Dor Deah misrepresents Chabad & Noahide Law?

RELATED ARTICLE:  "Can non-Jews have eternal life?"

 

 

To start off, distinctions have to be made between fact and opinion:

It’s a FACT that the Tanya teaches that the soul of a non-Jew stems from the Sitra Achra (an ungodly source) and is intrinsically impure.

 

While it is true that Chabad holds of the opinion that if a non-Jew becomes a Jew (to their likings), it means he has always had a Jewish soul and is the reincarnation of a born Jew who is returning to the fold, it is also true that this is only true for converts that Chabad themselves accept, not just anyone who converts.  (We all know that Chabad rarely performs conversions for this very reason.)

 

What many fail to notice is that Chabad completely strips away any acknowledgment of the individual consciously choosing (as the Torah puts it) “Life over Death” and “ Blessing over Curse”.  In other words, when we regulate ethics to merely the reflexes of a superior bloodline, or in this case a Jewish neshama (soul), we demoralize the message of Torah.  The Torah's message is a message that can only be appreciated by someone who has himself struggled with the inclination that leads to evil.  This must first be stated to make the moral distinction between our view of converts and Chabad’s view.

 

It is true that Chaz"al held that the Hasidei umot Ha’olam (the pious of the nations) would acquire a share in the world to come.  It is also true among Chaz"al were those who held that they wouldn’t. Chaz"al were split on the issue.  The view that they would have a place in the world to come is the view expressed in the MT only because the Rambam sided with this opinion, though when it comes to practical halakha, it he contradicts.  Unlike the non-legal opinion given in Hil. Melakhim 8 that the pious of the nations have a place in the world to come which has no bearing on our actions, in the laws dealing with conversion, the Rambam brings the following opinion as being something that we are oblgiated to inform the potential convert of.  In Hil. Issurei Bi'a 14,4 we find:

 

[...] he is to be told, "Do you know that the world to come is hidden away only for the righteous, and they are Israel."

 

Is it of no significance that neither the Talmud, the Rambam, nor the Shulhan 'Arukh state that when a potential convert comes, we must inform him that he can be assured eternal life even if he simply keeps the Laws of Noah alone?  But to the contrary we are given a halakha that when faced with a potential convert, we are to tell him that the world to come is hidden away for Israel alone.

 

What are we essentially pointing out here?

We are emphasizing that the question of whether a non-Jew who piously keeps the Laws of Noah is assured a place in the world to come is not a question the Beit Din haGadol (Great Sanhedrin) voted on.  The Beit Din haGadol only voted in areas of practical halacha, on questions concerning how exactly one DOES the commandments.  They did not vote on metaphysical issues like whether someone would or would not have share in the world to come.  These are areas truth they can not affect, nor areas which HaShem commanded us to believe them concerning.  The Torah commandment is "you shall DO according to all they instruct you."  And by the simple fact that Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai could not agree on this issue would rule out the possibility that one could say that it was a clarification given on Har Sinai.  So like I said in my video, neither we nor Chaz"al are not 100% certain that righteous non-Jews can acquire a share in the world to come merely by keeping the Seven Laws of Noah.

 

NOTE:  I never never stated that I believe that righteous non-Jews would not be allotted a portion in the world to come.  I have simply pointed out that it is a matter of dispute among Chaz"al and that the only thing we are 100% sure of is that (the righteous of) Israel have the world to come put aside especially for them.  This alone is enough reason why it would be better for a non-Jew to become a full Torah keeping Jew than remain a non Jew, on the obvious condition that he accepts Torah and commits to upholding it.

 

Everything I have said thus far is easily verifiable in the Tanya, MT, Kesef Mishna and Lechem Mishna.

 

OUTCOME:

Any moral individual should have no problem distinguishing a group that believes that a person's ultimate value is intrinsic to hisself (ie: blood, 'Jewish soul,' pedigree, etc.) from a group that believes that someone is in 100% in control and responsible for how valuable they could become by deciding to chose a life of Torah, a life committed to upholding G-d's righteous commands.

 

 

 

 

R' Asher Meza

 

See further:  "Can non-Jews have eternal life?"

 

 

 

WHAT WE BELIEVE

"In the Name of the ALL-TRANSCENDENT ONE, the Mighty-Authority of the universe."  (Genesis 21,33)  

 

 

In addition to the Thirteen Principles of Faith, we bear witness and affirm:     

 

 

1)  The Singularity of God.

 

2)  The Error of Idolatry.

 

3)  The Idolatry of Egotism.

 

4)  The Immutability of Torah.

 

5)  The Consistency of True Prophets.

 

6)  Sole Universal Legislative Authority of the Great Sanhedrin.

 

7)  The Inferiority of Post-Talmudic Rabbinic Decree  

 

8)  Personal Halakhic Responsibility and Accountability

 

9)  The Independence of Authentic Israelite Custom

 

10) The Independence of Local & Personal Custom.

 

11)  The Priority of Human Decency

 

12)  The Inferiority of Noahide Law

 

13)  The Universal Relevance of Torah

 

14)  Moral Absolutism

 

15)  The Centrality of the Holy Land and the Temple

 

16)  Irresponsible Beliefs & Practices.

 

 

     

 

1) The Singularity of God. [top]

There is One alone Who created and sustains all existence.  He is not a ‘one’ that can be counted or numbered. We say He is One so as to discount any thought of plurality within His Being.  His Oneness is unlike any unity in creation.  His Oneness is neither a greater unifying ‘essence’ that pervades creation and of which the souls of Jews are a part (panentheism), nor is it a oneness that includes any form of plurality (duality, trinity, olam atzilut, pantheism, etc…);  His attributes are either merely descriptions of how He interacts with creation or are one and the same as His Being itself – not subsistent entities nor emanations (sefiroth) sharing in His Divine essence.  He, His Wisdom, and His Life are absolutely one and the same, with no distinction whatsoever.  He is His Wisdom and He is His Life.  The most perfected of creation is as infinitely dissimilar to His Essence as the lowest of creation.  He has no partners in His divinity - no predecessor, son, daughter, or any sort of consort.  He is neither a man nor a body, nor a force or a power in a body – neither a supernal spiritual ‘body’ nor a physical form of any type.  The Creator is not subject to His creation, nor to any factor of creation, such as:  time, change, space, location, size, volume, mass, height, or form.  Though His sovereignty and providence fill the universe and His existence is evident everywhere, yet the Essence of His Being is neither contained within the physical world nor subject to any location.

[more]

 

 

2) The Error of Idolatry. [top]

One may not do an act of religious service to anything created, whether it be an angel, kabbalistic emanations (sefiroth), any spiritual force or power, sphere, star, statue, image, human, any physical element or anything composed of the elements, or any form conjured up in the mind.  Even if a person knows that YHWH is the Highest Power and Authority, and yet he does religious acts of devotion to anything other than Creator so that it will act as a mediator between himself and the Creator or intervene for us with Him -- such a person has violated the prohibition against idolatry.  One should address his thoughts and words of prayer to YHWH alone, the Highest Power and Authority, and leave out consideration of everything else.  Included in this is the prohibition against beseeching the aid of the departed, even if they be loved ones or the uniquely righteous (sadiqim).  [more]

 

 

3) The Idolatry of Egotism. [top]

The Talmudic Sages taught that the Biblical injunction that 'there be no foreign god within you' is a charge against submitting to the destructive inclination (yesar ha-ra') that is present in us all.  There is a difference between inadvertent transgression of G-d's commands due to innocent ignorance or something beyond one's control, and voluntary surrender to a force that one knows is contrary to the Almighty's Will, even if that force is simply a desire within the heart or mind.  The latter is comparable to idolatry even though no object is pro-actively worshiped -- the commonality being submission to a force outside the scope of G-d's Will.  Despite this similarity, there are also important differences between the two.  Though one who constantly surrenders to his destructive inclination may be regarded as a wicked Israelite, so long as he still devotes all pro-active worship to G-d alone and accepts Torah as binding, despite his habitual transgression, he is still counted among Israel; one who devotes religious service to something other than YHWH, on the other hand, removes himself from the community of Israel and has forsaken his place in the World to Come. [more]

 

 

4) The Immutability of Torah. [top]

"...the hidden things belong to YHWH our Venerable Authority; but that which is revealed belongs to us and our sons forever to do all the words of this Torah;(Deuteronomy 29,28).

"Then He confirmed it to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I shall give the Land of Canaan, as the portion of your inheritance;'"  (Psalm 105,10-11).

"Thus says YHWH: If heaven above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then also would I cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says YHWH;" (Jeremiah 31,36).

This entire message that I command you, you shall observe to do; you shall not add to it, nor diminish from it;” (Deuteronomy 13,1).

 

 

5) The Consistency of True Prophets. [top]

I will raise for them a prophet from among their brethren, like unto you; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him;” (Deuteronomy 18,18).  The function of a prophet is to warn and command concerning impending judgment and thereby motivate the people to return to YHWH by upholding His Torah.  A prophet may also receive a prophecy that will encourage the people and strengthen their faith or to provide information for recovering something that was lost.  If a prophet’s warning of doom does not come to pass, it does not equate to a false prophecy.  Such prophetic warnings are for the purpose of inspiring repentance, so as to avoid the judgment.  However, if a prophet foretells anything else without a qualifying exception and the event does not come to pass, he is a false prophet.  Likewise, a prophet who claims authority to establish a new law or practice based on prophecy, or that any of the Torah’s commandments are no longer valid, he is a false prophet; for the warning against a false prophet begins with “you shall not add to it nor diminish from it;(Deut. 13,1).  Even if such a prophet were to do signs and wonders, YHWH is testing us (Deut. 13,4) and it is forbidden to heed him, for “he has spoken rebellion against YHWH […] to remove you from the way in which YHWH your Venerable-Authority commanded you to walk;(Deut. 13,6).  If, on the other hand, the prophet’s prophecies always come to pass and he does not change details of existing laws, establish new laws, or abolish laws for all generations, but he commands a temporary suspension of the Torah’s laws, as in the case with Elijah the prophet, he is to be heeded.  A true prophet will never command temporary suspension of the prohibition against idolatry.

 

 

6) Sole Universal Legislative Authority of the Great Sanhedrin. [top]

And whenever any controversy shall come to you […], between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and ordinances, you shall enlighten them, that they be not guilty before YHWH;” (II Chron. 19,10).  “You shall act according to the matter which they shall declare unto you from the place which YHWH shall choose; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they shall instruct you.  According to the instruction which they shall instruct you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, that you must do; you shall not turn aside from the matter which they shall declare unto you, neither to the right, nor to the left;(Deut. 17,10-11).  This particular commandment demands obedience to the Court established under Moses.  The judges of this Court direct us in how to do the 613 commandments.  Their clarifications must be consistent with the Torah and not contradict it.  Their decisions are to have precedent in the Torah.  Their instructions may or may not be changed by a later Great Court, depending on certain parameters.  Their rulings are not equal to the 613 commandments of the Written Torah.  Their rulings are, however, authorized by the Torah and mandatory according to the Torah.  Therefore, the Torah itself identifies their rulings as ‘torah’ (instruction).

 

 

7) The Inferiority of Post-Talmudic Rabbinic Decree. [top]

No post-Talmudic Jewish court of any size, and certainly no individual rabbi, regardless of how wise or esteemed, has permission to usurp the authority of the ancient Great Sanhedrin or its rulings and clarifications of Biblical law, whether to be more lenient or more strict.  Similarly, no such post-Talmudic Jewish court or rabbi has authority to enforce new religious practices or to impose any levy that was unauthorized by Haz”al.  Post-Talmudic Jewish courts and individually acting rabbis are forbidden to overstep the limited authority granted to them for adjudicating cases of halakhic uncertainty for the masses, according to the parameters established by Haz”al.  Even the future reestablished Great Sanhedrin, may it be restored within our days, is limited in the degree to which it can modify rulings of the ancient Great Sanhedrin; and even this is on the condition that it is greater in wisdom and number.

   

 

8) Personal Halakhic Responsibility and Accountability. [top]

It is the responsibility of every Jew to familiarize himself with halakha and its actual implementation.  Although a Jew has the right to appoint for himself a poseq, a decider of Jewish law, and for many it is a practical necessity, a Jew is still responsible for who he will choose to be his poseq.  A Jew’s reliance on a poseq does not absolve him from the responsibility to know halakha for himself and to verify the reasoning behind the poseq’s decision.  If the poseq made a logical error which lead the individual to violate a Rabbinic or Torah law, the individual is accountable for his own actions, even though the transgression was inadvertent.  “For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  It is not in the heavens, that you should say: 'Who shall go up for us to the heavens and bring it unto us, and enable us to hear it, that we may do it?'  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say: 'Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and allow us to hear it, that we may do it?'  Rather, the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it; (Deut. 30,11-14).

  

 

9) The Independence of Authentic Israelite Custom. [top]

"No Torah commandment or practice that the prophets or the [Talmudic] Tradition teach may be ceased just because the nations copy it;" (R' Avraham, son of the Rambam).  We are only forbidden from adopting those customs of the nations that are a result of foolish superstition, unique to their idolatrous worship, or were specified as being prohibited by the Torah or the ancient Sages.  Reasonable customs of the nations are permitted, such as those based on medical knowledge or some other practical purpose – ie: washing hands with soap before eating or non-idolatrous ornamentation.

 

 

10) The Independence of Local & Personal Custom. [top]

The widespread claim that Jews are required to follow the majority in every generation (ie: even when there is no Great Sanhedrin) is both erroneous and hypocritical.  Ashkenazi Jewry did not abandon its unique practices when Jews of Islamic lands were the majority.  When Ashkenazi Jewry became dominant, non-Ashkenazi Jews did not and do not feel obligated to adopt Ashkenazi customs.  Clearly, however, majority practice is a powerful influence whose infiltration is difficult to avoid.  Those who uphold majority practice tend to be more confident and less concerned over discrimination.  Consequently, it is in our days far more frequent to observe an Ashkenazi Jew standing during Qadish in a Sefaradi minyan while all others remain seated, than to find a Sefaradi Jew who would dare bring legumes into the home of his Ashkenazi friend during Passover. [more]

 

 

11) The Priority of Human Decency. [top]

Politeness precedes Torah(Midrash Rabba Wa-yiqra 9,3; 35,6)  Torah cannot be appreciated by a person who does not value other human beings; nor can Torah be properly kept by a person who is lax in one of the most critical Torah commandments, that we “walk in His ways.”  The Sages explained this to mean that just as He is compassionate, so must we be compassionate.  Just as He is merciful, so must we be merciful; (TB Shabbat 133).  Just as He is holy, so we are to be holy, and so on.  Just as He is patient, so must we be patient.  Just as He is forgiving, so must we be forgiving.  Just as He is slow to anger, so must we.

  

 

12) The Inferiority of Noahide Law. [top]

We recognize the Laws of Noah as the bare minimum of tolerable behavior in human society.  It is not a standard that one should aspire to or that can perfect the individual or the world.  We do not teach that those who do not enter the Torah-covenant are condemned to hell or that those who are careful to keep only the Laws of Noah will not have a place in the World to Come.  Rather, we emphasize that the belief that those who only keep the Laws of Noah are assured a place in the World to Come is a Rabbinic concept that was not agreed upon by all the ancient Sages and which cannot be found in the Torah.  We do not object to the now popular Rabbinic belief that one who keeps the Laws of Noah will have a place in the World to Come.  Rather, we wish to ask non-Jews the question, ‘Would you rather base your eternal state on the explicit promises of G-d found in the Torah, or rest the outcome of your eternity on a disputed Rabbinic opinion that is neither found in the Torah nor given by prophecy?’

  

 

13) The Universal Relevance of Torah. [top]

The Midrash teaches that G-d gave the Torah to Israel in the uninhabited wilderness so as to say that no one has sole claim to the Torah; but that it is available to whoever will come to receive it.  It is also no coincidence that the Torah was given and Israel established at the geographical convergence of the three major continents.  It was G-d’s will that the Torah be spread to the ends of the earth.  However, G-d, in His mercy, has not enforced the Torah on the entire world in one blow.  Rather, He created a system by which the Torah would influence the nations slowly, over time, so that eventually “…it shall come to pass that ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the hem of the garment of a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you;’” (Zech. 8,23).  It is evident that in the future the Creator will hold the nations to a standard higher than the Laws of Noah, as it states in Zechariah 14,19: “…this shall be the punishment of Egypt, and of all the nations that do not go up to observe the Feast of Tabernacles;” and as it says in Isaiah 66,23: “from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to prostrate before Me, says YHWH.”  It is only through upholding the Torah that G-d promises us blessing, goodness, and life.  And so our Sages warned that we not overly frighten a potential convert, ‘lest we cause him distress and turn him from the good path (becoming Jewish) to the bad path (ie: not becoming Jewish);’ (Hil. Isurei Bi’ah 14,3)  And similarly they stated concerning a potential convert: “For at the outset we draw a person forth with soft and appealing words, as the prophet states: ‘With cords of man, I drew them forth,’ (Hosea 11,4) and then continues: ‘with bonds of love.’  […] and we say to him, ‘ You should know that the World to Come is hidden away only for the righteous, and they are Israel.’”  The Torah makes it clear that the convert is not inferior to the native-born Israelite: “An everlasting law for all your generations: as you are, so shall the convert be before YHWH;” (Num. 15,15).

  

 

14) Moral Absolutism. [top]

We affirm the basic moral code that is universally recognized and historically accepted by all Abrahamic religions --  the prohibitions of murder and bodily harm to the innocent, unnecessary abortion of an unborn baby, proactive euthanasia, rape, adultery, pre-marital sex or pre-marital foreplay, child-sex, bestiality, homosexual relations, lesbian relations, pornography, masturbation, stealing (regardless of the person’s religion or ethnicity), drunkenness, and the responsibility to respect the laws of one’s country.  Some of these laws, though not explicit in the Written Torah, were clarified by the ancient Sages and recorded in the Talmudic literature.  We reject as irrational and hypocritical the atheistic notion that morality is relative to societal norms.  Were it so, those who espouse such an abnormal view should be penalized according to their own philosophy.

  

 

15) The Centrality of the Holy Land and the Temple. [top]

The Almighty allotted the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to their seed the people of Israel.  This Holy Land is entrusted to the children of Israel according to the conditions expressed in the Torah.  Israel is assured blessing if it will, as a united people, uphold the covenant of Torah.  Israel can similarly expect calamity if, as a people, they turn from Torah and walk according to the imaginations of their own hearts.

Though the Holy Land and Jerusalem are significant in our observance of G-d’s Torah, we are not permitted to govern the land in whatever means we desire.  Israel’s presence as a united people in the Holy Land is subject to the legislative and judicial system elucidated by Haz”al.  Consequentially, the current secular state in the Land is of no religious value to us.  So long as Israel’s behavior in the Land, as a united people, is not in accord with Torah, neither is their presence in the Land in accord with Torah.  We do not deny the statements Haz”al made concerning the preference to dwell in the Holy Land as a single Jew among idolaters rather than to dwell in exile within a Jewish community, but several factors must be taken into consideration concerning this statement.

 

1)  The statement assumes the person under discussion gives weight to Torah & Haz”al.

 

2)  The statement concerns a Jew ascending to dwell in the Land as an individual among non-Jews; not a massive united migration of mainly secular-humanist people of Jewish descent with premeditated intent to overthrow the then already existing local governments.

 

3)  The statement assumes that the person would be able to maintain Torah observance as an individual among non-Jews.

 

4)  The statement is not a requirement that a Jew, in a time of exile, live in the Holy Land in a situation where the non-Jews would be actively threatening the Jew’s life.

 

5)  Assuming that eventually large communities of Jews form in the Holy Land as a result of several people migrating to the Holy Land as individuals, the quoted statement of Haz”al does not give them authority to rebel against the already established government.

 

The only form of mass migration of Jews to the Holy Land that is recognized as valid by Torah and halakha is a migration of the Jewish people to the Holy Land as a unified Torah observant people that heeds the parameters of warfare and government as expounded upon by Haz”al.  Such a migration is only to occur under the leadership of a valid king of Israel, who is to be appointed by a Sanhedrin and a prophet, and with an anointed priest; (Hil. Melakhim 1,4; 7,1).  This is not to say that the Jewish people cannot defend themselves when attacked.  To the contrary, all Israel must come to the aid of his neighbor in such a scenario.  This, however, does not justify unnecessary conquering of land in a manner contrary to halakha.  Without a valid king of Israel or a restored Great Sanhedrin, the people of Israel are still subject to the nations.  Those who wish to deny this cannot deny that it is anti-Torah individuals who control the current secular state, whose status, according to Haz”al, is that of “k-goy” (like a non-Jew), only “pahuthim hem min ha-goyim” (they are on a level lower than non-Jews) – Hil. Eduth 11,11.

  

 

16) Irresponsible Beliefs & Practices: [top]

 

  • Fathers shall not be put to death because of children, neither shall children be put to death because of the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin;” (Deut. 24,16).  We do not subscribe to the concepts of a vicarious human sacrifice or reincarnation.  Both of these concepts encourage moral laxity on the part of the masses as well as passiveness rather than productivity.  A person is more careful with his time and behavior when he realizes that this life is the one chance he has.

 

  • Torah study without work leads to sin.” “Do not make the Torah an ax to chop with.”  A rabbi whose income is dependent on a paid salary cannot take a stand on sensitive congregational or community issues lest it threaten his livelihood; and so, the sheep intimidate the shepherd.  The shepherd is silenced, his staff does not guide, and the sheep go un-rebuked.  Likewise with full-time avrechim.  If you are dependent upon a kollel check, you are not likely to speak up or act on matters that you’ve learned from your studies if it will cause you to lose favor in the eyes of the kollel and prevent the check from coming.  It makes Torah learning impotent.  “You shall take no gift; for a gift blinds those who have sight, and perverts the words of the righteous;” (Ex. 23,8).  “You shall not distort judgment; you shall not be partial; neither shall you take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous;" (Deut. 16,19).

 

R' Yosef Eliyah 

 

 

 

* DorDeah.com is an independent organization.  DorDeah.com is not affiliated with www.mechon-mamre.org, the "Torath Moshe Society," nor Chabad-Lubavitch.  Though we are grateful for the contributions of these organizations in providing Mishne Torah resources, we do not endorse all the views espoused by these organizations.

Why the name Dor Deah?

Q.  Isn’t it dishonest for a non-Yemenite organization to describe itself as Dor Deah?  Couldn't you choose a name with less stigma?

 

 

A.  The generation of Israel that left Egypt should not be remembered only for the negative occurrences associated with it.  They should also be remembered in the manner Haz”al described, the generation that reached a level of godly knowledge even greater than that of Ezekiel the prophet.  It is in this sense that we identify with that Generation of Knowledge (Dor Deah) -- in that they experientially knew G-d’s deliverance from idolatrous Egypt and reached the greatest level of godly knowledge at Mt. Sinai that an entire group of people ever attained in unison.  Similarly, we desire to be a generation liberated from the idolatries that have crept into Judaism, which R’ Samson Rapha’el Hirsch identified as the same concepts of Egyptian idolatry.  Such liberation will release us from irrational notions and free us to reach the highest levels of godly Torah knowledge attainable, with the aid of G-d given reason.

 

The community established in Yemen under Mori Yihya el-Gafih’s leadership likewise saw itself as parallel to that redemption.  They sought to rejuvenate Torah observance with an appreciation for historical accuracy and a re-emphasis on the neglected fundamentals of our faith.  In order to do so, they deemed it necessary to identify Kabbalah for what it is -- pseudo-Jewish mysticism.   They therefore called themselves the Generation of Knowledge (Dor Deah).  Unfortunately, due to persecution at the hands of heretical Jewish leaders and the violence on the part of Muslim authorities that was aroused by those same Jewish leaders, the original post-Exodus Dor Deah died as a movement.  Since its essential death, those who are remnants of that movement came to be derogatively known as Dardai, or Dardaim.  Though many of the children of that original generation continue to identify with several of their original positions, they have, for the most part, given in to the continued oppression on the part of the mystical mafia that now dominates Orthodoxy in the Holy Land.  Since the mass arrival of Yemenite Jews to the Holy Land roughly 70 years ago, no Dor Deah schools have been established, no Dor Deah yeshivoth founded, no communities organized, and only a handful of dying quasi-Dardai synagogues remain, and in near secrecy.

 

Although DorDeah.com does not affiliate with any Dardai organizations, as none exist, we believe the name Dor Deah is an accurate, unabashed, and easily recognizable description of our philosophy and goals.  While we do not claim to represent the original Yemenite tradition, we are in many ways more of a continuation of that tradition than what has become of most Yemenite Jews through assimilation into European Orthodoxy or into secularism.  Yemenite Jews do not have a copyright on the term, and if they did, it expired.  There are numerous Jewish organizations that have adopted the name Maimonides or Rambam, while having little in common with the Rambam’s approach to Torah.  Our use of Dor Deah is no less justified, if not more so.

 

It could be said that the term Dor Deah should be avoided due to the stigma already attached to the word.  This is an understandable concern.  Nonetheless, it is our experience that it is not the term Dor Deah that has a stigma, but the terms Dardai and Dardaim.  The few familiar with the term Dardai do not realize it originated from Dor Deah.  Most people would not see the connection unless explained to them.  Those who would automatically oppose us simply due to our name would, once informed of our philosophy, oppose us no less were we to have any other name.  Perhaps we should also avoid calling our religion Judaism.  After all, the ideas this word conjures in the minds of most has little to do with Torah.  The word even conveys secular-humanism and racial supremacism in the minds of some.  Others assume being Jewish intails affiliation with a certain political party.  The term Dor Deah is much less stigmatic.  We preferred a term that expresses our ideas as clearly and concisely as possible.  Dor Deah, Generation of Knowledge, does the task.  Join us!

 

R' Yosef Eliyah

 

SEE FURTHER:

"Does Dor Deah represent R' Yosef Qafih?"

 

 

 

* DorDeah.com is an independent organization.  DorDeah.com is not affiliated with www.mechon-mamre.org, the "Torath Moshe Society," nor Chabad-Lubavitch.  Though we are grateful for the contributions of these organizations in providing Mishne Torah resources, we do not endorse all the views espoused by these organizations.

Does Dor Deah reach out to Yemenite Jews?

Q.  Does Dor Deah help Yemenite Jews resist assimilation into mainstream Orthodox Judaism?

 

A.  Although we do not currently have the funding to proactively reach out to any groups in Israel, other than via our website, such outreach will more than likely become a reality when funding becomes available.  Our immediate responsibility, however, is to strengthen those who already desire Torah but lack resources or are confused, regardless of their ethnicity.  This responsibility takes precedence over attempting to educate people who express no desire to learn from us.  Those Yemenite Jews who are willing to learn from us can find informative articles and videos on our website.  Others can help by pointing them in our direction.  Articles in Hebrew and other languages will appear with time.  It is our aim to reach all people equally, whether Yemenite Jews or Yemenite Muslims, American Jews or American Christians.  A soul that desires to know HaShem and do His will is priceless, regardless of the person's ancestry.  With HaShem's help, we will eventually have enough man-power to invest in proactively convincing both Yemenite Jews and Jews of other ethnicities to join us in promoting a more rational and practical form of Torah-Judaism.  We value the souls of G-d fearing Jews and non-Jews the same.

 

R' Yosef Eliyah

 

 

* DorDeah.com is an independent organization.  DorDeah.com is not affiliated with www.mechon-mamre.org, the "Torath Moshe Society," nor Chabad-Lubavitch.  Though we are grateful for the contributions of these organizations in providing Mishne Torah resources, we do not endorse all the views espoused by these organizations.

Is Dor Deah heretical?

Q. Is Dor Deah heretical?

 

A. There are those who would claim that Dor Deah, even all talmidei ha-Rambam, are heretics.  The cause of this accusation is their belief that the Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah are fundamentals of the Jewish faith.  Consequently, Dor Deah's non-acceptance of these works and the concepts that originate from them is, in their eyes, tantamount to rejection of the Jewish faith.  Dor Deah and talmide ha-Rambam are not alone in their lack of accepting Zohar or Lurianic Kabbalah as essentials of the Jewish faith.  There are other Orthodox groups, such as the followers of the Vilna Gaon and many Modern Orthodox, that would not claim non-acceptance of the Zohar equates to heresy, regardless of whether they, as individuals, personally believe that the Zohar has meaningful insights.

 

Dor Deah's response is that whether a person or school of thought is heretical is a question of Jewish Law.  The answer to this question is to be decided according to authoritative works of halakha: one is not a heretic simply for disagreeing with a widely held aggadic interpretation, unless the Talmudic halakha specifically says so.  The Mishneh Torah is comprehensive in its scope of Talmudic law.  At the very least, it is one of the authoritative sources of Jewish Law.  It therefore follows that the Dor Deah approach must be an acceptable approach to Torah Judaism, if not a more intellectually honest approach.  Since Dor Deah asserts nothing not found within Mishneh Torah, and the Mishneh Torah cannot be interpreted as actually requiring belief in anything approaching Zoharic or Lurianic Kabbalah, Dor Deah therefore cannot be heretical - unless the Mishneh Torah itself is heretical.  And that would be a claim which no Orthodox Jewish group dare make.

 

Mesora.org recently published a book titled JUDAISM: Religion of Reason.  This book promotes and argues in favor of all the same points we make concerning pseudo-Jewish mysticism.  Interestingly, Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of The Orthodox Union (OU), endorses the book as well as the website!  The OU, being one of the oldest and largest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the world, represents mainstream Orthodox Judaism.  Would the executive vice president of the OU endorse a book or website that so overtly promotes heretical views?  The Mesora website has also published the following pertinent essay, anonymous for obvious reasons:  Tohar ha-Yihud (The Oneness of G-d in its Purity).

 

It is worth noting that R' Ovadia Yosef, the oldest leading accepted authority in Orthodox Jewish Law, despite his disagreement with our views concerning kabbalah, does not regard our views heretical.  His non-condemning view is made clear in his book M'ein Omer chapter 7 siman 93.  It is halakha that inclusion of a heretic on a beth din disqualifies the beth din, and yet R' Ovadia Yosef voluntarily appointed R' Yosef Kapach (listed below) to serve together with him on his rabbinical councel.

 

We have no concern for the few who rush to condemn what they do not know, who themselves tend to espouse seriously problematic hashqafa.  Should it bother a Jew that a Christian condemns him?  Why then should the condemnation of a Jew influenced by Christian thought cause us trepidation?

 

 

The following are some well known Jewish leaders of the Orthodox world who cast doubt on major aspects of what today is commonly, though mistakenly, referred to as Kabbalah:
 

Rabbi Saadiah Gaon wrote in his book Emunot v'Deot that Jews who believe in reincarnation have accepted a belief of idolatrous origins.

Maimonides (12th Century) discounted the mystical work Shiur Komah, with its starkly anthropomorphic vision of G-d, which is a popular kabbalistic text even in modern times.  In part three of the Guide for the Perplexed and chapter 71, the Rambam is unequivical that the esoteric teachings of the Sages were never written down and that, to his knowledge - as the leader of the Jewish world, had entirely disappeared.

Abraham ibn Daud, around 1110 to 1180; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Avraham, son of the Rambam, like his predecessors, writes at length in his book Milhhamot HaShem that the Almighty is in no way literally within time or space nor physically outside time or space, since time and space simply do not apply to His Being whatsoever. His book is almost undeniably targeted at the forbearers of much of kabbalistic thought.

Leon de Modena rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Nissim ben Reuven (The Ran), 1320-1380; reproved the Nachmonides (Ramban) for devoting too much to kabbalah and is said to have been "no friend of mysticism."

Yedayah Bedershi, early 14th century; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Yitzchak ben Sheshet Perfet (The Rivash), 1326-1408; he stated that Kabbalah was "worse than Christianity", as it made God into 10, not just into three.

Hasdai ben Abraham Crescas, 1340-1410/11; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Joseph Albo, 15th century; rejected reincarnation.

Rabbi Leon Modena, a 17th century Venetian critic of Kabbalah, wrote that if we were to accept the Kabbalah, then the Christian trinity would indeed be compatible with Judaism, as the Trinity closely resembles the Kabbalistic doctrine of sefirot.

Rabbi Yaakov Emden, 1697-1776, wrote the book Mitpahhath Sfarim (Scarf / Veil of the Books) which is a detailed critique of the Zohar. He concludes that certain parts of the Zohar contain heretical teaching and therefore could not have been written by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai. Opponents of the book claim that he wrote the book in a drunken stupor.

The 'Chasam Sofer,' 1762-1839, held by many to be a major establisher of  'Chareidi' (black-hat) Judaism.  Ironically, the Chasam Sofer denied the authenticity and authority of the Zohar.

Rabbi Samuel Strashun, 1794-1872, in Bava Metzia 107a, in his famous commentary to the Talmud, R' Strashun (the "Rashash" of Europe) points out a Talmudic proof against gilgulim.  A rebbi in Kol Torah put out a book called 'dvar yakov' on tractate bava metzia.  In commenting on this particular statement by the Rashah, the author of the book is goes off on how the Rashash could contradict "kabbalistic masters."

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, 1808-1888, among other things, specified that belief in reincarnation is one of the major distinctions between what were the religious opinions (hashqafa) of the Ancient Egyptions in contrast to the religious perspective (hashqafa) of the Jewish Faith.  He writes that reincarnation was central to the Egyptian Faith.

Rabbi Yihhyah Qafih, the early 20th century chief rabbi of Yemenite Jewry wrote a book called Milhhamoth HaShem, (Wars of the LORD) against anti-Torah teachings of the Zohar and "Lurianic Kabbalah."

Nechama Leibowitz, 1905-1997; renown modern scholar and commentator to the Tanakh - avoided making use of kabbalistic works in her popular commentaries.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz 1903-1994, brother of Nechama Leibowitz; he publicly shared and supported views expressed in Rabbi Yihhyah Qafih's book Milhhamoth HaShem that much of popular 'kabbala' is idolatrious; was against allowing kabbalistic texts to influence halakhic practice.

Rabbi Yosef Kapach taught against allowing kabbalistic texts to influence halakhic practice.

Rabbi Jose Faur takes a traditional rationalist approach in understanding Talmud.  He has written numerous articles on the historical Christian influences on what has now become the standard form of "yeshivish Chareidi" Judaism.  He has been consistant in pointing out that these influences entered the Jewish world in the guise of pseudo-Jewish mysticism.  Those who feel threatened by his research have spread baseless hatred against him, with claims that he is a member of the Conservative Movement and a heretic.  Even following these unfounded accusations, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu stated the when asked concerning him: "the greatest Sephardic Hacham living in the US today is Rabbi Faur."

 

 

R' Yosef Eliyah

 

 

 

* DorDeah.com is an independent organization.  DorDeah.com is not affiliated with www.mechon-mamre.org, the "Torath Moshe Society," nor Chabad-Lubavitch.  Though we are grateful for the contributions of these organizations in providing Mishne Torah resources, we do not endorse all the views espoused by these organizations.