web analytics
August 23, 2014 / 27 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Title: Ponderables


Title: Ponderables


Author: Yankie Schwartz
Publisher: Targum Press


 


 


In recent years, the attitude dubbed “orthopraxy”, the notion that holds that fulfillments of halakha is sufficient on its own terms without serving, or being subordinate to, any higher purpose , has become fashionable in some circles. Most famously advocated by the late distinguished Israeli scientist Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Orthopraxy – which has become accepted practically if not avowedly by many Orthodox Jews, both in the US and Israel – has found a number of other proponents as well, a disproportionate number of whom are among the intellectual elite.


 


If you want a demonstration of the effect that this thinking has had on many people, ask Orthodox Jews you know what their purpose in this world is. Don’t be surprised if a large number of them answer, “To learn Torah and do mitzvos.”


 


Without even criticizing many of their basic premises – that few beliefs are halakhically mandated, that there is sufficient variety among Jewish thinkers throughout time to provide historical support for your beliefs no matter what you believe, etc. – it is important to ask: Is that the vision that G-d and Chazal had in mind? What was their own thinking about the purpose of Jewish law and study?


 


Formulated this way, the answer is obvious. The goal of halakha, and for that matter all of Jewish religious life, is personality development. Chazal say so explicitly: “The purpose of Torah is repentance and good deeds.” The mitzvos are diverse and multifaceted, but are all designed in order to refine our character traits and make us better people. Interestingly, both Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, in his seminal essay “The Dialectic of the Halakha”‘, and Rabbi Dov Katz, in his introduction to his history of the Mussar movement, use the laws concerning the eved ivri, the Hebrew indentured servant, to show how ethical precepts are bound up with Jewish law. It is certainly correct that we should be learning Torah and doing mitzvos (though we should also be doing many other things that are probably not properly described as mitzvos – see, e.g., Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein’s wonderful essay, Does Judaism Recognize an Ethic Independent of Halakha? in Leaves of Faith vol. 2), but that isn’t the point of our life. The point of life is to become a better people.


 


Unfortunately, the complexity and difficulty of observing all the mitzvos and rabbinic edicts leaves many of us with little patience to spend time understanding how observance of the minutiae of halakha enhances our character. Almost certainly, the explanation for this is not that to do so would take a large investment of time, but that our perspective is not trained on that aspect of halakha. The sad result of this neglect is that we do not properly benefit from much of the positive potential of Jewish religious life.


 


In his short book, Ponderables, Yankie Schwartz seeks to correct this distortion. It is written in the form of a series of short vignettes on themes relating to character-building, faith in G-d , and other topics that hopefully will help the reader orient his or her thinking to become more positive and open to religious growth. Yankie, an insurance consultant, is familiar with many of the challenges that face religious people in today’s workplace and his book is written in a way that can give them the emotional courage to deal with their challenges productively.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Title: Ponderables”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
4 yr old Israeli Daniel Tregerman, murdered by Hamas rocket on Aug. 22, 2014.
IDF: Israeli Toddler Murdered by Rocket Fired Near UNRWA School/Shelter
Latest Sections Stories
Teens-082214

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

Twenties-082214-Girls

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

Lewis-082214-Gaon

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

Astaire-082214-Main

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

“I didn’t choose the landscape; it chose me.”

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

More Articles from Ephraim Zucker

In recent years, the attitude dubbed “orthopraxy”, the notion that holds that fulfillments of halakha is sufficient on its own terms without serving, or being subordinate to, any higher purpose , has become fashionable in some circles. Most famously advocated by the late distinguished Israeli scientist Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Orthopraxy – which has become accepted practically if not avowedly by many Orthodox Jews, both in the US and Israel – has found a number of other proponents as well, a disproportionate number of whom are among the intellectual elite.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-ponderables-2/2011/09/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: