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48. Do the Mitzvos Have Reasons?
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As discussed in the previous section, people debate whether God’s actions are based in His wisdom (and therefore directed towards some purpose) or if they are exclusively manifestations of His will, and they therefore require no particular purpose. We maintain that God’s actions are based in His wisdom and do, in fact, have purposes, whether […]
47. Are God’s Actions Meaningful?
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The actions of a human being can be classified into four types: pointless, insignificant, in vain, and effective [III, 25]: * Pointless actions serve no purpose.   If you play with your hands while thinking, or doodle during a conference call, these are pointless actions. * Insignificant actions serve a trivial cause. This includes the various […]
46. Trials and Tribulations
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The concept that God puts people through trials is the most debated idea in the entire Bible. (III, 24) Most people assume (incorrectly) that God afflicts individuals not in response to their own sins but to provide them with an opportunity to earn reward. Trials are discussed six places in the Torah but only one […]
45. Suffering, as per the Book of Job
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The ideas we have been discussing – man’s free will, God’s omniscience and providence – in short, why bad things happen to good people – are also the theme of the Biblical book of Job. [III, 22] The Rambam subscribes to the Talmudic opinion that Job never existed and that his story is basically a […]
44. Understanding God’s Knowledge
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There’s a world of difference between the knowledge that the creator of an object possesses about it and the knowledge that others possess regarding that same object. [III, 21] The artisan assembles his object with knowledge before it is assembled, while others acquire their knowledge by observing the finished product. When a watchmaker assembles a […]
43. The Nature of God’s Knowledge
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It is generally accepted that God does not “learn” – that is, He does not become aware about things He didn’t know previously. [III, 20] In this, He is unlike humans, whose knowledge constantly changes as we are updated with new information. God, on the other hand, knows all, including events that have not yet […]
42. God is Not Unaware
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It is inherent in the concept of God that He is perfect and has no defects. One must admit that ignorance is a deficiency, therefore God cannot be said to be ignorant of any matter. [III, 19] Nevertheless, there are people who have expressed the idea that God knows some things but not others. They […]
41. Some People Are More Equal Than Others
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Having demonstrated that only man enjoys individual providence, the Rambam proceeds to elaborate on the idea that this providence correlates directly with the intellectual influence that one receives from God. [III, 18] If this is the case, it follows logically that the greater share one has of the latter, the more he will receive of […]
40. What Divine Providence Is
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Having eliminated what divine providence isn’t, the Rambam introduces one more position, the one to which we subscribe. The Jewish position on God’s providence starts in the Books of Tanach and is elaborated upon by the Sages of the Talmud. We will assemble this theory in pieces. A. The idea that man has free will […]
39. What Divine Providence Isn’t
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Historically, there are four positions that people have held regarding God’s divine providence. [III, 17] They are as follows: 1) There is no providence. The universe is the result of a freak accident and everything that happens in it is random, with neither rhyme nor reason. The Rambam tells us that this was the position […]