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24.6.12

(1)The God of Maimonides and Aristotle and the Will of Schopenhauer





(1)The God of Maimonides and Aristotle tends to lack personality. (2) The omnipotence and benevolence of God, while happy and comforting to contemplate, generates the Problem of Evil, that the evidence of the world and of events frequently would seem to contradict an omnipotent and benevolent agency.
(3) It seems to me that Yaakov along with Job and King David found some way of dealing with these issues. The way they did this was to project God's goodness out over a longer period.
(4) Schopenhauer started out that "the Will" is essentially irrational and not benevolent in any sense. Later he indicated that the Will is multi dimensional. [That is the Will does mean to bring the world to the Good.]
To me it seems that this was the opinion of Job and God himself who agreed with Job.
The friends of Job said: "God is just". God said they were wrong. Point blank. At point blank range. There is no way to misinterpret this because the entire Book of Job shows this.


 The first statement is that Job was without sin. So trying to fudge the variables here does not work. Trying to make it that there were other faults is clearly not what it says. Then the whole story of how God caused him to suffer in order to win a debate with Satan just shows the point. Because you want to win a debate with someone does not give you cause to make someone else suffer. This is the clear position of the narrator.    The Book of Job and Schopenhauer are in clear agreement.


( People ignore the fact that if God is good then he is not just. You can't have it both ways.)




Schopenhauer also had a chance to put the subject into the Will. But like the Rambam he refused to take that route. Furthermore he also decided not to put the ideas into the Will either. In these ways he seems to be very much like the Rambam.


What enrages people is that the Rambam understands the Torah thorough the eyes  and world view of Aristotle. And that he is not embarrassed about that makes it worse. At least he could try to hide where he gets his ideas from like everyone else. And what makes it even worse is that no one can claim to understand the Torah better than the Rambam unless they want to seem like an arrogant, ignorant fool. Thus people just ignore the Rambam when it comes to the world view of Torah.

My approach is different than the generally accepted approach. I say the Rambam was right, and everyone else simply does not understand the Torah.

In any case  the Rambam's approach to Torah is I think about as close to the actual Torah approach as possible. In another approaches there are strong elements of polytheism. They may not reach pure polytheism but they certainly come close. Today  Torah practice often contains polytheist beliefs. In fact it is almost an axiom that the more strict one is in practices the more likely there are underlying polytheistic beliefs. Monotheism is not the same as polytheism except in number. There is more than a quantitative difference. There is a qualitative difference. A difference in world view. And the world view of Torah could not be further away from what people think it is today. It presents a reality that is radically different than what people think the Torah is about.

A Rambam Yeshiva would not be anything like the yeshivas we see today. The books there would be the Mishne Torah and Aristotle's encyclopedic work, Physics and his other encyclopedic work, the Metaphysics.   In the beginning of Mishne Torah he writes that the Mishne Torah contains all the Oral Law and take a good look at his language there when he says "One does not need any other book from among them."  "One reads the Old Testament and then the Mishne Torah and one does not need any other book from among them for any law," i.e. the books that he just mentioned in that paragraph. However he says one needs no other books to know what the law is (that is what among the laws of the Talmud is the halacha. But that does not mean that one understands the meaning of the law without knowing the Talmud. That is how all sages of Israel after him understood him. That is without the Talmud one can not know the meaning of any law in the Mishna Torah of the Rambam. Just like the Guide require background in Aristotle and Plato so the Mishna Torah requires the background of the Talmud.



So you can ask then what to do after you have read the Mishne Torah? You can finish it in two weeks easily. Start at 9:00 AM and go until 5:00 PM. A normal working day. You can finish it in two weeks. Then he explains you learn "the work of Creation and the Divine Chariot which are the Physics and Metaphysics of the ancient Greeks." Here too he explains this clearly in several places in the Mishe Torah and  Guide. And he not ambiguous in any way. You can see what enraged people about the Rambam. He says after one has finished reading the Written and Oral law (as he defines Oral Law to mean his book the Mishne Torah) then he spends all his days learning Physics and Metaphysics.



So clearly a Rambam approach to Torah  would be a radical departure from what people think today compromises a Torah approach. And he writes in a letter that the only reason that his book was not accepted as the final decision is because of the arrogance and pride of people wanting honor and power. So when the final redemption comes and arrogance and the evil inclination will be eliminated from the world then his book will be accepted as the objective truth. In the future the Mishne Torah of the Rambam will be considered as the truth and final decision. The son of the Rambam who became the Rav of the city after the Rambam in fact taught the Mishna Torah instead of Mishna or other things that had been customary to teach between the afternoon and evening prayers.

 My personal opinion is that Physics today (and Metaphysics) has gone considerably beyond Aristotle and that today the Rambam would hold to learn the Old Testament, then the Mishne Torah and then modern Physics and Kant. (I must admit I  have not gotten far in Mathematics or Physics. My impression is they both need about the  same amount of time and effort as knowing the Talmud even at the most amateurish level.  That is about 20,000 hours each. That is you have the normal 10,000 hours for just barely scratching the surface. Then the next 10,000 hours for gaining expertise. That was in any case my own experience with Talmud and it seems to me that Math and Physics are not all that different.)

And I should mention that this is the way I have accustomed myself to be learning for some time now. The only thing is I admit I do learn Talmud as I thing it is the only way to understand the Mishne Torah. Without knowing from where the Rambam gets his decision, people always misunderstand what he is saying. [And they think they understand.] For that reason, one should also learn Talmud and Rav Shach's commentary on the Rambam together with the Rambam..

[I should mention that this is not how Litvaks go about learning. And for myself if I have any time for learning at all I go straight to the Gemara. Being limited to what you can get I would say get a Bava Metzia (one full Talmud Tractate with Tosphot Mahrasha and Rif.). One Musar book and one of Jewish world view like the Guide for the Perplexed.