Mi-Bnei Banav Shel Haman Limdu Torah Be-Bnei Brak (Sanhedrin 104b)

Tempting as it is, I will not connect the Gemara of the title to the current Ponevezh controversy, not comment on the irony that Chabad, Ponevezh's 'nemesis', has transformed this 'meimra' into a song.

I really have two alternative reads, one which I think might reflect what Chazal were trying to communicate, the other reflecting a more contemporary reality. I like the first one better. We'll start with the second.

The Gemara is essentially comunicating that the Torah that was being studied in Bnei Brak was Torah that was grafted onto an existing value system. It was not organic. This type of Torah is characterized by self-consciousness and bookishness, and lack of trust for one's own intuitions. While I think there's value to understanding this type of description, especially in the contemporary setting, I don't think that our Gemara can truly tolerate this interpretation.

First, some general observations:
a) As opposed to Mitzraim, Ammon, and Moav, an Amalekite convert would be completely accepted into Israel. It's strange for a tribe that's considered the arch-nemesis of Israel to be a potential convert.
b) Though it's not explicit, there's solid basis to presume that R' Akiva is the subject of the above statement. He was the descendant of converts, and taught in B'nei B'rak. There's more basis, vacamo"l.
c) As mentioned previously, R' Akiva, in Chaza"l, represents a watershed in the evolution of Toshba"p. His Torah is unrecognizable to Moshe. He's the hero of the Mishna. He's the brilliant and creative thinker who finds things in the text that had never before been entertained.

Amalek represents many things. One is the expression of human will which refuses to bow to God's will. Amalek won't let God cramp his style. He doesn't deny God; he denies God in life, God's relevance, God's authority.

There are two ways to battle this aspect of Amalek. One is by forcing him to submit. Imposing God's will and declaring it to be superior to man's will. Place the human soul in a straight-jacket. This type of battle can be fought, and even won, but Amalek will still never be destroyed.

The second way to fight Amalek is to enlist him in the service of God. That fierce independence and unconquerable will, the creative drive of humans, can produce chiddush, creativity in the field of Torah. Ultimately, this will is itself Divine; there's no real conflict between God's will and man's; it's imagined by those who only look for God 'out there', and never bother looking 'in here'. Thus, it's the heir of Haman, the defeated Amalekite, whose traits are placed in the service of Torah, and whose contribution to the endeavor of Torah is immense.

There's a machloket acharonim as to whether the obligation to become inebriated on Purim is 'ad ve-ad bichlal' or 'ad ve-lo ad bichlal' - i.e., up to, but not including, the point where the division between Mordechai's goodness and Haman's evil becomes blurred, or even including that point.
The first position reflects the first way to combat Amalek, and distinctions between us and them must be maintained. The second ackn0owledges that, beyond a certain point, beyond good and evil, all is equally a manifestation of God's will, and even Haman can be a source of good.



Far ket the shita of amalek was hakol beiday shmamim AFELOO yeira shmaim that its all mikra that is why agog raised his bound hands to shmaim that is why they cut off our mila(sign of mans ability to be G-Dlike YESOD) and threw them towards heaven

ADDeRabbi said...

Funny you should mention the AFILU yirat shamayim. There are Jewish writers and thinkers of the last century - particularly the Izhbitzer and R' Zadok, who ascribe that thinking to a true Tzadik, symbolized by Yesod.
The thinking is that when you experience the whole of the world as a pure expression of retzon Hashem, you no longer experience yourself as an independent ego, and you no longer experience bechira (and bechira is, after all, an experience).
I believe that this is the level of 'ad ve-ad bichlal'.
The danger in that is when one obliterates the categories of good and evil, of choice, while still experiencing themselves as independent creatures. There are very few who are actually holding by 'ad v'ad bichlal', but I believe that your namesake in Bayit Vegan is one of them.


The rebbe shlita in B.V. is of true polish stock and therefore not a hebbe jeebe his avoda has caused him to conflict with time not out a need to create a publicity stunt ,"there just aint enough time in the day" could very well be his motto.as for his bechira this his choice he would not tell you otherwise.contrary to the bubba masses told in Jerusalem.KEEP BLOGING MAN I LOVE YA

ADDeRabbi said...

The Izhbitzer and R' Zadok were of pure Polish stock as well. Chas Ve-shalom that I'd insinuate that the Rebbe in B.V. is doing anything as a publicity stunt (Did I?) or that he's a heebie-jeebie. Like I said, there are very few people who can move beyond the 'dichotomy' of right and wrong, good and evil, and see it all as Retzon Hashem. I also mentioned that I thought that the Rebbe was one of the few, but I defer to you who knows him better.

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I miss read people often(see my first banter on this blog took me a day see i miss read you for lakewoodesque) I was assuming(ass you me) that the comment you made regarding the Amshinover shlit'a were inflamitory .
Item 2 polish stock true polish stock in the post-kreig era is what i was making reference to, 3000000 slaugtered left many of us mildly cynical so that many of our Rabbim have responded in kind for instance the bais israel of gur Zt'l was once asked to look at a property in tele aviv gur was aquiring. he walked in to the building tapped on a beam and said it looks ok to me and left with no further ado.
YASHER KOACH more power to you


more i need more please