Between Real and Ideal

Rabbi Ethan Tucker

Parashat Mattot-Masei

Is Torah about life or is life about Torah? Are the details of Jewish law pristine instructions and guidelines that beckon the world to mimic their platonic form? Or is Jewish practice meant to somehow sanctify and legitimate the messy world as it is, bending to fit and accommodate the realities of any given moment? Rabbinic literature teems with laws that distinguish between ideal practice and coping strategies for addressing unexpected situations. The terminology used to highlight these different states are לכתחילה/le-khathilah and בדיעבד/be-diavad. (5776)