Monday, June 08, 2009

The second "problem" with Galia, relating to other autistics

Here is a statement on Galia's website. Recall that Daniel and Ben, the "famous" autistics, have promoted Galia's messages as the real deal. On the website, we have the following caution:

Do not go running to autistics and brain-damaged people as if they were sources of divine prophesy [sic]. We believe that our rabbis are God’s messengers in the world and it is forbidden to ask personal questions from the autistics. Galia has told me that anyone who asks personal questions can harm himself and interfere with his tikkun, the things his soul was sent to this world to rectify. 

(She also told me that I am allowed to ask her personal questions since that is necessary for my work on behalf of the public, and also because it is necessary for the completion my soul needs and for her soul as well.) 

Galia has told me that every message has to be confirmed by a reputable Rabbi, and it is forbidden to communicate in public or to turn this phenomenon into a public spectacle. She wrote that they get very upset in heaven at anyone who communicates in public or who uses this technique for communicating improperly, and anyone who does so will be severely punished.

This corresponds more or less to the statements in the haskamos of the book, that rabbis should still be the leaders and that one should not be using them as prophecy. Here as well, not to ask personal questions from people (thus making the autistics into a soothsaying mechanism) and not make it into a public spectacle.

Yet Rabbi Sachs, working with Ben and Daniel, has violated each of these. And if according to his beliefs, and Daniel and Ben's purported authentic messages, Galia is the real deal, then they will be severely punished for their conduct, and are causing other people to sin as well! (Of course, the truth of the matter is that different people will naturally have different messages, depending on the thoughts of the different facilitators, who are the ones who are actually doing the communicating. So it is not surprising to find a contradiction.)

Ben and Daniel on more than one occassion (including one fairly recently) have taken personal questions from the public, and have published them on their website. And even though they cover themselves by claiming they are not prophets and the source of Divine prophecy, of course they are presenting themselves as if they are, by saying that it is the souls communicating, that they are privy to secret knowledge from On High about the apocalypse, that they know that Obama is an agent send from heaven to do harm (=Gog), and by putting up front and center a quote from Amos that כִּי לא יַעֲשֶׂה ה' דָּבָר; כִּי אִם־גָּלָה סוֹדוֹ אֶל־עֲבָדָיו הַנְּבִיאִים. On the Hebrew side, but not the English page, they have the "clarification" of this pasuk by citing the autistic Daniel that "באנו בשליחות להסביר לעם ישראל את דבריהם וסודותיהם של הנביאים". Baloney, and they know that is not how people are taking it. The claim here is that Hashem told the prophets, and the autistics are merely interpreters of those words of the prophets (and thus they in effect have the authority of the true prophets of old). But many rabbinic figures throughout history have interpreted these psukim in different ways, and to take a particular interpretation, and to apply it to modern times, while doable, is not foolproof. Who says their interpretation and application is correct? They say elsewhere that these are messages from on high. Come on! They are claiming prophecy, while pretending that they are not claiming prophecy.

Rabbi Sachs going on Arutz Sheva to promote the message of the apocalypse from the autistics, and making an in your face TorahNews to promote the apocalyptic messages is
not making it into a public spectacle? Of course it is!

And do they seek rabbinic guidance for all of these messages? Well, Rabbi Sacks is a rabbi, but he is too close to the situation, being the facilitator himself. Nor is he the gadol hador, that everybody must pay heed to him. And furthermore, rather than providing guidance regarding the autistics, he is guided by them! Thus, for example:
At the urge [sic] of autistic Binyamin Golden, Rabbi Sachs Shlita recently opened a new site together with Binyamin to help us understand current world events and wake us up to realize how close we are to the end.
But of course people will have apologetics, because that is what people engage in when they have already decided what is correct and "frum".


Yosef Greenberg said...

"She also told me that I am allowed to ask her personal questions since that is necessary for my work on behalf of the public, and also because it is necessary for the completion my soul needs and for her soul as well."

I take it that she's kidding on this one. :)

Nor is he the gadol hador, that everybody must pay heed to him.

Nice to hear (read) that you are a believer in Daas Torah.

joshwaxman said...

"I take it that she's kidding on this one"
alas, no. :(

"Nice to hear (read) that you are a believer in Daas Torah."
not precisely, in that full sense. though my audience does. i do maintain that there are gradations of expertise, and that on *major* issues and topics, it *does* make sense to consult those most likely to know. and rav elyashiv, rav ovadia yosef, rav herschel schachter, rav belsky, etc., are in a different league than your average person who *happens* to have semicha. (there are however topics that it makes sense to consult others. see e.g. this nodah biyhuda.) rabbi sachs in not *acknowledged* far and wide as a great posek or theological thinker. if he would say these things by himself with no backing by autistics, people would not listen to him over other rabbis who say differently. Rather, people have to consult their already established halachic guides. In many cases, these will indeed be gedolim.


Yosef Greenberg said...

With major issues; do you mean in Hashkafah, Halachah, or both?

Or neither. I don't think anyone totally follows da'as Torah in the full sense. I don't ask da'as Torah as to what brand orange juice to buy. Yes even total followers in da'as Torah usually tend to follow their own minhagim, leaving the da'as torah part to when they're unsure.

joshwaxman said...

in terms of major halachic issues, where it is not a simple shayla (with small repercussions) addressed in Mishnah Brurah or easily derived from a competent rav, but things with broad or severe repercussions. you know what i mean. not every rav should take upon himself to be matir (or assur without referral!) agunos, mamzerus. issues involving the state of israel, certain pikuach nefesh, etc. they have their right to voice their opinion but there are certain obvious Big issues.

whether the apocalypse is coming such that everyone should quit his job and move to Israel; whether nevuah has returned to am yisrael and as a mechanism to determine halacha; without any offense intended, not just any "yutz" should get to decide on such matters.

but who is considered a gadol in such matters? obviously an actual knowledge of the metzius, rather than merely being revered by thousands of "chassidim", is a prerequisite.


joshwaxman said...

to expand a bit on this idea, i think that in certain cases specialized knowledge trumps general gadlus status. for example, i believe that my knowledge of the book of Tobit gives me an insight into the meaning of a gemara about the angels understanding Aramaic, and one which rav ovadia yosef does not have. see the comment section of elomdus to see this fleshed out.


Yosef Greenberg said...

Careful! Rav Ovadia is walking encyclopedia with literally thousands of seforim in his head, word for word. So he might just have Tobit in there as well.

I'll check out the elomdus post.

I love your reuse of the term "yutz" that you used back there in Global Yeshiva!

joshwaxman said...


yeah, that was what was going through my mind.

i agree that Rav Ovadia Yosef is a walking encyclopedia. but what if the work in question falls under seforim chitzonim, such that it is purportedly forbidden to read it? (i have my arguments for why it is letoeles, as it informs us of the culture of the Tanaim...) But this would be similar to how Rabbi Parnes wrote that certain books, according to the Rambam, could not be read. And how Rav Shternbuch quite possibly would not familiarize himself with the ins and outs of the heresy of evolution.

(a related point: at the time of the copepod controversy, i was the only one who even thought to point out how Yushke criticized the Pharisees for straining out gnats from their water, such that this level of attention to detail in this area may go way back, and such that much of the modern criticism found parallel in the words of a certain false prophet. how many roshei yeshiva would be familiar with this? do you think they should be?)


Yosef Greenberg said...

Not really.

Does it really make a difference what Yushke criticized? Its great fodder for arguments but has no real halachic value.

Might there be uses in halachah through sifrei chitzonim? Possibly. But does it override a psak from Chazal not to learn it?

joshwaxman said...

if i understand correctly, rav schachter permits learning it briefly for toeles, and this based on his understanding of the relevant sugyas.

some understand learning seforim chitzonim (assuming Tobit is covered under this) as treating is as sacred literature and ritually reading it, or darshening it. it is not so simple.

in the case in play, the narrative in Tobit makes it clear that while prayers are explicitly directed towards Hashem, it is the angels who act as mail carriers. as such, the gemara about angels not understanding aramaic does not need to mean at all that one is directing prayers towards the angels, and what he derives (at odds with a Yerushalmi) is not necessary. rather, one directs one's prayer to Hashem without invoking angels, but it won't get to Hashem because the angel postal worker won't understand it.

there is plenty of other outside (academic) knowledge that might give me insight into gemaras that roshei yeshiva do not have. the ones above are simple examples, but there are many.


Yosef Greenberg said...

I heard that exact answer on this question in the past from more traditional sources.

I agree with the academic sources comment, but I limit it to academia. For halachah, I'll apply Hafoch boh v'hafoch bo. So in this case, there is no need for Tobit.

Do you perhaps have a reference for Rav Schachters statement?

joshwaxman said...

i probably have as well. but until you see it in Tobit, both explanations are perhaps equally likely.

here is another example. mavuy heAsuy kemin Chi in Yerushalmi. the typical approach of the meforshim is to read Chi as a Chet. how many recognize the likelihood that it is a reference to the greek letter (just like the gemara referring to the letter gamma)?

Rav Kanievsky in his perush on Yerushalmi followed the standard perushim about male and female horses and donkeys, but a friend of mine gave a (IMHO) more correct peshat on the basis of knowledge of animal husbandry. Perhaps a post on this soon.

Dr. Elman has many insights into the meaning of the gemara (Bavli) on the basis of knowledge of Persian language and Persian law.

Whether it is correct or not, or whether such knowledge can be brought for the purpose of psak, it is indeed a weighty subject.

I'll see if I can track down the precise context of Rav Schachter's comment. But it does not begin and end with Rav Schachter.


joshwaxman said...

in terms of relevant short selections of New Testament (which is quite possibly different from sefarim chitzonim), see here:

the general role of sefarim chitzonim and what "koreh" of them means is a much larger discussion.


Yosef Greenberg said...

Fine, but you're running the risk of losing your chelek in Olam Habbah.

Now, I'm not trying to threaten you with divine retribution, but you should be fully convinced that learning it is Halachically proper. (As oopsed to finding a 'heter')

yitz said...

Why go to Tobit for that point?

Isn't there a comment in the Talmud about the angels putting the crowns on our tefillot?

Again, if you afforded the Zohar more credit you have a lot of source material to explain these issues, it's only if you reject those as authentic that you run into trouble.

Agav, In Hassidut there are many comments to this affect, which might lead one to seek out their sources.

The Noam Elimelech explains that Angels can't understand our tefillot to HaShem, but based on the 'smell' of our Tefillot they know about the worthiness of those tefillot.

Also related: Likkutei Halachot, (iirc) Angels can re-appropriate particularly efficacious (sp?) Tefillot for more important purposes.

Also I believe Rebbe Nachman says in Likkutei Moharan that angels can of course understand Aramaic, but it is beneath their dignity to relate to it, so they ignore it.

Just mentioning that info.

Oh, and I'm almost a 'yutz'.. being a 'yitz'..

Also re: your jesus point, gnats are visible to the naked eye, so it makes sense to determine their halachic status.. whereas microscopic life-forms have a different status. Furthermore, in the context of the Ben Ish Hai's heter that small insects that live their whole life in the water are mutar in drinking water unless they leave the water first and then are re-introduced would also not apply to gnats since unless we're talking about different gnats -- they fly, so they clearly leave the water.

But I definitely agree with the problematic nature of the autistic-driven phenomena.

and always appreciate when you take a stand on such issues.

josh waxman said...

i am fully confident that this is the optimal derech in learning, rather than a mere heter; and it is part of a general approach to Torah UMaddah. "this too is Torah, and I wanted to learn."

thanks, interesting points. tobit makes it explicit since we can see the content of the tefillah and subsequently see that the angel refael talks about bringing the tefillah before Hashem. such that it is obvious what the gemara meant, from a cultural perspective. if all this is in Zohar to the same extent, why would Rav Ovadiah Yosef practically determine halacha in the opposite direction. Once you see Tobit, that reading of the gemara is entirely deflated. And this has major theological repercussions.

Copepods are indeed visible to the naked eye. Especially once they are pointed out to you. And certainly when they are moving in the water (rather than being dead), they are visible as living creatures. And as I pointed out at the time, an adult copepod is about half the size of an adult gnat. So it is *possibly* comparable to a small insect rather than a really large bacterium.

The Ben Ish Chai indeed presents a good opportunity, and should be part of the halachic analysis.



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