I am new to Judaism and am intrigued by Maimonides and his teachings but I do not know the opinions of this particular teacher - a man of such vigor and influence - by the many different congregations and denominations of Judaism. He is much more rational so as to be connotative of an aura of the less mystical or supernatural aspects of God so as to call into question humanity and its relationship to God, being created in the image of God and our place in the universe and the hereafter if you know what I mean.

There are a certain understanding and acceptance of God and humanity but a convexity of the afterlife that comes into existence as a Jew. Death anxiety seems absent to some degree in Judaism which I do not know whether is good or not good.

What Rabbis opposed the teachings of Rambam?

  • 4
    Many great Jewish thinkers disagree with one another on virtually any point you can come up with. Welcome aboard :) – Josh K Oct 7 '19 at 1:28
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya! What exactly is your question? – LN6595 Oct 7 '19 at 13:50
  • Certainly, his views on "humanity and its relationship to God, being created in the image of God and our place in the universe and the hereafter" are not entirely mainstream in 21st Century Orthodox Judaism - though practical differences are insignificant. – AKA Oct 8 '19 at 12:08

Yes, several subsequent Jewish authorities criticized Maimonides, either for his general approach or for specific statements. A few examples:

  • Nachmanides in his commentary to Genesis 18:1 criticizes Maimmonides's non-literal interpretations of certain Biblical incidents:

    But such words contradict Scripture. It is forbidden to listen to them, all the more to believe in them!

    (Chavel translation)

    (See my answer here for more context for this.)

  • R. Solomon Ben Aderet (Responsum 1:9) rejects Maimonides's claim that the world has no end, because we follow tradition over philosophy and (contrary to Maimonides's claim that it is only a minority opinion among the Sages) the unanimous view of the Sages in the Talmud is that the world will have an end:

    And we don't see anyone disputing him in the Talmud. And if these words were rejected by the [rest of] the Sages, why would Ravina and Rav Ashi write them in their holy honored book without dispute?

    (My translation)

  • R. Yom Tov Asevili (commentary to Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 16a) criticizes Maimonides's pragmatic explanation of the concept of asmachta:

    Not like the words of those who explain that asmachtot are like mnemonics that the Sages gave, while the Torah did not [actually] intend this; heaven forfend! The matter should be swallowed and not spoken, for this is a heretical view.

    (My translation)

  • R. Joseph Ibn Kaspi accuses Maimonides of opening up the possibility of disregarding the entire Torah by interpreting the Book of Job as a non-literal event:

    And if we say about the story of Job and his friends that a wise man wrote it as a parable in order to set views and beliefs in the hearts of those who see it, we can also say this for all of them [other stories in Scripture] And if so we have no Torah, no Scripture, and no writings! And if some of the early ones of blessed memory did not know [Job's] time and place, what is it to us?

    (My translation)

    (For more on this see my answer here.)

  • R. Isaac Ben Sheshet (Responsum # 55) criticizes him for his involvement in philosophy:

    These two kings [Maimonides and Gersonides] did not stand their feet on the straight path in some matters, their honor remaining in their place.

  • R. Elijah of Vilna (commentary to Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deiah 179) stated that Maimonides was led astray by philosophy:

    And he followed the accursed philosophy and therefore wrote that magic, names, spells, demons, and amulets are all false. But they already hit him on the head [for this].

    (My translation)

However, all this aside, no one will deny that Maimonides is one of the most respected Jewish authorities in history. His monumental code of Jewish law is the most comprehensive ever written, and is probably the basis of more subsequent Rabbinic discussion than any other book save the Talmud. Even those who disagreed with him and even strongly criticized him generally acknowledged his greatness.

  • Don't forget the Rashba rejects the Rambam's attempts to find taamei hamitzvos – robev Oct 7 '19 at 3:43
  • I gather that, initially, Rabbeinu Yonah was fervently against Rambam's teachings until the government burned his books and more. – DanF Oct 7 '19 at 14:42

See Rabbi Samson Refael Hirsch, in his Nineteen Letters, letter 18. He criticizes the rational approach of Maimonides, but without mentioning him by name:

he sought to reconcile Judaism with the difficulties which confronted it from without, instead of developing it creatively from within, for all the good and the evil which bless and afflict the heritage of the father. His peculiar mental tendency was Arabic-Greek, and his conception of the purpose of life the same. He entered into Judaism from without, bringing with him opinions of whose truth he had convinced himself from extraneous sources and — he reconciled. For him, too, self-perfecting through the knowledge of truth was the highest aim, the practical he deemed subordinate. For him knowledge of God was the end, not the means; hence he devoted his intellectual powers to speculations upon the essence of Deity, and sought to bind Judaism to the results of his speculative investigations as to postulates of science or faith...

It is worth reading the full letter.

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