[Avodah] Bereishit

Zvi Lampel zvilampel at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 18:36:04 PST 2018

On Mon, Nov 26, 2018 at 3:26 PM Micha Berger <micha at aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Sun, Nov 25, 2018 at 06:37:28PM -0500, Zvi Lampel wrote:

:> RMB

: This was already answered. The mistake people make in the more famous
> :> Rambans that created the popular notion that he says everything is a
> :> miracle is really the Ramban saying everything, even nature, is directly
> :> from G-d.
> : ZL:

Ramban is not talking about everything. He is talking about the
> : miracle of Hashem making Nature respond to human behavior (whereas
> : otherwise he has the world follow the path of nature established at
> : Creation). He does not mention whether Hashem does this directly or
> : uses intermediaries.
> RMB:

Except that he calls it a neis....

ZL: So does Rambam. I already cited my sources. They both call sechar
v-onesh through manipulating but not undoing minhago shel olom, a neis
nistar. Rambam calls it the greatest neis nistar of all. So RambaN calling
it a neis does not indicate he held it was any more or less ''directly''
from Hashem than RambaM did.

denies teva in the sense of minhago shel olam:

>    From the great and famous nissim a person comes to agree in [the

   reality of] nissim hanistarim with is the yesood haTorah. For a

   person has no cheileq beToras Mosheh Rabeinu until he believes that

   all our things and everything that happens to us are all nisim,

   they have no teva and minhago shel olam, whether in a group or alone.

 ZL: I'll repeat myself. The subject of his clause,

>  all our things and everything that happens to us

is solely in reference to the events that affect human beings: the
manipulated blissful or non-blissful weather, the successful or
non-successful responses of nature to our behavior. Not the day-to-day
behaviors of flora and fauna. I.e, specifically all OUR matters, and
everything that happens TO US. THEY are not left to a unmanipulated minhago
shel olom.

It can't both be Divine Intervention
> AND left to metaphysical mechanics.

Again repeating myself, both Rambam and Ramban say that at creation, Hashem
created the mechanics of minhago shel olom, but in the realm of sechar
v-onesh He intervenes to manipulate it, producing a neis nistar. In
contrast to neis niglah,  it is metaphysical mechanics that divine
intervention manipulates but does not undo.

The source I presented to show that Ramban too holds that outside the realm
of reward and punishment the world runs as a machine: Ramban says that each
''veyhei chein'' in maaaseh breishis means Hashem established the minhago
shel olom/teva of  the phenomenon described.

To introduce a new source, in his commentary on Devarim 18:9-12, discussing
astrology, Ramban says that from the creation oft he world, Hashem created
the spheres that cause minhago shel olom, and the angels that control the

''When the Creator created everything out of nothing, He made the Elyonim
controllers of the tachtonim below them...He vested in the stars and
constellations power over the earth and all that is upon it...And over the
stars and constellations he placed angels and minsters, as their life-force

> And then, as he says just a bit later, after saying that everything fits
> sekhar va'onesh, "hakol begezeiras Elyon."
> Everything. Even the things the Rambam himself says later are left to teva.
> We have to close the circle somehow.
... According to the Rambam, teva is the work of sikhliim nivdalim --
and the active intellect. Hashem made a machine, and the machine runs on
its own -- except for those who can connects to the Reality beyond the
machine through knowing the Borei. (Moreh 3:18)

According to the Ramban, teva is begezeiras Elyon. Directly from
G-d. Neis. That's how it is in response to what we earned or what
we need. This neis is usually nistar, hidden in predictable patterns
(minhago shel olam) -- and those patterns we call "teva".

ZL: You are basing a lot on the Ramban using the expression ''hakol
begeiras Elyon.''  But that expression, as well as ''neis,'' is no
indication of disagreeing with the idea of Hashem intervening and
conducting a neis nistar working through intermediaries to manipulate but
not undo minhago shel olom. Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim has a chapter on this.
And Ramban, in the above-reference commentary on Devarim 18:9-12 uses that
very expression in describing the machine that Hashem made run on its own
through the control of the angels over the spheres.

''When the Creator created everything out of nothing, He made the Elyonim
controllers of the tachtonim below them...He vested in the stars and
constellations power over the earth and all that is upon it...And over the
stars and constellations he placed angels and minsters, as their life-force
. And behold the control was /from the time of their coming into being
until forever more, *a gezeyras Elyon* [another girsa is Elyonim] that He
placed in them/.''

The correct translation of ''gezeyras elyon[im] may even be ''a gezeyra
about the upper world(s)/beings/forces,'' with elyon not being a reference
to Hashem, just as it obviously is not in the first sentence of this

The gezeyas Elyon is what He placed into the forces that produce nature,
the minhago shel olom. In the passage where Ramban declares that all that
occurs to us is neis and not minhago shel olom or teva, he is contrasting
our belief that Hashem, through neis nistar, manipulates minhago shel olom
according to our deeds, with that of those who hold that nature runs
mechanically with no connection to human behavior.

Realizing this answers all that you proceeded to write:

> ...ZL:
: Again, both RambaN and RambaM maintain that at Creation Hashem
> : imbued the components ‎of the world with their normal natures...
> RMB: You say that, but I don't see it in the Ramban.

ZL: I cited his repeated explanation of vayehi chein, and now his
commentary on Devarim 18:9-12.

 RMB: [Ramban holds, contra RambaM, that] Physics does not

> inhere in physical objects, it inheres in Hashem's Will for His
> Action to be hidden by routine.
> ZL:

: Rambam additionally talks about the indirect mechanism being that
> : Hashem first created things/forces that produced these natures, and
> : ‎RambaN does not. But I do not see RambaN making a point of
> : disputing the RambaM on this. ‎He simply does not discuss it.
> RMB:

But what could the Ramban mean by everything being neis and gezeiras
> Elyon if we were to assert that he does believe that intermediate sikhliim
> are the gears and springs of a watch that usually runs on its own?

ZL: This is again your unwarranted inference from the expressions neis and
gezeiras Elyon.

> ZL:

: But even if RambaN also disagreed with RambaM, I do not see why you
> : should frame the disagreement in terms of whether nature is a
> : ‘’thing’’ or not. RambaM uses no such language. ‎Nature is as much
> : of a ‘’thing’’ to RambaN as it is to RambaM...
> RMB:

Except that one calls it a product of the Seikhel haPoal, and the other
> says it's all neis and gezeiras Elyon, even the things that aren't nissim
> in the usual sense.

> ZL: This is again your inference from the expressions neis and gezeiras
> Elyon, which I showed is incorrect. Rambam speaks in terms of Seichel
> HaPoel setting up the world's machinery of spheres that influence matters
> on earth.  Ramban speaks in terms of Hashem creating influencing spheres
> controlled by angels. Ramban considers Nature no less an ''it'' than
> Rambam. Rambam considers Nature no more an ''it'' than Ramban.
> ...
> RMB:

:> To the Ramban, the question of teva vs neis is whether the situation
> :> calls for HQBH breaking His minhagim.
> :
> ZL:

: To the Rambam, as well.
> RMB:

To the Rambam, it is whether the people invovolved have the yedi'ah
> necessary to circumvent the action of the Seikhel haPoal.

And RambaN (Devarim 18:13) speaks of Hashem redirecting the normal
course of the
spheres to act in favor of those who draw close to Him through their

 (In fact, Rambam in Maamar Terchiass HaMeisim [near the end], too,
puts it terms of avodah:

"The Torah amply states that the improvement of affairs that goes with
 loyal service to Hashem, and their worsening that goes with rebellion, is a
 continuous miracle...not due to a natural cause or the behavior of
 metsius...And this is a miracle greater than any other miracle....".

According to both, Hashem intervenes to manipulate the machinery of
minhago shel olom based upon man's closeness to him.

> ZL:

: You want to say Ramban was mistaken in saying, without
> : qualification, he agreed with the Rambam?
> RMB:

The context of the Ramban's statement is qualification enough. He is
> saying that on the topic of whether hashgachah peratis is universal,
> he agrees with the Rambam that it isn't. No more, no less.
> Just as he didn't mean he agrees with the Rambam's that sekhar is
> hashgachah, but onesh is being abandoned to teva.

ZL: I'll concede that point, although I'm still left with the question that
the Rambam refers to minhago shel olom oneshim, too, as the greatest of
nissim nistarim. How is abandonment to nature a neis? And he also refers
to, for example, the Egyptians being punished for volunteering to fulfill
the role of persecutors foretold of in the bris bein habesarim. The plagues
were not a mere abandonment to nature... Tsaruch iyun....

> To the Ramban, a person
> who deserves Hashem's aid in correcting himself will get oneshim from
> Him as needed.
ZL: That's an interesting twist on how to look at oneshim as a chessed.

> Zvi Lampel

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