Sunday, April 14, 2024

man cleaving to God.

 Mystical philosophers long for immersion in the silence of absolute unity. The Greek philosopher Plotinus and all those who followed him were filled with such secret longings. But Judaism’s goal is not the same as that of the mystics with their via negativa, or negative way. The latter aspired to overcome the variety and uniqueness of man’s personality, recommending the negation of people’s variegated mental and physical existence for the sake of attaining pure, simple unity with no objective content. In denying the ontic independence of human beings, they came to deny their essence as well. They therefore recommended the via purgativa (method of elimination), which leads to unio mystica (mystic unification). The individual must empty out the content of his variegated life and freeze into a focal eternal point, lacking all dimension and context, and confine himself to the One.

But Judaism, directed by the Halakha says, “This is not the way.” First of all, one cannot speak of man uniting with God, but only of man cleaving to God. Second, man does not cleave to God by denying his actual essence, but, on the contrary, by affirming his own essence. The actual, multicolored human personality becomes closer to God when the induvial lives his own variegated  original life, filled with goals, initiative, and activity , without imagining some prideful insolent independence. Then and only then does the personality being to have a divine existence. Judaism insists that destroying man’s uniqueness and originality does not bring man closer to God, as the mystics imagined. Man’s road to God does not wind among faraway hidden places – in which man concentrates on a mysterious pyre in which his individuality goes up in flames – but, rather, among the spaces of real being, filled with movement and transformation. (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, And From There You Shall Seek, MeOtzar HaRav, pp. 87-88). 

Friday, December 8, 2023

What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?


the importance of mitzvos

What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?

DH: What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?

Rabbi Soloveitchik: It is not that this mitzvah is equal to all the mitzvos, but rather that it brings the person to do all the other mitzvos. The whole purpose of the limud is that it comes to asiah and asiah is the ikur.

The Rav Thinking Aloud, p. 69

Thursday, December 7, 2023

not enclosed within the confines of cult sanctuaries

 "It [halacha] does not differentiate between the man who stands in his house of worship engaged in ritual activities and the mortal who must wage the arduous battle of life. The halachah declares that man stands before G-d, not only in the synagogue, but also in the public domain- in his house, while on a journey, while lying down and rising up....

The halachah is not enclosed within the confines of cult sanctuaries, but penetrates into every nook and cranny of life- the marketplace, the street, the factory, the house, the meeting place, the banquet hall- all constitute the backdrop for religious life."

R' Joseph Soloveitchik

Halakhic Man, pp. 93-94, cited in Rabbi_Beinish__Ginsburg/Behar-_Serve_Hashem_Everywhere