Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Rambam's 13 Ikkarim - Original Intent vs, .Yigdal

Originally published 6/13/07, 12:01 PM, Eastern Daylight TIme

[Posted in Viewpoint at 11:38 am by RabbiRichWolpoe]
Many years ago, when I was active in the Avodah group, we debated the 13 ikkarim of the Rambam.

Questions arose:
  1. Were these principles ever made normative?
  2. Was our version of the 13 ikkarim the correct version?
  3. What was the original intent of the Rambam on several points?
  4. Are we sticking to those original intentions - and if not why not?

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DrMike said...

I've never understood the big debate about the 13 principles. I mean, most of them are picked up from verses throughout the Tanach or well-interated prophetic principles. There's hardly anything original in them.

The only quibble I might have is the one that says the Torah we have today is identical to the one handed Moshe at Sinai. I don't know if anybody with a grasp of history can accept that. But the concept of Torah and what it is supposed to accomplish, that I have no problem with.

Rabbi Richard Wolpoe said...

There are actully 2 versions of the Rambam's statement

1. The Vlina Shas version - which omits the key phrase [hametzurya beyadaineu]
2) the other version e.g. Kafach et. al. that contains 'hametzuyra beyadeinu

Point? Sanhedrin 99 omits the entire concept that OUR Torah is miSinaia in toto. The only point is the Talmud is that Moses ADDED NOTHING- IOW he was a faithful secretary who did not inject his own persona into the text! It does not address the possiblity of errors creeping into the text! IOW
Higher Criticism is outside the pale of Sanhedrin 99, Lower Criticism is entirely within the pale of Sanhedrin 99, and Lower Criticism is not in the pale of the Ani Maamin / Kafach version.

Rambam is apparently motivated to engage in a polemic against those Moslems who contest the validity of our Scriptures. Hence the deviation from the Talmudic norm with an original Chumra in Dogma.

But the RAMBAM's read of the 13 Ikkarim is NOT the point of my post. The point is that as a normative list of dogma, the Rambam's opinions are NOT THE normative opinions on the matter. Rather, the Comkmunity of Israel has accepted a watered down more universal set of Ikkarim in the Observant community BY DESIGN.

Yigdal -AISI- represents an expression of the lowest common denominator that can be used across the various sects within Orthodoxy. And we can all agree on its loose terminology.

The point of Professor Marc Shapiro's book is to show how the Rambam is disputed on a point by point fasiohon. My post is to show that he is accepted as authoritative in FRAMING the discussion! And that he really has set the definitive agenda for all of the dogmatic GENERALITIES.

Shapiro and I are coming from polar opposites! This is important. Remember given that Rav Ashi * redacted the Talmud does NOT imply that the Halacha follows HIS opinion on any given issue!

* NB: While this point is debatable this is not the place!

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

In regard to the question of whether the Written Torah we have today is exactly the Written Torah that was given to Moshe and whether challenging this assertion is a denial of an ikkur, it should perhaps be noted that Rav Yaakov Weinberg, as presented by Rabbi M. Blumenfeld in his collection of Rav Weinbers's shiurim on the Ikkarim, statest that Rambam could not have meant this. He knew that there were problems with the assertion that we have exactly the same text. The point is that we must also recognize that even what the Rambam meant has to be subject to intellectual scrutiny -- as is the derech of all Torah. (I should perhaps mention, in all fairness, that Rav Moshe Feinstein did understand the Rambam to mean that it is the same text.)

Anonymous said...

Note: I am reading Marc Shapior's book on this topic. I plan BEH to review the book and to make some comments of my own

Kesiva vaChasima Tova