As long as man wanders, groping for both truth and wisdom,
he is occupied with the practice of philosophy. He leaves this
kind of wandering when he comes to find the way of metaphysics,
“wise groping” already having a guide. The
contradiction between the rational truths of the science and
the hidden, mysterious truths of the Torah, in
fact, the contradiction between philosophy and religion, is
apparent, unreal, deriving from a superficial, inadequate understanding
of the Scriptures unveiled only via metaphysics, the science
which reconciles at the same time philosophy and religion by
exceeding them in profoundness and truth.
Which is, in Maimonides’ vision, the very common point
of philosophy and religion? What makes possible their final
identification? Which is the guide that makes possible
the existence of metaphysics as non-distinguished (and never
opposite to) religion? The simple answer only indicated by Maimonides
would be: the transcendence. Religion explicitly recognizes
the transcendence of God as representing its the main Object
(in fact, Subject). The identification religion – philosophy
is therefore possible only in metaphysics, conceived as philosophy
For the perplexed one philosophy is everything else but not
discourse of/upon the divine. Or, Maimonides’ aim is,
on the one hand, to show, to indicate, via philosophy,
the transcendence (hence the naissance of metaphysics), and,
on the other hand, to show, to indicate the same transcendence
within the Scriptures, via religion.
Metaphysics is the science of the initiated ones; it unveils
the divine truths the philosophers are looking for, truths called
by Maimonides, following the traditional line, the "secrets"
(sodot), the "mysteries of the Torah” (sitrei
we must admit The Guide for the Perplexed as a veritable metaphysical treatise having for an object “the true
knowledge of the Torah” (Introduction, p. 2), the
awakening of the religious man from within the perplexed one
who does not recognize other guide but his own reason.
As the language is conventional, any discourse aiming the pure
transcendence is equivalent to or has the same value as the
biblical text. If Aristotle and Ezekiel are saying the same
thing, philosophy and religion are to be one.
The dialogue initiated by Maimonides between philosophy and
religion is a highly fertile approach meant to illuminate and
finally to unite both philosophy and religion beyond their
material, discursive garment.
In order to understand why Maimonides is resorting so easily
to Scriptures without explaining the point of his quotations,
proclaiming their truth and defining them as a guide mark for
any metaphysical knowledge, we should remember his belonging
to a Judaic philosophical tradition. Or, the specific feature
of this philosophy is to always put itself in the shade of Scriptures
without losing, for all that, its importance or dignity; on
the contrary, the mirrored play of philosophy as interpretation
ends up in a katharsis meant to both institute and redefine
philosophy. The eternal truths were engraved on the Tables of
the Law. The antinomy of the perplexed answers for their anti-nomy
(Gr. nomos - law, prescription), for their misunderstanding
of the proper relation existing between philosophy and religion.
Following this line, metaphysics, the science of
the Law, of the eternal, unchanging truths is to be distinguished
from physics, the science of the created, changing nature:
“We also stated (Mishneh Torah, I.ii.12,
and iiv.10) that the expression Ma’aseh Bereshit (“Account
of the Creation”) signified “Natural Science”, and Ma’aseh
Mercabah (“Description of the Chariot”) Metaphysics […] ”
(Introduction, p. 2).
Ma’aseh Bereshit and Ma’aseh
Mercabah are so strongly related that someone can not
refer only to Ma’aseh Mercabah without taking into
account the truths of the Natural Science (Ma’aseh Bereshit).
Understanding the kind of relation which therefore exist between
the eternal, unchanging truths of Ma’aseh Mercabah and
the created, changing nature of Ma’aseh Bereshit is
the (only) key to understand the former ones, the mysteries of
"Know that also in Natural Science there
are topics which are not to be fully explained. […]
because there is a close affinity between these subjects and
metaphysics, and indeed they form part of its mysteries. Do
not imagine that these most difficult problems can be thoroughly
understood by any one of us" (Introduction, p. 3).
Consequently, metaphysics essentially signifies
Ma’aseh Mercabah, but secondary, it is strongly related
to (and could even include some parts of) Ma’aseh Bereshit.
Using the distinction visible/invisible, we could say that
physics is nothing else but the science of the visible uncovered
Note: The distinction of visible/invisible is meant to bring
Maimonides into the present, into the modern horizon of understanding
and expectations. This "making actual", this bringing
up to date implies, at he same time, a “translation”,
if possible, into contemporary language and thus, an enrichment
at the significance level. That is why we shall first endeavor
to state as precisely as possible the meaning of these two terms
frequently used in this study.
The visible is the thematization, the instanciation, the embodiment
of the invisible. If the invisible is the essence, then the
visible is the existence. As existentialization, the visible
is, metaphorically, the ecstasy of the invisible. The latter
can be identified with the transcendence: “Principle:
not to consider the invisible as an other visible “possible”,
or a “possible” visible for an other […]. The invisible is there
without being an object, it is pure transcendence,
without an ontic mask. And the “visibles” themselves,
in the last analysis, they too are only centered on a nucleus
of absence”. From the level to the ontological one the visible presents
itself as a limit, as the “body” of man and the
“flesh” of the world: “What there is then
are not things first identical with themselves, which would
then offer themselves to the seer, nor is there a seer who is
first empty and who, afterward, would open himself to them –
but something to which we could not be closer than by palpating
it with our look, things we could not dream of seeing “all
naked” because the gaze itself envelops them, clothes
them with its own flash […]. How does it happen that my
look, enveloping them, does not hide them, and, finally, that
veiling them, it unveils them?”.
Word of the unword (unspoken), seen of the unseen,
matter of the immaterial, the visible is the multiple of the invisible.
Ma’aseh Bereshit is dealing, as the denomination
already indicates, with the beginnings, that is, the
creation, the coming into being of the visible, while Ma’aseh
Mercabah stands for the human-divine endeavor to discover/to
reconstruct the way up having for a target the invisible.
The distinction reveals its real significance by an attentive
analysis. Both terms bereshit and mercabah have
a special echo in Jewish tradition.
Bereshit is the first word and also the name of the
first book of Moses. Ma’aseh Bereshit will designate
everything related to the created world, all that appears directly
as multiple in all its manifestations.
The second term, mercabah, means throne, chair,
chariot. Maimonides insists upon the
fact that what Ezekiel and Isaiah saw in their visions was only the throne of God and by no means
God Himself; the two prophets have seen only the place where
God stood, His trace:
“The prophet likewise says “that is the
likeness of the glory of the Lord”; but “the glory of the Lord” is
different from “the Lord” Himself, as has been
shown by us several times. All the figures in this vision
refer to the glory of the Lord, to the chariot, and not
to Him who rides upon the chariot; for God cannot be compared
to anything. Note this” (III, 7).
Beyond the visible, seen under the sign of multiplicity, there
is the invisible unity, sign of the overwhelming simplicity.
The visible answers for the invisible. Therefore, the only science
which points to the invisible, beyond the visible, beyond physics,
is the metaphysics (Gr. meta ta physika, beyond the
Between the visible and the invisible, between the one and
the multiple, etaphysics is the science of the beyond.
Which is the way towards the one essence (being)
having thousands of faces? The maimonidean way is deliberately
and explicitly obscure like any other initiating path:
“If you desire to grasp all that is contained
in this book so that nothing shall escape your notice, consider
the chapters in connected order. In studying each chapter,
do not content yourself with comprehending its principal subject,
but attend to every term mentioned therein, although it may
seem to have no connection with the principal subject. For
what I have written in this work was not the suggestion of
the moment; it is the result of deep study and great application.
Care has been taken that nothing that appeared doubtful should
be left unexplained” (Introduction, p.8).
The guiding line we’ve tried to discover from the text’s
texture begins from among the uprooted multiplicity and aims
to reach the invisible unity from beyond the visible, the one
stated back in its original symbolic condition.
The antinomy is “transfigured”:
the being is both one and multiple, invisible and visible.
The first level (step) which must be overcome (overstepped)
is that of idolatry. The second one is that of negative attributes
in the endeavour to reach the invisible unity from among the
visible multiplicity, but also the level of allegory in the
endeavour to regain the visible as symbol.
“The Torah speaks according to the language of
man” (Iebamoth 71a
), Maimonides often likes to say
. How could we reach the truth
of the being since it appears as the ultimate, absolute alterity?
The first step suggested by Maimonides, as we have already seen,
is the fight against idolatry
, apparently nothing special, nothing new, if we think only
of the prophets, for example. But, to remain at the first level
of understanding, without foreseeing what is hiding beyond, it
means to be completely blind. Maimonides tries to take off, to
throw out the veil covering the eyes:
“[…] the multitude of people do not
easily conceive existence unless in connection with a body,
and that which is not a body nor connected with a body has for
them no existence. Whatever we regard as a state of perfection,
is likewise attributed to God, as expressing that He is perfect
in every respect, and that no imperfection or deficiency whatever
is found in Him. But there is not attributed to God anything
which the multitude consider a defect or want; thus He is never
represented as eating, drinking, sleeping, being ill, using
violence, and the like” (I, 26).
In this new light, idolatry appears as a being for ever left
to one’s own self, as narcissism, as refusal of alterity.
Phenomenologically, this attitude is worse than sterile since
it does not make room to a giving-rise-to-sense dislocation.
Or, the initiation always supposes a break: dying in order to
revive, losing oneself in order to find oneself. Following the
example of Moses, “the taking off of one’s shoes” (one’s self) must
always precede the encounter with the absolute Other.
Thus we can understand why the fight against idolatry becomes,
in Maimonides’ analysis, a fight against any anthropomorphism.
Speaking of divinity, the ultimate and absolute alterity, in
human words (and by this, staying with what is human) means
idolatry (anthropolatry); giving human shape (be it the perfect
one) to divinity is, Maimonides says, as if we flattered
a king for his silver treasure while it is a golden one (these
compliments would be nothing else but an offence).
Hence the necessity to uncover the figurative, hidden meaning
any time we face the biblical text. For common people, the text
speaks “[according to] the language of man”, humanly,
staying with the human (visible), but for the initiates, the
visible, once the human-like thrown into the shade, stands for
something else, for something different (for the invisible).
In order to exemplify, Maimonides will analyse a series of
frequently encountered words from the Scriptures referring to
divinity. Here are some of them:
panim: literal meaning: face, figure
figurative meaning: presence, sight, attention
a’hor: literal meaning: back;
figurative meaning: to follow, to listen to,
to obey, to imitate
leb: literal meaning: heart
figurative meaning: middle; depth; thought, feeling,
opinion; will, intention; intelligence, the faculties of the body
rua’h: literal meaning: air, wind,
figurative meaning: spirit, inspiration, intention,
canaph: literal meaning: wing, extremity
figurative meaning: veil; to veil, to hide
ain: literal meaning: source (of water),
figurative meaning: providence, purpose; to
see; intelligible perception
As we can see, either with homonyms, or with metaphors,
the figurative meaning has as a specific feature the “detachment”
from the material, from the visible. The spiritual, the invisible
in its unity is bodiless. That is why, the first level consists
in rejecting the corporeality any time someone refers to divinity:
“The physical organs which are attributed
to God in the writings of the Prophets are either organs of
locomotion, indicating life; organs of sensation, indicating
perception; organs of touch, indicating action; or organs
of speech, indicating the divine inspiration of the Prophets”
We must reach the “embodied” (one), which is beyond,
and by this, supports the body. Otherwise, the visible is uprooted.
The surface losing its roots becomes superficial. It does not
point any more to its depth, but it always returns to itself,
becoming opaque. Idolatry appears as a sterile, vicious reflexivity,
as loss of transparence, since the primordial function of the
visible was to make the invisible appear, to let it be foreseen,
The relationship visible-invisible is a “playful”
one. We could describe it as a “hide and seek” game
or, properly, as a “veil and unveil” one. Any time
the visible is not recognized as a veil, the invisible is “replaced”
by it and thus, buried for ever.
If the first step was the renunciation to corporeality
as concerns the invisible, the immediate, following question will
raise the problem of attributes: the eyes, the heart, the ear
obviously belong to the visible, but what about eyesight, will,
intelligence, hearing? Are we surpassing the visible or should
we further consider ourselves guilty of idolatry?
The Divine Names
Beyond the visible multiplicity, God is the pure
invisible. He has all the names since He has no name. The Judaic
monotheism is a severe, hard one and by this, authentic, genuine.
The oneness imposes itself as absolute: the absolute one can not
be understood if related to the multiple, as there are two different
registers: the one and the multiple are not contraries, as it
might seem, for they can never be regarded under the same rapport.
It is the essence of the multiple to be visible and the essence
of the one to be invisible. As visible, God has one thousand names,
as invisible, He is unnamed. Both one and multiple, God becomes
mysterious. In a blagian
sense, He is the mystery itself: the phanic
and the cryptic can be easily discovered in the maimonidean distinction
existence-essence. As existence, God is visible, as essence, He
is invisible. In ecstasy, the invisible gives rise to the
visible. That’s why the divine names, many as they
are, belong to the visible as revelation of existence in multiplicity,
not at all as God’s essence. From among the visible where
we find ourselves, the only thing we can thoroughly understand
is that God exists:
“[…] we comprehend only the fact that He exists,
not His essence” (I, 58).
But if we are sure of this existence, His essence
. Through the visible we can reach only the visible,
not the invisible. The latter appears to us in its visibility
and never in its invisibility. Appearing means appearing as
visible. Thus, we are condemned to visible:
“You must bear in mind, that by affirming
anything of God, you are removed from Him in two respects;
first, whatever you affirm, is only a perfection in relation
to us; secondly, He does not possess anything superadded to
this essence” (I, 59).
The Affirmative Attributes
We have tried, up to now, to find the real meaning of the maimonidean
doctrine of the affirmative attributes. If the first step was
the rejection of corporeality as referring to God, the second
step is the renunciation to affirmative attributes, apparently
invisible (that is to say, expressing the essence). In fact,
they belong, as we have already seen, to the visible realm.
Many are those who stopped before these attributes considering
them as essential (expressing the essence) and thus losing their
way, for the only real guide which “shows signs”
is the invisible. The visible mistaken for (the) invisible
apparently shows the end of the way. Therefore, the entire attention
must strongly aim to the unseen (one), rejecting any other temptation:
“[…] you must understand that God has no
essential attribute in any form or in any sense whatever,
and the rejection of corporeality implies the rejection of
essential attributes” (I, 50).
The Negative Attributes
To stop at the visible level means to cancel the invisible:
the visible ends in visible. That’s why, taking into account
our previous presentation, we must admit a gradation of the
human knowledge: those using affirmative attributes for designating
the divinity are inferior to those using the negative attributes,
guided only by the signs of the invisible:
“It will now be clear to you, that every time
you establish by proof the negation of a thing in reference
to God, you become more perfect, while with every additional
positive assertion you follow your imagination and recede
from the true knowledge of God” (I, 59).
Maimonides distinguishes the negative attributes
from the affirmative ones as the former deny something regarding
God (specifically, they deny everything related to human “sight”,
to the fact of remaining stock-still at the level of the anthropomorphic
visible); but he also mentions what they have in common: they
both determine, particularize. Omnis negatio est determinatio.
Consequently, the negations are also attributes,
but in a negative sense:
“The negative attributes have this in common
with the positive, that they necessarily circumscribe the
object to some extent, although such circumscription consists
only in the exclusion of what otherwise would not be excluded”
The necessity of negative attributes imposes itself
as the unique modality of discovering the limit which separates
the visible from the invisible and thus, as the unique modality
of "waiting for" a further encounter with the other
. The condition of the
intermediary is the supreme human condition.
Allegory and Symbol
The veil veils and unveils at the same time. We have two complementary
attitudes: on the one hand, the endeavour to remove the veil
by the mechanism of the negative attributes presented above,
and on the other hand, the consideration of the visible as a
trace, a shadow of the invisible, as a sign which permanently
points to it. This second attitude makes the visible regain
its privileged condition, that means it is recognized to be
the existentialization of the invisible gone into ecstasy.
Showing itself, the invisible becomes visible. Or, the visibility
as a fact of being visible, is always related to logos.
The invisible becomes visible by means of logos. The
visible is nothing else but the unveiled, word-made invisible.
We should remember Heraclitus’ words in reference to
the Delphic Apollo: “The Lord who owns the oracle at Delphi
neither speaks [legei] nor hides [kryptei] his
meaning but indicates it by a sign” (fr. 93). “[…] legein is here the
opposite term to kryptein, to hide and
that is why we have to translate it to bring out from hiding
that is to become manifest”.
As unveiled, the invisible is word (logos). As hidden,
it is something else. The difference in register is obvious
at the level of the discourse where there is always a hidden,
figurative meaning, other than the literal one.
The Scriptures are like “apples of gold in
silver filigree with small apertures” (Introduction
p. 6), this is Maimonides’ interpretation to Solomon
“It shows that in every word which has a double
sense, a literal one and a figurative one
, the plain meaning must be as
valuable as silver, and the hidden meaning still more precious;
so that the figurative meaning bears the same relation to
the literal one as gold to silver. It is further necessary
that the plain sense of the phrase shall give to those who
consider it some notion of that which the figure represents.
Just as a golden apple overlaid with a network of silver,
when seen at a distance, or looked at superficially, is mistaken
for a silver apple, but when a keen-sighted person looks at
the object well, he will find what is within, and see that
the apple is gold” (Introduction, p. 6).
If the visible is out of silver, the invisible is out of gold.
The silver filigree veils and unveils (for the initiated ones)
the gold. The visible does not indicate itself, it indicates
something else, the invisible. In order to break this chain
of endless, narcissist reflections, man should regard the biblical
text as an analogon of divinity: the words do not “speak”
the divine, but the divine (in its ecstasy) “speaks”
by these words. The dislocation at the level of language occurs
at the same time with the change in the attitude towards the
text: the literal meaning is not the only one. The allegory
is the one to replace the simple literal interpretation which
can never surpass the level of the visible: veiling by words,
Torah unveils the unwords.
Thematization of the hidden one, the visible is the half, the
recognition sign (symbolon) of the invisible. The symbolic
is to be found between the visible and the invisible, there
where the sense occurs.
Isomorphism and Anamorphosis
How can we find the invisible in the visible? The visible as
visible, in its own common logic and order, is isomorphic. The
reign of forms, of multiple faces, gives rise to idolatry. Uprooted,
the visible seems to be self-sufficient. The discovery of the
insufficiency of the visible, of its “not yet”,
reestablishes the original relationship with the invisible.
From existence to essence, how do we look for the signs of
the invisible in the middle of the visible? The world, in a
symbolic order, presents itself as an analogon of the
divinity evoking the divine without being the divine. The faces,
the forms of the multiple are not the divine, still they remind
If, in a merely visible order, the forms return to themselves
(whence the idolatry, the isomorphism), the dislocation as revelation
of the invisible reestablishes the symbolic condition of the
forms: they are not the invisible, but they reflect it, even
if in a deformed way. The visible, as a reflection of the invisible,
refounds itself at another level: passing from the visual angle
to the reflected one, the isomorphic visible is replaced by
the anamorphotic one which does not deny the form, thus destroying
it, but, by keeping the form in touch with the invisible, refounds
it as an upset mirror, as a self-surpassing. The anamorphosis
(an-a-morphe) does not mean lack of form, on the contrary,
this double negation strongly reaffirms the form, paradoxically,
beyond any form. The visible as anamorphosis reconstitutes the
original image of the invisible.
The Greek prefix ana- has also the meaning of going
back in time, in illo tempore, and thus, beyond time.
Without spelling themselves infinitely, the forms “spell”
the divine since they let themselves be spelled by it. The world
as allegory is anamorphosis. The visible, out of its isomorphic,
idolatric logic, presents itself as an anamorphotic allegory.
The deformation of the invisible in the mirror of the visible
derives from the endeavour to imagine the unimaginable, to spell
the unspelled. Through what it is not, through this “not
yet”, the visible appears as analogonof the invisible.
The admission of personal unfulfillment destroys idolatry.
The visible is the sole means by which one may grasp the invisible.
Only the former can point, as far as the humans are concerned,
to the unseen.
There is nothing else, in Maimonides’ opinion, but God
and this universe (cf. I, 71). The universe, visible
par excellence, presents itself as hierarchy (of the
world). God, invisible par excellence, has “no
other evidence for His Existence but this universe in its entirety
and in its several parts. Consequently, the universe must be
examined as it is; the propositions must be derived from those
properties of the universe which are clearly perceived, and
hence you must know its visible form and its nature” (I,
The spiritual itinerary, covering step by step the hierarchy
of the visible, becomes, using the bonaventurian formula, an
itinerarium mentis in Deum. The hierarchy always points
to that hieros arche, which is simultaneously source,
guide and target for the world of the visible. Therefore, the
guide (for the perplexed) is the very invisible light, only
grasped, which provides the unity and the splendour of the visible
realm. The transfiguration of the visible can occur only by
passing beyond it, only by fixing one’s eyes upon the
One who is the being and the light.
Finding one’s guide beyond the visible and following
it is enough to fulfill a human life. The supreme, sublime condition
of a man is that of continuously looking for God, but, especially,
that of meeting and recognizing Him as a guide. That is why
one must never cease looking for. There is a guide only where
there is someone on the path. To stop walking means to loose
the guide, and thus, to loose the splendor of the visible:
“God is near to all who call Him, if they call
Him in truth, and turn to Him. He is found by every one who
seeks Him, if he always goes towards Him, and never goes astray”
 We used the english version, The Guide for the
Perplexed, translated from the original Arabic text by M.
Friedlander, Dover Publications, New York, 1956. The biblical
verses follow The Jerusalem Bible, Koren Publishers Jerusalem
LTD., Jerusalem, 1997. I also want to mention that parts of the
present study have already been published in Romanian (see “Moise
Maimonide. Călăuza rătăciţilor
ca itinerar al minţii în Dumnezeu” [”Moses
Maimonides. The Guide of the Perplexed as itinerarium
mentis in Deum”], Academia Română, Fundaţia
Naţională pentru Ştiinţă şi Artă,
Bucharest, 2002) and appear for the first time in English.
 "The object of this treatise is to enlighten
a religious man who has been trained to believe in the truth of
our holy Law, who conscientiously fulfils his moral and religious
duties, and at the same time has been successful in his philosophical
studies. Human reason has attracted him to abide within its sphere;
and he finds it difficult to accept as correct the teaching based
on the literal interpretation of the Law, and especially that
which he himself or others derived from those homonymous, metaphorical,
or hybrid expressions. Hence he is lost in perplexity and anxiety"
(Introduction, p. 2).
 "The highest subject of study is metaphysics
or theology, the knowledge of God" (Isaac Husik, A History
of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy, New York, 1974, p.
243). It seems that metaphysics (or theology) is nothing else
but philosophy having God as a privileged object.
 Significant enough, Aristotle, the Philosopher,
is considered to be a prophet.
 "[…] he likewise interprets the "secrets"
(sodot) or "mysteries of the Torah” (sitrei
Torah) of ancient mysticism as being identical with philosophical
ideas" (Sara Klein-Braslavy, King Solomon and Metaphysical
Esotericism According to Maimonides, in Maimonidean Studies,
Edited by Arthur Hyman, vol. I, Yeshiva University Press, New
York, 1990, p. 58). Is Maimonides "working within
the framework of Aristotelianism" (ibid., p. 57), is The
Guide for the Perplexed trying to identify and thus to reduce
Judaism to Aristotelianism, or Maimonides is working within the
framework of Judaism, using Aristotle as an instrument (undoubtedly
a precious one) in order to express philosophically his interpretatio
In Praefatio ad lectorem of his Latin translation
(Rabbi Moses Maijemonidis Liber Doctor Perplexorum, Basileae,
1629), Johannes Buxtorfius refers to some biblical verses
which, in his opinion, could give a proper explanation of the
title: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the
children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahirot,
between Migdol and the sea, over against Ba’al-zefon: before
it shall you encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children
of Israel , They are entangled in that land (nevokhim hem,
perplexi vel confusi sunt ipsi in terra), the wilderness
has shut them in” (Exodus 14, 1-3). The commentary
is eloquent: “Thus, so as in olden times Moses guided those
who (in Pharaoh's judgement) were nevokhim, perplexed,
showing them the way through the Red Sea, so, we could say, in
this book [The Guide for the Perplexed] another Moses will
guide on the path of truth those who are wandering about the large
sea of the Word of God, the perplexed ones” (Quemadmodum
ergo Moses olim eos, qui (iudicio Pharaonis) perplexi fuerunt,
deduxit, per mare rubrum via ipsis monstravit: ita, vult dicere,
se veluti alterum Mosen in hoc libro in veritatis viam directurum
eos, qui circa mare illud magnum Verbi Dei oleambulant, perplexi
 In regard to the question whether the Guide
is a philosophical treatise or not, see Leo Strauss, The Literary
Character of the Guide for the Perplexed, in Maimonides.
A Collection of Critical Essays, Edited by Joseph A. Buijs,
University of Notre Dame Press, 1988, pp. 30-58, and Joseph A.
Buijs, The Philosophical Character of Maimonides’
Guide – A Critique of Strauss’ Interpretation,
in Maimonides. A Collection of Critical Essays, Edited
by Joseph A. Buijs, University of Notre Dame Press, 1988, pp.
 According to Moshe Idel, the "loss of secrets"
is in fact the true cause of the spiritual perplexity: "Maimonides
assumes that he can restore the broken line of transmission of
the secrets of the Torah, and recreate thereby a pre-existing
ideal situation" (Abulafia’s Secrets of the Guide:
A Linguistic Turn, in Perspectives on Jewish Thought and
Mysticism, Proceedings of the International Conference held
by The Institute of Jewish Studies, University College London,
1994, p. 292).
 Cf. M. Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible,
Working Notes, translated by Alphonso Lingis, Northwestern
University Press, 1968.
 Ibid., The Intertwining – The Chiasm,
 “[…] the earliest Jewish mysticism is throne-mysticism.
Its essence is not absorbed contemplation of God’s true nature,
but perception of His appearance on the throne, as described by
Ezekiel, and cognition of the mysteries of the celestial throne-world”
(Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Schocken
New York, 1974,
 Ezekiel 10, 1 and Isaiah 6, 1-2.
 Ezekiel 1, 28: “[…] This was
the appearance (mar’eh) of the likeness (demuth)
of the glory (khabod) of the Lord (I.H.W.H)”.
 Cf. Lucian Blaga, Eonul dogmatic [The
Dogmatic Age], in Trilogia cunoasterii [The
Trilogy of Knowledge], Editura Minerva, Bucuresti, 1983.
Analysing the Christian dogma – regarded as an original
modus cognoscendi –, Blaga comes to the conclusion that
it represents the surpassing of common antinomies which thus become
 See I, 26; I, 33; I, 46.
 Identified with both ignorance and error “in
reference to God” (I, 36); “[…] for ignorance
and error concerning a great thing, i.e., a thing which has a
high position in the universe, are of greater importance than
those which refer to a thing which occupies a lower place; - by
“error” I mean the belief that a thing is different
from what it really is; by “ignorance”, the want of
knowledge respecting things the knowledge of which can be obtained”
 Exodus 3, 5: “And he said, Do not
come near: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place
on which thou dost stand is holy ground”.
 “We will now conclude our exposition of the wise
words of R. Haninah. He does not employany such simile as: “A
king who possesses millions of gold denarii, and is praised as
having hundreds”; for this would imply that God’s perfections,
although more perfect than those ascribed to man are still of
the same kind; but this is not the case, as has been proved. The
excellence of the simile consists in the words: “who possesses
golden denarii, and is praised as having silver denarii”; this
implies that these attributes, though perfections as regards ourselves,
are not such as regards God; in reference to Him they would all
be defects” (I, 59). The difference in register is more than evident.
 “[…] I proceed to examine those expressions, to
the true meaning of which, as apparent from the context, it is
necessary to direct your attention. This book will then be a key
admitting to places the gates of which would otherwise be closed”
 Cf. Lucian Blaga, Trilogia cunoasterii
[The Trilogy of Knowledge]. The mystery, as a principle,
consists of both phanic (what is revealed) and cryptic
(what is hidden).
 “All the names of God except the tetragrammaton
designate his activities in the world. Jhvh alone is the real
name of God, which belongs to him alone and is not derived from
anything else. Its meaning is unknown. It denotes perhaps the
idea of necessary existence” (I. Husik, op. cit., p. 265). I.H.W.H.,
shem ha-mephorash (the name spelled distinctly: yod,
he, waw, he) is “the distinct and exclusive
designation of the Divine Being” (I, 61) which indicates,
without homonymy, the essence of God.
 After analysingMaimonides’ concept of belief,
Charles H. Manekin concludes that his theory of divine attributes
“far from being skeptical or agnostic, is intended to provide
the believer with a way [the stress belongs to us] to obtain
belief about God that is certain” (Belief, Certainty
and Divine Attributes in the Guide of the Perplexed,
in Maimonidean Studies, Edited by Arthur Hyman, vol. I,
Yeshiva University Press, New York, 1990, p. 139).
 See W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy,
vol. I, Cambridge University Press, 1967, p. 414.
 “[…] legein ist hier Gegenwort zu kryptein,
verbergen, weshalb wir es ubersetzen
mussen mit entbergen,
d.h. offenbar machen” (Martin Heidegger, Vom Wesen und
Physis, in Gesamtausgabe
, Band 9 Wegmarken,
Frankfurt am Main, 1976, p. 279).
Ma’aseh Mercabah must not be fully
expounded even in the presence of a single student, unless he
be wise and able to reason for himself, and even then you should
merely acquaint him with the heads of the different sections of
the subjects” (Babyl. Talm., Hagigah 11b).
After reproducing these words (not only once) Maimonides affirms
explicitly that his treatise also presents only “the heads”
(rashei perakim) of the doctrine of the divine chariot.
Ma’aseh Mercabah is strongly related to the “secrets”
(sodot), the “mysteries of the Torah” (sitrei
Torah); therefore, what we have here is esoteric knowledge
meant for the initiated only, and not even for them in its entirety,
as it refuses to avail itself to any kind of discourse. The disciple
receives only some elements which will guide him, if he is clever
enough, to the hidden science of the unveiling. That which is
hidden must remain so. To unveil is to veil even further. The
discourse becomes the instrument of arcanization, of hiding the
most hidden. The “heads” can only be of some use for
someone who knows how to walk further on alone.
 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in
vessels of silver” (Proverbs 25, 2).
 In Hebrew, mashal and nimshal. Mashal,
as first level of significance, indicates the literal, common
sense, the exterior as a sign, as an exemple, exemplum
(this significance of mashal is preserved also in modern
Hebrew) for the interior. Nimshal, as profound intention
of the text, indicates the esoteric significance, as a result
of the interpretation.
 “It has thus been shown that it must be man’s
aim, after having acquired the knowledge of God, to deliver himself
up to Him, and to have his heart constantly filled with longing
after Him” (III, 51).