1050.00 MAN OF HALACHAH AND THE UNIFIED FORMULATION (pps.160-163)
hard cover page 161
manner within clearly delineated parameters. By walking within this prescribed path, and by building upon it according to individual needs and strengths, man builds upon his own spiritual potential and constructs a spiritual edifice which transcends the cosmos. Finite man, by spiritual extension, achieves a degree of infinitude.
If man indeed has such a wide latitude of freedom and choice, why then choose a religious approach, or any approach at all? If potential for spiritual growth is one of the primary motivators of the cosmos, and if a religious commitment is a route to spiritual growth, man has sufficient motivation for choosing a religious approach to life.
The Garden of Eden is generally considered a discrete event. Man tasted of forbidden “knowledge” and was “punished.” But what if Eden is to be considered a continuing process, and what if the “punishment” came bonded with a gift? Man continues to ascend intellectually and to taste of more and more knowledge. The intellectual demands for freedom, responsibility, privacy, and selfhood continue to mature. As the Shechinah continues to contract Its real-time consciousness, negative forces have greater and greater leeway. But man’s potential is at its highest level when his freedom is greatest.
Redemption must be achieved from a base of freedom, which also implies an environment of ascendant evil. As man’s intellectual base advances, both of these criteria become more manifest. The Hasidic rebbe who consoled his flock, en route to their impending doom in a Nazi camp, by interpreting their travail as a harbinger of the coming of the Messianic age, was not necessarily out of line philosophically. For “redemption” cannot be seized from an environment of either slavery-or bliss. And out of the depths of evil, the potentialities of good can conceivably be snared.
Free man is obligated to protect his freedom and dignity.594 When man-created in the image of God-yields, however slightly, on his dignity, he also yields on the dignity of the God who created him. When man allows himself to be dragged into
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594 See Soloveitchik. “The Community,” p. 13.
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