(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 23:04:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Answers About Learning Kabbalah

QUESTION: Why does Judaism recommend not learning Mysticism till late in life

QUESTION: The following is a
synopsis of an explanation I gave my nephew about 2 years ago. It
illustrates the problem of learning Kabbalah before learning is complete
with a single example: It is well known that LOVE/CARING is one of G-d's
attributes. Let us explore how this cannot be fully understood without a
solid background in Jewish law.

1) Rambam, Loans, Chap 1 "We do not show MERCY/LOVE in loan laws; if a a
person cannot pay his debt it is not forgiven and appropriate property is
confiscated". Indeed,as the Rambam explains numerous times--if we forgave
everyone with debts then no one would want to loan (since the debt might be
forgiven). Thus paradoxically LOVE/CARING can only grow on an environment
of strict JUSTICE which gives people the security of knowing how much they
are giving.

2) Nevertheless, we do not confiscate ALL of a poor person's property. We
leave him up to 2 of every professional tool he has. (Again if we deprived
him of the right to earn money we would hurt the lender who would delay
getting back his debt) (Note the paradox that strict justice requires some
caring behavior)

3) Even if CARING is one of G-d's attributes how do we know what Caring is.
Is it preferable to give someone a 1000 dollars charity or to make him a
partner in a business with a loan of 1000 that he will have to pay back?
Paradoxically, the loan which involves less GIVING is nevertheless more
CARING since I make the person self sufficient (and he won't need charity

4) I have actually seen 'old testament arguments' permitting homosexuality
on the grounds that it is an act of caring and love between two
individuals. Only a person trained in law can correctly understand that
Love thy neighbor as thyself cannot override negative prohibitions.

Thus we see that only after a thorough training in law can we know what it
MEANS to say that G-d is CARING/LOVING. It is for this reason that a person
should not study Kaballah till they have mastered Talmud and Law..he simply
cannot understand Kabbalah till then.

Russell Hendel; Math Towson University;
Moderator Rashi Is Simple, http://www.shamash.org/rashi/