Monday, October 17, 2011

Little Culture

Sorry for my absence but the traveling for the Chag makes it too difficult to post

The day following my outburst of frustrated feelings I expressed in my ranting on questions too which I cannot provide a rational, I found what I was saying in the French Literature. Now picture me reading on the train, with my studious glasses and my book in a foreign language. And suddenly, I smile. I clench my fist and  I think to myself, (maybe I was louder): "This is it, this is what I've been trying to say myself!" But I am not a famous author (yet) and my writing could use some work, so in the meantime I will rely on the infamous Jean Paul Sartre's talent. (1905-1980)

(notice he is wearing the Wayfare/Cat-eye glasses that are so in style nowadays!)

Anyways, Sartre is one of the founders of Existentialism which sort of dictates that a man is what he does and how he looks and nothing more. Basically, according to Sartre, Man is free in essence and his freedom is painful for it means he is responsible for all his actions. But until he dies, it cannot be said that man is because this is what his future acts will reveal. The day his character becomes fixed, all his deeds will have been performed, the line drawn, the sum totaled and choice and changes will no longer be possible.

Many do not appreciate this theory, and rightfully so at times, since this is not the way the Torah holds. I do not feel defined by this theory but certainly can identify to it as a young adult, in a growing state.

I simply cannot get used to the pressuring questions I'm suppose to answer when tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities and new actions.


  1. I recently read Howl by Allen Ginsberg. He laments about the youth who just follow the norm like lambs, not questioning anything. Although what he was advocating was an extreme, questioning, even without receiving or having answers is essential. Following blindly without constantly questioning prevents one from thinking out of the box, and stumps growth.

  2. I'm not so proficient in existentialism, but this does not sound so contradictory to the Torah.

    I went to a shiur by Rabbi Becher, who said, "It's not about where you're coming from, but where you're going."

    We believe that what counts is our actions, rather than our thoughts, and that one is not a fixed being until the day he dies, when salvation can still be secured within a moment's time.

  3. @the professor: I like allen ginsberg :) and the questioning without answers can lead to a debate abt blind faith versus knowing....

  4. @princess lea: definitely not contradictory but Existentialism misses out on the opportunity we have since we believe in the World to come and we do not die at death. And also, our thoughts may count too at times, not just our actions

  5. Allen Ginsberg was great. In general most of the "beat" authors / writers wrote very interesting stuff. Jack Kerouac was a great author as well.

    Blind faith is only proper in some aspects. In Torah, there are 'chukim', the mitzvos which we are given without reason. But even them, the Rambam writes that we must endeavor to try and find reasons for them. Having reasons keeps one interested in continuing what they find themselves doing. Even searching for reasons is good as it keeps ones interest in the matter sparked.

  6. One of my big problems with Existentialism is its explicit denial of G-d. While it's maybe an okay starting point to define yourself by what you are doing - there's a moshul about a Rebbe: one of his chasidim was asked "What was most important to your Rebbe?" and the chasid answered, after thinking, "Whatever he was doing at the time." - Existentialism explicitly denies the possibility of an external set of morals as being able to define the limits of one's life.

    Professor - beautiful points about the Rambam. But at the same time, we're also reminded that the mishpatim, the so-called rational laws, are to be followed not only because they're sensible, but because they're given to us by Hashem.