Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Limits of Tolerance

A recent news story about the wealthiest rabbis in Israel raises questions of when rabbinic behavior becomes unacceptable. Even the most tolerant of people recognize that at some point they must object to deviant, borderline criminal, behavior. However you define your red line, there is some person or group who lies beyond it, past the threshold of unacceptability. Engaging in that tricky business of rejection is a necessary part of tolerating those within the bounds. If every group is acceptable, even cults and criminals, then inclusion is meaningless.

A little over ten years ago, R. Shlomo Aviner published a collection of his letters against a cult rabbinic figure in the book Bein Or Le-Choshekh: Bein Chakhamim Amitiyim Le-Admorim Mezuyafim. Without naming anyone (in the book), R. Aviner reproduces his attempts to convince adherents that the charismatic leader of a specific religious group is a fraud. Watching R. Aviner walk this tightrope of opposition is a profound lesson in the limits of tolerance.

Special Powers
The specific leader claimed paranormal powers, the ability to see into people’s lives, tell the future and communicate with the dead, which he attributed to prophecy and messianic claims. I would have objected that he is merely tricking people but this would probably have proven unsuccessful. R. Aviner, instead, accepted that he performs these amazing feats. However, he argued, it is all irrelevant because it proves nothing.

Paranormal powers are documented among many different people, including those non-religious and non-Jewish. Police investigators sometimes even consult with such seers. This man’s abilities only demonstrate a rare gift, not prophetic power. R. Aviner quotes two incidents of apparent prophets, one from Vilna and the other Kovna, about which R. Chaim Volozhiner testified that the Vilna Gaon denounced as non-prophetic activities (introduction to Sifra De-Tzeni’usa; Keser Rosh, Ma’amarim 6-8). Similarly, a student of R. Tzvi Yehudah Kook was amazed by someone who could tell him intimate details of his private matters. R. Kook dismissed the entire matter.

Continue reading at Hirhurim

HT: Josh


Anonymous said...

Have the Rabbinical Authorities, especially in Israel, reached a consensus yet? The Sanhedrin is officially activated. Elders (and arguably, hidden Nevi'im ve'Tzaddikim), continue to languish in shameful nursing homes and old age homes, contrary to custom. If million-dollar Rabbis can afford to exclude millions of Crypto Jews — doubly shameful to tolerate — then they can afford to prepare to anoint Moshiakh, regardless if he is poor, destitute, unyielding in his anonymous pronouncements, and extremely protective over flocks and herds, respectfully.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon101. Dear Jewish brothers and sisters be very careful what you write and say. We are being judged for every word by Gd. Learn at the Chofez Chaim heritage foundation about evil speech which includes writing, too. If you live outside of Israel, please consider making aliyah as soon as possible. Pray to Gd that you can come close to him, not for money specifically. Please pay off your debts, stealing is a BIG problem in Heaven. Sell your stuff you do not need. I have to clean out my house before I can leave, too. It is a BIG job, but putting it off will not solve the problem. As you can see from the extreme weather, Gd is hitting all the countries. Remember when the country's economy goes down, who gets the blame, we do. Learn from what happened in Europe, do not wait until the laws change because you will lose your property values. Get out NOW.

Anonymous said...

By the US law every body can make bankruptcy once. So make it and go to Israel.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon101. The US bankruptcy law changed. Ask a bankruptcy lawyer before you do anything drastic. In my opinion, better to pray to GD in your own language for help to get you out and make aliyah. US government workers, FEGLI will insure you in Israel, just keep paying the premiums. Live cheaply, I lost 5 lbs. I am on the I eat to serve Gd not to eat to eat.

Anonymous said...

Anon 101 this advise was for you, you mentioned that you have debt problems. Thank G-d I don't have any debts, I don't need to ask any lawers. Good luck with your aliyah.