Well life has slowed down a little (NOT) so we shall continue on anyway in this fascinating, yet sometimes irritating book. It sometimes make me think too hard…….. Going to have my twin grandbabies for the next two weeks so the next post may be a while too!
A World of Broccoli and Pizza part 2
I have not read Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexed. It seems I need to. I have it on one of my Bible Study programs on my computer; just haven’t had time to read it. In order to understand some of this perspective it will come to the forefront of my reading material. LOL Like I have time to read more books. Thank goodness I finally got a Kindle. So here we go.
We left off with the questions:
How does one take good and evil inside of oneself?
What would it mean to think about right and wrong in the world of Eden pre-tree?
In his Guide to the Perplexed, Maimonides suggests that Adam and Eve were already aware of right and wrong before eating from the tree. In some respect anyway. He suggests the tree didn’t give them moral awareness where it didn’t exist before, it transformed this awareness from one thing into another. They would not have formed their moral choices of “good and evil” in this terminology. He suggests they would have known “true” as a virtuous choice and “false” as a reprehensible choice. So doing the right thing to them would have been “truth” and doing the wrong thing would have been “falsehood”. As I’m reading this I feel as if we are splitting hairs here, but then it began to make more sense. In our world we simply just don’t think this way. Perhaps we should.
Seeing morality as a choice between “truth and falsehood” as differing from saying morality means choosing between “good and evil” involves much more than just the words. There is an understanding that must come somehow of where exactly this tree, the knowledge of good and evil, and Eve’ actions take us. Questions arise. Always the questions!
How are “true” things different from “good” things?
For me this question required a lot of hard thinking. I sometimes just want a simple answer and am discovering that is not always the way to a fuller understanding. Looking at definitions, which is now my forever guideline, along with what Rabbi Fohrman enlightens me with in his book – I find another meaning for good. “That which is pleasing. When I say that something is good, what I am really telling you, in a subtle way, is that I approve of it. That it is desirable.”
Rabbi Fohrman explains that perhaps Maimonides means this (in my own words): The shift was from discerning what God wanted to allowing my desire to intrude and become my guide. This tree fascinated Eve in every aspect from the most base (taste) to the most profound (mind). This tree was a tree of desire. “To eat from it was to literally bring desire inside myself; to identify with it.”
I have always looked at this Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a lesson more or less on morality. But it is so much more. In the pre-tree world desire was a natural part of who we are. But, it was under God’s control. In the post-tree world that desire controls us. We have created a different view of virtue and desire. Tu understand how we moved from a world of truth and falsehood to a world of good and evil, through desire, let’s look a little more.
Rabbi Fohrman’s test: Think on these things. He calls it a thought experiment. Divide these items into 2 columns.
“Is it ok to take a dying man off a respirator?”
“My elderly mother needs help organizing her house before she moves, but my kid needs me to help him prepare for finals. With whom do I spend the evening?”
“Should Billy lie to the teacher to protect his friend, Bobby, when the teacher asks him whether Bobby was cheating on his test?”
It’s a dark and rainy night in Manhattan. You throw your trusty Chevy Suburban into reverse and begin to back our of your parking spot, when you hear a sickening thud. You get out of the car to behold, right behind you, a shiny black Lexus convertible – with a badly dented front end. You look around. The street is entirely dark, not a soul to be seen. Do you leave a note or not?”
“The dilemmas do divide naturally into two groups. Three of these dilemmas are real. One of them, though, is fundamentally illusory. Three of the dilemmas exist whether you live in a world of “true and false” or a world of “good and evil”. The other exists only in the mixed-up world of “good and evil”. In the world of “true and false” it simply evaporates.
Now, which is which?”