Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey Rabbi,

Two rather straight forward questions really.

First, how would you answer a Non-Jew who asked you what your lulav was? That is how to come off as something other than a religious weirdo without a year and a half of shiur? i.e. a rak am chacham v’navon - v’gomer - question.

Second, why does perek aleph of bereishis deal with the world and not the cosmos – if it is supposed to be the dissociated elokim viewpoint to the man centered yud key vuv key view of perek sheni? As dissociated as the narrative is, it is still all about earth, why?

Dear David,

I am posting this because they reduce to one educational principle -ayn Adam lamed elah mimakom shelibo chafetz. A person cannot learn anything other than what he is curious about.
A special application of this is mitoch shelo lishma ba lishma. For a normal person guided by self interest, what one will be most curious about will be topics rooted in the self.

In the case of Lulav, the self interest is in the area of harvest. The typical reaction to harvest is what in America is known as "thanksgiving". Thanksgiving is celebrated by making the bounty of the harvest nikar in the form of a groaning table of goodies. While the feeling of triumph is a temporary rush which is psychologically needed, it involves enflaming the fantasy of greatness.
This fantasy causes "vayishman yishurun vayivat" a loss of edge in the pursuit of technology and discipline needed for success.

The lulav then allows a flourish of triumph, modified by the reality of causality. Lekicha is a savoring of ownership within the context of seeing the harvest as an extension of the natural order. We take the lulav, a branch of a tree bearing fruit,not fruit. To take fruit on a groaning table is to detach fruit from its natural system and cater to a picture useful to fantasy. To take the lulav, a tree bearing fruit, is to create a picture of natural system and to reflect on fruit as a product of that system. What is interesting here is the focus of the Torah on the world as interesting to us. We are interested and need the data regarding our triumph, this curiosity is then harnessed to show us the system of nature underlying our triumph.

The same applies to the depiction of the Creation. We are shown the Cosmic order, as exemplified in our object of curiosity- the system of Earth as a stable supplier of our needs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sunday Class

Dear all

This week Sunday class will be on the connection of yaakovs blog ( post on lulav to tzedaka. Class is at 745 pacific and 1045 eastern.

To listen in dial 646 519 5860 and then follow the prompt our code is 4805.