We’re in the “Marxism” section of the required “Perspectives in Social Science Analysis” class. If you’ve never read Marx inside, let me warn you it’s some of the most boring dense reading out there. Anyway, in one of his rants on alienation, Marx claims “all objects become for him objectifications of himself.” (not in the linked page, but you get the idea) Basically, when man produces an object, he invests part of himself – his essense – into creating this object. Thus, part of his essense is now “alienated” from himself, which for Marx is one of the worst things imaginable.
As I recall, the Keddushat Levi has a similar approach in explaining mishloah manot but with a positive spin. (Surprise – I do learn hassidut on occasion). Like Marx, he views the mishloach manot as the fruits of one’s labor, and consequently giving someone mishloach manot implies giving someone else a part of yourself. However, whereas Marx emphasizes the alienation factor of man losing himself, Keddushat Levi stresses the community building process of receiving the other.
This got me thinking that for all Marx talks about alienation and what the worker loses, I haven’t seen him discuss where the worker gets anything back. If a worker produces something in which he invests himself, and someone else acquires said object then following the Marxian analogy that person has also acquired the essense of someone else. Thus it’s not simply man losing his essence, but he is necesarilly gaining others in his role as a consumer.
I guess now would be the time to write a warm fuzzy derasha on the individual and his larger role in the community for Marxian and Hassidic thought. I have too much reading to do tonight, so I leave this as an excersize for the reader.