Is observance the ends, the purpose, of our lives, or is it the means and the goal lies beyond it? And if they are the means, do we need to consciously frame the purpose of our lives, or should we just concern ourselves with following the halakhah, and rest assured that the goal will take care of itself?”
How would this play out communally?
One possible outcome is … that black letter halakhah â€” that which can be measured, laid out in clear obligated or prohibited terms â€” takes center seat without any attempt to become the kind of person more capable of fulfilling the full breadth of its commandments. There would be mixed reports of business ethics, scandals… yet others abusing their power over their students in other ways.
Another possible outcome is an idealistic community, but one whose ideals are not Torah derived. In such a community ideals would be taken from some segment of the surrounding culture, and halakhah would be reduced to a means of â€œblessingâ€ goals that we assimilated from the outside…
A third possibility is particular to a community that teaches the need to engage the world around it…. Without a firm eye and a constant striving toward an ideal, the energy it takes to maintain this delicate balance too easily collapses into a life of compromise…..
Do these portraits sound familiar?