Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hashkafa with a Heretic, Episode 2

I learned today that editing audio is time-consuming. There's less reading and more commentary in this episode. The episode covers the second half of the introduction to the Chovos HaLevavos, in which the author tells us that he wasn't sure that a humble man like himself was qualified to write a book on such lofty matters, and that if you disagree with anything he says, it's because you're lazy and stupid.


  1. I'm two minutes in, and I already love it ❤ I'll come back with more when I've listened to it all. But nice opening - getting into the spirit of a podcaster! 😉

    1. Ok, I'm back. Listened to it once all the way through, and then again jumping around for some favorite bits.

      First: I am loving the mentions of anachronism and attention to historical accuracy. They matter so much.

      Second: Your slight digression from the text to talk about women is even more fascinating when you consider that today, women learn Chovos Halevovos more often than men. (That's not a claim based on scientific data. But I do know we had a class devoted solely to this in 12th grade, whereas yeshiva bochurim will only learn mussar seforim if they join extra sedarim or something. Yes?)

      Third: I love that you quote Plato as a paraphrase of Chovos Halevovos - and that bit at the end, where you mention the text's argument that it's okay to quote non-Jewish philosophers - that struck me, because one of the biggest things I was told when I started telling people that non-Jewish philosophy made more sense to me than Jewish - I was told I shouldn't look to that for truth, before I had fully exhausted all Jewish philosophy (which is a wrong argument on many levels) - but in fact, hey look, the Chovos Halevovos himself thinks it's okay! Well, maybe he doesn't think it's okay to *study* them, just to *quote* them...

      ...which brings me to another comment - your use of the Chovos Halevovos against a potential nay-sayer, the kind of people who say "why look at this, just believe" - I actually have used arguments like this in response to people who said things like that. I have argued that the mussar seform themselves, and the greats of previous generations, do tend to cite non-Jewish sources. And if they cite them, they *must* have read them!

      What I was told: generations change. In Rabenu Bachya's generation, people could learn these things and understand them in ways we can't. Now, in our generation, when we've degenerated so much (we're farther from Har Sinai), we're less capable of this level of understanding and we should accept that the greats before us already found all the answers, and we don't need to ask questions anymore.

      Surprisingly (cue sarcasm), I wasn't happy with being told that I couldn't think or ask questions about or disagree with texts simply because someone in *my* generation, who hasn't proven his infallibility satisfactorily for me, told me that it was written with divine help by someone who is above question...

  2. Just curious... are you intentionally abandoning anonymity? Is the name of that youtube channel your real name?

    1. Let's say I'm not as concerned with anonymity as I once was.