Thursday, December 27, 2007

Guest Post by Author - Women from the Fall of Eve to the Full Redemption


It is my pleasure to present this article, written by the author of a new book, The Moon's Lost Light, by Rebbetzin Devorah Heshelis. In it, she tells the amazing story of how she had been bothered her entire life growing up in Bais Yaakov in the Lower East Side by the apparant inequality of women in Yiddishkeit. Her example of constant searching, learning and davening are a tremendous lesson for us. My sense is that this book is different from any other and will begin to truly open up your understanding of this topic through sources from both Niglah and Nistar. You can get ahold of her book from Targum HERE (for 30% discount). You can also read a great review of the book by Meyer Twersky in Jewish Action Magazine HERE.

-Dixie Yid

It’s no secret that women’s status in Judaism is one of the most difficult areas for modern people to deal with. When one looks at the Torah’s treatment of women one gets the impression that although women are considered important - Jewish women are called G-d’s daughters - they are not on the same level as men. There’s even a blessing for men to say for not having been created a woman.

But if women are not equal with men, then how do we reconcile the Torah’s relegating women to a secondary position with our belief in the Torah’s goodness and perfection?

In times gone by this wasn’t a pressing issue. No society considered women entirely equal, but Jewish women were much better off than non-Jewish women, enjoying many more rights and privileges, than their non Jewish counterparts. Furthermore, life had so many more difficult issues to struggle with, like abject poverty or blatant and dangerous anti-semitism. Under the circumstances, pondering women’s equality or inequality was far from being top priority on people’s minds.

Times have changed. The world around us has gone all out for total equality, considering any inequality as unfair and cruel. Suddenly the Torah world found itself in a very difficult position.
Those who were not loyal to Torah had no problem with this.. They said, “Change the Torah and make women equal.” This makes as much sense as saying that if you don’t like the fact that diabetics can’t eat sugar you should change your policy and let them eat sugar. G-d’s laws - which include the laws of the Sages whom He appointed to be his agents - cannot be changed to our likes and dislikes, any more than one can change the laws of physics or chemistry. They all come from the same source. Just as the scientist cannot change the laws of nature, he can only learn to understand and apply them, so the rabbi cannot change the laws of the Torah, he can only show us how to understand and apply them.

How did those loyal to Torah respond? The old world response was “This is from G-d, the Creator of the world who gives all life and existence. If this is the way He wants it, who are we to ask questions on G-d?” Although there is much truth here, the problem was that it required more faith than most people had..

Others who realized that this answer wasn’t enough, pointed out the many positive, and complimentary things the Torah has to say about women. They showed how those who virulently criticized the Torah’s attitude towards women were uninformed and/or misinterpreting things. The critics thought women were being treated as inferiors because they were judging the Torah’s attitude by non Torah standards. For example, child bearing and child raising, doing chesed and being modest are not considered prestigious in the modern world - but in the Torah world they are considered very lofty spiritual goals which place those who adhere to them on a lofty spiritual level. On the other hand, the defenders pointed out, the “feminist” ideals have left most women robbed of those things which would give them real happiness - a loving , loyal, stable, family, that honors their wife and mother.

Yet, while all of this was very true, it still didn’t cover all the sore points. Yes, men and women are by nature different and so it makes sense that they should have different tasks. And yes, the Torah does have wonderful things to say about women. Yet there still remains the fact that there really are some ways in which women do have a secondary position...

If this wasn’t enough to have to deal with, the Talmud and later rabbinic sources sometimes describe women in a way that doesn’t correspond with our reality. For instance, men were seen as generally having intellectual capabilities while most women were seen as has having practical common sense but incapable of abstract intellectual achievements. Traditional Jewish life was designed to correspond to this. Men were expected to learn Torah and women were expected to do practical things.

But the pattern didn’t fit. There were too many exceptions - intellectual women and not so intellectual men.

I was sixteen years old when I began to be bothered by questions on the Torah’s attitude towards women. Having been born to a religious family on New York’s Lower East Side and attended the local Bais Yaakov, I was able to learn Torah commentaries directly from the sources. Being an avid reader with a philosophical bent, I searched for answers, but I couldn’t find ones that satisfied me, not from the modern writers who wrote in defense of the Torah, nor from the traditional commentators. My teachers didn’t have answers for me, nor did anyone else I asked. Eventually, I realized that no one around had the answers I was looking for. Then, out of sheer desperation I did something I thought was very daring. I turned to Hashem and explained that I had done everything humanly possible to find the answers I needed to make me love His Torah, but I was unsuccessful, so I asked Him to give me the answers Himself. Over and over again, I asked Hashem to answers my questions. I prayed at the kosel. I got up for forty nights after midnight and said tikun chatzos (psalms and prayers about the exile and our hope and longing for the ge’ula). Perhaps I fasted too, I don’t remember. Again, and again I begged Hashem to help me.

And He did.

It didn’t happen all at once. It took many, many years, but little by little I found the pieces that when put together created a dazzling puzzle - a puzzle which revealed a glorious Divine plan. It was no wonder that no one I knew had the answers to my questions, for those answers were in the area of Torah known as “sod”, secret. There was a great secret about women that was related to the future. But it wasn’t just the future. What almost nobody knew was that this great change in women wasn’t going to start only when Moshiach comes. It had already started!

I put what I found out into a book called The Moon’s Lost Light - A Torah Perspective on Women from the Fall of Eve to the Full Redemption. When Rabbi Zev Leff read my book he said, “It’s phenomenal! How did you do it?” The answer, of course was that I didn’t do it. It was all siyata dishmaya - assistance from heaven. It wasn’t me, it was Hashem taking me by the hand and showing it to me. Hashem answered my prayers.

But as I said, it didn’t come in a day. The process took over twenty years. First I found out from some of the tradition commentaries that I read that women’s inequality was coming from Chava (Eve’s) sin. That meant that women’s lower status was not how it was originally meant to be, and the way things are now is not the ideal. This in itself was comforting. It showed that Hashem “agreed” that women being unequal was not how He really wanted it to be.

Then I found out about the verse in Jeremiah 31:21 which prophecizes that women will become equal with men. Literally the verse reads “nekevah tisovev gever”. There are many explanations of this phrase, but the deeper commentaries explain it to mean that in the future females would have equal spiritual perception with men. (Later I found out that it also means that women would learn Torah, and would become eqaul in other ways as well.) But this still didn’t make sense to me, because as far as I could see women already had equal spiritual perception with men. Finally, when I was about 40 years old I read an amazing book called Kol HaTor. Written by a student of the great Gaon of Vilna, it contained his secret teachings on what would happen before the redemption.

This book explained that from the year 5500 (1740) the powers of the redemption begin affecting the world, and that everything that will be in the full redemption enters the world little by little from this period onward, growing stronger as time progresses. In other words, the “future” equality of women which the commentators had spoken about had already begun to materialize. That’s why the Sages descriptions didn’t always suit our reality. We were living in a different reality, the reality of ikvesa demeshicha, the turbulent period before the coming of Moshiach, and this reality things were different.

There was something else I learned as well. Kol HaTor said that the powers of evil would rise to fight against the progress towards the ge’ula. The more the powers of redemption would enter the world, the stronger the forces of evil would grow. As I found out from my chassidic reading, these sources, called klipos, outwardly resembled the holy forces, using the same powers but for opposite goals. Elsewhere, the Vilna Gaon said that the klipa, the impure side would come before the holy side. And that was just what had happened - it explained feminism perfectly.

But that wasn’t all. When I looked at Jewish history from the year 5500 onwards I saw that this pattern was affecting everything. Zionism, haskala, and every other change in Jewish life was all connected to this.

I was so full of this amazing discovery that I was bursting with it. I told it to anyone and everyone who would listen to me. People were absolutely fascinated.

Fascinated? That’s not even the word. I remember speaking to a group and one young lady literally jumped out of her seat. Eventually, I wrote down what I had learned in a book, adding more and more interesting details along the way. For instance, the book explains that even throughout most of world history, when women had a lower position, they were equally important and beloved in their essence. The book also speaks about the blessing for not having been created a woman, and the women’s blessing for having been created according to Hashem’s will, which has many secrets in it. According to kabbalah, women parallel and resemble the Shchina, Hashem’s presence in this world which is compared to a mother. Whatever happens to the Shchina happens to women and vice versa. Paralleling the Shchina isn’t a put down, it is one of the greatest (although sometimes difficult) honors there could be. Women’s lower position is because of the Shchina’s lower position, and when the Shchina rises, so will women.

The book brings 192 sources to substantiate these teachings. It has approbations from Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasswer, Rabbi Zev Leff, and Rabbi Michel Twersky. Many other leading talmidei chachamim, including Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon of Lakewood, personally told me how much they like the book. The publisher is Targum-Feldheim and it can be obtained from book stores or from the Targum website.

So if you’re interested in a different approach to this subject, happy reading.

-Devorah Heshelis

Update from D. Heshelis on 4/6/08:

About three months ago, there was a post here on my book, The Moon’s Lost Light. It caused quite a stir mainly amongst two readers. Because I do not have an internet connection I could not see the comments directly. Some of them were forwarded to me and I answered them, but there were other comments that I never saw.

Recently an acquaintance came across this post on a Google search and he printed and gave me the entire dialogue. For the first time, I became aware of questions and comments which I hadn’t answered. I am very sorry about this because my failure to respond may have deprived people of answers they needed to see and perhaps left them wondering if there were any answers. It is therefore important for me to inform the readers that my silence was not intentional. Presently, I am very busy preparing for Pesach and responses take much longer than most people realize. But I hope to answer a pertinent point after Pesach. Dixie Yid will אי"ה inform you when and where they will be posted.

A wonderful Pesach to everyone,

Devora Heshelis

Update 6/23/08: Rebbetzin Heshelis has responded to the loose ends left by the comments. You can read her detailed responses to many of the comments, including to Chaim and Ariella in particular. In a few days, there will be a short version of some of these responses as a new post.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

41 comments:

Ariella said...

I'll go out on a limb here. I heard of this book and its argument some time back. I don't quite agree that one can pin woman's lower position in the hierarchy on Chava's sin. It actually doesn't work with the Braishis story because Chava's position was presented somewhat differently than Adam's from the beginning. While I understand that we feel better about negative things when we can argue that they were deserved, this is really no more valid than pinning the Holocause on particular sins or misdirections of that particular generation. Instead one can take a different perspective, not to see things in a hierarchical patterns but in spectrum or other pattern in which one is not necessarily better than the other. I've heard the orchestra analogy with respect to that argument. And while I am not certain I buy that either, I find it more palatable than and at least as credible as the author's argument. I've done extensive reading on this, and no one man or woman's view offers a universal answer to make everthing seem just and fair.

further reasons not to get hung up on Chava's sin. At Mattan Torah, Chazal say Paksa zehumtan for the Jews, menaing they transcended the sin of Adam and had reattain the lofty spiritual state with which he had first been created. But that was lost with the cheyt Haegel. Chazal also say that the women did not participate in cheyt haegel, nor did they fall for the cheyt hameraglim. So, it would seem to me, that as a collective group, the Jewish woman had effectively redeemed herself from the original sin. While they were still subject to mortality and other physical shortcomings, they did not fail as their male counterparts did.

A lot of what you see in books such as these are issues the world at larged grappled with over 100 years ago under the "Woman Question." It was women's exposure to secular education that gave rise to a recognized need to grant girls Torah education as well.

D. Heshelis said...

Ariella,

I hope to reply to the comment on my book more fully after Shabbos. This is a short reply in the meantime.

From the statement “I heard of this book and its arguments some time back” I understand that the writer has not read the book and certainly has not gone through the many sources that the book is based on. I don’t think that one can judge something before fully examining it.

The idea that Chava’s sin caused her lower position in the hierarchy is based on the Zohar and other Kabbalistic sources as well as certain statements in Chazal – both of which were written with ruach hakodesh. (The Zohar’s teachings were taught to Rabi Shimon bar Yochai by Eliyahu HaNovi.) Therefore, the idea that Chava’s sin caused her lower position is not in the category of a particular man or woman’s view. It is coming from Hashem.

As for its “not working with the Braishis story”, one must realize that the Braishis story is much deeper than it appears on the surface. If anyone wishes to ask me about a specific aspect of the Braishis story which they feel contradicts what I wrote, then I would BeSiyata DiShmaya be happy to answer them.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

Chasmal said...

Friends, It is the devekut BETWEEN a woman and a man that brought the greatest teacher/redeemer to come to Israel. Drawn from the waters of Ahavah. The Zohar explicitly states this in the commenatary from this weeks parsha-Shemot.
"She is my sister, my bride" from the holiest song ever written.
Sisterhood is equality!
as the author has stated bereishis is very complex and deep. Actually Cheva-the mother of all life is not even mentioned as being in the garden, that is esha.And remember Adam of Adamah is both male and female. this blog is an ongoing praise for the healing of the "dark of the moon".
http://seventytwonames.blogspot.com
Mike

Ariella said...

I do not presume to learn Kabbalah or to render an opinion on Kabalistic lessons. Does the author consider herself an expert on such a subject? Nevertheless, it is fair to say that many concept abstract and as the Maharal often explains Midrashim, one has to realize that not everything is to be taken as literal. Something can be true in an abstract way without being manifested concretely. That is not to say that this is not at all literal but that pointing out such is not an absolute proof on all levels. When there is one view in the realm of nigleh and another in nistar, the nistar view does not negate the nigleh view. And as I said in my comment, I was going out on a limb to render my opinion, as I am not retreating behind the cloak of an assumed name, though I never claimed to have read the book only to be responding to one particular point.

Anonymous said...

The truth is that rabbis like to call it "chava's sin" but really it was Adam's sin. The midrash says that after Adam (prematurely) had intimacy with her, he fell asleep and chava was left alone, with the snake. He used her and then left the scene.

Anonymous said...

(Continuation)
Devorah H, I've also researched this subject and with all due respect to you I'd like to comment on :

"Then I found out about the verse in Jeremiah 31:21 which prophecizes that women will become equal with men." -- almost. With the revelation of moshiach (shechina), and the accompanying death of the evil forces (klipot) women's original spiritual status (a HIGHER spiritual level than men's. Remember Chava was created as Adam's better half. She was meant to help him attain his tikkun. ) will be REVEALED, in the same way that the shechina and moshiach (which are presently hidden), will then be REVEALED, for all of creation to perceive.

"The more the powers of redemption would enter the world, the stronger the forces of evil would grow. As I found out from my chassidic reading, these sources, called klipos, outwardly resembled the holy forces, using the same powers but for opposite goals. Elsewhere, the Vilna Gaon said that the klipa, the impure side would come before the holy side. And that was just what had happened - it explained feminism perfectly."--
The present forces of impurity are fighting very powerfully (like never before, except in Mitzrayim) in order to sabotage these revelations. Tznius and men's Tikun Haklali (lit. general repair) are very important.

Chaim B. said...

I’m not yet 40 and don’t meet the pre-req for Zohar study so I may be missing something, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to throw some cold water on this discussion:

1) There have been many dates pre-1740 which were predicted as heralding geulah, one of the earliest being R’ Akiva’s opinion (as recorded in the Yerushalmi) that Bar Kochba was Moshiach. Considering that these dates were not associated with a rise in feminism, one is forced to reject any necessary linkage between the two ideas.

2) >>>The idea that Chava’s sin caused her lower position in the hierarchy is based on the Zohar and other Kabbalistic sources.

I don’t know why the writer must resort to such esoteric sources when it is a pasuk in chumash – “v’el iseiech teshukaseiach v’hu yimshol bach”.

3) >>>both of which were written with ruach hakodesh….Therefore…It is coming from Hashem.

True, but that does not mean one cannot take a different approach. No one on your standard page of Mikra’os Gedolos (barring the Ohr HaChaim) ever cites the Zohar, and most pashtanim (e.g. Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, etc.) feel completely free to interpret the text in ways that radically depart from Midrashic views. More importantly, Midrash is open to variety of interpretations.

4) >>>why the Sages descriptions didn’t always suit our reality. We were living in a different reality

So what are we to make of halachos that includes assumptions like “tav l’meisav…”, that women prefer marriage of any sort to remaining single? Following the writer’s assumption that Chazal dealt with a different reality, one is forced to conclude that we are bound to follow empty norma that have no correspondence with reality (I assume the writer is not advocating these halachos in toto). Such an approach emasculates halacha of any inherent meaning.

Chaim B. said...

5)>>>the rabbi cannot change the laws of the Torah, he can only show us how to understand and apply them.

Chazal were legislators - they made dinim derabbanan. Scientists do not make laws, they discover them. Did Chazal make laws based on a conception of women limited to their time/place? See kashe #4.

6) >>>According to kabbalah, women parallel and resemble the Shchina, Hashem’s presence in this world which is compared to a mother. Whatever happens to the Shchina happens to women and vice versa.

You can dismiss it as my opinion and not fact, but for what its worth, the term 'nukva' when used for the feminine force is metaphorical and does not necessary have anything to do with women/men in the literal sense.

7) >>>Later I found out that it also means that women would learn Torah

M'mah nafshach - if you hold it is assur for a woman to learn gemara, it is assur even today. If it is mutar in some contexts, then it was always mutar in those contexts, even 2000 years ago (recall the story of Bruria!).

Chaim B. said...

A final point, which I raise somewhat hesitantly. The following article written by Devorah Jacob in Orot magazine contains identical arguments as the book, not only in a general sense, but right down to particular details: the reference to Kol haTor, the discussion of cheit of Chavah as the root of inequality, the use of 'nekeivah t'soveiv gvar' as prmoising future equality, a discussion of 'shelo asani isha', the reference to women in kabbalah, the match of the exact date of 1840 as the start of the redemption process, and many many other points. Here is the article:

http://www.orot.com/nkevah.html

Is Devorah Heshelis one and the same person as Devorah Jacob? If not, can you please clarify whether there is any relationship between the article/book (e.g. is it one of your sources)? I apologize for asking if the book and article appear under different names by the same author for reasons that she prefer remain private.

Anonymous said...

Chaim B. wrote:
" 7) >>>Later I found out that it also means that women would learn Torah

M'mah nafshach - if you hold it is assur for a woman to learn gemara, it is assur even today. If it is mutar in some contexts, then it was always mutar in those contexts, even 2000 years ago (recall the story of Bruria!)."

--> http://www.askmoses.com/article.html?h=157&o=2069000

Jacob said...

unrelated to the previous discussion: if this thesis was meant to be a purely philosophical endeavor trying to reconcile prevailing modern trends with torah sources, I say what Yeshaya HaNavi told Chizkiya HaMelech (Mas. B'rachos) "Behadei Kavsha D'rachmana Lama Lach; Mah D'alecha Lekapdi, Asei" - don't worry about the greater scheme and about how G-d runs the world - you just do what you have to. However, I get the feeling that the inspiration behind this thesis was not simply academic. It seems as though it was spurred by a normal, open-eyed difficulty in the life of the modern jewish woman. Do I follow modern trends which are very appealing to me and in some sense make me feel more fulfilled, or do I do as I'm told and stick to the role of jewish women that seems to be painted all over jewish literature which seems in some way to be virtuous but makes me feel subdued. If this profoundly difficult issue is the driving force behind this article then I don't see how the article addresses it. We are simply informed about how the shift in trends and world views mirrors a historical progression from the fall of Eve to the full redemption. That might be true - but how does that help me? It doesn't really help me with my difficulty. Does it imply that I should ignore the torah sources because they were talking to a different point in history? Again, that might be philosophically true, but it is very daring to say that this outlook should guide your decision to ignore those sources. So, despite whatever greater truths are being developed in the spheres above and in the broader historical picture, the way I see it is that the practical issue remains: exciting modern trends vs. supposedly virtuous molding.

D. Heshelis said...

This is a continuation of my reply to the first comment on the post.

1. “Chava’s position was presented somewhat differently from Adam’s from the beginning”.
True, from the beginning Chava was an eizer kenegdo (a helpmate opposite him). A helpmate, however, need not be lower and can sometimes be higher. Let me give you a practical example of how this can work.

According to the Kesef Mishna on the Rambam, Devora the Prophetess might not have been actually a judge, but rather she taught and guided the judges. If this is true, then Devora was the eizer – the helper of the judges, rather than the judge herself. But was she lower than the judges? Is the teacher and guide of the judge lower than the judge himself? No. In fact, he (or in this case she) is higher and therefore can help someone else for she has something that he didn’t have.

The same was originally true for Adam and Chava. Adam was the ikar (main doer) and Chava was helping him. But she was not lower. The Vilna Gaon is Aderes Eliyahu (3:20) explains it thus: “Initially, (Adam) called her isha (woman) because she was taken from Ish (man) to assist him in intellectual pursuits and the two of them were equal…but after the sin she does not desire intellectual pursuits…”

This is what I taught in the book because this is what is taught in Kabbala.

There is an essential difference between ideas brought from Kabbala and ideas of contemporary writers. When people write what seems logical to them you can take it or leave it depending on whether it makes sense to you. When we read the commentary of great tzaddikim we relate more respectfully than this because of their extreme righteousness and because of their great knowledge. Nevertheless even here there could be a mistake. (This is talking about ideas, not halachic rulings. Halacha has its own rules. But when we take something from the Zohar or writings of the Arizal, we are dealing with truth because these teachings come from Ruach HaKodesh. Some were passed down from the prophets and some were taught by Eliyahu HaNovi, but they all are coming from prophecy. Let me give an example to show what I mean:

The Zohar says that the world is round like a ball and that when it is day on one side it is night on the other. The Zohar calls this a secret. Who in the ancient world knew this? Even 1,000 years ago no one knew this – unless they knew Kabbala. Now suppose you were living 1,000 years ago and someone said this. In keeping with the style of your comment, you would have answered that this doesn’t work with the Torah because the Torah speaks of the four corners of the earth. And of course you would have been wrong. The four corners of the earth is a metaphor which is not meant to be taken literally in a physical sense. It is speaking from the point of view of the way humans saw things but it also refers to much deeper concepts. Here, too, the “Braishis story” is very, very deep and cannot be understood only on a superficial level.

2. “While I understand that we feel better about negative things when we can argue that they were deserved this is no more valid than pinning the holocaust on various sins and misdirections of that generation”.

The author of the comment is assuming that it is invalid to pin the holocaust on various sins of the generation. Why?

The Torah itself says over and over again that if the Jewish people will keep the Torah, all will go well with them. But if chas veshalom they do not then they will suffer terribly. The writings of the prophets stress over and over again that the suffering of the Jewish People is because of their sins. Anyone who disagrees with this is disagreeing with the prophets and with the Torah itself. You can find this in Parshas Bichukosai, Parshas Ki Savo, Parshas Vayelech and Parshas Ha’azinu. All these say in a most specific way that the suffering of the Jewish people is because of the sins of the generation.

Of course, this in no way frees the perpetrators of their heinous crimes. And the enemies of the Jewish People will eventually be punished for all their evil. But we must realize that the holocaust, just like all suffering of the Jewish People was because of our sins. Otherwise, we will not have learned the lesson that Hashem wishes us to learn from it, namely that Hashem runs the world and that He means what He says – the Jewish People must keep the Torah.

To understand this further try to put yourself in Hashem’s position. Imagine that you had warned your children not to do certain things and told them of the dire consequences that would result if they acted otherwise. They disobeyed and there were catastrophic results. But instead of learning from this for the future they said that it is not valid to pin the catastrophe on their misdirection. Maddening, isn’t it?

(Note: The above is true for the generation at large but not for individuals. Unless someone has Ruach HaKodesh or unless one is speaking of a very wicked individual one may not say that any individual suffering is because of his/her sin. In relation to oneself, however, one can definitely consider this possibility and search the sins to correct, yet at the same time realize that suffering can be the because of misdeeds of a previous life time.)

3. “I’ve heard the orchestra analogy with respect to that argument and while I’m not certain I buy that either I find that more palatable and at least as credible.”


What is palatable is a matter of individual taste and there’s nothing to argue about there. However, as to what is credible, how can one decide whether something is credible or not until one has read it and gone through the sources it is based on?

4. “I’ve done extensive reading on this and no one man or woman’s view offers a universal answer to make everything seem fair and just.”


Is it right to project on to a book one’s disappointment with the previous answers one has received? This book takes a completely different approach than others. One cannot know what this book offers if one has not given it a chance. Isn’t it a pity for people to deny themselves the opportunity to find answers which might truly satisfy them?

I hope to answer the other comments that came in in the near future.

Sincerely,
D. Heshelis

DixieYid said...

Chaim,

I believe that Rebbetzin Heshelis will respond to you soon.

Jacob, to answer you're question, I will quote from the first paragraph of her Epilogue:

"There was once a rabbi who gave a long discourse on a Torah idea. When the discourse ended one of the students asked the rabbi, "What's the practical outcome of this?" The rabbi answered, "The practical outcome is that you understand."

-Dixie Yid

Tzipora said...

RE. D. HESHELIS' COMMENT ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST IN LAST POST UNDER POINT 2:

2 COMMENTS (quotes):

1// This potential is enhanced by the luminous legacy bequeathed to us by the martyrs of the previous generation. Our Sages[13] teach that the very fact that a person dies al Kiddush HaShem, in sanctification of G-d's Name, elevates him to such a level that "no creature can stand in his presence." Thus, every man and woman who died in the Holocaust is a holy martyr.

Accordingly, to say that those very people were deserving of what transpired, that it was a punishment for their sins, heaven forbid, is unthinkable. We cannot explain the Holocaust, for we are limited by the earthbound perspective of mortal understanding. As G-d says, in a prophecy of Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts."[14] No scales of judgment could ever condemn a people to such horrors.[15]

[Footnote 15:

In general, when we confront undesirable events, we must realize that "the Holy One, blessed be He, does not render judgment without a reason" (Berachos 5b); i.e., these events result from faults in our conduct.
Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this rule. At various times in our history, the Jewish people have been subjected to oppression that is not a result of their failings. Thus, our Sages relate (Menachos 29b) that when Moshe Rabbeinu protested the cruel death which he saw (with prophetic foresight) was to be inflicted upon Rabbi Akiva, G-d told him, "Be silent. This is what has arisen in My thought." In the classic instance of such suffering, G-d told Avraham that his descendants would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. Far from being a result of their sins, this exile had already been ordained when G-d first initiated His covenant with Avraham, as an unfathomable Divine decree (cf. Shmos Rabbah 5:22).

The same applies to the Holocaust. So awesome was the cruelty to which our people were subjected that Satan himself could not find sins to justify such suffering. The only explanation is, "This is what arose in My thought."]

The Torah promises that[16] "[G-d] will avenge the blood of His servants,"[17] indicating that the death of these martyrs is against His will.[18] On the contrary, G-d is "the Master of mercy." It is blasphemous to picture Him as a cruel king who punishes His people for their disobedience and then waits until it mounts again to the point at which it is fitting to punish them again.

The very opposite is true. As our Sages say,[19] "What does G-d do since creation? -- He arranges marriages"; i.e., He is involved in bringing joy and happiness to mankind, establishing families, "eternal structures" which produce ongoing joy in future generations.

SOURCE: http://moshiach.freeforums.org/viewtopic.php?t=71

----------
2//
How the Rebbe understood the Holocaust, here:
http://www.crownheights.info/index.php?itemid=6832&catid=39

or here: Likutei Sichot Vol. 21. page 397 , the book is available here in Hebrew:
http://www.otzar770.com/

NOW AS YOU SAID, FIRST READ WHAT A TZADDIK SAYS AND THEN TALK !! SHAVUA TOV

Chaim B. said...

>>>The Zohar says that the world is round like a ball and that when it is day on one side it is night on the other. The Zohar calls this a secret. Who in the ancient world knew this?

Once again, I'm afraid I have to toss a little cold water on your flame. The idea of a round world was espoused by Pythegoras who lived much earlier that the Zohar (even assuming the passage you quote is from RSB"Y).
Chazal (Pesachim 94b) disputed with the Umos ha'Olam where the sun goes at night and the conclusion of the gemara is "nir'in divreihem m'dvareinu" - the Umos got it right and we got it wrong.
I do not know where the Zohar you cite is, but it seems you are contradicting basic gemara as well as basic history.

>>>In fact, he (or in this case she) is higher and therefore can help someone else for she has something that he didn’t have.

Which only begs the question of why a women who is more qualified than a man should be disqualified from serving as a judge. If she is "higher" (I do not like the term - can we agree to simply say she is more qualified?), than why limit her function to simply helping? Before we get to your response, let me add 2 points in anticipation: 1) this is a halacha l'doros, not a function of Chavah's sin, and therefore no reason to assume it will ever be overturned; 2) there are opinions which do hold Devorah was a true judge. Your answer needs to define the nekudas hamachlokes in a way that satisfies both perspectives.

>>>But when we take something from the Zohar or writings of the Arizal, we are dealing with truth because these teachings come from Ruach HaKodesh.

To reiterate a question I raised earlier, we find that ba'alei machshava and meforshim on Chumash disragrad the Zohar and certainly the AR"I all the time. Lo bashamayim hi. You seem to accept Zohar as THE TRUTH as opposed to a truth that needs to be weighed against the truths revealed by other shitos in Chazal and Rishonim. Where there are opposing views, who is to say that we are bound by the ruach hakodesh of the AR"I and not other shitos? I would appreciate the source you got this notion from as quite honestly I have never heard anyone espouse such a position before.

>>>Anyone who disagrees with this is disagreeing with the prophets and with the Torah itself.

There is a level of sin which has no explanation which we can understand, as the gemara (Menachos 29) writes with respect to R' Akiva's punishment, "kach alah b'machshava lifanei". A previous commentcited the Rebbe's view which I have discussed on my blog:
http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2007/12/theological-response-to-shoah.html

>>>how can one decide whether something is credible or not until one has read it and gone through the sources it is based on?

Your point is irrelevant. The question is once one has gone through the sources and discovers a multiplicity of views, how does one choose which one to espouse? Your answer seems to be that one is bound to accept the Zohar. The Rambam in many places writes that there is no hachra'ah in areas of hashkafa. I prefer the Rambam's view to yours, which you have yet to substantiate with sources.

Looking forward to your response.

D. Heshelis said...

Im Yirtzeh Hashem I will reply to all your points, but since you brought up many questions and I have a full schedule, I will do it, bisiyata DiShmaya gradually point by point over a few days.

I would like to say, however, that a lot of the issues that you brought up are answered in the book and in the numerous and lengthy sources.

Yes, I am “Devora Jacobs”. I changed my pen name because I found out that there is a speaker by the name of Devora Jacobs and I didn’t want us to be confused. Devora Heshelis is also a pen name.

I hope to be writing to you soon.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

Reply to Anonymous:

Both Adam and Chava sinned, as is clear from reading the Torah. I don’t know why you say that “Rabbis like to call it Chava’s sin”. In fact, the rabbis speak much more about cheit Adam – the sin of Adam, than about cheit Chava – the sin of Chava. The reason I spoke only of cheit Chava in my post was because I was focusing on the women’s issue. In the book, however, I explain that both Adam and Chava sinned.

The sin being referred to is eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Having intimate relations before Shabbos, although it was a mistake, was not a sin in the same sense as eating of the Tree of Knowledge which they had specifically been warned not to do and which carried the death penalty. The medrash about the snake having relations with Chava is not to be taken simplistically. The soton was in the snake and his relationship with Chava was spiritual. Nevertheless, no matter how you take it, Chava was a willing party to this relationship so I don’t know why you call this Adam’s sin.

Since both Adam and Chava sinned by eating of the Tree of Knowledge, why did this make Chava become lower than Adam? This matter is explained in The Moon’s Lost Light. Adam was a chotei, sinner, but Chava was a chotei umachti - someone who not only sinned but also causes someone else to sin. After Chava ate from the Tree of Knowledge she was afraid that she would die and he would live and he would marry another woman (whom Hashem would create). (Rashi on Braishis 3:6 based on Braishis Rabba). She therefore wanted Adam to eat together with her. This was a terrible act – much worse than her own eating. Furthermore, the Sages say that Adam did not originally want to listen to Chava but she cried and pressured him until he finally gave in. Although Adam was held responsible and punished for his eating from the tree, Chava’s causing him to sin made her become second place. Since all future souls were contained in Adam and Chava the sin of eating of the Tree of Knowledge became the basis of all human history. When this sin is rectified the world returns to the ideal state that existed in Gan Eden and then we go to an even higher level called Olam Haba.

As for your statement that women will be higher than men, I have heard this. But the sources I have (Kli Yakor and Me’or Veshemesh) speak specifically about equality. When I asked about this, someone told me that first there is equality and then there is a stage where the feminine becomes higher. However, since I saw in the name of the Arizal that all those who served Hashem will be equal and there will be no higher and no lower, this is what I wrote. I’m sure that if I understood this more deeply I would know how to put the two teachings together. But I’m not there yet. I therefore decided to write only what I could back up with clear and reliable sources.

Regarding your comments on tznius, etc., I agree with you completely.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

Chaim B.,

I did not say that feminism must appear before any date which was predicted as heralding the geula. It is only from the year 5,500 that this rule applies. The reason for this is that this year starts the erev Shabbos of the world. (Every day of creation became one thousand years of world history so that the year 5,500 parallels the dawn of the sixth day of creation, the erev Shabbos of the world.) Erev is from the word mixture. On the erev Shabbos of the world some of the powers of the redemption are already affecting the world, just as Friday is affected by our preparations for Shabbos. Kol HaTor says specifically that the powers of the geula enter the world in this time period. For a fuller explanation on this please read the section of The Moon’s Lost Light called “After Rectification” together with the notes which quote Kol HaTor.

Because of limited time, I cannot answer more points now. I hope to continue with the other points b’ezras Hashem throughout the week.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

I’d like to add on another point to my response to Chaim B. There are two ways for the geula to come. Be’ita (in the appointed time) or Achishena (before the appointed time). When the geula comes before the appointed time it is not a gradual process and therefore the powers of the geula do not first slowly affect the world. The Vilna Gaon explained that this happens only when the geula is be’ita - at the end of time.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

Chaim B. said...

More troubling to me than any of the errors and questions I have posed is the tone of certitude the writer adopts even while seemingly making basic errors in fact and theology. What am I to make of the confident claim upon the authority of the Zohar that Chazal knew the world was round (mareh makom?) while the rest of the Ancient world was in ignorance when a 2 minute Google search shows that this information was known to the Ancient Greeks and less esoteric knowledge of basic gemara (Pesachim 94) show that Chazal credit the Umos' knowledge as superior to their own? What am I to make of absolute and certain statements like, "Anyone who disagrees with this is disagreeing with the prophets and with the Torah itself" when rabim u'gedolim have espoused the very views which the author so confidently and glibly rejects as kefira? I prefer more qualified nuanced approaches to life, so I think we really are on different pages. Chacon san gout...

Anonymous said...

D. Heshelis, I thank you for your feedback. I will answer some of the questions you wrote
in your post of December 30, 2007 4:50 PM sometime later this week or perhaps next weekend, bli neder, as my schedule this week is very tight. Take care

D. Heshelis said...

Actually, I had been thinking of mentioning this pasuk. But I didn’t do so because there are various interpretations given it which would not show my point. For instance, Chazal interpret this pasuk to mean that a man can ask for intimate relations with his mouth while the woman may only hint. Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch explains this pasuk to mean that men controlled women because of economic power but he adds that this is only without the Torah. Therefore this pasuk will not explain why women had a secondary position in other areas of life.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

3) >>>both of which were written with ruach hakodesh….Therefore…It is coming from Hashem.

True, but that does not mean one cannot take a different approach. No one on your standard page of Mikra'os Gedolos (barring the Ohr HaChaim) ever cites the Zohar, and most pashtanim ( e.g. Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, etc.) feel completely free to interpret the text in ways that radically depart from Midrashic views. More importantly, Midrash is open to variety of interpretations. 3) >>>both of which were written with ruach hakodesh….Therefore…It is coming from Hashem.



This comment is based on a mistaken assumption. I never said that someone cannot take another approach. In fact I said specifically that if someone finds another approach more palatable there is nothing to argue about there. What I was responding to was your wife saying that this view is not valid. One cannot say that about an approach which is coming from ruach hakodesh.



Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

3) >>>both of which were written with ruach hakodesh….Therefore…It is coming from Hashem.

True, but that does not mean one cannot take a different approach. No one on your standard page of Mikra'os Gedolos (barring the Ohr HaChaim) ever cites the Zohar, and most pashtanim ( e.g. Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, etc.) feel completely free to interpret the text in ways that radically depart from Midrashic views. More importantly, Midrash is open to variety of interpretations. 3) >>>both of which were written with ruach hakodesh….Therefore…It is coming from Hashem.

This comment is based on a mistaken assumption. I never said that someone cannot take another approach. In fact I said specifically that if someone finds another approach more palatable there is nothing to argue about there. What I was responding to was your wife saying that this view is not valid. One cannot say that about an approach which is coming from ruach hakodesh.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

4) Why the Sages descriptions didn’t always suit our reality. We were living in a different reality

So what are we to make of halachos that includes assumptions like “tav l’meisav…”, that women prefer marriage of any sort to remaining single? Following the writer’s assumption that Chazal dealt with a different reality, one is forced to conclude that we are bound to follow empty norma that have no correspondence with reality (I assume the writer is not advocating these halachos in toto.) Such an approach emasculates halacha of any inherent meaning.

Page 70 of The Moon’s Lost Light explains that we are now in a process of transition. Chava’s tikun (correction) and therefore the transition is not yet complete. When it becomes complete our rulings correspondings to the chazaka of tav l’meisav will change. Of course, we cannot do this ourselves. At that time there will be a Sanhedrin that will make the necessary adjustments.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

5)>>>the rabbi cannot change the laws of the Torah, he can only show us how to understand and apply them.

Chazal were legislators - they made dinim derabbanan. Scientists do not make laws, they discover them. Did Chazal make laws based on a conception of women limited to their time/place? See kashe #4.

Chazal had a deep knowledge of Torah principles and what lies behind them and so they were able to legislate laws accordingly. Some of the laws regarding women are probably beyond the limit of time and place (by time I am including also before and after the redemption) while others were based on a response to a particular transitory situation. We have no permission to go against Chazal’s rulings unless the law itself leaves a way to do so. The Sanhedrin, however, will be able to change whatever will need to be adjusted to suit the new situation. Once again, the point that halachos can change after the coming of Mashiach is dealt with in The Moon’s Lost Light.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

Chaim B. said...

Once again you have not addressed the issue. Until Chazal make those changes, what you are in effect saying is that the words of Torah conflict with reality. Until we have Sanhedrin (which may be today IY"H or may be in 1000 years) women in your view are essentially bound by laws which bear so semblance to the facts on the ground. Is this what you suggest is to give women comfort when they approach a difficult statement in Chazal?

R' Soloveitchik took the view that Chazal had insight into ontological reality, into basic truths of human psyche which are unchanging. Without getting into a debate of how in that light to understand "tav l'meisav", one at least avoids the philosophical pitfall of a legal system at odds with the world it governs. Your approach glosses over this difficulty.

Stripped of esoterics, all you are in effect saying is wait until Moshiach comes and we will straighten everything out. Aside from the fact that Moshiach cannot overturn dinim d'oraysa that some find troubling (e.g. a women may be the recipient of a get but may not give one), we are living in the here and now and need answers that work in today's world.

Chaim B. said...

>>>When it becomes complete our rulings correspondings to the chazaka of tav l’meisav will change.

Aside from the philosophical problem above, I am curious whether you have a source which explicitly says Sanhedrin will reverse itself on these type issues (I am not aware of sources that predict legislation of a future Sanhedrin) or is this speculation on your part based on your own reasoning.

Ariella said...

DH said: "What I was responding to was your wife saying that this view is not valid. One cannot say that about an approach which is coming from ruach hakodesh."
What I said, in fact, as can be verified by anyone who scrolls up is "While I understand that we feel better about negative things when we can argue that they were deserved, this is really no more valid than pinning the Holocause [should be Holocaust] on particular sins or misdirections of that particular generation." Did you read Tzipporah's comment on your earlier response to this? Do you claim that the Rebbe erred in this, and that your own authority or insight is greater? No one said beruach hakodesh that the Holocaust was due to something in particular that we can figure out for ourselves. It's quite a mental leap -- one could even say a flight of fancy -- to draw a connection between your own stance and such a supposition. If you go back to basics, such as TaNach, you could find an entire book devoted to the point that suffering cannot always be pinned down on a particular sin. It's called Iyov -- Job in English -- and our Sages say it was authored by none other than Moshe Rabbenu.

Ariella said...

One final point, DH, if you can bear with some formal rhetoric for a moment. Your argument could be mapped out as a syllogism as follows:
MAJOR PREMISE: That which is derviced from Ruach Hakodesh must be true.
MINOR PREMISE: My thesis is based on works of Kabbalah, which were written with Ruach Hakodesh
CONCLUSION: Therefore, you must accept my argument as true.

As that is your setup, you don't offer any defense of your position other than to say that it is based on the Zohar (though you do not offer specific citations as one would in properly documented work). Then you can say that anyone who disagrees with you is disagreeing with the Zohar and therefore -- you clearly imply -- is advancing a heretical position.

DixieYid said...

Chaim and Ariella,

Rebbetzin Heshelis does not have access to the internet, but she subscribes to an e-mail service. she based her responses to your first few comments on the fact that I e-mailed her the text of your comments. However, at a certain point, your questions veered off onto tangential questions on statements she made in response to your arguments. Those questions no longer related to the thesis of her post here or to her book so I have not forwarded those comments to her and she has not seen them.

Many of your questions relate back to an assumption which Reb. Heshelis already adressed in one of her comments. They rely on the mistaken assumption, which she corrected, that she was saying that her explanation of these times in history in general, and their application to the "women's issue," was the only true position. If you will re-read what she wrote, and, in fact, the subtitle of her book, you will see that she never said any such thing. She could have called the book, "The Torah Perspective on Women..." However, she specifically called the book "*A* torah Perspective."

The majority of your questions on her comments or what she wrote in the post are built on the mistaken assumption that she was saying that her thesis was the only valid Torah thesis and anything else is heresy. To disprove something like that is quite easy since all you need to show is that *anyone* takes a different view on *anything* that she said.

However, the truth is that she said that what she wrote was *a* Torah perspective and that for those that find it a satisfying explanation will cling to it. Her main points in the book are well sourced (I have read the book and gone through the footnotes) and, as the Rabbonim who wrote the haskamos and to whom she has spoken show, her explanation is at least *a* proper Torah view. It is not she who is trying to "pasken hashkafa."

I am familiar with her basis thesis (which she uses to apply to the "women's issue) in the writings of Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern in his unpublished Kuntrus on Chochma and Bina, which I translated here: http://dixieyid.blogspot.com/2007/06/chochma-vs-bina-practical-implications.html

I will quote part of that here:

"We will [now] speak about the dispute between the GR"A, zy"a, and Chassidus. The explanation is that the GR"A was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef (as was stated by the students of the GR"A and received by the Maharil Diskin). One of the purposes of Moshiach ben Yosef is to wage war with the Klipa (husk) of the Erev Rav (other Jews in our midst who infiltrate illegitimate ideas from within) which gets stronger before the redemption. The klipa of the Erev Rav is the klipa of the Haskala (the "Enlightenment") whose roots were beginning in those days. In truth, Chassidus was the counterpart (ze leumas ze) of the Klipa of the Haskala. And the Klipa of the Erev Rav of the Haskala was related to the 50th gate of impurity, which is the aspect of Amalek, which is called "Reshis Goyim," the first of the nations (Bamidbar 24:20), (as the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh said in parshas Shmos, that before the redemption there would be a strengthening of the 50th gate of impurity). Therefore, the Maskilim ("Englightened Ones"), may their name be blotted out, attempted to disseminate impure forms of wisdom which eminated from the 50th gate of impurity. (The wisdom of holiness is, l'havdil, a counterpoint to this, and is a revelation of the aspect of Keser, Crown, the 50th gate of holiness.) Chassidus was the cure that preceeded this disease because it was a revelation of the Yechida [the highest of the 5 "parts" of the soul], the 50th gate of holiness. Chassidus revealed the Holy Englightenment of the revelation of G-dliness in Chochma-Bina-Daas, which is the cure which preceeds the Klipa of the Haskala.

Therefore, the GR"A, who was related to the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, is the aspect of the Sefira of Chochma (as we said earlier). The Sefira of Chochma pushes away the Chochma of impurity in a way of waging war, because the method of clarifying between good and evil is the job of the Sefira of Chochma, "כולהו בחכמה אתברירו. (Zohar)" And therefore the GR"A had to wage war with the Klipa of the Erev Rav. But the revelation of Chassidus, which relates to Moshiach ben Dovid, the Sefira of Malchus, whose destiny was planted at the beginning in the Sefira of Keser, is the remedy to the sisease of the Wisdom of Impurity. It is a repair and a remedy by spreading the Wisdom of Holiness. When the kingdom of Moshiach ben Dovid will be in its perfect state of repair, receiving [he'ora-illumination] from Keser, then he will be able to repair the world without the use of war. [As opposed to the time of] the birthpangs of Moshiach and the wars that preceed the redemption, which relate to Moshiach ben Yosef [before] he is included [joins] with Moshiach ben Dovid, about which this is not the place to expound). [The GR"A's job was to fight against the Wisdom of Impurity with war, under the flag of Moshiach ben Yosef. Chassidus is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid, post war, and is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid.]"

Bottom line: These issues seem to have gotten your juices flowing. If you are truly interested in seeing whether or not her explanation is *a* kosher Torah explanation, which may satisfy many people (obviously not you!), then you really should read her book, available at the link the post its self with a 30% discount. Most of your questions about whether or not the view she espouses is a true view are answered in the book. She can't write every source for every point in this post. That would be silly. She might as well reprint her book on Dixie Yid then. :-)

Be well!

-Dixie Yid

I did not forward today's comments and I will not forward any more comments to her (though I am going to mention the spherical world issue to her).

D. Heshelis said...

(I [Dixie Yid] am posting this comment by D. Heshelis, but pretend that it appears a couple of spots higher on the comment page. It is in response to earlier comments and not in response to newer comments)

6) >>>According to kabbalah, women parallel and resemble the Shchina, Hashem's presence in this world which is compared to a mother. Whatever happens to the Shchina happens to women and vice versa.

You can dismiss it as my opinion and not fact, but for what its worth, the term ‘nukva’ when used for the feminine force is metaphorical and does not necessarily have anything to do with women/men in the literal sense.

The Zohar Chadash 40a says that women are connected to the kabbalistic sphere of malchus. This is the nukva of which you spoke.

Please see note 88 of the Moon’s Lost Light which quotes from Chasdei Avos 1:5 “And like our Rabbi zatzal, (Rabi Nachman of Breslav) told us in the days of our father Avrohom the shechinah was called by the name Sara and in the days of Yitzchak by the name Rivka, and in the days of Yaakov by the names Rachel and Lea (See Life of Maharan Paragraph 563,) and this is true for each and everyone that his wife is the aspect of the shechina.

The note continues for a full page of Chassidic sources explaining how women are connected to the shechina. Also Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in his sefer Tomer Devora speaks of women paralleling the shechina. (I think it’s in Perek 5).

7. Later I found out that it also means that women would learn Torah.

M’mah nafshach – if you hold it is assur for a woman to learn gemara, it is assur even today. If it is mutar in some contexts, then it was always mutar in those contexts, even 2000 years ago (recall the story of Bruria!)

I was not talking about it being assur or mutar for a woman to learn Torah. That subject is explained at length in the first appendix of the Moon’s Lost Light. What I meant to say was that women would become capable and interested in learning Torah.

It was always permitted for a woman to learn Torah. In fact the Rambam writes that a woman is rewarded for this. What was forbidden was for her father to teach her Torah without her first showing her interest and capabilities. Again this is discussed at length in the book. I think that it would help you a lot to get the answers to your questions if you would read the book and the notes carefully.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

D. Heshelis said...

(Again, a comment going on earlier comments regarding the spherical shape of the world... not in response to later comments)

What I wrote was not exact but I don't think it changes the point that I was
trying to bring out. I was simply using this as a mashal. The world's
spherical shape was not known to the overwhelming majority of people. In
fact even most Jews did not know this and even if they did they didn't know
that when there is light on one side of the earth; there is darkness on the
other.

-D. Heshelis

Ariella said...

Dixie Yid, you seem to think it is ungentlemanly to subject your author's book to open debate and are excusing your author from addressing particular questions due to her lack of internet access. That doesn't really wash. You know the saying, if you can't stand the heat . . . I would modify it to end, "don't enter the kitchen." If you do not want your argument to be open to public scrutiny and critique, don't publish. (And I am speaking as someone who publishes herself, and has to answer for anything in my magazine no matter how misconstrued it may be by a reader). And if you do not want to entertain kashas on the book, don't attempt to gain publicity by opening a forum for it .
As you've already discovered, my thoughts on absolute statements appear here:
http://kallahmagazine.com/WordPress/?p=648
I added a follow up comment to yours.

Ariella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DixieYid said...

I can’t go in depth, but those points that you quoted were in the context of her defenses to kashas which implied that her statements were not even valid as. She’s pointing out that one cannot argue with the validity of her statements, as valid Torah statements. Her certainty is warrented. She was certain that the statements that she made were backed up by something in chazal. She was not saying that no other position exists in chazal.

-Dixie Yid

Chasmal said...

the torah is the living garment of schechinah-
"etz chaiim he" he is SHE not it!
the author understands this very critical approach to the sacred.

D. Heshelis said...

Regarding your question about the Greeks knowing that the earth was round, my answer last night was very short because I didn’t have time. I’d like to give a more complete answer here. I didn’t know that the Greeks knew that the world was round and since I was using this simply as a mashal I didn’t think it was necessary to check out if this is completely accurate. (It never occurred to me that there was anything to check.)

But even if they knew the world was round I doubt that they knew the other things the Zohar says along with this that there was night on one side when there was day on the other side, that there were people on the other side who looked different, that even though the earth is round like a ball they don’t fall off and that the world is suspended without anything supporting it (toleh eretz al bli ma). Also the sod could refer to the sod which is behind all this meaning what the spherical shape of the earth represents.

Sincerely,

D. Heshelis

neshama said...

Dixie Yid
I don't understand the seudo intellectual attack on the author of a book!?
What is the nekuda that they object to?

DixieYid said...

Neshama, I wouldn't call it pseudo-intellectual. I think what Rabbi and Dr. Brown are bothered by is that they feel that Rebbetzin Heshelis is too confident of the accuracy of her statements when she is defending herself. I think they were also bothered by statements, some of which were part of her main thesis, and some points which were only said in response to things they said. I think they were taking things that were said b'toras response and treated them like they were said b'toras assertion. In either case, I wouldn't call it pseudo-intellectual since they are arguing in good faith, though, I believe, based on misundersandings of Rebbetzin Heshelis' points.

I will respond to them more at length, IY"H, soon.

-Dixie Yid

D. Heshelis said...

About three months ago, there was a post here on my book, The Moon’s Lost Light. It caused quite a stir mainly amongst two readers. Because I do not have an internet connection I could not see the comments directly. Some of them were forwarded to me and I answered them, but there were other comments that I never saw.

Recently an acquaintance came across this post on a Google search and he printed and gave me the entire dialogue. For the first time, I became aware of questions and comments which I hadn’t answered. I am very sorry about this because my failure to respond may have deprived people of answers they needed to see and perhaps left them wondering if there were any answers. It is therefore important for me to inform the readers that my silence was not intentional. Presently, I am very busy preparing for Pesach and responses take much longer than most people realize. But I hope to answer a pertinent point after Pesach. Dixie Yid will אי"ה inform you when and where they will be posted.

A wonderful Pesach to everyone,

Devora Heshelis