Symposium Upper West Side 4

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Audience Member: the essence of genocide and then annihilation of that we see. But that only I think reinforces the point that there are certain morale imperatives that are still the solid today as they were in antiquity and those values have to be perpetuated and have to be strengthened and have to be talked about.

Audience Member: I don’t think that any of the four of us necessarily disagree.

Speaker: I think even farther though, so far as there is truth, things change and certain senses change, we’re living in a different world, but there are certain key elements that are immutable and those key elements have absolutely to be at the center of any sort of a moral discussion or metaphysical discussion.

Audience Member: Which is to a very great degree why metaphysics, not necessarily yours, not necessarily this one any alternative one, but why it’s so important is because we have such a tendency in the contemporary world, our 21st century well to its moral relativism where this concept of good and evil have actually been discombobulated to where good and evil are considered the same thing.

Audience Member: In indeed its remarkable that the God and Evil book is black and the Good and Good book is white, I’m using the crib notes, I was just going to carry that, but I don’t know that in another context, I don’t know that people would necessarily look at it that way. I’m sure that if it wasn’t that at least God and Evil has a more traditionally Jewish background that perhaps maybe they would have had both book covers grey.

Audience Member: Very colorful.

Audience Member: Yes.

Speaker: I think that even contemporary times many people have suffered through this would say that good is good, evil is evil, to try everybody at the table and I could tell the conjecture that in time immortal there were people who would say, it’s all what you call it. People intoxicated with power might say it’s all relevant. Now so that we’re all agreeing that we’d like to believe there are absolutes. As for Jewish philosophy goes, Jewish philosophy is always received as somewhat risqué, where will this lead us. It might lead to expansion. But part of the reason it’s so risqué is that there is no good backstop. No good landings at the end of the road that says this is it.

Audience Member: But there is a good backstop.

Speaker: Okay,

Audience Member: That’s exactly what Professor Garand’s talking about, it’s Halafial [PH]

Speaker: Right, right, so the backstop is traditionally Halafial, right, right, fine, but that works for some people, and it doesn’t work for other people and it works for the Jews maybe better than non-Jews. So if you are already teaching Torah, then why get involved in Jewish philosophy if you’re not quite sure where the discussion leads, does it lead to a zone which undermines the whole Jewish canter. All I’m saying is that it does not undermine the Jewish academy it strengthens the Jewish academy.

Audience Member: I think strength is the foundation of the Jewish academy.

Audience Member: That brings me to two thoughts, as you were saying it, two thoughts popped into my head. Once mentioned to a colleague of mine that Jews, Judaism ultimately is a fighting religion, why because we’re always arguing. Who are we arguing with? You’re arguing with anybody, you argue with each other, you get two Jews together, you get three opinions, but we even argue with God. What does Israel mean? The name Israel, Is ra el, we just a few weeks ago read that in shool [PH] he wrestles with God and overcomes it. Abraham, [inaudible 0:04:05.3] exactly, throwing back at God shall the doer justice not act justly. Throughout Biblical literature, Talitsikas [PH] literature there are constant points that are written slightly telescoped special on PBS last year, I think two years ago God on Trial, I think, I don’t know the exact title, it dealt with the subject of a [inaudible 0:04:40.7] Torah, traditional rabbinical court, that was brought together, the actual historical court took place in Italy in 1946, and where they tried God, they said look we’ve had a lot of answers, Ricky, Lucy you got some explaining to do, you know, God you’ve got to answer for the fact that you made certain commitments in your covenant with us and you didn’t keep them and by the way, jump in, more than happy to hear what you’ve got to say, but they found God guilty and they weren’t afraid of it.

Audience Member: God is always guilty in his trials. Whenever the Rabbi’s take on God, one thing you can bet on is that is God is going to lose.

Audience Member: He didn’t mount much of a defense.

Audience Member: [Inaudible 0:05:31.1] you’re already going to bring the action.

Audience Member: There’s a famous story about the Rabbi [inaudible 0:05:37.6]
who brings no, it’s a terrific story, but he was the famous one who was arguing with God and debating with God and he says to God on Yom Kippur he says dear God, this year you have to write everybody in the good book. He says okay and this year you cannot write anybody in the bad book. He says why not because this year Yom Kippur’s on Shabbos and you can’t wright on Shabbos. So God says how can I write them in the good book, he says to save a life. God always loses.

Audience Member: The point is, true the whole notion of the argumentation and the shock of the Torah [inaudible 0:06:26.6] and there has to be some structure in which to place the argument and it should only go so far with it.

Audience Member: And the backdrop always has to be [inaudible 0:06:34.3] that was the scandal of 18th century the anti-nomian, anti-[inaudible 0:06:42.3] and the tendencies within Hassidism that shocked the Rabbinic world, but on the other hand, the movement had an idea, this idea of Islam. Islam seems to be ashamed to [inaudible 0:06:58.9]

Audience Member: What’s missing is this joy, this enthusiasm, this just giving yourself over at some point to the spiritualism.

Audience Member: But I didn’t deny Harvard his Judaism. There was a question about it a while ago. Thought about it

Audience Member: Well, right,

Audience Member: Today it no longer applies. But they were you

Audience Member: Then there’s early actions for tendencies, you don’t dive into Islam,

Audience Member: You don’t dive in at any particular time, you don’t dive one knee into internal thing tells you your spirit says, okay now I’m going to dive in shallow water, even if it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Audience Member: If it is ever anti-nominal and obviously wasn’t to

Speaker: By anti-nominal you mean anti Kalafiel.

Audience Member: Observance of normative Jewish

Speaker: I think we should ramp up sort of parting shots, maybe go around the table once or twice, sort of parting shots or perspectives of the discussion on the works. Who would like to start with a parting shot, we can always wrap around a second time on top of the parting shot.

Audience Member: I would like to deal with totality of dealing with the entire question, dealing with the entire answer, putting all the cards on the table and dealing with it from a human perspective, from the divine perspective, from an historical perspective and hoping that this metaphysics is the groundwork which is presenting a good divine pattern for human beings to following, for Jews to follow, for non-Jews to follow and if there’s a good theology, it applies to everyone. It should not be so narrow and denominational. I think that you’re certainly on the right track for producing that.

Speaker: Is there anything you like about the book?

Audience Member: Actually I would call that category and I really liked the notion of the question for potential, the many separated out from the ties with God and trying to draw an analogy. I found that a bit unsettling, but certainly the concept a hundred percent. I mean this is the thing, age enlightenment I guess that people were evolving in a positive way moving towards a greater potential and so on, but it didn’t turn out that way. Certainly there has to be some sort of goal, which I believe goal has to be based on certain moral principles and [inaudible 0:09:30.7] standards and so on. I guess it could be universalized, but to use them as a very unique belief system and I don’t think it works outside of the book of Jews. Anybody that doesn’t work outside that, then the format of that paradigm of [inaudible 0:09:50.5] but certainly I can see the universal application.

Audience Member: I would respond only in one point of view that Dr. Garrand, that is perhaps we have to modify our view of this process of higher, further, etc., and say the higher the fall, or the higher the accomplishment, the bigger the fall and when you do have a fall or when there is a collapse. I would also like, as I was rereading, I read God and Evil for the purpose of full disclosure when it first came out in 1988 and I actually wrote a review which has to have been by all accounts the most vacuous book review ever written because I didn’t understand a lot of what you were saying at the time and I was hurried, harried and facheta [PH] as they say, which I still am, God knows and maybe a little wiser.

Audience Member: One thing that as I was rereading it came to me was the famous saying, [inaudible 0:11:00.2] You can’t necessarily finish the answer but you can on the same time you’re not permitted to stop trying. You have to keep, that’s the nature of man and it is that we are curious and we want to find out, we want to understand, we want to know, this is exactly the quest for potential that you’re talking about and I think in that respect you’re right on the money. Whether the metaphysics is good or not, I’m not sufficiently

Speaker: Time will tell.

Audience Member: Right, I’m not sufficiently educated to be able to say for sure.

Audience Member: A hundred percent, that’s the nature of the man.

Speaker: I wish I’d known you for parting shot on top of parting shot.

Audience Member: I don’t have a parting shot. Sum it up.

Speaker: I never heard good answers to these key questions growing up. I went to lectures, I read the articles and I finally went to Harvard [inaudible 0:12:08.7] Friday nights and they had top guns of the Jewish world, one after the other and nobody gave a satisfying, even attempted response. So metaphysical may be right, it may be wrong, but it presents what I feel to be a very powerful, viable option and yes time will tell where it’s next. I want to thank this extinguished panel for joining us today, this afternoon and we’ll all take it to the next step. Thank you for coming.