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The Eternity of the Universe: From "The Guide for the Perplexed" by Maimonides (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2021-02-01
Език:English

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Maimonides, also known as HaRambam, or Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, was a notable medieval Jewish philosopher, astronomer, physician, and intellectual figure. Famous works by Maimonides include “Mishne Torah,” a commentary on the Talmud, and “The Guide for the Perplexed,” philosophical discussions regarding theological matters.

Today, we will read a selection from Part 2 in Rabbi Moses ben Maimon’s book “The Guide for the Perplexed,” where the author elaborates on the perpetuity of the Universe, as he includes statements from the Scriptures and Sages, that support his own philosophy on the subject. “We have stated that the belief in the Creation is a fundamental principle of our religion; but we do not consider it a principle of our faith that the Universe will again be reduced to nothing. It is not contrary to the tenets of our religion to assume that the Universe will continue to exist forever.”

“According to our theory, taught in Scripture, the existence or non-existence of things depends solely on the will of God and not on fixed laws, and, therefore, it does not follow that God must destroy the Universe after having created it from nothing. It depends on His will. He may, according to His desire, or according to the decree of His wisdom, either destroy it, or allow it to exist, and it is therefore possible that He will preserve the Universe forever, and let it exist permanently as He Himself exists. It is well known that our sages never said that the throne of glory will perish, although they assumed that it has been created. No prophet or sage ever maintained that the throne of glory will be destroyed or annihilated; but, on the contrary, the Scriptural passages speak of its permanent existence. We are of opinion that the souls of the pious have been created, and at the same time we believe that they are immortal.”

“Solomon himself has stated that these works of God, the Universe, and all that is contained in it, remain with their properties forever, although they have been created. For he says, ‘Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken away from it’ (Ecclesiastes 3:14). He declares in these words that the world has been created by God and remains forever. He adds the reason for it by saying, ‘Nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it;’ for this is the reason for the perpetuity, as if he meant to say that things are changed in order to supply that which is wanting, or in order to take away what is superfluous.”

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