Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Moshe Taku

This shiur was supposed to be about Rav Moshe Taku, but is really about the Maimonidean Controversy, and the relationship between philosophy and religion. I show that there were really three different approaches to the issues (and conflicts) of philosophy and religion. Rambam tries to make Judaism fit with Aristotle (or his version of it which also incorporated some Plato/Plotinus). He reinterprets pesukim and Chazal to fit with philosophy. The French who put him in cherem (instigated by Shlomo Montpellier, who it seems turned out to be a bad egg) rejected any use of philosophy, and stuck to the Divine text of Torah and Talmud. And some of the Spanish and Provencal Rabbis had an 'in between' view, where philospohy was utilised if it fit with the mesorah and was compelling. But it was rejected if it contradicted fundamentals of Torah.

In this shiur I spend quite a bit of time looking at the exchange of letters between Rav David Kimche (Radak) and Rav Yehuda Alfakhar. Which I found very interesting.

Here is the shiur:
Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).
Moshe Taku and Maimonidean Controversy
(Right click and then 'download as')
Moshe Taku Source Sheets

1 comment:

  1. 1- In a comment on the previous shiur, I asked why people are so uptight about having a science-vs-Torah question. If we can live with open questions in science, why can't we live with open questions between science and Torah? It seems to me that there is an inherent shakiness in one's trust in the mesorah betrayed by this attitude. If you really believe that both sources of info are reliable, then you have a question, not a disproof.

    For this attitude to hold, though, you need "barely overlapping magesteria". RYBS (and Gould) believe that science and religion do not overlap at all. Sounds nice, but then we wouldn't be asking all these questions about maaseh bereishis, the mabul, migdal bavel and the history of language, etc... However, if we admit that while their core topics do not overlap, both science and religion and up making implications about history, then there is a minor overlap at the borders.

    And if you can view things as a minor overlap at the borders of the two magesteria, you can live with open questions. Much like QM vs relativity -- both work well in their target domains, and it's only when you reach quantum gravity that you have issues. If only the fringes don't work out, then you can believe you have the ideas basically correct, with only some details needing work.

    2- As I wrote a few shiurim back, but isn't reflected in this shiur, I still think that Aristo's eternity is based on the notion that there are no miracles. He notes a Law of Conservation of Substance -- forms change, but substance is constant. And therefore substance must have always been around. Creation ex nihilo is a miracle, and his logic rules out miracles. Therefore, no beginning. This is very different than saying that Aristotilian eternity implies a lack of miracles.

    I think this is why the Rambam compares trying to understand creation by analyzing it using current physics to trying to understand gestation by extrapolating from anatomy. He is denying Aristo's assumption that nature necessarily exists (no miracles), and therefore must have applied during the creation period.

    3- I saw an article within the past year, but don't remember who what where or when, that showed that it was more likely that Shaarei Teshuvah predates the burning of the Shas, and that whole legend doesn't work.

    The article noted that the Rambam has one of the world's few codifications of Hilkhos Teshuvah. Therefore anyone on a program to ween people away from the Rambam are likely to want to write their own guide to teshuvah.

    4- The Rambam lifts "diberah Torah belashon benei adam" out of contex. Kind of like the Chasam Sofer's "Chadas assur min haTorah" -- good for making a motto, but not really a valid source to the idea.

    Rabbi Yishmael invokes "lashon benei adam" to advocate for his rules of derashah over Rabbi Aqiva's. You can't darshen every "es", or "aseir ta'aseir" because those are normal turns of phrase. The rule is about Hashem using the same grammar humans do, and therefore these things aren't extra.

    The Rambam then lifts it to go beyond the rules of derashah and beyond grammar to say that He also uses human idiom and metaphor when that idiom is to accommodate limitations in understanding. Rabbi Yishmael might agree, but does he ever explicitly say that?

    And Rabbi Aqiva (and R' Meir, Rebbe, Rashbi, etc...) didn't agree with the original usage, either.