Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who is an APIKOROS?

Rambam in his commentary on the Mishneh in Avos (2:14) writes: "the idea of answering the "Apikoros" applies only to non-Jewish apikoros, but a Jewish apikoros is so much worse in terms of disparaging and disgracing (the Torah), that it is not appropriate to argue with him at all, since he is beyond repair and beyond healing" 

[יג] אמר: למד דברים שתשיב בהם על האפיקורוסים מן האומות, ותתווכח עמהם ותענה להם אם יקשו לך. ואמרו: "לא שנו אלא אפיקורוס גוי, אבל ישראל כל שכן דפקר", רצונו לומר: שהוא יוסיף זלזול ולגלוג, ולפיכך אין ראוי לדון עמו כלל, לפי שהוא לא יתוקן, ואין לו רפואה כלל, "כל באיה לא ישובון ולא י(ס)[ש]יגו אורחות חיים" +משלי ב יט+. ואמר, ועם היותך לומד דעות האומות כדי שתדע איך תשיב עליהם, היזהר שלא ידבק בדעתך דבר מזה, ודע כי אשר תעבוד לפניו ידע צפונותיך, והוא אומרו: ודע לפני מי אתה עמל.

The source of the Rambam is the gemara in Sanhedrin 38b. But, see Rashi there

כל שכן דפקר טפי. שהרי הכיר וכפר ומתוך כך מדקדק ולא תוכל להשיבו דבר המקובל לו

Who is an APIKOROS? 

Sanhedrin 99b–100a Different Amoraim apply the term variously to: 
one who insults a scholar;one who insults his neighbor in the presence of a scholar;one who acts impudently toward the Torah;one who gibes and says "what use are the rabbis to us, they study for their own benefit;" 
"what use are the rabbis since they never permitted us the raven nor forbade us the dove" (i.e., who cannot go beyond the dictates of the Torah);

Maimonides gives a more precise theological definition of the word. Distinguishing the Apikoros from the sectarian (min), the disbeliever, and the apostate, he defines him as one who either denies prophecy, and therefore the possibility of communion between God and man, or denies divine revelation ("who denies the prophecy of Moses"), or who says that God has no knowledge of the deeds of man (Maim., Yad, Teshuvah 3:8). 

Later authorities extended the meaning even further to include all those who refuse obedience to the rabbis, even "the authority of a religious work, great or small"
(Moses Ḥagiz, Leket ha-Kemaḥ YD 103a).


  1. Thank you Rabbi for clarifying who is an Apikoros. BTW I never knew Vedah Mag Shetoshiv is for non Jewish Apikoros.

  2. How do you reconcile your post with your opinion of the other half of the satmer rebbes?

    1. Please read my post Ahavas Hinam key to Geulah for my opinion

      BTW,I guess you are Satmar? As you only care about Satmar. Can you clarify your question on my opinion on all the other halfs in klall yisroel; Bobov , R'steinman, R' Oirebach, chabad, Wisnits, Mo, YU Vechulu..... It's unfortunate but from the start Am Yisrael had its halfs.


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