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TORAH & SCIENCE-----rambam and the moon

Regarding the Rambam, I remember when I was a kid a certain Odom Godol saying that the Rambam's Hilchos Deos were not intended to be Torah, but rather the Rambam's secular wisdom. He said, by way of proof, that the Rambam there says the moon is a sentient entity, and now we "see" on TV that it is only a rock.

I heard from Rav Schneur Kotler ZTL that this statement of this Odom Godol "may not be said", and that he remembers that Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk ZTL once said that there are people who hold like this regarding the Rambam, and they are totally wrong, and he (Rav Meir Simchah) would really write a sefer showing that every word of the Rambam's Hilchos Deos is culled from Chazal, but the Malbim already wrote such a Sefer so he doesn’t need to.

Rav Schneur continued, that nobody knew what Rav Meir Simcha was referring to by the Sefer of the Malbim until a few years ago (like 25 years ago from today) they reprinted a Sefer from the Malbim showing that the Rambam's Hilchos Deos was all from Chazal.

As it so happens, the statement about the moon is a Zohar in a few places. He says that’s what it means when it says "Yetzorom Bdaas bebinah uvehaskel" - that Hashem created the luminaries including their wisdom.

Obviously, just because the moon is a rock doesn’t contradict the fact that it is, in some way, sentient.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky also, in Kiryas Melech, goes through the Rambam in Hilchos Deos bringing sources for just about every statement there.

Achiezer Posted - 19 April 2002 20:36

The Rambam's Hilchos Yesodei haTorah make for a very interesting discussion. The "Odom Godol" you quote, if I understand correctly, is actually quite a bit more--a Rosh Yeshiva, in fact, R' Yaakov Kamenetsky--and he has, in my humble opinion, the right to disagree with Rav Schneur (the statement can be found in Emes L' Yaakov to Bereishis 1:1). (block out the name if it is appropriate).

At least some of the 3rd and 4th perakim are from Sefer Yetzira (according to Migdal Oz) and it is possible that the rest have kabbalistic roots, although I thought the Rambam didn't have knowledge of the Zohar (at least not until he was much older).

However, Rambam does describe Maaseh Bereishis (Comm. to Mishnah Chagigah) as the study of the physical properties of creation. So when he describes here these various scientific observations as Maaseh Bereishis, it seems difficult to say he was speaking kabbalistically.

Yeah, it was Rav Yaakov, and yes, of course he has a right to argue with Rav Schneur, the only problem is (I didn’t say it this way before since I didn’t mention names, it was unnecessary), what Rav Schneur said was, when he was a younger, he remembers that Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk ZTL said that there are those who say this about the Rambam - that Hilchos Deos is not Torah - and that its baseless, and he (Rav M"S) would take it upon himself to write a Sefer showing that every word of the Rambam there has sources in Chazal, except for the fact that the Malbim already did it!

Rav Schenur continued, that he never knew what Rav Meir Simcha meant, until a few years a go (then), a Kuntres came out by the Malbim showing sources for all of Hilchos Deos in Chazal.

Regarding the moon issue in particular, the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (II;5) says clearly that he derives the fact that the moon is sentient from Torah sources. So even if you’re going to disagree with the Rambam - as many do (its a very old Machlokes) - to say that the Rambam got it from science and not the Torah cant be.

Furthermore, Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Kiryat Melech brings a source for the Rambam's statement about the moon and planets from the Zohar: "The stars and the constellations have Daas and Sechel".

Rabbi Menachem Kasher (author of Torah Sheleimah) wrote a Sefer called "HaAdam al Hayareach", where he devotes all of chapter 4 to this Rambam. He, too, quotes from the Zohar in a different place to support the Rambam: "Does then the ground so sentient? Yes, as it says (Mishle 3:19) 'Hashem with wisdom founded the land'" Meaning, He created a land that possesses wisdom.

He also quotes more.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky also quotes sources throughout Hilchos Deos showing where in Chazal they come from.

About the Rambam and the Zohar, it is true, though not everyone concurs, the consensus is that the Rambam did not have the Zohar. Nevertheless, there are statements in the Rambam that have no source other than the Zohar (such as "Whoever gets angry is as if he worshipped idols"). The explanations given for this is that the Rambam had Medrashim that we no longer have, plus the Rambam was able to be "mechaven" to Kabbalah even though he did not have the sources.

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