Friday, August 20, 2004

Belief, Faith, Beyond Halakha (Elul continued)

Rabbi Shalom Carmy has a (chiluk) distinction based upon two major twentieth century Jewish thinkers:
Rabbi Elchanon Wasserman stated that people choose not to believe so that they can live a hedonistic lifestyle. But without their desire for a hedonistic lifestyle, these people would be believers.
Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik said that people would like to believe, but cannot bring themselves to faith/Emunah.
This distinction underlies much of the Modern Orthodiox vs. Chareidi attitude towards the non-religious and therefore kiruv.

Of course, in Elul this question is much less important, as if you are interested in Teshuva during Elul, I am assuming that you are already committed to Halakha, God, etc. Why do Teshuvah if you don't believe? Unless it is an expression of a nostolgia for a time in your life when you were a believer/maamin?

A friend of mine once claimed that it's easy to keep halakha, though learning Torah is difficult. Austensibly it is easy to keep halakha, as Professor Walter Wurzburger pointed out, Halakha is a Floor not a Ceiling (meaning its the minimum not the maximum of a Jewish life).

What is beyond Halakha? What is more than observance of the laws and rituals? Well, that's one of the big questions of Elul.

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