[Avodah] Why learn Chassidut

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Fri Mar 29 03:51:39 PDT 2013

On Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 01:24:13PM +0300, Ben Waxman wrote:
> Is this a variation of the "What is the purpose of Talmud Torah"  
> argument (learn to come to love of HaShem, to learn halacha, to simply  
> understand)?

All of which are phrased in self-transformative terms.

WADR to R Yoel Kahn, the goal of chassidus is generally understood (since
the Besh"t is repeatedly reported as saying so) to be to obtain deveiqus.
IOW, it's a Yahadus which sees the role of mitzvos in terms of a derekh
Hashem in the sense of a path TO Him.

No less self-transformative than Mussar, "just" with a different
description of what we're trying to be. And consequently different
pragmatic emphasis.

For that matter the 4th cheileq of Nefesh haChaim (and thus the yeshiva
world) also assumes Torah is self-transformative, that talmud Torah is
like a miqvah that is metaheir regardless of any conscious effort to
do so.

The other 3 chalaqim appear to have a different message. In fact, the
first cheileq's thesis appears to me to be that repairing the world can
only happen as a consequence of repairing the self. And the emphasis
in these chalaqim is more on yir'as Shamayim and ehrlachkeit than the
talmud-Torah emphasis of the 4th cheileq. But again, there too it's all
about self-transformation.

The Rambam is even self-transformative. But his transformation is to
know and be aligned with G-d's Truth. I presume this is more Lisa's
perspective. However, since the Rambam himself assigns authority to
halachic process even when at odds with realia, I don't see him as a
source either. (Although his fascination with knowledge and truth is
deflected in his daas yachid about what a machloqes is. See R Moshe
Halbertal's survey at
<http://rambam.merkaz.com/Class%204%20-%20Halbertal.pdf> or my treatment
based on it of the Rambam's unique concept of halachic process at
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/03/halakhah-truth-law.shtml> (in
very small part):

    1- Retrieval: All of Torah was given at Sinai, and therefore
    machloqesin (debates) are due to forgotten information.

    He finds this opinion to be typical of many ge'onim...

    2- Accumulative: Torah is built analytically from what was
    given. Therefore, machloqesin come from different minds reaching
    different conclusions. This is the Rambam's position among others. It
    comes from sources like Rabbi Aqiva's "finding mounds and mounds of
    laws in the crowns atop the letters"....

    3-- Constitutive: The poseiq (halachic decisor) doesn't discover
    what's correct halakhah. Rather, part of the definition of "correct"
    is the poseiq's say-so; Hashem gave them the power to decide and
    define law. This is the position of the Ramban, the Ritva and the Ran.

... and, based on my own analysis, Rashi and the Baalei Tosafos. Rambam
is the sole Accumulativist.


Micha Berger             Today is the 3rd day
micha at aishdas.org        in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Tifferes sheb'Chesed: What is perfectly
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            balanced Chesed?

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