Friday, April 24, 2009

The Danger of Philosophizing

The Bnei Yissaschar taught, “...even that which we can learn from our understanding like a kal v’chomer is still completely above our understanding. We learn the Torah with the thirteen middos because this is Hashem’s will. Not because Hashem wants us to philosophize about the Torah.”
He delivered a parable to illustrate this idea. “Once there was a hungry man who was abandoned in a lonely field, far from any town or village. There was absolutely no food except for a nearby field of wheat. This man was no fool, however. The moment he thought about his situation he realized that if he didn’t find some way to make the sheaves into bread, he would starve to death. He immediately got to work. First he cut the stalks down. Then he gathered them together. He subsequently threshed the grain out of the chaff and selected the good grains. He then ground them up, sifted them, added what liquid he could find, kneaded the dough, and baked it over a fire he built of found twigs and branches. After all this effort, he had a good meal of bread and felt very thankful for this little bit of food. He then sat down to plan his next step.
He continued, “There was also a ‘philosopher’ who was in the same position. Not interested in doing the hard work necessary to get bread out of the grains, he indulged in pondering abstractions: Why didn’t the Creator make ready-made cakes of loaves of bread? Why does this process have to be so labor intensive? By the time this man was truly hungry, he hardly had energy for the work of getting bread out of the wheat. Worse, if he fails to move quickly, he might even die since raw wheat is not edible in its natural state.
The Bnei Yissaschar concluded, “The same is true regarding Torah and mitzvos. They are beyond our ability to grasp, much as we don’t really understand why things were not created differently. Philosophizing will get us nowhere!”

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