Sunday, January 6, 2013

A ma'amor summary


First, I changed my mind on moving to Tumblr.

Second, here is a ma'amor summary I wrote on Facebook:

Alter Rebbe says that people nowadays (meaning 18th/19th century — but this is true also today) think that the philosophers of old were fools. It is the philosophers of today that were able to develop wonderful new technological advances (the Alter Rebbe gives examples of cannons and air balloons) that are the geniuses.

In reality, he says, it's the opposite. People of old were geniuses, but they dealt with inyonim ruchniim — spiritual matters, or abstract concepts. The reason was that it was important to mekadesh (to make holy) the world from top to bottom. That is why the wise of the nations dealt with the abstract concepts, so that Yidden could mekadesh those concepts through their service.

Nowadays, the time has come to mekadesh the gashmius, the lowest aspects of the physical matter. This is why around the time of 17th-19th centuries, there was a revolution both in Chassidus (the ideas in Judaism that explain how dealing with physical things for the purpose of holiness creates "dira b'tachtoinim", Dwelling in the Lower Worlds for G-d) and in material sciences (natural sciences, medicine, economics, etc.) that allowed for more of the physical matter to be in use by the humans, more efficiently, and with greater benefit for the humanity. And economics is very important for this, because it allows literally the whole world to participate in creation of a single pencil.

Now this pencil (or an iPhone or an airplane) can be used for humanity's benefit and for avoidas Hashem. Through study of Chassidus, we are able to elevate the sparks even in the lowest aspects of the matter. Through study of natural sciences, we are able to make those aspects of the matter accessible for elevation. Furthermore, study of the world itself, combined with Chassidus, allows us to understand the greatness of G-d to a higher degree.


in the vanguard said...

I didn't understand. The concept "dira b'tachtoinim" is something taken from midrash - which was around longer than chassidus.

Anarchist Chossid said...

Well, can you understand what it says in the midrash? Chassidus took existing concepts and explained/emphasized them.

Anarchist Chossid said...

I.e., basically, that's like saying that we used fire long before the internal combustion engine was invented.

in the vanguard said...

I think we have a failure in communication.

Anarchist Chossid said...

ok. so, what was your question?

in the vanguard said...

My question is: The Midrash is the source for the phrase "dirah betachtonim". That Midrash preceded Chassidus and the Alter Rebbe. So what did "dira betachtonim" mean before Chassidus made it a central issue?

While you're at it, why the adjective anarchist?

Anarchist Chossid said...

I am not sure; would have to look up the Midrash. But it might be it meant the same thing, overall, as Chassidus: that Hashem wants to establish presence ("dwelling") in this world (or in neshamos Yisroel) through our performance of mitzvos.

Chassidus explains what that means in detail. It shows the anatomy and physiology of the process. And then builds a (possibly) unique approach to avoida around that concept.

Anarchist: because that's what I am. Not in the sense "I hate rules" or "I throw bombs into store windows" (although I do wear a beard), but "I don't think we should have a coercive territorial monopoly over law and order, because it is neither very good from economic point of view nor very moral". In short, I think the government (a centralized-monopoly one) is both immoral by definition (since it uses coercion to achieve its goals) and is practically very bad at what it is attempting to do (down to its basic functions, like law and order) comparing to what competing voluntarily subscribable service providers ("free market") would achieve.

in the vanguard said...

Anarchist, I happen to agree with your economic scope, only hell will freeze over before anything close to that will happen here or anywhere. America, in particular, looks like it is in a tailspin into Communism. Anyhow, the Redemption will soon be revealed to all and in that case you might have to settle for a theocracy.

Anarchist Chossid said...

Well, one can be a pessimistic anarchist. Point is: this is a goal, a benchmark against which I measure any existing policy or social relationship. For instance, when I pass by a cop, I don't look at him as glorious protector of my rights, but as a thug working for the regime. When I hear of someone breaking the law, I shrug and ask: whose rights did he violate? (I mean, if he did, he did.)

As to Redemption, I don't know what the legal structure will look like. It's true that key questions of religious significance will be paskened centrally. But what about local customs? What about service providers: will the government regulate banking (or any other) industry? Will it be in charge of creating money? I assume there will be money, because we will still have scarce resources which we will need to exchange.

Anyway, I am not against a centralized government of tzaddikim and nevi'im. I am against a centralized government of humans, since they are neither.