Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rambam-How to Use Maaseh Merkavah and Maaseh Breishis- Perek 4 Halacha 12

The Rambam discusses what benefit can be derived from learning Maaseh Merkavah and Maaseh Breishis. He says,

בזמן שאדם מתבונן בדברים אלו, ומכיר כל הברואים ממלאך וגלגל ואדם וכיוצא בו, ויראה חכמתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא בכל היצורים וכל הברואים--מוסיף אהבה למקום, ותצמא נפשו ויכמה בשרו לאהוב המקום ברוך הוא; ויירא ויפחד משפלותו ודלותו וקלותו, כשיערוך עצמו לאחד מהגופות הקדושים הגדולים, וכל שכן לאחד מהצורות הטהורות הנפרדות מן הגלמים, שלא נתחברו בגולם כלל. וימצא עצמו, שהוא ככלי מלא בושה וכלימה, ריק וחסר.

"When a man contemplates these things (Maaseh Merkavah and Maaseh Breishis) and recognizes all of the creations, like the angels, spheres, man, etc, he sees the wisdom of G-D with all of His formations and creations. This creates a love that causes a man's soul to thirst and his flesh to yearn to love G-D. This man will then be afraid because of his lowliness, lacking and unimportance. When he compares himself to one of great holy bodies, and even more so the spiritual entities that have no physicality, he will see himself as a vessel that is full of embarrassment, shame, emptiness and lacking."

The Rambam is trying to give us a practical use for the knowledge of abstract ideas. One might ask, "Why should I learn cosmology?" The Rambam would respond by pointing out that through a knowledge of the abstract and complicated ideas that are found in cosmology one can learn to have a great level of Yiras Shemayim (Fear of heaven). In truth, the Rambam is telling us that all of science can help us have a better appreciation for G-D. When we see the greatness of all of His creations then we realize just how insignificant we are in this world.

This idea fits very well with the Rambam's theology. He holds that man was not the main reason for all of creation. True, man was an important part of creation, but to say that man was the pinnacle would be a mistake. Everything that was created had its place and is needed. This is why we should respect everything in the world. It is a mistake to think that anyone is better than anyone else, or even anything else. We are all G-D's creations and in light of this we will learn to have a better appreciation for G-D and we can learn to be humble.

No comments: