Monday, March 21, 2011

Did delusional tractor(one) driver Nir ben Artzi see the earthquake in Japan as it was happening?

My answer: NO, he did not.

There may have been an interesting coincidence, which becomes a more and more likely and unimpressive and uninteresting coincidence the more you think about its details. But Nir ben Artzi is making a much more powerful claim. He knows he cannot say event X will occur at date and time Y, because that exposes him to the probability of getting egg on his face, and so, he (or his cultists) find coincidences after the fact and try to elevate it to the same status.

Tomer Devorah lets us know about this claim:
Rabbi [sic] Ben Artzi's website is claiming that in his weekly shiuron Friday morning, 11 Mar '11, the rabbi was speaking about "a large earthquake happening in the world" at the very moment (7:45 am Israel / 2:45 Japan) that the earthquake in Japan occurred.
From Nir ben Artzi's website:
הרב [sic] ניר בן ארצי שליט"א , ביום שישי ה' אדר ב' תשע"א 11/03/2011
בשעה 7:45 בבוקר בשיעורו השבועי, בבית הכנסת "רינת ישראל" בתלמים,
מדבר על רעידת אדמה גדולה שקוראת בעולם
ובאותו רגע ממש רועדת האדמה ביפן.
I don't have the patience to find the full statement. I tried listening to this eleven minute video once, and he speaks quickly, so I missed it. Can someone point to the minute and second that he makes the statement about the earthquake? Maybe someone can also provide an English or Hebrew transcription of the surrounding minutes?

Anyway, he spoke about it. But let us analyze this in terms of recall, accuracy, and so on.

1) The claim is that he spoke of "a large earthquake happening in the world" at the very moment it occurred in Japan. That is, he spoke it at 7:45 AM in Israel, and it happened in Japan at 2:45 AM, and adjusting for time zones, it is the same moment. But, he speaks very quickly, and there is a lot of content in that one minute. So he said a lot of things at 7:45. More than that, the Japan earthquake did NOT occur at 2:45 AM. It occurred at 2:46 PM (14:26 JST)-- see the writeup at Wikipedia. If he is going to be miraculously, psychically speaking of the earthquake at the same time it occurred, why not get it in the same minute? In fact, that was their initial claim, that it was the same rega!

This reminds me of Moshe Rabbenu talking to Pharaoh, where he says that the Plague of the Firstborn will be kachatzot halayla. The pasuk states:
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה כֹּה אָמַר ה כַּחֲצֹת הַלַּיְלָה אֲנִי יוֹצֵא בְּתוֹךְ מִצְרָיִם

And peshat is possibly different, but the midrash states that this was lest the astrologers err and think Moshe was off, so Moshe said ka-chatzot, maybe a minute before or after. As Rashi writes:
"כחצות הלילה" - כהחלק הלילה כחצות כמו (מ"א יט) כעלות (תהלים קכד) בחרות אפם בנו זהו פשוטו לישבו על אופניו שאין חצות שם דבר של חצי (ברכות ד) ור"ד כמו כבחצות הלילה ואמרו שאמר משה כחצות דמשמע סמוך לו או לפניו או לאחריו ולא אמר בחצות שמא יטעו אצטגניני פרעה ויאמרו משה בדאי הוא אבל הקב"ה יודע עתיו ורגעיו אמר בחצות
Here, by Nir, there was not even a prior prediction that it would be at precisely this time, which makes it even less impressive.

2) How detailed was the prediction? It was a large earthquake somewhere in the world. That could be anywhere, any time, or varying levels on the Richter scale. It would have been more impressive had he mentioned that the earthquake would spark a tsunami and possible nuclear meltdowns. It would have been more impressive had he specified Japan. It would have been more impressive had he specified that it was happening just then.

3) This was the regular time for his weekly parsha shiur, it seems. At they write, בבוקר בשיעורו השבועי, בבית הכנסת "רינת ישראל" בתלמים. If he had spoken at a time out of the ordinary, and spoken on a topic he usually does not speak about, then it would be eerie. But he regularly speaks of earthquakes in his shiur, I would guess -- more on that in the next point -- at this time. Eventually, an earthquake somewhere in the world would likely overlap with his shiur. There are a lot of worldwide earthquakes.

4) Continuing the point of how frequently tractor driver Nir ben Artzi speaks of earthquakes, raised in the previous segment. I suppose we could listen to all the videos. But I'd rather use readily available English translations of his parsha sheets, provided to us by the efforts of Tomer Devorah/Devash on her blog, Geulah Messages. As you will see, it is week after week after week -- Shemot, Vaera, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, Terumah he happened to skip it, Tetzaveh, Vayakhel, Pekudei, and finally, most recently, Vayikra. Always about earthquakes. Here is the evidence:

We have:

Second Rosh Hashana Message

11 Elul 5770
(21 Aug '10)
In this special year, the Master of the World is preparing us to see, eye to eye, the light of Mashiach. HKB"H includes the fire, the wind, the water and the earth [all the elements] through floods, intense winds, earthquakes and much heat to reach to every corner of the world. 


For the New Year

27 Elul 5770
(6 Sep '10)
Am Yisrael feels this year that HKB"H is ruling the world; feels the power of the Creator of the World in all the world. In the floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, intense winds and the great awakening for aliyah to Eretz Yisrael from America and from Europe. These are signs of redemption and revelation of Melech HaMashiach in mercy.

In the coming new year, upon us for good, the world is going to pass through much turmoil like that from the past year: in the economy, in security, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, intense winds, conflicts between countries and within them. Thousands of Jews will arrive to the Land from America and from Europe.


Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5771

1 Tevet 5771
(8 Dec '10)
The floods in the world will continue, the intense winds, the snows and the rains, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. The economy in America, in Europe and in other places, will go and collapse from day to day, everything for the sake of the redemption of Am Yisrael.


Parshat Shemot 5771

18 Tevet 5771
(25 Dec '10)
The Master of the World is using all the spirits of Heaven, the dry land, the sea, the wind and the fire. At this moment, there is snow in Europe and in other places there are strong and difficult winds and earthquakes or fires and Jew-hatred.


Parshat Va'era 5771

25 Tevet 5771
(1 Jan '11)
HKB”H is striking every place where there is arrogance, because this is the root of Divine punishment---arrogance. HKB”H is using hard and strong winds, using the sea, the water, the rains and floods. He’s using fire, whether it’s heat, fires or explosives, as a weapon to strike people. He’s using the earth, that ever since the Mabul the earth is in trauma and waits for the moment, the great day when the whole world will be holy and pure---earthquakes. And everything, in order to rock the world in order to shake it up, to unite, consolidate and unify all the Jews in the world, that they are Jews, to come to the Holy Land of Israel, the defended and the guarded.


Parshat Bo 5771

3 Shevat 5771
(8 Jan '11)
Who doesn’t understand the hints of HKB”H? In Australia, there are floods over an enormous area already a long time and this will continue more. There are earthquakes in many places. In Israel, there was an earthquake on motzaei Shabbat and this was a warning in order to wake up Am Yisrael to love, peace, unity, repair of character traits and fulfillment of the commandments. Everyone who fulfills the commandments has the certainty from the Master of the World that he will be preserved and protected and he will have livelihood and length of days without restraint. HKB”H requests that we fulfill the commandments and from there everything will open.


Parshat Beshallach 5771

10 Shevat 5771
(15 Jan '11)
The Master of the World is strengthening the floods, the winds, the fire and the earthquakes. One time He gives severe floods and one time He makes severe earthquakes. One time He makes severe volcanoes and fire and one time He brings a severe wind that smashes trees and mountains. Every day HKB”H is strengthening His works and every week we’re feeling this strengthening in the world more and more.


Parshat Yitro 5771

17 Shevat 5771 
(22 Jan '11)
Every synagogue in the world is in danger, is under threat of being dismantled. They're under threats and it will be done. Pack up all the holy and pure things that are in the synagogues and bring them to Eretz Yisrael. The exile is being ended. All the holy and pure things need to be in Eretz Yisrael, on holy ground. Understand, chaval that it should be an embarrassing, shameful and insulting situation. It's worthwhile that the honor of the Jews of the world not be harmed. You need to hurry and pack up from all the countries of the world and come urgently to Eretz Yisrael. Don't humiliate yourselves, come down from the tall tree because Hashem is uprooting this tree. Floods, volcanoes, mighty and severe winds, earthquakes---they won't cease, these will get stronger from day to day. 


Parshat Mishpatim 5771

24 Shevat 5771
(29 Jan '11)
Volcanoes, earthquakes, severe storm winds will hurt every country outside of the Holy Eretz Yisrael. The Creator of the World is raising a standard – every week it’s higher and this won’t cease until the world’s repair is finished.

Also, about the same time, at Kikar Shabbat:

Kikar Shabbat (28 Jan '11)

28 Jan '11
Also an earthquake is expected to befall Israel. "It will result in shaking, only in order that we will understand that HKB"H gives us good fortune. With Hashem, there is no difference between a Jew who is religious and one who is not."

Then, he skips explicit mention of an earthquake in Terumah. But next, in Tetzaveh:

Parshat Tetzaveh 5771

8 Adar I 5771
(12 Feb '11)
HKB”H wants that we will know and understand the hints, that He is doing everything for the good of Am Yisrael. The countries surrounding Israel and in the whole world will continue to be intertwined and to get into arguments one with another, until it’s over. The forces of nature are violently shaking: floods, blizzards, ice, intense angry storm winds, earthquakes, volcanoes – beginning to breathe and on the way to eruption. 

Then, the one being promoted as him predicting the tsunami:

Parshat Ki Tisa 5771

15 Adar I 5771
(19 Feb '11)
It is the hand of Hashem in everything that is happening all over the world. There is a severe "earthquake" in all the Arab lands. The earthquake is under their feet. HKB"H has entangled and embroiled nations, between them and among themselves. How precisely and surely HKB"H works; all this without harm to Am Yisrael in anything.
Every earthquake that passed over us was only preparation and introduction to open the big one - for the severe quake and great shaking in the world. The floods will be in places where man doesn't believe that there will be floods. Volcanic eruptions will be very severe. People will see in the media hard things that the eye of man will not be able to tolerate. Snows, rains, severe winds; the tsunami in readiness for many places; 


Parshat Vayakhel 5771

22 Adar I 5771
(26 Feb '11)
In every month and in every week, HKB"H surprises the world with something else. One time, volcanoes and one time floods; one time severe winds and one time earthquakes, rain, snow and ice. One time conflicts inside countries and one time severe economic downfall in the world. All this so that Am Yisrael will believe in HKB"H.


Parshat Pekudei - Sheqalim 5771

26 Adar I 5771
(2 Mar '11)

The forces of nature will continue to operate and to take apart every place of evil in the world. Floods, rain, ice, snow, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, intense storm winds, complications in flights and complications in ships and there will be great and revealed miracles for Am Yisrael.

Then, the latest, from Vayikra:

Parshat Vayikra 5771

6 Adar II 5771
(12 Mar '11)

To Ya'aqov there were children from Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. Am Yisrael is built from all types of souls and every one is strong, holy and pure, clear and unblemished. Each neshamah takes upon itself a tikun to repair the whole world. There is no difference between Jews. Rabbis, go out to Am Yisrael. Make large conferences, sermons and prayers - in order to cancel the decrees of earthquakes and floods that are going to flood the world.
You need to be very careful on the highways in Eretz Yisrael. There will be problems with the ships and the planes. Strong storm winds, earthquakes and the most difficult floods will continue. The human eye can not see what is going to pass upon the planet and upon the people, upon the animals and even upon the trees.

He similarly spoke of earthquakes in his remarks on Tzav, though those are not presently up on the Internet in English. These printed pages are not the same as his speech, it seems, but still, this shows that he consistently predicts earthquakes.

When we realize this, it becomes much less impressive. Week after week, a lunatic gets up and predicts earthquakes. And of course, earthquakes naturally occur in this world. And one week, during his regular earthquake prediction shiur, an earthquake occurs, a minute after he spoke in general rather than specific terms about it. I am sure convinced!

And if it had not been an earthquake, it could have been a volcano, or strong winds, or floods, because he often talks about those as well, and it is certainly within the realm of random chances that eventually, some catastrophic event or the type he repeatedly speaks of will co-occur with his speech.

This is certainly not the way to establish a navi. And like it or not, even as he pretends not to be claiming to be a prophet, such that he might not halachically be a navi emet or navi sheker, he really is making that claim -- that people should listen to him because he will tell them Hashem's plans for the world, and that he has mystical powers from On High that aid him in that task.


quarkcherry said...

Why should people listen to you and what you have to say? You could be delusional and be trying to detract from Emet. What is your motivation? Are you looking to make a name for yourself piggy backing on this Rabbi? Fame by proxy?

And another thing - in this day and age, people looking to find machloket need to be carefully examined as to what their motives really are.

Anonymous said...

I have to correct you its not MY answer it is THE ANSWER

joshwaxman said...

"you could be delusional and be trying to detract from Emet..."

i am not making prophecies and predictions. i am analyzing HIS prophecies, predictions and / or claims, and discussing it in a rational manner. for each of my points, I bring PROOF. For example, he claims that it happened at 7:45. Am I "delusional" in this claim. I cite him. Go to his website (linked) and see for yourself! I claim that it actually happened at 7:46. Am I "delusional"? Go to Wikipedia and see for yourself! I claim that he claims, every week, that there will be an earthquake. Am I 'delusional'? I provided links to translations from someone who thinks highly of him, Tomer Devorah. Follow the links and see for yourself.

I see that you are used to evaluating things not based on your sechel but on the prestige of the person making the claim.

Your last sentence is an ad hominem. I already explained, several times, why I am trying to explain to people not to foolishly follow this navi sheker.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

for those who don't understand the point about "tractor driver", please see and actually take the time to read and understand this post. this is not a "job in his past". it is his basis for claiming we should listen to him -- that he was a psychic tractor driver.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

i figured that you would be afraid to post my comments. I predicted it!

Anonymous said...

The words "coincidence, chance, and random" are associated with Amalek. Check it out.

Just sayin'...

PS: Are you honest enough to post this comment? Guess we'll see.

---Anonymous "Z"

joshwaxman said...

no, you 'predicted' that i would have to have the last word.

i did not post your comment because it was (a) Anonymous; (b) abusive; (c) ignorant.

in the same amount of time it took to write "BTW: I am a different 'anonymous' than the one above" you could have chosen a pseudonym, as I have asked repeatedly.

in calling me "delusional", you just resort to a stupid insult. 'delusional' works for someone making psychic predictions. if you think they are not psychic, then the alternative is delusional. as I explained to quarkcherry above, 'delusional' does not apply to analysis and citation and facts.

in *making up* facts about my history in order to be insulting, that is what you are doing, *lying* by making up facts.

meanwhile, you DID miss my point in calling him tractor driver, which I developed at length in the above-linked post.

if you want to engage in discussion of the POINTS I raised in this or other posts, you are welcome to. but ultimately, I do run this blog, and I will choose to moderate out verbally abusive, stupid, anonymous comments.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

"---Anonymous "Z""

are you the same verbally abusive Anonymous I moderated out above? does it take THAT much creativity to come up with a more meaningful name than Anonymous? meanwhile, where it says "choose an identity", you can select Name / URL.

yes, *sometimes* it is associated with Amalek. but pretty straightforwardly, that is that something comes from chance rather than from Hashem. (but see many Rishonim, including Rambam, who argue with the Baal HaTanya -- actually, with certain Muslim philosophers -- and say that there is something called hashgacha klalit. surely you are not calling Rambam 'Amalek'.) that is not relevant here, IMHO. the question is whether *Nir ben Artzi* predicted this with foreknowledge, not Hashem.

do you really think it is a trait of Amalek to require more than anecdotal evidence, for example, before approving some drug? do you think that *Chazal*, when approving a kemeya to be carried on Shabbos, requiring that it be written by an expert who had written three different amulets for three different persons, and each had worked, were Amalek?! they are trying to work against the possibility of random chance! do you think that Chazal, when requiring that we test a hirkin berosho, someone mute who merely nods, with questions with yes and no answers, before accepting a get, in order to protect against random chance matchups, were Amalek?!

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to do some research on this topic. I also see some vagueness in his predictions, and hence we should be aware. I believe you have a healthy skepticism which can help us to discern the real from the phony. Looking for the redeemer is lshem shamayim. There can be a few shakranim who steal the people's blind faith and they should be looked at by those with some sechel.

joshwaxman said...

btw, i would appreciate it if you would choose a pseudonym. it is difficult to sort out who is saying what when everyone chooses Anonymous.

kol tuv,

mr. pseudonym said...

yes, it is getting difficult to read your comments.....

moshe said...

R' Josh,

Thank you for continuing your series on exposing the charlatan who is trying to impress the פתיים among us as being a prophet.

חזק ואמץ

David said...

I never heard of this person, but does he damage anybody with his predictions.
There are quite a few people that are in the predictions business . My question, did someone lose money because of it, and who actually believes him?

joshwaxman said...

It is in the queue of posts to come, but just for you, I'll bring some text forth.

He operates on both the micro and macro scale. On the micro scale, he certainly has damaged people. Here are some examples:

"Sometimes he tells people not to obey the doctors, to perform surgery or to avoid them causing damage," including "ordered to stop giving the child drugs, which caused him great harm."

"In those years, accompanied Ben Artzi quite a few allegations that he messed up marriages with his observations and advice to couples, to the extent of even open a divorce case. Rav Aviner wrote: "To those women who came to get advice, he sometimes emphasized with authority the faults in their husbands as a result, produced dislike and distance in the relationship between the couple. And: "He announced to peacefully-living-together couples that they do not match from heaven and thus disturbed their shalom bayis." Furthermore, he "made matches including very young girls. And an older single girl, he informed that according to the root of her soul she can not get married."

That is on the micro scale. On the macro-scale, with his predictions of world events, certainly he can do harm. He is telling people to sell their homes, quit their jobs, and rush to Eretz Yisrael because the end is nigh! And while aliyah is one of the mitzvos in the Torah, and is indeed a great mitzvah, it is not for everyone in every situation. Some jobs (or children with specific chinuch needs) do not transfer well to Israel, and if someone frantically quits his job, sells his home, and rushes to Israel, it could be devastating financially, not to mention shalom-bayis wise.

It is also harmful psychologically, as I can point to at least two people, commenters at Shirat Devorah, who are literally crazy with worry over the state of the world, in part, it seems, due to Ben Artzi's predictions.

He has followers, in some community in Israel. I wonder how many people are followers of his predictions on the Internet.

kol tuv,

David said...

I am always amazed that people follow such guys.
Here in Canada I don't think anybody would run to him but who knows?


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