Friday, December 29, 2023

Avos (6:5)

 I frequently explain the apparent contradiction found in Avos (6:5) concerning those factors involved in acquiring Torah, i.e. analysis of the students and faith in our sages. Furthermore, what does faith in our sages have to do with acquiring Torah? However, the explanation is that if one doesn't have faith in the truth of the words of the sages then one readily dismisses them for the slightest reason. With an attitude of condescension, one proclaims that they didn't know what they were talking about. Consequently, one makes no effort to investigate and to try to validate what they said. However, in the end we find that we are the ones who have erred. Therefore, it is characteristic of the truly wise to presume that the sages have not erred, G-d forbid. However, we -- with our limited perspective and limited understanding-- have. On the other hand,  to blindly believe and not struggle to comprehend with our intellect the apparent difficulties -- saying that they knew and we need to mindlessly rely on them -- that is also not correct. We need to wrestle mightily with the apparent contradictions and doubts as if they are people like us. With this approach, we will come to a much profounder and sharper comprehension. Thus, we see both factors -- emunas chocahmim and pilpul -- working together to the end bring about the acquisition of Torah.  

Seridei Aish 1: 113 in Daas Torah, p. 195 

The Seridei Aish was a big supporter of Torah Im Derech Eretz and an admirer of Rav Hirsch.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

let us consider how we shall read it

"Therefore, to the Torah! But, before we open it, let us consider how we shall read it. Not for the purpose of making philological or antiquarian investigations, nor to find support and corroboration for antediluvian or geological hypotheses, nor either in the expectation of unveiling supramundane mysteries, but we must read it as Jews - that is to say, looking upon it as a book given to us by God that we may learn from it to know ourselves - what we are, and what we should be in this earthly existence."

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch 19 Letters.