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Maimonides

When Did the Bible Become Monotheistic?

It is often said that monotheism is one of Judaism’s greatest contributions to Western culture; however, it is far from clear that the Hebrew Bible is monotheistic. What is monotheism and when did it first develop?

Prof.

Kenneth Seeskin

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The Dictation Model of Torah Revelation

Rabbi

David Bigman

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Is the Divine Origin of the Torah Really Incompatible with Maimonides’ Philosophical Principles?

Some contemporary scholars have argued that Maimonides only meant to claim for the masses that God revealed to Moses the Torah as we have it today, that he himself could not have accepted the Divine authorship of Torah since it is incompatible with his philosophical principles. Yet, a correct understanding of Maimonides yields no such incompatibility, and, indeed, there is to no reason not to take him at his word.

Prof.

Charles H. Manekin

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The Maimonidean Akedah

Dr.

Chaim Trachtman

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The Ethical Problem of Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

It seems unethical for God to deny Pharaoh free will and then punish him for his actions. Rashi, Nahmanides, and Maimonides all struggle with this problem, and each assumes that even Pharaoh deserves to be treated fairly.[1]

Prof. Rabbi

Shaul Magid

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Why the Torah Prohibits Incest

Although incest taboos are found in the majority of cultures, medieval Jewish thinkers found this to be an insufficient explanation for the Torah’s prohibitions. 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Significance of Ibn Ezra's Position that Verses Were Added to the Torah

“And this is the Torah that Moses Placed Before the Children of Israel”

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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On the Problem of Sacrifices: Maimonides’ Ladder of Enlightenment

Maimonides in his Guide of the Perplexed, portrays sacrifices as a ruse whereby God redirects sacrifices to repudiate idolatrous practices prevalent at the time. In Mishneh Torah, however, Maimonides states that the messiah will rebuild the Temple and restore sacrifices just as they once were. How are Maimonides’ two works reconcilable? 

Dr.

David Gillis

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What Is Prophecy?

An Exploration of the Views of Sa’adia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Ibn Ezra, and Maimonides

Prof.

Haim (Howard) Kreisel

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The Treatment of Non-Israelite Slaves: From Moses to Moses

The Bible already expresses ambivalence about Hebrew slavery, the rabbis expand upon it and Maimonides takes the next step, applying the negative evaluation of slavery even to non-Israelites.

Prof.

James A. Diamond

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Torah Narratives with Angels Never Actually Happened: Heretical or Sublime?

Maimonides believes any story with angels is a prophetic vision while Ramban believes they are real occurrences and calls Maimonides’ position “forbidden to believe” – what is at stake in this debate?

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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How did Abraham Discover God? The Rationalistic Approach

A single midrash on Parashat Lekh Lekha manages to touch upon the existence of God and how to relate to Him, on the tension between Torah and science, and on rabbinic criticism of Maimonides’ thirteen principles. 

Dr. Rabbi

Seth (Avi) Kadish

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The Secret of the Ma'aseh Merkava According to Maimonides

Already in the time of the Rabbis, Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot was considered to be esoteric knowledge. Although most Jewish exegetes interpret it as a metaphorical teaching about God, Maimonides interpreted it to be about science and astronomy. So why must it be kept a secret? Because Ezekiel was wrong and his science mistaken.

Dr.

Daniel Davies

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Do Animals Feel Pain? Balaam’s Donkey vs. Descartes

In contrast to Descartes’ theory of animals as automatons, the Torah and rabbinic text express deep concern for animal suffering. One vivid example is the donkey’s rebuke of Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me?” (Num 22:28).

Prof.

Yael Shemesh

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The Song of the Well, Psalm 136, Was Removed from the Torah

R. Yehudah HaChasid Radical Suggestion

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The Origins and Use of the 613 Mitzvot

The development of the idea that the Torah has 613 mitzvot: From Talmudic aggada, to geonic liturgy, to medieval enumerations.

Dr.

Marc Herman

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Introduction: Torah, History and Judaism

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Must We Have Heretics?

Prof.

Menachem Kellner

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Source Criticism Enhances Our Acceptance of the Torah

Traditional commentators endued certain Torah references with midrashic or esoteric purport in an effort to counteract those who mocked them. But in so doing, they were conceding the mockers’ evaluation of these texts as being, prima facie, inconsequential. Fortunately, source criticism helps us accept these texts without discomfort, obviating the compulsion to interpret them away.

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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