Moreh Nevuchim/guide To The Perplexed
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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This is the place!
Goal: The chanichim should understand why the Moreh Nevuchim was written and how Rambam used both Jewish souces and secular philosophy sources to find what he believed to be the truth (Torah and secular studies).
Materials: Headband with "Rambam" written on it, an object
Background: The Moreh Nevuchim was written by Rambam/Maimonides in 1200. It was originally written as a letter to a student who was confused about certain issues in Judaism, but also was written for anyone else who would have these issues – namely those who studied philosophy and were then confused about the Torah’s literal descriptions of G-d having certain body parts. Rambam also discusses nevuah, free will, the problem of evil and other philosophical topics. Rambam also wrote the Moreh Nevuchim for the intellectual elite, and not for the masses. Rambam draws heavily on secular philosophy for his souces, namely Aristotle, Plato, Averroes and Al-Farabi.
Game 1: “
This game plays like Marco Polo. One kid closes his eyes and has to catch the other kids. He says moo and they reply back boo, and based on their voice he can try and catch them.
The nimshal is, this is just like the Guide to the Perplexed, where Rambam is trying to find the truth from wherever he can find it.
Game 2: Headbands.
One kid wears a headband, and can’t read what it says, but everyone else can. He has to guess what his head band says by asking the other kids questions. The kid whose wearing the headband can be Rambam. This is also like the Guide to the Perplexed, because the kid is trying to figure out the truth.
Game 3: “The moon is…”
The kids sit in a circle. One kid gets picked to make the code. He passes around an object and does it in a certain way (with a code). The other kids have to copy him and guess the code. Keep going until everyone gets it.
This is similar to how Rambam found what he thought to be the truth and then tried to spread it, but in a way in which not everyone would get it. Rambam felt strongly that the Moreh Nevuchim was not for everyone to read, but only for the intellectual elite who would understand it.
You can also play “uncrossed, crossed” with 2 forks, and whether you legs are crossed or not, or “deep but not profound”.
Game 4: “Party Host”
Rambam is hosting a party. Have one kid be Rambam. Then 3 guests come in, each one is doing something that Rambam doesn’t know about that the other kids decide (has his feet tied together, is on a roller coaster, is a bear….) and by asking questions, Rambam has to guess who they are. Again – searching for the truth.
Game 5: Skit game.
Pick some of the kids to put on a skit. They have to put it on regularly, happily, sadly, angrily, underwatery, Jewishly and non-Jewishly. This game can get pretty funny, you can have them switch the adjectives, and pick a funny topic for them to act out. The point is, this is a good segway into talking about when we would do something Jewishly, and when we would take ideas from secular studies. Is there ever a time to take stuff from secular sources? Rambam defiantly was a fan of the use of secular wisdom. When do we use secular wisdom and when do we use Jewish wisdom? Can we use both? There is a famous Gemara that states, “chochmah bagoyim ta’amin, torah bagoyim al ta’amin”. There is wisdom among non-Jews, but when do we use it? Do we follow Rambam all the time? Or on the opposite extreme, there are those who might say that you should go to a Rabbi and not a doctor if you are sick, as we should never take wisdom from non-Jews. Obviosuly this is not held to today, but it’s a good way to show the chanichim that not everyone would agree with the Rambam. What do they think?
Wrap up: Rambam wrote Moreh Nevuchim in order to spread answers to what he thought were confusing questions in Judaism. He based his philosophy book heavily on secular philosophy. Rambam also didn’t write this book for everyone and only wanted the elite to read it.