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Even more thoughts on Maimonides and Purpose of (the) Law

 

I have to find a new title..

 

Anyway, as mentioned in the first post on the subject, Maimonides’ view on the purpose of the Law, is as follows:

 

“The true Law, which as we said is one, and beside which there is no other Law, viz., the Law of our teacher Moses, has for its purpose to give us the twofold perfection. It aims first at the establishment of good mutual relations among men by removing injustice and creating the noblest feelings. In this way the people in every land are enabled to stay and continue in one condition, and every one can acquire his first perfection. Secondly, it seeks to train us in faith, and to impart correct and true opinions when the intellect is sufficiently developed. Scripture clearly mentions the twofold perfection, and tells us that its acquisition is the object of all the divine commandments.”

 

I had some points of ponder in this regards, such as who is supposed to govern the societies, why and so on..

Now, Maimonides has himself some questions, which he raises in chapter 28, where he claims the following:

 

“The reason of a commandment, whether positive or negative, is clear, and its usefulness evident, if it directly tends to remove injustice, or to teach good conduct that furthers the well-being of society, or to impart a truth which ought to be believed either on its own merit or as being indispensable for facilitating the removal of injustice or the teaching of good morals. There is no occasion to ask for the object of such commandments; for no one can, e.g., be in doubt as to the reason why we have been commanded to believe that God is one; why we are forbidden to murder, to steal, and to take vengeance, or to retaliate, or why we are commanded to love one another.”

 

For Maimonides some commandments are clear, as mentioned above. But there are those commandments, which doesn’t seem to have any clear purpose, at least not in this matter.. As he states:

 

“But there are precepts concerning which people are in doubt, and of divided opinions, some believing that they are mere commands, and serve no purpose whatever, whilst others believe that they serve a certain purpose, which, however, is unknown to man. Such are those precepts which in their literal meaning to not seem to further any of the three above-named results: to impart some truth, or to teach some moral, or to remove injustice. They do not seem to have any influence upon the well-being of the soul by imparting any truth, or upon the well-being of the body by suggesting such ways and rules as are useful in the government of a state, or in the management of a household.”

 

He mentions a couple of these commandments, such as wearing “sha’atnetz” (the mixing of wool and linen), not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk and so on.. At first sight, these commandments doesn’t seem to bring any rationale on why we have to apply them in society.. Neither does it regulate the well-being of the body, nor the well-being of the soul..

Though, as he sais, “…in some cases the law contains a truth which is itself the only object of the law, as e.g., the truth of the Unity, Eternity, and Incorporeality of God; in other cases, that truth is only the means of ensuring the removal of injustice, or the acquisition of good morals; such is the belief that God is angry with those who oppress their fellow-men…”

But what about the rest of the, apparently, irrational laws? That’s what he plans to explain further on, except for a few minor laws, which he still hasn’t reach an understanding of..

 

Kol Tuv


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