Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rav Soloveitchik vs. the Rambam

After a close reading of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man, I'm so surprised that if I didn't know better I'd think it was a forgery.

R. Soloveitchik explicitly disagrees with two concepts that are fundamental to Maimonidean thought. Although, to be sure, he doesn't disagree entirely. I still found it shocking:

God loves and hates; God is saddened and gladdened; God likes and dislikes. God is not only the active creator but also the passive sufferer of the cosmis drama. The Bible is very far from sharing the views which were later espoused by the medieval philosophers in their tireless crusade against any anthropomorphism. By assigning to God pure actuality to the exclusion of all responsive behavior, one detaches Him from His world and renders practical religion almost absurd. (p. 41)

Even the term da'at et Hashem may be translated "intimacy with God," enjoyment of the divine glory. Maimonidean intellectualization of da'at Hashem is not necessarily true. (p. 119 n. 16)
There's more but I've run out of time. As an side, I suspect that this book (the other new ones also, but this one moreso) renders Zvi Kolitz's book about R. Soloveitchik's existentialism obsolete.

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