Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach on Emunah Peshutah and Chakirah

Halichos Shlomo Vol. I, Maamarim (pg. 367)
"...In truth, there is a debate between the Rishonim and the Acharonim. The manner of the Kadmonim was to know and to understand the existence of Hashem through Chakirah, to the extent that the intellect can reach. However, the Acharonim, their way is through Emunah Peshutah, and to believe in all this because it says so in the Torah.
And, behold, the truth is, although, certainly, it is not for us to mix in to this matter, but, nevertheless, most of the Mechabrim have decided that the correct path is the simple path, and that is the path where the chances are good for gain, and adverse for loss. And the truth is, that the intellect dictates this, for what benefit is there in Chakirah? Had all the philosophers with their analyses not been able to understand what they did, or, on the contrary, Chas VeShalom, they would understand otherwise, would it then be permissible for them to not believe, Chas VeShalom, in the existence of Hashem? And if so, what benefit is there in analyzing a matter which, either way, I am not free to do as I opine? Will a heretic and an Apikores not get punished?


And that which the Chassid, the author of the Chovos HaLevavos, writes, that the path of Emunah Peshutah is an unpraiseworthy path, and he declares about this that it is similar to the Emunah of fools, it is a Davar Nifla, for, in the final analysis, this Mitzvah is like any other Mitzvah in the Torah, and what would he do about the whole Torah if he would not understand? And, therefore, the Acharonim decided to go on the path of simplicity...
And so too we find in Massechta Shabbos (116a), that they told Rava - "Why did you not come to Bei Avidan?" - and Rashi explains that this was a place where the heretics would debate the Jews in matters of faith - And Rava responded: "There was a certain palm tree on the road and it was difficult (for me to come)?" "Uproot it!" "Its place would be difficult for me" - And Rashi explains that, still, a hole would remain.
...What is the idea here? According to what we have said, it seems, that this was his approach, not to do too much analysis in these matters. And they did not do so, and therefore he responded to them that there is a palm tree on the road. It says in Berachos (57a) that one who sees a Lulav in a dream, he has only one heart for his Father in Heaven". And that is what he was telling them, that he only wants one heart, and does not want to know the opposing views. So they told him - "Uproot it", meaning, back out of this position. And he said to them, that its place is difficult for me, for, still, a hole remains if one also knows the opposing viewpoints.
Also well known are the words of R"Y Yaavetz, among those expelled from Spain, who said that all those of simple faith gave their lives for Hashem, and of the philosophers, not all of them, and there were only few who retained their holiness.
And this is what we say: "Sh'ma Yisrael", meaning, we do not believe in Hashem because of our analyses that brought forth the conclusion that there is One G-d; for there are those Rishonim who explain the Passuk "For no man can see Me and live", that it also refers to intellectual sight, not just sensual - and this is the secret of "You will see My back" - meaning not a clear sight, and therefore our faith is because this is what we were told, 'Sh'ma Yisrael', know that Hashem commanded you to believe that He is One, and this is the inner secret of our belief.
And about this, the Kohen anointed for war says, that in the merit of your implicit faith in Hashem, you will not be handed over into their hands."
The truth is, that for me, I sense with every inner faculty that I have, that following in the path of the Torah is the way to achieve greater heights in refinement of the intellect, of character, of the spirit and soul. It is the path, the only path, to become that special, pinnacle of Creation, type of person, like Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who can state publicly at the funeral of his wife that he has nothing to ask Mechilla for, because he always followed the laws and dictates of the Shulchan Aruch in his relationship with her - meaning, that therein lies the path to perfect harmony between a husband and wife, and, by extension, between one man and his fellow, and between man and himself.
Only the Maker of man Himself could devise such a perfect system for this exquisitely refined existence, for mankind at large is still groping in the dark as to how to achieve it.
And if that constitutes Emunah Peshutah - so be it. I'll be the happiest person in the world in following this simplest of rationales for being a Torah Jew.


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