24 April 2011

Reversing the flow of abundance

The difference between a gift and a commodity lies in the meaning that attaches to the gift, a meaning which goes beyond the value (the worth) that is attached to the commodity. The meaning addresses some measure of value that adheres to the relationship between the parties rather than the value that adheres only in the material object or service under consideration. 
A commodity is material stripped of meaning. Markets are places that facilitate engaging in social relations around commodities, around material stripped of meaning. Commodification entails the stripping away of the meaning of goods to prepare them for exchange in a marketplace. 
When advertising kicks in and superimposes some fabricated meaning onto the commodities for sale in the marketplaces it does so after the 'organic' meaning of the goods and services have already been stripped away so that they have been rendered as commodities, which can then carry some contrived, fabricated meaning. That contrived, fabricated meaning is founded in covetousness. To covet is to experience dysfunctional meaning. 
The meaning attached to a gift comes from the free bestowal of its value from one person to another. When God relates to mankind in terms of the bestowal of His gifts of grace He is introducing the world's meaning into the system of how the world operates. The world's meaning lies in the world's having been given (gifted) to man by God as a gift to be maintained and used. Meaning is a cultural rather than a natural artifact. 
The meaning of the world is as the embodiment of the Old One's love for mankind. Covetousness, on the other hand, is the experience of a sensation that reverses the flow of abundance from giving away, from bestowing on another, to wanting for oneself, to removing from another. 

Mutual feelings of gratitude

The reason we give gifts is to engender the feeling of gratitude in another. 
The engendering of the feeling of gratitude is what we do with the surplus of our creative endeavors. That is how the deserving relate with the undeserving: they take their own surplus and gift it to those who lack it, thereby engendering feelings of gratitude in the undeserving. 
When the society is able to engender enough mutual feelings of gratitude it is on its way to erecting a culture founded on loving kindness.  

Teach gratitude

If you want to teach tolerance, practice reverence; if you want to practice loving kindness, teach gratitude. 

Not in barter

The most primitive form of social interaction in material goods is not in barter but in gift exchange. 
Members of a civil society will exchange gifts rather than bartering for meaningless commodities. 

Contracts are administered by third parties

Contracts are administered by third parties. That's why they have to be explicit, preferably written down; and that's why they can have the force of law backing them up. 

Else they rebuke their caretakers

Why do people reciprocate in their gift giving? Because of the resource curse: because a curse will befall those who hoard within the circle of circulating gifts. 
The gift that is not reciprocated will bring upon its master a curse. The same God Who provided for so much bounty will cause the flow of abundance to dry up. He will stop the rains. The source of creative power will reciprocate in the negative unless the recipient of gifts reciprocates in the positive. If someone violates the justice of desert and keeps for himself the undeserved gift that another has bestowed upon him, the power of deservedness, of justice, will prevail and the hoarder will bring down upon himself retributive justice in the form of the withholding of what otherwise would have been deserved bounty. 
The resource curse is the means by which karmic vengeance is meted out. It is not authoritative law that enforces payment for gift exchange, it is the higher authority Who keeps the accounts of justice in the world. It might well be that the worth of the gift could successfully be hoarded and kept to oneself and not given away but the meaning would wreak vengeance and undo the windfall of the hoarded gift's worth. 
Some part of every gift is inalienable and cannot be given away. When something inalienable has been hoarded by another rather than being reciprocated or traditted, then a curse will revenge itself upon the one who violated the unwritten laws of gifted property. 
Every gift has a soul of meaning, a hau, that demands its proper disposition and discharge. Things take on a spirit when they are offered as gifts. The spiritual center of our culture is embodied in the transformation of the material into the spiritual by the act of giving. Hoarded gifts have restless spirits that complain and cause disturbances within the domains of those who would violate the deservedness of such belongings. 
Hoarding eliminates the spiritual from the culture. At a minimum hoarded gifts leave the hoarder with an inferior social status that can only be recovered when the gift is reciprocated. The sense of gratitude that comes to the undeserving by virtue of the granting of a gift by the deserving underlines the enchanting of society. That enchantment comes of the teeter-totter action of deserving and undeserving in the society. 
Spirituality is the offspring of the sensation of desert. Gifts are wards that resist storage. Gifts must circulate. Sooner or later their wardens must send them away, else they rebuke their caretakers and revolt against them. The point of sending gifts on their way was to allow them eventually to return to those to whom they belonged, to their makers. 
Soulless things can be exchanged; soulful things could only be gifted and ultimately returned to where and to whom they belong, to their makers. 

15 April 2011


Obsolescence is the way in which capitalism turns everything into consumption. 

The ancient meanings

  • Worth is the measure of value of those things that can be employed to accomplish some end. 
  • Worth measures the utility of the thing. 
  • Worth is a measure of utility. 
Utilitarianism therefore devises a society that centers on how useful things can be. Inevitably that utility culminates in the consumption of something. 
  • Meaning, on the other hand, is the measure of value of those things that can embody the relationship between the parties to an interaction. 
  • Meaning measures the strength of the relationship. 
  • Meaning is the measure of covenant. 
The modern, industrial world was founded on mankind's willingness to accumulate as its own handiwork the abundance God was providing, and, in the process, to deny God's gift of grace, to deny the gratitude and the reciprocation a more meaningful world would have entailed. 
Industrialization dismantled the ancient meanings and replaced them with artistic and artificial constructions that desacralized people’s experiences. It was not only the Enlightenment that de-enthused the world, it was the Industrial Revolution that chased the Old One out of people’s experience of the material world by removing the possibility of gifting that enspirits ordinary commodities.  
The new State of Israel could revive in modern day format the ancient values of gratitude and the spirit, and thereby make vital again the enchanted world of meaning the gift of grace would signify. 

Transforming the object into a gift

The gift-wrapping of things to turn them into presents induces a small drama when the present is presented as a gift and all in attendance view the unwrapping as a ceremony of transforming the object into a gift. 

Both aspects of loving kindness

What is kindness but the sentiment that results in people giving to each other? 
Loving is the sentiment that results in people being available to each other. 
So loving kindness covers both aspects of relationship: the loving covers the choq while the kindness covers the mishpat

Then pay for it

It's not the lunch that's not free, it's the gift. 
God says take what you want and then pay for it: either voluntarily, by reciprocating or traditting, or involuntarily, by being cursed. 

The only form of transaction

Gift exchange is the natural and preferred form of interaction for civil society. 
Absent an authoritative super-structure to enforce contract law, gift exchange is the only form of transaction that can work even under the most primitive of conditions. 

Government's police power

How does the introduction of government's police power degrade the action of civil society? 
How did the introduction of communism impair Chinese civil society? 

We give gifts away

We give gifts away not because we expect something in return but because we have already gotten a gift and wish to discharge it from our possession. 

We disdain the materiality of the gift

We enact our privileging of the spiritual and artificial over the material and the natural in the way we disdain the materiality of the gift in favor of the social setting in which the gifts are dispensed. 
Our meals become occasions for socializing and conversation, not merely for satisfying our hunger. 
The price of the gift is belittled and submerged. 
The desire for the gift is sub-ordinated to the generosity of the giver. 


We publicize the beneficence of the giver so that other can behold his generosity. 
Thus are we beholden to our benefactors. 

The degeneracy of the upper classes

The honor of the upper classes requires not only a courteous demeanor toward one’s peers but also noblesse oblige to the lower classes. 
When the upper classes exploit the lower classes they dishonor their class and weaken the entire culture. The decline of the British empire, like the decline of the Roman empire, came from the degeneracy of the upper classes, not from any bad behavior on the part of the lower classes. 
It was the institutions of exchange in Britain the Industrial Revolution fostered which undermined the British upper class' honor. (The question is what happened to the honor of the German upper class?) 

Honor is more important than wealth

First and foremost the institution of the potlatch is there to send the message among the upper classes that material goods are secondary in importance to non-material station
Honor is more important than wealth. A leader who impoverishes himself in the pursuit of a higher honor gains the esteem of his peers and dignifies the status of his subjects. 
The national sabbatical year is the Scriptural analogue to the potlatch. Its message too is, first and foremost, that the non-material is more important than the material. 
That the Children of Israel never really dared to risk a sabbatical year testifies to the weakness of their conviction in a political governance that is truly spiritual.

The flip side of shunning

Gossip is civil society's way of policing improper behavior. 
People talking about misbehavior is a way to discipline it, to instruct the transgressors about what they did wrong, and to urge them to correct their behavior. It's the flip side of shunning. 

12 April 2011

Radical equality prevails

For six years the people reciprocate God's gifts by the honor system; in the seventh year all the property becomes non-private and radical equality prevails. 
In the seventh year Israelites don't need to depend on people's sense of honor to acknowledge and appreciate the gifts they receive from others or from God because they don't need to release what doesn't belong to them in the first place. 

11 April 2011

What we see others enjoying

"Human beings must either give or fight." (The Gift of Thanks, Margaret Visser, 2008; page 110) 
When a society encourages covetousnous people come to desire what others have, and inevitably they start fighting over who gets to own it. 
In societies where people tend to diminish the power of material goods, harmony tends to rule. 
We learn to covet what we see others enjoying. That's what so much of advertising is about. 

Everyone is a stranger

The ability to transact anonymously makes it possible to organize societies of mass scale. 
The anonymity coupled with the clarity and transparency of contracts enables people within the society to interact with each other the same way they would interact with foreigners or strangers. 
In modern societies everyone is a stranger to everyone else. 

Engendering gratitude

The genesis of ritual is the act of giving a gift. 
Gift-giving has a ceremonial aspect to it that feels like the prototype for all ritual behavior. The impulse to surround and encase in ceremony and ritual the giving of a gift or the getting of a gift or the reciprocating of a gift makes gift exchange the ground for religious ritual. 
What is being elevated into a new order of existence is the appreciation for the feelings of gratitude that come with getting or reciprocating a gift or having one’s own gift well received. 
Gifting is much about engendering more and more gratitude in the world, to make it a better place.  

The problem of excess

The giving of a gift is how we deal with the problem of excess. 
The message of a gift is that the giver has achieved satiation and now wishes to divest himself of the burden excess would necessarily bring into his life. 

Wish to come to know

The giving and reciprocating of gifts does not take place between two anonymous persons so much as between a couple who typically know each other or wish to come to know each other. 
Gifts are thus given internally rather than externally. The giving of the gift defines the internal social space. 

The amount of leverage

Gift giving addresses the first condition of transaction: do I want to do business with you in the first place. It establishes the flow of transaction through the circulation established by the network of reciprocations that leave the actual distribution of wealth unchanged. 
Gift giving resembles the oscillation of atomic particles within a crystaline structure. Little is flowing but the particles are in constant motion while remaining in place, whereby they establish a solid structure. 
Where there is re-distribution of wealth, it takes place, by and large, between groups rather than between individuals, and it flows from God's bountiful providence through the upper classes to the lower classes and then down to the animal kingdom. 
Where the flow is from the lower classes to the upper classes we have not gift giving but exploitation. The trading of assets in a place like the stock exchange resembles this gift giving-like oscillation in place of the value being handed back and forth. 
The inflation of prices in an asset bubble results not from the supply and demand conditions in the marketplace but from the manner in which credit for the asset flows in the stock exchange. It is the flow of the credit that determines asset price rises and falls, which is to say, it is the amount of leverage available in a particular asset exchange that determines price movements, while the actual movement of value stays roughly in place. 

Gifts want completion

As marketing is to market transaction so completion is to gift exchange. 
Gifts want completion. They want the reciprocation, the answer to the offer. To complete is not to terminate. Indeed, to complete is almost the opposite of to terminate. To complete is to conclude for the sake of continuing. To complete is to prepare to enter into the next phase or stage or round. Gifts complete a round but at the same time demand the next round, and thereby insist relationship into the system. Without (a) availability, (b) recognition and appreciation, and then (c) reciprocation, the gifts cannot flow. 
The thanks and gratitude a gift engenders is a precursor to sanctification and consecration. The sabbath day is the day in which completion-work (kol-melakha) is suspended.

To bless

To bless is either to thank the benefactor or to express one's gratitude (the recognition by the undeserving of the deserving as well as an appreciation of their deservedness) by passing along the gift through a bestowal of identity to s/he who will inherit the thanks. 

The instruments of trust

The meaning of a gift is what it says about the relationship between the people who are exchanging the gifts. 
The material object serves as a vehicle to convey the esteem the parties have for each other. The point of gift exchange is to propel the personal relationship and to make sure nothing interrupts the to-and-fro of the minor reinforcement of each other's mutual esteem. Giving too valuable a gift can just as much injure the continuity of the relationship as either giving a gift that is too mean or in not reciprocating at all. 
The claim, the purchase, the belonging people experience over the material objects in their possession becomes weaker as the belonging of the parties to each other becomes stronger. 
Material interaction is actually comprised of a dual optimization: maximize the person-to-person belonging relative to the belonging of the objects to the persons; and then maximize the preference efficiencies subject to the belonging of the objects to the person. That dual optimization corresponds to (a) the prior decision about whether you want to do business with someone in the first place, and then (b) the follow-on decision about what the price and the terms of the deal need to be. 
Gifts are the instruments of trust the way prices are the instruments of worth. Trust is a kind of belonging. It is a measure of the durability and stablity of the belonging relationship. As storage measures the durability and stability of the maintenance of value, so trust measures the durability and stability of the maintenance of a relationship.  

Giving and receiving recapitulates lending and borrowing.

Meaning is a joint product

Material objects bespeak the image a person wishes to project of him/herself into the community. That image comes of the condition of abundance. The projection of an image of oneself is the assignment of meaning to oneself. 
Gift giving addresses itself to that self-assignment of meaning. We use gifts to assist each other in shaping who and what we mean to others. Preferences define who and what we are as isolated individuals; meanings define who and what we are insofar as others get to make who and what we are. 
Meaning is a joint product. Meaning implies the individual's lack of absolute autonomy and begins to define the autonomy of the collective to which one belongs. Here is where the term 'belong' or 'identify' begins to shade into ambiguous meaning, where the part and the parcel both operate in a complex simultaneity. 

Return the marriage contract to gift exchange

The biblical story of Dinah bat Yaaqov is the story of the various sorts of gift giving that goes on between clans who would intermarry with each other. 
Shechem begins by violating the requisite offering of respect to Yaaqov and his sons by taking Dinah against her will. He thus takes as plunder what can only be received as a gift, a gift that must be offered, and cannot be taken. 
Shimon and Levi offer Shechem the Old One’s Abrahamic treaty and then through the subterfuge of using His sign of covenant they betray the trust the two clans would have had for each other. In so doing, they punish Shechem for violating the gift relationship in the first place. 
Dinah and Tamar are both stories where the specter of prostitution (of market exchange in matters that ought exclusively to be mediated through the exchange of gifts) hangs over the tale. 
The Talmud treats marriage as a market transaction rather than a gift exchange. It would likely do the Jewish world a considerable kindness were it to return the marriage contract to the domain of gift exchange and let go a bit of the fiction that a woman is bought and taken possession of in the act of marriage. Marriage is a durable bond that is mutual and permanent, subject to vows offered and taken by both sides of the union. 

Tolerance is an offering

  • Tolerance is a form of gift. 
  • Tolerance is an offering, freely given, of another's claim to a common truth. 
  • Intolerance presumes one's own claim to the truth, which the other must exact through struggle. 

The non-material meaning

The cost of a gift is borne by the giver, not the receiver. 
Whether we like a particular gift or not, if the cost to the receiver was substantial, the gift has meaning and we receive it gladly. 
Here the material object is not carrying the value, the non-material meaning is carrying the value. 

Trafficking in dignity

To be able to give a gift signifies autonomy. Autonomy represents the self-possession required to establish a relationship. 
Autonomy is in large measure something others confer on you. The dignity that comes with autonomy needs to be recognized by your circle of honor. That dignity comes about in the processes of gift exchange. 
The rituals of gift exchange engender the trafficking in dignity that ennobles people to attempt great things. 

Discourage market-based interactions

The biblical prohibition against charging and paying interest is really meant to discourage engaging in monetary transactions through market-based interactions. 
Money should be organized in the civil society rather than in the class-based society. 

Push back the frontier of civil society

The cumulative effect of all those individual marketing efforts taking place throughout the world is a pushing back of the frontier of civil society and the replacement of mutual aid with market interactions. 
To market is first of all to render an activity or a good as a commodity available for sale in a marketplace. It is a base sort of assiyah.

Emphasizing undeservedness

The biblical program doesn't emphasize deservedness so much as it emphasizes undeservedness. The program is really about building an acute sense of undeservedness coupled with a system of donation of gifts and benefaction that is met by gratitude and appreciation and then reciprocation. 
We don't focus on what we feel we ourselves deserve so much as on appreciating what the other deserves. 

Difference, deferral and deference

Gifts require both (a) difference and (b) deferral of the material object, which then translates into the socially meaningful expression of (c) deference. 
The gift's reciprocation requires the return of something else, something different, else it comes across as a refusal of the gift; the reciprocation needs to happen not on the spot but at a later time, deferred, else it comes across as an unwillingness to prolong the relationship; and, taken together, this deferral coupled to difference creates an interim period during which time the receiver accepts a lower status to the giver – deference
The recipient bows to donor and remains beneath them until they reciprocate the gift, and thereby not only reclaim their former status but also attain an interm superior status. Alternating deference creates a rhythm in the society which serves to keep class struggle in check. 
The sheviit cycle that alternates the power relations in society between the upper and lower classes is a form of this to and fro of gift giving. 
We bow to God in receipt of His bounty, and, thereby, we refuse to bow to any man. 

Injury begets retribution

As gifts incur reciprocation so do injuries. 
Injury begets retribution. The society that fails to appreciate the specialness of gifts is also the society that will remain passive before an injury. 
Gifting is a substitute for fighting. The initiation of a gift is a challenge to the other party either to reciprocate the gift or to suffer the dead weight loss of offense and counter-offense. 

10 April 2011

Re-ci and pro-ci

The constantly undulating imbalance, the to and fro that gift giving creates, recapitulates the processes of life itself, which erupts in imbalance and then dies off but not before it leaves behind offspring. 
The term 'reciprocity' is constituted of re-ci and pro-ci: to move backward and forward – to create a rhythm or undulation. 

Compromise/forgiveness = weakness/cowardice and shame

  • Honor societies governed by vengeance are really gift societies gone bad. 
  • Honor societies do not appreciate humility. 
  • Compromise is read as weakness, and forgiveness is read as cowardice and shame. 

To keep things going

Systems that employ an alternating disequilibrium to sustain continuity are more durable than systems that attempt to sustain continuity through storage or the embodiment into physical objects. 
An alternating disequilibrium harnesses the will of the parties to keep things going. Given the will of the parties it makes it hard to stop the continuity once it gets started. 
In contrast to the domain of scarcity, wherein people's primary objective is to acquire material goods, in the domain of abundance people's primary objective is to engender and sustain relationships of mutual aid. 
Abundance is about the sustenance of relationships for the sake of addressing the long-term. 


Talion is payback. Lex Talion, the law of payback, is driven by the pre-cognitive sense of desert. 
The word 'retaliate' has embedded in it the root term 'Talion.' 

A moist garden of plenty

We repay debts in a leisurely fashion, taking our time and squandering the time in reflection and deliberation of how to repay, in order to dramatize how it is that the gift is a creature of abundance. 
To treat the gift efficiently is to submit the gift giving to the pressures of scarcity, which does away with the conceit of abundance the gift giver and receiver both wish to entertain. The point of the gift giving and the receiving is that the gift is not a necessity, it is rather merely a convenience, and so it endows the parties to the gift exchange with the experience of plenty. 
Every gift giver is praising God's beneficence for placing them into a moist garden of plenty, into a cornucopia.  

Better is more

Objects, commodities, are easy to count because they have no inner life of value. 
Worth lends itself to quantitative measures the way meaning does not; meaning lends itself to qualitative measures the way worth does not. 
It is for that reason that markets assume more is better while gift exchange assumes better is more. 

A gift's vagueness

Allocation needs to be clear; apportionment needs to be vague. 
We need to understand better the value of a gift's vagueness to comprehend better how the apportionment mechanism works in society. The vagueness is a reflection of the complexity of the apportionment function, how it is that belonging is multi-layered and many-facetted. When we give a gift many motives could be propelling the act from generosity or gratitude to honor and reputation to manipulation and social ambition, and they could all be operating simultaneously and even contradictorily. 
The multiplicity of the structure of motive bespeaks our human character’s complexity. 

A concrete embodiment of affection

A gift is a concrete embodiment of affection for one's own creature, while the return gift is the concrete embodiment of gratitude to one's creator. 

09 April 2011

Interactions need to lack clarity

Because environments and people and things conduct their interactions with motives that are multiple, sometimes contradictory, and almost always complex, interactions need to lack clarity in order to capture how it is that the world lacks simplicity. 
Instead of underwriting interactions that are simple an authentic social order creates relationships that can carry on the complexity. When the Puritans extol the virtues of plain and simple they are de-emphasizing the material in order to heighten the relational, which is always neither plain nor simple. 
The laws of an authentic social order must likewise lack clarity. Authentic social order comes out of the action of the alternating disequilibrium of gift exchange. Authentic social order is the result not of some constitution but of a treaty between a creator and His creatures. Only after the treaty between the creator and His creatures has been abrogated can precise law intervene in an attempt to simulate the treaty through legal, constitutional means. 
The more explicit and precise the law becomes the more it bleaches out the complexity of the relationship and the more closely it comes to resemble the mechanical processes of scarcity rather than the biological processes of abundance. 

A sacrifice simulates a gift

To sacrifice is to forego consumption in favor of the gods' having it. 
A sacrifice simulates a gift. 

Offerings to the gods

Offerings to the gods are artifacts of the agricultural revolution. 
Once man becomes a partner in the cultivating, creative act it becomes important for him to ratify that partnership by recognizing the gods' role in the enterprise. So long as the people were merely hunter/gatherers and not cultivators their gratitude to the gods was of a different order. Hunter/gatherers did not sacrifice, they merely paused to thank the source of the animal’s life, which life was about to be ended for the sake of the hunter’s sustenance. 
Sacrifices, on the other hand, were actually reciprocations for the gift of providence the harvest had already demonstrated. 

Impotence and helplessness before the dictates of fortune

Anxiety out of a sense of insecurity is answered by gratitude for the fulfillment of a requested favor. 
The granting of a favor is a gift. That request for favor comes out of the ancient world’s acute sense of impotence and helplessness before the dictates of fortune. 
When one is out of negotiating room one turns to pleading for favor and for the granting of a wish as a gift. 

Appreciation of excellence

The patina of civilization that turns churlish herd behavior into the graceful demeanor of an evolved society depends on the to and fro of gratitude and charis, the delight that comes of freely granted bestowal of appreciation of excellence. 

Six parts Egypt

To thank is to express thoughtful appreciation. The root of 'thank' is 'think,' 'danken' from 'denken.'  
To grant an evaluation through appreciation rather than to submit to an evaluation through negotiation over price is the difference between the nobility of high civilization and the crassness of a commercial culture. 
Israel is six parts Egypt and one part Mesopotamia, six parts commerce and one part appreciation and thankfulness. 

08 April 2011

Loyalty & gratitude

  • Loyalty has about it the force of law – loi
  • Loyalty is the enforced version of gratitude. 
  • Loyalty demands repayment of favors conferred, and transforms debts into legal obligations, the renegging on which can lead to prison and the confiscation of one's property. 
  • Loyalty assigns to the ruling authority the power to extract what would otherwise be seen as gratitude. 
  • Loyalty moves into the domain of authority what ordinarily belongs in the domain of legitimacy. 
The Bible’s approach repays violations of gratitude by absolving of the divine covenant, not by imposing His authority even more strongly. 

A species of inalienablity

Loyalty is a species of inalienablity. 
Loyalty belongs to the class of things that cannot be gotten rid of. Belonging that cannot be severed is the other side of the market. The ground of that inalienablity is the creative act, which, for some reason, prohibits severance between creator and creature. 
Dealing with the severability of the link between creator and creature could well be the point of Shabbat, with the introduction of kol melakha, completion stewardship.

07 April 2011

Voluntary loyalty

Honor is voluntary loyalty. 
Honor is a self-imposed bond: the willingness to keep a promise that otherwise could not be coerced. 
The enforcement of contracts is an expedient for that society that cannot operate dependably according to the values of honor. 
Enforcement of contracts coerces what honor offers gratis. 

Courtly, chivalric, and gracious

At the root of the class system is the divide between the regime of scarcity and the regime of abundance. 
For the lower classes the regime of scarcity rules while the upper classes are expected and expect of themselves to operate under the regime of abundance. Hence, honor is not expected of someone from the lower classes, where churlish behavior is the norm, but it would be dishonorable for a gentleman not to keep his word and not to act in a courtly, chivalric, and gracious manner. It would be understood as a stain on his class. 

Secularization & desacrilization

When we speak of equality what we really mean is equality in autonomy. 
Honor is the expression of that autonomy which comes of sharing in the group's abundance. Membership and strangership are measures of honor. The fellow shares in the honor circle’s honor values and the honor code; the stranger does not. Fellows are peers and hence equals in their honor, in the code of conduct that defines the values and regime of abundance; strangers cannot be presumed to share in that code nor in that abundance. 
A society that lacks honor can perhaps have particles of liberty but it cannot have equality. The American dictum of equality before the law is a worthy sentiment but it requires an honor-respecting class to implement the legal disinterestedness such a dictum requires. 
The history of America since, after the Civil War, it introduced equality alongside liberty has been a slow and largely continual process of dismantling the values of honor that would have established that equality. With periodic setbacks that came of wholesale national catastrophe the secular trend in American history since the Civil War has been to define away the values of honor that would have encompassed all Americans in the circle of peerage, thereby to weaken the bonds among Americans of membership and equality. 
The point of making a people that keeps Shabbos is to devise a nation that promotes the honor of membership in a people that every week demonstrates allegiance to the self-restraint that comes of interrupting the work week. Along with that membership and self-restraint comes a strategy of sharing in the society’s abundance. The strategy defines private property rights with an asterisk: private property is far from absolute. The rights of (let’s call it) sabbatical private property allow for the periodic reversal of power relationships so that the women and the servants and the animals can share equally with the authoritative rulers in the society, and so that the lower classes have their moment to rule over the upper classes. 
A Jewish society that does not keep Shabbos is susceptible to the incursions of the market into every sphere of social relationship. 
The secularization of society go hand in hand with its desacrilization. 

An offense to the public face

Honor codes are systems of mutually reinforcing values that bespeak the pre-cognitive sensation of desert. 
An offense to one's honor is at bottom an offense to the public face of what one believes one deserves. 
In an honor society the remedy for violations of honor is vengeance, because vengeance is the punitive, negative expression of desert. 

A life of sanctity

An individual could try to live an honorable life on his own but without his belonging to a society that honors honorablity (a) it is a losing proposition; and (b) it misses the point, which is that honor is not an individual virtue but one that needs to be promoted nation-wide. 
In the end, to live honorably in a dishonorable world is to live in exile like the Jews who could not perform consecrated acts authentically but only in the surreal space of 'as if.' 
It is not clear how one could live a life of sanctity as an isolated individual.

From kinship to kindness

The extension of kinship into kindness is the gesture that moves the application of desert, which is the expression of creative force, from the individual into the domain of the people as the superintendant of those values of kinship and kindness. 

The employer of the moment

When we give someone who has served us a tip we are able to do so because the putative employer has removed himself somewhat from the transaction. The tipper, in effect, becomes the employer of the moment, with all the attendant authority the employer would have wielded. The larger the tip, the more clearly the tipper is displaying their ability to exercise the employer's authority over the server. 
Tipping results from (as they would say in Hebrew) the natisha of the employer of record from the transaction, leaving the matter to the customer and the service giver. By having the employer recuse himself from the terms of the transaction, society places the relationship between the server and the customer into the domain of gift exchange.