Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why Judaism Has Laws

I started reading David Hazony's new article in Azure expecting to see something new but either I don't understand it or he wrote it for a less educated audience. I expected much more from this write but it seems that it's just standard material. Well-written, though, so good reading for a beginner.

Also, I was surprised by his choice of verses to prove the following:

This is the idea that what you actually succeed in achieving with your actions is of relatively little account. What really matters is what happens inside your soul. As we have often heard it said, it’s the thought that counts.

Such views are, however, largely absent from the classical texts of Jewish tradition. What we find there is much more frequently a kind of morality that is deeply interested in the consequences of our actions: In whether or not we succeed in taking care of the needy, for instance, and in how we work together to create a good society.

This is felt most clearly in the teachings of the biblical prophets...
He then goes on to cite Jer. 5:28-29 and Isa. 1:11-17. I don't think either prove his point and Jer. 32:19, I believe, is the proper prooftext:
Great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings.
The Sefer Ha-Ikkarim (4:9) finds the idea of the importance of intentions in the phrase "according to their ways" and the importance of consequences in the phrase "and according to the fruit of their doings".

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