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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Maimonides of the 12th century– the Jewish Erasmus.

One of the great minds in history.

by Lego Acies



Given that anti-semiticism is de rigeuer and that exalting all things Islamic a sure sign of 'tolerance' [much like supporting Nazis and Communists represented progressivism], Judaism, Mosaic Law, and Jewish intellectuals are rarely discussed or embraced. Judaism is the mainspring in the ethical, moral, and humanist creation of the modern world. All modern concepts around rights, laws, private property, justice and equality come directly from this Jewish inheritance. One man who was perhaps the greatest Jewish mind since Moses, was Maimonides. He is virtually an unknown.

Maimonides life is rarely studied outside of Jewish culture. This is to be expected. The current fetish in the West is to eulogise, the supposed civiliation built by Arabs and Muslims, while disparaging Judeo-Christian culture and history. This view holds that the Muslims taught the West everything to allow the West to create the modern world. This silly belief is revealed by panegyrising two Arab philosophers and theologians - 10th century Avicenna and 12th century Averroes. These two personalities themselves taught by Jews and Christians, somehow magically dispensed to an illiterate, barbaric and uncouth West, through their books and via the comingling of Christians and Muslims in Spain, the ideas and civilisation of ancient Greece and Rome.

This is of course nonsense. It was the Jews, Greeks, Nestorians, Christians and gnostics who not only rediscovered, but re-energized and exported the critical tenets of Western legacy in thought and philosophy. This transfer of ancient civilisation and culture long anteceded the Arab invasions of the mediterranean world. Muslim and Arab empires simply became conduits of this learning. Avicenna and his ilk were mere scribes of the Western tradition who copied Aristotlian theory whilst defending the Muslim right to jihad, dhimma law and domination of other peoples. In other worlds, ancient Western practice made very little philosophical or theological impact on the dense and impenetrable Islamic society.

Maimonides has little or nothing in common with such lesser Muslim intellects. He was a man in the grand tradition of Jewish and Western ethos and civilised development. Though he was merely a dhimmi-Jew within the great vastness of an Arab-Islamic empire, he was a recognised celebrity and intellectual giant throughout the civilised world of the 12th century. He was an Egyptian Jew, itinerant and eventually residing in the old Arab capital of Fastat near Cairo. He was world famous as a doctor treating not only physical ailments but also practicing pre-Freudian psychotherapy. In good Jewish tradition he believed in mental therapy and insight as much as curing the physical. His clients included the well-off, caliphs and members of the reigning Muslim courts.

Such a career would be enough for any man. But Maimonides was also a trader, a businessman, a scholar, a prodigious writer and researcher, a religious leader and the key figure who re-codified Jewish Torah-Mosaic law and reconfigured it into a system of rationality, clarity and ease of comprehension. Maimonides was critical in developing a coherent, rational and practical set of Jewish Mosaic law, based not on outdated, ancient rules and procedures or dogmatic superstition, but on the needs of individuals and the community of Jews at large in the real world.

One can view the enormous powers of work, intellect and organisation when reading Maimondes many volumes and tracts. His most famous work 'Guide for the Perplexed' cuts through to the essential elements of Mosaic Jewish law and tradition – the 'welfare of the soul and of the body.' The first consists in developing human intellect – a tradition of using intelligence and education that the stateless Jews developed to survive – and the second of developing an ethical-moral framework to manage the political relationships between humans. The Jews since the destruction by Rome of the second temple in AD 70 and of the Jewish state-church revolt in AD 135, had been a people without a nation. To survive they needed the community of the Torah, Jewish tradition and the benefices of education, hard work, learning and scholarship. They might not have a nation, but they had brains.

The Jews were also persecuted under both Christians and Muslims and this reinforced the Jewish cultural tradition of survival. When the Berbers of North Africa converted to Islam and evetually displaced the previous Arab chiefs and caliphs, they brought with them a ferocious Muslim fundmentalism. Throughout western North Africa and Spain, the Jews were persecuted, killed, forcibly converted, exiled, or deprived of all property and rights. It is a signal myth that the Jews prospered under Muslim rule. Maimonides for example, wrote about Muslim atrocity against Jews and deadly supremacism. Jews who were useful, like Maimonides, were often spared the normal humiliations and pograms assigned to lesser Jews, but as Maimonides letters with Jews in Yemen and Arabia make clear, life for the Jew under Muslim rule was tenuous and usually harsh.

This persecution gave rise of course to mysticism. When your life is one of abuse and inequality, mystic, divine or superstitious ideals sometimes are more immediate and pleasing, than those of rational inquiry and logic. Into the Torah and Jewish tradition then, there had grown up a terribly thick cadre of mystical works and confusions. It was to counter this anti-rational tradition that Maimonides undertook to reform and clarify the real essence of Jewish thought and rule based liturgy. Morals, ethics, human interactions, equality of justice, rational application of Torah-nic rules and rituals – these were to be the celebrated core of Jewish tradition, not the superstitons and supernaturality of an earlier and less educated age.

Maimonides was not just a rationalist – he was also deeply spiritual. In his medical practice he worked on psychotherapy techniques, keenly aware that mental therapy was instrumental in solving physical problems. These ideas foreshadowed Freud by some 750 years. But to feed mental therapy one needs spiritual faith and the nurturing of ideas which transcend egotistical concerns. In this regard Maimondes was a true believer in the spiritual ideas of Judaism, its montheism; and its regard for human life. He also felt that some things in life cannot be explained including the rational explanation of what God might or might not be.

Maimonides is thus a modern mind living in the 12th century. He is one of the most important Jewish intellects ever – perhaps second after Moses. He was the Jewish equivalent to Erasmus – a humanist, a man against mysticism, purposeless ritualisation, and a gigantic intellect who directly shaped the attitudes and ethics which drove forward Judaism and by extension impacted the creation of our modern world. Pity that the world at large does not know more about this man, or about what he represents.

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