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I once heard that there was at least one case in which various Acharonim offered complex explanations to explain how the Rambam did not contradict certain Gemaras, and subsequently there were responsa of the Rambam found in which he was asked the very question they were answering, and responded that indeed that Gemara had slipped his mind when he wrote that.

Does anyone know of such a teshuva in the Rambam where he says that he made a mistake? I'm not as interested in matching the case of a mistake to the case of where commentaries offered explanations, but that would be extra brownie points.

  • Pretty sure it is the letter to the Chachmei Luniel, although perhaps he doesn't quite say it like that. – Yishai Feb 5 '15 at 22:01
  • @Yishai you could find it for me, for 25 reputation points! – Y     e     z Feb 5 '15 at 22:02
  • Yeah, no time for that now. I think I'll forgo the 25 points and let someone else do the work! – Yishai Feb 5 '15 at 22:03
  • @YeZ mori qafi7 zl says this tashuvo is a forgery – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Feb 5 '15 at 22:29
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    @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Reasonable motive does not equal evidence. If you have some external evidence to indicate it/they are forgeries, then your motive could explain why they would forge. But "if it is forged, this is why it would have been forged" is not an argument that says it was forged, unless you have an agenda. – Y     e     z Feb 6 '15 at 4:00
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The passage that you are likely thinking of (as Yishai suggested) is in the Rambam's letter to the sages of Lunel, and can be found in Iggerot haRambam II, p503 (link). There are other letters as well, in which he claims to have forgotten the source of a halakha, is unsure as to whether or not he has included all of the relevant information, or admits to the possibility of errors - and one in which his son ascribes an inconsistency in the Rambam's work to forgetfulness as well.

For more information on these passages see Marc Shapiro, Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters (University of Scranton Press, 2008) - particularly pp11-55.

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    I read that letter three times and I don't see what is being referred to, maybe I'm just tired ... – Yishai Feb 6 '15 at 3:21
  • @Yishai I think Shimon is probably referring to this: "אבל סבות הזמן סבבוני אפי' הפירושים שעשיתי וכמה ענינים שחברתי בלישנא דרבנן שהן עדיין אפילות לא נשאר לי פנאי לדקדק אותן ולהגיהן עד שיצאו לאור עולם". So the Rambam is saying that he didn't have a chance to fully proofread and revise some of his writings before they were published. He does not mention that Mishneh Torah had this problem, though. – Fred Feb 6 '15 at 3:46
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    @Fred, if that is the basis for the idea that he is saying that he takes back what he said when questioned on a contradiction and claims it was a mistake, that is not at all supported by that quote. I feel mislead (not by this answerer, but by the many times I read the claim). – Yishai Feb 6 '15 at 3:51
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    @Yishai - I agree, and was a bit disappointed when I read the passage as well. I'm short on time here, so I uploaded it anyway, but I'll have a proper look after Shabbos and see if there's not another letter to the sages of Lunel. If this is the one to which everybody is referring, I agree that it's somewhat nondescript. – Shimon bM Feb 6 '15 at 4:48
  • Shimon, @Fred, I found here something which gets a bit closer and on point, but without full context it is hard to evaluate how much can be reasonably said to support the claim (note some of the translation matches what you linked, some doesn't, so I'm confused). If we have the 24 answers referenced, that would be something, but as it stands even that quote only really says the Rambam was humble and didn't claim to be infallible, so please ask questions and help find mistakes. – Yishai Feb 6 '15 at 15:11

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