Thursday, December 25, 2008

JNUL puts up Midrash Rabba with commentary of Rabbi Avraham ben Asher; also a pamphlet against the Frankists

It is only on Bereishit Rabba in its printing, and is available here (record here). It is called Or HaSechel, and is written up in the wonderfully named The Biographical Dictionary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The Biographical Dictionary discusses the authorship of the work, which it calls Or HaShekel -- and also refers to Rashi and Rabbi Solomon Jarchi, due to an erroneous conflation of Rashi with Rabbi Shlomo of Lunel (=moon = yareach).

They also put up "A Discussion Between the Years 5560 and 5561" (1800 and 1801) a polemic against the Frankists in Prague, by Baruch ben Yonah Jeitteles, in which the years 5560 and 5561 speak to one another about the Frankists. Fascinating reading, and it struck me that there is much in common with the mystical bloggers and mystical community, with their false predictions about last year and this. Thus, for example, on page 4 (JNUL pages, which include left and right pages), we have what is pictured to the right. Where it seems (as far as I understand it) that certain predictions were made for the year 1800 which did not come to fruition. Click on it to see it larger, or else follow the above link.

On page 8, how their women do not speak the sichat chullin of most women, but rather are always taking about kabbalistic concept. The response -- נזם זהב באף חזיר גלי רזין בפי אשה.
How the Frankists support their false positions: לסמוך דעתיהם הכוזבות על פסוקי המקרא וקורי רופי אותיות.

On page 10, how they discouraged classical learning of Talmud, as well as of science, because the latter can lead to apikorsus. And the response -- a wonderful defense of the idea of Torah U-Maddah. And how their lack of knowledge of Talmud and of science helped them believe in the false prophecies and futile visions. And how in truth, Torah and science are sister fields, which help one understand the workings of Hashem, His Deeds, Greatness, and his creation. And so on and so forth.

On page 13, about the utilizing remazim, combining letters, gematriot and the like, to resolve certain doubts.

All in all, a fascinating read. And I haven't read it all myself yet, but just quickly skimmed it.


yaak said...

I take issue with your comparison to mystical bloggers here.
No mystical blogger claims to say Mashiah is so-and-so.
No mystical blogger will stop believing or tell others to stop believing in the coming of Mashiah if the predictions are proven false.
No mystical blogger says that their predictions are the only possible scenario.
Nor do I believe that there is a slippery slope toward such beliefs either.
Me thinketh thou doth protest too much.

joshwaxman said...

"No mystical blogger will stop believing or tell others to stop believing in the coming of Mashiah if the predictions are proven false."
that might be a good thing, if it is stopping believing in the *particular* brand of messianism.

And neither did the general Sabbateans. And neither did the Christians. And some of the modern mystical bloggers will still believe in their own *disproven* predictions, or will come up with *new* crazy predictions, in line with their beliefs.

the comparison is towards the methodology. and towards (among some) an argument against secular studies. and of women familiar with kabbalah coming up with all sorts of far-fetched interpretations, based on kvetches of kabbalah or random gematrias, which are at odds with reality and/or gemaras. Such that they can make up their own beliefs.

no slippery slope? I think there is indeed a slippery slope to forming a new religion. we have the autistics coming up with their own halachos, telling people not to listen to their own rabbis. we have Dreaming of Moshiach, who criticizes the "big rabbi" for not echoing exactly her position that everyone should make aliyah and trust that Hashem will provide the parnassa; and that (newest ketz!) Sivan of this year is the last time to make aliyah. we have Gallis and Wolf, saying that the general rabbinate has failed, and that they will have to be the ones to lead klal Yisrael into the era of mashiach.

even if it is not going anywhere from here, I do not consider the *present* reality optimal in the slightest.

Me thinketh thou doth protest too much.
perhaps, or maybe not enough. ;)

Happy Chanukkah,


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