Truth is simple, it has no clothes, no neat little box to contain it.
But we cannot grasp the something that has no box. We cannot perceive truth without clothing.
So Truth dresses up for us, in a story, in sage advice, in a blueprint of the cosmos—in clothes woven from the fabric of truth itself.
And then, before we can imagine that we have grasped Truth, it switches clothes. It tells us another story—entirely at odds with the first. It tells us new advice—to go in a different direction. It provides another model of how things are—in which each thing has changed its place.
The fool is confused. He exclaims, “Truth has lied!”
The wise person sees within and finds harmony between all the stories, all the advice, every model we are told.
For the Torah is a simple, pure light, a truth no box can contain.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on the Letters and Talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson
Depending on our philosophical or theological orientation, we like to think we have a pretty good grasp of “the truth.” This includes the truth of who we are as human beings and, if we’re religious, the truth about the nature of God, Creation, and everything.
But as Rabbi Freeman points out, human beings cannot apprehend “raw truth”. If we could, if we could see truth the way we see the color “red” or hear a particular musical note, maybe we would all perceive “truth” (more or less) in the same way. Humanity wouldn’t be so conflicted. We would all “know truth”.
But we aren’t there, not yet. We don’t perceive raw truth anymore than we can see X-rays with the unaided eye.
So we “clothe” truth with interpretation and tradition. A number of recent conversations have re-enforced the fact (as opposed to truth) that all human beings, and particularly human beings who believe the Bible is the source of truth, are oriented by specific traditional methods of interpretation to believe the Bible says certain things. The problem comes in when we encounter people who have different traditions that tell them different things about the Bible than what our traditions tell us.
While I agree that there is probably a supernal Torah in Heaven that no box can contain, in order to “package” the Torah, or for that matter, the entire Bible in order to deliver it to humanity, it gets put in a box. It has to be clothed. It is a book written (originally) in several languages over thousands of years. The completed “product” is now many thousands of years old and has been translated into innumerable languages. Just in English, there are hundreds if not thousands of translations of the Bible.
And over those thousands of years, both in Christianity (in all its forms) and in Judaism (in all its forms), many traditions have sprung up to tell many different variant religious populations what the Bible is saying. When a tradition persists long enough, it ceases to be perceived as a tradition and it is commonly understood to be the truth…
…whether it is from God’s point of view or not.
They say “the clothes don’t make the man” and “never judge a book by its cover,” but quite frankly, we have no other way of understanding the Bible. We can’t access its “raw truth” and so we have interpretation by tradition. This is stated rather plainly in (especially) Orthodox Judaism. The local Chabad Rabbi told my wife that the Torah can only be understood through tradition. My experiences studying in various churches over the years tells me that Christians interpret the Bible based on traditions too. We just don’t talk about it. We like to think we can read the plain meaning of the text, especially in English, and know just what it is saying. However, the reality of the situation is that we understand, for instance, the letters of the Apostle Paul based on the traditional interpretation of those letters, not necessarily what Paul was actually trying to communicate.
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
-Dr. Leo Buscaglia
I’ve been told I’m a competent writer, talented, occasionally brilliant. I guess I better be since it’s my “day job”. It’s also a joy for me to write. I really get a lot of pleasure crafting a message in text. I usually enjoy talking about what I write, but periodically the joy gets sucked right out of the experience when all people seem to want to do is argue about what I write.
The point of my writing isn’t for me to tell you what the truth is necessarily. I write this blog to chronicle my process in the pursuit of truth. If you read all of my blog posts chronologically, I would hope you’d see a development or evolution in my comprehension of the Bible from a particular point of view (which may not be your point of view). It’s the progression of my traditional interpretive matrix. I’m tailoring the clothing in which to dress the truth of the Bible.
You probably dress the Bible in different clothing and then we argue about what sort of suit “truth” is dressed in this morning. The “Emperor” always wears clothes, and our debate is only over which sort of clothing he’s put on (or rather, what we’ve put on him).
Only God sees the Emperor without clothes.
They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord…
–Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)
We aren’t there yet. This is a prophesy about the coming Messianic age. From my point of view, Yeshua (Jesus) initiated the very beginning of this age into our world, but it will not reach fruition until his return when each of us will have such a filling of the Spirit of God, that we will apprehend Hashem in a manner greater than the prophets of old. We will literally “know God”. We will see the truth unclothed, the raw truth…
…but only then.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
–1 Corinthians 13:12
This is how we see the truth right now, just as a dim reflection, a faint image, hardly perceptible, open to interpretation as to what is really being viewed. Paul knew this truth and preserved it for us but we don’t believe him. We don’t want to believe him, because believing we can know the truth in absolute terms now gives us emotional security. We don’t like a world that is suspended in dynamic tension between seemingly inconsistent and opposing thoughts, beliefs, and faiths. It’s unsettling.
But like it or not, that’s where we are. I’m sure I’ve got a lot of things wrong. I don’t always answer the questions posed to me because I don’t always have even an opinion on the answers. I’m not “the Bible Answer Man.” I don’t always know.
I wrote a completely different “morning meditation” that I had planned to publish today at the usual time (4 a.m. Mountain Time), but I pulled it out of the queue because it was more of the same and I anticipated more of the same comments and responses.
Who wants more of that?
I used to actually learn a lot from the comments and the insights of the people conversing with me and each other, but now I’m not sure I’m learning so much. Now I feel like we’re just going around and around in circles and the expectation is that I must change my mind and either think and believe like a more traditional Christian, or think and believe like how an Orthodox Jew views a Noahide.
But I’m not those types of people and that’s not how I experience the Bible’s “clothing,” so to speak.
I also feel like there might not always be an interest in me and what I think but rather, that my blog is being used as a pulpit for someone else’s idea, as a platform to convince my readers to take on a different theological point of view. Certainly some people reading my blog could be undecided about Christianity or Judaism. Did I create this blog to promote viewpoints I don’t endorse?
There’s a fine line as to just how much debate and disagreement to tolerate for the sake of learning. How much of it should I allow and where’s the cut off line? How “fair” should I be before exercising my administrative control as the blog owner? I don’t know. I feel like I’ve been pretty liberal in my policy on comments compared to some others. I rarely edit or delete comments (although I did delete a comment just yesterday).
You don’t have to agree with me and I don’t have to agree with you. That doesn’t make any of us either right or wrong. It just means we’re attempting to discuss what clothes the Emperor might be wearing today. It’s like viewing the truth through a dirty window. None of us see it very well. The problem is when we believe we see truth all too clearly.
19 thoughts on “Viewing the Truth Through a Dirty Window”
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” (Daniel Patrick Moynihan)
James, I think there’s some misunderstanding. Judaism doesn’t claim to know “all the truth”. There are many mysteries. I do not claim to know “all of the truth”. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be any point of continuing in our Torah studies daily. Where Judaism does claim certainty, however, is in things that it knows to be definitely NOT true, things that G-d has warned us about to not fall into.
Put another way:
Ironic you would begin your post today how you did.
This is the reading from today’s Meditation by Fr. Richard Rohr.
I find it most revealing as this year he is addressing the revelation of God in all things…
I offer it as a compliment to your beginning.
Evolving into Fullness
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The prologue to John’s Gospel is not talking about Jesus; it’s talking about Christ, which, as I’ve shared in previous meditations, is a much older and more inclusive statement. So, instead of using the Greek word “Logos” as John does, I’m going to use the word “blueprint,” because it really has the same meaning but is not so mysterious. Logos is his way of pointing to the inner blueprint, the inner pattern and template for reality. Now re-read the text:
“In the beginning was the blueprint. The blueprint was with God. The blueprint was God.” The inner reality of God was about to become manifest in the outer material world. “And all things came to be through this inner plan. Nothing came to be except through this blueprint and plan. All that came to be had life in him.” Now it’s become personalized: “him.” The great universal mystery that has been since the beginning of time now becomes specific in the body and person of Jesus. The blueprint has become personified and visible. “And that life was the light of humanity. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
“This blueprint was the True Light that enlightens all human beings that come into the world” (1:9). So the True Light, or what I’m going to call “Consciousness,” precedes and connects and feeds all of our smaller lights. “He was in the world that had its very being through him. But the world did not know him” (1:10).
Exactly! We have not much understood Jesus’ cosmic significance or the meaning of the “Body of Christ” and what many psychologists would rightly call “the collective unconsciousness.” This blueprint had largely been operating unconsciously. It is just too much for human consciousness to absorb or believe. Yet God seems to be very patient, very humble, and always outpouring.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” or in my paraphrase, “The blueprint materialized and became visible. We have seen his glory, full of grace and
truth. . . . From his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:14, 16). The Greek word John uses for “fullness” is pleroma. Paul uses the very same word in several places and clearly teaches that “You have a share in this fullness” (Colossians 2:9) and even “You are filled with the utter fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Talk about inherent dignity and empowerment! You can chew on that for the rest of your life. Most Christians never have.
I would agree that we see very little, and the main thing is we are responsible to do the little we know. I think the window is dirty on the inside, i.e., we have our reasons for biases. The more I learn about neuroscience, the more it confirms scripture, specifically, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil operating in our lives.
There is a fringe group in Judaism that claims something like, “sola torah,” which might be akin to the Christian, “sola scriptura.” Obviously, neither are possible due to the principle of his ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts as the heavens are above the earth.
@James, when we see that the emperors have no clothes, it creates a problem. Most, when they get a glimpse of the naked emperors repress those thoughts or believe it was their imagination, or satan or whatever. Most people, when seriously dissatisfied with their current religious, political, ideological, etc. camp, will leave and quickly be enveloped within another. The tribal mentality must be deeply etched within our psyche, but I believe many good things God has given us, we misuse and misappropriate. Camp B or C is usually no better than camp A and its leaders are just as corrupt, but once a person has made a choice, they are invested in that choice. When one leaves Camp A to join Camp B, one can safely pitch arrows at the former camp while protected by the new one. But, if one leaves their camp and realizes all the other camps are not worthy of complete devotion, then they will find themselves without protection and shot at from all sides. But it is the only thing an honest person can do. Welcome to the wilderness.
@James: You mentioned.
But like it or not, that’s where we are. I’m sure I’ve got a lot of things wrong. I don’t always answer the questions posed to me because I don’t always have even an opinion on the answers. I’m not “the Bible Answer Man.” I don’t always know.
I’m ignorant to the phrase your mentioning from paul so maybe you can help me see where is Paul getting this type of understanding from? Do christian bibles provide cross-references to this passage your quoting?
Doesn’t your bible say
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. – James 5:9
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law [Torah]. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22 [I’m assuming law here is Torah because the greek word used is from the septuagint]
Shouldn’t christianity according to there bible be individuals who “eat” with the saved and unsaved[as they see them]? Do the healed need a doctor or the sick?
🙂 Curious Meditation 🙂
Why the redaction on the 1st chapter to John? Logos is a perfectly acceptable word, since John is speaking in greek philosophy to the greek readership of his day. Logos is the Greek term translated as “word,” “speech,” “principle,” or “thought.” In Greek philosophy, it also referred to a universal, divine reason or the mind of G-d.
John’s Gospel begins by using the Greek idea of a “divine reason” or “the mind of G-d” as a way to connect with the his greek readers of his day and introduce jesus to them as G-d. Greek philosophy may have used the word in reference to divine reason, but John used it to note many of the attributes of jesus.
From greek hellenistic thought and process john used this to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the christian Trinity, is the self-expression of G-d to the world. This makes sense since the book of john was written as a eyewitness account some 40 years after the death of jesus in the 70’s (70ad) jesus died in the 30’s.
Did Paul know Jesus was supposed to be the second person of the trinity?
Nice quick read for the link James. Thanks 🙂
I will say that something seemed out of place… The mention of any aspect of Messiah being divine is not found in the Jewish Bible (OT per christians), and it’s evident in the that link. Christianity has in there bible Colossians 1:15 “the visible image of the invisible G-d,” but thats a direct contradiction to Deuteronomy which says “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the L-rd spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, Deut 4:15
I’m no christian/messianic expert so maybe you can explain the reason why Paul is referring to the G-d of Israel as jesus? [Nor am I a Rabbi] But I’m more versed in Torah/Hebrew language then NT/Greek language and philosophy.
Also from the link It appears that Messianic Judaism doesn’t agree with its christian brother on the “god-head”, am I correct in that assumption?
Don’t be discouraged. We are coming together. We can hold hands together on what we do agree on.
*** Unless its something to truly answer, this will be my last comment on this meditation, so I don’t jump into the fray of lashon hara or breaking the comments policy as far as topics and discussion are concerned… I will be checking in though to see if my question to the blog topic does get answered.
להתראות (lehitraot) 🙂
I find your assertions and generalizations often sweeping about groups of people both on the blog and of Faith groups at times rather biased and prejudicial. It appears at times you claim to know others motivations and understandings by the comments you make based on the very dim reflections posted on your Blog. Also the generalizations of “Christians” often seem very dim indeed, and painted like there is one type of understanding which goes with that association, and those who appear to fit your image of them have the same outlook and world view. This is my limited observation.
I agree that we all see through our history, culture, learning, etc. however our Lord told us clearly that Truth is attainable through Him in several ways and places. Were it not possible to know Truth the Lord would not have said so.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31+32
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. John 14:26
You write, “But we aren’t there, not yet. We don’t perceive raw truth anymore than we can see X-rays with the unaided eye.”
As I said earlier, we have many things which color what we see and feel, however we can know the Truth, and that Truth is Christ. We can know the Truth in Christ through a relationship with Him and the Father through the Holy Spirit and through walking (dancing, struggling, suffering) obediently with Him in this life. Scripture also aids in this as true revelations in nature and life will not conflict with revelations in scripture.
You say, “My experiences studying in various churches over the years tells me that Christians interpret the Bible based on traditions too. We just don’t talk about it. We like to think we can read the plain meaning of the text, especially in English, and know just what it is saying. However, the reality of the situation is that we understand, for instance, the letters of the Apostle Paul based on the traditional interpretation of those letters, not necessarily what Paul was actually trying to communicate.”
“We just don’t talk about it.” Really? Actually the “Christians” I spend time with daily acknowledge context all the time. In fact the Wesleyan teachings of Asbury employ the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, a methodology for theological reflection. It is made up of 4 aspects: Scripture, Experience, Reason, Tradition. Even Wesley who believed Sola scriptura, understood that these aspects all needed to be employed to seek the Truth’s contained in it. Simply recognizing these aspects implies the understanding of the need is there.
You say, “for instance, the letters of the Apostle Paul based on the traditional interpretation of those letters, not necessarily what Paul was actually trying to communicate.”
And, we are to assume you are the stone to tell us what that interpretation of Paul is? What tradition is “traditional”? The one’s you disagree with? Who’s to say one interpretation is correct for all, all of the time? When I teach Bible Study I ask what does this verse mean to you? What is it saying? There are many responses and we listen to them all. I guide classes having read many commentaries from all manor of sources and do not recall ever saying, “This is what Jesus meant.” It is for each of us to make our way with God. I share teachings that they do not mention and applications to our lives today.
As for people not playing on your blog as you want… quit writing a blog if you want to keep things neat and tidy and simply how “you” feel. Publish a newsletter and ignore the private responses which you disagree with. I have to be honest, I believe you think and write wonderfully. I like the discourse here. However your premises bring with them a perspective that is often open to question. If you do not like the questions, it seems odd you would post things which are so open to critical analyses. In all love, it is like going to the South Pole and questioning why it is cold.
Simply ignoring the hard questions some pose, and claiming they are from a known perspective does not settle why the question is there. If you say, “This is based on this” and in fact it is only a partial view, what is the harm of seeing the other perspectives? That is what I am looking for, why I read your blog. The perspectives counter to what is fairly or yet to be settled in me. I think you do yourself a disservice with your talent and the wonderful mind and calling God has given you when you limit or quit discussing things which don’t fit your view. And understand, it is only a view. I personally think all of us will be amazed at what we held so closely to, was just silly when we leave the confinement of this age and are resolved with Christ.
Finally, I point out that Paul was looking in a mirror… not a window. Mirrors are most often used to observe oneself, not so much the world. That gives his verses a little different perspective as well.
I thought of this when I read your post. It’s from Thomas Gospel
Jesus said, “When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid.” Thomas 38
I didn’t say not to use Logos, John did and that is great. I also like Fr. Rohr’s attempt to cast the perspective of “Blue Print”. I have replaced the word logos with Truth, Life, Way, and other words and found wonderful insights as well. DNA is a fascinating concept… in the broader sense of the term.
Thank you for your teaching.
@Chaya: I agree that what we know we should do, but the difficulty comes in when we encounter different systems of thought which contradict our own. In many ways, those different religious branches have certain things in common, such as showing kindness, charity to the poor, and so on, but, for example, when I encounter One Law proponents who state that it’s actually a sin for Christians not to observe Shabbos or wear tzitzit, there are problems. It becomes a matter of one group attempting to impose their own values on another. This doesn’t happen all too commonly, but the problem of “what is truth” and can I infringe on your “truth” with my “truth” at least should make us a little nervous. This is the issue many Jews have with being proselytized by Christians.
As I’m sure someone will bring up, the Holy Spirit is supposed to show us the “raw truth,” but since spiritual revelations are highly subjective, any number of different groups can claim spiritual revelation, even when their respective revelations contradict one another. What do you do with that?
@Bruce: I’m not sure what you’re asking. If you are saying you are unfamiliar with the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, you can easily look it up online: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13&version=NASB
All I’m saying is that in expressing that we “look through a mirror dimly,” Paul in his letter is expressing (in my opinion) that what we understand now, even spiritually, pales in comparison to what we will understand in the world to come.
It fits quite well with the prophesy we find in Jeremiah 31:34 (although I suppose we’re not going to agree somehow).
As far as what sorts of limits I am to put on blog comments, you seem to be interpreting the Christian text to say I should allow any and all comers to say literally anything and not set limits at all. That’s the equivalent of letting anyone come into my house at all hours of the day and night without my consent, eat my food, sleep in my daughter’s bed, take my TV, and leave a big mess when they leave (I’m using a ridiculously exaggerated example to make a point). Even tzedakah as I understand it, is voluntary and not forced.
A conversation about the Divine nature of Messiah is out of scope for this conversation. It’s a highly debatable concept, at least between Christians and Jews, and in any event, I’m not going to convince you, so I’m not going there. If you’re interested in learning more, I’m sure there are tons of Christian commentaries that address it available on the web or in a reasonably large public library.
@Rockey: Every time I say something even mildly critical (based on my personal experience) of the Church, you seem to think I’m being unfair. All I said was that generally speaking, in both Judaism and Christianity, centuries long traditions are used as the interpretive lens through which the Bible is read. I’ve discussed this at length with the Pastor of the church I used to attend, and he seems to think that the way he understands the Bible is pretty much the only valid and accurate way. He was gracious enough to say that yes, tradition is involved but also said that by being aware of those traditions, one could prevent them from placing a filter over the actual meaning of the text.
My counter-assertion is that it’s those traditions we’re not aware of that are assumed to be both fact and truth. It’s why we disagreed so often on Paul’s intent in some of his epistles, Galatians for one.
I believe I mentioned above that there must be more to this process than we realize, for if it were as simple as all that, we’d have only one Church and one interpretation of the Bible assuming that all Christians received the same spiritual message.
Also, if we can know all there is to know about the Bible and God, why the prophesy in Jeremiah 31:34 stating that we will in the future, “know God”. That seems to indicate we don’t “know” Him to that extreme level of intimacy yet. Also, as I mentioned above, Paul seemed to re-state this point in 1 Corinthians 13:12. I don’t see how I’m being unfair to Christians or anyone else by saying we don’t know it all and that different denominations and branches of Christianity and Judaism have differing and sometimes contradictory understanding about what the Bible says.
Absolutely not. I didn’t say such a thing in this blog post. In fact, I’m attempting to wage a “meta-argument” to the discussions we normally have, stepping outside the theological and doctrinal minutia so we can see that any one of us or any one religious group doesn’t have a corner market on “truth”. As Gene said above, if we already know it all, why study the Bible.
Unfortunately, the one that says Paul condemned the Law and replaced it with Grace, thus requiring (this is oversimplified) Jews to stop Torah observance as they were commanded at Sinai, and convert to Christianity. That’s been the traditional uptake on Paul for centuries and interestingly enough, that’s generally why Paul is so unpopular and often maligned by religious Jews (I think the local Chabad Rabbi once said he thinks Paul was a convert to Judaism who then “jumped ship” [my words, not his] and became a Christian).
The writers of the Bible must have had an original intent, and the hearers and readers of these teachings must have had an original interpretive matrix, based on the Judaisms of the day, by which they understood what was being said and written. Isn’t it a good idea to try and figure out what it is? Did Paul create an anti-Israel, anti-Torah, and anti-Temple theology or not? Some Christians and Jews believe he did and others think he didn’t. That might be one important question to answer objectively, if possible.
I’ve considered not writing a blog or simply closing comments, and it may come to that. Conversely, I don’t make people visit my blog and read my content, so if some find me offense (and I can understand how some people might experience me that way) they don’t have to visit. You wouldn’t believe the number of blogs I don’t read, either because I simply don’t have the time or because I would disagree and be tempted to write some sort of rebuttal and once more add fuel to some blogosphere fire.
Finally, as I’ve state before, I don’t write this blog to set myself up as some sort of guru. Writing is how I process information and at least some responding comments are helpful in inspiring me to dig deeper in a particular area or give me a direction in which to read or investigate. But that doesn’t happen all the time and when it happens less and less, you’re right, I wonder why I’m still doing this.
“Conversely, I don’t make people visit my blog and read my content”
James, that’s how I see it too, so you won’t see me complaining about not allowing to comment:) Purely voluntary system (consumer choice, if you will) – you don’t have to visit or read this or any other blog. You could even do a blog ASKING people to comment but then allow zero comments – just because – they don’t have come to your blog ever again if they don’t like it.
(I am not saying it’s the right way to approach very provocative blogging that allows commenting, but the principals of free choice are valid).
@James, if my truth conflicts with your truth, ad infinitum, we all need to realize that: 1. The heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked. 2. The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil causes us to confuse truth and falsehood with what we desire and what we don’t desire. 3. The best among us have such a tiny piece of the wisdom, knowledge, understanding puzzle that we all need to be a lot more hunble.
It seems that the more a person is insecure in their belief, the more they feel the need to convert others to their belief/practice and the more they feel the need to guard themselves from, “pollution,” by ideas and persons that would challenge/question.
@Rockey, thanks for the quote. It makes me think of a reversal of the shame Adam felt being naked. I read that Adam had a self-awareness from the fruit that caused him to realize that his desires were no longer in sync with his Creator’s.
James Said: Even tzedakah as I understand it, is voluntary and not forced.
If you allow me, let me help you expand your understanding of Tzedakah.
The Torah DOES mandate that one donate money to assist those who are less fortunate:
Deut 15:8, 10
One who helps those in need fulfills a number of Torah commands.
By observing the mitzvah of Tzedakah on is fulfilling a number of positive commandments, which is called “Mitzvot Asei” and if one does not he is transgressing both positive and prohibitory commands. Deut 15:7 confirms this.
The primary reason for Tzedakah is that the Almighty wants people to accustom themselves in the trait of Chesed, Kindness. When a person habituates himself to be merciful and compassionate to those who are less fortunate, he becomes worthy of Hashem’s berachos, blessings. Another reason for Tzedakah is that if we show mercy to those less fortunate Hashem will have mercy on us. Your christian bible mentions something somewhat similar in Luke 6:35
Tzedakah and its definition as most Jews understand it is relative to the needs of each individual poor person and one is obligated to give the individual based on what they are lacking.
As the Rambam writes: “If one does not have clothing to wear one should give him clothing. One who does not have necessary furniture or household utensils should be given those items. One who is not married should be helped to find an appropriate mate. Furthermore, if one is accustomed to having servants and then becomes impoverished the mitzvah is to rehabilitate him to his original status.”
In general, one should ascertain what the poor person needs and attempt to provide him with those needs.
One also fulfills the mitzvah of tzedakah by giving an indigent money in order to fulfill a mitzvah. 🙂 Thats a very surface understanding of Tzedakah.
So how does that translate into my “duty” to allow any and all comments without any moral or ethical boundaries, Bruce?
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