30 January 2006

Serving and Becoming Like Hashem (Avodat Hashem & Imitatio Dei)

In Modern Orthodoxy class, I realized I have been living in a way that I am trying to follow halakhah. So, what's the problem with that? I realized that a HUGE idea in the prophetic works (including the five books of Moshe) and, to some degree, in rabbinic literature is following in the ways of the Divine. Such that following halakhah should optimally be done in a fashion where one seeks to emulate the Divine and one seeks to not limit oneself to merely doing what the halakhah requires, but rather fully fulfill their being made in the Lord's צלם (image/shadow/(etc.)).
However, it seems a bit difficult only being half of that image (yeah, I'm single). While this may seem like a cute and easy copout, I really believe that it's much more difficult to realize one's full Godliness when one is only half of the Lord's image.
In any event, I suspect this will be somewhat of a struggle on my behalf between living merely according to halakhah without a sense of its purpose and trying to emulate haShem through haShem's Torah, commandments, and, of course, through halakhah.

9 comments:

tnspr569 said...

Well...why do you say half? It would seem that such quantification would make this struggle more difficult. I do understand your meaning behind the whole "amount" issue. and yes, it is easy to end up in a situation like the one you describe- but it's not uncommon (obviously). What makes this unique is the way in which you phrase it- the issue is presented in a slightly different light, and thus is (quite) thought provoking. Interesting, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Less than half, actually.

Omar R' Elazar: Kol adam sh'ain lo isha aino adam. (Yevamos 63a)

Tim Lieder said...

True. In many ways. Of course don't take it too far, as you always have to do what you have to do and you know that, but I can relate.

Oh yeah - Comic Con has a Sunday admission for $25. Wanna go?

Besides that, I'm linking to your women and Tefillan entry for http://www.livejournal.com/~weirdjews2

Drew_Kaplan said...

Anonymous,
I'm saying the exact same thing as Rabbi Elazar, זצ"ל. The continuation of his statement is a quote of Gen. 5.2: "Male and female he created them...and he called their names 'Adam'." His implication is the same as mine: A 'man' is comprised of male and female - as I'm merely a male, I'm only one out of two components of this unit. Now, according to this mathematic formulation: one part out of two, this should equal one-half. Unless I screwed up this equation, please let me know. The only way I could think of is to say that males and females are inequal - in this case, females being greater than males, and thus I would be less than half, say about 3/8 or 1/3, even.

Tim,
Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

The question is in terms of "shem adam". It's not something one can have half of.

There's actually an interesting machlokes between the Aruch L'Ner and R' Yosef Engle over whether an unmarried person is m'tameh b'ohel (since the possuk refers to an "adam"), so it's not entirely an esoteric point.

Anonymous said...

Since when are "the five books of Moses" a prophetic work?

Drew_Kaplan said...

Anonymous1,
I think if Rabbi Elazar thought it was the name in apposition to actually being a person, I think he would have said it.
Semantics aside, what's important for the point I was trying to make in my post is not that of name, but rather a more existential condition. Nevertheless, Rabbi Elazar and I both read that Genesis text to mean that one is not fully a person until they are married. (However, what this says for hermaphrodites - who are both male and female - I don't know, as the Genesis text would seem to indicate that this person is whole....)

Anonymous2,
Yes, the five books of Moshe are prophetic works. I hope it doesn't come as a surprise to you that Moses/Moshe was a prophet (unless you also don't believe Moshe wrote it, but rather a committee of scribes composed it (think of the documentary hypothesis), but I am Orthodox, and believe that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the Torah, and not J, P, D, and whomever else), but I will direct you towards Deut. 34.10, which states וְלֹא-קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמֹשֶׁה, אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ יְהוָה, פָּנִים אֶל-פָּנִים. And no prophet will ever rise again in Israel like Moshe, who had known God, face to face.

Anonymous said...

Drew, I am anonymous #2 (aka Mr. Pop-off or whatever you called me in one of your previous posts:) My question was not whether Moshe was a prophet, for I already knew he was (but thanks for the clarification anyway). My question was why you include the torah as one of the neviim. Afterall, I thought the "T" in TANACH stood for torah while the "N" stood for neviim - the prophetic works. I was always under the impression that the torah was written al pi hashem and that moshe was instructed exactly on its writing -word for word. That is much much different tahn a prophetic work. I would direct you to the famous sugya on bava batra 14b (sorry if I'm a bit off on the reference, I do not have any sources in from of me right now). I am wondering if you have a novel interpretation or whether I am missing something here.

Drew_Kaplan said...

A2,
No, I have nothing new to offer you. I wasn't placing the five books of Moshe (חומש) within the "Nevi'im" category - I didn't mean to make any semantic difference. My point was that a big part of Scripture, where Hashem's word comes through to us (no semanticnes here, I'm not being very critical about my language on this one), is that Hashem wants to impart to us that we should be like Hashem. I meant to say that it's a big ענין (topic) in Scripture (I'm not sure how big it is in rabbinic literature, though.).
I was thinking a little further on this the other day and realized (now that I've been sick a few days) that Hashem realizes that we can never be like Hashem simply for the fact that we can never be as strong as Hashem (for instance, I've got a sinus cold right now - God never gets sick), thus building on our sense of awe of Hashem (יראת ה).