In Bereishit Rabbah 26:5 we read רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחָאי מְקַלֵּל לְכָל מַאן דְּקָרֵא לְהוֹן בְּנֵי אֱלָהַיָּא -- that R. Shim'on Bar Yochai cursed anyone who interpreted Bereishit 6:2 as referring to angels, as opposed to referring to humans.

Are there other cases where a particular opinion is cursed? What would motivate RSbY to curse a particular opinion -- is this a more troubling or problematic opinion than any other variant interpretation? Is it reflective of a more prevalent understanding that had to be eradicated?

  • 4
    Similar to לייט עליה
    – b a
    May 15, 2018 at 11:43
  • Should these two questions be split - why Rashbi cursed this opinion here, and where else this expression is used?
    – DonielF
    Jul 31, 2018 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


You ask, "is this a more troubling or problematic opinion than any other variant interpretation? Is it reflective of a more prevalent understanding that had to be eradicated?"

My answer is an emphatic yes. Interpreting the term בני אלהים literally as "sons of God" would imply that the Hebrew God has a body and is capable of having children, just like the ancient pagans believed about their anthropomorphic gods. This interpretation was actually quite popular in the midrashic and aggadic sources of the time, see this question. However, this view of course is anathema to the Hebrew view of an omnipotent God that does not resemble humans in any way and cannot bear children. That is why R Shimon cursed anyone who interpreted this verse literally; he felt that this view was contrary to Jewish philosophy and belief and had to be eradicated.

Perhaps this can used as support to the Maimonidean position that belief in Anthropomorphism is heresy.


Baruch Spinoza was cursed for his opinions in a book he published in the seventeenth century and is one of the most notable examples. The book which got him into trouble was entitled Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. In it he put forward his view that Ezra was the author of the Torah. 'The belief that Moses wrote the Pentateuch at the dictation of God was shared by Christians as well as Jews in the seventeenth century. Small wonder, then, that Spinoza’s views were seen at that time as rank heresy of the greatest danger to faith. Biblical criticism in the nineteenth century relied on Spinoza to develop the whole subject further.' (The Jewish Religion: A Companion)

Spinoza taught that miracles are impossible. In regards to the doctrine of the Jews as a Chosen People, he said: '“at the present time there is nothing whatsoever that the Jews can arrogate to themselves above other nations” (TTP, chap. 3, G III.56/S 45). 'Spinoza thereby rejects the particularism that many—including Amsterdam’s Sephardic rabbis—insisted was essential to Judaism. True piety and blessedness are universal in their scope and accessible to anyone, regardless of their confessional creed.' (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

See "The Text of Spinoza's Excommunication."

  • 1
    Plenty of people have been excommunicated, but I'm not so sure that's the same thing as cursing.
    – Daniel
    May 30, 2018 at 13:05
  • @Daniel--Does not the text of the excommunication curse and damn him? May 30, 2018 at 13:07
  • Please edit your last comment The proclamation of the excommunication concludes with the following fry one of you this day."amous lines of the actual warning: to make it legible. May 30, 2018 at 13:22
  • 1
    Please cite your source as completely as you can, summarize the pertinent points in your own words, and use clearly-marked direct quotations as necessary. See judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/75/…
    – Isaac Moses
    May 30, 2018 at 13:22

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