I am an Italian Noahide

As it is known, in Hilchot Melachim 8:11 Rambam states:

“Anyone (Gentile) who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these seven mitzvot and is precise in their observance is considered one of “the Righteous among the Gentiles”, and he will merit a share in the World To Come. This applies when he accepts them and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the Torah and informed us through Moses, our Teacher, that Noah's descendants had been commanded to fulfill them previously. However, if he fulfills them out of intellectual conviction, he is not a “gher toshav”, nor one of “the Righteous among the Gentiles”, nor/but one of their wise men”.

If I understand correctly, the orientation prevalent today among Jewish and non-Jewish scholars is to read "but one the their wise man", in accordance with the lectio present in the Yemeni manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah, and not "nor one of their wise men ". Except for my mistake, the rabbis and the scholars maintain however that,according to Rambam, these "wise Gentiles"will be rewarded by HaShem during their lifetime, but they will have no part in the World to Come, in line with what appears to be the source used by Maimonides in this passage, namely" Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer ".

However, I have found this fascinating comment written on this passage by the authoritative Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook,according to whom Rambam believes that the "wise Gentiles" even have a higher status than the "Righteous among the Nations":

“Behold the correct version is "but (ela) one of their wise men.My opinion is that the intent of Maimonides is that the status "meriting a share in the World to Come" is a very low level, even though it is also a great good. Since, however, even Jewish sinners and ignoramuses merit this status, it is a low status amongst spiritual values. Maimonides reasons that ideas improve man much more than does righteous behavior. Therefore he reasons that the level of "meriting a share in the World to Come," is a status specifically for Righteous Gentiles, who were not superior in their ideas but accepted faith in whole- hearted purity and acted in an honest way because they accepted that their commandments were so given by God. However, he who through his rational conclusion merited acquiring the seven Noahide commandments, he is truly wise of heart and full of understanding. He is considered "of their wise men," for the status of wisdom is very great, and there is no need to state that they "will merit a share in the World to Come." Rather he stands on a level of holiness (kedusha) that requires interpretation in an expression greater than the language of "meriting a share in the World to Come.”

Is this peculiar exegesis of Rav Kook regarding Rambam's position a subject of a specific study in the Jewish world?

  • You wrote earlier in the question: "the majority position in the Jewish tradition maintains however that,according to Rambam, these "wise Gentiles"will have no part in the World to Come." If this is in fact true, then wouldn't it automatically be the case that this is a subject of debate? – b a Apr 13 '20 at 10:09
  • @ b a I modified my question to better clarify its meaning – Amos74 Apr 13 '20 at 10:19
  • Does not the instruction to not ‘lean on one’s own understanding’ (Mishlei 3:5) make the ‘nor’ option preferable? – Tom W Apr 13 '20 at 13:57

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