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Pirkei Avot: Pursuing Peace
Video 10 of 13
Okay, so this is what I want to argue. I want to argue that peace and justice really are two kinds of ways of achieving integrity. They are a bottom-focused way of achieving integrity. On the one hand, justice - and a top-focused way of achieving integrity, which we are trying to call peace. Or maybe, to be a little more precise, I would say, a forward-looking way of achieving integrity. We're going to call peace a past-centered way of looking at integrity, will lead us towards justice. What do I mean by that? That the three abstracts - let's try to nail down exactly what I mean by that here.
Okay, so to put this in simplest terms, I would say this: if you're going to look at the past, if you're going to have integrity in a relationship between two people who are in dispute, on the basis of the past, then that's going to look like justice. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to say, "What happened in the past between you guys?" If I can find a way of making some integrity out of that, or bring some harmony, some balance to the events that happened in the past - right? Things happened that are out of balance between you, and when I make them right, when I put them back together - I have a just resolution to our dispute; I have solved it. I have brought balance and harmony back into the picture, because I have asked the question - that past-focused question, "What happened in the past between you?" - and I have found a way to resolve that with integrity. We call that justice.
Let me give you a quick example of what I'm talking about here, just to make this a little more concrete. Let's talk about solving an actual, specific dispute justly. So, imagine Bob and Joe come to you, and you're the judge. It turns out that Bob sold Joe his car for $5,000 and Joe forked over the $5,000 for Bob's car; and then, it turns out that before Joe actually went and picked it out from Bob's driveway, a huge tree fell on the car and crushed it. It wasn't anybody's fault, it just what happened. And now they want to know - what should they do? Whose liability is this?
So, one way you could do this, is you could solve it justly, which mean that you have to ask past-centered questions. You want to know, "Okay so, when you transferred the money, was that an act of acquisition? Or, were you just giving the money in advance of actual acquisition?" When did the title actually transfer between the two of them? So, you're asking questions in the past to solve the dispute. You are not asking questions in the future - what’s going to happen in the future between these people don’t make any difference. It's completely irrelevant to a just solution to the dispute. A just solution just wants to know past-focused questions, which is 'what happened'? Once I know 'what happened' so I can bring some sort of balance between these two people on the basis of what happened; and one's going to be very happy and one's going to be very sad, and one's going to be may be out of $5,000. And that's one way to solve the dispute - justly.
But there's another way to solve dispute. There is a future-focused way of solving the dispute. That future-focused way is what we reach for in peace. What do you mean the future? There are no facts of the cases in the future - there are all these facts over here: Bob sold his car for $5,000. Before he picked up for - All that stuff happened in the past. The future is completely irrelevant to that. So what does it mean to bring harmony to this case, somehow based upon the future?
Well, what would have meant to bring integrity into the future? What would it mean to bring harmony into the future? You've got two people, you can make the dispute between them make sense in the past; but the dark question is: what about the future? Will they be able to live in the future? You can solve the dispute, you can arrive at a just but will there be integrity between them in the future? Will they be able to live with the result? What peace says is, "You guys need to live with each other. Let's talk about a solution that finds a kind of integrity; a balance between that you can live with." And that balance - we're going to call it peace.
Maybe if we're reaching for peace, the answer is: We'll split the difference between you. Each one of you will get $2,500 and we'll sell the crushed car and we'll get some of it back, and we'll piece together some sort of solution that kind of works for you. Even though it's not actually a just solution, it might not be what the Letter of Law would actually point to if we went by the legalities of things based upon the facts of the case happened in the past. But there's balance between people. When we're looking into the question of: "How are you going to live together? How are you going to get along, going forward?"
The future is going to fit for you. It may not necessarily fit in the past. It may not necessarily be a just resolution of your dispute; but there will be integrity in this resolution. There will be harmony; there will be a kind of balance. It's that what you could live with; it's how you can fit together in the future. It's almost like, in the past you can have integrity, in the future you can have integrity; but one will not necessarily lead to another. I can resolve a dispute between you equitably, with respect to the past; but it may not leave either of you happy.
There is another possible solution, which says: let's not focus so specifically on the facts of the case. Let's focus on how it is that you can live together; how we can bring peace between you. That is a future-focused solution, a future-focused kind of integrity. Now I want to argue that it actually all boils down to two Hebrew words. The two Hebrew words they get to - a peace-speaking Hebrew word, and a justice-seeking Hebrew word. Two kinds of truth. And those Hebrew words are two questions; two ways of asking 'why'. 'Lamah' and 'Madua' [00:05:53.16].
In Hebrew there are two ways of asking, 'Why' - 'Lamah [00:05:55.18]' and 'Madua [00:05:56.00]'. You ever wonder why you need both? Why do I need two words for 'why'? One is enough! It must mean that there's two different kinds of 'why'. Well, how does that make sense? How are there two different kinds of 'why'? What do each of these words mean? I think if we drill down and really begin to understand their meaning, we'll see one of these words is a word that brings 'justice' to the world. The other is the word that brings 'peace' to the world.
Let's come back and look at these words. I'll try to explain these to you.
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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