Sago Boulevard

Monday, January 02, 2006

Halakhic Reality

I've been thinking about a distinction between "'al pi din' [according to the law] and 'metzius' [physical reality]" cited and partially endorsed by Godol Hador in a post last week. GH already noted the similarities with Brisker study and R. Soloveitchik's refrain about "halakhic reality".

While flipping through an old issue of The Torah u-Madda Journal, I reread an article by Mark Steiner, "Philosophizing in Yiddish: Rabbi Reuven Agushewitz on Freedom of the Will". In it, he describes how R. Soloveitchik used the techniques of contemporary philosophy in articulating the hashfakah for which he is famous. As scientific discovery continues to wreck havoc in the batei midrash of Orthodox Judaism, I believe we will find ourselves, in one way or another, turning to the Rav for support.
[R. Soloveitchik] puts forward the idea that halakhic Judaism involves intrinsically an alternative description of the world to that of natural science.
...
By reading the works of R. Soloveitchik, one gets an intuitive insight into the meaning of concepts like “freedom” as applied to halakhic man.

At the end of day, we may not need to work out a consistent understanding of Genesis and the natural sciences. The Torah describes creation in our language but from God's perspective. As R. Soloveitchik himself writes:
There is a Bereishit-logic which reflects the wisdom of God embedded in nature.