Thursday, May 19, 2011

lishma on a communal level

"Im teilchu imi b'keri," for which the punishments of the tochacha are given, refers to the abandonment of Torah and mitzvos. The preceding wrongdoing, "Im lo tishme'u li," must be some other defect. The Netzi"v explains that the key word in the phrase is "li" -- the pasuk doesn't mean mitzvos are not being done; it means mitzvos are being done for reasons other than their being Hashem's command. But so what -- Mitoch she'lo lishma ba lishma? We accept a lack of lishma as an important stepping-stone toward eventually doing things for the right reasons. Why is it deserving of such harsh punishment here?

The Netziv answers that while on an individual level mitoch she'lo lishma ba lishma, the same is not true on a communal level. Society cannot institutionalize a b'dieved -- it has to be built on ideals.

I think this is an important principle in general, not just with respect to lishma. A yeshiva, a shul, a community organization should at least on the books have as its mission statement nothing short of excellence.


  1. Anonymous10:16 PM

    26:27 has BOTH phrases, back-to-
    back...(following the Netziv,) this
    signals the abandonment of mitzvos,
    she'lo lishma!! the community can be directly defiant, disobeying just because Hashem said X (a case of lishmah), or off-derech for other reason(s)-- this latter case seems to irk Hashem most*: the people don't even relate to Him disrespectfully (which would at least be relation, though bad), but go their own way entirely forgetful of their King, beyond rebellion, beyond disobedience: He/His word is no longer a point-of-reference at all...
    *or does the position of the
    double-phrase at the end of the
    series, at ultimate exasperation,
    explain the nth degree of wrath?
    [is the Netziv thumbs up, or down,
    in olam haba??]

  2. Anonymous12:57 AM continue(the mike* was free, so what the heck?): "[s]ociety cannot institutionalize a b'dieved
    -- it has to be built on ideals" --exactly! the very point of an Anonymous adjunct, 3/17; Shmuel 1, 8:10-18, and essentially Shmuel 1, 8:7, suggest mashiach fever is a
    "bidi'eved sidetrack" (thus we should[??!??] "return to the main program, l'chatchila:the resumption
    of prophecy under King Hashem
    alone")...2 salient, if oblique**, proofs: does a mashiach descended from Ruth, who descends from a DAUGHTER of a drunken Lot, seem a chatchila way to arrive? from Boaz descended from Peretz descended from Yehuda buying time with his DAUGHTER-in-law? ideal arrangement, ideal approach??
    apologetic midrashim aplenty aside, these unsavory quirks may be telling us something: if it takes this & that to get your mashiach, Israel, hadn't you better think twice? thrice? hadn't you better listen to Hashem, and to his navi Shmuel, and choose theocracy than monarchy?
    *mike = microphone
    **if a Torah proof be NOT oblique, then we'd better suspect it...
    ~was that too lengthy for a guest?
    (OTOH, the virtual column here is all-but-bottomless... ... ... ...)

  3. Anonymous2:55 AM

    excellence for mission statement,
    & location location location...

    tent-towns, midbar negev,
    tent-towns, b'galil;
    cisterns, midbar negev,
    cisterns, b'galil.

  4. Tal Benschar8:18 PM

    Chaim, you have unwittingly (or perhaps wittingly) touched upon what the Chazon Ish once said about Mizrachi, and by extension all of modern Orthodoxy. The problem, said the CI, is that they turn the b'dieved situation into an ideal.