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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
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The ‘Talmudic’ Objectivity of the Millennial Generation

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In order to change the world we first need to be receptive to the genuine messages being conveyed. While secular society doesn’t yet speak about the Torah and Talmud – terms which many of us are more familiar with – this does not mean that they are not speaking out a similar topic using the terminology familiar to them.

About six weeks ago I read an insightful article about how millennials view the world. This is the generation that followed in the footsteps of Generation X (millennials are also known as Generation Y) with birth years ranging from the 1980s to early 2000s.

In this article entitled “How Millennials Really Feel About Technology” the 22-year old author paints the picture of a generation “caught in the middle.” While I encourage you to read the article (it’s not long), these are a few lines that capture her sentiments pretty well:

“Unlike our parents, we are less likely to marvel at technology — we are able to multitask, don’t tune out others when we get a text message, and are less likely to post unfortunate intricacies of our lives on social media. And unlike our younger siblings, cousins and perhaps even children, we were not raised with these technologies being an integral part of our day-to-day routines.”

Choosing Camps

Usually the first question that arises when speaking of objectivity is that someone has got to be right?! Isn’t politics (and yes lots of journalism) polarized for a reason? But the author of this article has provided a correct example of what we mean.

Speaking in shorthand (you can read about the spiritual origin of conservatism and liberalism), conservatives are those who hold on to the values of the past, whereas liberals are focused on the future. Instead of facing backwards, liberals face forward in the hopes of creating a future better than the past.

Once we begin to associate conservatives with religion and liberalism with anti-religion it becomes a conflict. But as explained in this class, there were very many great souls and tzadikim (righteous persons) whose souls derived from the left.

In Talmudic Journalism, we discussed these two camps relative to the mindsets of the “depth of the beginning” or the “depth of the end.” Who is considered greater, the first sages or the last sages? Rabbi Yochanan says that the earlier the sages (i.e., the depth is at the beginning) whereas his brother-in-law Reish Lakish holds the opposite, that the later the sage, the greater he is. What we didn’t discuss there is that there is another way to state the difference in their two approaches. Whereas Rabbi Yochanan’s approach favors what’s called in Kabbalah “an awakening from above,” Reish Lakish favors “an awakening from below.”

At first the topic seems closed. Halachically, we rule according to Rabbi Yochanan. Beit Hillel, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Yochanan are considered one halachic tradition, while Beit Shamai, Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkanos and Reish Lakish are considered the opposite halachic tradition. But the Lubavitcher Rebbe ruled that Mashiach has to come from below, heralding the change from ruling like Beit Hillel to Beit Shamai and Reish Lakish.

Politically we sense this divide very clearly. Whereas governments seek to establish hierarchies founded on some pre-established system, revolutions and uprisings happen from people who aren’t as concerned about what exists presently. Thus this shift from above to below also indicates that Mashiach will come more in the form of a public uprising – hopefully as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught, without a single bullet being shot – than as a decree from the Torah leaders and tzadikim of the generation.

Yonatan Gordon

About the Author: Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and publishes his writings on InwardNews.com, a new site he co-founded.

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