Monday, October 15, 2007

This Just In: The Ibn Ezra and Rambam's approach to witchcraft was not " in keeping with Judaism."

Bad news for two of our favorite Rishonim. Our friendly neighborhood deep thinkers at Aish Hatorah appear to have tossed him out of the religion.

Here's what Aish has to say about witchcraft:
When a person matures, three general approaches towards the occult and other outside forces begin to emerge. There are the serious, rational mindsets who laugh it all off. For them the world is rational, quantifiable and anything else is utter rubbish... [second approach... third approach] None of these three general approaches are in keeping with Judaism.
And here are the Torah approaches Aish wishes to pretend don't exist:

(1) Rambam, Yad Hachazaka: [Belief in] astrology, sorcery, oaths, lucky charms, demons, forecasting the future, and talking to the dead - all these are the essence of idol worship, and are lies that fools believe to be both true and wise, or were lies made up by the rulers to cheat the public. All these things are based on false beliefs, which have no point or use. He who believes that these are true practices -but forbidden by the Torah- is nothing but a fool. . . . the only person who will use these beliefs is one who is a gullible person who will believe anything, or a fraud who wishes to cheat the public."

(1a) Rambam, Yad Hachazaka: And these things [ie: magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and superstition] are all lies and deception... it isn't proper for Jews, who are wise and clever, to continue this nonsense and it should never enter their minds that there is an advantage or benefit [to'elet] to using these things... any person who believes in these things and imagines that there is truth and wisdom behind them - though the Torah prohibits them (to Jews) - is from among the fools and the stupid people [scholim u'chasrei daa't] and in the category of [people] who have incomplete mental facilities. Those who posses authentic wisdom and pure knowledge know through clear proofs that every one of these things that the Torah prohibited is not wisdom, but nothingness and nonsense [tohu v'hevel] that is continued by empty-headed people [chasrei da'at] who have caused the ways of truth to be abandoned.

(2) Ibn Ezra (Leviticus, 19:31):"Those with empty brains say 'were it not that fortune tellers and magicians were true, the Torah would not prohibit them.' But I (Ibn Ezra) say just the opposite of their words, because the Torah doesn't prohibit that which is true, but it prohibits that which is false. "

(Speaking of witches, I'll be back in a few with some thoughts on Ann Coulter. )

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