R' Chaim HaQuoton has an excellent
piece on the different views regarding Rabbi Elisha's apostasy:
tells that one time Elisha Ben Avuyah entered the Garden of Eden (Paradise).
There he saw G-d sitting with Metatron, who as the “Scribe of HaShem” was
writing down the merits of the Jewish nation. Elisha Ben Avuyah reasoned that
just as one is supposed to stand in the presence of a King, one should also
stand in the presence of the Lord, and the fact that Metatron sat with G-d must
show that Metatron was His equal. Although G-d struck Metatron with sticks of
fire (pulsa denura) to show His sovereignty over the angel, Elisha Ben
Avuyah already made up his mind that they are equal. Because of this false
premise, Elisha Ben Avuyah turned into an apostate and began preaching heresy.
The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) writes of varying opinions as to what
was the forbidden theodology that Elisha Ben Avuyah accepted: He was a Karpotian
Gnostic, a follower of the philosopher Philo Judeaus, a Christian, or a
Sadducee. A dispute is also recorded amongst sages of the Gaonic Period as
to what Elisha Ben Avuyah’s forbidden teachings were. Rabbi Hai Gaon wrote
that Acher (Elisha Ben Avuyah’s name given in the Talmud after he became an
apostate) succumbed to the Zoroastrian beliefs of the Magi. He believed in
dual-deism including a good god, Hormizd, and a god of evil, Ahormin (Ormuzd
and Ahriman). Rabbi Saadiah Gaon writes the he believed in a dual-deism of a
main god and a secondary, inferior god who ruled alongside each other.
Continue Reading This Qoton Qlassic...