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Volume 06 : Number 025

Monday, October 30 2000

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Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 20:41:21 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Fwd: Insight 5761 - 5

I thought the chevrah would enjoy the following.


5761 -- #5
Rabbi Benjamin Hecht


In psychology, the terms work and play are technically used to describe
different categories of human behaviour distinguished by the motivation
behind the action. Work represents activities undertaken in order to
receive some benefit that is not inherently tied to the activity but
rather is externally attached to the behaviour. For example, when someone
does something in order to be paid, this would be technically defined
within the realm of psychology as work. The activity is undertaken for an
external reward -- the pay cheque -- which is grafted onto the activity
from the outside. The activity itself is not inherently connected to the
pay cheque. The activity is undertaken because of an external motivation.

Play represents activities undertaken in order to receive a benefit that
is inherently tied to the activity. An example of this is the artist
who paints because he/she gains pleasure in painting and/or wishes the
enjoyment of the finished product -- the painting. The desired result is
innately tied to the activity. The behaviour is undertaken because of an
intrinsic motivation. Of course, the dividing line between work and play
is not always clear; in fact, within our modern lives more often than
not the distinction between work and play blurs. Most professionals,
for example, enjoy their vocations and act in response to an inherent
pleasure found within the behaviour of their chosen profession; yet,
they also act in consideration of payment. The distinction between work
and play still has immense validity and practical importance. From the
motivation for action, even and especially as different motivations
overlap, we can determine much about an individual.

The question from the theological realm, however, may be whether one
or the other, work or play, has greater value. Is an activity better,
from a theological perspective, when motivated by the intrinsic nature
of the activity or when motivated by an extrinsic factor? Or does it
matter? The famous statement of Antigonus Ish Socho, [1] that one should
serve G-d not in expectation of receiving a prize (reward) but rather
for the intrinsic desire of serving G-d, points to a value in an action
that is technically defined, by these criteria, as play. We should serve
G-d not because we are motivated to receive an extrinsic benefit --
i.e. reward -- but rather for the intrinsic benefit inherent in service
of G-d. Yet, the motivation to serve G-d may, in itself, be an extrinsic
attachment to a specific behaviour. In defining the chok, commandments we
do not understand, Rambam, Shemona Perakim, c.6 declares that we are not
to refrain from non-kosher food because of some intrinsic aversion but
simply because it is the Will of G-d. Essentially, Rambam is giving value
to an action because it is technically work; we are motivated because
G-d gave the action value, not because of some intrinsic motivation for
the action. With the mitzvah sichliya, the commandment we are supposed
to understand, we are to be motivated because of intrinsic reasons. It
would seem to be that that there is a time for work and a time for play.

In fact, the two famous models that describe our relationship to G-d and
Torah would seem to reflect the distinction and variant value of work
and play. If G-d is to be compared to a 'king that commands the nation',
we are effectively describing Torah observance as work. The value and
motivation is not intrinsic but rather because of the command attached
to the action. If, however, G-d is to be compared to a 'doctor that
commands the patient', we are effectively describing Torah observance
within this technical definition of play. The value and motivation is
intrinsic to the action; G-d is just informing us that there is intrinsic
value. Actually both realms co-exist; we are to perform mitzvot because
of the extrinsic command and we are also to search to understand the
intrinsic value. Work and play coincide.

In the realm of Shabbat, this co-existence is most accentuated. As
Rabbi Norman Lamm [2] points out the concept of rest on Shabbat must
be viewed in the context of leisure. It is not simply that we rest on
Shabbat, i.e. physically relax, although that is part of the day. [3]
Shabbat is a time-period that is distinguished from the demands of
everyday life. In this regard, it can be examined in the same way that
leisure is examined. Leisure time, ultimately, is not simply a time
for relaxation. It is a time removed from the responsibilities of life
when we can effectively undertake activities that truly reflect our
selves and our interests. Essentially, leisure time is when we have
the opportunity to choose activities that would be technically defined
as play. This does not necessarily mean a lack of exertion or a lack of
meaning. During leisure time, we are essentially able to pursue activities
motivated by our own intrinsic interest in the activity. Shabbat offers,
theoretically, the same opportunity. We are given the opportunity during
this time to find and be ourselves.

Yet, we are not. There are demands on this day, in the halachot of the
day and, interestingly, in the realm of limud haTorah, study of Torah. [4]
We are called upon to work in its psychological technical sense. We do act
in response to external motivation; we act not necessarily because of the
intrinsic pleasure of a behaviour but because it is the Will and demand
of G-d. Rabbi Lamm explains that on Shabbat, as in any leisure period,
there is the chance for self discovery and self expression. Yet the
demands of Shabbat also allow for self transformation. This essentially
may be the very process of growth. There must be a combination of play
and work. We must have intrinsic motivation pushing us but we must also
have extrinsic motivation pulling us.

1) Pirkei Avot 1:3.
2) See A Jewish Ethic of Leisure in Faith and Doubt, chapter 7.
3) See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 290:1.
4) See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 290:2 and Chofetz Chaim, Shem
   Olam, Sha'ar Shmirat Shabbat, c. 5. Of course, limud haTorah may also
   fit within a classification of play, in fact, may even be deemed
   to have greater value as such. The parameters of Shabbat, though,
   still imply a realm of work.

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Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 21:45:16 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Fwd: Insight 5761 - 5

You knew I wouldn't have poster R' Hecht's article without adding my own
two cents...

: In fact, the two famous models that describe our relationship to G-d and
: Torah would seem to reflect the distinction and variant value of work
: and play. If G-d is to be compared to a 'king that commands the nation',
: we are effectively describing Torah observance as work. The value and
: motivation is not intrinsic but rather because of the command attached
: to the action.

I am reminded of the Gra's distinction between mosheil and melech. A
mosheil imposes his will on the people, but a melech rules because the
people accept his rule. They realize that the melech has their best
interest at heart. A melech's orders have instrinsic value, on the
societal level -- it is his job to build an orderly and lawful society,
for the good and prosperity of the people of that society.

Explicit value implies imposed consequences, that s'char va'onesh
are not caused by the ma'aseh, but are imposed from without. However,
see the Rashi on Eichah 3:38, "From the 'Mouth' of the One Above, come
neither the evil nor the good." According to Rashi, Yirmiyahu is saying
that it's the person's act which itself brings s'char va'onesh. Rashi
also refers to two pesukim from Nitvim -- "chai gever al chata'av" and
"uvacharta bachayim".

That's not to deny the importance of an attitude of "ani avdecha
ben amasecha". However, that is derived not from an external value,
but the internal one. To maximise the impact of a mitzvah on the self,
one has to act "ka'avadim hamshamshim es harav shelo al minas likabeil
p'ras". IOW, someone who gives tzedakah out of concern for the ani does
more to develop hos own midas chessed than someone who gives the exact
same donation in the exact same way, but does so in order to develop
his middos. The latter is selfishness, not chessed.


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 01:32:49 +1000
From: SBA <sba@blaze.net.au>
lo shinu es shimam, lishonam, malbusham

> R' Riskin, at least when I knew him in the late 70s and early 80s, was a
> big believer in lo shinu es shimam, lishonam, malbusham...

Famous maamar chazal that one...
Does anyone know "vu es shtayt" (one that includes all 3)?


[Before answering see v4n430 - v4n345, or so, when we last discussed this. -mi]

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