Rewriting Jewish Intellectual History: A Review of Sefer Chaim Be’Emunasom
Part 6: Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim
Chapters 66 through 70 are devoted to the Moreh Nevuchim, which is the thorn in the side of anyone trying to deny the authenticity of the rationalist approach. After all, in the Moreh Nevuchim, Rambam does everything that R. Schmeltzer defines as being heretical: denying the truth of some of Chazal’s statements, interpreting many of Chazal’s statements allegorically, deriving truth from secular philosophy, and interpreting many parts of the Written Torah allegorically. R. Schmeltzer provides several ways of doing away with the Moreh:
· It was written merely for outreach (and cannot be taken as either Rambam’s own approach, or as a legitimate approach at all; according to this, it is apparently acceptable to teach heresy for the sake of outreach).
· Its true meaning is in its secret kabbalistic depths (and it cannot be interpreted in the way that it was interpreted by Rambam’s official translator Shmuel Ibn Tibbon and hundreds of years of subsequent interpretation).
· It was written before the revelations of kabbalah (pp. 276, 291).
R. Schmeltzer is free to follow those approaches. However to claim that these are the only possibilities, and that the Moreh (with a non-kabbalistic interpretation) is not considered by any authority to represent a legitimate approach within Judaism, is unacceptable. Especially with regard to the statements in the Moreh Nevuchim that we are discussing – those noting that some scientific pronouncements of Chazal were in error – there have been many, many authorities in more recent generations who took the same approach in these matters.
 I must confess that I find it odd that in certain circles it is acceptable to say that Rishonim were ignorant of the revelations of kabbalah, but not to say that they were unaware of the discoveries of modern science.
 For example, R. Yair Chaim Bacharach, Rav Hirsch, Maharam Schick, Ben Ish Chai, Rav Herzog, etc. See www.torahandscience.blogspot.com for an extensive list.