This week’s shiur
picks up from “HaKel besa’atzumos uzekha”, the point where the Chazan begins on Yamim Tovim.Some of the key topics raised:
- The impossibility of understanding Hashem, and the resulting consequence of tending to describe Him in conflicting dialectics. Immanence — Hashem is everywhere; Trancendence — Hashem is in shamayim. The impersonal G-d of nature, and the G-d of miracles. Etc…
- How are we permitted to praise Hashem in just four words?
- Gevurah and nitzchon (eternal in time). Man’s ability to bring nitzachon to Hashem’s will because Hashem’s gevurah gives “room” for us to act. The creative partnership in history and in halakhah.
- What is means to be a Melekh (king) as opposed to a Mosheil (dictator). What is Hashem’s “Throne”?
- Idealism and happiness: The concepts of simkhah, yesharim, tehillah (hallel), avodas Hashem (serving Hashem), aveilus and even humor according to Rav Saadia Gaon.
We then started discussing Barekhu, discussing the source for needing a minyan for devarim shebiqdushah (declarations of His sanctity, including Barekhu, Qaddish and Qedushah.
This week’s shiur
began with a continuation of last week
‘s discussion of qedushah (as in “asher qidishanu vemitzvosav”) and taharah (“al netilas yadayim”).The discussion of qedushah’s “separation for” and taharah’s “separation from” was used to flow into discussing the various vectors of human personality — with a detour into the Beis haMiqdash. (That parallel between man and miqdash actually comes up later in the shiur.) These three vectors can be seen as addressing the next triad of berakhos: Asher Yatzar, E-lokai Neshamah and Birkhos haTorah. (Other reasons for the structure were also given.)The rest of the shiur was a textual study of Asher Yatzar in light of the themes that recur in the various rishonim — often the same theme is associated by different rishonim to different parts of the text. Themes of birth, the wisdom of creation as a whole, Torah and human wisdom, maintenance of health vs being cured, and the wonderous fact that an intangible soul can be associated with a body. The major issues were:
- Is the berakhah one of praise? If so, why do we sayor one of action?
- What is the chokhmah being referred to in “who formed man with/of chokhmah”?
- How do chalulim differ from neqavim, that the berakhah lists both? Does Hashem create holes, or does He allow them to exist by creating around them?
- Why do we say “before Your throne of honor”, rather than “before You”?
- Why do we speak of opening and closing holes in particular?
- What’s the debate over wnether one should say “afilu sha’ah echas” (even one moment/hour)?
- If the closing of a berakhah must always address one theme, how do “afilu sha’ah achas”, “rofei khol basar” and “umafli la’asos”?
With berakhos for the best of health and an enjoyable Shavu’os!