Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Aristotle’s Letter, to Alexander the Great

Aristotle: Born 384 -322 B.C.
Birth: Chalcidice, Greece. Death: Chalcis, Greece.

When the great philosopher Aristotle was old, he sent the following letter to his student, Alexander the Great:

“Blessed be He who opens the eyes of the blind, and shows sinners the true path. Let Him be praised in an appropriate manner; since I do not know how to praise Him for the great kindness and mercy, which He showed me. I am eternally grateful to Him, for getting me away from the foolishness to which I had devoted my life.

All my life I delved into philosophy, to explain all natural phenomena in a logical manner. I wrote many books on these subjects. Finally, in the twilight of my life, I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a Jewish sage. It did not take me long, to recognize his great wisdom; and he led me to understand, how great is the Torah, that was given on Mount Sinai.

He taught me the inner depth of the Torah, providing me with many brilliant insights based on its teachings. I realized how foolish I had been for not realizing, how G-d can manipulate the laws of nature; and that much of what happens in the world, is directed by G-d.

Realizing all this, I decided to devote myself to exploring the wisdom of the Torah. It did not take me long to realize, that the Torah is based on true foundations, while the axioms of philosophy are purely arbitrary.

Therefore, my dear student Alexander, if I had the power to collect all the books I have written, I would burn them. I would be embarrassed for any of them to survive. However, I realize that I do not have this power; my books have already been published, and have spread all over the world. I also realize, that I will receive Divine punishment, for having written such misleading books.

Therefore, my son, Alexander, I am writing this letter to tell you, that the great majority of my theories regarding natural law, are false. While nature does exist, G-d is the Lord of the universe, and He directs all things as He sees fit. I am telling everyone openly, that they should not waste time with my books. They should not look at them, or even touch them with their hands. It is sinful to waste time, on the false theories that I have espoused.

I feel, that I have saved my soul by admitting my error; I hope that I will not be held guilty for the past, since I acted out of ignorance. But now I have revealed to the public that I was mistaken, and that my heart aches for the time I have wasted, on my foolish theories. Those who waste time on my books therefore, will deserve to be punished.

The Jewish scholar with whom I spoke, showed me the book of Proverbs (Mishley), written by King Solomon, one of the greatest geniuses of all times. The scholar showed me, that in many places, King Solomon warned against wasting time on philosophical speculation.

One such place is where he said, “Say to Wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and consider understanding your relative. That they may keep you from strange woman, from the loose woman who speaks so smoothly” (Proverbs 7:4,5).

I feel sorry for my eyes for what they have seen, and my ears for what they have heard. I feel sorry for my body, for wasting its strength on such detrimental studies.

I know that you praise me, and tell me, that I am famous all over the world because of the books I have written. People speak very highly of me. But I wish I were dead, because of the misleading books that I have spread all over the world.

People who devote themselves to the Torah, will earn eternal life; while those who devote themselves to my books, will earn the grave. But I am prepared to accept upon myself, the punishment of them all.

I did not write to you earlier, because I was afraid that you would be angry with me, and perhaps even harm me. But now, I have made up my mind to tell you the truth. I know, that by the time you receive this letter, I will already be dead and buried, because I realize that my end is near.

I salute you with greetings of peace, Alexander of Macedon, great emperor and ruler.”

Your teacher,

From The Torah anthology, English, (Yalkut ME’AM LO’EZ) - Volume 6, Page 154-155. Which references a book called Shalsheleth Hakabbalah.
The Jew spoken of, was Shimon HaTzaddik (Simeon the Just), who was a Cohen Godol (High Priest) during the time of the Second Temple. He is also known for his opinions which are recorded in the Mishnah, (making him a Tanna, in Rabbinic terminology).

Joseph b. Shem-Ṭob assures his reader, that he had seen it written in an old book, that Aristotle at the end of his life, had become a proselyte ("Ger Tzedek").
Aristotle recants all his previous philosophic teachings, having been convinced of their incorrectness by a Jewish sage.
He acknowledges as his chief error the claim, that truth is to be ascertained by the reasoning faculty only; inasmuch as divine revelation, is the sole way to truth.

This "letter" is the conclusion of a book of Aristotle, "two hands thick," in which he withdraws; based on his studying with the a Jew, Simeon (Shimon HaTzadik); his views with regard to, the immortality of the soul, the eternity of the world, and similar tenets.
It is claimed that, Aristotle derived his doctrine, directly from Judaism.
Aristotle owed his philosophy to the writings of King Solomon, which were presented to him by his royal pupil Alexander; the latter having obtained them, on his conquest of Jerusalem.