Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Did psychic tractor driver Nir Ben Artzi predict Tropical Storm Irene?

According to his followers, yes.

According to anyone sane, no.

(Actually somewhat related to this, though, is the topic of navi sheker in parashat Shofetim. See these two posts so far.)

Where did Nir Ben Artzi "predict this"? About two weeks before the storm hit. Bat Aliyah has started presenting Nir's delusions in English, so we can read it there:
Hakadosh Baruch Hu is toppling [sic; should be activating] all giants of nature, on all levels throughout the world- volcanoes, exceedingly high temperatures, fires, drought, floods [שטפונות -- Josh: perhaps also 'torrential rains'], tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes- in order to shake up the entire world, and in order for Am Yisrael to unite as one and do complete Teshuva, and in order to reveal King Mashiach and to bring Geulah with mercy.
Or, in Hebrew:

Red underline is mine. One can translate סופות רוח קשות as strong storms. Thus, hurricanes.

Note that:

  1. he does not specify when
  2. he does not specify where in the world this will occur
  3. he is predicting this smack in the middle of hurricane season. To cite How Stuff Works:
    Every year, the world experiences hurricane season. During this period, hundreds of storm systems spiral out from the tropical regions surrounding the equa­tor, and between 40 and 50 of these storms intensify to hurricane levels. In the Northern Hemisphere, the season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30,
This makes it rather easy for people to 'predict' hurricanes in this manner. (Indeed, see how I am a psychic, just like HaRav HaGaon HaTractoron-driver Nir Ben Artzi, Shlita.)

But that did not stand in the way of Nir Ben Artzi's followers claiming that this proves him a prophet. Well, actually, they don't point to the parashah sheet, but to what he said in his speech. And they refer specifically to floods rather than strong winds. Thus, via Kikar Shabbat (see English translation):
Due to severe storm raging in the United States , said this morning the rabbi's associates Nir Ben Artzi: "Now everyone can see that the rabbi was right. He predicted all the natural disasters, floods, tsunami and the collapse of the global economy. "
"Irene", the deadly hurricane so far claimed the lives of ten people.Millions of people were evacuated, hundreds of thousands of homes lost electricity.
Now, it is estimated that in the coming years is expected to arrive in New - York. Hysteria at its height.
Disciples of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi said that the rabbi described the events of horrors for many weeks. "The rabbi said in recent days that the elements will continue in full force, God breaks all of the bad, and the only place he would use the land of Israel", say those close to "Saturday Square ".
"Floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions cities did not stop, everything would get worse and worse every day, until the people of Israel will understand that they return to Israel," citing the students from their teacher.
Close to add that on Friday two weeks ago and even earlier warned the rabbi on "the difficult situation is going to be all over the world" and among others mentioned flood close. {Josh: The Hebrew is שטפון קרוב, that a flood, or torrential rain, is close.}
According to the rabbi, the Creator "game" with the world economy, to tell the Jews and the world - have a beer leader {Josh: really: there is a Director to the Palace}.
All tasks in the elements and weather damage, said the two weeks ago, are warning the Jews of the Diaspora.
The missiles were intended, according to Herb, to wake the people of Israel from his slumber.

So it seems that this is based on his general message of increasing natural disasters.

This is stupid. Besides what I wrote above, there is a point (4). See what I wrote when Nir's followers claimed he predicted the earthquake in Japan as it was happening (though without mentioning where or when). Basically, I pointed out that this meshuggenah gets up every week and predicts this sort of stuff, and has been doing this week after week. Follow the above link, and see that week after week, along with earthquakes (which was what was under discussion there), he predicts volcanoes, strong winds, tsunamis, flood, rains, ice, snow.

Well, most recently he did not predict ice and snow. It is summer, so instead he 'predicted'
exceedingly high temperatures, fires, drought
Given the entirety of the world, and large spans of time, yes, his 'predictions' are rather likely to be fulfilled.

Though given how Hurricane Irene fizzled, some on Twitter were discussing whether Ben Artzi's prediction of incredible calamity makes him a navi sheker; especially if they wanted his correct prediction to be the basis for establishing him as a navi emes. (Of course, it would not, according to the Rambam, who maintains that negative predictions cannot establish a navi emes or navi sheker.)

Interesting Posts and Articles #325

  1. This week's Haveil Havalim, at Ima 2 Seven.
  2. Did the media go overboard hyping Hurricane Irene?
  3. At Achas L'Maalah, a mention of legal troubles.
  4. Did Michele Bachmann ask who likes white people? No, she asked who likes wet people.
  5. A conference on Torat HaMelech cancelled, because people protested the author's presence. A pity, and a blow to academic freedom, I think. A better approach is that mentioned at Hirhurim, about a work entitled Derech Hamelech, 'that thoroughly and convincingly refutes the contentions of Torat Hamelech (the entire book Derech Hamelech is available for free download here: link)'.
  6. Emes veEmunah considers whether terrorist charedim are hooligans or mainstream.
  7. Life In Israel has been covering the conflict about opening the girls school Orot. I can't link to every single post, so just check out the posts in general there. Also there, Rabbi Yehuda Levin explains why New York Got Off Easy from Hurricane Irene. The video:

    Rafi G. (of Life In Israel) notes there that no matter what, he would have had an explanation; and indeed, has offered explanations in the opposite direction. Had it been awful, Rabbi Levin would have said it was because of gay marriage.
  8. Meanwhile, Frum Satire beat out Rabbi Levin in blaming the New York earthquake:

    and commenters, both there and on the YouTube clip, take him as being serious. Poe's Law in action.
    Vos Iz Neias notes the actual identical message from Rabbi Levin, and a lot of comments. Here it is, from YouTube:

    Yeranen Yaakov also has a roundup of how people explain the earthquake.
  9. Also, an image of the devastation from the East Coast earthquake.

  10. At the Seforim blog, a discussion of head movements in Shema. And also there, from Dr. Marc Shapiro, another lengthy post, with so many interesting things in the main post and footnotes that I am reluctant to select an excerpt, which might give the impression that that is all there is, or that the other interesting stuff is on a similar topic. To select one at random:
    With regard to Mizrachi rabbis, let me quote something else repeated by R. Avraham Shapiro: The Hafetz Hayyim once wrote to a certain Mizrachi rabbi with all sorts of elaborate titles. When R. Velvel Soloveitchik was asked how the Hafetz Hayyim could write with such respect to a Mizrachi rabbi, R. Velvel responded that this is what happens when you don’t listen to any lashon ha-ra! (Imrei Shefer, p. 271). He said this as a criticism of the Hafetz Hayim. In other words, sometimes you need to listen tolashon ha-ra in order to know how to properly evaluate people. (R. Avraham was very upset with this story and doubted its veracity, although the comment is very much in line with how R. Velvel would express himself.)
  11. Also from Life In Israel, a possible protection racket in Geulah.
  12. At Judaism.StackExchange, a question, and answers, about hypnosis in halacha.
  13. At On The Main Line, Neturei Karta take on Umberto Cassuto.
  14. A housekeeper kidnaps a Jewish baby after being fired.
  15. Mystical Paths brings a question and answer from Rav Aviner. He considers the question of which of multiple spouses one is reunited with in the time of Techiyas HaMeisim. Rav Saadia Gaon says we don't know, but then, based on the Zohar, we know. No comment. Rav Saadia Gaon, though, would reject the very premise of the questions in the comment section, regarding gilgul.
  16. Here on parshablog, the Hyrax as Ruminant. And how the Samaritans falsified their Torah.

How is the failed negative prophecy exclusion encoded in Shofetim? part ii

Summary: The same issue as before. How shall we resolve the exclusion of negative prophecy from a prophet test, with the absence of such an exclusion in the plain meaning of the pasuk. This bothers Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi, as a pashtan, and so he puts forth a different elaborate theory from that of the Rambam. Namely, there is no distinction between a positive or negative prophecy. Rather, the distinction is whether there is an explicit condition attached or not.

Post: Ibn Caspi addresses the same issue discussed in the previous post, and creates an elaborate theory. He writes:

"And if you say in your heart -- this is a protest referring to the first segment {J: namely, the false prophet of Hashem}, for the second {namely, the prophet of idols} is explained in and of itself.

Says Yosef, the author of sefer haSod and sefer haMashal: in these sefarim {I wrote}, I have already discussed at length this subject and that of prophecy. And we are drawn in it to the opinion of the Sages of the Talmud and that of the Rambam, in that which he explains in sefer haMada {meaning in Mishneh Torah, sefer haMada, hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, perek 10} and in his introduction to his commentary on Mishnayot {you can find this at the end of a gemara Brachot}. And more have I expanded on this in sefer haMashal, in parashat Ki Tisa.

However, now I am leaning to another position in one of the roots; and this is that the Rambam sets out that in a prediction of woe a prophet cannot be tested, but only of weal. And he brings a proof from the statement of Yirmeyah to Chananiah. And he explains  אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם ה, 'that which the prophet says in the name of Hashem' {pasuk 22}, as speaking of weal. And I have already showed you that I lean away from things such as this, namely, to add or to subtract words from the text. For if so, we have no Torah or Scriptures, and in general we have no early sefer, for every day we can add to it as we wish! And here, it is written via Moshe,  אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם ה, this is without specification and given as a general encompassing statement. So how can we add to it 'only for weal'? Or why do we not make a division {as well} above, when it said 'or that which was said in the names of other gods'? Therefore, it meaning to me is just as it is written, no more and no less. And its intent if so is in general, whether for weal or woe, for the prophet may be tested with any foretelling of future events, whether for weal or woe. For if it is fulfilled in this way, he is a true prophet, and if not, he is a false prophet. And it is already known in logic {הגיון -- common sense?} how the fulfillment and finding correct of a statement is. For Yirmeyah, who said to Chananiah that because he prophesied falsely, 'this year you shall die' {Jeremiah 28:16}, the Scriptures testifies about him that 'Chananiah died in that year' {Jeremiah 18:17}. For if he did not

die in that year, Yirmeyahu the prophet would have been a false prophet. For a true prophet cannot err in a future foretelling at all. If so, it is upon us to explain the dispute Yirmiyah had with Chanania, where Chanania foretold weal to the nation of Israel, and Yirmeyah the woe, until Yirmeyah said to him {Jeremiah 28:7-9} 'Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people: The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.'

And behold, before this statement, Yirmeyah wrote regarding the prophecy which reached him in the house of the potter, {Jeremiah 18:7-10}'At one instant I may speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; but if that nation turn from their evil, because of which I have spoken against it, I repent of the evil that I thought to do unto it. And at one instant I may speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; but if it do evil in My sight, that it hearken not to My voice, then I repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit it.'

{Josh: Others would explain that this is intent, rather than publicly pronounced prophecy.}

And it is explained that this is true as well for an individual, as Yechezkel explains {Ezekiel 18}. But it mentions a nation and kingdom, for the intent is upon klal Yisrael, as is explained there. If so, it is made clear that Hashem Yisbarach repents and retracts regarding foretelling of woe and foretelling of weal, since He had put His thoughts in this way for the mentioned causes, according to what His wisdom, Yisbarach, decreed. And therefore, Yaakov feared {=shema yigrom hachet when encountering Esav}, even though Hashem had already promised him weal. And forfend for me to believe that there is to Hashem a changing in will; for if He decreed woe His word will come to pass, and so too for weal. However, the change comes from the recipients. By which I mean from our end, we who hear His decree in words spoken via a prophet. I mean that the statement is not understood as it is, and when it does not approach as we understood it, we think that Hashem has repented; if so, we deny Hashem. And forfend! Rather, all His words are true. But it is known that the decrees, some of them

possess different aspects {eventualities?}, and the mention of the aspects are omitted in action. For we say, by way of example {al derech mashal} 'Reuven will write tomorrow', whose intent is that it is possible that he will write. And every potentiality, it is possible that it will be and it is possible that it will not be. And if a prophet says this in the name of Hashem -- my intent is that he says this without caveat 'this Reuven will write tomorrow', behold, that hamon am who hear this will look on the morrow whether he writes or not. And if it is that he does not write at all, the hamon will say that Hashem repented. And if so, the word of Hashem which is spoken today is complete falsehood, for it is a decreed matter. And therefore, behold He said via Shmuel that Shaul will rule over Israel. Shaul, as well as the entire nation, thought, that the intent of this decree was clear and continuous. And when Hashem became detested with him, Shaul and Israel said that Hashem repented. And because of their thoughts, the Scriptures said {I Samuel 15:11} 'I have repented that I appointed Saul king'. But by way of truth, according to the intent of Hashem, Shmuel spoke {I Samuel 15:29} 'And also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man, that He should repent.'

And so did Eliyahu prophesy in the name of Hashem to Achav, {I Kings 21:21}'Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will utterly sweep thee away, and will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel....' And this language would support either in his days or to his house after him, for all of that is woe to him. But Achav and those by him who heard imagined that the intent of this language was that

it would be in his days, such that he humbled himself, and Hashem said {I Kings 21:29}'Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.'

For if not for this, Hashem would have lied. And so too the opposite of this, that if Achav would in the future humble himself, Hashem would not say 'in his days', for {Proverbs 28:13}'but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy'. And it is known that all is foreseen and yet freewill is granted. And the general idea of the matter is that Hashem decrees His decrees and informs the prophet of them in words, sometimes absolute and sometimes tied to a condition. And this is whether for weal or woe. And the words of Hashem are always true, and He does not lie, forfend. And if we, who hear it, judge it as absolute, that they are certain when they are merely possibilities, or there is some condition even if it not mentioned, what is His iniquity, Yisbarach? For Moshe, by way of example, when he said to Pharaoh {Exodus 8:23} 'a three day journey, etc.'. And Pharaoh, in his foolishness in thinking,

understood this statement as that they would return after the sacrifice, then what sin did Moshe His agent sin? If so, the statement {in Yirmiyahu 18, in the house of the potter}as well, 'At one instant I speak', whether for woe or weal, for upon both of them is written 'I repent', this is within the thought of people. And the matter is such, that Hashem, as He sits upon his throne, looks and sees the nation as evil at that time, and He sees the future what will be if they return from their evil, and what the level of their repentance will be as well. And if He, Yisbarach, sees that in the future they will not repent, he will decree upon them the woe in absolute. And if He, Yisbarach, sees that in the future they will repent, he will decree upon them the woe on condition, by which I mean that if they repent, the woe will not come upon them. And so it the matter for good, upon the nation which is presently good. And there is no doubt that Hashem reveals his secret to his servants the prophets. And all is in accordance with the completeness of the prophets. Sometimes Hashem will reveal to the prophet if that nation will repent of his wickedness or goodness, and sometimes He will not reveal to him the foretelling, whether for woe or weal, and sometimes in absolute terms, with the prophet confused for himself, to know if this decree is an absolute certainty or not, and he will wait and watch what will be be in the end, just as happened to Yonah, in that which Hashe revealed to him, {Jonah 3:4}'Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown', , עוֹד אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, וְנִינְוֵה נֶהְפָּכֶת. For Hashem only told him these four words, but with the prophet being perplexed in this. He know that Hashem does not lie nor repent, until at the ed of the forty days it was made clear to Yonah the intent of Hashem in His previous statement. And this was via one of two ways. Either the city would be overturned and the people would leave from it, just as Lot and his daughters left from the overturning, in which case the decree was absolute; or that the city would not be overturned and the city and its residents would be spared, in which case the decree was only a possibility, based on a condition which was in the intent on Hashem, by which I mean if they did not repent. And this is how the decree was always correct and not in error, forfend.

And the general principle of the matter, we have already explained in the statement of Yirmeyah in the prophecy in the house of the potter, for all of us, whether a nation or individual, we are in the hands of Hashem like clay in the hands of the potter. For if Hashem decrees upon us woe, and we repent of the misbehavior which is our hands, the woe will not come to us; and so too for weal. And there is no difference whether we day that Hashem decreed this by His own aspect, Yisbarach, or whether

we say that the prophet prophesied this in His name, for the prophet only has the content of the words which Hashem said to him in vision or in dream, no more and no less in its words. Just as 'if you listen' and 'if you do not listen', which Moshe said from the mouth of Hashem, it is required that the foretelling stand when the condition stands. And if the decree is absolute in its words, we the listeners are left in perplexity until we see what happens in the end. For it is not possible to interpret the intent of the decree based on the words, and the lack is from our side, rather than from the side of the decree or from the side of the One who said it, namely Hashem Yisbarach. For He knows His intent, and the Eternity of Israel neither lies nor repents. And this is the true approach which we have in this.

However, after we set up this approach, and we establish as well that the decree that the prophet states from Hashem, one can take from its words only one of two ways, namely if it is absolute or if it is conditional in its words. And it is upon us the listeners to see the fulfillment of the condition to action in the future or not, and in this way the prophet is tested, by which I mean that the fortelling is fulfilled, either for weal or for woe in the establishment of the condition which left his mouth, no less and no more. For without this, his decree is not fulfilled but is false, and if so he is a false prophet. And this is what was said, הוּא הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא דִבְּרוֹ ה בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא, for this is the rule, whether for woe or for weal.

But what shall we do with a decree which is 'absolute' in its wording, for such did Hashem transmit to the prophet, and the prophet transmitted as it was to the nation; where we know that a prophecy which is 'absolute' in its wording, it is possible that it is a possibility, or attached to a condition in its nature and subject matter. If so, how shall we judge in this way from the decrees if they will be retracted {?} for us, and this is whether it is for woe or weal? And how does the Torah help us in this verse, by which I mean where it states אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם ה, such that we would execute him in Bet Din if he sins? And in what way will it be made true to us that he erred in his foretelling, since the intent of the decree was concealed from us?

The answer to this, in my opinion, is that in the decree which is 'absolute' in its wording, whether for woe or weal, the prophet cannot be tested. Yet, still the verse is sustained as true in general, by which I mean that where it says behold, אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם ה וְלֹא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבוֹא הוּא הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא דִבְּרוֹ ה. For if it is conditional in its wording, we will investigate if the condition is fulfilled and it it is found correct, if he is a true prophet. And if it is found false, he is a false prophet. And if it is 'absolute' in its wording, we are unable to declare it true or false, since its nature is concealed from us. And in this, one would not find וְלֹא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבוֹא, that the matter was not and it did not come to pass.

But the verse informs us that in any case that one can find וְלֹא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבוֹא, this is the matter which Hashem did not speak, and we execute the prophet. And if we do not find this, for whatever reason it would be, we do not execute him. And if this situation is withheld from us because we do not know the nature of the decree, since we are not God, there is no sin upon us, and we do not fall under the clause {in verse 19} אָנֹכִי אֶדְרֹשׁ מֵעִמּוֹ, 'I will exact it of him' {regarding one who does not hearken to the words said in Hashem's name}.

And see the division of the Giver of the Torah, that he was not stringent to spell out how the matter which Hashem did not speak is known,

but only how the matter which Hashem did NOT speak is known. And this is because He stated {in verse 19}, 'And it will be, that whoever does not hearken to My words that he speaks in My name, I will exact [it] of him.'

This judgement is to God, and if He, Yisbarach, made us somewhat deficient that it is possible that decrees go forth which our intellects cannot ascertain their nature, what iniquity do we have in this? And this is the skilled labor that we do. But He was precise in stating 'How will be known the matter which Hashem did NOT speak', such that we should execute him in Bet Din, as He commanded us, 'and that prophet shall die', and He gave us a set  boundary, that if the matter does not come to pass, this is the matter which Hashem did not speak, and we should excute him, for he is a false prophet. And if the matter rests in such a way that we cannot establish whether the matter was or was not, such as where the decree was 'absolute' in its wording, we shall abandon the judgement of this prophet to Hashem, for He is the one who knows his nature, and we shall not execute him.

And now, the choice is ours in this, whether to listen to him or not, and whatever we do, Hashem judges us according to our hearts, and all His ways are justice. Therefore, Yirmeyah, who introduced at the start of his words to prophesy the destruction of Yerushalayim with an 'absolute' decree, as is stated (Jeremiah 1:15), 'For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north...', behold there is not in this any sin to Israel, for in this he did not command them anything. And if so, this is not subject to the statement of Hashem of וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִשְׁמַע אֶל דְּבָרַי . But it was a sin to Israel when they did not hearken to Yirmeyah in that which he explained to them after this, that this decree, though it was absolute in its wording, was in its nature attached to a condition, by which I mean that if they subject themselves to the king of Bavel, unless it be told to them from the mouth of Hashem 'serve the king of Bavel and live' {Jeremiah 27:17}, and they did not hearken to him in this, and Hashem exacted from them, and they were destroyed.

And once this has been established, there is left to us to explain the statement of Yirmeyah to Chananiah who stumbled {?} on two verses, and these are the verse of (Jeremiah 28:8): הַנְּבִיאִים, אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ לְפָנַי וּלְפָנֶיךָ--מִן-הָעוֹלָם: וַיִּנָּבְאוּ אֶל-אֲרָצוֹת רַבּוֹת, וְעַל-מַמְלָכוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת, לְמִלְחָמָה, וּלְרָעָה וּלְדָבֶר; and the verse of (28:9): הַנָּבִיא, אֲשֶׁר יִנָּבֵא לְשָׁלוֹם--בְּבֹא, דְּבַר הַנָּבִיא, יִוָּדַע הַנָּבִיא, אֲשֶׁר-שְׁלָחוֹ ה בֶּאֱמֶת.

For it is not for nothing that there is a division {of sof pasuk} between these two, and so is it not for nothing that the etnachta was placed on the word לְשָׁלוֹם. Therefore, I say that the intent in this is that Yirmeyah, who prophesied woe, said to Chananiah, who prophesied weal, 'behold, there are more with me than there are with you.' For the prophets who were before me and before you from the beginning, namely Yeshaya, Michah, and the like from the renowned ones, prophesied woe, that Nevuchadnezzar the king of Bavel would obliterate them. And you Chananiah, you, the prophet who prophesied peace, opposite all of us, and you say 'I have broken the yoke of the king of Bavel' (Jeremiah 28:2), therefore you are a yachid on one bank. Perhaps you weigh as much as all of us? However, in this manner shall you and I be judged -- for when the words of the prophet come to pass, it is known that that prophet has been truly sent by Hashem. It is as if he said, 'we shall see whose words shall be established, whether our words or your words, which contradict one another. For we say that the yoke of the king of Bavel shall be on Israel and others, while you say that it shall not be. And there is no

middle ground in this. If so, this nation which hears my words and your words, shall know in the future which of the two of us is a true prophet. But see that this is an obligatory decree, by which I mean that when the words of the prophet arrive, it is known that this prophet was truly sent by Hashem -- this {positive establishment of the prophet as true} is not written in the Torah but the opposite of what is written in the Torah -- by which I mean that when the matter does not come to pass, the prophet whom Hashem genuinely sent is known. And these two decrees encompass whether weal or woe, and both of them are accurate. But the Torah was only not explicit in one of them, by which I mean that which is the opposite, from being the cause of our executing this soul and leaving off that which is required, for there is no execution by Bet Din there, and it is possible that its nature was concealed from us, as we explained above.

And if Yirmeyah had mentioned that which flowed out of it, this would also be correct, but he left this out, for the primary purpose of that which is derived is to execute the prophet, and Yirmeyah did not intend this, for he knew that Israel would not do this good; and further, this testing would only be after a long time, such as seven years, while Chananiah would die within this year. And so it sufficed for him in the place that he had, in the mentioning of that which was required, and that was correct without a doubt to the scholars of logic, and all this is explained.

But what is left for us to say is that all that comes out of our words, that that which the Rambam asserts in the introduction to the Mishnah, based on Yaakov's fear despite Hashem's promise of weal, such that there he divides between Hashem's foretelling to the prophet for private purposes and between Hashem's foretelling to the nation via a prophet, such that he promulgates it and expounds it to the public. Behold, all of this is not necessary for us, according to our assumptions. But that which he says, I am close to a bit -- this is that the prophet who expounds to the public a future foretelling, whether for woe or weal, it is more fitting that it is attached to a condition, just as Moshe made, 'if you hearken... and if you do not hearken'. And if it happens that he says it with 'absolute' words, he does not damage by a foretelling of woe, for this is the purpose, for the prophet is expounding to the nation to cause them fear and to confound them such they will search out their actions, just as the men of Ninveh did. But it would damage with a foretelling of weal, for then those would trust in their strength. And if so, what would the purpose be for the prophet to expound it to the public, for with a a future foretelling with 'absolute' wording, if the nature of the decree is only possible, or attached to a condition, and he knows this. But it is more fitting if this prophet mentions to them the condition in all foretelling of weal to them, such that they improve their ways or search out their actions and stand in fear and dread. And we have already explained all necessary for this. And behold, we lean away from the position of the Moreh {=Rambam}m za'l, and may it be His Will that we do not lean away from the truth."

This post is long enough as it stands. Perhaps I will provide some analysis in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

YU Torah on parashat Shofetim

Audio Shiurim on Shoftim
Rabbi Chaim Brovender: Tamim: Being "Perfect"
Rabbi Ally Ehrman: Law Enforcement
Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein: The Mitzvah of Appointing Judges 
Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum: Asking Questions and the Strength of Kabalah
Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman: Rabbinic Authority 
Rabbi Joel Finkelstein: Accepting the Yoke of Heaven 
Rabbi Aryeh LebowitzKing or Slave? 
Rabbi Yoni LevinThe Role of Shevet Levi 
Rabbi Yaakov NeuburgerLo Tasur 
Mrs. Nechama PriceThe Jewish King
Rabbi Dani RappMagic & the Supernatural 
Rabbi Hershel ReichmanConnecting the Heart and Mind 
Rabbi Yonason SacksRabbinic Authority: Parameters and Limitations 
R' Dr. Jacob J SchacterReligion in Thought and Religion in Manifestation 
Rabbi Baruch SimonMiprat L'Klal Halichas Adam B'Olamo 
Rabbi Moshe TaraginFor the love of a Jew 
Rabbi Michael TaubesWedding Minhagim and Forgiveness of Sins 
Rabbi Yaacov ThalerBribery 

Articles on Shoftim
Rabbi Yisrael BalsimAuthority Lishma
Rabbi Ozer GlickmanRationality, Not Rationale
Rabbi Avraham GordimerThe Jewish Government
Rabbi Dovid GottliebA Time NOT For Fear
Rabbi Maury GrebenauThe Frozen Soldier
Rabbi David HorwitzThe Imperatives of Truth and Law
Rabbi Avigdor NebenzahlSom Tasim Alecha Melech

Rabbi Jeremy WiederLaining for Parshat Shoftim
See all shiurim on YUTorah for Parshat Shoftim


How is the failed negative prophecy exclusion encoded in Shofetim? part i

Summary: Rav Chaim Kanievsky addresses it, with a remez based on beShem Hashem. And I analyze some of the pesukim in parashat Shofetim and sefer Yirmeyah myself.

Post: In parashat Shofetim,

22. If the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, and the thing does not occur and does not come about, that is the thing the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it wantonly; you shall not be afraid of him.כב. אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם ה וְלֹא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבוֹא הוּא הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא דִבְּרוֹ ה בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא לֹא תָגוּר מִמֶּנּוּ:
Yet, based on Yirmeyahu's conflict with the false prophet Chanania ben Azur, and other Biblical evidence as well, the Rambam speaks of an exclusion for negative prophecy. In Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, 10:4, the Rambam writes:

ח  [ד] דִּבְרֵי הַפֻּרְעָנוּת שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר, כְּגוֹן שֶׁיֹּאמַר פְּלוֹנִי יָמוּת אוֹ שָׁנָה פְּלוֹנִית שְׁנַת רָעָב אוֹ מִלְחָמָה וְכַיּוֹצֶא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ--אִם לֹא עָמְדוּ דְּבָרָיו, אֵין בְּזֶה הַכְחָשָׁה לִנְבוּאָתוֹ; וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין הִנֵּה דָּבָר דִּבַּרְתָּ וְלֹא בָא:  שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא "אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב-חֶסֶד, וְנִחָם עַל-הָרָעָה" (יואל ב,יגיונה ד,ב); וְאִפְשָׁר שֶׁעָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְנִסְלָח לָהֶם כְּאַנְשֵׁי נִינְוֵה, אוֹ שֶׁתָּלָה לָהֶם כְּחִזְקִיָּה.

ט  אֲבָל אִם הִבְטִיחַ עַל טוֹבָה וְאָמַר שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּךְ וְכָּךְ, וְלֹא בָאָה הַטּוֹבָה שֶׁאָמַר--בַּיָּדוּעַ שְׁהוּא נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר:  שֶׁכָּל דְּבַר טוֹבָה שֶׁיִּגְזֹר הָאֵל, אַפִלּוּ עַל תְּנָאי--אֵינוּ חוֹזֵר.  הַא לָמַדְתָּ, שֶׁבְּדִבְרֵי הַטּוֹבָה בִּלְבָד יִבָּחֵן הַנָּבִיא.

י  הוּא שֶׁיִּרְמְיָהוּ אוֹמֵר בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ לַחֲנַנְיָה בֶּן עַזּוּר, כְּשֶׁהָיָה יִרְמְיָה מִתְנַבֵּא לְרָעָה וַחֲנַנְיָה לְטוֹבָה.  אָמַר לוֹ חֲנַנְיָה, אִם לֹא יַעַמְדוּ דְּבָרַי, אֵין בְּזֶה רְאָיָה שֶׁאֲנִי נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר; אֲבָל אִם לֹא יַעַמְדוּ דְּבָרֶיךָ, יִוָּדַע שֶׁאַתָּה נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "אַךְ-שְׁמַע-נָא אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה" (ראה ירמיהו כח,ז).ע
My translation: "Words or punishment which the prophet speaks of, such as saying person X will die or year Y will be a year of famine or war, or things similar to these -- if his words do not stand, this is not a disproof to his prophecy, and we do not say 'behold he said something and it did not come to pass'. For Hashem is 'long suffering, and abundant in mercy, and repents of the woe'. (See Yoel 2:13 and Yonah 4:2.) And it is possible that they repented and were forgiven, like the residents of Ninveh, or that it was suspended for them, like Chizkiyah

But, if he promises good things, and says that it will be such and such, and the good that he speaks of does not come, then it is known that he is a false prophet. For any positive thing which God decrees, even on condition, He does not retract. Learn this from here, that only by positive words can a prophet be judged.

This is what Yirmeyahu said in his response to Chanania ben Azur, when Yirmeyah prophesied woe and Chanania prophesied weal. He said to him: 'Chanania, if my words do not stand, there is not in this proof that I am a false prophet. But if your words do not stand, it is known that you are a false prophet, as is stated {in the relevant perek in Yirmeyahu}, 'Nevertheless hear thou now this word...' "

As a matter of peshat, there might be other ways of understanding the pesukim in Yirmeyah. But we would still need to grapple with the difficulty posed by the retraction of the negative prophecy against Ninveh.

Separate from this is how we can read this into the pesukim in parashat Shofetim, which make no overt distinction between prophecy of weal and prophecy of woe.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, in Taama D'Kra, cites the pasuk and summarizes the Rambam, that a failed negative prophecy is no proof that a prophet is false. Then he writes:

"And it is difficult, how this is hinted to in the pasuk here. Behold it is stated simply, with no caveats, that if it is not fulfilled, then he is a false prophet and is executed. And one could say that this is hinted at in the phrase beShem Hashem, for Chazal say (in Tanchuma Tazria siman 9, and it is brought in brief in Tosafot Taanit 3a, d"h ve'ilu) 'Hakadosh Baruch Hu does not associate his name with the evil, but rather on the good. And therefore, if the prophet mentions beShem Hashem, perforce it is for good. (But certainly it is so that even by evil, he needs to say that he says this in prophecy; just that he does mention the name of Hashem.)"

I am not sure that I understand this. Firstly, one need not appeal to the prophet himself mentioning the name of YKVK. One could simply say that since YKVK is middas haChessed, the pasuk in Shoftim refers to a positive prophecy, while Elokim would have referred to a negative prophecy.

And we see prophets mentioning the shem YKVK even in negative prophecies. Sefer Yeshaya begins:

ב  שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמַיִם וְהַאֲזִינִי אֶרֶץ, כִּי ה דִּבֵּר:  בָּנִים גִּדַּלְתִּי וְרוֹמַמְתִּי, וְהֵם פָּשְׁעוּ בִי.2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the LORD hath spoken: Children I have reared, and brought up, and they have rebelled against Me.

And indeed, Yirmeyahu's negative prophecy, which countered the false prophet Chananya ben Azur's positive prophecy, was stated in the name of YKVK. In Yirmeyahu 28:

יג  הָלוֹךְ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-חֲנַנְיָה לֵאמֹר, כֹּה אָמַר ה, מוֹטֹת עֵץ, שָׁבָרְתָּ; וְעָשִׂיתָ תַחְתֵּיהֶן, מֹטוֹת בַּרְזֶל.13 'Go, and tell Hananiah, saying: Thus saith the LORD: Thou hast broken the bars of wood; but thou shalt make in their stead bars of iron.
יד  כִּי כֹה-אָמַר ה צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, עֹל בַּרְזֶל נָתַתִּי עַל-צַוַּאר כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה לַעֲבֹד אֶת-נְבֻכַדְנֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל--וַעֲבָדֻהוּ; וְגַם אֶת-חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה, נָתַתִּי לוֹ.14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him; and I have given him the beasts of the field also.'

Writing as a pashtan, I would like to resolve the difficulty of
  1. the plain meaning of the psukim in Shofetim
  2. how to understand retracted negative prophecy such as that of Yonah
  3. how the psukim in Shofetim relate to the psukim in Yirmeyah
Here is what I would say, as a matter of peshat. Please note that there may be other interpretations which operate on the level of derash, which are of no concern to me here. Thus, my reinterpretation need not be a rejection / refutation of the Rambam.

(1) In terms of the pesukim in Shofetim, I would suggest that the pesukim are not referring to prophecies of weal or prophecies of woe. Rather, they refer to a prophet who sets a sign. People wonder whether he is for real, or they might wonder, and so this prophet, purely for the sake of establishing himself as a prophet, either (a) predicts some normal future event that a regular person would not be able to predict; or (b) creates some sort of wonder.

The first is an ot, a sign. Such as, before astronomy was something exceptionally known, predicting a comet. For instance, Shmuel telling that people would tell Shaul that his father's donkeys had been found. Some future event, not caused by the prophet, but known by the prophet. The second is a miracle created by the prophet. For instance, Moshe turning a staff into a snake. One is a demonstration of supernatural knowledge, and the other is a demonstration of supernatural power.

The context, after all, is hearkening to the prophet in his instructions, to lead them, like Moshe. To him they are obligated to listen. But there is a chance that he will lead them falsely, or lead them to idolatry.

We have to read this perek (18) in light of perek 13 of Devarim:

2. If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,ב. כִּי יָקוּם בְּקִרְבְּךָ נָבִיא אוֹ חֹלֵם חֲלוֹם וְנָתַן אֵלֶיךָ אוֹת אוֹ מוֹפֵת:
3. and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them,"ג. וּבָא הָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר נֵלְכָה אַחֲרֵי אֱ־לֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא יְדַעְתָּם וְנָעָבְדֵם:
4. you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.ד. לֹא תִשְׁמַע אֶל דִּבְרֵי הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא אוֹ אֶל חוֹלֵם הַחֲלוֹם הַהוּא כִּי מְנַסֶּה ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֶתְכֶם לָדַעַת הֲיִשְׁכֶם אֹהֲבִים אֶת ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם:

What it means by "happens" even here is the sign or the wonder. It is possible to miss this correct interpretation because of the ambiguity of the word הַדָּבָר, and how it is used in the surrounding pesukim in perek 18. (At this point, one can read perek 18 and construct a counterargument. I encourage you to engage in this exercise. Still, one can then counter that counterargument. Below, I will suggest a different reading of these pesukim.)

(2) If so, this does not contradict negative prophecy being withdrawn, as in Yonah. His prophecy of doom for Nineveh was not a sign or a wonder. This was the actual substance of the prophecy. It was the message! And if they believe that Hashem "repents evil", then it is not problematic for Hashem to change His mind. But Hashem would not change His mind about a neutral thing whose sole purpose is to establish a prophet as true.

Now, one can extend from the neutral sign and wonder to the actual stuff of prophetic messages. But one need not do this. And if one does extend it, under the theory that prophesied weal or woe which fails to materialize is just as much a failure, then this might well be subject to intricate theological rules. For instance, shema yigrom hachet, or nicham al haraah. It need not be the seeming comprehensive statement of parashat Shofetim.

(3) As for the exchange between Yirmeyahu and Chananiah, this is perhaps the easiest. First, we can say like the Rambam, but only according to the parameters of the extension. Second, we can take an alternate path. Who says that Yirmeyahu was speaking from an halachic perspective, and making a diyuk into the general rule set out in Sefer Devarim? Here is how I would explain these pesukim in Yirmeyahu.

Chanania gave a prophecy of weal. Yirmeyahu responds as follows:

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר, יִרְמְיָה הַנָּבִיא, אָמֵן, כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה ה; יָקֵם ה, אֶת-דְּבָרֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר נִבֵּאתָ לְהָשִׁיב כְּלֵי בֵית-ה וְכָל-הַגּוֹלָה, מִבָּבֶל אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה.6 even the prophet Jeremiah said: 'Amen! the LORD do so! the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the LORD'S house, and all them that are carried away captive, from Babylon unto this place!
ז  אַךְ-שְׁמַע-נָא הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי דֹּבֵר בְּאָזְנֶיךָ, וּבְאָזְנֵי, כָּל-הָעָם.7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people:

He knows that Chanania is a false prophet, for Hashem has told Yirmeyahu a contrary message. Yet, on hearing a good idea, he says 'Amen'. Yet, now he is going to present a contrary position, both to Chanania and to all the people who might heed Chanania.

ח  הַנְּבִיאִים, אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ לְפָנַי וּלְפָנֶיךָ--מִן-הָעוֹלָם:  וַיִּנָּבְאוּ אֶל-אֲרָצוֹת רַבּוֹת, וְעַל-מַמְלָכוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת, לְמִלְחָמָה, וּלְרָעָה וּלְדָבֶר.8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.

The mention of those prophets before him can be read as saying that this has been Hashem's constant message. We accept those prophets and Yirmeyahu's prophecy is in line with what they have said. Or, this is the typical prophetic message, and so there is nothing in it to raise suspicion that the prophet is false.


ט  הַנָּבִיא, אֲשֶׁר יִנָּבֵא לְשָׁלוֹם--בְּבֹא, דְּבַר הַנָּבִיא, יִוָּדַע הַנָּבִיא, אֲשֶׁר-שְׁלָחוֹ ה בֶּאֱמֶת.9 The prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.'

This might be because the message is so darn atypical of an Israelite prophet. Therefore, we should adopt a wait-and-see approach. Or, though we not need to read it into the pasuk, he could appoint some ot or mofet.

Note that the people did not execute Chanania for his false prophecy, via chenek. This was at the hands of Hashem, a misa biydei Shamayim, as we read at the end of that perek in sefer Yirmeyah.


That was one way of resolving these three points. Another way is as follows:

(1) Fulfilled prophecy vs. failed prophecy is NOT about the sign or wonder. It was about the actual substance of the prophecy. And either the negative vs. positive aspect is somehow unspoken throughout the Torah, or else it actually covers everything, including prophecy of woe.

(2) Yonah's prophecy to Nineveh had an implicit condition to it. If a prophet prophesied the destruction of a city to the people of the city itself, and it is a prophecy from Hashem, the idea is that those in the city are great sinners. Change the situation, and it makes sense that Hashem might decide to spare the city. Indeed, that might have been the very purpose of Hashem sending the prophet. It is not to taunt them of their impending doom!

The people of the city took Yonah's message to heart, and changed their ways. They repented, fasted, and donned sackcloth. In such a scenario, the doomsday not coming to pass would be readily understood by the populace as Hashem being swayed by the people's repentance. This is not the same as saying that doom X would come and, with no change in the world prompting a change in Hashem's plan, doom X does not come.

(3) In terms of Chanania's prophecy vs. Yirmeyahu's prophecy, we might say that the failed prophecy as evidence of false prophecy applies across the board, even to Yirmeyahu, but that it is not relevant, for the reasons details in the analysis of this section, above.

Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi, the Biblical exegete, discusses at length how to resolve the Rambam with the plain meaning of the pasuk. Perhaps I will consider this in a follow-up post.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shofetim sources -- 2011 edition

by aliyah
rishon (Devarim 16:18)
sheni (17:14)
shlishi (18:1)
revii (18:6)
chamishi (18:14)
shishi (19:14)
shevii (20:10)
maftir (21:7)
haftara (Yeshaya 51)

by perek
perek 17 ; perek 18 ; perek 19 ; perek 20 ; perek 21

Rashi, in English and Hebrew
Shadal (here and here)
Daat -- with Rashi, Ramban, Seforno, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Rabbenu Bachya, Midrash Rabba, Tanchuma+, Gilyonot
Gilyonot Nechama Leibovitz (Hebrew)
Tiferes Yehonasan from Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz (nothing on Shofetim)
Toldos Yizchak Acharon, repeated from Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz
Even Shleimah -- from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich
R' Saadia Gaon's Tafsir, Arabic translation of Torah (here and here)
Collected commentary of Saadia Gaon on Torah
Rashbam (and here)
Zohar, with English translation
Baal Haturim (HaAruch)
Ibn Caspi
Ibn Caspi - Tiras Kesef on Devarim
Imrei Shafer, Rav Shlomo Kluger
R' Yosef Bechor Shor
Ibn Gabirol (nothing on Shoftim)
Kol Eliyahu (Gra)
Sefer Zikaron of Ritva
Chiddushei HaGriz  -- not until Ki Teitzei
R' Eleazer miGermayza -- not until veZot haBeracha
Tanach with He'emek Davar -- Netziv
Nachalas Yaakov -- R' Yaakov ben Yaakov Moshe of Lissa
Divrei Emes -- Chozeh mi-Lublin
Or Hameir, R' Zev Wolf of Zhitomir
Akedat Yitzchak
Melo HaOmer
Baalei Bris Avraham
Rav Chaim Vital
Rav Yosef Karo
Chasam Sofer
Chasam Sofer al HaTorah
Daat Soferim
Divrei Yaakov
Rabbi Yehoshua Ibn Shoiv, a student of the Rashba
Maharsham -- Techeilet Mordechai
Mat'amei Yitzchak
Hamidrash veHamaaseh
Maaseh Shoshan
Toras Chesed
Meshech Chochma
Kli Chemdah -- R' Meshulam Yissachar Halevi Ish Horowitz
Kli Chemdah -- R' Meir Dan Plotsky
Yalkut David
Yalkut Yehuda
Birkas Avraham
Damesek Eliezer
Maggid Mishnah -- R' Menashe Klein
Parperet Moshe
Parperet Torah
Or Gedalyahu
Chazon Yechezkel
Likutei Torah -- Baal HaTanya -- not until Ki Teitzei
Torah Or -- Baal HaTanya -- not until Ki Teitzei
Taamei HaMitzvos -- Radvaz (see index to advance)
Pirkei Torah (Rav Gifter)
Or HaChaim


Blog Widget by LinkWithin