[Avodah] Fwd: A Different Approach to Sheidim

Micha Berger 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    sheidim are an outdated superstition, but none of the explanations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
    about Thought.

    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

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