bogosityRabbi Yonah, the Rabbi of Long Beach Hillel, started off as a client but is now one of the few people I enjoy randomly chatting with. He’s cool and funny and all the stuff a good Rabbi should be. Recently I came across an article about a Jewish Buddhist in Forward that I thought was interesting and sent it off to Rabbi Yonah for his commentary. Here it is:

Recently the Forward published at article called “The Buddha From Brooklyn,” about Jeff Miller, AKA Surya Das. The article’s author wrote: “In a way, Surya Das’s Buddhist teaching is actually very Jewish.” And with that, I had to break my silence about Buddhism.

In discussions about the nature of Jewish life at the turn of this century, the Jubu phenomenon, deserves our attention. But don’t believe the hype, as it offers no solutions, only deeper problems.

Jews in large numbers have studied and adopted Buddhist practices. Some have become leading practitioners. In mainstream Jewish life, among Reform and Conservative congregations, one can hear references to Buddhism or Buddhists in sermons. Even my mother, from a traditional home, has offered to send me books that meld Jewish and Buddhist teachings, that tell Jews how many positive lessons Buddhism has for Jews to learn from.

Who are the JuBu’s?
Most Jews who do Buddhism— Buddhist meditation, tantras and other stuff —know next to nothing about the faith and law of their ancestors. As Jeff Miller said “Judaism never really answered my questions when I was growing up. I asked questions, they said: “Be quiet. Stop with the questions. What’s wrong with you?” So I sought elsewhere.” The Judaism they encountered in horrific after-school programs vaccinated them against continued Jewish knowledge as they encountered adulthood. Justifiably uninspired by what they saw, Jews searched elsewhere to find peace, answers, and spirituality. No one can blame them for pursuing spirituality elsewhere, when their Jewish upbringing was based on material pursuits and juvenile explanations. The generations of Jews that annihilated tradition, knowledge, and meaning, bear responsibility for Jews today who are totally ignorant of their own culture and heritage.

So while we cannot condemn, we still cannot condone. Buddhism is antithetical to Jewish practice and belief. A basic understanding of the Torah’s prohibitions of idolatry, deism, and asceticism rule out any kosher involvement with Buddhism, its teachers, proponents, and practice. Those practitioners that claim no inherent conflict are simply ignorant.

What attracts Jews to Buddhism are kernels of wisdom that G-d planted there. Why did G-d do this? Hashem planted those kernels in order to test us. The popularity of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and Buddhist tchachkes, challenge each and every Jew to learn about their own heritage. Torah, Kabbalah, ancient Jewish prayer and meditation, represent the most unbelievably deep wisdom. Torah teaches how to engage life, the Godly sparks in each person, the nobility of each breath, and the humility to know our place in creation.

Though tempting, and seemingly benign, we must avoid Buddhist idols, symbols, altars, incense, offerings of food and water that are placed for ritual purposes. And since the main thrust of Buddhist teachings in North American are intertwined with meditation techniques, the conflicts inherent are not self-evident. Nonetheless, we must turn away from Buddhism, its JuBu practitioners, and return to Jewish practices and belief.

In words that are best known by the poet John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself…”. What a Jew does anywhere in the world has a powerful effect on the rest of the Jewish people. Each Jew is part of a great web of souls with a common root. Every sanctification of Hashem, every Shma Yisrael, every Sabbath candle, resonates in the life of the Jewish people.

We did not survive through history by chance or by fluke. We are here to carry on a crucial mission, Tikkun Olam. Repairing the world, bringing holiness into the world, bringing blessing to the world.

Don’t let the light go out, it has shined for so many years.

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

59 Comments

  • Leonard Cohen’s music has definitely deteriorated since he’s become much more invested in his Buddhist beliefs. 🙂

  • And we lost one of the Beastie Boys to their lotus-position ranks too, to the point where he married a Tibetan women. Oy gevalt! His poor mother must be plotzing!

  • “…bringing holiness into the world”

    Yikes, for a second a read that as “bringing horniness into the world”, and then I thought: “Damn, this rabbi knows the true nature of a lot of my friends”. Alas, it was holiness, and I’ve calmed down.

  • “What attracts Jews to Buddhism are kernels of wisdom that G-d planted there. Why did G-d do this? Hashem planted those kernels in order to test us. The popularity of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and Buddhist tchachkes, challenge each and every Jew to learn about their own heritage”

    The Muffti had a sense of deja vous when he read this. Something about Young Earth Creationists who believe that the earth literally being some 6000 years old and fossils records are really a part of God’s grand ruse to test our faith. I don’t see why the ‘God messes with you to test your faith’ is any more compelling here than it is there. In fact, every time I read this sort of drivel I am amazed that learned men are willing to imply that God is a basic deciever, who likes to mislead in order to make faith even harder to have.

    On second thought, however, the Muffti likes this crappy line of reasoning. After all, the more the big guy tries to mislead him, the less responsible he is for having been misled…

  • Methinks grandmuffti needs a jolt of serotonin. One day grandmuffti will realize that not everything in the world is explainable or comprehensible using standards of reasoning appropriate in an ivory tower. No one is trying to compell you, but do recognize that there is no room in your world for faith and that you are thus wholly unqualified to critique it.

  • “One day grandmuffti will realize that not everything in the world is explainable or comprehensible using standards of reasoning appropriate in an ivory tower”

    I believe that’s what the GM was trying to say. And I’m with him. I always get wigged out when my rabbi get’s all “and that’s why God did so and so”. How do you know? How did Rashi? And I know this has been debated to death but…God intervenes when because we were slaves in Egypt, but not when we were being decimated in ovens. Huh? Personally, I’m much more inclined to go with Heschel on this one. Something happened on Sinai…the rest is commentary.

  • Rabbis are particularly better suited to make an analysis on this issue than are pissy atheist philosophy grad students. That’s all I was saying.

  • “Something happened on Sinai…the rest is commentary.”

    Jews have the advantage of knowing that their ancestors were witnesses to God’s revelation and hearing the Ten Commandments at Sinai directly from the source. The commentary that has since followed is either the kosher version (from someone who was related to someone who was there) or the un-kosher version (from the un-invited). Grandmuffti, you can choose to listen to “experts” who masquerade as college professors if you want. Or you can go to the source.

  • I don’t know… a lot of Buju’s know all too much about Yiddishkite, what it’s about and what it holds back, in terms of awareness and service to the world, the ego-delusion of thinking there really are different tribes and kinds of people, and such. I’m a religious Yehud, but I’m not convinced the true purpose of Torah revelation was the religion we use now, but rather some better knowing of the divine, and ability to serve it.

    And the truth is, secular but compassionate religion beats spiritual but arrogant-and-self-righteous religion any day.

  • “And the truth is, secular but compassionate religion beats spiritual but arrogant-and-self-righteous religion any day.”

    That’s the most ridiculous statement every posted! The “truth” is not “secular,” it is absolute and can only be known through the divine. Even real Buddhists strive to find “truth” through their divine meditations and practices.

    “Secular but compassionate religion” is non-existent! It means that your religion can change from day to day depending mostly on trends or whatever television channel you watch.

    Yoseph crack — your challenge as a Jew is to find the divine in as guided by the Torah and tradition. Get a compassionate and knowledgeable kosher teacher, rather than allowing yourself to be seduced by the superficiality of the current world and its secularism.

  • The Muffti is amused by CK’s typical, flippant and shockingly fallacious arguments. Ignoring the ad hominems and bland appeals to the authority of, ummn, rabbis (the Muffti will engage in a fallacy of his own, called tu quo que: how many times has Jewlicious seen CK pronounce his opinion on the words of Rabbis? And isn’t he just a pissy little web designer?) it is amazing to me that CK missed the point so broadly. [general confusion is another typical property of low serotonin levels…] My point had nothing to do with faith really. My point had to do (as Shtremiel pretty much divined correctly) with a line of explanation that is absurd, especially since it is based on the premise that God is a deciever and that he actually goes out and plants ‘bits of wisdom’ in other religions in some grand attempt to test our faith. Frankly, I don’t see what my faith, or putative lack thereof, has anything to do with it. I was merely claiming that the line of argument offered for why buddhism is compelling is as ridiculous as the line of argument that God fools us by putting massive amounts of counterevidence to the earth’s age by littering misleading fossils everywhere. I don’t think you need induction to any ivory towers to see just how inane that sort of line of thought is. Nor do I think that challenging it requires any lack of faith but, merely, a critical and functioning brain. Buddhism is a complex, multi-faceted and deeply philosophical religion that people are attracted to, presumably, a range of intellectual, spiritual and emotional reasons. If you want to know why people are into it, go ask them rather than making up some crap about how God has tricked them. Or is that line of inquiry just ‘too ivory tower’ for CKs taste?

    One last sorta meta-comment. (I wil indulge myself in one final cheap shot). The so-called ‘ivory tower’ is something CK likes to knock. It usually is done, however, from a perspective as ill informed of its actual practice as he accuses the Muffti of with respect to the ways of faith. It’s really shocking to see the lack of self-awareness in that regard.

  • p.s. Awesome to see you again in the Muffti’s fav city, CK. Be back in a few months, maybe when it gets a little warmer up here. And to the Jewlicious folks who have adopted Pierre into your hearts, I caught a glimpse of little Thomas and he is adorable.

  • Ooooh, GrandMuffti – It was good seeing you too. My serotonin issues were well addressed by the consumption of copius quantities of vitamin B rich liquid refreshments, as opposed to beer. I mean beer, seriously! One would think you lived in a trailer!

    As for ivory towers and faith – I seem to have struck a nerve. Believe me, you know very well my more than passing familiarity with Ivory towers. Not to get into a pissing match or anything BUT you have to admit that your entire line of reasoning, analytical and “scientifical” as it is, originates in your very biased perspective. You are always quick to point out even the minutest logical fallacy in any argument or discussion that involves matters of faith (which you are estranged from), and yet you consistently fail to point your analytical eye on matters of a more secular nature (which you are very comfortable with). Lucky for us you don’t though, because given your penchant for didacticism, what may result is a grand muffti that’ll make even Chomsky look moderate in comparison.

    …and I mean all that in the nicest way weeny boy.

  • I have a question.

    Can we prove there is or isn’t a god?

    If there is a god, how can we prove or disprove that he plants bits of wisdom in other faiths in order to deceive and test us?

  • I think that a lot of the Jews who are attracted to Buddhism find a level of spirituality in it that is rarely found, or not particularly accessible in conventional Judaism (particularly of the North American brand).

    Judaism has structure and ritual, and a great emphasis on family and education, but outside the realm of kabbala (REAL kabbala, not kabbala center mishegas), not so much emphasis on the mystical which certain people simply crave.

    Rather than dismissing an entire religion as a test for Jews, maybe we should look more seriously at why these Jews are finding their own religion unfulfilling.

    Buddhism has some amazing teachings, and has certainly helped me in untold ways. Who is wise? he who learns form every man, right? I don’t think it’s wrong to glean wisdom from other kinds of practices while still staying true to your own tradition.

  • As to TM’s question, I tend to believe that you don’t prove God, you experience him/her/it.

    But for me, the Jewish people’s continued existence, and the state of Israel’s existence is my constant proof that there is definitely some kind of higher power, and we seem to be of some sort of concern.

  • “Judaism has structure and ritual, and a great emphasis on family and education, but outside the realm of kabbala (REAL kabbala, not kabbala center mishegas), not so much emphasis on the mystical which certain people simply crave.”

    Not true Laya. Go and buy any book by Aryeh Kaplan, zt’l. For example, he says that the opening blessing in the shemona esreh is especially amenable for meditating on to achieve a very high spiritual madraiga. It’s the shemona esreh! You know — when each individual Jew can talk to God personally? How much closer can you get than that? You’re not going to achieve that height though if you do it in 1 minute 15 seconds.

    No red strings needed. Just slooooooowwww it doooowwwwnnn.

  • Well, I see laya’s point Skylar. There is Judaism uh… de jure and Judaism de facto. Often times, the way Judaism is currently practiced, one does not find great emphasis on the underlying deep spirituality. You have pointed out correctly that Judaism affords you the opportunity to commune with infinity on a daily basis. Yet, as laya will no doubt point out, very few practitioners of Judaism take advantage of that opportunity. There is something alienating about the modern world within which we live that divorces us from spiritual matters. One needs to make a real effort to hook into that whole groove. Avodah Zarah, in the guise of deity-free buddhism gives you both the context and the incentive to reconnect to that in a seemingly easier manner. But the implication that this is impossible within Judaism is just wrong. The Dalai Lama never told me anything that my Rabbis and my parents didn’t already tell me. No need to go to India and live on an Ashram for that – unless you really enjoy taking advantage of grinding poverty and living in a country where even the most meagre resources by a western standard become untold wealth by a local standard. But that’s a discussion for another day.

  • Skylar- right, and its all good in theory, but the fact remains, it just doesn’t seem to do enough for enough people.
    We certainly don’t have the emphasis on meditation that Buddhism does (just one example). A little bit on God-stuff from folks lie Kaplan (come to think of it, are there even any others?), but hardly anything on meditation as an act of training the mind and getting rid of negitive emotions.
    I find that many, if not most, Buddhist teachings are actaull pretty compatable with certain views in Judasim, they just emphasize different things, and sometimes these things of a spiritual nature just require a little more attention to detail. And thats where Buddhism helps fill in some gaps.

  • Go read anything by Sara Yocheved Rigler, a (Jewish) journalist who lived on an ashram for 10 years in India before going to Israel and becoming an observant Jew. (Might you have heard of her Laya?) She is a columnist on Aish.com — here’s a link to one of her earlier articles From India to Israel which tells of her experience.

    Maybe ck should introduce her to Rabbi Yonah to help him in his struggle with the JuBu’s.

  • There a rabbi in Toronto…at the Minsk shul who walks the talk. He davens like he means it, and I believe, those in attendance follow suite. But way to many rabbis give kabbalah classes, meditation classes, etc., and don’t even try to live up to what they’re teaching. In other words, we have so few role models to look up to re: prayer, meditation, etc., that we look elsewhere (and nothing is more annoying that the rabbi who quotes guys like Kaplan to prove JuBu’s wrong, yet clearly doesn’t do any of this himself while he’s in shul). HOWEVER….
    wanna see some serious davening…walk into any Belz, Satmar, etc., shul. Of course, not too many of us would be willing to trade in our white gym socks for knee high knichers. But the shtreimels kick friggin ass.

  • The Muffti noticed CK say:

    “and yet you consistently fail to point your analytical eye on matters of a more secular nature (which you are very comfortable with).”

    Ummmn…The Muffti is suprised by this. I’m afraid (now that I’ve been outed as a pissy graduate student) that my daily life turns out to be a non-stop discourse with colleagues where we point our analytical eyes at things of a purely secular nature. I’ve published analytical, critical papers dealing with such topics. Most of all, what is suprising is that you know all this! My criticism of religious matters mostly happens on this site because I reckon that you guys are less interested in reading posts on the nature of logical form and transitive intentional verbs that create opaque contexts and more interested in, well, religious/zionist issues.

    In any case, I strive to point out (again) that my particular point didn’t really turn on anything all that analytical. It turned on the claim that God wasn’t in the business of decieving us by making other religions look reasonable. I stand by the comparison to God leaving fossils to fool us into thinking that the earth was more than 6000 years old. It’s glib, myopic and furthermore, downright disrespectful to so called ‘Jubus’. At the very least, it would be nice to be told what exactly the inconsistencies with Judaism amounted to. But perhaps that is just another ‘ivory tower’ kind of thing that you claim to be so familiar with.

    So, no pissing contests, I promise. I just rather you read my posts rather than ignoring their content and going straight to attacking my world view. As for it being a biased perspective, well, I suppose it is. But I can’t very well see how any line of thought can fail to proceed from principles of some sort so it’s either say nothing (which I probably by now should be wise enough to realize is the best course!) or take a stand and then have some mofo like you claim that I am biased. Sheesh!

    Oh well. Back to my ivory hall/trailer park. I’m sick of trying to set you straight because you are obviously to biased to get the point.

    …And I mean that in the nicest way, mofo.

  • T_M,

    There is no known succesful proofs of God’s existence, though there are many ones that go from unconvincing to downright ridiculous (see Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the most ridiculous of the bunch). The most promising seem to be modern ones regarding the apparent telic nature of the universe (i.e. that it can support life, even though a random process would seem to be rather unlikely to yield life-supporting conditions) but they are still pretty damned bad by any (ivory tower?) standard.

    However, if we buy the existence of God, we can start asking further questions about his nature. One thing people tend to assume is that God is not a deciever (this was a platitude on Descartes’ meditations in particular) and you don’t find much corroboration in the Old Testament for the thesis that God lies very much. (If anything, he is rather brutally honest at times…) I guess I was taking (1) God’s existence and (2) his basic goodness (and non-deceptive nature) on as parts of my argument. But (1) is something everyone here seems to accept and (2), given (1) and the basic principles of Jewish faith seemed pretty plausible.

  • Grandmuffti, even a non-deceptive God can test. As an example, I point to the omniscient god testing the Israelites by keeping Moses up on Mount Sinai for 40 days, without so much as a token fire pillar to let them know the old guy is still alive and well. The Golden Calf story results from a test which the Israelites fail. In fact, the 40 year journey through the desert is the result of God’s dissatisfaction with the Israelites’ reception of the Spies and their story. Would he not have assumed that they would return with grapes the size of watermelons and stories about giant men who inhabit the land?

    My point is that if one assumes the presence of god, one can ascribe any characteristics to that god as long as they are somehow logically compatible with the bible version you accept as true.

    I believe the inherent difficulty of believing in god is that one must accept all the shit that happens in the world as being part of what he gives people. It’s much easier to find rationales that address all the bad things that happen rather than turning away in disgust and saying, “There is no god.”

    I happen to think the JewBu movement is not that complex to understand. Buddhism, if I understand it, does not preclude an individual from maintaining a different faith. More important, it offers access to self-knowledge and a worldview that are compelling, and that many spiritual people will find attractive. I don’t believe most JewBus are observant Jews. If I take that a step futher, those same spiritual people who live within Jewish circles today but are not observant or devout, will probably find it difficult to locate spiritually fulfilling opportunities to live and worship Jewishly. Buddhism adds that dimension without requiring what they might perceive to be oppressive Orthodoxy. This explains the success of The Kabbalah Center which offers a spiritual, mystical and Jewish view of the world (never mind whether it’s a valid form or practice of Judaism), but initially without requiring devoutness or observance – that only comes later (perhaps when they hook you in and you start pumping money into their coffers 😉 ).

  • One of the signs that an argument is falling on its face is the use of desperate and dishonest tactics. Another is the insistence that others be taken on your terms or not at all. Rabbi Yonah falls into both of these. In particular he claims that any truth or value in Buddhist practice is just the Almighty fooling or testing us.

    He can’t deny that many of the practices, particularly the “What the Buddha Taught” ones are valid, useful and produce verifiable repeatable results. So he deprecates them by saying that anything good is really Judaism in disguise and specifically there to keep us from the Good. Does he offer any evidence? Any logic? No, just bald assertion. That is the unmistakable sign of someone flailing around because his argument doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    It is true that much of Buddhism fell into corrupt practices – graven images, praying to Buddhas, that sort of thing. But any sort of honest reading of the early teachings shows that the Buddha would be pulling out what was left of his hair at how wrong that sort of thing is. It’s also true that asceticism is anathema to Judaism at the moment. But there was a strong ascetic strain among the early Chassidim, and the tradition of the Nazerite was laid down in Tanakh.

    One of the greatest problems with Judaism is that it has built so many “fences around the Torah” (rhymes with “idolatry”) that it’s damned near impossible for regular people to get anywhere near the Book. In addition to the Divine Law we have thousands of years of accretion, creative editing and explicit attempts to make living a Jewish life as difficult as possible.

    What Hashem has forbidden we (including the Orthodox) allow. What He has allowed we forbid because it’s tradition or respected opinion. “We do it because the person who said it lived closer to the time when Moishe ascended Sinai” or “This is binding on all Ashkenazi or Sephardim” (as if He made those distinctions) come uncomfortably close to “What we say is more important than what Hashem says.”

    The subtle traditions, the spiritual technologies and the practices that work on the deep structures of the mind and soul have been cordoned off and forbidden to all but a self-select few. The rest get rote and legal argument.

    In such conditions it should surprise nobody that Jews look to fill that void by going somewhere where the techniques are readily available, explicit, and demonstrable. Buddhism at its best provides those.

    And exactly which practices are treif? A number of the most important meditations are simply ways of quieting the internal chatter, deep concentration, mental relaxation, and disciplining the mind so that it does what it’s supposed to rather than falling into its bad habits. Precisely what is wrong with these if there aren’t any idols or prayers to anyone besides the Almighty? Now, obviously some of the stuff is outside the pale for Jews. The prayers, the later heirarchies of spiritual beings, many of the Tantras and so on. But rather than just say “It’s all bad” a careful or at least honest person would say “These are bad for this reason.”

  • So, Todd, come clean. Are you a Jew disguising yourself as a Buddhist? Your website looks like it has a lot of “rabbis” giving advice about how to live life. Just wondering.

  • Of course, God can test – as you point out, he does it rather frequently in the Old Testament (doesn’t he test Abe 10 some 10 times?) But what The Muffti was claimed was consistent with God testing his peeps, just not with his actively deceiving and misleading them. Find me an instance of that when you get a chance.

    In any case, I can’t help but disagree with your claim that you can ascribe any characteristic that is merely logically compatible with the bible. From what I can tell, it’s logically consistent that God likes having sex with small farm animals. It’s logically consistent that he got Mary pregnant some where around the end of the common era. Presumably we are supposed to abstract from the text some of God’s attributes rather than just give oursevles free reign to make them up. And presumably we take our lead from what God does and what God says.

  • Muffti, we kinda agree on your last paragraph. I did say logically compatible, not realizing that you and I approach the word “logic” with different baggage. What I meant was that as long as it’s something we actually read in our fave version of the bible, including information we can extrapolate from that available information, we can then ascribe those abilities and traits to god.

    As for god having sex with small farm animals, I think some would say to you that god is involved in all of their activities, including sex. So it’s not impossible that we could find a bunch of people who think he’s there when little farm animals have sex…

  • TM- you said “It’s much easier to find rationales that address all the bad things that happen rather than turning away in disgust and saying, “There is no god.””

    I feel quite the opposite. I think it’s easier (albeit more cosmically lonely) to throw in the towel ‘in disgust’ than to struggle endlessly with the contradictions inherent with belief of a good, kind and merciful God who has created and maintains a world that too often just seems like a futile experiment in the human narrative of pain and suffering. But maybe thats just my cynicsm talking.

    Todd- You said
    “One of the greatest problems with Judaism is that it has built so many “fences around the Torah” (rhymes with “idolatry”) that it’s damned near impossible for regular people to get anywhere near the Book. In addition to the Divine Law we have thousands of years of accretion, creative editing and explicit attempts to make living a Jewish life as difficult as possible.”

    I can empathize with what you are saying to a point. In the process of my journey i have had similar thoughts (but i am confused by your ‘rhymes with ‘idolatry’ statement Humra?, avoda zarah? lo hevanti.) Many many things within observant Judaism only made sense to me after seeing them from the inside, including the purpose of many of the so-called ‘fences’, which often just boil down to the sages understanding of human nature.

    However, i disagree with your statement that they make it ‘damned near impossible for regular people to get anywhere near the Book’. All of our texts are available for public consumption. If your quest is sincere the learning is available, and as you must know, there is plenty of room for differing opinions within Judaism.

    You also said
    “What Hashem has forbidden we (including the Orthodox) allow. What He has allowed we forbid because it’s tradition or respected opinion.” With no examples, those statements also sound like the “desperate and dishonest tactics” you accuse Rabbi Yonah of.

  • So, Todd, come clean. Are you a Jew disguising yourself as a Buddhist? Your website looks like it has a lot of “rabbis” giving advice about how to live life. Just wondering.

    I’m definitely Jewish, not Buddhist. But I come from a very Reform family and came by the practice and faith the hard way. It gives a somewhat different perspective.

    The Rabbi in the article was just plain dishonest. Disagreement is fine. Intellectual bankruptcy deserves to be exposed.

    As for the website, well, it’s not a religious one. But I’m kind of happy with the result, so it got added. It’s about a specific obscure Southeast Asian martial art which doesn’t have any associated religious practices.

    If I could find a Silat Pendekar who was also a Rabbi I’d study with him. But that just isn’t likely to happen.

  • Dear People of Jewlicious,

    I have a request. Let’s not attack Rabbi Yonah on a personal level any more. He seems to be genuine, and he has expressed his opinions and beliefs. If we disagree, let’s do it with a measure of respect for the individual.

    Many thanks,
    And lots of love,

    CK

  • anyone who regularly reads jewlicious knows i never refer to myself as anything other than ck (in lower case letters) NEVER “CK” – just sayin… but yes, y’all can at least give the rabbi a chance to expand on what he wrote before jumping down his throat. I mean seriously, dishonest? Intellectually bankrupt? That’s a little harsh.

  • To the esteemed members of the Jewlicious Blog Community, and the comments for which they stand:

    I have waited to chime in, not because I have nothing more to add, but that the discussion was so interesting.

    I believe with perfect faith that the universe, life, and all dimensions are contained and perpetuated by Hashem. This is a fundamental Jewish teaching, and it took me many years to arrive at its doorstep. I was not born within the frum community, far from it. It is so reassuring to believe that there is no higher power, because then you have life without conscience and without guilt.

    G-d does not deceive. By placing kernels of truth in Buddhism, it is my humble opinion, we can retain free will. Otherwise there are no choices to make, and we are not independent beings. Without independence, what point can life have other than to march to a programmed tune? So free will is essential. Your life is not an accident. Life has meaning, though you may not be able to face it.

    To the defenders of Buddha, Buddhism, and Jubuology:
    The Torah (and not “fences” or “rabbis”) clearly explains that Jews must distance themselves from idolatry, not just not practice it. It is not my idea. It is unhealthy, like transfats, second hand smoking, and anonymous sex. Buddhism is idolatrous, maintains an idolatrous system, and even has its own country, homeland, in Bhutan. [note: it is an authoritarian regime that permits few outsiders, nestled in the Himalayas. Not very peaceful and serene …]

    Those who arrive at an observant Jewish life certainly gained along the path from a wide range of beliefs, practices, communities, and ideologies. That does not mean that they are necessarily good, or good for you. Chemotherapy kills, but it also allows us to heal. Many transformative experiences in our lives we don’t want to repeat, though they were ultimately beneficial for us.

    And to the ivory tower of the Grandmufti, there are people who love and are good at debating on if there is God and proofs for God. I don’t get into this. It doesn’t turn me on. Believing in God, now that turns me on. I suggest that you read Lawrence Kellman-Permission to Believe which does a great job at proving Gods existence.

    And to Todd, who claimed that my argument had not legs. There is a large body of work which describes in details what is and is not forbidden in dealing with idolatry and idolaters. For example, if you know that idolaters are holding a idolatrous ceremony on a Monday, can you lend them something, that they may use in the celebration? I would be happy to discuss with you in detail, should you have anymore questions about what is treif about Buddhism, if you care or are interested. Idolatry is wrong, because it is a denial of God. Meditation is not wrong, but using techniques that idolaters developed may be wrong. Incense is not bad to use, but incense that was used for Temple and shrine offerings are forbidden for us to use and so on.

    I myself claim no authority. What am I, but bones and flesh? What am I but a flash in time and history? No I have no authority. But what I do have is a deep devotion to the Torah and studying Jewish law. That gives me credentials to say what is treif and what is kosher within the bounds of Jewish law. In secular life, most follow the rule of law, laid out and enforced by society. You accept that your doctor has authority in their field, at least the good ones, and that they can tell you what is good or not good for you.

  • I agree with a lot of what Rabbi Yonah said. However, I don’t think that Buddhism is necessarily wrong, I think that they, like all those who do not recognize the absolute Unity, Indivisibilty, and Ineffability of Hashem are mistaken and sort of in denial. I personally believe that Hashem puts the instinct to believe in Hashem in the way I have described above, in the hearts of all human beings, but many because they have not had the benefit of monotheist teachings, or on the contrary have been taught by non-monotheist teachers, so they get a heavily covered up/ distorted version of Hashem, so covered up that they fail to perceive the true glory of Hashem, and they fail to feel that feeling of true and ultimate hapiness and confidence which comes from belief in the Indivisible, Ineffable Creator of the Universe.

  • Buddhist are pagans. This is false.

    Buddhist dont really believe in all of those “gods” they have, or at least not all of them believe in that crap. The “gods” of buddhism, aren’t really gods they are just superstitious objectives just like how people look for four leaf clovers and such nonsense.

    Buddhist don’t worship gods or buddha, they see buddha has a wise man, sage, guide, mentor; not a prophet of any kind.

    I’m pretty sure this is correct. Or at least what Jubu’s believe.

  • Rabbi Abba said [Zohar 1:99b]:

    “… the people of the East were great sages, who inherited this wisdom from Abraham. He had given it to the sons of his concubines, as it is written, ‘to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had taken, Abraham gave gifts’ (Genesis 25:6). [This was originally true wisdom] but later it was drawn into many [idolatrous] sides.”

    Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

    Letters to a Buddhist Jew by Rabbi Akiva Tatz MD is a fantastic read on the subject.

  • I’ve been thinking of moving from Joomla to WordPress because it’s much easier to use and much more convenient. But the problem is I have many posts, and I don’t know what to do… since I’m not a programmer or anything.. . How can I migrate from Joomla to WordPress?.

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