Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Redemption of Restriction

Well, like usual, I had 50,000 "good ideas" that never made it to the blog because I can't keep them in my mind long enough, but one thing that I was pondering while attempting to be overtaken by slumber (again) is part of the definition of "spirituality" in Judaism as compared with other religions. More than half of the commands given to us in the Torah are part of the "negative commandments" section, and basically the entire "legal" aspect of the Talmud has to do with Halachic restrictions. In that case it's evident that not being able to do something is, in essence, a huge part of the "spirituality" of Judaism.

What I have in mind when I say this is something I once saw in a book called "When They Were 22 (100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives)"; it quotes Muhammad Ali when he was in jail as saying that, unlike what he previously thought, the religious restrictions of his new-found Islam actually gave him an empowering feeling. To me there's no question that this type of feeling is what was (at least partially) intended in the Judaic restrictive laws as well.
Unlike the feelings created by modern thinkers in the past few centuries, restriction, or more appropriately "a greater amount of self-control" is perhaps the only real frontier one can explore in the realm of religious growth. Within the self-control inherent in the Mitzvot is the one of the only real opportunities Man has to question his current horizons and explore heretofore unthought-of possibilities of a different kind of existence.
Now, this is not a new idea to me, but I feel I was able to look at it with a bit of a new light..

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