Yisodei HaTorah (9)
You cannot add or take away from (diminish or lesson) a mitzvah. There are mitzvot which we would like to make greater, such as the Mitzvah of Shabbat. The more stringent I can be, the better I look in the frum community. But you have to be smooth. You cannot add another milacha. Adding another thing that you cannot do on Shabbat is not that smooth, and it can get people to hate you, like me. And even more, there are mitzvoth that many would like to detract from, because they are apikorsim, and they don’t understand the importance of pain.
Other psukim about how the Torah is revealed to us, a law forever, and how it is not in the heavens- but on earth (if you are living in a community with a sisterhood that cares enough to put out a decent kiddush), is all there to teach us that a Navi (prophet) cannot come up with new ideas. He cannot come and say that he is adding or taking away a mitzvah. He can’t give a different meaning for a Mitzvah, then what Moshe taught. At this point, I find it important to state that I am not a Navi, and a lot of what is written in my commentary might be wrong. I do not want to be strangled. He also can’t say, ‘That mitzvah was for that time period.’ Oh, how that one can make life so much more enjoyable. ‘Eating non-kosher meat was for a time when it was not clean, but right now we are passing Wendy’s.’ I am sure life would be so much more enjoyable if I could eat everywhere. Non-Jewish people are so happy. Why? Because they eat whatever they want. Muslims kept some food laws, which is why they don’t seem as happy. Look at how happy Christians are.
We as Jews are not happy unless we are connected, to our ancestors that saw Moshe, to the law Moshe passed down, to H.’ This is what we are protecting here. We are protecting this from smart passionate people. Smart people are fine. Passionate is the problem. The non-believer becomes passionate and then they start a cult. People love following these passionate people, because they have no thoughts of their own. Ad in a trick or two and you have a religion. How did he pull that rabbit out of the hat? Gd!!! We must follow him. He says we can eat rabbits. Now we don’t have to keep kosher. You see how it happens. That is what the Rambam is telling us to watch out for. Hippies who can do magic tricks.
And let us add that a prophet can command us in stuff that is permitted according to the Torah, like to move someplace, or to build a wall or go to war. If you don’t listen to the prophet, you are liable to death by H.’ This is why I always find it quite disheartening when prophets have a sense of humor. It is not even funny anymore. ‘You have a stain on your shirt.’ It gets me every time. Funny one. I have to look down. HaHa. When regular people pull that joke, I have a fighting chance.
If a government tells you to move and you don’t, they will kill you. But that has nothing to do with prophecy.
If a proven prophet says to transgress a mitzvah (which is not idol worship), for a limited amount of time, then we must listen to him, such as Elijah at Mount Carmel, who offered a sacrifice to disprove Ba’al. Now that we have no prophets, there is no chance that we are going to be able to get some kosher Wendy’s for a couple of days.
The point is that the ‘Torah is for us and our children, forever.’ Even the oral law doesn’t change. That which is the Torah, is the Torah. And that which is hard to keep, we have got to. Anybody who is trying to come in and change the truth of Moshe is a false prophet. We need a creative guy to make things fun, maybe to work with Chabad and make more booths. Maybe to work with the NaNachs and do more NaNach fire drills, where we all get out at traffic lights and dance. Maybe we have to accept that the Torah is the Torah, and what was handed to Moshe was handed to us, and that doesn’t change. Change might not be the best thing. Internet dating and texting has not helped my social life. Maybe it would be good to date the way people did back then, by talking in person.
Lesson: Anybody that argues against Moshe Rabbeinu is a false prophet. You can’t argue against that, or you die.
Yisodei HaTorah (10)
10:3- Sorcerers stuff sometimes doesn’t come true. Point is that you should save your money and not talk to anybody named ‘Madam.’
10:4- A prophet is only called a false prophet if his prophesy for good does not come true. If a negative prophesy does not come to fruition, we do not call that person a false prophet, as H’ is compassionate.
Lesson (L): If you are trying to make your way up in the world of prophets, make sure to prophesize negative stuff. You can write off the negative stuff to the fact the people did repentance, like Ninveh- which was the reason why Yona got scared. He realized that people get really mad when they don’t die. Nothing bothers people more than working real hard to not die, and then seeing that they wasted all this time doing acts of repentance for no reason.
A little Prophesy 101 for any amateur: Lesson is, do not get all cocky and go shooting for the stars with your first prophesy, going all positive. Go negative, and make sure you just tell your friends, who will still love you no matter what. Even so, when you are a prophet, you have to be willing to lose those friends, if that is what H’ wants.
10:5- Once somebody is a Navi, even if he is grandfathered in by a trusted Navi, it is forbidden to test him, as the Torah teaches (Devarim 6:15) to not test H’ like in Marah, where we asked ‘Is Gd in our midst or not?’ After we know somebody is a prophet, we know that H’ is among us.
L: Always testing the rabbis??? Once we know that somebody is not a fool, we do not have to keep on bothering him with dumb questions about what ‘I did last night…?’ and ‘can I eat my Shabbat food now?’ Stop bothering the rabbi and learn a little something yourself.
There are many different types of characters from the good hearted to the jerk, from the kind to the jerk, from the humble to the jerk.
1:3- The good way is the straight path. It is not good to be too much to the extreme of any characteristic. Those people are called ‘characters,’ because nobody wants to say anything about that guy that is negative. By saying ‘character’ nothing negative is being said, and at the same time, other people know to stay away from him.
1:4- Anybody whose traits are found to be in the middle, is called a wise-man. Why? Because he doesn’t look like an idiot. If you get angry and start yelling about the late bus, you look like an idiot. You get a reputation. If you don’t spend money- nobody likes you, and if you throw away too much- you are showing off. Again, a wise-person knows how to look good. If you laugh too much, you don’t look smart. In order to look smart, you have to make other people feel dumb, and you cannot do that unless you are laughing at the other person; that again makes you a jerk. Everybody knows that wise people do not laugh, and they wear their glasses on the tip of the nose, so it makes it easier to look down on people.
1:5-7- Rambam sees that the pasuk of ‘You shall walk in His ways’ (Devarim 28:9) to mean that we should follow the middle path. And the middle path here is H’s ways. And if we follow in this way, good stuff is supposed to happen, as this allows for H’ to give what he promised to Avraham (Bereishit 18:19).
There is piousness to bending more to one side of the scale, at times, for certain traits, like charity. But we do not trust all people to know how to use their money. Sticking up for somebody might seem like something decent to do. Even so, some of you people just don’t come out as helpful as you thought.
1:6- As H’ is merciful and compassionate, etc., we must be these things. Therefore, even if being compassionate is a little on the giving side of the chart, where the other side is beating up an annoying kid who is still small, being compassionate would somehow fall in the middle, because that would be trying to resemble H.’
1:7- How do you become good at doing the right stuff? You do it. You make a decision to not be a jerk and for that moment, you are not a jerk. Your parents ask you to help out around the house, and you now help out around the house (honoring your parents). Equation: Mitzvah=Middle Path=You are not a jerk for a moment. Keep on doing this little commandment stuff of not being a jerk, and then you get used to it, and the next thing you know, you are not a teenager anymore.
Lesson: The Rambam saying you get used to the action means that after you get out of your teenage years, you learn to not look like a fool. You get used to not getting mad when somebody asks you a question. You learn the straight path of having a conversation and opening your mouth when you talk. Through repetitive practice of dumb decisions, you realize you are wrong.
2:1- There is sickness in the way we act too.
The sickness of the soul is somebody who starts to desire to have the bad character traits. And then they start to see the good as bad. Example: You get used to enjoyment, then you start seeing enjoyment as a good thing.
The way to get past this is to go to the wise people. Rabbis will heal you by talking. They will keep on talking and at one point, you do not want to sin anymore. Once you have realized that the rabbi is going to keep on talking, and you have not been on the internet in a few hours, you realize that you want to go. That is when you have been healed.
2:2- How is he healed? If he is spiteful, he has to not respond to people calling him what he is. If he is haughty, he has to walk around with rags and sit in the non-respectful places. He can learn some humility by hanging out with me and eating at New Deli. Once they get used to not having any more pride, then they are on the right path. If you think you are a good athlete, maybe stop playing in the Jewish league, and lean the word humility.
The Rambam was a doctor and this is the medicine: If a person is too far to one side of a trait, you make them live all the way on the other side of it. If a person thinks they are a smarty-pants, you keep them home from school. This should have been my trait therapy growing up, but my parents did not want me in the house. And that is why I ended up as a I did, with a 2.6 GPA.
Lesson: Anybody with skinny jeans and a Justin Bieber haircut is ‘forgetting H.’’
2:3- Certain traits have no middle ground, such as anger and arrogance. These two seem to be the worst character traits. As such, people should do whatever they can to become humble people. Very humble, not just a little humble. As it says ‘Moseh was very humble.’ You should be humble to the point where people say, ‘That guy thinks he is all great, being all humble like that.’
There are worse traits than these. Such as somebody who thinks they have a good voice. The way to deal with that is to make sure they do not sing. As a peer, you can help by not being friends with them anymore, until they stop singing. Or you can quarantine them with other people who sing a lot of karaoke.
Now when a parent gets angry, that is OK, as long as they are not angry. You can get angry to educate and motivate. As we know, children are dumb and they cannot see through the acting of the parent while they are being abused.
2:4-5- Don’t talk about stuff, unless there is wisdom to it, or if it is necessary for life. L: Do not talk. Most of what you say is pointless. I am saying this to anybody who wants to enjoy life and needs conversation for that. Stay away from your social groups and let depression set in.
When somebody has a cold, don’t start giving them advice. ‘Hot tea and lemon and honey.’ That is not wisdom. That is what every single person has told me over the past week. ‘Rest’ ???!!! That is also not advice.
‘The way to safeguard wisdom is through silence.’ Be quiet and you look smart. You say too much and nobody is going to say ‘That is a deep person. She really knows a lot about Sarah.’
Silence is also a way to stop other people from learning. Ahh? I cannot tell you how many people should not be learning anything. A little knowledge can give people too much to talk about, and then they think they are smart. It just leads to sin.
2:6- One’s speech should be as their heart. No trickery of any sort. You shouldn’t make somebody feel special if it is really not for them. Last Valentine’s Day, I had a card and lets just say, the girl didn’t want. I could have easily given it to another girl and made the girlfriend I was dating happy. But I didn’t. Because I did not buy it for my girlfriend. That is why Jews don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.
I gave that card to myself, as there were chocolates inside and I like chocolate.
If you have a nice cask you are opening for a customer, because you need to get rid of it, and it is not for your friend. Do not say it is for your friend. Point is. Do not try to score points. If your cask is out of date and it is bad, don’t try to fool them. Let people know the uncaring individual you are.
2:7- A person should not be one who jests constantly nor depressed or the jealous wanting type, but rather somebody who greets everybody with a beautiful face. I am not saying that ugly people cannot say ‘Hello,’ but at the same time, we should not make fun of them.
It is all about when and how you laugh, and at who. It is a fine line, and I now feel like stand-up comedy could be forbidden according to the Rambam.
Even so, it is more important to not be doing any of the stuff for honor or lust or reasons of jealousy. It is these things that take a man out of this world, and it is these three things that also cause one to be an angry person, a person who talks excessively and wrong, a person who is angry at others- due to their wanting of importance, a person who is arrogant. It is these three desires which lead to the sickness of the bad character traits. It is these three desires which make it very annoying to sit with most people at a Shabbat dinner table, where you can see untalented people competing with one another for attention, because they are such great athletes, who are all the funniest, who have so much wisdom to share, with a long drawn out Dvar Torah, whose lack of wisdom is scene by the fact that s/he does not notice that there is not one person at the Shabbat table that would not rather move back into conversation than to listen to their unorganized thoughts. Wisdom would say, stop talking.
L: The good way, the straight path, the middle path, is all doing what is right even when it is not the straight or middle path. Don’t talk too much or you will come off stupid. I think the same goes for writing. Especially when a lot of what you write is not coherent.
3:1- Don’t take the whole concept of not lusting, not being jealous and not chasing honor, take you to the point of not eating meat, drinking wine, relations with a wife, or make a nice home or wearing decent clothes. L: Do not be a single vegetarian. That is forbidden. It is called relations, as once you marry your wife, you are related. I feel that clarity is important before moving on.
The one who restrains is called a sinner, as by a Nazir, the priest has to atone for his sin on his soul (Bamidbar 6:11). And the sages teach, ‘Does the Torah not forbid enough for you, that you have to forbid upon yourself other stuff?’ Is the Torah not painful enough for you? Did H’ not make your life painful enough? Were the rabbis not successful at making your life excruciatingly hard? Do you want us to make for less eating options for you?
L from the rabbis: Keeping mitzvoth is painful. We should respect them and not try adding more pain.
3:2- All this action stuff should be done to know H,’ to connect with H.’ you thought you can just do what you want? No. You can do what you want, but it has to be with the focus on connecting to H’ and being healthy. Eating is important, but it should be tasteless. Healthy. If it is not good for the body, you are not allowed to eat it. You are not a dog. Hence, you do not eat sweet stuff, even though it tastes good. I always questioned those heretics over at the Paskesz candy company. All that kosher for Pesach candy? Was it really kosher?
3:3- Even eating healthy has a catch. You thought that might be for enjoyment. The act can be a pleasure, if you put some sugar on a salad. No. You have to do that so that you can serve H.’ Sleep also has to be justified. Why sleep? So that you can be strong enough to serve H.’ Is that the answer you got? If it is, then you were correct. You don’t sleep so that you will not die, unless you are not dying so that you can serve H.’ There is no reason for you not to be sick, unless you are not being sick to know and serve H.’ You don’t serve H’ for yourself. That is not right. You serve H’ so that you can serve H.’
L: It is about knowing and serving H.’ Anything that can be fun, you have to change the concept to doing it for H.’ At that point, enjoyment takes on a whole new meaning. An amusement park can be a totally different experience when H’ is your friend sitting next to you. When H’ is sitting next to you, you always say the bracha.