Friday, December 28, 2007

On Theodicy and its counterarguments

ברכות ז: -אמר ר' יותנן משום ר' יוסי.... בקש (משה) להודיעו דרכיו של הקב"ה ונתן לו שנא' (שמות לג) הודיעני נא את דרכיך אמר לפניו רבש"ע מפני מה יש צדיק וטוב לו ויש צדיק ורע לו יש רשע וטוב לו ויש רשע ורע לו אמר לו משה צדיק וטוב לו צדיק בן צדיק צדיק ורע לו צדיק בן רשע רשע וטוב לו רשע בן צדיק רשע ורע לו רשע בן רשע:

אמר מר צדיק וטוב לו צדיק בן צדיק צדיק ורע לו צדיק בן רשע איני והא כתיב (שמות לד) פקד עון אבות על בנים וכתיב (דברים כד) ובנים לא יומתו על אבות ורמינן קראי אהדדי ומשנינן לא קשיא הא כשאוחזין מעשה אבותיהם בידיהם הא כשאין אוחזין מעשה אבותיהם בידיהם אלא הכי קא"ל צדיק וטוב לו צדיק גמור צדיק ורע לו צדיק שאינו גמור רשע וטוב לו רשע שאינו גמור

רשע ורע לו רשע גמור"

I'd like to propose a theory that would explain the difference between הו"א and the מסקנא. It would at first appear that whoever proposed the first explanation seemed to have forgotten an obvious Passuk - דבר שאפילו תשב"ר יודעין בה

In truth, the word "Ben" does not necessarily mean son. It can also be used to denote profession (e.g. the popular term Ben Torah, R' Yochana bar Nafcha (but cf. Rashi)), birthplace (e.g. R' Abba bar Mamal as explained by Shir - Divrei Shalom V' Emes), or to describe certain character traits[1].

If so then the original Tanna in referring to a צדיק בן רשע actually intended to say צדיק שאינו גמר (i.e. a Tsaddik with some traits of a Rasha)- the מסקנא of the Gemara. The שו"ט of the Gemara is based on a misunderstanding of the term "Ben". (The term ה"ק is generally not meant to be a new formulation but rather an explanation of the original formulation.)

I suggest that many sugyos in which the הו"א of a Gemara seems to be saying an obviously incorrect explanation is in fact simply an unclear statement that needs to be properly interpreted ( A statement transmitted orally may convey certain nuances that are lost in print thus leading to misunderstandings, The meanigs of certain words may have changed over the 300 year period of the transmission of the Talmud , etc.)
והדבר צריך עוד עיון דו"ק ותשכח

[1] (In Mekor Baruch Vol. 3 - he suggests that the phrase Taanis 21b:

אמר ליה מוטב יבא מנה בן פרס אצל מנה בן מנה ואל יבא מנה בן מנה אצל מנה בן פרס

is not referring to his father (Why would he express humility at the expense of his father? What
of Kibbud Av?) but is rather describing himself as being incomplete - ( a loaf with traits of a half-loaf. See there for a more extended discussion on the meanings of the term "Ben".)

1 comment:

maimon said...

see rashi beginning of toldot, this phraseology is used literally to differentiate between Yitzchack and Rivkah. It's quite a stretch to refer to someone not a tzaddik gammur as having traits of a rasha. More likely, both the hava amina and the maskanah were trying to interpret an ambiguous mesorah that differentiated between two types of tzaddikim without being specific. As for the first question, I actually don't fully comprehend the gemmarah's question. As everyone knows this concept is one of the great mysteries of faith itself and to categorize tzaddik v'ra lo as punishment is a big mistake, therefore what is the question from a passuk that says children can't be punished for their father's misdeeds?

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