Saturday, January 9, 2016

Guest Post by Boruch Clinton

If forced to characterize Rabbi Hirsch's overarching mission in one sentence, I will usually say it's all about learning to apply God's will to every aspect of our personal and civic lives ("to see the world through God's eyes"). That, it seems to me, was Hirsch's primary concern. And it should therefore be the main focus for his talmidim.

But once in a while, when working through his writings, I come across an entirely unexpected observation about something largely tangential to that focus. It might be the exquisitely subtle way Hirsch can reveal a unique insight into a poorly understood midrash or aggada - or into a complex halachic sugya, for that matter. Or, as it recently struck me, it might be sharp and, as far as I can tell, original evidence for some area of emunah.

Take what he wrote to Beraishis 1:20 as an example: one can see evidence for the permanence of a nefesh in the fact that our memories and personalities survive the transience of the cells and nerves that purportedly carry them. If there is no physical mechanism that can account for the perpetuation of our "selves", does that leave only nefesh? I'm no biologist and I would never draw conclusions, but might this not deserve some discussion?

And what about Hirsch's simple formulation (unfortunately, I can't remember precisely where he wrote it): how could there be laws of nature without a Lawgiver? What force compels each of the elements to behave so predictably? Why don't they randomly switch and reverse their characteristics with each other?

From my very limited perspective, it's certainly possible that there's a logical flaw in this argument, but it seems a great deal more reasonable than most of the other "proofs" for God's existence that I've seen (

Has anyone else come across similar observations? Does anyone have comments on these two examples?

Guest Post by Boruch Clinton

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful thoughts. I recall R' Avigdor Miller making a comment similar about nature, that it shows the universe is run with rules, and that this is evidence of a Creator, and shows also that our lives need rules.