All of our wisdom is like naught —  for our greatest of sages cannot be regarded as anything other than a disciple of the disciples of former generations… Rather, we must recognize that our understanding is superficial, that our minds are extremely weak, that ignorance is widespread among us, that error is multiplying, and that the knowledge that we do possess is miniscule.”

Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzato, The Path of the Just, Ch. 22

Quote  —  Posted: December 2, 2016 in Mussar (Ethics)
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The matter of the controversy between the Academy of Hillel and the Academy of Shamai was a difficult matter for Israel, because of the great controversy that persisted between them. Ultimately, it was concluded that the halachah (law) would follow the opinion of the Academy of Hillel always. Therefore, that this conclusion should remain in full force forever and ever, and should not weaken under any circumstances, is the upkeep of the Torah, so that the Torah should not be made into two separate Torahs. Therefore… it is more pious to hold like the Academy of Hillel, even when this constitutes a leniency, rather than to act stringently like the Academy of Shamai. This principle should be as eyes for us to see upon which path dwells the light in truth and faithfulness to do that which is right in the eyes of God.”

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, The Path of the Just, Ch. 20

Quote  —  Posted: November 24, 2016 in Halachah (Jewish Law), Halachah/Jewish Law, History, Mussar (Ethics), Talmud
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This is a continuation of a previous post See there for the first part of this discussion.
PERSON: thank you for such a long reply but i cant agree with you at all…. the King of Tyre IS NOT a mortal man, the king of Tyre is the Nachash that tempted Eve in Eden.
ME: Please support that statement with a passage from Scripture. We are interested in the word of God, not men’s opinions.
PERSON: wow you hypocrite… i just gave you scripture where the king of Tyre is called a cherub twice… it is you who has given mans opinion and said the scripture must be metaphor… you calling the scripture metaphor is your opinion buddy.
Nachash = bright shining.
The king of Tyre is bright in looks and stones.
both where cut down to the ground.
is clear if you open your eyes.
ME: Name-calling hardly makes for good debate etiquette, and doesn’t serve to bolster your point. Scripture says King of Tyre. Not Satan, not even “nachash.” Nachash does not mean “bright shining.” It means “serpent.” Scripture is full of metaphor, particularly the writings of the later prophets. Regarding the serpent, Scripture states: “upon thy belly shalt thou go” (Genesis 3:14). Regarding the King of Tyre Scripture states: “I will cast thee to the ground.” The terminology is not the same, and even if it were, does this mean they are the same individual? Hardly. Many were cast to the ground. Are they all the serpent? Furthermore, the serpent was already cast to the ground. If so, why would God tell Ezekiel to prophecy to the serpent that this will yet happen? Furthermore, if the passage in Ezekiel does not refer to a mortal king, why does Ezekiel have to go tell Satan this? Why can’t God tell Satan himself, since Satan is an angel? Furthermore, if Ezekiel is to tell Satan that he will fall, this implies he has not yet fallen. So Satan was not a fallen angel until after this prophecy was said? This simply does not compute.
PERSON: Ezekiel 28 says the king of Tyre was in Eden. YES or NO?
The Hebrew term “nachash” can mean serpent, but it can also mean “shiny one”. Who is the…
HA-NACHASH.BLOGSPOT.COM
ME: Yes, it says the King of Tyre was in Eden. But the King of Tyre was NOT physically in Eden; rather metaphorically so, as the verse goes on to describe how his condition was paradise-like, full of precious stones and musical instruments. What you are missing is an understanding of Hebrew euphemistic language. In Hebrew, TO THIS DAY, a person would say, “I am in GAN EDEN (the Garden of Eden),” to express that they are extremely content, as though in paradise. It is similar to the English euphemism, “I am in Heaven right now!” meaning, “I am experiencing abundant contentment.” That is the metaphoric language that is being used here. It’s quite simple. Even if the King of Tyre WAS LITERALLY IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, that doesn’t mean he is synonymous with the serpent. NOWHERE is the serpent described as covered in precious stones, or having musical instruments, as the King of Tyre is described here. The description DOES NOT FIT with the serpent. The serpent was not “anointed.” Kings are anointed, not angels. Your interpretation is contradicted even internally by the narrative, aside from the fact that it is not supported in any way. With all due respect.
PERSON: i think you need to look up the meening of Nachash, with all due respect… if you understood nachash you would understand why it is literal and why the description fits… you just need a better understanding of hebrew that is all.
ME: As far as the blog post above, it says: “The Hebrew term ‘nachash’ can mean serpent, but it can also mean shiny one’. ” This is simply false. I know of no context in which the term nachash means “shiny.” The word in the verse quoted there for “fiery serpent” is “saraph,” not “nachash” anyhow. “Saraph” is a Hebrew word indicating “burning.” And “fiery” is still distinct from “shiny.” The serpent image that Moshe fashions in the next verse is called “Nechash hNechosheth” or “Copper Serpent.” “Nechosheth,” a related word to “Nachash,” means “copper.” Copper may be shiny, but so are a lot of substances. “Copper” does not mean “shiny.” In any case, none of those words are used in the context of Ezekiel 28, so there is no relationship to speak of in the text. You would do well not to rely on shoddy Internet sites for your information about the word of God. As I suggested above, learn Hebrew, study from a Hebrew scholar, or get your hands on a scholarly Jewish translation like the ones I mentioned above.
PERSON: the king of Tyre was literaly in Eden, the king of Tyre was literaly a cherub, the king of Tyre is literaly a sinner…. read it again and pray about it. QUOTE “Tyre was a nation of master craftsmen who aided King Solomon in the construction of the Holy Temple”
free masons are a group of stone masons (craftsmen) who seek the light of lucifer (satan) (king of Tyre), freemasonry starts with hyram abiff,according to the “testament of Solomon” the holy temple was built by demons.
the king of Tyre is lucifer the light of the illuminarti and free masons… ITS SO CLEAR !
ME: The Testament of Solomon is not one of our books.
Oh, and your remark, regarding my understanding of Hebrew, or lack thereof, is just silly. I come from a Hebrew-speaking upbringing. I’ve been studying the Bible in Hebrew since I learned to read Hebrew at age 6.
Let’s return to Ezekiel 28. Perhaps it would make the context clearer to you to return to the beginning of the chapter. God tells Ezekiel to address the ruler of Tyre, called נְגִיד (“negid”) in Hebrew (verse 2). This is the same person addressed later in the chapter, in the passage you quoted, there specifically called King of Tyre. Unfortunately, the King James misleadingly translates “negid” as “prince,” which in English connotes the son of the king. This is not the connotation of the Hebrew word “negid,” which implies a ruler of any sort. The ruler (i.e. king) of Tyre is castigated for considering himself a god, saying, “yet thou art a man.” He is again called a man in verse 9, though the King James translation again messes with the Hebrew by translating in the future tense “thou shalt be man,” where the Hebrew is וְאַתָּה אָדָם (“v’atah adam”), meaning “and you ARE a man.” God is speaking to a man, not an angel. Furthermore, his punishment is to come by men (verses 7-8): “Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.” How could mortal men destroy a spiritual entity with physical weapons? What you are doing is called “eisegesis,” as I mentioned earlier. That is, you have a preconceived theology which you are imposing upon the text, rather than drawing meaning from the text itself IN CONTEXT. And without a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and its vernacular, you are absolutely lost in this regard. Zechariah 8:23: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of ALL THE LANGUAGES OF THE NATIONS, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” I wish you well.

Someone posted this in a Facebook group called “Study of Judaism”:

i am wanting to share my research on Satan ! it is common for me to be told that Satan has not fallen, that angels are like robots and cant sin !

if you have been taught that angels cant sin from your rabbi then ask your rabbi to explain Ezekiel 28

Ezekiel 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee

My response:

The passage you quote is not talking about Satan. It is a mistake to use a King James Bible to try to understand the word of God, because the translation does not convey the depth and nuance of the original Hebrew Scriptures. Your translation is altogether arguable, but to keep the discussion simple, I will do my best to explain the passage even according to your translation. In context, this message is directed at the King of Tyre. Verse 12: “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him.” Tyre was a nation of master craftsmen who aided King Solomon in the construction of the Holy Temple (see I Kings). Verse 13: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering…” This metaphorical language conveys that Tyre was equipped with every precious stone, as though in Eden, and they used these stones in their extravagant construction and craftsmanship. “…the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” In music as well, the nation of Tyre excelled. Since it was part of their national fabric, this aptitude is described in terms of Tyre having been “created,” or destined, to have this character. Verse 15: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…” The King of Tyre, because of his lofty rank, is likened to a cherub (or angel) that spreads its wings to cover (like the cherubs over the Ark of the Covenant), because the king rules over and protects his kingdom. “…thou wast upon the holy mountain of God…” As mentioned above, the King of Tyre aided Solomon in the construction of the Holy Temple on the mountain of God. “…thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” This could refer simply to sparkling gems as above, or metaphorically to the spiritual nation of Israel. Verses 15-16: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned…” The King of Tyre was originally meritorious, but later sinned. “Violence” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “hamas” which means “robbery” (though for our purposes this does not make a great difference). There was robbery in his nation because of the greed generated by great wealth, and the king did not properly protect his subjects, as was his duty as the “covering cherub.” “…therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God…” The original merit mentioned above, that is, the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem upon the mountain of G-d, will no longer be remembered for him. Because… Verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness…” He became haughty in his own grandeur, and did not remember the true responsibility for which God set him as king, that is, to do justice for and to protect those under his rule, as a “covering cherub.” “…I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee…” Therefore, rather than behold the beauty for which the King of Tyre held himself high, his enemies will behold him in his downfall. The Scripture is CLEAR that this is a message for the King of Tyre, a mortal man, and has nothing to do with Satan. The language of Eden and cherubs in this context is therefore METAPHORICAL. Suggestions: (1) Read passages IN CONTEXT, using exegesis to understand Scripture, rather than eisegesis. (2) Dump the King James translation (or any Christian translation for that matter) and learn to read and understand the original language of the text. At the very least, find a teacher who can, or use a scholarly Jewish translation (such as Artscroll or The Living Torah / The Living Nach). All the best, brother!

Mesilath Yesharim (The Path of the Just), ch. 19:

And Elijah said (I Kings 19:10): ‘I have been exceedingly zealous for the Lord of Hosts…’ We have already seen what reward he received for his zealousness on behalf of his God, as is stated (Numbers 25:13): ‘Because he acted zealously on behalf of his God and atoned for the Children of Israel.’

Many sacred objects in Jewish tradition are described by Scripture or in Oral Tradition as being composed of sapphire stone. Some examples: the Throne of Glory (God’s “throne”), the Two Tablets of the Covenant, Moses’ staff.

For things such as the Throne of Glory, we can be certain the description of sapphire stone is meant figuratively, or merely in a comparative fashion, but as for the other items, whether this is meant literally or figuratively is a question for a separate discussion.

That notwithstanding, what makes the sapphire stone so special that it is the substance of choice for these sacred objects?

I had always surmised it is because of the stone’s color — it is blue, like the sky, which reminds us of the heavens generally, so its color is related to things of holiness.

However, I have discovered a new quality of sapphire which may also relate to its selection as the substance of choice for objects of supernatural origin. Here is an excerpt from Introduction to Geology by Robert Bakewell (p. 35):

Though alumine or pure clay communicates a soft quality to most stones of which it forms a principal constituent part, a very remarkable exception to this is offered in adamantine spar and the sapphire, which nearly equal the diamond in hardness. Klaproth, one of the most laborious and eminent chemists of the present age, has analysed these stones : the former contains 90 parts in the 100 of pure clay ; the latter 95 parts in the same quantity. ‘What a high degree of cohesive power (he observes) must nature command, to be able to transform such a common substance as clay (aluminous earth) into a body so eminently distinguished and ennobled as the sapphire by its hardness, brilliancy, and its resistance to the action of fire, of acids, or the effects of all-destroying time!’

So aside from its “heavenly” color, the sapphire is distinguished in that it is composed 95% of clay, a soft substance, yet despite this, is among the hardest, most durable substances on earth, rivaling the diamond! This while clay usually makes a substance softer! So sapphire, then, is a substance that in a way appears to defy the normal laws of nature. In this way, sapphire is an almost “supernatural” substance. (While I’m sure there is a naturalistic chemical explanation for this phenomenon, I merely mean to remark on the surprising quality of sapphire in this regard, giving the initial impression of an inexplicable, transcendental quality.) It makes sense then, that this substance is an appropriate choice for supernatural objects.

It also carries a profound lesson that even the most mundane and profane substances (clay) can be transformed into something extremely lofty and pristine. It is even more significant that man himself is described in Scripture as having been formed from the clay of the earth, and fashioned into a spiritual being with the introduction of a divine soul. This is very much analogous to the sapphire. I believe we have discovered something very deep and profound here.

May we merit to refine ourselves such that we, like the sapphire, transform our mundane bodies into pristine spiritual vehicles!

The virtue of piety also requires that one should not cause any creature to suffer, even animals, and should show mercy and compassion toward them. Similarly, it says (Proverbs 12:10): ‘The righteous man knows the soul of his beast.’ And there are those who are of the opinion that ‘causing an animal to suffer is a prohibition of the Torah’ (Shabbos 128B). And at the very least it is a Rabbinic enactment.

-Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, The Path of the Just, Ch. 19

Quote  —  Posted: October 9, 2016 in Halachah (Jewish Law), Halachah/Jewish Law, Mussar (Ethics), Talmud, Tanach, Torah
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