[Avodah] AN INSTANCE OF THE 7th KIND OF CONTRADICTION IN THE MOREH NEVUCHIM
zvilampel at gmail.com
Sun Jul 8 11:29:17 PDT 2018
Rearranging the order of our points:
On 7/4/2018 3:30 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
On Tue, Jul 03, 2018 at 11:17:42PM -0400, H Lampel wrote:
> : ...The : Rambam constantly depicted the masses as the ones who accepted
> : Aristotle's eternity, and did not have the sophistication to see
> : doing so contradicted their following the Torah....
> He did? I thought that was the Perplexed intelligensia, the true
> target audience of his book.
I overstated my case. As you say, the audience of the Moreh who thought
the eternity of the universe was undeniably proven was the perplexed
intelligentsia. But as I noted, the Rambam in the Moreh* writes a
revealing admission: that in the Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Deios, because
of the importance of proving G-d's existence, he chose to build it on
the premise of the universe being eternal. He explains in the Moreh that
he did this in the Mishneh Torah so that even those who think the
universe is eternal will be convinced of G-d's existence. Now, the
intelligentsia were not the audience of the Mishneh Torah. The audience
of the Mishneh Torah included women and children. One can argue that the
Rambam was just trying to cover all bases and be intellectually
thorough, but it seems to me that he was addressing a hamonei am who
thought the philosophers of their day philosophically proved the case of
eternity. (Although they may have had emunah peshuta otherwise, anyway.)
> ...Now, what Strauss would do with Hilkhos Teshuvah and its definiition
> of heresy is beyond me.
...and with Hilchos Deios, and in his 4th Ikkar, where he states that nothing else is as eternal as Hashem and, more to my point, with the Moreh itself numerous times.**
> Those claims of heresy were just there to scare the amei haaretz into
> looking into ideas they'll misunderstand in heretical ways.
But again, the Rambam in the Moreh made the case against even Plato's version of eternity to the intelligentsia, who were already convinced of Aristotle's version. If he really believed in Plato's version, what misunderstanding was he afraid they would reach had he said so openly? Especially considering that he was not afraid to openly use even Aristotle's version when addressing the hamonei am in Hilchos Deios?
> : As far as the Midrashim are concerned, it's the other way around.
> : The Rambam points out that on their face they often /are/ heretical
> : (as are many pesukim depicting Hashem as a physical entity) or
> : otherwise unacceptable, and the masses accepted those literal
> : meanings. The Rambam struggled to convince his audience that they
> : required interpretation to remove the heresy and unacceptable
> : literal meanings.
> And, based on what I said above, Strauss would say that the Rambam
> would say those hidden meanings include things like eternity of
> the universe.
And he would be wrong. The Rambam accused the Aggados of supporting, in
their literal meaning, the eternity of the universe. And he countered
> And frankly, I don't care enough about his
> opinion enough to bother figuring it out. Da mah lehashiv only justifies
> so much...
That's my feeling as well. As you've noted other times, it becomes futile to cite writings by the Rambam to determine his views when dealing with someone who says he secretly denied what he wrote.
> : >But my problem stands. Bil'am saw a real event, and therefore he saw his
> : >donkey having a real exchange with an angel. No problems with Bil'am's
> : >witnessing the exchange, but I don't understand how the Rambam explains
> : >that exchange itself.
> : >
> : >However, the Rambam believes that nevu'ah comes from knowledge, and the
> : >consequent connection to haSeikhel haPo'al / the Active Intellect. How
> : >could the donkey have that exchange?
> ZL: Bilaam was not seeing an earthly donkey. He was seeing a seichel
> : nivdal kind of donkey, which I would think is at home with other
> : such entities and with whom it is able to communicate...
> RMB: He saw his own donkey, though. It might have been the metaphisucal entity
> (seikhel) behind his donkey, but the donkey refers to their longstanding
> Or to put it another way... The Lot the mal'akhim sawed was the real
> Lot, not a seikhel nivdal kind of Lot.
That's not how I understand it.
* Moreh (1:71):
“... you will find in my works on the Talmudic laws, whenever I have to
speak of the fundamental principles of our religion, or to prove the
existence of God, that I employ arguments leaning towards the eternity
of the universe. Not that I logically accept the eternity of the world;
but I wish to establish the principle of the existence of God by an
indisputable proof, and should not like to see this most important
principle founded on a basis which everyone could shake or attempt to
demolish, and which others might consider as not being established at
** (Moreh Nevuchim 2:13): Those who follow the Law of Moses, our
Teacher, hold that the whole Universe, i.e., everything except God, has
been brought by Him into existence out of non-existence. In the
beginning God alone existed, and nothing else; neither angels, nor
spheres, nor the things that are contained within the spheres existed.
He then produced from nothing all existing things such as they are, by
His will and desire. Even time itself is among the things created; for
time depends on motion, i.e., on an accident in things which move, and
the things upon whose motion time depends are themselves created beings,
which have passed from non-existence into existence... If you admit the
existence of time before the Creation, you will be compelled to accept
the theory of the Eternity of the Universe....You will therefore have to
assume that something [besides God] existed before this Universe was
created, an assumption which it is our duty to oppose.
This is the first theory, and it is undoubtedly a fundamental principle
of the Torah of our teacher Moses; it is next in importance to the
principle of God's unity. Do not follow any other theory. Abraham, our
father, was the first that taught it, after he had established it by
...[W]hilst we hold that the heavens have been created from absolutely
nothing, Plato believes that they have been formed out of something.
“All who follow the Law of Moses, our Teacher, and Abraham, our Father,
and all who adopt similar theories, assume that nothing is eternal
except God, and that the theory of Creatio ex nihilo includes nothing
that is impossible, whilst some thinkers even regard it as an
[A] person might some day, by some objection which he raises, shake your
belief in the theory of the Creation, and then easily mislead you: you
would then adopt the theory [of the Eternity of the Universe] which is
contrary to the fundamental principles of our religion, and leads to
”speaking words that turn away from God.” ... Only demonstrative proof
should be able to make you abandon the theory of the Creation, but such
a proof does not exist in Nature.
(Ibid., 2:30): [T]he foundation of our faith is the belief that God
created the Universe from nothing; that time did not exist previously,
but was created: for it depends on the motion of the sphere, and the
sphere has been created....The Universe has not been created out of an
element that preceded it in time, since time itself formed part of the
(2:25) If we were to accept the Eternity of the Universe as taught by
Aristotle, that everything in the Universe is the result of fixed laws,
that Nature does not change, and that there is nothing supernatural, we
should necessarily be in opposition to the foundation of our religion,
we should disbelieve all miracles and signs, and certainly reject all
hopes and fears derived from Scripture....Accepting the Creation, we
find that miracles are possible, that Revelation is possible, and that
every difficulty in this question is removed.... If...Aristotle had a
proof for his theory, the whole teaching of Scripture would be rejected,
and we should be forced abandon it.
[T]he belief in the Creation is a fundamental principle of our religion:
MANY of our coreligionists thought that King Solomon believed in the
Eternity of the Universe. This is very strange. How can we suppose that
any one that adheres to the Law of Moses, our Teacher, should accept
that theory? If we were to assume that Solomon has on this point, God
forbid, deviated from the Law of Moses, the question would be asked, Why
did most of the Prophets and of the Sages accept it of him? Why have
they not opposed him, or blamed him for holding that opinion, as he has
been blamed for having married strange women, and for other things?
The Universe had...a beginning and commencement, for when nothing was as
yet in existence except God, His wisdom decreed that the Universe be
brought into existence at a certain time,... This is our opinion and the
basis of our religion. The opinion of Aristotle is that the Universe,
being permanent and indestructible, is also eternal and without
beginning. We have already shown that this theory is based on the
hypothesis that the Universe is the necessary result of causal relation,
and that this hypothesis includes a certain amount of blasphemy.
In the Decalogue in Exodus, the following reason is given for
distinguishing the Sabbath:” For in six days,” etc....[t]hat we might
confirm the true theory, that of the Creation, which at once and clearly
leads to the theory of the existence of God....
The chief object of the Law, as has been shown by us, is the teaching of
truths; to which the truth of the creatio ex nihilo belongs
Death by the court of law is decreed ...for breaking the Sabbath (Exod.
xxxi. 15): because the keeping of Sabbath is a confirmation of our
belief in the Creation.
It is one of the fundamental principles of the Law that the Universe has
been created ex nihilo....
Avraham ben HaRambam (Sefer Milchamos Hashem, ed. Margolios, Mosaad
HaRav Kook, pp. 57-58 and 59):
"...the Torah was given to Israel twenty-four hundred years after the
creation of the world.....Behold, their [the philosophers'] belief is
that that world is old (yashan), and it has no beginning. And we
disagree with them, through the emunah of the Torah, and we can present
teshuvos and establish many proofs to make clear the emunah of the Torah
that the world is new (chadash), and created; and nothing exists that is
rishon and acharon except for HaKadosh Baruch Hu."
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