“Daas Torah” And The Insidious Illusion Of Rational Judaism Explained – The Supremacy Of The Wisdom Of Jewish Sages

For the record, I’m not against “rationality” or “daas Torah”, but I think these two terms need to be clarified because there is a lot of deception surrounding them

Let’s start with a simple question: What defines rationality?

Well, what better place to start than the “holy” open source library called Wikipedia:

Rationality is the quality of being guided by or based on reason. In this regard, a person acts rationally if they have a good reason for what they do or a belief is rational if it is based on strong evidence. This quality can apply to an ability, as in a rational animal, to a psychological process, like reasoning, to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions, or to persons who possess these other forms of rationality. A thing that lacks rationality is either arational, if it is outside the domain of rational evaluation, or irrational, if it belongs to this domain but does not fulfill its standards.

If you have “eyes on your head”, you may already spot the subtle loopholes with this definition. I mean, who defines what is a “good reason” or “strong evidence”? What is the standard of rationality that should govern “rational” people’s decisions? Science? Harvard? The “Experts”?

The exploration of the relationship between rationality and spirituality, particularly in the context of understanding Hashem, is a very complicated topic that delves into the depths of human psyche, belief, and perception. There’s simply no clear boundary that divides the camp between one and the other. It may seem rational for the Chazon Ish to study 18 hours a day, but if someone would suggest that to us, we’d probably think he’s crazy. Yet, if we know the true value of Torah study, we’d be forced to concede that, yes – 24 hours of Torah study per day as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai used to do is ideal.

Just, not for us at the moment.

I am of the opinion that rationality is an illusion. We all like to think we are “rational” and just “require proof and solid evidences” to define our framework. There’s a common idea in psychology that we all “decide with our emotions and then later rationalize it”. Now, if you awakened to the fact that much of science is, to a great extent, a scam, and that this massive corruption has infiltrated Jewish communities worldwide, you are probably going to enjoy this article.

Here we will explore a little bit the limitations of rationality and argue that, as one grows spiritually, particularly in Avodat Hashem, what seems rational may shift, often appearing ‘less rational’ to the average person.

rationalist judaism makes a lot of money.
A heartbroken scientist asks “why aren’t more people following the science”?

Understanding Rationality in “rational Judaism”

Rationality, in its broadest sense, refers to the quality or state of being reasonable, based on facts or reason. It is a cornerstone of human cognition, enabling us to process information, make decisions, and understand the world around us. Rationality is often associated with logical thinking, empirical evidence, and scientific inquiry. It’s a good thing and a basic aspect of our Binah.

At face value, sure we all want to be rational, because that’s what makes wise people. Yet, if we understand true wisdom (Chokhmah) from a Kabbalistic point of view, we’d see how much of that is actually the opposite of what common (rational) sense dictates.

As an example, King Shlomo married 1000 women, 300 concubines (related to Chabad) and 700 full wives (related to the 7 Lower Sephirot). To most of us, this was an “obvious” mistake that we’d never do in a million years because “The tradition clearly states that a king may only marry 18 wives maximum”. However, as I explained in my other article of the “paradox of rationality”, there’s a point of inflection in which real Chokhmah (wisdom) appears like stupidity to the eyes of the folk. This explains much of why the prophets’ messages were mocked by the masses. They were seen as “lunatics” and the common folk.

King Shlomo’s rationale was as follows: as the Arizal explains that when a man marries a woman he transfers a portion of his Ruach to her during their first intimate act. This Ruach stays inside the woman even after the husband dies (but not when he divorces her with a Get) and may impregnate her again if she has relations with another man, as we see in the case of Orpah whose husband Kilyon died (according to Gilgulei Neshamot by the Ramah MiPano), and then reincarnated in Goliat.

In marrying 1000 women from all over the world, King Shlomo’s intent was to influence them to influence their fathers to accept his Malkhut (kingship). If that sounds like a poor reason, consider how everything pointed out to the fact that he, indeed was the final Mashiach: the Beit HaMikdash was built, peace reigned, there was wisdom and riches flowing like water. In summary, the Jews lived in a golden age like no other. We’d all have thought the same, or worse.

Now, funny enough, many Jews think that the sages of old were “not rational” and sometimes “believed in myths or superstition”. In their own warped thinking, they try to hammer the Torah and Talmud to fit the views of science which is often motivated by honor, money and blackmail. Worse: they try to explain away the miracles that Hashem brought about by “scientific lenses” as if, for example, a very “strong earthquake” or some “special moment in the geological flaws of the Earth” cause the Red Sea to split. This belief is idiotic to a degree I can’t begin to write about.

I could give some names and websites here but it is my hope that these fools do Teshuva and wise up.

(For the record, please stop insulting the Rambam calling him the “precursor” of this insidious brand of pseudo-Judaism called “rational Judaism”). Anyone reading the 13 Principles of Faith and will realize he was would never agree to “rationalizing everything away however we can”.

While rationality has been a powerful tool in the development of human societies and knowledge, it has its limitations. These limitations arise primarily because rationality is bound by the scope of human understanding and the availability of information.

For instance, rational thought relies heavily on empirical evidence. However, not all aspects of human experience are readily quantifiable or observable. Experience (Chokhmah), for example, is not something one can build empiricism (Binah) upon because by it’s very nature, it’s above it.

The Apparent Conflict Between Rationality and Spirituality

In many religious traditions, spirituality is viewed as a pathway to understanding God, the ultimate reality. In Judaism, Hashem is not only the Creator of the world, but the very essence of all existence and the source of all creation. His will is written in the Torah and has been conveyed through our sages. Spirituality in this context is often about developing a deeper, more personal relationship with Hashem. By definition the further up you go, the less “empirical” you get simply because you begin to see things in a more unified sense.

In a sense, it’s the difference between reading the description of a car (Binah, verbal knowledge) and actually seeing it (Chokhmah, experiential wisdom). There’s no comparison between the two and obviously seeing is a higher level.

Rationality, with its emphasis on empirical evidence and logical reasoning, often finds itself at odds with the faith-based, experiential nature of spirituality. While there does seems to be an inherent conflict between rationality and spirituality, this is only when one is lacking the true reason behind a certain idea, its Kabbalistic aspect governing it. This conflict is particularly evident in the journey of understanding Hashem who is always above our grasp no matter how high we get.

As many people who studied the Talmud sees, the sages couldn’t care less about science (or politics) because their view was based on a higher reality that merely the physical world. As a person grows spiritually and delves deeper into the understanding of Hashem, their perspectives and understanding of the world may change significantly. This spiritual journey often involves embracing concepts and experiences that do not neatly fit into the framework of rational thought.

Spiritual experiences and insights often transcend rational explanation and require a different kind of understanding, one that is more holistic and less reliant on empirical evidence alone.

The Essence of “Daas Torah”

The concept of Daas Torah, which translates to “the knowledge of Torah” in Judaism, holds prominent place in Judaism. It refers to the authority and guidance provided by Torah scholars, typically rabbis, on a wide range of issues, both religious and secular. The problem however is that the “Daas Torah” has been used as card to justify the greatest atrocities and distortions of Torah. Sadly, most Rabbis nowadays do NOT have “Daas Torah”, they are completely blind to the truth, including sometimes the truth of Kabbalah.

Let’s not ignore the fact that many Rabbis worldwide went a long with the “health campaign” for a certain harmful product all the while they fattened their bank accounts. Few actually retracted their position and even fewer apologized for this disgrace of the Torah. Suddenly they made it ok to do lashon harah, humiliate people publicly, prevent kids from studying Torah and whatnot.

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The main contention with Daas Torah arises when it is based on faulty premises or interpretations, but also when Rabbis are “motivated” by extraneous reasons… like, you know, money. Whatever the case, like any human beings, rabbis are fallible and their understanding or application of Torah principles can be subject to errors, biases, or limited perspectives.

  1. Faulty Premises: If a rabbi’s judgment or advice is based on incorrect information, assumptions, or a misunderstanding of a situation, their guidance can be misleading. Since their word is often taken with considerable weight, this can lead to misguided decisions or beliefs within the community.
  2. Limited Worldview: Rabbis, despite their extensive Torah knowledge, may not always be fully informed about all aspects of modern life, science, or social issues. Their interpretations or advice may thus be constrained by the limits of their worldly knowledge. Likewise, the “authorities” they consult with may not have our best interests in mind.
  3. Diverse Interpretations: Torah study, like any religious or philosophical study, is subject to interpretation. Different rabbis may have differing viewpoints on the same issue, which can lead to confusion or conflicting advice. In an ideal world, Rabbis would explain their reasoning for their rulings, but that is not what we see nowadays.
  4. The Limits of Human Reason: Rationality, while a powerful tool, is inherently limited by human perception and understanding. In spiritual matters, especially those concerning the divine or mystical, rationality reaches its limits. Spiritual truths, by their nature, often transcend empirical evidence and logical reasoning.

This is also part of the Berur (sifting) of the forces of evil (the Sitra Achra) from the forces of holiness (kedusha) that we are experiencing in our generation. I recommend reading Massechet Sotah 49 to understand better the process.

The Importance of Critical Engagement against fake rabbis

This is not to undermine the value of Daas Torah but to highlight the need for critical engagement with it. I tell students who sometimes get the most idiotic “advices” from supposedly reputable Rabbis:

“ASK the source for that.”

Seriously, it’s ok to ask why you “need 2 platas for Shabbat” or why “non-Jews should not live in the Land of Israel. There’s not really much to invent nowadays: either the Rabbi brings a source from the Tanach, the Talmud, the Zohar, Kabbalah, Halacha or (real) Mussar, or IT SIMPLY IS FALSE.

If it’s not ok to ask, then something is very wrong and you may be dealing with a fake Rabbi.

Community members, while respecting the wisdom of their rabbis, should also be encouraged to think critically and consider multiple viewpoints.

Rav Kaduri Zt”L used to tell his students “you don’t need to learn from what I do right [because you already should know from the Shulchan Aruch], but from what I do wrong”. The Talmud is filled with discussions because only through them can you reach the truth. We even find in Massechet Eduyot that simpler people got the upper hand against sages.

Judaism is about asking and conceding to the truth.

Yet, I realize that navigating the guidance of Daas Torah requires a balance:

On one hand, there is value in the wisdom and moral guidance that seasoned Torah scholars can offer. On the other hand, it is essential to acknowledge the limitations and potential fallibility of human interpretation, even among the most learned. This is why in Massechet Horayot, we find the discussion of when “the judges” ruled incorrectly and someone who knows it, should not only NOT follow their ruling but correct them.

Examples of “Rationality” Failing Certain Rabbis

  1. The Sabbatean Movement: A notable example is the 17th-century case of Shabtai Tzvi, one of the most famous fake Rabbis who proclaimed himself the Messiah. Many rabbis and Jewish scholars, caught in the fervor of the moment and perhaps using their rational frameworks to interpret mystical prophecies, supported him. When Shat”z converted to Islam under threat, it left a significant impact on the Jewish world, highlighting the risks of misapplying rational interpretations to spiritual beliefs.
  2. The Ban on the Rambam’s Works: The Rambam faced significant opposition in his time. His works, particularly “Guide for the Perplexed,” were controversial because they attempted to use reason and philosophy to understand the Torah. Some communities, viewing this approach as heretical, even went as far as banning and burning his books. This obviously proved to be a mistake because the Rambam was a real Tzadik.
  3. Disputes Over the Zohar: It goes without saying that the Zohar, the foundational work of Kabbalah, was accepted by many Mekubalim as an awesome work. And it goes without saying that sadly some fake rabbis, applying a “rational lens”, questioned its authenticity and the mystical interpretations it provided. This skepticism, while rational in one sense, clashed with the deeply spiritual insights valued by Kabbalists, showing a divide between rational and mystical approaches within Judaism.
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The Coexistence of Rationality and Spirituality

The perception of spirituality, and particularly the understanding of Hashem, as ‘less rational’ by the average person is a reflection of the limitations of rationality itself. It is not that spirituality is irrational, but that it operates in a realm where rationality is not the only or even the primary mode of understanding. You just see something as true and understand it in an instant.

As such, the journey towards spiritual growth and deeper understanding of Hashem might seem less rational, but it is a journey that transcends the boundaries of rational thought, inviting a more expansive and deeper comprehension of existence.

While Daas Torah can be a valuable source of guidance, it is not without its potential pitfalls. May Hashem grant us real guidance to pursue truth, save us from fake rabbis and find the real ones to inspire us.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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