Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Judging Others, Or Excusing Horrific Actions?

Don't look for innovation or brilliant insights in this post. And please excuse any rambling.

"הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר: אַל תָּדִין אֶת חֲבֵרְךָ עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ לִמְקוֹמוֹ." פרקי אבות ב', משנה ה

"Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins."

There are different ways of understanding this dictum in Pirkei Avot. Does it mean not to judge, because in his situation you would do the same thing? Or does it mean that until you really understand his particular situation, you do not understand his inputs? I lean more towards the latter. It is often difficult to be empathetic, and realize just what causes a person to act the way he does. Probably the intent is just to personal and situational stresses, which caused him to act wrongly, and without feeling and thus understanding those, we will simply condemn. Hashem is bochen klayot valev, but we are not able to do so. Though we can try.

This can extend to other situations, not just where the person is acting wrongly, even from his own perspective. Rather, it might well be that the person is acting internally in a morally correct fashion, but his makom is so different from ours, and his perspective on the world is so different from ours, that we do not see this possibility. His actions may be just as wrong, and we are able to see that the actions are morally reprehensible, but based on his inputs, it is not so.

There is a famous saying in Computer Science: "Garbage In, Garbage Out." You can have a perfectly fine computer program, with perfectly crafted instructions. But if you feed it garbage as input, you will end up with garbage as output. The same with people. Different people have different hashkafas and different perceptions of reality. And their moral programming can be perfectly crafted, but with a distorted perception of reality or a distorted hashkafa, this moral programming will output absolute garbage.

The obvious danger in this is that you excuse terrible and evil behavior. And that you let it pass without condemnation, and let it continue. And you become a person who excuses evil behavior. Almost any behavior can be explained away in this manner, and then ultimately nobody is responsible for his actions. This is akin to pluralism leading to moral relativism.

However, there is a truth to this. Distorted reality can lead to terrible actions, even where the person is not an "evil" person. For example, if Sam believes that everyone in his vicinity is a flesh-eating zombie, and decapitates them to protect the world, then he is a lunatic. But is he a black-hearted evil person? No. Perhaps he should be locked up so that he is not a danger to others, and he is indeed a lunatic, but the crime was not one of evil intent.

In contrast, here is another take on the matter, by a commenter Chaim, in an excerpt from some comments left on parshablog:
People who do evil things are evil, it doesn't matter that their wickedness stemmed from an idea that if true would warrant their evil deeds. Perhaps their wickedness is that they have those evil ideas or perhaps they have those evil ideas because they are wicked (I'm not sure what comes first).
I don't think the latter is likely -- that they have some mystical "wickedness" aspect to them, and therefore they get these misperceptions which guides them to evil action. In terms of the former, perhaps, or perhaps not. I do not believe it is that simple.

I do think that there is "evil" aside from the above -- garbage not in the data, but in the ethical programming. That a person knows that something is bad, that it is theft, that he is being selfish, that he is hurting another person, but he does not care. Of course, data and instructions are at some level one and the same, and the inputs into the person are what molded his personality, and thus his choices. And so this is another type of makom. Yet it is here that we talk about bechirah chofshis, where people are not mere automatons; and it is here that we might make judgments about a person's moral programming.

In AI for robotics and intelligent agents, an important distinction is made between the universe and perception of the universe. And the robot or agent can only react within its own perception.

Humans as well do not have complete knowledge of reality. We have incomplete perception, or in many cases flawed perception. But we do our best with our limited knowledge.

A mohel thinks metzitza befeh is the only way to perform the mitzvah, and thinks anyone who suggests using a tube is a heretic. He ends up infecting 20 infants. Is he evil? No, just horribly misguided, and the product of a flawed society.

A Palestinian child is falsely taught that the Israelis are infecting his family with AIDS, and is using nerve-gas against innocents. He throws a rock at the Israeli "oppressors." Within this limit view, is he evil? Or just horribly misguided?

A chareidi believes that the sexual thoughts one might have from seeing a woman wearing denim can cause the destruction of the soul, and that the woman is acting bemeizid because she is a horrible person. He throws bleach on her clothing to ruin it, and torches the store that sells MP4 players. He is horribly misguided.

A Christian missionary believes if people do not accept Yushke, they will burn in heck forever. He saves them by torturing them until they convert, and perhaps kills those who will not convert as an inducement to others. Given his skewed reality, what he is doing is a huge favor. He is saving them.

An Israeli politician believes that there is no alternative to land for peace, and thinks that this will ultimately save both Arab and Jewish lives. A show of force to create a frozen peace would have worked better, and instead he brings on waves of rockets which kill many Israelis. He was horribly wrong, but not a black-hearted evil-doer.

And so I end up excusing horrific actions.

Luckily for me, I am not Hashem. I don't need to judge them, and send them to Heaven or Hell. Perhaps my sense of fairness demands that those who put out hurt in this world be repaid in kind, but perhaps not. There is din, and there is a Dayan, and I will let Hashem sort this out.

Perhaps it is selfishness on my part, but I would rather concern myself with how *I* should react. I would like to know the optimal way to react to them, on an emotional level and intellectual level, besides on a practical level. I want to avoid misperceptions on my own part. I do not want to simplify, and just say that they are evil and that is why they are evildoers. I do not want to lie to myself and say, in an instance that it is not the case, that even were their assumptions true (e.g. avodah zarah), the proper process to follow would not include X. Is there anything I can learn from them about myself? Is there anything I can now think of to better react to them, now that I know their process and motivations?

That does not mean that I do not condemn them. Looking from outside the closed system, their actions were bad. But not only the actions were bad but they stem from ignorance, or from bad hashkafas. So not only are they bad, but their mother is overweight too! (I speak metaphorically.) What kind of society produces such misperceptions that result in such horrible behavior?

Delving into the closed system, I can also ask what about their society promotes such poor hashkafot or such ignorance.

Perhaps a recognition of such differing and flawed perceptions can help avoid kannaus. Yes, I do believe I am right. Absolutely. But others think otherwise, and are just as absolutely convinced. Maybe before I take such definitve action, I will stop and think that maybe I am not correct, but I am human and it is only my limited perception that makes it so. Or if not that, then I am absolutely correct. But that woman in the front of the bus who refuses to move to the back is not evil. She is the product of her own makom, and believes she is doing something correct and righteous. If so, then perhaps despite her assur actions, she should not be beaten up and spat upon.

The flaw with the above is that kannaim don't think like that, or they would not be kannaim. And they do not come from a society that promotes thinking like that. Nor would they be likely to engage in outreach efforts to realize that our opponents are people too. Normal people might join in Du Siach, dialogue, to understand the other position and the humanity of our opponents even as we ultimately disagree with their conclusions.

This is not a direct commentary on Rabbi Schorr, or his analysis of the situation as "avodah zarah," or his subsequent actions. One can read my previous posts for that. I care more about our own reactions than any actions done by others. There are plenty of others who already reacted to that situation. And I don't know enough about the event or the players to make a solid determination anyway. And not every Jew needs to pass judgment on every incident.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the confusion -
I am the "chaim" commenter, however, the very first "chaim" comment was from someone else.
The quote in your post is from me not from "life of Rubin".

Sorry for the confusion, I didn't notice the other "chaim" comment, and never meant to imply that I am the author of that other blog.

Thanks in advance for judging me favorably!

You can delete this comment, when you make the change in the post.

I will for now on use the nickname

joshwaxman said...

oops! Thanks.
I'll try to fix this post soon.


Anonymous said...

Hi Josh,

Thanks for taking the time to write this lengthy post. I read your post twice.

We can agree, that we should mostly concern ourselves with improving ourselves, not with who is good or bad. However, it is important at times
to reflect and to know when reading a history book or reading the news good from evil.

Our key disagreement remains - whether a person is evil if he does an action that stems from evil ideas and ideals but out of a sincere belief that he is
acting righteously.

I believe that you are not properly distinguishing between a case where the ideas and ideals are evil and the actions are also bad (but is acting out of a sincere belief that those ideas and ideals are righteous),
and a case where the ideas and ideals are fine and it is only the
actions which are bad.

In the former case, one cannot judge favorably (as he is openly admitting his evil ideas and ideals - but just thinks they are good), in the latter case
one should definetly judge favorably.

I will expand on this tonight.

Simcha (formerly Chaim)

Anonymous said...

To expand further on my previous comment: I think you missed a subtle distinction.
Let's analyze one of your examples. In your example, of a flesh-eating zombie, Reuven sincerely believes that the people who live on his block murder people every night and eat them for dinner and he killed those flesh-eaters, he (Reuven) is living up to a good idea and ideal (that a flesh eater is a mass-murder and you should get rid of mass-murderers), he only mistakenly accused them of committing this crime which they never did (but had they did it they would be deserving of death)
i.e. his actions were disasterous but he is really a good person.
However, if a person kills Ronald Reagen claiming that he is worse than human flesh-eaters that person is a murderer because his ideal and ideas say that Ronald Reagens policies are worse than flesh-eaters.

So too, if R' Schorr was walking on the sidewalk and is told that in the Jewish wedding hall a person is preaching that you should pray to yushke, then even if R' Schorr was lied to and the person was just singing ani mamin, he is right for grabbing away the mike - because his ideal is correct that one must stop a preacher of avodah zorah, however, if he is told that Lipa is singing and he thinks that Lipa is avoda zorah then although the ideal that preachers of avodah zorah should be stopped is correct however, the evil is that he is equating Lipa with a preacher of Avodah Zorah.


Anonymous said...

"I believe that you are not properly distinguishing between a case where the ideas and ideals are evil and the actions are also bad (but is acting out of a sincere belief that those ideas and ideals are righteous),
and a case where the ideas and ideals are fine and it is only the
actions which are bad."

One point on the above: However, I readily admit that it is often very difficult to distinguish between these 2 categories, and it might take much thought and wisdom to know which category a particular case falls into.
Reasonable people might disagree which category a specific case falls into, however, it is at least important to know that the 2 categories exist, and we must not always automatically say that since so-and-so meant well he is therefore still a good guy.


Anonymous said...

"Our key disagreement remains - whether a person is evil if he does an action that stems from evil ideas and ideals but out of a sincere belief that he is acting righteously."

I did not write this correctly, I should have written -

"Our key disagreement remains - whether a person is evil if he does an action that stems from evil ideas and ideals but out of a sincere belief that those ideas and ideals are righteous"

I believe such a person is evil.


joshwaxman said...

I'm pretty sure I disagree, but don't want to respond off the cuff. Perhaps in the next few days.

In the meantime, here is an interesting related post, from a related discussion, on whether kabbalists have a chelek in Olam Haba.



Anonymous said...

I read your posts on kabbalah, and the related comments.

I have some food for thought.

See the Rambam in Hilchos Mezuzah 5:6
the Rambam says that if someone writes the names of angels or etc.
in a Mezuzah he loses his cheilak in Olam Habba ("OH"). Now this simply means that no matter what, he loses his OH, even if he visits the sick, learns all day, is the best husband, nicest guy, davens with kavanah, is mdakdek in all other halachos - in other words even if he is the Vilna Gaon he loses his Olam Habba.

That means in theory, that if kabbalah is avodah zorah then even if we are talking about someone like the Vilna Gaon (who had more to him than just kabbalah), he is no good.

It seems that even if kabbalah is not avodah Zorah, as long as it causes a tremendous distortion of our religion it is the equivalent. Because notice the words of the Rambam's explanation by Hilchos Mezuzah (5:4) that they
lose their OH beacause thay have turned the mitzvah of mezuzah which is to demonstrate the oneness of Hashem and to cause us to love Him and serve Him into a Kemia. This use of mezuzah is not avodah zorah, but just a distortion of the mitzvah of mezuzah, Kal Vechomer the kabbalists who have changed so many aspects of the Jewish religion.


Anonymous said...

In addition, as you yourself pointed out, you can apply your reasoning to almost any Rasha. However, since we see that Chazal do consider Yeravam Ben Navat a Rasha we see that even though Yeravam sincerely believed with all his heart that he was correct, still he is wicked.

The reason seems to be that he truly believed that he was right only because he didn't overcome his bad middos which distorted his thinking.

For example, if someone "marries"
a beautiful woman who is really still married but he uses faulty reasoning to say that the first kiddushin was not good (i.e. it wasn't tofes). Even though he truly believes with all his heart that the first kiddushin was never "chal", however, that is is only because his thinking is distorted because he didn't overcome his bad middos i.e. his desire.

So too, a Hamas suicide bus bomber, truly believes that he is doing G-d's will, but that is because he didn't overcome his bad middos, which distorts his thinking. Do you think he is only misguided?

So if you ask, but what are Reshaim supposed to do if they believe they are doing the right thing - i.e. what does G-d want from them - the answer is they only believe that they are doing the right thing because they are enslaved to their bad middos, and bad ideals and ideas.


Anonymous said...

And we also clearly see that Jewish tradition and the Jewish people always considered that those people who have murdered Jews throughout the ages as evil, even though many of them thought that the Jews are the devil and therefore it is G-d's will to kill them.


joshwaxman said...

I would still disagree with the idea that it is a result of bad middot that people make these errors.

To cite Hanlon's razor:
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

And unfortunately, most of the world is "stupid." Including you and me. But whereas it is easy to spot the "stupidity" in others, it is not as easy to spot it in ourselves.

Many things were classically and popularly believed as tradition, but that does not mean that they are binding. (Not to mention that these would naturally be believed simply as an appropriate response from the people who are being oppressed themselves.) I don't think a Hamas suicide bomber is necessarily acting on bad middot. I think his entire worldview has been warped from childhood based on the values of society and a constant stream of false facts. Surely chinuch plays a role, both for good and bad. Otherwise, what is the point of chinuch?

In terms of Rambam, there are two points to make. First, well yes, that is Rambam, who has certain philosophical ideas about the nature of the soul and how it will "naturally" continue or else cease to exist. And secondly, even Rambam admits that some "ain lo chelek leOlam Haba"s are false, and just meant to influence people to good:

ויש עבירות קלות מאלו, ואף על פי כן אמרו חכמים שהרגיל בהן אין לו חלק לעולם הבא, כדי להתרחק מהן ולהיזהר מהן.

He admittedly does not list minus among the "fake" ones.

Chazal do speak of a different between aveiros done beshogeg vs. bemeizid, although the do say that שגגת תלמוד עולה זדון for certain cases. There is also the category of תינוק שנשבה. Although they likely would not take it as far as I am taking it here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response.
Even if the Rambam didn't literally mean that the person loses his OH - he still clearly meant that the person is not good.

I would like to tackle this from a different angle.

On of our Nisyanos in life is to have the right values, ideals, and ideas. Those are an essential makeup of who we are, and we are here to perfect ourselves.

It seems that you are focused on sincerity - however, a person is their values, ideals, and ideas - their actions only serve to solidify them, make them concrete, and show the sincerity and conviction of them. A person can only be good - if his values, ideals, and ideas are good - because that is the real him.

You wrote something to the effect that the sincere person's "only" "chisaron" is that his value system is warped - however he is his value system - that means he is completely bad.

We are here in this world to become good - to become a man of
G-d. If you have the right values, character, ideals, and ideas (and of course for jews also daven, learn, and keep halachah) then you became a man of G-d, however, if you don't have any of these, and you are just "sincere",
then your whole being has become like an animal - but a sincere animal!

Therefore, on our deathbed and throughout life we cannot pat ourselves on the back and reassure ourselves that after 120 we will be okay "because we were sincere"
sincerity is not goodness - we have to actually become good.

There would not be a concept of an evil person because almost every Rasha is "sincere".

Granted, that it is harder for a person to have the right values if he is brought up by a family that teaches him the wrong values (a Hamas family), however, his nisayon is to get the right values. In the same way, it is much harder for a man who is by nature hot-tempered to treat his wife well, than for a man who is by nature soft and calm, however, that is his nisayon.

I would like to thank-you, because our discussion helped me to better understand my own opinion! - And I think this is an important subject, so that we continue to strive to arrive at the correct values, ideas, and ideas and not just be content on being sincere.


Anonymous said...

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Is that the viewpoint of the Torah and Chazal? Were the people of Sedom just stupid? Was Menashe just stupid? Was Titus just stupid? Was Eichman just stupid? Was the murderer at Mercaz HaRav just stupid?

Do you realize how extreme your position is? Do you realize that most people would be revolted to hear such thoughts? It goes against what we have been taught for thousands of years. If you would pick the 10 people who you respect very much and tell them that the above people were just stupid, what do you think their reaction would be?

Granted you could be right and our Rabbis over the generations might have unjustly accused these stupid people of wickedness, however, at least since jewish tradition is not on your side you owe it to yourself to think this through again and again - especially since many people would consider this not only wrong, but very extreme.

I hope you realize, that even though my tone is strong, I'm a big fan of you and your blog.

Kol Tuv,


joshwaxman said...

I do not believe that you are understanding the position of Chazal entirely correctly either, such that I do not think that the view you are propounding is the view of Chazal. Nor are you understanding my position fully either, I think. It would take time I don't really have to explain it in more detail. But some random points, off the cuff:

The fact is, Chazal *do* distinguish between tinok shenishba and not, and thus someone who had opportunity to learn that something was wrong and not; and between malice and lack of malice. And they *do* defend Yeravam, at least as I interpreted them in that other post.

Not that I am saying that my position is entirely the position of Chazal either. But even if Chazal said something, it is not necessarily correct either. Do you believe in demons?

The actions are evil actions. But someone can come to wrong actions as a result of wrong upbringing. Our goal in life is not to be acting in this evil way, but to refine our character and our actions with the True good way.

When you say "Even if the Rambam didn't literally mean that the person loses his OH - he still clearly meant that the person is not good," how do you know? I mean, personally I do think that he meant it, but if he did not, then maybe he is saying it because the threat of this will guide people to the correct Truth and to what he considers the proper way of acting, namely not treating this as a kameah. It is a distinction between person and action.

Ultimately, we can say that a *culture* is so messed up that their values are one of evil, and we can look down at that culture. But then within that culture, what do we say about people working within that framework? I think this is the logical outcome of modern beliefs about nature and nurture influencing people.

And I also think that at times, there it is a positive thing to recognize certain practical actions as evil (from our own perspective, which hopefully is close to Truth), and as a result to take positive action to oppose those practically evil actions.

(And within a framework of a certain correct culture, in those aspects where it is correct, one can act in an evil manner. A culture which sets up robbery as an evil, and a robber robs, he knows this and decided to disregard it because of greed. King Menashe was raised by his righteous father. King Yeravam knew what he was doing was wrong, but according to midrash was concerned with his own honor. Is that sincerity?)

In terms of an absolute statement such as "The reason seems to be that he truly believed that he was right only because he didn't overcome his bad middos which distorted his thinking. a beautiful woman who is really still married but he uses faulty reasoning to say that the first kiddushin was not good (i.e. it wasn't tofes). Even though he truly believes with all his heart that the first kiddushin was never "chal", however, that is is only because his thinking is distorted because he didn't overcome his bad middos i.e. his desire." I think one needs to be careful about such an approach. After all, when Rambam was debating with people who believed in the corporeality of God, both Rambam and his disputants (no matter how "stupid") were tzadikim.

What do you say about the Vilna Gaon vs. the Baal Shem Tov? Either one harrassed the other unnecessarily, or the other one was founding a terribly heretical movement. Which one do you plan on labeling a rasha with poor midos? I would say neither, even though I think both were wrong? Rather I realize that there are powerful natural shaping forces at play.

As an aside, what will you say to the belief that those who did not confess Yushke as their personal savior don't go to heaven, even if they lived before Yushke, or never had the opportunity. While nonsense, it also struck me as *mean*, and as the mark of an unfair God in their conception. What then will you say to the man in the Amazon rain forest who never heard of Judaism and never will hear of it, and so believes in the various deities of the animals? But then this comes dangerously close to being מהרהר אחרי מידותיו של הקב"ה.

I think that all this is not so simple. And aside from all this, I don't think it does any good to label a misguided Jew as entirely evil with a black heart, which is the sole thing which caused his error, because (a) I don't want others, or Hashem, to judge me that way -- though see Ayn Rand's response to "judge not lest ye be judged"; and (b) because painting people as black and white and starkly evil in this way is likely untrue, and also causes extremist traits within us. Do you want to be a kannoi, just with different ideals in play? And have those on the other side think the parallel things about you, that you are a kannoi, who only promotes your (in their opinion) false conclusions because of bad character traits? In our fragmented (Orthodox) Jewish society, won't that merely lead to everyone hating everyone else?


Anonymous said...

"But someone can come to wrong actions as a result of wrong upbringing."

(1) This touches on what the Brisker Rav said that nebach an apikores is also an apikores, so too perhaps one can say that if someone nebach has an evil value system and becomes a suicide bus bomber he is in the same category as a "nebach an apikores". (probably worse - "Mi Yiten" that all suicide bus bombers would become just a plain old professor of apikorsus!!!)

(2) In addition, I once heard that the Drashos HaRan asks something to the effect that why was the Dar HaMabul punished, but the Torah and the 7 laws of Noach were not given yet, so they were never commanded not to steal etc.
He answers, that G-d gave them an intuition that it is wrong to steal etc. and they are obligated to follow it, so too perhaps they would come to the right value system if they would honestly seek it out. (The same point is made by the Gemara which constantly asks that we shouldn't need a pasuk because it is a sevara - meaning even without the pasuk we would be obligated to use our sevara and would be held accountable if we came to the wrong conclusions)

(3) Also, sometimes a bad value system is caused by lack of faith in G-d and lack of Fear of G-d.
Conservatives disagree with liberals on many issues such as:
Interrogation techniques, war on terror, Iraq war, abortion, tax cuts, regulation, bombing Iran's nuclear reactor, right to own a gun, free markets, environmental regulations, global warming, extra taxes on the rich, etc. It is not so obvious why as a general rule most liberals think one way and most conservatives another way. Why for the most part is the same person who is against abortion also for tax cuts? why is the same person who is for stronger methods of interrogation also for less governmental regulation of businesses? The common denominator of conservatives is that they are more religious, and the common denomniator of liberals is that they are less religious (in most cases)
It is fear of G-d and belief in G-d that often causes these differences of opinion - although it takes much wisdom to understand how.
For example, as a general rule socialists are less religious than capitalists, and people who's intuition tells them that tax cutting is best to stimulate the economy tend to be more religious than those who's intuition tells them that spending more is best to stimulate the economy. (I say intuition because most are not economists and are relying on their intuition).
The direction of their intuition is caused by how religious they are.

Perhaps religious people have stronger feelings about property rights and therefore are more likely to favor tax cuts.

Kol tuv,


Anonymous said...

"What do you say about the Vilna Gaon vs. the Baal Shem Tov? Either one harrassed the other unnecessarily, or the other one was founding a terribly heretical movement. Which one do you plan on labeling a rasha with poor midos?"

They are both tzadikkim.

One need not be perfect.

All great people throughout history have made mistakes, and sometime those mistakes were caused by jealousy (such as the shevatim and yosef) or other bad middos (or other reasons)- but they are still tzaddikim, you don't have to be perfect to arrive in Gan Eden - just don't become a suicide bus bomber!!

Even if you are a socialist you could eventually make it to Gan Eden (after being purified in Gehinom) - but don't expect to have the best seat! (I heard R' Avigdor miller on a tape say that socialism is evil because they don't understand that your fellow man's property is kodesh)

The Chazon Ish disagreed with Rav Kook, but it would make perfect sense to me if the Chazon Ish still thought that Rav Kook was a tzaddik.

One need not have a perfect value system, ideals, and ideas - those are things we are working on our whole life to attain - I am not there yet - and that's no big deal. We don't have to reach the top to get OH, just don't fall into the deepest depths.

Kol Tuv.


joshwaxman said...

"In addition, I once heard that the Drashos HaRan asks..."
my recollection is of seeing it inside in the introduction of the Ran, when I started this round of daf Yomi. bli neder, i'll see if I can track it down.

in terms of conservatives and religiousness, i think there is a danger there of confusing correlation with causation. perhaps the same thing causes people to maintain their religiosity (or idolatry) as causes them to take such views.


Anonymous said...

"King Yeravam knew what he was doing was wrong, but according to midrash was concerned with his own honor. Is that sincerity?"

I think the midrash means that the true reason that Yeravam did his sin was beacause of jealousy - but Yeravam was not aware of it. He thought that he was acting L'Shem Shamayim, he surely wasn't thinking "I will do my sin because I am jealous" - had you told him he was jealous, he would have sincerely and truthfully told you that it is not true. However, he was unaware that his subconscious was biased beacause of his jealousy.

In the same way, the Shevatim sold Yosef, because they were jealous - surely they weren't thinking that since they are jealous they will sell him - they were not aware of their jealousness.


joshwaxman said...

but the way the midrash plainly reads one would not assume that it is subconscious, but rather cold calculation. To cite a summary:

"In the first year of his reign, Yeravam was faced with an interesting dilemma: at each of the three festivals, (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkoth) the Jewish people would all come up to Jerusalem to share in the festival, based on the Biblical command to visit the Temple three times a year on the festivals.

Now, no one save a rightful King from the House of David could sit in the courtyard of the Temple; everyone else had to stand. This would mean that while Rechavam, the grandson of King David, would sit on a throne, Yeravam, who was from the tribe of Ephraim, would have to stand like everyone else.

Realizing that this would be a reminder that he was not the rightful King, he had golden calves (idols) placed at all the border crossings, causing the people to fall back to their idolatrous ways and prevent them from ever reaching Jerusalem at all."


Anonymous said...

"but the way the midrash plainly reads one would not assume that it is subconscious, but rather cold calculation."

I see where you are coming from,
but sometimes it seems more logical that it is referring to the subconscious.

I lean to this mehalech because I once spent a considerable amount of time reading through the writings of the Talmidim of R' Yisroel Salanter - which often speak about "negious" of the subconscious - and it seems likely that similar things happened to Yeravam and the Shevatim etc.

If the shevatim sold Yosef out of jealousy (consciously) they would no longer be good people.
It was only because it was subconscious that they can still be the "heilige" shevatim.

"The fact is, Chazal *do* distinguish between tinok shenishba and not"

I would guess that Tinok Shenishba is not applied to things that can be learned from ones own sechel (i.e. Bein Adom LeChavairo, V'halachta B'drachav, and belief & Love & Fear of G-d),
It is probably only applied to Tefillin, Succah, and Chametz, and Torah Min HaShamayim.



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