Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:04 AM
Posted 20 March 2011 - 11:04 AM
How does one explain the Torah's endorsement of slavery to a secular Jew (that one is trying to be mekarev)who is very bothered by this in light of modern day morality. I am specifically referring to an eved kenaani, not an ivri who stole or sold himself etc...(who we have to treat very well)? Thanks!
Reconciling all of the Torah's Halachos "in light of modern day morality" is not necessarily doable, nor should we think it needs to be. Two reasons:
1) Morality is the creation of human beings, based on human instinct. Human instinct does not inform us of facts, but rather of desires. In general these desires help us survive, but it is not an exact science. If you're hit an ice patch while driving 70 MPH and go into a skid, what your instincts tell you to do is exactly the opposite of what you should do if you want to survive. Objective facts trump instinct. Morality is instincts; the Torah is facts. Instinct and fact are not always reconcilable, nor do they need to be. But in such cases - as in the case of the skidding car - the problem is not with the facts but with the instinct.
The question of reconciling the Torah with modern day morality is only a question if you do not accept that the Torah was given on Har SInai by Hashem c"v. If it would have been created by humans, they would presumably be obliged to follow a system of morals. But if you accept Torah MiSinai, then the question does not begin.
Imagine if we would not have the science that tells us that slamming on the brakes in a skid just makes it worse. Without that knowledge, if someone wanted to know what to do if they skid on an ice patch, we would tell them slam on the brakes, of course. And if someone who knows the science of the matter would advise someone not to hit the brakes, he would be accused by the uninformed person of putting the driver in danger. That works until someone kills himself. Then we will know who was right.
Same thing here. Humans who create morals are following their legitimate instincts but the Torah knows better, both in terms of what is right and wrong, as well as what is best for us. The only thing is, we will not see the carnage created by anti-Torah "morality" until the next world, when the Hester Panim is dropped.
2) You correctly wrote "modern" morality as opposed to simply "morality." Morals change. What was considered moral and proper years ago is now considered evil. What makes you think that today's morals happen to be the correct ones? Even if we would have a need to reconcile the Torah with human morals, it would be impossible for the Torah to reconcile with all morals of all societies in all ages, since they are contradictory. To require the Torah to reconcile with "today's" morals, you need to first establish that today's morals are correct as opposed to those of the past or the future, not to mention Western morals as opposed to those of other societies. And once we recognize the acceptability of different societies in different times and places creating their own code of morals, we have no reason to begrudge the Torah "society" its right to create its own moral code as well.
Posted 22 March 2011 - 03:39 PM
You claim "Morality is the creation of human beings, based on human instinct," firstly, what is instinct? Who created it?
The way I understand it is, it's a G-d given ability to recognize how to react in different situations (for lack of a better explanation). Morality which is a product of our instinct regarding "moral" issues should (in a un-biased form) be able to guide us to what's moral and what's not.
Let me try to explain my thought process:
Obviously, if one is missing facts then any decision one makes, in any capacity, would be flawed as it isn't based on the topic or idea one is making a decision on(although the individual thinks it is-he is missing some of the facts).
Also, in every society there will be many factors that influence the inhabitants in all forms of processing information based on the prevailing ideas that are prevalent and present at that time in that place. Consequently, morals of each society will reflect some of the prevailing standards and norms. However, not all of morality is based on these current ideas although one will twist his instinctive compass to reconcile with them but it is not the whole basis of one’s morality. To prove this point, Chazal say there are Mitzvos that are instinctive and then there are Chukim, which are illogical, it seems that there is such a thing as “real” instinctive morals.
I believe it is possible, albeit difficult, for one to eliminate these influences and process information with only one's natural G-d given faculties. If so, are instinctive morals correct?
Also, you write “Objective facts trump instinct.” I don’t think it’s a matter of “trumping” rather they must both be accurate for instincts to be effective.
Lastly, the Torah obviously trumps everything as there are Chukim that we must obey. However, I think its fare to ask if something is reconcilable with one’s instincts and thus can be labeled instinctive.
Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:57 PM
Regarding whether unbiased instincts (or: minds) can be reliable moral compasses, yes they can, in fact, Avraham Avinu recognized the entire Torah by instinct / reason. אסתכל באורייתא וברא עלמא. The 613 Mitzvos correspond to our 613 body parts. The Torah is ingrained in us. Rav Yaakov Emden writes that absent outside influences, a child growing up will naturally be inclined to speak Loshon HaKodesh. Yes, the Torah is what our nature follows. But everything a person sees hears and feels impacts on him and disrupts the delicate Torah instincts a person is born with. And of course, there is the Yetzer Horah that fools us into thinking right is wrong and wrong is right. Bribery blinds the eyes of the wise, and the Mesilas Yeshorim writes that the Yetzer Horah is the biggest bribery.
So if you can rise above all that, then yes, your instincts will point you in the right direction. But don't try it at home....
For example: Before the Torah was given, lending money at interest was considered a Chesed. After Matan Torah, it is considered theft. To the extent that we can decipher on our own the Ratzon HaTorah, we can decipher morals. But if you can't decipher the Ratzon Hashem on your own, you cannot be confident that your moral compass represents Hashem's will either. Would your moral compass say that loaning someone money at interest would be a chesed or a sin?
And yes, there are Mitzvos that are Mishpatim. But first, that just means that ex post facto, those Mitzvos are understandable. It does not mean the Mitzvos follow the human moral compass. For example, had the Torah prohibited capital punishment we would have said that is Mishpat. Just because we understand what the Torah tells us does not mean we would have figured it out on our own. The Gemora does say that had the Torah not been given we would have learned Mitzvos from nature, but again, that's talking about Chazal. And besides, that's reason, not instinct that we would be using.
And second, the reason why we have a moral compass is in fact because Istakel b'oraysa ubara alma. In other words, its not that the Torah says not to kill because it is morally wrong; we instinctively feel it is morally wrong because the Torah forbids it. Had the Torah said "Thou shalt kill," we would instinctively feel that killing is right. But the moral instincts we inherited because of Istakel b'oraysa ubara alma are hazy and difficult to decipher, and hence cannot be relied upon as a basis for moral judgement without the support of the Torah. After all, in nature, there is also survival of the fittest. Why should we not learn that? Clearly, learning from nature, like learning fromTosfos, requires skills, objectivity, and siyata deshmaya. Chazal would know how to “learn up” a tchol . We would be lost.
Chazal say if the Torah wasn’t given we could learn Tznius from the tchol. But even after the Torah is given, we still need Chazal to tell us what it says. What makes us think we’d be able to learn pshat in a tchol easier than we can learn Psaht in a Posuk? Both need Chazal's assistance.
And finally – and this is the biggest refutation of the secular concept of morals - even if we were to concede that there is, out there somewhere, a moral instinct that is accurate, and we were able to identify whose it is, it is a large jump to consider it a requirement to follow that instinct. Why would someone be considered more of an evil person for not following this instinct than he would for not following the instinct to scratch an itch? Morals are things that, by their very classification as morals, you “should” do. And there really is no such thing as “should.” We can say a given course of action meets our objectives; that is results in a more desirable outcome; that it serves the public’s interests. But none of those mean anything except a cost-benefit analysis, and moral requirements imply more than that. Morals are “should” statements, which means they are intrinsically mandatory. And that is absurd.
I should not kill. But why? Yes, if I do, and others take my example, society may fall apart, but that just means I or others may not like the outcome, or outgrowth, of my action. It means that my actions will result in an uncomfortable outcome. There is still no requirement that I do what results in the more pleasurable outcome if I choose not to. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it – merely unpleasant.
If I were in a desert and an old man with a gold watch happened by, why should I not kill him and take his watch? Even in terms of social ramifications, nobody will ever know that there was a murder committed in the desert. Whether I do it or not, society remains unaffected. But even if society were affected, why should I care? Logically, there is no reason. Instinct yes, but if I don’t scratch my itch, what of it? I may be uncomfortable but there’s no requirement to follow my instincts. Morals, on the other hand, are requirements. Therefore, morals must be more than instinct. Morals are "should" statements, and there is no logical way to prove a "should" statement.
Without a Torah, we are only animated meat with instincts, reason, likes and dislikes. Nothing in that package can breed intrinsically mandatory actions.
…at least not until the Torah created them. The truth is, Brias HaOlam actually included the appearance of “should” creations as well as “is” creations. Some acts of creation resulted in “is” and some acts of creation resulted in “should” – they are merely different manifestations of the Ratzon Hashem. Listen to this Shiur for details.
Posted 06 April 2011 - 09:10 AM
Posted 06 April 2011 - 10:01 AM
Ok then. First, see this post.
i think what taon is asking is: Granted we should not use a modern moral compass to determine the "fairness" of the torah's laws, & granted, that whether we understand it or not the torah is fair & just. But part of talmud torah is to try our best to fathom the reasoning & logic of the torah. So, can we explain logically, why depriving someone of their freedom is not a stira to fairness & justness. (especially in light of the fact that the torah itself tells us to have compassion due to our own experience as slaves)
With that as background, we understand that asking why Hashem allowed some people to become slaves is the same as asking why Hashem allowed some people to be poor, sick, or suffering. If a certain Canaani ends up being a slave because of the Halachah that says it is permitted, that means Hashem wanted that Canaani to be a slave. Just as some people have to work hard and make meager wages, and owners of businesses are allowed to hire them for peanuts and make them work hard, all within the permissibility of Halachah. How the fact that some people - Jews and Canaanim both - are given painful lots reconciles with fairness and justice is not limited to to the issue of Avadim. In a case where someone has an Eved it means that Hashem wanted this person to be an Eved and Hashem wanted the owner to have that Eved. All the desirable and undesirable outcomes of that are part of the Ratzon Hashem. But why is slavery more of an issue than any other instance of pain in the world? The fact that this particular pain is meted out by humans as opposed to Hashem is not an issue, as we explained in that post that I linked to.
And don't forget - as I said, all consequences of the permissibility of having Avadim are part of Hashem's Hashgacha. And that includes the Nisyonos involved with keeping the Halachos of Eved Canaani; the Hashkafa lesson that a Canaani is not in the same category as an Ivri; the Hashkafa Nisayon to realize that an Eved is not an animal, that he still feels human pain and suffers like anyone else - as well as other Nisyonos and lessons - all are part of Hashem's Hashgacha.
But the main thing to bear in mind is that Hashem allowing - or requiring, as in the case of Amalek, for example - something that seems to be unfair or unjust to someone else is no different than Hashem Himself doing something that seems unfair or unjust to someone else. We all understand that the latter case is not a problem because Hashem has plans that we are not privy to, but when it comes to the former, people have a harder time digesting it. That is because they aren't realizing that the Torah is 100% bona fide Ratzon Hashem, just instead of being given to the Malachim to carry out in this world, it is given to humans. But it is the Ratzon Hashem nonetheless, as I explained in the Amalek post.
Once we reach that point, then what the Torah commands is understood in the exact same way as what Hashem does, and what the Torah allows to certain people is understood the exact same way as what Hashem Himself decrees may be done to those people. Why He decrees different fates to different people is a different question, and the answer ot that question is the same as the answer to this one.
PS -As far as Talmud Torah is concerned, the rule is we are always enjoined to learn what the Torah says, not to fit into the Torah what we would like it to say. Same thing here. It is no Mitzvah to figure out how the Torah squares with our ideas of what seem fair and just. We fulfill Talmud Torah by understanding that fair and just is the judgement of Hashem, Who works in ways we can't even begin to fathom. The only addition to that here is the idea that what the Torah allows or commands is also included in "Hashem's judgement" for each individual who happens, by way of Hashgacha, to become subject to the Torah's commands or allowances. Once we get to that point, the question disappears.
Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:48 AM