As Rabbi Glazerson said over in his name,
R' Shmuel Eliyahu said that there's no prohibition in listening to a psychic who is telling people to do Teshuva.He is, of course, entitled to his position. But I am not sure how to really parse this statement. Does he think that the psychic is real, and psychics in general are real, and so long as it does not turn people towards idolatry or other sins, it is not Biblically prohibited as chukas Emori, or tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokecha, or being a navi sheker? Or does he believe that the psychic is not real, but that is irrelevant, because the ends justify the means? My impression from this one quote is that it is closer to the latter.
Considering the first possibility, some people will not like my saying this, but someone can be a great scholar and rabbi and yet be plagued by superstitious beliefs. I don't know the scholarly level of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, but I am willing to grant him that status. But on the other hand, he is part of an extremely superstitious culture. Let me give you an example.
As the Guardian reports:
We would (hopefully) laugh at this. No, they have not been invoking djinns, and if they were, it would be to no effect. But this is something taken seriously in Iran, in the general culture. And when people believe such superstitious nonsense in the general culture, then even really smart Jewish people may very well take it as the metzius, and work from there. So that a rabbi, even a great rabbi, believes in superstitious nonsense, does not mean that there is substance to the nonsense.
Considering the second possibility, I am reminded of what a fellow blogger told me about a visit from Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, with his false apocalyptic threats as a mechanism of moving people to teshuva. He spoke in shul, and while it was not this fellows cup of tea, it was something that resonated well with the Sephardic audience.
I find this distasteful and an improper approach. But for the sake of argument, let us grant this position legitimacy. The quote again was:
R' Shmuel Eliyahu said that there's no prohibition in listening to a psychic who is telling people to do Teshuva.What Rav Shmuel Eliyahu might not realize is that this is not the only thing this psychic has been telling people. That is why many of the aforementioned rabbanim were concerned. Thus, from the Maariv article:
"In those years, accompanied Ben Artzi quite a few allegations that he messed up marriages with his observations and advice to couples, to the extent of even open a divorce case. Rav Aviner wrote: "To those women who came to get advice, he sometimes emphasized with authority the faults in their husbands as a result, produced dislike and distance in the relationship between the couple. And: "He announced to peacefully-living-together couples that they do not match from heaven and thus disturbed their shalom bayis." Furthermore, he "made matches including very young girls. And an older single girl, he informed that according to the root of her soul she can not get married."It is not all positive, as Rabbi Eliyahu seems to think. And there are also real casualties in telling people, as Nir does, that the end is near, such that they must move immediately and frantically to Eretz Yisrael. This is not just 'teshuva'. I will cite one story, but I have heard others as well:
I wonder what Rav Eliyahu would say when confronted with such instances of harm from listening to a psychic who is telling people to do teshuva.
Further, there have been other times in the past where rabbis, even Gedolim, approved of things for the sake of kiruv, and it has led to worse. I am thinking of the haskamos for facilitated communication for autistics. Reading these letters of approval, it seems that it is really only for the sake of kiruv, but should not, for example, be used for setting policy or halacha. Yet they have long since crossed that line, and are somewhat akin to a cult, or a separate sect.