This was a webinar given for The Mussar Institute on 3-Mar-2014. Class 1 of 2. (Part 2 is here.)
The format is more introducing and practicing tools for kavanah than a class in the meaning of the words of the siddur.
Audio only version is available here.
(Admittedly this is a good deal of the blind leading the blind.)
Many thanks to Jon Baker for recording my talk before selichos at the Yavneh Minyan last motza’ei Shabbos.
- An audio recording is here.
- And here is the handout. The first two pages were the topic of the opening of the talk, about the Rambam’s two kinds of vidui. The second sheet contains quotes from Mesilas Yesharim discussing the value of keeping a cheshbon hanefesh (an account-ledger of the soul).
He also took some pictures, so for those who are wondering what I look like (and my parents, who are like most parents and enjoy pictures of their children; you’ll notice I point out four of my children, below):
Some scenes of the audience, but I am only naming the people I know:
This week’s shiur rounds out our discussion of Shema with the third paragraph. In the first paragraph we accept Hashem as King, and that evolves to the theme of Vehayah im Shomo’ah, accepting the King’s commandments. Beliefs motivate action. In parashas tzitzis we look at how mitzvos reciprocate by shaping our minds.
The meaning of parashas tzitzis is studied by comparing it to the other phrasing of the same mitzvah “gedilim ta’aseh lekha —you shall make cords for yourself on the four corners of your kesus (covering).” How do gedilim differ from tzitzis? Why is one on your beged and the other on your kesus? Why four corners? Why eight ends (four strings, folded over)? How does all this connect to the notions of not straying after our eyes and hearts, or with remembering the Exodus? How can we actually feel what it means to remember yetzi’as Mitzrayim?
We entered Shema last week by following the detailed look at the text started with Birchas Ahavah, Kel Melekh Ne’eman and the rich first sentence of Shema.
This week we looked at the second paragraph of Shema, and started by noting similarities and contrasts with the first one. This invited us to take a step back to look at the structure of Shema as a whole, and the role and progression of each section of it.
Another point discussed at more length: How does the first sentence and paragraph of Shema constitute qabbalas ol malkhus Shamayim (accepting the kingship of [the One in] Heaven) when there is no mention of the word Melekh in them? We looked at Rav Hutner’s take on the contrast between qabbalas ol malkhus Shamayim on Rosh haShanah, one of the days of yir’ah (awe/fear) and Shema which speaks in terms of ahavah, and the meaning of accepting Hashem as King.
I also gave out a sheet, perhaps to keep in your siddur or tallis bag, which lays out some structural points in tables. The original MS word version requires solid hebrew support, so it’s available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) as well.