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In the Talmud Bavli (Berakhot 5A-B), HaZa"L discuss yissurim shel ahavah (i.e. afflictions of love).

In his translation of R' Bahya's "Hovot HaLevavot" (introduction to Sha`ar HaBitahon), R' Yoseph Qafih includes a footnote calling the reader to contrast R' Bahya's position (s.v. והששי שבעל הכימיה) with that of HaRaMBa"M in his "Moreh Nevukhim" (3:24). In his footnotes to MN 3:24, R' Qafih guides the reader as well to MN 3:17 and R' Qafih's footnotes there.

In these sections (3:17, 3:24) it appears at first glance that HaRaMBa"M rejects outright the concept of yissurim shel ahavah ("ואין לשון בתורה לעניין זה").

Not being well-versed in Moreh Nevukhim (and knowing that HaRaMBa"M deliberately contradicts himself in it), can someone help me understand if that is indeed his position (i.e. that he rejects the concept altogether)?

Furthermore, if HaRaMBa"M indeed rejects the concept, how would he have responded to RaSh"I on Berakhot 5B (Original, English) regarding the death of ten of R' Yohanan's sons:

ביר: ... וגברא רבא כר״י לא באו לו יסורין שאינן של אהבה

Bir: ... And one as great as R' Yohanan did not experience afflictions other than those of love.

Would HaRaMBa"M have responded that R' Yohanan deserved for his ten sons to die?

  • Yes he appears to reject it (not that my opinion matters an iota relative to mori qafih's). There are of course apologists who claim otherwise. What sort of evidence age you looking for? It seems like the may main sources for an answer are in the question. – mevaqesh Mar 6 '17 at 14:16
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    Remember that according to rambam one's hashgacha is a function of one's greatness. If one isn't as great, God leaves him to the winds of fate which will blow him where they do... – mevaqesh Mar 6 '17 at 14:19
  • @mevaqesh Ideally, a "respected" Talmid Hakhamim addressing the subject in writing or in a shi`ur would be good. Alternatively, someone who considers himself well-versed in Moreh Nevukhim (and, preferably, HaRaMBa"M's writings in general) confirming (or refuting) my understanding would suffice. – Lee Mar 6 '17 at 14:29
  • @Lee It would be helpful if you actually put the quote of the M.N. & the Chovot HaLevavot in your question. Your link to the Chovot is the whole volume. – Yaacov Deane Mar 7 '17 at 12:37
  • @YaacovDeane Since I summarize the opinions and give precise citations of where they may be found (e.g. "introduction to Sha`ar HaBitahon, s.v. והששי שבעל הכימיה"), I feel that including the citations would clutter the question without great benefit. – Lee Mar 7 '17 at 12:52
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Rabbi Joshua Maroof, former Rabbi of Magen David Sephardic Congregation of Rockville, MD, commented on David Guttman's "Believing is Knowing" blog as follows:

The Rambam acknowledges in the Moreh that [the concept of yissurim shel ahavah] was accepted by some Amoraim, but he believes it to be incorrect.

Also, the reply to a question on the נצח ישראל website confirmed the same (my translation):

שאלה: לשיטת הרמב"ם אין יסורין ללא עוון [...]. רציתי לדעת האם זאת הדעה הרווחת בקרב פוסקי ההלכה או שהרמב"ם בדעת מיעוט [...]?

תשובה: [...] אשר לחולקים על רבינו, הם רבים, כל אלה שסוברים שיש יסורים של אהבה, שאין עון למיוסר, אלא הוא זך וישר, וה' מייסרו כדי להרבות בשכרו, רס"ג, רש"י ועוד.

Question: According to HaRaMBa"M there are no afflictions without sin [...]. Is this the widely-accepted opinion amongst Halakhic decisors or is HaRaMBa"M in the minority?

Answer: [...] Those who disagree with Rabbe'inu (i.e. HaRaMBa"M) are many and they are those who believe that there are afflictions of love. In such cases, the afflicted has not sinned and rather is clean and upright and Hashem afflicts him in order to increase his reward. Those holding this position are RaSa"G (R' Sa`adyah Ga'on), RaSh"I and others.

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