God vs The Multiverse

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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Purim Song (Part 6: Final Svara)

We think there is a deeper way to understand the previous machlokes between רבא and רב נחמן based upon a conceptual connection between the first and second parts of the sugya.

To develop this approach, we begin with a question: 

רבא argued that we do not say הלל on Purim because we are still the servants of אחשורוש and this servitude prevents us from saying הלל.   According to this logic, why doesn't our current state of exile prevent us from saying הלל on any day of the year? 

We believe the answer is that the הלל that is being postulated in this sugya is an essential feature of publicizing the miracle, and as such, we must judge whether the miracle itself warrants a publication accompanied by הלל or not.  It is not relevant what our present state at this very moment is. The servitude to אחשורוש tells us that the story of the מגילה itself does not warrant הלל. 

This idea is in line with the original reasoning of the gemara which tied the derivation for saying הלל to the reading the מגילה.  Namely, the gemara attempted to derive both of them from the comparison to the song of אז ישיר, which was both an instrument of publicizing the miracle and a song of praise.  

It would seem that it is not merely a coincidence that these two features  of אז ישיר are found together, but rather there is an intimate conceptual connection between them.  The purpose of publicizing a miracle is not merely to convey the cold intellectual knowledge that God has control of nature, that His providence relates to man, etc.  Rather, a major purpose of the transmission is to bring the receiver of the information to a state of recognition of God's greatness and kindness, which should result in an expression of הלל.  This is the premise of the gemara's question that we should also say הלל.

With this idea, we can explain the machlokes of the previous post on a deeper level.  We could say that everyone really agrees that הלל, in and of itself, could be fulfilled entirely through an implicit הלל.  However, the dispute revolves around whether an obligation to say הלל that is a קיום in the publicizing of a miracle can be implicit, or whether it must be an explicit הלל.

רב נחמן maintains that since the reading of the reading the מגילה brings a person to an internal state of הלל, the publicizing of the miracle achieves its objective.  Every person who hears the מגילה is brought to a state of הלל, and the publicizing of the miracle has achieved both of its objectives: transmitting the intellectual information and bringing the receiver to a state of praising God.

However, those who argue on רב נחמן maintain that since this הלל (if it were to exist) is not just a regular הלל, but is tied to the publicizing of the miracle, it must be done openly and expressly.  In other words, הלל is not simply the objective of the publicizing, but is rather part and parcel of the very act of publicizing itself.  The publication of the miracle must include the fact that this miracle evokes a reaction of הלל and therefore an implicit הלל does not suffice.

In summary, the argument revolves around the connection between the publicizing and the הלל. Namely, רב נחמן maintains that the publicizing must bring about הלל.  For this, an implicit הלל suffices. The others argue that the publicizing itself must include the idea that these events bring about הלל and therefore a manifest הלל should be needed.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Purim Song (Part 5: More Svara)

On the surface, רב נחמן's position that reading the מגילה can be in place of saying הלל, seems difficult.  After all, הלל is a song of praise, while מגילה is just the reading of a story. How can we justify this position?

It would seem that according to רב נחמן the reading of הלל can be done with a text which is explicitly הלל or with a text in which the הלל is implicit.  In general, the הלל is expressed through explicit songs of praise. However, it can equally be accomplished by reading the moving story of the מגילה, a book which is written in a manner which implicitly points to and celebrates God's Providence to protect and save the Jewish people.

Although God and His Providence are never mentioned explicitly in the מגילה, it is implicit in the mind of the reader of the מגילה who recognizes and feels a strong sense of appreciation for the great salvation brought by Hashem. 

This what רב נחמן means by saying that reading the מגילה is the הלל. Since the publicizing of the miracle had already been set up through the reading of the מגילה, and this reading carries with it an implicit הלל, there was no further need to add an additional recitation of הלל.  The reading of the מגילה suffices for both.

The other positions argue with רב נחמן and maintain that הלל must be explicit. Its essence is in the outward expression of song and praise. Thus, the obligation of הלל, if it were to exists, could not be satisfied through reading of the מגילה alone.

In the next post, we will be presenting a different way of understanding these issues based upon an understanding of the relationship between the first and second parts of the sugya.