Category: Absolutism

2

The Troubles of Relativism

Science has proven a fundamental boon in comtemporary culture. To the extent that the word “fact” has taken on two meanings: a single true idea, and something which can be verified experimentally. Thus blurring the reality, the truth, of the non-empirical. What can’t be proven to others is presumed to be less true, or “true for him” — the one...

6

Psychology and Mussar

The story so far from the previous two entries: Contemporary western society puts its trust in science to the extent that things outside its domain are assumed to have a lesser reality. The current stance toward morality is therefore one of uncertainty, which is paraded as the virtues of tolerance and relativism. It also means that instead of lauding free...

0

Politeness and Taharah

The word “polite” comes from the Latin “politus” via the Old English “polit”, to polish. Polish is itself of the same derivation.I think this is a very telling statement about Western Culture. Politeness is about perfecting the surface. It doesn’t demand a change of the self, but putting up the appropriate front for others. This is the key to a...

8

The Butler’s Dilemma

A moral dilemma taken from the Dilbert Blog by newspaper cartoonist, Scott Adams: Let’s say you’re the butler to a billionaire who lives alone. The billionaire dies in his sleep. You know he owns a large piece of jewelry that no one else has seen, and you have access to it. If you steal the piece of jewelry, sell it,...

5

… The rest is commentary

(More material added on May 30th.) There is a famous story in the gemara (Shabbos 31a) about three prospective converts who each came to Shammai saying that they want to convert but only if he meets some absurd condition. In all three cases, Shammai turns them away, they go to Hillel, who accepts them, they convert and they drop their...

3

Rights, Duties and Covenants

אמר רבא: כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל פשעיו Rava said: Whomever is “maavir al midosav“, they [the heavenly court] passes [ma’avirin] over all his sins for him. — Shabbos 17b What is this “maavir al midosav“? As we saw earlier: The first definition will look at is provided by Rashi (ad loc). It’s one who does not...

1

Qinyan and Ba’alus

(Originally posted Mar 2007, now enlarged.) “Qinyan” is usually translated “acquisition”, and “ba’alus“, “ownership”. I would suggest that neither translation is precise. And this imprecision only leads to difficulties in understanding the law, rather than the clarity we get by analyzing the halakhah on its own terms. This is another instance of what we looked at in “The Country of Yir’ah“,...