Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pascal's Wager, To Follow False Prophets

The false prophets and exploiters of the disabled bring us a new "facilitated communication," here. (Hat tip: Shirat Devorah.) But at the start, a message from the father of one of the autistics:

To the dear Jews living abroad, I would just like to say, let's take a moment to think about this - if you move to Israel now and nothing happens, worst comes to worst, you can just go back abroad in another year, so what have you done, spent a year in the holy land, in Eretz Yisrael? How bad can that be?

But if what they say does happen, you have saved your lives and the lives of your precious families! Is that not worth everything?

This is Pascal's Wager, used to argue in favor of Christianity, but here used in an attempt to persuade Jews to reenact the tragedy which occurred to Gluckel of Hamelin's father-in-law.

Is it really one-sided, this way? Is the worst that can happen that you spent a year in the holy land? There are many downsides, and if someone is foolish enough to not spot the potential downsides, well... take his advice with a heavy dose of salt.

Assuming nothing happens, what potential repercussions are there? Well, off the top of my head:

1) Many people in the US have jobs. When you leave the country, you leave your job. Will that job be waiting for you when you return, or will the company have hired your replacement? With the US economy in the state it is in right now, it is quite likely the person will be unemployed, or will have to take a job for less pay.

2) Many people own their own homes. Selling quickly (because mashiach is coming really really soon, and we have to rush to Israel), to have money to buy or rent in Israel, could bring about a lower selling price. Meanwhile, that money will be spent, or invested, in Israel. Will it be easy to sell again in Israel, and repurchase the same house when you return.

More importantly, will the people you sold it to be willing to sell it back to you? Even so, at the same price? Will you be able to affordably move into your same neighborhood? If this all is a hoax, you are selling off your children's childhood home, and moving into a new one.

3) In Israel, will you have a job lined up? Or will you be unemployed for a while? Are you fluent in Hebrew? After this year, what will your financial situation be?

4) And if your financial situation is dire in Israel or subsequently in America, how will that affect your shalom bayis?

5) Are your children fluent in Hebrew? How quickly will they acclimate to the Israeli education system. I know of one American elementary school kid who basically lost the year, and so fell a year behind in his studies.

6) Aside from all this, you are changing your life on the basis of false prophets. There are, IMHO, serious theological and halachic concerns with doing this (tamim tihyeh; not listening to a Navi Sheker), and buying into their nonsense and alternative religion. They are not your religious leaders, and you should not become one of their followers, even though someone presents you with Pascal's Gambit.

Not that I want to be a naysayer about making aliyah, or spending a year in the Holy Land. But it is foolish to pretend that there are no possible negative repercussions in the opposite direction, and foolish and misguided to persuade others based on this argument.

And anyway, while the statement at the web site tries to convince us that the vague / somewhat inaccurate statement about the US economy came to fruition, such that we listen, in fact, the autistics have made false predictions more than once in the past. For example, this, in 2007. And the failed prediction about the war in Israel, where they all had egg on their face.

Meanwhile, from the latest message attributed to the autistic man:
Am Yisrael, Hakadosh Baruch Hu is so happy with all the prayers that took place at Birkas Hachamah (the blessing of the sun), seeing that throughout the world, thousands upon thousands of Jews streamed into the streets, stood in the street early in the morning and made the bracha - it showed Hashem that truly a lot of Jews are awaiting the coming of Moshiach.
While many Jews throughout the world indeed blessed the sun, I am not positive that this should be associated with Jews awaiting the coming of Moshiach. Of course, as religious Jews, they presumably do, but the blessing itself has nothing to do with Moshiach, except as some frantic people tried to make it so, as they do with every Jewish holiday or event. I am not certain which of the two was intended here.


Chris L. said...


I just read the entire thread from back in '07 on GlobalYeshiva, and I must say that I'm astounded.

It mightily refreshing to see someone presenting his argument so coherently and coolly while being under such attack.

Baruch Hashem, you managed to sneak in a link there to your blog here.

So, as soon as I finished reading the entire discussion there, (admittedly skipping some posts with horrendous grammar, spelling, misuse of CAPS etc. from one poster), I headed right over here to read up some more levelheadedness in this crazy world. What Hashgachah to see you post about this very issue today.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that people still appreciate the effort you put in to your arguments so many Internet years back.


Jewish said...

Great post! I like the idea that every jewish man or woman should at least visit Israel!

joshwaxman said...

thanks for the compliment. i would note that the thread there may seem somewhat disjointed at parts, as a result of the platform removing all comments of people who at some later point canceled their accounts at Glolbal Yeshiva. Thus, at times it looks like I am responding to nobody, and the text I was responding to is not always present.

I agree it is nice to do, but think it should be done with careful planning beforehand, and not in a frantic way, out of fright, such that one's life subsequently falls apart.


Chris L. said...

Got it.

It still worth a read, however.

Shiloh said...

No one knows what will happen 5 seconds from now. All the kabbalists, all the rabbi's have been wrong in predicting the geulah. I personally am aware of a prophecy that was fullfilled seven years ago. I don't understand the delays, but sense a change is about to take place. The signs I would say all agree on. People got all excited about the blessing of the sun. It was on the wrong day, and no celestial event occured. Our calendar is incorrect. I hope it will be symbolic at anyrate. Back to that prophecy, since both kosher rabbi's know about it, and also some with the souls of Erev Rav, what bothers me is the latter. Are they the ones the Baal Shem Tov was refering to as the ones to delay the geulah. Or is it simply the prophetic fact that haShem has sent the answer before the problem exists, and the problem will be the war of GoguMagog. It must take place, then the geulah will happen. I have tried to talk, to give clues, to no avail. I guess we have been blinded for a reason. We wait.

Anonymous said...

That’s not Pascal’s Wager at all.

joshwaxman said...

well, at the least, it is an attempt to apply game theory to theological matters...


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