We usually strive to avoid being taken advantage of by con-artists. The con-artist consciously looks for ways that make lies seem true. He is even more satisfied if you never realize that he has taken advantage of you. That way you go back to him for more.
Another type of con-artist is one whose message is a lie but who has managed to even convince himself of the truth of his activities. Cult leaders, Guru’s and even many main stream religious leaders obtain riches, fame and power from their lies. These lies can be so convincing that they believe themselves.
Such con-artists are often more dangerous than ordinary liars.
Our Perasha deals with liars of all types who may or may not believe in the truth of their messages:
When a prophet or a dreamer rises up in your midst and he shows you a sign or wonder. And the sign or wonder comes true and tells you to go after other gods which you have not known and to serve them. Do not listen to that prophet or dreamer…. That prophet or dreamer will die because he has spoken against G-d your Lord who took you out of Egypt… (Devarim 13,2 and on)
The Ramban says that some people have been endowed with special senses which enable them to predict the future. This may have nothing to do with real prophesy. They can give you a sign or wonder which will occur. Simple people and intelligent people can be convinced that such a person has been sent from heaven to spread “The Word of G-d.” Such people can abuse this blessing which G-d gave them.
How can people be convinced to follow such stupidities as Christianity or Mormonism? How can they be convinced to get involved in cults which take away their money and minds?
I know of a particular person who claims to be a rabbi. He has been blessed by G-d with an ability to see into people’s souls and tell them their inner secrets and personality. He abuses this blessing for his own purposes. The people he has successfully charmed have become his pious Chasidim. He teaches them hatred and strictures. He calls this pious Judaism. Although he does not claim to be a prophet the damage he causes is equal to the false prophets of yore.
Don Yitzchak Abarbanel explains why people get taken in by such fakers. he says that people like to try something new.
One needs to beware of the eloquent con-artist. He might believe in himself and he might be teaching lies that he himself believes.