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​Is Judaism About Man or G-d? The Lifelong Debate between Reb Yishmael and Reb Akiva

To Find Yourself in Hashem or to Lose Yourself in Him?​

2 hr 10 min

Class Summary:

This women’s class was presented on Tuesday Parshas Yisro, 14 Shevat, 5778, January 30, 2018, at Ohr Chaim, Monsey, NY. The class is based on two addresses of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shavuos 1966 and Pesach 1972.

A seemingly trivial disagreement between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael about the feedback the Jewish people gave G-d at Sinai, express a deep underlying difference in their understanding of what constitutes the essence of Judaism.

The class explores three Talmudic stories about Rabbi Akiva, and six debates between these two sages, which all express their grand debate about the ultimate meaning of Torah and Mitzvos.

What is Judaism? Is it about G-d or about man? Is it about G-d trying to be here for man or about man trying to be here for G-d? To be or to be not? That is the question.

Please leave your comment below!

  • LC

    Lazer Calderon -5 years ago

    Rabbi YY  would you say as a logical followup to your class that in the modern era, the school of musar and character development under Rabbi Salantar and his discliples has followed the path of Rabbi Yishmael while the school of devekus under the Baal Shem Tov and the chassidic movement has followed Rabbi Akiva?

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  • E

    ezra -6 years ago

    בשבילי השיעורים שלך הם ע"פ רוב מדיטציה וחוויה אלוקית שאין דומה לו.
    והנה קצת מהמשובים ע"פ זכרוני והפרשנות של העכשיו מוצש"ק,
    ביום ד' השבוע הקשבתי לכל השיעור של פר' יתרו (כולל הפידבק של הנשים) והיה ממש עמוק וטעון, צריך המון כוח ואומץ להיכנס לכל הניואנסים ולנסות לחוות את החוויות האלו, בסופו של דבר זה היה ממש חתיכה של אומנות וכמובן השתכנעתי לומר הן על לאווים, או ראיתי והבנתי את היופי של לומר הן על לאו. למרות שאלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים ולמרות שהנני כהן (ומיוחס, זה ע"פ סבא שטען שהיה להם יחוס כתוב עד השפתי כהן). נהנתי מהתיאורים על החיים של ר"ע ואשתו רחל. וגם על ר"ש שנולד בתוך קדושת הכהונה.
    אהה איזה חוויה של זמן, טהור וטוהר של נוכחות אלוקית מטובל בשילוב הסתוריית השרדות וקיום עם הנבחר ותורתו. 
    לענ"ד מה שאני יכול ללמוד מזה, זה להיות עצמי ולחיות ע"פ הבנתי האותנטי הפנימית ללא ניסוי של חיקוי ואפי' רוחני כמובן, כי אלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים, אמן.  

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    Clarifies an interesting point

    Rabbi YY, beautiful shiur. Yasher koiach!

    This explains why the Gemoro says that when Adam haRishon and Moshe saw the death of Rabbi Akiva they were greatly pained. Even the angels said, זו תורה וזו שכרה! Weren't there other examples of tragic deaths that could have been pointed to?! And what was Hashem's answer? Sha or I will destroy the world?

    But with this shiur it becomes clear that Adam and Moshe and the angels could not fathom the depths of Rabbi Akiva's approach to the 'negative'. Therefore he is the paradigm of devotion at the moment of death! 

    And yet, his devotion must be the goal of every Jew. So if this approach is questioned, there can be no existence for the world.

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago


    The source is Likkutei Sichos vol. 6 Parshas Yisro; and the second Hadran on Pesachim, at the end of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Haggadah.

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  • J

    Judith -6 years ago

    After listening to your wonderful shiur I was wondering about this detail. Rabbi Akiva was the son of a Ger. At the age of forty, he began learning Torah. This is the age of "​BINAH​,"​ much after the turbulent teenage years​

    Could it be perhaps that starting his life in a pure condition like a newborn at this late ​stage of his life paved the way to such an unbelievable level? someone who has the courage to transform themselves so late in life, can reach incredible heights?

    Thank you for not stopping to inspire me.

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Yisro Women’s Class

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • January 30, 2018
  • |
  • 14 Sh'vat 5778
  • |

Leilu Nishmas Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז״ל
And in the merit of our partner in Torah, Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia, שיחי׳​

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