Letters Aug. 2019
Reader: If reincarnation is not true, isn’t it unjust for people to be born blind, less spiritual, and deaf? How can we explain this in a non-Kabbala sense? To be clear, I am not saying God is unjust, far from it. He is just. I am just trying to understand your view.
Rabbi: We don't have most of the knowledge of the universe, much less, God's knowledge in creating one person wise and another simple, one person deformed and another formed properly. Having yet to exist, deformity is certainly not due to the person's merit, and reincarnation is baseless in Torah. To believe in something unproven is not why God gave man intelligence.
Reader: I've spoken to someone who is machmir Orthodox and a medium. She's consulted with rabbis and was told that being a medium is both real and not prohibited. They told her that the limitations that must be set for Judaism are not to summon spirits, not to ask spirits to do any bidding, and not to predict the future. What is acceptable is listening to spirits who contact you, and relaying evidence and messages to the person present.
Rabbi: Torah prohibits attempts at consulting the dead: “Let no one be found among you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire, or who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, or one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, or one who inquires of the dead” (Deut. 18:10,11). These prohibitions are due to their false nature, as God does not prohibit what is true. Ibn Ezra (Lev. 19:31) says the following:
Those with empty brains say 'were it not that fortune tellers and magicians were true, the Torah would not prohibit them.' But I (Ibn Ezra) say just the opposite of their words, because the Torah doesn't prohibit that which is true, but it prohibits that which is false. And the proof is the prohibition on idols and statues...
Reader: Is it possible to know what G-d was doing before creation? And was G-d forming past worlds in an endless cycle, as in preforming His creative energy? Think of reincarnation but on a larger scale, namely, the universe. Indeed some scientists think this was the case before the Big Bang. If true, it would entail that this world-building will continue to occur. What were our sages’ opinions regarding this?
Rabbi: Talmud Chagiga 11b says, based on a Torah verse, that man cannot know anything prior to Creation. This is because all human knowledge aside from prophecy depends on physical creation and our senses. What is beyond this field of perception, such as what God is and what existed prior to creation, is impossible to know.
Reader: I came across this excerpt from an article written by a Rabbi on Parsha Balak as follows:
"Just remember this very important point. Every Jew you encounter, including the Jews that Bilaam saw, are always trying to do what they think is right. When they mess up, it’s because they made a mistake – in hindsight they wish they hadn’t have done it. As much as you might think you are objective and clear thinking, G-d does not see iniquity in the Jewish people. So if there is a Jew somewhere to whom you ascribe dastardly motivations, G-d disagrees. That Jew is only making a mistake.
The question therefore is, do you think you are more insightful than G-d?
After all is said and done, you simply can't hate people who make mistakes.
That's what an anti-semite does."
The full article can be found here: http://bit.ly/rabbis11
My question: If I were to assign dastardly motives to Jeffrey Epstein , who engaged in sexual trafficking of underage girls, does that make me an antisemite? To be honest, I find Parshat Balak uncomfortable as I read it from a non-Jewish lens. One Jew I know quotes this story frequently to tell us non-Jews that we should not be criticizing the Jewish people. But to what extent? I find the term "anti-semite" is used like a weapon to smear the reputation of those who have different views (which goes against the status quo).
So please advise to what extent criticizing Jews constitute antisemitism? Am I anti-semitic if I condemn a Jew who deliberately puts me down?
Rabbi: This Rabbi opposes Torah. The city of idolatrous Jews are all killed, receiving the identical penalty of gentile idolaters. And God killed the Jews many times, as we read in the past few Torah portions. This Rabbi wishes to defend a Jew unconditionally, while God does not agree, as we see from His acts. Epstein was a sinner and deserved punishment. “Anti-Semite” is used by such people to whitewash truly bad Jews, and this is wrong. He suffers from the disease of assuming Jewish superiority.
You are justified to talk back to a Jew who put you down. This rabbi is wrong for attacking you personally, and he is corrupting Torah when he dismisses any evil perpetrated by a Jew as merely a “mistake”: this is his own invention and not a Torah view.
What do our Rabbi say regarding his view “God does not see iniquity in the Jewish people” (Num. 23:21)? Rashi says this means that God does not act particular when the Jews’ violate His word. Thus, they do in fact violate God’s word. Jews sin. But as we have Torah, God need not be as particular with us as He is with gentiles who, with no Torah, have recurse to repent and perfect themselves. But in fact, Bilam helped the Jews sin through advising Balak to enticing them with Midianite women. The Torah openly states the Jews sinned, in many cases.
Is this Rabbi Right?
Reader: I recently posed questions to a rabbi, who told me the following. What is your opinion on this rabbi’s responses?
Rabbi: A Gentile who remains in Christianity / Messianic Judaism is more ethical than a Gentile who is a Noahide.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: False: Christianity is idolatry, so all its ethics have a false foundation. See all the heinous crimes the Church committed due to its “ethics.” Whereas Noahides follow the Creator—the Author of ethics—and thereby its ethics are 100% correct.
Rabbi: A Gentile Christian feels more bound to obey the ethical rules in Torah as compared to a Noahide who is described to pick and choose which Torah law to follow.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: False: A Noahide must follow the 7 Noahide laws as a minimum. But he may add to them.
Rabbi: Noahide laws are rabbinic in nature.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Talmud derives them from a Torah verse.
Rabbi: A Gentile who believes the Torah is true must convert to Judaism.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: False: No such obligation.
Rabbi: Noahidism is employed to keep non Jews from embracing Judaism.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: False: Noahide laws were God’s gift to man to direct him towards a perfect life. Later, God added laws to those original Noahide laws. God’s plan did not change but the world did (rise of corrupt Canaanites, Egyptians, the Exodus) and more laws like not following such people and celebrating the Exodus were required for that same plan. Thus, Noahide laws and Torah laws have an identical objective. The Prophets discuss the future when all gentiles will recognize Judaism.