Friday, August 20, 2004

Condensation of Ch. 6 of Rambam's "Eight Chapters"

This is part of my upcoming translation
of Rambam's "Eight Chapters", to be
published shortly by Judaica Press.

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1. According to the philosophers, one who subdues his yetzer harah does good when he’s not inclined to and suffers in the process. While an “eminent” person does good because he’s naturally inclined to. And they concluded that the “eminent” person is thus loftier. The Torah seems to agree, in fact.

2. But the sages disagreed. They declared that one who longs to sin but doesn’t is loftier than one who doesn’t long to; and that the greater the struggle, the greater the reward. They even charged us not to deny that struggle.

3. Now while the two perspectives seem to contradict each other, they actually don’t. Because what the philosophers saw as bad are things everyone agrees are-- like murder, theft, robbery, abuse, and the like. And indeed, anyone inclined toward any of them is flawed. While the things the sages referred to as “bad” were deeds one wouldn’t ordinarily see as such-- like eating milk and meat together, wearing shatnez, and the like. The sages’ point is that since the latter sorts of deeds are mandated by the Torah, as such, the person who’d observe them would be loftier than someone who wouldn’t.

(C) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman