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May 22, 2011

Comments

Rael Levinsohn

This is an issue that has bothered me for a long time. See this post and the response of Rabbi Simon Jacobson (http://emet.blogcity.com/chabad_theology_a_response_by_rabbi_simon_jacobson.htm).

The issue of the Rebbe being "Atzmus enclothed in a Guf" and the soul being "part of G-d", is a very confusing topic to me. The borderline between heresy and faith on this issue is very obscure.

Any comments?

L

Thanks for raising some important issues.

This is a dangerous area. Nowadays it is quite common among Haredim of various types to claim that the neshama is a chelek Elokah mimaal, which they interpret as a piece of G-d above, and they don't seem aware of any problem with that (Ignorance is bliss. The more astute among them might be more guarded.). Even some Rabbinical leaders state as much openly, and not only Lubavitchers, or Chassidim, even supposed Litvaks and other non Hassids.

Lubavitchers, or at least some of them, like radio preacher Reb Samuel Butman, commonly adamantly insist that cheilek Elokah mimaal is mamash, meaning literally, according to the first Lubavitcher Rebbe.

People think it is more frum to claim that the neshama is chas vesholom, a piece of G-d. Perhaps in their minds, They think it is good, people will appreciate their neshamos more and will be more religious. Like the ancient idolators thought, as Rambam says, that making something concrete an object of worship will make the Divine more real for people. Another aveira 'lishmah' - but this time the aveira is in the area of the big three, one of the yehareg veal yaavor types. Idolatry is frum nowadays! And we thought all idolators were shkotzim...

Orthodox Jews supposedly daven every morning and say Elokai, neshama shenasata bi tehorah hi...and they say to Hashem, ata virasa, you, HKB"H created the neshama. So we see that the neshama is a creation of Hashem, not a piece...Do people not realize what they are saying? And what about the teaching that the neshama is chatzuva mitachas kisei hakavod? Chazal say that just like HKB"H is tahor, so is the neshama tehorah. If it is, as they say, that the neshama is a literal piece, would it be necessary to say that it is tahor?

These ancient teachings about the soul are pushed aside by some relatively new theology (which they may not be interpreting properly, as you allude to from Rashab) with very serious implications, and no one even notices? Wake up Yidden!

osoavakesh

Thank you for the comments. I continue to look for a solution, which may lie along the lines of the moshol of a candle that possesses the same fire but it is removed from the source. That is a distinction that makes a difference but I still need to think about it more.

What is needed is a distinction that makes the soul a part of Divine but not Divine.

Chabad chassidus certainly has the wealth and conceptual resources in its literature to deal with this problem but so far I do not see that they have. I think their thinkers eventually will.

BTW, someone emailed me that the same concept of Chelek Eloka Mimaal is found in Reishis Chochma but I could not find it in the place he provided. He said it is brought in commentaries to Tanya Ch. 2.

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