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37. A Science Sidebar
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Incidental to talking about the celestial spheres [III, 14], the Rambam mentions some facts about astronomy as the Sages related them. For example, he mentions that the distance from Saturn to Earth is a journey of approximately 8,700 solar years. The Rambam suggests that a day’s travel is about 40 mil of 2,000 cubits each, […]
36. The Influence of the Celestial Spheres
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What about the influence that the celestial spheres are said to exert on the affairs of man? The Rambam addresses this issue with a metaphor. [III, 14] Let’s take the example of a craftsman who makes sewing needles for a living. He might construct a large machine for the job. If he were to build […]
35. What Is the Purpose of the Universe?
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Intelligent people drive themselves crazy trying to figure out the purpose of creation. The Rambam proceeds to demonstrate how absurd the question is according to the various points of view regarding the origin of the universe (refer back to section 10). [III, 13] First, a few ground rules must be established. It should go without […]
34. The Three Kinds of Evil
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The Rambam says that there are three kinds of evil in the world. [III, 12] The first is based on the fact that man is a physical and temporal being. Because of this, we are subject to physical ailments, whether based on weaknesses in our own constitutions or exposure to harmful agents in our environments. […]
33. Is There More Good or Evil in the World?
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Many people mistakenly believe that there is more evil in the world than there is good. They come to this erroneous conclusion because they narrowly focus on details of their own individual circumstances rather than looking at the big picture. [III, 12] An ignorant person considers the world as existing to fulfill his own whims, […]
32. The True Nature of Evil
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Sometimes the absence of a property is like a property itself. The absence of heat is cold. The absence of light is darkness. The absence of sight is blindness. The absence of life is death. Even though these negative conditions could be thought of as the “default,” one who removes heat, light, sight or life […]
31. Further Elaboration of Ezekiel’s Vision
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In the first chapter of his book, the prophet Ezekiel describes a vision he had of angelic beings, Chayos (“living things”) and Ofanim (“wheels”). In the tenth chapter, he has another vision, which sheds further light on the things he perceived [III, 3]. In his second vision, Ezekiel replaces the word Chayos with K’ruvim, AKA […]
30. The Chayos and Ofanim
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The Rambam goes on to explain the vision of the angels in Ezekiel chapter 1. [III, 2] Each angel has the four faces we discussed in our previous section, four wings and two hands. Overall, however, their appearance is human, as per Ezekiel 1:5, “they had the form of a man.” The legs of the […]
29. The Vision of God’s “Chariot”
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In the third section of Moreh Nevuchim, the Rambam comes to what he tells us is his ultimate point: explaining the Biblical sections known as ma’aseh Bereishis (the Creation account) and ma’aseh haMerkava (the account of God’s “chariot”). [III, intro] The problem, however, is that the Sages generally forbid revealing such things because they are […]
28. Exaggeration and Figurative Language
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By this point, it should not surprise us that the Bible utilizes both figurative speech and exaggeration to make vivid points. [II, 47] The Talmud (Chulin 90b) tells us explicitly that this is the case and it provides us with two examples, one from the Torah and one from the Writings. Deuteronomy 1:28 describes the […]