Abraham Joshua Heschel, his books of theology, quite naturally have an appeal to both Jews and Xtians who believe they worship the same one God. In my early years in Yeshiva, remember the requirement, the drone buzz, the Rosh Yeshiva demanded from me, that I listen to sichos from Chabad Rebbes. Heschel authored several theological books, looking back on my cultural identity crisis experienced in the years of my secular 20s, I sometimes walked to the library and saw this or that book authored by Heschel. Experienced a dud desire to read even a page of Heschel’s drone buzz.
Later in the Chabad Yeshiva which permitted a 31 year old man who could not speak Hebrew to learn within their institution, forced to listen to some such Rebbe sichos, I asked the question, and reached the conclusion that this noise did not assist me in my efforts to learn how to learn the Talmud and the T’NaCH Primary sources. Looking back on the early years of my Jewish identity crisis, Heschel’s books, too – utterly boring. Why read theological books about Yiddishkeit, which totally failed to teach me how to learn, how to learn?! Remembered what Daral Hall said to me years back earlier, prior to experiencing my Jewish identity crisis, concerning books written on dog training. He told me that a professional does not write books in order to reveal his closely held secrets of how he successfully trains dogs.
The Rebbe died while I studied Gemara in that Chabad Yeshiva. The Rebbe the Moshiach slogan totally turned me off – especially after the man had died. The pressure of my peers, in those Chabad circles put on me, to believe that the Rebbe had revealed himself as the Moshiach, utterly disgusted me. It reminded me when Xtian missionaries would knock upon my door in Oklahoma, with the intention of causing me to convert to their religion. My response then and later with the Chabad crowd: “Am an atheist – praise G-d”.
Even in the early years of my Jewish identity crisis – totally rejected and despised theology. But in Tulsa Oklahoma, the finger of HaShem touched my life, met and started learning Gemara the tractate מנחות. Rabbi Asher Dov Kahn focused upon the contradiction between the language of the Gemara which favored either a vertical or horizontal placement of the mezuzah. Later Reshon rabbis interpreted the k’vanna of this Gemara to mean placing the mezuzah in a slanted position. Rabbi Kahn, in my first introduction to the study of the Talmud, then asked me: “How did the rabbis determine permission to place the mezuzah on the door post in a slanted position?
Neither Heschel’s theology, nor the sichos of the Rebbe’s ever once duplicated Rabbi’s Kahn’s profound introduction to the Talmud. Later, while learning in that Chabad Yeshiva, asked Rabbi Kahn’s question to a Talmudic scholar of renown in Chassidic circles. The question, asked by a Yid who struggled with speaking Hebrew, utterly and totally dumbfounded that Rav. He could not answer the question. Thereafter, asking questions on learning which the rabbinic authorities could not answer became one of my focus hobby pastimes; it lead me to demand from all the Chabad rabbis in that Yeshiva and even one 7th generation Chabad baal ha-biet to explain to me the meaning of the 42 letter Divine Name and how tefilla had replaced korbanot?
Later after receiving s’micha from rabbi Yoel Schwartz, I mocked my nascent Sanhedrin peers, much to their displeasure and disgust, by joking about their primitive understanding of korbanot; scoffed at korbanot and called it a Bar BQ offered up unto Heaven. The primary debate, by which I learned the k’vanna of korbanot, over which we argued and verbally clashed, whether “bnai noach” (A). qualified as gere toshav, if they lived abroad; (B). if the pledge which the nascent Sanhedrin demanded they make, whether its required that these Goyim swear an oath while standing before a Safer Torah; and (C). the mandate of the Great Sanhedrin did not extend beyond the borders of Eretz Yisrael, therefore asked a simple question: how could any Sanhedrin court enforce violation of any of the Rambam 7 laws of Noach with Goyim living abroad?
When my nascent Sanhedrin peers expressed their desire to base the establishment of the Sanhedrin upon the Rambam code! Furthermore, my peers failed to prioritize the need to reestablish the 6 Cities of Refuge together with their Small Sanhedrin lateral Courts of Common Law. From the start of my involvement with the nascent Sanhedrin, centered as my focus, on the small Sanhedrin Courts and the cities of refuge. But upon hearing the stated goals of my rabbinic peers, from that moment on, it became obvious to me that the attempt to reestablish the Sanhedrin with these enthusiastic but ignorant rabbis – that this attempt would fail. The struggle to reestablish the Sanhedrin federal court system, together with making the Written Torah the Constitution of the brit Republic, caused me to conclude that I had an obligation to denounce the Rambam as a fraud. That רשע did not know how to learn based upon the kabbala taught by Rabbi Akiva – the פרדס interpretation of Torah Sh’Baal Peh.
But most rabbis today, alas do not know how to learn T’NaCH, Talmud, Midrashim, and Siddur based upon the kabbala of פרדס. Any attempt to foist an alien logic system upon the study and interpretation of the sealed Primary sources of Yiddishkeit – extinguishes the lights of Hanukkah. The B’hag held that lighting the lights of Hanukkah, one of the תרי”ג mitzvot! Clearly this positive time oriented commandment requires k’vanna. The opinion expressed by the B’hag has nothing to do with the ritual of lighting lights and everything to do with the k’vanna of lighting lights. Hanukkah remembers the P’rushim/Tzeddukim Civil War; it declares that the רשעים sought to cause Israel to forget the Torah. Which Torah did the רשעים attempt to cause Israel to forget? Answer: פרדס – Torah Sh’Baal Peh.