In discussing my views with other orthodox men and some rabbis there has been some confusion regarding
what I think of the Talmud. When I ask if our rabbis had the authority to apply the Grecian democratic process to legislating
on Torah laws some ask if I mean to throw out the entire Talmud. I am aware that the Talmud was burned in Paris 1000 years
ago and I am certainly against disregarding Talmudic study. However, I cannot accept the view that our rabbis are to
be venerated as infallible commentators on God's Torah. Our rabbis were men and are to be respected, but not
venerated, as they too often are. Our history is one of continual curses and learning to know the will of God should be our
main agenda in study. If we see that our rabbis have entered something into the Talmud or any later or earlier document
which is in anyway contradictory to the Written Torah, we should open a discussion or debate on these issues irrespective
of the respect or veneration which was accorded the rabbis involved. Any good man knows that there is a vast difference
between his own finite nature and the infinite nature of our Creator and will not mind if future students discover an error
in his reasoning especially if the error can affect the security and quality of life of his people. There is absolutely nothing
wrong or improper about looking at all of our manmade literature with respect and criticality. There is a great deal
wrong with criticizing or condemning the attempt to harmonize Jewish life with Torah law so that we can finally get on track
with God's blessings - especialy now when even our friends have lost patience with us for rewarding terrorism instead of eliminating
I'm a strict constructionist like the conservative adherents of the U.S. Constitution. I believe in God's intention
for us to master ourselves through performance of the Laws as He presented them to Moshe. Our Rabbis have practiced a kind
of liberal activism and legislated new laws ostensibly to make Torah a way by which to live. What they did unintentionally
is preempt our spiritual development and even misidentify spiritual as a kind of quantitative feat with knit foreheads demonstrating
fear of God during every utterance of a bracha and prayer.
It is the Torah by itself which demands heroism in faithfully performing all its laws. However the laws are easy to
perform with faith in HaShem's Presence, governance of history and sustenance of our lives. They are ironically easier to
perform with fear of Him because this is a God who means what He says and has not been shy about demonstrating that misrepresenting
His will, laws and intentions carry a painful punishment.
Look how easy Shabbat is without an eruv but with logic and understanding. Carrying gloves, coats, umbrellas, keys,
kids and shofars should not defined as being the same thing you do when you bring things to market for sale.
I'm not against so-called electronic Shabbat devices developed by our religious institutes, I'm against
thinking that because we employ them, we have somehow pleased God. Electricity is on like water or if you like, it is
like fire. I believe that I am correct in understanding that picking a fruit from a tree on Shabbat and eating it is just
fine, while packing some in a basket should have been done before Shabbat. I believe that creating a fire must be done
before Shabbat, but that adding logs to an existing fire is not creating a second fire anymore than adding a word to a conversation creates
a new conversation. Although the new log begins to burn, it is within the same, pre-existing fire.
By continuing as we have lived, our so-called spiritual life is just a continuum of problem solving of problems
of our own creation. We have prevented the development of courage in observing Torah. And we have delayed becoming
the trusted, faithful saviors of the world whom God 's Torah is trying to teach us to be.
Today we celebrated the new moon. It turns out that it is named after a Babylonian god. The Torah forbids
mentioning the names of such gods, yet we have two months named after Babylonian gods. To question the validity of the choice
of names is normal. To refuse to question such choices for names of months by our rabbinic authorities is not normal. We have
had rabbis who come close to putting God Himself on trial for allowing the unthinkable punishments we have suffered throughout
our tortured history, so what's the big deal about focusing on our rabbis' flawed thinking or errors?
This is Shnat Smita, the Sabbatical Year. I've written about this, but just to illustrate my point I'll
mention it again. Can you imagine the first time we observed this commandment and received a bumber crop at the end of the
sixth year as God promised? Some of us would of course say it was a coincidence, but many would celebrate the wonderful blessing.
By the next shnat shmita, there would be fewer sceptics and more enthusiastic Jews. By the Jovel, the Jubilee, after
7 bumber crops, you would see a nation of holy souls so blessed by HaShem that their nation would scintillate with godliness.
By the second Jovel, the nations of the world realizing that no trickery, thievery, or tyranny could provide such wealth,
would be coming to Jerusalem to learn how to earn such blessings as God provides His people Israel. Then every soul would
finally be praising God. And brotherhood and love and fear of God and compliance with Torah would be universal. I
believe that this was and is God's intention and that, as He said in Levitcus 26:34 - 35, He will drive us off the land so
it can have its rests. Therefore, when even my most favorite rabbis advocate a continuation of the heter mechirah policy instead
of the act of true faith which creates the context for God to demonstrate His power through blessing our crops, I for one
am greatly concerned for the safety of my people.
I believe that God told Moshe what He desires and what He allows. I believe Israel has an inheritance
which is the written Torah that Moshe gave us and the world and if we do not represent our Creator accurately and with total
faith and courage, He will continue to punish us as He promised. The Covenant is a contract by which God Himself is ruled,
so if He warns of severe consequences, He too has to suffer the pains and anguish of a Father as well as we do.
So when He commands that we love Him with all our hearts, souls and might (or assets with which He entrusts us), He requires
it so we and He can enjoy life in His
We Jews continue to be idol worshipers because whenever we are commanded to provide a context to show
how God blesses us, we not only refuse, but we create a reason to demonstrate that not complying is really complying. ( Similarly
our secular leaders create myths such as 'restraint in war is demonstrating strength.') Look at how we observe shmita and
read Leviticus 26:34. Consider our loans and prosbul and read Deuteronomy 15:7-11.
Wherever God has commanded us to observe a particular law, some rabbi or group of gaonim created an amendment
to change it and also rationalize that theirs is now the true commandment.
The Torah is a blueprint for a new civilization. Merely duplicating gentile society and adding liturgy,
ritual, ceremony and traditional food and ridiculous clothing is not Torah Judaism. Having our own nation means that, e.g., a
Jewish bank has to be conceived. So rather than issue a heter iska and charge interest like loan sharks on the street, and
calling us partners of the bank which insults God, and makes a farce and travesty of Torah, we need something new which is
true to God's law and intention. And even if we congratulate our cleverness, we have failed to use our talents and we have
angered our Creator with our contempt for His law and with our arrogance which He cannot abide.
Look for the article about a real kosher bank. Perhaps you can contribute some thought about the nuts and
bolts of its operation. Keep in mind that no interest is involved - ever.
There are numerous things we do that is rabbinic, like lighting Shabbat candles, and doing Havdalah; making
kiddush and saying Yiskor and Kaddish. When our customs enhance and embellish life, this is a beautiful contribution and doesn't
I will deal with the many contradictory issues as time goes by. The main thing right now as I see it
is achavat achim. Brotherhood is our destiny and we have misinterpreted the commandment in Leviticus 19:18. Not doing to
others what is not pleasant to you is not complying with the command to love your neighbor as yourself. A cat or dog knows
how to refrain from doing what is unpleasant. A Jewish response to this command has to reach a higher level. If we truly
fulfill it, the period we are entering will not be so terrible. We are waiting for the Moshiach so ...
Remember what King David said to his son Solomon: "I go the way of all the earth; be thou strong therefore
and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments,
and His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to that which is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper
in all that thou doest, and withersoever thou turnest thyself; that the Lord may establish His word which He spoke concerning
me, saying: If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in TRUTH with all their heart and with all their
soul, there shall not fail thee, said He, a man on the throne of Israel." (First Kings 2:2-4)
Now open your Bibles and read Deuteronomy 4:1,2 and until verse
20. Don't King David's words ring with the same tone and integrity as these words which God spoke to Moses?