By Menachem Marc Kellner
Indicates to what volume and in what type Jews are certain to settle for the critiques and the pronouncements of non secular specialists. Moses Maimonides, medieval Judaism's top legist and thinker, and a determine of imperative significance for modern Jewish self-understanding, held a view of Judaism which maintained the authority of the Talmudic rabbis in issues of Jewish legislations whereas bearing in mind unfastened and open inquiry in issues of technological know-how and philosophy. Maimonides affirmed, now not the prevalence of the "moderns" (the students of his and next generations) over the "ancients" (the Tannaim and Amoraim, the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud) however the inherent equality of the 2. The equality provided this is no longer equality of halakhic authority, yet equality of skill, of crucial human features. so that it will substantiate those claims, Kellner explores the comparable concept that Maimonides doesn't undertake the thought of "the decline of the generations", in keeping with which each and every succeeding new release, or each one succeeding epoch, is in a few major and religiously proper experience not so good as previous generations or epochs.
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Extra resources for Maimonides on the "Decline of the Generations" and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority
After explaining away rabbinic statements which seem to contradict his thesis concerning the settled order of nature, Maimonides, as we saw in the previous chapter, cites Eccles. 1:9, There is nothing new under the sun, in support of his position. So sure is Maimonides of the stability of nature, that he refuses to allow biblical miracles to be interpreted as an exception to his claim: I have said that a thing does not change its nature in such a way that the change is permanent merely in order to be cautious with regard to the miracles.
In the present chapter we have seen why Maimonides cannot accept the notion of the decline of the generations. In coming chapters I will show that, despite common assumptions to the contrary, Maimonides indeed does not affirm the doctrine of the decline of the generations and refuses to ascribe to the Rabbis the sort of authority which would be rightfully theirs did he accept the theory. But first, we must turn to those texts which might be thought to indicate that Maimonides accepts some notion of decline.
Human beings 52 today, the Maharal continues, have the minimum level of intellect necessary to distinguish them from animals, but no more. The Maharal explains that Abbaye's comment about himself and his contemporaries, that they "are like a peg in a wall in respect to Gemara," refers to the deep intelligibles and sciences which can only be understood when taught by a teacher. " Rava's comment, that "we aTe like a finger in wax as regards logical argument," is taken by the Maharal to mean that our ability to reason is fuzzy.