Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Orthodoxy Test #17: If the Rambam Was Alive

If the Rambam was alive he'd be

a) Right Wing Yeshivish

b) Left Wing Yeshivish
c) Right Wing Modern Orthodox
d) Left Wing Modern Orthodox
e) considered an apikores
f) Leave this question out of my results

First of all, if the Rambam were alive today he'd be rolling in his grave.

The only one of these options that cannot be disputed is (e). Somebody would consider him an apikores. However, I doubt that everybody would, and so it still remains to fit him into one of categories (a)-(d). I chose (b), because I think he was very "shtark", but had a brain. (C) is almost equally tempting, but I just can't picture him wearing a plaid shirt and a small leather kippah with clips. I flatter myself to think he'd actually be a "Huh?".

I assume that in composing this question, lamedzayin had in mind the fact that the Rambam believed that Chazal had imperfect knowledge of science (as has been mentioned on this and other blogs in the past) - a position that many "yeshivish" rabbis and laymen now understand to be apikorsus. Maybe if the Rambam were alive today he'd feel differently, or maybe he'd just be one of the many rabbis - both "yeshivish" and "modern orthodox" (by the way, which type is Rabbi Hershel Schachter?) - who continue to think that the position is neither heretical nor wrong. Lamedzayin probably also was thinking more generally of the Rambam's knowledge of the gentile philosophy of his day. I imagine the Rambam would probably be reasonably well-versed in a lot of today's secular thought, though he might not recommend that everybody else pursue his level of proficiency. I don't think that such an attitude would preclude his being "left-wing yeshivish".

Basically, it comes down to this: I think the Rambam would wear a white shirt, a dark suit and a black hat, doing which, as far as I can tell, almost always guarantees that you will be "yeshivish" (unless you're Amish).