Over the years, I have had concerns about my lack of memory of many of our family experiences. After thinking on that, I decided that I was (am?) seriously unbalanced. Not so much mentally unbalanced as spiritually unbalanced. Let me explain. Some years ago, Jon Weese in his series of lessons entitled East to West introduced me to two Hebrew words I was unfamiliar with … halacha and haggadah. At the time it was interesting but I sort of filed the thoughts away. Later, I came across the terms again in reading some material on parables. This time a light came on, particularly about my lack of memory. First let me define halacha and haggadah as I have come to understand them and then I will try to make my point about being spiritually unbalanced and bad memory. halacha – In common expression – “Jewish law”. Conceptually it means legal lore. Halacha deals with subjects that can be expressed literally. Halacha teaches how to participate , gives knowledge, norms for action and deals with details. haggadah – A word for a particular ritual of the Passover Seder meal during which the story of the passover is told.
The term haggadah simply means “narration” in Hebrew and, in Jewish tradition, it basically refers to discussions about classical Jewish literature which does not involve legal matters – anything which is not halakah. (About.com)
The nature of haggadah in contrast to halacha is that it focuses on the heart and imagination, introducing a realm which lies beyond the range of expression. It provides aspiration, a vision for the ends of living. Haggadah inspires people. It captures the heart through imagination. It reaches out and takes hold of the spiritual qualities of the human heart. It reveals God’s presence in personal experience. Haggadah reaches the heart and challenges the mind. It inspires people to see God’s image – even in the face of another human being with a wretched, uncomely appearance. The intellect grabs the meaning of Biblical text but haggadah penetrates the heart with the message that every human being is created in the image of God. (from The Parablesby Brad Young)
After thinking about my memory problem I have decided that it is not a memory problem at all. It is a sight/perception problem. I can remember many things that occurred during the same time periods that I cannot remember other things, particularly family moments. So what does that have to do with halacha and haggadah? Halacha and haggadah are two different concepts of interpreting scripture as they are commonly used but I think they are also lens through which we interpret and understand life and relationships. A balanced person will will employ both halacha and haggadah in understanding life’s experiences. It is my opinion that very few people are perfectly balanced in that way. Most of of us are biased toward one or the other. It is analogous to being “right” brained or “left” brained. In fact, it is an important task in our lives to understand and achieve a healthy appreciation for the “left” and the “right”. But, unfortunately, we can become “unbalanced”, not just biased but “clinically” unbalanced i.e. spiritually unbalanced. I believe that is why I have little memory of many important events. My lens for viewing life experiences was so colored by halacha that I had little appreciation or recognition of anything that I could not see through that lens. This begs a number of questions … What causes a person to be “spiritually unbalanced”? Is there a cure? What are the implications to my understanding of scripture and my relationship to God? Of course, some may question my conclusions entirely but that would be welcome.