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October 29, 2007



doesn't it depend on the kind of person we are talking about?

a Rambamist who lives a Halachic-Man lifestyle could find the world around him spiritually full.. couldn't he?

I'm asking because the black and white world of the pashtan doesn't speak to me exactly, but I know people who live in it..


People live in deserts, do they not?

The most charitable way to respond to your point is to say that there are high souls who can draw sustenance out of relatively less elevated matters. As a great mashgiach once told me decdes ago, there are people who are so spitually attuned that they can suffice with "my tefillin should be black and my tsitsis should be long", but for most of us more revelation is needed.
By the way, I saw a similar thought in Tolstoy's Resurrection. Go figure!


To me angles and demons have always seemed like the anathema of G-d. To me a higher being must non-coperal and eternal. Angels and deamons just get in the way.

But it's a good point. For many people g-d is as close as the demons and angles that walk about. Still I have a hard time with the idea that an almighty being needs helpers.



ummm then why are we here?


We have the power to choose between good and evil. God wants us to do good; perhaps even some outcomes cannot occur unless we do good (thus God "needs" us in order to reach these outcomes).* Angels and demons have no free will, and no such interest from God.

*One must be aware of the danger of concluding that God worships you rather than vice versa. Which is an issue with certain religious approaches, especially those found within the chassidic movement.


Avakesh: are you saying that since many people do not succeed in resisting idolatry, we might as well accept it as a legitimate part of our religion?


"There are people who don't like superstitions. As they see it, beliefs in amulets, demons, angels, segulos, saints and the power of spoken word to affect reality detracts from God's omnipotence."

You are lumping together various things. Not all of them are the same. Some could be in the category of superstition while others are not.

Also, in some of the categories, e.g. amulets, segulos and saints, there may be genuine manifestations that are acceptable, but there are also fraudulent ones. Giving a wholesale, enthusiastic and undiscriminating endorsement to them is dangerous and misleading.

I highly recommend the sefer of Rav Yaakov Hillel shlit"a (English translation is called 'Faith and Folly') which warns against certain phony and dangerous people posing as saints and kabbalists who peddle phony and dangerous amulets, segulos, etc.

Also, your negative words about the derech of the holy Rambam zt"l go too far and are out of line. You can question the religiosity of some who claim to follow him (though they may not actually be fully doing so), but, if you are doing that, you should put to similar scrutiny those who have gotten messed up while following the other derech that you advocate. It has many victims itself.


Thank you. for giving me teh opportunity to correct the misimpression that my words are directed against Hanesher Hagodol, Rambam. I am not even bar hachi to echoe the many criticisms of Rambam's approach throughout the ages. Rambam was needed at his time. However, in our day and age the desperate attempt to hold on to an outmoded Aristotelean worldview is a desperate attempt to hold on to rationality in an irrational world.

How do you enter the world of mysticism and feeling without losing the intellect. Good question! The two are in tension. I don't know.

As far as R. Hillel, there are similar notions in Steipler's karaina d'igarta. Most of his book is straightforward halacha.

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