July 30, 2021 5:46 pm at 5:46 pm #1995988
Chochma doesn’t mean ethics and morals, and yes, the definition of altruism is a moral construct with unavoidable moral implications. The gemara itself asks how rebbe meir can learn Torah from acher, and answers that since he was a gavra rabba – a title of immense weight – he was able to “eat the fruit and discard the shell”. We cannot, or at least we can’t without risk. If people are worried about the chance of catching corona, wouldn’t they also be worried about catching apikorsus? Isn’t that worse?
The rambam didn’t invent kabel es haemes mimi sheomro; it’s chazal, and again, the rambam (nor any other rishon) never quotes Aristotle from his moral and ethical teachings. He skipped that part. He used him for what we would call science and logic.
Many, many rishonim argued with the rambams use even of that – are we to pasken like him with a shailah of such magnitude without a clear psak from achronim? Actually, the achronim say something quite different. The abarbanel writes that sof yamav, the rambam was shown kaballah and had regret about being psek with Aristotle, preferring chochmas hakabalah. The gaon famously said that the rambam was influenced by philosophy.
Who are we to go around reading whatever we want when chazal say that one who reads seforim chitzonim (which the bartenura says means books of heretics) has no place in olam haba?July 30, 2021 7:24 pm at 7:24 pm #1996018
Avira, fair re: R Meir – but what was the fruit? What was he learning from Aher that he would not learn from others?
re: Rambam & Aristotle.
I am not such a boke on Aristotle, but it seems that the middle path on midos is taken from Aristotle with minor, but significant, corrections to discount Heroism/Gaava. This seems like a reasonable critical approach of keeping the fruit. It is impossible to take other than a polemic all the interpretations of Rambam that basically discount all his work. The logical conclusion would be taht Rambam would have approved burning his own books, so Rabbeinu Yona was wrong on his teshuva?!
another issue on science is that it developed tremendously from the time of Gemora and Rambam. for example, Gemorah often asks for experimental proves, and science now has great protocols to carry those experiments. I would think that most Tannaim and Amoraim in our time would be scouting internet for recent medical and astronomical views. As R Twersky Z’L suggested – to appreciate Hashem’s chochma, study physiology. don’t ahve to do it in yeshiva, do it after hours.
>> catching corona, wouldn’t they also be worried about catching apikorsus
agree here too. But what is the defense: either complete isolation, that I find easier to do form corona than science, or vaccination. For kids, I see isolation working till mid-middle school, and after that vaccination – studying science/history/literature in the Torah context before they encounter these subjects without parental/school supervision.August 1, 2021 2:39 am at 2:39 am #1996122
Rabbeinu yonah’s regret over his machlokes with the rambam wasn’t in his opposition to the shita itself, but rather in that he did not, in his understanding, give proper kovod to the rambam. Nowehere in shaarei teshuva does he advocate philosophy. The amount of other rishonim who argued with the rambam were copious…see the hakdama lf yam shel shlomo for some very, very strong words from the maharshal, who was an early acharon. To see a wide array of sources regarding the mesorah’s opposition to philosophy and “rationalism”, see the lev tov’s introduction to chovos halevavos.
Ever since hisgalos hakabalah, the tone of the vast majority of baalei machshava; the maharal, ramchal, gaon, chasidim, chid”a, and tons others has been a rejection of the philosophical approach to emunah of the rambam and instead the kabalistic approach of other rishonim including the ramban. At the same time, you have ancillary rabbis who were influenced by European enlightenment who all of the sudden found a leg to stand on with the rambam,. while lacking his allegiance to chazal and mesorah.
As stated above, the rambam was not anti-kabalah, he was simply not exposed to it; when he was, he expressed regret that he had not had it sooner – that’s a fact recorded by the abarbanel in the end of pirkei avos, perek 3. There is a famous testimony of the Migdal Oz as well, in which he found a letter of the rambam saying that he discovered kabalah and that he wishes to be more involved in it, and that the chachmei hakabalah are emes.
The rambam does not quote Aristotle for his shvil hazahav opinion, nor in any other context besides science and logic. He says clearly (deos, 1, 3-4) that “tzivu chachamim”, the chachamim commanded us to follow this path. Secular scholars on the rambam say that he got his middos teachings from Aristotle. The fiercest critics of the rambam, even the raavad on the mishnah torah, do not make this accusation. The Gaon, when arguing with the rambam’s denial of magic etc, says that here the rambam was drawn after philosophy. If his ethical approach was so greatly impacted and inspired by Aristotle (of which the Gaon knew a lot) he would have accused him of such. The rambam was not averse to quoting Aristotle when he sourced him, so why would he never – not once – quote him in an ethical or moral context?
As to chazal and their acceptance of three trials, see “torah chazal and science”, by rabbi moshe meiselman; he deals with that topic at length.August 1, 2021 8:09 am at 8:09 am #1996137
It is very difficult to determine who took from whom. The story about Plato learning from Yirmiahu cannot be literally true as he lived about two hundred years later. However, it is known that when he was a young man he went to Alexandria in search of wisdom. He almost certainly learned from those in Yirmihau’s bet midrash. In the middle Ages Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers freely read each other’s books. In fact, there was a period when Ibn Gabirol was thought to be a Xtian, c”v, because the only extant edition of “Mekor Chaim” was in Latin.August 1, 2021 9:53 am at 9:53 am #1996186
Avira, as I said before to capitalize a word is showing respect and by you aristotle is given more respect than the Rambam.August 1, 2021 11:07 am at 11:07 am #1996197
Plato learning from Yirmiahu Hanavi is mentiioned in Seder Hadoros. The Ravad’s time people only learned the Rambam, so he used a harsh language agaunst him.August 1, 2021 1:06 pm at 1:06 pm #1996205
Avi, i realize that’s how Wikipedia writes about “Jewish scholars”, but besides implicit “proof” such as the aforementioned shvil hazahav, where do we find that chachamim were so readily open to reading every apikores’ book? When one is into hashkofa, there will be overlaps and coincidences.
Who thought that Rav Shlomo ibn Gavirol was not Jewish? An academic? Seriously, we know of him from the piyutim that he wrote, all of which were in prestine lashon kodesh.
Like I said, the amount of rishonim who eschewed philosophy is great. The Rashba banned any and all non Jewish literature, to name but one source. Many rabbis who lived during the time of the rishonim were not necessarily gedolei yisroel; I’d refer you once again to “Torah Chazal and science” by Rabbi Moshe Meiselman for a lot of researched detail on that subject.August 1, 2021 3:49 pm at 3:49 pm #1996206
Avi, do you think that there was this massive movement after the shulchan aruch, that literally everyone stopped sharing ideas with philosophers and only the maskilim kept the “mesorah”? Rav Hirsch opposed learning any philosophy at all, though he clearly advocated learning science, language, history and other studies. I know of no accepted acharon; be it from Litvish, Hungarian, Sefardi, Chasidish, or otherwise, who felt that hashkofa was a free for all where we should mix in with goyim.
The chossid yaavetz writes that during the inquisition, the only jews who stayed behind and became marranos (hardly heros… They broke halacha openly) were those who were involved in philosophy.August 2, 2021 8:57 am at 8:57 am #1996295
Avirah, first of all, Rav Soloveichik earned a doctorate in philosophy. rav Kirsch himself studied philosophy as did Rav Kook, his son rav Tzvi Yehuda and one of his main talmidim, the Rav haNazir (Rav David haCohen). Rabbi Jonathan Sacks also studied it. He as well as many other rabbis, both in America and Israel quote non-Jewish and secular Jewish writers. Of course, someone who wants to study it should have a rav. This also depends on the branch of philosophy (logic, which is very mathematical in nature, is considered a branch of philosophy) and why one is studying it. Some just want to learn how to formulate arguments. In fact, when someone asked Bertrand Russell why he did not live according to his theories he replied that he was also a mathematician yet no one expected him to be a triangle.
As for Rav Meiselman’s book, he is attempting to show that Chazal were not wrong about science. I personally have my doubts as to whether or not they meant their statements literally (the Ben Ish Hai seems to take them as metaphors and Rambam says that all the aggadatot were metaphors). However, it is clear that they interacted with non-Jews and even admitted when they were right (Pesachim 94b). Shmuel went to a debating club called Bei Avidan (Shabbat 116b) and had a number of conversations with a non-Jewish sage named Ablett.August 2, 2021 9:08 am at 9:08 am #1996358ujmParticipant
Does anyone know what the actual issur of cheating a nochri is?August 2, 2021 10:49 am at 10:49 am #1996374
Ujm, geneivat daat (SA CM 228:6). See also B’er haGola CM 248:5.August 2, 2021 10:55 am at 10:55 am #1996376commonsaychelParticipant
How the heck did we morph from a simple question to a long drawn out discussion about Greece philosophy?August 2, 2021 1:51 pm at 1:51 pm #1996436
I think we are against Greece philosophy because in many things like the existence of the soul is very similar to Jewish philosophy.August 2, 2021 1:53 pm at 1:53 pm #1996441
There is no mitzva of hashovas aveida by a goy, so if he makes a mistake, its not our responsibility to tell except for kiddush Hashem.August 3, 2021 1:48 am at 1:48 am #1996525
Rav Hirsch, again….was opposed to learning philosophy and echoed the Gaon’s criticism of the Rambam(19 letters, Letter 18, p. 264-5. He also advocates learning science, math and language, but omits goyishe literature and philosophy in the curriculum for his school (Horeb, ch 3).
This distinction is literally the crux of our discussion. Rav Hirsch makes learning Torah “from its own perspective” through chazal and not our own(or kofrim’s) view over and over…its where german reform, MO and Rav Hirsch completely differ. Rav Hirsch was a purist who did not use goyishe ideas to influence his Judaism, but rather viewed everything goyishe through the crucible and viewpoint of Toras Hashem temimah.August 3, 2021 5:51 am at 5:51 am #1996542
Avira, there is also “v’asita hatov v’hashar”. This, apparently, is behind the Be’er haGola’s famous statement. The Netziv says in his introduction to Sefer Bereisheet that the Avot werecalled yesharim because of this.
You are wrong about Rav Hirsch. He believed in studying German culture as well as science and math. This was Torah im derech eretz. In his commentary on Pirkei Avot he writes
“Derech Eretz includes everything that results from the fact that man’s existence, mission and social life are conducted on Earth, using earthly means and conditions. Therefore this term especially describes ways of earning a livelihood and maintaining the social order. It also includes the customs and considerations of etiquette that the social order generates as well as everything concerning humanistic and civil education.”August 3, 2021 9:33 am at 9:33 am #1996612
That’s not german culture, as in german philosophers or literature, but rather how to live, “fir zich” in whatever society we live in. Nowehere in “maintaining the social order” would we include learning Immanuel kant or nietzsche. He’d say to consult an expert in german etiquette. Happens to be that burping in public is a flattering gesture in Germany; it shows the host that you arr satisfied with the meal; those things change and are of no intrinsic value.
He was also living in a time when modesty, fairness and real justice were championed; american culture with its many immoralities, its love of gender benders, toevos and “pride” would be shunned by any ehrlich jew, especially someone like rav hirsch. Rav hirsch would not want one to be in any way engaged in sodom ve’amorah.August 3, 2021 9:37 am at 9:37 am #1996615
Also, please look up the sources i quoted; they’re very clear. Rav Hirsch was from the emunah peshutah/mesorah camp. Ask anyone from Washington heights; I have plenty of friends who went through the yekkishe system, as quite a few went to my beis medrash. They are the progenitors of Rav Hirsch’s hashkofa and while there was a difference between Rav Schwab and Rav Breuer, it had nothing to do with limiting “austritt”, Rav Hirsch’s clear plan of separation from foreign garbage and alikorsus. We don’t practice Austritt by learning apikorsus; we run from it like corona.August 3, 2021 11:38 am at 11:38 am #1996695
Run from Corona? Are you vaccinated?August 3, 2021 11:48 am at 11:48 am #1996693
1. You have your continents mixed up. In Asia it is good. In Germany it is terrible.
2. Rav Hirsch has been dead for over 140 years. Even with live rabbis, there are arguments over what they said. There are even arguments in the Gemara over what a certain rabbi said with each person swearing that he is correct.
3. Austritt was forming a separate religious community recognized by the Prussian government. The reason was practical. The Reformers who controlled the established community did not want to maintain the mikva or provide kosher food.
4.Today there are two Americas. The Obamanation, which you mentioned, and the traditional “Leave it to Beaver” America. I agree with you about the former but not the latter. IMHO, this is why the left is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and the right (other than a few nuts who cannot possibly be called conservatives) pro-Israel and pro-Jewish.
5. BTW, Rav Azriel Hildesheimer also advocated studying general culture. In his seminary talmidim were required to also earn university degrees. Among them were Rav Soloveichik, who earned a doctorate in philosophy and the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, who studied mathematics, physics, and philosophyAugust 3, 2021 3:04 pm at 3:04 pm #1996770ParticipantParticipant
In “The Longest Pesach” (Shmuel Kunda), the Noda Biyehuda gave the non-Jewish baker’s non-Jewish stepson money so he wouldn’t be beaten.August 4, 2021 3:05 pm at 3:05 pm #1996974
Avira, I agree it is legit, especially in our days, not to learn philosophy. Philosophy used to include all sciences (I am a D. of Ph. but did not have to learn Plato, just to come up with some new math formulae). So, at Rambam’s time it was the best science available. As your example shows – Rambam learned from Aristotle, liked his general wording, connected it to relevant chazal, corrected it, and it sounds like not even always quoted explicitly.
But in our times, we have an explosion of general knowledge that is very practical and specific and not speculative. Do you think Rambam would not attend a medical school now, when you don’t have to pretend to be a Muslim to get into first in the world university/madrasa in Fes? Obviously, we don’t need Talmidei Chachamim to drop their learning and all get into math and chemistry, but we need to stay connected with the world knowledge and have some Chachamim who can know enough to be able to converse with experts. And for those who have no clue of sciences, have decency to respect, and not disparage, those who do.
for a contemporary example, just heard a Rav describing what was lost/gained from Corona and he mentioned loss of respect to Rabbis as he said “while health departments were running schools”. I think this is abdication, talmidei chachamim should havev been in the forenfront of solving problems (and some were), and those who do not may have lost that respect for a good reason. And same happens in other cases. Let’s say a Rabbi does not understand how Gemora in Sukkah compute PI, is this good? It actually seems to be the case there – that Tannaitic computation is very precise, but Amoraim do not understand the Mishna and use more complicated solutions (inside circle, outside circle).August 4, 2021 3:58 pm at 3:58 pm #1997179
AAQ, When it comes to PI, see https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/chidushim-on-daf-yomi-eruvin, reply #1895845, I am also a mathematician but not a PhD. FYI The Rash in Kilaim 5,5 quotes the Pythagorean Theorem under Chachmei Hamidos. There is a book available in Amazon called
Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy by W. M. Feldman and GRA’s sefer Ayil Meshulash is available at hebrewbooks,org.August 6, 2021 12:18 am at 12:18 am #1997608
RebE, I am talking about a slightly different case: Sukkah 8, where Rav Yohanan does computation of number of people who can sit in the round sukkah. That number comes correct if you use precise values for Pi and sqrt(2). Amoraim then try to re-do that using their numbers, come up short and then start coming up with tirutzim, like they are sitting at the outer circle, rather than at exactly the radius. See p. 140 in “Do Scripture and Mathematics Agree on the Number π?” by Professor Isaac Elishakoff and Elliot M. Pines, PhD, Fifth Miami International Conference on Torah and Science, 16-18 December 2003, B’Or Ha’Torah 17 (5767/2007)
But geometry is not all to math. Look up lectures by Econ Nobel Prize winner Robert Aumann where he compares Gemorat with modern economics:
three appraisers Bava Basra 107a, three widows Ketubos 93a, moral hazard – Ketubos 15 incentives Bava Basra 89aAugust 6, 2021 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm #1997678
AAQ, what is the precise value for PI and the SQRT(2)?August 6, 2021 1:07 pm at 1:07 pm #1997691
RebE, you think you got me 🙂 but I am an applied mathematician, not a purist. I can tell you how to get it without writing it down:
1) take a string, make a circle with a radius 1 inch, straighten the string, fold in half, here is your pie
2) draw a right angle triangle with side 1, take the diagonal
What I should have written, precise enough to get the integer number of people at the end precise.
A question now is: did Rav Yohanan put out this calculation on purpose so that answers differ based on precision to trip up those who were bad in math, and make them come back with questions, so that he could indulge in explaining how to approximate pi?!
R Steinsaltz writes (probably not original) that historically there are periods an societies of closed and open science. During closed periods, only selected people have access to knowledge. We had open science when it was all called “philosophy” and maybe in 19th century but it reversed somewhat, as you often need to be a very narrow specialist to understand science (a physicist may not understand some of the biology). We all struggle to understand science and statistics behind a pandemic.August 6, 2021 2:23 pm at 2:23 pm #1997705
By tefiin how do you make a true square, so its ee efshar letzamtzem. The Rambam explains in Eruvin that the value of 3 was taken because PI is impossible to be known exactly, so the integral value was used. How do you measure your string or the diagonl of the square?August 6, 2021 2:24 pm at 2:24 pm #1997708
Maybe לא ניתן תורה למלאכי השרת, the Torah does not require exact like some say that we don’t have to look for worms with a magniying glass. We don’t compare the bullet to the gun by removing it from the deceased. The computer does not determine pasul letters in the sefer torah only point out questiinable.August 6, 2021 2:46 pm at 2:46 pm #1997714
> How do you measure your string or the diagonl of the square?
By the string! How do you measure “1”?! same way. We are talking lengths, not abstract numbers.
Yes, 3 for Pi is often good enough, except in the Rav Yohanan’s puzzling statement.
Greeks were very disturbed when they realized that there are irrational numbers (I think it was sqrt(2)). I don’t think Jews have same concerns about rationality of the world. Hashem is One, the rest can be counted approximately. (paraphrasing “In G-d we trust, everyone else pays cash”)August 6, 2021 2:55 pm at 2:55 pm #1997716
> we don’t have to look for worms with a magniying glass.
exactly, R Yermiahu is kicked out of yeshiva for questioning in Bava Basra the approximate rule of the dove being within 50 amos from a closest house, “what if one leg on one side …”. Why such a harsh punishment? because he is questioning a fundamental halakhic idea that every regular person can apply the rule by making 50 steps without a need to call lawyers and surveyors – and make an objective decision to grab or not the dove and be an honest person. In Roman/British/US law, you can take the bird and the other guy can sue you.
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