Forged Writing of the Gra - Discussion with a reader
Moshe Ben-Chaim

I response to an article I wrote where I state that magic does not exist, and that powers are not in man's control, a reader responded the following, and the discussion back and forth follows:
Reader: Please see Shulchan Aruch Yore Deah siman koof ayin tes (179) in seif Vav, See the Gra there here are some partial quotes, please read entire Gra. The Gra felt the Rambam 's philosophy caused him to misconstrue true midrashim. He also said at the beginning of the peace that all that came after the Rambam are Cholek on him.
Mesora: I researched the Gra you mentioned and discussed this with another rav who informed me that a student of the Gra clearly stated that this is a forged Gra. It is not his style of writing, and he never would hold of such ideas. This statement you quote is also not included in the authenticated writings of the Gra.
Reader: That is silly non sense,....
Mesora: You are not speaking like someone searching for the truth, but rather like someone who wants disparately to hold onto a cherished view. If you are not objective, and cannot accept changing your views, we need not talk further. However, if you are willing to accept reason, the first rule is that everyone makes mistakes, and no one is without flaws. Moshe Rabbeinu made mistakes. Why do you feel a talmud of the Gra bent on false notions is better than Moshe rabbeinu? Was not Acher great until he had his falling?
There are corrupt people who are very insecure, and although might have learned Torah, they will go to far extremes to hold onto mystical beliefs. You do not find any support in Navi or Torah that people have any powers. It is always Hashem who performs the miracle.
See this past weeks haftorah on parshas Tazria. After Elisha instructed Naaman how to rid the leprosy, Naaman did not say how great Elisha was, but he said "there is no G-d except in Israel". Naaman should have said "there is none like Elisha, had Elisha performed the miracle. Additionally to Elisha's credit and humility, Elisha did not even come out of his house, as a friend pointed out, Elisha was not interested in self engrandizement. He therefore did not want Naaman thinking that it was he who effectuated the healing of the leprosy. Therefore, Elisha stayed inside, and let Naaman's amazement be attributed solely to Hashem.
Reader: why has no one including every Rav I know quoted this "student" of the Gra?
Mesora: You must follow your own mind. If you think the quoted gemaras are literal, then read the gemara in shabbos, "a gentile woman has powers?" This makes any sense to you? Even Moshe rabbeinu had no powers. He had to pray to Hashem to start and stop the plagues. He even said, "for there is none like Hashem".
Reader: How can anyone prove this Gra is forged?
Mesora: There is a sefer out which shows all of the Gra's authentic writings. This is not one included.
Reader: We have never heard of forged Torah writings that is common among Christians but frum yidden do not stoop to such levels.
Mesora: Read Schochets' book on Chassidism(1) to see just how wrong you are. Chassidism used to stoop to very embarrassing levels. The Besht even proclaimed that sin led to good as it allowed elevation to even greater heights(2).
Jew or non Jew, a person can become very vile in behavior. Just because one is born to Jewish parents, this does not exclude him from following his yetzer hara. I am sure you would agree.
Reader: If you will say that statements that do not fit your ideology are forged how can you
follow Torah?
Mesora: I say that statement must follow the Torah, not my ideology. I base my ideology on what makes sense, not what is ridiculous.
See the Avraham ben haRambam's peirush on Ein Yaakov. He will show you how to understand stories as quoted in this forgery.
Reader: Hashem answers all our prayers, so if its shemoneh esrei, tehillim or a lachash and HASHEM answers us He can make lachashim work too! Hashem can make Shedim, Hashem made Maalachim (angels) why not Shedim? He can give us the ability to do miracles too! Not because man has powers but because Hashem does.
Mesora: To understand shadim, read our article. To say that G-d made malachim is true. But it has no relevance as to whether he gave man powers, which is completely false, and no where to be found in the Torah.
You must understand the basics of the Torah, in order to approach this area. G-d's will is that G-d should be magnified in man's eyes, so that man fears Him and follows G-d's ways, for man's own good. It is therefore absurd to think that this same G-d would try to engrandize man by allowing him to take credit for performing miracles. This is a contradiction to the nature of Torah. Do you not agree with the tfilas you read each day, in L'ale Baruch Neimos,"hoo lvado poale gvuros", "He alone performs wonders....(He is) the Creator of healings, the Master of wonders".
It is clear, "ain ode milvado", "there is none other than He".
I ask you, was Ahron HaKohane wrong (Leviticus 10:19) for arguing with Moshe rabbeinu about partaking of the karban Chatas? Should Ahron have just followed Moshe and not his own thinking? However, the parsha points out, and Moshe conceded that he was the incorrect party in this case, and that Ahron was correct in following what made sense to him. What better proof is there that one must use his own mind and not blindly follow someone based on reputation?
One must follow their mind as Ahron did, and as G-d is teaching us to do, by His inclusion of this episode in the Torah. If one follows someone else, solely because he has a reputation as a gadol, the person will be in a dilemma when another gadol says the opposite, as we find with arguments between Ramban and Rambam. In such a case, one is forced to select the opinion (hashkafa) which makes most sense to him.
All Rishonim and great thinkers in Judaism achieved their level's of perfection only through independent thinking, honesty with their own minds, and their courage to stand behind what they saw as truth.
Reader 2 Commented: I asked Rav Shlomo Fischer, the former Rosh Beis Din of Yerushalayim, who is also Eretz Yisroel's pronounced expert on the Gra's writings. He has "authored" (for lack of a better word) many of the Gra's manuscript books put out in the last two generations (as well as stopped many forgeries from being published). He told me that the first Rav Kook said that he heard that the comment of the Gra was a forgery, and said he had heard it from the Netziv (Rav Fischer said he heard from a reliable source that Rav Kook said it) and that the Netziv had claimed that he had heard it from Rav Chiam of Volozhin.  Rav Fischer then told me that he knew that this was patently false. For he had seen the (uncorrupted) comment written in the Gra's own handwriting!

"The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna", written by Elijah Judah Schochet, Jason Aaronson Publishers.
(2) Ibid, page 68