Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rambam- The Three Types of Creations- Yisodei Hatorah perek 2 halacha 3

After the Rambam described how a person comes to love G-D, by understanding His creations, the Rambam continues this idea by defining all the different creations. Before discussing the different types of creations, a description of the word tzelem (shape) is in order. The Rambam describes what tzelem means in The Guide for The Perplexed (Section I Part I). He says,

"The term tzelem, on the other hand, signifies the tzura (form) of a being, that which constitutes the substance of that being, whereby the thing is what it is; the reality of a thing in so far as it is that particular being. In man, the substance is that constituent which gives him human perception: and on account of this intellectual perception the term tzelem is employed in the sentence 'In the tzelem of God he created him' (Gen. i. 27). It is therefore rightly said, 'Thou despisest their tzelem' (PS. lxiii. 20): the contempt can only concern the soul, the specific tzura (form) of man, not the properties and shape of his body. I am also of opinion that the reason why this term is used for idols may be found in the circumstance that they are worshiped on account of some idea represented by them, not on account of their figure and shape."

This excerpt explains what the Rambam believes the word tzelem describes. The word tzura that the Rambam uses over here to describe the three different types of creations should be understood in a similar fashion (since it is referred to as meaning the same thing in this excerpt of the Rambam). With this in mind, it is now appropriate to discuss the three different classes of creations. The Rambam says,

כל מה שברא הקב"ה בעולמו נחלק לשלשה חלקים. מהן ברואים שהן מחוברים מגולם וצורה והם הווים ונפסדים תמיד כמו גופות האדם והבהמה והצמחים והמתכות.

"Everything that G-D created in His world can be classified into one of three groups. The [first group] consists of creations that are physical, have a form, a tzura, come into existence and deteriorate. A few examples of this kind of creation are man, animal, plants and metals."

The first creation discussed by the Rambam is the lowliest of all the beings in existence. This consists of beings that are made up of the four elements, fire, wind, water and earth. They are the most physical of all beings and most readily understandable by human beings. The most exclusive of characteristics for these beings is that they have a life cycle where they change, the circle of life. Also, in the case of metal, there is a creation and deterioration of the metal like molding and then rusting.

The Rambam continues,

ומהן ברואים שהן מחוברים מגולם וצורה אבל אינן משתנין מגוף לגוף ומצורה לצורה כמו הראשונים אלא צורתן קבועה לעולם בגולמם ואינן משתנין כמו אלו. והם הגלגלים והכוכבים שבהן. ואין גולמם כשאר גולמים ולא צורתם כשאר צורות. 

"The [second class] of creations are physical with a form and tzura, but they do not have forms and tzuras that change. These creations have permanent tzuras in their forms forever, these are the stars and heavenly bodies. Their forms are not like other forms and their tzuras are not like other tzuras."

The Rambam here is describing the uniqueness of the heavenly bodies. Space and all that is in it is different than that which exists on Earth. These heavenly bodies have a special purpose and essence that can be understood, but they do not have the same type of life cycles as beings on Earth. They are forever rotating in the heavens in the same form with the same purpose, whereas a human or animal will grow and eventually die, causing their form to change.

The final creation that the Rambam discusses is the Angels. He says,

ומהן ברואים צורה בלא גולם כלל והם המלאכים. שהמלאכים אינם גוף וגויה אלא צורות נפרדות זו מזו: 

"The [third class of] creations have a tzura, but no form and they are the Angels. The Angels have no physical body, rather they have a tzura that differentiates them from each other."

This creation is the most spiritualistic of all the creations. The first class of creations are very physical and base creations that, among them, only man contains a spiritualistic aspect. The rest of these base creations are readily available for man to understand. The second class consists of very complicated creations that have physicality, but are so removed from the world that they require an immense amount of knowledge to understand. The third class of creations are not physical in any manner, but can relate to man through their tzura and in this way they can be understood. Thus, through a comprehension of these three types of creations a man can attain a greater appreciation of G-D and thereby come to love G-D. The more a person comprehends, the more he comes to love and fear G-D.

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