Monday, March 01, 2010

May One Doubt? Faith On the Way to Knowledge.

Last Shabbat we were discussing in our learning group whether it is permitted to question Ikkarei Emunah. The problem becomes extremely important as Rambam demands that one arrive rationally at the conviction that God exists and counts this obligation as a Mitzvat Asseh
לידע שיש שם אלוה.
הלכות יסודי התורה פרק א
א יסוד היסודות ועמוד החכמות, לידע שיש שם מצוי ראשון.

“The Foundation of all foundations and the supporting beam of all knowledge is to KNOW that there is, out there, a Prime Existent.”

Clearly the choice of word to KNOW as opposed to BELIEVE demands an in depth analysis of the issue. How can one do that without analyzing contrary opinions? As we know and I discussed on this blog many times, the reality is that it is a lifelong goal to arrive at that conclusion rationally and it also is the ultimate goal of every human being. In fact, it is the reason for the torah and Mitzvot. They all are here to help one arrive, through proper speculation, and full rational conviction to that conclusion. How can one do it without doubting during the process? One who is working on the problem honestly, is it not inevitable that he is going to doubt along the way? Is doubt not definitional until one is convinced of the conclusion?

Similarly, Rambam tells us in Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 7:1

מיסודי הדת, לידע שהאל מנבא את בני האדם

“One of the foundations of the law is to KNOW that God prophesizes people.”

Indeed, at the beginning of Yesodei Hatorah Rambam counts the Mitzvat Asseh to listen to a prophet -לשמוע מן הנביא המדבר בשמו which is a natural outcome of this foundation. Again, we see Rambam using the word, לידע - to know as opposed to believe. This requires rational conviction rather than Faith. How is one to do it without at some point analyzing opposing possibilities without ever doubting? The problem seems even more acute when we read the following Halachot in Hilchot Avodah Zara chapter 2.

ג [ב] ספרים רבים חיברו עובדי עבודה זרה בעבודתה, היאך עיקר עבודתה ומה משפטה ומעשיה. ציוונו הקדוש ברוך הוא, שלא לקרות באותן הספרים כלל, ולא נהרהר בה, ולא בדבר מדבריה. ואפילו להסתכל בדמות הצורה--אסור, שנאמר "אל תפנו, אל האלילים" (ויקרא יט,ד). ובעניין זה נאמר "ופן תדרוש לאלוהיהם לאמור, איכה יעבדו" (דברים יב,ל)--שלא תשאל על דרך עבודתה היאך היא, ואף על פי שאין אתה עובד: שדבר זה גורם לך להיפנות אחריה ולעשות כמו שהן עושין, שנאמר "ואעשה כן, גם אני" (שם). [ג] וכל הלאוין הללו בעניין אחד הן, והוא שלא ייפנה אחר עבודה זרה; וכל הנפנה אחריה בדרך שהוא עושה בו מעשה, הרי זה לוקה
ד ולא עבודה זרה בלבד הוא שאסור להיפנות אחריה במחשבה, אלא כל מחשבה שגורמת לו לאדם לעקור עיקר מעיקרי התורה--מוזהרין אנו שלא להעלותה על ליבנו, ולא נסיח דעתנו לכך ונחשוב ונימשך אחר הרהורי הלב: מפני שדעתו של אדם קצרה, ולא כל הדעות יכולות להשיג האמת על בורייו; ואם יימשך כל אדם אחר מחשבות ליבו, נמצא מחריב את העולם לפי קוצר דעתו.
ה כיצד: פעמים יתור אחר עבודה זרה; ופעמים יחשוב בייחוד הבורא, שמא הוא שמא אינו, מה למעלה מה למטה, מה לפנים מה לאחור; ופעמים בנבואה, שמא היא אמת שמא אינה; ופעמים בתורה, שמא היא מן השמיים שמא אינה. ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן עד שיידע האמת על בורייו, ונמצא יוצא לידי מינות.
ו ועל עניין זה הזהירה תורה, ונאמר בה "ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם, ואחרי עיניכם, אשר אתם זונים, אחריהם" (במדבר טו,לט)--כלומר לא יימשך כל אחד מכם אחר דעתו הקצרה, וידמה שמחשבתו משגת האמת. כך אמרו חכמים, "אחרי לבבכם", זו מינות; "ואחרי עיניכם", זו זנות. ולאו זה, אף על פי שהוא גורם לאדם לטורדו מן העולם הבא, אין בו מלקות.
The first Halacha above tells us that idol worshippers have written many books about idol worship and the modalities of that worship. God forbids us to read these books or to think about these issues for fear of us being attracted by the idolaters, their idols and their methods of worship. Considering Rambam’s understanding of Avodah Zara, idol worship as falsehood and nonsense, the source and cause of the dark ages that humanity periodically went through throughout history, there is no surprise there. (For a thorough analysis of this issue, see my article in Hakirah available online here ).
However, the next Halacha seems to be quite problematic at first blush. Rambam tells us that not only AZ but also any thought that might seed doubts about any of the Ikarim is prohibited. Does that not include reading philosophical texts? After all, Aristotle did not believe in God as Creator - one of the Ikkarim - and still Rambam recommends reading him in a letter to Ibn Tibon. Rambam himself quotes Aristotle at length and praises him over and over as the greatest of thinkers. What about reading later philosophers? May one read Kant? But even more problematic is the issue I started this post with, how is one to honestly become convinced rationally that God exists, to KNOW rather than BELIEVE that he does, or that God prophesizes humankind, without questioning the premise along the way? At the same time, it is a Mitzvat Asseh to work towards knowing God rationally as well as to listen to the prophet’s revelation. How is one to understand these conflicting Halachot?

A careful reading of these Halachot however, solves the problem and clarifies how one has to go about the Mitzvot that require Yediah, to KNOW rather than just believe. When discussing AZ in the earlier Halacha, Rambam forbids reading their books for fear that will lead to possible acceptance of idol worship, a total falsehood and lie. In the next Halacha however, Rambam changes the theme and does not talk about reading books anymore but forbids any random thought that may lead to the negation of an Ikar.

ולא נסיח דעתנו לכך ונחשוב ונימשך אחר הרהורי הלב – we may not turn our mind to that (forbidden thoughts), thinking and letting ourselves follow the cogitations of our mind.

מפני שדעתו של אדם קצרה, ולא כל הדעות יכולות להשיג האמת על בורייו – for a person’s mind is limited and not all minds can apprehend the Truth in its entirety.

ואם יימשך כל אדם אחר מחשבות ליבו, נמצא מחריב את העולם לפי קוצר דעתו
And if every person were to follow his mind’s cogitations, he would destroy the world because of his mind’s limitations.
In other words, one may not just contemplate in a vacuum, letting one’s mind go and speculate without any further preparations. One may not speculate, without having first studied all the necessary sciences. One must be well versed in logic and the sciences to know where scientific knowledge ends and where metaphysical speculation begins. Lacking that -
ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן עד שיידע האמת על בורייו
He is unaware of the proper methods of logical and rational thought that lead to truth.”
It is only when a person can differentiate between empiric proofs and matters that cannot be proven empirically, and never will be, that he can undertake this speculation. Those matters that deal with questions like whether the world was created in time from nothingness must be approached from a completely different perspective than regular scientific knowledge. One must first make sure that the question cannot be answered scientifically and only then must one turn to tradition and revelation for the answer. To be convinced of the veracity of the answers furnished by tradition one must be convinced that it does not contradict scientific reality. Only then, can one rely on tradition with conviction. The methods used in this process are different from those used in a purely scientific investigation. Without realizing that, the person is going to come up with false and erroneous conclusions. At times, the person will wander after AZ
יתור אחר עבודה זרה at others, ופעמים יחשוב בייחוד הבורא, שמא הוא שמא אינו He will question God’s unity
Rambam lists a series of subjects that such a person will touch upon in this process of speculation. The speculation itself is not the problem. The problem is when he is doing it without the proper parameters needed for such a speculation - ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן. This will inevitably lead to wrong conclusions. On the other hand, when one approaches metaphysical speculation systematically, first getting a good understanding of the sciences and at the same time assimilating the Torah and its tradition and revelation, he is following the proper path to knowledge – Yediah.Hil Yesodei Hatorah at the end of the fourth chapter -
ואני אומר שאין ראוי להיטייל בפרדס, אלא מי שנתמלא כרסו לחם ובשר; ולחם ובשר זה, הוא לידע ביאור האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן משאר המצוות. ואף על פי שדברים אלו, דבר קטן קראו אותם חכמים, שהרי אמרו חכמים דבר גדול מעשה מרכבה, ודבר קטן הוויה דאביי ורבא; אף על פי כן, ראויין הן להקדימן: שהן מיישבין דעתו של אדם תחילה, ועוד שהן הטובה הגדולה שהשפיע הקדוש ברוך הוא ליישוב העולם הזה, כדי לנחול חיי העולם הבא. ואפשר שיידעם הכול--גדול וקטן, איש ואישה, בעל לב רחב ובעל לב קצר.
And even using this approach, not everyone may conclude the process and that includes great people.

ואף על פי שגדולי ישראל היו וחכמים גדולים היו, לא כולם היה בהן כוח לידע ולהשיג כל הדברים על בוריין

In MN 1:34 (which can be read in full here - a poor translation but the only English version available online) Rambam dedicates a whole chapter explaining the importance of preparatory study and listing many of the subjects needed before speculating about metaphysical questions.
There are also many subjects of speculation, which, though not preparing the way for metaphysics, help to train the reasoning power, enabling it to understand the nature of a proof, and to test truth by characteristics essential to it. They remove the confusion arising in the minds of most thinkers, who confound accidental with essential properties, and likewise the wrong opinions resulting from that. We may add that although they do not form the basis for metaphysical research, they assist in forming a correct notion of these things, and are certainly useful in many other things connected with that discipline. Consequently, he who wishes to attain to human perfection must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics.”
It is clear from all the above that all the sciences and philosophy are not only not forbidden, but are a required study necessary to properly fulfill the Mitzvot that require knowledge – לידע –. There is no question that at some point in the process doubts and questions may arise and one may possibly never conclude the process. One is however obligated to try their best and do the work that leads to knowledge. The last Halacha highlights the problem.
ועל עניין זה הזהירה תורה, ונאמר בה "ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם, ואחרי עיניכם, אשר אתם זונים, אחריהם" --כלומר לא יימשך כל אחד מכם אחר דעתו הקצרה, וידמה שמחשבתו משגת האמת
This is what the Torah warned against saying “you should not wander after your hearts and eyes, after which you are currently straying”, meaning that you should not follow, each one of you his own limited mind, thinking that he has attained the Truth.”

Ignorance and hubris are forbidden. Knowledge and humility are mandated. Doubt is permitted and is natural in the process of honest speculation. Conclusions that negate tradition and revelations on matters that cannot be resolved through scientific methods and do not contradict reality, are forbidden. Faith is very much part of Judaism. It is however, faith based on knowledge and on the way to knowledge.

ד הִנֵּה עֻפְּלָה, לֹא-יָשְׁרָה נַפְשׁוֹ בּוֹ; וְצַדִּיק, בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה.
Behold, his spirit within him is puffed up, it is not upright; but the righteous man is rewarded with life for his fidelity. {S} (Habakkuk 2:4)


  1. Reb David

    וידין במידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן עד שיידע היאך הוא עיקר המידות והיאך יוציא האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן מדברים שלמד מפי השמועה--ועניין זה, הוא הנקרא תלמוד.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Rabbi Sacks, If you are comparing to the ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן there is no commonality. if you are asking how I understand that whole halacha in Hil TT would require several posts.

  3. Why would the Ikkar hamidot by which halacha is studied not be a species of the same kind of logical method as the midot of all other Chochmot? After all they are all derivative from the same
    יסוד היסודות ועמוד החכמות, לידע שיש שם מצוי

  4. if you are asking how I understand that whole halacha in Hil TT would require several posts.

    Yes I was asking that as well, please proceed with the posts, hamatchil b'mitva omrim lo- Gmor!

  5. ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן is not the same as
    וידין במידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן
    it is exactly that Rambam is telling us. There are Midot for each subject that differ according to the what the subject is. One does not use the same logical process for scientific matters as one does for metaphysics. That is why he needs to separately repeat and explain
    והעניינות הנקראין פרדס, בכלל התלמוד.
    It is not obvious as it has its own methods of inductive, deductive and logical system.

  6. Reb David

    I don't understand what you mean. I see Rambam, following the norms of the field of Higgayon, essentially viewing all Mada as emerging from the one and same soul. As such, the craft of higgayon it employed to facilitate this one power is essentially one.

    In line with nature of the conviction we have our premises, the field divids into two, Vikuach and demonstration. Vikuach employs statements whose truth is either from authority or self evidence and sense perception. Demonstration only from self evident or sensory.

  7. True, Higayon comes from the same nefesh hasichli however it branches out and sets different rules depending on the category the subject belongs to. When it comes to metaphysics we accept tradition after making sure we understood it correctly if it does not contradict science. Science has different rules. Mitzvot have their own 13 midot.

  8. It looks to me like this makes the tafel, the ikkar.

    The ikkar of thought, the internal experience of idea or the universal as in manifests in subject is the same.

    Indeed Rambam seems to point this very notion out, regarding Talmud. The vast majority of Talmud is universal to thought, seeing how an end is seen in a means, how a particular derives from a universal of necessity or by analogy. Only One part is specific to Torah- The 13 midot. These Midot are essentially rhetorical as Rambam and Rambam point out.

    ושליש יבין וישכיל אחרית דבר מראשיתו, ויוציא דבר מדבר, וידמה דבר לדבר, וידין במידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן .

    Now this is prior to mature understanding, ie ikkar hamidot. Clearly, one has already been utilyzing the 13 midot, as a minor part of talmud, prior to gaining ikkar hamidot.

    עד שיידע היאך הוא עיקר המידות והיאך יוציא האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן מדברים שלמד מפי השמועה--ועניין זה, הוא הנקרא תלמוד

    Perhaps this new stage, the stage one gets to, ie ikkar hamidot, in a new stage of mental development or yishuv daat. From the MN it would seem that this is the stage of Higgayon, as you quoted.

    Why not sat then that the ikar hamidot are the morphing of what was thought more limited to torah thoughts, to a thought which sees Torah as a Chochma of human action alongside other Chochmot. Or an application of a universal higgayon, essentially the same as in all other subjects, with the nuances needed for a particular Chochma.

  9. It seems we are arriving at the same place. I fosus on the nuances while you talk about the system as a whole.

    I have some more thoughts on this issue and have meant many times to focus on the subject for a while and hopefully will still do so.

  10. This issue is addressed in the following article by Prof David Berger:

    Also see this article by Prof Shalom Carmy:

  11. Deborah Shaya:

    Many people today have been misled into avodah zarah (idolatry), of one kind or another. Some people have been misled unknowingly. The sting of avodah zarah can cause terrible harm c"v.

    Nevertheless, there is always great hope. And that is the great light of Teshuva (returning to Hashem, our G-d.) Hashem is calling out to us every day, to return to Him properly, with a pure heart:

    “……shuvu Eilai ve’Ashuva aleichem amar Hashem Tzevakot…..” (Malachi 3:7)

    “……return to Me and I will return to you, says Hashem, Master of Legions…..”

    Teshuvah is very great and is regarded very highly in Shamayim. A person should seize the opportunity to do Teshuva to Hashem right now, while “the Gates of Teshuva are open”.

    Teshuva is one of the greatest Gifts that Hashem, Our G-d, has given to us. So swallow your pride.

    By doing a true and sincere Teshuva to Hashem, the brachot (blessings) from Hashem will come into a person’s life, and obstacles will begin to shift.

    1. I will list below:
    (a) what the sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah are. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life). And

    (b) what a person should do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life.

    2. I will then list a few mitzvot, and practical steps that a person can take, in order to do Teshuvah for any kind of involvement in avodah zara.

  12. Deborah Shaya:

    What are the Sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah? (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life)

    What should a person do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life?


    We are specifically commanded against idolatry, in the SECOND COMMANDMENT of the Asseret Hadibrot:

    ‘Do not have any other gods BEFORE ME.’

    ‘Lo yiheyeh lecha elokim acherim AL PANAI.’

    And: ‘Do not represent (such gods) by any CARVED STATUE OR PICTURE of anything in the heaven above, or the earth below, or in the water below the land.
    Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them.

    I am G-d your Lord, A JEALOUS G-D, who demands EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.

    Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and fourth (generation).
    But for those who love Me and keep My Commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations.)’

    ‘Lo ta’aseh lecha PESEL, vechol temunah asher bashamayim, mima’al va’asher ba’aretz, mitachat va’asher ba’mayim, mitachat la’aretz. Lo tishtachaveh lahem, ve’lo ta’avdem, KI ANI HASHEM ELOKECHA, KEL KANAH, poked avon avot al banim, al shileshim, ve’al ribe’im, le’sonay.
    Ve’osseh chessed la’alafim, le’ohavai, u’leshomrei mitzvotai.’

    (Parsha of Yitro, Chapter 20, verses 3-6)

    Hashem, our G-d, is a very “Jealous G-d” who demands “Exclusive worship.”

  13. Deborah Shaya:


    Do not go into any of the following, as they are all places of idolatry, and AVODAH ZARAH (literally ‘strange worship’). They deny the Sovereignty of Hashem, the One G-d, and Creator of the World.

    - Churches
    - Buddist temples
    - Hindu temples
    - Sikh temples
    - Greek temples
    - Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
    - Freemasonry

    There is a lot of TUMAH in them (spiritual ‘uncleanliness’ which can affect a person has veshalom, physically and spiritually in different ways). Always walk to the opposite side of the road rather than walk directly past one of these buildings e.g. a church.

    If any Jew is a “Freemason,” this too is based upon Avodah Zarah. He/she must stop going to such a place, and associating with “freemasons.”

  14. Deborah Shaya:


    These are graven images. They should IMMEDIATELY be removed from your home and discarded, no matter how much they might have cost, or the sentimental value attached to them. They are a strong source of Tumah.

  15. Deborah Shaya:

    3. Tefillah/Prayer – in the synagogue, and at home.

    (a) There should be NO IMAGES whatsoever, inside any shul.

    There should be NO IMAGES of
    • ANY PERSON, or
    • ANY ANIMAL or
    inside any synagogue.

    Any images of a person, animal or object should be REMOVED immediately, and ENTIRELY out of the synagogue or shteibl. No matter how large or small they may be. This is against the Halachah.

    (b) When praying at home, a person should endeavour to pray in a room which does not contain any images or paintings of a person, animal or object.

  16. Deborah Shaya:

    4. BOOKS, MAGAZINES, LEAFLETS, DVD’s, CD’s, clothing

    These are a strong source of TUMAH, and bring in a lot of negativity into the home. These books and magazines negatively affect those who live in that home.

    Go through every book in your home very carefully, and check for the following. If it falls into one of these categories, or you have doubt about it – sort them out into a pile, and then DISPOSE of these books as soon as possible, and take them out of your home. Or at least take them out of your home and put them in a shed if you can.

    It is a very great MITZVAH to remove such sources of Tumah from your home. If some of these books were expensive – discard them anyway, and put aside how much they cost. They are a form of Avodah Zarah, and should be removed immediately.

    • Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

    The following are some examples:

    (a) ‘New Age’ books – (e.g. Indian authors, ‘Shambhala’ publications)

    (b) Philosophical books (e.g. by Indian writers such as Deepak Chopra etc)

    (c) Yoga/Tai Chi/Reiki.

    Yoga/Tai Chi (qigong)/Reiki books; yoga and reiki magazines &leaflets; tai chi (qi kung) magasines & leaflets; yoga/tai chi/reiki DVD’s & CD’s; yoga/tai chi special clothing:-

    • These physical exercises and practices are all based upon AVODAH ZARAH (idolatry). They all come from a SOURCE OF TUMAH. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life).

    • The Torah cannot be mixed with Avodah Zarah. This is twisting the Torah, and the Torah must remain straight.

    • Have Emunah (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will help you to find another alternative form of exercise.

    Hashem, our G-d, and Creator of the World, is, “The Healer of all flesh, and performs wonders.” (From ‘Asher Yatzar’ prayer said every morning.)

    (d) Meditation books - by non-Jewish or unorthodox Jewish writers.

    Buddism abounds with “meditation.”
    Meditation is only for Prophets – it is not for the ordinary man or woman.

    (e) Books that appear ok – but contain many idolatrous images and drawings e.g. mathematical or philosophical books interspersed with pictures of dragons; snakes; mandalas; crosses; ‘third eyes’; hindu gods; hindu goddesses; buddas; tibetan gods; egyptian gods; greek gods; stone/gold idols etc etc – THESE SHOULD ALL BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY FROM YOUR HOME.

  17. Deborah Shaya:

    5. (a) Written “Requests” of the Igrot/Igros (letters of advice written to other people by Rabbi M. Schneerson tz”l during his lifetime);

    (b) FAXES and LETTERS “SENT TO” Rabbi M. Schneersohn tz”l after he passed away in 1994 – at the Bet HaChaim (incorrectly referred to as the, “Ohel” by Lubavitch);

    (c) Any other written “communications with” tzaddikim at the Bet HaChaim (cemetery), who are not physically alive.

    These written requests should all be destroyed. However “nice” or “comforting” or “accurate” the “reply you received” was; or whatever “bracha you received;” or “whatever the date of the letter was;” – these writings should be destroyed. They are pure Avodah Zarah.

    • There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person’s tefillot (prayers) and Hashem.
    If a person chooses to use intercession instead of praying directly to Hashem, this is completely Assur, and forbidden.

  18. Deborah Shaya:


    If you have taken holiday photographs of e.g. Buddist temples, whether on the outside or inside, these are a source of Tumah, and should be discarded. Similarly for buddist celebrations. These places of AVODAH ZARAH completely DENY THE SOVREIGNTY OF HASHEM, the One and Only G-d, and Creator of the World. They should not be in your home.

    The same applies to photographs of:
    - Churches
    - Hindu temples
    - Sikh temples
    - Greek temples
    - Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
    - Freemasonry

    Sort through your photographs, and discard those that relate to Avodah Zarah.

    However attached you may feel to these photographs, they should be discarded, as they completely deny the Sovereignty of Hashem.

    • Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the Creator, and King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

    7. Discard any other items related in any way to Avodah Zarah. No matter how small and insignificant, or however large e.g. bookmarks with pictures of churches; jewellery and accessories.

  19. Deborah Shaya:


    1. Do not go into any places of idolatry.

    2. Discard and remove from your home all stone/wood sculptures e.g. sculptures of:
    (a) the human form (“nudes.”)
    (b) the human face
    (c ) statues – of the human form in particular.

    3. Books – discard and destroy all books relating to Avodah Zarah.

    4. Photographs – discard and destroy all photographs of Avodah Zarah.

    5. Discard any other items you have relating to Avodah Zarah e.g.jewellery.

  20. Deborah Shaya:

    HOW TO DO TESHUVAH FOR AVODAH ZARAH – once you have removed all sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah from your home/life.

    1. Say the KETORET twice a week at least (Tefillah, prayer).

    The Ketoret has great Kedushah, (holiness) and power to transform all negatives into positives. Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

    If you can say it every day, including Shabbat, this is even better. You can say it as many times as you like during the day.

    The Ketoret is said formally 3 times a day in total: twice in the Shacharit, and once during the Minchah prayer.

  21. Deborah Shaya:

    2. Decide on an amount to give to TZEDAKAH, (charity) in Israel, so that it ‘hurts you’ a little bit. Give to a proper registered charity, such as a hospital or emergency services.

    3. MEZUZOT – (Positive Mitzvah, commandment in the Shema – affirming that G-d is ONE, and warning against idolatry.)

    Check that:

    (a) You have properly affixed a mezuzah on EVERY DOORWAY which needs a mezuzah. This includes archways, patio doors, folding doors, side doors to garden, garden doors.

    (b) If any places in your home are lacking a mezuzah, purchase one as soon as possible from a qualilfied Sofer (Scribe), and put it up as soon as possible.

    (c) Check that ALL your mezuzot are kosher, as soon as you can. These should be given to a qualified Sofer (scribe) for checking.

    (d) Mezuzot should ideally be checked ONCE A YEAR.

  22. Deborah Shaya:

    4. Travel to the KOTEL in Israel. If you can travel with a group of people who are going for the purposes of Teshuvah, this is even better. The purpose will be to pray, (Tefila and Teshuva), and ask Hashem, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, for His forgiveness, for mechilah.

    If a group can be arranged, this will be a greater mitzvah for everyone who joins. If you can go individually to the Kotel, in the meantime, before the group travel, this is also very good.

    5. When you have done 1-3 and/or 4 above, (summarised below as well), you should obtain the special BERACHA, (bracha, blessing) of someone who is known to be a TRUE KOHEN/COHEN. This will bring Hashem’s brachot of the material and spiritual blessings directly into your life.


    1. Say the Ketoret – at least twice a week.
    Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

    2. Give Tzedakah to recognised charity in Israel.

    3. Mezuzot - Have you affixed a mezuzah on every doorway?
    - Have you checked that all your mezuzot are kosher?

    4. Kotel in Israel – in a group (and individually, if possible).

    5. Bracha of a true Kohen/Cohen.

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