In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal
In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal

The Meaning of Real Teshuvah to the ‘Berith’ (Covenant): Torath Moshe

 

Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur present us with the opportunity not merely to return to galuth (exile)-Judaism as it is commonly practiced, but to go further, to return to our Berith –our actual Covenant– with HaShem. That means, or course, His sacred laws according to the authentic living Oral instruction, faithfully passed down through the ages, and codified by our Sages of blessed memory.

 

In this message, I will present teachings of RaMBaM regarding Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and teshuvah (repentance) in general. They are simple and profound, and they enable us to transform the fear and awe we naturally feel on those days into wise, practical action. Then I will explain the dangers of certain widespread customs that have crept into our Orthodoxy, dragging us down for centuries.


THE REAL MEANING OF TESHUVAH AND HOW IT’S DONE


According to the tradition of Rabbenu ha-RaMBaM (hilkhoth teshuvah 3:6), the righteous are inscribed and sealed for life on Rosh HaShanah; while the wicked are inscribed and sealed for destruction on that very day. It is average people, the “beinonim” whose judgment is postponed until Yom ha-Kippurim, when their judgment is sealed. We take the days between Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom ha-Kippurim with great seriousness, and do our best to repent properly because we do not view ourselves as so righteous: Rather, we are to see ourselves at all times as perfect “beinonim”: that our merits and sins balance each other exactly. At any given moment, we are to view our very next act, be it a miSwah or `averah (sin), as the key factor that will tip the scale for ourselves, for our city, for our country, even for the entire world—either to the side of merit and salvation, or the side of destruction. (ibid. 3:8)

Let us be reminded of what teshuvah really means. Its simplicity is so powerful:

 

ב,ג [ב] ומה היא התשובה–הוא שיעזוב החוטא חטאו, ויסירנו ממחשבתו ויגמור בליבו שלא יעשהו עוד, שנאמר “יעזוב רשע דרכו, ואיש אוון מחשבותיו” (ישעיהו נה,ז).  וכן יתנחם על שעבר, שנאמר “כי אחרי שובי, ניחמתי, ואחרי היוודעי, ספקתי על ירך” (ירמיהו לא,יח); ויעיד עליו יודע תעלומות שלא ישוב לזה החטא לעולם, שנאמר “ולא נאמר עוד אלוהינו, למעשה ידינו–אשר בך, ירוחם יתום” (הושע יד,ד).  וצריך להתוודות בשפתיו, ולומר עניינות אלו שגמר בליבו.


What is teshuvah? It is that the sinner leaves his sin, and removes it from his thoughts, and concludes in his heart not to do it again, as it is written, “Let the wicked abandon is way, the sinful man his thoughts.” (Yisha`ya 55:7). And so he must regret that he sinned, as it is written, “for after I turned back, I regretted; and after I became aware, I struck my thigh.” (Yirmiyahu 31:18). And [even] the ‘One Who Knows all Hidden Things’ can testify that he will not return to that sin ever again… And he must confess verbally, and say these ideas he has concluded in his heart. (hilkhoth teshuvah 2:3 ¹)


Therefore, on Yom Kippur all the piyutim (poetry and songs in the siddur), all the long standing on our feet, all the spiritual feeling, cannot replace the true `avodah (service) of teshuvah that is so necessary. And that is that each person, having examined his or her ways and done real soul-searching, actually goes through the real ‘teshuvah’ process over his or her actual sins. That involves the following three-step confession before HaShem:


א,ב כיצד מתוודה–אומר אנא ה’ חטאתי עוויתי פשעתי לפניך, ועשיתי כך וכך, והרי ניחמתי ובושתי במעשיי, ולעולם איני חוזר לדבר זה.  זה הוא עיקרו של וידוי; וכל המרבה להתוודות ולהאריך בעניין זה, הרי זה משובח.


How does one confess–he says, [1] “Please HaShem, I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have committed crime before you, [2] and I have done such and such, [3] and behold I regret and am ashamed of my actions, [4] and I will never repeat this thing again. (ibid. 1:2)


In other words, after the opening line of confession, we must state what we did (the more we elaborate, the better). We must then feel and express genuine remorse and shame. (Tears are definitely in order.) Finally we utterly conclude in our hearts never to repeat the sin again.


Note that besides the language of the formal confession that we find in Mishneh Torah, there is no necessity for lengthy poetry and song to “convince” HaShem to forgive us. Rather, it is an internal process that we are to go through. When we seriously follow these instructions, we have done our part. According to the severity of what we have done, we may suffer punishment to fully expiate the sin—but we are ultimately forgiven.


Finally, let’s remember that this teshuvah process is not only for the Days of Awe and Yom ha-Din. Rather, it is something that an observant Jew is expected to do any time he sins against the Torah, be it a small matter or great, throughout the year. This may seem too heavy to some people, and that’s sad, because it’s that an immature attitude that prevents them from getting the most out of their life (ibid. 7:2):


ז,ב לעולם יראה אדם את עצמו כאילו הוא נוטה למות, ושמא ימות בשעתו ונמצא עומד בחטאיו; לפיכך ישוב מחטאיו מיד, ולא יאמר כשאזקין אשוב–שמא ימות קודם שיזקין.  הוא ששלמה אומר בחכמתו “בכל עת, יהיו בגדיך לבנים” (קוהלת ט,ח).


A person should always see himself as though he is about to die, and lest he die at that very hour and remain in his sins; therefore let him turn back in repentance from his sins immediately, and not say, “I’ll repent when I’m older”—lest he die before he becomes older. This is what Shelomo, in his wisdom, said: “At every time, let your clothes be white” (Qoheleth 9:8)

The worst thing is for a person to feel so far gone, so depraved, that he cannot come back to HaShem. Consider the RaMBaM’s teachings on this:


התשובה מקרבת את הרחוקים:  אמש היה זה שנוי לפני המקום, משוקץ ומרוחק ותועבה; והיום הוא אהוב ונחמד, קרוב וידיד…  אמש היה זה מובדל מה’ אלוהי ישראל, שנאמר “עוונותיכם, היו מבדילים, ביניכם, לבין אלוהיכם” (ישעיהו נט,ב).  צועק ואינו נענה, שנאמר “גם כי תרבו תפילה, אינני שומע” (ישעיהו א,טו).  ועושה מצוות וטורפין אותן בפניו, שנאמר “מי ביקש זאת מידכם, רמוס חצריי” (ישעיהו א,יב), “מי גם בכם ויסגור דלתיים” (מלאכי א,י), “עולותיכם ספו על זבחיכם, ואכלו בשר” (ירמיהו ז,כא).  והיום הוא מודבק בשכינה, שנאמר “ואתם, הדבקים, בה’, אלוהיכם” (דברים ד,ד).  צועק ונענה מיד, שנאמר “והיה טרם יקראו, ואני אענה” (ישעיהו סה,כד).  ועושה מצוות ומקבלין אותן בנחת ושמחה, שנאמר “כי כבר, רצה האלוהים את מעשיך” (קוהלת ט,ז).  ולא עוד אלא שמתאווים להם, שנאמר “וערבה, לה’, מנחת יהודה, וירושלים–כימי עולם, וכשנים קדמונייות” (מלאכי ג,ד). (הל’ תשובה ז-ח)


Teshuvah brings near those who are far. Yesterday, he was hated before G-d, despicable and abominable; and today he is beloved and dear, close and a friend… Yesterday he was separated from HaShem G-d of Yisra’el… He would cry out and he wasn’t answered… He would do miSwoth, and they would be torn up in front of him… And today he is attached to the Shekhinah [the Divine Presence]… He does miSwoth and they are accepted with grace and joy… and not only that, but they are greatly desired… (ibid. 7:7-8)


Complete teshuvah requires not only repentance on the part of the individual, but on the part of the nation. Part of cleaning up our own house, the great House of Israel, entails looking beyond the religion as it developed (deteriorated) in ‘galuth’ (exile), to Torath Moshe, our actual ‘Berith’ (Covenant) with the Master of the Universe. And that requires looking honestly at the customs we’ve accumulated of dubious origin.

This year I want to take no chances that people be left unaware of two corrupt customs that have crept into our practice of Rosh HaShanah and Yom ha-Kippurim over the centuries.


PRAYING FOR SUSTENANCE IN THE NAME OF A FOREIGN GOD

Please beware of a frightening custom that has crept into “Orthodox” practice, and spread to nearly every ethnic community of the Jewish People I am aware of: the ‘tefillah la-parnasah’ (prayer for sustenance) before the open ark, in the “merit” of a secret name, whose meaning I will soon reveal. Being the name is not remotely Hebrew, but clearly Spanish, this custom clearly crept into Jewish practice in pre-Inquisition Spain, during the well-documented partnership between pseudo-mequbalim (pseudo-Kabbalists) and the Christian church.

(The following sources are taken from those quoted in Prof. Rabbi Jose Faur’s work, “A Crisis of Categories: Kabbalah and the Rise of Apostasy in Spain.” pp.31 While I do not identify with all the views of the author, some of which I find extreme and unbalanced, the sources he quotes from are greatly important.  Namely, I do not share Rabbi Faur’s blanket attack on mystical kabbalah.  I believe that both confirmed rationalists and mystics see important sides of the same coin.  It is the extremists on both sides of the divide who refuse to consider the other side who frighten me.)

One example of this wicked partnership is seen in the letter written by Rav David Qamhi to Rav Yehudah al-Fakhkhar (d. 1235), the leader of the anti-Maimonideans in Toledo. One of the greatest Hakhamim in Western Europe at the time, he reported on Rav Yonah’s instigation of the burning of RaMBaM’s Book of Knowledge and Guide to the Perplexed. (It must be noted that Rav Yonah spent years in devout teshuvah for evil he’d done. His later remorse is reportedly the inspiration behind his work, “Sha`arei Teshuvah”.) Rav Qamhi wrote:

…he [Rav Yonah] is evil and unlearned…. And became an informer and an enemy collaborator. Because when he realized that the Rabbis in France had rejected him and regarded him as an unlearned person… he turned to the graven images and idol worshipers [i.e. the Church], and implored of them and they consented to help him since he was denouncing the Jews. First he went to the Franciscans telling them: ‘Look, most of our people are heretics and unbelievers, because they were duped by Rav Moshe of Egypt [Maimonides] who wrote heretical books. You exterminate your heretics, exterminate also ours!” Thereafter they ordered to burn those books, which were the Book of Knowledge and the Guide. His uncircumcised heart, however, did not rest until he also told the same words to the Dominicans and the clergy…

This relationship between the church and pseudo-Kabbalists appears to have gone beyond book-burning: The idolatrous concepts of shi`tuf and deification of abstract concepts—hallmarks of Christianity—found their way into “Jewish” thought. The famous mequbal Rav Avraham Abul`afya (1240-1291) remarked:

Accordingly, let me inform you, that the masters of mysticism [and] the sefirot thought to profess the unity of G-d, and escape the doctrine of trinitarianism, and [in fact] they made him ten. In the same fashion that the gentiles say, “He is three and the three are one,” some masters of mysticism say that the divinity is ten sefirot and the ten are one.

Certain quacks from Ashkenzic mystical circles (whose ideas were adopted by mystical quacks from Sefaradi circles) came to believe that the trinity itself represents the truest form of monotheism, Has wa-Shalom (G-d forbid). Rav Solomon ibn Verga (d. ca. 1520) reported on this apostasy, quoting one of their polemics:

But the trinity is not polytheism but simple monotheism to those who understand. And I saw three great men from the Ashkenazic sages and I learned from them in the books of mysticism, and I saw how from there it becomes evident how the trinity is monotheism….

So it should not be too great a surprise that in the ‘tephillah la-parnasah’ (prayer for sustenance) found in about every High Holiday maHzor (prayer book) —Ashkenazi, Sepharadi, even neo-Yemenite— people are praying for sustenance for the coming year in the name of DICARNOSA. Look it up in your maHzor—it’s almost certainly there.  (In some Sefardic siddurim it appears as an optional prayer that may be inserted daily in the Amidah, the standing prayer.)  Now note how the Artscroll siddur instructs you NOT TO SAY THE NAME, just to scan it with the eyes… Since the most sacred Name of HaShem, Y-H-W-H, may not be pronounced except by the High Priest on Yom Kippur in a functioning Holy Temple, most Jews don’t see anything abnormal here.

However, anyone who speaks a Latin-based language would be amazed to consider the meaning:  

“Di”, is identical to the Latin “deo”, or in English, “deity”–meaning “God”.

“Carne” is Spanish for meat or flesh, to this day. It is the root of the word “carnivore”—a meat-eater.

*  The suffix “-oso” marks “carne” as an adjective, so that it means “meaty”, “fleshy”, or “corpulent.”   This is clear when you see the same suffix in other common Spanish adjectives that end in “oso” or “osa”, such as in “maravilloso” (marvelous), or “delicisioso” (delicious).

In other words, in simple Spanish, DI-CARNOSA simply means, “God in the flesh”.

— The religion that teaches how God Almighty became flesh and lived on earth as a physical man, of course, is Christianity.

— It is the same religion whose tentacles penetrated penetrated European Jewish scholarship, censoring the sacred Oral Torah literature, namely the Talmud and Mishneh Torah. This is well known.  (Besides removing negative references to Jesus, the Church’s agents — usually Jewish scholars who converted — ensured that laws offensive to Christians would become worded as “`ovde kokhavim u-mazaloth”  — star worshippers — removing Christianity from a negative light.)  It is the

— It is the same religion that influenced the spiritual doctrines taught by corrupted Jewish scholars in Spain and France, as we see above.  That is why those who maintained the ancient mutsa`arab prayer tradition — namely Jews of the Andalusian and old Yemenite schools — never recited this prayer of the Franco-Northern Spanish Jews.

All evidence points to DI-CARNOSA being another name for Jesus.

Nearly all evidence, that is.  In fairness to the brilliant scholar, it must be noted that Rabbi Faur understands “Dicarnosa” to be a form of “Dea Cornosa”, meaning “fleshy goddess” in Spanish.  His logic is as follows:  Latin for god is “deus”, not “deo”.  Hence Mozart’s middle name “Amadeus”.  Pre-Christian fertility/grain goddesses were often portrayed as corpulent women.  Therefore he understands “corpulent goddess” to be the origin of the name of the foreign divinity in the prayer for sustenance.

However, considering that this practice hails from the lands where Jews were so greatly intimidated, pressured, scrutinized, and influenced by the powerful Catholic church — and not by pre-Christian pagan cultists — I believe it is “God in the flesh” that penetrated the siddur: not “corpulent goddess.”  

In truth, it makes no difference whatsoever.  Is one of the above possibilities preferable over the other??

Please don’t say this prayer. Besides the well-known, recorded invasion of Christian theology into certain quack rabbinical, mystical circles; it appears nowhere throughout the whole breadth of the Written Torah [Bible] and Oral Torah literature. Even if you still have a doubt — insisting on believing in all innocence that this must be a “sacred Name” that somehow sounds just like “God in the flesh” or “corpulent goddess” — this is no matter on which to be lenient. We’re talking about unwittingly praying to HaShem in the name of a foreign deity.

May HaShem bless Israel with a year of prosperity—but if He does, it will certainly not be in the merit of a name from idolatry. In fact, according to the Rambam, we are not to make special requests for anything on Shabboth and Haggim, outside the prayers instituted by Haza”l (the Talmudic Sages), except for specific, dire emergency situations.


THE CUSTOM OF KAPPAROTH

Another frightening custom, called “kapparoth” is practiced in all innocence by the bulk of the Charedi Jewish world on the eve of Yom Kippur. And they have no clue where it comes from. It is a custom that was repeatedly branded by ruling sages of Israel between the 9th and 16th centuries as “the way of the Amorite”, a custom that must be stopped. (This does not mean it was necessarily a tradition from the ancient Amorites; “way of the Amorite” refers to a custom with roots in idolatry.)  Note that I teach this as someone who identifies as Haredi, living comfortably in a Haredi neighborhood. There is nothing hidden about these issues; they are discussed in books studied by all. Consider the teachings of the AHaronim (latter-day sages) on this matter ²:


The following is a quote from commentary of the Beth Yoseph (HaRav Yoseph Karo, zSq”l) on the Tur (written by the grandson of the Rabbenu Asher, “The Rosh”):


יש מקומות שנוהגים לשחוט תרנגול לכפרה וכן יש בתשובת הגאונים המורדכי  ב-מס’ יומא כתב “המנהג הזה וכל מ”שכתוב בסימן זה, הוא בפסקי הראש למס’ יומא” וקצתו למורדכי ומנהג זה כתוב “גם בתשב”ץ וכ’ שם שננוהגים ליקח תרנגול לזכר ותרנגולת לנקבה:  והרשב”א כתב בתשובה בעניין הכפרה שעושין לנערי’ בעי”ה מנהג זה פשוט בערינו אפ על פי ששמעתי מאנשים הגונים מאשכנז שכל ארצם עושים כן.  וגם שמעתי שנשאל רבינו האיי ואמר שכן נהגו עכז’ מנעתי מנהג זה מערינו. וכתוב בא”ח שהרמב”ן אוסרו משום דרכי האמורי.


There are places where they are accustomed to slaughtering a rooster as kapparah [an atonement], and there is a responsum of the Gaonim “The Mordekhite” on tractate Yoma… And the Rashb”a wrote in a responsum on the subject of kapparoth that they do it for children in the holy city [or ‘our holy cities’]. This custom is spread out throughout our [Spanish] cities, even though I heard from decent men from Germany that all their land does so [too]. And I also heard that it was asked to Rabbenu Hayye [the Gaon], and he said that “this is how they practiced; even so, I have stopped this custom from our cities.” And it is written in the OraH Hayim that the Ramban [Nachmanides] forbade it because [it is one of] the ways of the Amorite.


Note that Rav Hayye Gaon was such a pillar of ancient tradition, that his rulings reached the Spain of HaRav Shmuel haNaggid, and the students of the Rav YiS’Haq Alfasi (the Ri”f), who sent him their queries. When Rabbenu ha-Rambam only heard from sages in the Land of Israel who had seen the t:phillin of Rabbenu Hayye Gaon, he ruled against even his own father’s tradition, the prevailing practice in his times, regarding the preparation of skins for the parchments of tephillin and mezuzoth. In our times today, a noted scholar on the ancient traditions of EreS Yisra’el, HaRav Dawidh Bar Hayim of Makhon Shilo, hails Rabbenu Hayye Gaon as the greatest authority on the pure ancient traditions of EreS Yisrael (the Land of Israel). This Gaon used his power to utterly stop the custom’ of kapparoth in Bavel (Iraq). Likewise, Ramba”n, himself the recognized leader of Spanish Jewry in his day (and quite a mystic and astrologer, I might add) forbade it, declaring it to be an idolatrous custom.


In case Rav Karo’s words still seem a little ‘parve’ (neutral) in the Tur, merely citing various sources, he gives a definitive ruling in the ShulHan ‘Arukh (OraH Hayim, siman tow-resh-heh–705):


מה שנוהגים לעשות כפרה בערב יום כיפורים לשחוט תרנגול על כל בן ולומר עליו פסוקים, יש למנוע המנהג.


What is customarily practiced on the eve of Yom Kippur to slaughter a rooster over every son, and recite verses over it, this custom should be stopped.


There are various later opinions that permit the custom, hailing the custom as ancient and beautiful, claiming it is idolatrous only if done in a particular way.


The mainly Chassidim and Sefaradim (how ironic) who hold on to this custom claim it is not performed as a ‘sacrifice’, but that’s not so simple.  Even in HaRav Moshe Isserles’ gloss on Rav Karo’s words, he explains how one his to lean his hands on the bird,demuth qorban’—for “the appearance of a sacrifice” and after the slaughtering one throws/sprinkles the innards (comparable to the sprinkling of blood). Even the Mishneh Berurah admits that there are those who forbid leaning one’s hands on the bird beforehand, since it has the appearance of offering sacrifices and slaughtering outside the Temple (see the M”B note on 705:8). Other sages who wrote about the importance of the custom in their eyes (such as the Ari ha-qadosh) taught that one must intend that he should see the rooster as a replacement for himself; that he is personally worthy of the four death penalties of the Torah. This is, of course, a qawanah (intention) fitting of a sin-offering. Consider Ramban’s powerful argument with RaMBaM over the true purpose and meaning behind sacrifice (I personally find the Ramban’s reasoning here far more convincing):


צוה השם כי כאשר יחטא ויביא קרבן יסמוך ידיו עליו כנגד המעשה, ויתודה בפיו כנגד הדיבור, וישרוף באש הקרב והכליות שהם כלי המחשבה והתאוה, והכרעים כנגד דמו בנפשו כדי שיחשוב אדם בעשותו כל אלה כי חטא לאלהיו בגופו ובנפשו, וראוי לו שישפוך דמו וישרף גופו לולא חסד הבורא שלקח ממנו תמורה וכופר הקרבן הזה שיהא דמו תחת דמו, נפש תחת נפש, וראשי אברי הקרבן כנגד ראשי אבריו… (רמב”ן על ויקרא 1:9, חלק הראשון)


HaShem Commanded that when one sins, he shall bring an offering, lean his hands on it according to his [wicked] deed, and confess orally… in order that man should think in doing all this that he sinned to G-d with his body and soul, and it would be fitting for his blood to be spilled and for his body to be burned—were it not for the kindness of the Creator who took from a substitute and this ransom offering; that it be its blood instead of his blood, a life for a life, and its body parts for his body parts… (Ramba”n on Wayiqra 1:9)


That is true Jewish sacrifice. Now consider the traditional recitation of Kapparoth (taken from the The Complete Artscroll Machzor Yom Kippur, Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Messorah Publications ltd. 1986). The comparison should make practicing Kapparoth-swingers very concerned:


זה חליפתי, זה תמורתי, זה כפרתי. זה התרנגול ילך למיתה. [זה הכסף ילך לצדקה.] ואני אכנס ואלך לחיים טובים ארוכים ולשלום.


This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This rooster will go to its death [this money will go to charity] while I will enter and proceed to a good long life, and to peace.


As we see above, in an attempt to avoid the idolatrous element, many Jews use coins for kapparoth instead of fowl. Many Orthodox Jews, Barukh HaShem, avoid it altogether, and this is the practice of most traditional Yemenite Jews, who never had such a custom to begin with. What upsets me, is how the “commentators” (nos’e kelim) on the page of a modern ShulHan `Arukh—whose aim should be to clarify the words of the sage; not to neutralize them when they conflict with their own customs—will not even allow the warnings of Rav Karo, the Ramba”n and HaRav Hayye Gaon to put a doubt in their heart as to the ‘kashruth’ of their custom.


There are a few rabbinical figures who put forth alternative explanations as to what is the “way of the Amorite”; others don’t even bother—they plainly direct the masses to do kapparoth. Now following idolatrous customs is a severe Torah prohibition, a miSwath lo-tha`aseh (a “don’t do” Commandment). We should all know that even in a case of doubt; regarding a Torah Commandment, we must be strict. Isn’t there room here for a little fear of Heaven?


What great mystical effect can people be having on the Heavenly scales on the eve of the awesome Day of Judgment, swinging chickens or money around people, paying no attention to the warnings of some of the greatest sages of post-Temple history…? I understand their values and priorities to be far away from what they should be. Our history remembers an anointed king of a united Kingdom of Yisra’el who lost his dynasty over a similar blunder:


Rather than slaughter the sheep and cattle of `Amaleq (Amalek) per the Commandment of HaShem through Shemu’el (the prophet Samuel), King Shaul (Saul) spared the best of them to be given up as a sacrifice. In other words, he reasoned that he could serve HaShem by transgressing His commandment,,, How fitting to remember his lesson on the week we read the Commandment to remember `Amaleq… These are the words the prophet answered him: words that should echo in our ears forever (1 Shemu’el 15):

 

כב וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל, הַחֵפֶץ לַיהוָה בְּעֹלוֹת וּזְבָחִים, כִּשְׁמֹעַ, בְּקוֹל יְהוָה:  הִנֵּה שְׁמֹעַ מִזֶּבַח טוֹב, לְהַקְשִׁיב מֵחֵלֶב אֵילִים.

22 And Shemuel said: ‘Does HaShem have delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in the hearkening to the voice of HaShem? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

 

Pay attention to the next verse, where we learn that transgressing the laws of sacrifice puts us in the realm of idolatry


כג  כִּי חַטַּאת-קֶסֶם מֶרִי, וְאָוֶן וּתְרָפִים הַפְצַר:  יַעַן, מָאַסְתָּ אֶת-דְּבַר יְהוָה, וַיִּמְאָסְךָ, מִמֶּלֶךְ.  {ס}

23 For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because you have rejected the word of HaShem, He has also rejected you from being king.’ {S}

 

Consider how lack of fear for the parameters of proper sacrifice, and failure to obey HaShem‘s Word spelled the end of Shaul’s throne: Accordingly, our Torah leadership today must fear the end of their own ‘reign’ in our day, and help restore us to the proper path.


A clear line of comparison between Shaul and contemporary Torah leaders is the role of public pressure:


כד  וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל אֶל-שְׁמוּאֵל חָטָאתִי, כִּי-עָבַרְתִּי אֶת-פִּי-יְהוָה וְאֶת-דְּבָרֶיךָ:  כִּי יָרֵאתִי אֶת-הָעָם, וָאֶשְׁמַע בְּקוֹלָם.

24 And Shaul said to Shemu’el: ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of HaShem, and your words; because I feared the people, and hearkened to their voice.

 

So too today: the main argument repeated throughout the commentaries that surround the ShulHan `Arukh today, defending kapparoth, is how popularly widespread and old the custom is—as if that should make a difference… as if old-time idolatrous customs, having had centuries to spread across the Jewish world, have preference over modern ones. It is high time someone admits there is at the very least a ‘sapheq issur de’oraitha’ (a doubt regarding a Torah prohibition) and stands up for Torath Moshe against the stream.


However, although HaShem rejected him as king, Shemu’el agreed to honor the king before the people and the elders. How much more so should we show respect for the only Torah leadership there is until the rise of a true Sanhedrin, may it be speedily in our days:


ל וַיֹּאמֶר חָטָאתִי–עַתָּה כַּבְּדֵנִי נָא נֶגֶד זִקְנֵי-עַמִּי, וְנֶגֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְשׁוּב עִמִּי, וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֵיתִי לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ.

30 Then he [Shaul] said: ‘I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people, and before Yisra’el, and return with me, that I may worship HaShem your G-d.’

לא וַיָּשָׁב שְׁמוּאֵל, אַחֲרֵי שָׁאוּל; וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ שָׁאוּל, לַיהוָה.  {ס}

31 So Shemu’el returned after Shaul; and Shaul worshipped HaShem. {S}

 

It is we, the People of Israel, who wickedly demanded a king in order to be like the other nations. HaShem begrudgingly acquiesced. Perhaps if we just begin to clean up house in true teshuvah, to begin the difficult return en masse to authentic Torath Moshe, ready to leave corrupt customs and secular beliefs behind, and demand a king who will remove the bad influence of idolatry on us, who will elevate us to our unique priestly role in the world… A king who will implement the laws of Torah and not fail to wipe out `Amaleq… It might only be then that HaShem will agree, and our mashiaH (messiah-king) will finally be revealed, and the memory of `Amaleq truly wiped out forever.


CONCLUSION


The above are clear examples of how much teshuvah not only we need to do as Jews, but how much Judaism itself must do ‘teshuvah’ to ‘Torath Moshe’, our pure tradition.

For the individual and for the nation, no teshuvah is complete without dedicating ourselves to learning the ‘halakhah’ (Law) properly. It is high time we dedicate ourselves to the study of Mishneh Torah of Rav Moshe ben Maimon in order to fulfill the Law of our Creator, our Father, our King—His unfathomable Oneness.

With Torah Blessings and hope for a safe, healthy year and the defeat of HaShem’s enemies,

Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron, Beith Midrash Ohel Moshe


(A new article based on his articles O”M 32 and O’M 34 of the original Ohel Moshe series)

_______________________________________________________________

 

¹ Quotes from Bible and Mishneh Torah in this article were copied from the authentic Yemenite manuscript edition posted on www.mechon-mamre.org.  The English translations in my articles are original. The Bible translations often bear influence and borrowings from the JPS Bible based on the electronic text (c) by Larry Nelson, and the The Living Torah: The Five Books of Moses by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Maznaim Publishing Corporation, New York, 647 pp.

² Sources from the AHaronim were taken from the standard ShulHan `Arukh series Sefer Maghinei EreS: ShulHan `Arukh OraH Hayyim, part three, Brukhman Barukh Inc. 1995, Jerusalem.

5 Responses to “The Meaning of Real Teshuvah to the ‘Berith’ (Covenant): Torath Moshe”

  1. Jack Moshcatel Says:

    I

    “Dicarnosa” is not Jesus. Dea Cornosa means “fleshy **goddess**” in Spanish.

    Latin for god is “deus” not “deo.” Hence Mozart’s middle name “Amadeus.”

    Fertility/Grain goddesses were often portrayed as corpulent women.

    That makes more sense in the context of parnassa, not Jesus.

    Kabbalah is a “cosmic sacrality” based mostly pre-Christian European faith, not unike the religion of th eSabeans discussed by haRambam.

    A pagan goddess is more appropos.

    Those who practice minhag musta’arab do not recite the prayer for parnassa of the Francos.

    II

    HaRambam changed the ruling of Tefilim based on a better girsa of Gemer Menahoth, not just “hearing” about what R. Ha’aye said. You are juicing the story a bit, no?

    This is set forth in Teshuboth HaRambam (Blau) very clearly.

    R. Ha’aye corroborates , of course.

    III

    Careful about bizayon Talmide Hakhamim re: Hakham Faur. If you disagree, fine. But “unbalanced” is a personal comment I would reasonably say. I realize you characterized his “opinions” as such, but still. Despacio con los sabios, senhor.

    I read the same article and see nothing “unbalanced” at all.

    I am ~50 years old, an Andalusian Jew, and I see much agreement between Faur and my own grandfather, ke repose en Gan Eden.

    Can you be more forthcoming with your tagging of what is “unbalanced”?

    Anyada Buena!

    Yakoviko de la casa de Moshcatel

  2. Shimon S Says:

    I have a better one. In many shuls you can see in front of the amud a plate (“shivisi”) with different kabbalistic names of G-d. You can find some of those in most machzorim for Rosh Hashana before/during blowing the shofar – here they are mentioned as names of angels that we cannot pronounce but should use them for kavanah.

    Well, one of the names is Dionysus (in some versions is the last samech replaced with mem sofit).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysus

  3. Aaron Says:

    Great article, pure and truthful. Time to rid of unnecessary and even idolatrous or idolatry-influenced customs and return to a purity in custom and observance.

  4. Eli Maimon Says:

    Dio Carnosa is a phonetical transliteration (and deformation) of Di’Kedusha, with a Spanish accent which Professor Faur overlooked because he is “locked” in his own idea…

  5. barron Says:

    Eli, I really found it hard to approve this comment, but I forced myself. After all, you’re a thinking person, which is not so common! But what a mind-bending stretch you’re proposing here: KaRNoSa = KeDuShah. I once spoke fluent Spanish, and met many with Spanish accents that differed from what I learned in my youth. No Spanish accent can turn “Kedusha” into “Karnosa” or vice-versa. With that sort of twist, what cannot be whitewashed? What do you and others have against calling spade a spade? Do you even know the historical context of what was happening in Spain at the time?

    You are most probably writing this in the name of Shalom (peace), and that is a commendable motive. However, let’s remember what Dawid HaMelekh taught (Ps. 34:15): “Sur mi-ra` wa-`asseh `tov, baqesh shalom wa-rod’fehu” — “Desist from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” Before one can do good, he must first desist from evil. And all that is prerequisite to pursuing peace. Peace must be founded on goodness, which cannot be firmly planted until evil is uprooted.

    Despite the differences between us, I wish you a happy, healthy New Year, with growth in Torah and miSwoth.

    Blessings,

    Michael Shelomo

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