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Chabad: Philosophy Or Faith?

Matzah as a Consciousness Expander. A Tale of Two Matzos: Those We Guard and Those that are Self-Guarded. Studying the book of Likkutei Torah Shir Hashirim Maamar Kol Dodi Henei Zeh Ba -- Class 3 of 5

57 min

Class Summary:

Chabad: Philosophy Or Faith? - Matzah as a Consciousness Expander. A Tale of Two Matzos: Those We Guard and Those that are Self-Guarded. Studying the book of Likkutei Torah Shir Hashirim Maamar Kol Dodi Henei Zeh Ba -- Class 3 of 5

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  • IMBMB

    I may be mistaken but... -12 years ago

    Arrangement of the Seder Plate
    ...isn't the zeroah and charoses on the right and the beiah and karpas on the left?  


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  • B

    Berel -12 years ago

    Open minded?
    Rabbi Paltiel, you ask a question and give a very poor answer. Is faith brainwashing? why don't we allow our children to choose? Why do we impose upon them a certain value system and belief system? Your answer: It is not imposed, it is merely expressing the true state and condition of the child.



    But that is what every single religion, cult, and system claim! Everyone says: "this is not brainwashing; this is TRUTH." Yet we all know that these are cults or erroneous religious systems. Yet you use the same argument. How is it suppose to satisfy the question? It is a circular argument.



    Please explain.

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    • A

      Anonymous -12 years ago

      Re: Open minded?
       


      Because Yiddishkeit is the truth. As the Rambam so simply refers to it as “The das HaEmes”, the religion of Truth.

       

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      • B

        Berel -12 years ago

        Re: Open minded?
        With all due respect, Rabbi Paltiel, you did not answer the question. You asked a question in your class: are we brainwashing our youth? your answered: no, we are simply revealing who they really are inside. Judaism is their inner truth. I asked: How do you know that? every religion claims the same, that they are the truth, they are not "brainwashing," they are simply stating the facts. How is Judaism different. Your answer: Because Judaism is the truth.



        This is really circular. That is exactly what every religion claims: We represent the truth!



        Obviously, if we all knew that this was the truth there would not be a question of brainwashing. We are not brainwashing our children when we tell them not to eat MSG or too much sugar. We know it is harmful. It is a fact. We are educating them, and teaching them, to respect their bodies and thus feel better. But when you tell me about religion, "because it is the truth," you are feeding in to the argument that it is all blind, and there is no real way of knowing that is truth.



        I would hope you can present a more logical answer than "this is the truth, period."

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        • A

          Anonymous -12 years ago

          Re: Open minded?
           


          I am not entirely surprised by your response to my answer, and I expected to have to answer you a second time.  There is a reason, however, why I initially answered the question as I did, knowing that I’d probably have to address the question again.

          We, as practitioners of Yiddishkeit and especially if we are further inspired by the Chassidus we add to our learning and practice, which certainly makes us stronger and less equivocal in our faith don’t view Yiddishkeit through an open minded and comparative prism. In no way was my question and answered meant to indicate an open mindedness on my part. Nor was I C”V suggesting a measuring of Yiddishkeit against anything else. If, I left that impression I apologize first of all to myself for speaking in a way that suggested this kind of openness on my part. I don’t claim to have this kind of openness nor do I want any part of an open mindedness of any sort about what we believe in. Moreover, I am not at all ashamed of my closed mindedness, if that is how you see it.

          Yiddishkeit is not what I do but who I am. I hope the same is true for you also. My belief is not based on a study of comparative religion and the intellectual conclusion of the superiority of my faith over another. Not at all.

          A believer who cares about faith, which means (practically) a spiritual and emotional connection to his maker, cannot afford the intellectual luxury of doubting and questioning his faith. Because the affect of this intellectualism is first of all, that you become an “expert” and “opinion holder” on your faith, that actually precludes being a true believer. In other words, at the point that you are an “expert” on your faith, you no longer are a believer but an intellectual.

          What I am saying in other words is this. Are we prisoners in Yiddishkeit? If we are, we have much bigger issues than the one being addressed here. If, as I presume, we are who we are because we like and are proud of our history, faith, teachings and practice, then we are too busy being Jews and don’t have time to be busy worrying about whether this truth is provable in an open forum debate or not. Truth seekers in general and Jews in particular were never in the business of being agreed with or accepted. We are in the very serious business of having a relationship with our Maker. Anything that interferes with that endeavor we simply don’t have time or space for. Not because we have no answers but because what we are doing is far more important.

          What you are giving up when being open minded about your faith is infinitely more than what you’d be getting in return, as a human being.

          The society we live in allows itself to believe that being a believer is weakness. In reality being a believer is the ultimate strength. Only a believer can trust and let go of the western notion that leaves us to be gods over ourselves, where we attempt to determine and control what who and why we are.

          The last century has more than adequately demonstrated the futility of this approach, both in terms of its failure to destroy faith as well as (and this is much more important) in terms of providing a lifestyle that is truly a meaningful alternative to faith.

          There are people who have questions on matters of faith and those must be addressed, but the point of the addressing these questions is not to win any kind of intellectual argument and “be right” but to return the believer to his faith!

          *

          Now, to your question.

          Please notice how the language in your question changes from one paragraph to the next.

          You say initially that I said that teaching children about Hashem simply is not brainwashing or an imposition over the child; “it is merely expressing the true state and condition of the child”.

          You then ask the question using a slightly different set of words and thoughts: “But that is what every single religion, cult, and system claim! Everyone says: "this is not brainwashing; this is TRUTH."

          The difference between what I said and what the others are saying is (in part)this: they have never claimed (because they cannot make such a claim) that a religion that one, as of yet, knows nothing about is already his, they simply claim that it’s true (or: a Truth). They are therefore encouraging so and so to adopt it and make it his Truth.

                          Yiddishkeit doesn’t simply say that Yiddishkeit is true, but that it is 1) inherently ours, and 2) We will never be able to change that identity no matter how hard we try.

                          No religion can make nor does make such a claim.

                          What is a secular Christian? A non Christian or ex Christian. What is a secular Muslim or Buddhist. There’s no such thing. You’re either a believer or don’t really associate with that truth any longer.

                          Now, dare tell a secular Jew he is no longer Jewish because of his lack of faith or practice and see what happens.

                          Do you believe for a moment that his response is coming from his intellectually developed definition of what being Jewish means or that he’s being protective and in contention of the “Orthodox” holding his nationality or culture hostage. Not for a moment. He knows he’s a Jew, is neither sure exactly what it means nor whether he believes it, agrees with it or wishes to practice it but this remains who he is.

                          There is the famous story of a holocaust survivor who endeavors to destroy any link between his past and his future who settles in Australia. As his children grow and notice that they are different by the lack of the seasonal tree present in his friends’ homes, comes home one day to explain that he’s discovered that there is  a hierarchy in the sky. There are various forces who work together to keep everything in order and we must accept his order in order “to be saved”. His father matter of factly informs his son: “listen to me Herbie: there’s only one G-d and we don’t believe in Him”.

                          When the Soviet Union was falling there were a series of international radio broadcasts that featured a prominent American name Phil Donoyu and an equal Russian counterpart. The Russian fellow, Vladimir Posner, was the man who’d been the voice of Radio Moscow for years (and I’ve heard him say recently that he was unable to speak his mind back then). I’ve been told that his mother is not a Jew but he certainly saw himself as one.

                          I clearly recall him carrying on about the definition of the word Jew. It is not a religion, or a race, or a culture, or a nationality and he rationally argued each point. He concluded that he couldn’t define the word Jew.

                          I remember thinking how great a prelude he’d given to anyone wishing to teach Chassidus because you couldn’t make a better argument for the Neshama idea (that is entirely unique to Yiddishkeit) than the one he made.

                          This, in short is the difference between the Jewish claim and any other. The only place you need to look to have this confirmed is amongst those Jews to whom Judaism means the least and yet (irrationally) it means so very much.

                          Forgive my forwardness, but I don’t know who you are so I can say this straight. It is time for you to realize accept and be proud of the fact that Yiddshkeit and Yidden are different from the pack of other faiths and believers. Period.

                          Then your question (though not answered to your satisfaction) will simply fade away.

                          Respectfully, Rabbi Paltiel.


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    • A

      Apikores -1 year ago

      Good point! 

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Yossi Paltiel

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