Q. (Re – questions 2227, 2228 and 2229 above). If sciences and philosophy are not part of the Torah, why did the Rambam study philosophy and other religions?
A. Remah (Y.D. 246: 4) rules that one may study occasionally other studies besides the learning of Torah. Shach (ibid. 6) explains that this may be referring to philosophy. On question 2040 regarding the studying of philosophy and other beliefs we wrote; “Igrois Moshe (Y.D. 2: 53) permits the learning and teaching of ancient religions, when stressing and explaining the fallacies and misconceptions inherent in them. He further explains (Y.D. 2: 110) that studying books of other religions that contain persuasive material, is only permitted to Gedolei Hador in Torah and Heavenly fear, but not to ordinary people, unless they have been properly prepared and edited.
The well researched sefarim and educational material, written by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (The Real Messiah, etc.), Rabbi Michael Skobac (Jews for Judaism – Missionary Impossible, The DaVinci Code), Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz (The Jewish Response to Missionaries) and others, are great examples of the above rulings.
See also questions 1963 and 1964 in regards to learning Greek philosophy.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s shlit’a opinion is that it is permitted only when the information learned will be used in proper kiruv need, the reader is well trained and properly prepared and when the idolatry is also ridiculed and disrespected.”
In Pirkei Avot (2: 14) Rabi Elazar teaches: Be diligent in the study the Torah; And know how to answer a non-believer. Toras Avos explains that it is not enough to learn Torah for oneself, but one should see to teach it to others, who may be far from Torah observance. Understand their ways and bring them back. That likely may have been the reason behind the Rambam’s study of philosophy.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a