Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Rambam's 8th Principle According to R' Yaakov Weinberg

A Guest Post by E. Fink

This is based on the book "Fundamentals and Faith" which is based on a lecture series given by R' Yaakov Weinberg Z"ZtL Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael Baltimore. A Yeshiva I attended and the Yeshiva my father attended. My father was a close talmid of R' Weinberg.

In writing this summary, please note that there is "more" to this then what I have written. I have included what I find to be the "chiddush" here.

The most important thing to note is the Ani Maamin version of the principle does not reflect the primary concern of the Rambam in this principle.

The Ani Maamin version:
"I believe with complete faith that the entire Torah which is now in our possession is the same as that which was given to Moshe Rabbeinu, may he rest in peace."
The actual text reads:
"We believe that the entire Torah in our possession today was given [to us] by the Almighty through Moshe Rabbeinu, by means of the medium we metaphorically call "speech." No one knows the real nature of this communication except Moshe, to whom it was transmitted. He was like a scribe receiving dictation. He wrote the history, the stories, and the commandments. Therefore he is called [the] inscriber."
It seems that the real point of this principle is to emphasize that Moshe was a scribe and not an author.

Further, R' Weinberg opines that is difficult to accept that the Torah we possess today is the exact same Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu received at Sinai. As long as the first Temple stood, the original Torah scroll from Sinai was kept in the Temple. But right after the destruction of the Temple, when Ezra returned to Israel he found 3 Torah scrolls which he considered to be valid. However, there were differences between the scrolls and they made a composite of the 3 scrolls using 2 out of 3 methodology. The Torah tells us to follow the majority, but if this happened several times over history, obviously our Torah scroll cannot be word for word from Sinai. The Talmud admits this as well in Kiddushin when trying to determine the exact number of letters in the Torah.

R' Weinberg says that the Rambam knew very well of these problems. Therefore, "the Rambam should not be taken literally", rather it should be understood in a general sense that we must consider the Torah we live today to be the same Torah as was given to Moshe. The real emphasis here is that entire Torah, including the Oral Law was given word for word to Moshe. There was no editing done by Moshe. Moshe did not add any commentary or explanations, rather he merely transcribed the Torah.

This principle is vital because it tells us that WE may not change the Torah. We must consider the Torah to be immutable. The moment we think that the Torah is subjective we have violated this principle. This principle says that the Torah is absolute law and we are not allowed to tailor the Torah to our needs or desires.

In conclusion, R' Weinberg held that whether or not the Torah is precisely the same as it was 3000 years ago, is not an issue. It probably is different, but that is not our concern. We are required to treat the Torah as immutable and this is shown by believing that Moshe did not edit or add or subtract from the Torah as he received it. Nor are we permitted to edit, add or subtract from the Torah as we have received it.


Search for more information about kefira at 4torah.com.

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