PODCAST: Law and Philosophy in the Guide

Michael A. Shmidman Tradition Online | January 15, 2024

TRADITION’s Summer 2023 issue, recently made fully open access, contained a fascinating offering penned by Michael A. Shmidman, our distinguished editor emeritus, titled “Isadore Twersky’s Unique Contribution to the Study of The Guide of the Perplexed.” It is a presentation and analysis of five integral and interlocking components of Rabbi Professor Isadore (Yitzhak) Twersky’s understanding of Maimonides’ formulation of the relationship between the philosophic tradition and the Oral Law, particularly as expressed in the Moreh Nevukhim.

Shmidman suggests that all of Maimonides’ works, as viewed by Twersky, “promote the integration, the blending, the fusion of law and philosophy. We should not bifurcate the most central Jewish figure of the medieval era into Rambam the halakhist and Maimonides the philosopher, but rather view his work as one united entity.” Because R. Twersky’s major scholarly focus was on the Mishneh Torah, his unique contribution to the study of The Guide of the Perplexed is, Shmidman suggests, sadly underappreciated—and that contribution is the focus of this essay,

Michael A. Shmidman is Dean and Professor of Jewish History at Touro University Graduate School of Jewish Studies. This most recent essay originated as a lecture at a conference commemorating the 25th yahrzeit of R. Isadore Twersky convened at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University (on September 11, 2022). We thought our readers would appreciate listening to Shmidman’s talk alongside reading his essay at TraditionOnline.org. The recordings of all the lectures at that daylong event, “Understanding Halakhah, History & Spirituality,” can be found on Revel’s YouTube channel—and we thank our friends at the Bernard Revel Graduate School for sharing this resource with our listeners.

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