Thursday, February 5, 2015

TIDE from TuM

"…the religious person is given not only a duty to follow the halakha but also a value and vision. The person performing the duty seeks to realize this ideal or vision. Kant felt that the duty of consciousness expresses only a "must" without a value. He demanded a routine form of compliance, an "ought" without aiming at a value. As a soldier carries out his duty to the commanding officer, one may appreciate his service or just obey through discipline and orders. Kant's ethics are a "formal ethics", the goal is not important.   For us it would be impossible to behave this way. An intelligent person must find comfort, warmth, and a sense of fulfillment in the law. We deal with ethical values, not ethical formalisms. A sense of pleasure must be gained by fulfilling a norm. The ethical act must have an end and purpose. We must become holy."  Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Mesorat HaRav Siddur, p. 112-3

We see here also perhaps the limitation of German thought, ie gentile German, and how a German Jew is not a German.

Nevertheless, I know a number of Jews who approach religion like Kant. They talk of duties, derived technically, but fail to give the religion a flavor. They resort to threats of hell because it's all they have. It's like a corporate boss who says he doesn't care if you enjoy your work. You will obey because you need a job.

Rav Hirsch's approach is so different from this. He works tirelessly to show the flavor of mitzvos and Jewish life. For those who say he was influenced by Kant or German culture - read Hirsch in light of this wonderful comment from R' Soloveitchik.

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