I have heard in school from our teacher that Rambam talks about different kinds of people, one that sees things he does not understand and disregards them as nonsense, another who when faced with things he does not understand will wait with his judgment until he can understand it better.

I would like to read this from the text; does anyone know where this is written?

  • 1
    Joseph, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your question here. I hope you enjoy the site. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 15:56
  • are you ref to aggadata,try Rambam intro to perek hachelek of sanhedrian,or maybe his someneh perakim
    – sam
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 18:36
  • In reference to Midrashim, RaMBa"M castigates those who say that a Midrash doesn't make sense and throw it aside, calls fools those who take Midrashim literally even when they contradict common sense, and praises those who seek to understand Midrashim for their relative value of teaching an important message. I believe this is in his introduction to Perek Helek of Sanhedrin (8th Perek) in his commentary on the Mishnayoth, although I could be wrong on that.
    – Seth J
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 18:40
  • This is quoted and translated here
    – b a
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


In his introduction to Perek Cheilek, the Rambam writes that there are three kinds of people with different attitudes towards statements of Chazal that they don't understand: (1) those who accept their words according to their simplistic (and erroneous) understanding, thereby distorting their true meaning, (2) those who don't understand them and write them off as nonesense, and (3) those who recognize that there's wisdom hidden in their words, and attempt to uncover that wisdom.

At the end of Hilchos Me'ilah, the Rambam says a similar thing regarding attitudes towards mitzvos that don't seem to make sense at face value: some might dismiss them as nonsense, but the correct approach is to recognize their wisdom and attempt to uncover their meaning. (He doesn't describe these as categories of people, but it sounds like he felt that these types of people were around)

  • Just to clarify -- this is in his commentary to the Mishna, introducing the final chapter of Sanhedrin (known as "chelek", or "share", as it addresses who has a share in the World to Come). There are a lot of larger-than-life stories in that chapter.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 9:22
  • Maimonides himself gives the following example: the Talmud says "in the future, the land of Israel shall sprout forth fine cakes and luxury textiles" -- which must have sounded unlikely in the year 400, when the land was pretty empty and dusty. Sure enough, I've seen a kids' magazine with a picture that says: "when Moshiach comes, cake and clothing will grow from trees in Israel!", with an illustration. Maimonides says explicitly that this was metaphoric language for an economic explosion that would make goods as available "as if they grew on trees."
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 9:25
  • He also says that Category 1 people will take outlandish Talmudic statements, and translate them literally in public for the masses, insisting that's all there is to them -- which no one with a brain could handle. The Category 2 people, who just assume the rabbis were fools, ignore all the material in the Talmud that most scholars would tell you is vital from the perspective of the human condition -- ask any psychologist about the significance of the Jewish ways of mourning, which were developed by the rabbis of the Talmud. And Category 3 has so few people, it's barely a category!
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 9:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .