Have you ever felt that there really is, maybe, a dark side? Like, that in life there’s something that pulls you- experiences/things/people that seem to promise excitement, tantalization, like “wow, THAT would make me happy.” And maybe you’ve followed it/him/her/that. And when you were done, you were left feeling… not really happier, as in more fulfilled and more whole, more satisfied with your lot… but rather more empty, disappointed, disillusioned, depressed. To use an example which most people can relate to- when that pull, that experience we’re talking about is masquerading/camouflaging itself in the form of food- It promised you comfort and contentment, and then it just left you… more chubby and hence less happy with yourself. You’re not happy with how you now look, but more so you’re angry that it ruled over you versus you ruling over it. Nobody likes knowing they failed and/or were fooled. Sometimes it takes the form of a job, or career, or person, or a certain house, or car, or vice, or experience, or…

Now, there are two categories of people with regard to this point. Those who know exactly what I’m talking about, and those who are lying to only themselves. Because there’s a name to going through this experience. It’s called ‘life.’ Welcome to it.

This week’s Torah portion speaks to this point. Chapter 18, verse 10. It speaks of the very, very dark side. “And it shall not be found in you one who passes his son or daughter under torches.” There was- and guess what, still is- an ancient pagan ritual of symbolically passing your children under torches of fire. The idea was to feed the power of the dark side. It was called Molech. It is amongst the filthiest things you can do before Hashem’s eyes and we’re going to speak of why.

By the way, remember just two lines ago I said, “and still is”? Guess where? Northern California. There’s a place called Bohemian Grove- ’nuff said. Google it if you want. Only those that are in a position to make decisions that affect millions of people, like presidents, governors and billionaires are allowed in though. There’s video documentation of them burning a human effigy to Molech.

Anyway, here’s the thing. Rav Shimon Schwab says… ok, wait, let’s back up a sec because before we can appreciate what Rav Schwab saw through his “Torah glasses” we need to understand some premises. What is ‘tahara’? In English, because there is no real parallel concept, hence no word, for it in secular, we default to using words like ‘purity’ or ‘cleanliness.’ Yeah, whatever. It means none of that. Actually, just to illustrate, a woman, or man, or vessel has to be ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ BEFORE going into a mikvah to become tahor.

So… what DOES it mean then? It means that every single living thing, from a sunflower to an eel to a person, tree or cat, is constantly receiving that life force, and that consciousness, from an infinite source, and to the extent that that life/consciousness force is flowing through unblocked- umm… ok fine, ‘pure’ and ‘clean’- that is the presence of ‘tahara.’ Now, inversely, when there is an absence, a vacuum, where that life force, and consciousness, used to be, that vacuum, that absence, is called ‘tumah.’ (hence, so called: ‘unclean’) It’s not an entity in and of itself, but it is a reality that is created in the absence of tahara. Like a black hole in the universe.

Whew… ok, if you’re scratching your head, that’s fine, cause I did too in trying to think how to articulate this concept.

Ok, so now, where were we? So Rav Shimon Schwab says- in context now of this understanding- that this is why tumah needs tahara to exist. He says, “tumah is yanuk (breastfeeds) from tahara.” Only where we find tahara can we find tumah. But that vacuum is real. Google about a black hole in the universe and you’ll see just how real. So Molech is about feeding death- the absence of life and awareness and consciousness (i.e., tumah.) This is why it is the… well… ‘gravest’… of sins. (c’mon, that wasn’t so bad!)

Because Hashem, the Torah, the Source, can I say “The Force” is about light and life. It’s about awareness. It’s about being un-blocked that there is a Source and a Force and a super-consciousness. It’s not about death and darkness. It’s about connecting to nitzchiyus, something that is everlasting. That transcends death. It’s about source. It’s about every single one of us- everybody who is reading this, and everybody you can tell, that it’s about being a source- of life, of goodness, of awareness and nitzchiyus to everybody you can touch.

That lure embedded in the wrong foods, in the wrong person, in that house of wood and cement and glass, in that wrong experience, in that picture, in that… whatever, that lure is Satan, is emptiness, is the absence of the life force, is tumah.

And pursuing it is so addictive, and hypnotic, and rabid. It’s what Molech was, and still is, all about. In the Talmud, one amorah (Talmudic era sage) told another, “if you would have tasted it (the lure of idol worship), you would have tripped over your robe running after it.” Just like we all do every day. True? Don’t lie. True?

-Yehudah Schwab, volunteer TorahMate and grandson of Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l

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  • mr. lipman


    ARE SO insecure about our lives that we cannot bear the thought of their being a Dark Side to the world?

  • Mister Srully

    My only comments on the writing style are

    (a) “Amongst”? Ugh. No one uses this word in speech. Why continue to use it in writing? Write “among.” And

    (b) “What is taharah?” Taharah man dekar shemei?

  • Tammy g

    This article is very thought provoking and insightful. The style of writing helps one understand the concepts in an easier way. Please continue sharing these ideas with us.

    • Y.schwab

      Like most every other kid in America, I had to read ‘Catcher In The Rye.” I found the first 10-15 pages interesting as it set up the context of his feelings, and then expected, and waited for a plot to unfold. Well, if you’ve ever read ‘Catcher In The Rye’ you know that that never happens. He just goes on and on moaning, complaining, and figuring out nothing about himself, or life in general. I became increasingly bored until it was grueling to continue to read, but of course I had to, so I laboriously turned the pages, and thought to myself ‘that’s probably the worst written book ever.’ I told that to Mrs Pepperstien, head of the literature department, and she smiled and said “I actually felt the same way, but here’s what you have to understand about why this book is considered one of the BEST books ever written, – because it’s not talking to you, your demographic. There were when it was written, and still are millions and millions of young adults out there who identified fiercely with this book. They are also lost, trying to ‘find themselves’ – disenchanted with the world- disconnected. It doesn’t resonate with you fortunately, but it does with millions of other kids”
      So I learned that it’s silly to put down J.D. Salinger (the author) just because his style, and target demographic, wasn’t mine.
      As you see from the other positive comments here, others find the writing quite good and engaging. To be fair to you, I know from past feedback of my other writings that it resonates more with younger people who like things straight forward, real and raw. So no hard feelings.

      And re: “Convoluted logic” and ‘must be a “depressed person” well.. if you feel that way it means that you just have to read more. Ironically, I too used to feel quite that way when I first learned these insights, but then I started reading, and learned that the truths CAN be depressing, without a Torah defense, and not at all the way we would naturally ‘logically’ assume them to be. So we use to agree – ironicaly.

  • Vania Melamed

    This wasn’t academically written, which made it tedious to follow and a downright shame for the article, because contextually, this article is really insightful. I didn’t find anything about the article offensive, and as Jews we should embrace any interpretations – so long as it’s in accordance with G-D and Torah teaching – as part of what makes Jews an enduring people. If we look at the news today – I mean REAL news – you’ll see that 99.99% of death and intolerance is caused by practitioners of Islam, the real dark place into which a gentile soul – or even a wayward, ignorant Jewish soul – can descend. While this interpretation of shoftim may seem foreign to most of us, this is, in fact, the void of reform Judaism, the void of Islam which is overtaking the world, and the void, or dark place, of desperation to be altruistic about the correlation between Islam’s rise and complacent, reform Judaism. Because irreligious Judaism is the most pervasive type of “practiced” (tongue in cheek, I say) Judaism in America, it has become the practice we are best known by. It’s depressing to hear from fellow Jews that they don’t know they need to cover their hair, or that they think Torah is just a symbol of their people. But more depressing is that the political views of most Jews in America and in the West shape their views of Judaism, not the other way around, so that they are more likely to tacitly welcome the spread of this dark space into America, in the name of some G-D-less secular compassion, and be overcome by the dark intolerance and death-preoccupied Islam before he realizes what has happened. That is the parallel I see, in this poorly written piece. Perhaps we see what we want to see, but it’s irrefutable that the void is none other than the misguided “compassion” which allows darkness and death-worshipping evil to spread.

  • yoel c.sussman

    where does he say this? OORAH how do you permitt this to go under your name?? Orrah wake up watch your ourput

    • Yakov Londen


      I happen to have seen where he says it. It’s in his sefer called Ma-yun Bais Ha-shoayvuh, by he splitting of the Reed Sea. which, raises the question, why would you, instead of just politely asking from the humility of not knowing, ask attackingly, as if you know better. Just ask, “That’s interesting, where can I look it up? What’s really bothering you?

    • Y.schwab

      About 11 years ago I had an embarrassing experience in front of about 70 peers, which taught me an important life lesson which I never forgot, and hence, have never yet repeated that mistake.

      Like most people just out of collage and/or business school, particularly if it’s one of the better ones, I felt smugly confident, and hence in a position to challenge others, particularly, in this story, even when one of those ‘others’ had 20 years, or so, on me in the business. He, Dustin, had just explained an insight in money management to a room of about 70 of us. Being that the great I had never heard/learned that insight, I smugly responded, “Where did you get that from??” and thought to myself something like: ‘JP Morgan, watch your output!’ Dustin, holding the podium tightly on either side looked down at the podium with very tightly pierced lips for about 7-10 seconds while he collected his posture of response, and then, very calmly and politely, gave me quite the schooling – stuff I had never learned in school. I then learned the lesson that no matter how qualified I feel, it’s much more wise, and humble, and less potentially embarrassing for myself to simply, humbly, ask ‘Hey, that’s new, and interesting. I’ve never known that. Can you elaborate?,’ and/or, …where can I look it up?’

      About six months later, at the next regional meeting I want to Dustin before the meeting started and both apologized and thanked him for this life lesson. He smiled and said, “You’re a really bright kid. Just pass the lesson forward one day.” So I am.

      And for the record….

      Just as the fellow before cited correctly for you, it’s found (amongst other places in his writings, and in private conversations with him) by the splitting of the Red Sea in his book – cited above.

      And also, I’m just curious (sincerely, I’m not being sarcastic here) what changes if it’s recorded in chapter A, or B or C, or D?? Does something change about the concept depending on which chapter it appears?

      Also, Mr. Londen, if you’re reading this, although the correct spelling in English is the RED sea, you’re actually technically correct calling it the ‘REED sea,’ because the sea is not, of course, red, but it is full of reeds, and hence the Torah name of this sea, the ‘yam zoof’, means the reed sea – ‘zoof’ means reeds.

  • aline goodman

    what a thought provoking article that makes us really think about the “dark side” and what it really means …..and its’ significance in our everyday lives.

  • chuna

    Just to help, I hope…the ideas were okay, but the words chosen are not enticing. They’re too condescending and critical. Besides that, I’d be interested to see the ‘video doc’ about the human effigy.

    • Yakov Londen

      Took me about 90 sec. to find. You just have to type in ‘Google’ on your search bar, and then type in ‘Dark secrets of B…grove’
      – and I didn’t find it “condescending” at all. I found it real and raw.

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