Response to Day 1 Readings

We asked three questions about this week's reading.

First Question: Why Use Similes and Metaphors at All?

Rambam makes the argument that the main problem with Scripture is that you can not necessarily control who will read it.

Therefore, one must guard Truth carefully, because it is far more dangerous to share Divine Truth with minds unable to comprehend it than to obscure Divine Truth in a manner which protects the unprepared mind yet still permits access to the Truth for those who can properly receive it.

Rambam himself writes, ... Divine Will (from which it is wrong to deviate) which has withheld from the multitude the truths required for the knowledge of God.

Rambam then cites the supporting passage from Pslams xxv, 14: The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.

Rambam then makes an analogy with Natural Sciences, saying even in that field, there are topics not to be fully explained.

Second Question: Classes of Prophetic Figures

  • First Type: Each component of the figure introduces a element to the idea the figure illuminates. This is the "building-block" figure, where each component contributes to the overall figure.

  • Second Type: A simile which represents a general idea, but containing many points that while themselves meaningful, are not intended to be used as elemental building blocks of the idea, as they are in the first type. Rambam explicitly states that those who try to make each component of these second type figures more meaningful than intended lead themselves into grave error.

Third Question: Fifth & Seventh Contradiction Elucidated

  • Fifth Contradiction: Divine wisdom sometimes require an intelligible and hence distorted presentation: to do otherwise would make it impossible to present the concept to the uninitiated.

  • Seventh Contradiction: Divine wisdom, by nature of its precious insights and inherent unintelligible aspects, is partly revealed but must be partly closed. With partial revelation, the typical reader gets the intended meaning, but with the closed insight, only the consummate master can derive the Truth. There is no reason why the typical reader and Master can't read entirely contradictory meanings from the same Seventh Contradiction.