Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Recent editorial to Moment Mag

(a letter CC:ed to me, sent in to Moment Magazine regarding a piece on Noachides in their October issue.)

I appreciate the recent piece on the Noachide Laws and the efforts of those who seek to abide by them. Two 20th Cent. Gedolim held *other* views on the requirements of Non-Jews to be consider righteous and of the status of Noachide; In the pre-War years, Rav Y. H. Kook (following Maimonides), posited that a Non-Jew who reasoned their way to the Laws of Noach was "truly wise of heart and full of understanding", at a high "level of holiness", and that it is not necessary to say they warrant a place in the World to Come (Igrrot HaRa'ayah, v. 1, p.100). Rav J. E. Henkin - not long after the Shoah - stated that in his opinion, the majority of Non-Jews are not to be presumed idolaters, and in fact should be considered Ger Toshav (a higher status of Noachide), regardless of a stated belief in the Divine origin of the laws - such a motivation only being necessary to live in the Land of Israel (Hardarom 10, p.8). These are only more recent examples of a more inclusive perspective in Rabbinic Literature; somewhat similar views have been expressed by R. Shimshon R. Hirsch, R. Baruch Epstein, R. Israel Lipschutz and R. Yaakov Emden among others.

I added the links. Of very fruitful interest is the addition comment from Rav Kook from Iggerot HaRa'ayah;

"However, even were we to accept the Rambam's words simply [without emendation], we will find nothing in them strange if we say that the quality of the world-to-come that the Rambam is speaking of is a particular state that the divine and special nature of our holy Torah gives to those who keep the Torah. But there are other states that can be transmitted by anything good–only, it is not called the "world-to-come." That special [state called the "world-to-come"] derives from the power of the Torah, and is appropriate for anyone who accepts it and the sanctity of its faith. But this does not in any way deny other qualities that can be imagined regarding every philosophy, each in its own way." (trans. Yaakov Dovid Shulman)

The various perspectives of the world - from atheist materialism, an 'after-life' or 'reincarnation' or whatever might emerge from a philosophy - could all be understood on their own terms as possible outcomes of lives lived in accord with their host philosophy - but they would neither amount to the state of Olam Haba, nor would they be related to it (I have considered this especially with "reincarnation" compared with gilgulim; perhaps gilgulim is an "upgrade" or souped up version of an otherwise natural phenomena known as "reincarnation"; see also certain Jewish doctrines as formulations of natural processes in Shapiro's "Maimonides' Thirteen Principles.." book). This would make sense of the world of examples of "afterlife" phenomena of Non-Jews, including post-death contact, etc...as well as the phenomena of the Charedi Jewish kiruv literature on "Olam Haba"-related issues making use of Non-Jewish accounts of "afterlife" and "reincarnation"!!!


At 11/01/2006 1:37 AM, Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

"it is not necessary to say they warrant a place in the World to Come"

if this is a translation of 'ein tzarich lomar', then it should be read as 'and it goes without saying that they warrant a place in the World to Come'
completely alters the meanins, no? let's take a look at the original.

At 11/01/2006 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...no? I think in the greater context of the whole translation that it means essentially the same thing; that they warrant a place in the world to come, and it is apparent enough that it 'goes without saying/is not necessary to say'.

At 11/01/2006 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you both for the kind attack and kind defense - but I didn't specifically didn't put any quotation marks around "not necessary to say they warrant a place in the world to come" - since that isn't what Rav Kook literally said! I only made a conceptual translation for the sake of my letter. Y. D. Shulman renders it "and *it is superfous to say that he has a place* in the world to come".
-The Author

At 11/07/2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Chaim G. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/01/2006 8:22 AM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

"it is superfluous to say" sounds more like Adderabbi's reading to me


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