Thursday, May 29, 2014

The goal of a festival


"Festivals are all for joy and for gatherings which provide the benefit that people need in their masses, and they also benefit by causing the love required between people in national gatherings."

(Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim 3:34)

Have a great day,


  1. I'm not to sure what to make of this... The Rambam's notion of taamei hamitzvos in this section of the Moreh in general isn't one most of us would subscribe to. I don't think it's a more popular trend in today's hashkafos to define the goal of life in terms of intellectual apprehension. In 3:27 the Rambam summarizes the role of mitzvos (not in this order) as teaching proper theology, leading one way from idolatry, honing the mind for the first two, and creating a society that enables such contemplation.

    Once one rejects the foundation of the discussion, quoting its further development doesn't prove much. The Rambam doesn't see the need for love of G-d in the literal emotional sense, and in fact such a position would require anthropomorphication of a level he would disapprove. That's why Yedosei haTorah 2:2 redefines love and awe as being in terms of knowing about Him. Not that one would want to know about the Beloved, but that loving such knowledge is the love in question. Which significantly alters the options of how one can view holidays.

  2. R' Micha-
    Are you suggesting that Rambam's comment here fits his theme of mitzvos-developing-intellectual-apprehension, or conflicts with it? I would think the latter.

  3. Most of us would say that festivals are about bonding emotionally with G-d, but the Rambam's G-d is too impersonal for that. So instead the Rambam fits festivals under his category of laws that make for the cohesive society necessary for opportunities to have intellectual contemplation of G-d.