Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Authority - Making up sources

One of the major problems of relying on authorities is the problem of false or made up sources

The Chasam Sofer once had a problem of a local rabbi making claims which he said falsely in the name of the Chasam Sofer

The Chasam Sofer said to him, "I dont care if you cite my views in your name but I do mind if you say your views in my name."

Rav Hillel Zacks (Grandson of Chofets Chaim said most stories about the Chofetz Chaim are not true.

Rav Moshe complained about things falsely attributed to him. In fact one of the main consequences of my Yad Moshe index was the increased accuracy of citations by Rabbis.

Igros Moshe (OH 4: 31 page 46)

"Many things are said in my name that I didn't say"

The Satmar Rebbe opposed the creation of Chassidic tales to reinforce views of Theology and halacha

As noted elsewhere stories are made up about famous Rabbis to "prove" certain views.

Pesachim (112a): [R’ Akiva told R’ Shimon bar Yochai]: If you want to be strangled be hanged on a tall tree.

Rashi (Pesachim 112a): Be hanged on a tall tree - ascribe your views to a great authority


  1. Is this a recommendation to ascribe views to a great person, or a warning, ie be hanged if you do?
    Or is it hinting that this is human nature pervades even into the rabbinic fraternity?

  2. It simple is making the obvious point that to win an argument you need the biggest authority
    Some people are so convinced that their view is correct they lie about the source in order to win the argument

  3. i was interested in the original post, because you offered a different take on it back then, in the comments section..

  4. However, this is consistent with the current leadership in Modern Chareidism(tm) where people shout their loyalty to "The Gedolim" but only as long as the "The Gedolim" say what they expect them to.

  5. There's the one about the CI who allegedly said that anyone who claims that if jews had acted differently during /before the war, then more would have been saved is a heretic.
    How to tell if he actually said it?
    It's a very stupid statement to make. He was highly intelligent and a great chacham. Chachamim generally do not make foolish statements. Although, others who are claimed to be, do come out with foolishness.

  6. Here is an example of how the Chatam sofer understood it:

  7. Here's a totally unrelated question :
    Do we have freewill in our dreams?
    Eg I dream I am in McDonald's, do I have a choice whether to order /eat a burger or not?

  8. And another question - do you have to wash and betch over the burger bun?

  9. It's the "Eliashiv Principle" - if you didn't hear me say it, assume I didn't.

  10. In Hil Teshuva, Rambam says that a proof of teshuva is to be in the same situation again, and not to be overcome by the sin. However, we may avoid such situations as repentants, or not have that situation replicated for us. in which case, perhaps it comes in a dream instead. Just a thought.

  11. I heard that's what Rav Hutner said, although I didn't hear it directly from him.


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