Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Must we believe?

Tzvi Fishman has an article on A7 which describes his Life-Changing Encounter with Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, a "Kabbalist Elder."

The article is well-written, and full of accounts that defy belief. As Fishman tells it Rabbi Levy is a guru and a wonder-worker able to bend the forces of nature to his will, through piety and saintly behavior. The miracles and amazing wonders Fishman says he wittnessed with his own eyes include:

  • Various mind-reading performances by Rabbi Levi. For example: He diagnosed Hoffman's parents, without the benefit of any medical equipment, and knew things about Hoffman's private life that he had not been told.
  • Various instances of spiritual healing, performed by Rabbi Levi including a bloated stomach, said to have been caused by a tumor, that shrunk right before Hoffman's eyes, and a crippled soldier who regained the use of his arm in front of a roomful of people.
  • A prayer-service in the midst of a drought, led by Rabbi Levi which produced a thunderstorm before it finished.

  • What I want to know is this:

    (1) The trick with the fat woman and the crippled soldier: Those HAD to have been set-ups right?

    (2) Is Hoffman part of the scam or a victim of the scam?

    (3) If it is a scam (it has to be right?) how did the guru end up aswindler? Was that his plan all along? Or did he fall into it? Is he doing it for money? Power? Or l'shem shamayim (more people return to Judaism whenthey are impressed with his "magic.") And does it matter?

    (4) It's ok to call this guy a bunko artist, right? I mean there's no possible way God smiles on these sort of tricks, and no possible way that they work, right? Right?

    And any of you think I am being too cynical, should kindly refer to the Rambam