Did we sin?

 

I bought a statue of the famed philosopher Aristotle. It is covered in heavy bronze. It is 14.25 inches tall. It looks great. I placed it next to the Maimonides books that I wrote because Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and Maimonides (1138-1204 CE) are my favorite philosophers. Both are rationalists. Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle, Aristotle taught Alexander the Great, and Aristotle inspired Maimonides who inspired me.

The statue portrays Aristotle holding his book Ethics in his left hand with his right hand stretched out to us. It was in his Ethics that Aristotle taught that we must study and improve our minds because otherwise we are no better than animals and plants. He also advised us to develop habits of behavior that are in the golden mean; we should not act in extremes. Developing proper habits is important because we generally act in accordance with our habits. Maimonides repeated these lessons in his books. The statue has four of Aristotle’s sayings on each side of the base. This latter lesson is one of them: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

The other three sayings on the base are:

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a fuge [meaning, refuge] in adversity.

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotism.

Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.

Isn’t, you may ask, having a statue of Aristotle a violation of the Decalogue which states: “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness”? Yes, it is. But as I explained in my book “Mysteries of Judaism II: How the Rabbis and Others Changed Judaism,” virtually all the biblical commands were changed. We even know of very ancient synagogues that were decorated with images. Also the tenth command “Thou shalt not covet,” prohibiting desire, was changed to taking the wife and possessions of another.

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