Mishpatim–Feedback Loop

All that YHWH has spoken we will do, and we will listen.  Ex. 24:7

This could be seen as verbal hendiadys: “we will do and we will listen” = “we will faithfully do.”  But Jewish tradition classically “over-interprets” the verbal sequence: the people commit themselves to act on God’s word (“we will do”) before they know what it is (“we will listen”).

Like the tradition, I also “over-interpret” this verse, but in a slightly different fashion.

“We will do”: the beginning of wisdom is action, involvement.

“And we will listen”: But it doesn’t stop with the doing.  After we do, we listen. Did our actions bring about the consequences we wanted?  If not, do we “try, try again”?  tweak the mitzvah?  or pursue an entirely different means to the right and holy ends we desire?  The history of Judaism gives ample evidence of all of these approaches.

The verse thus understood assumes that we will only understand as we perform, but it does not recommend blind obedience so much as it creates a feedback loop.  We will do, and after we do, we will listen.

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