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Pirkei Avot: Pursuing Peace
Video 13 of 13
Okay, so the idea here is this. I think the operative methodology is the following: if you look at what Aaron was doing, he was really doing the same thing, except - as I just mentioned to you - in respect to two different relationships. One is horizontal relationships; the other is vertical relationships. Really what he is doing, in both cases, is he's pursuing peace. He's pursuing peace in two different realms. Sometimes, the area of conflict is between God and man - it's a vertical area of conflict. Sometimes, the area of conflict is between two people, and the conflict is here. Say, between a husband and a wife, between any other people who are arguing.
What Aaron would do is, he would pursue peace; but he would pursue peace really in the same way. He would do the same kind of thing. What exactly would he do? I want to argue he was applying this word, 'Lamah' - as I mentioned to you - to each of these things. He was - this is the operative word - it is the future kind of 'why'; it is the method by which Aaron achieves peace. Now, let's get back to our questions.
The question we had about both of these things is, you know: is this sort of vaguely unethical? Is Aaron just kind of lying through his teeth and will it even work? So, this is our question. Come back; I want to argue why it is not unethical?
Let's take Person 'X'. In this argument between Sam and Jane - here's Sam. So let's talk about how we would look at Sam. How you and I would look at Sam. Who is Sam? So, Sam is somebody who is locked in this argument with his wife. They keep on going on and Sam bears some degree of responsibility for this; Jane bears some degree of responsibility for this. But neither one sees their kind of responsibility.
Similarly, let's look at Sam, or let's look at somebody else; we'll call him Alexander, here in his relationship with God. Also, he's committed some terrible sin, but he doesn't really recognize it. He's not really focusing on it; he's blind to it. How is it that we look at these people? The average Joe might look at Alexander and say, "Alexander is a sinner. He's terrible. Look, he's guilty of a terrible crime. He's not coming to grips with it. He's a bad guy." That's one way of looking at this guy Alexander.
How do we look at Sam? You could sort of Sam the same way, except in a horizontal relationship. You can say, "Well Sam is not a very good relater. He's not such a good person. Here he is, he doesn't see his side of the problem. He doesn't see that; look at how flawed Sam is."
That's not how Aaron would look at Sam. Aaron would look at Sam somewhat differently. In order to make this plan, I want to go back to a concept - a little bit of an abstract concept in 'Hebrew [00:02:52.19]' philosophy for a second with you, expressed by Marcus Aurelius actually, in his meditations. Basically Aurelius says, "For everything, for any given thing, always ask what is it in it's essence." Right? What is the thing really? Which is to say, whoever you look at something, you can say it's composed of two things: it's composed of what is essentially is, and then it's composed of incidental qualities.
When looking at a horse, the horse is essentially a horse. It has some incidental qualities. It has white fur, as opposed to black fur. It has a bushy tail, as opposed to a straight tail. These are incidental qualities to it; but fundamentally, essentially, it's a horse. When you look at a person - it's a very interesting question - how is it that we see their essential qualities? When Aaron would look at Sam, when Aaron would look at Alexander, he would look at them differently than the way most people looked at them. He would look at them, and look at their essence; and define their essence subjectively, as wonderful. And in doing so, he was really asking this question: the 'Lamah' question.
I want to argue that the 'Lamah' question is actually a question which is 'the' question in a certain way. Of love; or nurturing; of compassion. 'French name [00:04:06.25]', the French Jewish philosopher, once said a very fascinating thing about compassion. He said, "You know, people think that women just happen to be more compassionate than men, but it's not the way it is." He says, "In fact, there is no such thing called compassion. There's only femininity. The only thing we know about compassion is that it is a derivative of femininity."
I think, in Judaism, there is some truth to this idea. If you think about the Hebrew word for compassion, the Hebrew word for compassion is - the verb form of it - is 'Rakhaem [00:04:37.23]'. Well, 'Rakhaem [00:04:39.28]' as a noun is actually 'Rakham [00:04:41.22]'. You know what 'Rakham [00:04:44.28]' means? 'Rakham [00:04:44.28]' means 'womb'. To be compassionate is to to be womb-like. What is 'womb-like'? What does a womb do? A womb nurtures; a womb builds life. If you think about a womb, there's two kinds of questions you can imagine a womb asking. One question is the 'Lamah' question; the other question is the 'Madua' question. What would mean for a womb to talk about 'Lamah'? For a womb to talk about 'Madua'? What would their implications be for the womb's ability to support life?
What do you think about that? Think about that and I'll tell you what I think. See you in the next video.
2. Pillars of the World
3. The Triangle
4. From Abstract to Concrete
5. A Tale of Two Triangles
7. The Puzzle of Aaron's Methodology
8. Truth, Balance and Integrity
9. Past-Focused Integrity; Future-Focused Integrity
10. Two Kinds of "Why"
11. A Closer Look at Aaron's Methodology
12. Of Everything, Ask What it is in its Essence
13. Judgments of Peace
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