Page 146 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Halevi; Spinoza; Mendelssohn; Hegel; Krochmal; Bialik, etc. We
shall offer here an illustrative sampling of his diverse and prolific
scholarly production.
While in Berlin, Rawidowicz issued an abridged and annotated
edition of the Book of Knowledge, (
Sefer Ha-Maddo
), the first
book of Maimonides’
Mishneh Torah
(1922). Though part o f an
eminently halakhic work, this book, in content if not in form, was
conceived in the spirit of medieval philosophy. Maimonides’ in­
novation was that basic philosophical truths, insofar as they re­
lated to Judaic doctrine, should be formulated as codified injunc­
tions. The young Rawidowicz was attracted by this unique ap­
proach. In a learned introduction and in marginal notes he
undertook to identify, in strictly philosophical terms and on the
basis of linguistic analysis, what Maimonides meant to convey in
his halakhic postulations. Thus he tried to show the harmony
between Maimonides the philosopher and Maimonides the
halakhist. For instance, a close analysis of the Hebrew term
madda,
when compared to corresponding terms used by Maimonides in
his Arabic works, leads to the conclusion that the
Sefer Ha-Madda
actually refers to belief and not to knowledge, as is often errone­
ously supposed.2
MAIMONIDES
OUTLOOK
In one of his essays, Rawidowicz advances a theory of his own,
also supported by semantics, to elucidate the so-called “ration­
alism” of Maimonides. It is true, he reasons, that the
sekhel,
or
intellect, dominates the entire philosophical system of the Great
Eagle, but this is a specifically Maimonidean kind of rationalism
and is not to be taken in the usual sense. Rawidowicz writes:
“Maimonides’
ratio
is not antagonistic to the world of feelings and
emotions. He was never a rationalistic philosopher of this type. By
underlining the weight of
ratio
he purports to oppose mainly . . .
the imagination which he considers . . . as the main source of
religious and philosophical perplexity. . . It is the imagination
which Maimonides describes as
yetzerha-ra
[the evil inclination]. It
was one of the main purposes of the
Guide of the Perplexed
to
2 This writer has serious reservations as to the validity of Rawidowicz’s interpreta­
tion. See my article in
Hadoar,
April 6, 1979, p. 345.