Anything about JUDAISM
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ranred Posted - 03 July 2006 0:17
Whats the story with the Moreh Nevuchim? Should we learn it? I heard some say it was only written for the Rambams generation, but on the other hand so many Gedolim quote it in their seforim. Who do we pasken like in this isuse?
MODERATOR Posted - 03 July 2006 0:20
First, you should not touch the Moreh Nevuchim unless you have a very strong background in Torah hashkafa, which means if youre the average frum teenager, or even an above avergage frum teenager, stay away. You have to walk before you can run.

Second, the opinions you are quoting are not in disagreement. When the seforim say that the Rambma write Moreh Nevuchim exclusively for his dor, it does not mean that we shouldn’t learn it.. Theres no such thing in Torah that only a certain dor is allowed to learn a certain sefer. That makes no sense.

But there is such a thing that only a certain dor – or certain people within a certain dor - are allowed to assume that the advice and explanations in the sefer were meant exclusively for them, because, that is the advise most applicable and explanations most effective and understandable to them. But had the author written for different people, he would have given different advice, or different explanations. Or perhaps the author knew the way his target audience would take his words so he explained things a certain way, whereas a different audience would take his words differently, and misconstrue things.

It’s like let’s you are a medical student observing an expert doctor prescribe medicine for his patients. .There is a lot to learn from that experience, but you should not make the mistake of thinking that the medicine the doctor said would cure his patients would work for you. If you do take the medicine, it will likely make you sick.

Some Torah teachings are addressed and apply to all of Klall Yisroel and some are appropriate only for certain people. Both of those should be learned, and could be understood, but they should be learned and understood in two different ways. And you need to be expert enough to tell which is which.

The very best example I know of this is the Minchas Elozor’s explanation as to why the Rambam wrote there is no such thing as Sheidim when Chazal say there is. He says that SHeidim are the kind of things that kol dekapid kapdi bahadei udelo kapid lo kapdi bahadei (Pesachim 110b) – they can only harm you if youre scared of them. Now the Rambam lived in Egypt in the middle ages, where the masses believed strongly in the power of demons and all sorts of magical forces. This presented a grave danger of the people being damaged by Sheidim. The Rambam, knowing his target audience as people who are very scared – and therefore very susceptible – to the damage that can be done by SHeidim, tried to get them to think that Sheidim don’t exist so they would not longer be scared of them and thus escape the very real and tangible danger that SHeidim posed.

. That’s an example of what the seforim mean when they say that the Moreh Nevuchim was meant for his generation. There is a lot we can learn from this Rambam, regarding how SHeidim work and to what extent we are allowed to go to protect people from them, which is relevant to so many Halchos and Agados.

SO saying the Rambams sefer was meant for his generation never meant to say it should not be learned. Nobody ever said that.

Of course, if someone does not know the “code” of the Moreh Nevuchim and will take the Rambam at face value – which is something that everyone agrees cannot be don’t with Moreh Nevuchim – then it is better that he keep away form it, because if he reads it, he will not be learning the Rambam anyway, but merely his own distorted understanding of what he mistakenly believes the Rambam means to say.
The Rambam himself, in Moreh Nevuchim explains that there are several reasons (7 I think, offhand) that cause contradictions in what an author may say, one of which is that the author has to understand his audience, and if they will not understand something because it is above them, the author may have to give an oversimplification of an answer because that’s what the reader will comprehend.

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim was dealing with a certain type of audience (Nevuchim!) with certain types of issues. He addressed their specific issues in ways that they would understand. Had the Rambam been writing for our generation, he would have written differently.

That having been said, someone who understands where the Rambma was coming from will be able to understand the true meaning of the Moreh Nevuchim. But you need a very strong background to do so. It’s kind of like when I say the Gemora is not meant lhalachah lmaaseh. A posek can derive the halachah from the Gemora, but only because he is so skilled at learning. So when we say the Moreh Nevuchim was meant only for his generation, we do not mean that it should not be leaned – on the contrary – we mean it needs to be learned even harder than an average sefer, if you are going to understand it properly.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 July 2006 0:29
I am reprinting the following posts, because the idea that I mentioned above, that an author wrote for specific people, is a recurring theme in our Mesorah. These posts explain the same idea, but regarding Chasidishe seforim, with an example of this idea from the gemora itself.

stamayid Posted - 12 May 2003 17:07
moderater you said in a disscussion about breslov "the Satmar Rav also held that all Chasidic Seforim were meant only for the talmidim of the Rebbes at that time and although the custom-tailored directives that these seforim contain are extremely useulf for us as well, we should not take the advice andthe direction in them as if it were literalyl meant for us."
are you saying that seforim like
reb arela rote's tahras hakodesh and shomrray emunim is only meant for his chassidim 50 years ago?????
and reb yoel seafarim too?
and the noam elimelachs tzetel koton also?
ich farshtai nisht!! please explain.
Abcyr Posted - 19 April 2003 20:40
In my humble opinion there is absolutely nothing to say.

MODERATOR Posted - 12 May 2003 17:33
Often when a Rebbi will say something to the almidim, it is meant specifically for his talmidim; other people, with needs that are different than his talmidim, would have received different advice. This is true even if the advice or direction was stated generically with no indication at all that it is case-specific.

Example: In the Gemora at the beginning of Kiddushin, the Gemora asks a contradiction between two statements of Chazal: (a) "A person should always first get married and then learn Torah" and (b) "A person should always first learn Torah then get married." The Gemora answers that the two statemnts were said to two different groups of Talmidim and each one applies depending on the circumstances.

No indication was given that either statment was not meant for everybody, but it happens that a Rebbi will often make a generic statment but only be referring to his Talmidim, since they are to whom the statment was said.

And thats even in the Gemora, when Chazal saythings. Chasidus was specifically designed for the Rebbi to tailor-make an approach ot avodas hashem for his talmidim (or for people to become talmidim of a rebbe who provides the approach you need - same diff) And therefore, when the Rebbes gave advice and direction, even if those statments were recorded in seforim, we have no right ot assume that had we been the talmidim of that Rebbe he would have told us the same thing.

The Chidushei Harim did not learn any chasidishe seforim because of this, except those of his rebbe.

That having been said, there is still much to learn form the chasidishe seforim even if we are not going to follow their directions to the "t". A Rebbe is, say, liek a doctor prescribing a specific medicine for his patient. You dont want to just mimic the doctor and say "well if he prescribed such and such for his patient, I too prescribe it for mine" Or even "well if the rebbe gave out that medicine, it must be good for me too!" Such a approach to Chasidus is not what the Rebbes intended. That would be being a monkey, not a chosid. What you do want to do instead, is to learn the formula that the Rebbe used when deciding what medicine to prescribe - the same way we would learn from a doctor - and to see wh ythe Rebb said this to these people and that to other people etc. -- so that we can figure out, or rather, our own Rebbeim can figure out, based on the Rebbe's teachings and actions, what the Rebbe would have prescribed for us.

Not always can you figure this out. And certainly, you dont wnat to blindly follow everythign you seee in the Chasidishe seforim, which would be like blindly copying someon else's prescription. Thats why you need a Rebbe or a Rebbi or a Chacham for yourself.

The Satmar Rebbe says that the way this works is, if let's say a Rebbe saw his talmidim were for instance not outraged enough by things they should be outraged from, then he might teach them a lot about how we cannot stand by and allow evil doers to flourish; if on the other hand, he would see that his talmidim were too zealous, he may emphasize humility and seeing the good in people etc. Its similar to what the Rambam says that in order to straighten out a bad middah you have to go to the opposite extreme. Now what would happen if you went to a certain extreme in a Middah because a Rebbe said to do so -- you may be doing just the opposite of what you need to do for your avodah.

So no Rebbe said not to learn Chassidishe Seforim; you just need to know how to use them. You have to be a student, not a monkey.

Note: The Chidushei Harim said an exception to this rule are the Seforim of the Chozeh of Lublin (Divrei Emes, Zos Zikaron, and Zichron Tov) whose teachings were indeed designed for Klall Yisroel in general, with no specific talmidim in mind.

This commment of the Chidushei Harim coincides nicely with a story they tell of
Rav Yisachar Dov Ber of Radoshitz, a talmid of the Chozeh, who once asked his Rebbi to show him one one general way to Avodas Hashem.

The Chozeh replied: “it is impossible to tell people what way they should take. For one way to serve G-d is through learning, another through prayer, another through fasting, and still another through eating. Everyone should carefully observe what way is proper for him, and then follow it with all his strength.”

Tortured_Soul Posted - 12 December 2006 22:33
Is there something that can be done about the margins in this and a number of threads? It is extremely difficult to have to keep scrolling back-and-forth in order to read this.
MODERATOR Posted - 16 May 2007 15:32
The margins? Whats wrong with the margins?
zmi Posted - 16 May 2007 16:51
In this thread, even when my screen is maximized, I still need to scroll back and forth to read it. The words run off the right side of the screen.
JCScott Posted - 16 May 2007 20:40
The margins problem would go away if the long URL were replaced with its tinyurl equivalent, <>.


yaavetz Posted - 20 October 2008 15:22
It seems that Abarbanel always takes the Moreh Nevuchim at face value, completely ignoring our assumption that the Rambam's words were phrased specifically for his generation. This includes the example given above about the Rambam's denial of the existance of sheidim. See Abarbanel to Parshas Shoftim.
Could we assume that Abarbanel held that Moreh Nevuchim can indeed be taken 100% literally, and therefore can be learned without hesitation like any other hashkafa sefer?
MODERATOR Posted - 20 October 2008 16:34
Theres no reason to assume the Abarbanel assumed such a thing. As I mentioned, the Rambam's positions in Moreh Nevuchim are not false according to him, just possibly not the best answers, possibly not even l'halachah, but valid positions? Yes. And so when the Abarbanel asks a kashya on any of it, he is claiming that what the Rambam wrote was not only all that, but it is actually untrue on any level, and unacceptable even for Nevochim.

However, it is not indicated in these Abarbanels that he did or did not think the Rambam was talking for a specific group of people as opposed to halachah l'maaseh.

yaavetz Posted - 04 November 2008 6:11
Perhaps you're right. However, many rishonim, in their commentaries on tanach and in other seforim from the rishonim, the Moreh Nevuchim seems to be viewed somewhat as an authority. Using Abarbanel as an example again, since he many times works with principles that are established by the Rambam in MN, are we to say that his whole pirush on the Torah and Neviim is dealing within the framework of the MN, also dealing specifically with his generation of "nevuchim"?
MODERATOR Posted - 05 November 2008 1:30
The Moreh Nevuchim is an authority, as is Rashi on chumash, for example. But when Rashi in chumash foudn a conflict between a pshat that is l'halchah and a pshat that is more straightforward in the posuk, he used the more straightforward pshat, so too the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim, if he found a conflict between an explanation that is l'halachah versus an explanation that is more helpful to the Nevuchim, he would choose the latter.

Doesn't mean it's not authoritative; it means you have to know how to use the authority. The Gemroa is authoritative too, but not everything in it l'halachah.

But regardless, halachah l'maaseh or not, it is a Torah opinion, and is treated as such. And of course, unless we can find a reason to bleieve that a statement in the Moreh - or Rashi on Chumahs, or Chazal - is NOT l'halachah, we do not assume it is.

But if you do find something like that, it is no surprise.

yaavetz Posted - 20 November 2008 2:49
Two pshatim in one pasuk, I can understand. Shivim panim Latorah. And perhaps when you say pshat l'halachah, you mean when we have a medrash halachah on a pasuk that makes a drashah, where the pasuk in its simplicity would be understood differently.
But two different pshatim in hashkafa? Is there not only one proper hashkafa? (Maybe there are machlokesim regarding exactly what that proper one is, but still, each person holds that there are only two opinions in the matter.)
If the Rambam had his one opinion on the correct hashkafa, how can he write in the MN what, in his opinion, is wrong?
The explanation for the denial of shaidim makes sense, but it means, that what the Rambam wrote about shaidim is untrue.
How can he write false hashkafa?
What made it worth it for the Rambam to have people in his generation have the incorrect hashkafa?
MODERATOR Posted - 20 November 2008 3:12
Yes, according to the minchas elozor he wrote something he knew was untrue. it was worth it he says, because the shaidim wouldnt damage them anymore. that was more important in his opinion.

there can be many hashkofos - shivim panim latorah works here too. because hashkofos are derived from explanations in the torah, those variant explanations were all given to moshe on har sinai, the same as any other explanations.

of course, one may hold that his opponent's opinon - in hashkafa or halahcha - is so off base that its not even included in any of the shivim panim. but thats equally possible in halachah or hashkafa.

in fact, we would do well not to categorize these tings as halchah vs hashkafa, for hashkafa is a form of halchah - the laws of what we are obligated to believe. the sefer chovos halevovos was predicated on this idea, which is why he called his sefer of hashkafa "chovos halevovos" - the obligations of the mind. same as any other obligations, but they are fulfilled by the mind not the limbs.

rav hutner used to refer to hashkafa as "hilchos deos" for this reason. he did not use the term "hashkafa" in order to underscore this idea.

and so there are machlokesim in hichos deos just as ther are in hilchos shabbos. and just like in hilchos shabbos, some of the opinions espoused in hilchos deos are legitmate and some are simply mistaken.

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