Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Rambam (Part II)

(Continued from prior post.)
When I posted my previous post, I omitted a fourth objection to Gil’s theory that the Rambam rules out the Rebbe from being Moshiach. I had taken such a long time to put the previous post together, that I wanted to get it up already.
This objection requires a bit of subtle reasoning, but, I think that it is quite strong. According to the Gil theory, the thrust of the Rambam in clause C is to rule that if someone dies before bringing the Geulah, he can no longer be Moshiach.
Let us bypass our objection #1 in the previous post by imagining a group that we call proto-Lubavitch, who believed that their dead leader was in fact Moshiach. According to the Gil theory, the Rambam is speaking to them and negating their belief, informing them that since their leader has died, he can no longer be considered a possible Moshiach.
If this is, in fact, what the Rambam is doing, he certainly has a funny way of going about it. Let us use the terms of symbolic logic to examine the Rambam’s words. Let the proposition P be “the leader has died” and the proposition Q be “the leader is a possible Moshiach.” If Gil theory is correct, what the Rambam is saying is “if ‘P’, then ‘not Q’.” The Rambam should say “If he died without accomplishing these things, then he is not Moshiach (and he will not succeed in accomplishing these things in the future.)”
But, in fact, the Rambam does not say this. He says, according to Gil Theory, “if not Q, then not Q.” He says “If he does not succeed to this extent, then he is not Moshiach (and will not succeed to this extent.) Or, to simplify, he is saying “If he did not succeed to this extent, then he did not succeed to this extent.” This statement is a meaningless tautology. The only thing that gives it meaning is the way the Gil’niks read in to this statement. They say that the Rambam’s statement can only be understood if you stick in the following words “If he did not succeed to this extent (because he died and once he died he cannot come back to life and complete the job) then he will not succeed to this extent. IOW, the Gil’niks make the Rambam comprehensible by reading him as saying “if not Q (because p = not q) then not Q.” So, the only information conveyed to us by the Rambam is that information that is unstated and left to be reasoned out by the reader.
The Talmudic expression for this objection is “HaIkar Chaser Min Hasefer” - “The principle part is missing from the text.” This objection is not fatal, but it does make Gil Theory more dubious. As I will demonstrate in my next post, there is another interpretation of the Rambam that resolves this problem, as well as the three that I presented in my previous post.


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