THE ETHICAL WORK SEFER HAYASHAR AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS CONTAINED THEREIN
by Jacob Guttmann
Translated from: Guttmann, Jacob: Die ethische Schrift Sefer Hajaschar und Ihre Philosophischen Anschauungen
Monatschrift, Volume 63, July/December 1919, pp. 291-314
Among the ethical works handed down to us by the Jewish writers of the Middle Ages the so-called “Sefer Hayashar” occupies an eminent place. This is so not only because of its specific literary value or because of the originality of the views expressed there but because of the high esteem the work enjoyed for a long time and the large audience it has reached. The book has been appreciated because of a certain pleasantness in the presentation, its profound moral seriousness and the conviction with which its doctrines are taught. To these values must be added the fact that there existed but a few works which dealt with ethics systematically1See N. Brüll’s essay “Zur Geschichte der jüdisch-ethischen Literatur des Mittelalters” in Brüll’s Jahrbücher fur jüdische Geschichte und Literatur, V and VI, pp. 71-93. so that those who were looking for edification automatically turned to literary works in that field. The first author to mention our book is Judah Ben Asher (1270-1349), and he advised his children to study it regularly, together with Bahya Ibn Paquda’s “Duties of the Heart” and the “Book of Repentance” by Jonah of Gerona.2צואות הר׳ יהודה בן הרא״ש ואחיו הר׳ יעקב בעל הטורים ed. Schechter, p. 11: וגם תרגילו עצמיכם ללמוד בספר חובות הלבבות ובספר הישר ובאגרת תשובה לר׳ יונה ז״ל וביוצא בהם. Abraham Saba (ca. 1500), who had been expelled from Portugal remarks that out of everything that had been written concerning the conditions of repentance, only the statements made in the Sefer Hayashar had pleased him.3צרור המור (ed. Venice 1567) commenting on the weekly portion נצבים fol. 153. col. 3. והנה תנאי התשובה הם רבים והמחברים דברו בהם, ואינני רוצה להאריך בהם, וםכלם לא ישרו בעיני אלא דברי םפר הישר שמתחיל אנא ד׳ הושיעה נא ואומרים שעשאו ר״ת ז״ל ,ואיני זוכר דבריו על נכון שבעונותי אין לי םפר שכולם נשארו בפורטגאל, אבל כמדומה לי שהיה אומר שד׳ תנאי התשובה הם כנגד ד יסודות וגו׳. However, his quotations from the book are rather inexact, since, together with the rest of his library, he had to leave it behind when being driven out of Portugal, so that he had to rely on his memory.4This can be found, although with many changes, in the tenth chapter of the Sepher Hayashar. In the introductory formula אנא ד׳ הושיעה נא which are not to be found in our text, Brull (Ib.p.80, n.11) sees a mere formula added by a copyist. In two more places he mourns over the loss of his library (fol.23b, and fol. 33b. See Zunz, Zur Geschichte u. Literatur, p.232, Berlin, 1845).
We have no reliable information concerning the authorship of this work. Judah Ben Asher mentions it without referring to its author’s name.5See above, n.1 The same is true of Joseph Jabez6Or HaChayim (ed. Amsterdam) p.20: םפר הישר הוא םפר המידות מדובר בו נכבדות , a contemporary of Abraham Saba, who, like the latter, had been expelled from Portugal, and was known to be opposed to philosophy. Abraham Saba was the first one who even guessed the author’s name. He states that the work is attributed to the famous Tosafist Rabbenu Tam of Rameru, Rashi’s grandson.7See above, n.2 The same view—this time definitely—is held by Elijah De Vidas (1550-before 1624?) a disciple of the Cabbalist Moses Cordovero (1522-70). He refers to it frequently in his book “Reshit Hokhmah”, and always as the work of R. Tam.8ראשית חכמה (Venice 1593) שער היראה ch. 12, p. 48b ,עוד דברים דומים לזה כתב רבינו תם בספר הישר ib. שער האהבה ch. 10 p. 124a, ib. p. 129b, p. 164a, p. 187b, p. 228a — p. 311b However, the latter’s authorship is strongly contested by the learned and critical Menahem De Lonzano (1570)9The essays collected in the anthology שתי ידות (Venice 1615) are from the period between 1570 and 1610. In the דרך החיים essay L. notes that 1500 years have elapsed since the destruction of the Temple (p. 115b: ,ואם בעל נפש הוא ידאג על חורבן המקדש וביזוי התורה וצרות ישראל ושבים וצערם וחלול שם הגדול המחולל בגוים זח אלף ות״ק שנים ib. p. 126b. זכור שם אל מחולל בעממים ודתו מאכולת אש ואורים, והם יחצו שונים והם קוראי מקרא ואותו מאמירים, וזה שנים חמש מאות ואלף ועוד יותר ואל שותק לפרים. In the ethical poem טובה תוכחת the time since the destruction of the Temple is given as 1540 years (p. 134a. וזה שנים חמש מאות ואלף וארבעים אשר חרב דביר He remarks rightly that the assumption is based on a mix-up with R. Tam’s talmudical work by the same title.10Yechiel Heilprin, in the Seder Hadoroth שמות םפרים s.v. attributed the work to the Tossafist R. Jacob of Orleans. וםפר הישר לרבינו תם הוא רב יעקב מאורליינוש בעל התוםפות מענייני התשובה ויראה ופרישות ש״ה. This may merely be a vague assumption, made in order to maintain the tradition that a Tossafist R. Jacob was the author Following a tradition of which he does not seem to be quite sure he believes the author to be a certain Zerahiah ha-Yevani, of whom we know nothing otherwise11שתי ידות p. 122a: וספר הישר המכונה לר״ת, ואיננו אמת ,שר״ת חבר םפר וקראו םפר הישר, אך הוא חבור תלמודי ואינו נמצא, ואני שמעתי שםפר הישר הזה שנדפם בקושטנדינא פעם אחד ובויניציא .פעם אחד חברו הר׳ זרחיה חיוני, ואיך שתהיה הוא חבור נחמד מאד. Lonsano quotes frequently from our work See p. 90b, 92b, 94a, 97b, 98b, 121b, 127b, 128b, 129b Some scholars who misinterpreted this idea of Lonzano’s attributed our work to a writer with a similar name, Zerahiah Ha-Levi Gerondi, the author of annotations to Alfasi’s Talmudical compendium entitled Ha-Ma’or.12See Azulay, Shem Hagedolim
Concerning the author’s personal life, I would assume that he was a physician. This view is based on a remark made in chapter 13. There he states that a pious man should be careful not to spoil his proper goal in life—the worship of God by pursuing his earthly affairs. After having mentioned briefly the representatives of trade and of the service at court and their duties, he continues in this way: “If he heals the sick, he shall, if possible, accept no pay from his patients but keep in mind his great aim and not give it up in favor of a smaller one. Thus he acquires life eternal, for he saves those who are on the threshold of death. For although everything is in God’s hand, it is as if he had saved him from death, since he had the good intention to lessen the sick man’s sufferings. If, however, he cannot afford such generosity he shall charge his wealthy patients so much that he does not have to charge the poor anything. Those who are seriously ill should be visited three times a day, others twice—in the morning and evening—, and he should talk to them kindly and try to calm them”.13Sepher Hayashar (ed. Amsterdam 1708), XIII, p. On Apparently the physician’s professional activity was close to him.
Lacking any testimonies about the time of the publication, we can venture only an approximate date, based on these observations: The only author mentioned in the book is Bahya Ibn Paquda (second half of the eleventh century), whose “Duties of the Heart” is recommended by the author for regular study, together with similar works.14Preface כי ראיתי םפרים רבים ונכבדים בענין עבודת האל בגון םפר חובת הלבבות לחםיד רבי בחיי בן בקודה ז״ל וםפרים אחרים רבים ונכבדים. ibid: וע״ב הוצרכו לחיות להם םפר הנותן אמרי שפר כגון םפר חובת הלבבות וזולתי כולל עבודת האל ית׳ והיה להם למשיב נפש ולמורה צדק יזבידם אם ישכחו ויזהירם אם ישגו וילמדם מה שקיצרו ויורם ימה שלא ידעו ובו׳. … Among other works, only the fables Kalila Va-damna are mentioned, ib. XIII, ואל יהיה דומה לגבר במשלי כלילה ודמנה כי החתול כשהזקין וקצר ידו לטרוף טרף ונעשה נזיר ובטחו בו החיות היראות ממנו, עד אשר נלכדו ברשתו וגרם עצמותם. Two anonymous quotations are from the poems of Judah Halevi (1086-1145). The first one has been mutilated in all editions and is hardly recognizable. In the Amsterdam edition it reads (XIII) : כאשר אמר המשורר: נחנו בעולם הזה כדובים אשר חשבו חושב והם יםעו Here is the proper text of the poem titled לא העננים, as found by Dukes (Ginze Oxford, p. 19f. Brody, Diwan des Abul-l-Hassan Judah Halevi 1. 68, p. 95 …) נחנו בעולם הזה ככוכבים אשר חשבו נוחים, והם יםעו ומה טוב אמר האומר. עבדי זמן עבדי עבדים הם עבד ד׳ הוא לבד חפשי. The second quotation (XIII): which is quoted by Jacob Gawison in the name of Judah Halevi, can be found in a poem published by Luzzatto (Diwan, ed, Lyck, p. 18a) (see Dukes נחל קדומים p. 52, Geiger, Diwan S. Abdul-Hasan, p. 152, Brull, ib., p. 81, n.6) Poems and statements by sages are quoted in other instances too (Introduction 11, VII, XIII, and there a quotation from Kalila Va-damna, and also Die Erzahlung von einem Bussfertigen XIII, p. 36b) Since our book does not betray any knowledge of Arabic language or literature15The Averroistic teaching mentioned above (V, V, VII) was so well known at that time that it could also have been taken from Hebrew sources. we may assume that our author did not know Bahya’s work in the original (Arabic), but had read it in one of the two existing Hebrew translations—by Judah Ibn Tibbon or Joseph Kimhi—, both of which date from the second half of the twelfth century.16Steinschneider, Hebraische Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters, p. 373ff. As mentioned before, the first reference to our work is to be found in the last will of Judah Ben Asher (d.1349).17See above. Isaac Aboab, who used our essay in his Menorat Hamaor (Brüll ib. p. 8 n.5) is later than Judah ben Asher (Brull, p. 82) Accordingly, the book must have been written between the second half of the twelfth century and the second half of the fourteenth. Since statements concerning God’s self-sufficiency show some similarity with the treatment of this problem in “Microcosm” by Joseph Ibn Zaddik (d.1149), Bruell assumes that our author must have known that work.18Brull ib. p. 81 n.7 Yet a closer look reveals many essential differences19See below , so that his conclusion may not be justified.
Another way of fixing the date of our work is the absence of a reference to Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” (an Introduction to his commentary to the Ethics of the Fathers), in which he presents a system of ethics.20Maimonides wrote about “The Healing of the Human Soul”, and how sicknesses in the area of morals ought to be treated according to the rules of general medicine (Introduction to his commentary to the Ethics of the Fathers, ch. 4. See Rosin: Die Ethik des Maimonides, p. 83) and the following excerpt from our work (VII), recalls that teaching: “When the body becomes sick we apply a method which combats that sickness, and the more the sickness tends towards one side of the center, the stronger must the medicine be towards the opposite side. If, for instance, the body is too hot, we must cool it, for the heat must be turned towards the proper measure by applying cold means. The same holds true of the soul, for instance if someone loves money too much. Then he must learn to be more generous, etc.” If our author had known Maimonides, who was so important to the spiritual life of the Jews, he would not have failed to mention him. But this argument is not conclusive either, since he may have deliberately avoided a controversy with Maimonides for the following reason: the latter’s writings caused a violent fight to arise concerning the admissibility of esoteric teachings, and our author did not wish to take sides in the argument. On the other hand, in consequence of that discussion, he frequently deals with the problem.
In his relationship to science the author’s attitude is rather vacillating. The vagueness of his thinking does not allow him to arrive at a satisfactory balance between faith and science. On the one hand, he despises those pious people whose reverence of God is not based on a recognition of God but rather on a belief in miracles, and he does not refrain from calling them ignoramuses and fools.21II, (end of chapter): החלק השני עבודת חםרי לב לפי קוצר דעתם אשר לא יכירו הבורא ית׳ כי אם במבחן הפלאות כפתאים והםכלים ואין יתרון להם משאר האוילים בדעת הבורא ית׳. Already in the first edition (Venice 1544) there is a gap; the editor of the Amsterdam edition has corrected it in parenthesis To him the source of all religious commandments is reason, and then the prophets. Through both of these man attains self-perfection and is beloved by God.22Introduction והזהרנו חקיו ומשפטיו הנתמדיס על פי שני עדים, ע״פ השכל ראשונה וע״פ הנביאים אחרונח. According to him proofs based on reason are better than those based on Scripture since the former are more easily accessible.23I וזה שהקדמתי ראיות השכל על ראיות הכתוב, מפני שהלב יקבל אותם מהרה יותר מראיות הכתוב ויתיישבו כנפש השומע בעבור האותות והמופתים הבאים עליהם. On the other side, he sees in the study of esoteric knowledge and particularly that of philosophy a danger to faith, and he makes sure to caution his readers against that peril. One of the conditions of true religion based on love is to limit the study of esoteric science to that amount which is needed for a strengthening of faith. Too much occupation with science makes man forsake faith.24IV והרביעי לרחק מהסתבל בחכמות החיצונות, לבד טח שידע ויאמין כי תתחזק בו אמונתו, וצריך שילמוד ממנו כמשפט ואל יעמיק בו, כי אם יעמיק, האמונה מנגד עיניו ירחיק, ובחשבו בי ידו באמת תחזיק, ימצא הבל וריק. A religious student may lose his faith before getting any benefit from esoteric studies, the science of atheists, and philosophy, and therefore he should stay away from them. (Some who consider themselves wise believe to have attained the summit of science and to have solved secrets which they withhold from other people.) They do not notice that they have left faith, just as one who partakes of tasty but damaging food does not realize that he ruins the entire organism of his body. The same is true of philosophy. It is the very purpose of philosophy to recognize the unity of God and thus to arrive at the true worship of God.25VI אך כונת הפילםופיא ותבונתה היא לדעת ייחוד השם וכשידענו אז יעבדנו. But some students of philosophy are like those who, looking for pearls and precious stones in the ocean, perish without having reached their goal. Thus does the student of philosophy expose himself to certain dangers to his faith. He can avoid these only by being protected, through a pious teacher, from doctrines inimical to faith; only then can he benefit from them. He who reads philosophical books without the guidance of a teacher, or is taught by a not entirely pious one, will realize more damage than profit.26VI He who chooses as his profession the study of esoteric teachings ought to change his profession since otherwise the damage will outweigh the benefit. Even if his intention is a good one and he wishes to recognize the unity of God by the way of proofs, we must object that he is not satisfied with our tradition and the teachings of our sages but strives after distant shores, particularly so if this is done without the guidance by a learned and pious teacher.27XIII ואם כי אין כונתו כי אם לטוב לדעת ייחוד הבורא מדרך המופת, אין לו די בקבלה ובדברי רבותינו ז״ל והוא כמו שלא יספיק בחלקו וירצה לבקש גדולות ונפלאות ממנו. It is true that man attains immortality through knowledge, but it must be the right kind of knowledge. Faulty science does not help the soul to acquire the proper insight.28VII אחרי אשר הנפש יש כה אלה חכחות, נאמר כי אם תגבר בה כה היודעת דרכי האל יתברך ועניניז…זאת הנפש לא תמות כלל, אך אם תחלש זאת הכה, תהיה בה אולת, ובידוע כי זאת הנפש תמות, כאשר תמות נפש הבהמה, ועל כן לא נאמר, בי נפש החכם כשיהיה רשע היא נקראת נפש יודעת, כי אין כונתינו לחכמות הזרות כי אם אל החכמות ישרות, אשר ילמוד אדם מהם דרכי אל, לזה יקרא חכם, וזאת תחיה ולא תמות נפשו כלל.
The author sees the real purpose of his work in guiding man to the reverence of God, whereto all of man’s moral striving tends, and which is the only path through which he can be loved by God.29II עתה אחרי התבאר, כי עמודי תאהבה שלשה ופירשגז כל אחד בדרך קצרה, נאמר כי יםוד הםפר וכוגתו הוא עבודה, אשר בה ישיג האדם רצון האל. The reverence of God is the very purpose of creation, for even the Torah, for the sake of which the world has been created, has the sole purpose of teaching man how to revere God. The highest reverence of God must be based on the love of God, for love includes also reverence, while reverence or fear does not include love. This is the case of Abraham, whose reverence of God was rooted in his love, as is also the case of the pious, as against that of the sinners and the pagans whose religion is based on fear. However, love and reverence must be joined by thinking, since without it we do not know why to revere God and how to put it into practice.30II True worship of God is based on the proper faith, which is derived from reason, and which is a combination of love, reverence and thinking. A faith based solely on love and reverence, i.e., without thinking, is incomplete. But there is also a kind of thinking which damages faith—this is the thinking of the atheists and of those philosophers who reject the faith of the Torah. Where this faulty thinking joins hands with bad feelings and a base character, the source of love is destroyed, and faith is completely ruined.31III Religion presupposes reason; its perfection depends on the perfection of reason and of reasonable thinking. For since actions acceptable to God must be based on the golden mean they call for reason to establish it. Furthermore, only reason can lead man towards the proper way of knowing God, and on it the right reverence of God is based.32III Once man has perfected reason, which is the fruit of the soul, he is beloved by God and man, for it is only perfect reason which leads the way to the proper reverence, love and fear of God. All three derive from reason, like three rivers which come from one source. Love, reverence and thinking without reason lack a root and foundation.33V True love of God is not based on the fear of punishment or the expectation of reward, but on the recognition of God’s greatness, which in turn necessarily leads up to the love of God. Man’s love of God proves that his soul is divine, for man loves what is basically similar to him. Then man will try to emulate God in his deeds.34XIII See Maimonides, More Nebuchim 1 ch. 39; III ch. 28, and 51. Many other statements concerning the dependence of the reverence of God on reason remind one often of Maimonides.
We can do without presenting the details of the ethical teachings based on these principles, since they are neither original nor interesting. Yet we ought to get acquainted with the philosophical views which are occasionally presented in our work.
In order to know the Creator we must reverse the direction which guides us towards the things created. These we come to know by knowing their definition, their quantity, their quality and their form. But since these are part of the creation, they do not exist with the Creator, Who existed before any creation. Thus he cannot be known through creation but through their non-existence, for everything has an opposite, and the opposite of the Creator is the things created.35Judah Halevi too had taught that God cannot be defined (Kuzari IV 25), also Abraham ibn Daud (Emunah Ramah p. 46) Joseph ibn Zaddik (Microcosm III 6) [See בית עקד םפרים vol. II, p. 778 item 230] Maimonides Moreh Nebuchim 1, 52 The essence of every object lies in its qualities or attributes. By knowing them we acquire the knowledge of the essence of the things, while without knowing the attributes we cannot know the essence of the things. But we cannot know God’s powers—these are His qualities—for in order to know something there must be a common bond between the one who seeks to know and the object to be known.36This is explained by referring to the reflexes of the various senses. See Kaufmann Die Sinne p. 117, p. 168 n.12 Now there cannot be such a bond between God and man, for He is the Creator and we are created; He is non-corporeal, and we are corporeal; He is unique and we are many; He is permanent and we are mortal. Therefore, since we cannot know God’s attributes, we cannot know his essence either. But the very fact that we cannot know His being and His essence proves His true existence, for if we could do so, it would be somehow similar to our own being—and would thus prove His non-being.37VIII כי העדר ידיעת מציאותו יתחייב להיות נמצא, כאשר השגת מציאותו יתחייב לבל יהיה נמצא. See III. ואילו תושג אחדותו לא היה לו אחדות, ובטול השגתינו לדעתו הוא לאות על כי דעתו אמתית ובטול השגתינו היותו הוא לאות על כי חיותו אמתית. The same holds true of all of God’s attributes. The fact that we do not know them proves their very existence, and if we were to know them this would prove their non-existence, for we can recognize only that which proceeds from non-being to being and returns to non-being, while in reference to God the opposite is true.38Similarly Bahya, Duties of the Heart 1,9 (ed. Stern p. 75) ותכלית דעתך אותו שתודה ותאמין שאתה בתכלית הסכלות באמתת עצם כבודו. ib. p. 77 וכיון שהבורא ית׳ נעלם מכל נעלם ודחוק מכל רחוק מצד עצם כבודו אצלינו, לא השיג השכל זולתי עגין מציאותו לבד ואם שישתדל להשיג אמתת עצם כבודו או לדמותו תהיה מציאותו נעדרת ממנו אחרי הםצאו, מפני שהשתדל בדבר שאינו ביכלתו ובז׳ Concerning the divine attributes, we know only that He is the unity and that His existence comprises all of His forces, attributes and qualities. Therefore we need only investigate His existence, which includes His wisdom, His power, His permanence and all other attributes.39VIII וכשנרצה לדעת מדות הבורא ית׳ וכחותיו ותאריו נאמר, כי הבורא הוא כלל הכל ואחדותו היא כוללת תואריו וכחותיו ומדותיו, אם כן אין צריך לחקור אלא על מציאותו לבד וכו׳ Somewhere else the author points out that the soul’s power of recognition is not limited to God, since God is the subject and not the object of cognition. The soul can only know God’s ways, attributes and effects but not His essence (VII)
The doctrine that God cannot be known is connected with the teaching of the negative attributes, which, first found in Mutazilitic theology, was introduced into Jewish philosophical thinking by Bahya Ibn Paquda40See Kaufmann: Die Theologie des Bachja ibn Pekudah, p. 73ff. , and is also expressed in our work: No attribute—like life, wisdom, existence, unity—may be ascribed to the Creator. They do not apply to Him and must not be mentioned in reference to Him. If we do so nevertheless, it is because we find it in the Bible e.g., (Prov. 3:19) “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth”. Furthermore, the statement “God exists” really means the exclusion of all the consequences of non-existence, for whatever does not exist has neither power nor effect in any manner. Similarly, “God is One” excludes all consequences of plurality, of separateness, relation, decrease and increase, etc. Whatever we say of God does not really describe Him but wishes to exclude that which would be the consequence of the opposite description.41III
All sages agree that reason can grasp only two things the Creator and things created, and that there is nothing besides these two; furthermore, that God is of all times, whereas everything else has been created; that the Creator has neither a beginning nor an end, while things created do have both. They also tell us the Creator is not in need of anything, for if He were, He would not be perfect. Since the Creator is perfect, He does not lack anything; therefore He did not create the world out of need of something, but in order to do good to those who acquire merit.42I, Similarly Joseph ibn Zaddik, who devotes a special chapter to the fact that God is not in need of anything (Microcosm p. 52) .אם יצטרך לדבר שברא, היא חםרון בעצמו ולא יוכל לברא אותו והואיל והתבאר שהוא עשיר, הוא ברא העולם לרוב נדבתו וחםדו ולא לדבר אחר Therefore we read in the creation story that God created the heavenly bodies in order to illuminate the earth and not the heavens; it is not the heavens and God who are in need of them but rather the earth and its inhabitants. If that which has been created had been made for the benefit of the Creator, it would be as eternal as He is, for whatever benefits Him cannot be separated from Him but always joined with Him.43ib. p. 52. ואם הוצרך התחדש בו, לא ימלט או שהתחדש בו כהתחדש החום בגוך אחר הקור והתנועה אחר השכון, ואם כן יהיה אז נערך אל החדושים וכל נעדך לחידושים מחודש וכו׳. He also states that if God’s needs were not eternal but had arisen at some time, God Himself would not be eternal. Since the world has been created and is not eternal God did not need it before it was created, and since He did not need it before it existed, He is not in need of it afterwards either. God did create the world for the benefit of man, but not so for evil and sinful man (for this would contradict reason), but for the benefit of the pious, who recognize His divinity and serve Him in a fitting manner. But why create sinful men altogether? This touches on the important problem of the reason for the existence of evil, a problem which is decisive for the justification of the Jewish view of God. But his reply shows that the author did not understand the problem at all44Similarly strange is another observation which refers to the problem of theodicy. Man’s sufferings are a sign of divine love, while a peaceful, non-suffering life proves that man is not beloved by God. IX, ועור כשיבואו על אדם ייםורין וחליים וצרות או יגלה מארצו, ידע כי הבורא אוהב אותו ויםרחו כאשר ייםר איש את בנו, ואם יראת כי שקט ובוטח בלא ייםורין וחליים והוא עומד בשלוה ולא עכרו עליו נםיונות, ידע כי אין הבורא אוהב אותו. , for he justifies the existence of sinners in a way which is incompatible with the belief in God’s omnipotence: God created the world for the benefit of the pious, while the sinners were created unintentionally as it were, out of the nature of creation. The fruit has a shell, and the purpose is what is inside—so are the pious the fruit of creation, and the evil-doers their shells. The sower is concerned with the growth of the wheat, yet weeds must be expected to grow also, just as thorns grow together with the rose. Thus does God intend to create only the pious; but the power of creation brings sinners forth at the same time.45I, ועוד נדע ונבין, כי העולם לא בראו הבורא בעבור הרשעים וחמכעיםים אותו, כי זה לא יחייב אותו בשכל, ואולם בראו בעבור החםידים היודעים אלוהותו והעובדים אותו כראוי, וכל סוונתו היתד לברוא החםידים, אך נבראו הרשעים מכה טבע הבריאה, וכאשר יש לפרי קליפה והמבחר הוא טה שבתוך הקליפה, כן החסידים הם פרי בריאת העולם והרשעים הם כטו הקליפות וכאשר נראה כוונת הזורע להצמיח החטה לבדה אבל כה הצמח יוציא עם החטה באשה ועם השושנה מיני קוצים, כך כוונת הבורא לברוא החםידים אבל כה הבריאה יוציא עם החםידים רשעים. The author uses also an analogy from the area of human activities. Every good artisan wants to create a beautiful and useful object. The intelligent potter wants to make beautiful containers. If one of them turns out to be ugly, crooked or imperfect, he will not put it together with the beautiful ones, but he will throw it out and destroy it. Similarly, God wants to create in the world only pious and good people. He rejects the sinners because they do not fit in the work of creation. The pious glorify the divine work of creation, while the sinners contribute to the profanation of the divine Name.46II וכאשר האומן החכם בעשותו מלאכה נאה, יתפאר בת לכל רואיו, כן הבורא יתברך יתפאר בחםידיו כאשר אמר: ובישראל אתפאר ואומר: ישראל אשר בך אתפאר, ויתפאר בחםידיו מפני שהם אות גדול על תקון מלאכתו וראיה ברורה על יושר פעולותיו, והרשעים הפך מה שאמרנו, כי הם נותנים פגם בבריאתו והם םבה לחלל שם כבודו וכו׳ If one might object that the fact that God had to create the world proves that He was in need of it, the answer is that no power in the world can force God to do anything—it is His own power which forces the creatures to proceed from non-being to being. He does this so that His divinity be recognized, His glory be revealed, and that He may be happy with His creatures as a father is happy at having a wise and intelligent son who grants him the honor due to him. The creation of the world does therefore not stem from God’s need, and yet it has an important reason, namely the glorification of God. As no king is a king unless he has subjects—as it says, “In the multitude of people is the king’s glory” (Prov. 14:28)—so is God a Creator only after He has created, and God only if He has a nation, as it says, “I shall be your God, and you shall be My people” (Lev. 26:12). Although the name of God is not weakened by the absence of human beings, nor exalted through their existence, the name of God becomes His only through creation. Although the power of the Creator existed before the creation, the name of the divinity has been perfected by it.47ibid. ואחרי אשר התבאר, כי לא נברא העולם לצורך, נאמר כי נברא לםבה גדולה והוא עבודת הבורא ית׳ כי כאשר המלך לא יקרא מלך עד אשר יהיה לו עם, כמו שנאמר ברוב עם הדרת מלך, כמו כן שם הבורא לא נקרא בורא, עד אשר יהיה לו נברא ולא נקרא אלהים עד אשר יהיה לו עם כמ״ש והייתי לכם לאלהים ואתם תהיו לי לעם, ואע״פ ששם האלהות לא יחםר בחםרון בני אדם ולא יוםיף בהם, אך בבריאת העולם היה ראוי להקרא שם הבורא…וכן הבורא לא יחםר כהו בטרם נברא העולם, אך בבריאת העולם הוםיף שלמות שלו, וזו היא הםיבה אשר למענה נברא העולם. By worshipping and revering God and by fulfilling His will, man reaches the highest perfection of his power, his reason and his status, thereby testifying to the perfection of his creator.48I כן מלכות הבורא ית׳ תוםיף שלמות והדור בעבודת בני האדם ויראתם ממנו, ואע״פ שלא יחםר שלמותו לחםרון עבודתם, אך כשישלים העבד רצון אדוניו יהיה העבד בתכלית השלמות בכחו ושכלו וכל עניניו ותהיה שלמותו לאות על שלמות אדוניו.
Concerning all things which are grasped with the senses or through reason, we must distinguish between two forces—an inner, latent one, and a manifest one. This is already the case with the elements—each of them having a power which preserves it and distinguishes it from other objects, and another one, which can be noticed by the senses. Concerning fire, for instance, warmth is the inner power, and the visible form of the fire is the outer force. In the case of plants the inner force is nutrition and growth, it is the one which causes mobility, the activities of the senses and elementary warmth, while the fauna and flora themselves are the noticeable force. With man, the inner force is the thinking soul, while the other one is the body. In the case of the spheres the inner force is the common soul, which is even higher than the thinking one, and the outer force is the body of the spheres, and so mutatis mutandis with the angels. If our reason were able to grasp something even higher, we would distinguish there too two kinds of force. But such a distinction does not apply to God, since He is not accessible to reason.49III As the powers of reason are different from, and higher than tangible ones, so are those powers which come from the Creator higher than reason.50III Reason is, so to speak, the fruit of the thinking soul. A grain of seed, placed into the ground, reveals its force only after having been cared for; it grows out of the soil, and brings forth branches, buds, flowers and fruit—similarly the powers and effects of the soul, which cannot yet be noticed right after birth, develop slowly, so that, in the time of youth, the soul resembles a tree with its buds and blossoms, but then it perfects itself and turns into reason, which is the fruit of the soul. But as the quality of the fruit depends on that of the soil in which the tree is rooted, and also on the care given it, so does the quality of reason depend on that of the body, which represents the soil, on the soul, which represents the root, and on the moral discipline, which represents the care of reason.51III In this manner does our author refer to the Averroistic teaching of the intellect. Concerning reason the philosophers have talked much, distinguishing between the act of knowing, the knower and the known. Some maintain that all three are really one, others that they are not one but three. But the question is without consequence one way or the other.52V דע כי השכל הרבו לדבר עליו הפילוםופים ולחלק אותו להודיע ההפרש אשר בין השכל המשכיל והמושכל, כי יש מהם אומרים כי הכל אחד ויש אומרים כי אינו אחד אלא ג׳ וזה אין לנו תועלת בו ולא היזק But in another connection he does side with Averroes, declaring that the act of knowing, the knower and the known to be the same.53V כי היא כלו׳ הנפש יודעת והיא ידועה והיא הדעה, כאשר השכל והמשכיל והמושכל כה אחד.
Man’s soul did not come into being like his body. Concerning the soul we do not read that God created it but that God breathed into man the breath of life, which means that God endowed man with part of His own glory.54V אמר הכתוב: וייצר ד׳ אלהים את האדם עפר מן האדמה, והנה זכר לך בריאת הגוף מן העפר ולא זכר בנפש בריאה אבל אמר: ויפה באפיו נשמת חיים וגבין ממלת ויפה, כי לקחה ממנו ולא בראו רק אצל חלק מחלקי כבודו ונתן אותו באדם. Man’s upright gait testifies already to his more exalted origin. While the animals walk bowing down—their soul comes from the ground and pulls them back to the ground—man walks upright because his soul, coming from the heavens above, pulls him to its source.55I We may compare the relationship between the body and the soul to that of the wick and the light.56Somewhere else (XII) we find another parable: God breathed the soul into the body as one might blow air into a tube. The body resembles the wick, and the soul resembles the spark which has been beaten out of the rock, and which kindles the wick. If one asks: “What was the soul before it was united with the body?”, we answer that it was the same case as the light before it was united with the wick. As the flame was in the stone or in the iron only potentially, not really, until, kindled by the human hand, it united with the wick, so did the soul exist only potentially before being united with the body.57V ואם תאמר, מה חייתה הנשמה קודם היותה בגוף, נשאלך מה היה הנר קודם שידבק בפתילה, ויהיה התשובה, כי שלהבת הנר באבן או בברזל עומדת בכה ולא יצאה לידי מעשה, עד אשר קדחת אותו בידך ויצאה ונקשרה בפתילה. For the concept of reality the word מעשה is used instead of the more exact one פעל. Perhaps our author was not too well acquainted with the Hebrew translations of the philosophical writings. The same can be found with Abraham bar Chiyah (see Guttmann: Die philosophischen u. ethischen Anschauungen des Abr. b. Ch., in MGWJ vol. 44, p. 95, n.2). We see that the soul grasps what is close and what is distant, even to the end of the world, just as if it were standing right in front or behind it. Thus does the soul of the scholars grasp the spheres, their extent and nature. Therefore the soul must be around all things, and they must be contained in it. The soul must be above the objects and derive from a higher place, to which it returns after death.58V The soul can recognize whatever is in the universe, and this is an insight by which it recognizes itself and its own knowledge. In this manner it comes close to the Creator and attains the highest rung, for by knowing itself it knows all there is to be known, since all this lies within the soul.59V This doctrine of the self-recognition of the soul is neo-Platonic and can be found frequently in Gabirol. See Guttmann Die Philosophie des Salomon ibn Gabirol, p. 67, n.1 and passim. In the soul what is doing and what is being done are identical, although otherwise these two are separated; for by knowing itself the soul knows and is being known at the same time. These two are united in the soul because, standing between the Creator and the creation, it receives knowledge from the former, and being known from the latter.60VII אי אפשר להיות הפועל והפעול דבר אחד זולתי הנשמה לבדה, כי היא יודעת כל הדברים הידועים ויודעת עצמה, אם כן היא יודעת עצמה וידועה לעצמה…והשלישי הנשמה, אשר היא בינונית בין הבורא ובין הנברא וקבלה מכה הבורא להיות יודעת ומכה הנברא להיות ידועה. A man’s body is composed of the four elements, which are united in life but separated in death when they return to their elements; similarly is the soul composed of the four elements, namely, the existence, the life, the wisdom and the unity of God, and, when separated from the body, they return to their origin. But this is not accomplished in such a manner that they separate again from each other upon arising; for they have one place of origin, and the elements from which they derive are not sepaarte but united, and they share in one carrier.61V כי הנשמה אצולה ולקוחה מכהות עליונות, כי הבורא יתברך הברה מד׳ יםודות, מכה מציאותו וחיותו וחכמתו ואחדותו, ומכל הד׳ האלה נתחברה הנפש, וכאשר תפרד מן הגוף יקרה לה מה שיקרה לגוף, ישובו ד׳ יםודותיה איש אל מקומו ישוב המציאות ליםודו והחיים ליםודם והחבמה ליםודה (והאחדות ליםודה), ויםוד כל אלה הד׳ הוא במקום העליון למעלה מהגלגלים, וע׳׳ב תשוב שם, ולא נאמר כי יפרדו ארבעה כחותיה בעלותה שם,, אך המקום אחד ואלה הד׳ יםודות הם אחדים בלי נפרדים, בי העצם הנושא אותם הוא אחד. Earthly man wishes to attain things above him, he wants to unite with the angels and be like them; the angels again strive for things above them and wish to recognize God, the stars and the spheres and thus all yearnings and strivings of the upper beings tend towards the unification with the power of the Most High, the Creator. All their motions have one purpose, to fulfill the will of the Creator, to Whom they feel attracted, and for Whom they long. This is done through the thinking soul, which, like all other emanations, yearns to return to its origin. Like the elements, which, having been forced into a direction contrary to their nature, want to return to their natural place as soon as the force ceases, so it is with the soul, which, coming from above, is tied to the body as the flame is tied to the burning wood. As long as the soul is affected by the forces of the body it cannot separate from that body; but when that effect stops, it returns to its origin above.62I, p. See Bahya, Duties of the Heart X, 1 p. 437 אבל מה ענין האהבה באלהים, הוא כלות הנפש ונטותח אל הבורא, כדי שתדבק באורו העליון, והוא שהנפש עצם פשוט רוחני נוטה אל הדומה לה מהאישים הרוחנים…וכשתרגיש הנפש בענין שיוםיף לה אור בעצמה וכח בנפשה, The soul of the prophets attains the rung of prophecy when it has reached its full purity and majesty and feels entirely attracted by things above. Then it is close to the Creator, and, because of the exaltedness of its concepts, there is no wall which separates it from prophecy and the Creator. If this is true of a soul which is still tied to the body, it is even more true after its separation from the body. For it is the body which prevents the soul from rising, like a bird whose wings have been damaged so that it can rise again only after the injury has been removed. This is also the case with the souls of the pious and the sages, for, according to the Talmud63V, . See Talmud B. Bathra 12a , the sage stands even higher than the prophet. If the soul has remained pious and pure, then, on being separated from the body, it traverses the spheres, which it had passed upon entering this world, and returns to its place of origin, just as a bird returns to its nest after having been captive. But the sinful soul is like a bird whose wings have been mutilated so that, deprived of its flying power, has fallen into a ditch. He can leave that ditch only after his wings have healed, and he can fly again. After their separation from the body, the souls rest in the world to come, similar to the angels, until, after the resurrection of the dead they will be reunited with the body. Then this world too will be renewed. This world too, in which perhaps the heavens and the earth will be granted new powers, as is the case with the souls and the bodies, is called the world to come.64Hillel ben Samuel also taught that, in the Talmud, the world to come has a variety of meanings: immediately after death; the period of the Messiah; the resurrection of the dead. See Tagmule haNefesh, p. 28b… הנה לך כי המלה הזאת ר״ל לעתיד לבא אין עניינה אחד בכל מקום אצל רבותינו ע״ה, אמנם פעם תורה על מה שמגיע לאדם תיבף אחר תמות כמו שהוכחתי למעלה ופעם תודה לימות המשיח כמו שהראיתי עתה ופעם תודה על העה״ב כלומר עולם הנשמות. 29a: לכן צריך שיוקחו אלה המלות והשמות מורות בהכרח הוראות שונות כפי חענין המכוון מן המצטרף להם באותו מאמר או באותו הדרש שיפלו בו ולא יגדרם עגין אחד ולא תכללם הודאה אחת וזה הדבר הטעה כמה מן המפרשים ומן המחברים חדשים גם ישנים, כי הם לקחו כל מלת לעתיד לבא הבאה בתלמוד על ענין אחד וכן מלת עוה״ב גם כן על ענין אחד ובזה באו פירושיהם בתכלית השבוש. In it dwell the pious and the saints; there they worship God according to His will, they praise Him and gain new wisdom like that of the prophets. In that world there is neither eating nor drinking, for as long as man yearns for such things he is tied to his senses and cannot reach the highest goal of piety and saintliness. Now as everything connected with the renewal of the heavens and the earth and the resurrection of the dead is to be understood as a divine miracle, so is the fact that, after having been revived, the body can exist without eating and drinking. Once the human being is independent from these bodily needs and thus not subject any longer to the sicknesses caused by them, sicknesses which weaken his organism and even lead to death—he will, in the world of Redemption, be immortal.65