Volume 45 Number 66
                    Produced: Sun Nov 14 23:40:20 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

The Kabbalah of Kosher and Treif
         [Stan Tenen]
Late to Shul
         [Ira Bauman]
Lateness to Shul
         [Tzvi Stein]
Women Getting Called up For Aliyos
         [Wayne Feder]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 09:43:47 -0500
Subject: The Kabbalah of Kosher and Treif

There are different categories that distinguish kosher from treif. One
category, of course, comes from direct statements in Torah. This
discussion does not concern these direct, explicit injunctions.

Another category is more general. Aside from the explicit injunctions,
what is the general principle behind kashrut?

Kabbalistic perspectives are helpful here.

 From the Kabbalistic perspective, God's greatest gift is the free will
we attain -- ironically (yet logically) by mis-action -- in Gan
Eden. Free will is the currency of our existence. The full
implementation of free will, including introspection, is what
distinguishes us from most creatures -- but not entirely from all

All creatures, of course, are either animals or plants. Animals (who are
"animate", which is why we call them animals) move around; plants stay
in one place. (I'm speaking generally here. There are plants that can be
said to move, and there are animals that stay in fixed positions --
barnacles on rocks, for example.)

All creatures -- animals, plants, and ourselves included -- owe their
existence, and their ability to make choices, conscious or not, to the
continuous flow of God's Will that sustains us all. There are references
to this in the work by the noted 17th century Kabbalist Shabbetai
Sheftel Horowitz, "Shefa Tal" ("Abundance of Dew"). Each drop of "dew"
is metaphorically a unit of conscious volition that we can "spend" by
the choices of make.

One of the standard explanations for why it's okay to eat kosher meat
(even though this kills the animal) is that we are somehow "elevating"
the life force, sparks of life, whatever, in the animal by consuming it,
and using its life-energy to enable us to make more conscious "higher"
and "better" choices, which the animal couldn't make for itself. This,
in a sense, redeems the increments of life-force that we use to make our

Some mathematical philosophers have proposed (and defended) the idea
that conscious choice comes in units (sometimes compared to quanta of
light -- not precisely, but metaphorically and for good reason). I
remember reading an essay in B'Or HaTorah, attributed to the Lubavicher
Rebbe zt''l, which compared the flow of God's Will to the flow of
water. Thus, as "living containers", when we stand upright, we catch
more flow, and when we're bent over, we don't. (The idea is that the
righteous are "upright", and thus catch more flow than those who are
lying on their sides -- which is a metaphor for not being quite so
upright, and open to the reception of God's living energy -- which,
metaphorically, comes from "above".)

As we learn and grow, we learn to make the best possible use of the
increments of free will that we receive continuously from God. Each
choice we fail to make, squanders an opportunity to make a good choice,
and each choice we make, uses up an increment of the free will that we
get from God.  Thus, the currency of free will has to be replenished.

Every time an animal makes a choice, it also uses up an increment of
free will. Thus, animals that make choices don't leave us with any free
will to get from them, or to elevate for them. Predators (treif) make
conscious choices, scheme, and plan, all the time. They need to do this,
and when they do this, they use up their free will. Herd animals do not
make similar choices. They graze on anything underfoot or nearby.

Thus, herd animals that are not predators, when we eat them (and when
they do not die in fear) provide us with their increments of free will,
which they did not use up themselves. Predators are treif ("treif" means
"prey") because, having used up their free will making their own
life-survival choices, they have none for us to consume.

This is why we can gain physical energy from eating any animal, but why
we can only gain the energy (or, more precisely, the negentropy --
order-giving information/"light") for spiritual growth, free will, and
choice, from animals that are not predators, but rather, grazers that
don't use up (all of) their volition.

With regard to insects, we don't eat them as kosher sustenance, because
they don't carry any individual free will. Their free will is in the
swarm -- if anywhere. This is why there are references in the kosher
laws to "swarming" creatures. We make an exception for certain
locust-like insects that swarm. The details, of course, are not covered
by the general principle I'm talking about here.

Likewise with sea creatures. Those with fins and scales tend to be
"grazers". Many sea creatures that do not have fins and scales, like the
cetacea and the octopi and squid, are intelligent creatures that seek
prey, and make life-sustaining choices for themselves. They are totally
unlike the friendly goldfish in the bowl on our desk, that circles the
same small tank, never noticing it's the same small tank. Others are
more insect-like, and don't carry any "free will" that we can gain by
eating them.)

Plants don't make choices that involve moving around, and rarely reach
out or seek their own sustenance. It comes to them without thought, and
is retained because the plant makes no choices that would use up the
"energy of choice" (negentropy) that we, and they, continuously receive.

I'm pretty sure that what I've written here is generally unknown, and
rarely considered. I'm certain that what I've written is not going to
satisfy people with regard to explicit foods. This is a general model,
linking the most important quality we have -- our free will -- with our
choice of what we eat. (Please don't make kashrut choices based on what
I've written here!)

My point in submitting this discussion for posting on mail-jewish is
also related to the discussion of whether, and how, halacha might
change. Of course, halacha doesn't change -- just our understanding of
it. And while I'm certain (from sad past experience) that some readers
of mail-jewish do not accept the principle, and in fact find it
heretical, the fact is that halacha descends from kabbalah. Kabbalah, in
turn, descends from our priestly tradition (sans the Temple). This is
the primary reason why IN OUR TIME it is not possible to change our
understanding of halacha. Unless and until we regain the Kabbalistic
roots of Torah (the priestly understanding, which itself forms the
Temple that we seek to rebuild), there can be no significant change --
because we don't have the authority, and do not understand the
principles that would be required to do so responsibly and in a
Torah-true way.

We will be able to understand the halacha of kashrut with sufficient
depth and precision to gain new perspectives (and thus new opportunities
for inclusion of more of Am Israel) after we have regained mastery of
Kabbalah, and have thus accessed the priestly knowledge of the Temple,
Temple service, et al. In fact, in my opinion, regaining this knowledge
is not only tantamount to rebuilding the Temple, it is in fact the means
by which the opportunity to rebuild the Temple comes about, and thus
this knowledge is itself the means by which the actual rebuilding of the
Temple comes about.

For more on the idea of free will coming in increments, and for
comparisons with the features of light (wave -- "water-like", and
particle -- "decision-like"), it is worth reading what physicist Roger
Penrose has to say about the source of negentropy that enables plants
and animals to grow, and to compare this discussion in modern physics
with the discussion in Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah in Tanya. It is also
worth becoming familiar with Rav Horowitz's "Shefa Tal."

For the (mathematical/philosophical) connection between quanta of light
and quanta of volitional choice, have a look at the work of
mathematician Arthur M. Young -- in particular, in his book "The
Reflexive Universe".  (Young, until his passing about 10 years ago,
supported much of the research I'm doing via his Institute for the Study
of Consciousness in Berkeley, and I'm indebted to him for some of the
technical ideas I use.)  Young, of course, knew nothing about Judaism,
so his input can serve as an independent and objective confirmation --
in modern language -- of our traditional teachings.

It's all about free will and good, life-giving, life-sustaining,
Torah-building choices.

We come into our volitional free will in Gan Eden, when we disobey.
Disobedience is the first act that betrays conscious choice. (Young goes
into this also. We know our child is listening when it first says -- or
gestures -- "No!". Acquiescence does not betray conscious choice.)
Through our life, we learn to gradually reduce our ego. In Pardes, we
let go of all of our ego, and return to Gan Eden, which is why Pardes
and Gan Eden are identified with each other -- and why Ramban, in his
famous disputation with Pablo Christiani under James I of Aragon, tells
us that Moshiach is waiting in Gan Eden.



From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 16:27:41 EST
Subject: Late to Shul

Sharing Martin's Germanic ancestry, I too find chronic lateness to shul
and everyplace else to be objectionable.  However, I see 2 aspects of

1. As an observer of this phenomenom, I have to teach myself to be
tolerant.  They may have come from a family or culture that didn't value
punctuality as did mine.  There may be mitigating factors.  Even if
there weren't, I still have to accept and love my fellow Jew as he is,
as long as his malfeasances remain rather trivial.

2. From the point of view of the chronic latecomer, I have to ask,
"Doesn't anyone blush anymore?"  When a community as a whole has
established certain standards in Torah observance and zehirut
(carefulness), what goes through the mind of one who publicly flaunts
the community's standards?  This could apply in many areas (immodest
dress, one's appearance on the sabbath, talking in shul).  If I
overslept and came very late to minyan, my face would be red with
embarassment.  Maybe that's just me, but why don't I see it in some
others?  It's a conundrum.  When the second point becomes too
frustrating, I then have to revert to point number 1.

Ira Bauman


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 16:52:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Lateness to Shul

I was floored to read the post, whose author felt that he comes to shul
on time, he begrudged those who came late, because he is "subsidizing"
their davening (presumably because the latecomers get the benefit of a
minyan despite not "contributing" to the minyan by being on time).  This
is an attitude that borders on "midas S'dom".  Would this poster also
begrudge their Shabbos guests because they are "subsidizing" their meal?
I was equally taken aback by the suggestion that the rabbi should rebuke
the "behavior" of people that come late.  I have no doubt that if this
"policy" is implemented it will lead to further losses to the frum

This whole exchange makes me exceedingly grateful that I've found the
shul that I belong to.  Just by way of contrast, we have people coming
in on a Shabbos throughout the whole davening, even after Krias HaTorah.
Some people seem to have as their goal getting to shul in time for the
Rabbi's drasha (which follows the Haftorah).  Unfailingly, whenever
someone comes in, no matter when, someone else will smile at them, shake
hands, or otherwise make them feel welcome, whether they're a complete
stranger or a long-time member, whether they're coming in 10 minutes
before the start of davening or 10 minutes before the end.  I've seen
the rabbi himself get up from his chair on numerous occasions to warmly
greet someone walking in during Krias HaTorah.  I think it's safe to say
that many of the people in our shul would not be frum, or would be
barely frum, if their only option was a shul that had a policy of
rebuking latecomers or that exuded a disdain for them.

Also, someone mentioned that Shabbos davening is often the only link a
person has with Judaism.  This is definitely true, and I'm *not* talking
about "conservadox" people that drive to shul, or beginning baalei
tshuva.  I'm talking about people who, if you looked at them, you would
assume are quite "yeshivish", but for whatever reason are actually quite
on the "margins" of frumkeit and in many ways just as "at risk" as the
fabled "teens", even though they may be in their 30s or 40s.  These are
men with families who we very much need to keep in the fold for their
own sake as well as that of their families and our community.  Looking
askance at them when they walk into shul late is guaranteed to do the
exact opposite of that.


From: Wayne Feder <federfamily@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 23:13:48 -0500
Subject: Women Getting Called up For Aliyos

Well as I am now in the middle of meseches Megillah on 23a the famous
topic of women being called up and in fact having a chiyuv [obligation]
to read the torah. I just wanted to hear from the group any place where
I can look up, look into or at that would give a comprehensive view of
this topic.


Wayne Feder


End of Volume 45 Issue 66