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Rav Soloveitchik Searches for God

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Rabbi Jeffrey Saks




Rav Soloveitchik Searches for God


Tuesday 10:00PM
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Course Description

How can the individual seek out God? What is the mystery of Devekut (cleaving to Him)? How does engagement with the natural and spiritual worlds aid us and fail us in our quest? How does God ultimately find us instead? — These questions stand at the center of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik‘s essay “Uvikkashtem miSham” (in English as And From There You Shall Seek), the important sequel and companion text to his monumental Halakhic Man.

About Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding Director of ATID - The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem. An editorial board member of the journal Tradition, Rabbi Saks authored Spiritualizing Halakhic Education (Mandel Foundation) and edited Wisdom From All My Teachers: Challenges and Initiatives in Contemporary Torah Education (Urim). He is a graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Smicha) and participated in the Jerusalem Fellows program for senior Jewish educators at the Mandel Institute. He has taught at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls and Yeshivat Hamivtar.


Class Resources & Information

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PREVIOUS CLASSESCLASS DESCRIPTIONHANDOUTSARCHIVES
January 2, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
01 Introduction

In this series we will undertake a careful read of Rabbi Soloveitchik's essay וביקשתם משם in its English translation And from There You Shall Seek (MeOtzar HaRav, 2009) - available on Amazon at:  http://a.co/5RSKcLT While we will make sections of the work available online, it is highly recommended that you purchase the book.

This work, which explores the religious quest, is very much a follow-up to his Halakhic Man (visit our series on that earlier work at: http://www.webyeshiva.org/course/halakhic-man/

For an introduction the Rav's life and thought, listen to this recording.

 
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January 9, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
02 - The Yearning Heart

We will proceed to chapter 2 in "Seek" -- get the book here: http://a.co/7XLfIWd

Read the famous Note 4 to Halakhic Man at the attached scan.

 
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January 16, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
03 - The Disappointed Heart

Proceeding to chapter 3 in which we are "faint with love."

For more on the "proof" of Gad put forth by Anselm of Canterbury in chapter 2 (the "proof" Kierkegaard dismantles with the image of a father's hug) see this video: https://youtu.be/FmTsS5xFA6k

 
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February 6, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
04 - The Surprised Heart

Apologies for the technical difficulties that kept me from you tonight (after the first 10 minutes), and double-apologies that there will be no class next week (Jan 30) due to a family wedding. We will resume in 2 weeks on Feb 6 and pick up where we left off:

Chapter 4 - The Surprised Heart

If searching for God through nature will always be insufficient, how can we find Him? What happens when He seeks us out through revelation?

 
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February 13, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
05 - Yearning Yet Fearful Heart

Continuing with chapter 5 (pp. 39-45).

Consider the verse at Exodus 33:20 -- what is it saying about the God encounter?

--

Update: March 14, 2018

The Rav, Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Fear of the Dark

Having spent the best part of his life grappling with black holes and cosmic doom, Dr. Hawking had no fear of the dark. “They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up,” he once told an interviewer. “I don’t have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”

The implications for our discussion of knowledge leading to awe and away from fear should be clear.

 

 
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February 20, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
06 - The Divided Heart

Chapter 6 - Balancing the Breishit vs Sinai Experiences (pp. 47-50)

Have you bought the book yet? http://a.co/gmrX47m

 
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February 27, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
07 - The Heart That Runs & Flees

The esoteric and exoteric directions in religion (Chapter 7, pp. 51-60).

I have attached the text of this important chapter for your review.

 
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March 6, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
08 - The Comforted Heart

For chapter 8 please read pp. 61-68. Attached in the link is last night's Chapter 7 -- which I described as particularly important in its discussion of Love:Fear :: Exoteric:Esoteric :: Democratic:Aristocratic

I suggest reading it in full.

 
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March 13, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
09 - Love/Awe Dialectic

For our next session, chapter 9 - pp. 69-73.

Amazon currently has a sale ($10) on copies of "And From There You Shall Seek": http://a.co/2ZiqOXM

 
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March 20, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
10 - Imitatio Dei

How does the love/awe dialectic impact our need to imitate Him and walk in His ways? Chapter 10 on pp. 75-79.

(This will be the final shiur before Pesach; remember: we still have not yet changed the clocks in Israel where this class takes place at 10pm - check your local listings.)

 
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April 24, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
11 - Imitatio to Devekiut

Following our long break we will review chapter 1-10 (if you're just joining the course now, no worries, we'll catch you up). Then it's on to Chapter 11 (pp. 81-85) on the move from imitating God (or His attributes) to "cleaving" to Him.

Again, I recommend purchasing Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, And From There You Shall Seek (Toras HaRov, 2008), in Hebrew as UVikkashtem miSham.

 
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May 1, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
12 - The Cleaving Heart

Continuing the exploration of Dveitkut (cleaving), with chapter 12 (pp. 87-90).

Again, we recommend purchasing And From There You Shall Seek -- on sale now at Amazon at a good price (new for $9.61): http://a.co/5RSKcLT 

 
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May 15, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
13 - Left Hand and Right Arm

Chapter 13 - Continuing the conversation about how Dveikut word? How can we connect to God? (pp. 91-99). How does our intellect allow us to make the connection? (With side discussion of Maimonides, Guide I:68 attached).

 
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May 22, 2018 10:00PM - 11:00PM
14 - Dveikut via Halakhah

How does thinking about God via the prism of Halakhah differ from thinking about Him through the created world? Does it reach a different result? Chapter 14 (pp. 101-106)

 
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