Feet on the ground

(Fourth in a series summarizing the book Halachic Man)

It’s only natural that the religious person has a God-given longing for God. Halachic man has this same longing but while religious man starts out with his feet on the ground and climbs heavenward, seeking to be extricated from the confines of this world Halachic man starts out from the standpoint of heaven and longs to bring heaven down into the futility of this world so that he can turn it into the land of the living. To this end he struggles to fight evil empires and strives to create a heavenly world right here.

Historically religious man has often fallen into hypocrisy particularly because he was busy escaping to a higher ideal reality and in the meantime he didn’t hear the cry of the widow and orphan or save the oppressed from the hands of his oppressor. The author of Halachic Man makes a powerful statement: “Nothing is more damaging for the soul, like a sword to the body, as distraction of attention from this world.”

Furthermore for halachic man there is no elitism. There are no intermediaries when reaching for God. Holiness is expressed in living a life infused with halacha. God says “Make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.”

Halachic man is optimistic and happy. He lives in an intimate relationship with God right here and through living life rightly he will enter the coming world. For him creation does not disturb the idea of divinity as it does for the mystic. The opposite is true: It is God’s will that His presence extend to the limited parameters of tangible existence. The hoped-for future when “on that day God will be one and His name one” is the day when halacha will be fully realized in reality.

Halachic man’s religion is filled with concrete measurements. It’s sensual and tangible. It’s not a religion of personal perspectives nor is it a speculative philosophy. Halacha is the objectification of religion in the form of a clear structure and solidly defined rules and principles. Just as many schools of philosophy learned from Plato and Aristotle that existence is orderliness, so halacha posits that any religion that does not manifest itself in established physical parameters and laws will not be fruitful.

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