Walking the Path

As long as we continue teaching our kids halakhah (הלכה)
without investing the same effort to give them a derekh, a path,
we are literally teaching them how to walk (איך ללכת)
but not helping them figure out where to go.

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  1. And whom do you suggest help them figure out “where to go”? Do you have a list of people who are alive today whom feel are qualified to do this?

  2. Neil Harris says:

    Excellent post, Micha. To those who are looking for light in this dor there are people who will give one direction. It just requires turning off our GPS apps.

  3. Shlomo says:

    The Chazon Ish use to say that we lack a prophet to guide our individual Avodas Hashem, but for the interim, the Shulchan Aruch is our “prophet”, informing us what G-d’s will surely is. Perhaps quoting the Chazon Ish approach to Halacha is verboten on this site…

    • I don’t know what gave yoy the impression that would motivate that closing dig. R’ Chaim Brisker is more extreme in that direction, and both are quoted regularly. It’s just that I personally believe in Telzher “fahr vos” over Brisker “vos”. In general, you would find my blog is very Mussar influenced, so the whole notion of not having a personal plan for how to “walk before Me and be Whole” that observance would fit into isn’t going to be advocated. I make a longer and more sourced argument for the thesis in this quicky in “Tools and Goals“.

      Pragmatically, I think today’s few in today’s generation, products of democracies, aren’t capable of succeeded with a strict “ana avda deQBH” approach without finding a way to connect to mitzvos as well. Which is probably why Rava’s and the Gra’s warnings strike home with me.

      Anyway, knowing what Hashem’s Will surely is is a distinct question from what motivates us to obey it. See the recent Torah Musings post “Why Do We Keep Mitzvos?

      • Shlomo says:

        I enjoy your insight immensely. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone, and if I did, I apologize.

        When the mussar movement was born it was opposed, but was ultimately victorious, wildly so, to my sorrow. (I dont’ fully understand why you work so hard.) In my view, saying mitzvos are “tools to a goal” is antinomian. In my comment I tried to to do my small part in attempting to remind any readers of the anti-Mussar view, before the last proponents of the opposite view pass on.

        I do not have the strength presently to explain or dispute each point (you are blessed with “Hashba’as Hakulmus”).

        Reb Chaim Brisker did not write “Emuna Ubitachon” chapters 3, 4…

        You say a non-Mussar approach on this blog “isn’t going to be advocated”. Fine. Delete my comment, your response and this rejoinder. I strongly believe in private property rights, this is your domain, so do as you wish. I am pleased if you even read this.

        • But it’s not just Mussar. It’s Rava, the Rambam (Moreh 3:26-27), the Ramban (Qedushim Tihyu and ve’Asisa haYashar vehaTov), Ran (Derashos), R’ Yosef Albo (Iqarim), the Chinukh, R’ Hirsch (Horeb), Chassidus, the Gra, R Chaim Volozhiner, the Chida, the Ben Ish Hai… The rishonm were divided among the Scholasticists and the Qabbalists — and both sides posited goals!

          Antinomianism is when you change halakhah based on hashkafah, rather than the other way around. I do not see how it has anything to do with finding a meaning in observance if the legal process isn’t disturbed in the search.

          And even that is grey…. The vast majority of observant Jews do not wear tefillin on ch”m because the Zohar describes it as qotzeitz bintiyos — whether we’re talking Chassidim, followers of the Gra, Sepharadim, or those in Israel who follow the minhag hamaqom established by those three groups. So there appears to be some role for taamei hamitzvos in pesaq even according to the Shulchan Arukh… Perhaps when the legal arguments are perfectly balanced, and also one side can be seen as just as “lechumerah” as the other (so that there is no “better to play safe)?

          I am still unsure why you confuse advocating one shitah means not acknowledging the existence of others. R’ Aharon Rakeffet tells his students that you can’t be a Religious Zionist without learning VaYoel Moshe. You cannot claim to know a sugya without a willingness to understand and discuss other shitos — and if you don’t know the sugya, you don’t really have a position.

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