Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rambam- The Intelligence of the Celestial Bodies- Yisodei Hatorah perek 3 halacha 9

The celestial bodies seem to be similar to the Earth that we live on. However, the Rambam points out that this type of thinking is a mistake. The celestial bodies have a higher existence than that of a rock or dust. He says,

כל הכוכבים והגלגלים כולן בעלי נפש ודעה והשכל הם. והם חיים ועומדים ומכירין את מי שאמר והיה העולם. כל אחד ואחד לפי גדלו ולפי מעלתו משבחים ומפארים ליוצרם כמו המלאכים. וכשם שמכירין הקב"ה כך מכירין את עצמן ומכירין את המלאכים שלמעלה מהן. ודעת הכוכבים והגלגלים מעוטה מדעת המלאכים וגדולה מדעת בני אדם:

"All of the celestial bodies and the Spheres have souls, knowledge and intelligence. They are living, standing (stay in their place) and they recognize the one who said 'The world should be. (G-D)' Each one [of the celestial bodies,] according to its greatness and [spiritual] height, praises and beautifies their shaper like the angels. Just like they recognize G-D so too they recognize themselves and they recognize the angels that are above them [in spirituality.] The knowledge the celestial bodies and the Spheres have is less than that of the angels, but greater than the knowledge of man."

The Rambam talks about how the celestial bodies have the ability to comprehend G-D. Also, they have spirituality and deductive reasoning. This is what he means by the fact that they have souls, knowledge and intelligence. The soul represents the spirituality of things that are physical. The knowledge is the understanding that a being can attain of G-D. Finally, the intelligence represents the ability to reason and come to logical conclusions.

The celestial bodies are compared to other beings that have these three qualities discussed in the previous paragraph. Those other beings are angels and humans. The celestial bodies, angels and humans are all on different levels of closeness to G-D. The closest beings to G-D are the angels, then the celestial bodies and, finally, man. The gauging of the closeness to G-D comes from the ability to understand G-D. Therefore, it is man that has the least understanding of G-D from these three types of beings. However, all three of these beings are able to praise G-D and glorify Him in their own unique way.

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