[Avodah] Fwd: A Different Approach to Sheidim
micha at aishdas.org
Fri Mar 15 12:45:56 PDT 2013
Forwarding from R' Mordechai Torczyner's (CC-ed) blog post at
The sages of the Talmud describe all sorts of experiences with sheidim
-- creatures which are neither human nor beast, which may or may
not be visible or tangible, and which affect our world in numerous
ways. The term sheid is often translated, unsatisfyingly, as "demon".
I have heard all sorts of explanations for the nature of sheidim,
including the idea [attributed to Rambam, as you will see below] that
sheidim are an outdated superstition, but none of the explanations
suits the canon of sheid-related material in the writings of the
I am indebted to Rabbi Hillel Goldberg for showing me the following
explanation. I must confess that I don't understand it, but the
little I grasp says this is a very interesting idea. It comes from
notes recorded by Rav Yitzchak Hutner, published on page 74 of
a Sefer Zikaron compiled in his memory. The book is available in
the Otzar haChochmah database. Here I present my own translation,
followed by the original Hebrew:
In the declarations of our sages we have found many indications
of the existence of sheidim. This is the way to explain it:
The statement in Avot d'Rabbi Natan 31 is known, that all that
exists in the universe exists in man. The reverse is also true.
The power of imagination is found in Man. With this power, Man
designs for himself a reality which does not exist, at all, in
the universe; this exists only in the realm of imagination. Since
this power exists in Man, its parallel must exist in some creature
in the universe. Those creatures are the ones called sheidim --
theirs is an existence which is not an existence.
When we say of something that it is only imagination, we mean
that nothing like it exists in reality. However, certainly,
for one who deals in human psychology, when he investigates
the activities of the human brain, for him this imagination is
certainly full-fledged reality.
Thus, it is appropriate that Rambam wrote (Commentary to Mishnah
Avodah Zarah 4) that sheidim do not exist in reality, and this
does not contradict, at all, the declarations of our sages which
indicate the existence of sheidim.
Hebrew deleted due to digest software limitations. See URL.
My comment (not that RBM's aren't worth discussing, but he can write
his own post!):
I think the Rambam is saying they're all in the mind, and they DO
exist anyway. In the neo-Platonic model of creation the Rambam
outlines in Moreh sec II and in Yesodei haTorah ch. 2, it's all
Hashem has a Thought, which has a thought, which has a thought, and
so on down 10 levels of angels, the spheres, and us. And a prophet
is someone who can ascend the chain, and therefore experiences
metaphysically higher realities.
This idea is a book, not a blog comment. I did a somewhat longer
but still insufficient explanation at this recap
and the blog posts it points you to.
In any case, it could well be that the Rambam identifies metaphysics
and ideas. The Leshem seems to understand / spin the Rambam that way,
when the Leshem uses the Moreh to explain the Qabbalistic idea that
the matter of one world is the forms of the world below it.
Micha Berger Live as if you were living already for the
micha at aishdas.org second time and as if you had acted the first
http://www.aishdas.org time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
Fax: (270) 514-1507 - Victor Frankl, Man's search for Meaning
More information about the Avodah