The two different approaches to the Torah: the “perfect Torah” and the “evolving Torah” approaches are related to a broader theological question about the nature of the mitzvot: Do the mitzvot reflect God’s ultimate and unconditional will (kvayachol), or do they reflect God’s instrumental will for humanity, providing an instruction manual for how to redeem the world? In other words, is the main purpose of the mitzvot for the sake of God (i.e. that humankind should fulfill God’s wishes) or for the sake of man (i.e. that God’s plan for humanity should be realized)?
The giving of the Torah has radically altered the course of Judaism and we cannot revert to a pre-Torah age. Nevertheless, Rabbi Cardozo believes that the vision and spirit of this formative era, i.e. the vibrancy of an inchoate and incipient Judaism – or to borrow a metaphor from biology, a “stem cell” based Judaism – should be kept alive and maintained as a counterweight against the ethos of textual fixation and rigid Halachic codification which is so prevalent within the contemporary Orthodox Jewish world.
Part 1 of a series discussing the ideas of the Chassidic master, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica, Poland (1800-1854), also known as the Mei Hashiloach, after the title of the book containing his teachings.
Announcing a new initiative by the Cardozo Academy Think Tank: a series of guest essays by Yehudah DovBer Zirkind, based on Rabbi Cardozo’s discussion of the Mei Hashiloah, Torah and Halacha.