Seforim Blog by Dr. Marc Shapiro
[...] Returning to Maimonides and creation, I want to call attention to a very interesting article by R Meir Triebitz. It appears in Reshimu, vol. 1 no. 2 (2008), the journal of the so-called Hashkafa Circle. See here.
As explained in the preface to the first volume, this “Circle” aims to fill a gap in haredi yeshiva education by focusing on the classics of medieval Jewish philosophy which are pretty much ignored in contemporary haredi society. We thus have a situation where great talmudists and halakhists ignore major themes of Jewish philosophy, which were dealt with at length by the medieval sages. When there are theological discussions in haredi literature, they invariably reflect a very conservative position, often at variance with the major rishonim. I already touched on this issue in my conclusion to The Limits of Orthodox Theology, and if Triebitz and his group are successful this situation could be reversed.
However, they won’t be successful for the simple reason that the outlook of the medieval Jewish philosophers is opposed in so many ways to haredi ideology that it will never become part of the haredi curriculum. In fact, I don’t think it is possible to be a serious student of medieval Jewish philosophy and at the same time identify with any of the regnant haredi worldviews. (You might dress the part and send your children to haredi schools, but that is not the same thing as identifying with a worldview.) This is so for many reasons, primary of which is that medieval Jewish philosophy is about the search for truth. The papal model of haredi society, where the quest for truth is subordinated to the dictates of the religious authority figure, is diametrically opposed to what our great medieval philosophers taught.
Furthermore, the haredi notion that contemporary gedolim can sit in judgment of the views of the Rambam and other greats, and determine that their views are no longer “acceptable”, will be rejected out of hand by all followers of the philosophic tradition. It is therefore not surprising that when Artscroll was presented with a plan to publish Maimonides’ Guide in English, the response was a resounding no, with the explanation given that the Guide should not be found in a haredi home.