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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Negative Correlation Between Frumkeit and Achdus: Exogenous or Endogenous?

Meshech Chochma in Beshalach, based on Yerushalmi in Pe'ah::

בהתבונן בדרכי התורה נראה כי במצות שמעיות, כמו עו"ג ועריות, יש כרת וסקילה, ושאר מיתות ומלקות. לא כן בנמוסיות ומדות, כמו מחלוקת לשון הרע רכילות גזל, אין מלקות, דהוי לאו הניתן לתשלומין, או דהוי לאו שאין בו מעשה. אולם זה דוקא ביחיד העושה, אבל אם הצבור נשחתין, בזה מצאנו להיפך בירושלמי דפאה (א-א) דורו של דוד כולם צדיקים היו, וע"י שהיו בהן דילוטורין היו נופלים במלחמה. אבל דורו של אחאב, עובדי ע"ז היו, וע"י שלא היו בהן דילוטורין היו יורדים למלחמה ומנצחין בו. שאם הצבור נשחתין בע"ז ועריות, על זה נאמר (ויקרא טז, יז) "השוכן אתם בתוך טומאותם". אבל בנמוסיות ומדות לשון הרע ומחלוקת, על זה כתוב (תהלים נז, ו) "רומה על השמים כו'", כביכול סלק שכינתך מהם. וגדולה מזו אמרו (יומא ט) שבמקדש ראשון היו עו"ג עריות כו' ובמקדש שני היו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות כו' מפני שנאת חנם. ושם שאלו מי הם גדולים, תנו עיניכם בבירה שחזרה לראשונים כו'. הרי דאם הצבור נשחתין במדות גרוע יותר מאם נשחתין במצוות... ולכן על חלול שבת בעוה"ר שנתפשט אז יכולים לקוות כי יאחר להם, כי הם צבור... ולכן מצאנו שעל העגל שהיה החטא בע"ז מחל הקב"ה להם, ונתרצה להם. אבל על מרגלים שהיה לשון הרע וכפיות טובה, לא מחל להם, ונגזר במדבר הזה יתמו

 ובזה אתי שפיר המדרש שהובא בילקוט והמים להם חומה מלמד שעמד סמאל ואמר רבש״ע לא עבדו עבודה זרה ישראל במצרים ואתה עושה להם נסים כו׳ ונתמלא עליהם תמה וביקש לטובען (לכן כתוב חמה חסר וי״ו) היינו דעל הנסים שעשה להם בהוציאם ממצרים לא טען משום דהגם דהיו נשחתין במצוות כמו שעבדו עו"ג והפרו ברית מילה אבל מאושרין היו במדות שלא הי׳ בהן לשון הרע והיו אוהבין זה את זה יעוייש מכילתא בא פ״ה
(Mechilta-״ומנין שלא נחשדו על לשון הרע והיו אוהבים זה את זה? תלמוד לומר: ״ושאלה אשה משכנתה״)
 ולכך בצבור הקב״ה עושה להן נסים אבל במים כשנחלקו לד׳ כתות ויש שאמרו נשוב מצריימה הלשין שצריך לדון אותם כיחידים והן נכרתין על עו"ג והאיך אתה עושה להן נסים ודוק

When we contemplate the ways of God it appears that in Commandments of Obedience, such as Idolatry or sins of the flesh, there is physical or spiritual excision, or capital punishment.  Not so in matters of refinement and character traits, such as quarreling, gossip, tale bearing, stealing- there is no corporal punishment; they can be remedied through payment, or they are not done with physical act.  But this is only true regarding individuals that do so, but if the nation is degraded, then the opposite is true....The Generation of King David were all righteous and pious men, but since there were among them those who exposed their neighbors for profit they would fall in battle.  But the generation of the evil king Achav, they were idolators, but because they had no tale bearers, they would go to war and they were victorious.....


We have to admit that while reciting Kinnos, specifically while reading ויקונן ירמיהו על יאשיהו, our mind wandered to Reb Meir Simcha's Yerushalmi, and it made us think about the possibility of a negative correlation between sincere Yiras Shamayim and unconditional brotherly love.  The fact is that the profound condition of absolute achdus occured in the generation of Achav: not in the generation of David Hamelech, or Shlomo Hamelech, or Chizkiyahu, or Yoshiyahu.  

 We are not, chalilah, suggesting that any such negative correlation would be endogenous.  Still, I believe it deserves some thought.  There might be some validity to the thesis that as the line on the frum scale rises, the line on the "empathy for people who are opposed to your hashkafos" falls.  It might not be coincidence that davka under Achav's rule was there absolute comity.

We are well aware of exceptions to this rule.  Reb Aryeh Levin.  The Ponovezher Rov.  The Netziv (Hakdama to Breishis, Tshuvos 44) Reb Moshe, Reb Yaakov, and others.  But they are exceptions to the rule.  We would be happy to accept that they represent what ought to be.  But we don't live in "ought to be."  We live in "is."  In this universe, they are vanishingly rare and for all practical purposes irrelevant to the hopelessly repetitive march of the past into the future.

Reb Meir Simcha is certainly not suggesting anything close to parity among these two ways of life.  After all, the generation of Achav is among those that are אין להם חלק לעולם הבא, which is definitely not a good thing, while the generation of Dovid Hamelech included many people that were worthy of being on the Moetzes.  Dovid's suffering in this world is trivial compared to his reward in Olam Haba.  And, as Rav Hutner says (Yom Kippur 15:3,) the fact that Sinas Chinam has resulted in this endless Galus doesn't mean that it is "worse" than Avoda Zara etc.-

אמרו חז"ל מקדש ראשון חרב על ג' עבירות, ומקדש שני חרב על שנאת חנם. ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם לעבודה זרה גילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים. בודאי ששקילות זו של שנאת חנם לע"ז ג"ע ושפ"ד אינה מתייחסת כלל להערכת חומר העבירות. דכללא הוא דחומר העונש מעיד על חומר העבירה. שהרי לא תעשה שיש בה כרת חמורה מסתם לא תעשה, והוא הדין בשאר העבירות והעונשין. ובהנך שלש עבירות רבים הם העונשים של כריתות ומיתות בית דין. ואם כן לא ניתן להאמר כלל ששקילות שנאת חנם להנך תלתא עבירות בחומר העבירה היא דנה. אלא ששקילות זו מתיחסת אך ורק לכח גורמי חורבן של עבירות הללו. ורק לענין זה נאמר שכח החורבן הגנוז בשנאת חנם שקול הוא לכח החורבן של שלש העבירות הנ"ל


Still, when we talk about the vital relationship Achdus has with Geula and Mashiach, we have to wonder about this.

We are certainly in no position to work out an algorithm that determines the degree that high attainment in Ruchnius allows imperfection in humanism, or any cost benefit analysis of the inverse relationship.  It is certainly far beyond our abilities to suggest which is preferred by the Ribono shel Olam.  My purpose here is only to propose that this deserves a little thought.

22 comments:

Micha Berger said...

I would say that there is indeed an endogenous, causative, relationship between frumkeit and pirud. But I'll take the edge off that statement by distinguishing between following the Torah and frumkeit. Being frum means following the rites of halakhah, which is far less than following the Torah as a whole.

To quote Yuma 72b:
R’ Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is meant by, “And this is the Torah which Moses placed.” If one merits, it becomes for him an elixir of life; if one does not merit, it becomes for him an elixir of death. And this idea is what Rava said: If you work with it, it is for him an elixir of life; if you do not work with it ,it is for him an elixir of death. Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachameini said: Rabbi Yonasan found an implication [of the verses]. It says, “The appointments of G-d are straight, they gladden the heart,” (Tehillim 19:9) and it says, “The word of G-d is trying,) ”Tehillim 18:31). If one merits, it makes him happy; if one does not merit, he is tried. Reish Laqish said: From the essence of the [second] verse we learn this – if he is worthy, he is tried for [and found deserving of] life; if he is not worthy, he is tried for death.

Rava's thought appears in a different context on Shabbos 88b:

R. Chananiel bar Papa said: What is meant by, “Hear, for I will speak princely things,” (Mishlei 8:6)? Why are the words of the Torah compared to a prince? To tell you: just as a prince has power of life and death, so too the words of the Torah [have potential for] life or death. As Rava said: to those who go to the right side of it, it is a medicine of life; to those who go to its left, it is a deadly poison.

And to explicate what is this "right" and "left", here is a quote from the Vilna Gaon, Even Sheleimah 1:11:

The relationship of Torah to the soul: A comparison to rain for the ground, it causes
what was planted there to grow, whether a sam hachaim or a sam hamaves, a poison. Similarly, Torah causes what is in his heart to grow. If what is in his heart is good, his yir’ah will grow; if what is in his heart is a “root sprouting poison weed and wormwood” then the bitterness that is in his head will grow. As it is written, “the righteous will walk in it, and sinners will stumble in it” (Hoshea 14:10, as explained by Chazal), and as it is written, “To those who go to the right side of it, it is a medicine of life; to those who go to its left, it is a deadly poison,” (Shabbos 88b).
...
One must inspect which evil middah – characteristic – is strong within him, and after that, clean it out. Unlike like those men of desire who wallow in what they want, and the desire grows greater. It requires much slyness, to be “sly in yir’ah,” (Abaye, Ibid
17a) in opposition to, “the snake was sly,” (Bereishis 3:1). One who is lazy in weeding out an evil middah is not helped by all the legal fences and protections that he practices. For with any disease which is not cured from within… even the fence of the Torah, which protects and saves, will be useless because of his laziness (c.f. Rava, Sotah 21a; Bei’ur haGra Mishlei 24:31, 19:15, 25:4).


Torah without a conscious effort to use it to become a better person will actually set a person back. Like any other religious person, he becomes more dangerous because he can convince himself his errors are in the name of the one in Heaven.

(The above quotes were taken from my essay “Watering the Weeds” an essay in Daas Torah: Child and Domestic Abuse vol. I, by R’ Dr Daniel Eidensohn.)

Micha Berger said...

Now, as for Frumkeit, I blogged an explanation of R' Shelomo Wolbe's definition, which is more loyal to the negative connotations the word had in Litta. A common idiom among Lithuanian Jews was "Frum is a galach a yid darf sein klug -- the priest is frum, a Jew must be wise." (Of course, areas in which girls were named Frumma obviously used the word differently.) See Alei Shur II pp 152-155.

From my explanation of his position:

... To Rav Wolbe, frumkeit is an instinctive drive to be close to the Creator. It is not even specific to humans; the frumkeit instinct is what King David refers to when he writes, “כְּפִירִים שֹׁאֲגִים לַטָּרֶף, וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מֵאֵ-ל אָכְלָם — lion cubs roar at their prey, and request from G-d their food.” (Tehillim 104:21) And, “נוֹתֵן לִבְהֵמָה לַחְמָהּ, לִבְנֵי עֹרֵב אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָאוּ — He gives the animal its food, to the ravens’ offspring who cry.” (147:9)

What can go wrong with something that draws us to the Almighty, even if it is instinctive? Instincts are inherently about survival, self-preservation. As we see in the pesuqim cited in Alei Shur, the lion cub and the raven calls out to Hashem to get their food. Rather than being motivated by thoughtfulness, frumkeit is the use of religion to serve my ends.
...
The frum person is the one who makes sure to have Shabbos guests each week, but whose guests end up feeling much like his tefillin — an object with which he did a mitzvah. A person acting out of frumkeit doesn’t love to love, he loves in order to be a holier person. And ironically, he thereby fails — because he never develops that Image of the Holy One he was created to become. The person who acts from self-interest, even from the interest of ascending closer to G-d, will not reach Him.

One must approach a mitzvah with a drive to see the deed done, rather than the self-interested drive to be the one doing it. This is “mimaaqim qarasikha Hashem — from the depths I call out to you, Hashem.” I reach for G-d not while instinctively grasping for loftiness, focusing on how can I make me more lofty, but when I subdue myself for the sake of the deed. To honor Shabbos out of a sense of honor, to give to the poor because one feels such love and empathy that nothing else would be thinkable.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank you, Micha, for your excellent and beautifully expressed thoughts. These thoughts are the foundation of your recent post, quoting the Netziv and Tosfos in Pesachim, here:
http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/07/hatered.shtml
I wish I could agree.

I think that even for those for whom the Torah is not a סם המוות it would be hard to replicate the conditions of the generation of Achav. Here's a list.
Mutual responsibility and liability,
the din of ובערת הרע מקרבך,
the spiritual danger posed by loving and respecting people whose beliefs are absolutely opposed to our own,
and Hashem's promise that if you act like Knaanim I will disinherit you like Kaanim.

All of this means that if your neighbor is a sheigitz and his behavior is an affront to Torah values, he presents an immediate spiritual and physical threat to you. An Orthodox Jew cannot afford unconditional love.

Micha Berger said...

I wouldn't say they are the "foundation" of my last post. (Which was originally named "Hater-ed", without the hyphen, but I then decided everyone would think the first "e" was a typo.) I never thought of linking them, until you did. Let's just say they're products of the same worldview.

But anyway, that Litvak who considered "frum" derogatory used "he is an erhlecher yid" as the highest praise. There was a motto that "Your task is to worry about other people’s stomachs and the state of your own soul." Or as R' Yisrael Salanter is less poetically quoted by R' Itzele Blazer, "Someone else’s material needs are my spiritual responsibility."

The back of my business cards for public speaking quote my translation of the opening words of the introduction to Shaarei Yosher. R' Shimon Shkop opens his work asserting, "Blessed shall be the Creator, and exalted shall be the Maker [Yisbarakh HaBorei VeYis`alah HaYotzeir], Who created us in His 'Image' and in the likeness of His 'Structure', and planted eternal life within us, so that our greatest desire should be to do good to others, to individuals and to the masses, now and in the future, in imitation of the Creator (keveyachol)."

In such a worldview, in which religion really does start with Derekh Eretz, religiosity makes pirud LESS likely. The only reason why religiosity is at odds with achdus is because our religiosity is frumkeit, making personal holiness an end (Narcissistic Religiosity) rather than the Torah's defining personal holiness in terms of how well we are capable of relating to G-d and to others.

---

But I think you are talking more about what I call the "Imagine" effect. Paul McCartney asks us to imagine a world of peace and happiness. All we have to do is jetison religion, family, ideals, and any desire to improve the human condition. IOW, if we don't care about anything, we won't have any concern worth fighting over.

And so yes, that will effect frumkeit too.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Micha, I can't tell if you agree or disagree. It is certainly true that what you called narcissistic religiosity will bring pirud. I think that even sincere religiosity will, too. How would you feel about a gay pride parade in your neighborhood?

I don't think the value of Achdus applies to Pagans. It may apply to Geir Toshav. But if your Jewish neighbor would become a Christian, or a Jew for Jesus, you would not want to associate with him, you would not want your kids to play with his kids, and you would not help him if he were out of work. He is no longer a Jew. I think the same is true by the militant LGBTs, and various tipshim and revolutionaries. They have gone so far away from Yiddishkeit that they are a different religion, and they have no place in our community.

As you say, if nothing matters, you can love everybody. That's the beauty of secular humanism. It cannot exist in a faith community. Our ethnic and racial bonds are just not enough. When you're religious, religion is a factor in who you care for.

Micha Berger said...

I am saying that the kind of religiosity that actually following the Torah calls for (as opposed to the frumkeit that is its frequent stand-in across the Orthodox community) has vectors that push away from pirud.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a community of people who really understood that HQBH considers sin'as chinam more important than mixing poultry and milk?

I know of a family desperate to get their LD son into an appropriate school. They found a school that has just the right program for the boy, but the school couldn't take him. They said the other parents would pull out rather than subject their kids to a classmate who grew up with TV. The principal did a background check, so not only did he know about the TV, he knew the boy grew up with and help take care of an adopted younger brother with Downs, and numerous foster children who came through the home over the years. So the father tells me the principal literally cried, but felt his hands were tied. And any doubts about his sincerity were dispelled over the years, as the principal called to see how the boy was doing in the school they ended up with and subsequent High Schools a few times each year.

That's when rite trumps right. Excluding TV has become a ritual, such that the total picture of what this child's middos could bring to the class wouldn't be accounted for. So yes, that brings disunity.

But when more than lip service is brought to the idea that achdus is at the core of the faith? Yes, there are still battles to be fought that John Lennon (not McCartney, I'm not a Beatles mumcheh) would object to. But net-net, far more unity.

To deal with one of your examples:
There are ways to give gays a home in the Jewish community without implying that homosexuality is anything but a desire to sin, and defuse the entire reason to have a "gay culture" and "gay pride" as an alternative to fully feeling Jewish affiliation. R' Yosef Blau (mashgiach of RIETS) and R' Aharon Feldman (who since became RY of Ner) have both written on the possibility.

Micha Berger said...

As for pagans... I would recommend seeing R JB Soloveitchik's teshuvah to the RCA requiring participation in the SCA. He draws a line between those who affirm the beris yei'ud, the covenant of destiny, the mission of the Jewish People, and those who don't. When it comes to religious matters, unity is only possible with those who share our postulates and language. But RYBS still affirms the obligation to honor the sanctity of the beris goral, the covenant of fate, the role Jewish people play in history regardless of our choices. And thus for matters of Jewish survival and relating to the outside world, breaking that unity is prohibited.

So there is a parallel unity of sorts possible with the entire family of man. We can agree to work together to further human welfare without stopping our opposition to faiths that violate the Beris Noach. We might even be obligated to.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Rav Soloveichik is definitely among those great but rare manhigim that I listed.

What it boils down to is this. There are people that qualify for
מי שאינו מאמין בתורה שבעל פה, אינו זקן ממרא האמור בתורה, אלא הרי הוא בכלל המינים, ומיתתו ביד כל אדם. [ב] מאחר שנתפרסם שהוא כופר בתורה שבעל פה--מורידין ולא מעלין, כשאר המינים והאפיקורוסין והאומרין אין תורה מן השמיים והמוסרים והמשומדים: כל אלו אינן בכלל ישראל, ואינן צריכין לא עדים ולא התראה ולא דיינין; אלא כל ההורג אחד מהן, עשה מצוה גדולה והסיר מכשול.

Then there are
אבל בני אותן הטועים ובני בניהם, שהדיחו אותם אבותם ונולדו במינות, וגידלו אותן עליו--הרי הן כתינוק שנשבה לבין הגויים וגידלוהו הגויים על דתם, שהוא אנוס; ואף על פי ששמע אחר כך שהיה יהודי, וראה היהודיים ודתם--הרי הוא כאנוס, שהרי גידלוהו על טעותם. כך אלו האוחזים בדרכי אבותיהם שתעו. לפיכך ראוי להחזירן בתשובה, ולמשוך אותם בדרכי שלום, עד שיחזרו לאיתן התורה; ולא ימהר אדם להורגן.

I don't see the Bris Yei'ud or Goral there, and מורידין ולא מעלין definitely puts a damper on a collegial relationship or a sense of Achdus.

But to tell the truth, I don't know if we can afford that Rambam these days, just like we can't follow his shitta about sitting and learning, and we certainly can't afford to lock our wives up in a room.

Micha Berger said...

We only hold moridin velo maalin by a first generation heretic. Al pi the Rambam's attitude toward Qaraim, and the CI. Even RMF's pesaq assumes things about non-O rabbinate that isn't true of the current generation.

But in any case... My point was that until Orthodoxy derailed, the religion's teachings emphasized ahavas yisrael and ahavas haberi'os. Now we pay lip service to it, having spent too many years defining ourselves by the ways in which we're not Conservative and Reform, and look to perpatuate ritual mitzvos first and formost. And so we get into battles over forms. As though a constant war the Misnagdim waged against the Besht's talmidim was the norm, and yet waged over trivialities.

Volozhin under the Netziv, a Zionist, had R' Chaim Brisker, a staunch anti-Zionist, as segan (Vice Rosh Yeshiva). We can't do that today because we lost sight of iqar and tafeil. Not because of the religiosity we're supposed to have.

Avraham said...

I would suggest trying to get a hold of Rav Matis Weinberg's shiurim on Lag Baomer - the pirud between the students of Rabbi Akiva and the achdus, the "leaged" (Agadah) that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was capable of doing and thereby rectifying the pirud.

Rav Barzilai - your posts are always interesting. Divrei torah worth thinking about.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank you, Avraham!
I don't know how to get a hold of his shiurim. But I think great unknown might have copies of everything Rabbi Weinberg has written. I'll ask him. Yasher koach!

Avraham said...

You can try this link:

http://www.thelivingtree.org/indexlagbaomer.htm

I am sure I do not understand a lot of his shiurim but I do think he is brilliant and always sheds a new light on certain subjects.

It is nice to see divrei torah that are not just standard "Artscroll" torah but words that challenge, force you to think, make you reconsider your underlying assumptions.

Its part of the reason why your blog is interesting. You are obviosly very knowledgeable and also not afraid to shed a new light on a subject in a respectable manner (even when your view may be different to a gadols).

Avraham said...

This is completely off topic, but I am trying to find an answer to a question, which if you have time, I would appreciate your view or sources you could send me on the concept of toraso umnaso, in particular whether the concept of toraso umnaso paturs a person from all mitzvos derabanan or only from davening? The gemara in shabbos talks about it in the context of not stopping for davening (but yes for krias shema) but the way Rashi explains the reason, it could very well apply to all mitzvos derabanan.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Avraham, that's actually something I was going to post about this week. Nice coincidence! The reason is because the Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos 5) and the Ramban (Devarim 6:13, pretty easy to remember) both say that the din of Tefilla is derived from the word L'avdo, or La'avod, and, most importantly, one can fulfill the mitzva of Avoda Be'leiv either through Tefilla or through Torah. Either would be a total fulfillment of the Mitzva. It follows, then, that a person who is Toraso Umanuso, and thereby fulfills L'avdo with Torah, does not need to daven. Similarly, there's the Yerushalmi in Shabbos 1:2 that says that Torah and Tefilla are both "Shinun," and Torah is the greater fulfillment of shinun, so it supplants it.

The interesting part, of course, is how Chazal knew that only Toraso Umanuso is pattur, and not someone who occasionally works. And that is what I was going to write about.

Eli said...

1. I met in a conference some years ago a group of Indian scientists. I used the opportunity to educate myself on the background of the wig-hair controversy. In the course of discussion they mentioned how when Islam came into India, the Indians completely failed to understand the problem: we have X thousands gods (they have mentioned an exact number, I forgot), we will add yours to the list, why fight over it? As the Yerushalmi puts it עבודה זרה ותרנית היא

2. The Achdus in דורו של אחאב was indeed included עובדי עבודה זרה (and, I assume, some Jews who did not practice AZ)

3. I have a radical idea, which I am not I agree with - the famous Chazon Ish says that nowadays the rules of Moridin etc do not apply, as their use will lead to השחתה. The simple way to understand this is that although in truth these people are not anymore part of community, if we try to apply the letter of the law we will end up losing more than we wish to gain (Yet, in terms of our internal feelings, we should hate them). Then again he uses the concept of תינוקות שנשבו which some people take literally and then discuss what about people who actually know frum neighbors, or even had frum education etc.

A more radical way to understand the above (I do not claim the CI himself would agree) is that all the severe sanctions against Kofrim are relevant in a society in which Kefira is out of the consensus. Then, being a Kofer is really something unacceptable, not only because it's wrong, but because it threats the agreed-upon foundation of the (religious) society. The damper on a collegial relationship or a sense of Achdus, in your words, is not the Aveira per se (which should be punished according to the letter of the law, Kfira itself is not punishable at all; AZ is), but the undermining of our religious civilization.

When most Jews are indeed Kofrim, or Ovdey AZ, the addition of one more Kofer has no effect on society as a whole, and while his sin as an individual is as severe (and in principle, if AZ is involved he's chayav Skila, if he's Meizid), the communal effect is negligible, and the sanctions - outcast, Moridin etc. do not apply.

Fifty years ago, I would say that while Kefira was communally common, and thus by the above principle not punishable, LGBT behavior still was undermining widely accepted notions of Kedusha, and an act of rebellion against agreed-upon values (of Torah). Unfortunately, this undermining actions have succeeded, and nowadays this is not anymore the case. So today, if we acceptthe above, I think an LGBT individual should be treated like Mechalel Shabos. Both are still part of our community, and values of Achdus and collegiality apply (as they did in Ach'av generation)

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Eli, thank you for your thoughts. It's hard for me to understand what the CI means. He says many chidushim on this topic, including the idea that "כעכו"ם לכל דבר" was intended to be a punishment, and therefore only applies in cases of guilt, and not to people now who cannot be blamed for not seeing Hashem's hand in the world. I'm combining two things he says, but I think it's correct.

I like your idea very much. As I understand what you're saying, there is a fundamental obligation to care for our fellows. Sometimes our care for a person is outweighed by a clear and present danger that person presents to another person or to society. Where that danger cannot be resolved by excluding or eliminating that person, the general obligation of solicitude will then regain its dominant importance.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Something I forgot to mention: the Ktzos and the Nesivos in 3:1 that the mitzva of Tochacha, even now in our time, applies to the extent of physical compulsion. Again, this highlights the limits of unconditional achdus. Also, it may simply be a function of protection of society, although the mitzva of Tochacha seems to be focused on the malefactor himself, irrespective of any influence on people around him.

Yes, the Yerei'im in 39 says that the sin'a to an oveir aveiros who doesn't respond to tochacha is not "sin'as haleiv, ella sin'a hanir'is le'einayim," and he shtells tzu the Gemara in Pesachim. But that's only the Yerei'im.

Avraham said...

Rav Barzilai,

Gut voch and thank you so much. I look forward to the post. Interestingly, my thoughts were that if Toraso umnaso only paturs one from davening, then Torah would need to somehow subsume davening. So you have answered my question and provided a sensible explanation to my thinking.

Eli said...

In Kefiya Al Hamitzvos there is no ingredient of excommunication or Heter for Sin'a. I understand you meant that practically when we start beating people on the street right and left to force them to our understanding of Halacha, much Achdus will not follow, but we don't do that today anyway (BH), so there is no problem there. הרואה בחברו דבר ערוה is more of an issue - here we're expected to hate him. Yet, we see from Psachim 113 that even then he's still called אחיך and included in Prika. Indeed, Rambam in Peirush Hamishna (end of intro to Chelek) clearly says that ואהבת לרעך כמוך applies even to רשעים (but not Apikorsim and the like) and as GU likes to cite, even the most terrible sinners are included in ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

How then should we love the Rasha and hate him at the same time? Maybe the answer is known only to people like those few Gedolim you mentioned. As RMS puts it (Dvarim 22:4): לכן אסור לשנוא איש כזה רק מי שהוא בעצמו סר מרע וצדיק תמים בדרכיו אבל קשה למצוא כמותו ועל זה אמרו ראיתי בני עליה והמה מועטים לכן כתיב אחיך

As an example to this complex attitude, see Rav Kook's famous Hesped on those he called אחים חביבים שנואים, נשמות קדושות משוקצות כטומאת הנדה (here: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/sinay/albamoteyno-4.htm written in 1912 as a Hesped to two Hashomer people killed by Arabs. Not published till many years later)

Avraham said...

Hi Rav Barzilai,

In relation to your question about someone who someone who occassionally works, I saw something brought down in the metivta in the name of the Rosh (SHaila utshuva klal 4 os 11) where he says that actually talmidei chachamim (even those who wouldn't be toraso umnaso) would not meikar hadin need to be mafsik for tefila. However, the chachamim were concerned that if talmidei chachamim woulnd't turn up to davening with the tzibbur, this would lead to normal people to stop coming to tefila (they would say, if talmidei chachomim don't need to daven with the tzibbur, kal vachomer we don't.

Lubcha said...

The subject of achdus was unfortunately a big point of contention between my chavrusa and me this past zman (I still don't know what it has to do with חנ״נ). For a long time, Ii was very distressed by what I saw as a lack of achdus in the yeshiva that I am enrolled in (which shall remain nameless) especially compared to the Talmudic institutions I had previously attended, where I wasn't afraid to speak to people I didn't know, both in learning and in mundane matters. With the help of someone much greater than me in just about everything, I came to the realization that achdus is not everyone getting along as one big love fest, but rather a recognition that everyone does their thing. We can have achdus even though I would never dream of speaking to someone across the aisle from me, or asking a random person a question even in learning. Achdus means that if the person who is using the computer to look up a Sefer doesn't know what he is doing and presses the same button 15 times I will help him and we will go on with our lives afterwards (once I stop laughing to myself when I think about the definition of insanity being repeating the same action expecting different results). And this is in a veryhomogeneous group of people.

As far as the different factions of observant Jews (and those who play the game), expecting such different social and cultural groups to exist as one happy equality chapter in a social studies text book i was subjected to in public school (oy!) is just as likely as the people of different races and groups in the textbook getting along so well. As much as the chassidim and the more litvish may be the closest groups, socially we are worlds apart. As far as other groups, it is very hard to have a "shprach" with people who sometimes specifically try to include influences from the outside world into their homes and their lives. Also, there are definitely aspects of guilt and assertion that hinder such relationships. That could be one of the reasons that everyone got along so well in the times of Achav, because there was not as much guilt.

I think also that in light of recent events in Eretz Yisroel, the true colors of a lot of people have come out. I can't say I know too much about the Mizrachi community and the different groups therein, but the alignment of the Mizrachi party and Ein Atid speaks volumes. I wouldn't be surprised if the people who came to yeshivos to pull out the bochurim would be wearing the little knit kippot. The same people who officially keep the mitzvot. But we are the ones that are preventing the achdus? My first Seder chavrusa was adamant that these people are frum with krum shitos, and there is no reason not to reach out to them. I disagree. Let's work on achdus by doing what we have to do individually to bring the geula, which can still happen even if I never say two words to the chavrusa shaft next to me. We will all point together and say הנה אלוקינו זה קוינו לו ויושיענו. Right now, he has to learn whatever he's learning or daven (or take care of his family or his parnasa) and I have to do whatever I have to do. He doesn't need a hug from me.

As rabbi Shlomo Friefeld said, "if you love everybody, you love nobody".

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Lubcha, you write well. I'm sure that there are not too many equals in the 27 year old semicha talmidim Lakewood cohort.
Perhaps you are familiar with Reb Yaakov's vort about the Degalim being assigned only after the tzivui of the Mishkan was in place, where he says that the assignment of disparate roles had to wait for a powerful centralizing hub.