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Rejoinder to Talmid’s Thoughts on Deuteronomy 30:6.

(Continued from page 259.)

But Talmid endeavours to prove his wrongly conceived philosophy, by the life and deeds of our pious ancestors, the virtuous patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Occident, vol. v. p. 148, Sivan 5607); and even by the history written down by Moses he attempts to establish a peculiar dogma which is in contradiction to the whole of the Mosaic system. He proceeds in this fashion. He says, Abraham did not deserve God’s favour; the Most High appeared to him, and made with him and his seed after him an everlasting covenant only for the purpose of circumcising the human heart, to redeem mankind from the power of the devil, and to save fallen man from the fire of hell. This is the import of Talmid’s views, though he uses different words. But, my dear friend, I must give the same reply to you, which Mendelssohn gave against the views of Spinoza: “If your hypothesis were true, it would be a support for your system.” If Abraham had not deserved the divine favour, then could it be proven that God does not circumcise the heart of man; although then we might demand an answer to the question, “Why did God circumcise the heart of one man only, why not rather that of the whole human race? is He not the Father of the universe, the Source of an eternal equal benevolence for all his creatures?

But Abraham did truly deserve the divine favour; because the Bible tells us not that God appeared to him in a dream or in a nightly vision, only after the Lord had circumcised his heart. But at the very first appearance it is stated, ויאמר ה' אל אברם “And the Lord said to Abram;” whereas to hear and understand the word of the Omnipotent, man ought to be in a very high state of perfection, I am almost tempted to write, in the highest state of perfection which man can possibly attain.

The Rambam in the second part (פרק ל"ב) of מורה נבוכים says:

דעות בני אדם בנבואה וגו' הדעת הראשון והוא דעת המון הפתאים והוא שהש"י יבחר מי שירצה מבני אדם וישרה בו הנבואה וישלמהו וגו' והדעת השני דעת בפילוסופים שהנבואה שלמות אחד מטבע האדם והשלמות ההוא לא יגיע לאיש מבני האדם אלא אחר למוד יוציא מה שבכח המין אל הפועל וגו' והדעת השלישי והוא דעת תורתנו ויסוד דתינו הוא זה הדעת הפילוסופי בעצמו אלא בדבר אחד וזה שאנחנו נאמין שהראוי לנבואה המכין עצמו לה אפשר שלא יתנבא והוא הרצון אלקי: (עיין שם הפירושים)

“The opinions of men are different regarding prophecy, &c. The first is that of the thoughtless multitude, who suppose that God chooses any one He may please of the sons of man, endows him with prophecy and makes him perfect, &c. The second is that of the philosophers, who suppose that prophecy is one of the perfections of human nature; but which can be elicited only after deep study has called forth this inherent power of our race into practical effect, &c. And the third is that of our Torah and the basis of our law, and is nearly the same with the philosophical one just given, except in one point, which is that we believe, that though a man is worthy of prophecy, and has prepared himself for the same, he may nevertheless not be able to prophesy; for this is by the will of God.”

(To be continued.)