Monday, 24 August 2009

Book Review: Sefer Mada - a Halachic approach to Middot and Hashqafa - Overview

Most approaches to character development and to Machshava/Hashqafa/Weltanshaung involve Sifrei Mussar.

If not Mussar, then Qabbalah or Hassidus come to mind. But there are just bits and pieces of Halachic texts that outline thought, repentance, character improvement etc.

As part of my proposed 8 semester course on Jewish Machshava, I have included Rambam's Sefer Mada. It is a treasure-trove of nuggets of wisdom. Along with Rambam's own Shemoneh P'raqim, it represents an expansion of Pirqei Avos.

The Edition I am reviewing is the Moznayim - Touger edition. The commentary may be a big factor later on as we shall see.

Seven hundred years ago Sefer Mada was quite controversial! It was even banned [and burned] along with the Moreh Nevuchim. Today's modern society considers 90% of it as mainstream with elements of Yesodei Hattorah [chapters 1-4] still holding out as controversial even today.

For the rational, modern, thinking person, the Rambam's presentation is clear cut, concise, and using emotion sparingly - but with great effect nevertheless


I plan to review the component volumes in future reviews, perhaps 1 or 2 volumes per review.



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