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Amalek, Halachah, and Morality


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#1 AlexStein

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 07:12 PM

Jews with questions? There are lots of those. Answers are hard to find.

I have asked and been asked this question in various forms, many times over the years, and I have yet to find a satisfying answer. Perhaps you can help:

How do you explain the many commandments in the Torah and Halachah that contradict common morality? Obviously the obligation of mechias Amalek begs the question, but more pertinent halachos come to mind as well. The only reason we are mechalel shabbos to save the life of a non-Jew is because of darcei sholom, which is self-serving and teaches us to ignore the needs of others. What is the difference between what Hitler did to us, and what we are commanded to do to Amalek?

Standing idly by while someone dies may not be murder but it is a ruthless cruelty in the face at another human being's painful death. We are commanded not to bring pain even to an animal, but we stand by and watch as humans are killed?

How can we say there is nothing wrong with all this?

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 07:11 AM

When Hashem created the world, He knew that one day some time in the future, Akum so-and-so will be in danger, and that Yid so-and-so will be able to save him, and still, He commanded us not to save him today because it is Shabbos.

Everyone has a “time” when his or her time in this world is up. Hashem was the One Who put that person in danger. He could have put him in danger on a weekday, or He could have arranged for a way to save him without anyone being mechalel Shabbos. Or He could have arranged for a fellow Akum to be able to save him, instead of a Yid. If Hashem arranged a situation wherein someone is dying and the only way to save him is against the Halachah, that means that this person’s time in this world is up. It’s his turn to leave the world, according to Hashem’s plan.

Hashem has a plan for the world. Mostly, Hashem controls the plan Himself, making things happen the way He wants. But only “mostly”. He also gave us, human beings who posses bechirah, the privilege of being partners with Him in the running of His world. He said to us, “The world has a destiny. Every blade of grass, every human being, every snow-capped mountain. And you and I, hand-in-hand, are going to make this destiny happen. I will do my part, and for you, here is the Halachah – that’s your part. This is how I want My world to run. You have the ability to help me fulfill My plan, as well as the ability to thwart My plan. As human beings created in the Image of G-d, that is your privilege. And your responsibility.”

If the Halachah says that your hamburger must be thrown out because it was cooked in a milchig broiler, then the will of Hashem is that that hamburger not be eaten by you. It is as if Hashem said to you explicitly, “Yankele, that Hamburger is not meant for you.”

And it’s not merely “as if”. That is precisely what the Halachah does. The Halachah is a revelation of the will of G-d as He planned it for each generation. And not just for each generation but for each individual in each generation, every day and under every single circumstance of his life. It is all wrapped up in this marvelous document called the Shulchan Aruch. Only Hashem could do that: create one set of rules that will apply everywhere, every time, every place, each according to an individual set of circumstances. He always knows what He wants done in any given situation – because He created both the Law and the situation.

Imagine if you were in Shamayim with Hashem, and from on high you witnessed a car accident. The car and its occupants are teetering over the edge of a bridge. The family in the car is scared stiff, trying not to move the tiniest bit, lest they disturb the delicate balance of the vehicle so precariously perched on the edge and plunge downward to certain death. You instinctively reach out to save them, but Hashem stops you. “No,” he says. “Their time has come to die.” Only a fool would defy G-d’s plan and save them anyway.

And that is exactly what is happening when you want to save someone and the Halachah says “no.” Hashem is saying “No. Don’t save them. Their time is up.” And if you rebel against Hashem, if you save them anyway, you are interfering with His will, with His very plan for the world.

It could be that maybe a thousand years ago a little Yiddele went up to Shamayim after one hundred and twenty years, and on judgment day Hashem showed him all the horrors of Hitler’s holocaust. An accusatory voice bellowed at him: “You did this! You killed six million Jews!”

“What?! It’s not true!” the hapless defendant says. “You’re lying. I couldn’t do that. Hitler won’t even have been born yet for another thousand years. What does this have to do with me?”

Then they show him a recording of himself one Shabbos, years ago, when an Akum was in danger - maybe a close friend of his - and, against the Halachah, he was mechalel Shabbos to save him.

“Did you save this man?,” he is asked.

“Yes, I am guilty of that, but what does that have to do with the holocaust?”

“That man was supposed to die then and there,” the prosecutor answers. “Because of you, he lived. That man was the great-grandfather of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was never supposed to have been born. Six million Jews were never supposed to die. Had you listened to Hashem, none of this would have happened.”

Actually, this was the story of how Haman was born – because King Shaul refused to kill Agag, King of Amalek.

Imagine this scenario: Hashem commands the water, “Create a flood in this-and-this place. These four people are to die. These six others are to be injured. That is part of the destiny of the world.”

But the water speaks up: “No. I refuse. I don’t want those people dead.”Of course, that cannot happen. Nothing can rebel against Hashem.

Or rather, almost nothing. The Shulchan Aruch, Alex, is a Force of Nature. We, the Jews, were given the job to make the Shulchan Aruch work. The only difference between us and the Angel of Water is that we do have the ability to be stupid enough to thwart Hashem’s plan.

People die every day. Entire nations go extinct. Nobody has a moral problem with that, because they know that’s nature, that’s the world, that’s destiny. According to http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/pcwe about 4.7 million people die every month throughout the world. That makes over 56 million people a year.

Who do you think causes these people to die? G-d. Fifty six million people a year. Talk about holocausts! What gives G-d the right to be such a mass murderer? Throughout history, entire civilizations were wiped out - now that's genocide!

And if you add up the amount of people who G-d caused to die throughout history, I don’t even know how many millions and millions it would be.

But nobody has a moral problem with any of that because this is the way of the world.Everybody dies in his proper time. That’s "normal". Murder is when you kill someone before his time is up. So your question assumes that when G-d sends the malach hamaves to break a bridge and have someone fall to his death, that is OK, because the person's "time is up", but when G-d tells Moshe to throw an Amaleiki off a bridge that is murder because the victim should still live.

And that is the mistake. For when G-d decides that someone should die - be it at the hands of the Angel of Death or one of Hashem's human agents - that person's time is up. G-d can kill all the Amalekim at the hands of an earthquake or at the hands of Klall Yisrael - same difference.

Hashem runs the world through nature, and what you need to understand is that Hashem runs the world through the Shulchan Aruch as well, and that we Jews are guardians of His plan. Hashem could destroy Amalek with a flood, with an earthquake, or with a volcano. But He chose a different way. It’s up to us to carry it out.

There was once a Maskil who approached Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector ZT"L with the following question:

A non-Jewish sailor returns home after a year at sea in possession of one small bag of gold coins with which to support his family. He accidently drops the coins and the wealthiest Jew in town finds them. Since they were lost by an Akum, Torah tells us that the Jew is allowed to keep them. In fact, unless there would be a Kiddush Hashem incurred through the coins’ return, , the Jew is not even allowed to return the coins!

The coins then fall from the wealthy Jew's pocket, and are subsequently found by a homeless, destitute Jew. According to the halachah, this poor man is obligated to return the coins to the wealthy Jewish landowner!

"How is this fair?!?," the maskil asked.

Rav Yitzchok Elchonon answered, "What would you say if you saw a giant hand come out of the sky, and take that bag of coins from the Akum and give them to the wealthy Jew. Would you have a problem with that?"

His point was obvious. The Halachah represents the Will of Hashem. We just make it happen.

The difference between what Hitler did to us vs. what we are commanded to do to Amalek is that the two actions are opposites. Hashem’s message to Hitler, through the seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach was, “The Jews’ time is not up yet. I want them to live. If you kill any of them, that is murder” Hitler went against Hashem’s plan. By contrast, Hashem’s message to us is, “Amalek’s time is up. It is part of the cosmic plan that the world move on without them”.

Klall Yisroel are the agents to ensure that Hashem’s cosmic plan is not thwarted.

A car on a bridge, an enemy king, a nation in the desert, or an ailing individual – if G-d decides their time is up, nobody would consider that unethical. The agent entrusted by G-d to facilitate His plan is carrying out the natural unfolding of history.

Klall Yisroel are sometimes His agents. The Halachah, which is min hashamayim, tells us when.


#3 YReiner

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 12:11 PM

I agree with all that your saying; I would just like to clarify one point.

One can walk away from your response(maybe incorrectly) and think that from a Torah perspective, we are supposed to approach the killing of say 1000s of people from a tsunami, the same as a mass murder killing 1000s of people. In both cases Hashem has decreed that these people should die.

My thoughts on the matter are as follows.

The Torah definitely wants us to react to something evil differently than to say, a natural disaster. When people are killed in a natural disaster it could be a message to the world to do teshuva or a punishment to those people, and many other possibilities. However when a human being commits an evil act the natural emotional response of the people affected will be much more powerful. Thus, one can conclude that the message was intended to be more powerful. Therefore, it is difficult to compare an act of murder by one human to another to say a when someone dies of a sickness. Of course Hashem decreed that both people die at the moment they did however, the stories are vastly different but share a common fact that both people were supposed to die at that moment. From a human perspective one story is of a terrible evil act, and the other a tragic occurrence of nature. Our moral obligations and Torah obligations demand that we do everything in our powers to eliminate evil acts.

My response to the original question would be that simple difference between the mass killing of innocent people, by Hitler Y"S, and the obligation to kill Amalek is that Amalek is not innocent. We might not have clarity as why we are obligated to kill (or allow) certain people (to die), but one thing is certain that they deserve to die and thus not innocent. We are not the arbiters of guilty and innocent, Hashem is, we simply don’t have all the facts. Killing Usma Bin Laden is completely moral.

Another approach as why the torah would command as not to save someone from dying might be that it is more important to the world and thus humanity in general to say not desecrate Shabbos. One can comprehend that we sometimes need to sacrifice certain individuals for the greater good.

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 01:06 PM

However when a human being commits an evil act the natural emotional response of the people affected will be much more powerful.


That's only for those who believe that when someone is killed due to an evil act it should not have happened. Preventable damage is always more painful than inevitable damage. A preventable death is always more heartrending. And an act of evil is not only preventable, it is aberrational. It not only did not have to happen, but it should not have happened.

That makes the loss seem much greater.

But if that perspective is incorrect, and the reality is that both evil and "natural" disasters are equally preventable or inevitable, then people would react with the same intensity to both.

Of course, this does not exonerate the perpetrator, because he willingly chose to perform his evil acts, and our choices are what make us good or bad.

Whenever tragedy struck our people, our Tzadikim always focused on the what caused the Gzeirah Min Hashamayim. it didn't matter whether the harm was caused by human design or "natural" causes. The reaciton was the same: What caused this Genzirah?

(There is of course a disagreement whether a human being's actions are always foreordained or if a Baal Bechirah can actually overturn a Gezeirah Min HaShamayim. But according to both sides of that dispute, the proper reaction to tragedy is יפשפש במעשיו.)

Your answer to the moral question of Mechiyas Amalek doesn't work. While it is true that we are not the ones to judge guilt or innocence, our definition of guilt means someone has to choose to do something that makes them guilty.Guilt without choice does not exist. This is, for example, one of the reasons given for why the Rambam did not include free-will in the Ikarim - because the Ikar of Schar V'Onesh includes free-will, since without free will there can be no reward or punishment.

How, then, can a one-week old Amaleki child be "guilty" of anything? Without the exercising of choice there can be no guilt. And if you will respond by saying that somehow there is a type of guilt that is intrinsic, or can be perpetrated even by a small baby, all you are doing then is changing the definition of "guilt" to something we do not know or understand. The word "guilty" as we know it does not apply, and what does apply is some homonym that lacks any meaning we are aware of. All you are saying, then, is that "Hashem said there is a reason to kill them but we don't know what it is." That unknown reason, you are calling "guilt" (or maybe "gilt" - if we make up a new word we can make up a new spelling, no?). Fine, but that does not address the question.

#5 YReiner

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 10:38 PM

"Whenever tragedy struck our people, our Tzadikim always focused on the what caused the Gzeirah Min Hashamayim. it didn't matter whether the harm was caused by human design or "natural" causes. The reaciton was the same: What caused this Gezirah?"

I agree that the focus and the message is always the same- יפשפש במעשיו
Why does that have have to mean that the emotional response be the same. When R Akiva was brutally killed as part of the 10 Harugai Malchus, didnt the whole world shake to its core!? Would the reaction of the malochim have been the same if he would've had a terible illness? Does the Torah demand us not to listen to our emotions?

#6 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 02:02 PM

Why does that have have to mean that the emotional response be the same....Does the Torah demand us not to listen to our emotions?

The Torah allows you to use a jackhammer. But it would not be proper judgement to use it to clean your ear.

Emotions have a purpose - to spur you on to do what's right and to help you run away from what's wrong.

But they can't tell you which is which. That is the job of your sechel.

In this case, your emotions only tell you that a man-made disaster is worse because your intellectual understanding is that a man-made disaster was avoidable. For someone whose intellectual understanding is that anything that happens to a person is Bidei Shamayim, his emotions will not tell him that man-made disasters are worse. Your emotions are only a reflection of your Hashkafa here. You would like the emotions to verify the Hashkafa. But since the emotions are only a reflection of the Hashkafa, they tell you nothing more than the fact that the Hashkafa exists. They cannot tell you whether the Hahskafa is true.

And so the Sefer HaChinuch says that the animosity of a person who was wronged and wants to take revenge against his assailant is misplaced. Since everything that happens to a person is decreed from Heaven, it makes no sense to blame the assailant, since the damage would have happened anyway. It's just that the perpetrator volunteered to carry out the sentence, which makes him culpable, but he never becomes the cause of the damage.

It's like if someone rang your bell and when you opened the door they placed some official looking papers in your hand. If your mind tells you you were just served, you'll be upset; but if your mind tells you you were just notified that you won the lottery, you'd be overjoyed.Your emotions are the result of your Hashkafa.

So too here. What emotions are stirred within you depends on what your Hashkafa is. But your emotions cannot be a reliable guide as to what the Hashkafa should be.



When R Akiva was brutally killed as part of the 10 Harugai Malchus, didnt the whole world shake to its core!? Would the reaction of the malochim have been the same if he would've had a terible illness?

Probably true, but that would be because of the terrible Chilul Hashem taking place where evil people triumph over the righteous. Even if it was Rabi Akiva's time to leave this world, still, the dishonorable manner in which he left the world was a terribly painful expression of Hester Ponim. For that, the Malachim cried.

#7 613

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 12:48 AM

Further question if a tragedy strikes R"L should people look for reasons why it may have happened or do self introspection and personal Teshuvah? thank you.

#8 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:32 AM

That's like asking if someone comes to the doctor with a problem should he find out the reason for the problem or should he fix it?

Chazal say:

אם רואה אדם שיסורין באין עליו יפשפש במעשיו שנאמר נחפשה דרכינו ונחקורה ונשובה

There are two instructions here: (a) נחקורה - meaning find the reason for the suffering, "reason" meaning the wrongdoing that caused it, and then (b.) נשובה - do teshuva for whatever sins you find that may have caused the suffering.

When the body feels pain it is a sign that something is wrong. We thank Hashem for pain. If not for pain, we would be able to sit down on a lit stove and not know we are getting roasted. If not for pain doctors would no=t be able to diagnose so many illnesses. Pain is a warning - a sign from nature - that something is wrong. it tells us: Do something before it is too late!

The same thing applies spiritually. Pain in our lives is a sign from Hashem that something is wrong. it is a symptom. We are instructed by Chazal to identify the cause of the pain in order for us to cure whatever caused it. Just as we should not ignore the pain of a burning backside or a terrible headache, so too ignoring suffering in our lives is like ignoring a burning backside. If someone feels himself burning and says: "I am not on the level to know why Hashem is giving me this pain - I will simply take better care pf my health in general," he is being a fool. Pain is a message that somethign specific is wrong. So is suffering.

How to diagnose suffering is another question.Sometimes you can diagnose your own pain - as in the case of a stove, and sometimes you need a doctor - sometimes an expert doctor. The way we diagnose suffering is using "tools" such as Mida Kneged Midah and by looking in the Torah and seeing what symptoms are brought about by what ailments. The Gemora tells a story of Rav Huna who lost vineyards and was searching for a sin that would cause that to happen. He couldn't think of anything but his students pointed out something that the rule of Mida Kneged Midah would identify as the cause.

But sometimes a pain can remain un-diagnosed. A woman once came to the Chazon Ish and asked him how she can identify the causes of her suffering. His answer was that if the sin that caused the pain is clear, as in a Midah Kneged Midah or some other obvious connection, then you should assume that sin caused it. If not, then she should nto drive herself crazy trying to figure it out because she probably won;t be able to. In such a case she should do general teshuva.

But of course the inability to find a cause is not because she is not supposed t, but rather because she is unable to. Like any other Shailah. If you don't know the answer it doesn't mean someone else can't know it or that it is unknowable. It means you don't know enough to figure out the answer.

This is why, throughout history, our Gedolei Yisroel have searched out reasons for our tragedies - from the SInas Chinam of the second Bais Hamikdash to the expulsion from Spain, to the gezeiros of Tach veTat, to the blood libels, to Churban Europe.

The purpose of such identifications are not to cast blame, but rather to ensure that the tragedy stops, because if we know why it is happening, we can correct the cause. Like a doctor making a diagnosis, if you knowing what is causing the pain tells you what you need to do to cure it.

And so the Rambam writes:

רמב"ם יד החזקה - הלכות תעניות פרק א

(א) מצות עשה מן התורה לזעוק ולהריע בחצוצרות על כל צרה שתבא על הצבור שנאמר (במדבר י') על הצר הצורר אתכם והרעותם בחצוצרות כלומר כל דבר שייצר לכם כגון בצורת ודבר וארבה וכיוצא בהן זעקו עליהן והריעו:

(ב) ודבר זה מדרכי התשובה הוא שבזמן שתבוא צרה ויזעקו עליה ויריעו ידעו הכל שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הורע להן ככתוב (ירמיהו ה') עונותיכם הטו וגו' וזה הוא שיגרום להם להסיר הצרה מעליהם:

(ג) אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות הוא שכתוב בתורה (ויקרא כ"ו) והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהוא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי:




In other words, if you feel pain and someone tells you "Get off the stove!" he is doing you a favor. If someone else says to you "We don't know why Hashem brings pain. You cannot know why you are hurting," he is being cruel and evil.

Pain is a message from Hashem. Both when it comes through Nature as well as when it comes through events. Pain is a sign there is something wrong. If you can determine the cause of the pain then you have taken the first step to curing it.

Of course, there are doctors, and there are quacks, and there are those who are more expert than others. Chazal tell us - אם יסורים באים עליו יפשפש במעישו - that is an open and shut directive. And when it was stated, there were no more Neviim. And it was stated as a directive to to everyone - not just the great sages (not everyone in those days was a Talmudic sage). However, sometimes you don't know the answer - as Rav Chaim Brisker said: it is better to remain with a good question than to give a bad answer.

That applies here too. But Rav Chaim never said not to try to find an answer.





(See also this post.)

#9 chayimk

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 06:58 AM

I have a problem with this answer.
EVERY immoral act done by any believer from any belief would make EXACTLY the same claim - that the law of G-d requires them to do these seemingly immoral acts - of course Hitler made the exact same claim too.
So what makes us any different from them? What makes us so absolutely sure that the Shulchan Aruch is the will of G-d? Maybe it's the Koran - and as interpreted by the Muslim Chazal of many generations traditions - it says that blowing up Jews is absolutely required by Hashem?
What would you have said if you were born and raised to be a Shiite Muslim Imam in Southern Lebanon and were asked this very same question about killing innocent Jewish Israelis?
They too have their tradition of truth passed on from father to son - and they would never dare question the truths that their parents taught them, just like we expect from our own children. So how are we different? Do we have any truly objective proof that ALL THE WORLD can see and recognize that shows that we have the truth any more than them?

#10 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:58 AM

I have a problem with this answer.
EVERY immoral act done by any believer from any belief would make EXACTLY the same claim - that the law of G-d requires them to do these seemingly immoral acts - of course Hitler made the exact same claim too.
So what makes us any different from them? What makes us so absolutely sure that the Shulchan Aruch is the will of G-d? Maybe it's the Koran - and as interpreted by the Muslim Chazal of many generations traditions - it says that blowing up Jews is absolutely required by Hashem?
What would you have said if you were born and raised to be a Shiite Muslim Imam in Southern Lebanon and were asked this very same question about killing innocent Jewish Israelis?
They too have their tradition of truth passed on from father to son - and they would never dare question the truths that their parents taught them, just like we expect from our own children. So how are we different? Do we have any truly objective proof that ALL THE WORLD can see and recognize that shows that we have the truth any more than them?

Yes, of course we do.

But first, let's understand what you - and I - are saying. If the Torah comes from Hashem, then one cannot level any complaints of immorality against it any more than one can level claims of immorality against an earthquake or a flood. Or, even better, the fact that all human beings sooner or later die, which of course, save for the fact that it is Hashem Who causes that, it would be considered murder.

Now your question is, how do we know that the Torah is from Hashem as opposed to other religions? Fine, I will address that shortly but as long as we understand that all such questions about the "morality" of the Torah are only valid assuming that the Torah is NOT really true, is not the Dvar Hashem, was not given to Moshe on Har Sinai. Without such an assumption, all such questions don't begin.

What would you have said if you were born and raised to be a Shiite Muslim Imam in Southern Lebanon and were asked this very same question about killing innocent Jewish Israelis?
They too have their tradition of truth passed on from father to son

But they do not. Not like ours, anyway. Their traditions - all of them - trace back to a single person or persons who claimed that they heard something from G-d. At that point, you need a leap of faith to blindly believe the alleged prophet. Judaism, on the other hand, has a tradition traceable up to Har Sinai where Hashem Himself spoke to the entire nation - a few million people. Without that, we would not believe Moshe Rabbeinu. As the Rambam says:

רמב"ם יד החזקה - הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ח

(א) משה רבינו לא האמינו בו ישראל מפני האותות שעשה שהמאמין על פי האותות יש בלבו דופי שאפשר שיעשה האות בלט וכשוף אלא כל האותות שעשה משה במדבר לפי הצורך עשאם לא להביא ראיה על הנבואה היה צריך להשקיע את המצריים קרע את הים והצלילן בתוכו צרכנו למזון הוריד לנו את המן צמאו בקע להן את האבן כפרו בו עדת קרח בלעה אותן הארץ וכן שאר כל האותות ובמה האמינו בו במעמד הר סיני שעינינו ראו ולא זר ואזנינו שמעו ולא אחר האש והקולות והלפידים והוא נגש אל הערפל והקול מדבר אליו ואנו שומעים משה משה לך אמור להן כך וכך וכן הוא אומר פנים בפנים דבר ה' עמכם ונאמר לא את אבותינו כרת ה' את הברית הזאת ומנין שמעמד הר סיני לבדו היא הראיה לנבואתו שהיא אמת שאין בו דופי שנאמר הנה אנכי בא אליך בעב הענן בעבור ישמע העם בדברי עמך וגם בך יאמינו לעולם מכלל שקודם דבר זה לא האמינו בו נאמנות שהיא עומדת לעולם אלא נאמנות שיש אחריה הרהור ומחשבה

Please see this forum. And also this forum where I demonstrate that not only do we have a mouth-to-mouth tradition of Torah MiSinai but shorty after the traditional time of Kabbalas HaTorah the Jewish people were split into factions, all of which had the tradition of Kabbalas HaTorah yet would never have accepted and new articles of faith from each other, which makes it unreasonable to claim that our Mesorah "began" subsequent to when it claims it did.

I hope this answers your question.

Oh, and the following part of your post is incorrect:



and they would never dare question the truths that their parents taught them, just like we expect from our own children.

This is not so. We have no such expectations. We actually expect something much more difficult - open mindedness and negation of agendas and vested interests, so that what is objectively correct and reasonable will be perceived as such. We also expect that before our children form opinions they should be educated so that their opinion will be an informed one. Ignorance is anathema to Judaism.

And the element of fear that you claim exists ("they would never dare") is simply not so. If someone has a question about our Emunah for whatever reason, they are encouraged to ask, and we are encouraged to answer.

#11 chayimk

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:41 PM

<p>A few points:</p>
<ol>
<li>You never answered my question - &quot;if you were born and raised to be a Shiite Muslim Imam in Southern Lebanon and were asked this very same question about killing innocent Jewish Israelis&quot; - do you have any doubt that in the same position as a &quot;true-believer&quot; in the Islamic mesorah you would not have given the exact same answer?<br />
</li>
<li>Muslims most certainly have what they believe to a mass-revelation and they believe it just as much as you do. See here: http://www.sunnahonl...ran/0005.htm<br />
Quote: <em><font face="Georgia" size="3">The Holy Qur'an has reached us through the process of tawatur - historical continuity and perpetuation achieved through transfer from generation-to-generation. When we say that the Qur'an has reached us through tawatur, we imply that so many people in every generation conveyed it to the next and so on that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It was not transmitted by a few persons in one generation to a few persons in the next. It was handed over by the entire generation to the next generation. <u>The Generation of the Companions witnessed the revelation and compilation of the Holy Qur'an</u> during the life of the Holy Prophet and then handed it over to the next generation and so on.</font></em><br />
<font class="Apple-style-span" face="Georgia" size="3">Of course, you will claim that THEIR mass revelation is not nearly on a par with ours, but this will just lead to silly arguments as to who has the greater revelation. I have a strong suspicion that many, many Muslims would never be convinced of the logic of your claim over theirs. <br />
And that is why I asked - &quot;Do we have any truly objective proof that <u>ALL THE WORLD</u> can see and recognize that shows that we have the truth any more than them?&quot; </font><br />
</li>
<li><font class="Apple-style-span" face="Georgia" size="3">and they would never dare question the truths that their parents taught them,<strong class="bbc" style="font-weight: bold !important; "> just like we expect from our own children</strong>.</font><br />
<br />
&quot;This is not so. We have no such expectations&quot;<br />
<br />
<div style="direction: ltr;">Au Contraire! The Shomer Emunim has this to say in Maamar HaGeula Perek Beis:<br />
<div style="direction: rtl;">&quot;ומפני זה לא יסדתי חיבוריי על שום ראיות על האמונה...וכך קבלה בידינו...שאין להסתכל ח&quot;ו בשום ראיות על האמונה...רק צריך להתדבק באמונה פשוטה שהנחילו אבותינו...&quot;<br />
<div style="direction: ltr;">if that isnt expecting us to &quot;just believe the truths our parents have taught us&quot; without question or logic, then I dont know what is...</div>
</div>
</div>
</li>
</ol>


#12 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 08:28 PM

You never answered my question - &quot;if you were born and raised to be a Shiite Muslim Imam in Southern Lebanon and were asked this very same question about killing innocent Jewish Israelis&quot; - do you have any doubt that in the same position as a &quot;true-believer&quot; in the Islamic mesorah you would not have given the exact same answer?

I did answer the question. The answer is no, I would not be able to give the same answer. The Muslims do not claim that the Koran was given to the entire nation who heard the voice of Hashem as we do the Torah. They claim it was dictated to Mohamed by G-d. Islam does not have the multi-denominational tradition that we do, where varied conflicting traditions and feuding peoples all had in their possession the same Torah. Therefore, the Islamic claim that the Jews falsified their Torah and purposely excluded Islam (Koran ch. 6), is falsified by the fact that the Greek translation of the Tanach was already in non-Jewish hands long before Islam was invented.

If you mean to ask had I been brought up sheltered in an Islamic home, unaware of the history that validates the Jewish Mesorah and instead taught Islamic doctrine by loving parents - would I believe in Islam? - the question is of course irrelevant to the topic we are discussing, which is not "can people overcome their upbringing?" but rather "Is the Jewish Mesorah correct?" The implication of your question, that because people believe in Islam that somehow means that there is some commonality between their beliefs and others is both illogical and incorrect. People believe all kinds of crazy things because of their upbringing, or the media, such as worshiping idols or atheism, or that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Had I been brought up in a KKK home I would have perhaps been an anti-Semite. That does not mean it makes sense. My point is that the historical facts show our Mesorah to be true. If you have something that addresses that, please state it. The fact that there are Muslims or atheists or Scientologists or Universe People or Prince Philip Worshippers (I am not kidding) who make the same claim about their own beliefs does not diminish the arguments for our Mesorah in the slightest.

(So for the record, the answer to your irrelevant question is - Had I been brought up as a Klan member, whether I would be an anti-Semite, the answer is I do not know, but if I would I'd clearly be wrong. And I certainly would not be able to put forth proofs to my beliefs. Same thing if I grew up Muslim.)

Muslims most certainly have what they believe to a mass-revelation and they believe it just as much as you do. See here:http://www.sunnahonl...ran/0005.htm<br />
Quote: <em><font face="Georgia" size="3">The Holy Qur'an has reached us through the process of tawatur - historical continuity and perpetuation achieved through transfer from generation-to-generation. When we say that the Qur'an has reached us through tawatur, we imply that so many people in every generation conveyed it to the next and so on that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It was not transmitted by a few persons in one generation to a few persons in the next. It was handed over by the entire generation to the next generation. <u>The Generation of the Companions witnessed the revelation and compilation of the Holy Qur'an</u> during the life of the Holy Prophet and then handed it over to the next generation and so on

Sigh. First, please don’t bring me proofs from random people’s writings on random internet sites. Not in regard to anything at all, and certainly not in regard to religion. Just imagine what someone would pick up about Jewish beliefs with that methodology. You may want to start employing your ideal of not blindly and unquestioningly accepting things to random posts you read by random people on the internet. It makes little sense to argue in favor of not blindly accepting a 4,000 year national history based on blindly accepting some assertion you saw on some random website.

That website is referring to what the Muslims call the tawatur ("consecutive continuity") of the Koran, which according to Islam began with the "companions of the prophet" who handed it down to the next generation. It does not say that the Deity appeared to the nation of Islam and revealed the Koran. Islam claims the Deity dictated the Koran to Muhamed alone. Go ask your local Orthodox Imam or something.

The Shomer Emunim has this to say in Maamar HaGeula Perek Beis:<br />
<div style="direction: rtl;">&quot;ומפני זה לא יסדתי חיבוריי על שום ראיות על האמונה...וכך קבלה בידינו...שאין להסתכל ח&quot;ו בשום ראיות על האמונה...רק צריך להתדבק באמונה פשוטה שהנחילו אבותינו...&quot; if that isnt expecting us to &quot;just believe the truths our parents have taught us&quot; without question or logic, then I dont know what is...</div><br />

The Kuzari, the Sefer HaIkarim, the Chinuch and the Smag state that the reason we had a mass revelation is in order to create indisputable testimony to our Mesorah. Every Sefer of every Rishon that discusses Hashem presents the First Cause argument. Many Rishonim, such as the Chovos Halevovos, and even Chazal themselves used proofs.

So first, if you saw something in a Chasidishe Sefer in the name of a Kabbalah from the Baal Shem Tov that appears to you to contradict all of the above, it does not give us a right to conclude that all the above is wrong. Rather, you have a question on the contents of the Sefer.

In addition, it is absurd that anyone should say that Judaism requires people to blindly listen to their parents. If so, they would exempt someone from being an Apikores, idol worshiper, or general fool,if his parents teach him he should be so, even if left to his own devices he would reject the deviant teachings of his parents. Do you really think the Shomrei Emunim says everyone should just blindly follow their parents' teachings regardless of what those teachings are? If not, then there must exist an independent standard that the child has against which to judge his parents' teachings. Clearly,it makes no sense for a person to follow something he knows to be false. In fact, the Halachah requires him not to listen to his parents when they tell him something wrong.

The truth is, you did not understand what the Shomer Emunim is saying (it's in ch. 5 btw), nor do you realize who he is talking to, for his message is to a particular audience. Third, you are using the Sefer in a way that, as a Chasidishe Sefer, it was never intended to be used.

As a rule, when Chasidishe seforim provide guidance or practical instruction, it does not mean that everyone should follow it. Each Rebbe was talking specifically for his Talmidim according to the roots of their souls. That’s the way Chasidishe Seforim are written. See my post of 4/7 here. They describe the best approach for the Chasidim of that particular Rebbe. It does not mean that everyone must or even is allowed to follow it. Sometimes, intructions in Chasidishe Seforim, if employed by people other than whom it was meant for, such as the idea of "elevating unholy thoughts," for example, can bring a person to do terrible Aveiros r"l.

But in this case, you should have quoted the entire piece instead of using all those ellipses. He first quotes the Rambam as saying that our Torah is a religion of tradition handed down generation to generation and that this Mesorah is as authoritative as any other part of the Torah (see here). He quotes the Rambam as saying that our Mesorah is accepted by all Jews from har Sinai - like an unquestioned historical truism - and there is no legitimate reason for a Jew to question it.

It's like, for example, holocaust deniers. The Mesorah that the holocaust happened is sufficiently strong that we know those who run around saying there is no proof it ever happened are not engaging in intellectual questioning but rather anti-Semiitsim. So too was the strength of the Mesorah of Kabbaals HaTorah, that anyone who denied it clearly had a problem.

So just as you would not advise your children to read holocaust denier books and try to sort out the "proofs" and "disproofs" that the holocaust did or did not occur, and instead you'd tell them that your grandfather's father was there, and that delving into such proofs and disproofs merely serves to diminish the fact that the holocaust is historical reality, and makes something into a debatable topic when it is anything but, so too the Shomer Emunim is saying about Kabbalas HaTorah.

He is not saying everyone should accept what their parents as blindly any more than you'd tell your children to accept blindly that you say there was a holocaust. He is saying we have a historical Mesorah and that accepting it like that leads to a much clearer and healthier belief than sorting out all the holocaust-denier proofs and disproofs.

However, if despite not confusing himself with listening to the holocaust deniers (or even if he did unwisely confuse himself trying to sort out the "proofs"), he honestly does not know whether there was a holocaust, then, you would recommend starting with proofs. So too with Judaism. What the Shomer Emunim is saying is that we who do believe in the Mesorah do not need any additional proofs; and that delving into those proofs and their disproofs serves no purpose, since we do believe our Mesorah, and only serves to risk confusing people by having them delve inot the "disproofs" as well as the "proofs" because you cannot really do one without the other (the Shomer Emunim brings out this point explicitly), so what's the point? It serves curiosity and such, but in Avodas Hashem? No point.

But that's true for those who know and believe the Mesorah. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are already very confused for all sorts of reasons, where a Mabul of Sheker floods the streets daily, and the truth of our Mesorah is innocently questioned by people who do not know better.

Nobody, including the Shomer Emunim says that such a person is not supposed to ask. And nobody, including the Shomer Emunim, says that we should not answer. One day it may happen that our grandchildren will innocently question whether the holocaust occurred or the Jews made it up. I hope that time never comes but if it does, nobody will say we should just sit back and tell them not to ask.

The Shomer Emunim is, well, being a "shomer" - a protector - of "emunim." For those who believe due to Mesorah, it serves no purpose to synthetically create quesitons that you don't have. But if someone has questions, it is a great Mitzvah to give them answers.

There is another factor here as well. The Rambam says that the guarantee of Ki becha yaaminu leolam ensures that left to their own devices, a Jew will in fact believe. The Meforshim explain that outside influences, and personal desires negate this guarantee. Unfortunately, nowadays too many people have many outside influences and personal desires that conflict with Kedusha.

But for someone who already is a Maamin because of the Mesorah and Hashem's guarantee of Ki becha, then, well, if it is not broken, don't try to fix it. That's all the SHomrei Emunim is saying.

It is unwise to make into a debatable topic something that you already know is not debatable. That's the what the Emunah of a person SHOULD be. If he is not, we deal.

Thus, the Shomer Emunim is reconciled with our Chazal and Rishonim..

This idea, that it is better to believe with Emunah Peshutah but that does not mean we turn away those who unfortunately do not, is mentioned explicitly in our Seforim. Please see my footnote #27 here.

#13 sandythedog

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 11:00 PM

To answer part of the post at the beginning (haven't read all aspects of the answers given, keep in mind please) but in regard to 'why does Torah contradict common morality?' Well, one could ask why we do a bris (circumcision). Keep in mind, in one city in CA, USA, they had wanted to acknowledge that it is immoral bc of ABUSE. Back in times of the Bais Hamikdash (The Temple, in this case, the first one) people would get stoned or killed by strangulation etc for certain acts. What about today? When people kill, or imbezzel? IF in a particular case they would go to jail, probably wouldn't be killed and would probably live somewhat comfortably (can't comment on the ones who have 1 hr of sunlight a day etc). Is that justice/morally proper? It's only the Torah that can really tell us what is proper, as our own emotions can come into play without total knowledge of the situation or whatver, as mentioned b4.

#14 ilavHashem

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 11:37 PM

morality in secular society is defined by the generation, and our current state of mind.
for example, people in this generation find gay marraige and couples completely acceptable in society, they are MORAL
and those who appose homosexuallity are labeled "homophobics"
the Torah, is timeless, and in every generation the ethics and moral codes set out by the torah will hold true, the Torah said no to gays thousands of years before gay marriage was ok'ed in states all over the U.S.
we have to judge morality not by the standards set by those around us, but by the standards set by the Hashem, His Torah,a nd our chachamim!

#15 Kshaniv

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 05:32 PM

Here's something I'm unclear on: When hitler murdered six million Jews, was that against Hashem's cosmic plan? When is killing in accordance to Hashem's cosmic plan and when is it against His plan? And if a person's death always connotes that his time is up, why is a murderer punished?

#16 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:33 PM

When the Torah says to do something, obeying it furthers Hashem's plan, and not obeying it hinders His plan.

However, where the collective experiences of Klall Yisroel are concerned, what happens is always the result of Reward and Punishment. It is always a part of Hashem's plan.

So if the nation of Yisroel suffers a tragedy r"l, it was Hashem's plan.

I didn't say a person's death always connotes his time is up. Rather, when Hashem says to kill someone (or not to save him) that means his time is up.

There is a different disagreement regarding whether a murderer can kill someone even if his designated time in the world is not up.

However, even those who hold someone getting murdered does in fact connote that person's time was up, the murderer is still liable, because when the Torah says it is prohibited to murder someone, it means one may not take matters into one's own hands, but rather, let Hashem end the person's life Himself. Defying that order is the sin for which the murderer is punished.