Monday, January 21, 2013

Belief required that Rashbi wrote Zohar? - Prof Marc Shapiro

Dr. Marc Shapiro just notified me of two article he wrote regarding the Zohar. One for Seforim Blog  Seforim Blog  as well as a well researched article which he said I could publish here. They address the issues of what is known about the history  and authority of the Zohar as well as whether it is required to believe that the Zohar was written by the Rashbi.

9 comments:

  1. A professor is not someone qualified to address this question. This is an issue for eminent rabbis.

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    1. Prof Shapiro is not paskening but offering sources and reasoning. If you want to disagree - offer something more intelligent than the fact that he is a professor.

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    2. Rabbi Dr. Shapiro has a history of confusing historical with halachic analysis. His magnum opus on the Thirteen Articles of Faith is based on it.

      The counter-proof to his entire thesis is that Rabbi Hillel, the amora and head of the Sanhedrin who sanctified the months in the calendar we today are still using, did not believe in a personal messiah. He was not a heretic, obviously. But the belief is obligated of us today, and was in fact obligatory before the gemara was completed -- only a generation or two after Rabbi Hillel!

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  2. I would go one step further than Samuel Cohen, even eminent rabbis cannot impose this belief - it was not required by the Talmud or the Rambam, and was unknown in those days.

    And i would pose a further question: If you should claim that it is obligatory to believe in the Zohar (plus we have a problem as to whether the question is Bar Yochai's authorship or that it was an ancient midrash - c.f. Hagiz), what about other revelations?
    The RamChal, Moshe Haim Luzzatto wrote Zohar commentaries on several books that are not contained int he old Zohar , for example his Zohar Koheleth. Are we required to believe Ramchal's revelations were from Eliyahu/ or Bar Yochai? And further, there was a group surrounding Luzzatto who claimed he was Moshiach.
    Luzzatto was somewhat of a Gaon and Gadol, that even the Gra said he would walk to Italy to met him, if thy lived at the same time.
    R Hagiz disagreed with Luzatto.

    So the problems are enormous. If someone denies the authenticity of Ramchal's Zohar, does that make the denier an apikores?

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  3. To me, the argument that the Zohar etc. is true because it was accepted by various gedolim seems rather weak. Philosophy was enthusiastically embraced by many rishonim. Brisker lamdus was accepted by Litvisher yeshivos. Does that mean these systems were Torah from Sinai? The same with kabala. Gedolim accepted it because it provided them with a new, beautiful intellectual tool.

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  4. R' Marc Shapiro albeit a Professor and an Academic he is a Frum Yid and a Talmud Chacham he is entitled to his opinion

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    1. And, of course, a Rabbi.

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    2. Where is he a "Rabbi"? Or what does he do to get that title?

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  5. He has rabbinic ordination, serving as the Orthodox advisor at Brandeis for a number of years.

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