Friday, September 11, 2015

Dr. Marc Shapiro: Be careful not to call others ignorant because of hashkofa statements - there are often conflicting statements coming from major authorities

Seforim Blog  post by Dr. Marc Shapiro

3. In my post here I quoted R. Moses Isaac Ashkenazi in his Ho’il Moshe that King David is not to be regarded as a prophet as he only had ruah ha-kodesh.

One of the commenters wrote:

Rashi Megilla 14a quotes a Halachot Gedolot which names David as [a] prophet. Rashi speaks specifically about prophets as opposed to Ruach Hakodesh, and excludes Daniel based on Megilla 3a.

Another commenter was more strident:

Wonderful example how modern scholars have no place in the Torah world! As first commenter pointed out, Dovid Hamelech is prominent in the list of 48 neviim, and there are scores of sugyos based on the nevuah of DH. The makom mizbeach, etc. Pure AmHaaRatzus!

I am not sure if I am the am ha-aretz he is referring to, which in any case would be uncalled for since I never said that David only had ruah ha-kodesh and was therefore not a prophet. All I did was point out that R. Moses Isaac Ashkenazi said this. When I called the commenter’s attention to the fact that his strong words were directed against R. Ashkenazi, he wrote:

I wouldn't start up with Hoil Moshe, but was pointing out the danger of someone reading this post, and then taking it at face value. For anyone fluent in Shas they will find numerous references to DH's nevua. Ruach HaKodesh wouldn't work for all the halachos we learn out from DH. . . . I do thoroughly enjoy your posts, but find them quite dangerous. I would prefer my children at least stick to Artscroll and have their basics –DH's nevua – straight!

Now let me say something that I did not put in the comments because I want the entire audience to see it, not just the tiny group that reads the comments. The commenter just quoted is a perfect example of one who is certain of something, and certain that the opposing position is incorrect, and this leads to very harsh language. Let’s leave aside R. Moses Isaac Ashkenazi who is not an important scholar. All would agree that R. Moses Sofer, the Hatam Sofer, is important and certainly not an am ha’aretz (which is the term the commenter used). Yet the Hatam Sofer is explicit that David was not a prophet and only had ruah ha-kodesh, which is exactly what R. Ashkenazi states and what the commenter so harshly attacks. Here are the Hatam Sofer’s words in Torat Moshe ha-Shalem, Ba-Midbar, p. 74.
הנה לא מצינו לישראל מלך שיהי' גם נביא משולח לעם כי אם משה רבינו ע"ה, דכתיב גבי' (דברים ל"ג ה') ויהי בישורון מלך, אבל שארי נביאים לא היו מלכים והמלכים לא התנבאו, ודוד המלך ע"ה רה"ק הו"ל ולא נבואה, ולכן אחז"ל (גיטין נ"ט ע"א) מימות משה עד רבי לא מצינו תורה וגדולה במקום אחד, דאלו כל הנביאים היו עליהם בגדולה השופט והמלך שבימיו, וכל המלכים אפי' דוד ושלמה היו הנביאים שבדורם גדולים מהם בתורה . . . שהרי אין מלך נביא.

This notion, that the kings were not prophets (other than Moses), is also stated in Zohar, Terumah, p. 154a, and this is presumably the Hatam Sofer’s source. I don’t deny that there are other authoritative sources that contradict this, including passages in the Talmud. Some of them are cited by R. Reuven Margaliyot in his note to the Zohar, ad loc., and we can speculate as to why the Hatam Sofer preferred the Zohar over these other sources. I cite this only to show that commenters should be very careful before labeling something as am ha’aratzus, as you never know whom you might be insulting with this comment.

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