Thursday, June 28, 2007

led astray by G-d???

The famous “tanur shel achna’i” gemara (B.M. 59) relates that R’ Eliezer called on G-d the perform miracles to establish the correctness of his argument – a tree moved location by itself, a stream reversed course, the walls of the Bais Medrash curved inward, a bas kol testified affirmed his position. Nonetheless, the Chachamim dismissed all these proofs – “lo bashamayim hi”, the halacha is given to human courts to decide and is not subject to Heavenly interference.

If in the end the consensus of the Chachamim was that R’ Eliezer’s position was wrong, why would G-d perform miracles on his behalf? From a legal perspective we might dismiss miracles as inadmissible evidence, but from a theological perspective, how can we fault R’ Eliezer for standing firm in his position when G-d himself appears to be on his side!

The Radomsker (Tiferes Shlome) asks a similar question regarding Korach. Rashi tells us that Korah was led astray because he saw a prophetic vision that his descendent would be the great Shmuel haNavi. Why would G-d offer such a prophecy to Korach if it would lead him down the wrong path? True, Korach still had free choice to not lead a rebellion, but that does not really address the question – given the seeming justification of his position by G-d himself (as the prophetic vision suggested), how can we fault Korach for not acting on his impressions?

Does G-d (chas v'shalom) lead people astray? One more example later... stay tuned.


  1. r' zadok in tzidkas hatzadik #64 where he addresses three examples:
    1) tanuro shel achnai
    2) korach
    3) eliyahu withholding rain

    he talks about God's acquiescence to certain tzadikim even if He doesn't think they're doing the right thing.
    i discussed it here:

  2. You really are not fair because that R' Tzadok is exactly where I am headed : )
    I think this is like the 3rd post in the past 2 weeks or so where you already wrote about the same topic - are we sharing brainwaves and I am just really slow to catch up? I don't think I was reading many blogs in 2005, so I have an excuse for not knowing you had done it already : )

  3. Anonymous12:46 PM

    I actually had wondered something along the same lines but not exactly the same about Bilaam and Rashi in the beginning of the parsha -- what is the point giving the umos ha-olam a navi who is a rasha -- especially if he seemed to have some supernatural power (whatever it was, I know that is the topic of machlokes)? any thoughts?

  4. Anonymous1:28 PM

    We're commanded not to follow the false signals of our hearts and eyes. Evidently, we have the power with the aid of Torah to reject misleading inputs in general.

    Also see this earlier piece:

  5. >>>not to follow the false signals of our hearts and eyes.

    But not to follow a message from G-d???

  6. Anonymous3:24 PM

    "what is the point giving the umos ha-olam a navi who is a rasha "

    R' Yisroel Schorr once said, probably in the name of someone else, so that the Umose HaOlam couldn't argue against Hashem: "if you would have given our best candidate the power of prophecy the difference between us and Klall Yisroel would not have been so great." Apparently Bilam was their best candidate. Hashem gave him prophecy to show that our greatness was/is not the result of Hashem's favoring us.

  7. sorry :-)
    i kinda had a feeling, given your interest in r' tzadok and the fact that the juxtaposition of BM 59b w/ Korach is too random to be mere coincidence.

  8. Anonymous7:58 AM

    BDerech sheodom rotzoeh leleach hakodosh barach hu sends him even if its bad