Friday, May 18, 2007

The Foundation on which Judaism resides

After celebrating Yom Haatsmaout and Yom Yerushalaim in Montreal, I realize that there is a big need to review the foundations of our Jewish Thought (which are hard to access in Chuts Laaretz) in order to be able to properly understand how we are to relate to the different aspects of our Judaism. The Ramchal, in the introduction to his book Derekh Hashem, says that in order to really understand Judaism, one must take time to learn the general ideas which come out of Judaism and not limit his study to the details of Jewish Law and gemara. Jewish Law only makes sense when it is understood in the context of Judaism and therefore, to truly understand Judaism, we need to take time to study this “Jewish Context”.

In order to truly understand the basic foundation of Judaism, there are 3 concepts which we need to properly define. These 3 words are: Prat, Tsibbour and Klal.

The Prat can be translated as the Individual. The Tsibbour can be translated as a group of individuals. ie: When many individuals come together, they create a Tsibbour.

Then, there is another concept called Klal. Unfortunately, many of the problems of our generations stem from the fact that people confuse Klal and Tsibbour. The concept of Klal is extremely hard to explain. The Klal is not a group of individuals. The Klal is not dependant on the individuals. The klal is an over-arching idea which includes all the individuals without depending on them. The klal has a message.

The Goal of Am Israel is to take the Tsibbour of individual Jews and to turn it into a Klal.

One of my friends gave me an amazing Mashal (metaphore) once. It is like a nice painting. When you look at a painting, there is an image which comes out. This image is the klal. Each brush stroke is a prat, an individual. All the brush strokes together on the canvas is called the tsibbour. If each brush stroke gives out the right color in the right place, then the right image will come out: The tsibbour will be a klal. If any individual does something wrong, it will hurt the representation given by tsibbour on the canvas but the image will still be pure, the image is always pure. It will just not be well represented on this canvas.

In other words, while the klal is not dependant on the prat, the prat represents the klal.

When we understand this, we can start to understand Judaism. When we understand that the goal of Judaism is on a national level, and that the individual actions of people are just a means to this national representation of “Klal Israel” (which is brought through individual mitsvot), we understand on of the most fundamental ideas of Judaism.

Klal Israel is a very special Klal whose message is to bring out Godliness in this world. Therefore, when we do mitsvot, we are helping the tsibbur turn into klal since out individual actions help the group of individual (tsibbur) turn into its higher nature (klal). When we look at it that way, wearing tfillin becomes a nationalist action! This is why kabbalists, before doing a mitsvah, say "leshem yichud" in which they say they come to do this mitsvah "in the name of all of Israel". This mitsvah is for the nation, it is a nationalistic action. It is turning the tsibbur into a klal. Through this, we can also start seeing that Judaism is not like all other religions. In other religions, the goal is individual growth towards a God. It is the individual going from down to up. In Judaism, the goal is for the nation to represent the Godly idea which comes from up to down. Our job as individual is not to leave our nature and hurt our bodies in order to go in a spiritual realm. Rather, it is to make space for the Godly message to come down on a national level. That is why all rabbis have always called out against self inflicted flagellation and all sorts of mechanisms to “Get out” of this spiritual world. Rather, our goal is to make space for Godliness to rest within our nation.

This reality changes a lot of important things in Judaism. For example, when a person has the choice between going to the army or learning torah, if the goal of Judaism was to make the prat (individual) higher, then Judaism would say to stay and learn torah and not care about the army. However, “Bemilchemet Mitsvah Hakol Yotsim”, the rambam clearly states that everyone needs to go out to war when it is for Erets Israel (and other cases called Mihemet Mitsvah). Why? Because our national success is more important then our individual spiritual growth. Our main goal is national success and individual spiritual growth is just a means to an end. Am Israel is first a nation, and the religious component is just a way of expressing the deep nature of Am Israel.

Every morning we say in bircat hatorah, the blessing on our “religious text”: “Asher Bachar Banu Mikol Haamim Venatan Lanu Et Torato”. We bless the one who made us a nation and only after did he give us the torah. First we are a nation, only after do we express our nature through religious means.
Need more proof?
What did God promises Avraham?
“Veescha Legoy Gadol” – And I will make you into a powerful NATION!
He did not say a religion, he said a nation.
Unfortunately, during the years of galut, our situation as a nation was unnatural. The Maharal mentions 3 things which were unnatural for a nation: (1) we were under the control of other nations, (2) we were outside of our land and (3) we were dispersed among the nations. All 3 of these things were the tragedies of galut (even the Jews of New York who are not victims of anti-semitism are victims of these horrible tragedies). Therefore, our big light of Jewish Nationalism was dimmed and we started acting as a religion like all other religions. (One obvious reason for this is also because if we kept being nationalists, no other nation would have hosted us in exile. As a religion, other nations could be more tolerant.) Unfortunately, we slowly started believing ourselves that we are a religion rather then a nation. Galut changed Judaism into a religion like all others. The Big Light of Jewish Nationalism was turned into a small candle of Jewish Religion. Today, thanks to the State of Israel, Judaism is slowly finding its true nature once more. Unfortunately, people have become so used to perceiving Judaism as a religion that they look at any attempt to bringing back Jewish Nationalism as changing Judaism. Truthfully, Jewish Nationalism is AUTHENTIC Judaism. Jewish Religion which doesn't include a nationalist aspeci is the one which is entranched in the influences of the other nations. It is the job of our generation to let the big light of Jewish Nationalism, authentic judaism, come out once more in order for this big light to help bring the complete redemption, bimhera beyamenu. more...

2 comments:

muse said...

interesting post
amazing pictures

I mentioned your blog on the latest KCC.
http://me-ander.blogspot.com/2007/05/kcc-18.html

muse said...

interesting post
amazing pictures

I mentioned your blog on the latest KCC.
http://me-ander.blogspot.com/2007/05/kcc-18.html