Maimonides of Cordoba and the Rationality of the Mitzvot

Maimonides of Cordoba and the Rationality of the Mitzvot

Maimonides’s answer is that, while the mitzvot do indeed affect the world, they do not directly influence God or nature. Instead, they work by transforming the person who fulfills them.

We saw earlier that, for the Rambam, prophecy is not so much God’s initiative as the individual’s achievement. Similarly, in his view, providence is less about God’s actions than about our achievement of a spiritual state in which we merit divine concern.

So, too, we might say that the mitzvot were not given for God’s sake but for man’s, in order to shape a new kind of human being. If prophecy and providence are human spiritual achievements, then the mitzvot are methods through which we may attain these levels.

Underlying all of the Rambam’s writings about the reasons for the commandments is the notion that a person’s character is his greatest achievement and that the mitzvot are, above all, tools to build a whole, balanced personality.

(From Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism, by Micah Goodman)

La Sinagoga Abierta in collaboration with the Judeo-Andalusian Route of Jewish Heritage, organizes guided tours of the Jewish quarters of Andalusia, and especially to the Córdoba of Maimonides. For more information :



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