04 August 2021

Survey Responses

Note: Several months ago I began issuing notices of religious exemption from self-harm and child sacrifice, and I am reiterating that offer. If you would like one, just ask. Rabbi Chananya Weissman https://chananyaweissman.com/


I asked people to seek answers from rabbis to these 15 questions: https://chananyaweissman.com/article.php?id=316. Here is a follow-up. The following rabbis have been contacted and did not respond as of this time:

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, NY
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Chabad, Potomac Maryland
Rabbi Chaim Ovadiah, Rockville Maryland
Rabbi Shelly Kelaty, UK
Rabbi Levi Chazen, Israel
Rabbi Tovia Singer, Israel
Rabbi Mike Feuer, Israel
Rabbi Michoel Gourarie from Bina
Rabbi Richie Moss, Bondi Australia
Rabbi Kemins of Emanuel Synagogue in Australia (Reform "rabbi", just for fun)

Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa was contacted. His office assistant, Tali Blumenau, replied on July 19 that she would pass on the email to him. No further response.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, from Australia was contacted. I was told about him as follows: "runs a registered charity crisis centre for Jewish and non-Jewish community - a humble mensch". He replied: "I agree [these are] serious questions and need to be asked to a rabbi who specialises in this. I would suggest you contact the Beth din." 

Fair enough. The Beis Din of Sydney was subsequently contacted and has not responded.

Only one rabbi thus far engaged in any meaningful correspondence, Rabbi Aron Moss from Nefesh in Australia. In the initial email with the questions he was informed that "there are now studies (Israeli) that show people who have had the actual disease are 6.75 times more immune than those who have been injected."

Rabbi Moss replied as follows: "These questions need to be addressed by a posek. They are serious issues of life and death that have national impact. Your local rabbi (like me) is not qualified to make such decisions. 

There is a halachic process that the Torah laid down. A posek follows the halachic process and makes a decision based on that. 

We believe that Torah determines reality, not the other way around. So if the leading halachic authorities of the generation pasken one way, then nature follows that psak. 

We are living in confusing times. The messages we get from various media do not help give us any more clarity. We don't really know whom to believe. I think this is the test of our emunah now. 

We each have the power of emunah in our soul. It is our ability to ignore the way things look and hold strong convictions about something deeper. Everyone chooses how to use that emunah. You can use your emunah power to trust politicians, news media, memes on whatsapp, conspiracy theorists, doctors, experts, Hashem, rabbis - all in spite of evidence to the contrary. What do you choose? I choose to believe in Hashem and the Torah process. 

Wishing you all the best and may we only have good news always"

This response is extremely vague and confusing, but I want to focus on one line: "So if the leading halachic authorities of the generation pasken one way, then nature follows that psak." Rabbi Moss seems to be arguing that if poskim declare that poison is not poison, then nature will follow that psak, the poison will cease to be harmful, and people would be obligated to take the poison with full belief in Hashem and this "Torah process". 

Some sources and historical precedents to substantiate this radical claim would have been helpful, but unfortunately they were not included.

The woman who contacted Rabbi Moss replied back as follows: 

"Dear Rabbi Moss
Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it.

Would you have any recommendations as to a posek I can ask to address these questions?

Also, I am of the understanding that some rabbis in the community have given advice on this issue. If they are halachically "unqualified" to do so, then by what authority are they influencing and advising people? Of what use are our rabbis if they cannot provide guidance from Torah on real and important issues in our lives? when it really counts.

I have asked several rabbis and they are brushing off these important questions. 
I know someone in our community who decided to get her son jabbed as a result of advice she received. Her son was a perfectly healthy 17yo boy who lives in Vaucluse. He now has inflammation of the heart. people have said to this mum "don't worry, you did the right thing. it is for the good of our society, oh and is he going to get his second jab?" NO! she finally answered. 

Like you, I trust Hashem, and only Hashem. Trusting people doesn't change poison to something that won't harm you. However, nor does trusting Hashem to save your body whilst you get poison injected into you.

It appears that once again, we Jews are sheep. It appears there are no leaders of conscience in our community. Leaders to speak out and up for our inalienable human rights. Our right to choose - without measures of coercive control -what goes in our bodies."

Rabbi Moss replied as follows: 

"The halachic process is that each individual should ask questions to their own community rabbi. In questions like this that involve life and death issues, the community rabbi will respond based on the published opinions of the leading Poskim of the generation. 

This system of course only works if the questioner is actually asking a sincere question, seeking to receive the rabbi's answer. If the questioner is merely seeking the answer that they have already decided is the correct one, then it is a farce and has nothing to do with halacha.

If you are asking a sincere halachic question and seeking Torah guidance, then you should ask your rabbi and follow his directives. 

If you have already made up your own mind on this life and death issue, then asking me or your rabbi will not help.

Just as an example, I have attached the written halachic statements of two leading poskim in Israel, Rabbi Yaroslavski of the Chabad Beis Din, and Rabbi Zilbershtein, a leading posek in the Lithuanian Torah world. Both view vaccination as a halachic obligation. Neither speak about forcing people to vaccinate. For those who follow halacha, there should be no need for coercion. I have not found any psak from any reputable posek that disagrees with them. 
None of the above should be seen as a personal attack against you or anyone else. I am merely sharing the halachic approach to this question. I acknowledge that there are other, non-halachic approaches. But a Jew follows Torah."

In plain English, this response is essentially "Shut up and follow orders." In addition, "Anyone who doesn't shut up and follow orders is engaging in a non-halachic approach and does not follow Torah."

Of course, that should not be seen as a personal attack against anyone.
Rabbi Moss helpfully included the "psak" from the two rabbis he mentioned, which I have attached. These are devoid of any Torah or scientific value, and simply reiterate the same "shut up and follow orders" approach, in the name of "saving lives". 

We are still waiting for ONE RABBI to give a thoughtful, Torah-based reply to ANY of my 15 questions. This is remarkable. Can none of these rabbis offer any guidance whatsoever on questions such as "Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible for healthy Jews to submit to a medical experiment?" and "Under what circumstances may a minority of medical opinions be followed?" 

Are questions such as these off limits? Are they "political"? Are they not relevant? How can it be that every rabbi who has been asked these questions thus far has either not responded or dodged the questions completely? 

If rabbis cannot offer any guidance with straightforward, fundamental, extremely relevant questions such as these, what makes them rabbis exactly, and what function do they serve? Is the job of a rabbi today merely to cash a paycheck and tell you to ask your questions to someone else, or shut up and follow orders? 

Are they nothing more than the customer service agent who does nothing to help you, then asks if there's anything else they can help you with, then disconnects the call?

Keep pushing for answers, everyone. It's time to make the phonies, the whores, and the Erev Rav feel some heat.

03 August 2021

Oklahoma GOP for ‘Unvaccinated Yellow Star’

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat from Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall from Atoka issued a joint statement saying:

“It is irresponsible and wrong to compare an effective vaccine — developed by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed — to the horrors of the Holocaust,” the Republicans said. “People should have the liberty to choose if they take the vaccine, but we should never compare the unvaccinated to the victims of the Holocaust.”





Jewish Press Screenshot

Roberta Clark, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, said that “to compare the actions taken by Nazi Germany to a public health discussion is ill-informed and very inappropriate. It’s sad and ironic that anyone would draw an analogy from the largest-recorded genocide in the 20th century with public health attempts to actually save lives.”



Source:  https://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/republicans-denounce-oklahoma-gop-for-unvaccinated-yellow-star/2021/08/01/

01 August 2021

Never Ending Revolving and Changing

[…. excerpt from banned article]

“CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said new data shows the delta variant, which accounts for more than 80% of the new infections in the U.S., behaves ‘uniquely differently’ from its predecessors and could make vaccinated people infectious,” the new version of the article states.

“Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that in rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendation.”





Vaccinated people are “shedding” sickness onto unvaccinated people

With Walensky’s announcement came an official CDC recommendation that all jabbed Americans cover their breathing holes with fabric in order to keep the Fowchie Flu from spreading any further than it already has.

The CDC also wants parents to abuse their children by forcing them to wear a mask for eight hours a day in the classroom this fall. If parents refuse to do this, then the CDC wants public school districts to enforce mask mandates for all students who attend classes in person.

“Some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood and potentially transmit it to others,” the CDC now admits.

Meanwhile, thousands of unvaccinated and unmasked illegal “migrants” are pouring across the southern border and getting distributed by Beijing Biedan to towns and cities […] – even as your children are being told that they have to stay muzzled forever to “flatten the curve.”

“Are the vaxxed shedding spike proteins? I don’t know. But I say we quarantine them in FEMA camps for a year just to be sure. It’s for the children,” joked one commenter at Zero Hedge.

READ:  https://habayitah.blogspot.com/2021/08/yeshaya-hanavi-on-masks.html

Yeshaya HaNavi on Masks

 Yeshaya HaNavi on Masks

ישעיה כה:ז

ובלע בהר הזה את פני הלוט הלוט על כל העמים והמסכה הנסוכה על כל הגוים

And He shall destroy on this mountain the face of the covering that covers all the peoples and the kingdom that rules over all the nations. (Yeshaya 25:7, Judaica Press translation)

This prophecy is referring to the final war.


ואדוני אבי ז"ל פירש הלוט הלוט רמז לאומה שמכסים את פניהם

...And my master, my father, of blessed memory, explained “the covering that covers” is a hint to a kingdom that covers its faces. (Radak)


ובלע יען שקודם ביאת המשיח יתחלקו האומות לשתי מחנות, א) עמים שיש להם אמונה ואינם עובדי אליל, רק שלא הכירו דת האמת, והאמונה הכוזבת תשים מסוה על פניהם ותליט פניהם מהביט אל אור האמת, הגם שנקל להם להכיר את האמונה האמתיית אחר שכבר מאמינים בהרבה עקרים מפנות הדת כשכר ועונש והשגחה וכדומה, ואלה קרא עמים שהיא מדרגה גדולה מגוים, ועליהם אמר שאז יבלע ה' ויסיר את המסוה העוטה ומכסה על פניהם, היינו שיסיר מהם את האמונה הכוזבת וממילא יראו אור בהיר בשחקים ויכירו דת האמת מעצמם ב) גוים שאין להם עדיין שום אמונה כלל, והם עדיין עובדי אלילים כגוים הקדמונים, כמו אנשי חינא יאפאן וכדומה, והם קרא גוים שהם מדרגה שפלה, עליהם אומר שיסיר המסכה שהיא הע"ז הנסוכה עליהם להיות להם לאלהים ולזנות אחריהם

“And He shall destroy”, due to the fact that before Moshiach comes the kingdoms will be divided into two camps:

1) Nations that have faith and don't serve false gods, only they did not recognize the true religion, and their faulty beliefs place a mask on their faces, and cover their faces from seeing the true light, though it is easy for them to recognize the true faith after they already believe in many fundamental principles of the religion, such as reward and punishment, providence, and similar things. These are called “amim” (nations), which is a higher level than “goyim” (peoples), and about them it says that Hashem will destroy and remove the mask which wraps and covers their faces, that is He will remove from them the faulty beliefs, and then de facto they will see the bright light in the heavens and recognize the true religion on their own.

2) Peoples that don't yet have any belief at all, and they still worship idols like the ancient peoples, such as the people of China and Japan and similar places. They are called “goyim” because they are on a low level. About them it says that He will remove the mask, which is the idolatry that covers them to be gods for them and for them to stray after. (Malbim)


Yeshaya lived about 2700 years ago. Rav David Kimchi's father lived about 900 years ago. The Malbim died in 1879.

No further comment is necessary.


Source:  https://chananyaweissman.com/

31 July 2021

ITAMAR TOUR: A Glimpse of Ein Gedi UPDATED

Sorry, this is the correct video

The sound is a bit low, but the scenery is breathtaking. Strain your ears, it is worth it. 

The Zimmerman Egg Farm of Itamar


A glimpse at the Zimmerman farm on Itamar which was made possible with the kind assistance of "Friends of Itamar

30 July 2021

Reb Neuberger: Parshas Eikev – FEAR


There is a famous niggun with words attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov: “Kol ha olam kulo, gesher tzar me-od … all the world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to fear ….” These are powerful words. What exactly do they mean? Even if we do not understand completely, one thing is clear: fear must be a big thing in this world if Rabbi Nachman says the “main thing” is not to fear. 

There is a passage printed in the Siddur after Aleinu: “Al tira … Do not fear sudden terror or the holocaust of the wicked when it comes. Plan a conspiracy and it will be annulled; speak your piece and it shall not stand, for Hashem is with us. Even till your seniority I remain unchanged; and even until your ripe old age, I shall endure. I created you and I shall bear you; I shall endure and rescue.” (Mishlei/Yeshiah ha Novi)

We have passed through the events of Tisha B’Av and we are still here. We have survived Holocausts, pogroms, inquisitions and crusades and it is not over. Today the world is closing in on us again as it closed in on our ancestors at the Red Sea, where it seemed that there was no escape. But Moshe Rabbeinu told Am Yisroel, “Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today ….” (Shemos 14:13)

In every generation, we are told “Do not fear.” 

Right now, I believe that a lot of people are afraid. They are afraid of what is happening and what is going to happen in the world.

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu speaks about the nations which inhabit Eretz Canaan and tells Am Yisroel, “Perhaps you will say in your heart, ‘These nations are more numerous than I. How will I be able to drive them out?’ 

“Do not fear them! Remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Paro and to all of Egypt ….”

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch says (on Dvarim 1:8): if Am Yisroel had only lived up to the Torah, not one stroke of the sword would have been necessary to conquer the Land. Hashem would have given it to us without opposition! 

We make such trouble for ourselves! Those who reject Hashem claim that yeshiva bocher-im should be drafted into the army, but in fact they ARE the army! They are literally the ones who save us. I heard from Rabbi Yaakov Zev Smith Shlita”h that all our troubles come because we have no Bais Hamikdosh! If we are true to Hashem, then we will find ourselves in Gan Eden. If we rebel, G-d forbid …. 

It’s that simple. 

How can we overcome fear? 

I have tried to talk myself out of it. It doesn’t work. I believe that emotion is beyond our ability to control. I do not believe you can make yourself calm or unafraid through an act of will. But our Rabbis tell us that we can control the Yetzer ha Ra, the Evil Inclination, through immersion in Torah. How does that work? 

Look in the mirror. Whom do you fear? What do you fear? Do you fear some person who may have control over you? Do you fear powerful forces in the world? Do you think you have no control? Why? “Hashem has redeemed Yaakov and delivered him from a power mightier than he….” (Yirmiah 31:10)

Actually, I believe that we are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of the Yetzer ha Ra, the internal force that will control us if we do not have Torah to save us. Every morning we beg Hashem, “Do not let the evil inclination dominate us.” When the Yetzer ha Ra is in control, then we are afraid. 

We project our battle onto others because we do not want to acknowledge the source of our fear, so we say that this person has power over us. We fear other nations just the way the Miraglim feared the inhabitants of Eretz Canaan. Why did this happen? Because they were unwilling to admit that the real battle was with their own Yetzer ha Ra

If the Yetzer ha Ra is subdued, then fear will be subdued, because the basic object of fear is the Yetzer ha Ra. In the words of Dovid ha Melech, “Min ha maitzar … from the straits I called upon G-d…. G-d is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?” (Tehillim 118)

“[Hashem says]: I created the Evil Inclination and I have created Torah as its ‘tavlin.’ If you involve yourselves in Torah, you will not be delivered into its hand.” (Kiddushin 30b) “Tavlin” actually means “spices.” Why does the Gemora compare Torah to spices?

My friends, I can offer one simple answer: spices make food pleasant. Hashem wants us to live in a happy world, a world of beauty and perfection. Torah means that your life will be good; your life will be happy; your life will not taste bitter. Motzae Shabbos we smell spices to revive us; in the Bais Hamikdosh the aroma of ketores filled the air. It must have been like Gan Eden. 

This is the Season of Teshuva. If we allow Torah to dominate our thoughts and actions, there will be nothing to fear. We will soon greet Moshiach ben Dovid and see the Bais Hamikdosh on the Holy Mountain. 



Gan Eden: The Garden of Eden

Ketores: Incense offered in the Holy Temple

Miraglim: The Biblical spies sent into the Holy Land

Niggun: Song

Siddur: Prayer Book

Teshuva: Repentance

29 July 2021

Rabbi Kahana: Eikev – Un-Jewish? Un-Rabbinic?


Parashat Eikev 5781
Rabbi Nachman Kahana


Un-Jewish? Un-Rabbinic?

In last week’s message, I wrote of the pending “yom hadin” – HaShem’s inevitable day of judgement against all our historic and contemporary enemies, first and foremost the Christian nations of Europe and including others like Iran and their Islamic co-religionists. This evoked negative reactions of shock from several corners, claiming that my vengeful tone is un-Jewish and certainly inappropriate for a rabbi.

Un-Jewish Indeed?! Un-rabbinic? Indeed!

What is the difference between a “right” as in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution which make up the Bill of Rights, and a “privilege”?

A privilege is something granted as a special favor by the will of the grantor, which the recipient cannot demand.  A “right” is a status upon which one may demand its fulfillment. An American citizen has the right to demand his freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. But one cannot demand privileges reserved for the elite.

That we are alive is not a “right” that permits us to demand from the Creator; but rather a magnificent privilege granted by Him to be a real entity which is commanded to recognize and accept His mastery and Monarchy and to service Him by abiding to his will.

Our parasha begins (Devarim 7,12):

והיה עקב תשמעון את המשפטים האלה ושמרתם ועשיתם אתם ושמר האלהיך לך את הברית ואת החסד אשר נשבע לאבתיך

If you abide by these laws and will be diligent in following them, then the Lord your G–D will fulfill his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors.

 Verse 8,19:

והיה אם שכח תשכח את האלהיך והלכת אחרי אלהים אחרים ועבדתם והשתחוית להם העדתי בכם היום כי אבד תאבדון

If you forget (ignore) the Lord your G–D and follow other G–Ds and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be lost.

Two basic principles arise from these verses:

  1. One does not have an inherent “right” (entitlement) to live. Life is a privilege granted to man by the Creator, and when one oversteps that privilege his life could be compromised.
  2. There are inevitable consequences to our behavior, for good and for bad.

Let’s return to my “un-Jewish” and “un-rabbinic” expectations that HaShem, the G–D of justice, mercy and truth will punish all who have lifted a finger or voiced condemnation toward – the Jewish nation.

What did our father Avraham do to the four kings who kidnapped his nephew Lot?

What about Shimon and Levi in the city of Shechem?

Moshe Rabbeinu took revenge on the Egyptian taskmaster for beating a Jew and was commanded by HaShem to destroy the nation of Midyan for leading 24,000 Jews to sin.

Yehoshua decimated the seven Canaanite nations.

Shoftim (Judges like Gidon, Shimshon, Devora, and Yael the wife of Chaver Hakaini) were not lily white.

King David ordered the killing of two thirds of the males of Moav, after their king murdered David’s parents and six brothers.

And the list is very long.


Avenging Evil is a Holy Mitzva

To avenge evil is a holy mitzva.  From where do we know this?

The Gemara (Brachot 33a) lists three things whose senior status of importance was emphasized in the Tanach by their written word, appearing between two names of Hashem. They are:

 דעה, מקדש, נקמה

Native intelligence, the Temple, revenge against evil doers.

Rambam (Melachim chapter 5):

ואי זו היא מלחמת מצוה זו מלחמת שבעה עממים, ומלחמת עמלק, ועזרת ישראל מיד צר שבא עליהם

Defines war which is a mitzva to wage as the war against the seven Canaanite nations (and by extension any war to liberate Eretz Yisrael); war against Amalek, and war against any non-Jew who threatens the life of a Jew.

In addition, we recite on most Shabbatot the following verses in the Av Harachamim liturgy before Musaf, Devarim 32,43:

הרנינו גוים עמו כי דם עבדיו יקום ונקם ישיב לצריו וכפר אדמתו עמו

Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants; He will take vengeance on His enemies and make atonement for His land and people.

The prophet Joel 4,21:

ונקיתי דמם לא נקיתי והשכן בציו

Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? I will not. The Lord dwells in Zion!

Tehillim 79,10:

למה יאמרו הגוים איה אלהיהם יודע בגיים בגוים לעינינו נקמת דם עבדיך השפוך:

Why should the nations say, where is their G–D? Before our eyes, make known among the nations that You avenge the outpoured blood of Your servants.

Tehillim 9,13:

כי דרש דמים אותם זכר לא שכח צעקת עניים ענוים

Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done. For He who avenges blood remembers; He does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

Un-Jewish and un-rabbinic, indeed!

In the matter of avenging evil, we are partners with the Creator. HaShem deals with the big and numerous enemies, the small but deadly one He leaves to us.

In conclusion: there are many beautiful subjects and ideas in our parasha that I could write about, aside from HaShem’s imminent wrath on our enemies. But as I perceive it, we are now in a time when Judenhass is going to fill a major role on the stage of history. We cannot afford the luxury of burying our heads in the sand and be oblivious to the changes in the United States and in many lands where Jews live today; not to speak of the Middle East.

It brings to mind the prophetic words of the sinister Bil’am in Bamidbar (23,9):

הן עם לבדד ישכן ובגוים לא יתחשב

I see a people who live apart and are not involved when dealing with the other nations.

Many of the commentaries explain this verse to mean, that on that day (or time) of reckoning when HaShem brings down the enemies of Am Yisrael, we will remain unscathed and will be the leaders of the new world.

Shabbat Shalom,

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5781/2021 Nachman Kahana

Rabbi Winston: Parshat Aikev

 THE PARSHA STARTS of with the verse:

And it will be, because you will—aikev—listen to these judgments and keep and perform them… (Devarim 7:12)

Translated, there is nothing unusual about the wording, but in Hebrew there is. The word for “because you will” is not the one most people would have chosen. The fact that the Torah chose the word “aikev,” a word that principally means “heel,” led Rashi to comment: 

If you will listen to the “minor” commandments which one [usually] tramples with their heels… (Rashi)

It’s a double message. In most cases the Torah does not distinguish between “easy” and “difficult” mitzvos, but it does in this parsha. It specifically speaks about mitzvos that people might “step on” with their “heel,” so-to-speak, because they don’t seem that important compared to other mitzvos like Shabbos for example. 

How does one know which mitzvah is minor and which is major? Seemingly as a result of the punishment for not doing them. Some sins are punishable by death, some by kares—excision, and some by 39 lashes “only,” though quite frankly, the lashes could kill, or at least make someone wish they would. 

The mishnah in Pirkei Avos echoes this idea, except that it adds an extra reason as well. You are not allowed to decide which mitzvah to take seriously and which one not to in general. Even if you are the type to anyhow, you certainly can’t do it based upon punishment alone:

Be careful with a light mitzvah as with a grave one, because you do not know the reward for the fulfillment of the mitzvos. (Pirkei Avos 2:1)

To be clear, as Jews we’re concerned about two things. First, about avoiding punishment in this world and the next one, which we do by avoiding sin. Secondly, we’re about earning as much reward as we can while we can, which we do by learning Torah and doing mitzvos. The fact that the punishment for certain transgressions is “less” than others does not necessarily mean that they cannot earn more reward in the World-to-Come, or even in this world, by avoiding them. 

Why did I put avoiding punishment before earning reward in the World-to-Come? Because ever since we “absorbed” the yetzer hara after the sin of the Aitz HaDa’as and were expelled from Gan Aiden, we have tended to put earning eternal reward a distant second to avoiding punishment. Especially in our generation when you can seemingly have your cake and eat it too (be “frum” while acting somewhat secular), Torah life for many has become somewhat an issue of “risk management.”

So people wear clothing that pushes the limits of tznius—modesty, and pushes those limits more and more in the wrong direction. They do things on Shabbos that are not in the spirit of Shabbos, or worse. They use technology in ways that might be fine for non-Jews, but not for Jews. They indulge in materialism more than might be sanctioned by a Torah way of life. 

It’s a BIG mistake.

I ONCE ASKED someone how they could knowingly turn their back on Torah after having first become a ba’al teshuvah. Unlike many who are born into a Torah lifestyle, this person became observant in their twenties because the argument in favor of Torah made sense. That hadn’t changed, just their attitude towards being religious.

I have never forgotten what they answered me, and it is at least 35 years later. In fact, they taught me a REALLY important lesson about how our minds work. On a less serious level, it explains something as trivial as undesirable weight gain. On a more serious level, it explains something as mind-boggling as the Holocaust. 

This is what they answered me. They said that the first time they broke Shabbos by turning on a light, they “expected” lightning to come down from Heaven and strike them. But of course it didn’t, so they did it a second time with less fear, and then a third time with even less fear. Eventually they left everything behind they had learned.

The truth is, the Talmud warns about the same thing:

If a person sins once, and then a second time, it is permissible to them. If they sin once, and then twice, it is permissible to them?! Rather, it becomes as if permissible to them. (Kiddushin 20a)

You have to ask yourself about the psychology of this incredible mental process if you want to avoid being victimized by it. Few people aren’t victims of it, which is why the world has become as troubling place as it is today. 

This morning I received a video link from a good friend of mine that, I have to say, is very disturbing. The video that is. It is meant to be disturbing, because it is a German tracing the steps that were taken by the Nazi regime to manipulate fifty million Germans to carry out the Holocaust. It is called, “You Thought You Were Free? (Revised),” and it is found on the Armstrong Economics web site. 

Anyone who lives “outside” the secular world has got be shocked by the direction of society, and afraid of where it might be going. Historically, the current liberal trend in the West has, in the past, led to major wars. Anyone who is NOT shocked by the current state of Western society is already a victim of what the video describes.

But the finger should be wagging at more than secular people, because we’re all guilty of the same psychological error. The Torah is not talking to secular Jews, but to religious ones, those who keep mitzvos but only to the extent that they deem necessary. Does the yetzer hara care if someone is religious or secular? 

On the contrary. Getting a religious Jew to compromise on a Torah value even just a little, as opposed to a secular Jew to compromise a lot, is like knocking off a general as opposed to only a corporal during a war. Because that’s what it is, the Ramchal says, a raging spiritual war. And he adds, and this is the scary part: if you don’t feel that war raging, then you’ve lost it already. 

THE MISHNAH IN Pirkei Avos says that the Jewish people tested G–D ten times in the desert, the tenth being the episode of the spies. A very obvious question that many people obviously don’t ask is, “What do you mean tested G–D ten times? They sinned against G–D ten times!”

The Leshem provides a not-so-obvious but incredible answer. He says that the majority of Jews never actually sinned in the desert. In fact, it was always a small number of Jews who actually committed the sin, even during the episode of the spies. Sometimes it was even only Dasan and Aviram, and perhaps the Erev Rav, even though the Torah makes it seem like the entire nation sinned. 

Although this explains why the language of “tested” is used instead of “sinned,” it does not explain why the entire nation was punished because of a handful of repeat sinners. To answer that, we need only recall that in last week’s parsha there was a mitzvah not to test G–D. That is exactly what the rest of the nation did do to warrant being dragged into the sins of others. 

How did they test G–D? Rather than protest against the sinners, the majority of the nation stayed quiet and waited to see how G–D would respond. Would He still support them, or cut them off, continue to take care of them, or destroy them in the desert? While they “waited” to see G–D’s protest, G–D waited to see theirs.

But it never came. No one ever stood up to the bad guys except for Chur, Miriam’s son, and he died for it. And lest a person say, “What good would their protests have done? Would anyone have listened to them?” the Talmud recounts how that argument did not save the tzaddikim of the First Temple period (Shabbos 55a). They perished with everyone else in the Churban for not having tried to protest against the sins of their generation.  

As the Talmud says:

Rebi Yonason, which some replace with Rebi Yochanan, said: Whoever can protest against [a sin in] their household but does not is held responsible for [the sins of] their household; their fellow citizens, they are held responsible for [the sins of] their fellow citizens; the whole world, they are held responsible for [the sins of] the whole world. (Shabbos 54b)

WHO IS NOT disgusted by Titus’ profanation of the Torah and the Temple (Gittin 56b)? How could G–D allow such a terrible human being to enter the Holy of Holies with a Sefer Torah and profane both so horribly? Even the difficult death he suffered seems too kind for what he did.

But everything G–D does is middah-k’negged middah—measure-for-measure. What Titus did had to be in response to something we did first, measure-for-measure. But to our knowledge, no Jew ever did anything remotely as profane as Titus did, so the question returns: How was Titus able to do it?

In Kabbalah, the concept is called “k’illu—as if.” It refers to a situation where something doesn’t actually occur, but since the net result is the same, it is “as if” the thing that usually causes it did occur. 

An example of this idea is embarrassing someone in public. Since it draws the blood of a person from their face making them “go white,” it’s k’illu—as if—the person doing the embarrassing killed the person they embarrassed. Since it is only k’illu, they won’t be punished as a murderer by Bais Din, but it is k’illu enough that they will be considered a murderer on some level from Heaven’s point of view.

Likewise, a Jew never physically did what Titus did on top of a Sefer Torah, and in the Holy of Holies no less. But that doesn’t mean that from Heaven’s point-of-view our treading on “light” mitzvos, and how much more so on “serious” mitzvos, is not the same thing. On the contrary, G–D may have had Titus do that to tell us what our abuse of Torah seems like from His vantage point. Something we did had to open the door for Titus to behave as he did.

This is a major part of the warning in this week’s parsha. It would be a terrible mistake for us to think we understand G–D and Torah enough to properly weigh the gravity of our actions, or lack of them. 

“So I don’t take the mitzvah seriously. How bad can it be?” 

“So I don’t protest. At least I’m not actually doing the sin!”

History has answered these questions many times over, and never the way we imagined or hoped. But take G–D, Torah, and His mitzvos seriously, and you not only make G–D happy, but you earn His protection…in this world and the next one.