribal princes, went on to question Moshe's judgement; finally Grand Rabbi Korach & Co. attacked his integrity. When great rabbis quarrel, Jewry avoids establishment "religion" (cf. Israel today-- Rav Shlomo Z"l claimed that many youth avoid establishment churches and synagogues BECAUSE they and many of their peers ARE innately religious!). So Amalek punctures the mystique of Jewish invincibility; he comes from afar, out of sheer hate, to successfully attack Jews alienated from God (Ex. 17:8). Canaanite nations then lost their awe of God's pact with Israel and attacked. When Moshe rejects the spies' report of despair, they rabble-rouse the folk against him. Prophetess Miryam treated unique Moshe as other prophets; so the spies judged the land of Israel and its conquest by "normal" standards; but the HOLY people in the HOLY land, speaking the holy tongue, led by God, transcend normal predictability and capability (cf. '48, '67, Oslo).
*her resultant leprosy may be more a demonstration than a punishment, the natural result when a frail human body is exposed to God's open Revelation, as she was (12:4f); she then truly realized Moshe's superiority-- only HIS body could emerge unscathed from such direct Divine contact; likewise, only he, in continual Divine Dialogue, had to continue celibate existence even after the Decalogue on Sinai, when all other Jews, including Aharon and Miriam, "returned to their tents"; but Aharon was not so stricken, as God wished to preserve his priestly ritual purity. God didn't address Moshe "mouth to ear", but "mouth to mouth"-- Moshe's mouth became the medium thru which "God's mouth" addressed all other Jews, even his prophetic siblings Aharon and Miriam (Num. 12:1f, per Syrian Dayan Rav Dr. Jose Faur, a true "gadol", tho he's not clothed in conformist anachronistic garb and its intellectual and spiritual equivalent, black-and-white insular worldly ignorance).
Moshe ignored -- if he noticed -- Miryam's attack, tho God heard it (12:2)! Aharon has to beg Moshe to forgive them and pray for her -- God doesn't pardon sin against another until we beg her own forgiveness. Moshe immediately did so, w/o even reproving Miryam. Now God offers to destroy Israel (who tried to destroy Moshe) and build a new people FROM Moshe; again "humble" (i.e. other-oriented) Moshe passionately and successfully seeks God's forgiveness.
Holy Israel is the only land which reacts like a sensitive personality -- e.g. it expels those who misuse it; perhaps it's also "hurt" when its mate, Israel, slanders it. Rambam attributes intelligence and feelings to astral bodies (M.T. Y.H.; cf. the 8th century hymn "E-l adon"). So mystic Ouspensky sees the sun, moon, and planets as alive, developing, and intelligent beings --- the moon a "baby", the earth a "child", and the sun "mature" (In Search of the Miraculous; see B. WE'RE ALL...). Per Zohar, however, the spies didn't slander the land, but slandered GOD, Who'd promised them "a good land" (161a). Such slanderers couldn't survive in Israel.
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B. A SYNOPSIS OF SHLACH
GOD SPOKE TO MOSHE, TO RELAY (to Israel or the spies): "SEND OUT MEN (anashim) FOR YOURSELF, AND THEY SHOULD SPY OUT THE LAND OF CANAAN, WHICH I'M GIVING TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL; ONE MAN, ONE MAN** OF EACH PATRIARCHAL TRIBE, SHALL YOU SEND FORTH, EACH A (TRIBAL) PRINCE". MOSHE SENT THEM OUT... BY GOD'S MOUTH-- ALL WERE REAL MEN, HEADS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL... MOSHE CALLED HOSHEA THE SON OF NUN Y'HOSHUA (i.e. "He will save", praying that he'd save the ominous situation-- Sota 34b; Num. 13:1-16)-- so this seems to be GOD'S own spy mission!
** Rebbe Akiva concludes that there were TWO men (1 + 1) from each tribe, Chief Spy and Asst. Spy; Rav Yishmael, as usual disagrees with him.
But, in Deut. 1:20-26, Moshe recalls the fiasco: ALL OF YOU DREW NEAR TO ME; YOU SAID: "LET'S SEND MEN BEFORE US, AND THEY'LL SEARCH OUT THE LAND FOR US, AND BRING BACK TO US WORD...". THE PROPOSAL PLEASED ME AND I TOOK 12 MEN .. AND YOU REFUSED ALIYA AND REBELLED AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD YOUR LORD-- here the initiative is ISRAEL'S, backed up by Moshe's approval! God's not even asked.
SENDING the spies was, indeed, itself a sin (R, Sot. 34b); God had already guaranteed both Israel's victory and that Israel was a good land-- but He lets Israel follow their own free will ("FOR YOURSELF"-- but "yourself" is singular here, referring to Moshe)-- "a man (e.g. Bilaam) is led on the path he wants to follow" (R, Num. 22:35). But why then did Moshe approve their request, in the latter passage? Perhaps he (as God) acquiesced to allay Israel's distrustful suspicions about Israel, and to prevent their immediate rebellion and return to Egypt (Midrash Raba); so Aharon helped make the golden calf to stall Israel. Opposition can spur evil on!-- religious coercion is counter-productive, creating hatred of religion and its adherants, delaying Israel's return to God and His Torah; sometimes halacha itself is harmed by those ostensibly protecting it-- non-observant Jews violate Shabbat far less in a cinema, than in going about town, writing and smoking.
So some satanic haredim turned many people off to Torah, in alleged defense of the faith, when they attacked non-Orthodox Jews praying at the Wall on Shavuot morning. So Yael Dayan attended, but refused to support, the left wing confab for a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem-- when an Arab in the audience berated her for lacking guts and principles, she blew up, and told him that Labor narrowly lost the election due to fears that they'd divide Jerusalem, and that she didn't want to blow another election and her chance to help the Palestinians in the Knesset. Her true sympathies and opinions were thus exposed anyway! Naomi Chazen of Meretz then vehemently protested Dayan's protest, and insisted on openly advocating left wing principles, such as a Jerusalem Palestinian capital, which wouldn't alienate any of her own constituency. I try to go to as many public discussions as possible, in order to both learn new facts and opinions and to correct distorted or one-sided presentations. So I pointed out to the assembled detractors of Israel how the Arabs were the cause of their own problems, in their constant attempts to destroy, rather than accept Israel; Israeli Jews properly distrust them. In his talk on Zionism at Tantur, Rav David Hartman poignantly depicted how the lives of all those in the Middle East would have been (and still can be) so much more beautiful, had the Arabs welcomed their Jewish cousins back to their land, after their 1900 year exile, ready to share the land and build it together. Instead they chose to try to destroy and expel the Jews, who had no choice but to respond accordingly.
Every decent human being should oppose the P.A.'s murderous dictatorial corrupt regime under Arafat, unless it becomes a modern democracy, based on law and order-- noone, Jew, Moslem or Christian, should support, or give any power to, a political entity which jails, w/o trial, its own journalists, e.g. Douad Koutab, who dare criticize it; also, at the very least, the P.A. encourages the murder of any Arab who sells real estate to a Jew. Feisel Hussani, who claims to have a western democratic outlook, despite his family's Nazi and terrorist identification, claimed that he advocates only social ostracism of such a person, perhaps other punishments too, but not death; he labelled such Arabs traitors to their people, in the war with the Jews over control of Israel and Jerusalem-- if that is his declaration of war, we should respond appropriately and vigorously foil all Arab attempts to claim unowned land, and to smuggle more Arabs into Jerusalem. We should add thousands of Jewish apartments in Chevron and quickly finish Har Choma. The U.S. might help by granting U.S. citizenship to Arabs who do not want to live in the world's only Jewish State, or in one of the 21 Arab states. Had we lost a war with the Arabs and they let the Jews stay in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, etc., would any Arabs support Jewish requests to govern themselves? Are the Arab appeals for a Palestinean state, based on peace and justice, mere ruses to gain strength to eventually destroy Israel, after their military failures? See If Israel Lost the War, by Chesnoff, Klein and Littell; they quote Arab leaders:
"You are miserable Jewish people. We will pluck out the other eye of your Moshe Dayan. He will be blind, and it will be the blind leading the blind. Your army is surrendering everywhere. Jerusalem is burning. Tel Aviv is wiped out. Kill the bastard Zionists (A Syrian radio broadcast; 6/6/67)".
"Those native-born Israelis who survive can remain in Palestine. But I estimate that none of them will survive (Ahmed Shukairy, head of the PLO, 5/28/67)".
"Kill the Jews wherever you find them. Kill them with your arms, with your hands, with your nails and teeth (Jordan's King Hussein, who was featured in a Jordan TV propaganda film, praising Saadam Hussein, condemning the U.S. & Israel-- 6/7/67)."
"Our goal is clear-- to wipe Israel off the map" (Iraq's Pres. Abdel Rahman Aref-- 6/1/67)".
"The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are stationed on the borders of Israel. Behind them stand the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole of the Arab nation... We intend to open a general assault. This will be total war. Our basic aim is the destruction of Israel" (Nassar, 5/27/67).
He who doesn't learn from history is desined to repeat it. Have they really changed, or have they just changed tactics? Pretty words of Palestinians and other Arabs, eager to get back land which they lost in their attempt to destroy Israel, are insufficient evidence of a true change of heart. While it may be wise to give them lots of independence and autonomy to make them feel better and calm things down, it is irresponsible to give them any power whatsoever to hurt Jews and dissidant Arabs.
Ramban disagrees with Rashi's condemnation of the spy mission as such-- God's command to fight Israel's enemies for the land includes all reasonable military measures, including spy missions (cf. J. Pollard; read critically Every Spy a Prince by Dan Raviv and Yosef Melman). So Moshe later sent spies before attacking Jazer (21:32), as did Yehoshua at Jericho, without even asking God. But AFTER Moshe and Israel reasonably decided to send spies, as reported in Dvarim, God commands Moshe to do it in the best manner (wouldn't he know himself?), in our reading-- Moshe himself is to choose the spies, tho the people proposed, in Dvarim, that they make the choice; he's to choose only princes, one from each tribe, to share the responsibility. These basically fine leaders, chosen by Moshe, rather than the folk, indeed began with a good report of Israel (cf. today's media)-- this enabled Israel to eventually repent and join Tzahal. Had popularly chosen spies given a completely negative report about the land, the Jews would never have repented. But the spies' disgrace of His Name barred them from establishing Israel themselves; only death atones for blemishing God's good Name (Sporno).
The spies are to explore the whole good land (not just the pending battle area-- cf. intifada reporting; yet they had to start from the south, near their camp, from where they'd make the initial onslaught). Israel will then envision, in all its glory, a land truly worth fighting for, each tribe hearing about its own future portion of the land (tourists should bring back videos of Israel, to encourage others to visit and settle here). Moshe appoints spies, "as commanded".
But Israel TRICKED Moshe, claiming to seek only military information; they concealed their ambivalence about the conquest itself (OH). God indeed warned Moshe: "Send men L'CHA-- FOR YOURSELF"-- only for your own worthy goals. Moshe missed the hint, didn't see thru the spies. "FOR YOURSELF" may mean FOR YOUR BENEFIT (OH, Klei Yakar); so Rashi interprets Gen. 12:1-- "For your benefit, "L'cha", leave your father's house...". As Yehoshua's destined to lead the conquest, the 38 years delay, due to the spies, is "l'cha"-- good for Moshe, Yehoshua and Israel-- Moshe retains his status as leader for 38 years, educating the new generation; thus Yehoshua has little trouble from them later (cf. Moshe's initial reluctance to undertake God's mission); per Ari, love for Moshe, keeping their great leader alive, was indeed the spies' worthy motive!-- but, if so, why does God condemn and punish them so severely?
RAV YEHUDA HENKIN sees a proposal of "people's republic" in Deut. 1. Israel wanted the spies to be THEIR representatives, who would report directly to THEM-- "FOR US... TO US". God warns Moshe to appoint them FOR YOURSELF-- they're to report only to you; you'll decide how and when to release info, w/o causing panic (every government has to keep plans and info from its populace for their own good-- cf. today, the Agranat Report, Oslo). So God's cloud of smoke between Israel & Egypt (14:20) might be a smokescreen, to protect sensitive ex-slaves from shock. So it may conceal God's long detour (13:21), when He decides Israel's not yet ready to fight Philistia (13:17); He can't do it for them-- a model nation is also a brave nation, fighting evil (Rav Shlomo Gorin, z"l, vs. Zen Buddhism, The Quakers, Meah Shearim and Bnei Black). But the spies leaked info to the shuk, not just to GHQ. Generals often want to be policy and decision makers, not just military experts, reporting to political leaders; but those who gather facts aren't necessarily those to interpret and apply them.
MEN, (anashim) denotes trusted popular leaders; they're probably younger men than the tribal princes at the tabernacle dedication and census (H); they're not listed by tribal camping order, but may be listed in order of their greatness (see H). MEN denotes tzaddikim, righteous people (mystic OH) or valiant warriors (politician Al). The punishment-- 40 years wandering, a year for EACH SINFUL DAY-- implies that the tour itself was sinful; but the equation may only be a reminder of their sin (H). Rashby equates their sinful end with their beginning ("THEY WENT & THEY CAME", 13:25-6; Sot. 34b). The state of the nation-- the people, land, and forts of Canaan-- were to be reported; extra courage was required to take unripe grapes at the beginning of Tammuz (13:20), obviously for spying purposes (H). The spies explored the land, unified; they reached Hebron, an impressive ancient city, built over a period 7 years (H). There they saw 3 antediluvian giants and their Supermanian descendants (H). This great Jewish site may now be given new life, under our new, more Jewish, government. The Third Way proposes fulfilling our obligations at Oslo by less control of Hebron's Arabs, while simultaneously expanding Hebron and Kiryat Arba's Jewish communities and increasing their security; I propose adding 500-1000 Jewish housing units in the area for each terrorist attack after Oslo, a realistic deterrent for potential fanatic Moslem terrorists suicide bombers.
Now the spies split. Calev retained deep faith in the LONG TERM realization of God's plans-- giants notwithstanding. He was 40 (Josh. 40:6), married to Batya (Meg. 13a) and Miriam, themselves old friends, since they collaborated in Operation Moses (cf. Kohelet 4:9f-- "Better are the two than the one..."; each may have been closer, and more helpful, to the other, than to their common husband, a preoccupied Jewish political and military leader); Calev fathered Chur z"l (I Ch. 2:19), murdered by the wild crowd at the Golden Calf Disco. Calev prayed at the Cave of Machpela (Sota 34b). The Ari claims that Calev was a reincarnation of Eleazer, Avraham's protoge; he visits Avraham's grave to obtain his blessing, just as Yehoshua obtained the blessing of his teacher, Moshe! He also informed Avraham that his descendants were coming back home (see Z, 158b-159a)!
A 2nd CHANCE?
Long before the Ari, great(er?) scholars, e.g. Saadya and Albo, deemed reincarnation pagan nonsense; Abarbanel viewed it as pagan wisdom-- thank God that the Greeks discovered it; otherwise, many people's completely miserable lives would make no sense (but God may compensate for their suffering on this earth only in the next world). Famous scholar and master polemicist Judah Leon de Modena, a truly tragic figure, criticized Christianity (Magen V'cherev, 1644) and defended God's Oral Law (Bechinat ha-Kabbala & Magen v'Tzina), music and gambling. In Ben Dovid, he labels reincarnation a non-Jewish concept, used by Pythagoras to bring people closer to each other-- their dead relatives' souls may inhabit strangers, who must therefore be treated with great love and respect! De Modena rejects the teachings of the Ari and The Zohar (in Ari Nochem), as did Rav Eliyahu Dilmidino (15th Cent.-- could Saadya, Rambam, etc. be ignorant of a major Jewish tradition? So Rosh and Rama ruled that Ashkenazi Jews don tefillin on Chol Hamoed, tho the Zohar says that one who does so is worthy of death! Shlomo Mallin, translator of the Maharal, demonstratively donned tefillin at the Wall on Chol Hamoed, arousing Chassidic wrath). Piety of Kabbalists doesn't authenticate Kabbala for Modena-- in all religions, he claims, the ignorant are the most pious (cf. red strings, Khoumani, Shas, whose MK denied the recent horrible happening at the Wall)!
Kabbalist Moses DeLeon (d. 1305) introduced the Zohar, which dates itself as being written down in 1278, as the ancient tradition of Shimon b. Yochai, in 1304; he claimed that Rashby left it in the cave where he hid (Shabat 33b)-- mystic Ramban found it there when he came to Israel (1265); he sent it to his son in Catalonia (why would he do such a thing, without making several copies?), but a wind bore it to Aragon and DeLeon! Modena cites DeLeon's widow and daughter, who said that DeLeon himself authored the Zohar.
Kabbalist Rav Yosef Vakhar (14th Cent.) opposed only Zohar- not other kabbalistic works, as did modern Yemenite Dordaim, led by saintly sage Yichya Kapach, grandpa and teacher of great Rav Yosef Kapach-- he recently received an honorary doctorate from Bar Ilan, donning the gentile academic robe and hood. Rav Yichya (in Milchamot Hashem) claims that statements attributed to Rashby in the Zohar contradict those cited in the Talmud; Jerusalem Rabbis (cf. today) excommunicated their Yemenite Dor Daah brethren; in 1914, valiant Rav Yichye reprinted their vicious attack with his response. Syrian Dayan Dr. Jose Faur believes that both Rav Yichya z"l and his opponents, who condemned him and defended the Zohar, were right!-- primitive superstitious Yemenite kabbalists taught Rav Yichya a distorted Zohar, which he rightly rejected! Had he understood it deeply, he would have appreciated its true messages. Faur admires worldly and pious Rav Eliyahu Benamozegh, co-founder of modern Noahism, together with former Catholic priestly novice Aime Palliere; Benamozegh defended the Zohar against the attacks of Modena and Shadal (see his magnum opus, Israel and the Nations-- $35 from TOP).
Ramchal, poet, kabbalist and candidate for Moshiach Then, as most later rabbis, defended Zohar. Some great Kabbalists and Torah scholars, e.g. Shomrei Emunim, Yaakov Emden and The Vilna Gaon, per Radal, took an intermediate position (Mitpachat Sfarim 1768; see also Shadal's Vikuach, 1827)-- Emden sees the essence of Zohar (e.g. Safra D'zenuita & the Idros) as traditions of Rashby, edited in Gaonic times; other parts (Sitre Torah & Tikkunim) are written by De Leon, himself a holy kabbalist (but who celebrates his yahrtzeit?); Midrash Hanealam was written later. (Scholem holds the opposite view as to what's what-- see E. J. 16:1206). Thus The Zohar is attributed to Rashby, its core or major author, founder of the mystical school-- cf. the Talmud, "authored" by Ravina and R. Ashi.
R. Moshe of Konitz (Bar Yochai, 1815) agreed, but disputed Emden's alleged errors in Zohar (see also Benamozegh, Ta'am le-Shad). Zohar's awareness of a round world and the Poles, unknown in the pre-Copernican middle ages, tho known to early Hindu Persian scholars, shows its antiquity (tho not necessarily Jewish) and DeLeon's integrity. Another proof is retention of the system of uniting the aspects of God, despite the danger of confusion with Christian Trinity belief in DeLeon's era. The Nodey B'Yehuda, Rav Y. Landau, opposed kabbalists who do mitzvos to "unite God and His Schina"-- see Hasidic Prayer, by erudite heretical Rav L. Jacobs. Rivash condemned kabbalists who divided One God into 10 sfiros-- even the trinity divided Him into only 3 parts! Both the Besht and his opponent, the Vilna Gaon, who wrote on Zohar, accepted it as holy and valid. See Otzar Yisroel & E. J.-- Zohar, and Meyer Waxman, History of Jewish Lit., 2:113, 155). Waxman sees Zohar as pseudoepigraphic; medieval writers often attributed their works to their favorite talmudic rabbis, whose teachings were their basis-- Rashby's never quoted in Talmudic and Midrashic mystical teachings, e.g. Hag. Ch. 2 (where one's urged not to speculate on ultimate ??, beyond human understanding-- they remove you from this world, which God wants man to sanctify, not abandon-- cf. Buddhist Nirvana and chassidic "bitul hayesh").
Rav G. Fleer, responds-- Rashby kept mystical matters secret (even when others discussed them?); also, he's indeed known as an "expert in miracles" (m'lumad banisim-- see Meila 17a, Shab. 33b-34a, Ex. Rab. 52:3), and comments on the order of Creation (see Konovitz, Rashby, 18). He calls himself and his son the leading "sons of heaven" (Suk. 45b). Waxman recognizes the depths of Zohar; Rav JBS told me that we must extract the great ideas in mystical literature, translating their antiquated cosmology and language (e.g. sfiros and shadim) to our own (e.g. molecules and microbes). Rav A. Y. Kook admitted: "I can't prove that Rasbhby wrote the Zohar, but whoever did was on the same level!" (Rav Y. Hadari)-- let's sample the Zohar on Shlach:
MYSTICAL M'RAGLIM (spies): Ch. 13 also alludes to spiritual exploration of the promised land of eternity (Rashby, Z, 159b,f). Skeptics explore Torah to validate the promised land of Edenic eternity (Wisdom, the Menora, is on the South side of the tabernacle-- "go up in the South"). They investigate those who dwell therein, how they got there. Yet they don't see its unity, even via the "brook of Eshkol", the agada, with its clear unified principles (which?). They carry it on a "pole between two"-- they recognize the good land of the hereafter, "flowing with milk and honey", but feel it's too hard to achieve, that they have no chance, wasting this world for nothing, that only giants of power and wealth have the strength and leisure to properly master the Torah; even for such giants, Amalek, the evil inclination, lurks within, "in the South", with other obstacles-- they conclude: "EFES", mission impossible. The faithful (Calev and Yehoshua-- 13:8ff) then tell the Jews to just give over their hearts to God, instead of rebelling against Him-- then all will be A-OK: IF GOD DELIGHTS IN US, THEN HE'LL BRING US INTO THIS LAND... WOW! (i.e. A GEVALT!)
BACK TO EARTH: The other spies couldn't face up to the giants, tho they loved Israel (JBS, per Rav Riskin)-- ex-slaves could never conquer this advanced civilization (H; cf. WWII survivors fighting the British trained and aided Arab Legion). Their return, with a huge cluster of grapes on a pole, became the ?able symbol of Israel's Tourist Industry; it too often goes after its eyes and heart, violating Jewish tradition, for tourist $$ (e.g. Lod Airport and Jaffa Gate on Shabbat). Calev at the Cave would be a better symbol! Calev and Yehoshua DIDN'T carry the huge fruits, food of giants-- the other spies brought them to frighten Israel!-- R. 13:23; Zohar 160b, however, says that ONLY Calev and Yehoshua could lift the cluster-- AFTERWARDS, they transferred it to the other spies. The spies first reported to Moshe and the folk that Israel was a rich and good land, with extraordinary fruit. However its vitality also produced UNCONQUERABLE giants, who defended its impregnable natural borders-- the sea, the mountains, and the Jordan (H). "EFES" (HOWEVER), THE PEOPLE WHO DWELL IN THE LAND ARE STRONG... (13:28)--
"EFES", literally "nothing", "zero", denotes nullity and hopelessness, its 2nd & 3rd letters going backward, from Pe to Samech. "ASOF", adding, progressing, frequently used previously (11:16, 25, 30, 32, 12:14-15), has the same root letters in correct order. The appended mixed multitude, the ASAFSUF, (11:4) denotes TOO MUCH or TOO FAST addition or progress-- converts have to take it slow! (and have a good guide-- Rav G. Fleer). The Shalom Hartman Institute recently held an impressive seminar on just how much a convert must take on to become a Jew. Rav Dovid Hartman noted that far more time and energy is spent on deciding who is a halachic authority than on the main problem-- who's asking? To most Jews, Halacha, and Judaism in general, have little relevance to their concerns.
CALEV'S REPLY: we CAN conquer such giants if WE WILL GO UP, GO UP (13:30). Israel, never weakened by the otherwise universal flood, can also raise up GIANTS OF THE SPIRIT. THEY can easily conquer mere physical giants (H). So little Tzahal conquered hordes of Arabs in 1948. As man advances, brains, not brawn, provide even PHYSICAL power; a comfortable living can be made today by a few hours a day of sophisticated brain-work-- see our video on nerds, who reshaped the world with their PC Revolution; per Rambam, most of our precious hours should be devoted to Torah and mitzvos. The very air of Israel makes one wise-- Israeli Arabs are considered the lights of Araby. WE'LL GO UP means that we'll build Yaakovian ladders to heaven (R, Mid.), a pithy metaphor for Hirsch's concept.
SPYCHOLOGY RAMBLINGS: ONLY THEN (N) did the other spies knock the land itself, turning their glorious grapes into "sour grapes"-- what I can't have must be no good. Some yeshiva students, self-deprived of modernity, mock it. Narrow secularists, mostly ignorant of Judaism, ridicule it-- e.g. deccedant Israel TV's portrayal of King David (5/94). The spies claimed that ONLY GIANTS HAVE THE STRENGTH TO LIVE IN ISRAEL; but God teaches-- TOUGH ISRAEL MAKES GIANTS! (cf. M. Riklis, and Globus & Golan-- their studio tours reflect their consummate skills, abused to taint Divine Image souls with garbage and nonsense). WE WERE AS (lowly) GRASSHOPPERS IN OUR OWN EYES, AND SO WERE WE IN THEIR EYES (the giants', 13:33). Then the Jews broke down and cried. My self image affects how others regard me; one who develops his Divine spirit can overcome vast physical forces (Zechia 3:6) and be deemed a "GIANT". If he sees himself as part of a small weak people, others will so regard and exploit him (cf. Oslo, Bunche Schveig).
Arabs may indeed accept the rule and leadership of a model KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND HOLY NATION (Ex. 19:6), truly blending Torah and life, body and soul. The 3rd Temple won't be rebuilt (i.e. should not be rebuilt?) until ALL agree (N, Gen. 26:20-22). The Temple must be GOD'S indestructible house, not OUR fragile Sanctuary, twice destroyed. Yishmaelites may be the first to recognize the Jews as their kind priests and teachers (see B.B. 16b, Gen. Raba 48:11). Meanwhile we must have the best military forces and government; then Israel can survive, eventually becoming God's University of Universal Spirit.
Miriam Adahan (EMETT, 142; see her TOP videos) portrays the cumulative process of downhill psychological drift. Self-devaluation leads to helplessness, leads to hopelessness, leads to hostility, leads to loss of faith. First the spies equated themselves with grasshoppers, then assumed that the giants so regarded them; all of Israel shared their defeatism and despair. Seeking a scapegoat, good and evil are interchanged, gratitude forgotten-- even Moshe and Aharon become targets; God's kindness is viewed as cruel punishment-- paranoia ensues; cf. Adam and Eve. Your anger's vented on those who try to rescue you-- stone them! Finally you lose faith in God's wisdom and kindness. Miriam then teaches how repentence and reversal is always possible-- cf. family problems.
The people wept the whole night (Av 9-- R; their faith crisis may imprint eventual destruction on that time slot). They demonstrated against Moshe and Aharon, seeking a new leader for a downhill return, yerida, to Egypt. Moshe and Aharon fell down and prayed; Calev and Yehoshua tore their clothes in mourning, pleading with the people to have faith and conquer the good land. When the people tried to stone them, God's Glory intervened. He offered Moshe a deal-- He'd destroy these non-religious Jews, and make a new people of Moshe & Sons (Aharon & sons, Levites, Calev, and Yehoshua are included-- they're Moshe's pupil-sons). Some zealots today might accept "A new State, of 100 Gates"-- Meah Shearim-- not Moshe! He pleads with God to forgive Israel; if He'll destroy them, the Egyptians and others, whose opinion and eventual return God values, will attribute it to His inability to establish a State of Israel (a good prayer today too!). He cites Divine attributes of patience and great kindness (omitting truth, which would dictate their destruction), bearing iniquity and rebellion (tho eventually extracting their price-- H); God takes into account ("poked", per Rav Leo Jung) ancestoral backgrounds of sinners for 3 or 4 generations (cf. "pakad", Ruth 1:6). Jews in trouble repeatedly recite God's sustaining attributes with fervor, thereby hopefully bringing His power down to earth-- perhaps by arousing those Divine traits within themselves, thus becoming worthy of His kind attention.
WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: Zohar here (161b) describes all-encompassing interlinked levels of Divinity in the universe. Observed distinct entities (e.g. fish) may be part of a larger field (the school); their seemingly random behavior is contradicted by predictable field effects. We cannot conceive of the intricate relations between the fish (direction and water interval), unless we view the school itself as an animal directed by school intelligence; it may even sacrifice its weakest to predators for the common good. Perhaps all life in a given area of water is part of one operating mechanism, which may key into a larger animal-- the life of all the sea; this in turn may be but a part of the life of the whole world, itself only a minute aspect of God (Sea of Cortez, J. Steinbeck, 240). A dog in shallow water appears as 4 independent, but coordinated, entities (legs) to fish; looking from above, we know it's one. So each Jew and human, appearing as a distinct being, may be but a detail in greater souls of Israel and Humanity. The entity of father and son might be so punished (Prof. I. Agus). Death may simply be the disappearance of a temporary vessel for a bit of the Divine soul (but Jews, unlike Zen Buddhists, intensely mourn the loss-- Rav M. Gafni).
UNDERCOVER SAINTS: God forgives Israel and "bears their sin" (probation?), but none of these males, who tested God 10 times, can enter Israel. Only "My servant Calev" has a different outlook (H); only HIS descendants will inherit FROM THEIR FATHER (H) the area which he visited (14:24); the others start anew-- cf. the hard lonely building of a Jewish home and lifestyle by a returnee, with the comfortable natural growth of one born into a Torah and Derech Eretz home (see Rachel Pomerantz's engrossing and perceptive novel, Cactus Blossoms; she's aware that not all that's black is beautiful, but brushes off the lack of Israeli haredi army service and professional training). But the former, seeking a kind holy father, may copout with a guru (e.g. Korach?). Yehoshua's COMING INTO THE LAND is only stated later (14:30)-- his own inheritance, and growing into Moshe's role, occur much later.
Only Calev was able to temporarily calm the people (13:30)-- he openly identified with the other spies, gaining their confidence, hiding his true feelings (R; cf. Esther, Yael; Kissinger? A. Burg?). Did Moshe know that Calev was a double-agent?-- he didn't change Calev's name. Yehoshua may represent the isolationist fire-and-brimstone Shachian religious giant; he distrusts prophecy by those outside his religious establishment, e.g. Eldad, Medad and Rav Riskin. Calev lives a far more difficult tightrope underground life with secularists, to achieve what he can; so Ovadia, chief deputy of Achav and Ezevel, used his position to save 100 prophets; some consider him greater than independent Avraham. Per JBS (THE RAV SPEAKS), modern religious Zionists walk the same tightrope-- part of, yet alien to, general society (cf. Rav Lau); secularists merge with the world and extreme charadim stay far from it; both offer clearcut lifestyles and leaders, but don't weigh, ? and balance the different ways of viewing each issue.
The Jews must detour, via the Red Sea; now only their kids could someday defeat Amalek & Canaan. Even now, they mourned their great popular leaders, the 10 spies, who died in a plague. In the morning, some decided to fight, just as Moshe had originally ordered them. Moshe told them to forget it-- God won't help now; he and the ark didn't budge. These Jews, MAAPILIM, stubborn ones, were massacred by Amalek and Canaan. Jews who broke the wicked British blockade of our land were called Maapilim-- another secular Zionist identification with the bad guys; some even call their kids Nimrod. No one's to be absolutely committed to anything (= idolatry), other than God-- war or peace, bravery or fear, life or death; each has its time and place in God's grand unified scheme (Ecc. 3, popularized by Pete Seeger).
CH. 15: God gives laws of sacrificial drink offerings (wine & meal), only applicable to private sacrifices after Israel's settled in Israel-- "WHEN YOU COME INTO THE LAND..." (per R. Yishmael; per R. Akiva, they applied at once, re the tabernacle, and even re sacrifices on "high places", during the conquest-- Kid. 37). Giving these laws now assures Israel that their children WOULD soon conquer Canaan. It's not enough to give my person over to God, symbolically, via animal sacrifice; I must also dedicate my possessions, recognize my happiness and success, my wine & bread, as coming from Him-- the spies ignored this message; the bull and ram, i.e. the leaders, require more accompanying wine and meal offerings than the lambs, the folk-- those who have great impact upon others must especially integrate this teaching into their own daily lives (H).
The Torah now introduces the mitzva of challah, another Zionist "law of the land"-- a bit of all kneaded Jewish NON-SANCTIFIED ("YOUR"-- v. 21) dough (of at least 43 1/5 eggs volume, the daily omer portion of manna-- Men.67a) is set aside for God; it's a token of His individual Providence (H), given to the cohen. Bread, the product of man's unique primal technology, requires an offering even at stage #1 of its manufacture, besides special washing of hands, and special blessings upon its consumption. So the Canaanites are Jewish "bread", to be transformed by them (14:9). Other foods, eaten in common with animals, with no processing necessary, do not share these requirements. Equality for the stranger and native-born Jew is constantly stressed, perhaps to avoid overreaction to wicked non-Jewish enemies, e.g. Amalek and Intifada. Laws of sin offerings follow; Jews may even, tho without evil intent, fall into idolatry, rejecting the whole system of Divine legislation (e.g. a Jewish child, raised as a gentile, or an entire community abandoning mitzvos, due to the pervasive secular tzeitgeist-- N; cf. Reno, Dershowitz below).
Moshe rushed to God to solve others' religious problems (9:8, 27:5). But he waited for God to tell him how to execute those deserving the death penalty (15:34; Lev. 24:12)-- an ideal Jewish leader is reluctant to condemn or punish and eager to help (Targum Yer., per Rav JBS).
Jewish males must put 8 fringes (4, doubled over; one is dyed t'chales, blue) upon each corner of their 4 cornered garments, a reminder of the commandments and the ultimate truths they teach. The correct blue dye is disputed; to wear a false blue would be the opposite of a true Jew-- H. Baruch Sterman (993-2136) agrees with Rav Herzog's rejection of the Rhiziner Rebbe's alleged t'chales, but claims to have discovered the correct one. The free-flowing strings must be longer than the preceding knots. One first "ties oneself up" with mitzvos-- but he thus eventually achieves true freedom, from his own inner drives and compulsions, from images of pseudo-truth (H). Per K'dushat Levi (Purim, 157b), the dark blue strand represents forces of evil and darkness!-- they're to be surrounded and mitigated (not obliterated) by the white fringes, symbol of purity and love (cf. letters of the Torah); it's also to be "seen", not repressed. But others, e.g. the Netziv and Sefer Hachinuch, see blue as the highest color, symbolic of the soul, mitzvot and that elevated spiritual minority, which is immersed in Torah, whereas white, the color of most of the fringes, represents the body and the bland colorless masses, absorbed in the practical nitty-gritty of everyday survival. They must interface; the tzadik must do mitzvos, e.g. hospitality, in the practical world, and even the most practical down-to-earth guy must set aside some times for prayer and study. Spiritual Yissacher's flag is white, practical brother Z'vulun's dark blue. Israel's tribe of regal leadership, Yehuda, combined both practicality and spirituality, blue and white, symbolized by his pale blue (t'chalet), completely blended flag (Rav Yaakov Ariel, in B'ahava Ub'emuna).
The spies separated blue and white, wandering after their eyes, wanting either a land without holiness or the holiness of the desert trek, without a land (Rav A. Kook); the land and state of Israel must be both physical and spiritual. White's the highest of all colors, black the lowest (but the other fringes can be any color, except t'chales, per Men. 38a!). Is light colored clothing better?-- God clothes nature in bright colors. Dark colors might express mourning for the Temple and our long NIGHT, lit up by non-satisfying artificial light, e.g. "entertainment" (see "Light as Food" in The Allergy Handbook, Mumby). Kabbala stresses Tzitzis, fringes, as the remedy for impure sexuality; Noach's sons allegedly covered his nakedness with a fringed garment (see Likutei Maharan 7:4, 8:8, 49:7). Tzitzis remind one to follow God's word, rather than his own infantile self-serving eyes and heart-- this was exactly the fault of both Eve and the spies (H)!
"... YOU SHALL SEE IT, REMEMBER ALL GOD'S COMMANDS, AND DO THEM"-- seeing leads to remembering, which leads to doing (Men. 43b); wearing such a garment is more important during the workday than at prayer, itself a reminder, and, likewise, more important on weekdays than on holy days (Ibn Ezra). The verse implies that tzitzis should be visible and thus either worn outside or periodically pulled out for viewing, as we do when reciting shma in morning services-- but one must see only the blue thread, which we may not know how to dye today. This mitzva is limited by time-- only by day, obliging only males (R, Rambam). Per R. Tam and Rosh, only daytime garments need tzitzit (from "SEE IT"-- Men. 43a), not those worn at night-- see Tur O.H. 18.
C. THE HAFTARA, Yehoshua 2:1-24
Yehoshua dispatches a 2-man (traditionally, old Calev and Pinchas) SECRET spy mission, prior to conquering Jericho. Madam Rachav of Jericho tells them that the locals are terrified of God & Israel; they return to Yehoshua without further ado-- cf. Moshe's 12-24 publicized spies, UJA Missions. Rachav, later Mrs. Yehoshua, was, apparently, an unmarried harlot-- she seeks protection for her family, w/o mentioning a husband or children; the Jews promise to spare her and hers in gratitude; a red string will identify her house (2:18; so today, Makumba Mexicans and some superstitious Jews tie red strings on their wrists, to preserve and acquire health and family! Red's a universal magical protection against the evil eye!); the 7 idolatrous nations could remain in Israel, as resident aliens, IF they adopted the Noachide Code (see our Noach Study) BEFORE the invasion. Israel behaves all the days of Yehoshua; he succeeds with the new generation, after Moshe's hard frustrating work to mold them. Moshe's product, he brings Moshe's mission to its initial successful conclusion. Had Moshe succeeded with the truly destined settlers, the older generation, his temple might been been indestructible. God's wrath would then fall upon the folk instead, when they would eventually sin. Thus God has to retire Moshe, to achieve His eventual redemption of mankind from Israel.
D. THE COMPLEX MOTIVES OF PRINCES AND SAINTS
Rav A. Orenstein (Hadrush V'han'um) sees the spies as typical politicians. Anti-Zionism perpetuated their own power and prestige-- once the Jews got to Israel, a powerful king would transcend tribal identities and power structures (cf. Z. 158a). They first suggested a large study before any action; they then used it, at the brink of war, to panic the folk, who had come to Moshe as a disorganized unruly mob (R). No such advisory commission preceded Exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, or the Revelation at Sinai, all imposed by God! But Israel could now only become a holy model State by voluntary war and conquest, inspired by love of the land (cf. '48)-- Moshe hoped that a tour of Israel, led by Yehoshua, might arouse that love. Moshe told the spies to first go up to the barren Negev, then to the rich hill area. The conquest of Israel, as acquiring Torah and the world to come, must start with great difficulties (cf. today). Israel makes one much wiser-- Yehoshua and Calev, exposed to it, knew better than Moshe that the situation was beyond prayer; they tore their clothes, mourned, and pleaded with the folk.
So Rav Bernard Poupko and the RCA rejected the advice of the revered Lubavitcher Rebbe and other greats, and decided to openly protest for Soviet Jewry, leading to today's Exodus. Even the greatest rabbis have limited insight and influence-- Yitzchak and Rivka lose Esav, and a son of Chacham Yitzchak Bernays converted to Christianity. Shaul Shimon Deutsch, in Larger Than Life-- the life and times of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, tells the tale of the Rebbe's brother who left the frum fold for Zionism, opposed by Rav Shalom Dov Ber in 1912, and for Marxism, the traditional nemesis of Chabad.
Today too, many Jewish organizations abroad self-perpetuate, rather than encourage Aliya. Power structures are hard to transplant. Zionist leaders send others to Israel. Even a scion of a great chassidic or rabbinic dynasty may be ignored here, revered only by a few "old-timers". These processes may be unconscious. The spies may have even convinced themselves of their integrity at first; only at the end was their ORIGINAL intent revealed; thus they're punished for ALL 40 days. Per some kabbalists, the spies, great saints, didn't want to be contaminated by the many unsavory tasks of a state-- farming, Tzahal, medical research, etc., which, with great effort, they'd have to turn into great experiences of God and expressions of spirituality. Better to stay in the Divine desert, a natural spiritual kollel milieu. So Midrashim state that the soul, at home with God, doesn't want to descend into its body, for the awesome challenge of transforming the material into the spiritual. Are Lakewood & Boro Park holier than T.A. & Haifa? Surely Bnai Brak, Geula, and Har Nof are as holy as these diaspora enclaves, w/o shabbat traffic. How would Israel and the world look today, had the Satmar Rebbe stayed here in 1932? Rav J. Soloveichik in 1935? Had the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Eliezer Silver and Rav Aharon Kotler settled here? Rav T. Y. Kook claimed that such scholars lacked faith.
E. MOSHE'S FATE: Moshe ALREADY knew that he was barred from Israel-- so he sent spies to give him a good description (Z. 157a; pre-video). When they failed, God showed him the land. Moshe specially asked if Israel has A TREE or not (13:20), whether the Tree of Eternal Life (tiferet, glory) was then to be found there, or just the deceptive Tree of Death (malchut, power)-- if only the latter, he could not enter! YF: But, per Deut. 1:37, Moshe too was not permitted to enter Israel BECAUSE OF the spies' sin-- GOD WAS ALSO ANGRY AT ME BECAUSE OF YOU, SAYING: "YOU TOO SHALL NOT GO THERE!". Some apply this verse to striking the rock at Meriva (19:7ff); OH: Moshe and Aharon were condemned, together with the spies; their flock's failure is also that of their faith teachers. Later, Moshe & Aharon muffed their last chance to restore Jewish faith at Meriva (20:12); had they succeeded, their bad decree would have been revoked.
F. ABARBANEL'S ANALYSIS
Abarbanel denies that God ordered the spies' trek to show that they weren't fit to enter Israel-- He would never command a sinful act! On the contrary, He wanted them to enter Canaan immediately from Paran, Kadesh Barnea. THO they had the cloud to guide them, the people thought that it was about to cease, and that they now had to guide themselves. Moshe had to agree, to show that he hid nothing. God then told him to send spies "FOR YOURSELF", that only Moshe select and dispatch them, as befits the honor of a king. He sent top-flight leaders, those least likely to be overwhelmed by their gigantic counterparts. Moshe's alleged fears of perfidy, per Sota 34b, don't easily fit the text. Perhaps Moshe tells the new generation that he, not God, sent the spies (Deut. 1:23), so that they not blame Him for the fiasco (see 13:3); he distorts truth for the sake of peace or for a greater truth, God's constant goodness. God knows the spies' real intent; Moshe is to tell them to explore "The land of Canaan, WHICH I GIVE TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL"-- how to, not whether to, conquer it is to be the only ? on their agenda.
RAV SHALOM GOLD: David accuses the spies of despising "Eretz CHEMDA", a desirable land (Ps. 106:24). Two types of coveting are prohibited in the Decalogue-- TAAVA & CHEMDA (Ex. 20:14, Deut. 5:18); the former denotes longing and lusting in the heart, the latter arousing an irresistable impulse to action (Rav A. Soloveichik; YF: but TAAVA is not prohibited toward another's wife, only CHEMDA-- perhaps only arousing a natural impulse toward action is prohibited, whereas even the very desire for another's property is avoidable, perhaps even unnatural, a product of unresolved early sibling rivalry). The spies may have retained TAAVA, yearning, for Israel, dutifully mourning exile on Tisha B'Av. But they rejected CHEMDA, every Jew's natural healthy impulse to do something about it, to go up and conquer our God-given land, for the ultimate benefit of Everyman. So Rav Moshe Feinstein's difficult ruling that one has performed a mitzva by living in Israel today, tho its not obligatory, retains every Jew's freedom to express his yearning for Israel by coming here voluntarily, not because Rav Moshe said he had to! (YF: Perhaps, as re smoking, Rav Moshe didn't want to present the Torah's obvious demand for aliya to Jews who won't obey; cf. woman's biological and psychological command to procreate, tho she's legally exempt. Both Rav Ovadia and the Bostoner Rebbe have banned smoking; Rav Ovadia considers those who sell cigarettes accessories to murder-- will Shas kiosks obey him? RF: We try to atone for the spies' sin by stressing Eretz Chemda, the land of irresistable desire, in the Grace after meals).
ISRAEL'S CALLED THE "LAND OF YOUR DWELLINGS", THE ONLY PLACE WHERE JEWS ARE REALLY AT HOME (tho a temporary Jewish state in Uganda might have saved many Jews; the Satmar Rebbe claimed that the spies knew the Jews weren't ready for Israel, but should have followed God's orders anyway, leaving it to Him to keep them out! Perhaps it was psychologically impossible for the Satmar Rebbe to recognize Zionism as God's Will, as did Rav Y. Teichthal; it would be tantamount to acknowledging guilt for the deaths of his family and followers). ISRAEL'S CALLED "CANAAN" TO HONOR CANAAN'S WILLINGNESS TO EXCHANGE IT FOR BEAUTIFUL AFRICA (cf. "Jordan is Palestine").
G. A CALEV IN EVERY AGE
Calev tried to encourage and inspire the Jews to fight for Israel, despite other leaders' gloomy forecasts; so in every assimilated age and place, great Jews, "Maccabees", a politically incorrect tiny minority, bring themselves and others back to the faith and land of their fathers and mothers. Rav Chiya resurrected Judaism amidst vast ignorance and apathy, following Rome's destruction of Israel; Saadya Gaon fought and crippled the Karite Movement, which denied God's Oral Law and captured the Jewish masses of his day. So today, great leaders such as Rav Hirsch, Rav Hoffman, Rav Kook and Rav Soloveichik revitalized and modernized truly traditional Judaism, seemingly dying amidst attacks on its Divine Origin, the sole source of its importance and impact, from German Bible critics and their Jewish clones-- their Documentary Hypothesis has replaced traditional belief in a unified Divine Torah in the Reform, Reconstructionist and most of the Conservative movements and Jewish academia, e.g. Shmaryahu Talmon, Louis Jacobs, Moshe Greenberg, Eli Schveid and Judith Hauptman; they temporarily captured the vast majority of Jews, mostly alienated and ignorant, claiming to be "scientific" (tho they never invented any tape recorders, insulin, rockets, etc.). Thank God, the tide's now turning-- modern Orthodox Torah education proliferates and truly traditional modern rabbis, e.g. Shlomo Carlebach, Z"l, Shlomo Riskin and Jonathan Sacks, reach, teach and inspire the Jewish people.
Should modern or feminist, yet ostensibly "Orthodox", institutions, e.g. The Yedidya Minyan and Ramat Shapira, go on record as opposing the basic non-traditional viewpoint of some of their stimulating trendy speakers? Judith Hauptman, in her interesting and stimulating series on women in the talmud, at Yedidya (1996), openly stated her own non-orthodox belief-- that the rabbis of the talmud made up their post-Biblical versions of Biblical law, itself fine in the Biblical period; her view is heretical, per Jewish tradition (see Rambam M. T. Mordim)-- talmudic law, as it itself claims, simply expounds the Oral Torah, Israel's unique inheritence, already given at Sinai, and adds necessary protective legislation to preserve the law; "eye for an eye" was never intended to be taken literally in law, only to make a moral statement. I asked her if she felt that the rabbis were aware of what they were doing to the Torah and, if so, why not say so? She found this an interesting question. She complained that the Torah did not punish rapists severely, only making them pay fines and damages.
I pointed out that one may even kill a potential rapist, if necessary, but she replied that that only applies to those about to rape betrothed or married women. But Schreiber (Jewish Law and Decision Making) notes that the Torah's laws are intended for an ideal Torah State, leaving the practical laws needed to keep a degenerate society functioning to the political leaders of each age-- they may ignore legal restrictions on punishment to save society. Since most JTS teachers, whose rebbe is often JPS & HU's Moshe Greenberg, deny the unity and Divine origin of the Torah itself, they can't view the Talmud traditionally either-- thus they ultimately undermine the basis and authority of halacha itself, which, in some fashion, they still claim to represent. Prof. Eliezer Schveid, at Ramat Shapira, ardently urged changes in Jewish Law to accomodate the trends and desires of the modern age, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of those seriously involved with halacha view it as the sacred, basically unchangeable, Word of God.
Schveid disliked the label "am haeretz", ignoramous, for today's Jewishly ignorant secular youth; he prefers to just call them "disinterested", laying the blame, as is his eloquent wont, on the truly traditional (Orthodox) establishment. He would also de-Judaize our secular anthem, Hatikva, removing the Jewish dream, just retaining praise of the land and Jerusalem, so that Arab citizens could also identify with it. But he seemed unconcerned about the lack of Jewish content of any kind on Israeli TV, about the need to give 25% of broadcasting time on state-funded Channel 1 to the 25% of the taxpayers who chose religious parties; until now, they've been forced to either forego the TV financed by their taxes, or to watch the often perverse Western trash chosen by secularists. This, indeed, is one of the most likely causes of secular "disinterest" in Judaism, in conflict with the cheap values absorbed from our local high-impact TV.
But assimilation is still rampant, even among many raised truly traditional, e.g. once-observant Alan Dershowitz; in his aptly named book Chutzpah, he even questions and attacks the superiority of monotheism (P. 183!!): "If there can be one God, why can't there be many? Indeed, in some respects, monotheism is a regression and an invitation to conflict. If there is only one true God, then all people must worship him (correct!- our messianic goal is: "God will be King over all the world; on that day God will be One and His Name one"-- Zech. 14:9). There is no room for religious heterogeneity or pluralism ... At best, monotheists may tolerate other religions... w/o accepting them as full-fledged equals". Dershowitz, in his zeal for peace and tolerance, ignores truth-- the truth of monotheism, its moral force and the unity and harmony of a holistic monotheistic worldview. He (195f) unfairly compares modern Jewish heresy with disputes of Bet Hillel and Bet Shamai, and of the Hasidim and Misnagdim, ALL of whom believed in the Divinity and Unity of both written and oral Torah. Perhaps his eloquent and spirited defense of the Jewish people, and his exposure of anti-semitism, placates his own inner guilt over abandoning Jewish tradition, likely to lead to his descendants abandoning Judaism, God forbid.
So, alas, not all of Calev's descendants are his kindred spirits-- two years ago, the basically secular Jerusalem Report joined the war against truly traditional Judaism, ultimately a war against Jewish identity and concern-- Calev Ben-David, in "Who Wrote the Bible" (June 15), gives massive coverage and credence to the Documentary Hypothesis and its flimsy arguments to destroy the unity and divinity of the Torah; it all stems from rightfully excommunicated B. Spinoza, who hated and reviled Judaism-- B.G. was one of his fans! Calev, a descendnat of the author of Torah Tmimah, ignores the truly traditional view, except for a bit about The Codes, tho the vast majority of those who ardently study the Torah also ardently believe that it's the unified Word of God. He tries to isolate Dvarim from the Torah by making a big deal of a tribe being called "shavet" only there, "mateh" elsewhere. But both terms appear together in Numbers 18:2! May Calev's return to Israel eventually lead him back to the faith of his ancestors. He's made a great start with his fine editorial Letter From The Editor in the Shavuot JP Magazine, of which he is now editor; he bemoans secular ignorance of the basic Shavuot theme-- that God Himself gave the Torah. There is some redeeming Jewish social value in the Report, especially in the articles of its traditional writers-- e.g. Micha Odenheimer, who develops the Zohar's approach, that the spies were given the opportunity to "eat of the tree of life" in Israel, true faith and closeness to God, but chose instead "the tree of knowledge", of uneasy skepticism and doubt.
Santa Cruz, CA's Jewish community has been very weak in both Judaism and Zionism; the university community, even Jews, are often anti-Israel and strong advocates of perversions mis-labelled "alternative life styles". Prominent signs on campus direct visitors to the university's homosexual and lesbian centers. Only a dedicated young Habad rabbi preached truly traditional Judaism. A young faculty wife and mother of twins, Tammi Benjamin, decided to upgrade herself and her community Jewishly; she set up a new traditional Conservative synagogue, Kol Tefillah, in her parents' trailer home overlooking the ocean, and began teaching other Jews, while constantly increasing her own knowledge. She recently returned from a long sojourn in Rechovot, where her husband Ilan, a scientist, raised in the Moroccan community of Tiberias, was a visiting scholar at Weizman; while living here, she travelled weekly to Jerusalem, to learn from modern Zionist Orthodox Matan's excellent teachers, especially Aviva Zorenberg. Tammi writes sermons and makes tapes to teach prayer, doing so much more than many for whom Judaism is their "profession".
Tammi notes that the word "latur", appearing 14 times this week, has 3 uses: to seek out (the right spiritual path), to spy out (the promised land) and to go about (after your heart and your eyes)-- all involve moving in a direction based on a particular understanding of reality, sometimes God-centered, leading toward the Promised Land, sometimes self-centered, concerning the spies' own fears and struggles, avoiding it, sometimes just going after one's external senses and profane heart. She concludes that formal spiritual and political leaders, priests and princes, may facilitate the relationship between God and Israel, but ultimately each individual is responsible for staying on the right path. A congregation's success is not measured by its size, wealth or longevity, but by the strength of its commitment to following the voice that calls, the light that beackons, from beyond the ark doors, the path that this Torah has sought out; thru our success, we'll bear witness to those before us who've walked the same path, following this same Torah. May Tammi grow from strength to strength and bring Zion's Torah and God's Jerusalem Word back to a Jewishly renewed Santa Cruz-- then may all its Jews soon leave and return home. Tammi publishes a weekly guide to ?? and issues in the parsha, to stimulate and structure its study by intelligent, tho unlearned, Jewish families-- to get it, contact her on E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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