Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Woman's Role in Judaism

A Yemenite Jewish Man
When a Woman Puts On Tefillin
by Gutman Locks

When a woman puts on tefillin [phylacteries], or wears a yalmulka [a man’s head covering] or tzitzit [a man’s fringed garment], her spiritual life becomes confused.

I am not addressing the aggressive Jewish women who wear these objects just to show men they cannot be told what to do.

Here, I am addressing the sincere, but confused, Jewish woman who looks over at the men’s side of the synagogue, and sees men davening [praying] with tallises [prayer shawls] and tefillin and thinks, “That looks so uplifting. I would like to increase my spiritual awareness, too.” So, she secretly takes her father’s or her brother’s tefillin and quietly wraps them on her arm. What happens to her?

When a woman tries to fulfill herself with a man’s spiritual role, if she is “successful” she will pull herself away from the particular role she was created to fulfill.

Jewish men have certain needs Jewish women do not have. For instance, a male can very easily become extremely excited just through his imagination. A woman requires more physicality. This is not merely a physical or an emotional characteristic since the physical and emotional reflect the spiritual.

Women want to be wanted. This is a strong part of their makeup. Men do not particularly want to be wanted. Men WANT!

Men are more competitive and aggressive by nature, so learning Gemora [Talmud] engages these characteristics. Competition and aggression are not primary needs for a woman.

Given these differences, among many others, each gender has been given spiritual solutions to satisfy his or her needs.

Tefillin do elevate the soul. So how does a woman receive this essential spiritual elevation? She receives it from her husband, and from her sons, when they put on their tefillin.

A Jewish marriage is not two equal partners coming together to form a balanced partnership. A Jewish marriage is two halves coming together to form a single one. Each contributes his or her share, according to their nature and abilities so the whole will excel.

It would not be unusual for a woman who excels in learning Gemora, and loves to put on tefillin, to want to forgo the bother of having children, because children would take her away from the spiritual things she loves to do. Where would this leave the Jewish people? Not to mention those souls who are waiting to come into life through that Jewish woman.
Regarding a woman's role in Judaism - Beyond the above brief anectode, if you have the patience while Torah depth unfolds before you, I suggest a lecture by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson that shines light on a woman's unique, essential perspective. A lofty kabbalistic concept becomes easy to comprehend by the beautiful metaphor of the mirror versus the window; And he explains why women's mirrors were built into the basin that stood before the Temple's Sanctuary, whose waters sanctified every Kohain who entered the sanctuary. (Link)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Impressive Won-Lost Record

Elijah Tears Into Reform Judaism

A View of Reform Judaism
This week's Haftara relates how Eliyahu the prophet, before an assembly of all the Jews, rebukes a segment of them. He says, "How much longer will you straddle the fence? If you want to worship Hashem, then do so; And if you want to worship the foreign god, then do that!"

Notice what Eliyahu is saying, for his precise words may be mistaken for speaking colloquially. Eliyahu is telling these people that even idol worship is better than straddling the fence! You'd think he'd attack the idolators, but instead he directs his anger at the reformers.

This is amazing because idolatry and monotheism diametrically oppose each other, so much so that idolatry counters everything Judaism stands for. Why does would Eliyahu unleash his contempt on fence straddlers when idolaters you'd think are far worse?

Maimonides asks this question: How is it, if Hashem despises any other gods before Him, that religions that worship false gods or false prophets are given freedom to do so? Answers Maimonides, because Hashem tolerates them for they at least strive to live by the truth! Yes they follow a path diametrically opposed to the right direction, but at least their mindset is anchored in spiritual integrity; Once these people will (eventually) be shown the truth, on a moment's notice they will turn around and align themselves with the correct faith.

Which is untrue of those who straddle the fence. These people dip into the Jewish pool when its suits them, and walk the idolatrous terrain when it suits them. Such people seek convenience more than they seek truth. For them spirituality plays second fiddle to self-satisfaction (or self-worship). These people delude themselves into thinking they are "good Jews" because, after all, much of what they do is congruous with Jewish observance. As for what they do otherwise, their love of self easily rationalizes away those annoyances. These are people whom logic cannot easily budge. Much like a sick person who doesn't recognize he's ill.

If this weren't bad enough, worse still is another effect these people have. They may influence others who lack insight or knowledge. For straddlers cannot be easily identified as idolaters. A Jew realizes idol worship clashes with Judaism, but he may not detect the hidden agenda of his straddler friend. It is for this reason gentile missionaries primarily prey on targets weak on Judaism - under the guise of a Jewish facade!

Who are these straddlers, these "double-dippers" of today? Every generation has them, it seems. In the past, these were the Sadducees, the Hellenists and the Haskalah. Today they are the "Reformists", whether their schools of thought is "Conservative", "Reform" or "Reconstructionist". These wre the people Eliyahu rebuked, to either quit their brand of Judaism entirely or adopt the genuine thing without compromise. Either accept Hashem or don't - but don't turn Judaism into a half-donkied religion!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Main Cause of Disease

What is the number one cause of ill health in man?

The answer, from The Code of Jewish Law (chpt 32, law 3), may surprise you: "Most disease suffered by man comes from, and from none other than, bad foods, or from filling his belly even with good foods." Note the strong tenor of the assertion. The basis for this ruling comes from Maimonides who stated (De'ot 4, 15), "Most illnesses that afflict man are caused by harmful foods or by overeating, even of healthful foods."

In other words, illness comes from what a person puts into his mouth.

As simple as this sounds, if you think Western culture believes it, think again:

Most people, including most doctors, believe germs cause sickness. This is in direct contradiction to what the Code of Jewish Law asserts, namely that food is the main problem, yet medicine prefers germ theory. This has exceptionally significant ramifications, for if intake of food is the real problem, it follows that a proper dietary regimen could cure or reverse the problem, whereas the germ theory of disease suggests an entirely different approach, in fact one that leaves the bad food habits in place!

In fact, medicine today totally denies the Jewish Law or its implications regarding the healing of illness or seeking cures.

People who are sick, who then visit a doctor who prescribes a pill or a shot, who then put that medicine into their bodies - do so without realizing this "food" they take into them is unnatural and cannot be considered "good", yet the doctor pushes the drug, or the patient swallows the pill, without thinking twice. Depending on the diagnosis, this "treatment" could be an occasional one, or, with degenerative disease, more likely a lifelong "diet".

For the last 100 years, or so, conventional medicine rejected the wisdom of Maimonides. There were doctors in America before that who, in fact, did follow the wisdom of Maimonides, even if they never knew of this sage. To their credit, they derived the knowledge on their own.

Dr. J.H. Tilden, a doctor who practiced medicine for more than 70 years, and lived until the age of 91, wrote in 1921, "The commonest cause of disease is, first, last, and all the time, overindulgence of appetites and passions". Notice how forcefully he states what the Jewish Code of Law also emphatically asserts.

In the late 1800's Louis Pasteur promoted the germ theory of disease. In contrast, Antoine Beauchamp, his contemporary, said, "The primary cause of disease is in us, always in us". In other words, the primary problem was the milieu, the biological terrain. That germs take advantage of this situation is a secondary aspect of the disease.

Whatever the historical reasons, Pasteur's viewpoint overshadowed Beauchamp's and became the holy grail of medical perspective in the West. It prevails until today. Medical education never even broaches a view other than what the establishment prescribes. In fact, the medical curriculum in a U.S. medical school never includes a course in nutrition! Moreover, any attempt to move away from the prevalent viewpoin, to provide therapy based on other premises, immediately draws intense retribution by the powers that be, thus discouraging "unconventional" or alternative medical practice.

Contrast the approach of today's doctor with that of Dr. Tilden, who says:
"As a refutation of the necessity for all the so-called remedies carried into the sick-room - surgery, drugs, prescriptions, vaccination, serum injections; faith, suggestion, and mind cures; the laying on of hands, and every other device known and used as remedial - I offer my simple methods; namely, that of taking nothing into the sick-room, and of doing nothing that can be likened to the modern conception of healing. My methods are devoid of any suggestion of mysticism or supernaturalism, and are not above the understanding of the most commonplace mind, unless its simplicity appears uncanny to distorted understandings.

"I go into the sick-room without a so-called remedy, and, what is best of all, without the need of one. There is no faith cure offered; there is no hocuspocus, legerdemain, nor play on the superstition or credulity of the patient. There is nothing resorted to which may give the impression that unusual or supernatural power is to be used.

"After getting the history of the case, I explain how the patient happened to get sick, how his life differs from nature's requirements, and how he may get well. No drugs, no manipulations - nothing but keep still and don't build disease by foolish acts of mind or body!

"When cause is known, the remedy will be self-suggested to the most commonplace mind. This being as fundamental as truth always is … ."
[From his book: Impaired Health: Its Cause and Cure.]

As I said, Dr. Tilden arrived at his understanding of medical disease from pure, rational thought. Let's listen in on some of his wisdom:

"There is no question about the necessary and beneficial action of the bacteria that are in us and about us all the time. The germs that infest our bodies, our food, our atmosphere, our soil, are necessary to our existence. If they were not, they would not be there. Nature never stultifies herself; there is a reason for everything, and that reason is backed by the logic of the Absolute.

"The weakest point in modern medical science is its teachings on bacteriology. It teaches that germs cause disease. If that could be proved, it would establish demonology
[as if Hashem acts as a demon], and chaos would reign supreme."

Why germs are necessary we can answer another time. But for now, it should be apparent that germ theory of disease survives not because it's the correct view, but in spite of it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Real Shape of the Holy Temple's Menorah

We spoke earlier of the error being propagated by incorrectly portraying the Tablets of the Ten Commandments as rounded at their top (until today, even in orthodox circles), when in fact their front and back surfaces were squares, while their 4 sides were rectangular.
(Dimensions: 1 x 1 x .5 cubits)

Also commonly distorted is the shape of the Menorah of the Holy Temple. Here too the mistake is that they curve or round out the branches, when, in fact - they were straight! Maimonides, in his work on Mishnayot (Menachot 3:7), includes therein his own drawing of the Menorah (see accompanying draft). Rashi too confirms this opinion (Ex. 25, 32).

The Menorah's popular image, with curved branches, originates from the Menorah engraved in the Arch of Titus, in Rome. Titus, the Roman general who conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the second Holy Temple, built this gate to commemorate his illustrious victory.

His craftsmen, however, rendered an inaccurate replica of it; Perhaps because they only retained a general idea of what it looked like. Or because they had many candelabras in their booty and chose one of these others to depict in their sculpture.

Archeological evidence of the diagonal form of the menorah's 7 branches can be found here.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Lesson of the Cherubs

Picture by Yoram Raanan
The Cherubs ("Kruvim") atop the Holy Ark were a pair of winged figurines with the "face of a child", says Rashi (Ex. 25, 18). This isn't the first time Cherubs are mentioned in Torah. The first mention of them is when Hashem placed them before the entrance to The Garden of Eden, to prevent Adam and Eve from re-entering and eating of the Tree of Life. These Cherubs, says Rashi, were "Angels of Terror" (Gen. 3, 24). How could Rashi ascribe antithetical definitions to the same term?

The lesson is that, in fact, they are one and the same, only that opposite characteristics emerge from different upbringings, as these two contexts suggest. If the upbringing rests upon a holy foundation, children grow up to become angelic; But if brought up spoiled by giving them most of what their hearts desire, they become demonic.

Let's recall the story of Adam. He was intelligent, handsome, had a gorgeous wife, lived in Eden among the finest and largest selection of delicious fruits, was meant to live eternally, with the whole world as his domain. Only one small constraint limited his freedom - he was told not to eat the fruit of one tree out of thousands.

That little challenge proved to be his downfall.

Similarly, a child raised to get everything he wants, will in the end lose everything he has because the smallest restriction he cannot tolerate will take him down. He will become egotistic, haughty, abusive and have no friends. On the other hand, the same child, if brought up to hold dear the holiness of Torah and its restrictions, will end up being a source of goodness to everyone around him.

From where the Cherubs were atop the Holy Ark, the voice of Hashem emanated to reach the ears of Moses. In contrast, the Cherubs guarding the Garden of Eden had swords swinging in their hands.

Our sages ask (Chulin 139b) "Where is there a hint of (the evil) Haman in Torah?" They answer, referring to the words of Hashem in rebuking Adam, "Have you eaten from the tree I forbade you to eat from?" The Hebrew words "from the" spell out "Haman".

Our sages (Sota 9b) list 10 people in Tanach who lost everything they had because they could not accept the slightest restriction confronting them. One was Haman.

Haman was the viceroy of the King of Persia, whose empire embraced 127 nations. Haman had a large family, including ten sons. He was extremely wealthy. People were ordered by the king to bow down to Haman when he passed by. You could say he lacked nothing.

But one small thing Haman did not have. It angered him that one old man, the Jew Mordechai, refused to budge when he passed by. "Everything I have is as good as worthless," he complained to his wife, "because that [old man] Mordechai won't bow down to me." (Esther 5, 13) This emotional anguish consumed him so he plotted to destroy Mordechai, who in the end, ended up with everything Haman had, and Haman was hanged.
Based on this fine lecture by Rabbi YY Jacobson.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Keen Insight into a Marxist Movement
by Michael Savage

A very interesting hypothesis has been put forward by the eminent Michael Savage of the Savage Nation Radio Show. He says, this protest in Egypt (and elsewhere in the Mideast) was anything but "spontaneous", as the media would have you believe. Rather, it was years in the making!

His idea is that the despotic movement that Hussein O. represents wants turmoil in Egypt to create a crisis from which money can be made by his backers, like Soros. Turmoil in the Middle East is a perfect situation for these conspirators.

(We saw how Hussein O. came out in support of the Moslem Brotherhood; We read that Ayers and others of his Marxist friends had been to Egypt earlier; We read how someone in his cabinet met with this terrorist organization in Washington; We note how the high echelon of Mubarak's military were here while the protests were going on, teased into staying in the U.S. an extra day or two, while behind their backs protests were being encouraged, so army intervention to help Mubarak could be harnessed. We note how antagonistic Hussein O. is to the stabilizing force that Israel is.)

You can read the article here.