Rabbi YY Jacobson
Do We Have Free Choice? - 2
Where Halacha and Metaphysics Converge: When the Effect Precedes Its Cause
In this class we explore how Jewish law mirrors the theological resolution for the conflict between Divine omniscience and human free choice. We journey through the teachings of two 19th century giants, Rabbi Yosef Engel, and the Rogatchover Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rozen. If the law is that only a Jew can circumcise a gentile to facilitate his conversion, who was there to circumcise Abraham, the first Jew? We consider the teaching of the Sages that G-d himself "sent forth his hand" and circumcised Abraham. But what does that really mean? Here we come to a seemingly incomprehensible principle of Talmudic law known as the law of "two as one." Namely, two mutually exclusive realities can exist at once.
We turn to dissecting how divorce works in Jewish law and where the principle of "two as one" comes through in every divorce; we further dissect the laws of emancipating a slave, of sanctifying the altar in the Tabernacle, of sanctifying the utensils in the Tabernacle, for in all these laws we discover the synthesis of paradoxes at play. Why these fields of law and no others? We finally discover the true meaning and power of Teshuvah in Jewish thought, where past and future merge into a seamless flow of oneness.