Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pope Francis Channels Rav Wolbe

"Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext."

-Pope Francis, Jan. 12, 2015, addressing the terrorist attacks in France
(numerous sources, see for example http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/us-france-shooting-pope-idUSKBN0KL0X120150112.)

On the narrow path to Truth in serving G‑d there is a major impediment which is called “frumkeit” – a term which has no clear and exact translation. Frumkeit is the natural urge and instinct to become attached to the Creator. This instinct is also found amongst animals. Dovid said, “The lion cubs roar for their prey and ask G‑d for their food” (Tehilim 104:21). “He gives to the beast his food and to the young ravens who call to Him” (Tehilim 247:9). There is no necessity why these verses should be understood as metaphors.

-Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt"l, Alei Shur II p. 152ff., as translated (see also the elucidation there) at http://www.aishdas.org/asp/what-is-frumkeit.


  1. A sentiment that has long ago been forgotten in the Charedi world.

  2. Gratuitous insult. Often to whatever extent someone practices religion, that exercise is one of Rav Wolbe's frumkeit. ודוק היטב!

  3. So for RSW, frumkeit is RYBS' homo religiosus?

    1. I wasn't following this conversation. So 4 years later, let me reply.

      I think they're different, for these reasons:

      (1) Homo religiosis uses what RSW calls da'as, and
      (2) s/he is seeking redemption through a relationship, a "community" in RYBS's terms, of two.

      Frumkeit is an instinct. It's reflexive, not thoughtful. And as RSW points out, like every instinct it's about the self.

    2. I just realized I could have referred back to the OP!

      RYBS compares RSW's notion of frumkeit with a then-recent statement by Pope Francis. "Religious fundamentalism... eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext."

      That's the difference -- HR sees Hashem as Someone with Whom to have a meaningful relationship. He might be driven by a need for personal redemption, but it's being sought by finding meaning in the Other. The frum person is thoughtlessly grasping for holiness, without paying attention to either meaning or the other (nor "Other").

  4. I would defer to Reb Micha Berger if he chooses to answer, but I think RYBS's HR is more of a chassidisher than a frummer.

  5. R. Wolbe is not saying the same thing as the Pope, but having said that, the Pope's comments can be found in writers in every age and from every stripe, from the Greeks on down. Which is telling of many things.

  6. I don't presume to speak for anyone, but I see the first comment as more of a statement of agreement than an insult. Seeing frumkeit in a negative light, let alone as 'an impediment' in the words of RSW, does not seem to be the approach of most Charedim today. It almost looks as though frumkeit and ehrlichkeit are at odds with each other (especially so if frumkeit is an animalistic drive), and we must be careful to strike the right balance. If RYBS disagrees or did not have that sentiment in mind when posting this entry, I stand corrected.

  7. One could then say that Shaul HaMelech was closer to truth than Dovid HaMelech, in not killing Agag; but of course that involved issues of nevu'ah. OTOH, when the Rambam say that - given the ability - we would execute any gentile who didn't accept the zayin mitzvot -- where does that fit into this categorization?

    More fundamentally, how does one distinguish between their "fanatic, animalistic fundamentalism" and our "l'shaim Shamayim, mesiras nefesh fundamentalism"?

  8. The CI's disavowal of mordin v'lo ma'alin ba'zman ha'zeh applies equally to non-Jews as to Jews.

  9. Forgive my obtuseness, but the CI Y"D 3:16 appears to be speaking only about Jews. Ubifrat that Goyim do not require hasra'ah. Is there another CI I am unaware of?

    1. a) sorry I mis-cited: CI Y"D 2:16
      b) Non-Jews are chayav misah even b'shogeg, b'lo hasra'ah
      c) there is no chiyuv to be mekarev them or hochai'ach to'chi'ach
      d) once they are chayav misa, [according to Rashi even for being metza'air a Jew] that is irreversible - except -perhaps- through geirus.

      The zayin mitzvot don't require hochachos of hashgacha pratis [referring to the CI] - pre-Avrohom, there were onshim. Post-Avrohom Avimelech was chayav misa for a lack of derech eretz.

      IMO, given the din of genaivas shoveh pruta, it is hard to imagine a non-Jew not being chayav misa. Add to that abortion, anti-Semitism, arayos, kefirah [which is the only place where the CI's factor of manifest hashgocho might be a ptur]... I don't see how the CI's logic could possibly apply to non-Jews.

    2. b) No just court in history has ever judged that way - Jewish or non-Jewish. That would be the standards of the Nazis' People's Court. What is stated as a hypothetical halacha would never be put into practice.

      c) Oh yes there is. That is the mission of "mamleches kohanim v'goy kadosh."

      I don't see me'svara any difference between exempting a non-religious Jew for AZ vs. a non-Jew for AZ. Aderaba.

      No non-Jew is chayav misa unless convicted by the process of Dinim. Din shomayim is not our cheshbon in any event.