Monday, September 5, 2016

Teleology, Heteronomy, and Autonomy

The title is unwieldy and pretentious. But it''s the best I can do, and I think you will agree that it actually does describe the idea in the post.

1. Betzalel. Why did Moshe reverse the order? Rav Dovid Zupnick, a peer of and almost co-founder of  a yeshiva with Rav Shlomo Volbe, suggested the following: that Hashem said R'ey, see that I have called on Betzalel. R'ey means "Verify on your own that Betzalel is uniquely fit to do this job." Don't just rely on me, Hashem, telling you that this is the fact, verify it. So Moshe reversed the order, and Betzalel immediately protested that it can't be that way, and Moshe saw that indeed this was a divinely inspired young man, and he was uniquely qualified.

2 and 3. The Brisker Rov brought in Shai LaTorah in the beginning of Devarim.
הבו לכם אנשים חכמים ונבנים וידועים לשבטיכם ואשימם בראשיכם א' י"ג
צ"ב מהו הכוונה "ידועים"' וכהאי לישנא כתיב בפרשת בהעלותך י"א ט"ז ויאמר ה' אל משה אספה לי שבעים איש מזקני ישראל אשר ידעת כי הם זקני העם ושטריו ויעוין בספרי שיהיו ידועים וברורים לפני וצ"ב מהו ברורים והנה בירושלמי קידושין פ"ד ה"ה איתא כל שתמניהו עליך לא יהיה אלא מן הברורים שבאחיך ומבואר דברורים הכוונה למיוחסים ועיין בספרי זוטא שאתה צריך לדעת אם הם מבוררים אע"פ שגלויים וידועים לפני שמבוררים הם וצ"ב יסוד הך מילתא שמשה בעצמו היה צריך לדעת אם הם מיוחסים. (מדברי מרן הגרי"ז זצ"ל)
 ונראה דהנה קיימ"ל בגמי כתובות כ"ה ע"ב דהאומר בני זה כהן הוא אינו נאמן ובעינן ע"ז עדים וזהו הכוונה אתה צריך לדעת והיינו בעדים ונראה דזהו שאמר משה שהשבטים בעצמם הם יבררו את השופטים כי מכיון שצריכים להיות מיוחסים עפ"י עדים אי אפשר הדבר אלא אם השבטים יבררו אותם כי הם מכירים כל אחד מהאנשים (מדברי מו"ר הגרמ"ד הלוי סאלאווייציק שליט"א)
The part he brings from Reb Dovid is not relevant to this discussion.

4. Rav Sternbuch in R'ey 12:5
כי אם אל המקום אשר יבחר ה' (י"ב, ה).
והנה לא אמר הכתוב איה מקום זה, ובזבחים נ"ד איתא שנסתפקו דוד ושאול ולא ידעו לנוין מקום המקדש, ולא נודע לו לדוד אלא באקראי שהוא כגורן ארנן היבוסי , ויש מפרשים ראילו היה מגלה הקב"ה המקום אשר בחר בו , לא היה ארנן היבוסי נותן המקום אלא בממון הרבה , או שהיו העכו"ם מעמידים שם ע"ז והיה נפסל מלבנות בית המקדש .
אמנם נראה שהעלמה מכוונת היה כאן , וטעמה כי הן אמת מקום המקדש הוא מכוון ומיועד להשראת השכינה , והוא המקוס אשר בחר ה' אוה למושב לו , אלא לא יוכשר להשראת שכינתו אלא כעמל חפוש ויגיעה , כי לכל המצוה לא נזכה אלא ביגיעה , וכ"ש לבית עולמים שלא יזכו כלל ישראל להשראת שכינתו אלא בעמל ויגיעה וגם מלאכת הבנין היה בעמלם ויגיעתן של ישראל ובכסף מלא , וכן היה במלאכת המשכן, וכשישראל טורחים ומתייגעים להכין לו מקום או אז משרה הקב"ה שכינתו .

Here, too, Rav Sternbuch's he'ara, not his explanation, fits the pattern.

5. When I mentioned this to R' Aaron Kahn, a man with a glatteh kop, I phrased it as "It seems that when the Ribono shel Olam tells a person that a place or a person is fit for a purpose, there is an expectation, perhaps a requirement, that the person verify that fitness on his own, and not just rely on the Ribono shel Olam, and I find that hard to understand." Aaron said that he has no explanation, but that it would explain Moshe Rabbeinu's argument with the Ribono shel Olam at the Sneh (Shemos 4:10.) Hashem said, Moshe, you are the most fit for this work, you are uniquely qualified. Moshe did not, and apparently was not expected to, say "Yes, Hashem, whatever you say." He was expected to analyse himself and compared himself with every other man in Klal Yisrael and reach the conclusion that he was the best man for the job. Considering that Moshe Rabbeinu's qualification was to a large extent his anivus, this made it almost impossible for him to reach that conclusion. Is there not Aharon? Is there not Korach?

6. It also explains, sort of, what hetter there was for Klal Yisrael to send the meraglim. The Ribono shel Olam tells you that this land is perfect for you in ruchniyus and gashmiyus, and you'll walk in and take it over, and you say "I'd like to check it out, please." So on the one hand, it explains the hava amina. But why, then, was it only allowed instead of encouraged? Perhaps because Hashem knew it would be a tough test for Klal Yisrael. Despite knowing that Eretz Yisrael was their divine destiny, which should have shepherded their thought process in that direction, they were not holding on that madreiga, so Hashem did not command them to do it.

7. This explains the Gemara in Sanhedrin 11a. A bas kol was heard saying that "someone here is fit to have Ruach HaKodesh like Moshe Rabbeinu, but his generation is not worthy." They all knew it was Hillel, or in the next Gemara, that it was Shmuel HaKattan. So why not just name him? What's this coyness? Must be, and I have no other pshat, that the Ribono shel Olam wanted them to respect Hillel, or Shmuel Hakattan, but only after being told that they were ra'ui for Ruach HaKodesh  and thinking carefully about the qualities that made them ra'ui for Ruach HaKodesh .

8. This is why Hashem didn't tell Shmuel go and annoint Yishai's son, the little one with red hair. Shmuel had to go through a process to determine who was the right one.

That's enough to demonstrate a pattern, I think. Calling this pattern teleological autonomy, that Hashem commands mankind to ponder and investigate and analyze in order to sincerely and honestly reach a specific conclusion, is correct, but doesn't explain the phenomenon.

I once heard a story about Reb Yosef Ber Soloveitchik to this effect. As I remember it, a woman came to him in Boston and said that she has a hard time davening because the siddur just doesn't say what she wants to say. He responded that she owes it to herself to study and grow in such a way that she wants to say what the siddur says.

A(n anonymous) commenter proposed a very nice thought. He said that this is a way for man to understand and appreciate Hashem's instructions. He compared it to the story with R' Shamshon Hirsch and the Alps, and the Yerushalmi in the fourth perek of Kiddushin about man's duty to experience the beauty and wonder of the world. Seeing how perfect a person or place is for their role in Hashem's work is equally wondrous and beautiful.  I like the idea.

Another seed of an approach.  Rashi in Bereishis 1:26.
 "נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם" - ענותנותו של הקב"ה למדנו מכאן לפי שהאדם הוא בדמות המלאכים ויתקנאו בו לפיכך נמלך בהן .
The  רבש"ע wanted to be משתף the Malachim in the decision. The Malachim didn't agree so quickly, either. I don't know if Hashem said "I want  to make Man, do you agree?" or "Shall we make Man?" But it is similar to our discussion.


  1. I think the title should be teleological autonomy. G-d saying "I am telling you to do this, but don't take My word for it. On this one, I want you to convince yourself first."

    Teleological heteronomy would be "lo sasuru mikol asher yagidu lekha, yamin usemol." Heteronomy is giving control to others; and presumably HQBH provides the telos for doing so.

  2. I defer to my local Oxford/University of Chicago- trained scholar of Greek, Latin, and theology, whoho tells me that the term is used correctly. Heteronomy here denoting a mode of existence governed by a gestalt of one's self and another, as opposed to exclusively autonomy/internal or exonomy/external.

      "subjection to something else; especially: a lack of moral freedom or self-determination" It's more like oneis more than subjecting oneself to da'as Torah, but I have even heard it used WRT accepting pesaq. Perhaps that's because in terms of defining the law, the sho'el lacks autonomy; even if he has the choice of whether to obey the meishiv's pesaq.

    2. Exonomy's hits seems to be about economics?

    3. I checked around in the theology and philosophy sites, and I agree that the meaning one ought to assume is as you said. I have to change it. Your suggestion is probably best.

    4. I wasn't just nit-picking about the word. (Although, as a programmer, such things are an occupational hazard for me.)

      I was emphasizing also that autonomy isn't heterenomy even as I used it. The idea wasn't to defy G-d, but to create an anti-choq -- a situation where observance depended on understanding, and raw "ana avda deQBH" obedience was not sufficient. But eventual understanding and obedience were expected.

    5. I changed it. I'd have preferred a two word title, but it can't be helped. Thank you.

  3. This reminds me of the Yerushalmi Kiddushin 4:12 and the story of Rav Hirsch and the alps.

    1. You said a lot in few words. Are you saying that the reason is in order that we appreciate the beauty and truth of Hashem's commandment? For those that are unfamiliar with the Yerushalmi, it's the one I use to justify eating gribenes.
      בי חזקיה ר' כהן בשם רב עתיד אדם ליתן דין וחשבון על כל שראת עינו ולא אכל.
      I usually understand that in the sense that all the beauty in the world was created so that we should enjoy it with the specific intent to appreciate what Hashem has provided, both the beauty and the ability to enjoy it. This converts aesthetics into dveikus, a shaar habechina experience.
      I'm going to think about your pshat. It's too good to pass judgment on it immediately. You can't trust hispailus.

    2. By the way, the next sentence in the Yerushalmi "speaks" to me. And justifies gribenes not just once in a lifetime, but at least once every season.
      רבי חזקיה ר' כהן בשם רב עתיד אדם ליתן דין וחשבון על כל שראת עינו ולא אכל. ר' לעזר חשש להדא שמועתא ומצמיח ליה פריטין ואכיל בהון מכל מילה חדא בשתא: