Yadin YadinGo To YourselfThe Tao of Jew
Yadin Yadin

There are any number of useful ways to describe Jewish law. Let us give up on the idea that halacha is one of them. The idea that halacha – הלכה – means “law” is absurd. The verb holekh – הוֹלך – has many connotations, but “law” is not one of them. The verb defines actions associated with going, such as direction or leadership – להוֹליך – or embarking on a journey – ללכת.

It is with purpose, I think, that the imperative “go!” – לך – is indistinguishable from the personal pronoun “you” or “yours”. G!d uses this imperative when we are introduced to Avraham Avinu. A subtle phrase with several interpretations names the sedra: לך לך. It may mean any of the following…

Go! Go!
You! You!
Go to yourself!
Go to what is yours!

These imperatives describe something to possess, something to take ownership of, and I see halacha the same way.

Christianity began the cultural appropriation of Judaism in the Dark Ages, a cultural appropriation which continued as western hearts replaced the church the academy. It seemed right to 18th century German intellectuals that Judaism and Islam influenced western culture, these became “western” religions, something neither is or ever can be. Jewish perspectives have become so warped by Orientalism that our scholars accept Judaisms to be a “western” tradition, we are nothing of the sort, Judaisms is rooted firmly in the east: no map I’ve ever seen puts Persia west of the Mediterranean!

The western mind requires rubrics. Law is law, ethics are ethics, and there may be an ethic of law but there is no law of ethics. The eastern mind is fascinated by such Jaberwocky. Halacha is ethics, law, religion, and spirituality, all of which are in relationship to each other.