Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Source Challenge

Okay, a couple of quick points:

1. [minor Heroes spoilers here] The word "effing" is overused. On this blog, we shall make use of the words a-ing, b-ing, c-ing and so forth. The next person to tell me this is the worst effing day of their life is going to get hurt. And while we're at it, someone please slap Hiro Nakamura for me. The kiss that fractured time? Are you kidding me? Sappy sentimental junk infringing upon the glorious "You'll be damned to hell"- gunshot- "I know."

2. I have a source challenge for all of you. I need sources that state that it is completely okay to be angry at God. The more the merrier and points if it's somehow halakhically oriented.

3. I once learned that God does not command emotions and therefore every expression of feeling in the Torah can be understood in halakhic (that is financial or monetary) terms. So when it says "V'ahavta eis Hashem elokecha," there is no true command to feel an emotion, but rather to serve God through the specific ways later delineated- through one's money, one's possessions and the like. So too, when it says to love the convert, this means not hurting the convert through various ways (again, clearly delineated elsewhere in terms of actions, not emotions.) Has anyone else heard of this approach and if you have, what is the source? I don't remember it and I need it.

In other news, I have recently been termed a Litvak, someone's hero and informed that I am a lower junior. Today's been peculiar.

On to attend to the drastically mounting homework!


Anonymous said...

Re #2 -- Check out Kedushat Levi (R' Levi Yitzchak mi'Berditchev (sp?)). He put Hashem to trial.

Re #3 -- I'd compare the way the Rambam presents the mitzvah of Ahavat Hashem in hilchot Deat versus Sefer Hamitzvot. Compare the language of l'ehov versus la'daat.


G said...

"The next person to tell me this is the worst effing day of their life is going to get hurt."

Seriously! Those kind of people...eff 'em!

--sorry, that was too easy :)

Sara said...

Also think about that story where the chassid watched the businessman open up his ;edgers at the end of the year and insist that Hashem cancel his spiritual debts because this relative became sick, this grandparent passes away, and this other friend's financial troubles. Anger is a natural extension of this kind of one-on-onness with Hashem.

Also the chossid who poured two drinks-- one for him and one for Hashem. I'm pretty sure he downed both.

Missing you!

daat y said...

Headquarters-'veahavta leracha kamocha'-
What is hateful unto you do not DO unto others.
The Torah in general does not legislate negative feelings -just negative actions See ex. 'lo sachmod.'See Rambam sefer hamitzvot 'lo taaseh 265' for a start.

daat y said...

Headquarters-'veahavta leracha kamocha'-
What is hateful unto you do not DO unto others.
The Torah in general does not legislate negative feelings -just negative actions See ex. 'lo sachmod.'See Rambam sefer hamitzvot 'lo taaseh 265' for a start.

Daniel said...

Iyov argues with God. God reads him the riot act, then says actually he did the right thing.

haKiruv said...

"On to attend to the drastically mounting homework!"

Must you remind us? I don't handle stress well.

David said...

Re #3: See ibn Ezra on lo tachmod.

yitz.. said...

The Shpoler Zeide also took HaShem to court for "child support" during a famine.. and won the case. (and an ease of the famine)

But, what do you really gain by saying anger at HaShem is ok?

It's like my 6 month old son refuses to look at my wife (when she gets back) after she left him for more than a couple of hours.

We can get angry at HaShem but He's still doing it for our own good. If it makes your life easier though, being mad @ him, as long as you get on with His mitzwoth & Torah, its probably fine..

yitz.. said...

Thinking it through a little bit more. The Gemara says someone who's angry is tantamount to someone worshipping avodah zara [important note: Avodah Zara is one of the only aveirot that is assur even in thought.]

Why does this jive? Because when we are angry, we are angry because of our own situation and our own understanding, essentially anger is an ego-trip. When are ego starts to swell, then we are diminishing place for HaShem in our lives. When we remove HaShem, what are we left with? Whatever it is, it's avodah zarah :)

In that sense being angry @ HaShem would seem to be ok, it's clearly not Avodah Zarah, since it's directed at HaShem..

alas we're still puffing up our ego.. which is the root of the problem.

Certainly we can turn to HaShem and demand and need things--he's our father.

Davka getting angry would seem to be a real danger of doing damage to ourselves.

Note that getting angry about the situation of others seems ok, but still part of your anger is from your weighing your judgement more strongly than HaShem's judgement.. so it's not without dangers.

I think the answer is that Anger along with Ahavah in the right instances might be acceptable.. but never JUST anger. (The Baal HaTanya explains that Sadness and Happiness can coexist in the heart simultaneously, so imho anger and love can as well---easily witnessed when you are upset with someone's actions because you love them so much..)

eem said...

It's in the Rambam mishna torah in halachos of v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha. The mitzva is to do kind actions for the person.

Daniel said...

Thinking about it, Chief Rabbi Sacks says somewhere that if we weren't allowed to get angry with God, it would be disrespectful to our own viewpoint on the world, which sees suffering without knowing the explanation. I can't remember his exact source (it may be a chiddush), and I can't look it up right now, although I think it may come from his analysis of the midrash about Avraham and the 'palace in flames' in Radical Then, Radical Now/A Letter in the Scroll.

yosef said...

R. Hayyim Angel, the best Bible teacher in YC, and arguably one of the best teachers in the whole institution, has an article in his recently published collection of essays "Through an Opaque Lens," where he discusses Sefer Iyov and Eicha in relation to this question of coping with tragedy through anger at God. I don't remember the exact title of the essay, but if you can get your hands on the book, it's worth reading.
And Chana, it's too bad R. Angel doesn't teach at Stern, because you would probably enjoy his class a lot.

Krum as a bagel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krum as a bagel said...

The Rambam certainly held that the commandment to love God calls for a particular emotion rather than a set of actions. In Hil. Yesodei HaTorah, he seems to be describe more of a "love" as constituting a yearning for the knowledge of God, rather than love in its commonly understood sense:

א האל הנכבד והנורא הזה--מצוה לאוהבו וליראה ממנו, שנאמר "ואהבת, את ה' אלוהיך" (דברים ו,ה; דברים יא,א) ונאמר "את ה' אלוהיך תירא" (דברים ו,יג; דברים י,כ). [ב] והיאך היא הדרך לאהבתו, ויראתו: בשעה שיתבונן האדם במעשיו וברואיו הנפלאים הגדולים, ויראה מהם חכמתו שאין לה ערך ולא קץ--מיד הוא אוהב ומשבח ומפאר ומתאווה תאווה גדולה לידע השם הגדול, כמו שאמר דויד "צמאה נפשי, לאלוהים--לאל חי" (תהילים מב,ג).

However, in Hil. Teshuva, he describes something more akin to romantic love:

[ג] וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה: הוא שיאהוב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתרה רבה, עזה עד מאוד, עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה', ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד--כאלו חולי האהבה, שאין דעתם פנויה מאהבת אותה אישה שהוא שוגה בה תמיד, בין בשוכבו בין בקומו, בין בשעה שהוא אוכל ושותה. יתר מזה תהיה אהבת ה' בלב אוהביו, ושוגים בה תמיד, כמו שציוונו, "בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך" (דברים ו,ה; דברים י,יב; דברים ל,ו). והוא ששלמה אומר דרך משל, "כי חולת אהבה, אני" (שיר השירים ב,ה); וכל שיר השירים משל הוא לעניין זה.

Based on the context in each quote, it could be that the primary commandment is described in the first quote, whereas the second quote is describing more of an ideal manner of fulfilling the mitzvah.

In either case, the question remains, can one love God while at the same time being angry at him? Why not? People get angry at people they love all the time. Why should God be different?

As far as sources, Rav Soloveitchik writes very eloquently of feeling distant from God in many of his writings, including The God Is Righteous in All His Ways and Out of the Whirlwind. He seems to suggest that the feeling of distance God is built into halacha in Holchos Aveilus, for example.

Moshe Y. Gluck said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Chana,

You might find this lecture series interesting. It's called "Is it Kosher to Argue with God?" It doesn't exclusively address the issue of anger per se, but rather what happens when the desires of man and God conflict. In some respects I guess that is the root of what is happening when someone feels anger at God.

To me, the ability for a person to feel anger at God is indicative of the presence of a serious and strong relationship. Even Moshe became flustered at certain points in the Torah. I'm not sure if those instances are best categorized as "anger" or as something more complex and intricate.... but I don't think there's any support in Jewish tradition for the notion that our feelings with respect to the Creator are supposed to simply be a bed of roses. Olam ha'zeh is too complex for that.