Maimonides’ Holistic Vision Integrated Law and Philosophy, Science and Faith, Talmud and Aristotle—without Compromising

How to interpret the work of the towering Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides was the subject of a great debate between two of the 20th century’s foremost Jewish scholars: the political theorist Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago, and the medievalist (and hasidic rebbe) Isadore Twersky of Harvard. In this fascinating analysis, Warren Zev Harvey outlines the terms of the debate and makes the case for why Twersky was right:

Leo Strauss . . . presumed an irreparable conflict between Maimonides the rabbi and Maimonides the philosopher, and concluded that the true Maimonides was Maimonides the philosopher. [By contrast, the Israeli philosopher] Yeshayahu Leibowitz . . . agreed with Strauss that there is an irreparable conflict between Maimonides the rabbi and Maimonides the philosopher, but concluded, contrary to Strauss, that the true Maimonides was Maimonides the rabbi.

Twersky, Harvey explains, rejected both approaches, as well as the “supposedly uncontroversial position of most of the Maimonidean scholars at the time, who spoke of Maimonides’ having made a ‘synthesis’ of Judaism and philosophy.”

The key word to understanding Twersky’s approach is “integration.” “Integration” and “synthesis” are not synonyms. In a synthesis, the thesis and antithesis are replaced by something new, the synthesis. The synthesis supersedes the thesis and the antithesis, rendering them both anachronistic. The synthesis of black and white is: gray. In an integration, however, all elements remain true to themselves. Black remains black, white remains white.

Maimonides, Twersky insisted, did not compromise halakhah for philosophy or philosophy for halakhah. His goal was not to turn black and white into gray. His Maimonides was committed uncompromisingly to Jewish law, that is, halakhah; but he was simultaneously committed uncompromisingly to Reason, that is, philosophy.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Jewish Thought, Leo Strauss, Moses Maimonides

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy