Wednesday, September 05, 2007

mitzvos and kabbalas ol

One more point on the Ramban I cited yesterday: Why is disbelief in the Divine origin of mitzvos, even if one is perfect in his/her observance, a more severe offence than violating mitzvos in practice? I think the answer is found in Rabeinu Yonah, Sharei Tshuvah 1:6, who quotes the same pasuk as the Ramban and also notes the Torah’s stress on “yakim…la’asos”, not just “ya’aseh”, i.e. acceptance and belief, not just performance. R' Yonah adds an analogy to explain the idea: if a slave tells his master that he is willing to obey all the master’s instructions except one, the yoke of servitude is broken and the slave’s actions are in reality obedience only to his own will. Acceptance of the Divine authorship of mitzvos is acceptance of servitute to G-d.

In other words (you Briskers will like this), mitzvah performance really consists of two components: 1) the performance of G-d’s will; 2) kabbalas ol – the demonstration that one is subservient to G-d’s will. Even if one performs mitzvos, if that performance is undertaken as an expression of one’s own desires and sense of right and wrong (I cited in the past opinions who hold that even mitzvos sichliyos should be performed because of G-d’s command and not simply because they are reasonable), one’s religious persona is lacking. Ana avda d’KB”H! An eved can make mistakes in carrying out service and at times disobey, but nonetheless remains an eved. One who refuses to accept the yoke of avdus is in a different category entirely.


  1. Anonymous2:58 PM

    This post EXCATLY disproves your last post. The whole reasoning behind Rabeinyu Yonah, as shown by the moshol of the eved, is prikas ol, i.e. where the eved says to the master 'No, I won't do it'. However if the eved simply cannot bring himself to believe that the master exists, and the master is indeed invisible, then that's an entirely different situation.

  2. Please tell me you are kidding... ain lecha pritzus ol gedolah m'zu than to not even acknowledge the existance of a master! I can just imagine trying this at work - sorry I was late boss, but I deluded myself into thinking you don't exist so it's not really my fault.
    "Ana avda d'KB"H" is something to strive to attain, not something to avoid by pretending G-d doesn't exist.

  3. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Your comment above was laughable. It shows you still don't have the slightest havanah of what the real issues are here. Your conception of God is as some petty tyrant, who will send non believers to hell. It's pathetic. Can't you get it into your tiny little brainwshed mind THAT SOME PEOPLE GENUINELY AND HONESTYLY AND YES EVEN FAITHFULLY JUST DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD AND/OR TMS, and that a Kel Rachum Vechanun (assuming He exists) would NOT EVER punish such a person???? Can you not even comprehend that?????

  4. If you type in caps do you find your declarations more believable? Whether G-d holds accountable an apikores who unintenionally (ones) finds himself holding such views is a debate in achronim (R' Chaim Brisker nd others speak about it). I guess you prophetically know who G-d chooses to punish or not, but since lo bashamayim hi I'll defer to R' Chaim's analysis of the Rishonim's positions.
    I wonder - if you keep typing in caps over and over WOULD A KEL RACHUM REALLY PUNISH SOMEONE WHO LOVES MCDONALDS AND CAN'T HELP EATING THERE can we all go out for burgers? Just curious...

  5. Anonymous4:33 PM

    No CAPS denotes shouting. And your analogy is still off. We're not talking about choice here. You canm't force yourself to believe. And someone who doesn't believe but still forces himself to keep all halachah should davkah be counted as a tzadik, not a rosho.

  6. I want to make a small point if I may. A person can perform mitzvot and believe the commandments are required irrespective of his will or wishes without believing in a full blown TMS or other ikrim.Here we have servitude and kabalas ol of sorts but something less than a full catechism.I imagine Orthoprax people as feeling great responsibility to tradition and the ways of their fathers.

    And again, how would you characterize someone who thinks God is not simple, but has a mythic , anthropomorphic view of the deity...views that appear in many places in Tenach ,Talmud and especially in the Zohar.Such a person might very well violate some ikrim and seems something of an idolater but is certainly central to our traditions. Here there is kabalas ol but depending on how Maimonidean you are the ol is not correctly conceptualized.

    The question of emuna is far from black and white and is quite complex as you most certainly realize.

  7. >>>I imagine Orthoprax people as feeling great responsibility to tradition and the ways of their fathers.

    But is that the same as feeling responsibility to G-d?

    Agreed, emunah is complex and not a yes/no either/or. There are many madreigos.

  8. Anonymous6:18 PM

    > But is that the same as feeling responsibility to G-d?

    What on earth makes you think that this is so pious? You were brainwashed as a child, you are too cowardly to let your mind ponder the truth, and you think this is the pinnacle of virtue? You think this is the highest madreigah of emunah? Your gaavoh is amazing. Perhaps an agnostic who struggles is a million times higher madreigah than you.

  9. I once asked Rabbi Weinberg ztz'l of Ner Israel this question: how can a kofer be punished? He told me that he had a copy of Kasuto's Torat Hate'udot, in which Kasuto brilliantly unearthed the recurring hidden underlying theme in Chumash about Middah keneged middah. Then Kasuto says, the brilliance evident in the Torah, both on a superficial level and upon painstaking and deep analysis, would justify the belief in Torah min Hashamayim if not for the impossiblity of such a thing.

    Rabbi Weinberg's point was that of Chaim B.: that we know the truth but fight against admitting it. It is tautologically evident that xgh won't agree. Without the denial, how could one maintain the delusion?

  10. Dovid8:33 AM

    "views that appear in many places in Tenach ,Talmud and especially in the Zohar."

    Wrong. See this article:

  11. dovid...what can I say...I contradicted an explicit posting from Aish.I must be as you put it "Wrong".

    I'll say it again recognizing my limitations in knowledge and understanding. There are hundreds of places in tenach and maybe a few thousand in the Talmud and midrashim and almost the ENTIRE Zohar that violates in one way or another one of the Rambam's strictures against anthropomorphism, corporeality or non-simplicity of Hashem. These allusions, ranging from Isaiah entering heaven to find God talking with his council to battles with the Leviathan and Behemoth and Yamm in Psalms to discussions of midath hadin fighting with midas harachamim within the Godhead all must be read as kaviyachol, though in most instances it is far from clear what the non mythic reading would be. The Rambam addressed only a few of these cases in the Moreh leaving most of the difficult cases untouched. In addition there is a heychalot literature that is correctly attributed to Rabbi Yishmael and has been reprinted a few times that discusses literally the dimensions of God, his height and size.

    If you are in doubt about the quantity of references, a fair and IMHO balanced summary can be found in M. Fishbane's book on Rabbinical Mythmaking.

    And finally it has been a while and I am sure Chaim B. will correct me since my memory is poor....isn't there a famous Raavid somewhere beginning with the phrase gedolim vetovim meemenu disagreeing with Maimonides on the issue of corporeality. When there are such disagreements in the original sources it is far from obvious what one is supposed to believe we say eilu ve-eilu or do we say we paskan like the Rambam or the Zohar?

    If one takes a na├»ve realist view on such questions…God is this way or that and one must get the concept right…it is not inconceivable that a religious person can have the wrong conception of God and address his prayers to an idol, a result that I find quite disturbing.

  12. You're not wrong because a website says so. You're wrong because the website demonstrates that you are reading Tanach differently than Judaism does. If you said the Torah contradicts Halacha because it says "eye for an eye" you would be equally wrong. Just read the article. It's short. And it mentions the Raavid you are referring to.

  13. "you are reading Tanach differently than Judaism does" - as opposed to just the Rambam