Friday, June 27, 2008
2) Ruach Chen explains why Chochmas hashem is analogous to ohr . Just as physical light exists outside the mind and enters the mind by way of the eye of the body, so too, the light of Chochmas hashem exists outside the mind and enters the mind by way of the eye of the soul. Man’s nefesh sichli, develops through apprehension of this order. Emes, the mind’s true apprehension of the ohr is an end product of a process done by kochos ha-nefesh.
3) As we know from Rambam Yesode ha-torah, as well as in Shemone perakim and Ruach Chen, the soul of Man is a potential form that arises via an animal matter.
4) As a potential form that arises via an animal matter, the eye of the soul of Man is dependent upon kochos ha-nefesh that are animal in character. The soul must discern the light of Chochmas hashem in data collected and processed by the kochos ha-nefesh of animal senses and psyche. This dependence poses a challenge to the mind, which must discern if a given processing of data is expressive of Chochmas Hashem or is merely satisfying to power and pleasure drives. It is this dependence upon the animal psyche for data that makes us prone to error and cheyt.(Ralbag on Brayshees).
5) By virtue of the fact that chochmas hashem is external to us, we are able to reflect upon it as an external object or as something illuminating us. This is similar once again to ohr, that can be thought of as an external illuminator or our own experience of seeing or being illuminated.
6) Needless to say, we never see light per se, only our personal experience of a small limited example.
Nontheless, we know that our experience of light points to an absolute light, external to ourselves that our own experience is a puny reflection of.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
והוא אמרו יתעלה: "שמע ישראל ה' אלקינו ה' אחד" (דברים ו, ד).
וברוב המדרשות תמצא שהם אומרים:
"על מנת לייחד את שמי, על מנת לייחדני".והרבה כגון זה. כוונתם בדבר זה: שלא הוציאנו מבית עבדים ולא עשה עמנו מה שעשה בעשיית חסד והטבה, אלא בתנאי שנאמין בייחוד, לפי שאנו מחויבים בכך.
ובהרבה מקומות אומרים 'מצוות ייחוד', וקוראים למצווה זו גם 'מלכות שמים' כי אומרים:
כדי לקבל עליו על מלכות שמים, כלומר ההודאה בייחוד והאמונה בו.
Man's rational mind perceives the world through the principle of a universal law manifest in all parts of the universe-Malchus Shamayim. This principle is implicit in our expectation that every part of the universe, from the most small in physics and chemistry to the most large in astronomy and cosmology, be subject to laws. Yet the same rational man who expects law in every aspect of the universe, balks when it comes to his own sovereignty. Intellectually, the mind recognizes that man's excellence must be a special case of this very same universal law. The Christian's bizarre exemption of himself from the principle of universal law manifest in all parts of the universe cannot be understood in terms of intellect. The difficulty for the unreflective craftsman lies in overcoming an instinctive aversion to loss of sovereignty. The human animal refuses to extend the universal laws of the universe to his sovereignty over the material world, instinctively resisting this "kabbalas ole" as a wild mustang resists the עולof a harness and as the mule resists the עול of a yoke. K'riat Shema's challenge to the craftsman is a call to summon the courage to recognize the resistance to tikkun for what it is - an animal aversion to yielding any sovereignty. Recognizing the human mind as a b'ria, a creation subject to higher cause, is the essence of kabbalas ole malchus shamayim. When we reflect, we observe that the creations of Aretz follow a mechanistic minhag of which they are not consciously aware. Man, by virtue of his Tzelem elokim, is able to understand this minhag as a series of mechanisms that produce a given “end”. This perspective enables man to recognize the possibility of Tikkun, a superior ordering of aretz’s powers producing “fruit” that its own mechanistic nature could never have brought about. Indeed, it is readily apparent, that natural things, left uncultivated, function incompletely. Only when man intervenes, developing the mechanisms of these natural things along a proper path, do they function completely.
This "intervention" requires a notion of "good" attained through humble application of acceptance of the Sovereign natural principles as Covey said. This acceptance of sovereignty is the first line of Shema and "Baruch shem K'vod Malchuso Liolam Voed. The next parsha of ahava is recognition of the new Good we must follow if we are to be consistent with Kabbalas Ole rather than escaping into the fantasy of human values. This acceptance is demsonstrated by making our top priority-our Ahava- the pursuit of Chochma for its own sake-Vi-ahavata.
We the realize the means to ahava for a mind that emerges via a psyche-zechira through the zechira tools of Tefillin and tzitzit.
Then we bolster our zechira through a consideration of the material benefits and consequences-of being mature consistency to the sovereignty of principle or rebelling immaturely- Sechar vaonesh.
It is important to note that Shema as we know it is only instrumental to the immature Nefesh who knows through the lens of Dvarim Ketanim and is by nature subject to Shichecha. Such a one needs to explicitly connect the universal principle of Malchus shamayim to himself as the good that applies to him. He further needs the motivation of rewards and punishment for being consistent with principle. The mature mind is not Chayyev in this or in Tefilla. For him to say that there is a Sovereign Chochma is necessarily to see the application to the self. Such a one is patur and only says the first Pasuk-this is the shema of Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi. As Rambam points out in Hilchos Talmud Torah this is the person who has moved past "techilat Limudo". He sees everything through the same d'varim naturally.
When a person gains insight into these d’varim, recognizing (the entire hierarchy) of the creations, from angel and galaxy all the way to man (and his environment), and therefore sees the chochma of hashem in all the creations, he adds to his love of the makom, and his soul thirsts and his flesh yearns to love the makom baruch hu. Simultaneously, this person feels a great awe and fear resulting from his smallness and inconsequenciality.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Center on Principles
Stephen R. Covey
Real character development begins with the humble recognition that we are not in charge, that principles ultimately govern. I don't talk much about ethics and values because to me those words imply situational behaviors, subjective beliefs, social mores, cultural norms, or relative truths. I prefer to talk about universal principles and natural laws that are more absolute. You may think that it's just a matter of semantics and that when most people talk about values they really mean these universal principles. But I see a clear difference between principles and values. Hitler was value-driven; Saddam Hussein is value-driven. Every person and organization is driven by what they value, but they aren't necessarily ethical or principle-centered.
The Humility of Principles
The key to quality of life is to be centered on principles. We're not in control; principles are in control. We're arrogant when we think we are in control. Yes, we may control our actions, but not the consequences of our actions. Those are controlled by principles, by natural laws. Building character and creating quality of life is a function of aligning our beliefs and behaviors with universal principles. These principles are impersonal, external, factual, objective, and self-evident. They operate regardless of our awareness of them, or our obedience to them.
If your current lifestyle is not in alignment with these principles, then you might trade a value-based map for a principle-centered compass. When you recognize that external verities and realities ultimately govern, you might willingly subordinate your values to them and align your roles and goals, plans, and activities with them. But doing so often takes a crisis: your company's downsizing; your job's on the line; your relationship with the boss goes sour; you lose a major account; your marriage is threatened; your financial problems peak; or you're told you have just a few months to live. In the absence of such a catalytic crisis, we tend to live in numbed complacency so busy doing good, easy, or routine things that we don't even stop to ask ourselves if we're doing what really matters. The good, then, becomes the enemy of the best. (Note the deep חטא here.אין ישראל נגאלין אלא בתשובה .Geula is from evil to good-not good to best)
Humility is the mother of all virtues: the humble in spirit progress and are blessed because they willingly submit to higher powers (Can anyone name what he has done here to Shem Hashem?)and try to live in harmony with natural laws and universal principles. Courage is the father of all virtues; we need great courage to lead our lives by correct principles and to have integrity in the moment of choice. When we set up our own self-generated or socially-validated value systems and then develop our missions and goals based on what we value, we tend to become laws unto ourselves, proud and independent. Pride hopes to impress; humility seeks to bless. Just because we value a thing doesn't mean that having it will enhance our quality of life. No "quality movement" in government, business, or education will succeed unless based on "true north" principles. And yet we see leaders who cling to their current style based on self-selected values and bad habits even as their "ship" is sinking when they could be floating safely on the life raft of principles.
Nothing sinks people faster in their careers than arrogance. Arrogance shouts "I know best." In the uniform of arrogance, we fumble and falter — pride comes and goes before the fall. But dressed in humility, we make progress. As the character Indiana Jones learned in The Last Crusade, "The penitent man will pass." In pride, we often sow one thing and expect to reap another. Many of our paradigms and the processes and habits that grow out of them never produce the results we expect because they are based on illusions, advertising slogans, program-of-the-month training, and personality-based success strategies. Quality of life can't grow out of illusion. So how do we align our lives with "true north" realities that govern quality of life?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Principle of Mussar:
1:7 The fear of Hashem is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.
Fear of Hashem- realizing that as a natural entity oneself, the same Chochma guiding all natural systems is also the only basis of the quest for human success
The foolish despise wisdom and instruction- those addicted to the fantasy of human sovereignty despise the wake up call of reality. We are but a small case of entities in a creation governed by Chochma.
Wisdom and Instruction: Wisdom is seeing Causality in the Solar system / ecosystem of Earth
Instruction: seeing applications of causality to the special circumstances of human interactions (home city work waking up in the morning) so that Bechira can occur.
Mussar #1: folly of trusting human systems founded for the dreams of “stars”
1:8 My son, listen to your father’s instruction, and don’t forsake your mother’s teaching:
1:9 for they will be a garland to grace your head,and chains around your neck.
1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, don’t consent.
1:11 If they say, “Come with us, Let’s lay in wait for blood; let’s lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
1:12 let’s swallow them up alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down into the pit.
1:13 We’ll find all valuable wealth.We’ll fill our houses with spoil.
1:14 You shall cast your lot among us. We’ll all have one purse.”
1:15 My son, don’t walk in the way with them.Keep your foot from their path,
1:16 for their feet run to evil.They hurry to shed blood.
1:17 For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird:
1:18 but these lay wait for their own blood. They lurk secretly for their own lives.
1:19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain.It takes away the life of its owners.
Notice that the narrator of Mussar #1 is a parental voice. The parent is the immediate representative of Chochmat hashem as a natural force. He is the proximate instrument of Natural “form” doing the bidding of Chochmas Hashem. It is for this reason we have Kibude Av Vaem. We must ever remember that we are part of the the reproductive system. Let us zoom out and look again at the parental phenomenon. If we look at Earth we can see once again the outlines of our terrestrial home. As we zoom in we can discern a hospital. In one ward we see the maternity ward. How wonderful to see the human generations all expressing the same “form” of tzelem going back to Adam harishon and Chava. The parents and babies are locked in the beginnings of home. They see only each other, we see much more. All round the maternity ward are the other parts of the hospital. The cancer ward the psychiatric ward full of addicts and otherwise disturbed people. Overeating and lack of excersize have filled the cardiac ward. Sad families sit there,huddled around their beloved family members. "...When calamity overtakes you like a storm,when your disaster comes on like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come on you. Why were they stricken down? Why do they have diabetes or a heart condition? Did they eat the diet of Mcdonalds? Did they feast upon the banquet of “outback”? Where were the parents of this patient when they could have guided him away from the lifestyle of doom? Zooming back to the maternity ward we see these parents are ill equipped to help their children. They will be the one to feast with their children at Mcdonalds. What else is there after a long week of depressing work days implementing the greedy vision of the “stars”? What is one to do after a long day of building pyramids and towers of Bavel? The material vision has left them with no option-eat and drink for tomorrow we die!
Mussar #2: The shem hashem must be brought into society for success to be possible
1:20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street.She utters her voice in the public squares.
1:21 She calls at the head of noisy places. At the entrance of the city gates, she utters her words:
1:22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? How long will mockers delight themselves in mockery, and fools hate knowledge?
1:23 Turn at my reproof.Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you. I will make known my words to you.
1:24 Because I have called, and you have refused;I have stretched out my hand, and no one has paid attention;
1:25 but you have ignored all my counsel,and wanted none of my reproof;
1:26 I also will laugh at your disaster.I will mock when calamity overtakes you;
1:27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,when your disaster comes on like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come on you.
1:28 Then will they call on me, but I will not answer.They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me;
1:29 because they hated knowledge,and didn’t choose the fear of Hashem.
1:30 They wanted none of my counsel.They despised all my reproof.
1:31 Therefore they will eat of the fruit of their own way,and be filled with their own schemes.
1:32 For the backsliding of the simple will kill them.The careless ease of fools will destroy them.
1:33 But whoever listens to me will dwell securely,and will be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Or no perhaps there is something else – a natural “form”. “The fear of Hashem is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction”. Hashem is the source of a chochma that fashions all systems of heaven and Earth-man included. His wisdom could be the basis of a new yishuv-if we would bring his chochma into humanity via the home and, by extension, the city. The parent who views himself as a natural force is the bridge to Chochma of the Creator in all things. The Parental narrator jumps in once more with the mitzva instruments of Bechira at the ready.
2:1 My son, if you will receive my words, and store up my commandments within you;
2:2 So as to turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;
2:3 Yes, if you call out for discernment,and lift up your voice for understanding;
2:4 If you seek her as silver,and search for her as for hidden treasures:
2:5 then you will understand the fear of Hashem,and find the knowledge of God.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The "bechira" challenge of default life
I immediately realize that my actual experience of Tov is contrary to that indicated by Brayshees. As I zoom in toward My Yishuv a world of resources awaiting my design and soevereignty - my melacha- to attain reality. Indeed, in my yishuv, it is our divine right to impose our chosen name upon the resources of the world to attain eternity of fame. We wake up in the morning not to seek knowledge, but to “live life”. As I zoom in closer and closer on a typical 7 AM Monday, I see a social world whose potential needs much “tikkun”.
Sensory knowledge approach
For the people I see, waking up in the morning is an ordeal whose major focus is drinking coffee and taking a shower. I see people smacking their snooze buttons, grumbling, whining , protesting the invasion of blissful sleep. In every possible way the comfort of sleep is preserved, blankets are pulled over heads to block light, night and sleep rescued from the onslought of day and work. How easily I can identify, pop into their experience and feel it myself!
In essence "waking up" is a struggle to establish focus of nefesh on whatever ones "day" of production motion, the projecting of nefesh power to change environments that the “day” is going to be about. We resist the work part of day as long as we can, but in the end the survival urge prevails over the urge for pleasure. We rush out of bed "late" yet again. The person transitions into "schedule mode" they must rush to the mission of school or work.
But is work or school a human purpose? Is it a tov consonent with “Va-yar Elokim Ki Tov'? Obviously not. As I see the hordes of newly showered and caffeinated people march, in vast lines of traffic, to work and school, I clearly note that the “day” will be seeking nothing more than kavod- hevel ends meaningful only in a human centered world that contradicts the essential message of “Va-yar Elokim Ki Tov'. I see students exhorted to study to “get ahead” to “get into college” or “to make a name for themselves”. I see workers exhorted by their leaders to focus on the task, team project or corporate vision. The workers and students have been dreading this the entire commute. They plunge into their "work day" nonetheless, cursing out the hated talking heads, teachers managers leaders, even as they somewhat buy into their vision. Why else trudge along, doing the bidding of the task masters? After all is there anything else, any mission other than the life we already live? How easy it is to pop into their experience,feel their anger and despair. They don't realize the choice that is right in front of their noses. This vision they are stuck in make sense only if I limit myself to the zoom dreamed up by talking heads like Heryshef who believe the resources of aretz can be made into an eternal testament to their name. I can choose not to see things this way, to see them instead through the lens of Brayshees. But what is the manner to do this? How do I bring back the cosmic perspective into my morning routine, liberate myself from slavishly implementing the dream of the "stars"?
The Mitzva as a "bechira" instrument
It is from this vantage point that I approach the instruments of hashkama baboker.
1 לעולם יהא אדם ירא שמיים בסתר, ומודה על האמת, ודובר אמת בלבבו; ישכים ויאמר, ריבון כל העולמים--לא על צדקותינו אנחנו מפילים תחנונינו לפניך, כי על רחמיך הרבים. מה אנו, מה חיינו, מה חסדנו, מה צדקנו, מה מעשינו, מה נאמר לפניך, ה' אלוהינו. הלוא הגיבורים כאין לפניך, ואנשי השם כלא היו, וחכמים כבלי מדע, ונבונים כבלי השכל. כי כל מעשינו תוהו, וימי חיינו הבל לפניך; כמו שכתוב בדברי קודשך--ומותר האדם מן הבהמה אין, כי הכול הבל.
2 אבל אנחנו עמך, בני בריתך: בני אברהם--אוהבך, שנשבעת לו בהר המורייה; זרע יצחק--עקידך, שנעקד על גבי מזבחך; עדת יעקוב--בנך, בכורך, שמאהבתך שאהבת אותו ושמחתך ששמחת בו, קראת אותו ישראל וישורון.
3 לפיכך אנו חייבין להודות לך, ולשבחך ולפארך, ולרוממך וליתן הודיה ושבח לשמך. חייבין אנו לומר לפניך בכל יום, ערב ובוקר--שמע, ישראל: ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד. אשרינו, מה טוב חלקנו, מה נעים גורלנו, מה יפה מאוד ירושתנו. אשרינו, שאנו משכימין ומעריבין ואומרין--שמע, ישראל: ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד.
4 אתה הוא קודם שנברא העולם, ואתה הוא אחר שנברא העולם; אתה הוא בעולם הזה, ואתה הוא לעולם הבא; אתה הוא ראשון, ואתה הוא אחרון. קדש את שמך הגדול והקדוש, בעולמך; ובישועתך, תרים ותגביה קרננו. ברוך מקדש את שמו, ברבים.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Up to now we examined zoom as a power to manipulate representations. Where are these representations inputted from?
1) The senses provide information about the particulars of our world as they occur in real time. These are projected onto the video or audio of the nefesh screen or as feeling. In the case of the speaker this is seeing the audience, hearing their voices, feeling their emotional reaction.
2) The dimayon ("imagination" or faculty of representation) retains sensory information for higher processing. This processing is done by various tools: A) a tool of imagining external sensory things in situations they have never been. An example of this is picturing things in an audience in a hall that one has never actually seen them in doing things we have never seen them do. (If so and so were at the hall and heard the speech what would he say?) B) A tool for changing my point of view as in being in my body speaking and seeing the audience or looking down at my body considering myself performing or C) a tool for considering how it would be in someone elses shoes seeing the world as the audience or a particular person other than I would.
The “good” or end guiding zoom control
I can zoom in to Earth at various speeds depending upon what systems and subsystems I want to explore. I may want to spend time examining earth as a planet composed of continents. This is done by orbitting at the height at which I naturally focus upon the features of continents. As I guide my nefesh screen upon this focus land masses and oceans, mountain ranges great forests –identifying features of continents come into view. If I consider the wisdom needed for this cradle of life to emerge - this level of focus calls to mind the grandeur of G’s creation. Based upon this metaphor of nefesh one can also begin to understand the notion of "ahava" based upon Rambam as an experience of the nefesh screen.
When a person gains insight into these d’varim, recognizing (the entire hierarchy) of the creations, from angel and galaxy all the way to man (and his environment), and therefore sees the chochma of hashem in all the creations, he adds to his love of the makom, and his soul thirsts and his flesh yearns to love the makom baruch hu. Simultaneously, this person feels a great awe and fear resuting from his smallness and inconsequenciality.
Now I say that it is inappropriate to tour the pardes except for he who has filled his belly with bread and meat. “Bread and meat” refers to knowing the assur and mutar (ie practical principles) in that which is not first principles. Even though these principles are called davar katan... they come first educationally, since they cultivate (meyashvin) the mind and additionally are the great good by which we develop this world (yishuv aretz) and attain the world to come.
In reality, it is not a speech that is the core example that we must always refer back to. Rather it is the first two perakim of brayshees. The default image on our nefesh screen should be the first or second perek of brayshees. All limud will begin with a zooming in or out from this makom. This is well illustrated in the intro to sefer ha-higgayon.
Higgayon techniques and the problem of “shichecha”
When we reflect upon the creations of aretz along with the processes that they undergo, we observe that G has assigned man an essential place in creation- civilizing the world and promoting its well-being as an ecosystem. By performing this role, man brings into actuality an excellence of aretz's creations that had previously existed only in potential.
Our sages, of blessed memory, make this very point when they say that every part of creation stands in need of tikkun. Wheat needs grinding, lupine must be sweetened etc.…
Indeed, it is readily apparent, that natural things, left uncultivated, function incompletely. Only when man intervenes, developing the mechanisms of these natural things along a proper path, do they function completely.
By way of example, the produce of a tree, left wild, is no match in taste or beauty to that of a cultivated tree. The basic principle here is that the creator has left open a space for human accomplishment, namely, when man improves upon nature to the extent he is able. For example, a tree if left alone without cultivation, though it will bear some fruit, it will not compare in taste or beauty, to the produce of a cultivated tree. So too earth itself, if left uncultivated, neither fertilized nor plowed-either will give no produce at all or at best a pitiful one. The general principle being that the creator has left open a place for man to complete the products of nature.
This principle can be applied to the human mind as well. Intellectual apprehension, so long as it is left uncultivated, will suffer from the same kind of lack as a wild tree or field. This lack will not block the mind’s ability to understand many ideas, just as the uncultivated tree is not prevented from producing some fruit. Nonetheless the uncultivated mind’s ability will not compare to its ability after cultivation, just as the fruit of the cultivated tree will not compare to one lacking in cultivation. Therefore alongside study in the various subjects, ie the principles of things, that are the mind’s proper object and without which it cannot develop, so does the mind need to study thought itself, so that its apprehension of these principles be complete and orderly rather than confused and incomplete.
Indeed, it is with this objective in mind, that the wise of previous generations occupied themselves with ordering the processes of thought taking care to order its procedures fully. This was done by reflecting upon the exact manner of the mind’s transformation from unknowing to knowing through the use of models that are truthful or false,to ascertain ways the mind can guard itself from error when theorizing (seeking to establish causes), as well as techniques that facilitate this activity. This overall study is called melechet ha-higgayon.
Ramchal speaks to a person aware of his nefesh screen. He bids this person to mashkif, to see himself from a higher point of view (see Radak on shakaf). This means to use zoom control. Similar to the speaker the reader zooms into the personal environment perspective. He notes how swiftly he forgets the sense of ohr once he zooms into the personal space perspective. However if we pop back and forth from the higher point of view back to personal environment some of the ohr sense can be remembered. Much like an astronaut, one who views man through zoom control can never see Aretz the same again. If we zoom into our little frameworks in Aretz from the higher perspective of universe our whole sense of craft changes. We see our tendency, so long as we fail to zoom in from a larger Shamayim perspective, to view aretz as our own domain subject to our power. Clearly as Ramchal points out, once we zoom into aretz from shamayim we observe that G has assigned man an essential place in creation- civilizing the world and promoting its well-being as an ecosystem. By performing this role, man brings into actuality an excellence of aretz's creations that had previously existed only in potential.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The following is the result of some collaborative work I did with Rabbi Sacks on the phone. Rabbi Sacks said to me, "This should be viewed as the first step toward collating this years postings into a book. The objective is to create a book that would be able to initiate a reader into our method. This would free this web site to focus on applications resulting from independent learning as opposed to initiation into learning."
Table of Contents
A. Establishing a “Path”
B. First steps in discovering Kochos ha-Nefesh
C. The “Nefesh Screen” and Zoom-Control
D. Zoom-Control and The Cosmic and Social Environments
A. Establishing a “Path”
In discussion with R. Rapoport, it became clear that underlying his questions, as well as the questions of R. Maroof, there lies a deeper desire for a training system in thought. In keeping with the analogy of Alfarabi, a training system would be similar to the art of boxing in which one trains following a well worn path of practising techniques moving stage by stage from novice to expert. Obviously, one cannot demand of a new art the same stability of path one would expect from one that has had the benefit of being tested on generations of students. Nonetheless, a fundamental breakthrough can now be achieved.
B. First steps in Rediscovering Kochos ha-Nefesh
As in every art, the key to training lies not in the rote doing of technique, but rather, as Bruce Lee puts it, in understanding technique."Understanding technique” means reflecting on how techniques enhance the nefesh’s natural ability to engage the world in attaining its ends. Enhancing the nefesh’s ability obviously presupposes a clear sense of the natural abilities – ie the kochos- by which the nefesh engages the world. Therefore the heart and soul of understanding technique lies in a metaphor or mashal of the kochos ha-nefesh from which the techniques can organically emerge.
Alfarabi speaks of an organic process in which the nefesh uses its kochos to distill universal principles or well-defined “dvarim” from descriptions that first arise in sensory experience of the particulars of our world. The techniques of logic develop this natural ability of nefesh to transition from description to definition. If you recall, the central impetus for "doing words with Radak" was my realization that contrary to Alfarabi’s depiction of kochos hanefesh, my own thought was disconnected from sensory experience. In this overly formal strategy there was no natural ability to derive principles from sensory experience. Obviously, in the absence of a first intuitive mashal of the kochos ha-nefesh, no training in technique can occur. It was here that the need to rediscover kochos ha-nefesh became apparent.
After all these years, it is now time for the next generation mashal of kochos hanefesh that can accomodate the full gamut of thought operations.
C. The “Nefesh Screen” and Zoom-Control
What I propose is a mashal of a “nefesh screen” to make the experience of kochos ha-nefesh conscious and communicable. Like a computer, the nefesh screen represents information coming from a variety of sources. What makes the computer and nefesh screen so useful is their power to manipulate representations. To experience this power of manipulating representations let us start with a tool - the zoom-control. By “zoom” I mean the control of magnification (as in a camera’s zoom lense). As many of you know this is one of the most potent Sechel tools on the nefesh screen. It is best thought of as an extension of google Earth.
D. Zoom-Control and The Cosmic and Social Environments
Picture a map of the universe, rather than just Earth, that can zoom in or out.
Zoom in galaxy by galaxy as in a planetarium show.
Zoom in noticing the wonderful, precise motion reflecting gravity in all bodies of the universe.
This "noticing" is a feeling, a sense that a universal law- Malchus shamayim - is the governing principle underlying the steady orbits of all parts of the universe. It will probably require some careful slowing down of the orbits to sense their regularity and orderliness. Yet we have seen this orderliness modeled many times in museums and planatarium shows. We react to this governing principle with an ahava feeling at the “good” in the sense of lawful order and harmony underlying the Creator’s Craft in all parts of the universe. At the intergalactic, galactic and planetary “zooms” the governing principle of Malchus shamayim is natural and easy to keep in focus.
Zoom in to the solar system and see it as an ecosystem sustaining life. Note that this ecosystem itself depends upon gravity.
If gravity did not move the Meoros hagedolim, there would not be night and day on aretz. There would be no evaporation of water and no rain. There would be no heat or growth of vegetation. No seasons. There would be no atmosphere or air without gravity. All of this causal focus is natural at all levels up to the planetary level of zoom. This causal focus corresponds to the basic account of G’s craft in creating planet Earth as the cradle of life in the “big picture” framework of the first perek of brayshees. Zoom control allows us to seek ohr as in “gravity” or “ecosystem”. This “seeking”, as mentioned, is done through feeling or internal dialogue as shown by my narration (notice the steady orbits, notice the ecosystem, notice the ecosystem’s need for gravity).
The theoretical sechel considers the images as exemplars that are useful to attaining more universal truth or Emes. Einstein and Newton, as we know, purposefully used the zoom control to create scenarios useful to the theoretical sechel’s quest to discover these universal truths of emes.
Zoom in to the level of man’s yishuv.
Once we go past the planetary level to the political-yishuv-level of zoom our causal focus of malchus shamayim begins to fade. At a certain stage of zoom we are no longer able to maintain our causal focus upon Earth as a planet, a part of the universe governed by malchus shamayim. At a certain point a new governing principle of social environment will kick in that dispels the causal focus.
Zoom in to see countries, cities and neighborhoods.
Notice skylines, city centers and institutions. These social sytstems are governed not by gravity but by visions of great men and historical cultural forces. As you pass Yankee stadium, think of Babe Ruth and the power of his bat.
Zoom past the ruins of the twin towers.
Think of the struggle beween the Christian and Islamic civilization.
Zoom past aiports and think of international travel, tourism and commerce.
As you approach your home an even more personal governing principle emerges. You see things in terms of your own personal desires. This framework is decidedly proprietary- my house, my street, my friends. As we zoom in closer we come to ourselves. We can see ourselves as if from a satellite doing things. We can also enter the most personal space of all- our own bodies and see the world through our eyes and feelings as we pursue our ends. We can also enter another person’s character and imagine their feelings and the world they see. At this point our focus shifts from seeing theoretical order as in gravity, to seeing ends or a good we personally wish to attain.
Zoom in and out until you feel the point of view where the organizing principle of animal possesion or malchus Adam ends and the organizing principle of malchus shamayim begins. Is it at the city level? The continent? The planet perhaps?
If you recall, the stickman was a metaphor designed to facilitate thinking about scenarios man could be put in. The stickman could be pictured sitting, walking, loving or whatever word Radak gave. In essence, stickman was a tool limited to the zoom of personal space.
I will now show how zoom-control can be used to understand these same practical goods by rooting them in the everyday experience of giving a “speech”.
We all have experience getting ready for an important speech. We rehearse the speech beforehand. In our mind’s eye we zoom from our current actual place and transport to the hall where the speech will be. At times we take the point of view of the audience at other times we see ourselves speaking from the dais and listen carefully to ourselves. A really experienced speaker would have a whole repertoire of personalities to test his speech upon. He would “enter” their various mentalities, noting to himself how they would react. So and so would think this was illogical, so and so would feel that part is too harsh etc etc. We zoom in on people’s expressions and listen to or feel their reactions. We also zoom on ourselves. We watch ourselves listen to ourselves. We enter our own character and feel our feelings. We modify our speech to more effectively express our idea or impact the audience. This zoom ability does not end once the speech begins. We shift in and out of our bodies watching ourselves modifying our speech based on crowd reaction. In reality, this experience of zoom control is an exemplar of the kochos ha-nefesh that is experienced all the time more or less consciously.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Michael, it is interesting how our postings have intertwined. On rambamsystem I mentioned that your economic perspective needed to be modified in light of your educational perspective.
In education the wise and experienced must guide the immature and inexperienced.The key to success in education is instilling the unity of all fields of the real world under one concept of "law". The real world is governed in all instances by an overarching "law". This foundation is the basis of rationality itself. Its application must be found in every subject.
Implicit to the idea of universal law is equality of application. Each and every atom is equally subject to chemical law, all matter is subject to physics and all property owners are subject to economics.
What is unique in man is that he is potentially under the domain of two different principles of law. Which of these will be dominant is our choice. We can choose to be governed by our minds or our animal psyches. It is precisely this choice which makes "self interest"
needful of clarification. Which is the real self, the appetitive animal or the rational mind.
Education should guide the immature to realizing that the superior life is that of the mind. The psyche must be guided to functioning as a tool in the mind framework.
Part of this guidance is exemplified in coveting. The rest is covered in the other dibrot. This guidance must not be coercive,but rather motivation based.The psyche must be led to realize the new sense of self as a mind consciously subject to law. This guidance to consciousness of the sovereignty of law is the fundamental principle of education.
I will respond in blue.Michael's comment is in black
Very interesting post,
A few things...
The basis of a market economy is the fact that we covet each others assets. That is what makes the system work. That is why private property is a success while state/bureaucratically controlled lands and businesses are failures.
Merrian- Webster offers the following definitions of "covet":
transitive verb 1 : to wish for earnestly <covet an award> 2 : to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably intransitive verb : to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another
The Mitzva offers a metric for the second sense "to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably". "Inordinately or culpably" is legally prohibited at two points:
a) If one makes an actionable plan to transfer property ownership against the owners will
b) If one executes such a plan.
Torah law demands that we respect our fellow citizens right to private property as an expression of law equal in significance to ourselves. To deny property rights of another is therefore to affirm that I am myself the source of causality- not natural law. This affirmation is the basis of irrationality because it encourages purely tactical magical thinking and discourages deep thought and strategic planning.
The fact that most businesses fail is not due to the inadequacy of man's planning, but due to the tumult of the marketplace. In order to succeed in the market one must invest capital and labor into a concept that is based on one's own flawed sense of perception of the demands in the marketplace. The fact that we were able to advance this far with such an anarchic system speaks volumes of the benefits of the system.
Also, don't forget that many businesses fail after a long period of success, that is another aspect of the market (creative destruction). Ask the buggy makers how they felt after Henry Ford starting his work.
I can certainly agree that imperfect knowledge and changing conditions are also important
factors in business failure. These would of course be intimately connected to magical thinking as well. The question needs to be asked: did the business diversify in anticipation of changes in the market due to strategic factors? Did the business embrace change or vainly attempt to maintain itself in the face of change. Kuhn in the "structure of scientific revolution" points out that the irrational inflexibility is a product of thought itself not just business thought. We naturally cling to theories that appeal to us personally, magical thinking, rather than flexibly adapt to the sovereignty of natural ideas.
Now when it comes to bubbles you have to realize that bubbles form around all booming industries. The life cycle that most new industries follow are quite standard: An individual or group of individuals revolutionize the marketplace with a new innovation, they go through a period of isolation or doubt from the market until they are shown to be profitable, slowly the elite of the market jump on the train as it's leaving the station and you have a runaway success. The problem begins when it becomes so mainstream that the mainstream market believes that they too can prosper from it, what happens then is that you have huge malinvestment due to the hubris of many credit institutions that release more credit into the market than can be handled. This over investment causes huge problems which develop into a bubble and can only be fixed by a correction (most economists cannot predict when or if a bubble has formed). Then you usually see a mass wipeout of mainstream investors, and then the industry that has grown up around the new innovation settles down and becomes more stable (Tech Sector is pretty hot today).
Self interest and a dynamic free market have been the hallmark of human achievement in my view. What you (and the Ralbag) are suggesting is quite vague and similar in sound to other plans that call for economic planning in the mold of an elite or some philosophy. While I agree that this cycle is quite destructive to some parts of humanity, there really is no other system out there.
And just to make a final point, it is impossible to enlighten everyone to the point that they realize that by acting in accordance with a higher philosophy when it comes to their economic affairs is the best way to go, and we must realize that having people act in their own interest has worked thus far. Whenever we don't have self interest (brilliantly understood by the proponents of private property) we have inefficiencies in the economy that cause undue suffering to the entire population.
Aren't you describing the very process I am speaking of? The spoiled children rush into a market they dont understand with as Greenspan says "irrational exuberance". Then they burn their fingers and get experience with the failure of magical thinking. Then they learn to invest based on rational factors. All I am saying is that if Greenspans were more succesfull in their Pirkei Avot like teaching the cycles of nature could be made much less volatile. This would be done through the new educational system giving people a mature sense of their true "self interest" you were writing about in your blog- not a command economy.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This is intended as a partial response to Michael Haimson. Let me know which objections you think still stand
Intro: Dibros' need for motivation
In his intro to the Torah, Ralbag presents Torah as a divine method for success. Key to this method are the Dibros -a ten step approach to implementing the divine method in real world conditions. As Ralbag explains it, these “steps” follow a specific order-one must first liberate oneself from an opposing method for failure and then incorporate a method for success. While this explanation seems to make some intuitive sense, it also fails in an important way. The reader naturally asks himself-what exactly is the experiential basis for this approach of the Ralbag and where do we see evidence for this basis in our own lives? Surely if we were enslaved to a method for failure, the consequences should be readily apparent in our own real world experience! Only the reader who has been persuaded of the failure of his current method would ever become motivated enough to do the hard work of seeking liberation via a new method for success.
In reality this evidence is embedded in the premises of Ralbag, these merely need to be revealed. Let us begin with the first Dibrah- Lo Tachmod.
Lo Tachmod- liberation from Ego centric methods for failure
In his treatment of “Do not Covet” Ralbag identifies the root cause of failure- egocentrism. One who covets, by definition, formulates a world ordered around himself. In order to appreciate the immeasurable destructive power of such an act, we must consider the way in which success must be pursued.
Successful people, be they craftsman, professionals or whatever, succeed by virtue of planning. This commitment to planning is hard won. It is not accidental that so many businesses fail. We want to believe that our dream, beloved to ourselves is realistic, will be beloved to all and will necessarily succeed. Rarely if ever is this the case. Underlying this fantasy is a deep egotistical vision typical of a spoiled child. The spoiled child is accustomed to a world seemingly revolving around themselves. Their parents thwarted the normal emergence of respect for the power of causality and a magical sense of “planning” emerged. Since the spoiled child is accutomed to resources magically coming their way, they are insufficiently critical in their "planning". They expect a world in which desires are easily fufilled, without careful attendance to strategic causal factors.They mistake immediate gains based upon fortuitous circumstances as necessary conditions. The successful person then,is for the most part, one who has learned to forgo immature dreams in favor of well articulated plans.
At the macro level we saw this in the internet bubble.The fundamental premise of the bubble was that the internet released man from the laws of economics. The result was that the fantasy bubble burst, leaving so many businesses in bankruptcy, thousands of dreams shattered. More recently we saw this in the credit industry. Here too the false assumptions that loans could be somehow spun to poor risk borrowers, in contradiction to economic realities. The result again was that the fantasy bubble burst, leaving so many businesses in bankruptcy, thousands of dreams shattered.
It is experience of and a healthy dread for such magical thinking, the notion that one may merely dream without taking account of underlying strategic causal factors, that is the bedrock of success. The chazal crystallize this lesson into a dictum in Pirkei avot- אין בור ירא חטא- a dreamer without experience has no dread of magical thinking.
As pleasant as the tactical “benefit” coming from "coveting" may be- it comes at the expense of strategic loss. Such an act disregards much more strategic principles than the two bubbles mentioned earlier. Both the internet and banking fiascos involved disregard for market principles in specific domains-the internet and banking. The one who covets disregards a more fundamental notion- the very existence of law universal in its application to man. If one denies the reality of law, a principle equally applicable to each and every instance, in what way is rational planning possible at all? How is a mind to maintain planning if it falls prey to magical thinking in the most fundamental premise- the universal applicability of the law?
The pyrrhic victory involved in coveting then is dreadful to the experienced man. How could one not dread disconnecting oneself from the core tool in the battle against magical thinking that has been the source of all failures? It is here that we see the fundamental principle of failure underlying Lo Tachmod. To give in to coveting is to strengthen the very basis of magical thinking-the law applies only where it is useful to me personally. This principle is deeply repugnant to any practical person who has considered the root cause of failure.
The wise person is on the contrary ever vigilant to never, ever give in to magical thinking. The internet is not and cannot be a magical source of wealth outside of known market principles. The mortgage industry is not and cannot be a source of wealth outside of known banking principles.Indeed Goldman Sacks,precisely because strictly adhered to its time honored principles largely avoided the crash of the mortgage market. Warren Buffet succeeds because of legendary adherence to carefully scrutinized principles,in all times good and bad. Universality of law lies at the very core of the mind ordered to success, coveting promotes its exact opposite.
In his intro to the Torah, Ralbag presents Torah as a divine method for success. Key to this method are the Dibros -a ten step approach to implementing the divine method. As Ralbag explains it these “steps” follow a specific order-one must first liberate oneself from an opposing method for failure and then incorporate a method for success. While this approach seems to make some intuitive sense, it also fails in an important way. The reader naturally asks himself-what exactly is the experiential basis for this approach of the Ralbag and where do we see evidence for this basis in our own lives? Surely if we are currently enslaved to a method for failure, the consequences should be readily apparent in our experience! Only the reader who has been persuaded of the failure of his current method would ever consider seeking liberation via a new course for success.
In reality this evidence is embedded in the premises of Ralbag, these merely need to be revealed. Let us begin with the first Dibrah- Lo Tachmod.
Lo Tachmod- liberation from Ego centric methods for failure
In his treatment of “Do not Covet” Ralbag identifies the root cause of failure- egocentrism. One who covets, by definition, formulates a world ordered around himself. In order to appreciate the true impact of such an act,the immeasurable destructive power it has to the success on man, we must consider the way in which success must be pursued.
Successful people, be they craftsman, professionals or whatever, succeed by virtue of planning. This commitment to planning is hard won. It is not accidental that so many businesses fail. We want to believe that our dream, beloved to ourselves is realistic, will be beloved to all and will necessarily succeed. Rarely if ever is this the case. The economy is littered with vast numbers of businesses more than 90%, of businesses that fail. At the macro level we saw this in the internet bubble.The fundamental premise of the bubble was that the internet released man from the laws of economics. The result was that the fantasy bubble burst, leaving so many businesses in bankruptcy, thousands of dreams shattered. More recently we saw this in the credit industry. Here too the false assumptions that loans could be somehow spun to poor risk borrowers, in contradiction to economic realities. The result again was that the fantasy bubble burst, leaving so many businesses in bankruptcy, thousands of dreams shattered.
It is experience of and a healthy dread for such magical thinking, the notion that one may merely dream without taking account of underlying causal factors that is the bedrock of success. The chazal crystallize this lesson into a dictum in Pirkei avot- אין בור ירא חטא- a dreamer without experience has no dread of magical thinking.
To covet anothers house, wife or any other beloved possession is to plan one's own benefit in total disregard for the concept of man as a social being who gets benefits through intelligentally managing shared economic resources. As pleasant as the tactical “benefit” may be- it comes at the expense of strategic loss. The pyrhic victory is dreadful to the experienced man. How could one not dread reconnecting oneself to the dreaded magical thinking that has been the source of all failures?
Friday, June 13, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
19:3 Moses went up to God, and Yudkay called to him out of the mountain, 19:4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself. 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine; 19:6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.’ These are the statements which you shall communicate to the children of Israel.”
19:7 Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these statements that Yudkay commanded him. 19:8 All the people answered together, and said, “All that Yudkay has communicated we will do. ”Moses reported the statements of the people to Yudkay.
In the third month meaning the Rosh Chodesh (first of the month). The proof for this being [the words] "on that day". The word “month” [Chodesh] has two senses. 1)30 day period. 2) The first of the month.... This shows that the giving of the Torah was at the very earliest on the 3rd of the month... because of the preparatory time of 'ready yourselves three days'. Since they might well have been in the desert three days before this “preparatory period” it is reasonable to believe that the giving of the Torah was on the 6th. Furthermore it is preposterous to suppose that the Torah would mark the time of Exodus, the time of Passover, while not marking the time of the wondrous giving of the Torah. It is therefore clear that Shavuot is indeed the time of Matan Torah. This timing was done to serve as a memorial of the wondrous Matan Torah phenomenon to continuously maintain our belief in the veracity of the Torah system.
Matan Torah, Israel’s acquisition of its natural regimen, is the development par excellence of Mankind. Al of human history up to that point is nothing other than the maturational stages needed for Matan Torah readiness to arise in Israel. Given this, the reader might reasonably expect the story to focus on identifying this “Matan Torah readiness”. How this ultimate maturation arises is indeed the topic of later pasukim. Following encampment at Sinai Hashem speaks to Moses comparing the Jewish nations’ maturation in knowledge of Hashem to the speed of an Eagle in flight:
19:3 Moses went up to God, and Yudkay called to him out of the mountain, 19:4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.
There is however a preliminary of the timing of encampment that introduces this maturational point.
19:1 On the third month [חדש] to the children of Israel’s departure from the land of Egypt, on that day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
The preoccupation with the precise time of encampment is disturbing. The Torah is usually extremely disinterested in the precise timing of events. The focus of intellectual inquiry is on universal timeless truths underlying the essential character of things, not their particularizing details. Why would the Torah choose to go into such precise detail regarding the timing of the Jew's encampment prior to discussing th essential issue of Matan Torah readiness?
The clues in Ralbag
While Ralbag begins with a grammatical contextual analysis of the word “חדש “ he quickly shifts to underlying first principles. The significance of “חדש “ is clearly linked to “זכירה “, in the sense of “זכירת יציאת מצרים“ we spoke of earlier. Clearly there is an underlying “זכירה “ principle here that unites Pesach and Shavuot.
Furthermore it is preposterous to suppose that the Torah would mark the time of Exodus, the time of Passover, while not marking the time of the wondrous giving of the Torah.
Why indeed is it “preposterous” that the Torah would fail to mark Matan Torah? It must be that the very nature of “זכירה “ demands that if Pesach is to be remembered so too must Matan Torah. Indeed this is Ralbag’s later point:
It is therefore clear that Shavuot is indeed the time of Matan Torah. This timing was done to serve as a memorial of the wondrous Matan Torah phenomenon to continuously maintain our belief in the veracity of the Torah system.
What is this general idea of “זכירה “ that Ralbag refers to? In what way does this need for “זכירה “ link Pesach to Shavuot and explain the preoccupation of the Torah with the precise timing of Matan Torah rather than abstract timeless truths about humanity?
The need for Zechira defined
Rambam, in the introduction to Sefer Ahava explains the place of Zechira in the Mitzva system:
ספר שני. אכלול בו המצוות שהן תדירות, שנצטווינו בהם כדי לאהוב את המקום ולזוכרו תמיד--כגון קרית שמע, ותפילה, ותפילין, וברכות; ומילה בכללן, לפי שהיא אות בבשרנו להזכיר תמיד בשעה שאין שם לא תפילין ולא ציצית וכיוצא בהן. .
I will include in it all Mitzvot that are frequent, those we are commanded in order to love God and remember him continuously such as Kriat Shema, Tefilla, Tefillin Berachot including Berit Milah. This is included in order to be reminded when there is neither Tefillin nor Tzitzit etc.
This statement of Rambam is bewildering. If we have love of G, the overpowering all inclusive attraction to abstract knowledge proper to one with a clearly articulated ultimate end, why do we need zechira? Surely remembering God is only necessary for one whose ultimate end is incompletely articulated and therefore subject to distraction by other goods competing to be ones ultimate end. The very same problem is to be found in the Torah itself-in Keriat shema. There too love is intermixed with Zechira in the same baffling way.
ה וְאָהַבְתָּ, אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ, וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ. ו וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם--עַל-לְבָבֶךָ. ז וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם, בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ. ח וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת, עַל-יָדֶךָ; וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת, בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ. ט וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל-מְזֻזוֹת בֵּיתֶךָ, וּבִשְׁעָרֶיךָ.
What is this personality that is simultaneously in need of Mitzvot that facilitate Zechira (tefillin and Mezuza) alongside ones that facilitate Ahava (D'varim of Talmud Torah)?
Zechira and D'varim Ketanim
The answer is right in Keriat Shema and is further elaborated in the Yesodei Ha-torah
- וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם—עַל-לְבָבֶך. Ahava depends upon D'varim, core concepts and principles that form the lens through which we perceive Chochma in our world. It is the absolute clarity of these d'varim that allows them to be applied to all the Creations including Man. Precisely because one's D'varim allow absolute clarity about Chochmas Hashem in “all the creations including Man” that the Ohev naturally persues Chochma as his end. This clarity of d'varim makes them be upon the heart- the unified personality in pursuit of the good of Chochma. As Rambam puts it:
When a person gains insight into these d’varim (first principles), recognizing (the entire hierarchy) of the creations, from angel and galaxy all the way to man (and his environment), and therefore sees the Chochmas Hashem in all the creations, he adds to his love of the Makom, and his soul thirsts and his flesh yearns to love the Makom baruch hu. Simultaneously, this person feels a great awe and fear resulting from his smallness and inconsequentiality ...
Zechira is needed for one whose D'varim are not yet completely integrated into their hearts. Such a person may have a lot of pleasure from abstract knowledge. They may have delighted in many insights and chiddushim-yet still lack a unified methodology of thought applicable to “ the Chochmas Hashem in all the creations” . The conceptual framework of this person is inadequate to fully harmonize their personal lives with general principles. Precisely because of this such people are vulnerable to Shichecha- organizing their lifestyle around a competing good other than Chochma. It is this kind of D'varim that Rambam speaks of next:
Now I say that it is inappropriate to tour the pardes except for he who has filled his belly with bread and meat. “Bread and meat” refers to knowing the assur and mutar (i.e. the applied principles) in that which is not first principles. Even though these principles are called davar katan... they come first educationally, since they cultivate (meyashvin) the mind and additionally are the great good by which we develop this world (li-yishuv ha-olam hazeh) and attain the world to come.
The world reflected upon through D'varim ketanim
While D'varim gedolim allow the mind to reflect upon the whole of the world of Creation “Chochmas Hashem in all the creations” , D'varim Ketanim allow reflection upon a part only- the world of man - “the great good by which we develop this world”. The mission of the Mitzvot lies precisely in cultivating the immature mind to universal Chochma through beginning with the Chochma most available to us- the craft of setting up a Yishuv on Aretz. So long as its focus is upon its own development only the immature mind must be protected from lapsing into shichecha. The effect of Shichecha is a compartmentalized reality in which Man is a divinity,independently endowed with the right and power to order material resources to the world or Good of his choosing. In fantasy in we convince ourselves that our chosen notion of Good merely needs the means for realization.
ט) וְהָיְתָה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לִשְׁמָמָה וְחָרְבָּה וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְקֹוָק יַעַן אָמַר יְאֹר לִי וַאֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי
מדרש תנחומא (בובר) פרשת וארא סימן טז
פרעה עשה את עצמו אלוה, שנאמר יען אמר לי יאורי ואני עשיתי (יחזקאל כט ט), אמר אני הוא שבראתי את עצמי, מיד הודיעו שהוא בשר ודם, אמר הקב"ה בשביל שעשה את עצמו אלוה, הודיעו שהוא בשר ודם, הרי הוא יוצא לדרכו ולצורכו בבוקר, אחוז בו והודיעו שהוא בשר ודם
רד"ק יחזקאל פרק כט
לי יאורי - המשקה אותו וארצי, השובע נמצא בה ברוב השנים ואינני צריך למטר ולא לילך למדינות אחרות בעבור תבואה:
ואני עשיתיני - אני עשיתי ותקנתי לי היאור להשקות את ארצי או פי' עשיתיני עשיתי ותקנתי אותי בחכמתי ובתבונתי עד שנעשיתי מלך גדול
The Geula of time
We are now in a position to understand the Torah's focus upon time in Pesach and Shavuot. As significant as the accomplishments of Dor Hamidbar were, they did not attain a level of Dvarim Gedolim. There relationship to Chochmas Hashem the was not as it appears in the macrocosm of Creation but rather in the microcosm of Man. As such its object is identifying the emergence of the Halachic world, a world of D'varim ketanim. The subjects in this world are not all Creations, but rather mankind alone- an avoda centered world. In this world time measures not the motion and development of all things but rather the development of the Chochma centered society of Israel from ego centered society of Mitzraim. Essential to this is the establishing of a new time frame for measuring the key element of the Halachic world -motion away from Mitzraim and toward Kedushat Yisrael. This calender then contains significant dates, the points at which the Yisrael development can be measured and discerned. In so doing a year of the Jewish nation is born, a new revolutionary cycle of Mikadesh Yisrael Vi-haz'manim ,time measuring motion from Dvarim ketanim to gedolim. How does this cycle accomplish zechira?
Geula and Zechira
It is precisely the consideration of the natural framework of time of the macrocosm of Creation that gives context to our Microcosm of man. Our tendency to self worship must be continuously countered by constant re-evaluation of the human end in the context of the larger Beria. This is done by recognizing the misdirection tendency of the immature D'varim (Pesach) then renewing commitment to ordering oneself to the newly conceived true end (Shavuot). An indispensible part of remembering our tendency toward Shichecha is this reflection upon the limitation of our time frame.