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Pirkei Avot: Pursuing Peace
Video 12 of 13
So, to look at the Big Picture here, we've seen these two triangles. The triangle at the beginning of 'Pirkai Avot [00:00:18.18]', and the triangle at the end of 'Pirkai Avot'. In the first triangle, you've got Torah, Service of God and we've got acts of kindness. In the second triangle, we've got Truth - the abstract idea, over here - and the two expressions of truth that we've been talking about, which is one the one hand, peace; and on the other hand, justice.
Then we've got this 'Mishnayat [00:00:46.15]' here in the middle. We were talking about judges and about leaders and about how they express these triangles in the real world. We argue that leaders have these two kinds of hats that they were wearing. They're wearing their objective hats, and they're wearing their subjective hats. We then argue that, when they use their objective hats, their primary objective is - pardon the pun - to avoid corruption; and that they need to do so with respect to Torah. They can't corrupt academic Torah. They must not corrupt themselves in terms of service; in terms of who they obey above them - not the secular authorities, Roman procurators, but God. And not to despise those below them. And they also have to avoid corruption just in terms of maintaining their objectivity, and in terms of being fair to their litigants. In all of that, is their objective - responsibility towards people.
But we argue that judges also have a subjective responsibility towards people, where avoiding corruption is not what it's about. Where being objective and being unbiased is not that about. Where, actually the most personal, subjective human emotions rule the day. And, what I want to argue, what rules the day over here, is actually love. Love is going to be the engine that propels everything that happens, with respect to a judges' or a leader's subjective obligation towards people. And that subjective obligation is given in the Mishnah that talks about Aaron.
So, on the one hand, judges are obliged to bring justice on to the world - that's their objective hat. But they are also obliged to bring peace into the world. A different kind of truth; truth as expressed as peace. And that's what the Mishnah, with respect to Aaron, is talking about. The guts of that - I want to argue - the engine that propels both of the things that Aaron is doing is actually a certain kind of love. And what I want to argue is that is a 'Lamah [00:02:44.00]' kind of love - a love as expressed as 'Lamah'.
In other words, 'Lamah' is not just where we are going to. How do we reach a resolution in the future, which is 'for what end' you guys can live with' - but also in a very deep kind of way, it's 'how we get there'. It's the way we arrive at that conclusion. So what I want to argue is that, this idea - 'to what' - doesn't just express the end that we are trying to get to, 'for what end we are trying to get you to live in peace with each other'. But it also expresses the methodology by which we get to that end. That methodology mandates a certain kind of love - remember that word that kept on getting in the Mishnah about Aaron? 'Love truth', 'Love Torah', 'Bring people closer'. How is that the case? How does 'to what' - this kind of 'Lamah' manifest itself as the kind of love that we are talking about in this Mishnah with Aaron?
Interestingly by the way, getting back to our triangles, what I want to argue is, we have two triangles. Remember Torah, Avoda and 'Hebrew [00:03:55.09]' over here? And then, truth, Justice and Peace over here? What I want to argue is that, you also see the aspects of Torah, Avoda and 'Hebrew [00:04:06.01]' expressing itself in this triangle. What I want to argue is that, what Aaron was doing is actually the same thing; even though there's two ideas here, these two ideas are the same thing. They’re just express themselves in two different relationships. One is vertical relationships; and the other is horizontal relationships. One is 'Avoda, Service' kind of relationships; and the other is, 'Kindness' - peer kinds of relationships. Peer to peer kinds of relationships.
What Aaron would do, is bring a kind of peace to each of these kinds of relationships. In essence, he was doing the same thing. The only reason it looks like he was doing two types of different things is because he was doing the same thing in two different relationships. In one relationship, what he was doing is called, 'Hebrew [00:04:49.12]' - he was 'loving peace' and 'pursuing peace'. In the other kind of relationship, he was doing something called, 'Hebrew [00:04:57.21]' - he was 'loving people and bringing them close to the Torah'.
The second - I want to argue - is what Aaron is doing in the vertical relationships. The first is, what it looks like when he is expressing these ideas in horizontal kinds of relationships. So, what I want to do now, is come back and ask this question: how can 'Lamah' - that one question - help us understand Aaron's methodology? Help us understand why he wasn't guilty of crass-manipulation? Why this actually worked? And why this wasn't just an ethical lapse of values where I will lie, steal and use any means to achieve the end that I want to get? What I am actually doing is I'm expressing a certain kind of love - live as expressed as 'to what'ness; or, 'for what'ness.
Now, what could that possibly mean? We'll come back and speak on this later.
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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