Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rambam and Kuzari according to the Rav - The intellect is king.

In Worship of the Heart, RYBS writes:

“Even Maimonides, the great rationalist, who considered the intellectual connection to God as the prime objective of man’s pursuits and cognitive attainments, as the safest way leading to God, admitted that a rational, intellectual approach is not enough. The intellectual quest must express itself in an act of love whereby man attaches himself to the Infinite. The distinction between Maimonides and Halevi (R. Yehudah Halevi in his Kuzari) is to be understood in terms of philosophical order rather then essence. Maimonides posits the intellect as the point of departure for the dramatic ascent of man to God that coincides with the great passionate love of man:” according to knowledge so is the love (Hil. Teshuvah 10:6). Yehudah Halevi, as an adherent of visionary experience, starts out with the emotional response of man to the vision of God to man; he depicts man confronted with the reality of the Infinite and from there he proceeds to the interpretation of the emotional experience in rational terms… The ecstatic moment in the religious experience must be harnessed by intellectual categories and must never exceed the bounds of rationality. Judaism has always tried to maintain a fundamental equilibrium of thought and emotion, of cognition and feeling.”

The Rav is warning us that we need to control our emotions with our intellect when we deal with issues of religion. Unbounded ecstasy and free flow of the imagination are not part of Judaism. It is not only Rambam’s approach but also is the understanding of the other school of thought represented by the Kuzari. It is a universal axiom in Judaism.


  1. Ha...

    but the point of departure is so critical....

  2. but the point of departure is so critical....

    I agree;-)

    Gmar Tov.