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26.1.13

Maimonides and Physics



I have wondered about the approach of the Rambam towards learning what he calls Physics and Metaphysics. [He says what the ancient Greeks called Physics and Metaphysics is what in Torah is called the "Work of the Divine Chariot" and the "Work of Creation." מעשה מרכבה ומעשה בראשית.]

My question is why does he put this into the category of service of G-d?

Now in the Jewish people there has been a traditional approach to what could be called "the service of God." This is is usually considered to be learning Torah and doing mitzvot and good deeds.
The approach of the Rambam never made a dent in Jewish theology.

I have never heard of any explanation either of why or how this could be considered the highest service of God -- even greater than learning Torah.
Though I have seen in other books [Maalat Hamidot מעלות המידות, Chovot Levavot etc.]
from medieval Jewish thought that adopt this approach to some degree, but never with the wallop that the Rambam gives it.


I would like to suggest here the reason for the Rambam. It is due to his Aristotelian philosophy.

It goes like this: everything has  four causes. The final cause is it purpose. Every individual object in the world has purpose. And the world itself has purpose. When one serves God by revealing the light and reason and logic in everything in the world, this accumulates in the higher purpose of the whole creation.

Personally, I have adopted the approach of my parents and Maimonides as the proper approach.
This is not Reform or Conservative or Orthodox. Just like you can not fit Maimonides himself into any of these modern categories so my path also.
 The failure of Reform was to teach moral relativism and to equate Left wing politics with Torah.
They are not teaching the approach of Maimonides, but neither are the Orthodox.

The idea of Aristotle. He goes along with that everything has purpose, and  every purpose in itself has a purpose. You can see there the implication that each of the four Aristotelian causes has in itself four Aristotelian causes.