The Big Difference Between God and Godly

Sadly, some groups today revere various Jews as a false god. Jews such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe (called “Elohistim”/”Elohistin”), That Man, or Osso Ha’ish (“Cursedians”), and even Shlomo Carlebach (I don’t know what they are called). A newer deity is Eliezer Berland yemach shemo. Needless to say, this is forbidden idol-worship.

Here’s a reminder from Rambam Hilchos Avoda Zara 5:5:

המסית אחרים לעבדו ואמר להם עבדוני אם עבדוהו נסקל ואם לא עבדוהו אע”פ שקיבלו ממנו ואמרו הן אינו נסקל אבל אם הסית לעבודת איש אחר או לשאר מיני עבודת כוכבים אם קבל ממנו ואמר הן נלך ונעבוד אף על פי שעדין לא עבד שניהן נסקלין המסית והמוסת שנאמר לא תאבה לו ולא תשמע אליו הא אם שמע ואבה חייב

Most (or all) public Jewish sins have historical parallels, but this does not mean we should be careless in accusing just any previous generation of just any crime. Some have claimed this evil has historical roots in the title for Rabbi Yitzchal Luria, “Ari”, or the longer “Arizal”. Arizal stands for “Elohi Rabbi Yitzchak Zichrono Levrachah”. And Elohi is “godly”. Case closed!

Or worse – and all too common, the claim is heard that public sin in the past is not reason for public repentance or care in the present, but dastardly duplication! Otherwise, we are impugning the memory of our perfect ancestors. I will not dignify the latter claim with a response (this time), except for quoting Chazal:

מי שאכל שום וריחו נודף יחזור ויאכל שום אחר כדי שיהא ריחו נודף?!

The truth is, the acronym A.R.I. has nothing to do with making man god, God forbid. “Elohi” in medieval Hebrew meant that the man was highly close to God, as in through humility. Men of God walked “with God” or “before God”, such as Abraham or Noah. This was an abbreviation of the Biblical “Ish Ha’elohim” of the same meaning, Deut. 33:1, as it refers to Moses.

  • This was first published by me elsewhere on the web (somewhere).

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