Written on 31.01.2005,
by Roman Zakharii, in
I say to you that for every evil word
which people speak they must give an accounting on the day of judgement.
You shall be justified by your words,
and you shall be condemned by your words.
In Ukrainian: Кажу
ж вам, що за
яке скажуть люди, дадуть вони відповідь судного дня!
Бо зо слів своїх будеш виправданий,
і зо слів своїх будеш засуджений.
Jesus Christ, Math. 12:34-37
My selected passages from Maimonides' The Guide for
(translated from the original Arabic text by Dr. M. Friedländer)
Those who have no knowledge of God
are like those who are in constant darkness
and have never seen light
Maimonides on human intellect
Intellectual worship of God, Perfection of man and Divine Providence
The intellect which emanates from God unto us is the
link that joins us to God. You have it in your power to strengthen
that bond, if you choose to do so, or to weaken it gradually till it breaks, if
you prefer this. It will only become
strong when you employ it in the love
of God, and seek that love.
You must know that even if you were the wisest man in respect to the true knowledge of God, you break the bond between you and God whenever you turn entirely your thoughts to the necessary food or any necessary business; you are not then with God, and He is not with you; for that
relation between you and him is actually interrupted in those moments.
We must bear in mind that all religious acts as reading the Law [ the Bible ], praying, and the performance of other precepts, serve exclusively as the means of causing us to preoccupy and fill our mind with the precepts of God, and free it from worldly business; for we are thus, as it were, in communication with God, and undisturbed by any other thing.
When you are alone by yourself, when you are awake on your coach, be careful to meditate in such moments on nothing but the intellectual worship of God, viz., to approach Him and minister before Him in the true manner - not in hollow emotions. This I consider as the highest
perfection wise men can attain by above training.
Those who have their God dwelling in their hearts, are not touched by any evil whatever.
The philosophers have already explained how the bodily forces of man in his youth prevent the development of moral principles. In a greater measure this is the case as regards the purity of thought which man attains through the perfection of those ideas that lead him to an intense love of God. Man can by no means attain this so long as his bodily humours are hot.
The more the forces of his body are weakened, and the fire of passion quenched, in the same measure does man's intellect increase in strength and light; his knowledge become purer, and he is happy with his knowledge.
* * *
MAIMONIDE ON PERFECTION OF MAN:
The ancient and the modern philosophers have shown that man can acquire four kinds of perfection:
1 The first, the lowest, in the acquisition of which people spend their days, is perfection as regards property; the possession of money, garments, furniture, servants, land, and the like; the possession of the title of a great king belongs to this class. There is no close connection between this possession and its possessor; it is perfectly imaginary relation when on account of the great advantage a person derives from these possessions, he says, This is my house, this is my servant, this is my money, and these are my hosts and armies. For when he examines himself he will find that all these things are external, and their qualities are entirely independent of the possessor. When, therefore, that relation ceases, he that has been a great king may one morning find that there is no difference between him and the lowest person…The philosophers have shown that he whose sole aim in all his exertions and endeavours is the possession of this kind of perfection, only seeks perfectly imaginary and transient things; and even if these remain his property all his lifetime, they do not give him any perfection.
2 The second kind is more closely related to man's body than the first. It includes the perfection of the shape, constitution, and form of man's body; the utmost evenness of temperaments, and the proper order and strength of his limbs. This kind of perfection must likewise be excluded from forming our chief aim; because it is a perfection of the body, and man does not possess it as man, but as a living being; he has this property besides in common with the lowest animal; and even if a person possesses the greatest possible strength, he could not be as strong as a mule, much less can he be as strong as a lion or an elephant; he, therefore, can at the utmost have strength that might enable him to carry a heavy burden, or break a thick substance, or do similar things, in which there is no great profit for the body. The soul derives no profit whatever from this kind of perfection.
3 The third kind of perfection is more closely connected with man himself that the second perfection. It includes moral perfection, the highest degree of excellency in man's character. Most of the precepts aim at producing this perfection; but even this kind is only preparation for
another perfection, and is not sought for its own sake. For all moral principles concern the relation of man to his neighbour; the perfection of man's moral principles is, as it were, given to man for the benefit of mankind. Imagine a person being alone, and having no connection whatever with any other person, all his good moral principles are at rest, they are not required, and give man no perfection whatever. These principles are only necessary and useful when man comes in contact with others.
4 The fourth kind of perfection is the true perfection of man; the possession of the highest intellectual faculties; the possession of such notions which lead to true metaphysical opinions as regards God. With this perfection man has obtained his final object; it gives him true human perfection; it remains to him alone; it gives him immortality, and on its account he is called man. Examine the first three kinds of perfection, you will find that, if you possess them, they are not your property, but the property of the others; according to the ordinary view, however, they belong to you and to others. But the last kind of perfection is exclusively yours; no one else owns any part of it, "They shall be thine own, and not strangers' with thee" (Proverbs 5:17). Your aim must therefore be to attain this (fourth) perfection that is exclusively yours, and you ought not to work and weary yourself for that which belongs to others, whilst neglecting your soul till it has lost entirely its original purity through the dominion of the bodily powers over it. The following passage refers to the same subject, "Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto cruel" (Proverbs 5 : 9)
* * *
The theory that Divine Providence does
not extend to man,
and that there is no difference between man and other animals,
implies very bad notions about God; it disturbs all social order,
removes and destroys all the moral and intellectual virtues of man.
MAIMONIDES ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE
My selected passages from Maimonides' "Guide for Perplexed"
The conclusions of a greatest rationalist Jewish philosopher in regard to accidents and providence in human and animal life
I hold that Divine Providence is related and closely
connected with the intellect, because providence (planning) can only
proceed from an
intelligent being, from a being that is itself perfect intellect. Those
creatures, therefore, which receive part of that intellectual
influence will become subordinate to the action of Providence in the same
proportion as they are acted upon by the Intellect.
The theory of man's perfectly free will is one of those who follow the Law (Jewish and Christian Holy Writings). According to this principle man does what is in his power to do, by his nature, his choice, and his will. All species of irrational animals likewise move by their own free will. This is the will of God, that is to say, it is due to the eternal divine will that all living beings should move freely, and that man should have power to act according to his will or choice within the limits of his capacity.
Another principle taught by the Law of Moses (part of Christian Bible) is this: WRONG CANNOT BE ASCRIBED TO GOD IN ANY WAY WHATEVER; ALL EVILS AND AFFLICTIONS as well as ALL KINDS OF HAPPINESS OF MAN whether they concern one individual or community ARE DISTRIBUTED ACCORDING TO JUSTICE; they are result of strict judgement that admits no wrong whatever. Even when a person suffers a pain in consequence of a thorn having entered into his hand, although it is at once drawn out, it is a punishment that has been inflicted on him (for sin), and the least pleasure he enjoys is a reward (for some good action); all this is meted out by strict justice; as is said in Scripture "all his ways are
judgement" (Deutornomy 32:4).
It is distinctly stated in the Law, that all is done in accordance with justice, and the words of our sages generally express the same idea. They clearly say:
There is no death without sin, no suffering without transgression
(Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 55a)
Again, The deserts of man are meted out to him in the same measure which he himself employs. (Mishna, Sotah I:7)
These are the words of Mishnah (Jewish Talmud). Thus our (Jewish) sages say: God does not deprive any being of the full reward (of its good deed) (Babylonian Talmud, Pesh. 118a);
Again, He who says that God remits part of a punishment, will be punished severely; He is long suffering but is sure to exact payment (Babylonain Talmud, Baba K. 50 a).
It is clearly expressed in many Scriptural passages that God provides for all men, and controls all their deeds – e.g. He fashioneth their hearts alike, He considerth all their works (Ps 33:15). For Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one according to his ways (Jer. 32:19).
Again: For his eyes are upon the ways of man and he seeth all his goings (Job 32:21). In the Law there occur instances of the fact that men are governed by God, and that their actions are examined by Him. Compare: In the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them (Exodus 32:34); I will even appoint over you terror (Leviticus 26:16); Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will blot out of my book (Exodus
32:33), the same soul will I destroy (Leviticus 23:30), I will set even my face against that soul (Leviticus 20:6).
My opinion (Maimonides') on this purpose of Divine Providence I will now explain to you. In the principle which I now proceed to expound I do not rely on demonstrative proof, but on my conception of the spirit of the Divine Law (Bible), and the writings of the Prophets (Bible).
In the lower sublunary portion of the universe Divine Providence does not extend to the individual members of species except in the case of mankind. It is only in this species (of men) that the incidents in the existence of the individual beings, their good and evil fortunes, are
result of justice, in according with the words: For all His ways are judgement. But I agree with Aristotle as regards all other living beings, and a fortiori as regards plants and all the rest of earthly creatures. For I do not believe that it is through the interference of Divine Providence that a certain leaf drops (from a tree), nor do I hold when a certain spider catches a certain fly, that this is the direct result of a special decree and will of God in that moment; that the spittle of a certain person moved, fell on a certain gnat in a certain place, and killed it; nor is it by the direct will of God that certain fish catches and swallows a certain worm on the surface of the water. In all these cases the action is to my opinion due to chance as taught by Aristotle. Divine Providence is connected with Divine intellectual influence and the same beings (men) which are benefited by the latter so as to become intellectual and to comprehend things comprehensible to rational beings are also under the control of Divine Providence, which examines all their deeds in order to reward or punish them.
It may be by mere chance that a ship goes down with all her contents, as in the above-mentioned instance, or the roof of a house falls upon those within; but it is not due to chance, according to our view, that in the one instance the men went into the ship, or remained in the house in the other instances; it is due to the will of God, and is in accordance with the justice of His judgements, the method of which our mind is uncapable of understanding.
I have been induced to accept this theory by the circumstance that I have not met in any of the prophetical books with a description of God's providence otherwise than in relation to human beings. The prophets even express their surprise that God take notice of man, who is so little.
* * * To think * * *
Ukrainian: Бо Бог
бачить не те,
чоловік бо дивиться на лице,
а Господь дивиться на серце.
English: For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Norwegian: Gud ser ikke på det som menneskene ser på. Menneskene ser på det ytre, men Herren ser på hjertet.
* * * To think * * *
Created by Roman Zakharii on 31.01.2005 in Norway. Updated in August, 2013 in Iceland.