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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
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Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 1, 5782
Im very confused about the contradictions between what the Rambam/Ramchal say vs what the Ramban says regarding the holiness of the physical body. Which view is Truth? Is it base or is it holy? It seems to me that it cant be both.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You are correct to note that there is a major argument between the Rambam on the one hand, and the kabbalists, such as the Ramban on the other, believe about physicality. Their arguments are perhaps best found in the Guide for the Perplexed (see for example part 2 Chapter 33) versus The Letter of Holiness (Igeret HaKadosh) – when it comes to how to relate to marital relations. As with many issues in Judaism, there are different perspectives, that stand at odds with each other. There are many different approaches to these arguments (that is – we have arguments about the arguments!). I would like to present one possible approach. Understanding that G-d’s will is certainly vast, and can contain different ideas for different people at different times and places. Therefore, He created a Torah which incapsulates this vastness. This Torah is able to be seen from many different angles, in many different lights. Therefore, the two approaches are not necessarily to be viewed as “one or the other”. But perhaps they each express one aspect of the Devine truth. Each great Rabbi merited to express one “face” of the Torah. If this is so, then our task to is decide which of the approaches is best for us to follow. That, in this case, probably varies from time to time and place to place. My Rabbis taught me that the approach of the Ramban and the kabbalists, that the physical body and it’s sexuality are vessels for a great level of holiness, is the correct approach for our generation. Blessings.
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