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December 2, 2016 / 2 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘punishment’

Soul Talk – Forget About Reward and Punishment: The Path of True Empowerment [audio]

Monday, September 5th, 2016

There are certain basic life concepts that we think we understand, but in reality need to be updated from time to time. The Torah’s concept of Reward and Punishment can be easily misunderstood if we are still thinking about these concepts as we did when a child.

What does it mean that G-d rewards and punishes us? How does our understanding of these concepts effect our understanding of G-d? How does the proper understanding of these concepts have a practical effect on my day to day life?

Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel on Soul Talk where you will get a better understanding of the central concept of reward and punishment.

We would love to hear from you. Please send us your thoughts and questions to soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Soul Talk 04Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

The Reason These Boys Were Kidnapped Is…

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Here we go again. Once again we are beginning to hear ‘the reason’ for a tragedy. In this case the kidnapping of three Yeshiva students in Israel about 10 ten days ago.  What is that reason? It is Divine punishment, of course.

For what, you ask? Well that depends on who you are talking to. If you are Charedi, then the reason is because of the new law drafting Charedim.  If you are a Religious Zionist, it is anti religious legislation and the willingness of Israel to give up parts of Eretz Yisroel for peace. I’m surprised no one has raised the Tznius issue as a reason yet.

Looking for a spiritual cause of a tragedy is a time honored tradition in Judaism. As God’s chosen people, we are told that whenever there is a great tragedy in the world, in addition to the reasons that specifically apply to them, God also intends His people to get a message out of it. Legend has it that when the Chofetz Chaim heard that there was a devastating earthquake in Japan where many people died, he sought a message out of that for the Jewish people.

But  today, it seems that this kind of thinking has been taken to a new level. Now, when just about anything goes wrong blame is placed on an agenda being thwarted.  There is never any thought that there might be other spiritual reasons. It is always the issue of the day that is focused upon. So that when tragedy befalls the Jewish people – well that is God being upset that our agenda has been thwarted.  Which is then used as ‘proof’ of the rectitude of that agenda.

I’m reminded of the recent meeting in Lakewood that addressed a rash of accidents in that area. The culprit? Long wigs. God was sending us a message about that by hurting innocent people in accidents. Women were told that if they shorten their wigs, all would improve. And sure enough – on cue, the very next week the claim was made (falsely as it turns out) that there were no serious accidents that week.

Segulos work the same way. It is an appeal to those in need by offering a spiritual solution in exchange for a contribution of a specific amount of money. Tzedaka organizations have been using Segulos to increase charitable contributions for years now. You want spiritual help for your problem? Give us your money and will perform this great Segula for you. Bnei Brak’s Kupat Ha’ir is notorious for doing things like that. They made such a pitch just before Shevuos, advertising widely across all the religious media.

To me all these Segula ads are one big fraud. And though fraud is not the intent of blaming a tragedy on a thwarted agenda, it is equally erroneous to make that claim. There are no Nevi’im today. Prophecy is gone. We cannot know why God allowed a tragedy to happen. To presume you know or to even suggest that it is likely – is the height of arrogance to me.That different groups use their own agendas as the ones being thwarted proves it. It is no different that trying to explain the reasons for the Holocaust as some do.

We have no clue what the spiritual reasons are for any tragedy, either today or yesterday in the post prophesy era. All we can ever really know is the physical reality of what happened. Speculating about Godly reasons in our case can only add pain to those  most suffering from the ordeal: the kidnap victims and their families.  In essence what we are telling them is that even though those 3 teens were completely innocent of having any part in thwarting an agenda, God decided to send that message by making them suffer. How incredibly cruel  and self serving it is to do that.

Harry Maryles

Torture

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Why do we inflict torture on each other so much? We have been doing it from the earliest of times. In Syria rival groups are inflicting the most indescribable and barbaric pain on each other (and let us not forget that Assad’s sub-humans started torturing and castrating children). If the reason for this cruelty were to try to get information that might lead to saving lives, this might arguably leave some room for mitigation. But all I see is primitive sadism and barbarism regardless of what the victims themselves may have inflicted on others. I am completely opposed to any torture. It says something very disturbing about those who inflict it.

Torture is not just the inflicting of pain. We can do that to ourselves in the gym. Military training often forces recruits to undergo deprivation and pain. Endurance athletes willingly drive themselves to suffer. Some sports, such as boxing and extreme fighting, are calculated to cause pain. What we mean by torture is the intentional inflicting of pain by one human on another simply out of sadism or because a state or power has authorized it. There is a nuance. Torture that will inevitably lead to death where there is nothing one can do to stop or reduce the suffering as opposed to torture that might be ended if certain goals are achieved. But they are both evil.

In the ancient times, if you conquered a king or tribe, inflicting pain was both an incentive for victory and an expression of superiority. It gave the victors total control over the vanquished. The more pain you inflicted the happier were your gods. I won’t go into the psychological pathology of this sort of cruelty. Sometimes it was payback for resisting and avenging your own losses. But the most common aim of such torture (other than human sadism, something that has been replicated in recent scientific experiments) was to so terrorize one’s opponents that they would capitulate without a fight. Romans impaled, and left to agonizing and prolonged death, hundreds of thousands of their captives in order to discourage revolt. Genghis Khan inflicted incredible agony on conquered cities to deter others from resisting. There was no escape, nothing one could do to stop the long, drawn-out agony.

Medieval monarchs would hang traitors, then while they were still alive, take them down and castrate them. Then slice open their torsos and pull out their organs for public display. King Edward I, who expelled the Jews, was very keen on hanging, drawing, and quartering. Perhaps there is a connection between being an anti-Semite and being a sadist! They were still burning traitors in the early nineteenth century in England. Twenty thousand spectators witnessed the last one. Impose a terrible death on traitors and others will be less likely to try. That’s what Germans under Hitler did, as well as every other hell associated with that infamous era.

Just as barbaric was the torture used as part of the judicial process. If a suspected criminal survived a ducking in the river or having his body pierced or mangled, this would prove he was in either forgiven by God or in league with the devil. While if he died that was atonement or punishment. You could not win. There is a recognizable change in a victim’s state when he knows he will die regardless. Judicial torture was only banned in England and the USA towards the end of seventeenth century. Confessions achieved through torture were, and sadly still are, often accepted throughout the so-called civilized world, although the methods are slightly less gruesome and less visibly degrading. But that’s not because we humans are any less cruel. Just that we fear public exposure. Gangsters, dictators, and ordinary evil people who feel themselves above or beyond the law continue, around the world, to torture to death thousands of ordinary human beings each year.

I suspect the survival of torture for so long owes as much to the Church as to human nature. Early Christians were tortured by the Romans to such an extent it seems they thought it only fair to do the same to their own theological enemies. The “Holy” Inquisition thought torture would eradicate its own heretics. As a sideline, it might encourage someone to convert to Christianity. Torture persists in some because they were founded on the belief not only that they are the possessors of the sole truth, but also that they had a mission to force it on everyone else if they could. Why is it that before they slash and kill, Muslim fanatics yell out “Allahu Akbar”, implying it is the will of their God? I guess if you think nonbelievers will burn in hell forever, aren’t you doing them a favor if a quick burn now or a slit throat is nothing in comparison?

Jeremy Rosen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/torture/2013/08/11/

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