- Quote from Rabbi Rachmiel:
- Dear Rabbi Ben Chaim,
- I applaud your defense of what you believe to be a threat to the
concept of the oneness of the Almighty.
- However, your offense to me personally regarding the position of the
Rambam on Kameahs and the like is not appropriate. The Rambam was a
Rishon. He was not the only Rishon, nor is he the last word in
Hallacha. There have been many others as I have previously stated and
it was from those other authorities that I quoted as they perceived
their colleague and not, heaven forbid, my own meanderings.
- The point remains the same. By focusing on a non-issue regarding
Jews who have authorities to rely on, whether you like their opinions
or not is deleterious to your argument. They don't believe that
physical things have power by themselves, nor do they worship them.
Check out a Hallacha regarding wearing Tefillin on Shabbos (which is
usually prohibited) nevertheless in cases of danger they can be used
as a spiritual / physical protection. The Medrash Rabbah relates to
the manner of death of Billim and Balak as their Black magic was
negated by the Teffilin of the Cohen Gadol.
- The Gemara, Chumash-Rashi relate how the Aron HaKodesh carried its
carriers in the air as the Jews traveled in the wilderness.
- The Gemara relates how a Cohen was killed after coming to close to
the Aron HaKodesh which was hidden under the floor of the Beis
HaMikdash during the time of Yoshiyahu HaMelech.
- The Gemara further relates how Avraham, our father, had a special
jewel which he wore around his neck and all that were sick could come
to him, look at the stone and be healed. (Click
here: Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim's elucidation on the metaphor)
- Should one, heaven forbid, try to undo the obvious conclusions that
the Gemara created directly or by inference. Physical objects can and
must play a role in serving Hashem. No, they have no power other than
what Hashem chooses to give them. Yes, this reality can be very
misleading and dangerous and it needs to be given over with Yire
Shamayim or not at all!
Viewer response to Rabbi Rachmiel
- Dear Rabbi Rachmiel,
- I read your comments and I do not understand some of your
statements. First of all I am interested to know where your sources
are from (i.e. Gra, R. Yaakov Emden, Maharal etc.). Secondly, just
because most of Klal Yisroel accept certain customs or do certain
things does not make them correct. Most of Klal Yisroel are not even
frum, perhaps we should abandon the Torah as they have! The fourth
perek in Pesachim discusses the concept of minhagim. We see from those
gemorahs the idea of minhag shtus. Chazal did not care how many people
were doing these minhagim or how old the practices were. If it was
false, it was shtus. People can become very attached to their customs
and think that they are following the halacha. Therefore, Chazal did
not want to outright abolish these customs (i.e. taking challah from
rice) so as not to turn the masses against halacha. If people
throughout their lives are doing something they feel is true and then
are shown it is really false, they will not like this new revelation.
They might not listen and they will transgress the halacha
intentionally. People can be very stubborn. As long as the custom did
not border on avodah zara, Chazal did not prohibit it. The gemorah in
Pesachim (109b) discusses Zugos. The Meiri states that many of our
people in those times were drawn after numerology. Since it was not
'srach' avodah zara or the Way of the Amorite Chazal did not prohibit
it. They did not want to turn the masses against the Rabbis and
halacha. It is clear that Chazal thought that numerology was
ridiculous, but they understood the psychological state of the masses
and they realized if they abolished it, the system of halacha would be
jeopardized. If the people were involved in practices, which were
'srach' avodah zara, Chazal would certainly have abolished them. It is
a fact that African tribes would tie red strings around their children
to ward off evil spirits. Where did they get this practice? I do not
think they got this from the Jews. I do not think they have heard of
the Torah let alone seen a Jew. These tribes live their lives only
according to their instinctual emotions. The need for red strings as a
protective device is a primitive insecurity, which can certainly be
categorized under 'srach' avodah zara if not Way of the Amorite.
Whether some or most of Klal Yisroel do it, we must try and abolish
it. We should not follow the nonsense of the Goyim.
- Your statement that the Rambam was not the Rishon to choose when
discussing these matters is an outrage. His brilliance was
unparalleled in his time. All Rishonim recognized his greatness. The
Ramban and Ritva defended the Moreh Nevuchim beautifully. Why else
would R. Yonah regret what he did and do teshuva if he did not
recognize the truth of the Rambam's words. Let us not forget the
famous saying, 'From Moshe to Moshe there was none like Moshe'. In
truth, the Ralbag, Sadia, Ibn Ezra and many more had the same opinion
as the Rambam on these issues. The Rambam, indeed is not the only
- The 'matir' to wear tefillin in a dangerous situation is just that -
a 'matir'. How can you say that tefillin has some kind of intrinsic
protective power? Perhaps we should put tefillin on dying people so
that they will never die! Has a person ever been killed or injured
while wearing tefillin or tzitzit? We do not have to go far back in
history to see people being murdered (Rachmana L'itzlan!) wrapped in
tzitzit and wearing tefillin. The allowance to wear tefillin in a
dangerous situation is solely to ease the mind of the person. Once
again, Chazal knew the makeup of man and allowed a person to think it
was protecting him temporarily thereby his mind would be at ease. He
could now think clearly and work out a way to overcome the danger. In
fact, the Rambam himself (Hilchos Avodah Zara, 11;11) allows one to be
'lochiesh' on a sick person even though we know in reality it does not
work. Again, it is simply to ease the mind of the sick person so that
he should recover. (See Shulchan Aruch and Tur, YD 179;6, as well.)
- Isn't it obvious that the Chazal you quote are not meant to be taken
literally? They do not make any sense. If you wish to take every
Chazal literally, then perhaps you hold it is permitted to kill an Am
Ha'aretz on Yom Kipper that falls on Shabbos as the gemorah in
Pesachim (49b) states. The Ritva writes that this gemorah is 'loshon
guzma' - they are not meant to be taken literally. They contain a
deeper idea. We should not run after wild stories.
- Furthermore, how do you understand the posuk of "kol d'ruchav
mishpat"? Why should a person that wears a red string be more
protected than a person that does not? Are they judged differently?
Does Hashem ask the person when brought to din why he wasn't wearing
his red string? Would you go to Beis Din and show the Dayanim your red
string and expect to win the case? All types of segulahs would violate
this posuk. Should Hashem grant sustenance to a person who puts a key
in a challah and make poor a person who does not? Is that justice?
Will Hashem strike down a person's children just because he didn't say
"bli ayin hara" when someone complimented his kids? Where's
the justice in that?
- I can only hope that we all see the true ideas of Torah so that we
can be redeemed from this awful exile.
- Avroham H.