Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah Chapter 4 - Q & A

The Four Elements: Fire, Air, Water, Earth

39 min

Class Summary:

Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah Chapter 4 - Q & A

Please leave your comment below!

  • Anonymous -2 years ago

    Hi Rabbi,

    The Shlah Hakadosh you are quoting. It is amazing. Is there a source to it?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • YYJ

      Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson -2 years ago

      Which Shala? remind me please

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • JH

    Jack Howard -3 years ago

    RE: basketballs in the sky... I'm surprised t Rambam stated flat out, the Sun is larger than all other stars. 

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • SM

    Sara Metzger -3 years ago

    The Questions


    sand on the moon

    I didn't understand, what the Rambam writes that the 4 elements only start beyond the spheres, how is there sand on the moon?

    Also, I am trying to understand, if we are surrounded by the spheres, if the sun and moon are spheres (yoreich, chama) how could we see them like a ball, instead of seeing just a part of them that's on top of us? (looks like we are seeing them entirely, but we are actually in their sphere?)

    Thank you again for your wonderful shiurim, and I hope you would have the minute to respond to my daunting questions. 

    YY Jacobson

    Great questions.

     1. As I discussed, the "element of earth" discussed in Chazal and Rambam may be something different than sand

    Also, as discussed in the intro to chapters 3-4, there is another dimension to all of these laws: the spiritual counterpart of the cosmos,

    2. Yes, we are in a sphere, but no in the sphere of the sun or the moon.  They are planet located insite a sphere, and the spere encompasses the earth. They themselves do not. Hence we can see the entire "ball."




    this is a fascinating video made in 1977 showing distance telescopically and microscopically.   Check it out and enjoy.   



    But the Mishnei Torah...

    Is not so easily understood by a person either by themselves or even with a teacher, there are many who disagree with Rambam’s conclusions, books were written to explain even further. Still seems like a contradiction to say these things should not be written down and then writing them down.  Like telling a child not to do something, but doing it yourself. Maybe Rambam should have just left that out. Seems to complicate it even more.


    Moshe Mohadeb

    In light of the fact that the Rambam states these matters very cryptically and does not explain in depth, perhaps when he writes that these mysteries should be taught with the proper qualifications, it is not a contradiction to record  a "drop of the ocean" or a "drop of the bucket" to give the masses a glimpse of the esoteric.

    Additionally, from the perspective that all these physical terms are in fact metaphors for the metaphysical spheres, as Rabbi Jacobson reiterates, the Rambam is not disclosing any information at all about the actual esoteric wisdom, but rather presents a few parables (that can also be understood at face value), which does not defy or contradict the ban of speaking of these subjects to the masses.


    Morris Friedman

    Question for Rabbi YY

    Missed the class on number four this morning. Very frustrated cannot find it anywhere. It seems very disorganized. Eventually I will give up


    Your comment is on the very video page of this class!! Just scroll up and click play.

    On the website, there is "last 30 days of classes," you can always see there.

    Here is the full series:




    To see and read about our planet as a teeny dot from VEEEERY far away

    Search for "pale blue dot". That picture 30 years old! 



    Question for Rabbi YY

    מהגופות הקדוקיים , הגדולים....What an awesome set of 3 words....And your picture of Earth taken billions of miles away....nailed our perspective right on. A very exciting 4 perakim. I'm starting to appreciate the Rambam, the man. It will be very interesting how you turn the ensuing dry halachos into fire. Hatzlocha Rabba.



    Considering how small planet is in the picture

    Hashem still says that everything we do matters.

    Black Lives matter then, would just be a sub-set



    Question for Rabbi YY

    This question may be out of our context for what we are learning today Bichol Zot I’ll ask. How do we explain and understand the hearts of The autistic community How would rambam explain that They have the image of Hashem but can’t express more then that they are in there own world they say it maybe they have higher souls Then most of us? How do we look at them?From a Torah / Rambm prospectus ?



    We can already see sub-atomic particles revolving around a center

    And then we know both from the Rambam and from astronomy that we are on a planet and/or the sun that revolve around center, and ditto for galaxies, etc., etc.

      Is it possible we are a sub-atomic particle under the microscope of a much larger universe, and so on? Can there be teeny tiny (from our subjective point of  view) entities dwelling on the things we call sub-atomic particles peering into their instruments ar yet further sub-sub-atomic  particles? 



    The Rambam states the entropic principle, i.e. everything decomposes

    Some scientist was the first who wrote that at some point.  What could have been his reaction if  a talmud chocham pointed out that the Rambam wrote it long before? Or maybe he himself was a talmud chocham who just plagarized!



    All matter down here made up of the 4 elements

    What about those few items that came down here from shomayim. The manna? The luchos? The note saying that the Baal Shem Tov's sukka was kosher? Anything else that came down? Made up of the 4 elements? Decomposes also? 



    The 4 basic elements combine in endless ways in each creation

    Can we align the multitude combinations of these 4 basic elements with the basic elements of DNA that also combine in endless ways  to form each individual let alone each species?



    Everything down here made up of the 4 elements

    Einstein says that matter can be converted to energy and vice versa. (Thank you Einstein for helping us win WW2).

      If so, then energy itself, whether as energy per se or as potential matter, or even after being converted to matter after nuclear fusion,  should also be composed of  the  4 elements. Is that true?



    2 Rambams

    The Rambam says in halacha 12  בזמןשאדםמתבונןבדבריםהאלוומכירכלהברואיםממלאךוגלגלואדםכיוצאבוויראהחכמתושלהקב"הבכלהיצוריםוכלהברואים. מוסיףאהבהלמקוםותצמאנפשוויכמהבשרולאהובהמקוםברוךהוא. וייראויפחדמשפלותוודלותווקלותוכשיעריךעצמולאחדמהגופותהקדושיםהגדולים. וכ"שלאחתמהצורותהטהורותהנפרדותמןהגולמיםשלאנתחברובגולםכלל. וימצאעצמושהואככלימלאבושהוכלימהריקוחסר

    Doesn't this seem extra as the Rambam already wrote in 2:2 והיאךהיאהדרךלאהבתוויראתו. בשעהשיתבונןהאדםבמעשיווברואיוהנפלאיםהגדוליםויראהמהןחכמתושאיןלהערךולאקץמידהואאוהבומשבחומפארומתאוהתאוהגדולהלידעהשםהגדולכמושאמרדודצמאהנפשילאלהיםלאלחי. וכשמחשבבדבריםהאלועצמןמידהואנרתעלאחוריוויפחדויודעשהואבריהקטנהשפלהאפלהעומדתבדעתקלהמעוטהלפניתמיםדעות. כמושאמרדודכיאראהשמיךמעשהאצבעותיךמהאנושכיתזכרנו. ולפיהדבריםהאלואנימבארכלליםגדוליםממעשהרבוןהעולמיםכדישיהיופתחלמביןלאהובאתהשם. כמושאמרוחכמיםבעניןאהבהשמתוךכךאתהמכיראתמישאמרוהיההעולם ?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    Shlomo -3 years ago

    A question for Rabbi Y.Y

    Question 1:

    When we say that everything that was done by Moshe Rabbeinu never ceases to exist, because even the Mishkan etc its still somewhere HIDDEN ( and not destructed ח"ו), and also this is (correct me if im wrong) one of the reasons why Hashem didnt want him to enter the land of Israel, because if that would happen, then the Jews will be forever there and the Moshiach was going to come.

    So, in which category of exisiting things falls everything Moshe did?

    Question 2:

    According to the Rambam, the four elements are the ONLY among ALL THE UNIVERSE, that dont have דעת feelings etc? This its hard to understand. Like why the planets and Galgalim ( :  orbits? ) and the smaller things too ( angels humans and animals even minerals) they DO have? The four elements are like in the middle, why he says that they dont have דעת and emotions?

    thanks in advance for your answers

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Rambam Mishneh Torah Q & A

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • July 21, 2020
  • |
  • 29 Tamuz 5780
  • |

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author