Monday, June 1, 2009

Ramban-Torah Teaches Morals- Toras Hashem Temima perek 1 second half of siman 5

The Ramban comes to teach us a very important use for the Torah, Morals. Without the Torah and its morals man can not know what the proper path is and how to find it. He says,

"Even if a man will become aware through his own knowledge, without learning anything [from the Torah], and come up with an original though-like it is impossible that the Spheres move themselves, rather something else must be moving them- [he still will not know how to act]. This man [that does not learn the Torah or its offshoots] will not know what is a good deed and what is a bad deed, he won't have knowledge or be able to figure things out through logic, and he will not know which deeds are better than others. Also, years and days will be equal in his eyes. [In the end], everything is equal to this man just like he is similar to an animal."

This idea is very important to Judaism. Moral rules that are objective can only stem from a higher power. This is why any moral rule must always have its basis in G-D. Without a basis in a higher power there is no such thing as objective morality. Also, without a belief in G-D there is no reason that a man should act any differently than an animal. These two ideas are interconnected since the only real difference between man and animal is self control. Morality preaches that a man should carry himself in a dignified manner, containing ones desires and instinctive reactions if need be.

For a further understanding of morals and what an objective type of moral system requires check out this philosophy site. I think the biggest issue this site deals with is that of Objectivism vs. Relativism. Objectivism is where morality comes from a higher being, however, Relativism is where morals come from man. This makes sense why it is called relativism, since anything that comes from man is all subjective to the man that makes it. For example, the United States thought that it should win World War II, but Germany thought it should win World War II. Therefore, Germans thought it was moral to torture American soldiers for crucial information and Americans thought it was moral to torture German soldiers for crucial information. Which one was objectively right? Well, if there is no G-D or higher being then there is no objective truth. However, when there is a G-D the objective morality can be seen, the Germans were immoral lunatics that were committing crimes against humanity.

This is what the Ramban is teaching us. There can only be relativism when a person ignores G-D. This type of moral system, or lack there of, will lead to atrocities against humanity. At the very least it will lead to a corrupt type of thinking that obfuscates the world.


The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

However, let me point out that the problem with your argument comes in how you define God.
After all, Hitler, y"sh, said he was doing the will of "Providence" in killing the Jews. Certainly the Church thought it was doing God's will torturing and forcibly converting us for 1800 years.
Therefore, as ma'aminim, it is incumbent on us to not only believe in an external source of authority but also that His sole genuine revelation was to us. Otherwise the concept of a god that anyone can stick ideas to is no different than amoral relativism.

E-Man said...

A hundred percent. I was only referring to the Ramban's point about the Torah being the true word of G-D and therefore the ultimate source of true objective morality. Obviously, if man makes up a god that is just like relativism since man is making up the morals of that god.