Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chareidi logic - take 3

Consider the following statements:
1. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of Torah study to their lives.
Not too many people would disagree with that one, for obvious reasons.
2. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of the value of life .
Again, not much disagreement.
But, we have now run into trouble. If it comes to saving a life or studying Torah, the halacha is clear: saving a life wins. Pikuach nefesh is doche everything. So how can we affirm the centrality of Torah study AND also affirm the value of human life?
I hope it is clear that this is a klutz kashe. We can affirm the centrality of both because they are simultaneously of greatest importance viz. a viz. all the many other competing values and interests that are peripheral to our lives. There can always be extreme cases where the values we hold most dear come into conflict, forcing a painful choice, but that does not negate their relative supreme importance over all else.
So when someone tries to argue that the two statements:
1. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of the State of Israel to their values.
2. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of Torah study to their lives.
are mutually exclusive because when a conflict between State and Torah arises, one must choose Torah over State, I don't buy it at all. How is it different than the example I have offered above?


  1. Anonymous12:24 AM

    Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of the State of Israel to their values.
    A false Premise leads to false conclusion
    "State" is central only to its own super corrupt goverment (My grandparents lived there years without the "State"

  2. Anonymous2:52 AM

    The difference is as follows: the centrality of the value of life is a value which is derived from the Torah, the same source of the value of Torah study. That's what makes it a central value in Judaism. In order to say that the State of Israel is an equally central value (question: what does it mean for the State of Israel to be a "value"?) you'd have to show that you derive that value from the Torah.

  3. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Talk about a logical fallacy! You assume the truth of your second premise which is FAR from universal. Life is a value as far as the Torah says it is - in many cases that's at te expense of another mitzva. That doesn't mean that it trumps halacha, however, since that IS the halacha which is demanding it be prioritized over another mitzva at that moment. Further, there are cases where life does NOT take precedence (AZ, GA & SD).

    Enough with the ridiculous polemics already.

  4. Of course, establishing a government is necessary even to fulfill the bare minimum of the command of Dinim that applies even to bnei noach (is there any modern nation that exists without a government to run its State?), but beyond that, one of the Taryag mitzvos is not just to live in Eretz Yisrael, but to create a system of government there - malchus. The Netziv in his peirush al haTorah extends this to cover any system of government where appointing a king is not feasible. The Rambam codifies the restoration of Jewish autonomy under the Chashmonai Kings as part of the reason we celebrate Chanukah. Do you think the Torah ideal is living in a land in a state of anarchy with no government control? Whether the government as it exists now meets the stanard of Torah government in an ideal sense is irrelevant to affirming that the ideal is to realize an autonomous Jewish State in the Land.
    Precisely because the wording of the Jerusalem Proposal is a vague, there is room for everyone to accept it on some level. Take a minimalist position. Any Israeli government, with all its faults, is better than either lawless anarchy or the rule of aku"m, whoever it may be. If you think the government does not support the chareidi lifestyle to the extent it should, just ask yourself if any other secular non-Jewish government would be better. Would a non-Jewish government allow for a religious affiars (marriage, divorce, etc.) to be completely controlled undemocratically by a religious elite? Would there be more institutions of Torah if the State as a Jewish government did not exist? These are hopefully rhetorical questions.

  5. Anonymous3:20 PM

    I could not resist posting this story (given the time of year) which perhpas illustrates the range of opinion among some charedis.

    The Satmar Rebbe was in Israel to vist the Gerrer Rebbe. In walking thru Mei Shearim, the Satmar Rebbe saw MANY leaflets and posting advertising the Agudah's slate and exhorting people to vote Agudah. He grabbed one and showed it the Gerrer Rebbe asking
    "Since when is voting so important? Has it become a Mitzvah like eating Matzah?"
    The Gerrer Rebbe sighed and said, "No not like matzah more like Marror"

    Chag Kasher v'sameach

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