Monday, April 04, 2011

Rav Shlomo Amar regarding the psychic Nir Ben Arzi

The following article (with audio of the interview) was put up today on Admittedly, he does mention him by name {Update: no, apparently he did mention him by name}, but given Nir Ben Artzi putting himself in the chareidi news recently, and appearing in Bnei Brak, it seems rather clear that this is referring to him. I'll have a later post with other Rabbanim who do condemn Nir Ben Artzi, by name.
Rav Shlomo Amar: There is no prophecy in our days ● To listen 
Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar, referred to in the investigative radio program "Yashar Ule'anyen" of the radio station Kol Chai, regarding the phenomenon of  rabbis who attribute to themselves prophetic powers, calling them as "false prophets."
Chaim Berkowitzas  29 Adar II  14:22

In an interview with investigative program "Yashar Ule'anyen" on Radio Station "Kol Chai", it was asked to the chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, "What is the daas Torah regarding those rabbanim who attribute to themselves supernatural powers to predict the future?" And he said that "these must certainly be false prophets in every sense of the word. They err and mislead others, and most of them are very far from Torah and piety in general. "
Rabbi Amar also said that already in the time of the prophets there were "deceitful people who presented themselves as if they are prophesying, and they went amongst the people and misled him sometimes brought him the most serious things; there are people who know more nowadays greatest prophets, many of them fall into serious serious crimes" .
HaRav Amar added that when he used to be head of the rabbinical court in Petah Tikva, he received many cases of such people among them fell into the most serious things that there was in halacha; this begins with the felony {?} of the theft of money, then come other passions, desires honor, and almost all fall into too serious and dishonorable lusts, rachmana litzlan, their lie brought them so far. All who guard their soul should distance himself from these types ... this is stuff which has no substance, and has in it no holiness and purity. This is merely sleight of hand; one who guards his soul will keep a distance. "
In response to the program presenter, Abraham Foerster: Should not check whether some rabbis do have the special powers attributed to them?
Replied the chief rabbi Shlomo Amar: "There is no such thing. If someone says he walked to the moon - it's impossible. This does not require investigation.... It is awful to tire the public with such things. I wish all the public things, which are so vile that they no truth at all. It is awful to to pay attention, to hear it, there's no point. "
If you want to hear the audio of the actual interview, follow the link above.


Anonymous said...

there is a huge difference between a psychic and a prophet. that anyone thinks he was a prophet just shows our poverty of knowledge on the subject. as a psychic? he is no different from anyone else jew or not who taps into some sort of higher perception colored by their own middot. bad middot will bring a person with psychic abilities to great tests which they fail many times. people with good middot will also have tests, but stand a better chance of not falling. and their interpretation of the messages they "receive" are shaped by their own middot.

r' nir ben artzi is not a rasha. he has good middot and is faced with major tests regarding the use of his gifts. his messages aren't so different than what many others have been saying. but important to point out that even the lines on a person's palm change moment by moment according to their deeds. if you can read a bad decree in store for them, it can be changed with teshuva. no one can predict an exact date for anything. it can always be changed--this is such a fundamental concept i don't understand why such a big issue was made of this. the underlying teshuva message is 100% valid. sometimes people are in such a deep sleep that you need to make a little exaggerated noise.

this whole hulabaloo is one big non-issue.

Anonymous said...

The Torah states there is no prophesy. Could it be any clearer? We all want 'news' but not to attribute prophesy to a man who may have some vision -- and watch him paint himself into a corner.

joshwaxman said...


first, please choose a pseudonym. there is an option for name/url at the bottom, and you can even leave the URL field empty.

to clarify, are you saying that the chief rabbi of Israel is incorrect on this matter? (as well as rav ovadia yosef, rav yosef kapah, and others, whose positions I will elaborate upon in a subsequent post?) it is certainly a possibility. this post and article, though, adds more credibility to the opposing position.

i believe that Nir Ben Artzi is a tricky fellow. it is absolute sheker to promote himself as HaRav ... shlita, when he is not a rabbi. He knows this, and that he still promotes himself as such makes me suspect him. It is true that he technically promotes himself as a psychic rather than a navi, but he knows full well that the effect is the same. He makes pronouncements of what Hashem plans and desires, and calls on all Jews to follow him as a result. "I know where the gold is, but Hashem does not permit me to reveal it" certainly conveys the idea that he received this as a message or idea from Hashem. why does he not promote himself as an explicit navi, in his messianic predictions? because he knows that that will subject him to the tests as explained by the Rambam, which this fraudster knows he cannot pass. better to get off on this technicality.

meanwhile, even as a psychic, i have yet to see any impressive prediction from Nir Ben Artzi. they are all bogus.

kol tuv,

ratzon said...

sorry, it was just easier to choose anonymous. I am actually the first anonymous, not the second (will the real anonymous please stand up!)

The torah makes no such claim that there is no prophecy, there most certainly is. whether it currently exists or not is unfolding with mashiach.

regarding r' nir ben artzi, he is not such a complicated guy. he is very very simple and unsophisticated, unlike those who surround him. i've worked around enough rabbinic leaders to witness how those around them push their own agendas. sometimes subtle and sometimes not, reaching into criminal activity. and the "leader" says nothing for whatever reason. recent examples abound.

so ok, you claim he is neither rabbi or leader. 100% correct compared to gedolei hador. but he does lead a following that hold him in high regard. i haven't found any evidence that he is actively promoting himself as "rav shlita." again, leave that one to those around him. BTW, '"rav shlita" is commonly used on the envelopes of wedding invitations to the most common of people. much ado about nothing.

he is no trickster. he is simply talking about what he "sees"--whether or not he should be doing this is another question. you are making him into a much more complicated figure than he is. he is pashut pashut and because of this, open to misrepresentation or even terrible extortion as that kidnapping story proves. i don't think he even realizes the flap he is creating.

the agenda-driven followers are the bigger problem.

i am not suggesting that the chief rabbi or others you mentioned are incorrect either. however, i will say that it does often happen that they react to agenda-driven questions that distort rather than clarify.

joshwaxman said...

first, thanks for choosing a pseudonym.

"so ok, you claim he is neither rabbi or leader."
i never said leader. i said rabbi. he has no semicha, and that is not a claim, but the facts. he admitted as much. basically, he is an ignorant tractor driver. this may sound insulting, but they are the facts, and it is important to make this point perfectly clear. an utter ignoramus, even if he has a following, should not go by harav ... shlita.

"unlike those who surround him"
he was indeed surrounded by a bunch of thieves, who eventually abducted and imprisoned him. but he broke free of them. if you are saying that he is STILL being manipulated and handled, then Oy!

" i haven't found any evidence that he is actively promoting himself as "rav shlita.""
he has a website, and a parsha sheet. if he is really the *leader* of these people, then he could EASILY insist that they don't do this. however, the pattern of many a con artist is to have one or a bunch of chassidim who praise him publicly and make these claims on his behalf.

"The torah makes no such claim that there is no prophecy, there most certainly is."
the other Anonymous was likely referring to the gemara that says that since the Churban, there is no prophecy, but it is found (but in modified form) among children and lunatics. This is Rabbi Yochanan in Bava Basra 12b. Not just Anonymous was saying this, but it was likely what Rabbi Shlomo Amar was referring to as well.

kol tuv,

Benjamin of Tudela said...

With all of his so called powers, how is it that he keeps having these corrupt people around him?

Also - isn't it a little weird that right after there is a nuclear disaster in Japan, he immediately starts talking about future nuclear disasters?

What would it actually take to convince you guys that he has no powers, but is either delusional or a crook?

Devorah said...

Anonymous #1 - (Ratzon) - you said "i don't understand why such a big issue was made of this."

I wish I could forward to you all the emails I received from some of the readers of my blog, who were worrying themselves SICK (literally) about the things NBA was saying.

He owes an apology to all those people, a sincere regret for causing them so much unnecessary anguish.

ratzon said...

neither delusional or a crook. naive at worst. and yes, i do think he is being misrepresented by some of his "followers." This is really a common phenomenon even with 100% legit semicha rabbis.

it is his FOLLOWERS that made his website! you think he knows anything about computers?!

every other person has "powers" these days. that's a whole other discussion, but it doesn't need to throw anyone. a big SO WHAT. what torah are you learning and what mitzvot are you doing is the question. and that won't change when mashiach comes. the cheder boys won't get time off to watch the beit hamikdash being built. it will be business as usual.

all of this ra ra about him is just making him bigger news.

ratzon said...

sorry, one other thing. the utter ignoramus appellation is in fact insulting /demeaning and doesn't contribute anything positive. couldn't the same point be made in a different way? unlearned perhaps. but even that requires more investigation than has been done here.

this whole bash is unnecessary. chaval.

Israel Rising said...

I am halfway between Ratzon and Devorah. I believe R' Nir Ben Artzi (his followers address him that way so there is no reason not to and written semicha has no bearing on titles) is probably a sincere guy. The real issue is not what he says, but how we approach them.

I think we need to stay focused and open our eyes to all the changes in the world. His claims are really not important and one should never anyway make life changing decisions based on what one or another claim or say. Maybe he is correct, yet decrees can be annulled. So at any given moment we should be asking a Chacham and not relying on anything a psychic or even a possible navi says.

Since the navi has not been sanctioned by the Chachamim he has no authority even if some of his predictions come true. This means that he maybe genuine, but we should still heed the voice of the Chachamim for Chacham is preferred to a Navi.

In terms of Josh's obsession with this sometimes its better to let things pass and they will do so more quietly than taking up a position that will draw more attention than necessary. Your intelligence and wisdom is needed else where.

ratzon said...

devorah, i hear you and once again, it is his "followers" who zealously pushed his message via internet translations or others unwittingly just passing it on through a powerful medium. i translate alot of shiurim and know that much of what is said in hebrew must be toned down considerably for audiences abroad. it simply breaks kelim. i will restrain myself from giving humorous examples.

he doesn't realize this since he doesn't use internet or email. he goes on the radio, yes, but in hebrew. and who do you think set up these radio gigs??? not him.

i still don't hold him accountable. i would want to know if anyone actually explained to him in a clear way the panic engendered by his words to people outside of israel.

joshwaxman said...

the utter ignoramus appellation is in fact insulting /demeaning and doesn't contribute anything positive
'utter ignoramus' is not my words, originally. they are the words of rav shlomo aviner, shlita.

have you read my previous posts on the subject?

couldn't the same point be made in a different way?
absolutely not. not effectively, at least. when people are promoting him (or he is promoting himself) as a kabbalist and great Torah scholar, such that other people are being misled into thinking that this is the basis for his predictions, then one must be extremely frank. this is someone who is an utter ignoramus. someone who e.g. misspelled Harbei (many) as Arbeh (locusts), because many Israelis don't distinguish between aleph and heh.

If he is such a great visionary, on the one hand, how could he not see that people are promoting him as rabbi and harav ... shlita?

meanwhile, i have yet to see ANY of his predictions come true, unless they were stupidly obvious predictions or vague enough predictions that of course they would come true. can you point to one?

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

Israel Rising:
"In terms of Josh's obsession"
it is funny that when people were promoting his false prophecy, it was not called 'obsession'.

i am consistently reporting on this, yes. but such a tone is designed, imho, as an ad hominem.

Maybe he is correct, yet decrees can be annulled.
maybe. but why in the world would you say that. can you point to ONE non-stupidly obvious or else non-vague prediction he has made?

his followers address him that way so there is no reason not to and written semicha has no bearing on titles
by saying 'written semicha', you are insinuating that he is really a talmid chacham but that he has not formally gotten semicha. what is your basis for asserting this, that he is not an utter ignoramus who went directly from tractor driver to psychic?

I think we need to stay focused and open our eyes to all the changes in the world.
And what do those 'changes in the world' mean? I've seen others asserting that he is right, even if he is not a psychic, because the message is correct. you are free to assert that, and i am free to disagree with you. the 1918 flu pandemic killed 50 million people. world war i, starting in 1914, killed 10 million people. yet mashiach did not come.

without prophecy, you CANNOT confidently assert that it must be the apocalyptic times, which is what you appear to be hinting at.

kol tuv,

ratzon said...

josh, i can't point to any predictions either way since i don't hold any predictions from anyone too seriously.

he is not a great visionary. just a "seer" of sorts. but even a visionary, if he is a simple good person, will simply miss seeing bad things in others. i have witnessed this over and over again with my own eyes. it is an amazing thing. another recent example in the news of this is rav lazer berland, shlita. i am not a follower of his, but this is in fact part of what happened. very bad things went on for years under his nose.

i think r' nir ben artzi "wowed" a certain type of crowd that isn't used to these type of things. leaving his predictions aside, he says some beautiful things about am yisrael. they aren't necessarily unique, but beautiful nonetheless.

people make the mistake of assuming that even a visionary knows everything like Hashem would. even moshe rabbeinu, the biggest prophet of all time, didn't know everything every moment. the biggest prophet only sees what Hashem reveals to him, nothing more.

dunno. i still think your rampage is unnecessary and based on little things blown out of proportion. spelling mistakes? come on. there is also a ashkenaz - sephardi cultural difference going on here which further distorts some of the conclusions drawn about him.


Israel Rising said...

We are in a redemptive process. WW1 was part of it so this is where you and I will disagree. I am fine with this being a naturally unfolding process. My only point was by harping on this subject you draw attention to something that is really a distraction rather than focusing on something that can be a positive help to others.

My point about the semicha is that it doesn't really matter to me. I have semicha also, yet don't use it for anything. In Israel there are people that have it that aren't active Rabbis and others that don't that are given that title by their followers. My point was only that it is not an argument worth making.

What would be a strong argument is that we generally don't make decisions in life based on non-Torah based assertions. By doing so we risk jumping on a bandwagon that can have severe effects to ourselves.

Be well and you are welcome in Israel anytime.

joshwaxman said...

let us analyze your assertion. you write:

if he is a simple good person, will simply miss seeing bad things in others.

however, this is contradicted by the very things he did as a psychic. i will cite an old article about the opposition of various rabbanim to Nir Ben Artzi.

"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."

Thus, he claimed to be able to psychically see the bad in other people. Now you assert that because he is a good person, he cannot see the bad in other people. Which one is true?

Rabbi Lazer Berland is someone else who does not have ruach hakodesh. I could point to numerous false predictions of him, as well. Here is <a href="'>one of several false predictions</a>.

Unfortunately, we are plagued with many, many false prophets nowadays. Rav Berland, Rav Amnon Yitzchak, the autistics, etc. Part of why I am targeting Nir Ben Artzi is that he is the low-hanging fruit.

joshwaxman said...

"spelling mistakes? come on."
that is one of many things, and was easy to point out. i certainly would not make such a mistake, because I read Shnayim Mikra veEchad Targum. to not know how to spell 'harbei' is pretty basic. but it is beside the point.

did you notice that none of his parsha sheets have any thoughts of Torah? and the occasional pronouncements which touch on Torah contradict explicit gemaras... e.g. that the Shechina is not among those who daven beyechidus. why this is a contradiction is something for a separate post, which i might eventually get to.

it is not a rampage. and it is not based on minor things, even as you would like to seize one point i made and present it as if it were the entirely. rather than a rampage, it is being perfectly frank, and preventing the masses from following the latest navi sheker.

kol tuv,

ratzon said...



i am very skeptical about rav aviner's claim as stated here. anyone who works with troubled couples will get rapped. which is it--observations and advice or a claim to psychic abilities? at any rate, i stand by my good-person point.

thanks for the opportunity to post whatever i posted. hopefully it will soften something somewhere for others.

joshwaxman said...

Israel Rising:
"My point was only that it is not an argument worth making."

it is an argument worth making because the hamon am DOES hear the title and believe that he is speaking based on deep kabbalistic knowledge, or based on Torah knowledge. the public should be disabused of this false notion, so that they can evaluate him as a psychic, and nothing more than a psychic.

once he is a psychic, the Biblical commandment of Tamim Tihyeh Im Hashem Elokecha would perhaps apply, and many frum Jews would agree. we don't go to fortunetellers, to ov and yidoni, and we don't consult psychics. And for those of us who follow the Rambam in rationalist Judaism, psychics are just charlatans.

kol tuv,

Devorah said...

"In terms of Josh's obsession"

I would like to thank Josh for "being obsessed".
If not for him, we probably wouldn't have got this far. Make no mistake, it was the bloggers who brought this to a head.

It's not easy to go out on a limb and write about another Jew, be accused of loshon hora, and all other manner of character defects, when all you're trying to do is to warn other people who have been sucked in.

As for the claim that it is not NBA but his FOLLOWERS who are doing all the promotion..... then why did NBA personally respond to the bloggers - aka "the skeptics" ?

It was this "response to the skeptics" that brought about the ego trip/announcement of a time (and place) for the great earthquakes. This was his un-doing, publicly recorded on several blogs.

On behalf of all the simple people in the world - thank you Josh for being obsessed enough to wake us all up.

joshwaxman said...

i've heard, here on parshablog, from a lawyer who was involved in the divorce that Nir Ben Artzi caused.

people consulted him for his psychic abilities. and he caused tremendous harm. for example, he 'psychically' advised a couple to withhold needed drugs from a child, to the detriment of the child. he told happily-married couples that they were not each others zivug, thus introducing shalom bayis problems. he told an older single girl that she was not 'destined' to get married.

this lunatic or charlatan caused tremendous harm to (some) people who consulted him for his psychic / kabbalistic advice.

believe it or not, that is your right.

kol tuv,

Israel Rising said...

I don't believe Rambam was a Rationalist. A man of profound logic...yes, but rationalist no. Is it rationalist to believe in prophecy as Rambam does? A true rationalist would say no.

That being long as you feel your crusade is worth making it will be impossible to convince you otherwise. As I said, I think you maybe drawing more attention to it outside Israel than it would get without your commentary. Maybe I am wrong, but I think it maybe the case.

joshwaxman said...

"I don't believe Rambam was a Rationalist"
me neither. but it depends on one's definitions, perhaps. Rambam certainly believed that psychics and magicians were charlatans. (see his perush hamishnayos where he makes this assertion.)

*if* one believes in the existence of a Creator, then it is not necessarily non-'rational' to believe that people of exceptionally developed character and intellect could receive communication from that Supreme Intellect.

kol tuv,

Israel Rising said...

Ok this a debate on terminology. I would call that a logical deduction, not rationalism. Rationalism is deduction based on what we can interface with.

joshwaxman said...

thanks for the kind words of support.


Anonymous said...

interesting commentary on economy.

joshwaxman said...

please choose a pseudonym, because otherwise figuring out who said what becomes difficult.

it certainly is possible, and it certainly is possible that Harry Dent is right. However, see the 'criticism' section of his Wikipedia article.


David said...

There is a tendency for people to want to know the future.
As if knowing it you can somehow gain or prosper from it.
Whether it's stocks, lottery tickets you name, someone will claim how to know it.
Trust in HKBH will get you much further
We must give credit to Josh for what he does. Thank you

Peace, Quiet, Joy said...

I will take Harav Nir Ben Artzi any day over hevel and shtut not to mention lashevet bemoshav leitzim which this this. Your and the other blogs are now banned from my roster as well as those of my friends. Enjoy your korban pesach.

joshwaxman said...

"I will take Harav Nir Ben Artzi"
see, that is a judgement, which seems to be based on false information. do you think that Harav [sic] Nir Ben Artzi is a great scholar or kabbalist? if not, why 'harav'? if yes, on what basis?

"over hevel and shtut not to mention lashevet bemoshav leitzim which this this"
this post was the opinion of the chief rabbi of Israel about Nir Ben Artzi. please explain how this is hevel and shtus, to explain what a true talmid chacham holds about something potentially critical in Jewish history.

"Your and the other blogs are now banned from my roster as well as those of my friends."
so be it, if it must be so. it certainly is your choice, and the choice of your friends. there are some nice divrei Torah posted here, though, which you might want to check out.

"Enjoy your korban pesach"
Amen! BeEzras Hashem, for this year. But are you posting this with some knowledge that mashiach will surely come before Pesach?

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

i'll add another point to the above. i wrote above "he has a website, and a parsha sheet."

to which you replied:
"it is his FOLLOWERS that made his website! you think he knows anything about computers?!"

even if i grant this regarding the website, if i am not mistaken, the parsha sheet is printed and goes out to various shuls. is he unaware of the text on the parsha sheet, which credits him as HaRav Nir Ben Artzi, shlita? here is a link to the online version of the printed parsha sheet.

it is nice to try to be dan lekaf zechut, but there is a limit.

kol tuv,

shimonmatisyahu said...

Before Rabbi Amar jumps to criticize others, perhaps he has some work to do in his own backyard. First, what was the deal several years ago when an Arab beat up his daughter's ex-boyfriend, after Rabbi Amar did not approve of the match? Also, where was his public outcry before or after the expulsion of over 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif?

joshwaxman said...

one can nitpick about anyone to try to undermine them. you would not be pointing any of this out if it were something neutral to you, like a psak on a bracha for breakfast cereal.

nobody is perfect. but it was Jesus who said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", and "judge not, lest you be judged".

this is a 'primitive' aspect of Sephardic and chassidic culture, of applying physical force as a tactic. in some cases, it has a good effect, such as in preventing aguna. i am not going to analyze the issue here. but that does not undermine his halachic perspective on this.

gush katif is irrelevant. how could Rav Schacter rule about copepods, when he did not take a stance about the price of tea in China!? but in terms of public outcry, he did lead a prayer service to cancel the decree of the pullout. read about it here.

kol tuv,

Devorah said...

"one can nitpick about anyone to try to undermine them"

Exactly - Just look what they did to Julian Assange when he exposed all the lies via Wikileaks.

If there's nothing to nitpick, they'll make it up anyway.

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Anonymous said...

Point is we need chizuk and especially last Summer we got it from R' Nir Ben Arzi. Lot's of people were dying for chizuk no one could give it he could. Rabbi means teacher we need teacher's many people complain they don't have a Rav to turn to he is there. Let other teachers/Rabbi's stand up and teach us.


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