Monday, June 22, 2009

Rambam-What The Interchanging of the Four Elements Creates- Yisodei Hatorah perek 4 halacha 6

After discussing how the four elements change into each other continuously at the points where they interact, the Rambam now discusses what this creates and the underlying cause for this exchange. He says,

ושינוי זה יהיה בסביבת הגלגל ומסביבתו יתחברו ארבעתן ויהיה מהן שאר גולמי בני אדם ונפש חיה צמח ואבן ומתכת. והאל נותן לכל גולם וגולם צורה ראויה לו על ידי מלאך העשירי שהיא הצורה הנקראת אישים: 

"This change (that is discussed in depth in this post) occurs because of the rotation of the sphere. The rotation causes the four elements to come together and from this conglomeration other creations form such as man, animals, plants, stones, and metals. G-D gave to every one of these items a form that is proper for it through the tenth level of angels which are the form that are called the Ishim."

The Rambam here points out some very interesting ideas. First, he seemingly says that the natural rotation of the spheres causes the four elements to combine and create things on Earth. Then he goes further and says that even the form that each creature or object is given is done through an angel. Rambam is telling us that there is no direct presence or act by G-D. It seems like the Rambam holds that all of these things come about through nature and not a divine act.

However, a person might say that the Rambam is clearly saying that an angel was sent to create the final form of a man, animal, etc. This objection can be countered through what the Rambam says in The Guide for the Perplexed (II:6). He says over there,

"We have already stated above that the angels are incorporeal. This agrees with the opinion of Aristotle: there is only this difference in the names employed -- he uses the term 'Intelligences,' and we say instead 'angels.' His theory is that the Intelligences are intermediate beings between the Prime Cause and existing things, and that they effect the motion of the spheres, on which motion the existence of all things depends."

In the Guide the Rambam is clearly pointing out that the Angels cause the rotation of the spheres, however, it is that rotation that causes all life to ensue on Earth. Therefore, when we put our Mishna Torah together with the Guide we find that the Angels that cause the spheres to move and create existence on Earth are the Ishim. However, this creation seems to occur through "natural" means.

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