Yehuda Halper on Guiding Readers to “The Guide of the Perplexed”

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This week, the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic returns to the towering intellectual and religious sage of medieval Judaism, Moses Maimonides, the Rambam. In two previous conversations about his work, the professor of Judaism Yehuda Halper and podcast host Jonathan Silver focused on Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, his code of law.

This week, the two turn from the Mishneh Torah to Maimonides’s philosophical magnum opus, Moreh ha-N’vukhim, known in English as The Guide of the Perplexed. Whereas the Mishneh Torah leaves one with the impression that philosophy and law can be reconciled within the covenantal structure of an observant Jewish life, the emphasis in The Guide of the Perplexed is on the tensions, difficulties, and apparent contradictions between philosophy and law.

The Guide is one of the great books of Jewish philosophy, and it requires some preliminary introduction before anyone can seriously engage its questions. So this discussion is an orientation to the kind of study, the kind of person, and the kind of life that the Guide is written to instruct.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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