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60. Nearness to God and End of Life
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The Rambam cites unnamed philosophers who explained that a person cannot perfect himself spiritually in his youth because the young are too heavily controlled by their passions. One whose passions are hot cannot achieve the purity of thought necessary to acquire an intense love of God. [III, 51] As a person grows older, his lusts […]
59. How the Spiritually-Perfected Become Vulnerable
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Having described in great detail how one can get close to God, an idea occurs to the Rambam, which he feels answers a philosophical difficulty that may bother some people. [III, 51] He previously discussed how human beings enjoy individual providence, but not all to the same degree. Rather, the closer a person is to […]
58. Getting Close to God
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Working towards his conclusion, the Rambam presents an analogy [III, 51]: Imagine, if you will, a king in his palace. Some of his subjects are at home in their own land, while others are abroad. Of those who are in their own kingdom, some happen to be facing the palace, while others are facing away […]
57. The Narrative Portions of the Torah
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If there’s one thing in the Torah that has been misunderstood, the Rambam tells us, it’s the narrative portions. These sections contain profound wisdom, yet many people consider them to be without value. [III, 50] After all, what possible use could we have for such things as the names of Noah’s descendants and the lands […]
56. Ritual Purity and Impurity
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As noted above (in section 54), the Rambam says that the laws of ritual purity and impurity serve to limit people’s ability to enter the Temple at will. This served to create a sense of awe and reverence for the Temple, in line with Leviticus 19:30, “…you shall revere My sanctuary.” [III, 47] Human nature […]
55. Foundations of the Torah
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The mitzvos in the first of the 14 categories (detailed in section 54) are those that the Rambam discusses in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (the laws of foundations of the Torah) in his magnum opus, the Mishneh Torah. The reason for these mitzvos, he tells us, is self-evident. [III, 36] If you examine them one by […]
54. The Fourteen Types of Mitzvos
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The Rambam divides all the mitzvos into 14 categories. [III,35] Each of these categories serves a particular purpose. They are: 1. Basic principles of faith, including repentance and fasting; 2. Idolatry, including such things as shaatnez (not to wear garments of mixed wool and linen), which the Rambam attributes to idolatrous practices. Laws in this […]
53. The Torah Addresses the Norm
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It is important to understand that the Torah does not take exceptions into account. Whatever the Torah teaches, be it intellectual, moral or practical in nature, is based on the norm and not on any deviations that may occur. [III, 34] The mitzvos are beneficial to mankind but there may be individual cases where they […]
52. Goals of the Torah
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One of the goals of the Torah is to train people to overcome their animal natures so that they may subdue their physical urges as much as possible and give in to them only as much as is truly necessary. [III, 33] The things in which people typically overindulge include eating, drinking and sexual relations […]
51. The Wisdom of God’s Commandments
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If you want to see an example of God’s wisdom, all you have to do is look at how He designed the wonders of creation. [III, 32] The Rambam discusses the wisdom of the nervous system, how the nerves carry impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles in order to effect movement. […]