Saturday, February 12, 2011

The divergent paths of Torah and secular philosophy?


Here's one to chew on:

"The wisdom of philosophy and the wisdom of Torah and its laws do not follow the same path. The wisdom of Torah is a tradition received by Moshe from Sinai, and the scholar will analyze it via the methods assigned for its analysis, comparing one matter and another. Even where this approach does not follow natural wisdom, we follow the tradition. Philosophical wisdom is natural, though, with great scholars who established natural arguments, and in their great wisdom they dug deeper and corrupted (Hosheia 9:9) and needed to deny the Torah of Moshe, for the Torah is entirely unnatural and revelatory.

"Regarding this it is stated, ‘You shall be pure with HaShem your Gd,’ meaning that even if something is outside of natural logic, you should not doubt the received tradition, but walk before Him in purity. Therefore, you should not bring proof from their words, to make a sign or argument or parable against the just laws of Gd.

"Regarding this the scholar said, ‘Those who enter it will not return,’ meaning that one who enters this area of wisdom will not be able to leave it and introduce his heart to the wisdom of Torah, for he will not be able to return from the natural wisdom to which he has become accustomed. His heart will be continually drawn after it, and he will not be able to establish himself in the wisdom of Torah, which is the path of life, for his heart will be perpetually drawn after natural wisdom. He will try to equate the two wisdoms, and bring proof from one to the other, and so he will warp justice for these are two opposites and rivals which cannot dwell in the same space."

(Responsa of Rosh 55:9)

Have a great day,


  1. Good morning,

    From this very brief excerpt from the Rosh, it seems one would infer an exhortation to avoid studying "the wisdom of philosophy". Does he waiver at all? At the same time, who are the others of equal standing, and what are some of those sources, that would have us comfortable in our pursuit of "the wisdom of philosophy". The existential question of whether there really is a divergence is a vexing one that begs for clarity.


  2. Good questions... way beyond the scope of this blog...