Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Rambam vs. Tur

I was learning Halakha recently and I thought that one could use the difference between the Mishneh Torah and the Arbah Turim to illustrate the difference in the approach of the Modern Orthodox & the Yeshivish.
The Mishneh Torah clearly demonstrates the Rambam's philosophical background: it is logically ordered with general principles followed by case examples. It digests the Gemara to present the Halakha in a very rational and logical fashion. The Tur in contrast presents Halakhos as one actually deals with them over the course of the day. What you need to know when you wake up, then put on Tefillin, Daven, eat, etc. Furthermore we will bring in quotes from other opinions when he thinks it relevant.
While the Mishneh Torah may be more logically structured, the Tur is much more practical for actual living your life as a Jew.
I think the same could be said about Modern Orthodoxy's tendency to present Judaism is a way that is philosophically sound, historically accurate, and logical. But less practical for someone who wants to live his life as a frum Jew. In contrast, the Yeshivish Velt might be less philosophically rigorous, but the Judaism that they teach is much easier to keep and more immediately accessible to ordinary Baal ha-Baatim.

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