Why are bricks red?

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  1. micha says:

    I argued in the blog entry that Chassidim are more likely to view metaphysics as causing physics, which we then experience, whereas R’ Chaim Volozhiner is more likely to conclude that metaphysics causes experiences, which then physics falls in line to implement. With a pragmatic difference, in that it has something to do with our relative attitudes toward segulos. Belief in segulos requires a closer connection between empirical objects and metaphysics than is expressed by those who belittle them.

    The causality could in theory flow in both ways, but I don’t see that flowing from the two approaches of Qabbalah.

    • Bob Miller says:

      1. Any theory that views a segulah as “forcing” HaShem’s hand can’t be valid. The most it can be is a sort of verbal or non-verbal prayer not guaranteed to get the result the person wants.

      2. Causality by human thought or action can never be absolute. Achieving the result the person desires is dependent on HaShem’s will. Sometimes, we’re allowed to achieve a result counter to Torah law or our best interests or the world’s best interests because our free will has to be maintained. In such a case, we can be held responsible even though we did not really control the result.

      • micha says:

        When you let go of a rock are you “forcing Hashem’s ‘Hand'” to make it fall?

        What I’m suggesting is that because Chassidim do not believe in literal tzimtzum, their metaphysical and physical worlds unite, and thus they have laws of metaphysics you can count on and engineer with, just was we do with laws of physics.

        I agree with your outlook, that outcomes revolve around mitzvos, and thus might only work when you can call it a “non-verbal prayer”. But I’m associating that outlook with misnagdim and our notion of literal tzimtzum (albeit not of Hashem’s Essence).

        • Bob Miller says:

          I’ve been led to understand that the world was created with rules of everyday functioning to help us live here. Going out of one’s way to subvert the everyday system by direct action, as opposed to prayer or mitzvah performance, seems like an attempt at “forcing” not far from the white magic in paganism. It also seems like an attempt to deoptimize the natural world’s general functioning, for apparent personal benefit.

          • Bob Miller says:

            Also, I’ve read of failed attempts by Chassidic Tzaddikim, sometimes in small groups, to use their metaphysical influence to effect the final redemption on earth right then. Was their failure attributed to their insufficient expertise in mobilizing metaphysical forces, or rather to HaShem’s decision not to redeem us then? If it’s the latter, that suggests that the failed attempts were more in the nature of prayers.

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