Monday, May 16, 2016

insularity cannot be vindicated as authentic Judaism

"There are religiously committed Jews who are indifferent to
the concerns of the larger non-Jewish society. They are content
to reside in isolated communities with unconcern, if not actual
disdain, for the Gentile world and for the problems which afflict
humanity. This introversion can be explained as a reaction to
the centuries-old derision and persecution which have been the
Jewish historical experience and to which they were subjected
with particular ferocity in modern times. Nowadays, there are
particular aspects of moral perversion afflicting the general
society which are repellant to Jewish sensibilities. Nevertheless,
this insularity cannot be vindicated as authentic Judaism even if
it can be understood and justified in particular historical periods
and situations."

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Man of Faith in the Modern World, p. 73.

cannot be acquired in a state of melancholia

"It was the practice in Kovno and Slobodka to spend the twilight hour when the Sabbath was drawing to a close in an atmosphere suffused with sadness and grief, an atmosphere in which man loses his spiritual shield, his sense of power, confidence, and strength and becomes utterly sensitive and  responsive, and then begins to engage in a monologue about death and, the nihility of this world, its emptiness and ugliness. The halakhic men of Brisk and Volozhin sensed that this whole mood posed a profound contradiction to the halakhah and would undermine its very foundations. Halakhic man fears nothing. For he swims in the sea of Talmud, that life-giving sea to all the living. If a person has sinned, then the halakhah of repentance will come to his aid. One must not waste time on spiritual self-appraisal, on probing introspections, and on the picking away at the "sense" of sin. Such a psychic analysis brings man neither to fear not to love of God nor, most fundamental of all, to the knowledge of cognition of the Torah. The Torah cannot be acquired in a state of melancholia and depression." Halakhic Man [36], pp. 74-76 in The Rav, Rakeffet-Rothkoff, pp. 168-9.