Sunday, November 06, 2011

Vayera - What is Faith?

I gave a shiur tonight(I know it is not Tuesday, but we can pretend, though the shiur may have to be renamed the 'Sunday night shiur' quite soon - thanks Yonit for hosting).

The shiur is on Vayera and the definition of faith. Do we arrive at faith/belief through rational investigation, or by accepting unquestioningly? It seems that both approaches are considered 'Jewish'. How do I know which is right for me? And why has it changed in recent times?

In passing I also discuss Douglas Adams and Richard Dawkins (why can't all atheists also be comedians - Tim Minchin and Terry Pratchett get extra credit for not taking themselves too seriously), and kiruv techniques to prove G-d.

I look forward to your comments.

Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).

Parshat Vayera - What is Faith?

(Right click and then 'download as')

Parshat Vayera - Faith - source sheet

Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. I would love to continue giving a shiur to this group on a weekly basis, but to do that I would need some kind of sponsorship. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a shiur (either l'ilui nishmat someone, or just for no reason) please contact me.

1 comment:

  1. I think you conflate two different contrasts to machashavah amuqah, calling them both emunah peshutah.

    R' Dr Sholom Carmy once posted to Avodah something that really resonated with me:

    "The people who keep insisting that it’s necessary to prove things about G-d, including His existence, seem to take it for granted that devising these proofs is identical with knowing G-d.

    "Now if I know a human being personally the last thing I’d do, except as a purely intellectual exercise, is prove his or her existence."

    There are two distinct topics: knowing things about G-d, and knowing G-d. In the former, we can talk about ideas about G-d we can prove, the limits of such knowledge, and thus the need for accepting the rest on faith. However, there is also the knowledge of G-d himself, the emunah of Tevyah the Milkman, who spends his time alone talking with his Father in heaven.

    When I hear of the importance of "emunah peshutah", I think more of the latter.

    I believe the two are in dialectic tension -- the more we dwell on the totally unfathomable philosopher's view of G-d, the further Tevyah's G-d retreats. In "Emunah Peshutah vs. Machashavah", I mention 5 different approaches to this dialectic: the Rambam's (who needs Tevya), the Baal haTanya's (mystical fusion through the yechidah kelalis), R' Nachman's (who needs philosophers), Brisk (it's aggadita, don't worry about it), and Mussar (one is thought, the other is a middah).