Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Maharal-Different Ways To Have Faith In G-D-Second Introduction to Gevuros Hashem

In the second introduction to the Maharal's book Strength of the Lord he discusses philosophers. He does not have anything nice to say about anyone who follows this path of Judaism. The proper path, in his eyes, is a simple belief in G-D and His miracles that emanate from the teachings of Moshe and the sages. He says,

"The wonders, signs and miracles that G-D performs in His world and through which He makes known His strength in the world, their ways and intricacies should be made known in order to clarify the acts of G-D. There are those among the Jewish people that are believers that do not disseminate with their minds and wisdom to know hidden things that they don't require. This is because they go in the simple path of the Torah of G-D. They believe in all of the words of the Torah and the prophets, namely the signs and miracles that are stated in the Torah and the prophets. They do not try to make deeper understandings of the text. These people know that G-D does mighty and wonderful things in His world either to destroy or create. It is similar to material in the hands of a shaper that when he wants he can elongate the material or shorten the material because G-D created the world from nothing and He can return it to nothing. This is what the believers think.

However, men of examining hearts from the philosophers that disseminate through logic and their knowledge about G-D that want to use their wisdom to figure out hidden ideas and revealed ideas. There are many of them and each one has their own ideas that do not agree with the other philosophers. They disagree so much that every man and his soul is filled with so many ideas that contradict one another.

Indeed, all of their ideas are like the wind and have no substance. In truth, what can a physical man really know? Even though G-D has given man wisdom and knowledge, man's knowledge and wisdom is still connected to physicality. In fact, man's knowledge is engrossed and encompassed by physicality. Therefore, how can man truly understand spiritual ideas?

Furthermore, just like man is not connected to spirituality, based on the fact that he is connected to physicality, so too man is not able to understand spiritual intricacies and actions if it were not for the fact that G-D told Moshe His ways. Also, the only way we, today, know anything about G-D is because Moshe told the prophets, the prophets told the sages and the sages made known to us G-D's ways through the Midrashim and their other hidden words.

Therefore, when these philosophers engage in dissemination through their own knowledge and thoughts they end up with strange and foreign ideas. It would not be proper to mention their names or their words if it weren't for the Mishna in Pirkei Avos that says, 'Be diligent in learning and know what to answer a heretic.'"

The Maharal sounds like he is extremely anti any type of philosopher. However, further on in his discourse he seems to calm down and even assign credit to some of the philosophers ideas. Nevertheless, he disagrees wholeheartedly with the philosophers as will be shown in upcoming posts.

The Maharal's words show us something very important that I referred to in a previous post about the different ways to believe in Orthodox Judaism. However, who says that the Maharal's approach is better than that of the philosophers' like the Ralbag and Rambam? In upcoming posts the Maharal will bring his case against the philosophers and why he believes their ideas to be flawed.

However, everyone should realize that the Maharal's approach to Judaism is just as valid as the Rambam or Ralbag's version of Judaism. It disheartens me to see people on both sides of the fence refer to each other as fools or, worse, heretics. Once everyone realizes that there is no Sanhedrin and therefore no uniformed way to practice orthodox Judaism, I think we will all be better off. In all truth, since we believe in G-D anything is really possible, no?

Read the continuation here.

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