Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nefesh HaChaim did not misunderstand Rambam

 Guest Post by Rabbi Michael Tzadok The claim has been made that the Nefesh HaChaim misunderstood the Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim, and thus made some sort of heretical statement. 

First let us look at the Rambam, brought from the Friedman translation (my comments in parentheses and italics) :
KNOW that this Universe, in its entirety, is nothing else but one individual being: that is to say, the outermost heavenly sphere, together with all included therein, is as regards individuality beyond all question a single being like Said and Omar. The variety of its substances--I mean the substances of that sphere and all its component parts--is like the variety of the substances of a human being: just as, e.g., Said is one individual, consisting of various solid substances, such as flesh, bones, sinews, of various humours, and of various spiritual elements: in like manner this sphere in its totality is composed of the celestial orbs, the four elements and their combinations: there is no vacuum whatever therein, but the whole space is filled up with matter. Its centre is occupied by the earth, earth is surrounded by water, air encompasses the water, fire envelopes the air, and this again is enveloped by the fifth substance (quintessence). These substances form numerous spheres, one being enclosed within another so that no intermediate empty space, no vacuum, is left. One sphere surrounds and closely joins the other. All the spheres revolve with constant uniformity, without acceleration or retardation; that is to say, each sphere retains its individual nature as regards its velocity and the peculiarity of its motion; it does not move at one time quicker, at another slower. Compared with each other, however, some of the spheres move with less, others with greater velocity. The outermost, all-encompassing sphere, revolves with the greatest speed; it completes its revolution in one day, and causes everything to participate in its motion, just as every particle of a thing moves when the entire body is in motion: for existing beings stand in the same relation to that sphere as a part of a thing stands to the whole. These spheres have not a common centre: the centres of some of them are identical with the centre of the Universe, while those of the rest are different from it. Some of the spheres KNOW that this Universe, in its entirety, is nothing else but one individual being: that is to say, the outermost heavenly sphere, together with all included therein, is as regards individuality beyond all question a single being like Said and Omar. The variety of its substances--I mean the substances of that sphere and all its component parts--is like the variety of the substances of a human being: just as, e.g., Said is one individual, consisting of various solid substances, such as flesh, bones, sinews, of various humours, and of various spiritual elements: in like manner this sphere in its totality is composed of the celestial orbs, the four elements and their combinations: there is no vacuum whatever therein, but the whole space is filled up with matter. Its centre is occupied by the earth, earth is surrounded by water, air encompasses the water, fire envelopes the air, and this again is enveloped by the fifth substance (quintessence). These substances form numerous spheres, one being enclosed within another so that no intermediate empty space, no vacuum, is left. One sphere surrounds and closely joins the other. All the spheres revolve with constant uniformity, without acceleration or retardation; that is to say, each sphere retains its individual nature as regards its velocity and the peculiarity of its motion; it does not move at one time quicker, at another slower. Compared with each other, however, some of the spheres move with less, others with greater velocity. The outermost, all-encompassing sphere, revolves with the greatest speed; it completes its revolution in one day, and causes everything to participate in its motion, just as every particle of a thing moves when the entire body is in motion: for existing beings stand in the same relation to that sphere as a part of a thing stands to the whole. These spheres have not a common centre: the centres of some of them are identical with the centre of the Universe, while those of the rest are different from it…(most of this chapter goes on to explain how the Universe is one body composed of various parts). It is true, we might have compared the relation between G-d and the universe, to the relation between the absolute acquired intellect(which is the Aristotelian term for the Soul)  and man; it is not a power inherent in the body, but a power which is absolutely separate from the body, and is from without brought into contact with the body.
So the majority of this chapter of the Moreh Nevuchim deals with essentially showing a metaphorical analogy between the universe and the human body(not a literal one, but a metaphorical one). 
It then ends with a vague statement of comparing the relation between G-d and the Universe to being likened to the relation between the “absolute acquired intellect” and man.  Now we need to understand what precisely the Rambam was talking about regarding the Absolute acquired intellect.  In Aristotles work Περὶ Ψυχῆς Peri Psuches, typically called by its famous Latin translation De Anima(here forward DA), he argues for several distinct levels of the the human soul, the two that we will concern ourselves with here are the Ψυχῆς, psuches(or enlivening soul) and the νόησις(acquired intellect).  The first the psuches is very much mortal, and dies with the body(in Aristotles view), the latter however, is not so, in fact Aristotle equates to it some interesting properties in DA 3:5Διότι πάντοτε το ποιούν είναι ανώτερον του πάσχοντος και η αρχή (το αίτιον) είναι ανωτέρα της ύλης.  εν ενεργεία γνώσις είναι το αυτό με το αντικείμενον της (το επιστητόν). Αλλ' η κατά δύναμιν επιστήμη είναι μεν χρονικώς προτέρα εν τω ατόμω. Απολύτως όμως θεωρούμενη δεν είναι προτέρα χρονικώς. Δεν είναι όμως τοιούτος ο νους ώστε άλλοτε μεν νοεί, άλλοτε δε δεν νοεί. Μόνον όταν χωρισθή ο νους, τότε μόνον είναι όντως ό,τι είναι, και ούτος μόνος είναι αθάνατος και αιώνιος. Δεν ενθυμούμεθα δε αυτόν, διότι ούτος είναι απαθής. Ο παθητικός όμως νους είναι φθαρτός και άνευ τούτου ουδεμία υπάρχει. νόησις.
My translation:
The acquired intellect in this sense is seperable, impassible and unmixed as it is in it’s essence active being, as always the active is superior to the passive, and the originating force to the mater which it forms.  The actual knowledge is identical with its object: in the person, potential knowledge is in time prior to actual knowledge, but in the universe as a whole it is not prior even in time.  The acquired intellect is not at one time knowing and at another not.  When the acquired intellect is set free from its present state it appears as just what it is and nothing more: this alone of the person is immortal and eternal.  We do not, however, remember its former activity because while the acquired intellect in this sense is impassible, the psyche is passive and destructible.  Without it nothing thinks.
What Aristotle goes to great lengths explaining is that the acquired intellect is the only immortal aspect of a human being, and it could not be corrupted by direct interaction with the corruptible flesh, thus the psyche, an intermediate level of soul/mind was in between them. 
I see no reason native to the text to believe the Rambam with his love for Aristotle, using the same language as Aristotle, has any intention to mean something other than Aristotle.
Now the Rambam states, “It is true, we might have compared the relation between G-d and the universe, to the relation between the absolute acquired intellect and man”  Which seems to indicate that G-d, at least in a metaphorical sense has the same relationship to the Universe as the acquired intellect(this Aristotelian higher aspect of Soul) has to man. Again that is the simplest reading of the text. 
Now let us consider the Nefesh HaChaim translation (once again my comments in parentheses and italics):
And also the Rambam Z”L wrote in the Moreh in Chapter 72 from part 1 that this entire world is called a Shiur Komah, and he extends the Mashal(note that the Nefesh HaChaim also notes that the Rambam is being figurative and not literal, and thus this should not be read literally, either in the Nefesh HaChaim or the Rambam) all of the parts of the world to different limbs  of man, and all of the different matters found within it.  And that he, the Blessed one, is the soul of the world, as in the case of a soul to a body of a man see there.  These are very fitting words that he said, for thus it is explained in the Zohar Parshat Toldot 134c(see there)(The Nefesh HaChaim expects one to be baki in the Zohar, so I will bring the piece here: “Come and see everyone who expends effort in Torah sustains the world, each and every mitzvah according to it’s laws, and there is not a single limb in man that does not have a corresponding creation in the world.  For look, as a man is divided into various limbs and all of them arranged levels upon levels, and these are dependent upon these and all of them are a single body- so also is the world, all created things are limbs and they arraned one upon another and as they are all interdendent, behold they are a single body.  And all of this is like the Torah.  For behold all of the Torah is limbs and segments and that are arranged one upon another, and it is all interdependent and so makes a single body.  When David HaMelekh looked into creation, he opened and said, ‘how many are your works HaShem, you made them all with wisdom, the earth is filled with your creatures.’[Tehillim 104].”  From these words learn that all of the worlds are unified.  This is a common thought in the mouths of our Rabbis Z”L that man is the image and likeness of the King of the Universe Blessed is He as it is written in Sanhedrin(46a and b) ‘As if to say why was he hanged? Because he cursed his G-d ect.  It has been taught: Rav Meir said a mashal, to what is this matter comparable?  To twin brothers in one city; one was appointed king and the other went out to be a robber.  At the king’s command they hanged him.  But all who saw him cried out, ‘The king is hanged!’ect.  And Rashi explains So is man made in the likeness of his possessor.” 
 So we see the Nefesh HaChaim is, as he claims, making a metaphorical comparision between the Universe and the human body.  In fact that is the primary drive of this chapter of the Nefesh HaChaim, and all of the sources he brings are to support that theme. 
So first there is no reason to initially believe that the Nefesh HaChaim is quoting the Moreh Nevuchim for any other reason than to bring another source for that metaphorical relationship.  Unlike what was claimed.
However, let us entertain for the moment that he was for some odd reason attempting to use the Moreh Nevuchim as a unique source proving something that he brings no other sources to back up, and contrary to what all of the other sources are brought to explain, namely that G-d is metaphorically a Neshama to the Universe. In Kabbalah there are technically five levels of the Soul, but for our purpose we will deal with the lower three.  There is the Nefesh(which would seem to correspond to Aristotle’s Psyche, though admittedly Judaism sees this as also being immortal, as Judaism believes in eventual resurrection, but that is a side point).  There is a Ruach, which is a higher level of soul, which does not appear to have any correspondent part in Aristotelian thought, though in Kabbalah it serves to separate the Nefesh from the higher spiritual faculties.  Finally there is the Neshama(which corresponds to Binah, the lowest of the three Sefirot known as the supernal brains).  Thus in this sense it would correspond to the acquired intellect.  There does not from this sense seem to be a contradiction at all.

161 comments:

  1. Ramatz did Misunderstand the Guide. or perhaps didn't bother to read the whole chapter, which is why he omits precisely the comments which I quoted in my previous post. Thanks for the source, I now will provide what rambam does say:

    "You must understand that in the parallel which we have drawn between the whole universe, on the one hand, and the individual
    man, on the other, there is a complete harmony in all the points which we mentioned above only in the following three points a discrepancy may be noticed.......


    Thirdly. The faculty of thinking is a force inherent in the body, and is not separated from it, but God is not a force inherent in the body
    of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is
    unable to solve it. For, on the one hand, it can be proved that God is separate from the universe, and in no contact whatever with it;
    but, on the other hand, His rule and providence can be proved to exist in all parts of the universe, even in the smallest. Praised be
    He whose perfection is above our comprehension."


    Please, if you wish to discuss these matters be intellectually honest, and do not omit the evidence that is inconvenient to your cause.


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    Replies
    1. Please, if you wish to discuss these matters be intellectually honest, and do not omit the evidence that is inconvenient to your cause.

      I didn't. The psyche would be man's ability to think, which is inherent to man(and beasts as well). The acquired intellect however is not inherent to man.

      The acquired intelllect, as Aristotle points out is in fact completely separate from man, and survives man in immortal and eternal ways.

      For, on the one hand, it can be proved that God is separate from the universe, and in no contact whatever with it;

      This you seem to interpret as G-d absence from the physical universe. However, that is a contradiction to Rambam's thought. One which you have yet to adequately deal with. So I will state it now for the fifth time, on the fourth thread.
      Let's say science is correct(personally I believe it is) and the Universe has a diameter of 46.6Billion light years(14.7 Billion parsecs for the astrophysicists among us), further the Universe is expanding at a rapid and increasing rate. That is a rather large(and increasing space) where G-d is not. This implies that G-d has physical boundaries.
      Further it contradicts, to my reading, at least two of the halakhot of belief that the Rambam brings in his Yesodei HaTorah
      ג [ה] המצוי הזה--הוא אלוה העולם, אדון כל הארץ. והוא המנהיג הגלגל בכוח שאין לו קץ ותכלית, בכוח שאין לו הפסק, שהגלגל סובב תמיד, ואי אפשר שיסוב בלא מסבב; והוא ברוך הוא המסבב אותו, בלא יד ולא גוף.

      ז ואלוהינו ברוך שמו, הואיל וכוחו אין לו קץ ואינו פוסק, שהרי הגלגל סובב תמיד, אין כוחו כוח גוף. והואיל ואינו גוף, לא יארעו מאורעות הגופות כדי שיהא נחלק ונפרד מאחר; לפיכך אי אפשר שיהיה אלא אחד. וידיעת דבר זה--מצות עשה, שנאמר "ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד" (דברים ו,ד).

      ח הרי מפורש בתורה ובנביא, שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא גוף וגווייה: שנאמר "כי ה' אלוהיכם, הוא האלוהים בשמיים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת" (ראה דברים ד,לט; יהושוע ב,יא), והגוף לא יהיה בשני מקומות. ונאמר "כי לא ראיתם, כל תמונה" (דברים ד,טו), ונאמר "ואל מי תדמיוני, ואשווה" (ישעיהו מ,כה); ואילו היה גוף, היה דומה לשאר גופים.

      Delete
    2. Michael

      You are contradicting Rambam. You seem to have problems reading basic English and Hebrew.

      Ramatz@ "This you seem to interpret as G-d absence from the physical universe. However, that is a contradiction to Rambam's thought."


      No. I just quoted you Rambam who said G-d i absolutelty transcendent of the physical world.

      Here again: "Thirdly. The faculty of thinking is a force inherent in the body, and is not separated from it, but God is not a force inherent in the body
      of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is
      unable to solve it. For, on the one hand, it can be proved that God is separate from the universe, and in no contact whatever with it;
      but, on the other hand, His rule and providence can be proved to exist in all parts of the universe, even in the smallest. Praised be
      He whose perfection is above our comprehension."


      What did they slip in your havdalah wine last night?


      @ Ramatz " That is a rather large(and increasing space) where G-d is not. This implies that G-d has physical boundaries. "


      This is apikorsus. You say He has boundaries, Rambam says the opposite. He has no physical presence , dimensions or boundaries:

      ג [ה] המצוי הזה--הוא אלוה העולם, אדון כל הארץ. והוא המנהיג הגלגל בכוח שאין לו קץ ותכלית, בכוח שאין לו הפסק, שהגלגל סובב תמיד, ואי אפשר שיסוב בלא מסבב; והוא ברוך הוא המסבב אותו, בלא יד ולא גוף.


      You are totally unable to grasp what rambam is saying, and you keep repeating your own wild imagination.

      Delete
    3. This is apikorsus. You say He has boundaries, Rambam says the opposite. He has no physical presence , dimensions or boundaries:

      ג [ה] המצוי הזה--הוא אלוה העולם, אדון כל הארץ. והוא המנהיג הגלגל בכוח שאין לו קץ ותכלית, בכוח שאין לו הפסק, שהגלגל סובב תמיד, ואי אפשר שיסוב בלא מסבב; והוא ברוך הוא המסבב אותו, בלא יד ולא גוף.


      Actually you are the one who is saying he has boundaries by saying that there is a space that is absent from.

      Delete
    4. Nice one.

      Here lies the heart of the matter.

      Firstly, the citation you bring, says nothing about His physical presence, because he doesn't have one. This says he spins the world but without a hand or body. You are simply claiming that he has an infinite spatial presence, which is degrading because space is a physical element or dimension.

      The Rambam of the title of this post is the Guide, and the chapter in qn, 1:72 says he is transcendent from this world, and that we cannot comprehend how he manages it by being transcendent. since he is making the smae claim as me, would you also call this Rambam "apikorsus"?

      If I understand your position correctly,you believe in immanence, simialrl to Chabad, that G-d is everywhere in this world, but "hidden". So if you had a holy Geiger counter, u could measure my pasta (dinner) and say it has 1% Divinity; cholent would be 10%; chocolate roglach 12%, and if it has Badatz or Bet Yosef hechsher,25%.

      That is what immanentism is essentially saying. Now, some people call this Pantheism, although you say that is an incorrect term. Pantehism, a la Spinoza, is that all the universe and G-d are chash v'shalom identical.

      There may be a difference in degree between the 2 ideologies, but they are qualitatively the same concept. In fact, if you follow the kabbalistic maxim, that there is no place devoid of him, then it is the same as what Spinoza said.




      Next, you claim that he has physical presence, but again you are thinking in dimensional mode.

      Delete
    5. You are simply claiming that he has an infinite spatial presence, which is degrading because space is a physical element or dimension.
      No I am claiming that G-d is truly infinite without any sort of boundary or limitation whatsoever. You are claiming that he has a boundary, that the physical dimension is one that G-d's infinity cannot cross. I reject that view. I believe that G-d is truly infinite.

      If I understand your position correctly,you believe in immanence, simialrl to Chabad, that G-d is everywhere in this world, but "hidden".
      No you are not understanding my position correctly. You would have to spend time studying the Rashash and the Leshem to understand my position, which believes that G-d is at the same time infinitely close and infinitely distant.

      So if you had a holy Geiger counter, u could measure my pasta (dinner) and say it has 1% Divinity; cholent would be 10%; chocolate roglach 12%, and if it has Badatz or Bet Yosef hechsher,25%.
      Thank you for the chuckle, that was funny.

      That is what immanentism is essentially saying. Now, some people call this Pantheism, although you say that is an incorrect term. Pantehism, a la Spinoza, is that all the universe and G-d are chash v'shalom identical.
      Well we are making some progress.

      In fact, if you follow the kabbalistic maxim, that there is no place devoid of him, then it is the same as what Spinoza said.
      1) That is not a Kabbalistic maxim.
      2) No Spinoza thought that creation was G-d(l'havdil). Even the most immanentism found in Chassidus would never say that, only that G-d is present in creation. The two are polar opposites.

      Delete
    6. 1) That is not a Kabbalistic maxim.

      Oh really, I thought leit atar panui mineha, "there is no place devoid of God." is found in the Tikkunei Zohar (57)


      2) No Spinoza thought that creation was G-d(l'havdil). Even the most immanentism found in Chassidus would never say that, only that G-d is present in creation. The two are polar opposites.


      The distinction is that panentheism accepts Spinoz, but continues beyond the physical world.


      If you say G-d has no "boundaries and is present everywhere, then regarding my pasta and your cholent, there is no place in your cholent devoid of Him, and this goes for BUddha, and all pesels everywhere, since they also contain Divinity in your scheme of things.

      However, we are making progress in touching on the most important issues, thank you.

      Delete

    7. Oh really, I thought leit atar panui mineha, "there is no place devoid of God." is found in the Tikkunei Zohar (57)


      Meriam Webster:
      max·im noun \ˈmak-səm\
      Definition of MAXIM
      1: a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct

      One line from a Zohar does not a fundamental principle make.

      If you say G-d has no "boundaries and is present everywhere, then regarding my pasta and your cholent, there is no place in your cholent devoid of Him, and this goes for BUddha, and all pesels everywhere, since they also contain Divinity in your scheme of things.

      No those things do not contain Divinity. That would be immanence, meaning that there is some inherent part of Divinity found in those things(going back to your Geiger counter analogy). That is hugely different. Let us look at some texts. First there is the Rambam's Yesodei Torah 1:8
      Halacha 8
      Behold, it is explicitly stated in the Torah and [the works of] the prophets that the Holy One, blessed be He, is not [confined to] a body or physical form, as [Deuteronomy 4:39] states: "Because God, your Lord, is the Lord in the heavens above and the earth below," and a body cannot exist in two places


      Clearly indicating that G-d is present in creation.

      Yirmiyahu 23:24
      Can a man hide in secret places that I should not see him? says the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? says the Lord.

      Tehillim 139:7-8
      Where shall I go from Your spirit, and where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, there You are, and if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.

      See the Meforshim in those places that definitely understand Divine omnipresence. The simplest way to explain the difference between omnipresence and pantheism is this statment:
      This idea differs from Pantheism, which identifies the universe and divinity; in divine omnipresence, the divine and universe are separate, but the divine is present everywhere

      You have been, seemingly errantly, interpreting separation and transcendence as necessitating absence(the same problem Rav Agasi has with Rav Riki, and the Rashba initially deals with on the first Mishna of the Bahir). It does not necessitate absence, and in fact by saying that G-d is somehow absent you transgress certain fundamentals of Jewish faith.

      Delete
    8. (Nit: It's Dr Michael Friedländer's translation, not Friedman.)

      As for Neoplatonic elements in the Rambam, see Yesodei haTorah 1:1-4 describing the unique reality of G-d and how it flows into (pun intentional, sorry) 2:5- and the description of mal'akhim, sephiros, down to physical objects:

      1:1 יְסוֹד הַיְּסוֹדוֹת וְעַמּוּד הַחָכְמוֹת, לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן. וְהוּא מַמְצִיא כָּל הַנִּמְצָא; וְכָל הַנִּמְצָאִים מִן שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ וּמַה בֵּינֵיהֶם, לֹא נִמְצְאוּ אֵלָא מֵאֲמִתַּת הִמָּצְאוֹ.

      1:2 וְאִם יַעֲלֶה עַל הַדַּעַת שְׁהוּא אֵינוּ מָצוּי, אֵין דָּבָר אַחֵר יָכוֹל לְהִמָּצֹאות.

      1:3 וְאִם יַעֲלֶה עַל הַדַּעַת שְׁאֵין כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים מִלְּבַדּוֹ מְצוּיִים, הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יִהְיֶה מָצוּי וְלֹא יִבָּטֵל הוּא לְבִטּוּלָם: שֶׁכָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים צְרִיכִין לוֹ; וְהוּא בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוּ צָרִיךְ לָהֶם, וְלֹא לְאֶחָד מֵהֶם. לְפִיכָּךְ אֵין אֲמִתָּתוֹ כַּאֲמִתַּת אֶחָד מֵהֶם.

      1:2 הוּא שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר "וַה' אֱלֹהִים אֱמֶת" (ירמיהו י,י)--הוּא לְבַדּוֹ הָאֱמֶת, וְאֵין לְאַחֵר אֱמֶת כַּאֲמִתּוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה אוֹמֶרֶת "אֵין עוֹד, מִלְּבַדּוֹ" (דברים ד,לה), כְּלוֹמַר אֵין שָׁם מָצוּי אֱמֶת מִלְּבַדּוֹ כְּמוֹתוֹ.
      2:5 וּבְמַה יִפָּרְדוּ הַצּוּרוֹת זוֹ מִזּוֹ, וַהֲרֵי אֵינָן גּוּפִין--לְפִי שְׁאֵינָן שׁוֹוִין בִּמְצִיאָתָן, אֵלָא כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן לְמַטָּה מִמַּעֲלָתוֹ שֶׁלַּחֲבֵרוֹ וְהוּא מָצוּי מִכּוֹחוֹ זֶה לְמַעְלָה מִזֶּה; וְהַכֹּל נִמְצָאִים מִכּוֹחוֹ שֶׁלְּהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְטוּבוֹ. וְזֶה הוּא שֶׁרָמַז שְׁלֹמֹה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ וְאָמַר "כִּי גָבֹהַּ מֵעַל גָּבֹהַּ, שֹׁמֵר, וּגְבֹהִים, עֲלֵיהֶם" (קוהלת ה,ז).

      2:6 זֶה שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ לְמַטָּה מִמַּעֲלָתוֹ, אֵינָהּ מַעֲלַת מָקוֹם כְּמוֹ אָדָם שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב לְמַעְלָה מֵחֲבֵרוֹ; אֵלָא כְּמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִין בִּשְׁנֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁאֶחָד גָּדוֹל מֵחֲבֵרוֹ בְּחָכְמָה, שְׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִמַּעֲלָתוֹ שֶׁלְּזֶה, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִין בָּעִלָּה, שְׁהִיא לְמַעְלָה מִן הֶעָלוּל.
      ...
      2:8 וְכָל הַצּוּרוֹת הָאֵלּוּ חַיִּים וּמַכִּירִים אֶת הַבּוֹרֵא, וְיוֹדְעִין אוֹתוֹ דֵּעָה גְּדוֹלָה עַד לִמְאוֹד. כָּל צוּרָה וְצוּרָה לְפִי מַעֲלָתָהּ, לֹא לְפִי גָּדְלוֹ. אַפִלּוּ מַעֲלָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה אֵינָהּ יְכוּלָה לְהַשִּׂיג אֲמִתַּת הַבּוֹרֵא כְּמַה שְׁהִיא, אֵלָא דַּעְתָּהּ קְצָרָה לְהַשִּׂיג.
      אֲבָל מַשֶּׂגֶת וְיוֹדַעַת יָתֵר, מִמַּה שֶׁמַּשֶּׂגֶת וְיוֹדַעַת צוּרָה שֶׁלְּמַטָּה מִמֶּנָּה; וְכֵן כָּל מַעֲלָה וּמַעֲלָה, עַד מַעֲלָה עֲשִׂירִית. וּמַעֲלָה עֲשִׂירִית גַּם הִיא יוֹדַעַת הַבּוֹרֵא, דֵּעָה שְׁאֵין כּוֹחַ בְּנֵי אָדָם הַמְּחֻבָּרִין מִגֹּלֶם וְצוּרָה יָכוֹל לְהַשִּׂיג וְלֵידַע כְּמוֹתָהּ. וְהַכֹּל אֵינָן יוֹדְעִין אֶת הַבּוֹרֵא, כְּמוֹ שְׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ עַצְמוֹ.

      2:9 כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים חוּץ מִן הַבּוֹרֵא, מִצּוּרָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה עַד יְתוּשׁ קָטָן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּטַבּוּר הָאָרֶץ--הַכֹּל מִכּוֹחַ אֲמִתּוֹ נִמְצְאוּ. וּלְפִי שְׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ עַצְמוֹ וּמַכִּיר גָּדְלוֹ וְתִפְאַרְתּוֹ וַאֲמִתּוֹ, הוּא יוֹדֵעַ הַכֹּל וְאֵין דָּבָר נֶעְלָם מִמֶּנּוּ.

      Nothing is as Emes as G-d, each metaphysical level of things exists because things at a higher level comprehend them.

      This is also the basis of his explanation of nevu'ah, of hashgachah peratis, of pretty much everything. It's also so heavily Aristotilian and NeoPlatonic, and based on physics that have been thoroughly disproven, that I have no idea how others find the Rambam's hashkafah remotely useful in forming their personal worldview.

      The Rambam's mal'akhim are based on a physics which has no law of conservation of momentum, and action perforce begins with an intellect imparting impetus to an object. The object then moves or changes form until the impetus runs out. Which is why actions we attribute to miracle or nature must also have intellects behind them -- an Aristotelian idea the Rambam used to redefine the notion of angel. He also believed in the Active Intellect connecting the non-physical world of pure intellects to the intellects that are within physics. None of which stood up to Galileo and Newton.

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  2. Eddie,

    There are three things in this regard that you have yet to prove:

    1) That the Nefesh Hachaim was referencing this chapter of the Moreh as anything other than a support for his thesis that the universe can metaphorically be compared to a human body.

    2) If he was trying to use the last lines of the chapter to prove that G-d is the Nishmat Olam, that the Rambam, in fact is not saying that, and that he is using this language that he has borrowed from Aristotle in a different way than Aristotle.

    3) That the Moreh Nevuchim is attempting to give halakha of belief, and not just the Rambam's views. If it not halakha, then one cannot demand agreement with it's words. Unlike Yesodei HaTorah, which, unless one can build a case from other Rishonim that the Rambam was in error(and yes the Rambam does bring all of the 13 ikkarim there in their halakhic form) one is required to agree to them. You have yet to prove that the Moreh has the same status.

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    1. # 3 is the most interesting of your points. I don't see Moreh as a Halachic work, but an expansion of his earlier thoughts. In his Intro to Mishnah commentary he states that he should write a book about prophecy to expand on these matters. I assume that his Guide fulfilled that and some other places he said the same thing.

      Even more interesting is the point you raise about his Ikkarim.
      In many ways, I see the Guide as an expansion of his arguments in YT, Melachim + Milchamot etc. There is even comment aimed at Raavad in 1:36 of the Guide, in answer to Raavad's gloss on his famous Hilchot Teshuva comment.

      Further, this Sefer, this Moreh is not aimed at everyone, so it can't be halacha in a general sense.


      For the other qns 1 + 2,

      I dont have to prove anything further. NH is saying that the relationship for G-d and the universe is comparable to that if the soul and body, and says he is an agreement with this chapter of Rambam. "khalas". Rambam says the opposite.

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    2. NH is saying that the relationship for G-d and the universe is comparable to that if the soul and body, and says he is an agreement with this chapter of Rambam. "khalas".
      I don't see that at all, especially in context of the chapter as a whole, in which he is bringing various sources to prove that the Universe has a structure similar to the human body. In other Shaarim and chapters he speaks at length with various proofs about the extent to which G-d can be found in the the world, but that is not what this chapter is about, so it seems much more likely that he is mentioning the Moreh for everything else it says.

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  3. @R. Tzadok - "showing a metaphorical analogy between the universe and the human body"

    Gentlemen - I suggest you review Vilna Gaon Shiur no. 20 by Rav Meir Triebetz SHLITA.

    In the beginning of that shiur Rav Triebetz explains how the Rambam's concept in MN I:72 of Adam being compared to an "olam katan" is actually derived from Plato, not Aristo. This concept is then explained in Nefesh HaChaim with a Kabbalistic version spin on it.

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    1. In the beginning of that shiur Rav Triebetz explains how the Rambam's concept in MN I:72 of Adam being compared to an "olam katan" is actually derived from Plato, not Aristo. This concept is then explained in Nefesh HaChaim with a Kabbalistic version spin on it.
      Actually Rav Triebitz states that he is not sure if the idea if found in Aristotle, indicating that he has not studied Aristotle in much depth.
      While the idea, in Greek philosophy originated with Socrates/Plato, the Rambam's treatment of it is much more Aristotelian in nature. A Platonist would not have said The faculty of thinking is a force inherent in the body, and is not separated from it In Platonic thought the Psyche, as well as the Noes was eternal and separate from the body, though it suffered embodiment briefly. Whereas Aristotle, like the Rambam after him, understood the Psyche to be the inherent intellectual capacity of the body, that was born with the body and would later perish with it.

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    2. It seem to me that your (and Kabbalists in general) basic problem is thinking of an "infinite G-d" in a "physical" sense. You therefor need to come onto Tzimtzum or other ideas in order to reconcile G-d's infinity and the finite world that we can experience. Since G-d is NOT physical there is reality is no contradiction between His infinity and our physical world. You are trying to understand things that we are not able to understand and this leads you to distorted beliefs...

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    3. Sorry it took me so long to respond to this one, but I had to ask a shaila as to what I could say in a public forum because it deals with being explicit about certain Kabbalistic concepts.

      Essentially you are understanding the Tzimtzum incorrectly. You seem to think that it was required in order for creation to occur, which is by far and away not the case. The Zohar and later the Arizal explain that the physical world was there before the tzimtzum occured. So that leaves us with the question of what was the tzimtzum.
      First there is a question as to whether there ever was in fact a single primordial tzimtzum(the Leshem argues yes, while the Arizal and later the Rashah argue no, that the Zohar in all of its pieces on tzimtzum, shveira and tikun are talking about the performance of a single mitzvah).
      So then what was the tzimtzum? It was a restriction or removal of the revelation of G-d's existence in the world. Why was it done? So that man would have free will(actually the Leshem brings twelve reasons but I am focusing on the ikkar for right now), as well as the ability to serve Hashem by revealing Hashem in the world through Torah and Mitzvot.
      So assuming that actually occured, that was the first primordial tzimtzum.
      Why first, because there were others after, though we refer to them by a different name, breaking/descent. For instance the chet of Adam rishon, the dor hamabul the dor hahaflaga, the chet of the egel zahav, the destruction of the first and second Temples, all caused humanity, and the world around it to drop to a lower spiritual level where it was harder(so to speak) to reveal the truth of Hashem to the world.
      The other sense in which there is a further tzimtzum is after tikun. This is best explained by means of another mashal, a boy in beit sefer. Say he is the top of his class, the brightest boy in the beit sefer. Great, however when he graduates to Yeshiva Katana, he now is at the bottom of the class, thus giving him more room for intellectual growth. So is the case with a Jew regarding Torah and mitzvot. The mitzvot are a ladder of spiritual ascent for the Jew. Each mitzvah takes him(and part of the world around him) to a higher spiritual level than he was before(thus a tikun) which results in another tzimtzum(so to speak), so that the Jew has yet another tikun. Thus it is that we are constantly in a system of tzimtzum and tikun, always striving for but never attaining perfection. Likewise our aveirot cause a yerida(which in Kabbalistic terms is called a shattering of vessels, though in a sense it is also a tzimtzum). Thus the GR"A speaks in his biur on the Mishlei(chapter 16 I think) that man is called a Holekh, because it is in his nature to be ever in movement, either ascending or descending, there is no standing still.
      Now we can understand a bit better the machloket concerning if the tzimtzum was k'pshuto or not. If we go with the opinion of the Mekubalim and say it was k'pshuto then that means that G-d removed revelation of himself and his will from the world, and it is the job of the Jew to bring G-dliness into the world through the performance of Torah and mitzvot. If on the other hand it was eino k'pshuto and G-d only concealed his existance/will in the world than the Jew only uncovers G-dliness through the performance of Torah and Mitzvot.

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    4. Thank you... I have read this several times and it just seems like meaningless babble with much conjecture and even more fascinating hypothesis...

      You are dealing in issues that we have no knowledge of and my advise to all is stay far away from this because at best you will be confused and at worst it will lead to Kefirah... and in in the case of many of the these postings... both.

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  4. The Vilna Gaon shiur no. 20 I mentioned in my previous comment (re: MN & Nefesh Hachaim) can be downloaded at:

    http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/vilna-gaon-shiurim/

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    1. Thanks ELY.

      I am reading a paper written by Moshe Idel on Maimonides, the Guide and the Kabbalah.
      Abraham Abulafia was a teacher of the Guide, and major disseminator. He taught it on "pshat" philosophical level, as well as mystical levels.
      A very nice example is that 3 Divine names have a total gematria of 177. The Guide has 177 Chapters!

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  5. R.Michael Tzadok wrote above:
    "No I am claiming that G-d is truly infinite without any sort of boundary or limitation whatsoever. You are claiming that he has a boundary, that the physical dimension is one that G-d's infinity cannot cross. I reject that view. I believe that G-d is truly infinite."

    Although I take R.Michael's side in these arguments, I would for him to clarify the position of his I quoted.

    It seem to involve a contradiction - He is "without any sort of boundary or limitation whatsoever" - yet on the other hand you are saying that He can actually be in the physical world which is by definition bounded and limited.

    Does he disagree with the idea (commonplace amongst the Rishonim) that limiting God's ability to be imperfect is not actually a limitation to His omnipotence? I don't think R.Michael would agree that God could take on bodily form, yet that would seem to follow if we said that He can cross into the physical dimension. Why say individual human bodily existence is a boundary that cannot be crossed?

    To further clarify - in what sense is God in the physical (or spiritual) worlds? Is it in a physical (ie. measurable and quantifiable) sense? Is He Himself (Atzmuso) a 'part' of the physical world? Is He a 'part' of the spiritual worlds? If He is I think that would run into serious problems with the Rambam, R.Saadia etc.

    If you only mean that His light, His Ratzon, His Hashgacha, His Kovod or some such term are present then there is no argument, even the other side would agree to that.

    But, if He Himself is present in the world, but not in a physical or spiritual way, what does that mean? In what way can that be called 'present'?

    I don't see how you aren't forced to fall back to the position that He Himself is neither physical nor spiritual, nor could He Himself become so, since He is perfect and physicality and spirituality are defined, limited and subject to number, none of which are possible for Him.

    Therefore He Himself is not any'where', since all place is measurable and definable (again, either in a physical or spiritual sense), which He is not. All we can know is how He reveals Himself to us, through His actions or through the Sefiros etc. whatever flavour you prefer...

    As to how His revelations relate to Him Himself however, I don't know if we can know, that might already require knowledge of Him Himself.
    I believe that my opinion is based on the Leshem (first Shaar of HaKodeh).

    Do you differ and how?

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    1. He is "without any sort of boundary or limitation whatsoever" - yet on the other hand you are saying that He can actually be in the physical world which is by definition bounded and limited.
      If we speak of immanence, then this would in fact be a contradiction. Immanence limits G-d's presence to physical matter, and then by degrees and grades. What is more is that immanence actually suggests you can do some fairly odd things with G-d's presence(like convey it to the sitra achra). In that way G-d is changed and affected, which is yet another problem of immanence. It also limits where G-d can and cannot be... all of these are problems with in view of the fundamentals of Jewish faith.

      Omnipresence on the other hand suggests that G-d is inifinitely present in all places at all times. Thus if it could be measured or quantified, you would find just as much of G-d's presence in the deepest emptiest void of space as you would the holiest place on Earth. Further it states that G-d is separate from creation, meaning that He is in no way affected or changed by creation. Thus it does not matter if it is the Beit HaMikdash next to Ark, or in an Ashram next to Bubba, G-d is there.

      Now saying that G-d cannot be present in the physical Universe because it is a place of quantity, boundary and definition does not liberate G-d from those things, it imposes them upon them. As soon as you say there is place where G-d is not, you have imposed a boundary on G-d.

      Does he disagree with the idea (commonplace amongst the Rishonim) that limiting God's ability to be imperfect is not actually a limitation to His omnipotence?
      Ah yes the omipotence paradox. Here I fall back on Isaac Asimov and state that the question itself is the logical fallacy of a pseudo question, easily disproved by the proper application of Einstein's theory of relativity. Wherein G-d's omnipotence represents an unstoppable force, and an objection to said omnipotence represents an immovable object the two cannot exist within the same system.

      Is He a 'part' of the spiritual worlds? If He is I think that would run into serious problems with the Rambam, R.Saadia etc.
      Again you are conflating immanence(or possibly pantheism) with omnipresence.

      If you only mean that His light, His Ratzon, His Hashgacha, His Kovod or some such term are present then there is no argument, even the other side would agree to that.
      I certainly hope that Eddie would object most strongly to that, as it would denote separation within G-d which again poses problems with the fundamentals of Jewish faith.

      Therefore He Himself is not any'where', since all place is measurable and definable (again, either in a physical or spiritual sense), which He is not.

      Therefore He Himself is not any'where', since all place is measurable and definable (again, either in a physical or spiritual sense), which He is not.
      So the Pasukim above are in error? The only way to understand them is to say that G-d is infinitely present at all places at all times while being simultaneously separate.

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    2. Ramatz, you keep contradicting your own words. Now you are back in pantheism again. "Thus if it could be measured or quantified, you would find just as much of G-d's presence in the deepest emptiest void of space as you would the holiest place on Earth". Because you have a pantheistic agenda, and you cannot escape that.

      I already posed the question, and you try to zig zag your way out of it. now u are admitting that Buddha and any other material is the same as the God that you pray to. Ergo, you are a pantheist.

      Now you are quite willing to use Asimov to get you out of the omnipotence paradox, but you you could easily have opted to use the same logic to get yourself out of the pantheism paradox. however, aince you have aligned yourself to pantheism of Kabbalah, you prefer to remain entrenched in this way of thought. And you are now admitting openly that u hold G-d to have a body and physical form. Hence, you are in disagreement and violation of Rambam's halacha, which you profess to adhere to (crocodile tears).

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    3. A last word about pan-theism.
      the prefix "pan" means "including or relating to all the places or people in a particular group"

      http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/pan_5

      Since your position claims clearly that every pesel, and planet and wood and stone is completely full of 100% Deity, just like tropicana is 100% orange, then you are taking a a position of Pantheism and also classical Sabean paganism. All of this unwittingly, chas v'shalom that you would do this with intent.

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    4. Ramatz, you keep contradicting your own words. Now you are back in pantheism again. "Thus if it could be measured or quantified, you would find just as much of G-d's presence in the deepest emptiest void of space as you would the holiest place on Earth". Because you have a pantheistic agenda, and you cannot escape that.

      I know you think you understand what you would like me to be saying, but you have no clue as to what I am actually saying.

      Let's look at some definitions from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
      1) Pantheism: the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God.
      Or if you prefer the Oxford Dictionary
      The belief that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity.

      I said present but separate, so that is obviously not what I believe.

      Back to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
      Immanence: Philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing the material world.
      Once again I said present but separate so also not what I believe. Hence the deepest void of the Universe comment, meaning even where their is nothing, not a single atom, and thus not physicality whatsoever.

      Back to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
      Omnipresence: [see also Ubiquity] The property of being present everywhere. This characteristic is most commonly used in a religious context, as most doctrines bestow the trait of omnipresence onto a superior, usually a deity commonly referred to as God by monotheists. This idea differs from Pantheism, which identifies the universe and divinity; in divine omnipresence, the divine and universe are separate, but the divine is present everywhere.

      We have a winner. G-d and the Universe are separate but G-d is everywhere present.

      now u are admitting that Buddha and any other material is the same as the God that you pray to. Ergo, you are a pantheist.
      Wait you claimed I had a reading comprehension problem? I never said that Bubba was G-d, I said that Bubba has not affect on G-d because G-d is separate from the Universe and thus unaffected by it.

      Now you are quite willing to use Asimov to get you out of the omnipotence paradox, but you you could easily have opted to use the same logic to get yourself out of the pantheism paradox.
      You quite obviously don't understand Asimov, most especially since he believed in the imovable object and not the unstoppable force.

      however, aince you have aligned yourself to pantheism of Kabbalah
      No such thing.

      And you are now admitting openly that u hold G-d to have a body and physical form.
      Now you are really making stuff up. Never said anything of the sort. Please quote me directly where I said(l'havdil) that G-d has a body or apologize.

      Hence, you are in disagreement and violation of Rambam's halacha, which you profess to adhere to
      Let's see I have said that G-d is formless. Pefect. Infinite. Present in the Universe but separate from it. No I believe that is pretty much exactly what Rambam says.

      Now when you want to say that the Rambam is absent from the Universe you are violating his basic principles, most especially in that you are denying that G-d is infinite(1) and saying that there is division within G-d(2) in that his power is in the Universe(hence the world turns) but he is not.

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    5. @ Ramatz " Thus it does not matter if it is the Beit HaMikdash next to Ark, or in an Ashram next to Bubba, G-d is there.

      Now saying that G-d cannot be present in the physical Universe because it is a place of quantity, boundary and definition does not liberate G-d from those things, it imposes them upon them. As soon as you say there is place where G-d is not, you have imposed a boundary on G-d."

      So you admit that a pesel is where G-d's essence is.

      @ Ramatz "Now when you want to say that the Rambam [ typo, I think you meant Hashem, but I don't love Rambam that much] is absent from the Universe you are violating his basic principles, most especially in that you are denying that G-d is infinite(1) and saying that there is division within G-d(2) in that his power is in the Universe(hence the world turns) but he is not."

      Have you forgotten again the title of this post and the Rambam in question, which I have quoted above? Are you suggesting that by that comment Rambam is violating his own basic principles? Or, actually, that is a rhetorical question, because we are debating that specific claim of Rambam, which is a clarification of his views in the Mishna Intro.


      "And you are now admitting openly that u hold G-d to have a body and physical form." Yes, again, since we are discussing here the NH, who does claim that G-d is the soul of the world, just like a human soul is related to his body, then you are admitting that he does have a body - i.e. the world. Does your or any other neshama have a body? Well, although I havent met you, i assume you have a body. I have a soul which is enclothed within my body for a hundred + 20 years.




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    6. So you admit that a pesel is where G-d's essence is.
      Um no. I said that G-d is omnipresent.

      Have you forgotten again the title of this post and the Rambam in question, which I have quoted above?
      Rambam says separate, not absent. There is a huge difference between the two. One results in omnipresent theism, the other results in dualistic deism. You are making the claim for the latter.

      Yes, again, since we are discussing here the NH, who does claim that G-d is the soul of the world, just like a human soul is related to his body The Nefesh Hachaim does not say just like a soul to a body. Read his words very carefully, and compare it to shaar 3. You are once again imposing your assumptions upon the text.

      Further the Nefesh HaChaim's position is supported by the Rambam's use of the Nous(acquired intellect) which in the Aristotelian equivalant to Neshama.

      Delete
    7. Once again I ask you to answer to these sources.

      Rambam's Yesodei Torah 1:8
      Halacha 8
      Behold, it is explicitly stated in the Torah and [the works of] the prophets that the Holy One, blessed be He, is not [confined to] a body or physical form, as [Deuteronomy 4:39] states: "Because God, your Lord, is the Lord in the heavens above and the earth below," and a body cannot exist in two places

      Clearly indicating that G-d is present in creation.

      Yirmiyahu 23:24
      Can a man hide in secret places that I should not see him? says the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? says the Lord.

      Tehillim 139:7-8
      Where shall I go from Your spirit, and where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, there You are, and if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.

      Is the Rambam Schitzophrenic that he can't make up his mind?
      Were Yirmiyah HaNavi and David HaMelekh also pantheists?

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    8. From that Rambam in YT 1, 8:
      "שנאמר "כי ה' אלוהיכם, הוא האלוהים בשמיים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת" (ראה דברים ד,לט; יהושוע ב,יא), והגוף לא יהיה בשני מקומות."

      Yes, he rules in Heaven and earth. Not from within our physical dimensions. It is actually meaningless and laughable to to assert that he has infinite physical dimensions, since these are created dimensions as I have already told you, but you ignore. If prior to creationt here was no space or time or mass, then you are making the absurd statement that G-d created created a physical extension for himself, so he could fill the physical universe.

      What is your "expertise" in String theory? Did you research this in a University?

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    9. Michael, I think you are dreaming.

      As I quoted in the first reply to this post:

      "Thirdly. The faculty of thinking is a force inherent in the body, and is not separated from it, but God is not a force inherent in the body
      of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is unable to solve it. For, on the one hand, it can be proved that God is separate from the universe, and in no contact whatever with it; but, on the other hand, His rule and providence can be proved to exist in all parts of the universe, even in the smallest. Praised be He whose perfection is above our comprehension."

      Being separate is being transcendant. You are saying he is present in physical dimensions. The Rambam is saying NO.


      @Matz
      "Rambam says separate, not absent. There is a huge difference between the two. One results in omnipresent theism, the other results in dualistic deism. You are making the claim for the latter."

      What is dualistic deism? You are describing the Rambam above as dualistic deism. There is no dualism. For there to be dualism, there need to be 2 different gods, such as the En Sof and the Atzmuto,( and you pray to one but not the other)

      Rambam does not say there are 2 gods, so , I am afraid the epithet of "liar" that you throw a t me better describes your misconstruction of Rambam's holy words.

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    10. R. Michael, thank you for your answer.

      I understood that you don't believe in what you are calling God's immanence, that He is the substance of the universe. Perhaps Chabad believes this, but that is not the topic here...(and anyway R.Saadia ruled out believing that HKBH created the world from Himself, ie. His own 'substance')

      What I still do not understand is the definition you brought of omnipresence. What does present mean? How can something not physical be present in the physical world?

      Present and separate are opposites. He can't be present and separate together.

      And what do you mean that His being infinite means He has to be present? Aderaba, He is not finite, not subject to boundaries or limitations. Presence is precisely that. To say that He can't be in the physical world is not a limitation of His omnipotence any more than saying He can't scratch His nose, or that He can't get angry, or that He can't learn new things.
      Not being able to imperfect is not an imperfection!!

      (I know that R.Ezriel of Gerona says that the infinite must include the finite, but that refers to His power, ie. His infinite power must include within it the power to act finitely)

      Far better to say that since He is perfect, One and indivisible, He is not capable of being present any 'where'. Yet in some way, which has to be unknowable to us, He is (a) the cause of all existence coming into being, therefore (b) He knows everything about the creation directly; and (c) He is Manhig the whole creation.
      But none of these three facts require His presence in the physical world. To speak somewhat grossly, He Exists on a different plane of existence, He Exists (upper case E) as Muchrach HaMitziyus, necessary existence whereas absolutely everything else exists (lower case e) only as Efshar HaMetziyus, contingent existence. His necessary existence is what is Mamtzi the contingent existence of the universe but He is not 'present'. The Ramchal explains Efes Zulaso this way (in his Biur on LeTefilas Rosh Hashana). For God causation does not require physical proximity.
      You have to think ontologically not spatially!

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    11. Bright Day is correct. Yosher Koach

      The same logical absurdity applies to physical substance, ie "by not being in wood, is a limitation, so he is everywhere and everything."

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    12. Thank you for your approval.
      But for the sake of honesty, I disagree with you on the other issues. I think that Kabalah can be resolved with the Rambam (and other Rishonim). As the Leshem says, the Rambam in MN is Kodesh Kodoshim. The Zohar, Ari etc. are all speaking after that level.

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    13. What I still do not understand is the definition you brought of omnipresence. What does present mean? How can something not physical be present in the physical world?
      That is not something I am sure that humanity can fully comprehend. Monotheistic philosophers(including some prominent Jewish ones) have written entire books on the subject, there is no way that it can be defined in a blog comment window limited to 2500 characters.

      Present and separate are opposites. He can't be present and separate together.
      No they are not antonyms. Present and absent are antonyms. Opposites of separate are(from Miriam Webster):
      join, link, unify, unite, same, identical, selfsame,
      So when I say G-d is separate from the universe, those are all the things I am saying he is not. That does not preclude Present though. The antonyms for presetn(again Miriam Webster):
      absent, away, missing, out So when I say that G-d is present those are again all the things I am saying he is not.

      And what do you mean that His being infinite means He has to be present? Aderaba, He is not finite, not subject to boundaries or limitations.
      So when you then say that G-d must be absent from the physical Universe you have a logical contradiction. You say on one hand that G-d has no boundary or limit. Then on the other that the ever expanding boundaries of the physical universe are a boundary that restrains G-d, as his presence cannot cross it. Never mind that the Mikra says precisely the opposite. You are raising what is in Philosophy called an antinomy, two contradictory statements that have no logical resolution.
      Presence is precisely that. To say that He can't be in the physical world is not a limitation of His omnipotence
      Presence or absence has nothing to do with omnipotence. It has to do with omnipresence also known as being infinite.

      any more than saying He can't scratch His nose, or that He can't get angry,
      Again nothing to do with omnipotence. We call this one immutable.
      or that He can't learn new things.
      Omniscient, not omnipotent.
      Not being able to imperfect is not an imperfection!!
      Again has nothing to do with omnipotent.

      He Exists on a different plane of existence
      Again this is a logical fallacy. It sounds good, but just because we can string words together and make them sound intelligible does not mean that the sentence makes sense. Any plane of existence is by nature a created thing. We cannot know anything that is outside of creation. Even if we discuss multiverse theory or one of the string theories with their varying number of dimensions and possibilities you are always going to be in a realm of creation. Charles Dawkins does a great job of dealing with that... but I digress.

      Now if you say that G-d cannot be in the Universe(or multiverse) but His power can, you have a divided god, which is not the G-d of Judsaim, because then you have two powers at work. One power that is limited to being outside of creation, and one that is able to operate within creation.

      Then like I said, and still have not gotten a good response, Rambam clearly says that G-d is in heaven(creation) and on earth(creation), and proof of his boundless infinity.

      Yirmiyah HaNavi says that G-d fills the whole world. Was he wrong? Was he a pantheist? David HaMelekh says the same in many places in the pslams. Was he a Pentheist? Was he destroying the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu?

      Delete
    14. Being separate is being transcendant. You are saying he is present in physical dimensions. The Rambam is saying NO.

      No the Rambam is saying Separate, he is not saying Absent. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that English is not your mother tongue let us describe that separate is not. When someone says separate they are saying that G-d is not joined to, linked with, united with or unified with the Univere, he also is not the same as, identical to, or the selfsame (the)Universe.
      Absent is not an antonym(meaning it is not the opposite of) separate.

      You are describing the Rambam above as dualistic deism. There is no dualism. For there to be dualism, there need to be 2 different gods, such as the En Sof and the Atzmuto,( and you pray to one but not the other)

      Rambam does not say there are 2 gods, so , I am afraid the epithet of "liar" that you throw a t me better describes your misconstruction of Rambam's holy words.

      The Rambam does not but you do. You claim that there is a G-d who exists outside of creation(i.e. nowhwere) and that cannot at all in anyway be within creation and that there is a Divine power that exists within creation that is Manhig creation. That is dualism. You have two separate powers.

      Delete
  6. R' Michael, you oversimplify the machloqes about tzitzum kipeshuto. Which normally would be okay -- the whole notion is absurd that one could possibly teach an unwilling student a significant amount of Qabbalah by typing into a blog's comment window which is a stretch for even writing 3 paragraph explanation.

    BUT, because Eddie is predetermined to find fault, oversimplification gives Eddie false contradictions to argue against.

    The Baal haTanya holds that tzimtzum is an illusion. It's the *apparent* absence of the Ein Sof Himself that makes it possible for the other to exist. But the existence of others is itself an illusion.

    According to the Litvisher understanding of the Gra (the LR's take on the Gra aside), the Gra taught that there was an actual tzimtzum, but of the Retzon Hashem, not of HQBH Himself. Thus, G-d is unchanging, but the world is a relative "vacuum" of Divine Will. See Mikhtav meiEliyahu, vol 5, pp. 484-485.

    Notice this places the machloqes on two issues -- both verb and noun. The Ba'al haTanya's tzitzum is only in how it looks to us, and his noun is the Ein Sof. REED's version of the Gra has the verb as being an actual "contraction", but the noun is of Retzon H'.

    According to this, the Gra was also panentheist -- the universe is of G-d, but not directly of His Will. Existence is the fact that we act according to our own rules rather than a direct expression of his Ratzon. (I say "direct", just as I earlier said "relative vacuum", because it is His Will that we not simply do what He would have. That both natural law and our ability to defy moral law means that it takes time for His goal to emerge.)

    (cont.)

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  7. (Continued.)

    A Lub chassid who had been a guest of R' EE Dessler (REED) wrote of R' Dessler's position to the LR (he had been a guest of REED's), to which there is a letter in reply written in 5699.

    The LR believed REED played down the machloqes to the point of misinterpreting the Gra. (It's unclear he knew whose opinion he was critiquing and therefore likely misunderstood the description in a way that underestimates the REED's knowledge.) According to the LR, the Gra held of tzimtzum kipeshuto -- meaning tzimtzum actually occurred, and involved the Atzumus of the Ein Sof. As Eddie would note, this is highly problematic as it seems to be saying that creation constituted a change in HQBH Himself.

    However, the LR adds that R' Chaim Volozhiner (Nefesh haChaim 3:7) disagreed with the Gra and sided with tzimtzum-as-illusion. REED explains the Gra's words in a way that doesn't require assuming a machloqes of such magnitude between rebbe and talmid. Also, if you look at the first kelal of the Gra's 10 kelalim , you'll see that the Gra defines the entire enterprise of the Ari's Qabbalah as being about describing Ratzon, hashgachah, and Hashem's Actions. So anything he says on the subject can't be about the Ein Sof Itself. KNLAD.

    (This kelal of the Gra appears to dovetail Lurianic Qabbalah with the Rambam's position on describing Hashem's attributes. The Rambam says that all "attributes" are either descriptions of what He isn't, or of how He acts. The Gra allows the Ari to fit that, by placing the entire discussion in terms of how He acts.)

    And REED doesn't seem to be alone in understanding the Gra this way. When R' Tzadoq discusses who holds of the problematic idea of tzimtzum kepeshuto of the Ein Sof (Seifer Zikhronos 3:13) he mentions the Yosher Leivav. Including the Gra would have been so obvious if he thought it was appropriate, I cannot believe R' Tzadoq had the LR's understanding fo the Gra.

    The way I personally read NhC 3:2,4,7, it seems to me RCV held of the concept the REED attributes to the Gra -- actual tzimtzum of His Will, and (although I don't see this in REED) that causes an apparent tzimtzum of His Essence. And it might not be "causes" as much as two descriptions of one idea. I see 3:7 the same way the LR did (yay me!) but given 3:2 and 3:4, I do not take this as a complete description.

    Another diference between REED's description and the LR's is on the noun plane. R' Dessler discusses the tzimtzum of Retzon H', the LR gives the two options as Ein Sof and Or Ein Sof. I'm not sure Ratzon and Or refer to identical concepts.

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    1. R' Micha, I am happy that we agree at least on the GRA.

      The NH speaks of Atzmuto in a dualistic form - the mysterium about which we can say nothing, to which we cannot pray, and the En Sof side which relates to this world, to which we do pray.

      This is also problematic. Not least of all, because Rambam, and of course the 10 Commandments, are not very happy for those who claim there are 2 reshuiot, or more.

      For ramatz, placing any "limitations" on G-d is heretical. So why can't G-d be 5, 10, 3, or any other plural number?

      Since he reads a lot of popular Sci -fi, he seems to be an expert on theological maters.

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    2. For ramatz, placing any "limitations" on G-d is heretical. So why can't G-d be 5, 10, 3, or any other plural number?
      LIAR.
      I have always upheld G-d as being only an absolute unity.

      My objection to limitations is to where G-d presence can be, because of the dualism that that implies.

      Since he reads a lot of popular Sci -fi, he seems to be an expert on theological maters.
      Once again with the Ad Hom. It would be nice if you could actually discuss this like an adult.

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    3. Micha BergerFebruary 5, 2013 at 12:53 PM
      R' Michael, you oversimplify the machloqes about tzitzum kipeshuto.


      A bit yes. Though in my defense I did do a guest post on the subject in full bringing an article by Rav Sedley and a piece from Rav Shimon Agasi's ZTzUK"L Shem M'Shimon the latter of which deals with the machloket and the various problems raised by each position. A piece which Eddie and Torah Truth so far have refused to read.

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    4. I have read both articles that you posted from Sedley and commented that he completely misunderstood a simple Rashi regarding Yad HaChazakah. I also read his article on Tzimtzum that I found interesting though I disagree with the entire notion per Rav Saadiya Gaon.

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    5. You admit , don't you, that G-d is "omnipresent " in idols of silver and gold? And in the atoms and sub atomic particles of those atoms?

      These are all physical objects.

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    6. @Matz
      "LIAR.
      I have always upheld G-d as being only an absolute unity.

      My objection to limitations is to where G-d presence can be, because of the dualism that that implies."


      What dualism does it imply? That G-d has no physical dimensions does not imply dualism? Where is the 2nd god if the real G-d is transcendant?

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    7. You admit , don't you, that G-d is "omnipresent " in idols of silver and gold? And in the atoms and sub atomic particles of those atoms?

      These are all physical objects.


      Please look up separate and it's antonyms in a reliable dictionary. You clearly do not understand some English words.

      What dualism does it imply? That G-d has no physical dimensions does not imply dualism? Where is the 2nd god if the real G-d is transcendant? You have a G-d that exists outside of creation(in other words nowhere) but cannot exist within it, and then you have a divine power that is manhig creation. Those thus are two powers(or there is division within G-d) your choice, the only difference is in the degree of dualism.

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    8. @Matz
      "You have a G-d that exists outside of creation(in other words nowhere) but cannot exist within it, and then you have a divine power that is manhig creation. Those thus are two powers(or there is division within G-d) your choice, the only difference is in the degree of dualism."

      _____________________

      Well, it is now clear that you have no abilty to read what the Rambam says, which you claim was understood by NH.
      He says, as I have repeated at least 2x, that He exists outside the Universe (creation) and controls it , but not from within the universe. You are saying the opposite, since Micha kissing you makes u smarter than Maimonides (and perhaps a couple of sci- fi books that gave u expertise in string theory).

      Next, you are claiming that Maimonides, and myself have a second G-d, and that this is a logical necessity.

      Clearly, Michael, you are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I cannot really go any further with this, you are like a broken record player.

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    9. He says, as I have repeated at least 2x, that He exists outside the Universe (creation) and controls it , but not from within the universe.
      No. That is not what the Rambam says. The Rambam says separate. Which you misinterpret to mean outside or absent from. However separate, as I have demonstrated twice Does not mean that.

      Next, you are claiming that Maimonides, and myself have a second G-d, and that this is a logical necessity.
      This statement would be true, IF I hadn't clearly stated several times that you are misinterpreting the Rambam.

      I have brought Aristotle, who's ideas the Rambam borrowed to show exactly what acquired intellect means. As well as the definitions of the words. The Rambam is clearly saying present but separate. YOUR misinterpretation of the Rambam leads you into that logical necessity. You are a dualist. Unfortunately you are too entrenched in your faulty thinking to see the logical contradictions of the things you say.

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  8. Eddie: We don't agree on the Gra. Did you read where I said I believe (as per R' Dessler) that the Gra probably meant what his talmid writes in Nefesh haChaim? You apparently didn't read the Gra's first Kelal yet, despite my providing a link to the text. But you feel qualified to judge the beliefs of the majority of the shomer Shabbos community without making such minimal efforts to know what they really believe.

    The Nefesh haChaim says what the Rambam says, but in different words: The Ein Sof is G-d Himself, about whom we can only make negative statements. Like the very words "Ein Sof". The Ratzon HQBH is no different than the Rambam's attributes of G-d as He shows Himself to us, about whom we can say " מַה הוּא נִקְרָא חַנּוּן, אַף אַתָּה הֱיֵה חַנּוּן; מַה הוּא נִקְרָא רַחוּם, אַף אַתָּה הֱיֵה רַחוּם; מַה הוּא נִקְרָא קָדוֹשׁ, אַף אַתָּה הֱיֵה קָדוֹשׁ -- Just as He is called Gracious, so to should you be gracious; just as He is called empathetic, so too should you be empathetic; Just as He is called Sacred so to should you be sacred." (Dei'os 1:6)

    The Rambam is paraphrasing Abba Shaul in a way that is more philosophically clear. "אבא שאול אומר: 'ואנוהו' - הוי דומה לו: מה הוא חנון ורחום, אף אתה היה חנוך ורחום. -- Abba Shaul would say: 've'anveihu' [lit: and I will glorify (from Az Yashir); taken here as from 'ani venu -- I and Him']: be similar to Him. Just as He is Gracious and Empathetic so too should you be gracious and empathetic." (Shabbos 133b) Notice the original says G-d Is Chanun veRachum, not as the Rambam clarifies, merely called such. Was Abba Shaul dividing G-d into parts? Why is it so hard to believe the Zohar uses the same idiom as the gemara? (Other than your own desire to find a problem by which to denigrate the vast majority of observant Jewry.)

    RMT: I just meant that you make the argument worse by oversimplifying, since that creates illusions of problems for Eddie to pick on. Better to be silent than to just spend time accidentally creating strawmen and then correcting Eddie's taking them down. (It's not like he's reading with an interest in understanding the others' position anyway.)

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    1. RMT: I just meant that you make the argument worse by oversimplifying, since that creates illusions of problems for Eddie to pick on. Better to be silent than to just spend time accidentally creating strawmen and then correcting Eddie's taking them down. (It's not like he's reading with an interest in understanding the others' position anyway.)

      Point taken and noted. Now how do I get onto your Avodah listserve?

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    2. http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/agree.shtml has the membership agreement and application form. (BTW, our host is a subscriber, which is how I first learned of this blog. Back when it was primarily posts like this about hashqafah.)

      If you just want to browse the archive, that's at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah

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    3. @ Micha "As Eddie would note, this is highly problematic as it seems to be saying that creation constituted a change in HQBH Himself.

      However, the LR adds that R' Chaim Volozhiner (Nefesh haChaim 3:7) disagreed with the Gra and sided with tzimtzum-as-illusion"


      That is the section we are in agreement with, that there was a dispute between Tanya and Gra, and that RCV concedes this "error" of Gra.

      BTW, this is precisely Norman Lamm's understanding of the NH, and he is a preeminent expert on it.

      Now, I am not subscribing to teh REED on this particular issue, (although I find another concept of his very thought provoking).

      The argument of majority of Shomrei Shabbas people is a fallacious one. If the majority of those people were homsoexuals, would you take that up that lifestyle as well?


      As for NH, he says we should pray to the ein sof in its hitchabrut to the universe, since the atzmuto is beyond all praise and contemplation.

      Have you read gate b lately? Do you read his Ein Sof ?atmuto differently from how I depicted? it is important that at least we are clear about how we understand it, otherwise we would be talking at cross purposes? how do you understand this dichotomy?

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  9. This is from Rambam

    הלכות יסודי התורה פרק א

    יב והודיעו ברוך הוא מה שלא ידע אדם לפניו ולא יידע לאחריו, עד שהשיג מאמיתת הימצאו דבר שנפרד הקדוש ברוך הוא בדעתו משאר הנמצאים, כמו שייפרד אחד מן האנשים שראה אחוריו, והשיג כל גופו ומלבושו בדעתו משאר האנשים; ועל דבר זה רמז הכתוב, ואמר "וראית, את אחוריי; ופניי, לא ייראו" (שמות לג,כג).


    Clearly it says that G-d is separate from the created things.

    Separate does not mean imbued, immanent, present.

    it is meaningless to use a physical attribute of presence in space and time, and foolish suggest that absence of G-d implies 2 gods!

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  10. No, no, no... I'm saying the LR misunderstood the Gra, because:

    1- The Gra's first kelal means that he couldn't understand tzimtzum (literal or illusory) as applying to the Ein Sof.

    2- There is little chance NhC would disagree with his rebbe and not bother to justify the divergence. Neither R' Chaim himself, nor his son in a hagah.

    3- R Dessler spent more time immersed in misnagdic Qabbalah, whereas the LR was judging it from Chabad-based assumptions. Therefore, which was more likely to get it right?

    As for the majority of shomerei Shabbos and what they believe... Look, if you think the author of the SA was a polytheist based on a subject you refuse to study, and when people explain to you the outskirts you insist in finding problems rather than trying to follow, the problem is with you. Now add to that your also questioning the Bahir, the Ramban, literally the majority of rishonim and acharonim... and clearly you should be second-guessing yourself.

    After all, the question isn't whether polytheism is mutar, or whether panentheism even is polytheism, you first need to establish what Qabbalah actually teaches. What do you think the odds are that you found some obvious truth that eluded the Mechaber, the Rama, the Maharal, the Ramchal, the Gra, the Besh"t, AND the Ben Ish Chai? For that matter, even R SR Hirsch had a well-read Zohar with notes in the margin that Dayan Grunfeld writes (intro to Horeb) is the origin of his semniotic understanding of taam hamitzvos. The vast majority of Sepharadim, Chasidim, Misnagdim and Yekkes missed the obvious, but Eddie, without ever opening a book, knows better!?

    You want there to be a problem, so you simply aren't bothering to learn what they believed before critiquing.

    So, I'm bowing out.

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    Replies
    1. If you knew how to string a logical argument together, you wouldnt need to mention a list of Rabbis who I have not even cited let alone attacked. Dis I attack the author of the SA? Are u going a bit nuts?


      Your default position seems ot be that u follow the REED. That is your prerogative. however, since he says there were not disagreemnts, then the LR didnt disagree with hi, or the Gra, and the Gra didnt disagree with the BTanya, nor did he give him a Cherem.

      However, for those who live in the world of empirical evidence, there was and is a theological dispute between the tanya and the Gra , with the NH largely with the GRA.

      And it seems it's you, old chap who has not been doing his reading, since I have quoted chapter and verse of the NH and the Moreh.

      Next, "what Qabbalah actually teaches", well that depends on which book u take.

      Since neither of you are honestly looking at either the NH or the Guide, and not one of u has addressed the problem of the Ein Sof b'hitchabrut vs the atzmut, with no name, then please don't lecture me on dualism, since your art is obscurantism.

      Now Ramataz has openly said that the Ein sof is not G-d. His branch of Kabbalah prays to G-d, whereas NH says we should pray to ein sof b'hitchabruto , rather than to G-d.

      That's is why I asked you if you read Sha'ar b lately, but obviously you have not.

      " Sepharadim, Chasidim, Misnagdim and Yekkes missed the obvious"

      SO Micha has done a survey, where the majority of each of these groups were found to have read Tanya, NH, and Moreh.

      That is quite interesting. Perhaps you could share with us how large your sample was of each group? And reading by itself is not sufficient.



      Delete
    2. You confuse my inability to string out an argument with your unwillingness to address it.

      The Rambam in Yesodei haTorah gives a neo-Platonic view of Creation. Hashem has a thought, which has a thought, which has a thought... all of which are called "mal'akhim", "sikhlim nivdalim" (in the Moreh), "tzuros beli chomer" (back in Yesodei haTorah"), down to the Active Intellect, the spheres of quintessence and finally the four elements and objects down here on earth. In the Rambam's theology, we are all of G-d because we are all thoughts-to-the-nth power of Hashem's Thought. Hashem's is the unity of the Knower, the Knowledge and the known (Moreh 1:68). Unlike the human mind, where the knowledge of the tree and the tree itself differ -- that is the Rambam's contrast, not mine!

      I believe the Rambam's neoPlatonism stems from Ibn Rudhd (Averroes), the man who did the canonical translation of Aristo into Arabic. Included in his translation of Metaphysics were some chapters from Plotinus's Enneads. So, one finds this blend of Aristo and Plotinus in the writings of the Qalam as well as the Rambam.

      But because of this element, the Rambam's philosophy does overlap with Qabbalah's in many of the ways that bother you about Qabbalah!

      I also already noted repeatedly, and gave you a link to read it for yourself, that the Gra opens his 10 rules for understanding Qabbalah by explicitly telling you it's all a description of Hashem as His actions show Himself to us, not G-d Himself. This is territory where the Rambam also speaks of atributes without being concerned about multiplicity. (Moreh 1:54)

      But as I wrote, discourse with you is impossible, since you have no desire to be disabused of the notion that the Qabbalah that was embraced by so many of the same Rabbanim we rely upon daily in halachic practice is problematic and flawed on a level that you -- who never even read a text on the subject -- can see, Even if there were a hashkafic problem with Qabbalah, don't you think these men would have only been capable of a subtle error? Or are you really that much wiser and informed about the Torah than (eg) the Ramban or R' Yosef Caro? Since that's ad absurdum, perhaps you should recheck what you think you know about both the limits of faith and about what Qabbalah actually says. But you proved unwilling to do so.

      =============================================

      BTW, it's the Rambam's hashkafah that is truly problematic. Aside from the issues raised by the Kuzari (before the Rambam, possibly in response to R' Saadia Gaon's lesser Aristotelianism in Emunos veDei'os) and R' Chasdai Crescas, there is the major problem that Aristo's physics has been disproven, making his Metaphysics out of touch with reality. Things don't move because intellects impart to them motion. There is no reason to posit an ultimate Unmoved Mover more than any other form of First Cause, and thus the whole notion of defining G-d as Unmoved Mover and saying it's the same as the unified Knower-Knowledge-known is based on pre-Galileo and pre-Newtonian physics.

      I was recently asked to give a shiur in Moreh Nevuchim. I'm counter-offering, although I haven't picked a work yet, because I find so little of it usable in forming a world-view for someone alive today, after Newton and Kant so totally disconnected us from the world of Aristotle and Plotinus.

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    3. And this consequent focus on da'as pulls the Rambam away from the mesoretic mainstream by making ethics a handmaiden of da'as, rather than the essential goal of life. A point the Moreh makes both in its opening discussion of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, where we learn that man fell from the plane of making only determination of truth to that of also having to make ethical choices and explicitly in the closing chapter of the Moreh, where knowledge is considered the highest of 4 forms of human perfection, and ethical refinement 2nd. As R' Hirsch (19 Letters of Ben Uziel, Letter #18) points out, this is unlike anything Chazal wrote about one's goals in life.

      The age gave birth to a man [R' Drachman's footnote: Maimonides], a mii
      nd, who, the product of uncomprehended Judaism and Arabic science, was obliged tt
      o reconcile the strife which raged in his own breast in his own manner, and who,,
      by proclaiming it to the world, became the guide of all in whom the same conflii
      ct existed.

      This great manm to whom, and to whom alone, we owe the preservation of practicall
      Judaism to our time, is responsible because he sought to reconcile Judaism withh
      the difficulties which confronted it from without instead of developing it creaa
      tively from within, for all the good and the evil which bless and afflict the hee
      ritage of the father. His peculiar mental tendency was Arabic-Greek, and his conn
      ception of the purpose of life the same. He entered into Judaism from without, bb
      ringing with him opinions of whose truth he had convinced himself from extraneouu
      s sources and he reconciled. For him, too, self-perfecting through the knowledgee
      of truth was the highest aim, the practical he deemed subordinate. For him knoww
      ledge of God was the end, not the means; hence he devoted his intellectual powerr
      s to speculations upon the essence of Deity, and sought to bind Judaism to the rr
      esults of his speculative investigations as to postulates of science or faith. TT
      he Mizvoth became for him merely ladders, necessary only to conduct to knowledgee
      or to protect against error, this latter often only the temporary and limited ee
      rror of polytheism. Mishpatim became only rules of prudence, Mitzvoth as well; CC
      hukkim rules of health, teaching right feeling, defending against the transitoryy
      errors of the time; Edoth ordinances, designed to promote philosophical conceptt
      s; all this having no foundation in the eternal essence of things, not resultingg
      from their eternal demand on me, or from my eternal purpose and task, no eternaa
      l symbolizing of an unchangeable idea, and not inclusive enough to form a basis
      for the totality of the commandments.

      He, the great systematic orderer of the practical results of the Talmud, gives ee
      xpression in the last part of his philosophic work to opinions concerning tlie mm
      eaning and purpose of the commandments which, taking the very practical results
      codified by himself as the contents of the commandments, are utterly untenable cc
      ast no real light upon them and cannot go hand in hand with them in practice, inn
      life, and in science...

      Delete
    4. You are, Dear Micha, making a lot of noise about issues peripheral to this debate. You think the more names you can drop, and ad hominem attack you can make, will somehow distract attention from the fact that NH 's citation of Rambam in 1:72 of the Guide is mistaken.

      "But because of this element, the Rambam's philosophy does overlap with Qabbalah's in many of the ways that bother you about Qabbalah!"

      Look at this:
      הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ב

      ט כל אלו עשרה השמות שנקראו בהם המלאכים, על שם עשר מעלות שלהם הם. ומעלה שאין למעלה ממנה אלא מעלת האל ברוך הוא, היא מעלת הצורות שנקראת חיות; לפיכך נאמר בנבואה, שהן תחת הכיסא. ומעלה עשירית, היא מעלת הצורה שנקראת אישים, והם המלאכים שמדברים עם הנביאים ונראים להם במראה הנבואה; לפיכך נקראו אישים, שמעלתם קרובה ממעלת דעת האדם.


      Now there is some similarity with this and the Kabbalistic regime of higher beings, but we are not in Rambam's view allowed to pray to the angels or any of the created beings.

      There is no "tzimtzum" in Rambam's view - except what i calla terminological tzimzum, ie contraction of terms for G-d's acts.

      Now I may agree with you that perhaps Rambam's philosophy is in some ways outdated. However, that is not the subject matter here. You don't cite a source to support your own claim, if you think that source is wrong or out of date!

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    5. @Eddie - "Now I may agree with you that perhaps Rambam's philosophy is in some ways outdated":

      Do not allow Micha's show of confused "YU intellectualism" (replete with undefined acronyms that confuse the reader) to confuse you about the Rambam's philosophy in Moreh Nevuchim. Apparently Micha is not too familiar with Moreh Nevuchim, which actually contains much of the foundation of later Kabbalah, especially currents of Kabbalah such as the GRA's Asarah Klalim and the Leshem.

      Rambam is teaching Torah philosophy and is explaining Torah principles that are not only not outdated, but are essential for Jews to understand. The Rambam does not hesitate to reject Greek philosophy when it conflicts with the Torah, which is not always the case.

      Yes, some of the Rambam's scientific concepts in Moreh Nevuchim that are derived from Greek sources are outdated, such as the concept of rotating spheres, but that does not dilute in any way the Torah principles the Rambam is teaching. For example, if the Rambam makes a statement such as "Hashem started the sphere in motion" (this is not an exact quote), a modern Jew could simply translate this as Hashem started the expansion of the Universe.

      Furthermore, in some places in Moreh Nevuchim actually derives advanced modern principles of cosmology from Chazal's statements.

      If you will study some of Rav Meir Triebetz's Rambam shiurim, you will realize the Rambam's Torah remains profound and essential for Jews to learn.

      http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/ikarim/
      http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/moreh-nevuchim/
      http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/creation/

      Delete
    6. Eddie, I cited 2:9 myself already. Of course it says nothing about praying to mal'akhim. For that matter, the Gra bans the "Birkhuni leShalom" verse of Shalom Aleikhem (and the selichah "Machnisei Rachamim") on these grounds. Had nothing to do with his embracing Qabbalah.

      The line of permissable between asking a person for a berakhah and praying to demiurges is subject to debate. There are stories in the gemara of praying a tzadiqim's qevarim, which if taken literally would even include asking a dead tzadiq for a berakhah. Yirmiyahu asking the avos to pray for the Jews being sent into exile in Bavel, particularly according to the gemara which sets such prayers against Qever Rachel being intentionally on the route of the exiled, would appear to laud the practice.

      The Gra, OTOH, says one goes to the grave of a tzadiq to be moved to teshuvah and better kavanah when addressing prayers to G-d.

      But if one can ask a dead tzadiq for a berakhah, as per the other side of the dispute, why not an angel? "Hamal'akh hago'el osi mikol ra hu yevareikh..."

      None of which has to do with yea or nay on Qabbalah.

      But none of that debate involves the ye

      Delete
  11. I see that the conversation has moved down here so I will also do so!
    R.Michael - To respond to your response:

    First off, I’m not sure who on Earth this Charles Dawkins you refer to is – perhaps he is an evolutionary hybrid of Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins. In any case, besides (bad) name dropping I can’t think of them saying anything relevant to our discussion, given that they know nothing about philosophy, theology or Torah!

    As to the Rambam in Yesodei HaTorah 1:8, I am really surprised at how you are learning pshat. To recap, he says:
    Behold, it is explicitly stated in the Torah and [the works of] the prophets that the Holy One, blessed be He, is not [confined to] a body or physical form, as [Deuteronomy 4:39] states: "Because God, your Lord, is the Lord in the heavens above and the earth below," and a body cannot exist in two places

    To which you added “Clearly indicating that G-d is present in creation.”

    How do you get to this? I imagine that you think he means that since a body cannot be in two places at once, and yet the posuk says God is in the heavens and the earth, it follow that He is not a body, yet since the Posuk says He IS in two places it must mean in an entirely new and unknown way that He is literally and actually present everywhere in heavens and earth, but just not as a Guf or Koach HaGuf.

    But let me propose that the Rambam held the svara peshuto that a physical Makom can only be occupied by a physical Guf. Now, again, since the Posuk mentions that He is in two different Mekomos (presumably at once) He can’t be a Guf. Now, what does the Rambam do with the Posuk? Since it can’t apply to a Guf, and thus God is not a Guf the Posuk must be meant metaphorically, HaKol Mashal and Dibra Torah KeLoshon Bnei Adam (as the Rambam himself says in the very next halacha). What is the metaphor? What is the deeper truth of the posuk? Very simple – Ki Hashem (YHVH) Hu HaElokim, ie. God Himself, the Shem HaEtzem is the same as the Shem Elokim, the ruler, the one who is the judge and runs the entire world. The verse is not talking about a physical presence but not with a Guf as you would have it, but rather with His rulership, that it extends throughout the heavens and the earth.

    And that is precisely how the Pirush on the page (end of Halacha 8) learns:
    כל ענין מאמר הכתוב שהוא בשמים ובארץ רוצה לומר ממשלתו כלומר שהוא מושל בשמים ובארץ, שאילו היה בשמים ובארץ כפשוטו היה גוף או כוח בגוף
    Note, he is saying that God is not present in the physical universe, since He is not a Guf, and only a Guf can be present. Rather it is His Memshala. And guess what? No hint of dualism!! And it is precisely the equation of these two names YHVH and Elokim that we say every morning and every night, that Hashem is our Elokim, and yet He is still Echad. No dualism at all.

    You should also look at the wonderful Sefer Yesodei HaTorah by the famous Mekubal, the Shem MiShimon, R. Shimon Agasi. When quoting over this Halacha of the Rambam almost verbatim, he adds (pg.4 ) an explanation that this means that God is לא במקום. He is not in physical space. No distinction about as Guf or not as a Guf. No distinction that being in just one place would be a problem but being in every place would be fine.

    Also look at the Kesef Mishneh on Yesodei HaTorah 1:1 explaining the language of the Rambam שיש שם מצוי. He says the word Sham obviously cannot mean Makom, ie. that He has existence in place, that He is present in the physical universe, but rather it is borrowed from the Arabic usage and means ‘in existence’.

    (continued)

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    Replies
    1. perhaps he is an evolutionary hybrid of Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins.
      Something like that. I'm bad with names, I admit it.

      And that is precisely how the Pirush on the page (end of Halacha 8) learns:
      כל ענין מאמר הכתוב שהוא בשמים ובארץ רוצה לומר ממשלתו כלומר שהוא מושל בשמים ובארץ, שאילו היה בשמים ובארץ כפשוטו היה גוף או כוח בגוף

      It would have been nice if you quoted this to the end, because it is not so clear that he is saying what you say he is saying.

      You should also look at the wonderful Sefer Yesodei HaTorah by the famous Mekubal, the Shem MiShimon, R. Shimon Agasi. When quoting over this Halacha of the Rambam almost verbatim, he adds (pg.4 ) an explanation that this means that God is לא במקום. He is not in physical space. No distinction about as Guf or not as a Guf. No distinction that being in just one place would be a problem but being in every place would be fine.
      Oh you are trying to be tricky. Ok. As Rav Shimon Agasi states in his Shem M'Shimon, to say that G-d is not in the world violates Rambams ikkarim.

      Now while my p. 4 does not say that at all(that comes later and you misquoted it), what I did find on my page four, is quite relevant to the discussion(for those wanting to follow this is chapter 1 seif 5):
      אמיתת מציואותו יתברך לא נתאמת לנו מפי אדם נאמן או מפי המופת העיוני הפילוסופי, אלא מפי ששים רבוא נביאים, והם אבותינו שהיו באותו מעמד הנכבד על הר סיני, וזכו למדרגת היותר עליונה שבנבואה שהיא מדרדת פנים בפנים, כמו שאמר הכתוב: "פנים בפנים דבר ה' עממכם בהר מתוך האש". ולא בחלום חזיון לילה, ולא במראה הנבואה השכליית בבאול חושים החיצונים- כשאר נביאים, אלא בהקיץ ובקיום כל חושיהם ודעתם עליהם. ובעיניהם הבשריים ראו מה שיכלו לראות מכבודו יתברך. ובאזניהם החושיים שמעו קולו מתוך האש: "אנכי ה' אלהיך" וגו' שנאמר: "הן הראנו ה' אלהיד אב כבודו ואת גדלו ואת קולו שנענו מתוך האש" וגו' ובזה נתאמת להם מציאותו יתברך. שהוא הוא האלוה המתוי בעולם ואין עוד מלבדו
      Quite clearly stating that G-d is found in the world.

      Now if we jump over to chapter 3 seif 2 and 3 we get to the piece that you misquoted.
      ודבר זה מפרש שנאמר: בתורה "כי ה' הוא האלהים בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת". והגוף לא יהיה בשני מקומות בזמן אחד. ונאמר "כי לא ראיתם כל במונה" רוצה לומר לא השגתם אותו. שהוא בעל תמונהץ ונאמר "ואל מי תדמיון אל ומה דמות תערכו לו". ונאמר "ואל מי תדניוני ואשחה". ואלו היה גוף ונאמר "מי בשחק יערך לה' ידמה לה' בבני אלים". ועוד הרבה פסוקים מזה. ב. וכיון שנתברר שהשם יתברך אינו גוף, יתברך שלא יארעו לו מארעות הגופים, לא חבור ולא פרוד, לא מקום ולא מדה, לא עליה ולא ירידה לא ישיבה ולא עמידה, לא ימין ולא שמאל, לא פנים ולא כעס ולא שחוק ולא שמחה ולא עצבות לא רחמים ולא אכזריות לא שתיקה ולא דבור כדבור בני אדם. הרי הוא אומר: "אני ה' לא שניתי." ואלו היה פעמים כועס ופעמים שמח היה משתנה, כך אמרו חכמים :"אין למעלה לא עמידה ולא ישיבה, לא ערף ולא עפוי."
      Again clearly not saying that G-d is not omnipresent, but rather that no form of measurement or limitation of a body applies to G-d. You cannot say that G-d has a place. In other words you cannot say that G-d is found "there". Especially given his already clear statements that G-d is in the world.

      Also look at the Kesef Mishneh on Yesodei HaTorah 1:1 explaining the language of the Rambam שיש שם מצוי. He says the word Sham obviously cannot mean Makom, ie. that He has existence in place, that He is present in the physical universe, but rather it is borrowed from the Arabic usage and means ‘in existence’.
      Again I don't see what you are trying to say as being native to the text. Makom means "a place" in other words you can't say that you can find G-d "there", in that particular place.
      Arabic usage and means ‘in existence’
      Precisely, G-d is in existence, meaning within creation.

      Delete
    2. Apologies if the page numbers in R.Agassi's Sefer caused confusion. I couldn't be bothered to find my copy (its a very small Sefer, easily misplaced!) so I used the version on Otzar HaChochma. The part I quoted was on page 4 there.

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    3. so I used the version on Otzar HaChochma. The part I quoted was on page 4 there.
      I had a feeling that was the case.

      Anyway that should be המצוי above not המתוי.

      Delete
  12. (continued)

    As for the pesukim you bring in Yirmiyahu 23.24 and Tehilim 139.7-8, they would be learned in the same way by the Rambam (as they are by the Rishonim who comment on them). See for example MN 1.25 where the Rambam explains every case of Shechina as being the permanence of either a created light (as R.Saadia) or, the explanation He prefers, His Hashgacha. Namely that when the Medrash (Bamidbar Raba 12:4) says there is not place empty of His Shechina, it means of His Hashgacha. Same for the Gemara in Bava Basra 25a.

    All this without any dualism. How? I don’t know but neither did the Rambam, as was quoted before
    “God is not a force inherent in the body of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is unable to solve it.”

    He creates the universe, He acts within it, but He is not in it, He is not present.

    Next, you argued on me that present and separate are not actually opposites. Thus you hold God can be both present and separate.
    But, I think your dictionary is misleading you from my point. Present means being in a certain, specific, particular place, its opposite is absent or away, not in that specific place. As your Websters puts it “being in view or at hand” or “existing in something”. That means present is to be in, to be connected to a place or thing, to be at hand or subject to apprehension.

    Separate means not to be part of, not to be connected to or rather to be distinct. It does not mean only, as you say, not be identical or the selfsame. That is included of course, you can’t be identical and separate, but you also can’t exist in something and be separate.
    So once, again how can God be present in a particular place (the physical universe) which means to exist IN it, but yet be distinct from it?

    Rather, God is absent from the physical world because He is neither a Guf nor a Koach HaGuf. In a way that is “a complete mystery” He is Mamtzi the universe (ontologically) and He acts within it (creating it, setting the laws of nature, performing Nissim, answering Tefilos).

    See Sefer HaIkarim (2:17) where he also says that God cannot be in physical space since He is not Geshem, ie. Gufos. No mention of being present in Makom but not via a Guf as you suggest. Also, at the end of the chapter he says that the reason we see God is described more frequently as being in Shamayim is because God’s action in the heavens are much clearer to us. Again, the physical location is ascribed to God allegorically, not literally.
    (continued)

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    Replies
    1. As for the pesukim you bring in Yirmiyahu 23.24 and Tehilim 139.7-8, they would be learned in the same way by the Rambam (as they are by the Rishonim who comment on them). See for example MN 1.25 where the Rambam explains every case of Shechina as being the permanence of either a created light (as R.Saadia) or, the explanation He prefers, His Hashgacha. Namely that when the Medrash (Bamidbar Raba 12:4) says there is not place empty of His Shechina, it means of His Hashgacha. Same for the Gemara in Bava Basra 25a.
      So I am taking it that you didn't read the Rishonim on those pasukim, because they see them as meaning that G-d is omnipresent in creation.

      All this without any dualism. How? I don’t know but neither did the Rambam, as was quoted before
      “God is not a force inherent in the body of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is unable to solve it.”

      You are interpreting the Rambam in a way that is not native to the text.
      When Aristotle says that the Nous(acquired intellect) is separate from the world, does that mean it does not exist in the world according to Aristotle? Clearly not. Hence when the Rambam borrows on Aristotle here, if he is intending to diverge from Aristotle it would necessitate an explanation of the difference. An explanation that he does not bring so again, we are left with G-d being in the Universe but separate from it.

      Making divisions between G-d, his light, his shechina, his power, his hashgacha, that is dualism. In fact that is much worse than dualism that is Platon, and neo-Platonic paganism.

      Delete
    2. "Making divisions between G-d, his light, his shechina, his power, his hashgacha, that is dualism. In fact that is much worse than dualism that is Platon, and neo-Platonic paganism"

      Umm, but it is ok to make divisions between Sefiros, KBH and his (wife) Shechina, Ein So Hitchabruto and Atzmuto, etc?

      Or to say that H' baruch Hu is only a name and there is another entity that we do/don't pray to depending on one's inclination (contrast NH with RAMATZ).

      The problem with RAmatz's argumentation is that he is happy to call rambam a pagan, and then also say that he fully accepts the rambam. But his own logic is more damaging to his own position.

      Rambam , over and over, makes a distinction between G-d and his acts. there is no polytheism here, quite the opposite. He doesnt say you have a choice of gods,and can only pray to this one, because H' is not high enough for us to pray to.

      Delete
  13. (continued)

    You said:

    “So when you then say that G-d must be absent from the physical Universe you have a logical contradiction. You say on one hand that G-d has no boundary or limit. Then on the other that the ever expanding boundaries of the physical universe are a boundary that restrains G-d, as his presence cannot cross it.”

    But you are using your own definitions and then claiming I have made a logical contradiction! Thats not fair! I do say that God has no boundary, but I don’t mean it only in the physical sense. Yet you say that “his presence cannot cross it [the boundary into the physical universe]” I agree, if He had physical existence / presence but He was not in the physical universe that would certainly be a boundary and we would be stuck, it would be a limit to his infinite physical presence, a contradiction. But again my point is that the Rambam holds that physical existence is an imperfection since it is both bounded and subject to change. Therefore He cannot have any physical existence, and thus He can have no presence in the physical universe. You were thrown off by my examples of omnipotence. All I mean is that there are certain imperfections which a perfect being cannot possess. That only means He is perfect. The God that can do anything (who is omnipotent) still cannot be present in the physical universe, no more than He can scratch His nose or get angry or change His mind. And that is not a limit on Him, or at least not a limit to His perfection. The Rambam himself says this in MN 1:75:
    ואין אנו מיחסים לה' יתעלה חוסר יכולת מפני שאינו יכול להגשים את עצמו

    Finally, as for your attack on my position that there are planes of existence being a logical fallacy, that my words are just strung together without making any sense (thanks for that!) - I admitted at the time that the language was somewhat gross, but the Rambam himself says exactly that. In MN 1:8 (not too far in for even the faint hearted reader) he says that Makom means not just place but rank or situation, and “it is in this figurative manner that it is said Baruch Kevod Hashem MiMekomo, place, meaning according to His rank and the greatness of His portion in existence. See the entire chapter. The meaning is clear, His existence is of a ‘higher’ rank than any other, going back to Yesodei HaTorah 1:2 and 1:3 (and Derech Hashem 1:1:3 and 1:1:4) this means that He exists necessarily and nothing else does. As I quoted you the Ramchal on Efes Zulaso – why does he not say that nothing else exists at all? Because obviously to him lots of things exists, but compared to the Mechuyav HaMetziyus they are as Efes. Necessary being vs. contingent being is not a fair fight! The Maharal in several places explains Ein Od Milvado. In Derech HaChaim (1:2) he says:
    כי אין במציאות רק השם ית' שהוא מחויב המציאות, והנמצאים שנמצאו מאתו

    See R.Hartman’s note 393 and 394 for more. See also Sefer HaIkarim (2:1) where he also says there are different types of existence. Clearly there are levels of existence, what could crudely be called planes of existence. And of course in the final analysis as the Rambam says we cannot even predicate existence of God. But are you saying that the Rambam, the Ikarim, the Maharal and the Ramchal (I could dig up more) are all making a basic logical fallacy?
    (continued)

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    1. "But are you saying that the Rambam, the Ikarim, the Maharal and the Ramchal (I could dig up more) are all making a basic logical fallacy?"

      That is what he is implying, however the ger around is atrociously misinterpret Rambam or just ignore half of what he writes.

      This discussion is quite simple, just read what Rambam says about G-d's separation from the world.

      what has ruffled a lot of feathers is the fact that I have challenged no less a figure than R Haim of Volozhin, who stands at the beginning of the Litvish Yeshiva experience.
      Bright Day is to be respected, for being brave enough to think independently and honestly. A couple of insults at me being an "idiot" etc, are fine, that goes with the territory.

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    2. Well since I have insulted you I owe you a compliment. You definitely handle being called an idiot with far more grace than I would!

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    3. Finally, as for your attack on my position that there are planes of existence being a logical fallacy, that my words are just strung together without making any sense (thanks for that!) - I admitted at the time that the language was somewhat gross, but the Rambam himself says exactly that. In MN 1:8 (not too far in for even the faint hearted reader) he says that Makom means not just place but rank or situation, and “it is in this figurative manner that it is said Baruch Kevod Hashem MiMekomo, place, meaning according to His rank and the greatness of His portion in existence.
      Ok. If what you are saying is true, and you believe that G-d cannot move outside of his plane of existence than we are very certainly dealing with neo-platonist paganism.

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  14. (continued)

    I am in the odd position of agreeing with Eddie about the most important issue of all, the need to keep HKBH free and clear of all Hagshama, something I see R.Michael and others being drawn dangerously close to. Yet Eddie’s willful misreading of Kabalistic seforim and denial of the authenticity of the Zohar is pretty much idiocy! As I heard from my Rebbe once, if today you don’t believe in the Zohar you are not a Kofer but you are wrong and a Shote!

    Finally, R. Michael, I have tried not to copy you but rather I prefer to keep this discussion as free form philosophical jargon as possible. Although my masters from Oxford is in philosophy (in which time I don’t remember Webster’s Dictionary being such an important text) I think we can have this discussion without the jargon. Opposite will do just fine for me, no need for antonym. Plus it seems condescending to others who are reading. I have also stayed away from using the terms used in our Kabalah seforim since I think the philosophical understanding must come first, and since I am very hesitant to discuss these issues in that language on the internet. Kevod Elokim Hester Davar.

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  15. @ Bright Day,

    I am quite happy to accept your criticism, since you are clearly reading Rambam L'shem Shamayim.

    Next, In this or the other post, I haven't denied Zohar. I have pointed out possible objections, and the fact that I need to be convinced of its authenticity. being skeptical is not the same as denying.

    However, once again , thanks for being logical and honest, and not taking Rambam on some psychadelic trip just to prove one's case.


    The point of this post was a response to my assertion that NH is incorrect about Moreh, which is quite plain, if you read the chapter 72 in question.

    As for Charles dawkins, he is one of the popular science guys that has given ramatz his advanced knowledge of time, space, astrophysics, string theory, and minestrone soup.

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    1. popular science guys Hmmm that's what we are calling the profs of the honors college at Princeton University these days? Or Temple where I did grad work?

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    2. RMT: Does a guy who preaches atheism for a living deserve more respect than that?

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    3. Micha:
      I was referring to my educational background not so much Richard Dawkins(thanks for the correction Bright Day). Admittedly he has his issues but he does make some logical points from time to time.

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    4. " Does a guy who preaches atheism for a living deserve more respect than that?"
      he is a "haredi" atheist, ie he is trying to impose it on the people.

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  16. @Micha - "I find so little of it (Moreh Nevuchim) usable in forming a world-view for someone alive today":

    You find very little of it usable because you are clearly lacking any serious knowledge of it.

    In fact, you also seem to be completely unaware that the exact same issue debated in the Rambam's time, and thoroughly addressed in Moreh Nevuchim, is in fact one of the most hotly debated issues in our time, ie an eternal Universe (viewpoint of Aristotle & the modern Multiverse atheist cosmologists) versus a Universe of finite age created by Hashem (the Torah viewpoint).

    Incredibly, the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim actually discusses a Multiverse type cosmology theory and uses it (if I understood MN correctly) to disprove the atheists! I am not going to cite the location due to your disrespectful statements toward the Rambam.

    The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim is teaching Torah philosophy and is explaining Torah principles that are not only not outdated, but are essential for Jews to understand. The Rambam filters and refines Greek concepts for us when necessary, (concepts that are still present today) but he certainly does not hesitate to reject Greek philosophy when it conflicts with the Torah.

    Yes, some of the Rambam's scientific concepts in Moreh Nevuchim that are derived from Greek sources are outdated, such as the concept of rotating spheres, but that does not dilute in any way the Torah principles the Rambam is teaching. For example, if the Rambam makes a statement such as "Hashem started the sphere in motion" (this is not an exact quote), a modern Jew could simply translate this as Hashem started the expansion of the Universe.

    If you will study some of Rav Meir Triebetz's Rambam shiurim, you will realize the Rambam's Torah remains profound and essential for Jews to learn.

    http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/ikarim/
    http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/moreh-nevuchim/
    http://hashkafacircle.com/shiurim/category/creation/

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  17. "Completely unaware"... what an interesting guess about my background.

    First, I do follow RMT's shiurim. (Usually. This current discussion of the Oral history of the written law didn't have me convinced enough to listen to the shiurim which presume his given and use it to explain specific halakhos casewise.) I think I'm the only commentor on hashkafacircle.com's blog / podcast of RMT's shiurim. My link to the Gra's Asarah Kelalim is also to a file on hashkafacircle.com. I read R' Moshe Becker's article in Reshimu vol 2 titled The Timeless Message of Moreh Nevuchim. (In fact, I actually have an IM dialog going on with R' D Sedley going on in another window as I'm typing this.)

    Second, before learning the Moreh, I learned Aristotle's Metaphysics, Plato's Phaeto, and Plotinus's The Enneads just as a prelude. I got a few chapters in and realized I didn't really understand the Rambam's "language". So, I took a detour of over a year to understand what it is the Rambam assumed the nevuach was exposed to. Then started over.

    Third, when I did learn the Moreh the second time around, it was with the aid of the Abarbanel, Narbonni, the Ralbag, Ibn Shem Tov and Ibn Caspi. (If you do not believe this claim, search around my blog -- I utilize each, or perhaps only most, of them in Aspaqlaria posts.)

    I therefore think I am entitled to have formed my own opinion. Since it concurs with that of the Gra, R' Hirsch, and numerous others, I'm not ashamed to post it.

    That said, there was no science in those days, and the line between Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy -- including Physics -- is not sharp. Aristo's fascination with intellect, his notion that the Prime Mover must be an intellect, the whole idea that there must be intellects behind nature and behind those intellects in a chain back to the Prime Mover (an idea the Rambam hijacks to identify with mal'akhim and HQBH), is because of his physics. If all action begins with an intellect imparting impetus (which, unlike momentum, is not conserved), then Aristo and the Rambam have to populate their metaphysics with intellects. The business about there being no spheres, only orbits -- paths taken by the planets, their moons, and stars -- isn't just a minor side-issue with why the Rambam's philosophy doesn't speak to us. It's part of his whole embracing of Aristo's physics and metaphysics, and it is the crack between his understanding of mal'akhim and today's worldviews.

    If I were giving a shiur to people looking for something complex enough to actually work (as opposed to kiruv-marketing "hashkafah"),I wouldn't choose the Moreh simply because you have that gap left to bridge. This isn't true for the Kuzari, Or Hashem, the Ikkarim, or modern writers like Michtav meiEliyahu, Pachad Yitzchaq, Ish haHalakhah, or Orot (if I could understand R AY Kook's hashkafah in general).

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    1. @Micha - "It's part of his whole embracing of Aristo's physics and metaphysics":

      If you carefully study the Moreh Nevuchim, its clear that the Rambam exposed numerous fallacies in Aristo's unproven theories and speculations.

      "...everything that Aristotle expounds with regard to the sphere of the moon and that which is above it is, except for certain things, something analogous to guessing and conjuring. All the more does this apply to what he says about the order of the intellects.." Moreh Nevuchim II:22

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    2. The Rambam plays Aristotle's game. He speaks of matter, form, 4 classes of causes, intellect and impetus, etc... That the Rambam accepts the possibility of miracles defying the laws of nature, and thus rejects Aristo's argument for the eternity of the universe, just modifies what kind of Aristotilian he is.

      As for 2:22, he is setting up the difference between Aristo's proven theses, which the Rambam says must be accepted, and his opinions. This is because he is about to begin with ch. 23 his argument against Aristotilian eternity. He doesn't deny Aristo's basic theory of intellects, but opens the door to allow doubting some elements of it.

      As for accepting everything Aristo actually proved: because the Rambam bought into the truth of Aristo's postulates and fundamental perspective, it wouldn't cross his mind that Aristo's proof would lead to something false. (After all, the results of solid logic are no better than the givens you reason about.)

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    3. @Micha - "it wouldn't cross his mind that Aristo's proof would lead to something false":

      Your comments demonstrate a great ignorance of the Rambam's principles. I am only continuing to reply to your absurd comments due to the disgrace they heap onto the Rambam. Numerous statements of the Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim directly contradict your false notions of the Rambam's principles.

      In many places in Moreh Nevuchim, the Rambam repeatedly refutes and attacks Aristo's most basic principles, including Aristo's concept of an eternal Universe and Aristo's concept of divine providence. If and when Aristo states a scientific principle that arouses fewer doubts than a competing principle, then the Rambam might accept Aristo's principle, unless of course it contradicts the Torah. See end of MN II:22.

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  18. @Bright Day - "I have also stayed away from using the terms used in our Kabalah seforim since I think the philosophical understanding must come first"

    It seems you're the one guy here who actually knows what's he's talking about.

    Is it correct to assume you advocate learning Moreh Nevuchim before learning Kabbalah?

    Is it correct to assume that you don't see contradictions between the Rambam's Torah philosophy in Moreh Nevuchim and CERTAIN schools of Kabbalah, in particular the Lithuanian Kabbalah of the GRA and Leshem?

    I think many Torah students may perceive contradictions between the Moreh and Kabbalah, but their perception may not always be accurate. If you can address that issue, either in a comment or a main posting, it would be most helpful.

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    1. There can't be a contradiction between the Leshem's Qabbalah and the Moreh -- he quotes the Moreh very frequently!

      The Leshem was my source for noting the similarity between the notion of a hierarchy of olamos, where the chomer of each becomes the tzurah of the olam "below" it, and the Rambam's (YhT ch. 2 again) chain of mal'akhim -- which are tzuros after all -- each one causing the one "beneath" it.

      See my blog series "Maimonidian Qabbalah". (That link is to a recap/overview, which has links back to the various posts and is thus usable as an index.)

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  19. R.Michael -
    I don't see that you have yet addressed any of the substantive issues I have raised, except for saying that the Rambam in MN and others (the Ikarim, the Maharal and the Ramchal) who talk of different degrees of existence are involved in "neo-platonist paganism". You assert this (for a second time) but do not explain.

    Why is saying "that G-d cannot move outside of his plane of existence" paganism? Why should a necessarily existent being be able to become a contingently existent being? How is His inability to do that an imperfection? How is that neo-platonist paganism?
    By the way the academics just love to point out all the neo-platonist influences in Kabalah!

    The points of mine you did reply to are interpretive. I would like the readers to comment on who they think is saying the correct pshat in the Rambam in 1:8, and whether the Pirush that I quoted is accurate.
    As for the Kesef Mishneh - come on, be serious! He is not saying that Yesh Sham Matzoi means that He is within existence, in the world, he is saying exactly the opposite, that Sham here means simply that He exists, not that He is Sham, in a place (the universe). This is basic reading skills which I know you possess. You clearly know how to learn (I thoroughly enjoyed your blogs on Tanya. Great work. Are you planning to continue?)
    I will take a look at the Yesodei HaTorah of the Shem MiShimon but my initial response is that he first says that God had no Guf, ie. He is not in one particular place, he then adds that He is not BeMakom, I understand that he is not just giving a random list of terms but adding an extra Chidush, that even if God is not a Guf in a particular place, He is also not without a Guf in any (or all) places. KeNireh this is the Poshut Pshat in Hu Mekomo Shel Olam.
    When he later says that Hu HaEloka HaMatzoi BeOlam he means it the same way that the pesukim use it, the way the Rambam uses it. He exists in the universe (perhaps he means Eloka specifically, Tzarich Iyun), He causes it to exist ontologically, He created it, He knows it, He runs it. Not that He is IN it physically.

    Now let me conclude, having reread my lengthy comments above - I am nervous that I might leave someone with the impression that since God is not right here in front of my eyes (or in my eyes) He is 'distant', remote. But the truth is the exact opposite. Once you graduate from thinking in juvenile physical terms (God has hands, feet and a temper) and beyond that from thinking in adolescent spatial terms (God is the physical universe, immanentism, or He non-physically exists within the physical universe, R.Michael's understanding of omnipresent) you can graduate to thinking ontologically. His ultimate true Existence is what is Mamtzi all other existence. In that sense He is, to borrow a term, 'closer' to you than you ever thought possible. In that sense nothing comes between you and Him, VeDai LeMevin.

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    1. I will take a look at the Yesodei HaTorah of the Shem MiShimon but my initial response is that he first says that God had no Guf, ie. He is not in one particular place, he then adds that He is not BeMakom, I understand that he is not just giving a random list of terms but adding an extra Chidush, that even if God is not a Guf in a particular place, He is also not without a Guf in any (or all) places. KeNireh this is the Poshut Pshat in Hu Mekomo Shel Olam.
      When he later says that Hu HaEloka HaMatzoi BeOlam he means it the same way that the pesukim use it, the way the Rambam uses it. He exists in the universe (perhaps he means Eloka specifically, Tzarich Iyun), He causes it to exist ontologically, He created it, He knows it, He runs it. Not that He is IN it physically.

      However he does not say BeMakom. He never uses that phrase in that chapter. Now you are free to explain and interpret Rav Agasi anyway you like, however, he says quite clearly in his Shem M'Shimon that to say that G-d is not in the world, as does the Yosher Levav than you are going to violate several of the Ikkarim.

      I don't see that you have yet addressed any of the substantive issues I have raised, except for saying that the Rambam in MN and others (the Ikarim, the Maharal and the Ramchal) who talk of different degrees of existence are involved in "neo-platonist paganism". You assert this (for a second time) but do not explain.


      I'm sorry. You said you had a degree in Philosophy from Oxford so I thought you would have been familiar with the classical schools of philosophy. So, I'm not sure if you are asking me to explain neo-platonism or how I see it identicle to your understanding of the Rambam.
      So let's look at the key beliefs of the neo-platonists:
      Regarding G-d:
      The primeval Source of Being is the One and the Infinite, as opposed to the many and the finite. It is the source of all life, and therefore absolute causality and the only real existence. However, the important feature of it is that it is beyond all Being, although the source of it. Therefore, it cannot be known through reasoning or understanding, since only what is part of Being can be thus known according to Plato. Being beyond existence, it is the most real reality, source of less real things. It is, moreover, the Good, insofar as all finite things have their purpose in it, and ought to flow back to it. But one cannot attach moral attributes to the original Source of Being itself, because these would imply limitation. It has no attributes of any kind; it is being without magnitude; in strict propriety, indeed, we ought not to speak of it as existing; it is "above existence," "above goodness." It is also active without a substratum; as active force the primeval Source of Being is perpetually producing something else, without alteration, or motion, or diminution of itself. This production is not a physical process, but an emission of force; and, since the product has real existence only in virtue of the original existence working in it,
      Now at this point you are probably nodding your head, saying, yeah that's what the Rambam believes.

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    2. However this is Pantheism and ultimately paganism, as the author notes:
      Neoplatonism may be described as a species of dynamic panentheism. Directly or indirectly, everything is brought forth by the "One." In it all things, so far as they have being, are divine, and God is all in all. Derived existence, however, is not like the original Source of Being itself, but is subject to a law of diminishing completeness. It is indeed an image and reflection of the first Source of Being; but the further the line of successive projections is prolonged the smaller is its share in the true existence. The totality of being may thus be conceived as a series of concentric circles, fading away towards the verge of non-existence, the force of the original Being in the outermost circle being a vanishing quantity. Each lower stage of being is united with the "One" by all the higher stages, and receives its share of reality only by transmission through them. All derived existence, however, has a drift towards, a longing for, the higher, and bends towards it so far as its nature will permit. Plotinus' treatment of the substance or essence (ousia) of the one was to reconcile Plato and Aristotle. Where Aristotle treated the monad as a single entity made up of one substance (here as energeia). Plotinus reconciled Aristotle with Plato's "the good" by expressing the substance or essence of the one as potential or force.(source Neoplatonism and Gnosticism by Curtis L. Hancok p.177).
      It is a pantheistic paganism.
      Why is saying "that G-d cannot move outside of his plane of existence" paganism? Why should a necessarily existent being be able to become a contingently existent being? How is His inability to do that an imperfection? How is that neo-platonist paganism?
      Well aside from your position essentially being pure neo-platonism(not influenced by) you have the problem, as the Shem M'Shimon points out(quoting Rav Irgas) that in place G-d in, and only in, his own plane of existance you have made him a Baal Gavul and Baal Makom.

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    3. The Rama writes about the overlap between Greek and Jewish Thought in Toras haOlah 1:11. He says they got it from us, when Alexander conquered access to the remains of the library in Bayis Rishon.

      From the Kuzari 1:63 it appears that Rihal believed that the Greeks were simply very good at deducing something very close -- but not quite -- the Truth.

      I would add that at some point in our history, probably our encounter with the Moslem Qalam, we found the terminology of this similar thought system useful enough to borrow their buzzwords. Thereby making them look even more similar.

      Also, both try to explain the World as It Appears to Man -- the commonsensical and phenomenological, universe. This is why the Greeks never came up with scientific method; they were trying to explain how the world seems to work, assuming that was how it actually does.

      On the Jewish side, I have suggested that this is what limits scientific advancement's impact on halakhah. I don't care if I can prove with microscopes that maggots found in meat were born from eggs laid by maggots that entered the meat from the outside. We have no direct experience of those eggs so they just don't factor in. Think of the roots of the words "mamashus" and "metzius" -- halakhah is concerned with that we can "touch" or "find", things that enter our experience and thus impact our souls. Not just ideas we know in the abstract, but lack the immediacy to instigate personal change.

      But it's real, not just something discussed by heretic academics.

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    4. Forget your long quotes from philosophy websites about neo-platonism. which don't address anything since in any case the Rambam was not a straight-up neo-platonist. Others here have responded to the neo-platonist attack to my satisfaction. Also forget the gratuitous dig at me. Consider, perhaps its BECAUSE I have a degree in philosophy that I have no idea what you are saying!
      Simple question you still are not answering - how is saying God is a necessarily existent being, as the Rambam does in the beginning of Yesodei HaTorah, something which I have three times said GROSSLY or CRUDELY could be called a higher 'plane' of existence than all other contingent existence, making Him "a Baal Gavul and Baal Makom". It just doesn't follow.
      And please read my most recent comment - with the three levels of understanding God (a NaRaN system if you prefer) - and tell me that your spatial understanding of God is not more paganastic, more Megusham than mine.

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    5. I meant philosophy books not websites of course. Apologies for impugning your research methods!

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    6. Others here have responded to the neo-platonist attack to my satisfaction.
      Really by who?

      I have three times said GROSSLY or CRUDELY could be called a higher 'plane' of existence than all other contingent existence, making Him "a Baal Gavul and Baal Makom". It just doesn't follow.
      Then why do Rav Irgas and the Shem M'Shimon say that it does?

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    7. @ Bright Day, welcome to the zig zagging, illogic, accusations, etc. that one can expect when stating something purely logical, in accordance with Rambam.

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    8. I have three times said GROSSLY or CRUDELY could be called a higher 'plane' of existence than all other contingent existence, making Him "a Baal Gavul and Baal Makom". It just doesn't follow.
      Welcome to the incessant ad homs instead of logical arguments.

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    9. @ Micha
      "I don't care if I can prove with microscopes that maggots found in meat were born from eggs laid by maggots that entered the meat from the outside. We have no direct experience of those eggs so they just don't factor in. Think of the roots of the words "mamashus" and "metzius" -- halakhah is concerned with that we can "touch" or "find", things that enter our experience and thus impact our souls. Not just ideas we know in the abstract, but lack the immediacy to instigate personal change.
      But it's real, not just something discussed by heretic academics.


      You may not care, but the greatest Poskim in history did. Rambam, Chatam Sofer. RMF.

      Why do rabbis spend so much energy bashing science and the modern world? Not all science is Dawkins. And do you apply the same ideas to chemistry, since molecules you cannot see with a human eye alone? Why then, do you not reject modern pharmaceuticals, and rely on medicines prescribed in Talmud and Rishonim, even Rambam?

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    10. Eddie: I didn't bash science. I divorced halakhah, a legal process, from it. And where do the Chasam Sofer or Rav Moshe change halakhah in light of scientific findings?

      The point of halakhah isn't to describe reality, it's to figure out how to be better people. Thus, for all of science's truth, if it doesn't hit you between the eyes and force change, it's not releveant. To repeat: I didn't say "wrong", I said "irrelevant".

      The Rambam's view of G-d, angels, prophecy, providence and a number of other topics were based on a Metaphysics that was reasoned out to buttress a physics that was proven wrong. To continue treating it as the last word in hashkafah is actually "bashing science".

      AND, there is nothing in Qabbah that defies the Rambam's halachic rulings about the limits of permissible belief. Even from the Rambam's perspective, never mind the looser limits we actually appear to have accepted and apply in practice, Qabbalah is an equally viable source of hashkafic thought as his own. The Rambam's theoretical disagreement with it is on the plane of Truth, not Law.

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    11. This is a subject for a new thread.

      depends on what you mean by "changing halacha"

      Chatam Sofer challenged the view of Chazal on women's biology based on modern science of his day.

      RMF would consult with experts, eg medical, before issuing rulings,or so I have been told. The question might be why he didn't outright forbid tobacco smoking. Today no medic will say that there is no causal connection between smoking and serious disease, eg cancer. Perhaps 65 years ago you could still find some who would.

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    12. מלבי"ם יחזקאל הקדמה

      החדה היותר מופלאת, היא המראה האיומה והחתומה אשר ראה ברוח אלהים על נהר כבר בתחלת נבואתו, ואחריה שנית בסדרים אחרים (סי' ח' ט' י') הנקרא בפי חז"ל בשם מעשה מרכבה, חוסמת היא את העוברים על פתח הספר הזה החתום, ונחתמת היא חותם תוך חותם סגורה ומסוגרת, מלבד אשר הוזהרנו מפי חז"ל על העלם דבר ועל כיסוי הסוד והצפנתו, עם מה שהדברים מכוסים בעצמם נסתרים ונעלמים. וכבר ידעת הפירוש שעשה על מראה זאת מורה צדק בס' המורה, ומלבד אשר שטמוהו בעלי חצים, כבר בטל הפירוש הזה בביטול היסודות אשר עליהם בנה את פירושו, כי יסודות חכמת התכונה והטבע והפילוסופיא הקדמונה אשר הם משענת פירושו ויסודותיו, כולם נהרסו ובטלו בפרוץ החקירה בדורות אחרונים, אשר בנו בנין תכונת השמים וארמון למודי הטבע על יסודות אחרות חזקות ונאמנות.

      Delete
    13. Chatam Sofer challenged the view of Chazal on women's biology based on modern science of his day.

      RMF would consult with experts, eg medical, before issuing rulings,or so I have been told.
      ===============
      did not change halacha.

      Delete
  20. From Critic:

    Brighter Day, I bowed out of this a while ago and have been following from afar. R Tzadok is not honest even in basic reading of texts. You said As for the Kesef Mishneh - come on, be serious! He is not saying that Yesh Sham Matzoi means that He is within existence, in the world, he is saying exactly the opposite, that Sham here means simply that He exists, not that He is Sham, in a place (the universe). This is basic reading skills which I know you possess.

    I had this argument with him about the R bachya who says that al pi sod Elokim in Breishis Bara Elokim, means Ail Heim and refers to the Yud (obviously a reference to YUD SEFIROS). I asked R Tzadok how R BAchya can say that the sefiros are G-D. While some have tried to answer that he meant to say Ail as in power, R Tzadok "reads" it as El - "TO" Hashem is a G-D to them (the sefiros). R Tzadok reads things or should I say reads into things in a way that will support him no matter how far fetched or ridiculous his "reading" is, so please do not be surprised that R Tzadok who you believe knows how to learn would not "read" a simple text correctly. THis is very typical of him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a rather large distortion as to how that discussion went down.

      Delete
  21. Sefer HaBris (Section 1 2:6): The Givat HaMoreh wrote in the introduction to his sefer that the reason that it took such a long time for the full development of philosophy was because of the great wisdom of Aristotle and his unprecedented stature. Because of this his views were followed by all the scholars generation after generation in a slavish manner. It was viewed that anybody who disagreed with him was as if he were arguing on self-evident reality. In exactly the same way, the reason that there has been a long delay in the development of our theology is because many think that to disagree with something that the Rambam said is to disagree with something which is self evidently true. The two processes are almost identical because in fact the concepts of the Rambam are those of Aristotle - as is well known. However all men of integrity while they love the Rambam – love the truth more. This is as the philosopher said, “I love Aristotle and I love Socrates but the truth I love more.”

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Daas Torah - "because in fact the concepts of the Rambam are those of Aristotle - as is well known"

    Your statement is very much in error, and it only demonstrates your very limited understanding of Moreh Nevuchim.

    If in fact the concepts of Rambam are those of Aristotle as you erroneously claim -

    Please cite from any of Aristotle's works where he concurs with any of the following fundamental principles stated by the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim:

    Universe brought into existence by God out of absolutely nothing (MN II:13)

    Time itself was created by God (MN II:13)

    Aristotle possesses no demonstration for the world being eternal (MN II:15)

    Everything that Aristotle expounds in regard to sphere of the moon and above it is, except for certain things, analogous to guessing and conjuring (MN II:22)

    Heavens are constantly expanding (MN II:26)

    Apprehension of Moshe Rabbeinu greater than all other prophets (MN II:35)

    Great aberration and evil of the philosopher's opinions of God's knowledge (MN III:16)

    Divine Providence extends over human beings in this world (MN III:17)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EmesLeYaacov: You critique (followed by gratuitous insult) with:
      @Daas Torah - "because in fact the concepts of the Rambam are those of Aristotle - as is well known"

      Your statement is very much in error, and it only demonstrates your very limited understanding of Moreh Nevuchim.


      But you're quoting our host quoting Seifer haBeris by Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz of Vilna (1765-1821). There is much about this seifer On the Main Line, as it's the source of a story about the Vilna Gaon (apparently printed while the Gaon was still alive) that Artscroll wouldn't touch. Relevantly, he notes that the censor's page describes the book as as full of 'firsternen, kometen (astronomy), logik, physik, geographie, botannik, optik and anatomie.' In other words, it is a science book." By a mequbal.

      As for the points on which the Rambam disagrees with Aristotle... It all comes from his belief in miracles and beri'ah yeish mei'ayin. BUT, as I already noted, he argues against Aristotle from within Aristotle's framework. He gives an alternate possibility using Aristotilian postulates about form and matter, how form degrades over time, the relationship between useful form and an intellect (today we would say something similar using the word "design"), etc... Thus, he was an Aristotilian.

      The big problem R' Hirsch had with Maimonidian hashkafah, as do I, is this emphasis on intellect. As if learning philosophical knowledge about G-d is more central to life's mission than learning to act the way He Acts toward us, refining ourselves to be in that "image". (Another instance of speaking about G-d as He appears to us in language that makes no sense WRT the Ein Sof Himself.) This he did pick up from Aristotle, and actually uses it to describe angels and G-d.

      After the Rambam tells us we can't make positive statements about G-d Himself, he also tells us that G-d is the Unity of Knower, Knowledge and the known. Because this is the only way to identify HQBH with the Prime Mover of Aristo.

      And after the Rambam tells us all we can know about G-d is what He isn't, the Rambam also tells us that knowing G-d is the ultimate form of perfection and the means of both prophecy and gaining the right to personal providence (hashgachah peratis).

      I can't explain either of the above, and when I asked R' Treibitz by email, he left it tzarich iyun too.

      But getting back to the point of your comment... Being Aristotelian doesn't mean agreeing with Aristotle 100% of the time. If means accepting enough of his postulates that your arguments are on the same playing field.

      Delete
    2. The Rambam came along too late to be a pure Aristotelian anyway. He would have been undoubtedly influenced by later developments in Greek philosophy such as Neo-Platonism ect. From the biographies I have read, he did not read the Greek Philosophers in their original Greek, so he wouldn't have had pure access to them, and the Islamic philosophers and translators from the 700s forward were pretty well enamored of neo-platonic thought. Even Averroes who, for all intents and purposes is not fan of neo-platonism, and has at times been described as declaring open war on neo-platonist theology could not escape it.
      To me it more appears that Rambam accepted the Islamic neoPlatonism, which was by his generation more or less Aristotelian thought heavily modified by neoplatonism(ala Averroes). With some modification made for creation ex-nihilo, and prophetic revelation. All of which could be found in the Islamic restatements of Aristotle and Paltonis.

      Delete
    3. I discussed this in an earlier comment:
      http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2013/02/nefesh-hachaim-did-not-misunderstand.html?showComment=1360019975827#c7976122078498566452

      I think Ibn Rushd (Averroes) polluted the space by including parts of the Enneads in his translation of Metaphysics. The Rambam wouldn't have known he was following Ibn Rushd in blending the two -- he would have thought those Neoplatonic elements were part of Aristo's original thought.

      But my discomfort with teaching the Rambam is twofold, and I think both are true of the elements he got from Aristo:

      1- His definition of G-d is a version of Aristo's Prime Mover (modified to have a Will and not be subject to laws) and angels to the intellects between the Prime Mover and the spheres. This metaphysics is built to explain a physics that has been disproven. One could translate it into modern terms but:
      a- I'm not sure the result could be called the Rambam's thought anyway; and
      b- Why not just teach someone who doesn't require such translation?

      2- As Rav Hirsch notes, the Rambam places philosophical knowledge as a higher form of perfection than moral refinement.

      I do not have a problem with his using a secular thinker in and of itself. As should have been clear from what I wrote about the Rambam's Neoplatonism and the Leshem, I would make a similar statement about Qabbalah.

      Delete
  23. @Daas Torah -

    If I mistakenly assumed in my earlier comment that you had made the statement I quoted about the Rambam's concepts being those of Aristotle, I apologize.

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    Replies
    1. You are mistaken. You should pay closer attention with whom you are having a discussion. It gets very confusing for the readers if the attributions of views are mistaken

      Delete
    2. ELY makes a very important point, I think we have variously been saying that Rambam was influenced by Aristo's ideas.
      BUt he is not in total opposition to Aristo, just on where Aristo disagrees with Torah. he also states that Aristo was 1 stage below that of reaching Prophecy . So he had great respect for Aristo.

      Delete
  24. An additional point I realised, the posuk R.Michael tried to use against me from Yirmiyahu 23.24, which says in full:

    אם יסתר איש במסתרים ואני לא אראנו נאם ה' הלוא את השמים ואת הארץ אני מלא נאם ה

    is actually darshaned by the Rambam himself in MN 3:52. It should be well know to us all since the Rema begins the Mapah on OC with a paraphrase of it. In his pirush the Rambam says (Schwartz tr.)

    אין ישיבתו של אדם, תנועותיו ועשׂיותיו שעה שהוא לבדו בביתו כישיבתו, תנועותיו ועשׂיותיו שעה שהוא לפני מלך גדול. ואין דיבורו ועליזותו שעה שהוא בין בני ביתו וקרובי משפחתו כדיבורו במושב המלך. לכן הבוחר בשלמות האנושית ושיהיה איש האלקים באמת, ישׂים אל לבו ויֵדַע שהמלך הגדול האופף אותו, הצמוד אליו תמיד, גדול מכּל פרט שהוא מבני-האדם, אפילו יהיה זה דוד ושלמה. מלך צמוד ואופף זה הוא השׂכל השופע עלינו שהוא החיבור בינינו ובינו יתעלה. וכשם שאנו השׂגנוהו באותו אור שהשפיע עלינו, כמו שאמר: באורך נראה אור (תהלים ל"ו, 10), כן באותו אור עצמו הוא צופה בנו, ובגללו הוא יתעלה עִמנו תמיד, צופה ומשקיף: אם יִסָּתֵר איש במסתרים ואני לא אראנו? (ירמיה כ"ג, 24)

    As you can see, after explaining that what is Mechaber us with God and He with us is the Sechel (the Rambam frequently understands Ohr as a Mashal for Sechel, see for eg. the Introduction to MN Part 1) he ends by quoting the beginning of R.Michael's posuk - "Can a person hide himself in secret places and I won't see him?" To which the (unquoted) end of the posuk explains that of course a person can't hide since - "Do I not fill heaven and earth?", without any doubt meaning this Sechel fills the universe and is what allows for the connection between us.
    Now, without going into the identity of this Sechel, the Active Intellect, or the Melech as the Rambam here calls it, and without bringing the commentators who equate it with the Shechina (Melech - Malchus) or with certain corresponding Kabalistic terms, what is clear is that it is not God Himself who fills the universe since He is ‘above’ space or better yet non-spatial, but rather this Sechel.
    Just thought I'd add this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps... according to the Rambam. However, he is just one Rishon on that pasuk.

      Secondly the way you are dividing up G-d is rather un-Rambamian to be honest. Now you have G-d's sechel, higher intellect, possibly Shechina filling the whole world, but not G-d himself...
      So what you are saying is that G-d's sechel is truly inifinite while G-d himself is a baal gavul.

      Rav Irgas brings 10 reasons why the idea of G-d being absent from the world actually violates the ikkarim in his Shomer Emunim Vikuach 2:35. Of those ten Rav Shimon Agasi, whom you have already said had proper understanding of the Ikkarim, says that two of them are not pushed off by the Yosher Levav's arguments. Namely the 8th and 9th, which I will bring below.

      ענין הכמות אינו אלא כגשם
      אמנם האצילות אינו בעל
      כמות כלל • וכמ׳׳שהר׳יי חייט זיל בבואו
      לחמשיל האצי׳ בנקודה שישבה .ראש
      תוך סוף אמר וז''ל.השמר לך מלחשוב
      באומרי ראש תוך סוף היות הכוונה ראש
      תוך םוף כמותי הלילה אלא כענין דכח
      כי יש הבדל בין העלה והעלול וכו' • ועייו
      בפדרס ש״כ פ״א• וז״ל הראב''ד ז׳׳ל בפי',
      ס׳יצירה דף מ״ב השבלים הנפרדים
      והעשר ספירות לא יאמר בהם ראשית
      ואחרית כי הראשירת והאתרירת בסוג
      הכמה ומה שאין לו כמה לא יאמר עליו
      ראשית ואחרית וזהו סוד עומק ראשית
      עכ''ל• הרי מפורש שאיו כמות לעשר
      םפירות וכ''ש וק''ו לא''ס דודאי הוא
      תכלית האפיסה מהגשם והגבול והכמות
      ואם הצמצום הוא כפישוטו הרי חוא בעל
      כמות ח״ו

      כל בעל מקום הוא גשמי והא''ס
      הוא מקומו של עולם ואין לו
      מקום וכמו שהאריך כזה הפרדס ש''ו פ''ג
      ובם׳ אלימה עיין כל ת׳׳א פרק כ״א וכ׳׳כ
      ובמערכת האלהוח פ״ב ע״ש * וז״ל
      הראב''ד כדף מ׳׳ז א׳ כערך שעלת העלות
      אין שייך לומר בו לא מספר אחדות ולא
      ריבוי ולא מציאות והפרד ולא מקום
      וגבול כן הדין בסתר עליון וכו' ע״ש •
      הרי שאפי׳ בכתר לא שייך לומר מציאות
      מקום ומכ״ש בא"ס כי כל המתקומם
      במקום הוא בעל שיעור ותמוגה מוגבלת
      וכעל מרהקים כי ממגו יבחן בצד המעלה
      וממנו יבחן בצד המטה וכן לד׳ צדדים •
      וכיון דכל זה אין בא"ס כידוע נמצא דאינו
      מתקומם כמקום • מי. מהצמצום הוא
      כפשוטו שהא׳׳ם נםתלק ממרכזו נמצא
      שהןא חונה במקום והוא בעל מקום ח"ו:

      So far to say that G-d is separate from the Universe on His own plane of existence you have had to do two very problematic things:
      1) Say that G-d is a Baal Makom. His plane of existance, which you have said he cannot cross out of, is his place. That is a Baal Makom.
      2) You have repeatedly been forced to make divisions within G-d as you did above.

      Delete
    2. "כל בעל מקום הוא גשמי והא''ס
      הוא מקומו של עולם ואין לו
      מקום"

      Ramatz, you contradict the concept that you cite.

      Since you claim He is ominpresent, that means he has Makom. Or better, it means he is Omni-Makom (new word).

      He is no Omni or Baal -Makom. hence he is not omminpresent , not even in you cholent.



      Delete
    3. Since you claim He is ominpresent, that means he has Makom. Or better, it means he is Omni-Makom (new word).

      He is no Omni or Baal -Makom. hence he is not omminpresent , not even in you cholent.


      Eddie, you don't understand the concept of omnipresent, nor the ideal of Baal Makom.

      Now if you would like to try to refute the logic of Rav Irgas and Rav Agasi as to why G-d has to be in the world, I would love to hear it.

      Delete
  25. emes lyaakov I have rejected your abusive comment twice. The Rambam would not want his honor "defended" by dumping on another Jew. Please stick to the issues and stop trying to insult a person whose views you don't like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I am curious to know how LYA would defend the Rambam against the above quote from R' Hirsch's 19 Letters. Or responding to the Gra on YD 179:13, where he writes that the Rambam was "led astray by the accursed philosophy". That would force a lack of name-calling or "dumping", and keep the conversion on actual concepts.

      I might have forgotten what others posted, but I didn't write anything about the Rambam's hashkafah that wasn't said by numerous rishonim and acharonim before. Shooting the messenger might be gratifying, but doesn't mean much.

      There are ways to transplant many of the Rambam's points to todays worldviews. But one is still left with his thought-centric view of man (numerous examples from the Moreh -- including both his opening and closing thoughts!) which places it far from the mainstream.

      Delete
    2. Emes L'Yaakov you requested for the third time that I post a statement protesting what you call slandering the Rambam. I fail understand - as Rabbi Berger has noted - why you are protesting a view that the Gra and Rav Hirsch and others have made and act as if only Rabbi Berger has made such an accusation.

      Furthermore I fail to understand how you can justify insulting Rabbi Berger as a defense of the honor of the Rambam?

      Why not insult the ones who have questioned the validity of the Zohar or kabbala?

      The clear fact is that ad hominem attacks might make you feel righteous but the sure don't convince anyone of the correctness of your viewpoint.

      Delete
    3. @ Micha "Or responding to the Gra on YD 179:13, where he writes that the Rambam was "led astray by the accursed philosophy".

      The Gra can say that, because he is the Gra. My post about the Rambam was a defence of Rambam's thought, by attacks such as the Gra. The Gra, was honest, in that he didn't try to synthesize the Rambam's views with the Kabbalah.

      The Rambam would need to defend himself against such views, and he does so with force in Hilchot AZ and the Moreh.

      Delete
    4. So you are implying the Leshem was dishonest? After all, you wrote "The Gra, was honest, in that he didn't try to synthesize the Rambam's views with the Kabbalah" after I reported that the Leshem does just that.

      In any case, I feel secure in defending the Gra's and R' Hirsch's position. My position is less extreme than that of R' Aharon Kotler and R' Yaakov Kamenecki who advised talmidim to start learning the Mishneh Torah with Yesodei haTorah ch. 5, skipping the philosophy, and similarly skipping Shaar haYichud when learning Chovos haLvavos.

      But I find it funny that someone who opens by calling the beliefs of the majority of rishonim and acharonim to be idolatrous feels the Rambam is personally slighted, that I'm attacking his kavod rather than taking the other side of the machloqes, when I say the same about the Rambam's Aristotelianism.

      Delete
    5. The Gra, was honest, in that he didn't try to synthesize the Rambam's views with the Kabbalah.
      The Gra would not have said that his views contradicted the ikkarim.

      The Rambam would need to defend himself against such views, and he does so with force in Hilchot AZ and the Moreh.
      Are you claiming that the Gra was oved avoda zarah?
      The Moreh is not a halakhic text. It is the Rambam's(mostly Aristotelian) speculation about the world.

      Delete
    6. Poor argumentation, distortion of my claims, and hiding behind Gedolim since you cannot make a logical case.

      "So you are implying the Leshem was dishonest? "

      So, any view that you agree with, does that imply you call others dishonest, (ie those who disagreed with that view)?

      "Are you claiming that the Gra was oved avoda zarah?"

      Is the Rambam making such a claim? If Rambam is not making that claim, then why do u suggest that I do?

      Gra disagreed with Rambam on amulets etc. That does not mean I have to accept the Gra. The Gra himself says sometimes the truth lies with the student, so he gives us all license to raise oppositions to his teachings.

      "calling the beliefs of the majority of rishonim and acharonim to be idolatrous"....

      Is there a clal that prevents, in principle, a majority from erring?

      Even a Sanhedrin does not enjoy immunity, and its unanimous vote is subject to horayot/ shogegot.





      Delete
    7. Is there a clal that prevents, in principle, a majority from erring?
      Yes it is called Emunat Hakhamim. Rav Eidensohn and I had an interesting debate about it a while back, as to whether the Torah was truly eternal or if the majority of the Gedolim had the ability to change it.

      Even a Sanhedrin does not enjoy immunity, and its unanimous vote is subject to horayot/ shogegot.
      Huh?!?!?! They most certainly did, and according to the majority of the Rishonim when speaking on Avot Chapter 6, so do the Hakhamim of each subsequent generation.

      Delete
    8. since you cannot make a logical case.
      Alternately you are incapable of recognizing a logical argument, as interrogation is an essential element of the Socratic Method upon which all Jewish logic is arguable based.

      Delete
    9. Sorry, I missed this a year ago - but still worth retorting to.

      "Rabbi Michael TzadokFebruary 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      Is there a clal that prevents, in principle, a majority from erring?
      Yes it is called Emunat Hakhamim. "

      So you reject Bamidbar 15?

      reminds me of other reformists!

      Delete
  26. From Critic:

    Questions for all that is bothering me. This has nothing to do with which side of the issue I am on.

    Why do many find it okay to say that the Ramabam was wrong (influenced by philosophy) while apparently the Arizal is the last word on anything in kabala and anything he said can not be wrong. I do not understand it. IF the Ramabam could be wrong, cant the Arizal have been wrong as well?

    Maybe the truth lies with neither.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. cant the Arizal have been wrong as well? Do you mean as in possibly in error hashkafically at which case the gamut of response will run pretty wide but there, in my opinion there is room for Elu V'Elu.
      Or are you saying heretical?

      To this point you, Eddie, Torahtruth and Moshe BenChaim have been saying heretical. That is far more problematic than saying hashkafically in error.

      For instance there can be debates about the role of science in halakha, chazal's view on health, the age of the Universe ect. Which by and large no one is going to say you are a heretic if you hold various positions.
      However, once you start saying that a certain hashkafa is heretical, especially when it is a hashkafa held by the majority of Rishonim and Achronim, you run into far more problems.

      Delete
    2. I called certain notions heretical, and I said that Rambam did this famously. I have not called Arizal heretical anywhere in my posts. I argued that Ramatz made some claims which were dualist.

      Critic makes a very good point: Some people can say Rambam wasn't the last word, but they get awfully offended if others suggest Arizal wasn't either!

      Even Scholem refers to the Arizal as a Tzaddik.

      Do Kabbalists hold Arizal to be a Navi?

      Delete
    3. I called certain notions heretical, and I said that Rambam did this famously. I have not called Arizal heretical anywhere in my posts. I argued that Ramatz made some claims which were dualist.


      You actually called them closet pagans and pantheists, and accused them of duplicity.

      Delete
    4. Critic, see what I said to Eddie about various planes of disagreement. The question is very different if you're asking how I know the Ari is right or if you're asking how I know Lurianic Qabbalah is permissable al pi halakhah.

      As for the question you raise... The Ari's structure is quite complex, and Sir William of Occam might not be too happy with it. But the Rambam uses Greek ideas to decide which aggadic statements are allegorical. The Qabbalists do not. This is a fundamental assymetry.

      BTW, any hashkafah is fundamentally wrong. They are at best models for helping understand parts of the incomprehensible, and shouldn't be taken as accurate descriptions of the ultimate Truth.

      Delete
  27. R.Michael, I’m not sure if this is progress, you went from labeling my opinion as paganism to agreeing that I am accurately going like the Rambam, presumably what you think of my opinion you would also say for his (C’’V). There are two issues.
    The first is that I have shown you that the Rambam does not believe that God Himself is physically present in the universe. His actions however are. What is the connection between the two? Great question. You might want to bring up the neo-platonistic influences in his writings, but the same accusation can be leveled at Kabalistic seforim. What he says about Sechel is the same thing we (and Chazal) say about the Shechina. It’s a difficult sugya.
    What we do however have is one of the greatest Jewish minds in history, the Rambam who started writing the Pirush HaMishnayos at 17 and finished by 26. The author of the Mishneh Torah – you can’t learn it and not be overawed. Half the Lomdus in the world is based on it! Now, at the end of his life when he comes to write his final work, which he says is to explain the terms used by the Nevi’im and to elucidate a methodology for understanding the mashalim used by the Torah and the Nevi’im, he spends dozens of chapters laying out his understanding of the Creator.
    Its hard to think of greater case of Kol HaOsek BaTorah Lishma… Megalin Lo Razei Torah (Avos 6.1). Sure he used the language and concepts of his time, perhaps they were ‘returning’ to us after having been borrowed by the Greeks as the Rema and some here have suggested. I admit that this is somewhat of an appeal to consequences, but it’s hard to believe that he was misled to make fundamental mistakes, let alone paganism.
    And I am not alone. The Leshem (HaKodesh, Likut 3) where he discusses this whole sugya with incredible Amkus, at the end he says:
    ודע כי כל דברי הרמב''ם ז''ל במורה המדבר באחדותו ית''ש הנה לדעת המקובלים הוה כ''ז בעצמותו עצמו אשר למעלה מהצמצום, ובזה הם דבריו קודש קדשים, ומי כמוהו מורה המלמדנו דעת באמיתת אחדותו הפשוטה ית''ש
    In Biurim (Drushei Igulim veYosher 1:1) he explains the three ‘aspects’ of God, the ‘highest’ of which Atzmus Amitaso about which he says:
    וכמו שהעמיק בזה הרמב''ם ז''ל במורה ח''א פ' נ''א נ''ב נ''ג
    All the terms of Kaballah refer to the two lower aspects. Is this paganism? In chapter 52 which the Leshem refers us to in the Moreh the Rambam is discussing how no attributes, neither time nor place (Makom) relate to Him. Immediately after the Rambam brings the distinction between His necessary existence and all other contingent existence. This is where the Leshem himself is sending you to look!
    The Leshem also defends the Rambam against the Avodas HaKodesh in an essay in the beginning of Sefer Klalim with regard to the purpose of creation. He essentially says that the Rambam is talking about a much higher level than the Avodas HaKodesh recognized.
    That is just the Leshem. What about the Ari himself (Shaar HaGilgulim 64) who says that the two Moshes, the Rambam and the Ramban correspond to the left and right Peas HaRosh respectively?
    (continued)

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    1. So far you have present a logically fallacious argument based upon the authority of these Rabbanim. You have not justified your (mis)interpretation of them.

      Delete
  28. (continued)
    Secondly, I feel like regarding the actual issues we are not getting anywhere. It comes down to two issues. I have brought from the Rambam, Ikarim, Maharal and Ramchal who all make the distinction between His Muchrach HaMetziyus and all other Efshar HaMetziyus. I don’t think you want to argue on such a line-up. Now you say this makes Him a Baal Gevul and a Baal Makom, to which I have several times asked you explain why. It is no worse than any other perfection of His which ‘limits’ His ability to make Himself imperfect. Its not a limit nor a Gevul. Its certainly not a Makom since it has nothing to do with time or space. Its not saying He is everywhere except the physical universe. Rather He is nowhere, He causes time and space without being in it. Seems simple to me!
    I made a mistake by introducing the word ‘plane’ to distinguish between a Muchrach HaMetziyus and an Efshar HaMetziyus (actually, for what its worth, Aryeh Kaplan uses the term the same way). It does have physical connotations and for some reason you can’t get past spatial concepts of existence and causality and you insist on saying that this makes Him a Baal Makom and a Baal Gevul.
    Next, you maintain that He is present but separate. You have yet to respond to my arguments above that this is a flat out contradiction. The best I can do for you is to say that if by ‘present’ you mean to negate absent, I would agree that to the extent that when we look at anything in the universe, we are looking at something that He is being Mamtzi. In that sense, at a stretch, you could say He is present. But its not really Him Himself in time and space, just the effect of His actions.
    As for your quotes from the Shomer Emunim, in Vikuach 2:35 he is arguing against the Yosher Levav. It really has no bearing on what I am saying. But it now dawns on me that you think that I am taking R.Immanuel Chai Riki’s position and you that of the R.Yosef Igras! Definitely not. What I am saying is not dependent on that Machlokes. In any case, if you look at the Yosher Levav I don’t even think he is saying what people like to say he is saying. He recognizes the problems of both ways of understanding the Mashal (note: it’s a Mashal for the very coming into being of existence, not a diagram of physical space, even according to him), he just has an opinion on which ways is less problematic.

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    1. @ Bright day,

      I am pretty much in agreement with the arguments you present here.

      Since you cite Aryeh Kaplan, how do you reconcile his idiotic statements in several of his books, eg Jewish Meditation, where he says 1+1 =1 , and hence many can become one with G-d (pantheism)? Or his Handbook of Jewish thought, where he says G-d fills the whole world, ie is pantheistically immanent in all physical existence?

      Delete
    2. have brought from the Rambam, Ikarim, Maharal and Ramchal who all make the distinction between His Muchrach HaMetziyus and all other Efshar HaMetziyus. I don’t think you want to argue on such a line-up.

      Actually you have brought your interpretation of what they say, which often requires some serious eisegesis to arrive at your view point.

      Now you say this makes Him a Baal Gevul and a Baal Makom, to which I have several times asked you explain why.
      Which I have explained several times. You simply refuse to respond to the issue.

      It does have physical connotations and for some reason you can’t get past spatial concepts of existence and causality and you insist on saying that this makes Him a Baal Makom and a Baal Gevul.
      Probably because you have yet to stop saying that G-d is absent from space/creation.

      Next, you maintain that He is present but separate. You have yet to respond to my arguments above that this is a flat out contradiction.
      No I responded that it is not at all a contradiction and the only way you could assume that it was would be because you have a poor grasp of 1500yrs of Monotheistic philosophy as well as a poor grasp of the English language.

      As for your quotes from the Shomer Emunim,
      As well as the Rashba and Rav Shimon Agasi . Which you continue to ignore, most likely because they cause some serious problems for your position.

      in Vikuach 2:35 he is arguing against the Yosher Levav.
      That would work if the Yosher Levav wasn't written after Shomer Emunim.

      It really has no bearing on what I am saying.
      Actually it does.

      But it now dawns on me that you think that I am taking R.Immanuel Chai Riki’s position
      Really you are. Disclaiming it doesn't make it not so. Rav Sedley quite well points out that they are the same positions.

      I don’t even think he is saying what people like to say he is saying. He recognizes the problems of both ways of understanding the Mashal
      Here again we run into one of the prime issues of this debate. Anonymous bloggers claiming that they have a better understanding of certain sources than generations of Gedolim. For instance here you are saying that you have a better understanding of what the Yosher Levav was saying than did Rav Shimon Agasi or the Kerem Shlomo. Yet you refuse to deal with the issues that they raise...

      Delete
  29. Right, the problem isn't the 4500+ words of argumentation and sources that I have brought but the fact that I am anonymous.
    Perhaps the problem is the named bloggers who just keep repeating the same thing about my 'logical fallacies' as if that makes it so. Well if R.Michael says I'm making a logical fallacy I guess I should just trust him!

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    1. Right, the problem isn't the 4500+ words of argumentation and sources that I have brought but the fact that I am anonymous.
      No there are two problems.
      1) You have not answered the logical arguments raised against your position.
      2) Behind a veil of anonymity you claim a better understanding of certain sources than do certain renowned experts.

      As an example of the second part, if as an anonymous blogger I were to claim that I had a better understanding of math in general and physics in particular than say Einstein or Steven Hawking, and was trying to argue that mass-energy equivalence is in fact different than either of them understand it, without ever addressing the various statements/writings either of them left on the subject, how logically feasible would that be? Yet that is exactly what you are doing here, and insisting that you are making a logically coherent argument.

      Delete
  30. Eddie,
    I mentioned Rabbi Kaplan somewhat tongue in cheek. I just came across him using the phrase plane of existence which I had said could be used in a crude sense. I have since been retracted since it misled R.Michael from the actual point I was making.
    Nothing more or less than that!

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  31. "Actually you have brought your interpretation of what they say, which often requires some serious eisegesis to arrive at your view point."
    You never even tried to defend your own interpretation of Yesodei Torah 1:8. I brought the Pirush who clearly says not like you. You brought a Posuk in Yirmiyahu, I showed you the Rambam in MN 3:52 who again says not like you. You answered back “Perhaps... according to the Rambam. However, he is just one Rishon on that pasuk”.

    "Which I have explained several times. You simply refuse to respond to the issue."

    Where did you explain how God’s Muchrach HaMetziyus is a Baal Makom and Gevul? I must have missed that. How did the Rambam, the Ikarim, the Maharal and the Ramchal have no problem saying He is Muchrach HaMetziyus without being a Baal Makom?
    Probably because you have yet to stop saying that G-d is absent from space/creation.
    If not being subject to change, creation and destruction, place (Makom) and time ie. being non-physical and non-spatial means being ‘absent’, so be it. It’s not the word that I would prefer given that His actions and knowledge fill creation, not Him. How do His actions relate to Him Himself? Unknowable.

    "No I responded that it is not at all a contradiction and the only way you could assume that it was would be because you have a poor grasp of 1500yrs of Monotheistic philosophy as well as a poor grasp of the English language."

    When you have to come on to insults you do yourself no favors. ‘Present but separate’ is a contradiction. See my post 2/6 6:42am. If I have a poor grasp of 1500 years of monotheistic philosophy you seem to have none whatsoever. Thomas Aquinas (KeDarko Shelo BeKodesh) follows the Rambam’s understanding of omnipresence. See Summa I,8,3. The money quote being:
    “God is in all things by his power, inasmuch as all things are subject to his power; he is by his presence in all things, inasmuch as all things are bare and open to his eyes; he is in all things by his essence, inasmuch as he is present to all as the cause of their being”
    (This is not meant as an endorsement of Aquinas, just a response to R.Michael)
    Since then, omnipresence has been the poor cousin in Philosophy of Theology. Many works tend to leave it out when working through the Divine Attributes (see Hoffman and Rosenkrantz). Recently it has got some traction, see Swinbourne and Hartsthorne’s work. See Wierenga’s piece in A Companion to Philosophy of Religion for a summary. Decent summaries of all these are also available on the internet. Neither of the recent works seems convincing to me (nor do they agree with you).

    "As well as the Rashba and Rav Shimon Agasi . Which you continue to ignore, most likely because they cause some serious problems for your position."

    I missed the Rashba. Apologies. I will take a look at it.

    "That would work if the Yosher Levav wasn't written after Shomer Emunim.... Really you are. Disclaiming it doesn't make it not so. Rav Sedley quite well points out that they are the same positions."

    You can’t have it both ways. You think, despite my protest, that I hold like the Yosher Levav, you bring a Shomer Emunim against me, then you say that the Shomer Emunim wasn’t arguing against the Yosher Levav since he was written before the Yosher Levav. Even I’m confused by now.
    Let me help you. He was responding to the argument of the Yosher Levav. Perhaps not the man or the book but the idea. And neither the Kerem Shlomo or the Shem MiShimon say we can predicate physical attributes (ie. being literally present in the entire physical universe) of God.

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    1. he is in all things by his essence
      Your entire argument against omnipresence makes no sense. However, you now claim that Thomas Aquinas(who was by no means the first Xtian monotheistic philosopher who posited omnipresence despite your claim to that effect)claims that G-d is present in all things by his essence(in Hebrew Atzmut). Yet you claim that the Atzmut of G-d must be absent from creation. So that in fact does not help you at all.

      You can’t have it both ways. You think, despite my protest, that I hold like the Yosher Levav, you bring a Shomer Emunim against me, then you say that the Shomer Emunim wasn’t arguing against the Yosher Levav since he was written before the Yosher Levav. Even I’m confused by now.
      Let me help you. He was responding to the argument of the Yosher Levav. Perhaps not the man or the book but the idea. And neither the Kerem Shlomo or the Shem MiShimon say we can predicate physical attributes (ie. being literally present in the entire physical universe) of God.


      Ok let me try this again. Shomer Emunim came first. The Yosher Levav argues on him. Then Rav Shimon Agasi comes around and points out that the Yosher Levav despite the accuracy of much of argument did not adequately deal with two aspects of the Shomer Emunim's argument. Yet, so far, you have refused to deal with Rav Shimon Agasi. The only reason that I can see is that you have no logical response to his logical arguments(which are those of the Shomer Emunim which the Yosher Levav was unable to adequately answer).

      Now if you feel that you can answer the Shomer Emunim(where the Yosher Levav could not) and Rav Agasi, I would happily hear your answer. Instead you are inventing history and dodging Rav Agasi.

      Delete
    2. "Your entire argument against omnipresence makes no sense."

      OK. This time I'll just take your word for it. Why not, you've repeated an unsupported statement enough times!

      You can't even learn pshat in an Aquinas.

      “God is in all things by his power, inasmuch as all things are subject to his power; he is by his presence in all things, inasmuch as all things are bare and open to his eyes; he is in all things by his essence, inasmuch as he is present to all as the cause of their being”

      Read it slowly. Then again. Now this might be subtle, but let me try, he is saying that God's essence is NOT present EXCEPT inasmuch as He is the cause of their being. Its causal, ontological, metaphysical whatever you will. Not physical and not spatial. That pretty much the Rambam's shita.

      I don't have to answer the Shem MiShimon since neither he nor the Shomer Emunim, nor for that matter most importantly did the Yosher Levav think that the first Shaar of the Eitz Chaim is saying that God exists everywhere (even though there is no 'where')and that the Ari is there discussing the creation of the physical universe of extension etc. that we so love.
      I always thought, like for eg. the Leshem (whose quotes you haven't responded to), that this was all existential, that the Ari doesn't really address the beginnings of our familiar physical universe until the fiftieth Shaar...
      Please don't make me mine through these works to find quotes proving something so obvious. And honestly, please forgive me, but if you are so Megusham in your thinking, perhaps this isn't the right field of study for you.

      Delete
    3. physical attributes (ie. being literally present in the entire physical universe) of God.
      Being literally present does not automatically denote a physical(גשמיות) aspect. Just as your Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama(G-d willing) are literally present within your body, and Chaya and Yechida are literally surrounding the body, however that remains entirely in realm of the spiritual(רוחניות) none of those things have any physical attribute yet they are there.

      Delete
    4. Point taken. Bad choice of words in my representing you.
      But exactly how are you characterising His presence in the physical universe? What can present mean for God?

      Delete
    5. The term "literally" has been used in contradictory ways in the English language, in that it can mean anything, "in actual fact" or as a literary mechanism. So, perhaps we each employ this term with a different intent, hence the confusion.

      As for nefesh, the Torah says the blood is the nefesh, so it is physically present.

      As for G-d's "soul" this is , as already mentioned , not present in any way simialr to the human soul. This was the point of the Rambam's chapter under discussion.

      Delete
    6. Read it slowly. Then again. Now this might be subtle, but let me try, he is saying that God's essence is NOT present EXCEPT inasmuch as He is the cause of their being. Its causal, ontological, metaphysical whatever you will. Not physical and not spatial. That pretty much the Rambam's shita.

      Thank you for once again proving that you read every text extremely eisegetically. Let me explain. Thomas Aquinas lived in the early to mid 1200's, at a time when anyone who contradicted Augustine of Hippo met a sudden and violent death. Now Augustine of Hippo said, "The truth is that all these actions and energies belong to the one true God, who is really a God, who is wholly present everywhere, is confined by no frontiers and bound by no hindrances, is indivisible and immutable, and though His nature has no need of either heaven or of earth, He fills them both with His presence and His power." Now while Aquinas would have been able to explain Augustine, arguing with him would have meant a toasty end, Xtians have no view of elu v'elu.

      Now as to how you are eisegetically misreading Aquinas(and other texts as well) you are reading inasmuch as meaning except that. You got your degree from Oxford right? So how about we use the Oxford Dictionary now(unless that is you want to refer to the original Latin which is far more precise). According to the Oxford Dictionary inasmuch means:
      since
      If we go over to the Miram-Webster we get a little more variety:
      1) in the degree that, insofar as, since
      2) in view of the fact

      In other words Aquinas is not arguing exclusion, he is bringing proofs.

      So when you read this with your eisegetical additions:
      he is saying that God's essence is NOT present EXCEPT inasmuch as He is the cause of their being.
      You are not reading what he is actually saying. You are reading what you would like him to say according to your presuppositions. Something that seems to be a common trait.

      Now let us subsitute the definition of inasmuch from the Oxford dictionary into the sentence:
      God is in all things by his power, since all things are subject to his power; he is by his presence in all things, since all things are bare and open to his eyes; he is in all things by his essence, since he is present to all as the cause of their being

      Now I would be happy to agree with you that this is actually the Rambam's view(which I also think you have been reading eisegetically). However, I think you are going to disagree.

      You can't even learn pshat in an Aquinas.
      Being able to read pshat(as Rashi amply demonstrates) first means knowing that the words mean. Something you have once again failed at. I will gladly accept your apology now.

      Delete
    7. Except that Aquinas continues with an analogy:

      "How God is in other things created by Him may be considered from human affairs. A king, for example, is said to be in the whole kingdom by his power, although he is not everywhere present. Again, a thing is said to be by its presence in other things which are subject to its inspection; as things in a house are said to be present to anyone, who nevertheless may not be in substance in every part of the house. Lastly, a thing is said to be
      substantially or essentially in that place where its substance is."

      Read Edward Wierenga (Professor of Religion and of Philosophy at U.of Mass.) who reads Aquinas' third example of substance refers to to his causing the existence of things. To quote (p.259)

      "The third condition Aquinas gave, that of presence by essence or substance, can perhaps be assimilated to the condition of power. If God is present in things by his
      essence “ inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being, ” then it is in virtue of an exercise of his power, namely, creating and sustaining things, that he is present."

      Never demand an apology when you may still be proven wrong!!

      Delete
    8. Yes, but is Prof. Wierenga a Daas Yachid?

      Delete
    9. Read Edward Wierenga (Professor of Religion and of Philosophy at U.of Mass.) who reads Aquinas' third example of substance refers to to his causing the existence of things. To quote (p.259)
      I could... And I could also read the lambasting he got from his academic peers who essentially say that Wierenga at best answered why G-d was omnipresent in Aquinas' view, but not how.
      Such as Brian Leftow(who you should be intimately familiar with), and Stefen Makin. Or I could take another of Wierenga's statements, the conclusion for the article he wrote for the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy in which he sumerizes Aquinas thusly,
      So if there were an incorporeal being possessed of infinite power, it must be everywhere” (SCG III, 68, 3). So the first aspect of God's presence in things is his having power over them. The second aspect is having every thing present to him, having everything “bare and open to his eyes” or being known to him. The third feature, that God is present to things by his essence, is glossed as his being the cause of their being.

      This way of understanding God's presence by reference to his power and his knowledge treats the predicate ‘is present’ as applied to God as analogical with its application to ordinary physical things. It is neither univocal (used with the same meaning as in ordinary contexts) nor equivocal (used with an unrelated meaning). Rather, its meaning can be explained by reference to its ordinary sense: God is present at a place just in case there is a physical object that is at that place and God has power over that object, knows what is going on in that object, and God is the cause of that object's existence.
      This account of omnipresence has the consequence that, strictly speaking, God is present everywhere that some physical thing is located. Perhaps, however, this is exactly what the medievals had intended.

      Delete
    10. EddieFebruary 11, 2013 at 9:36 PM
      Yes, but is Prof. Wierenga a Daas Yachid?

      Really?
      If all you can do is offer childess interludes, please step out.

      Delete
    11. He probably only knows how to read a text eisegetically!

      Delete
    12. "And I could also read the lambasting he got from his academic peers who essentially say that Wierenga at best answered why G-d was omnipresent in Aquinas' view, but not how."

      Why is that a problem? LeHavdil, the Rambam himself and the Mekubalim say we can why not how -

      “God is not a force inherent in the body of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is unable to solve it.”

      Delete
    13. @Ramatz "sumerizes Aquinas thusly," firstly get your spelling correct, and also know that "thusly" is not correct English.

      Next, the quotation you give actually disproves the claims you are making all along, "strictly speaking, God is present everywhere that some physical thing is located"

      Rambam explicitly denies this in his Guide, which you have distorted beyond recognition.

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    14. @Ramatz "sumerizes Aquinas thusly," firstly get your spelling correct, and also know that "thusly" is not correct English.
      Yes I misspelled summarize however thusly is a correct English term.

      Next, the quotation you give actually disproves the claims you are making all along, "strictly speaking, God is present everywhere that some physical thing is located"
      Try again. The next quote casts doubt on Medieval Xtian theology of Omnipresence. However, that is nothing new, the Ramban handled that fairly decisively in Barcelona.

      Rambam explicitly denies this in his Guide, which you have distorted beyond recognition.
      Quite possibly. However, I am not the one claiming that Thomas Aquinas and the Rambam agree, that would be Bright Day, whom you seem to agree with. My only point was that he wasn't reading Aquinas any better than he was reading the Rambam, probably why he thinks they are identical in their beliefs.

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    15. "And I could also read the lambasting he got from his academic peers who essentially say that Wierenga at best answered why G-d was omnipresent in Aquinas' view, but not how."

      Why is that a problem? LeHavdil, the Rambam himself and the Mekubalim say we can why not how -

      “God is not a force inherent in the body of the universe, but is separate from all its parts. How God rules the universe and provides for it is a complete mystery: man is unable to solve it.”


      That is an attempted dodge to a fairly solid proof that you haven't read either Aquinas or Wierenga correctly.

      Delete
    16. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thusly

      Origin:
      1860–65, Americanism; thus + -ly

      Usage note
      Some speakers and writers regard thusly as a pointless synonym for thus, and they avoid it or use it only for humorous effect.


      Americanism, not English.

      "Are you good?" , in English means something different from Americanism.

      Delete
    17. R. Michael - Although this wasn't my field, my impression is that Stephen Makin isn't such a big name in the field. See his bio:
      http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/philosophy/staff/profiles/makin

      Do you have a copy of the piece by Brian Leftow? I don't know which article you are referring to from which you mention:

      "the lambasting he got from his academic peers who essentially say that Wierenga at best answered why G-d was omnipresent in Aquinas' view, but not how."

      All I can find is a online precis of an article by Leftow which says (in part):
      "Edward Wierenga's "Anselm on Omnipresence" concludes that for Anselm, God's omnipresence consists in His having immediate knowledge of what is happening everywhere. This response to Wierenga suggests a distinction between WHY God is omnipresent, and HOW God is omnipresent, and what it is for God to be omnipresent - the cause, manner and nature of omnipresence. Wierenga's conclusion concerns WHY God is omnipresent. This paper suggests against Wierenga that for Anselm, God is omnipresent because of His power, not His knowledge."

      But that of course refers to Anselm not Aquinas. Can you direct me to where he lambasts Wierenga's reading of Aquinas. Thanks.

      Delete
    18. R.Michael,
      Lets try your game with the other words you brought for inasmuch, 'insofar' instead of 'since':

      God is in all things by his power, insofar as all things are subject to his power; he is by his presence in all things, insofar as all things are bare and open to his eyes; he is in all things by his essence, insofar as he is present to all as the cause of their being

      Try it again with your other choice, 'in the degree that':

      God is in all things by his power, in the degree that all things are subject to his power; he is by his presence in all things, in the degree that all things are bare and open to his eyes; he is in all things by his essence, in the degree that he is present to all as the cause of their being

      Look! The text says what I originally said it does. Magic.
      The original 'inasmuch' and the replacement 'insofar', 'in the degree that' are all limiters. The word you chose 'since' is not.
      But I haven't looked at the Latin, and I don't really care enough to. Feel free to investigate the scholastic Latin of the original and let me know.

      If you remember I only brought Aquinas et al. in response to your uncalled for insult:

      "... because you have a poor grasp of 1500yrs of Monotheistic philosophy as well as a poor grasp of the English language"

      Its a good thing I am anonymous or I would get offended.

      You haven't brought any actual sources (beyond the OED and Websters) who agree with you, and you admitted that at least one of the major thinkers on omnipresence and Aquinas, namely Weirenga, reads Aquinas precisely the way I do. I think I have said all I want to on the Aquinas subject (unless you can find me the Leftow article which supposedly lambasts Weirenga).

      Delete
    19. Eddie,

      Never trust the Random house dictionary(which is the source cited by Dictionary.com).

      If it was only an Americanism the Oxford Dictionary would have noted that:
      http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/thusly?q=Thusly

      Delete
    20. Ramatz,

      http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/thusly.html

      I could go on about your other errors, but that would leave me open to accusations of ad hominem...

      Delete
    21. Except that Aquinas continues with an analogy:

      "How God is in other things created by Him may be considered from human affairs. A king, for example, is said to be in the whole kingdom by his power, although he is not everywhere present. Again, a thing is said to be by its presence in other things which are subject to its inspection; as things in a house are said to be present to anyone, who nevertheless may not be in substance in every part of the house. Lastly, a thing is said to be
      substantially or essentially in that place where its substance is."


      I would continue to play the word and definition game with you, except that there are other games you like to play, like being less than honest with what a text says.

      Continues his analogy means that these words come after those previously given, however that is not the case.

      Besides that why should we argue over English when the language of the text is Latin, the word in question inquantum meaning as, since, because, on account of so again we see the language of proof, not limitation.

      As far as not quoting sources, and further claiming admitted that at least one of the major thinkers on omnipresence and Aquinas, namely Weirenga, reads Aquinas precisely the way I do.
      That is simply(also) not true look above and you will see that I quoted Wierenga in his most recent work on the subject, which in fact directly contradicts your reading of Aquinas, so that you don't have to search I will cite it here again:
      So if there were an incorporeal being possessed of infinite power, it must be everywhere” (SCG III, 68, 3). So the first aspect of God's presence in things is his having power over them. The second aspect is having every thing present to him, having everything “bare and open to his eyes” or being known to him. The third feature, that God is present to things by his essence, is glossed as his being the cause of their being.

      This way of understanding God's presence by reference to his power and his knowledge treats the predicate ‘is present’ as applied to God as analogical with its application to ordinary physical things. It is neither univocal (used with the same meaning as in ordinary contexts) nor equivocal (used with an unrelated meaning). Rather, its meaning can be explained by reference to its ordinary sense: God is present at a place just in case there is a physical object that is at that place and God has power over that object, knows what is going on in that object, and God is the cause of that object's existence.
      This account of omnipresence has the consequence that, strictly speaking, God is present everywhere that some physical thing is located. Perhaps, however, this is exactly what the medievals had intended.

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    22. Amazing! We can't even agree on how to read Weirenga!

      "The third feature, that God is present to things by his essence, is glossed as his being the cause of their being."

      The cause. Not that that He is spatially there.

      "strictly speaking, God is present everywhere that some physical thing is located"

      Having just (re)defined present to mean not just actually occupying a location but to include the meaning of causing the existence of all objects in all locations.

      If you were to make the same redefinition that Aquinas does, I would be fine with saying He is present everywhere.

      As for inquantum, I didn't see the original text but the first three results in google:

      http://www.latin-dictionary.org/inquantum
      http://www.latin-dictionary.net/definition/24052/inquantum
      http://en.glosbe.com/la/en/inquantum

      all give one, and only one translation, namely inquantum = inasmuch. None of them say since. So we are back to where we started. Talk about dishonest.

      Still waiting for the Leftow source. Or did you confuse Anselm with Aquinas?

      And really, repeatedly insulting me, accusing me of being clueless about philosophy and English, and again and again of dishonesty - is that really the road you have chosen for yourself?

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    23. Amazing! We can't even agree on how to read Weirenga!
      Well at least Eddie and I found agreement.

      all give one, and only one translation, namely inquantum = inasmuch.
      That would be because two of them are the same website, and they are all using the same obscure dictionary(look at their sourcing).
      I was using the Oxford Latin Dictionary.

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  32. Eddie: You are conflating at least four very different kinds of objection. Until you distinguish between them, dialog is impossible:

    1- Belief that a given hashkafic idea is not true. I explained why I believe this is true of a number of the Rambam's ideas that he picked up from Aristo. In the Rambam's day, the Greeks were the final word in how the world works for so long, it never crossed anyone's mind that our understanding would/should evolve in significant ways.

    2- Belief that a given hashkafic idea is a minority opinion. I also believe this is true of the Rambam, and explained why.

    Both 1 & 2 were claimed by numerous people before me, I'm simply saying my own da'as alines with them over the Rambam.

    3- Believe that a given idea in hashkafah is heresy. This is a halachic statement -- and therefore yes, does rely on majority and all the other rules of pesaq.

    I have not and would not claim this of the Rambam's hashkafah. Since in reality, we apparently took our definitions of the limits of hashkafah by loosening those of the Rambam. So, while few of us would espouse Maimonidean hashkafos, also few of us would espouse hashkafos the Rambam would consider kefirah, apiqursus or meenus. And none of the dominant streams of hashkafah could be heretical, as the halakhah would never be decided to prohibit something most rishonim and acharonim accepted.

    You opened by asserting this of your misunderstanding of Qabbalah, and frankly show no interest in clearing up your understanding. You appear to be more interested in sticking with the belief that the Shulchan Arukh, Rama, Mesilas Yesharim, the Ramban, etc, etc, etc... -- or even before the Rambam wrote the Moreh, the Bahir -- all these were the products of heretics than you are to learn what the Qabbalah actually teaches or how we define heresy.

    4- Ad hominem insults.

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    1. @ Micha,

      If i call the Gra "honest", your only retort is to suggest I am calling the Leshem dishonest. This isn't even an ad hominem, it is just childishness, which you share with Ramatz.

      You can believe what you like, an pick and choose which Ikakrim of the Rambam suit you. I have pointed out that dualism, is not only contrary to Rambam's Ikkarim, but also to the Torah. You have no problem in violating the Torah, since you claim to have a worthy line of Gedolim who also did the same.

      Contrary to what you claim, the Ikkarim are still widely accepted by most if not all Gedolim. Just read Rav Shach's first comments in Avi Ezri, regarding Unity.

      "You appear to be more interested in sticking with the belief that the Shulchan Arukh, Rama, Mesilas Yesharim, the Ramban"

      Nobody has yet challenged my allegation of dualism. A botched attempt by Ramatz only showed that he has not understood the NH clearly, nor is he familiar with the terminology there. (same goes for his botched attempt to call the Rambam a dualist).

      Ramataz started out debate by saying that YKVK is not G-d, and that we pray to something other than YKVK. NH, differs, in that he says we pray to Ein Sof b'hitchabruto, not Atzmuto (G-d with no name).

      Anyone who says that there is a god other than YKVK is a dualist. You can have all the rules of psak you like, but that doesn't make an iota of difference. Perhaps the korbanot you bring in future may differ, but that's about it.



      The NH

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  33. From Critic:

    THank you for your responses.

    Forget the questions about whether the kabbalistic views are heretical. I did ask questions regardng that but also added each time that I do find it hard to beleive that so many great tzadikim would have gotten it wrong and unintentionally have followed a false belief system. I then said that though it is improbable I do not see why it would be impossible. I do not think that anyone has proven that statement wrong.

    My last comment was meant to put all that aside and address the Ramabam versus kabbala as 2 opposing world views with neither of them necessarily being kefira. I questioned why Rambam's hahkafas have become fair game to the point that many yeshiva people who would never dare say that a gadol who is alive today could possibly be wrong about anything at all - even about who to vote for - have no problem at all claiming that the Ramabam had hashkafas that were "off the derech" Micha talks about how Rambam was influenced by Greek thought. Case closed. A more benevolent interpretation would be that Rambam felt that Greek thought represented a certain apex of human thought and he took that as a starting point and accepted much but also rejected key beliefs.

    WIth the mekubalim: Firstly, it does seem that the Arizal can "never be wrong" This is certainly the view of chassidim. R Tzadok has made the claim which I had heard before that from the Ramban until Arizal...the mekuballim are not to be relied on, totally. The Arizal somehow restored what had been lost after the Ramban. The Arizal is the supreme Mekubal - the restorer of the real tradition. You would never hear anyone - certainly not those who flippantly dismiss the Rambam - dismiss the Arizal.

    I am trying to figure out: Why?

    BY the way, I can conjure up various reasons that would connect the Arizal's kabbala and certainly the kabbala of his times with world events...Not Aristotle and Plato, rather the events of the Gerushi Sefard and their focus on bringing Moshiach. (THe Abarbanel wrote many books about it and made many predicitons which in retrospect seem ridiculous.) THey were do downtrodden and depressed that they turned their focus on bringing moshiach and making predictions about its imminent arrival. When the predictions proved wrong, there was always a mitigating factor. Is it any wonder that in this climate of kabbalistic thought the Arizal's kabbala is so focused no Kelipot, Tikun, Shevira and Partzufim?

    Can't one argue that the Arizal's kabbala was a product of his times and greatly influenced by it just as the RAmbam was influenced by his time and the popularity of Greek thought. Yet, we hear that the Arizal was greater than Moshe Rabbeinu, etc. but with regard to the great Rambam, he was a "closet" Greek.

    I find it very intellectually inconsistent and that is the sole point that I am trying to make.

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    1. IN a nutshell, some Haredim are openly claiming that Rambam didn't have Dass Torah. I don't believe that to be a general statement, but it is certainly common amongst some.

      Delete

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