Friday, January 16, 2009

Speaking of Netzach — connection to Rambam

Continuing the topic of Netzach, when Frierdiker Rebbe introduces the concept in the original Bosi LeGani, he talks about a great sage possessing this attribute and wishing, as a result, to “vanquish” anyone who “stands on his way”. When for the first time I read the following words, the first image that came to my mind was that of Rambam:

The attribute of [seeking] victory is to be found only in a great man.

If someone speaks up in defiance of a lesser man, {the latter} may retort boldly, but {…} will not overrule {his opponent}.

A great man, however, will endeavor to vanquish anyone who speaks or acts contrary to his will, and will seek to establish the truth of his position.

Indeed, the Sages teach that “any scholar who does not bear a grudge and seek revenge like a snake is not a scholar” (Yoma 23a).

Rashi explains that the scholar will seek revenge and maintain a bitter grudge in his heart as a snake does.

(The reason that the snake is used as a metaphor is explained there.)

The Talmud questions the above-quoted teaching of the Sages, noting that the Torah commands: “You shall not avenge nor bear a grudge.”

And the Talmud itself answers that a sage is permitted such conduct, for the vengeance and the grudge allowed him (and indeed required of him) are not (G-d forbid) of the kinds forbidden in the Torah, which are related to money [or other material matters].

He who is permitted such conduct must be a sage of unquestioned integrity.

Indeed, the Talmudic term for “sage” implies one who is a self-effacing disciple of wisdom; it is for the sake of wisdom that he directs all his actions and affairs.

This attitude lies at the root of [a true desire for] victory, and it applies only to a man of stature.

Moreover, the greater the individual, the greater this desire. {}

1 comment:

shmulie said...

Where do you see this in the Rambam? The Rambam had many, many opponents, but he never seems to relate vindictively or vengefully against them.

On the other hand, when someone badmouthed the Jews of Morocco, who, when faced with death, converted to Islam, he took umbrage.

"If the pillars of the world (i.e., the Prophets) were punished for speaking unfavorably of the people, how much more so less important personalities who loosen their tongue against communities of Israel to call them wicked.... Any orator should not speak in public until he has reviewed what he wishes to say a number of times ... and how much more so the written word should be reviewed a thousand times...."

When we're talking about a true Jewish leader, one without selfish considerations, maybe his midas hanitzachon is transfered to defending his flock.