- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
(1) "The Hasidic Movement and
the Gaon of Vilna", written by Elijah Judah Schochet, Jason
(2) Ibid, page 68