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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 […]
38. God’s Omniscience
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The Rambam has some harsh words for the understanding that the philosophers have of God’s omniscience. Unlike the different theories on creation, which he discusses in a rather matter-of-fact fashion, the Rambam considers the mistaken views on God’s omniscience to be evil and perverse. He says that one who accepts such a position stumbles in […]
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 […]