Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I too am a Lonely Man of Faith

Doubleday has recently published Rav Soloveitchik's classic work Lonely Man of Faith (it may be the best $10 you'll ever spend). I haven't read the work in years and I'm only just starting it again, but I'm reminded of a topic that I think is really important.

Soloveitchik believes that people of faith are alone in the modern world; that contemporary society forces people who believe to feel like outsiders. Modern academic scholarship is foreign to the faithful.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with
Steg's brother. Jews are different. Jews have a different set of dilemmas than the rest of humanity does. Philosophic and moral issues for the rest of the world just aren't for Jews. Maybe that's because our tradition has dealt with these issues previously (i.e., Talmud) but I believe it to be more of akin to a separate reality. Our issues revolve around relating to HaShem, Halachik requirements and Bein adam l'chavero issues.

As Soloveitchik writes:

I have never been seriously troubled by the problem of the Biblical doctrine of creation vis-à-vis the scientific story of evolution at both the cosmic and the organic levels, nor have I been perturbed by the confrontation of the mechanistic interpretation of the human mind with the Biblical spiritual concept of man. I have not been perplexed by the impossibility of fitting the mystery of revelation into the framework of historical empiricism. Moreover, I have not even been troubled by the theories of Biblical criticism which contradict the sanctity and integrity of the Scriptures rest. (p. 7)

These are the things that do not bother the Rav, some of them bother me, some of them don't. Some may bother you, some may not. What is important is the overall message, what secular society deems important just isn't for the faithful. Even if Richard Elliot Freedman is correct, even if Spinoza is, it does not really affect me. I find it interesting, but they do not trouble my faith.

things may, but not this.

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