Class at Birkath Avraham

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Weekly Shabbat meals

2013 Passover Seders

Reb Yair & wife visiting from Finland

Wedding at Birkath Avraham

Gavriel with R' Asher

 

Does it not make sense for Dor Deah to learn from the success of other Jewish outreach movements such as Chabad, Ohr Somayach, and Bnei Akiva, doing much of what they do?

 

The above stated organizations have more potential than actual success.  We certainly see the value in a Dor Deah parallel to the Chabad houses found around the world, or the benefit in handing out free literature from public booths as Chabad and Breslov do in Israel.  Such practices are great for spreading one's message, but the most impressive success these organizations have is fundraising.  Their success in bringing people to Torah observance, on the other hand, is overstated.  So long as more Jews are becoming secular than become Torah observant, the fight is being lost.  Though Chabad and the other organizations referred to do a better job than most other Jewish organizations, if their success rate at bringing unreligious born-Jews to Torah observance would be judged by the same standards people judge the outcome of converts, no one would fund them.

 

One must take into consideration that the goals of these organizations are different from our goals; their fundamentals different and sometimes in opposition to our own.  These organizations practice discriminatory outreach.  They not only favor Jews, but seek them exclusively, sometimes born Jews over Orthodox converts, and always born Jews, even secular ones, in preference to potential converts, despite that the potential convert already strongly desires to keep Torah - but they're not blessed with the 'blood.'  Our outreach is indiscriminate.  Theirs is not.  The organizations mentioned view born-Jews as intrinsically superior to non-Jews in one form or another.  Dor Deah sees humanity in general as having the same lofty potential.  It's all a matter of choice and opportunity.  Some of these differences between our organization and theirs mean that their methods of 'success' might not be so successful for us.  For example, a large percentage of the funding for 'mainstream Orthodox' organizations comes from secular Jews.  These organizations feel fine about tickling the ears of wealthy un-observant Jews so as to encourage them to make large donations to their causes.  Dor Deah is not in favor of pandering to, and thereby to some extent subjugating itself to, those who esteem secularism above Torah principles.  Even if we were to rely on such support, our success would pale in comparison to that of other Jewish organizations.  Why?  Other organizations teach potential secular Jewish donors that they are special, important, and that their soul is divine - despite that they live lives in opposition to Torah principles.  We, on the other hand, say without shame that no man shares in the divine nature of G-d; and certainly not the soul of a born-Jew who denies Torah both in belief and in practice.  The Talmudic Sages even taught that such an individual is on a level lower than a non-Jewish idolater!  It should then be apparent that the key fundraising technique of other Jewish outreach organizations will not work for us.  Despite this, our objection to seeking financial support from those who don't actually support us will cause us no loss.  Unlike the above mentioned organizations, our resources are not restricted to a few million potential donors.  Our outreach is not only to Jews, but to the world - and so, the extent of our fundraising has far greater potential.  "The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof; the world, and all they who dwell in it." (Ps. 24,1)

 

 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.

Q.  I demand an explanation about this:

Sefer Shoftim, Hilkhoth Mamrim (Laws of Rebels), Chap. 3, Halakhoth 1 and 2:

1. Whoever does not believe in the ORAL Torah (Torah SheBe`al Peh) is not a Zaqen Mamre (rebellious elder) spoken of in the Torah. Rather, behold, he is among the heretics (minim), and he may be PUT TO DEATH by the hand of any man. After it has been publicized that he denies the Oral Torah -- they take him down, and do not bring him up, just like the rest of the heretics, and Epicureans, and those who say that the Torah is not from Heaven, and those who turn aside, and the apostates (Meshumadim); all of these are no longer members of Klal Yisrael (Israel as a whole), and thus DO NOT NEED WITNESSES, NOR PERMISSION, NOR JUDGES. Rather, WHOEVER who KILLS one of them has performed a GREAT MITZVH and had removed a stumblingblock.

2. The things that have been said APPLY to a man who has denied the ORAL Torah in his THOUGHTS, and in things that that seemed apparent to him, and walked after his simple opinion, and after the rule of his own heart, and denied the Oral Torah first - and the all those who follow after him."

Is anyone here in Dor Deah contemplating on physically exterminating the Karaites, Samaritans & the Liberals as instructed by the Rambam?  If Rambam truly said these horrible things then he's no different from Muhammad's Jihadists.

 

 

 

A.  First of all, the Rambam did not invent this law.  He simply codified the teachings of Haz"al.  In other words, acknowledgment of these laws is not unique to Dor Deah.  Any Jew who heeds the Biblical injunction to uphold the instructions of the judges (Deut. 17:8-13would acknowledge the laws you've quoted, supposedly all Orthodox Jews; but you have only quoted halakhoth one and two. The very next halakha is not quoted.  Reading the very next halakha will help explain why Jews do not have a reputation for killing apostates from Judaism, despite the laws you have quoted.  The very next halakha, which you did not quote, states:

 

"But the children of these errant people and their grandchildren whose parents led them away and they were born in heresy and were raised in accordance with the heresy, they are considered as a children captured by idolatrous non-Israelites and raised according to their [non-Israelite] religion, for he is forced into it [by his circumstance]. Even though he may hear afterwards that he is a Jew and has seen the Jews and the Jewish religion, he is coerced [not to keep Torah], for he was raised immersed in the heretical error. And such is the case with those in the present who hold on to the ways of their forefathers who erred [in heresy]. Therefore, it is proper to inspire them to return to the true faith, and to draw them near in peaceful ways, that they will return to the power of the Torah. A person should not rush to kill them."  (Hilkhoth Mamrim Ch. 3 halakha 3)

 

This third halakha is why Jews don't have the reputation of 'jihadists,' despite the previous two laws you mentioned.  Due to the great spiritual confusion of modern times and the severity of unjust killing, religious Jews assume that most any un-observant Jew falls under the category described in the third halakha, the law that you didn't quote. The laws you quoted, by the way, only apply to Israelites who abandoned the faith of Israel as a result of their own rebellious straying.  That assumes they originally knew and subscribed to Torah-Judaism.  The laws you mentioned do not apply to non-Israelites -- another distinction between ourselves and the idea of 'jihadists.'

 

Now, it is understandable that the first two halakhoth be bothersome to the western mind, even if the third halakha removes fear of immediate jihad at the hands of zealous Jews.  However, you must realize that Jewish law (halakha) assumes that the one who learns Jewish law sees the world as under the authority of the Almighty and that he accepts the Torah as true and binding.  Halakha also teaches that a Jew who high-handedly violates the Sabbath prohibitions is supposed to be put to death (Ex. 31,15).  Why should this bother you any less than halakhoth 1 and 2 of Hilkhoth Mamrim chapter 3?  How are those two halakhoth any more troublesome than how when the seven nations rejected peace, the Torah commanded the death of even their women and children (Deut. 20,10-17)?  In fact, if it were not for the Oral Law, which the heretic rejects, we could very well think that the Written Torah proscribes death for any individual who strays from the instructions of the judges, that the death penalty is not restricted to a rebellious elder alone.  Deuteronomy 17,11-13, the source for this law, states:

 

"According to the instruction which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, thus you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the ruling which they shall declare unto you, to the right hand, nor to the left.  And the man that acts presumptuously, not hearkening unto the priest that stands to minister there before the LORD your G-d, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; you shall exterminate the evil from Israel.  And all the people shall hear, and fear, and no more act presumptuously."

 

If an Israelite who still accepts the Torah is to be killed for high-handed violation of the Sabbath, then why should you expect that Jews who all out reject the Torah or the entire governmental system of the People of Israel (ie: the Oral Law) are to be treated any more kindly, despite that by their declaring the Torah invalid or the legislative and judicial system of Israel un-authoritative, they are undermining the very core of the existence of Israel, essentially inspiring rebellion against the entire framework of the Jewish People -- basically declaring war on the religion of Israel and the People of Israel from within.  In modern terminology this is called an insurrection and mutiny.  You know what the penalty for an insurrection has traditionally been in virtually every country?  Death.

 

The Torah was given for all generations.  It's eternal laws take history into account as a whole; not temporary phenomena.  Countries like the U.S. did not typically exist where religions could, at least in theory, coexist in harmony.  A group of Jewish apostates would pose a serious and real threat to a religious Jewish government -- no less now, were we to have a Torah-based government, than then.  The fact is that the bulk of G-d's commandments in the Torah are not able to be upheld under a government that supposedly acknowledges equal validity of all religions.  What you'd have is what we find in the secular 'Israeli' State in the present -- a pseudo-Jewish government giving Muslims more freedom to practice their religion on a site that is far more significant and integral to Jewish observance of Torah than it is to Islam.   No religion of Israel - no Israel.  It's either them or us.

 

 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 there a Dor Deah yeshiva to train rabbis in Dor Deah hashkafa, the Dor Deah approach to Torah and halakha?

 

It is definitely our desire that such a yeshiva be established, with HaShem's help.  However, such a yeshiva does not currently exist.  To achieve that desire, we must first establish synagogues and communities that can support the formation of such yeshivas.  The establishment of synagogues and communities is our immediate goal.  When the funding will be available, we will then, b-ezrath Shadai, make the formation of our first yeshiva an immediate goal and take the practical steps necessary to attain it.

 

 The unique characteristics of this yeshiva will be:

 

1) Centrality of the Written Torah;

2) Memorization of the Written Torah;

3) Recognition of the sole legislative authority of the ancient Great Sanhedrin;

4) Learning of practical halakha according to the systematic layout of Mishneh Torah;

5) Each student's development of a systematic theology centered on Torah and reason;

6) Emphasis on how Torah observance can and should have a positive impact on the world around us.

7) Full acceptance of anyone who wants to uphold Torah according to the clarifications of the Talmudic Sages, whether they be of Jewish or non-Jewish background.

8) Training of students to fill leadership roles in the establishment of communities around the world that will share our principles and vision.

 

The above characteristics are in contrast to the following widespread practices of virtually all other yeshivoth:

 

* The modern doctrine of 'daas Torah,' which encourages belief in the infallibility of modern rabbis, is instilled in new or young students;

* Irrational mystical teachings are established as the foundational principles of Torah observance as opposed to logical reasons.  Use of reason is belittled as being anti-Torah and as having originated in non-Jewish philosophy.

* Learning to follow Talmudic disputes before acquiring thorough knowledge of the Torah's commands, even on a basic level, and before having a thorough knowledge of the Mishna.

* Immersing oneself in Talmudic disputation without first learning the pesaq halakha, the actual law that the dispute leads up to.

* Devoting nearly the entirety of every day to familiarization with Talmudic disputation without devoting at least half the same amount of time to mastering halakha l-ma'aseh, the practical application of Jewish law.

* Mastering the legal terminology of the Babylonian Talmud's Aramaic without studying its grammar and before mastering the Hebrew language.

* During the small amount of time allotted to learning practical Jewish law, the laws are learned in an impractical manner.  Students are taught to delve into the most minute nuances of various post-Talmudic opinions before ever acquiring a holistic knowledge of practical Jewish law in general, according to any one shita (methodology).

 

 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.

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.