by Joel Rich
Audios – Special Edition
Renewing Our Spirit: Eighth Annual Conference In Memory of Nathan (Noteh) Krauss z"l
Free audios: link, details about the program: link
The TIM Seminar was outstanding. If you are looking for thought provoking Torah discussion of real world philosophical issues, this is a series for you.
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One of the more thought provoking shiurim I’ve heard in a while, based on the “radical” thinking of the Ishbitzer. We live in times (at least for kiruv) that demands certainty and clarity of beliefs but R’Belovski believes true believers live with uncertainty.
The Ishbitzer believed the lesson of the Akeidah was that Avraham was able to live with the uncertainty created by HKB”H’s seemingly contradictory utterances – (Yitzchak is your future, sacrifice Yitzchak) – until they were clarified by HKB”H.
R’Belovski had me at bikesh yaakov leshev bshalva (I also always said over the traditional pshat to my kids as summarized by my grandmother Z”L– there’ll be plenty of time to rest in the grave) but the Ishbitzer also saw this as a message that Yaakov wanted clarity and had to learn to live without it.
Lesson from Yitzchak and Esav – one who embraces complexity successfully will have greater religious result.
[me – so if you have choice – do you go for greater risk/reward – great actuarial question – even assuming risk adjusted expected return is greater, how risk averse are you??]
Very interesting presentation and for me very timely. [since it really is all about me, let me expand on the latter. Earlier this year my Horiyot chaburah stumbled into the Chazon Ish’s #69 on diverting an arrow to kill one rather than five. This led me into a journey to understand the halachic under pinnings of his leaning. At the same time I took a shallow dive into how different secular philosophers would approach the issue. Suffice it to say there was much of interest and I understand much better why R’YBS went to great lengths to articulate advanced halachic/philosophical thinking and would say how R’Chaim put halachic analysis on at least a par with that outside the Bei Medrash].
R’Berger discusses the history of our relationship with secular studies/philosophy as it oscillated throughout the ages (maimonidies, sfard vs. ashkenaz, philosophy intertwined with religion). It appears (in a non-self conscious manner, of course) that we were influenced by the thinking and practices around us (think chasidei ashkenaz). Where exciting philosophical thinking was around (guess what happened in the Jewish world)
Bottom line – “secular” studies can help address central issues/questions in torah yet there is a danger (if you are exposed to something that seems at odds with torah [me – explains Slifkinitis]). Answer – Do your thing at YU! (at least he walks the talk!)
I said, war, huh
Good God, y'all
What is it good for
Say it again
War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for
Listen to me
Dr. Waltzer posits that Jewish thought on war ethics was stunted by the lack of practical application due to galut. He focuses on Rambam as primary source, comparing to Catholic thought on war.
R’M Soloveitchik questions whether Rambam is sole source on these topics (e.g. Abarbanel) but other issue is double effect (e.g. collateral damage OK if not primary goal).
Issues of proportionality also discussed. R’MS locates the right to self defense as nation as the exception to the rule of not killing and mentions a number of current Rabbis writing on the topic. Others hold war is a separate area of halacha which is exempt from the murder rules (IMHO this was an overreach).
The Future of Israel
Israel unfairly held to different standard, doesn’t exempt us from our owns tandard.
General discussion of ethics or war by panelists (expanded on in other sessions). Dr. Waltzer – do unto others – R’MS – extrapolate to nation from individual (e.g. rodef). Lots of politics.
What is source of “mitzvah” of Kiruv? Rambam – Love of HKB”H and need to share. Shaarei Tshuva – returning lost object. [me – interesting trend of needing to locate in micro-halacha rather than in more generic like imitato dei].
His questions – does Kiruv:
1. Try to ensure the kiruvee is not intolerant of not yet frum
2. Try to help the Kiruvee grow religiously in his own way (or reform in the Kiruver’s image).
3. Try to put out a uniform product (me-much like (2)).
4. Encourage the kiruvee to integrate positive aspects of their prior life.
5. Focus on the result rather than the truth (does “danger to unredeemed life”) [pikuach nefesh at some level] permit ziyuf hatorah [false teaching of torah]
6. Recognize life is complex and that sound bite responses (i) don’t reflect the complexity of Jewish thought (ii) to a sophisticated listener indicates shallowness [he thinks this turns off more people than it turns on but is reflective of the current Yeshiva world which sees monolithic approaches whereas anyone who looks at source material knows there are multiple approaches]
7. Recognize doubts
8. Promote tolerance.
His formula (he’s right because I agree J) - focus on the positive and be open, tolerant and confident (me – HKB”H will take care of the rest).
Rabbis Berger and Soloveitchik (M) are pretty much on the same page.
R’DB – There may be some benefit to theological discussions but it’s not worth the price – there are many other things we should be discussing which have a positive payback.
R’MS – R’YBS on community theological dialog, especially since generally involves search for commonalilty, still holds. On an individual basis (e.g. his divinity school attendance), no. We can learn from non-ben brit (NBB) thinkers (careful – your kids are still young!).
R’DB - Anti NBB statements in gemara should be viewed as non-binding, time based individual opinions. Ritual differentiations are fine, civil differentiation – embrace the Meiri’s position that they refer to ancients.
- Bnai Yeshiva should understand dominant religion on some basis since it’s basis of surrounding society and has halachic impact (R’MS money question – how many Rabbis have a clear understanding of Jewish theology).
- Cardinals in the YU Beit medrash – halachic issues were dealt with, they want to understand how to maintain faith in a secular world. R’MS – they were blown away that most of these students were not intending to be rabbis but were dedicated anyway.
Challenges and opportunities for Israel as seen by a conservative WSJ writer (Bret Stephens).
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
by Joel Rich