[Avodah] Halakhah and Self-Transformation, was: Kitniyot

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Sat Mar 30 20:20:29 PDT 2013

On Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 07:11:13PM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: (wondering out loud....) Does the Torah really not care at all about
: what we can't experience? Or does the Torah ignore those things as a
: concession to human nature? Or maybe there's no difference?

I was arguing that the Torah has no reason to care too much about
things we can only know in the abstract. We are influenced by ideas,
so I can't say "at all", but I think that the level of influence is
below that which would impact halakhah.

This is my own philosophical invention to explain something I learned
from R' Dovid Lifshitz. It was RDL, not myself, who likened the eggs to
microscopic bugs and asserted that both are irrelevant for the same

My theory would not work if you feel that the primary function of
halakhah is not located in the self. Whether we say it's a means
to achieve deveiqus, sheleimus, refine the tzelem E-lokim, whatever,
most currently believed hashkafos do make halakhah about people, not
about what we are doing to other physical or metaphysical entities.

And my own take (since this is my theory, not a survey) is based on
NhC shaar 1's thesis that changes in the universes caused by mitzvos is
a consequence of changes in the self. It is only the human soul which
contains forces from all the olamos, so it is only via the human soul
in which activities in one plane can make changes in others.

:> Here I'm saying that our evolution as a community goes hand
:> in hand with the evolution of halakhah. An accepted practice
:> that was created via the legal process therefore has
:> redemptive power even if the scientific assumptions behind
:> it don't match reality. Like the magnifying-glass sized
:> bugs, because it's not objective reality but subjective
:> experience that changes people.

: When you write "An accepted practice that was created via the
: legal process", that sounds like it refers to d'rabanans. What of
: d'Oraisas? Does a d'Oraisa have redemptive power if our perception
: (a.k.a. halachic reality) doesn't match the scientific reality?

Our original discussion was about both legislation of dinim derabbanan,
or interpretation of existing law (derabbanan OR deOraisa). Both are
parts of legal process.

I would think that redemptive power comes from bringing our middos,
responses, and/or whatever your hashkafah most values in line with
Hashem's Will for what they should be. This means that the value of
an action is in how it impacts us on a gut level.

Whether that action is mandated by HQBH or by us.

I just focused on man-made law or man-selected interpretation of law
because of the context of overturning human decisions if:

1- (vs Lisa) earlier decisions in error went beyond what the metzi'us
required or

3- (vs RMR) they didn't make sense to the invidual, regardless of whether
they were mentored in the art of working the process.

But in any case, I hope my above exposition would make it clear that
it does. Because the redemptive power 

: I had always thought that productivity was the main criteria for
: defining "life" - harnessing of energy, transformation of food into
: body parts, reproduction of future generations. Lice are quite active,
: but it seems that these are secondary. To be the sort of life form that
: may not be killed on Shabbos, what you really need are *parents*.

Parents that are connected to the offspring in a way we can perceive

Isn't that presumed by your detourlooking at things by how it would have
seemed to Chazal?

: We are often told that it is a mistake to think that Mitzvas Kibud Av v'Em is a result of the fact that we do have parents. Rather, HaShem designed humans to have two parents, because otherwise there would be no way to accomplish Mitzvas Kibud Av v'Em.

: Perhaps a similar lesson can be learned from the louse. We would think it to be just as important to Creation as any other insect, but perhaps Hashem made its eggs too small to be seen, specifically to teach us the importance of having parents.



Micha Berger             Today is the 4th day
micha at aishdas.org        in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Netzach sheb'Chesed: When is Chesed an
Fax: (270) 514-1507                           imposition on others?

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