Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chovos HaLevavos

When we speak about emunah, we say, b'emunah s'hleimah, "with perfect faith". The mitzvah is to grow in emunah, to experience a clarity, and to reach levels of deep-seated, genuine belief. There have been traditionally two different approaches to faith, one more experiential, and one more rational. However, all agree that one's emunah must run deep. The mitzvah is also constant; the Biur Halachah and others speak of "six constant mitzvos".

From the fourth perek of Devarim we see how deep the Chovos HaLevavos run(Metzudah Translation):

Look out for yourself and guard your life exceedingly, lest you forget the words your eyes witnessed, and lest they are removed from your mind, all the days of your life; you will make them known to your children and to your grandchildren...

You will know today, and will restore to your perception that Ad-noy is the G-d in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.

Regarding belief in Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy, the Rambam in the eighth perek of Yesodie Hatorah says that our ancestor's believed fully in Moshe Rabbeinu, because they directly witnessed Hakadosh Baruch Hu speaking to him at the Revelation at Har Sinai.

However, human beings have limitations as far as their capacity to comprehend metaphysical concepts. Also, a person may reach a difficulty which is unresolved satisfactorily at a particular time.

Certain metaphysical concepts one can't comprehend fully. The Rambam for example, in Yesodie Hatorah(1st Perek) says that a human being can't fully comprehend the unity of Hashem. In the fifth perek of Hilchos Teshuvah, he states that we can't fully comprehend the essence of Hashem, nor completely understand how he knows a person's future actions.

In the gemera and in acharonim, we have cases when we remain with questions, and hope to resolve them at some future time. We say teiku, Hashem Yair Einai, or Tzarich Iyun. Interestingly, Rav Sholomo Heineman used to say that there is a difference in Rav Akivah Eiger between Tzarich Iyun, and Tzarich Iyun Gadol.

Is there, as well, a concept of teiku regarding hashkafa issues which impact upon emunah?

At the Siyum Hashas, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, if I recall correctly, mentioned the need to give "authentic answers", as opposed to "makeshift answers", and he also mentioned the concept of teiku. I believe that he was referring to science and Torah issues. Obviously, each case is different; I do not wish to extrapolate from his words, as he spoke in general terms.

I would like to call attention to an excerpt from a post by Rabbi Chaim B. , in which I participated in the comment section.

"Tzarich iyun is not surrender, but a recognition that the struggle for answers is an ongoing process of learning. The same holds true in the debate of science vs. Torah - sacrificing mesorah to the god of science is not the best approach, but neither is glibly asserting truisms that contradict reason or evidence"

Do you agree with his post? Feel free to continue the discussion there, in order to consolidate the conversation in one internet location.

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