How Should We Deal With Skeptics?

Here’s one approach posted on the blog ModernOrthodoxPrax: "The rambam states quite clearly that skeptics are to be murdered in cold blood. One does not even need a beis din, but any Jew can take matters into his own hands and kill the skeptic. One does not need witnesses or warnings, rather whoever kills them did a great mitzvah and removed a stumbling block. If one has the power to murder them publicly with a sword, he should do so. If he does not, he comes to them with trickery till he can bring about their murder. How? If he sees one of them fall into a pit and there is a latter in the pit, he goes and removes the latter and says, "I need the latter to get my son down from the roof, but I will return it to you when I am done with my son." [But then he doesn’t actually return the latter so the skeptic dies.] We do not mourn for them when they die. Rather, their brothers and other relatives don white cloths and eat and drink and are merry that those who God hates have perished. Their penitence is not accepted. It is forbidden to talk to them or even respond to their claims. The Rabbis did not need to say that these people are not accepted as witnesses because the Rabbis only counted the evildoers of Israel, but these skeptics are lower than gentiles and have no portion in the world to come."

From the blog ModernOrthodoxPrax:

This is unbelievable. A British reader has written to tell me that since coming out as a skeptic, the London Beis Din has forbidden him to get an aliyah in shul. He writes:

Dear XGH,

I recently made a public statement in my community (Birmingham, England) that "I don’t believe anything in the Torah is actually true, nor in the existence of any god".

Result: the London Bet Din has ruled that I can’t be sheliach tzibur, can’t leyn, can’t receive an aliya even when I’m the only levi present. (This has already happened once. But they don’t actually call up the kohen again, he just says the brachot without call-up. This is to avoid causing me embarrassment.)

I am not sure what other rulings have been made, and am seeking clarification from the rabbi. (E.g. whether I can make kiddush for myself on grape juice that I squeezed myself before shabbat. I did this when I was abroad but was unsure if it was OK.)

I made clear that I accept these rulings. This is because I want to focus on what matters (truth) rather than relatively unimportant questions about aliyot etc.

I think this has interesting implications for observant (and semi-observant) skeptics.


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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