A thought inspired by Tuesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Nazir 15
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Is your relationship a given?
This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.
The question “Are you the parent of this child?” can be viewed from two different perspectives.
One perspective views the relationship between a parent and a child as a binary fact, either “yes” or “no,” with the fact being a given. In this perspective, the focus is on what you do with this fact and how you demonstrate your role as a parent through factors such as how much you care for the child, the amount of time spent together, and the values and culture you pass on to the child. The quality of the relationship and the effectiveness of your parenting are determined by these factors.
The other perspective views the relationship as a more complex position on a spectrum, and sees the reality of the relationship as largely up to you. The extent to which you embody the role of a parent and care for the child, the amount of time spent together, and the values transmitted are integral in determining your position on the spectrum and the type of parent you are.
In short, the first perspective regards the relationship as a given binary fact, while the second perspective views the relationship as a complex reality that you have the power to shape.
The perspective on the question “Are you the child of this parent?” also has two different viewpoints. One perspective views the relationship between a child and a parent as a simple, binary fact – either “yes” or “no” – with the fact being a given. In this perspective, the focus is on the qualities or properties of the relationship, such as the amount of time spent together, the level of respect and emulation shown, and so on.
The other perspective views the relationship as a more complex narrative that shifts over time, influenced by the actions of both the child and the parent. In this perspective, the answer to the question is not a fixed, pre-determined fact, but rather something that can be answered differently by different people and depends on the actions of both parties.
The first perspective sees the relationship as a static, given fact, while the second perspective views it as a dynamic, ever-evolving narrative shaped by the actions of both parties.
The question “Are you in a romantic relationship with this person; are you partners or married?” also has two differing perspectives. One perspective sees the relationship as a fixed, binary fact, with issues such as feelings and investment in the relationship being seen as properties or qualities of the relationship. The other perspective views the relationship as being defined by one’s attitudes and behaviors, with the level of belonging and commitment being integral to the definition of the relationship.
Similarly, the question “Are you a member of this ethnicity or culture?” also has two different perspectives. One perspective sees membership as a given fact that cannot be changed, while the other perspective views membership as being dependent on factors such as belonging, commitment, time spent, and knowledge and immersion in the culture, and may change as a result of one’s input.
In conclusion, relationships can be viewed in two ways. One perspective is that relationships are pre-determined and fixed, while the other perspective sees relationships as a dynamic and evolving result of one’s choices and actions. Whether a relationship exists and what kind of relationship it is, depends on the individual’s choices and actions, both past, present, and future.