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HASHKOFO-----a nebach apikores

talmid Posted - 18 September 2005 16:08

I don’t know which topic to place this in, but if one wasn’t brought up frum and lives his life knowing he was a Jew but if he wasn’t shomer mitzvos and died, is he an apikorus?

MODERATOR Posted - 07 May 2006 7:34


Yes, the person is an Apikores. An Apikores is, in a nutshell version, someone who does not believe in the Torah. It does not matter why you do not believe in it. As Rav Cam Brisker said, "someone who is an apikores due to misfortune is an Apikores nonetheless."

However, what this means is that the privileges of someone who believes in the Torah, such as Olam Habah, cannot be given to someone who does not believe in it, even if it is not his fault. You cannot be rewarded for something you did not do, even if you did not get a chance to do it. So just as lets say, a Malach cannot come to Hashem with a claim that he wants Olam Habah because had he been made a human and not a Malach he would have done Mitzvos, so too a Tinok Shenishbah cannot come with the claim that had he been born in different circumstances, he would have believed.

That having been said, just as a person cannot be rewarded for what he did not do, so too a person cannot be punished for what was not in his power to avoid. So the Tinok Shenishbah will not be punished for things they did not know about.

So if the question is regarding punishments for doing bad, the answer is, no, he will not be punished; if the question is regarding rewards for doing good, the answer is no, he will not be rewarded.

Olam Habah is something that one earns by doing Mitzvos, learning Torah, and, at the very least, by believing in Hashem and the Torah.

That’s the nutshell version.

Elchonon Posted - 18 May 2006 15:01

Mod, I think that that is only l'fi the Rambam. In the Rambam, the Radvaz disagrees. I believe that most Rishonim disagree with the Rambam.-Elchonon

MODERATOR Posted - 18 May 2006 17:21

You mean the Raavad. And he doesn’t argue on the Rambam about this. The Rambam and the Raavad are talking about someone who believes B'emunah sheleimah that the Torah is true, and that they are willing to accept as absolute truth whatever the Torah says. Such a person, says the Rambam, even with all his Emunah, if he thinks, mistakenly, that the Torah wants him to believe that G-d really has some kind of human attributes, such as a form, or emotions, or desires, etc -- something that the biggest maamin can mistakenly believe -- then he is an Apikores. The Raavad disagrees and says that such a person would not be considered an Apikores.

And even there, I do not know that there is a majority against the Rambam.

But the Rambam and the Raavad are arguing about someone who is a full fledged Maamin, but was misled into believing that the Torah proclaims that G-d has a hand or that G-d gets angry or that G-d has desires. He believes his Apikorsus because he thinks the Torah wants him to. The guy is a full fledged Maamin. And that’s who the Raavad says is not an Apikores.

But the Raavad never said that someone who does not believe in G-d, does not believe in the Torah, and does not care what the Torah say -- that such a person is anything but an Apikores. On that, the Rambam states that anyone who does not believe in all of the 13 Ikarim is an Apikores. And there is no reason to believe the Raavad argues with that.

Also, the issue of not being rewarded for things you did not do, regardless of whether you had a chance or not, is not dependent on the Rambam for another reason. There are people who get no Olam Habah but are not listed in the Mishna in Sanhedrin among those who "ain lahem chelek lolam habah", because the Mishna, which is in Mesechta Sanhedrin, which deals with punishments, is listing those whose punishment is losing Olam Habah. But, explains Re Elchonon Wasserman, those who have no share in Olam Habah not due to punishment but because you cant get what you don’t earn, would not be listed in Sanhedrin. An Am Haaretz is an example. Without Torah, no matter what Mitzvos you do, you cannot get Olam Habah because Torah learning is a condition for earning Olam Habah. A tinok shenishba who does not learn is in the same category.

Regarding the Rambam and Raavad, I could argue that the only time the Rambam would hold that a person with mistaken understanding of the Torah is an Apikores is where his mistake is in the nature of G-d, but a mistake in other fundamental areas would not make him an Apikores, even according to the Rambam.

This is because the Rambam is likely based on his opinion in Moreh Nevuchim, that if you believe that G-d has any sort of physical attributes, its not that you have a mistaken notion about G-d, but rather you believe in a totally different G-d than the one that actually exists, a fictitious G-d, completely and utterly NOT the real Hashem.

He says its like if you think an elephant has wings, swims under the water, and talks like a person, its not that you are mistaken about the characteristics of an elephant but you are mistaken about what an elephant is altogether. So too with Hashem, if you believe He has physical attributes, its not a mistake regarding Hashem’s characteristics, but rather a different Hashem altogether.

So that’s why the Rambam says that someone who believes that Hashem has physical attributes is not merely making a taos about Hashem’s characteristics -- he's believing in a totally different G-d, in essence, practicing a different religion!

But this idea -- that a change in a detail creates an entirely new entity -- only applies to hashem, not to other fundamental concepts. Because - and this is also explicit in the Rambam, as well as many other places - Hashem has nothing incidental or accidental to His nature. Meaning, He has no characteristics, attributes, or traits. Not because He happens not to have them, but because a totally Simple First Cause by definition can have none. In fact, the difference between hashem and every other single thing in the universe is that Hashem and only Hashem is without attributes. There can only be one First Cause. Everything else must have attributes, must have a cause, must have parameters and characteristics. So the real difference between our G-d everything else in the world, including all the other avodah zorah gods, is that our G-d is characteristicless and everything else has characteristics. There are two categories of things: (a) G-d, and (b) everything else.

Therefore, to attribute any detail to G-d puts Him in the second category. It is not possible to change a "detail" of what G-d is and still believe in the same G-d.

it would be however, possible to be mistaken about a detail of a certain person, for instance, but have him still be the same person. if you think I am blond instead of redhead, you got the right person but with the wrong characteristic; if you think one detail wrong about Hashem, you got the wrong g-d.

Therefore, what the Rambam said, that a mistaken belief in G-d's attributes makes you an Apikores even if you are a Maamin, is because such a mistake means not that you believe in the right G-d but are mistaken about a detail, but rather you believe totally in the wrong G-d.

But this all-or-nothing rule applies only to hashem, because He's the First Cause must be detail-less, any attribution of details puts Him in the realm of the physical and caused.

So if lets say a person believes wholeheartedly in the Torah and has a mistaken notion due to the Agados about schar v'onesh for instance, it would not make him an Apikores, because he still believes in schar v'onesh, albeit he is mistaken about the details. Same for everything where he believes in the core entity or concept but is mistaken regarding an incidental attribute.

Then of course, you need to examine each belief to see where the "core entity" of the concept ends and its incidental attributes begin.

But with Hashem, any attributes change the core entity. So the Rambam only said what he said regarding a mistaken belief in Hashem, not other beliefs.

Or not.

What I just said is just an idea, a suggestion, a "maybe". I am not at all certain if it is correct. it is meant lepilupla be'alma. If anyone has any input here, please share.

But is definitely true, is that the Raavad, when he says a mistaken misbelief does not make you an Apikores, he was talking about someone who believes that the Torah is true, was given by Hashem, and wishes 10005 to fulfill everything it say. If such a person, says the Raavad, is mistaken about what the Torah says because he had no choice, was objective, was honest, and he is simply not given by hashem sufficient brainpower to understand the Torah on any level higher than the primitive level he understands it on, and in so doing mistakenly believes something about Hashem that isn’t true, but if you prove to him that his belief does not represent the true torah belief, he would gladly change it --- such a person is not an Apikores.

But someone who doesn’t believe in or care what the Torah says, the Raavad was never talking about such a case.

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