Monday, December 25, 2006

On a Lighter Note: Facing the Ontological Realities of Lomdus

See Chaim B's post, and discussion there, to be enlightened concerning the different categories of, and the ontological aspects of chazakos(halachic presumptions).

For those who have avoided, or slept through Philosophy 101, see here for the definition of ontology.

This reminds me of a story:

A talmid of RYBS Z’tl was speaking about two years ago and used the word “teleological”. I think he realized that much of the audience(including myself), had heard the word, but had no idea what he was talking about. So he joked, “I don’t either know what it means, but the Rav used to use it, so I am as well!”

Anyhow, I think all would agree that it's far more important to know the definitions, purviews, and applications of the various types of chazakos, but I guess it also helps knowing philosophical jargon, if only to be able to understand what some people are talking about.

It also should be noted that hasbarah(explaining) is a function of havanah(understanding). My chavrusah never let me get away with, "I understand it, but I can't explain it". So if philosophical terminology aids, abets, assists or facilitates greater clarity and precision in comprehension, explanation, or, to use Artscrollese, elucidates the Talmud, then I say: go for the philosophical and legal jargon and skip the yeshivishe reid !

Indeed, some of the richer yeshivishe terminology may also quite possible obscure, muddle and seriously obfuscate, rather than clarify, simplify, and illuminate one's thinking and explanations to others. In such cases, there may not be such an advantage in yeshivishe over philosophical and legal language.

I never really liked, for example, the following dialogue:

Question: "Why can't we apply this reasoning in Case A as well? "

Answer: "Case A is a metziyus !" (or shall we say, "Case A is an ontological reality").

So it may be best to translate yeshivish or lomdishe terms to everyday English, whether or not one avoids, shuns, eschews, and otherwise keeps a distance from philosophical and legal nomenclature, technical terms, or specialized language not used in ordinary conversation.

One of my chavrusah's astutely observed and pointed out, however, that if one trains one's self to think using such language, then using either yeshivish terminology or (l'havdil), philosophical and legal language, may indeed represent clarity of thought and comprehension. The only challenge for such a person , then, is to communicate such thinking to others using ordinary English. However, a good rebbe or baal maasbir, should have no problem flawlessly switching back and forth between, Yeshivish, ordinary English, and legalese and philosophical terminology.

Note(nichtav b'tzido) : None of the above should be construed in any way as denigrating, degrading, defaming, casting aspersions on, or to use the vernacular--being mevatel, maching aveck, not being goreis, Yeshivish, one of my favorite "shprachs".

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