Thursday, 8 October 2009

Talking Torah and History 2.1 - Perfect Mis-understanding RE: the Rambam

In Part 2.0, I wrote, based upon my chat with the Historian:

«"Rambam takes ONE sugya as the controlling sugya. It might be Bavli or Yerushalmi or Tosefta etc. But the Rambam loyally sticks to his selected sugya without deviation.»

«I found this point very enlightening. So Rambam can be a strict constructionist in the sense of staying in the box without straying. Yet Rambam is not at all confined JUST to Bavli. Rather he has a broad range of sources to select from.»

Here is a point of possible "Perfect Mis-understanding"

Here are 2 Premises or Presumptions re: Rambam. The first is based upon the previous post.

• 1 [as above] the Rambam is a strict constructionist re: Sugyot

• 2 That given multiple sources - that the Rambam bases himself upon the Bavli to the exclusion of other sources. IOW if say Bavli and Sifre have a conflict, Rambam invariably would choose the Bavli.

With this version #2 in mind, the Rambam comes off as in conflict with the simple read of the Bavli in numerous cases.

• "Es haNochri Tigoss" - Is charging Ribbis for a loan to an eino Yehudi optional or required? [Sifre Vs. Bavli]

• Is Mishna Yadayim 1:1 discussing mayyim rishonim or sheniyyim
[Tosefta vs. Simple read of Mishna]

If one presumes #2 to be true, then one must eventually question #1. Because #2 would make the Rambam a liberal constructionist in many places.

So Let's instead substitute #2A

• The Rambam pasqens from selected* Sugyos - whether Bavli, Yerushalmi, Tosefta, etc.


Rambam follows straight read of Bavli re: women reading Megillas Esther. Viz. Women are equally obligated as are men.

[Tosafos, OTOH, throws a contradictory Tosefta into the mix and comes up with a proposed synthesis - women must listen but no need to read.]

The perfect misunderstanding is that the Rambam would hold that the Bavli ALWAYS supersedes Tosefta

The more correct understanding is:

• That once Rambam selects a sugya - be it Bavli, Sifre or otherwise - that Sugya supersedes all w/o conflating it with other sources.

So instead of
Perfect Mis-understanding:
The Bavli overrules Tosefta

Better Understanding:
The selected source [including Bavli] rules w/o compromise.

* The exact nature or criteria of the Rambam's "selection" process is subject to further research and debate - and is beyond the scope of this post.


No comments: