Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Was the fire in Haifa predicted in Midrash Rabba?

Parsha blog responds to Rabbi Lazer Brody's post about the Carmel fire:  Was the fire in Haifa predicted in Midrash Rabba?

"Summary: Absolutely not! Only if you don't know how to read a midrash, or willfully misinterpret it, can it say what some are proposing."

I am sorry if I have mislead anyone by leading them to Lazer Beam's post yesterday. (I have now removed yesterday's post).  I suggest you all go to Parsha.blog and read what Josh has to say.

I wish people would stop playing games with predictions.  It's very damaging to all of us.  I am often naive, perhaps this has again been one of those times.  Thanks to Josh for the explanations. 


Shiloh said...

Why are you so sure that we shall only listen to Josh? Is he a Navi? Don't think so. Also, are you so sure that the Mashiach has not been revealed and we now wait for the rabbi's to make the next move. Remember, the rabbi's will hinder the geulah. Also remember what the Tanach say's about the faithless leaders, like the 'Josh's' of the world. Probably so. You want the geulah, then believe it's possible.

Devorah said...
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Devorah said...

I'm not sure about anything at all.

This Anonymous comment was published at the original post yesterday:

"My Rabbi claims that this article is a misinterpretaion of the midrash which talks about that fires all over Israel (not only Haifa) will rage against our enemies in the days before Moshiach. These fires in Haifa impacted mainly the Jews and not our enemies. "

Josh's explanation seems to reinforce this.

Tidbits of Torah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anat solomon said...

dear devorah

I have just read your article
(and I love to read your blog) regarding the prediction of carmel fire in midrash rabba made in lazer brody's site. And in my opinion as far as I and my husband have come to know Dear rabbi brody he has/had no intentions in mistaking anyone. He is a true hashem fearing personality . as we all know Our torah has lot of interpretations and different sides to understand each SUGIA therefore, I dont think so its appropriate to judge anyone negatively. the point is to read the article be inspired and not hang on it and enter deeply in forms of predictions. Most of the blogs give some sorts of predictions and i think its will be absurd to beleive each and every idea that the blogger writes. the point is to read different ideas and leave it.

Devorah said...

I am not judging anyone, that is Hashem's job, but he should have given us more information regarding the entire quote, so we could decide for ourselves whether the Haifa fire is the one referred to in the Midrash.

As most of us who read his blog tend to believe everything he writes, simply because he is a respected rabbi, and as you say a "true Hashem fearing personality", then all the more reason to be extra careful with publishing these predictions.

I know in the past I have published things that have not realized their potential, but if I also knew in advance that something was questionable, I would at least inform my readers of that fact.

If vital information is omitted, it is "geneivas da'at" - theft of the mind - it is giving people false hope and distorting the facts.

I admire Rabbi Brody for many different reasons, but unfortunately this is not one of those times.

Zvi said...

I personally don't believe most of Rabbi Brody says because I've bought into his (and other people loosely connected with Israeli National Radio's) nonsense before and it made my life very difficult as a result. To be blunt, I would take anything he says with a grain of salt and check for yourself exactly what the Midrash, Gemarah or Halacha he is quoting actually says. It's really easy to twist any verse or any commentary to mean anything, if you treat the text like it's a word search, which no one should do under any circumstances.

This is why I don't believe MOST of the "Torah Codes". It's also why I have a real problem with Chassidut - meaning is attached to every single thing. Even if there is a deeper meaning, that deeper explanation has no business being spread around the world or even being revealed to those who are not educated enough to understand the deeper meaning properly. It's also why there are some really messed up views of Judaism and the Torah.

In addition, the whole "Aliyah or die" mentality that Rabbis Brody, Arush and Yitzhak subscribe to and preach about has become too much. If you want to make Aliyah, do so. But don't go telling me I'm going to be wiped out if I don't. Otherwise, you're denying numerous P'sukim in Nach that speak about the Kibbutz Galuyot. It's that simple. Until you've learned Tanach to the level of those whose commentaries we study on a regular basis, don't go interpreting things your own way. I would hope that Rabbi Brody would be aware of that by now.

Why am I so critical? I'm tired of seeing prominent Rabbanim and Gedolei HaDor being quoted as saying things that they did not say. I'm tired of people trying to kvetch Chumrot out of Halacha that have no basis whatsoever. And above all of that, I'm sick and tired of people treating Tanach as a word search that backs up their personal beliefs. It's disrespectful to our Holy Torah and by extension, it's utterly disrespectful to G-d himself.

Anonymous said...

Blessings devora and happy chanukka 6th day. the best thing to do is to ask R Lazer directly himself, dont you think so. i personally dont appreciate what parsha blog writes and now prefer to avoid that site. Rabbi lazer has reached out to many people all over the world. as i wrote to you once before, if the mosiach does not come after this shabbat i just say to myself, thats one shabbat less to wait. and continue waiting, because we know he will come. RLazer is giving strength during that wait, however it has a opposite effect on some, sad to say. blessings.

David said...

I read the Midrash as I commented yesterday. Its fine to read it the way Rav Brody is reading it. I don't believe he is necessarily misreading. Josh is entitled to his opinion, but I would defer to Rav Brody on this stuff.

Elliot said...

Zvi has written off 2 important ingredients which have helped dramatically in the return of so many Jewish people to their roots in the post-war world; Chasidut and the discovery of Torah codes.

moley said...

on the heberw section of dani18.com they bring a pasuk from Yeshayahu perek daled that discusses the carmel and how its vegetation will change to desert.

Zvi said...


Let explain to you why I write off those two phenomena (This is part 1):

Chassidut. Chassidut is essentially 17th Century NCSY, for lack of a better description. Sure, it feels good and emphasizes spirituality. However, the near-deification of the Rebbe is a negative thing that should be avoided because of the fact that it can lead to kind of problems present in Chabad-Lubavitch vs Orthodox Judaism. In addition, Chassidut, in its aspiration to spread spirituality, reveals aspects of Jewish Mysticism which are absolutely not for public consumption. This is why there are numerous restrictions regarding who may study the Zohar as well as why the German Kehillot were very hesitant to adopt the Kabbalat Shabbat service as we know it - specifically because of its mystical orientation. In addition to that, mysticism and its powerful influence on the soul is also why it was required in the past that one be an expert in all other areas of Torah before even considering embarking on even a cursory study of Jewish mysticism. I firmly believe that Chassidut served a purpose in the past a form of Kiruv and did what it had to "to keep people in the fold", especially since Yeshivot were for the elite and most people did not receive more than a rudimentary Jewish education. However, I believe there are serious problems with Chassidut because of the dissemination of mysticism. And this doesn't even include the invention of Chumrot that occurs all the time and makes life increasingly difficult, which is actually counter to the Torah and will eventually lead to a complete breakdown in the Chassidishe lifestyle. I will not say they are past their expiration date as they have brought many people back to their roots, even though I think that with the increase in Jewish education, there needs to be a return to the pre-Chassidish era when mysticism was restricted to those who were truly ready for it. I do not dislike nor hate Chassidim - they are fellow Jews after all. I just vigorously and strongly disagree with their approach to Judaism.

Zvi said...

2) Torah Codes. I think that these are inherently faulty and rather disrespectful. Do I believe there are hints to future events in Tanach? Absolutely. However, those are spoken about in Midrashim (which is not the same as the "Medrish" learned in Yeshiva) and expounded upon by the Rishonim and early Acharonim. Do I accept that various Gedolim from the past could find hints to themselves? Yes.

However, the Torah Codes have unfortunately turned our holiest texts into a giant word search. The mere thought of "Oh, lets see what we can find in the Torah today that proves X,Y and Z" makes my skin crawl.

In theory, I would not write off the Torah Codes if they did not involve Keitzism and the publication of Jewish mysticism. However, since they do so, I think there are problems with them.

All of this being the case, let me say the following. Although I have serious problems with these two things, I let them live because I accept that there are multiple ways to understand the Torah. However, I personally think Chassidism and the Torah Codes are questionable.

Devorah said...

Zvi: You said "In addition, Chassidut, in its aspiration to spread spirituality, reveals aspects of Jewish Mysticism which are absolutely not for public consumption."

That is not true.

(the paragraph below is written by Rabbi Ginsburgh: Inner.Org)

This is one of the reasons why the Ba'al Shem Tov revealed a new dimension of Kabbalah--Chassidut. Chassidut expresses Kabbalah in a way that is accessible to every soul and that excludes all possibility of misinterpretation. Thus, it is highly recommended to study Kabbalah within the framework of Chassidut. When Kabbalah is studied within this framework there is no danger. If there is no danger, there is also no age barrier or other limitation on the study of the inner dimension of Torah.


Rob said...

Zvi, extremely narrow and arrogant approach. As a fellow Jew may peace be upon you.

Hillel ben Avraham

Leah said...

Could you imagine for a moment, Devorah, someone walking up to Rabbi Matisyahu Glazerson and saying that because he doesn't believe that the Torah codes are real therefore they are not? This man has studied for decades on the subject and has authored over 25 seforim on the codes. He is well respected and his work believed by rabbanim straight across all sects of Jewish tradition. To listen to him speak one does not get the feeling that he is "reaching" for "connections" in the encoded verses of torah.
Codes are never the reason we believe in Hashem and His Torah, yet they are an added flavor to an already rich heritage.
Continue on with your work, Devorah, you are appreciated by many!
Chanukah Sameach!

Zvika said...

I wrote a very long response to everyone here and it was erased. I will try to recompose it at a later time today. Needless to say, I think an initial misinterpretation of what I said occurred and people have gotten their hackles up over a simple, yet severe disagreement over Chassidut and the Torah Codes. I have been affected by these things directly and have a pretty good idea of what is at hand. To be short:

Rob: You're misinterpreting the words on the screen. I'll explain later.

Leah and Devorah: I still disagree, but you're welcome to believe what you want :c). We all have who to rely on for each of our positions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with zvi 100% and ive studied kabbalah for 20 years and experienced prophecy since I was a child .

Leah said...

Hello. May I ask you, are you familiar with Rabbi Glazerson and his work with the codes?
Chanukah Sameach.

Zvika said...

Okay, my response (Part 1):

Rob: You would be surprised as to how many people agree with me today and how many agreed with my position in the past, such as the Gr"a, who was vigorously opposed to Chassidut. I admit not knowing the exact reason for his opposition - since he did not write very much, it's hard to know his position - but I believe it is linked to the Chassidut's consistent indulging in mysticism. It happens to also explain his refusal to meet with one of the Lubavitcher Rebbes. You may think it is arrogant, but I'm not alone in my assessment (even though I often do when I get into these discussions) and I stand by it. There are probably other issues as well. I will look into it when I have some free time.

(And please don't use that "Peace be upon you" phrase with me - I find it equally arrogant as well as incredibly insulting.)

Devorah: I disagree. Again, I will invoke the German tradition, in which almost everything rooted in Mysticism is not said during Davening outside of Kabbalat Shabbat, and even that was not accepted until much later in history than the rest of the Jewish world. I do believe, that with the internet and the fact that it is so simple to cut and paste a Midrash and then expound on it without looking at any of the commentaries, I think that Judaism needs to censor the Chassidut and Mysticism and not publicize it any longer. We don't need more Madonnas running around claiming to know the secrets of Jewish Mysticism and spouting off them while being totally uninitiated in Judaism and having no knowledge of Jewish Theology or Jewish Law. I think it needs to be limited to those who are ready for it.

Leah: Yes, and while they are interesting, I think there are more compelling issues at hand. That isn't to say that Rabbi Glazerson isn't entitled to do his work. I simply think that it's much more important to focus on other things - basic understanding of Tanach, Halacha, ethics, et cetera - seeing as there is such a dearth of them in most Jewish circles and especially Orthodox circles. I think this is a much more worthwhile use of time. In addition, many people have issues with the Torah Codes, because of the reason I stated before - that it's gotten to the point that it's almost like using the Torah as a word search. That's why there was a rather wide-spread rejection of the fact that both Bush and Obama were/are Gog - it's just too easy to do at this point.

I also think that while the Torah Codes are nice, they are essentially like Gematriyot. They aren't necessarily what people should be focusing on, even if they show some very interesting correlations between history and prophesies received a few millenia ago (and yes, some of them are in fact rather cool, I do admit that).

Zvika said...

(Part two - if part one didn't display, tell me and I'll repost)

All: There are, in addition, a whole slew of other issues related to the Chassidishe sector's practice of Halacha that are problematic, but I won't discuss them here. This is not the forum for such a discussion out of reasons related to the fact that too many people will put in their two cents and derail the discussion.

I do believe that my initial post was misunderstood. I do not reject the Chassidishe world nor think they have no right to practice/believe what they do. They have that right. However, I see massive problems with the indulgence in Chassidut/Spirituality and the fact that it is over-emphasized while the basic understanding of Tanach and Halacha are given much less attention than they should. I am simply very opposed to their approach, for the reasons I've stated above.

As for Rabbi Brody, he should know better. It's easy to misread Midrashim. I personally looked at the Midrash and did not come to the same conclusion as he did. In fact, my conclusion wasn't even close to his. In addition, I go back to the curse in the Talmud issued upon those who try to figure out when Moshiach will come because of the fact that can cause people to lose hope. Rabbi Brody, whether intentionally or not, is indulging in this. And yes, I know the Rambam/Ramban (don't remember which) said it is okay and maybe even encouraged if it will raise hope. However, many people still object to this. Obviously, I do not curse Rabbi Brody - Heaven forbid I do such a thing.

I happen to think Keitzism (trying to figure out when Moshiach is coming) is a waste of time and energy. We can see that we are on that path. One only needs to look at how many prophesies have come true in the last hundred years or so.

As for the Torah Codes, I think I've explained myself enough.

I actually only responded to Devorah's post because of Rabbi Brody and as a long-time lurker here, I've seen what she's gone through in the past, both in regards to Rabbi Brody's past "predictions" and if I'm not mistaken, with the Autistic children as well (which is a whole different discussion in of itself) and felt a need to say something about it. And again, I was directly affected by these things, so I have good reason to protest.

A Freilichen "Zos Chanuka" to all.


Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leah said...

Yes, I agree with you that we all need to involve ourselves in Torah and mitzvos as the basis. It is as I have stated before that we do not look into the codes as the meat and potatoes of Judaism, rather as another holy aspect to our heritage.
Yes, it is best to have a source that is grounded in halachah and adherence to Judaism's mesorah. One should always have that - without a doubt.
I wish you very well.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

In response to the claim that teaching Chassidus may have been necessary in the past to help restore the Jewish people to proper observance, but now it is no longer needed, simple logic says the opposite. If even then we needed it, when the situation was vastly better, all the more so now. See here.