Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest Post: Rabbeinu Avraham vs. Rabbeinu Avraham?

Copyright 2015 by David Ohsie. All rights reserved

Some contemporary authors have in fact ascribed to Rabbeinu Avraham precisely the opposite view -- that Chazal’s knowledge of the natural world was not derived from the Torah.” -- Rabbi Moshe Meiselman, TCS, pg 90.

Rabbeinu Avraham vs. Rabbeinu Avraham?


We showed in our last post that the Discourse is firmly rooted in the tradition of the Rambam, as Rabbeinu Avraham himself points out.   However, in TCS, Rabbi Meiselman argues that the Discourse contradicts the views of Rabbeinu Avraham himself as published elsewhere.  We'll examine this argument now.

Where does this contradiction reside?  Rabbi Meiselman points out [1] that Rabbeinu Avraham's Kifayat al-Abidin (or The Guide to Serving God) [2] discusses the relationship between the wisdom of the Gentile sages and that of the Jewish Sages. Rabbeinu Avraham explains that the Gentile sages reached a deep understanding of the world including an understanding of God as the first cause of the Universe.  However, they came to the mistaken conclusion that God does not exert any Providence over the universe.

In contrast, the Jewish sages had an advantage over the Gentile sages. [2a] In the words of Rabbeinu Avraham "But God has informed them through His Torah of that which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers". The Torah gave knowledge of God's Providence and involvement in this world to the Jewish sages; this knowledge was unavailable to the Gentile sages. [3]  It is Rabbi Meiselman's claim that these words contradict the message of the Discourse.  How so?

What Rabbeinu Avraham means, according to Rabbi Meiselman's opinion, is that the God gave over a complete understanding of the natural world, including all the knowledge attained by the Gentile sages, to the Jewish sages through the Torah.  In addition, the Jewish sages also received knowledge of providence.  Thus, Chazal's knowledge of the natural world, derived from the Torah, is more reliable than that of the Gentile sages and any disagreements must be settled in favor of the Jewish sages.  In Rabbi Meieselman's words
The most natural interpretation of the phrase in italics [quoted above] seems to be that Chazal derived from the Torah everything known to the non-Jewish scholars, plus additional wisdom not possessed by them. It follows from this that whenever there is disagreement between the two forms of wisdom, Chazal’s must be presumed superior because of its divine source. [...]   Some contemporary authors have in fact ascribed to Rabbeinu Avraham precisely the opposite view -- that Chazal’s knowledge of the natural world was not derived from the Torah. They build their case upon a passage appearing in the published edition of his [Discourse.]
Thus Rabbi Meiselman argues that Discourse is an outlier in Rabbeinu Avraham’s own thought as expressed in Kifayat al-Abidin.

In my humble opinion, Rabbi Meiselman’s argument fails in a numbers of ways.  The simplest refutation is supplied by Rabbi Meiselman himself.  Rabbi Meiselman admits that it is possible to interpret the statement from Kifayat al-Abidin in a way that doesn’t contradict the Discourse [4].  Since both were written by Rabbeinu Avraham (and in fact the Discourse was likely to have originally been a part of Kifayat al-Abidin), an interpretation which doesn't result in contradiction is to be preferred over one that results in a contradiction. [4a]

Moreover, Rabbi Meiselman's preferred interpretation is quite forced.  In order to evaluate his interpretation, we need to take a longer look at what Rabbeinu Avraham was writing about.

The context of the Rabbeinu Avraham's discussion is a classic question in Judaism's approach toward Bitachon (faith).   If God is both Omniscient and Omnipotent, then of what value is human activity towards a goal?  Isn't God in control anyhow?

In this context, Rabbeinu Avraham describes three classes of people:

1) Uncultured people who don't bother to investigate how the world works.  These people are little raised above the level of animals.

2) The wise, who study how the world operates through cause and effect. Through this understanding, they may come to discover the First Cause (God), but they believe that God's contribution is to solely keep the universe going according to natural law.  Thus, they deny God's Providence and fail to reach to the highest level of understanding.

3) The pious and wise followers of the Torah who understand that the world operates via a system of cause and effect and understand the details of this system as well as the previous class.  However they also understand that these causes are secondary to God who is the first cause, and who can choose to continue the natural order or to alter it at will.

Rabbeinu Avraham also describes an (unnumbered) fourth class of people.  These are religious people who have discovered God's existence through reason or tradition, but commit an intellectual error.  Because of their belief in God and his control of the universe, they deny the importance of the study of natural cause and effect.  They feel that this study would lead them into denial of God's Providence.  These people are little better that those in the first class.

The following table summarizes Rabbeinu Avraham's classification system.

Ignorant of Science Understands Science
Denies ProvidenceThe uncultured and ignorant. Little above animals.Philosophers who study nature and understand cause and effect. May believe in a First Cause (God), but lack in their understanding due to a denial of Providence. Nature always proceeds with regularity.
Admits of ProvidenceReligious people who reject the study of nature. Little better than the ignorant.The religious wise. Study nature and cause and effect as the philosophers do, but also understand that God can choose to exercise his Providence to interrupt the usual flow of natural law.

If the wise admit of both natural cause and effect, and Providence, what is the proper way to approach the topic of  Bitachon?  At the simplest level, one should follow the path of our forefathers (Avos) who pursued practical solutions to their problems, but also realized that their fate was tied to God's will and his ability to perform miracles on their behalf.

We can now return to our original question:  What did Rabbeinu Avraham mean when he wrote: "But God has informed them through His Torah of that which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers"?  Rabbi Meiselman claims that it indicates that "Chazal derived from the Torah everything known to the non-Jewish scholars, plus additional wisdom not possessed by them."

In my humble opinion, this is untenable for a very simple reason.  Rabbeinu Avraham is not speaking about Chazal!  He is talking about people in every generation including both his own and future generations.  The people in the third class are the practical model for proper behavior and understanding.

It goes without saying that we acquire our knowledge of science from experiment and by reading the works of scientists and not from Torah study.  The Rambam is explicit that Chazal's knowledge of astronomy needed to fulfill the Mitzvah to calculate the time of the sighting of the new moon was lost to us, so that he restored it from other secular sources. [4b]  He writes similarly in the Guide for the Perplexed  [4c].  Rabbi Meiselman admits that the Rishonim and Acharonim could err in science and that we can recognize their errors. [4d].

While this is enough to disprove Rabbi Meiselman's interpretation, there is further evidence from Rabbeinu Avraham himself.  In writing of  those followers of the Torah who remain willfully ignorant of science as contrary to the Torah he writes:
And because of this, matters of nature were hidden from them and they came to the denial of things whose truth intellect affirms and even the senses are cognizant of them [the truths of nature] ... and this way they came to be objects of ridicule to men of understanding.
According to Rabbi Meiselman's interpretation, the main problem with this class of people is not that they deny that which the intellect affirms.  Rather, they deny that which the Torah affirms!  Moreover, Rabbeinu Avraham's criticism becomes insensible since their view is that the Torah guides them to avoid the study of cause and effect; thus, it would be incumbent upon them to ignore their own intellects, since the Torah "must be presumed superior because of its divine source."

In addition, the plain language of Rabbeinu Avraham simply provides no support for Rabbi Meiselman's interpretation.  Rabbeinu Avraham simply says that the Torah reveals God's Providence to the wise.  He never says that it reveals natural law.  The quotation "But God has informed them through His Torah of that which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers" is only part of the sentence; it is immediately followed by the following:
giving them indications and proofs of that which the philosophers denied regarding His knowledge of particular things, His observance of the circumstances of human beings and his special Providence.
Rabbeinu Avraham tells us what additional matters the Torah teaches and he doesn't say that it is science. [6]

In our next post, we'll return to a direct study of text of the Discourse and Rabbi Meiselman's arguments that some portions of the Discourse are either interpolations or errors on the part the translator.

Comments are both welcome and encouraged. I'll make every effort to address any questions or arguments posted in the comments.

Notes:


[1] TCS pg 89-90

[2] Rabbeinu Avraham authored two major works, one a biblical commentary, and the other Kifayat al-Abidin, or The Guide to Serving God.

[2a] Actually, while this is Rabbi Meiselman's summary, this is slightly misleading.  See note 6 below.

[3] "People can be divided into three groups. [...] The second groups consists of those possessed of insight, understanding, depth of thought and contemplativeness, who have delved into the various wisdoms and arrived at an understanding of the impetuses and causal factors of each and every phenomenon. Some of them even attained an understanding of the Cause of Causes [God] [...] these are the non-religious scholars and savants, such as the Greek philosophers and their followers. Even those individuals, however, were incapable of understanding the truth in its entirety, but came to the conclusion that God, may he be exalted, never alters any natural process, nor does introduce any cause from outside of the causal nexus [...]. By contrast, observers of religion, who understand the principle of the Torah, contemplate the secondary [i.e. natural] causes and reflect upon them in the same manner as the second group, comprised of the enlightened and scholars of nature, and do not fall short of them in attainment. On the contrary! They understand what the scholars of nature do and receive their respect and honor. But God has informed them through His Torah of that which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers, giving them indications and proofs of that which the philosophers denied regarding His knowledge of particular things, His observance of the circumstances of human beings and his special providence." (Kifayat al-Abidin 4:8; translation and emphasis Rabbi Meiselman's).

[4] "The wording is ambiguous however, and other readings are possible. Once could argue, for instance, that they received from the Torah only their awareness of hashgachah pratis -- Divine Providence -- while their knowledge of “secondary causes” was obtained from other sources.  Consequently, this passage cannot serve as a conclusive proof to his views on this matter." (TCS pg 90)

[4a] The alternative is an exercise in circular reasoning.  One proffers an explanation of Rabbeinu Avraham which aligns with a given thesis.  Therefore the other statements of Rabbeinu Avraham which don't align with the thesis are questionable authenticity.   One arrives at the conclusion that Rabbeinu Avraham agrees with the given thesis via the assumption that Rabbeinu Avraham agrees with the given thesis.

[4b] "The rationales for all these calculations, and the reasons why this number is added, and why that subtraction is made, and how all these concepts are known, and the proofs for each of these principles are [the subject] of the wisdom of astronomy and geometry, concerning which the Greeks wrote many books.

"These texts are presently in the hands of the sages. The texts written by the Sages of Israel in the age of the prophets from the tribe of Yissachar have not been transmitted to us. Nevertheless, since these concepts can be proven in an unshakable manner, leaving no room for question, the identity of the author, be he a prophet or a gentile, is of no concern. For a matter whose rationale has been revealed and has proven truthful in an unshakable manner, we do not rely on [the personal authority of] the individual who made these statements or taught these concepts, but on the proofs he presented and the reasons he made known." (Kiddush HaChodesh 17:24)

[4c] "KNOW that many branches of science relating to the correct solution of these problems, were once cultivated by our forefathers, but were in the course of time neglected, especially in consequence of the tyranny which barbarous nations exercised over us. ... The natural effect of this practice was that our nation lost the knowledge of those important disciplines." (Guide 1:71)

[4d] [The Rishonim and Achronim who follow the geocentric model] were merely doing their best to understand an obscure piece of Gemara, using the most reliable scientific information available to them. ... If the interpreters of Chazal held erroneous beliefs, it does not follow at all that Chazal did as well. (TCS pg. 147)

[5] It is unclear what Rabbi Meiselman means by the clause “Some contemporary authors have in fact ascribed to Rabbeinu Avraham precisely the opposite view”. This view is not ascribed to Rabbeinu Avraham, but is explicit in the text of the Discourse. The phrase “some contemporary authors” is likewise ambiguous. Rabbi Meiselman does points out (TCS pg. 101) Rav Isaac Herzog quotes the Discourse to show the science of the Talmud is not religiously authoritative. However, It seems unlikely that Rabbi Meiselman would refer to Rav Herzog as an anonymous contemporary author, so this phrase remains obscure.

[6] We can add that the quotation of Rabbeinu Avraham in TCS (see note 3) is slightly misleading.  In TCS, the words, "By contrast" appear to be referring to to the contrast between the Jewish sages and the philosophers.  They actually refer to the contrast between the Jewish sages and the religious Jews who reject the study of science.

31 comments:

  1. I personally think the whole argument of Jewish sages possessing superior scientific knowledge via the Torah to be laughable and I'm really not interested in Meiselman's fantasies to the contrary.

    But four "humble opinions" in the same short piece is annoying and comes across as "humble bragging".

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  2. "In my humble opinion, this is untenable for a very simple reason. Rabbeinu Avraham is not speaking about Chazal!"

    And Rabbi Meiselman will insist it is. Who is right? Its impossible to say when you've been in the unfalsifiable rabbit hole for so long. To Rabbi Meiselman the ends justify the means. To make old texts fit to his mindset, scholarly methods are warped and logic is twisted. But it is of no consequence to him because his sappy tome wasn't directed at the straight-thinking folks. He's a man with great credentials and his toadys will celebrate them to the near reaches of infalibility. His book was meant to bolster their emunah and heaven knows, its intellectual ineptitude that makes his book so appealing. Because true emunah needs little proper reasoning and even less sound judgement.
    So who is to say what Rabbeinu Avraham said, didn't say or meant to say.
    So to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty deep in the rabbit hole, "Rabbeinu Avraham means just what I choose him to mean—neither more nor less."
    And nobody can say it doesn't.

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    1. I'd prefer to stick to analysis of ideas and not engage in the ad hominem.

      I will also say that, in general, the goal of an argument should not be to get your interlocutor to agree. The goal should be to provide the evidence for your position so that an objective third party is enlightened by your argument.

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  3. But four "humble opinions" in the same short piece is annoying and comes across as "humble bragging".

    Point taken. But the short piece seems a lot longer when writing in your "spare" time :).

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  4. A very important essay, But I would have cited the passage in the Kifayat in the body of your essay instead of putting it in note 3.That way readers could easily see for themselves how untenable R. Meiselman's claim that Rabbeinu Avraham was referring Hazal is, and how your reading is just plain peshat. In this regard, l would go one step beyond zdub, Not only was there no need for the "in my humble opinion" there, but there wasn't even any need to write "in my opinion." You could have just stated "R. Meiselman's reading, however, is untenable for a very simple reason. Rabbeinu Avraham is not speaking about Chazal! He is, as is clear from the passage, talking about people in every generation including both his own and future generations. The people in the third class are the practical model for proper behavior and understanding."

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Dear Lawrence, thank you for your comment. Your suggestion is a good one and I might make an edit. I'm always conflicted about what should go into a note and what should be in the main body of an argument. And the blogging platform editor makes it even more difficult because moving things in and out of footnotes is annoying.

      On IMHO: I'm not really saying "in my opinion". In everything that I write here, I'm trying to provide only very solid arguments and not my opinion. All I'm doing is disagreeing strongly in a respectful manner. So, counter-intuitively, I tend to write IMHO before what I think are the strongest arguments.

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  5. To those criticising the use of the phrase in my humble opinion, it shows understanding that all that the author has written is according to the way he sees the sources. It is not to say this is the only way and therefore R' Meiselman must be wrong or a claim to having access to the ultimate truth of the matter. Mr Ohsie has the awareness that his opinion is the way he understands it, which may or may not be incontrovertible. aka intellectual honesty

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  6. dave: But in this case, the passage in question from Rabbenu Avraham is so clear that Mr. Ohsie's reading IS incontrovertible. Why don't you try to explain to us how R. Meiselman's reading that the passage refers to Hazal is defensible?

    Lawrence Kaplan

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  7. Dave, thank you for your comment. In fact, I wrote IMHO in order to disagree respectfully, not to indicate any known uncertainty. Certainly, I realize that I could be wrong about anything.

    I would repeat Prof Kaplan's request: if you think I'm wrong, please comment and I'll respond as best I can.

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  8. David, thank you for this set of postings. I know very little about Rabbeinu Avraham (actually, I had never heard of him before coming to this blog). So this is quite educational for me.

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    1. Nice to hear from you, Joe and thank you for posting the comment. The feedback is very helpful to me.

      Delete
  9. "It goes without saying that we acquire our knowledge of science from experiment and by reading the works of scientists and not from Torah study. The Rambam is explicit that Chazal's knowledge of astronomy needed to fulfill the Mitzvah to calculate the time of the sighting of the new moon was lost to us, so that he restored it from other secular sources. [4b] He writes similarly in the Guide for the Perplexed [4c]."

    The Rambam here is immaterial to your argument. Once the Chazal's information was forgotten the only possible way was to use the best available information. Its possible that Chazal had better information. It was "restored" to the best extent possible. We now know that the Rambam's data was wrong. That doesn't mean that Chazal's information wasn't better, based on the Torah.

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    1. John, thank you for your comment.

      I believe that you've reversed the line of argument. Rabbi Meiselman expresses a theory about Rabbeinu Avraham. Specifically that Rabbeinu Avraham stated that Chazal learned their science from the Torah. In this post, I'm merely disproving that line of reasoning.

      What I showed is that his source of proof is invalid, since he is not even talking about Chazal. And since he is talking about his time (and ours), and we don't learn science from the Torah, therefore, he can't mean, in that statement, that we learn science from the Torah.

      While I don't believe that Chazal learned science from the Torah, and that even if they did, it would not prove that we need to accept the science of the Talmud where it contradicts what we know, I was not trying to prove that here.

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    2. I understand what you were trying to prove, yet I don't understand how the Rambam is relevant. Your explanation in RA is 100% correct, yet it has no relation to the Rambam you quoted. Or does it?

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    3. I was proving that post-Talmud, at the very least, we acquire our knowledge of science the i the usual manner. While this is obviously true, I wanted to show that the Rambam explicitly affirms that he get his science from science textbooks. Since Rabbeinu Avraham's statement refers to post-Talmudic sages, then he can't be referring to some special relevelation-based science. Therefore, any proof from Rabbeinu Avraham falls away.

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  10. David Ohsie,

    It seems that the fourth category that you mention above pertains to the Haredi community in Israel today, since they only learn Torah rigorously and no science rigorously. Right?

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    1. I find it unlikely that the designers of the Charedi educational cirriculum would be followers of the rationalistic aspects or Rabbeinu Avraham or the Rambam. However, they presumably do go the doctor when sick and hire architects to design their building, so they do admit of the importance of cause and effect and science.

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  11. David,

    Thanks for your informative posts. Granted that much of what the sages knew was based on the sciences of their times. But doesn't your very own footnote show that at least certain things were supernaturally transmitted (despite the fact that they may have been forgotten or lost)?

    Kiddush Hachodesh (17:24): "The texts written by the Sages of Israel in the age of the prophets from the tribe of Yissachar have not been transmitted to us. Nevertheless, since these concepts can be proven in an unshakable manner..."

    He seems to be saying: We don't have that supernatural tradition ANYMORE, but that's okay because we have unshakable proofs based on science.

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    1. MK, thank you for your comment. An argument similar to yours appears in TCS and I'll deal with that in a future post. Please keep on reading, and post your comment again if you feel I don't sufficiently address your argument.

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  12. MK: Where does the Rambam ever say that this knowledge was supernatural. He speaks of the SAGES from the tribe of Yissacher.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Lawrence,

      It seems to me that the Rambam is referring to supernatural knowledge either through prophecy, or tradition. First of all, not only does he speak of the texts of the sages of Yissachar - he specifies that it was in the age of the prophets. He then says that the reason why we don't care is because we don't rely on authority, but rather on proofs and reasons. Now, if he is saying that the texts from these sages (in the age of the prophets) were based on science, then of what authority are prophets in matters of science? They are authorities of tradition, and revelation - not astronomy and geometry.

      Note: The Rambam is also contrasting these texts with unshakable scientific proofs - which to me, makes more sense if he is contrasting supernatural knowledge, with scientific knowledge (of course, this is debatable).

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  13. Lawrence,

    It seems to me that the Rambam is referring to supernatural knowledge either through prophecy, or tradition. First of all, not only does he speak of the texts of the sages of Yissachar - he specifies that it was in the age of the prophets. He then says that the reason why we don't care is because we don't rely on authority, but rather on proofs and reasons. Now, if he is saying that the texts from these sages (in the age of the prophets) were based on science, then of what authority are prophets in matters of science? They are authorities of tradition, and revelation - not astronomy and geometry.

    Note: The Rambam is also contrasting these texts with unshakable scientific proofs - which to me, makes more sense if he is contrasting supernatural knowledge, with scientific knowledge (of course, this is debatable).

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  14. 1) MK, you line of argument actually undermines Rabbi Meiselman's argument if you think about it. I'll discuss it in more detail in a later post.

    2) For the Rambam references to prophets doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means. Any person with moral perfection and great intellect can potentially achieve the level of prophecy. The important think may be that they were on a very high level intellectually, not that they received a science lesson from God.

    3) The contrast is not be between prophecy and reason, but between what they did and what we do and loss of other halachos vs the loss of these "halachos". He is saying that, unlike in halacha where would not restore a lost tradition from Ptolemey, we can do so here because the type of knowledge we are talking about is susceptible to verification (mathematical or empirical).

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    1. 1) That's very possible as I've never read TCS and my argument is completely independent from Rabbi Meiselman's. Also, I (unlike Rabbi Meiselman) concede that Chazal could err in science. I am simply arguing that according to the Rambam, at SOME point in time, there was supernatural knowledge of at least SOME scientific matters.
      2) I think to say that the Rambam meant that the prophets' authority was that they were more intellectual is just a harder position to take. Being on a high level intellectually doesn't mean being knowledgeable in all areas of science. One doesn't necessarily need to know astronomy to be a prophet, they simply need to be on a high intellectual level. Therefore, it's unlikely that the authority refers to is in matters of science. It's more likely that their authority stems from tradition or revelation.

      (Note: If this is a duplicate post, please ignore it and/or delete it - thanks)

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    2. 1) That's very possible as I've never read TCS and my argument is completely independent from Rabbi Meiselman's. Also, I (unlike Rabbi Meiselman) concede that Chazal could err in science. I am simply arguing that according to the Rambam, at SOME point in time, there was supernatural knowledge of at least SOME scientific matters.

      I don't think that is his approach, but I'm not trying to prove otherwise. I'll have a future post which addresses this a bit more directly. I certainly would not be completely surprised if you are correct.

      2) I think to say that the Rambam meant that the prophets' authority was that they were more intellectual is just a harder position to take. Being on a high level intellectually doesn't mean being knowledgeable in all areas of science. One doesn't necessarily need to know astronomy to be a prophet, they simply need to be on a high intellectual level. Therefore, it's unlikely that the authority refers to is in matters of science. It's more likely that their authority stems from tradition or revelation.

      This doesn't disprove your general point, but I do think that the Rambam did assume that a prophet would know astronomy. He feels that it is so fundamental that he included it in Mishneh Torah under the category of "fundamentals of the Torah" (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/904969/jewish/Yesodei-haTorah-Chapter-Three.htm).

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    3. "This doesn't disprove your general point, but I do think that the Rambam did assume that a prophet would know astronomy. He feels that it is so fundamental that he included it in Mishneh Torah under the category of "fundamentals of the Torah" (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/904969/jewish/Yesodei-haTorah-Chapter-Three.htm)."

      Interesting observation, but if it's so fundamental, then it doesn't apply only to prophets - it applies to common people as well. More relevant is Chapter 7 of Yesodei Hatorah, where the Rambam talks about the qualifications of a prophet. The Rambam writes, "He must [also] possess a very broad and accurate mental capacity." What does he mean by broad and accurate mental capacity? The Rambam explains, "When he enters the Pardes and is drawn into these great and sublime concepts, if he possesses an accurate mental capacity to grasp [them], he will become holy." I could very well be wrong, but I don't think Pardes refers to studies of astronomy and geometry. Indeed, that whole chapter about prophets doesn't make one reference to astronomy or geometry. So again, it's unlikely that the Rambam believed that prophets were ipso facto authorities of science.

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    4. Interesting observation, but if it's so fundamental, then it doesn't apply only to prophets - it applies to common people as well.

      Yes, he wants everyone to know the basics, since he considers them fundamental to Torah. A Prophet would be more so.

      Pardes is Maaseh Merkava. This is metaphysics, but the Rambam's metaphysics are tied to his astronomy, inasmuch as the spheres have intelligence.

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  15. Another logical explanation (at least to me) for "But God has informed them through His Torah of that which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers" is that God has given revelations to Chazal, but He did not necessarily grant them revelations on every subject. The text does not say "But God has informed them through His Torah of everything which is beyond the understanding of the scholars and philosophers"

    And I think this leads to an interpretation that you and I (but not those who hold like Rabbi Meieselman) can agree with. That God gave revelations to Chazal and He does give revelations to Jews in every generation, but that He does not grant people complete knowledge. He grants people what they need to know in order to properly keep the Mitzvot.

    On other matters (science, medicine, etc.,) He generally does not give such knowledge and expects us to use our intellect to study and learn the truth for ourselves. And when he does decide to give a revelation about the natural world, He grants it in a form (e.g. a scientist having a groundbreaking idea) that we can't automatically know to be divine and therefore we must prove its truth based on observation and experiment.

    At least that's my understanding.

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    1. I agree with you. More on this subject in a later post.

      But in this case Rabbeinu Avraham is not even referring to Chazal and he is pretty specific that the additional knowledge imparts is the Creation and Providence.

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