Powered by WebAds

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The moon and the stars

The Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah (3:9) writes:

כל הכוכבים והגלגלים, כולם בעלי נפש ודעה והשכל הם; והם חיים ועומדים ומכירים את מי שאמר והיה העולם, כל אחד ואחד לפי גודלו ולפי מעלתו משבחים ומפארים ליוצרם כמו המלאכים. וכשם שמכירים את הקדוש ברוך הוא, כך מכירים את עצמן ומכירים את המלאכים שלמעלה מהן. ודעת הכוכבים והגלגלים, מעוטה מדעת המלאכים וגדולה מדעת בני האדם

The Rambam writes that the stars and the galgalim (which includes the moon) are spiritual beings like angels. This Rambam was proven wrong when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon showing that the moon was a physical entity.

The Rambam (ibid 3:8) also writes:
כל הכוכבים הנראים--יש מהן כוכבים קטנים שהארץ גדולה מאחד מהן, ויש מהן כוכבים שכל אחד מהן גדול מן הארץ כמה פעמים. והארץ גדולה מן הירח כמו ארבעים פעמים, והשמש גדולה מן הארץ כמו מאה ושבעים פעמים; נמצא הירח אחד מששת אלפים ושמונה מאות מן השמש בקירוב. ואין בכל הכוכבים, כוכב גדול מן השמש ולא קטן מכוכב שבגלגל שני.

He states that the Earth is 4 times bigger then the moon and the sun is 170 times bigger then the Earth. These numbers are clearly wrong based on modern astronomy.

Interestingly enough, R' Shach wanted to use this Rambam to show that Torah includes everything. R' Aharon Lichtenstein responded to R' Shach as follows:

R. Aharon Lichtenstein, "Legitimization of Modernity: Classical and Contemporary" in Leaves of Faith (Ktav: 2004), vol. 2:

...Moreover, I freely concede that one's faith in the concept is periodically put to a severe test. As but one instance, the doyen of [then-]current rashei yeshiva, R. [Elazar Mann] Schach, proves the value of Torah as the self-sufficient repository of all knowledge by asking, rhetorically: "Whence did Hazal know that the earth was forty-two times larger than the moon, and that the sun was approximately one-hundred-and-seventy times larger than the earth (as explained in the Rambam, Hilkhot Yesodei Hatorah 3:8), if not from the power of the Torah?"[24] In raising this question, he is wholly oblivious not only to the rudiments of astronomy but also of the fact that the selfsame Rambam explicitly states, with respect to these very issues, that they are beyond the pale of Hazal's authority.

1 Comments:

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Zach Kessin said...

The Rambam even says he is quoting from Greek sources! Specifically he would have had access to the Al-Majest (the works of Claudius Ptolomy).

The Rambam writes that the stars and the galgalim (which includes the moon) are spiritual beings like angels. This Rambam was proven wrong when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon showing that the moon was a physical entity.

Galileo was able to measure the heights of mountains on the moon in 1609-1610 or so. The Classical astronomy of Aristotle was dead after Galileo and Kepler (Say by 1625).

http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast161/

 

Post a Comment

<< Home