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Study and Theory/

Abraham Isaac Green

The Quarrel Between the Heart and the Mind

From: "Seek My Face Call My Name", Am Oved Publication 1997 pp. 52-53

And so I find myself in the course of my daily life fulfilling a symbolic act of profound significance, connected with the story of G-d creating the world in seven days. I am aware of the fact that I do not literally believe in this tale... Yet, I wholeheartedly feel that this story has a force that has been drawing me magically. I am bound to it and I find in it a remedy for my soul all week long and an expression of meaning to my life and to my existence on this world...

Consequently, it occurs that that very act of reciting Kiddush on wine on Friday nights, generates a theological crisis in me. How do I declare about my faith that it does not match my consciousness? What is the value of this declaration in light of this skepticism? How can we find peace in our souls in face of this contradiction? Rabbi Nachman of Breslau relates a story of a prince, who by his nature was a man of nobility and virtue, yet the "enlightenment" the intellectual temptations of the wise men in his country confused him and led him to epicureanism and nonobservance. Anytime he would "use his mind" and its nuances, he would have a tendency to question the ancient wisdom that he had grown with from his childhood. But whenever he would turn rationality aside and allow his heart to take the lead, he knew it was actually profound, perhaps to such an extent that he could never   express it in words that could appease his investigating mind...

Are we, who refuse to take a resolution in determining to choose between modernism and faith, doomed to live our entire lives with the ongoing battle ensuing between the heart and the mind? Or perhaps, we may devise a new story of creation, such that also serves the needs of peace between humans and cultivating our humane values that, at the same time, succumbs to our thirst for knowledge and nourishes our scientific imagination?

The time has come to put an end to this contradiction and to perceive either tale as a different version of the very same story that represents two stages in the development of man's awareness and his understanding of the universe. Time has come that every time we lift the wine cup to recite the Kiddush, while our mouth recites the ancient take, that we be aware of the new tale it reflects as well, in a way that unites the ancient truth with a new and timeless one.

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