[Avodah] Is Panentheism Heresy

Zev Sero zev at sero.name
Fri Feb 8 13:47:19 PST 2013

On 8/02/2013 1:21 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 01, 2013 at 03:59:16PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
>>> If you're going to believe in the Chasidic system, you have to believe
>>> in continuous revelation insofar as the system depends on revelations:

>> Very different.  Reform's idea of "revelation" is someone having an idea,
>> with no way of verifying that it's true, let alone knowing where it comes
>> from.  It's all made up.  How can you compare that to Eliyahu Hanavi and
>> Achiya Hashiloni coming from the Other World to teach the Arizal and the
>> Baal Shem Tov, etc?  That is not some wishy-washy "inspiration", it's
>> direct communication of hard data from one person to another.
> You presume your conclusion when taking those visitations as evidence,
> rather than part of the claim being proven.

No.  I'm not talking about whether the claim is *true*, but about what
the claim is.  I presume (as I think every Jew must) that the AriZal
and the Baal Shem Tov were not liars.  But one doesn't need to presume
that in order to accept what it is that they were claiming.  And what
they claimed, and chassidim accept as true, is that an actual person
came to them and taught them.  Not that they had an idea that seems to
them to be true, and they speculate that it may have come from Above.

> And while I can't make this same argument WRT visitations from Eliyahu or
> Achiya, who are people, the notion of the Mechaber or the Ramchal being
> visited by magidim is so far beyond understanding ruach haqodesh as Divine
> Inspiration that it seems to me to be positing nevu'ah bizman haseh.

And therefore?  The Rambam had a kabbalah from his ancestors that nevuah
would return in 1216.  Both the Mechaber and the Ramchal were well after
that date.  One of the baalei tosfos was called "hanavi"; that *may* be
hyperbole, but why not take it literally?

Another example of revelation, without actual nevuah, is the ShuT Min
Hashamayim.  He was also a baal tosfos, and the answers he got weren't
just ideas that popped into his head, but objectively verifiable (to him)
communications from Above.   (That is to say, *we* may not know whether
he was really receiving these answers, but *he* did; it was objectively
verifiable to him.  Whereas with the R idea of "revelation", even the
recipient has no way to objectively verify that he has received anything.)
Then there's just people from the Next World appearing to living people
to tell them things, whether in a dream or while awake.  That's reported
quite often, and while if it happens in a dream it can be explained away,
there's no explaining away a waking visitation.  For instance, the Alter
Rebbe wrote, quite seriously and matter-of-factly, that before his
imprisonment the Maggid and the Baal Shem Tov used to come to him only
in dreams, but from then on they used to come to him while he was awake.
And more recently the Rebbe Rashab told his son the previous LR that his
father the Maharash had come to him and told him stories that he had heard
in the Next World.  That's not metaphor, and it's not nevuah, it's a claim
(true or not) of an actual visitation by a neshomo, just like Rebbi used
to come home to make kiddush, or R Elozor br Shimon used to pasken shaylos
from the attic after his passing (which you surely agree happened).

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and
zev at sero.name          substantial reason' why he should be permitted to
                        exercise his rights. The right's existence is all
                        the reason he needs.
                            - Judge Benson E. Legg, Woollard v. Sheridan

More information about the Avodah mailing list