Sunday, August 22, 2004

Condensation of Ch. 7 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. There have always been qualitative differences between prophets. Some were said to “see” God from behind several screens, others from behind just a few, while Moses was said to have “seen” Him from behind a single, diaphanous one. The difference between them is based upon the principle that every intellectual or personal flaw a person suffers from, and each sin he commits, acts as a barrier between God and himself.

2. Nonetheless, a person couldn’t become a prophet until he’d achieved all of the intellectual virtues and most of the more significant personal ones, like contentment and the ability to let reason rule over impulse. In fact, though, we find that Solomon, David, Elijah, Samuel and Jacob each suffered from one personal flaw or another.

3. Some personal flaws (like anger, sorrow, and anxiety) can actually withhold prophecy for a time, until they’re corrected.

4. When Moses realized that he’d achieved personal and intellectual perfection, he asked to comprehend God. But God wouldn’t allow him to, because he was still-in-all a mortal being, which proved to be the only barrier separating him from God. No other prophet ever compared to him.

(C) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman