Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ralbag (Gersonides)

Rabbi Levi ben Gershom is not only the most studied Rishon in academia (after Rambam) but is also one of the most unique and interesting Rishonim (in a world when many were very interesting and unique). His views on science and Torah are both relevant (and speak to me) and dated (and only of historical interest).

It is itneresting that Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote a haskama to a reprinting of Ralbag's commentary on Chumash. Does that mean that Rav Moshe approves of people learning Ralbag (who has many shitot that would not be considered mainstream (or even acceptable) today.

When the Navi tells us that Yehoshua stopped the sun - what does that really mean?
What is the purpose of Torah? Does Torah help us to discover truths of science? Would G-d lie to us?

These are all issues that I discuss in the shiur. And (I'm still debating in my head whether this should be part of the shiur or not) I end with Ralbag's views on women - which are not very nice (and certainly not PC - even compared to other medieval Jewish writers who were not necessarily feminists).

Let me know what you think. I am enjoying discovering these new sources. I hope you are too.

Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).
Ralbag - Scientist, philosopher and Rabbi
(Right click and then 'download as')
Ralbag Source Sheets

1 comment:

  1. To answer what you asked me...

    The Ralbag makes a statement about Omniscience. The Raavad makes a statement about prophecy. The Raavad could well believe that even though Hashem knows the future ("כ"ש הבורא שהיה יכול לומר כן בלא גזירה"), He doesn't tell people about it. Rather, nevu'ah spells out where current trends are pointing, not the future itself.

    I think the Raavad believes that free will is only a problem when people know, not when Hashem does.

    FWIW, my own take on the question revolves around realizing HQBH is lemaalah min hazeman rather than of infinite duration. Therefore, He doesn't know now what I will decide tomorrow because He doesn't "know now" -- or have a "now" to begin with! (This being a way to reach the Ohr Samayach's conclusion about how knowledge of the future is no more of a problem than knowledge of the past.

    This perspective is easier once Gaileo made hit pendulum formula that is a function of time, turning time from being a property of a process to an axis, a dimension, shared by all pendula -- and thus all processes. Once time is a dimension, it's easier to think about all of time vs outside of time. Easier in a relative sense, at least. (Pun intentional, sadly.)