Sunday, May 21, 2017


Defending Yoga?

   by Reb Gutman Locks

Defending Yoga?


     Brian comment on Din Torah's answer to my question, "Are Jewish Institutions allowed to teach yoga?" He also posted a link to a 13 minute long video of his example of "entirely non spiritual yoga".

     He wrote, "The assumption is that your experience puts you as an authority on yoga and Hinduism. It doesn't. Some amount of yoga was added relatively recently to some practices of Hinduism. Lets keep exercise separate from other peoples religion and leave the experts on topics to be the one making those decisions. Next thing you know we can['t] use computers because Hinduism uses that too."


Gutman's response:

     Brian, why are you questioning my ability to comment on yoga? That response where you posted your comment was written by the rabbis at "Din Torah". I merely submitted the question.

     I looked at 15 seconds of your video example of "objective health value" yoga teachings and up came the word "namaste". Namaste is the Hindu greeting that means "the god within me salutes the god within you." If you look it up the yoga teacher will explain, "We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love."  

     This is not what we want to teach Jewish children. This is not the way a Jew is taught to greet someone. Jews say, "Shalom" which means "Peace" and is one of Hashem's names.

     Again, if you want to do the exercises without the word yoga or any other of their spiritual teachings that is up to you. But do not defend spreading their spiritual teachings to Jews (or to anyone else for that matter).

What's Wrong with Yoga? 




  1. are there any jewish studies on heart rate during prayer?

  2. With all due respect, Rabbi Gutman, I think you are exaggerating a little bit. This is their language, this is the way they express themselves. So now we cannot learn foreign languages either, for fear their way of expressing themselves might contain some foreign element? Please. Unless you want to lock yourself up in the holy Hebrew world of Eretz Yisrael, which I can understand perfectly... But in that case, please stop writing this column in English and switch to Hebrew immediately!

    Besides that, there is nothing wrong with mentioning Divine Love. Divine Love is part of our traditon too, we constantly remind ourselves and others of Hashem's love for us, and how we should emulate Hashem's ways towards out fellow Jew. And every man and woman has Tselem Elokim in them, we have a spark of the Divine in us, our Neshama. Chas Ve Chalila that we shouldn't be attuned to the love, which comes from Hashem, which resides in our hearts.

    So in the final analysis it all comes down to language. So they speak their language, and when we practice Yoga we use the words of their language.

    Just a reminder: there are lots of RELIGIOUS Jews who practice Tai-Chi, or Judo or Karate, and when they do they always use the original language of the creators of that technique. Here in Israel. So you want to ban that language too?

    I think it is time to revisit this whole concept, and address it with Chochmah, and understanding. After all don't forget that Avraham sent the children of Keturah to the East with all kinds of spiritual gifts. I believe these expressions, in those foreign Eastern languages, are just that, a reflection of the teachings they learned from our forefather Avraham Avinu.

    And besides that we are allowed to learn wisdom from foreign cultures. So what's wrong with that? Yoga is really excellent for balance, for harmony, for health, period.

    Mikol Melamdai Hiskalti. Nachon???


  3. On the other hand, I admit that I do understand your concerns, Rabbi Gutman; in a way, you are establishing a Seyag Latorah, making sure that an unlearned Jew might be led astray if they get involved in say, crystal healing and yoga if they don't know the difference between avoda Zara and plain use of all the wonderful things Hashem created so we can feel good in the world. I do respect, that, so we could say, buyer beware? Or just like Kabbalah was not allowed by the Ashkenazi rabbis until you were married, Shomer Mitzvot and 40 years old, in the same way there should be a sliding scale so to speak: group A is allowed while group B better abstain; - food for thought? On the other hand I don't know if restricting the world of the permitted out of fear makes sense; I would suggest that getting educated both in Torah and in the wisdom, arts and knowledge of the nations would be the best solution for Am Yisrael.

    That is my humble opinion. Would you agree? Thank you for your reply.


  4. With all do respect, DS, namaste is submitting oneself to the "god" of the other. An inch here, an inch there....where does it begin and end?
    Stretch. It's great for a person. Yoga? That's entirely different. It's a foreign intrusion.

  5. Leah and others, with all due respect too:

    What's wrong with this?

    "Meaning of Namaste - Yoga Journal
    Apr 21, 2017 - Answer: Yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala Weighs In. The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another."

    Don't we, Jews, believe in the soul of everyone? So what if they believe that the soul resides in the heart ? It resides within every human being, can you deny that? There is an expression in French: chercher la petite bete", Looking for a reason to reject, to deny. How does this conflict with Torah, please tell me? The only reason I would see to forbid it is if people were to carry it further into idol worship, then for sure it should be banned. But because of a namaste??? All Oriental people greet that way. The Japanese do it too. So what would you do if you were to visit Japan?

    Frankly I think it's overkill.

  6. DS-Your quote proves what I have been trying to get across. "Heart Chakra"?? We do not believe in nor teach chakras. This is a Hindu belief. They also teach that the kundalini power runs up your spine going through each chakra until it goes out the top and you see that you are like G-d It is called god or self realization. BTW they also call this power the serpent power. Do you recall who says the same thing in the Torah? In the Garden of Eden, the serpent says this to Eve. Do you want to teach these things to your children? They say the serpent is a good guy. We say it is a snake. avoid it at all costs

  7. When I read the comment by Brian and then the comments posted below, I was laughing. Do they realize you were living in India for many years and are an expert on this particular matter and how you probably know more about Hindus and Hinduism in your little finger to what they know in their heads!

    After all you have written on this subject (unless this is the first time they've come to your blog), people are still arguing with you on this subject. They don't want to accept the fact that it is part of avodah zorah!

  8. Anonymous,

    I don't know who you are, but then neither do you know who I am; I know quite a bit more about the topic than you imagine. But that's OK, no use arguing, certainly not with you. Maybe one day I will meet Reb Gutman Locks and then we can discuss certain things.

    In the meantime, Shema Yisrael, and Shalom Al Yisrael.

  9. DS

    I am not sure what the gifts which Avraham gave to his children whom he sent to the East were.

    I used to think that they were things such as Acupuncture Meridians, knowledge of Chi and Kung Fu.
    Rabbi Zamir Cohen in his book "The Coming Revolution" writes that the knowledge related to the flow of energy in people and nature. A knowledge which could be used by people who were spiritually impure.
    But that this knowledge became mixed with idolatory.

    Then I read that some Rabbis believe the gifts were not these, but were meditation mantras.

  10. LondonMale:

    All of the above! Of course they are mixed with impurity, but our job as Jews is to extract the sparks of holiness from everything. Particulalry something the origin of which is holy, but that has been sullied, needs to be extracted again and polished like a diamond, and then it will contribute its beauty and wisdom to what we currently know and use.

    This whole approach of fear and loathing is a self-protective mechanism that on one hand shelters the ignorant and fearful servants of Hashem, but at the same time blocks their view so they can't comprehend the whole picture.

    Sad. I think it takes years and years of learning, study and devotion until you can extract the sparks. Not easy, and not for everyone. But they are clearly there.

    Hashem created everything; that too!

  11. Part of the problem here is that not all alternative therapies are created equal, and neither should they be treated as all coming from the same place, even though they may be roughly based on the same sort of ‘energy’ principles.

    That the human body works as a semi-conducting liquid crystal is a tenet of physics, not religion. But this scientifically-proven DC electrical ‘energy’ system powering the body is intangible, and thus can very quickly veer off into matters of the soul, and the spiritual realm - and that’s where the great danger lies.

    To put it very crudely, Western medicine is based on bio-chemistry, and leads people to atheism and a completely materialistic view of health and life.

    Most alternative therapies are based on bio-physics (although many of these therapies’ own practitioners actually have no idea about the science underpinning what they’re doing) - and I’ve seen it lead people straight to avoda zara, a belief that ‘aliens’ created life, or (optimally…) a belief in God.

    The Eastern religions are so dangerous to Jews because they combine a hefty dose of bio-physics with a heftier dose of spiritual impurity and avoda zara that takes people away from God, and leads them to embracing general ideas of ‘the universe’, and spirituality-without-God instead.

    Yoga is rooted in spiritual impurity, that’s why it’s so dangerous at the spiritual level, for all of its ‘bio-physical’ aspect. (When people start doing yoga, they don’t go on about the physical benefits, they go on (and on…and on…) about its ethos and philosophy - that’s what makes it a spiritual practice.

    Chinese medicine and energy meridians are rooted in bio-physics, which is why they don’t pose the same spiritual problems for Jews. The same is true of crystals (which work with the human body along the bio-electric lines referred to above), the same is true of eating raw food, the same is true with other meridian-based practices like tapping (EFT), acupuncture and acupressure, for example.

    Sadly, as bio-physics leads to an awareness that there is more to human beings and health than just being a piece of animated meat, it’s much easier to get caught up in avoda zara and Eastern religions as a result, which is what’s happening in the Jewish community.

    The amount of ignorance about how human health actually works, and how dangerous avoda zara really is, is astounding. I also strongly feel that it’s the work of believing Jews to start connecting bio-physics firmly back to God and the Torah - but it’s going to be a huge job.

    I've written a bunch of stuff about why yoga is problematic halachically on my site at - search for 'yoga', including this psak from Rav Ginsburgh:

    And I've also written a bunch of stuff about the bio-physical aspect to human health on - search for 'electromagnetism'.



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