After the Pain – Consolation, Healing and Growth – Coping with & Overcoming Difficulties with Judaism

Evolution of a young plantThis Post is Dedicated to the Sassoon Children who Perished in a Fire – LiIluy Nishamatam / for the Elevation of their Souls. May G-d console the mourners and all of those who share in their grieving.

King Solomon said, in Kohelet / Ecclesiastics (Chapter 3:1-5) “For Everything there is a Season and a Time for Every Object under the Heaven….. A Time to Cry and a Time to Laugh, A Time To Eulogize and a Time to Dance…”

G-d made the world in such a way that each time period is separate “air-tight compartment”.

Yet everything is related as well. My doing good brings good to the world. My doing bad, does the opposite.

We lost precious souls last week. I was dulled by the pain and felt like an empty shell of a person for several days.

What can we do when we encounter difficulties?

There is a healing process. Each stage has it’s own period.

Experiencing Pain

In Pirkei Avot, It says “Do not console a mourner when his dead lies before him.” We do not console the mourner until after the loved one is buried. The mourner is exempt from certain Mitzvot – like prayer, saying blessing, putting on tefillin until the burial has taken place. One reason is so that the mourner can concentrate on taking care of the proper burial of the dead. It is possible that this time is also for the mourner to experience and release the pain.

Apparently before a person is buried, the mourner is to experience pain. Experiencing pain is part of the healing process. This is part of the Eulogy process to bring out the feelings and love of the departed. It brings out the thoughts of introspection. It is a period of Emotional catharsis. Once the pain is expressed and felt, one moves on to the consolation.

Consolation

After this Period, a mourner sits Shiva. A seven day period where friends, family and community members come to the Shiva House to express their condolences. This is to console the mourner. The mourner is offered an opportunity to come to terms with the loss through expressing stories, and feeling and thoughts about the departed.

Healing Process and Understanding
Healing takes the most time. This is when the person tries to come to terms with the pain that they were subjected to. Some mentally try to understand what and why the event happened. Some speak with family or friends or therapists to resolve this period of pain.

We try to find the positive in the difficulties and try to fathom reasons that why G-d – who is good – let this happen. At times we are successful, through learning Torah and consulting rabbis about the “why?” At times we are not. But there is always a reason.

Some reasons that the Torah gives for the passing away of people is

It was their time to go
Their passing was an atonement for others – those that experienced the pain of their passing
Their passing was an atonement for for themselves – for improper deeds made in their life.
They came to the world to make a Tikun / reparation in the world and they accomplished their duty here. At times Transgressions of others cause a chain reaction that ended up in them being taken as an atonement. In this case, we all must do a Cheshbon HaNefesh / Accounting of our Soul – to see how we can improve. To see how we can become better. To see our lacking and do what we can to improve our deficiencies. To repent for past deeds and to make specific resolutions and commitments to correct our faults. That is what one Rabbi said . We must make a cheshbon hanefesh.
– Can we be a little more kind to our fellow Jew?
– Can we talk less gossip or lashon harah / evil speach about others?
– Can we try to make peace with others?
– Can we talk less in Synagogue?
– Can we act with more propriety towards others?
– Can we act more morally in terms of our business dealings?
– Can we act more morally in terms of our human relations?
– Can we indulge less in the pleasures of the world and use the time to bring good to the world?

They came to the world to make a Tikun / reparation to themselves – at times a soul is a reincarnation of another person. At times the previous person who which the soul belonged transgressed and needed to come back to make a reparation for past deeds.
They passed away now because they were going off the proper path – and it was better for them to die in morality rather than steeped in immorality.
G-d wanted them to be Close to Him – At times a person is so righteous that G-d wants them to be close to Him – so he picks the “roses among His garden”.

These children were pure souls. They will surely be resurrected in the time of the Messiah.

Once a Roman noble woman asked a Rabbi How do we know that a righteous person will be resurrected? He said look at a plant. One puts a seed in the ground. The seed starts to decay. Just then the seed starts to sprout a plant. So just like G-s will make a plant grow – so will G-d resurrect the righteous.

Learning, Going Forward and Positive Reactions
Once we reconcile what happened, we try to go forward. We try to learn from the loss. We try to act more prudently materially or spiritually. We try to encourage others to have courage. We say Kaddish to Keep a connection with the souls. We try to do Mitzvot for the elevation of the soul of the departed. We can always be connected through the mitzvoth we do for their memory – it is a way to send a “spiritual gift” to the departed. For each time a person does a Mitzvah in their memory, the soul receives a higher place in heaven.

Some reactions to the loss of the Sassoon children is that people have given out free fire alarms. Some have taken upon themselves to write a Sefer Torah in their memory.

Growth
Afterwards, the intelligent use the pain as a springboard to grow. They went through the difficulty and came out stronger. Now they are able to overcome any lesser challenge. Rabbi Yochanan used to console people by showing them the tooth of the last child of all the children he lost, lo alaenu (it should never happen to us.)

The attitude that the person who suffers takes can either make them or break them. If they let the suffering overwhelm them then it is for them to reinforce themselves – through Torah and Mitzvot or other way that will help them overcome it. If they take the suffering to build themselves – then they are following the path that the Torah wants from us. To grow and move on. In The Weekly Torah reading where Sarah – the wife of Avraham – died – he eulogized her shortly to not be overwhelmed by the grief. Choosing when to Grieve and when to move on is partially in one’s hands. He chose not to overdo it.

The process of Overcoming difficulties not only applies to the loss of a loved one, but also to other pain – like overcoming trauma, abuse, and other life difficulties. We should all be consoled for the loss we experienced.

How Can we be Consoled?
We can be consoled that these children must have a high place in heaven. That they died without sin. That they came to the world pure and they left the world pure. They helped people to unite and let go of their petty differences. They caused people to see the good they have and see that their problems aren’t as great as they thought. They caused people to be more careful about safety.

They caused people to overlook small problems in their lives. They caused people to let go of the pettiness in deeds that may have. They let people show their true colors of being caring individuals. They helped people who were pained to have an atonement from the pain and sorrow they suffered. That they helped many people to introspect – to find out how they can improve and to do Teshuva / repent from past deeds. That one day, the parents (they should live long) will be re-united with them in heaven. That they will be resurrected, after the Messiah comes – may it come speedily in our day.

Yet with all of this we will miss these precious souls.

Escaping the Web of Abuse – Recognizing and Preventing It

natureIt could be anyone. A friend, a relative, a boss, or even a rabbi.

A person that you trust that over steps the boundaries of normalcy – entering the domain of abuse.

The trust factor is an important part of the abuse. For if a stranger tried something similar, a red flag would go up immediately. But now that this person is trusted, your guards are lowered.

Many a time a victim will not recognize that the acts are abuse until they are steeped into it. But by that time they are confused what to do. On one hand this person is abusing them. On the other hand they are left with the question “Should I report someone whom I trust so much?” There is also an element of fear in abuse. The abuser at times uses real or veiled threats or creates fear in the victim so that they will not escape the web they wove.

A friendly hug. A nice word about one’s clothing. A small threat. Are they a misnomer or the beginning of the abuser’s approach – testing the waters before they go further.

The process of abuse is similar to the tactics that cults and missionaries use. Or people who eventually become abusive spouses. First they lure them with their honey, and then they draw the blood from them.

Although each case is different, here is a general outline on the process of abuse:

1. Desire by the Abuser of Control or Power – The abuser has a need for power. The power might be control of an organization or of a person. This need for power can manifest itself in the abuser doing all kinds of immoral things under the rug. They might insult others, undermine other’s power, speak badly of others, touch others inappropriately, use manipulation techniques.

Abusers sometimes make a common enemy so that the blame is placed upon the enemy and removes the blame from themselves. Sometimes the abuser will use their position of power to be a “protector” against the “enemy” in order to “protect” the victim. In this way the victim will focus on overcoming the enemy rather than on the abuse of the abuser.

2. Interest
– the abuser’s main goal to achieve is to advance his or her cause. They are the center of attention. They may want to take over an organization, gratify their desires or be the leader.

3. Stealth – Most of the time the victim is unaware of the plan of the abuser. The abusers acts can be dormant for many months until they learn about the victim’s vulnerabilities. When they know them well and have established trust they strike. They hide their acts from the public or others.

4. Bulldozer Attitude – the abuser is usually so self centered that anything that gets in their way, they will trample over. They have no intention to back down, even when they back down. They back down at times to keep the victim hooked. This is why reasoning with them or giving to them moral reasons to back down will not sway them. Their agenda is most important – anything you say or do will not sway them – unless it has to do with their interests – meaning – you cannot say “it is not right what you are doing” you have to stop them by saying “either stop or i call the police” or “i will report you to the boss about what you are doing.”

5. Selecting the victim(s) – The abuser chooses their victim by seeing who is must likely to cave-in to their abuse. Those that are savvy in recognizing abuse or strong or may report their abuse – they avoid. They tend to go after the naive.

6. Grooming – This is the period in which the actor (in legalese) establishes trust with the victim. It could be through nice words, giving gifts, establishing commonalities together, talking about another’s personal life, offering personal support or teaching. The grooming process hooks the victim.

7. Search for vulnerabilities – As the abuser gets to know the victim or his support group or camp, the abuser examines their mind set. He or she sees what they will respond to. Is it appreciation? Emotional Support? Financial Support? Threats? Blackmail? Anything goes.

8. Creating Quarrel / Establishment and Disparagement of Enemies – To make a cause for themselves the abuser tries to make remove the focus of the bad that they are doing by establishing an “enemy” so victims will focus on the “enemy” rather than on the abusive acts of the abuser. He or she will speak badly about them, do things against that person for they think that the other is the enemy, when the real enemy is their own “evil inclination.”

9. Establishment of Camps – abusers see themselves as the focal point. They stop not from doing the improper, under the rug, even if it means hurting others. They build up a support group to assure they are “in the right.” They will use flattery, offering gifts, parties to win people over to their camp.

10. Establishment of Fear – the actor will use their power or power of words to neutralize their victim from acting out or talking against them. They might use their power to fire them, scaring people by speaking of spiritual punishment of people who went against them, physical violence or anything else they can get their hands on. The fear instilled keeps the victim trapped.

11. Mind Games - The abuser makes the victim and others feel that it is the abuser who is a victim. When confronted with their improper acts, the abuser denies them. They make the victim feel like the abuse is coming to them – they pass the message “if they (the victim) were good, they wouldn’t be abused.” They make the victim feel guilty to pull out of the abusive relationship.

The abuser plays the victim and convinces others that they are being unfairly treated. Someone did something bad against them and now they have the right to act the way they do.

They create the feeling in followers and victims that both of them are interested in the outcome – that the abuser should retain his power. “This is a fight for Torah.” “We have to overcome this situation together” “Say that it is mutual.”

The abuser has many weapons at his side. They include flattery, compliments, gifts, veiled threats and a golden tongue.

12. Protest from People who have victim’s real interests in Mind – In everyday conversation with family members and spouses, information sometimes leaks about the abuse process. They might naively tell there spouse “The boss said that he missed me.” “the Boss showered me with personal compliments.” “The boss wrote me personal notes.” Some of the close ones will catch on to the impropriety of remarks or acts. They will protest, “that is not correct.” “This person is over stepping boundaries.” The victim, usually ignores these comments, because they are either already caught in the abuser’s web or they are biased from being part of the abusive relationship.

13. Selecting the proper moment to start abuse process – The abuser knows that he or she cannot commit their abusive acts in the open. They usually choose a time where they are alone with the victim to start. Perhaps on a good day that they had together or when the victim is emotionally vulnerable.

14. Breaking of Boundaries – Many who were not subjects of abuse do not understand how could this have happened. It is not that the victim said, let me be abused, or let me marry this abusive person, or wanted to be harassed. The victim was naive. He or she put their trust in an individual, with no thought that the other had bad intentions. The unsuspecting victim is knocked into different corners of the pool table by the abuser’s flattery or golden tongue until the person is exactly where abuser wants them.

So they test the waters – abusers start a bit of breaking the boundaries. The boss says to the employee “I love that perfume, where can I get it for my wife?” The boss enters into the personal life of the secretary, to help her how he can. The boss uses the word we. Like “after all that work, we need a vacation.” He calls her by her first name. He sends her a personal note about her beautiful work. He directs his comments to compliments her instead of her work. He says “G-d Blessed you with so much.” He talks about his private life to her. He says I missed you when you were away.

All signs of breaking boundaries.

15. Abuse – After testing the waters the abuser starts either harassment – through touching, or forcing the person to do things against the law, or talking badly

16. Nurturing the Relationship – The abuser continues his or her relationship by continuing the grooming process.

17. Injecting Guilt – The victim sometimes gets moments of clarity and realizes the abuse. When the victim confronts the abuser, they put on an act to make the victim feel guilty. They may cry or say they will leave or they will use guilt tactics.

18. Denial of Doing wrong – Just like the abuser convinces others that they do no wrong, sometimes they even convince themselves that they are entirely innocent regarding the abuse they commit. They say “it is mutual.” or “It is my company.”

19. Covering Up – The abuser tell the victim, “please cover for me” or do not tell anyone what we said, it is confidential.

Types of Abusers

Various types of abusers include:

Bully – A bully uses their power of force, fear or threats to get what they want.

Perpetrator – One who has committed abuse.

Predator – One who has a carefully though out plan to commit abuse – usually sexual abuse.

Stalker – One who awaits others in order to abuse them.

Sexual Harasser – One who uses inappropriate words to harass a person.

Sexual Abuser – A person that physically abuses another by means of touching.

Rodef / Pursuer – One who has the intention of killing or raping another. According to Jewish Law – one is allowed to kill a rodef / pursuer or a safek rodef – a person who you think has a serious intention to rape or kill.

 

Recognizing Red Flags of Abuse

If you are reluctant, embarrassed, afraid to tell others what someone else did or said – because of the consequences, regardless of what they might be – this is a red flag for recognizing abuse. If you feel you are hiding something from your parents, or your spouse of something that someone did to you it is highly suggested you talk it over with them.

If you see that others do things that are illegal or they try to hide, this is a sign of abuse

In causal conversation with others, if someone says to you “that that that person said to you was a bit off.” or “that that she said to you was a bit too personal.” or if you notice the person talking about your body like “I love that beauty mark you have.” are all red flags and strong action must be taken immediately before it escalates further.

Recognize what is normal and not normal. What is healthy work relationship or an abusive one. Compare them to your present work environment.

General advice
– Never confide in someone that is relatively a stranger more than someone that you have trusted for years.

– Read the book “9 to 5 – modesty in the workplace” by Rabbi Neiman to recognize what is normal conduct in the workplace.

– Avoid personal questions, advice, getting support from members of the opposite gender.

– listen to the way that the person acts or speaks in general. Observe unusual things about them. Like they talk only about themselves, or may do off acts.

– Warn children about the process of abuse – that no one should touch their bodies. They should not stay alone with others. They should have a “sharing buddy” that they can tell anything to and that buddy will let parents know if there is anything unusual.

– Do tell – be open with your siblings, spouse, parents, other people that you trust to hear what they think of the other persons questionable acts

– if you want to hide something – will And tell others. Many a time others can help you prevent being abused – but if they don’t know about it they can’t help you.

– Make a list of people you trust the most rank order

– don’t shrug off or be oblivious to comments of your spouse, or close relatives that sorry “this person is acting in appropriately.”

– Avoid being alone with the abuser and avoid contact with them. Find excuses to avoid contact “I’m sorry I’m very busy with the project to come to your office.”

– Listen to advice of your parents or spouse – “don’t speak with you. Don’t call him at home. Don’t text this person. Don’t talk too much with him. Don’t stay in the same room with him.” Ask them to define exactly what they mean. Ask them for specific guidelines.

– Don’t we can – if you recognize or know that you feel uncomfortable in the presence of the person let them know clearly not to commit the actions. Don’t mince words. Say stop what you’re doing is unacceptable. Instead of saying more neutral comments pushing them off.. Don’t remain silent in the face of the abuse.

– As the abuser uses emotions to manipulate the victim – he will use words or acts to flatter or cry or not to use to reestablish the relationship. Don’t weekend and go back.

– Ask yourself – “is this my responsibility”. If the person has certain emotional needs or physical needs or power needs ask yourself if it is your responsibility that his needs or her needs be fulfilled through your.

Breaking out of the web -

Pray to Hash-m that he helps you to escape this situation of abuse. Be very specific “Please Hash-m please stop this person from persuing and abusing me by having him promptly fired.”

Ask yourself “What do I have to gain by following this person?” Usually, you have little to gain. This was the wife’s advice to the follower of Korach – On Ben Peleth – in the Torah. His wife asked him “what do you gain by being part of the quarrel? in either case you will be secondary – if Moses is the Leader – you will be secondary to him. If Korach is the leader – you will also be secondary to him?” On be Peleth listened to his wife’s advice and was saved from being part of the quarrel and death.

Ask what do you have to lose if he doesn’t back down?

Tell others as soon as you recognize that one is breaking boundaries.

Recognize why you fear of not speaking against the other person, and weigh the advantages of speaking vs. not speaking. Many times the abuser acts in a way to gradually increase abuse in increments. That is why it must be stopped – very strongly – using no unclear terms like “You better stop or I will let the boss or my husband know” – once it is recognized. Even if he or she does stop, you should let the workplace or your trusted relatives know for them to decide a proper course of action.

Write a diary of things that happened. Show it to a trusted person and ask them what they think.

Who is at fault?

Many times the victim asks “why didn’t I stop the abuse?” they realize they were abused and feel guilty for not having stopped it or ask if they brought it upon themselves.

Psychologists say that the normal reaction to a fearful situation is either freeze, flight or flight. Either one will freeze in the face of abuse. Or they will fight it. Or they will run away. Knowing your common reactions to abuse and Practicing strong reactions that are effective in stopping the abuse is helpful.

The abuser usually has a golden tongue and heart of a snake. If you are someone who freezes or has very mild reactions to abuse, change your attitude to flight – get out of the abuser’s path ASAP because they usually have a bulldozer attitude – they have no intention to stop. Also take counsel with those who are specialists in abuse and trusted family members immediately to determine the best course of action.

Abusers are usually mostly at fault for their abuse because if they did not want to do it, they would have sought help from others, attended support groups or seen psychologists. At times the abuser has APD – Abusive Personality Disorder. It is a condition that is telltale of an abuser.

I read once an abuse victim who was an expert in Judo -who was emotionally powerless to defend themselves from the abuser because of the grooming process that took place beforehand.

Sometimes a person falls for a mate that turns out to be an abuser, because they were caught by the abusers golden tongue. The attitude of the trapped is, “He is so kind,”, “She speaks so nicely.” “I am in love.” Forget about love for now. The first and foremost priority is to find a mate that is acceptable according to Torah (ie, Jews marry Jews) and psychologically stable. Is it better to marry someone you “love” and be subjected to decades of degradation, yelling, physical violence, because you overlooked doing your homework because of “love.” If you think you should not do your homework, you are partly responsible for negligence.

Stopping the Abuse
A Previous Article spoke on Getting out of an Abusive Relationship. We will mention some here.

Tell a trusted person what the actor is doing. In general you should never have to hide anything from anyone – unless it is “Lashon HaRah” – Evil speech.

Tell the person to stop in strong terms or ask someone else to tell them in a strong way.

Tell the person that if they do not stop, you will tell others or summon them to “Beit Din” – a Jewish court of law.

If the person is an employess, tell your boss and someone you trust immediately upon when the person oversteps boundaries.

Mistakes in Lashon HaRah / Evil Speech.

In general one is never allowed according to Torah to speak badly about others even if it is 100% true what the person did. The exception is is if the words that you wish to say have cause a benefit / Toelet – you are allowed to say exactly what the person did. If you are in doubt of whether to saying anything is lashon harah, ask yourself, what benefit will anyone get – including myself by saying what I want to say. If you find one reason, you should talk. Sometimes remaining silent can be a sin, because you are not protecting yourself.

Remaining silent when someone asks you about a the character or deeds of perpetrator for a purpose – like whether to hire this person – one may be transgressing the commandment “Do not stand upon the blood of your neighbor.”

Some people who remain silent in the face of abuse do a great disservice to others, the community and the world. They think that they are protecting the abuser, but in the end they cause the abuser to go to different workplaces and commit the same abuse. A person should know the laws of lashon harah to know when or not to talk. If one does not talk they could be transgressing the commandment of “Do not stand by the blood of your fellow.” Thus if one is in doubt they should consult a competent orthodox rabbi or the Shemirat Halashon Hotline – a hotline that answers questions regarding when it is permissible to talk badly about others according to Jewish law.

Responsibility of Friends and Relatives

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Friends also don’t let friends fall into an abusive relationship. Sometimes people on the outside recognize the signs above better than those involved with a potential abuser. Seek proper strategies to separate the friend from the abuser.

After the Abuse

If someone was already abused, it makes sense to overcome it by speaking with a trustworthy and reputable therapist or psychologist that has a Torah hashkafa / Outlook from the Torah. Usually an orthodox Jewish therapist will have the proper Torah outlook.

Finding what to do with the abuser or if it was at the workplace – what to do to receive compensations. Making a settlement is the easiest, because it spares the victim from having to face the abuser or relive the trauma of the abuse.

The Torah also says don’t borrow money from others too much. Because perhaps their intention is to establish trust with you and then you will lend them and not return the money to you. Similar to abuse, they establish trust and then take the “money” from you.

The Torah teaches us of the proper attitude to take towards people – “Honor them, but suspect them.”

The Mother that Came Back to Life – the Importance of a Proper Jewish Burial

thA true story.

Mr. Lefkowitz received a call from the nursing home.

“Hello is this Mr. Lefkowitz?”

“Yes.”

“This is the nursing home. We regret to inform you of some bad news that…”

“My mother?”

“Yes we are sorry to say…”

Mr. Lefkowitz rushed to make arrangements for his mother’s burial. He spoke with the Chevra Kadisha / Jewish Burial Society. They took care of all the details of preparing the body for the burial. They bought a simple wood casket. And arranged for her to have a proper Jewish burial in a Jewish cemetery that buries the dead only in the ground. He knew that that was the Halacha – Jewish law – to bury a person in the grave in the ground – and not to cremate them. They said the eulogies.

After a tearful burial he and his family sat Shiva – the Seven days of mourning where the family receives guests to console them.

About three days into the mourning period, Mr Lefkowitz recieved another call from the nursing home.

“Hello? Is this Mr. Lefkowitz? ”

“Yes.”

“This is the nursing home. I am in aid here and your mother is asking why you did not come to visit her for three days? Is there anything wrong?”

Bewildered by the phone call he rushed to the nursing home. There he almost fainted when he went to his mother’s room and found her alive.

“Where were you all this time? You didn’t come to visit me for three days already? What’s the matter?!”

“Well…”

He tried to put together some explanations are not pain his mother about their mistake.

He went to speak with the main staff.

“We are so sorry Mr. Lefkowitz! There was a terrible mistake. One of the staff called you several days ago. He thought that you were the son of the lady who passed away. Her last name was also Lefkowitz. He erred and contacted you instead of the real son of that lady. We are very sorry for this unfortunate mistake.”

Mr. Lefkowitz inquired about the lady that he put to so much efforts into having a proper Jewish burial. He found out that she was a sincere woman that was following the laws of Torah and wanted a proper Jewish burial. The son of this woman wanted to have her cremated – which is against Jewish law. God arranged that there be a mistake so that this sincere woman would receive a proper Jewish burial according to Torah.

The body of a Jewish person is holy. It must be dealt with with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, many people opt to cremate loved ones. Besides being against Jewish law it has many other negative spiritual repercussions.

A part of the body that remains called the “luz” bone – found in the back of the neck is what G-d will use to resurrect the bodies of those who were faithful to following Judaism. This luz bone is nourished by the food eaten after Shabbat – in the meal called Melave Malka. If it is destroyed through cremation – so is the chance for the body to be resurrected.

In Judaism there is a spiritual life after death. And after this spiritual life one who is worthy will be resurrected after the Messiah comes. A person who cares about their loved ones will take this into account – and bury their loved ones according to Jewish Law. It is of utmost importance for one to contact an Orthodox Jewish burial society to take care of one’s beloved family at the proper time.

We wish all the good people a long life and a burial that will afford them the opportunity to return again.

This mother was fortunate to have another opportunity to come back to life in the future.

Ten Commandments or Seven – Which do You Follow?

graphics2“All the children who ate lunch, you now have recess”

the teacher told the audience of little students in the auditorium.

“Those that remain go to the lunchroom.”

Pretty simple to understand.

When G-d gave the 10 Commandments, He prefaced it with “I am the L-rd your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

Who are the people who G-d took out from Egypt from the house of bondage? The Jewish people. Thus the 10 commandments and the Mitzvot Associated with them – the 613 commandments apply only to the Jewish people.

The Seven Noahide Commandments apply to all people – Jews and Gentiles – to All Humanity.

What are these Seven Commandments?

The Seven Commandments for All Humanity

G-d gave Adam, the first man, commandments for him and all his descendants.

These are called the 7 Noahide laws or Sheva Mitzvot Benei Noach / Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah.

These Commandments are the basis of morality and world survival.

G-d gave them again to Noah, after the flood – thus their name.

He also explained them to Moses when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Although there are 7 Commandments for All humanity, they really comprise of at least 30 commandments for all people – Jews and Non-Jews alike. The Seven Commandments are the main categories. The commandments that fall into those 7 are 30. Some count up to 66.

For A good book on the subject see “Path of the Righteous Gentile.”

A gentile who follows these commandments for the sake of the G-d of the Jews because they were written in the Torah, they get a portion in the afterlife. The Torah is eternal, so attaching oneself to Torah one also attaches oneself to eternity.

The Only Time in History that G-d Appeared to an Entire People and Gave a Law
There was only one time in history where G-d appeared to an entire nation of millions of people and gave them a document with very specific laws of conduct – when G-d gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai about 3,300 years ago. G-d gave laws for Jews and laws for gentiles.

In the Torah – it explains in detail what these laws are. Only the Jews have the proper interpretation of the Torah, because when G-d gave us the commandments and the Written Torah, he also gave us an Oral Law – to explain the written Torah. The Oral Torah was written and is now called the Talmud. Thus any interpretation of Torah that does not follow the laws explained in the Talmud is not Torah.

A person who follows these laws because G-d gave them in the Torah – is called a Ben Noah and will inherit a portion in Heaven.

The Seven Noahide Laws
They are seven major categories – that with their details consist of 30 laws.

1) Respecting G-d – Not to blaspheme.

2) Being Faithful to G-d – Not to Commit Idolatry.

3) Respecting Human Life – Not to Kill.

4) Respecting One’s Fellow’s Property – Not to Steal.

5) Respecting the Integrity of the Family – Not to commit forbidden relations – which includes prohibitions of adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality.

6) Respect of Life – Not to eat a limb taken from a living animal.

7) Law and Order – Establishing courts of law to enforce these laws.

The 10 Commandments for the Jewish People

The Descendants of the Abraham, Isaak and Jacob are the Israelites. The Jews descend from them. The Israelites were in Egypt for over 200 years. The Egyptians made them slaves. G-d took them out with a mighty Hand. After they left G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah. All the Jews – Millions of People – heard G-d Himself speaking.

The giving of the Torah – the Law – was a national revalation of G-d. G-d never appeared again to a Nation. G-d does not change his mind. So the Torah is always in effect. Moses brought down the 10 commandments.

The 10 Commandents are only for the Jewish People.

the 10 Commandments found in Deuteronomy (5:1-19) include –
1. Belief in One G-d,
2. Not having other gods (ie, Prohibition of Idol Worship),
3. Prohibition of Saying G-d’s name in Vain,
4. Honoring the Sabbath,
5. Honoring one’s parents,
6. Prohibition of murder.
7. Prohibition of adultery.
8. Prohibition of stealing.
9. Prohibition of bearing false witness against your neighbor.
10. Prohibition of coveting a neighbor’s possessions.

A gentile does not observe the Sabbath. Although a Gentile does not learn Torah it is a Mitzvah / commandment for them to learn about their laws – the 7 Noahide laws.

A Gentile that feels an an affinity to Judaism and is sincere can convert to become Jewish after guidance, learning and conversion with a reputable and competent Orthodox Rabbi. A Jew can never convert out of Judaism. They will always considered Jewish by G-d – regardless if they went through the process of “conversion” to another religion and are thus obligated under the 613 Torah commandments. A Jew is considered a person whose mother is Jewish or converted according to Torah Judaism.

For Info on the the TEN COMMANDMENTS see:

For More Info on the 7 Noahide laws

Happy Purim! Queen Esther Prays for Downfall of Nazi Leaders

purim
H a p p y P u r i m!

The Mitzvas of Purim
Purim Seudah – having a festive meal the day of Purim
Mishloach Manot – Sending food packages to friends & family
Megillah – Hearing the reading of the Megillah
Matanot La’evyonim – giving charity to needy

One of the Great Mitzvot is to learn Torah on Purim. Also don’t forget Mahatzit Hashekel – taking a silver coin of the equivalent of 10 grams of silver – and saying “zecher le Mahatzit ha Shekel” – In remembrance of the Half- Shekel. Then giving the money / or equivalent (about $6 for each family member to a poor person or worthy Torah charity).

Some Segulas / Amulet-Like Reccomendations – for Purim.

Queen Esther Prays for Downfall of Nazis

Rabbi Yudin and Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan, every instance of the phrase “King Ahashverosh” in the Megillah / Book of Esther refers to King Ahashverosh himself. But in every instance of the Word “King” alone, it has a double meaning. It refers to The Holy One (G-d) or Ahashverosh. (Midrash Rabbah Esther Chapter 3, Section 10). In the Megilah Esther 9:13, it says “Esther replied `If it pleases His Majesty allow the Jews who are in Shushan to act tomorrow as they did today, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows'”

The obvious question is – why would it help to hang the 10 sons of Haman again. They are already dead. One of the interpretations of this verse is that Queen Esther – had Ruach HaKodesh / a spirit of holiness and foresaw the Nazi’s downfall. She was praying for the Nazis to be hung also by the gallows.

— In the Megillah – the Book of Esther (9:6-10), where the 10 sons of evil Haman are killed, three Hebrew letters are written smaller than the rest. These letters [Taf (400), Shin (300), Zayin (7)] when added to 5000 (Hay”), add up to 5707. This is the Hebrew year (1946-1947 C.E.) when 10 Nazi war criminals were hung in Nuremberg, Germany (October 16, 1946) for their atrocious crimes against humanity.

There are several parallels of the Nazi’s judgment and the son’s of Haman’s Judgment. Haman had a daughter. She saw two people walking in the street. Mordechai on a horse and Haman leading him – a reward to Mordechai for having saved the king’s life. Haman’s daughter did not know who was leading and who was riding. She saw them from her window and emptied out her bedpan upon the leader. When the leader – Haman – showed his face – she was so astonished that she did such a thing to her father, she committed suicide.

At Nuremburg, There were eleven scheduled to be hung. One night before the hanging of the Nazis at Nuremburg, one committed suicide. He was also scheduled to be hanged on that day, but committed suicide using a potassium cyanide capsule the night before. Some say he was a transvestite.

Also, at the Nuremburg hangings, one of the Nazis stared at the witnesses facing the gallows and shouted “Purimfest 1946.” (Newsweek, October 28, 1946, page 45)

Purim and the Hidden Hand of G-d

Purim_Paints_Art.previewPurim is the holiday of the hidden hand of G-d.

The story of Purim:

King Ahashverous – his queen, Vashti refused to appear before him.

He became furious and took counsel to decide a course of action.

Haman said to kill her, to avoid that other women of their nation rebel against their husbands.

He listened to Haman.

The king had to find a new queen. He searched the country for the most beautiful woman.

Esther, was chosen. She hid her identity as a Jew.

Haman, a member of the nation of Amalek, is furious that Mordechai did not bow to him.

Haman, the wicked, decides that he will thus attempt to destroy the sonei Yisrael in one day.

He gave much money to King Ahashverous towards this goal.

The king agreed.

Mordechai, Esther’s uncle, tells her about a plot to kill the king.

The king hears of the plot and decides to reward Mordechai.

Mordechai tells Queen Esther to approach the king to annul the decree against the Jews.

She asks the people to fast for her, for the queen could only appear before the King if he gave permission by pointing his scepter to her.

She tells the king of the evil plot of Haman against her people.

Haman is then Killed with his 10 sons.

In the Megillah of Esther, G-d’s name is not mentioned once.

Yet, when Esther says “if it is good for the King”, and makes a request she was really speaking to the King of Kings – G-d.

The story seems very natural. Yet we see G-d’s hand constantly in guiding the events that finally, the Jews are saved and the wicked are destroyed.

We learn that – although we may ignore it, G-d’s kind hand is guiding our lives for the best daily.

Even if it may seem to be bad, in the end it is good.

It is up to us to believe. When we do, we change a bitter view of life to a better view of life.

The Stranger Among Us – Overcoming Negativity

SimchasTorahI remember art class.

One assignment was to draw a design and complete it within a certain amount of time. When time was up, we had to stop with whatever drawing we had. It could have been half finished but we had to stop.

It was a race against time, but also an exercise in using our skills.

Life is similar to that exercise.

It is a race against time to perfect oneself.

The way that we end up is the way we remain in the afterlife.

The good that we have done becomes set in eternity. Afterwards, we cannot continue to build.

Many a time we want to do good.

But we are sidetracked. We want to give a dollar to a hungry poor person, but then a thought enters our mind – “why should I give if he is just going to use it for drugs.”

Someone wants to give a sizable donation to a worthy Torah cause, then he thinks “I can’t do that – my old teacher from Hebrew school was mean to me.”

Or sometimes it just implants negative thoughts into us to demotivate us : “You are no good. You are worthless. Just give up.”

Positive Thinking

When encountering the negative, G-d wants us to strengthen ourselves to do the positive. Counter with positive thoughts. “I can! I am good! I should give! People do love me!” Find reason to do the good that will outweigh the bad.

Life’s Balance – the Good and Evil Inclination

G-d implanted in us a Good inclination and an Evil inclination.

It is so that life will be balanced – if we knew how great the reward was for a simple good deed, we would quit work and do good deeds all day. (Working, can also be a good deed with the right intentions.)

The good inclination – gives us the idea to do good or not to do bad. The Evil inclination gives us ideas to do bad or not do good. We have freedom of choice – freedom to chose between the good an the bad.

The Arm Against Bad

So what is our arm to choose that which is good?

The mind.

If one was to think out their actions, they would do only good.

Pogram or Peace

Imagine a person was in the times of pogroms against the Jews. The church would rile up the common folk to destroy, pillage and harm on certain holidays or just out of hate. A gentile who would follow his heart would join the fun. A person who would use his mind would think – is this the right thing to do to hurt innocent people? If he would think further – he would discount the credibility of his religion in his eyes and seek something more just. He or she would think – is this what G-d really wants from me – to hurt his chosen people.

If he were really sincere in his search for truth, he would come to the conclusion that he should be following the Seven Noahide laws for world peace for all people because G-d said to follow them in the Torah. A person who is honest can look at the history of their religion and see if they approve of the acts of the leaders and devotees to that religion. In essence a person who follows a religion – condone in a sense – the acts that were done through that religion.

Positive Speech

Or let’s take a simpler example – a person that speaks badly about others. He or she gets pleasure from speaking about others badly. In essence, it is their emotions that are driving them. If they were to reflect, they would think – look how much time I am wasting talking about others, when I can be using that time to do good for the world.

Detailed Laws exist concerning not speaking badly about others and not listening to negative speech. In the long run a person who avoids negative speech not only gets a Mitzvah, but they also live a better life.

I sometimes wonder why people listen to the daily news. Obviously, one can be informed about world events, but certain news sources are so depressing they put a damper on life. Choosing a news source that has a positive outlook – like Mishpacha Magazine – can help you get news without being left with depressing thoughts. Just like negative speech.

If you see your entourage is speaking negatively, you can buy a book – like Positive Word Power – By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin or ask an Orthodox Rabbi to teach the laws of Lashon HaRah to a small group of friends. In the long run you will see life in a more positive light.

Thus it is important for a person to define one’s role in life. When one defines their role to do as much good using their particular talents and abilities – the menial tit-for-tat of life becomes something to avoid and reaching a higher good takes precedence.

You can use your thoughts, speech and action to build or destroy. You can choose to encourage a young child to better in school with nice words or can use your words to scold them and break their confidence. It is your choice. You can use your thoughts to encourage yourself or to break yourself. You can use your actions to build the world or destroy. Choose wisely.

Live and Learn. Learn and Live

Learning laws about refraining from negative speech / Lashon HaRah . I heard that if one has a negative quality that they wish to overcome, they should learn laws pertaining to that subject. If one arrives late to synagogue, they could learn laws about coming on time to synagogue. If one has a bad temper, they can learn Torah works concerning the destructiveness of anger.

G-d gave us free will to chose what is right and what is wrong. My Rebbe, used to say the mind should be in control of the heart not the other way around. Obviously, if the Torah is their guidepost, they will be able to overcome the evil inclination.

Antidote to the Bitter Pill

Smiling-PillThe essence of Judaism is to do good.

When a Gentile asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot – he said “What is hateful to you don’t do to others.”

Rabbi Akiva said “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” This is the great principle of the Torah.

Self-control is essential to maximize one’s potential.

Otherwise, every emotion can steer you like a car’s steering wheel

“That cashier was nasty – I am not shopping at that store anymore”

“That man cut me off, let me chase him and rank him out.”

Examples abound. People have blogs that they use to vent their emotions and bitterness because they encountered a negative situation once or more. They feel they are saving society, but they are just venting the bitterness that they inherited once they were hurt. Obviously the person who hurt them most likely was wrong, but now should they guide their life based upon a positive attitude. It is not up to us to judge them, however for ourselves we can understand that living a pro-active life is better than living a re-active life.

I know someone who stopped putting on Tephillin (Phylacteries) because he said he saw a religious man steal. I told him: “It is forbidden to steal according to the Torah. Why do you take it out on your Judaism because someone who did wrong according to Judaism.”

I recently heard a story from Rabbi Eytan Feiner of a wealthy philanthropist. His friend asked why he didn’t give to Yeshivas. He said “I don’t give to Yeshivas because, once when I was younger , my Yeshiva teacher slapped me!” The person who slapped him was in the wrong. But why should the rest of the Yeshiva world lose out from his generosity. And why should he lose out the great merit of supporting a Torah institution, because he remains bitter after all these years?

Yes, self-control is needed to maximize one’s potential.

Two stories.

There is Always Hope for Change

Once there was a self-hating Jew. He would report the Jews to the Roman government and cause them problems. Apparently something triggered in him this bitterness. When the Roman’s wanted to destroy the Beit Hamikdash / the Holy Temple, they sent this man – Joseph to retrieve the precious vessels from the temple. They were afraid to enter themselves. As a reward, they gave him the right to take any vessel he chose.

He went in and took the Menorah of pure gold. The Romans thought that this was too prestigious and wanted it for their empire. They told him to go and take something else instead. He answered “I already angered my G-d once I will not do it again.” He was so enamored by the holiness of the temple, he repented in an instant. The Romans told him to go back in. He refused. Finally he gave up his life sanctifying the name of G-d, for he did not want to desecrate the temple again.

The Talmud says that this person has a portion in the world to come from this one moment of change.

Seeing the Other Side of the Story

Simon Wiesenthal was a Nazi hunter. After the war he searched for Nazi criminals to bring them to justice. He met a Holocaust Survivor that had strayed off the path of Torah and Judaism. He asked him “What’s the matter? Are you angry at G-d?”
He replied : “No. I am angry at one of his people.”
“Why is that?”
“In the bunker I was in there was a Jew that had smuggled a Siddur / Prayer Book into the concentration camp. Rations of food were very scarce. We received a small ration of bread for our daily meal. This man had a precious commodity – A siddur. He gave people the right to use it in exchange for a piece of their bread. People would line up giving up their food for survival for a couple minutes of using the siddur to pray to G-d. This turned me off completely. I thus abandoned everything in Judaism.”

Mr. Wiesenthal turned to him with a sympathetic smile and touch “Du Dummer Yid. / You Silly Jew. You saw the man that sold the use of the siddur for bread, but did you not see all the people willing to give up their bread to use the siddur?”

Taking a positive view will allow you to drive your life based upon what is good for you and the world, rather than letting your reactions to a reckless person drive you.

The antidote to bitterness is to look at the other side of the story. If one person acted badly and most of the others act properly, why take be bitter and take it out on others. Chalk it up to experience. To Overcome Bitterness Talk it out with others and develop a positive view of the world and in life.

Did Anyone See My Wallet?

6495885925_4f3389fb7e_zI rarely carry cash in my wallet.

I figure whatever I want to buy I can use a debit card.

Recently I misplaced my wallet.

I had to take cash for gas.

During the day, a person asked me for money for Tzedaka / charity.

I gave them a small donation.

Having the cash instead of the card enabled me to do a Mitzvah – to give charity to a needy person.

When I misplaced my wallet, I could have been upset that I didn’t find it.

In the back of my mind, I knew that not finding it was for the good.

Everything that G-d does is for the good. Even things we feel might be inconsequential, happen for the good.

G-d is good and does good.

Small annoyances may occur for a greater good.

Small disturbances need not bother us.

Just have to keep in mind “All that the Merciful One does, He does for the good.”

Did Aristotle Convert to Judaism? – The Aristotle Letters Extolling Judaism Censured from Wiki

Sanzio_01_Plato_AristotleAristotle, the student of Plato, and classical Greek philosopher excelled in his wisdom. The Rambam, Moses Maimonides in his “Guide for the Perplexed” states Aristotle reached the highest level of understanding a human being can reach short of prophecy. He calls him the greatest of philosophers. Yet, Maimonides refutes many of Aristotle’s basic tenets of philosophical speculation, especially his postulations regarding man’s duty in the world.

Thinking Vs. Prayer

Maimonides states that the virtue of man is to connect to the Creator through prayer. He says by establishing ongoing communication with the creator through the guidance of the Torah one can reach the highest levels of ones potential. Aristotle states that each creature has its virtue in its domain that it excels. A bird in Flying, a fish in swimming, a frog in jumping and a man in thinking.

It is brought in Jewish works that once Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, saw Yirmeayu (Jeremiah) crying about the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Jewish Temple). He asked what makes you cry about a heap of wood and stones. He asked him, are there any philisophical questions that bother you? Plato replied “Yes.” “Please ask them” Plato asked him deep questions – that Yirmiyahu answered satisfying Plato’s search for answers. He continued “It is through the inspiration from these stones I learned my wisdom.” (When the Temple was in existence, there was higher level of closeness to G-d, spirituality and holy inspiration.) Plato had intellectual interactions with Yirmeyahu. Aristotle, learned from Shimon HaTzadik, (Simon the Just). Impressed by this wisdom, apparently continued learning Torah till he converted to Judaism.

The Aristotle Letters

Aristotle wrote a letter to his student Alexander, the Great, notifying him of his recanting on his philosophies and acceptation of Torah as the true world philosophy.

There are two versions of the letter one found in the Meam Loez and One Found in the Sefer HaDorot.
We have included both versions below.

Aristotle’s Letter to Alexander the Great
written at the end of his life
Meam Loez – Shemot / Parashat Yitro – 19:17

There is a true story of a great philosopher renowned throughout the world, whose name was Aristotle – that at the time of his old age he wrote a letter to his student Alexander the Macedonian – the king of Greece (See source Shalshelet HaKabalah) this text:

Blessed is Hash-m [the G-d of the Jews – the sole G-d of the universe and of all], that opens eyes of the blind, that shows the sinners the straight path. He is exalted with praises that are worthy of Him – For I do not know how to praise Him upon all of the mercy and great kindness that he bestowed upon me.

That he took me out of this foolishness that I was immersed in all the days of my life in dealing with wisdom of philosophy to explain everything according to nature – that’s understood through rationalization.

And I made many books on this wisdom – like the sand that is on the banks of the of the sea.

Until I was rebuked now by the mingling of my life with one (Jewish) sage from the sages of Israel. And in his speaking to me, he demonstrated his tremendous wisdom.

And I recognized the high level of the holy Torah, that was given at the Mount Sinai.

And he drew my heart with the words of the Torah that showed me and explained to me true novelties and wonders that were done [by Hash-m, the G-d of Israel].

And I was uncivilized that I did not understand that most of the things that are driven by the Holy One Blessed be He [Hashem – the G-d of Israel] in a wondrous manner that’s external to the way of nature.

And from the time that I saw this – I took to heart to expound and to investigate [or fathom] the wisdom of the Torah. For all of its words are founded on foundations of truths, and it is not like the wisdom of philosophy that is vanity.

And therefore, you my student – Alexander the the great king – Do not push my works [for people to learn them]– not you and not my fellow philosophers.

For if it was in my hands to gather all of the books that I authored using this wisdom, surely I would burn them with fire in order that they would not remain any part of them.

However, this matter is not in my hands for my books are spread throughout the world and it’s impossible to gather them all.

And I know well of the stringent punishment that my Creator will punish me for this great sin that I transgressed. That I lost my time with my own hands and that I caused the multitude to sin.

Therefore, my son Alexander I wrote this letter in order to inform you, you and all of your fellows – that most of the things that people want to explain in the way of nature in order that they will be understood by the intellect are matters of falsehood.

For surely, the Holy One Blessed be He (Hashem – G-d), He is the Solution to the world and He leads it with great force.

And because of my fate that caused my books to be spread throughout the western lands – I hereby inform on all of them – that one should not waste his time with them. Do not look at them and do not touch them with your hands. For it is a great sin to waste time on my books of philosophy – for it is a lie that has no legs [to stand upon].
And now I have saved my soul with this that I proclaimed my error and my guilt – it [the Law of the Torah’s punishment] is not as stringent upon me for the past [faults of mine] for I didn’t know.

However now that I revealed this matter to the creatures – that I lived in error and my heart burns for the time that I destroyed with vanities. Woe is to those that their hearts continue [to follow] after my books. Surely under them will be the grave.

And know that according to what that same sage taught me – I found many matters in the book of proverbs that King Solomon authored that a person should not be drawn after the wisdom of philosophy in his saying to “Guard yourself from a strange woman from a foreign female whose words are smooth.” (Mishlei / Proverbs 7:5)

Woe to the eyes that thus they see. Woe to the ears that they thus is what they hear. Woe is to me that I destroyed my body and my strength – for these damaging matters. And this that you praise me by saying that my fame has spread throughout the world because of the books that I made. And they admire me with great admiration. Surely death is better than this – that my books are spread throughout the world. Surely those that are diligent in [the learning of] the Torah will inherit [eternal] life in the world to come.

And those that deal with my books will inherit purgatory. And even I am prepared to be punished for them all. And the reason why I did not write you this letter before now, for I suspected that you would be angry at me and you would do me evil. However now, I decided to say, to inform you of this.

For I know that before this letter of mine will arrive in your hand I will have already been placed in an ark of wood – for I reached the end of my days. And Peace from the Teacher Aristotle – that separates from [life in] the world – to Alexander the great king of Greece.

Second Version
After having translated the version of the “letter of Aristotle at the end of his life to Alexander the Great” found in the Meam Loez (by Rabbi Culi), I found the source of the letter that the Meam Loez referenced – in the work called “Shalshelet Hakabala” (by Gedalia ben Yechia)– and translated that letter from that source. “Shalshelet Hakabala” was printed in the Jewish Year 5346. The current year is 5768. This means it was written almost 422 years ago. Thus the public knowledge of the Aristotle letter has been in existence for over 420 years. There is an introduction to the letter from the author that names his sources where he learned of the letter.

In the paragraphs preceding the letter some interesting facts are mentioned about Aristotle, like:
Aristotle ultimately became a righteous convert [to Judaism] at the end of his life.
He was appointed over King Solomon’s works when Alexander the Great conquered Israel.
Some of the wisdom he learned from Solomon’s works is from where he fashioned some of his philosophies.
Aristotle studied with a Jewish sage called Shimon HaTzadik. (Simon the Just – a Chief Cohen of the Jewish Temple) He calls him the “Shimonite.”
There are stories in the Talmud where Shimon HaTzadik meets Alexander and Alexander gets off his horse and bows to him. Thus Alexander was also a contemporary of Shimon HaTzadik.
Alexander died in his thirties. Aristotle died at about 62 years of age.
Alexander the Macedonian entered into Jerusalem. He saw the Cohen Gadol [High Priest – Shimon HaTzadik] in his 8 garments. He descended from his chariot and bowed to the Cohen Gadol – Shimon HaTzadik. He told his servants and those that were present that the vision of the Cohen Gadol in His Garments appeared to him before each of his victories.
Alexander asked that an statue in the image of himself be placed in the Holy Temple. Shimon replied that this was against the Torah, but that to honor the king – all male Cohen children that would be born that year would be named Alexander and the year of the contracts would start from that year (ie, 1st year of the King Alexander). He was very happy and gave many gifts for the Temple.

There are small differences between the two versions of the letter. This is likely because the Meam Loez was translated from Ladino to Hebrew. The version of the Letter in the Shalshelet Hakabala was likely translated from Greek to Hebrew. So the letter translated from the Meam Loez went from Greek (Original Letter) (to Arabic? (Cited in Arab Historical Work)) to Hebrew (in Shalshelet Hakabala) to Ladino (Meam Loez Original Language) to Hebrew (Meam Loez translated Language) to English (Text Version above). We assumed by translating the letter from the version in the Shalshelet Hakabala would result in a more accurate translation of the original letter.

Aristotle’s Letter to Alexander the Great
written at the end of his life – Excerpts from
Shalshelet Hakabala – Cited by Meam Loez in Shemot / Parashat Yitro – 19:17

Aristotle, the philosopher and head of the [secular] sages was the teacher of Alexander and the student of Socrates and Plato. He was born in Macedon and lived 2 years after the death of Alexander his student and he lived 62 years. And I saw written -in the letters of Aristotle – that he wrote that he spoke with Shimon HaTzadik (Simon the Just) on the Godly wisdom and was tremendously impressed by the level of wisdom of Shimon in this and in certain details he says this is what the Shimoni answered me.

And I saw that Rabbi Yosef ben Shem Tov in the introduction to his explanation of the “book of Middot” how he saw in Egypt a book that written inside was how Aristotle at the end of his life admitted to all that is found written in the Sefer Torah of Moshe and became a Righteous Convert [to Judaism].

I saw in “the Kuzari” [a book that discusses the various faiths and their comparison to Judaism] – hand writings – saying 42 – that the philosophers were asked from where did they receive the wisdom of their philosophy. And they said that it came from the Jews – and all the wisdoms they recorded their sources and general principles from the Jews of Alexandria. And afterwards to Paras (Persia) and Medes and afterwards to Greece and afterwards to the Romans. And over time and much wanderings they did not remember the wisdoms were [originally] recorded from the Israelites – rather from the Greeks or Romans. Until here [is the quoted text].


And the author of the book Shevilei Emuna wrote – that he saw it written that when Alexander went to Jerusalem he appointed Aristotle, his master – [in charge] over the books of Solomon – and he recorded there the philosophy and he called it in his name…

The Rav (the Rambam) in the HaMoreh (Nevuchim – the guide to the Perplexed) section 1 perek 71 says that [all] Wisdoms were initially with the [Jewish people of] Israel – however in the domination of the [gentile] peoples upon us it [wisdom] came into their hands and we when we learn a matter from them it appears that their conception [of the wisdom] was from them but it is really the opposite.

Ibn Rashed who is called Oyrouou says in the end of his book “Hapelet Hatephila” that the wisdoms were found with Yisrael, and I saw an old work these things and I recorded them here word for word – and they – I testify – with a clear testimony – that I heard from the mouth of the sage Don Abraham Ibn Zarzer that when he was in Lisbona and used to say that the Ishmael sage Ibn Alachtov – that people used to say upon him that there was no one of his caliber in his generation in terms of wisdom and piety. And he heard that there was in the city of Alekhara a book from Aristotle that he authored at the end of his days and that he recanted from all that he had written initially. And the sage Don Abraham ibn Zarzer sent for this work and saw in it either the matter of [divine] providence or whether the matter of the leaving of the soul and also regarding the creation of the world. And he (Aristotle) would state on each and every matter from these – [that he admitted to have erred in them] and from certain natural matters – and the “Shimoni” [ie, Shimon HaTzadik – the Cohen Gadol] changed my mind on this opinion with this and this proof or with this and this argument. And it was written at the end of his book a writing that Aristotle sent to King Alexander – his student.

And this is the text of the writing:

Blessed is G-d [the G-d of the Jews – the sole G-d of the universe and of all], that opens eyes of the blind, that shows the sinners the path. He is praised with praise that is worthy for Him – that he bestowed [kindness] upon me – in his mercy and great kindness that that he took me out of the complete foolishness that I was in all the days of my life in dealing with wisdom of philosophy and that I would judge everything according to thoughts of the mind.

And I authored on it [philosophy] books – like the sand of the sea. And I made many books on this wisdom like the sand that is on the shore of the sea.

Until the end of my days I debated with a [Jewish] sage from the sages of Israel [This is likely Shimon HaTzadik – Simon the Just]. And he demonstrated his strong arm in the Torah that is an inheritance to them from Sinai and he drew my heart with words of Torah in his teaching me the signs and wonders with the holy names that are true and revealed to the senses.

And I because I did not know that most of these things are higher than the intellect and when I saw this I gave my heart to reflect with all my force on the Religion of the Jews.

And behold all of it is founded perfect stones and not like the dark wisdom of philosophy.

Therefore, my precious student – Alexander the the great king – Let not my books cause you to err.

Even you and even your friends the philosophers –
for if I was able now to gather all my books that spread throughout all the lands, I would burn them with fire in order that not even one would remain for the eyes of the princes and the deputies in order that they do not err in the thinking.

For I know that I will receive great punishment from the G-d – for I sinned and I caused the multitudes to sin.

Therefore, my son Alexander I inform you and all the people of the world that most of the things that are known through the mind they are falsity for higher and higher it is guarded [possible explanations, the ones who profess them that are in high positions know their falsity; the truth is guarded higher than what the philosophers think – ie in the Torah].

And because of my fate that caused my books to be spread throughout the western lands – I hereby inform them – with a reliable proof – that it is not worthwhile to look in them and not to review them. For its logic is a transgression and the philosophy is false.

And now that I am cleared from Hash-m – for I transgressed unknowingly.

And woe to those that look in then for they go in a confused path to destruction.

And know that just as that same sage taught me about our wisdom – this [matter – that a person should not be drawn after the wisdom of philosophy] was also prophesied by Solomon son of David in his proverbs in his saying to “that they [words of Torah] guard you from a strange woman [secular philosophy]…” (Mishlei / Proverbs 7:5) “Do not extend your heart in her [phiosophy’s] path” (Mishlei / Proverbs 7:25) and it is written “All those that come to her [philosophy] will not return…” (Mishlei / Proverbs 2:19)

Woe to the eyes that thus is what they see and woe is to the ears that thus is what they hear.

Woe is to me. Pity is to me for I withered my body and my finished off my days in these matters that damage but are not useful. They bring down but do not elevate [a person]. And that you said to me that that my fame has spread amongst all the peoples – that I authored many books and there will be for my fame all the days of the earth.

Know – that I would [rather] choose to have fame in a scroll of the Torah – than to have fame in my books of apostasy. And I would [rather] choose strangulation of my soul than for my books to be widely distributed. For those that cling to the Torah go to light with the light of life. And those that cling to philosophy they go to the pit of the destruction [ie, the grave].

And also I in the future will be punished for all of them. And I did not write you this before this time, in order that if you would be angry at me and you would do me evil, I know that before this writing of mine will arrive to you I will already be dead – lying in the earth. And Peace from your teacher Aristotle – that goes to house of his world. to Alexander the great king.

People have asked how can one be sure that this is an authentic letter? There are many supports to its authenticity cited in the Shalshelet Hakabala. The dates of Aristotle’s and Alexander’s existence coincide with the existence of Shimon HaTzadik (Simon the Just). The lengths of their lives are accurate. There are other sources that say that Aristotle ultimately became a righteous convert to Judaism. Also the Rabbis that brought this letter in their books were tremendously scrupulous in speaking the truth – they would be even more careful in writing the truth. The style of Aristotle is similar to his other works.

One might pose a question – Can this be a true letter if at the end of the letter Aristotle says he is about to pass away – this implies that Aristotle died before Alexander? Alexander died 1 – 2 years before Aristotle? This is easily dismissed by saying perhaps Aristotle thought he was going to die and was healed or lived a little longer than the doctors predicted. Or perhaps Aristotle said this so that he would not be pursued by Alexander. Or perhaps he wrote the letter while sick to Alexander and then Alexander died abruptly. [Alexander was finally poisoned to death].

Alexander died when Aristotle was about 60. This means that Aristotle must have written the letter before that time (assuming he received the news of Alexander’s death occurred relatively quickly). This means that Aristotle was aware of the truth of the Torah for at least the last 2 years of his life. It is likely that after having accepting the Torah’s truth, he followed the seven Noahide laws (Sheva Mitzvot Bnai Noach) from the Torah incumbent upon all gentiles, before he converted to Judaism. There are many Jewish sources that cite Aristotle. Shalshelet HaKabala writes that he ultimately became a righteous convert to Judaism.

Existence and Links to these letters were once posted on Wikipedia. After being posted, someone quickly censured the information. The letters are translated from the Hebrew books mentioned above.