Saturday, May 09, 2009

Overheard in Conversation

"I think vampires are real. How do you know vampires don't exist? It says in the Torah that witches are real, so why not vampires?"

...



Can't argue with that...

12 comments:

E-Man said...

The only difference is that, according to the Rambam, witches were just people that used trickery, like modern magicians. How is that similar to a vampire, a being that is undead, light sensative, drinks blood, can't die and flies?

However, according to the kabbalists, I agree.

Orthoprax said...

E-man,

"The only difference is that, according to the Rambam, witches were just people that used trickery, like modern magicians."

So it's chayav misah for a Jew to be a magician?

E-Man said...

I think magic is a type of avoda zara according to the Rambam. So if a person really believed that they were performing magic then they are really saying they have G-D like powers. In essence, making themselves a G-D like being which is avoda zara.

However, if a magician tells people it is just slight of hand, and not his own power, then maybe that is not avoda zara. I am not a posek, nor do I pretend to know how the Rambam defines who would be chayiv misa. But I do believe that he holds it is an extension of avoda zara. With this in mind, I think you can see why magic would be chayiv misa, since it is a kind of avoda zara.

E-Man said...

Here is the Rambam in case you wanted to see it.
Rambam, Hilchot Avoda Zara 11:16

All of these matters are a lie and falsehood that ancient idol worshipers used to draw the
non-Jews after their ways. It is not fitting for Jews, who are wise, to be led after these
things nor to entertain the thought that there is any truth to them...One who believes in
these matters and thinks that they are true and a matter of wisdom, but the Torah forbid
them, is among the foolish and unintelligent...But wise people with a proper outlook will
know with clear proofs that all of these things that the Torah prohibited are not of wisdom
rather they are empty and unfounded, pursued by the unintelligent who have deserted the
paths of truth on account of them.

This is why it seems like the Rambam held it was an extension of avoda zara, since it is in his category of avoda zara and he says it leads you astray like avoda zara.

Orthoprax said...

Eman,

"With this in mind, I think you can see why magic would be chayiv misa, since it is a kind of avoda zara."

I think they used to believe in real magic and witches. This was considered a threat to the community in a way entirely separate from idol worship.

"So if a person really believed that they were performing magic then they are really saying they have G-D like powers. In essence, making themselves a G-D like being which is avoda zara."

I think the Rambam's argument is that these people were saying that their abilities came from other beings in existence, thereby denying that from God alone does all power derive.

Of course many other commentators say that they *really* were taking their power from other beings or sources.

E-Man said...

"I think they used to believe in real magic and witches. This was considered a threat to the community in a way entirely separate from idol worship."

Not the Rambam. I pointed this out. He believed magic was a form of avoda zara and that is why it was chayiv misa. I agree with you about other commentaries. However, my point was according to the Rambam approach there can not be anything even similar to vampires.

Orthoprax said...

"Not the Rambam."

Yes, that is correct. However, I do not believe Maimonides' interpretations here are accurate.

"However, my point was according to the Rambam approach there can not be anything even similar to vampires."

That's fine, but people's opinions don't define reality. Use REASON not AUTHORITY to come to conclusions. To the person who believes in vampires he is just as right as you are since his authorities are just as good.

E-Man said...

I was just pointing a dissenting opinion not saying that everyone else is wrong. Also, why do you think the Rambam is wrong? You believe in black magic? I don't, especially since I don't see it nowadays so that is why I believe the Rambam to be correct. However, I am not using authority, I am using reason. I don't know why you would say otherwise. Is it reasonable to believe in black magic?

Baal Habos said...

>Can't argue with that...

Sure you can. You can say that Aderabah, Vampires are not real because had they been real the Torah would have mentioned them. It's like the old saying "the gemarah does not talk about palpilin because they exist, palpilin exist because the gemarah talks about it"

Orthoprax said...

Eman,

"Also, why do you think the Rambam is wrong? You believe in black magic?"

No, I believe his interpretation of the Torah is wrong. I believe *they* believed in real magic.

E-Man said...

Oh, you are totally entitled to that opinion. I was just saying that you can argue with that, even from an orthodox perspective.

alex said...

"I think vampires are real. How do you know vampires don't exist? It says in the Torah that witches are real, so why not vampires?"

Judging this fellow favorably, I don't think he meant those three sentences to form one cohesive argument. I think the second and third sentences are removed from the first.

This fellow's belief could've been formed by reading about Lilith.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_folklore_by_region#Jewish_traditions