Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ralbag Explains the Rationlistic View of Rambam and How It Effects Modernity

I am so excited because I have finally received the three volume set of The Wars of The Lord, that is the Ralbag's Magnum Opus. In it he talks about everything, it is similar to The Guide for the Perplexed only it is longer. Right now I am on the chapter where the Ralbag discusses the creation of the world. I found a very straight forward statement from the Ralbag that proves that the Rambam valued science over tradition just as much as the Ralbag himself. He says,

"In general, we must accept whatever view is philosophically provable, as Maimonides himself says, even the doctrine of Aristotle if it were proved; and we must interpret whatever the Torah seems to contradict this view in a way that agrees with the truth."

Seymor Feldman, the translator and commentor for this version of The Wars of The Lord, comments in the notes that this is seen in the Rambam in The Guide for the Perplexed in section two chapter 25. This is, obviously, in addition to the Ralbag's own words that the Rambam writes this.

How fascinating it is to see how the Rambam truly held. That scientific facts cause us to understand the Torah differently. What can this teach us about the Rambam's view of the Torah? The most blatantly obvious idea is that the Torah is not a document that its simple understanding remains constant. Clearly, the Rambam holds, that the Torah must continuously be reviewed and reinterpreted in light of new ideas and new evidence.

This brings me to more recent topics. One topic deals with how the modern Jew should view science and how he or she should view morality in war. For some reason there are people that say it is blasphemy to rely on science and its conclusions. This clearly goes against both the Rambam and the Ralbag, but it also misses the point of the Torah. The Torah is supposed to be a guidebook that teaches us how to live and engage our surroundings, ignoring the outside world is at best ridiculous and at worst damaging. Can we really say that the Torah is ignorant of how Jews are supposed to interact with a modern society?

Also, modern morality is different than ancient morality in certain aspects. In the modern world a country needed to crush its enemies otherwise it would be destroyed by the other surrounding nations. If the Babylonians did not utterly destroy all their opponents then they would have rebellions on their hands. So too, when Jews went to war they had to use these tactics. Anyone that denies that is just foolish. If the Jews did not act this way the surrounding nations would view them as weak and continuously attack since they would know Jews do not punish their enemies. However, nowadays this is not how (most) of the world treats their enemies. In fact, a country that does act this way is more likely to be attacked by other nations. Should the modern Jew ignore this fact? No, they should adjust themselves accordingly and thereby use the morals instructed within the Torah towards modern day life. This is why we call the Torah a living document, because it is always relevant and teaches us how to act.

34 comments:

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"I found a very straight forward statement from the Ralbag that proves that the Rambam valued science over tradition just as much as the Ralbag himself.

Seymor Feldman, the translator and commentor for this version of The Wars of The Lord, comments in the notes that this is seen in the Rambam in The Guide for the Perplexed in section two chapter 25. This is, obviously, in addition to the Ralbag's own words that the Rambam writes this.

How fascinating it is to see how the Rambam truly held. That scientific facts cause us to understand the Torah differently.
"

Well, isn't that a little circular? You can PROVE the Rambam held like the Ralbag just by noting that the Ralbag interpreted the Rambam to be holding like him?
How convenient!

Let's look at this alleged proof from Book II chap. 25:

"If we were to accept the Eternity of the Universe as taught by Aristotle, that everything in the Universe is the result of fixed laws, that Nature does not change, and that there is nothing supernatural, we should necessarily be in opposition to the foundation of our religion, we should disbelieve all miracles and signs, and certainly reject all hopes and fears derived from Scripture, unless the miracles are also explained figuratively. The Allegorists amongst the Mohammedans have done this, and have thereby arrived at absurd conclusions. If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the theories which we have expounded above (ch. xxiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion; this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory. But there is no necessity for this expedient, so long as the theory has not been proved. As there is no proof sufficient to convince us, this theory need not be taken into consideration, nor the other one; we take the text of the Bible literally, and say that it teaches us a truth which we cannot prove; and the miracles are evidence for the correctness of our view...

... But if we assume that the Universe has the present form as the result of fixed laws, there is occasion for the above questions; and these could only be answered in an objectionable way, implying denial and rejection of the Biblical texts, the correctness of which no intelligent person doubts. Owing to the absence of all proof, we reject the theory of the Eternity of the Universe; and it is for this very reason that the noblest minds spent and will spend their days in research. For if the Creation had been demonstrated by proof, even if only according to the Platonic hypothesis, all arguments of the philosophers against us would be of no avail. If, on the other hand, Aristotle had a proof for his theory, the whole teaching of Scripture would be rejected, and we should be forced to other opinions. I have thus shown that all depends on this question. Note it."


The only thing I see here is that the Torah is falsifiable by facts discovered by science.
The Torah says there was creation ex-nihilo and the existence of miracles depends on matter not being eternal and immutable as Aristotle held. If there was no creation ex-nihilo as Aristotle conceived--the Torah would NOT be able to adapt.

The Rambam DOES NOT say that if Aristotle would be proven correct, we would be able to re-interpret the miracles! That's what the Allegorists did and their approach is REJECTED.
What saves the Torah from Aristotle's view is that it is not sufficiently proven either way.

So the Torah is not infinitely plastic and malleable to conform to the notions of modern society.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

One invaluable way to navigate the Torah vs. Science problems is to know how do identify what is a proven fact and what is only a theory supported by evidence.
Once you do this, today's science poses very little threat-- as the Rambam spells out above explicitly.

E-Man said...

I think the Ralbag understood Rambam better than you. Plus, I think you are misreading the Rambam here,

"Aristotle had a proof for his theory, the whole teaching of Scripture would be rejected, and we should be forced to other opinions."

He says, we would have to reject the whole TEACHING of scripture and find other options. Now, this does not mean reject the Torah, my friend. It means we would have to find other options of how to TEACH the Torah. The Rambam would not throw away the Torah for anything, but he would reinterpret it if need be. Just like the Ralbag says he would. It fits very well with his words.

Listen, if you want to go head to head with the Ralbag, you will lose. He was much greater and smarter. You can not even begin to understand who he was, what he knew, or what he believed and even if you disagree with him until you read his work Milchamos Hashem.

E-Man said...

BTW- I made a mistake before. The Ralbag doesn't hold of the eternality of the world like Aristotle. He holds of creation of something from something, very similar to Plato. Which, Rambam even says he would agree that scripture can be explained that way if it weren't for the questions of Aristotle. However, the Ralbag answers those questions. You should really read Milchamos Hashem of the Ralbag, I started and it is an amazing piece of work.

E-Man said...

"One invaluable way to navigate the Torah vs. Science problems is to know how do identify what is a proven fact and what is only a theory supported by evidence.
Once you do this, today's science poses very little threat-- as the Rambam spells out above explicitly."

This is funny. Am I reading the same Rambam as you? The Rambam says that if Aristotle had a proof. Not an absolute proof, but logical evidence then he might be believed. According to you a scientist will need to smack you over the head with it. If you read the Rambam, most of his proofs are not undeniable smack you over the head with it proofs. They are logic and scientific theories. REad through the second chelek again of the Moreh where he goes through his proofs and see what the RAmbam considers proof.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"He says, we would have to reject the whole TEACHING of scripture and find other options. Now, this does not mean reject the Torah, my friend. It means we would have to find other options of how to TEACH the Torah."

This is such a blatant distortion of the words that I don't know what more I could say to convince you.
Maybe you should read kapach's translation:
וכן אילו נתקיימה להם הוכחה על הקדמות29 כפי השקפת אריסטו, הייתה נופלת כל התורה ויעבור דבר להשקפות אחרות.
Does that suffice?

"The Rambam says that if Aristotle had a proof. Not an absolute proof, but logical evidence then he might be believed."

I guess we aren't reading the same Rambam. My version does not say "logical arguments". It says proof.
Kapach translates as הוכחה.

Mathematical logic can produce an absolute proof. Scientific investigation cannot.
I have no reason to believe the Rambam did not require the highest level of proof before he would reject--yes reject-- the Torah.

Look, it's very simple. He says right here that the Torah is BASED on the possibility of miracles, which he says right here is IMPOSSIBLE if Aristotle would be PROVEN right.
So: Aristotle right=Torah wrong.

E-Man said...

"Look, it's very simple. He says right here that the Torah is BASED on the possibility of miracles, which he says right here is IMPOSSIBLE if Aristotle would be PROVEN right.
So: Aristotle right=Torah wrong."

If you read the chapter 25 of the second part you would see this statement is wrong. Just see here:

"If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the theories which we have expounded above (ch. xxiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion; this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory. But there is no necessity for this expedient, so long as the theory has not been proved. As there is no proof sufficient to convince us, this theory need not be taken into consideration, nor the other one; we take the text of the Bible literally, and say that it teaches us a truth which we cannot prove; and the miracles are evidence for the correctness of our view."

Just to sum up. The Rambam is saying that if the eternality of the Universe was proven right, then this is how we would have to explain it. However, since there is no compelling evidence, there is no need to diverge from the simple meaning of the text. It is right there in the Rambam!

With this in mind we now see how to translate the words that you bring down:
נופלת כל התורה
ויעבור דבר להשקפות אחרות

This does not mean we throw out the Torah, it means that we have to understand the Torah in a non-literal sense if the eternality of the world is proven. That is why the Rambam uses the word Hashkafa, this means his entire way of learning the Torah would have to change. Not that he would reject it. Clearly he would not reject it since HE SAYS HE WOULD JUST REINTERPRET THE TORAH. I mean actually read this part- "If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the theories which we have expounded above (ch. xxiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion; this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory."

IT SAYS IT ALL RIGHT THERE! How can you deny that?

E-Man said...

Again, this phrase in the Moreh of "If, on the other hand, Aristotle had a proof for his theory, the whole teaching of Scripture would be rejected, and we should be forced to other opinions" Means that we would be forced to reinterpret the Torah, like he says previously in this chapter of the Moreh as I have pointed out in the previous comment.

E-Man said...

Also, this amazing mathematical logic that is better than current science that you speak of, is that how the Rambam finds everything out? Let us examine, one of the Rambam's brilliant, but flawed attempts at this logic.

"The first case, viz., that the moving agent of the sphere is a
corporeal object without the sphere, is impossible, as will be
explained. Since the moving agent is corporeal, it must itself move
while setting another object in motion (Prop. IX.), and as the sixth
element would likewise move when imparting motion to another
body, it would be set in motion by a seventh element, which must
also move. An infinite number of bodies would thus be required
before the sphere could be set in motion. This is contrary to
Proposition II. "

So, this is wrong, since we know how the planets work through gravity, that is a modern scientific idea that is mathematiclly proven. It proves the Rambam's logic wrong. So how is the Rambam's logic better than our science again?

He was innovative in the sense that he really looked at science and tried to figure things out and make sure the Torah did not contradict seemingly logical things. However, a lot of the ideas that he thought were true, were actually wrong. That is ok, he used science to the best of his ability. Nowadays, since we have much better scientific data at our finger tips, we can use the RAmbam's methods to come to the more accurate conclusions. That is not to say that science is perfect, nor does it know everything. However, the science today was much better than it was back then. SO to say the Rambam only held of the science of his time, but would reject the science of today is laughable.

E-Man said...

Also, about your circular logic about the Ralbagsaying the Rambam holds like him not proving anything. The Ralbag admits when he disagrees with the Rambam. Therefore, if he says in this case the Rambam agrees, then why would he be lying?

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

I think you have temporarily gone insane by forgetting the difference between Plato's view and Aristo's view.

"Just to sum up. The Rambam is saying that if the eternality of the Universe was proven right, then this is how we would have to explain it."

He's not talking about just ANY view of the eternity of the universe! HE's TALKING ABOUT PLATO's!!!
You said this after the passage where the Rambam discusses PLATO's view of eternity which ALLOWS miracles!
Yes, the Rambam had room to re-interpret the pesukim if Plato's view was proven correct because PLATO's view allowed for MATTER to be created ex-nihilo-- and Bereishis could be referring just to physical matter. This allows for matter-altering miracles.

BUT NOT ARISTO's view! It still remains that if Aristo's view of eternal immutable matter were to be proven, the Torah would fall.

Look-you YOURSELF acknowledged this major difference between Plato's view and Aristo' view, remember?
"BTW- I made a mistake before. The Ralbag doesn't hold of the eternality of the world like Aristotle. He holds of creation of something from something, very similar to Plato."

You surely realize that the difference between Plato and Aristo is between having the possibility for matter-altering miracles and not having the possibility.

Acc. to you, if ANYTHING that is proven can be fitted into the Torah, why does he make any distinctions at all between Plato's view and Aristo's? Why does he reject the allegorists as a potential possibility to accommodate Aristo?
Acc. to you, we would be forced into making the same type of re-interpretation.

E-Man said...

Here is the whole text of chapter 25 in part two of the Rambam as translated by friedlander with my explanations for people in parenthesis:

WE do not reject the Eternity of the Universe, because certain
passages in Scripture confirm the Creation; for such passages are
not more numerous than those in which God is represented as a
corporeal being; nor is it impossible or difficult to find for them a
suitable interpretation.

(notice that his introduction says he can interpret the Torah in the eternality of the Universe model-e-man)

We might have explained them in the same
manner as we did in respect to the Incorporeality of God. We
should perhaps have had an easier task in showing that the
Scriptural passages referred to are in harmony with the theory of
the Eternity of the Universe if we accepted the latter, than we had
in explaining the anthropomorphisms in the Bible when we
rejected the idea that God is corporeal. For two reasons, however,
we have not done so, and have not accepted the Eternity of the
Universe. First, the Incorporeality of God has been demonstrated
by proof: those passages in the Bible, which in their literal sense
contain statements that can be refuted by proof, must and can be
interpreted otherwise. But the Eternity of the Universe has not
been proved; a mere argument in favour of a certain theory is not
sufficient reason for rejecting the literal meaning of a Biblical text,
and explaining it figuratively, when the opposite theory can be
supported by an equally good argument.

(Notice that he says he would believe in the eternality of the universe if there was proof since it is a fine reading of the text- e-man)

Secondly, our belief in the Incorporeality of God is not contrary to
any of the fundamental principles of our religion: it is not contrary
to the words of any prophet. Only ignorant people believe that it is
contrary to the teaching of Scripture: but we have shown that this
is not the case: on the contrary, Scripture teaches the
Incorporeality of God. If we were to accept the Eternity of the
Universe as taught by Aristotle, that everything in the Universe is
the result of fixed laws, that Nature does not change, and that there
is nothing supernatural, we should necessarily be in opposition to
the foundation of our religion, we should disbelieve all miracles
and signs, and certainly reject all hopes and fears derived from
Scripture, unless the miracles are also explained figuratively.

(Notice that the Rambam says that UNLESS THE MIRACLES ARE ALSO EXPLAINED FIGURATIVELY. Meaning we can still believe in our religion if the miracles are explained figuratively and we wouldn't have to abandon the religion- e-man)

The
Allegorists amongst the Mohammedans have done this, and have
thereby arrived at absurd conclusions.

E-Man said...

(The Rambam now discusses what if Aristotle were right. THe Rambam believes that if Aristotle were to prove his principle, we still need not exclude miracles since we could hold of PLato's theory of the transient universe. This is because, in the Rambam's view, the eternality of the universe is false. If someone could prove the eternality of the universe, then we could still understand the universe as PLato describes it.- e-man)

If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the
theories which we have expounded above (ch. xiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion: this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions
might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory. But there is no necessity
for this expedient, so long as the theory has not been proved. As there is no proof sufficient to convince us, this theory need not be
taken into consideration, nor the other one: we take the text of the Bible literally, and say that it teaches us a truth which we cannot
prove: and the miracles are evidence for the correctness of our
view.
(The miracles are believed to be true and not allegorical unless proven otherwise- e-man)

Accepting the Creation, we find that miracles are possible, that Revelation is possible, and that every difficulty in this question is removed. We might be asked, Why has God inspired a certain person and not another ? Why has He revealed the Law to one particular nation, and at one particular time? why has He commanded this, and forbidden that ? why has He shown through a prophet certain particular miracles ? what is the object of these
laws ? and Why has He not made the commandments and the prohibitions part of our nature, if it was His object that we should
live in accordance with them ? We answer to all these questions: He willed it so; or, His wisdom decided so. just as He created the
world according to His will, at a certain time, in a certain form, and as we do not understand why His will or His wisdom decided upon that peculiar form, and upon that peculiar time, so we do not
know why His will or wisdom determined any of the things mentioned in the preceding questions. But if we assume that the Universe has the present form as the result of fixed laws, there is
occasion for the above questions: and these could only be answered in an objectionable way, implying denial and rejection of the Biblical texts, the correctness of which no intelligent person
doubts. Owing to the absence of all proof, we reject the theory of the Eternity of the Universe: and it is for this very reason that the noblest minds spent and will spend their days in research. For if the Creation had been demonstrated by proof, even if only according to the Platonic hypothesis, all arguments of the philosophers against us would be of no avail. If, on the other hand, Aristotle had a proof for his theory, the whole teaching of
Scripture would be rejected, and we should be forced to other opinions.
(Meaning that, even according to the eternality of the universe in Plato's style we could keep the idea of miracles intact, as we said before. However, if Aristotle proved not just that the universe was eternal, but that there was no creation then we would have to allegorically interpret the bible and the miracles inside it. This would completely change our understanding of the Torah. This idea is supported by the earlier statement in this section that says "we should necessarily be in opposition to
the foundation of our religion, we should disbelieve all miracles
and signs, and certainly reject all hopes and fears derived from
Scripture, unless the miracles are also explained figuratively. " - e-man)

I have thus shown that all depends on this question. Note
it."

E-Man said...

I hoe none of my points were lost, I was forced to pu this post into three different posts.

The point is that Rambam thought any type of eternality of the universe was wrong. If Aristotle could prove that the eternality of the universe was right, then Rambam could still take the Plato approach. This still allows for miracles. However, if Aristotle were right about everything, even that G-D could not intervene, then he would be forced to interpret the Torah in an allegorical sense like the Mohammedans that he mentioned above.

Either way this discussion is pointless. You agree that Rambam says that we take science over all else. However, we are arguing whether this would cause the Rambam to lose faith or not. You think it would and I prove here that it wouldn't.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"we should necessarily be in opposition to
the foundation of our religion, we should disbelieve all miracles
and signs, and certainly reject all hopes and fears derived from
Scripture, unless the miracles are also explained figuratively."

(Notice that the Rambam says that UNLESS THE MIRACLES ARE ALSO EXPLAINED FIGURATIVELY. Meaning we can still believe in our religion if the miracles are explained figuratively and we wouldn't have to abandon the religion- e-man)
"

If you think that discarding THE FOUNDATION of our religion is not the same as basically abandoning the religion, then we are just talking past eachother.
Imagine discarding the belief in free-will and Olam Habbah. Would you say that this is not necessarily abandoning Judaism??


Back to an earlier comment of yours:
"However, since there is no compelling evidence, there is no need to diverge from the simple meaning of the text. It is right there in the Rambam!"

Where is the term "compelling evidence" exactly "right there in the Rambam?
I thought I showed that the term הוכחה doe not sustain such a loose reading.


"Also, this amazing mathematical logic that is better than current science that you speak of, is that how the Rambam finds everything out? "

No. I'm only saying this is the the type of logic that is capable of disproving the Torah.
I did not imply that the Rambam himself was able to use wherever he employs philosophical arguments to prove something about nature.

So the rest of your comment is knocking down a straw man.

E-Man said...

"If you think that discarding THE FOUNDATION of our religion is not the same as basically abandoning the religion, then we are just talking past eachother.
Imagine discarding the belief in free-will and Olam Habbah. Would you say that this is not necessarily abandoning Judaism?? "

This comment either shows you didn't read what the Rambam said or you willfully ignored it. He says it would knock down the foundation of our torah UNLESS THE MIRACLES ARE ALSO EXPLAINED FIGURATIVELY.

So the Rambam would explain the miracles figuratively, what is the problem?

THIS DESTROYS YOUR WHOLE ARGUMENT!

BTW hochacha just means proof. And according to the proofs that the Rambam brings down at the beginning of the second section, he is not talking about tangible proofs, but proofs of logic.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"You agree that Rambam says that we take science over all else."

Just wrong.
The Rambam says we take absolute PROOF and undeniable facts over all else. Inductive scientific knowledge is NOT AT ALL the same.
See here:
http://atheism.about.com/od/criticalthinking/a/deductivearg.htm

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"So the Rambam would explain the miracles figuratively, what is the problem?"

You didn't answer my question. You don;t thisit is fatal to Judaism to remove Olam Habba and free-will?

The problem is that once you explain all miracles figuratively, "all the hopes and fears derived from Scripture" will have to be discarded.
Because now that the universe is proven to be eternal and immutable, God cannot change anything in creation to reward or punish us for keeping or transgressing the mitzvos.

If you don't think that any big deal for Judaism, I have nothing left to say.

E-Man said...

Are you serious? Do you understand what olam haba is? If you don't believe in Miracles, then olam haba can still exist. Reward can be given in the next world. Just because G-D does not change the nature of the world does not mean that olam haba, which is out of this world, or reward would not exist. This is just an ignorant statement. You are imposing your ideas on Rambam because you find difficulties that you can not cope with. If you think hard enough, everything is explainable.

There are people like the Maharal that hold like you, but the Rambam and Ralbag clearly do not.

FKM-
"Because now that the universe is proven to be eternal and immutable, God cannot change anything in creation to reward or punish us for keeping or transgressing the mitzvos."

Like I said, you have an understanding of Judaism, that reward and punishment are given in this world. There are countless meforshim that say against this. Most people say that reward is not given in this world. So, by saying the world is eternal and that G-D does not change nature does not mean that the next world and reward in the next world does not exist.

So to answer your question, no, this idea does not go against the existance of olam haba and reward and punishment.

E-Man said...

Also, you can explain that although G-D does not create super natural occurences, you can say that He guides natural events. Like, th eoutcomes of war, disease, and other natural occurences. The Aristotilian idea does not mean G-D doesn't intervene at all, it means that G-D never changes the natural process of the world. SO even if he wanted to punish or reward through natural means like disease or rain for crops He could do that within the limits of Aristotle's ideas.

E-Man said...

Also, the reason I am absolutely sure the Rambam would hold of almost all science today is because of his arguments in the Guide. He holds of many of the logical arguments that Aristotle puts forward. Just read it in the Guide. I think it is the preface to the second part of his book.

So to say that he would not hold of science today is to in essence say that the science of today is worse than the science of the middle ages. This is just absurd.

E-Man said...

In truth, he uses logical arguments and scientific arguments all throughout his book.

E-Man said...

I wanted to clarify one important point. If Aristotle were to prove that the world was eternal then the Rambam would only be forced to say that supernatural occurences, aka unnatural events could not happen. This is why he says that he would be forced to reinterpret the Bible where all miracles are allegorical. However, this in no way means that G-D can not guide nature. G-D can cause sinners to become sick through natural occurences or rain to fall in certain places through nature.

The only thing that would really change between Aristotle's idea and creation ex nihilo is whether th miracles in the bible happened as supernatural events or not. This would force the Rambam to interpret the bible more allegorically instead of literally, as he said in the Guide.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Regarding Olam Haba, I was just giving an example of a belief in Judaism that if discarded, would not leave much of Judaism left.

The Rambam happens to say in Hil. Teshuvah that there is certainly reward and punishment in this world.
It may not be the ULTIMATE reward and punishment, but it is certainly something that Hashem promises in the Shema.
No meforshim I am aware of say that there is ZERO reward and punishment in this world. They just say it's not the complete reward and punishment.

Apparently the Rambam felt that reward and punishment in this world is one of the foundations of the Torah. It probably ties in to his un-Aristotelian view of Divine Providence.

Saying it is within nature for a person who does mitzvos to get rain and a person who does aveiros to get locust swarms, is not something that I believe Aristotle's universe would allow.
But I need to check that out.

E-Man said...

WOW, did I miss the best thing you said:

FKM said-
"Yes, the Rambam had room to re-interpret the pesukim if Plato's view was proven correct because PLATO's view allowed for MATTER to be created ex-nihilo-- and Bereishis could be referring just to physical matter. This allows for matter-altering miracles."

PLATO DOES NOT, I REAPEAT DOES NOT HOLD THAT MATTER WAS CREATED EX NIHILO. He believes that matter always existed, eternality of the world, and G-D created everything from this formless matter.

Wow, you just proved how ignorant of the views that you are talking about you really are. Thanks for playing.

E-Man said...

This also means you don't understand my statement when I say

"BTW- I made a mistake before. The Ralbag doesn't hold of the eternality of the world like Aristotle. He holds of creation of something from something, very similar to Plato."

Plato held of eternal matter, but this eternal matter was different than the eternal world that Aristotle holds of. Either way, it just shows you don't know anything about what Plato held or what Aristotle held. It also shows that you were not understanding anything I was saying.

E-Man said...

FKM said-
"Saying it is within nature for a person who does mitzvos to get rain and a person who does aveiros to get locust swarms, is not something that I believe Aristotle's universe would allow."

The Rambam would only have to buy into Aristotles idea that unnatural occurences, miracles, can't happen in this world. That does not preclude the fact that Rambam can hold that G-D uses natural occurences to reward and punish people.

Hence, the Rambam does not say he would not believe in Judaism, but rather he would have to reinterpret the Torah in an allegorical sense when it came to super natural miracles.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"Plato held of eternal matter, but this eternal matter was different than the eternal world that Aristotle holds of."

True, I was imprecise. But for the purposes of this discussion, making concrete material out of formless matter and creating physical matter from scratch is not a big difference.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

When discussing Plato, I always meant: "making physical matter from non-physical matter".
calling it "ex-nihilo" or "from scratch" was a serious mistaken description of what I meant.

I always implied that there was something else that always existed eternally, but it allowed for miracles.
Please do not make too big a deal of this.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"The only thing that would really change between Aristotle's idea and creation ex nihilo is whether th miracles in the bible happened as supernatural events or not. This would force the Rambam to interpret the bible more allegorically instead of literally, as he said in the Guide."

Then why does the Rambam consistently say (later in the guide and in Iggeres techiyas hameisim) that the possibility miracles is a foundation of the Torah? What's he talking about? What foundation?

Acc. to you, there is absolutely no theological consequences to removing nature-breaking miracles.
So why does the Rambam make such a consistent fuss?

Your reductionist approach makes no sense.

E-Man said...

The difference betwen creation ex-nihilo and not makes all the difference in the world. Our discussion started off as whether the Rambam reinterprets the Torah to fit science. Traditional views are that creation was ex-nihilo. Once you admit that the Rambam would reinterpret the Torah, even if it is like Plato, you admit the rambam takes science over tradition.

Plato goes against tradition and you yourself even admit that the rambam would reinterpret the Torah to fit Plato.

The Rambam holds that if either Plato or Aristotle's view points would be proved then he would have to reinterpret the Torah according to their views. One way may allow for miracles, but the other way requires an entire reinterpretation. Both hold of the eternality of the Universe according to the Rambam. This goes against the tradition of creation ex-nihilo.

So even if you only concede that the Rambam would reinterpret the Torah according to Plato's view. You admit that the Rambam is willing to go against tradition, in favor of science. Tradition being creation ex-nihilo and sceince being creation of something from something.

Realize that you have admitted this. And this was what our argument was about: Does the Rambam value science or tradition more.

Just look at your first comment.

E-Man said...

"Then why does the Rambam consistently say (later in the guide and in Iggeres techiyas hameisim) that the possibility miracles is a foundation of the Torah? What's he talking about? What foundation?"

Just to answer this question even though it has nothing to do with the argument at hand. The Rambam interprets the Torah literally. That is why it is a foundation of how we understand the Torah. However, if they must be interpreted in a figurative sense then the entire idea must be re-examined. This is what the Rambam in the Moreh even says. He would have to Re-interpret the whole Torah and discard his original understanding.

Nevertheless, you admit that Rambam would reinterpret the Torah based on science as shown in my previous post. A greeing with Plato is still a reinterpretation of the Torah based on science. This, as you admitted, the Rambam would do.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

NO. Not based on science. Based on PROOF. Factual demonstrable proof. Something wich scientific theories of today DO NOT POSSESS.
That was my point as well.

My fist point was that allegorizing the Torah to fit Aristotle is just not an option. The teachings of Judaism would collapse. It's not just a question of how to read the Torah. It's a question of what is the basis of our faith.

The only thing I gained from this discussion is how the Ralbag read his position into the Rambam. "Unless" indeed.

E-Man said...

I don't think you gained anything from this discussion since you seem to be very closed minded. The Rambam's "proofs" were much weaker than most types of scientific investigation. You are telling me he believed in the fifth element that makes up the universe based on proof? WHere do you see that proof is not scientific investigation? Everything he talks about being a "proof" has nothing to do with solid tangible facts, rather they are just logical arguments. You can keep being vague, but your proof idea vs science doesn't seem right, based on the Rambam's "proofs" in his Moreh.

If you want to say that the Rambam didn't believe in his own "proofs" that would be quite interesting.

Also, the Rambam does not say if Aristotle were correct he would abandon the Torah, that is just ridiculous. Then it would give proper basis for any Jew to just go of the derech when he thinks there is sufficient proof against the Torah.

The idea the Rambam is bringing down is that he would be forced to reinterpret the entire Torah without super natural miracles, not that the religion would be false.

I think I have brought sufficient proofs towards this end, especially from my description of the reading of chapter 25 in the second half. If you do not care to see how it is read that is fine, stay closed minded and keep your ridiculous idea that there was proof that could dissuade the Rambam from Judaism. That really sounds foolish.

When he says miracles are a foundation of the religion, he means when you read the bible literally. However, if he had to reinterpret the bible like the mohamidans, then he would, like he said in the Moreh. Just go back to the post where I explain the whole text of chapter 25 in section two.