Thursday, October 11, 2007

Do we exist?

Any discussion of how the world and the people in it relate and connect to G-d HAS to begin with an understanding of the two main views of how to understand the Arizal's concept of tzimtzum (contraction). Unfortunately, very rarely does anyone talk about this topic at all. It is too kabbalistic, so the Rabbis giving shiurim leave it for the likes of Madonna to learn about.

It is impossible to understand the difference between Chasidim and Misnagdim without knowing this concept (and learning the Nefesh HaChaim is not enough, because he presents a third, hybrid opinion). One also has a better understanding of what is going on in the religious world today, the Slifkin argument, the kollel lifestyle and almost everything else once you understand whether the world is real or not.

In my opinion it is impossible to understand G-d or our relationship with Him without an understanding of this basic arguement. It is also impossible to understand the world and our role in it.

From Hamlet to Descartes to Uncle Moshe, this shiur traces the history of our understanding of G-d's involvement in the world. Beginning with Rambam and the Kalam, via the Etz Chaim, and ending with a rare book of the Gaon (Asarah Clalim) and the Tanya, with some Rav Tzadok thrown in for good measure. This shiur is aimed at beginners, though I think many advanced learners would benefit greatly from listening to it.

Listen, read, enjoy, and please share your feedback with me.

Tzimtzum, Existence and Machlokes

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