Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rambam- Motions of the Spheres- Yisoedei Hatorah Perek 3 Halacha 2

The Rambam continues discussing his understanding of the universe. In this section he describes the inner woekings of the spheres. He says,

כל גלגל וגלגל משמונה הגלגלים שבהן הכוכבים נחלק לגלגלים הרבה זה למעלה מזה כמו גלדי בצלים. מהן גלגלים סובבים ממערב למזרח. ומהן סובבים ממזרח למערב כמו הגלגל התשיעי החוזר ממזרח למערב. וכולן אין ביניהם מקום פנוי:

"All of the spheres, from the first eight levels of speheres that have the celestial bodies inside them, are separated into several sub-spheres. [They are ordered in such a manner] that one is higher than the other like the layers of an onion. Some of these sub-spheres rotate from west to east and others rotate from east to west like the ninth sphere returns from east to west. Also, there is no space between these sub-spheres."

The Rambam here is describing why it appears that some things in the sky rotate east to west, even though he said that the eight spheres with celestial bodies in them rotate west to east. It seems like he is attempting to explain meteors and asteroids. These bodies contradict the idea that all of the spheres rotate from west to east. However, by introducing the idea that the eight spheres are made up of many sub-spheres that some rotate east to west and not just west to east, the Rambam is able to explain this phenomenom.

It seems like the Rambam is not basing this knowledge on talmudic sources, but rather it seems like he is basing his ideas on Aristotilian philosophy. Obviously, the Rambam's scientific views are not correct according to the way we understand science, specifically astronomy. This, however, does not detract from the Rambam's point of view that it is important to try and understand science and through this become closer to G-D. Obviously, no one is able to understand how science works perfectly, but that should not stop us from trying.

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