Friday, 23 July 2010

Ikkarim for Afterlife in the Rambam's Philosophy

No chiddush just gathering my thoughts ....

The Rambam believed that we gain immortality not through our good deeds or our Yirat Shamayim but rather through our intellect and through philosophic speculation about God (which has got to do with Medieval Aristotlean concepts of knowledge but maybe for another post)

The Rambam's difficulty was that he did not want a completely elitist religion and he needed a means by which ALL people could obtain immortality not JUST the clever people.

Therefore he came up with the idea of the Ikkarim of emuna. Now don't get me wrong the Ikkarim in the Rambam's philosophy serve other purposes, but one of the main purposes of the Ikkarim is to provide a means by which the common man can obtain a level of immortality.

Since the Rambam's immortality is obtained through a knowledge of God, the simple man can also participate in this to a certain extent by also having a sort of true knowledge of God. Although the simple believer will never reach the level of the philosopher he can get his "portion in the world to come" even if not on the same level as the philosopher's, by having correct knowledge of God. This is but another instance of how the Rambam attempts to reconcile the elitist God of the philosophers with the Monotheistic God of the common man.

The Ravaad in the Mishne Torah says about the Rambam's stress on the importance of knowing Go'd incorporeality - that many greater men than the Rambam believed that God has a body.

The Ravaad himself did not believe in God's corporeality, however he was defending the belief of the simple man from the Rambam's philosophical demands.

The Ravaad is coming from a completely different direction than the Rambam. The Rambam DEMANDS that even the common man has certain correct opinions about God - otherwise the simple believer will not obtain any sort of "Olam Haba".

However the Raavad is coming from the POV that an afterlife is not the result of Aristotlean speculation but rather from good deeds and fear of heaven. Therefore to him - the naive belief of the simple man is not as vital as it is in the Rambam's philosophy and therefore can be pardoned.


JewishGadfly said...

>The Ravaad himself did not believe in God's corporeality, however he was defending the belief of the simple man from the Rambam's philosophical demands.

Well, it seems he is also defending, as he writes there, those "great men" who believed it. One of the Baalei Tosfot--R' Moshe Taku--apparently believed God could be manifested corporeally, as is literally stated in the Tanach. I have no idea if that's who Raavad has in mind (or if Raavad knew of Taku), but it existed.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Raavad:1125 CE - 1198 CE

Moshe Taku: 1250-1290 CE

What he means by "great men" is presumably men who were great in Talmud but ignorant in philosophy - the so called "Chassid" which the Rambam constantly inveighs against.

The Raavad does not consider philosophy necessary or even particularly desirable so he calls Talmudic scholars who are ignorant in everything else "great men"

Sounds familiar ...

JewishGadfly said...

>Raavad:1125 CE - 1198 CE

>Moshe Taku: 1250-1290 CE

Oh. Huh. Well, that answers that one. :-)

In any case, yes, the basic idea I learned was that it was referring to scholars, but I don't really know of evidence one way or another.

Anonymous said...

If one is united to God, and through the purification of their heart, can see Him, then what they say about Him will be correct.

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