Monday, December 10, 2012



by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths


      Regarding Rabbi Ginsburgh’s statement that the idolatry of Tai Chi and Yoga bring tumah (spiritual uncleanliness), a reader commented:


     Rabbi Ginsburgh wrote; “These exercises draw down energy from impure sources.”

     “What the heck does this mean? Do you have to wash your hands (netilat yadayim) after practicing Tai Chi? Is there a practical difference in halacha (Jewish law) based on such a “diagnosis”?

Gutman’ response:

     There are physical impurities, and there are spiritual impurities. Examples of physically impure objects are; a dead body, a limb torn off a living person, a person with an impure emission, the carcass of an animal that was not slaughtered properly, etc.

     The prime examples of spiritual impurity are idolatry, magic, necromancy, and such.

     Physical impurity can be cleansed by immersing the unclean object in certain gatherings of water, and if the impurity is severe enough, the sprinkling of the ash of the Red Heifer (which is presently not available.) Physical impurity can be nullified if mixed with a majority of purity. Sometimes a simple majority will be enough to nullify it; sometimes much more is required, depending upon the severity of the impurity.

     Spiritual impurity is different. Spiritual impurity cannot be purified by mixing with any amount of purity, not by a majority, not even a thousand times more purity will cleanse the tiniest amount of idolatry. Even one thousand holy deeds will not nullify the tiniest drop of idolatry. Idolatry can be cleansed only with teshuvah (repentance).

     There is lower level teshuvah and higher level teshuvah . Lower level teshuvah is repentance out of fear of punishment. The Jew repents because he does not want G-d to punish him. Higher level teshuvah is repentance from love. The Jew sees his mistake and loves only the Infinite One, so he throws away his idolatry, disgusted with its falseness. He loves only the Infinite, formless, Creator of all.

     When one practices idolatry, or any spiritually unclean practices, that falseness seeps into his spiritual life. The more spiritual the person is, the stronger will the idolatry influence his life. At the least, the true Heavens will seem further away, and the idol’s glamour will seem closer. A veil drapes over his pure soul and makes it harder for him to find the holiness that can be found in this world. He might seem to glow with the shine of the idolatry, but actually he will appear spiritually darker.

     Some years ago a rabbi sent a young man to me. The rabbi was giving a class on meditation, and the young man had a wondrous experience. He told the rabbi that he had just seen a most beautiful blue light while he was meditating. The rabbi said, “Go tell Gutman what you saw.”

     The Eastern meditation teachers claim that seeing the “Blue Light” in visions is the highest vision possible.[i] Indeed, the vision is very beautiful. It can even physically knock you over when you see it!

     Jewish mystical writings say, “All colors in visions are a positive sign, except blue. Be careful, it is the lowest color, and much ardent prayer must be exercised to avoid it.”[ii] It is even called the sick color that must be avoided when appearing in dreams.[iii]

     This is but one of many examples that show that the differences between idolatry and the worship of Hashem are not merely social differences. There are major, practical differences that can wreak havoc in your life.

     When the youth told me what happened, I asked him if he had been to India. He said that he had not. “Did you learn meditation from someone from India or from the East?” He had not. I kept asking questions trying to find the source of this unclean experience. Then he opened his prayer book that was sitting on my table and I saw that he had drawn in an “om” sign! This is the symbol of Hinduism which is a religion of millions of gods!

     When I saw it, I pointed to it and said, “That’s it! That’s the reason for the blue light coming to you. Erase that and it will not come back.”

     He erased it on the spot, and he never had a problem with that colored light again.

     If he would not have come to me he could very well have ended up “enjoying” that gorgeous blue light until it would have stayed in front of him even when he was not meditating. It would become heaver and heaver on his eyes until it would be hard for him to open his eyes!

     Everything that you want to do in this world, everything that you want to accomplish while you are here, you can find a kosher way to do it.

[i] “The Blue Pearl”, Muktananda

[ii] Zohar Chadash 68:4.

[iii] Gemora Berakoth 57b


  1. Happy Chanukka. R Gutman, you are so correct. and if the person is referring to Rav Yitzchak Ginsburgh of i cant understand how he could even have doubts after reading his explanation. to have teachers like him and you and others, its a very great blessing from Hashem. the holy Torah has the answers to everything, why turn to man made beliefs. from, a noahide.

  2. Hi Rabbi,

    Some time ago I sent email with the question regarding Yogga to Rabbi Ginzburg. The answer I got from his student that the Yogga is connected to tuma, and Thi Chi is Ok according to rabbi Ginzburg knowledge. What is the real view of rabbi Ginsburd on Thi Chi

  3. Rabbi Ginsburgh's article quoted in the blog stated, "Regarding tai chi, it is forbidden."

  4. Reb Gutman, I must say that I am disappointed that you chose to respond to this particular comment, yet you totally ignored my comment, which was the one directly above it (regarding HaRav HaMekubal R' Ariel Bar Tzadok, shlita, and his apparent endorsement of the very practices you and HaRav HaMekubal R' Yitzchak Ginsburgh, shlita, decry). It would help me (and I'm sure many others who are also quite confused by this apparent major difference of opinion between two of today's greatest kabbalists regarding a very important issue) very, very much if you would please address this. Thank you, and Chanukah sameach.

  5. I have not been able to find the article that you asked about.

  6. Reb Gutman, thank you so much for responding. There are actually several articles that reference in passing concepts from tai chi and similar philosophies, but the two main articles are "About Ariel Bar Tzadok" (which is found at the bottom of the right-hand section of the main page of his website) and "Oriental Martial Arts Are Totally Kosher" (which, by selecting "Most Popular Essays" near the top of the right-hand margin of the main page, can be found near the bottom, under the section "Religion"). I hope this helped, and I eagerly await your reply.

  7. Is it ok to listen to indian music such as Ravi Shankar's albums ?


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