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Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism$
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Menachem Kellner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113294

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113294.001.0001

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The Institutional Character of Halakhah

The Institutional Character of Halakhah

Chapter:
(p.33) Two The Institutional Character of Halakhah
Source:
Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism
Author(s):

Menachem Kellner

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113294.003.0002

This chapter examines Maimonides' position on the nature of the commandments of the Torah. For him, the commandments of the Torah are not purely positivist — in the sense that in most cases God could just as easily have commanded something else — but they do not reflect anything about the metaphysical nature of the universe either. Rather, the commandments of the Torah are wise and beneficial, but in many cases reflect specific historical realities. The chapter then addresses the question about the nature of halakhah, which has profound implications for the understanding of what halakhah is meant to be, and important ramifications for the question of what Torah is, and how it is meant to relate to the world. It delineates two fundamentally opposed conceptions of what halakhah is; Maimonides holds one view, while his opponents hold a conflicting view. Maimonides's view is part and parcel of his opposition to the 'hyperrealism' of proto-kabbalah.

Keywords:   Maimonides, Torah, halakhah, proto-kabbalah, commandments, historical realities

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