Mishpatim: Is Logic Logical?



We humans pride ourselves with our rational minds and superior intellect, with our ability to objectively process and comprehend the world around us. But how many of our decisions are actually driven by our intellect rather than by our emotions? When we fall in love, for example, and make a lifelong commitment to another person, is that a rational move? And even when we are logical, what is the basis of our logic?

As logical as we may think we are, more often than not we behave in illogical – or supra-logical – ways. For example, how often do we learn from our mistakes and do not repeat destructive patterns?

With economic turbulence shaking everyone up, when many institutions we considered reliable and sensible turn out to be neither – it is an excellent time to rethink what we trust and the way we process information coming our way. In the current climate of fear and uncertainty, with our existing infrastructures in fragile shreds, now is the time to revisit our mindsets and comfort zones.

With much humor and colorful stories, this sermon dissects the very nature of logic itself and shows how our subjective emotions impact on the way we process information – in illogical rather than logical ways. And it demonstrates how the addition of one single letter – not a word, but a solitary letter – in the opening of this week’s Torah portion can transform the way we think about ourselves and our existing systems.


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