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Saturday, May 14, 2005

To be mechadesh in machashava

The GH in his blog has devoted a lot of time to machshava/hashkafa issues and wonders why there is no new machshava coming out of the frum world. The follwoing anecdotes may explain things.

I heard the following from R' CY Goldvicht Rosh Yeshiva of KBY. He was a talmid of both the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav and a big baal machshava. He once asked the Chazon Ish why he only talks in halacha to his talimdim, why doesn't he talk hashkafa? The Chazon Ish answered that in Halacha there are boundaries. We have the words of the tannaim, then amoraim, then rishonim, acharaonim and the shulchan aruch. If we go off the path we will see it right away. In machshava, when we interpret a midrash, we are trying to say pshat in the words of the tannaim with no intervening generations. Also, there is no shulchan aruch and therefore it is very easy to make a mistake.

RHS told the following story about RYBS. Ater a shiur he gave in Moriah about aggada one of his talmidim came to the Rav and asked him where does he get it from? How does he know to say such big chiddushim in aggada. The Rav answered, and why don't you ask about my gemara shiurim? The talmid answered, there you have a basis, the rishonim, the acharonim, your grandfather, here there is none of that. The Rav answered, "my father taught me to read between the lines".

We see 2 things from these stories.

1. You need to be an adam gadol to say chiddushim in machshava, otherwise you are liable to make a mistake.
2. You need a Rebbe to teach you to read between the lines.

Even more important is to be humble. I detect a great amount of hubris nowadays, people think that because we know so much science and understand how the physical world works we are greater then previous generations. This leads to a zilzul in chazal. We need to understand that they were closer to matan torah and therefore had a much better understanding of hashem and torah.

7 Comments:

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Lone Bochur said...

Perhaps, one could posit, though, that exactly in such a generation of hubris and so much different knowledge is exactly when we need to develop/refine machsava.
Historically many of the great machshava were written in response to times that due the influx of knowledge and philosophy [see Golden Age of Spain as one such example](e.g. the Kuzari. Moreh, and others) it was necessary to develop these ideas for the betterment of klal yisrael.

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger bluke said...

That may be, but the people developing that machshava need to have the traits that I mentioned, especially humbleness.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Godol Hador said...

I'm exceedingly humble.

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Godol Hador said...

> Perhaps, one could posit, though, that exactly in such a generation of hubris and so much different knowledge is exactly when we need to develop/refine machsava.

Bluke, that is exactly my point. And you seem to be missing some of the irony here. I once posted 'If someone doesn't start to answer all these questions, I will. And it won't be pretty'. In other words, the lack of machshavah dealing with all these issues will only leave the playing field wide open for everyday bloggers to make up their own stuff. If there was intelligent commentary coming from the frum world on these issues, do you think anyone would care what some bloggers have to say ?

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger bluke said...

I understand your point and it is a good one. However, it doesn't mean that we can go and make up whatever we want.

Unfortunately, the Charedi world is afraid of their shadow today, chodosh assur min hatorah, and therefore it is very difficult for any new ideas to come from there.

MO on the other hand, seems to be overshadowed by RYBS, his successor has not yet appeared and his machshava doesn't talk to the new generation.

I still think my point about hubris applies, a person needs to be very humble when approaching the words of Torah and chazal, something that is very hard to find today.

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Bobthebuilder said...

Even more important is to be humble. I detect a great amount of hubris nowadays, people think that because we know so much science and understand how the physical world works we are greater then previous generations. This leads to a zilzul in chazal. We need to understand that they were closer to matan torah and therefore had a much better understanding of hashem and torah.

RHS gave a kinnus tshuva drasha in YU in 1987 exactly about this topic. He pointed out that the al chet of "zilzul horim u'morim" relates to this disrespect. The language you use in the post is so similar to the language he used. Were you there? Belfer Hall?

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger bluke said...

I probably was, I was in RHS shiur for quite a number of years so I may have heard it another time as well.

 

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