Thoughts on Judaism

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Just Plain Weird

BTA has just asked a question about the ikkarim. Are they too hard to believe? My response to him is that they seem pretty straight forward except for 12 and 13, Moshiach and Techiya. These seem to be ones that, if you were not indoctrinated, they never would have occurred to you. Whereas, by navua, for instance, if it is not true, then why begin with it. If it is the source of the things we believe, then naturally it is an ikar, and without it, you are not practicing Judaism or even part of Judaism. IOW, once it disappears, there is no more semblance of Judaism. In comparison, 12 and 13 seem "extra", that if they were discarded, it would have little effect on day to day Judaism. Nonetheless, the Rambam considered tthese beliefs central.

In the course of discussing the Chartumei Mitzrayim, the discussion wended around to magic, the Rambam's pronouncement that there is no magic (AZ 11:15) the Rambam's general view on kishuf (the deed rather than the accomplishment is the issur), and whether there really is or was magic and magicians. One of the esteemed Talmidei Chachamim (not sarcastic, a true TC and gentleman) asserted the Golem of Prague as proof that magic (holy and nonholy) was real. Another asserted that nonJewish history affirms this. Thank G-d there was whiskey on the table.

So, BTA, are the ikarim too hard to believe? Who are you talking to?


  • I don't know if "hard to believe" is the question. The question is can you force yourself to believe something? And is saying that you believe something the same as believing it? (alright, it's two questions).

    By Blogger The Jewish Freak, at 3:13 PM  

  • Jewish freak is more in line with what I was getting at. I knew just quoting rambam's version was problematic. The point is, who really believes the torah is the same as given?

    And Happy pointed out on my site, it's noteworthy that belief in Sinai was not central to Rambam enough to put in the ikkarim!

    Who believes in sinai?

    Who believes god is alive and acting in the world?

    Who believes in heaven?

    Again, I think these are things people subscribe to, not believe.

    By Blogger BTA, at 4:00 AM  

  • re: Moshiach & Techiyas HaMaysim (12 and 13 respectively)

    Simple questions can be asked:

    1) If these these concepts are ikarim, then why weren't they openly mentioned by Moshe Rabeinu?

    (Or was the mention by Nevi'im enough? If so, then what other ideas of the Nevi'im might also be considered ikarim?)

    2) Can one believe the first 11 without the last 2 and still be considered faithful? Or Jewish?

    (The RamBam doesn't seem to think so. This means that even where I accept the 1st 11, which is, in and of itself, no small act of faith yet still might be reasonable, the negation of 12 and 13 posuls my emunah.)

    3) If 12 and 13 are integral to Judaism, then what differentiates us from Christianity?

    (I know the details are different, but the overall theme is essentially the same.)

    4)Why do we attach so much authority to the RamBam here when in so many other instances the Rishonim of his day ruled against him and even publicly denounced his ideas?

    Any thoughts?

    Kol Tuv

    By Blogger Shlomo, at 9:04 AM  

  • Re;magic

    I believe that the ancient Hebrews believed in supernatural forces outside of those supernatural forces supported by Moshe (nechash hanechoshes for example).

    2ndly, how does the Rambam explain the case of Shaul HaMelech and the machsheyfa of Endor? (Not to be confused with the machsheyfa of Monsey, my ex-wife.) Shaul 'knew' it to be Shmuel HaNavi! Or maybe the witch, one of the shevet Menashe (Endor was in Menashe), knew about Shaul and Shmuel and was playing the King? After all, which Navi in ancient times didn't wear a beard and a long flowing robe? But then again why would a melech yisroel think that kishuf was effective? Unless maybe it was?

    By Blogger Shlomo, at 10:16 AM  

  • >the machsheyfa of Monsey


    By Blogger The Jewish Freak, at 8:17 PM  

  • I think that the Rambam holds that Shaul and the psychic from Endor was a prophetic vision, rather than a maaseh shehayah.

    It is not all clear that the Rambam holds that there is no magic. He says so in AZ 11:15 but in Yesodei HaTorah he says that if a navi goves signs and yet is proven to speak against the das, then you know that what he did was kishuf v'lot. I can answer that the Rambam was speaking for the average person, who believed in magic back then, but that he would have attributed it to anecdotal amplification. Nonetheless, he wanted to point out that people should not be impressed with such wonders.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 3:27 PM  

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