700.20 FULLER FREEDOM (pps.110-111)
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The greater the freedom component of man’s base, the greater his ultimate potential (inherent in Tree of Knowledge chosen at Eden.)436
Man is most alive when he is keenly conscious of the reality and inviolability of his own freedom, when he is aware of his power over his own destiny. He is possibly only fully alive when he is sensitized to his capacity to consecrate that freedom for ultimate ends.437 Indeed, man can truly be considered fully alive only when he has actualized the freedom inherent in the self.438
One cannot achieve one’s potential from a base of dependency.439 Greatness is not achieved while leaning on someone’s shoulder. So too, man, in his ultimate quest for potential, must finally stand completely on his own.440 Only from a state of freedom and independence can the true test of man take place.441
Freedom, for all its dangers and dark aspects, may ultimately serve a sacred purpose.442 For it is through freedom, and not in shackles, that man bursts through to the transcendent.443 The Divine created man free in order that man might develop this freedom and ultimately consecrate it.444
The inner essence of the soul . . . must have absolute inner freedom.
And Halakhic man. whose voluntaristic nature we have established earlier, is, indeed, a free man. He . . .looks forward to the kingdom of God “contracting” itself and appearing in the midst of concrete and empirical reality.
Freedom is an act of self-engagement of the spirit, a spiritual event.
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436 See Greenberg, Perspectives: Voluntary Covenant, p. 25.
437 See Merton, The New Man, p. 109. “For there is no full and total experience of God that is not at the same time an exercise of man’s fundamental freedom (of spontaneity) and of God’s mercy.”
438 See also ibid., pp. 9, 11, 12.
439 See T Y. Berachot 2: 14 (15b). “On the day the Temple was destroyed, the Messiah was born.”
440 See Tillich, The Eternal Now, p. 17. “Man] has the freedom for good or evil. Only he who has an impenetrable center in himself is free. Only he who is alone can claim to be a man. This is the greatness and this is the burden of man.”
Cf. Borowitz, Choices in Modern Jewish Thought, p. 237.
441 See Berkovits on Buber in Major Themes in Modern Philosophies of Judaism, p. 11 7. “Only in the utmost affirmation of his spiritual independence and responsibility can man commit himself in faith.” Cf. Hick, “Faith and Knowledge,” p. 517.
442 See Greenberg. Perspectives: Voluntary Covenant, p. 3. “Knowing that the Jews will permanently represent that party of final redemption, the Divine is willing to release all of humanity to exercise its freedom.”
443 See Heschel, God in Search of Man, p. 409. ‘I. . . the grand premise of religion is that man is able to surpass himself. Such ability is the essence of freedom. According to Hegel, the history of the world is nothing more than the progress of the consciousness of freedom.”
444 See Cohen, The Tremendum, p. 98. “In short, freedom within history is the continuation of creation made articulate by revelation.”
445 See Bokser, Abraham Isaac Kook, p. 215. “The inner essence of the soul, which reflects, which lives the true spiritual life, must have absolute inner freedom. It experiences its freedom, which is life, through its originality in thought, which is its inner spark that can be fanned to a flame through study and concentration. But the inner spark is that basis of imagination and thought. If the autonomous spark should not be given scope to express itself, then whatever may be acquired from the outside will be of no avail.”
446 Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, p. 137.
447 Heschel. God in Search of Man, p. 411.
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