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Letter by Rabbi David, Responding to "Bob" regarding Judiasm
I may be your mentor on things Christian. I would also like you to be my mentor. I would like to know more about Judaism. I would like to know more about the doctrines of your religion. I will never debate them or in anyway show disrespect for you by trying to evangelize or convert you. I will never argue religion with you. I only want to understand your faith.
In fact, maybe you could write me a letter telling me all about the various sects of Judaism similar to the letter I wrote to you about the sects of Christianity. Tell me about Reconstructionist Judaism (definitely not Judaism at all I presume) and tell me about Reform Judaism (not Judaism at all I presume) and tell me about Conservative Judaism ( some Conservative Synagogues maybe and some may not be genuine Judaism I presume) and tell me about the many Orthodox sects of Judaism of which I know very little, from the Neturei Karta to the followers of Kahane to those who are immersed in the teachings of the Kaballah. Finally tell me about the sect of Judaism that you adhere to doctrinally and why you think your sects understanding of the Talmud and the Hebrew scriptures is the correct version.
If you write this letter to me and for me, it will be a long letter. If you will do this for me, perhaps you can use such a letter on your website too. Thanks in advance, Bob.
RABBI DAVID RESPONDS
I would be happy and honored to tell you about Judaism.
You have mentioned many things you would like to know, and it is easier for me to begin with the last point, to understand my Jewish sect and why I think it is the correct one. Then I can work back and show why the other groups did not do what I think is the right way.
I am an Orthodox Jew, or rather, ultra-Orthodox, as I dress in a long black coat and have a long beard. (Those white hairs are just from the snow or a grandchild’s ice cream, I forget which one.)
Our big principle is to go to the past, and never invent, never change the religion. We derive our religion from the Revelation at Sinai, when G-d taught Israel the Ten Commandments, although Judaism actually began much earlier, with Abraham and Sarah.
Indeed, the idea of worshipping G-d began at Creation, and Adam and Eve worshipped G-d. There were always saints and prophets, even before there were Jews. Thus, Israel has no monopoly on G-d. However, Abraham merited that G-d chose his seed to be a clergy for the human race. G-d told Israel at Sinai, “You will be for Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”
All people are G-d’s creation. They all have holy souls. Israel was chosen by G-d to go into the exile and spread the light of Torah. We are to be a Light unto the Nations. In this world, we have darkness, but in the Future World, G-d will reward us and punish those who hurt us. If we are really worthy, we can stay in Israel and shine light from there, but this is not always the case. For two thousand years we have been in exile, and we never despair. We await the Messiah and the Future World. We sin, but G-d punishes us in this world so we come pure and prepared for the Future World.
G-d spoke to Adam and Eve, and early prophets, such as Shem, the son of Noah. When Abraham became Jewish, he offered tithes to Shem, who was G-d’s High Priest. In those days, the Jews were just like everybody else, and Shem, a gentile, was the holiest person in the world.
The Torah tells us that G-d saw how Abraham and his family loved G-d, and chose them as His clergy. The Creation was about six thousand years ago. Abraham was born a pagan, but he found G-d, and G-d spoke to Him. This happened two thousand years after the Creation. In those days, and until the beginning of the Second Temple Period in the time of Alexander the Great, G-d spoke to humans who were prophets. Then, prophecy ceased. From that time to the present, G-d guides the Jews through the Holy Spirit of the rabbis, who attain this level through the study of the Torah and piety.
Let me just tell you about my mentor, Dr. Shmuel, the dean of Cabalists in Jerusalem . He was an architect, a wealthy man, who found G-d in his twenties, after he studied physics in Sorbonne. He said, If physics is true, there is a Creator. What does the Creator want? He searched, and became an Orthodox Jew. The world’s senior Cabalist wrote of him that his books were written with the Holy Spirit.
I was in his house. He was in one side of the apartment, in his office, and I in the other side, in the guest room. Once I thought to myself: I did that. I achieved something special. I looked up, and Dr. Shmuel stood there and said, “Yes, you achieved it.” He was making fun of me for thinking foolish thoughts. He knew what I thought.
When I saw how holy he was, I thought, “Say, let’s get some blessings going on over here.” I of course asked for my children, and I asked that they marry the right one. You have no idea what a hassle marrying our children is in my community. The parents have to do it. We have to field so many candidates, and check out each one, and find out all of the dirt, and then see if they found any dirt on us! Of course, we don’t have so much dirt, but people will reject you if you have one relative who is not proper, or if one of you children is funny, or such things.
Anyway, I got my blessings, and Bob, you would not believe what happened. I am a plain family, and the greatest rabbinical families in the world began chasing my children! People said, “How did that happen?” I told them. I am proud of it. Dr. Shmuel gave me blessings.
As you see, in my community, the living rabbi or mentor is the key to Judaism. He advises us how to live in every area of life. If my wife rats on me, I am finished. (If I rat on her, the rabbi says, “Do you expect me to believe that?”)
Jewish history is filled with movements and sects. They always change or disappear. The only Jews who remain as Jews are those who live under the influence of a holy rabbi, and who follow the rabbis who obey the Talmud.
Rabbis have the Oral Law, the keys and code to the Written Law. Without this code one cannot really understand the Written Law. For instance, the bible says “an eye for an eye.” This is a problem. If someone with one eye pokes out the eye of one who has two eyes, is it fair to blind the one-eyed person? Is poking out an eye the way to deal with this? The Talmud declares that the Bible means not poking out the eye of the damager, but monetary payments.
However, when prophecy ceased, some Jews refused to accept the rabbis as the successors to the prophets. They said, “We have a Written Law. We will not accept rabbinical Talmudics.” Therefore, these people, called Tsedukim (there were various sects of these with other names but Tsedukim were the name used for all of them).
Another element in the Jewish people were the nationalists, the “wild ones.” This was an element that refused to accept the exile. They refused to accept that G-d wanted Jews to obey the nations of the world. This group caused the major tragedies in Jewish history. They rebelled against the Babylonians time and again, until all of the Jews were driven from Israel and the Temple Burned , around 586 BC. This group rebelled against Rome and caused the destruction of the Second Temple .
Dr. Goldstein, who murdered Arabs in Hebron, was one of this cult. They believe that Jews must achieve nationalist power even if they have to antagonize the gentiles of the world. They rely on G-d. Unfortunately for them and for everyone else, they always end up dead. Rabbi Mayer Kahana is dead and so is his son. I used to debate them on New York City radio.
You mention that these people are connected to Kabala. This is not true. The Kahana person is a simple Jew, not an intellectual. He is not a scholar. He has a burning indignation that Jews suffer. He cannot imagine why G-d does not save His Chosen People. He then answers this question: The Jews suffer because they don’t show trust in G-d. They must risk their lives for Him, and then they will be redeemed. That is how they think.
Another element of Jews in the Second Temple was the Hellenist. This was a Jew that chose to be influenced by the culture of Greece , and oppose the rabbis who hated the paganism and the naked athletics of the Greeks. Hellenistic Jews ran naked in public, and when there was a war with Greece , the Hellenistic Jews fought the rabbis who wanted freedom of religion.
After the Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the various groups disappeared, and only the Orthodox Talmudic sect survived. However, the problems of the exile wore away the Jewish people in several directions. First of all, Jews lived as strangers and unwelcome guests among Christians and Moslems. Many Jews collapsed under the great pressures and left Judaism. However, those who remained generally stayed loyal to the Talmudists.
In recent centuries with the Enlightenment and secularism, many Jews felt that religion was the enemy, because they suffered so much from the Christians and Moslems. These became secular Jews. They warred with the rabbis and Talmudists for control of the communities. Until the First World War they were weaker than the rabbis in most areas, but after the First World War the world changed. Religion no longer was so important to people.
In America , we had the Roaring Twenties. We had movies and religion and family suffered. When I grew up as a child, if a secular Jew saw me wearing my yarmulka, or head-covering, I was in for it.
In earlier generations, a Jew who left the religion left the fold. In the past few centuries, this was no longer true. People did not leave the fold, because they could stay Jewish and live as they pleased. This was because of the secular nature of society. Countries did not demand that someone exist in a specific religious community any longer.
Millions of Russian Jews came to America in the early twentieth century. They had only known Orthodox Jewry, but they had to work on Saturday or starve. This caused many of them to leave Judaism entirely. However, some made a new religion called Conservative Judaism, which allowed people to work on the Sabbath and stay Jewish. Many Jews from Germany believed in Reform Judaism, an utterly secular type of Judaism that replaced G-d and Torah with secular ideals.
Eventually, a strange thing happened. Conservative Judaism drifted farther and farther to the left, until it became Reform. Reform, on the other hand, has recently experienced a renewal in some congregations of a need to return to ritual and some Orthodox practices. Both of these groups, however, are disappearing demographically. Jews in these groups intermarry at the rate of fifty percent, and have few children. At this time, a person with a Jewish name who is not Orthodox is probably not Jewish by Jewish standards, but somebody whose grandfather was Jewish.
I hope this helps you understand our religion. Please let me know if I can help you further. It is an honor for me.
Dear Rabbi David,
That was a wonderful letter (see below). It was a terriffic blessing to read your essay on Judaism. I loved every word.
What do YOU think ?
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