Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kiruv - Lying to make someone religious?!

LazerA said...

ploni almoni said...
"One may lie to make the peace. What bigger peace is there then making one frum."

I'm actually kinda dumbfounded here.

==========================
I am too. I would appreciate sources that say that truth can be sacrificed to make someone frum. Even if someone can find such a source - which I doubt - it is a disgusting approach which is likely to backfire.

I heard the following from Rav Diskind - the son-in-law of Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky.
The year was 1948. According to kabbalistic sources this was the year for Moshiach. A campaign was started to make people observant in anticipation of Moshiach. Someone told Rav Yaakov that a storekeeper was being persuaded to keep Shabbos due to the imminent arrival of Moshiach. Rav Yaakov said it is better to let him be mechallel Shabbos. He explained his views as follows. Right now the storekeeper does not keep Shabbos - but he is not a heretic. If Moshiach doesn't come as predicted, he will stop keeping Shabbos and will also reject the belief in Moshiach thus becoming a heretic.

12 comments:

  1. There's a whole blog out there (apparently abandoned early 2007 by its owner but not before he put a lot of material into it and compared frum Jews to Nazis) about kiruv awareness. There's also the famous Letter To My Rabbi. All these are examples of lies or subtle "adjustments" to the truth told for the sake of making something frum.
    Some might say that, for a beginner, simplistic teaching is de rigeur. But when I was in med school, if the teacher needed to simplify something for us, he would usually preface the topic by saying "This is actually a lot more complicated than what I'll be saying but you're not ready for the full story yet." We knew we were getting incomplete goods suitable to our level of training.
    Perhaps that technique should be used more often.

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  2. A famous messianic religion focusing around a different Jew has a well known concept known as "doing evil to achieve that which is good." Another way of saying "the ends justify the means."

    Definitely not the Jewish way.

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  3. On that note, check out:
    www.jewsformendel.com!

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  4. On that note, check out:
    www.jewsformendel.com!
    ---------------
    link doesn't work. What is your point?

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  5. The Rambam accused R. Sadya Gaon of purposly distorting the truth to keep people in check. The Rambam himself in the Igeres Teamon gives a picture of the Moshiach that contradicts what he writes in the Mishne Torah. His goal was to stop people from accepting false ones. For example, in the Mishne Torah the Messiaah does not have to perform miracles while in the Igeres he does. Is teh rambam a liar?

    The case of R. Yaakov was where the lie will be uncovered. So, there are extremes here. The Rambam and R. Sadya vs R. Yaakov's story.

    What is truth? Do we not all rationalize. Can we admit our mistakes?

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  6. reuven said...
    "The Rambam accused R. Sadya Gaon of purposly distorting the truth to keep people in check."

    I would appreciate a source for this. If you are referring to the Rambam's discussion, in his Igeres Teiman, of Rav Saadya Gaon's messianic calculations, then you are misreading the Rambam.

    "The Rambam himself in the Igeres Teamon gives a picture of the Moshiach that contradicts what he writes in the Mishne Torah. His goal was to stop people from accepting false ones. For example, in the Mishne Torah the Messiaah does not have to perform miracles while in the Igeres he does. Is teh rambam a liar?

    While the Rambam's description of Moshiach in the Igeres Teiman is, admittedly, much more dramatic than the drier language used in the Mishneh Torah, I am not sure if the differences even add up to a contradiction, much less an intentional falsehood.

    When encountering an apparent contradiction between two sources by the same author, especially a gadol baTorah, the first response should be to attempt to resolve the contradiction with a satisfactory explanation. If this is impossible, then perhaps the author's opinion changed, or perhaps he even made a mistake. To immediately assume that the author was engaged in deliberate deception is simply irresponsible.

    Regarding the general topic of this post - lying for "kiruv" - I have not yet had an opportunity to look into the technical halachic aspects. Personally, I find the very idea repugnant.

    Regardless of the ethical and halachic issues, however, such an approach would be extremely short-sighted. It might, perhaps, succeed in some cases for a short while, but in the end it will backfire and not only undo whatever good was accomplished, but cause additional harm.

    In my opinion, in the long term, such an approach would not only harm the students, but would slowly eat away at the ruchniyus of the "teachers" as well. What kind of religion can you be teaching, if you can only succeed by telling lies?

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  7. I looked at the story you cited. Why do you need R. Yaakov for that? Is that not the reason the Rambam gives not to be mechashev kitzim so that people will not lose faith. And, even though he said it was prohibited in the Igeres he gives a year. He made sure that it was 50 years later so that he would not be shown wrong. Also, he called it a family tradition. But, what of it. How can we have traditions or give dates. The answer is he needed it for chizuk.

    I suppose you never heard of apologetic literature. it is just that. Many taame hamitzvos are time bound and not true anymore. Take kashrus for health. This reason is a total fabrication.

    Also, R. Y. Emden said that the Moreh Nevuchim was not written by the same man who wrote the Mishne Torah. Of course, what he meant was that there are contradictions.

    A lot of books were written to strenghten the Jews for the long exile. Not always are they the whole truth.

    It is always a risk. But, they are and will always be taken. It takes a wise person to do it.

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  8. Over Shabbos I finally got around to pulling out my copy of Igros HaRambam with the notes of Rav Yitzchak Shilat.

    He discusses the question raised by Reuven and proposes two possible solutions:
    1) The "osos u'mofsin" of the Mishneh Torah refers to supernatural signs, as opposed to prophetic predictions; whereas the "osos u'mofsin" of Igeres Taimon are simply prophetic predictions.
    2) In Mishneh Torah, the Rambam is only discussing the begining of the messianic period, whereas in Igeres Taimon he is describing the full glory of Moshiach as it will finally be displayed.

    Rav Shilat prefers the second answer.

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  9. I wish that I had seen this earlier. Lazera will probably miss this post. I will include it for the record.

    I have not seen R. Shilat and I hope that my remarks are not disresctful. He was a scholar but in this case his suggestion is off the mark.

    The Rambam in the Igeres claims that the signs will be a PROOF that he is the real mashiach. This in itself contradicts what he says in the Mishne torah where the proof will be that he brings the exiles and builds the bes hamikdash etc.

    Also, the signs he describes a few lines later are more than prophecies. He quotes the passage in Yeshayoh which the Raavad uses. This is much more than mere prophecies. They are super human feats reserved for the Maschiach.

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  10. Reuven's questions disturbed me as well. I am not sure if I have presented Rav Shilat's position correctly.

    In any event, my main point remains. When faced with a possible contradiction, the correct response is to attempt to resolve it, not jump to the conclusion that the author was lying.

    As I said previously, even if no solution exists, there are better responses than claiming that the Rambam was lying.

    It is worth noting that the Rambam apparently wrote the Igeres Teiman well before he wrote Hil. Melachim in Mishneh Torah. As such, it is possible that, by the time he wrote the halachos of Moshiach, his position had modified slightly.

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  11. I never claimed the Rambam was lying. This is your term. If you think that you are not representing R. Shilat properly then don't quote him. It is not fair to him. I could leave with a wrong impression. I will not look him up. I have no time to give to it. You also talk about dates of the Igeres. Why conjecture when this can be verified. This is not the way a scholar behaves. Why are you posting if you are shooting from the hip? People may accept what you say.

    There are different opinions on the sequence of events. The Rambam in the Igeres is writing people who are confused by a person who is posing as the mashiach. It is easier to convince them that he is an imposter using the other opinions. He is follwing the raavad and Yureshalmi.

    In other halachos we find that a Rov will pasken differently for two different people beacuse of circumstances. I have seen many examples of that. Are these lies. Of course not. Elu voelu. As long as we are in the window of halacha. this is the same thing.

    You are suggesting he changed his mind. Personally, I do not believe that. But, that was not R. Shilat's proposal as you stated it. So, now we have four viewpoints.

    (a) He tailored the pesak
    (b) He changes his mind
    (c) first propsal of R. Shilat
    (d) Second one

    I line mine. It is not a new technique.

    Also there are many other contradictions betwen the Igeres and the Mishne torah. But, I only mentioned a few.

    This will be my final post on this subject. I cannot keep correcting your mistakes.

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  12. reuven said...

    "I never claimed the Rambam was lying. This is your term.

    Given the context of your original comment, a discussion of the propriety of lying for the purpose of "kiruv", it is clear that that was your intent.

    "If you think that you are not representing R. Shilat properly then don't quote him. It is not fair to him. I could leave with a wrong impression."

    I believe, my summation of his basic points is accurate, as far as it goes. At the same time, I don't claim that my brief summation does justice to his full position. I would suggest that people read the original.

    "You also talk about dates of the Igeres. Why conjecture when this can be verified."

    Actually, it cannot. While there is a great deal of educated speculation on the dates of the Rambam's works, precise information is, for the most part, not available. R' Kapach was of the opinion that the Igeres was written before the Rambam began work on the Mishne Torah. R' Shilat disagrees and maintains that it was written while he was in the midst of writing the Mishneh Torah.

    "This is not the way a scholar behaves. Why are you posting if you are shooting from the hip? People may accept what you say."

    Actually, given the tone of our respective comments, it seems to me that you are the one "shooting from the hip." You are making a radical claim of significant hashkafic and halachic import based on minimal and flimsy evidence.

    "There are different opinions on the sequence of events. The Rambam in the Igeres is writing people who are confused by a person who is posing as the mashiach. It is easier to convince them that he is an imposter using the other opinions. He is follwing the raavad and Yureshalmi."

    This might be possible. In which case, after further study he revised his opinion and it is that revised opinion which is reflected in the Mishneh Torah. (However, see below.)

    Another possibility is that you are misunderstanding either the Mishneh Torah or the Igeres Teiman or both, and that the apparent contradictions can be resolved.

    The latter is, by far, the better approach. I just came across another discussion of this issue by the Satmar Rav in V'Yoel Moshe (Maamar Shalosh Shevuos 37-38). The Satmar Rav (ibid. 31) rejects the possibility that the Rambam may have revised his position and argues that, in fact, there is no real disagreement between the sources.

    I am hesistant to attempt another summary (lest I be accused, again, of "shooting from the hip") but, very briefly, he argues that the Rambam's statement in the Mishneh Torah that the moshiach will not need to perform supernatural deeds to establish his status is referring to changing the world through supernatural deeds, but moshiach himself will certainly be a person of great supernatural power. It seems, if I understand correctly, that while moshiach will be miracle-worker, he need not use miracles to fulfill his messianic mission.

    In any event, while we see that genuine Torah scholars go to great efforts to resolve the apparent contradictions in the Rambam, we only have you, reuven, supporting the position that the Rambam "tailored" his psak to fit his audience.

    "In other halachos we find that a Rov will pasken differently for two different people beacuse of circumstances. I have seen many examples of that. Are these lies. Of course not. Elu voelu. As long as we are in the window of halacha. this is the same thing."

    No, it isn't.

    There are many reasons why a psak for two different people might be different. Most of those reasons are not relevant in this discussion.

    The one possible reason that might be relevant is when a rav feels that, although a given heter/issur may have some halachic justification, given the specific person we are dealing with, it would be spiritually harmful to follow that heter/issur. This is legitimate for rabbonim who are paskening private shailos for specific individuals.

    It is difficult, if not impossible, however, to apply such a concept to major published writings applying to entire populations. And that is what the Igeres Teiman was.

    Moreover, according to both the Igeres and the Mishne Torah he was a false moshiach, so why would the Rambam need to "tailor" his psak in the first place.

    And, as we see, this is not the methodology of genuine talmidei chachamim.

    Finally, your application of the concept of "eilu v'eilu" to contradictory statements from the same person makes no sense at all.

    "I cannot keep correcting your mistakes."

    I understand your frustration.

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