Friday, August 13, 2004

Condensation of Rambam's Introduction to "Eight Chapters"

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

Interested in dedicating this work in
loving memory of someone or for other reasons?
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Rambam offers a plethora of original and captivating insights in each and every chapter of this work; and many of them are quite foreign to us, to boot. The reader might thus find him- or herself lost in the mire sometimes and unable to follow the argument at any one time. We therefore offer this synopsis in the hopes that it will help facilitate the process, and that it will also provide an easy way to review the material en toto.


1. As he said he would, Rambam set out to comment on Pirke Avot. But since Pirke Avot isn’t easy to understand despite appearances, since not everyone can abide by what it offers, and since it touches upon such important, ultimate issues, Rambam decided to provide us with these eight chapters as an over-all introduction to Pirke Avot.

2. Our sages assured us that anyone who lives by the words of Pirke Avot will achieve piety. Now since piety is a spiritual rank that’s determined by our character, and since it’s just below prophecy and leads directly to it, Rambam set out to explain that all here, too.

3. Rambam doesn’t claim to have originated any of the ideas here. He acknowledges that they were taken from the words of our sages, from philosophers, and from others whom he’ll often quote from verbatim without citing in order to explain the many things hidden away in Pirke Avot.

(C) 2004 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman