Rashi and Rambam: Two Worldviews
Item #: S915
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The two great pillars of the Jewish world that have sustained the entire structure of Jewish law and Torah for a millennium are Rashi and Rambam. Yet, they were different in character and outlook.
Raised in different environments and facing different challenges, they each struck their own unique note in preserving the Jewish people and the knowledge of Torah. In this series of tapes, Rabbi Berel Wein explains and illustrates the differences in approach and background that characterize these two great spiritual giants - with discussion on Secular Studies, Jewish/Christian Relations and the Supernatural
Secular Studies - Just as our present-day yeshivos argue over the value of secular studies in a Torah curriculum, secular studies was also a contentious issue in the medieval era of Rashi and the Rambam. Each of these two Torah giants confronts the issue in his unique style. The Rambam defends secular studies, and anticipating criticism, minces no words about it while Rashi, in an oblique reference in a discussion of Midrash, advocates Torah study to the exclusion of all else. Their opposite conclusions become crystal clear in this riveting lecture which reveals much about the character and background of these two pillars of Torah Jewry.
Jewish/Christian Relations - The question as to whether or not Christianity is a form of paganism has many practical ramifications in Jewish Law. Because Rashi and the Baalei Tosfos lived under Christian domination and the Rambam under the Moslems, their rulings on how Jews should interact with Christians were drastically different. With a sampling of the writings of each, covering such diverse issues as teaching Bible verses and "yayin nesech," Rabbi Wein brings out the surprising areas of agreement as well as disagreement between these two vastly influential schools of thought.
The Supernatural - In no area of Torah is the contrast between Rashi and the Rambam as stark as in their interpretation of supernatural events. Whether it is Pharaoh's magicians or the witch consulted by Shaul, the Torah does not deny that such things existed, but whether there was any truth in soothsaying is a matter of interpretation. The Rambam, in his unbending rationalist approach, argues that it was all trickery, but Rashi's more mystical approach may, ironically, be the more logical.