The Rambam writes in Hilchos Yisodei HaTorah at the end of Chapter 2:

ב,טז [יא] דברים אלו שאמרנו בעניין זה בשני פרקים אלו, כמו טיפה מן הים הן ממה שצריך לבאר בעניין זה. וביאור כל העיקרים שבשני פרקים אלו--הוא הנקרא מעשה מרכבה.‏

ב,יז [יב] ציוו חכמים הראשונים שלא לדרוש בדברים אלו אלא לאיש אחד בלבד, והוא שיהיה חכם ומבין מדעתו. ואחר כך מוסרין לו ראשי הפרקים, ומודיעין אותו שמץ מן הדבר; והוא מבין מדעתו, ויודע סוף הדבר ועומקו.‏

That what he writes in the first two chapters are Maaseh Merchava, and that it should only be taught to one person (at a time?), provided he is wise enough to be a student of such matters.

Similarly at the end of Chapter 4:

ד,יז [י] כל הדברים האלו שדיברנו בעניין זה, כמר מדלי הם; ודברים עמוקים הם, אבל אינם כעומק עניין פרק ראשון ושני. וביאור כל אלו הדברים שבפרק שלישי ורביעי, הוא הנקרא מעשה בראשית. וכך ציוו חכמים הראשונים, שאין דורשין גם בדברים האלו ברבים, אלא לאדם אחד בלבד מודיעים דברים אלו ומלמדין אותו.‏

ד,יח [יא] ומה בין עניין מעשה מרכבה לעניין מעשה בראשית--שעניין מעשה מרכבה, אפילו לאחד אין דורשין בו, אלא אם כן היה חכם ומבין מדעתו, נותנין לו ראשי הפרקים; ועניין מעשה בראשית, מלמדין אותו ליחיד, אף על פי שאינו מבין אותו מדעתו, ומודיעין אותו כל שיכול לידע מדברים אלו. ולמה אין מלמדין אותו ברבים, לפי שאין כל אדם יש לו דעת רחבה להשיג פירוש וביאור כל הדברים על בוריין.‏

That the subject of Maaseh BeReishis should only be taught to one person, but with lesser qualifications on who that person is (he then goes on to state that in his opinion, only someone thoroughly knowledgeable in Halacha should even study that).

According to this answer however the Rambam claimed that Moreh Nevuchim contains Maaseh Merchava and Maaseh Bereishis. This is a sefer written in the common language of the people, clearly not limiting its audience to "one person" who is sufficiently wise, nor would it seem possible to characterize Moreh Nevuchim as "Roshei Perakim" - a summary of the material.

What was the Rambam's justification for doing this?

  • 1
    have you even read the intro to morah navucheem? it was not meant for every one but for those who knew the philosophy and sciences of the time. the rambamzl goes on to say that he is leaving secrets in the morah navucheem scrambled in the chapters so that the real knowledgeable will know what is going on while the ignorant will just read the book and make false claims. also morah navucheem was written to his student who was studying by him for more than a year but couldnt finish the 3 year course because he went back to syria therefore he was perplexed in how philosophy and torah can coincide Jun 24, 2014 at 16:51
  • @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob, Um, I may have skimmed a translation of the introduction a while back, can't say I remember it. You could turn that into an answer, I suppose. I'm not sure that fully explains it, though, so I would be interested in what you have to write. If the audience was one person - did he write in there to not share it?
    – Yishai
    Jun 24, 2014 at 16:55
  • no he did not write in there not share it. because it was meant not for one person. it was written to his student yoseif ibn 3aqneen zl and he would teach it to others in his circle. it was not meant for the lay men like the meeshnei toro. Jun 24, 2014 at 17:09
  • where ever he would mention a topic not meant for the public to know he would write that he would only touch upon the subject briefly and elude to things that only a philosopher would understand since according to him both maa3sa bareisheeth and maa3sa markovo are science/philosophy Jun 24, 2014 at 17:10
  • 2
    because he wrote it using the arabic philosophical nuances which hebrew didnt have at the time Jun 24, 2014 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


The Rambam answers this question himself in his introduction. It basically boils down to three 'heterim' (reasons to permit):

  1. עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתך - since many people had incorrect beliefs, it was time to explain certain necessary concepts of the Torah to avoid people believing in the wrong thing or thinking that the Torah is incompatible with correct sciences (i.e. philosophy)

  2. The book is meant to be somewhat obscure, so that only the 'fitting student' will understand it properly, and the unfit reader will not actually learn from the book anything that would be מעשה בראשית or מעשה מרכבה

  3. The Moreh Nevuchim contains intentional contradictions. As Leo Strauss put it, "if you say that something is A, and then proceed to say that it is not A, than you can't be said to have stated anything at all". (that quote is from memory, not exact)

  • How is do the contradictions create a heter?
    – Yishai
    Jun 24, 2014 at 23:22
  • 1
    reread the leo strauss quote. the rambam wasn't technically revealing anything Jun 24, 2014 at 23:28
  • 1
    I should also note that I agree with almost everything @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob wrote in the comments to the question. I just thought this was the more halakhically relevant parts, but I was hoping MoriDoweedhYaa3qob would write an answer himself Jun 24, 2014 at 23:43

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