Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Briskers and the Rambam

It has always amazed me how the Briskers (especially the Brisker Rav and his progeny, excluding the Rav) have adopted the Rambam as the centerpiece of their דרך הלימוד and follow many interesting chumras of the Rambam when hashkafically the Rambam is diametrically opposed to their hashkafa. Here are some examples:

1. the Ramabam is vehemently opposed to the practice of people learning in kollel and not working, he writes this both in the Perush Hamishnayos on Avos (4:5), where he has a very lengthy screed against this practice, and in the Mishna Torah (hilcohos talmud torah 3:10)
"אמרו חכמים, כל הנהנה מדברי תורה, נטל חייו מן העולם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו, לא תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהם, ולא קורדום לחפור בהם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו, אהוב את המלאכה, ושנוא את הרבנות. וכל תורה שאין עימה מלאכה, סופה בטילה; וסוף אדם זה, שיהא מלסטס את הברייות.
2. The Rambam learned philosophy and included it in his sefarim. Believe it or not, the Rambam writes in the שמונה פרקים (his introduction to Avos) that his sources are chazal, the geonim, and the philosophers (meaning Aristotle)
3. The Rambam was a doctor
4. The Rambam not only knew the vernacular (Arabic) but he wrote Sefarim (פירוש המשניות) in it
5. The Rambam understands that many things that are written in Chumash and Chazal never happened but are allegories (for example the story with the 3 angels at the beginning of וירא) or dreams. In addition the Rambam holds that chazal can make a mistake in science.

You may ask, why pick on the briskers, after all the above are against the general Charedi hashkafa of today. In short, the Rambam today would be in cherem and his books banned, wait, they did that and we see how well that worked.

The answer is that the Briskers have placed special emphasis on the Rambam and are machmir like the Rambam on many issues even when everyone else disagrees with the Rambam. Therefore, the fact that the Rambam's hashkafa is so diametrically opposed is striking.


Anonymous said...

It's only because the rambam is well suited to close textual analysis.

bluke said...

That may be true, but it is still ironic that they are diametrically opposed hashkafically to the Rambam and yet he remains the centerpiece of their derech

What is even more interesting is that usually the Briskers are machmir for every shitas haRambam, yet, this one, that you aren't allowed to learn in kollel they conveniently ignore.

Anonymous said...

well, the rambam presumably allows for support in yissochar/zevulan-type partnership (as he was supported this way by his brother himself)...which takes care of those who stay in kollel and rely on support of wife and inlaws, not the tzibur.

Anonymous said...

The Rambam was against people receiving money to be a Rabbi(as opposed to a teacher of Torah).however after the destuctions of 1648,many said that the times required a change in that ruling. The same was also said after the Shoah.

bluke said...

I am not saying that we should pasken like the Rambam, we don't. What I am saying is that the Briskers in most cases follow the Rambam in any case (certainly להחמיר) and that tha Rambam's hashkafa is diametrically opposed to theirs.

Aaron said...

I found your blog & am impressed with your thoughtful postings. What is more ironic about the Rambam's shitah is the last Halachah in Shmittah & Yovel. This is the source that the Yeshivish world quotes for support for staying in learning for life. To paraphrase, "Not only can the Leviim be dedicated to the service of Hashem, but anyone whose heart is devoted to Hashem, they too can divest themselves of the chesbonos of parnosoh & Hashem will help them". They fail to mention the Radvaz on the side, who in fact refers one the Rambam in Avos where he does not approve of someone throwing themselves on the Tzibbur for sustenance, to say the least.

Natan Slifkin said...

the rambam presumably allows for support in yissochar/zevulan-type partnership (as he was supported this way by his brother himself)

Actually it seems that his brother invested his funds for him, which isn't the same thing.

He Who Fights Monsters said...

He was solidly against someone saying, "I am a great sage, my portion is that of a priest, support me in my learning."

And he has been solidly ignored.

But Rambam remains the patron saint

of those who have set times

For learning.