Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rambam, Reward & Punishment
Twix boyscout commercial

G MySpace Video

I remembered this commercial the first time I'd heard it argued that Rambam did not believe in reward or punishment as generally understood by Chazzal (for now, just the link to Kellner);

-Comes David Guttman to take Rambam & The Things That Cometh After along his route.

-Aish, however has 'cleared' things up a bit in what is billed as an exposition on Rambam's 13 Principles), by stating that indeed, a soul cannot receive reward or punishment in an afterlife, nor a body, so only literally conjoined can there be something called reward. Nor is it even hinted how, or if, the 'other' 99.5% of humanity (non-Jews), are rewarded without bodies, since from time immemorial it was established that (presumably from the time of Sinai), they do not receive a full reward for their deeds, nor do they experience Tehiat haMaitim (not discussed in the Aish piece, but roundly accepted; see Way of God - Derech Hashem, Feldheim Torah Classics Edition, p. 416, notes 59-61);

Resurrection signifies that man in his totality, body and soul, is immortal. The relationship of body and soul is like that of a blind man and a lame man (Sanhedrin 91b). The lame man sees delicious fruit in a nearby orchard but can't reach it. The blind man can reach it but doesn't see it. Thus, the lame man instructs the blind man to carry him across the field, with the lame man directing him to the fruit. The blind man happily agrees and anxiously they advance into the orchard and take the fruit.

Soon afterward, the outraged orchard owner appears and begins to question them. The blind man says, "I couldn't have taken the fruit -- I can't see." The lame man says, "I couldn't have taken the fruit -- I can't walk."

The owner thinks a moment and then forces the lame man to hop onto the shoulders of the blind man. Only then, when they are together, has the owner found his culprit, so he beats them both.

Just as there could be no punishment for the lame man alone, there can be no reward or punishment for the soul. Alone, it cannot sin. A soul only sins in its body. Reward and punishment can only apply to the entity that is the person, the body and soul together. Only thus can justice be meted out. The soul cannot enter the World to Come without the body. Is it possible that once the entity of body and soul achieves a place in the World to Come, the body is discarded?

Rambam, however, makes no distinction in these matters between Jews and non-Jews (Menachem Kellner "Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People", ch. 4);

Maimonides's discussions of immortality, in his halakhic works as well as in the Guide, simply ignore the whole question of Jews and Gentiles. Immortality, like providence and prophecy, depends on intellectual perfection. Jews have the advantage of the Torah to be sure, making it more likely that they will achieve both moral and intellectual perfection...In principle, however, Jews as such, as opposed to human beings who behave morally and perfect their intellects, have no advantage when it comes to immortality.

To add insult to injury, Aish now leaves up to question whether or not non-Jews have Tzelem Elokim ("of course they do Adam haRishon did and all are from him" - though only Jews are called 'man', and all nations come from Bavel and are further lowered after Sinai happened only for Jews...);

A soul is not an image of God. A body is not an image of God (both of which, it is alleged, non-Jews have). The soul doesn't have free will. Only the two together have free will, only the two together are the image of God.

As I recall, the general response is something like; "Non-Jews receive no eternal reward, their reward is in this world, where they both are both body and soul, and are thus Tzelem Elokim...but nudge-nudge, this world is all they really care about anyways...if you know what I mean"...


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