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Rambam’s Aristotelian Philosophy


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Shevat 20, 5770
How does one regard the controversial/Aristotelian writings of the Rambam, particularly Sefer HaMadda in Mishne Torah and Moreh Nevuchim? I am aware of the horrific burnings of these books by Gedolim in opposition to his philosophy in the middle ages. Few have commented these days on the once controversial material, perhaps in fear of Lashon Harah. But can one rely/quote from these works? Does criticizing the philosophy actually, Chas V’shalom, create Lashon Harah?
We have a tradition from our rabbis that there is no one in our generations that can state an opinion on the disagreements of the Rishonim (medieval biblical commentators). Our duty is to learn in depth and understand their holy words. One can defiantly trust and quote from all the writings of one of the greatest Rishonim, the Rambam, who is one of the three pillars the Beit Yosef leans on in his great work - the Shulchan Aruch. I think that there are not too many comments regarding the dispute today because it is not so relevant nowadays; nevertheless one can learn and explore the topic in order to understand the issues, but it is certainly forbidden for anyone nowadays to criticize or to G-d forbid defame the Rambam or one of the other Rishonim. Regarding the question whether one should study these books, and who should study them, and how much, there were various opinions among the great rabbis throughout the generations. Many have advised the general public to avoid studying these books, so it is recommended for every person to consult his rabbi personally, and receive guidance on this matter.
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