Topics in Hashkafa
מרצה Title תקציר סידרה
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #01: Free Will The vast majority of Jewish thinkers maintain that humans have free will. In this shiur, we examine various reasons for this belief, as well as possible objections to it and responses to those objections. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #02: Free Will (part 2) In our previous shiur, we analyzed the mainstream opinion, which holds, like the Rambam, that each of us has free will. We can choose on our own to do good or evil, and neither God nor any other force makes us choose either possibility. In this shiur, will now address the minority view in our tradition, which holds that in fact we do not have free will. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #03: Free Will (part 3) In this shiur, we examine the views of R. Eliyahu Dessler and R. Solovetchik regarding the nature of free will. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #04: Theodicy (1) One of the major principles of faith is the belief that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. But this belief seems to be contradicted by the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, which can be seen in every generation. Attempts to explain the problem of “tzaddik ve-ra lo, rasha ve-tov lo” – the righteous who suffer and the wicked who prosper – are referred to as theodicies, and we will discuss a number of central approaches in this shiur. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #05: Theodicy (2) In the previous shiur, we discussed three approaches to explain the apparent lack of justice in the world. In this shiur, we will explore a more radical approach – that perhaps not everything that happens to someone is in direct response to one’s actions. Sometimes a tzaddik suffers because that is simply how the world works. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #06: Divine Providence and the Natural Order 1 Should one attempt to provide for one’s needs in this world by working through the natural order, or should one do so by doing mitzvot and trusting in God to provide? Are the events of this world caused by direct Divine Providence or by the natural scientific order? This question has tremendous practical significance and is the subject of much debate in the contemporary Jewish community. This topic is often portrayed as “hishtadlut (effort) vs. bitachon (trust)”. In this shiur, we will discuss the views of the Rambam and the Ramban. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #07: Divine Providence and the Natural Order 2 In the previous shiur, we discussed the basic tension between believing that God provides all our needs and the need for human effort to work within the natural order. We discussed the theory of the Ramban and the Rambam, who maintain that Divine Providence is not universal; only the righteous enjoy consistent Divine Providence. In this shiur, we will discuss the radically opposite approach, which believes that everything that happens to us is purely the result of Divine Providence and not the workings of the natural scientific order. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #08: Divine Providence and the Natural Order 3 How do Divine Providence and the natural order interact? This is a classic dispute between Rabbeinu Bachya and Rav Yosef Albo? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #09: Bitachon What does faith mean? Do we believe that God will save us if only we have bitachon? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #10: Prayer (1) Why do we pray? God knows what is best for us, so how can we possibly change His mind? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #11: Prayer (2) What is the point of prayer? Is it conceivable that prayer gives something to God, or is the very notion heretical? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #12: Two Definitions of Olam Ha-ba The nature of the World to Come is an essential dispute between two camps, that of the Rambam and that of the Ramban. Their argument reflects their divergent views of human nature Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #13: Olam Ha-ba (2) Does Judaism believe in a physical afterlife? Does it exist for punishment or only for reward? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #14: Olam Ha-ba 3 Why is Olam Ha-ba Not Mentioned in the Torah? Since the World to Come is the ultimate reward in Judaism, why does the Written Torah omit any mention of it? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #15: Resurrection of the Dead What is the resurrection of the dead, and how does it fit into the scheme of ultimate reward and punishment? In this shiur, we will study three approaches to this question. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #16: The Messianic Era In our previous shiurim, we discussed the eschatological concepts of olam ha-ba and the resurrection of the dead. In this shiur, we will discuss a this-worldly eschatological stage – the messianic era. What will the world be like when theMashiach comes? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #17: Belief in God There is a long-standing debate among Jewish thinkers about the role of philosophy in Jewish belief. Some thinkers – such as the Rambam, R. Saadia Gaon, and Rabbenu Bachya – maintain that our faith should ideally be based on philosophical truth and not merely a blind acceptance of tradition. On the other side of the spectrum, many thinkers – such as R. Yehuda Ha-Levi – eschew all philosophical speculation and hold that Jewish belief should be based on tradition alone, and not on abstract philosophical reasoning. In this shiur, we will explore this dispute. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #18: Belief in God (2) In this shiur, we discuss two classical philosophical proofs of God's existence, as well as a number of approaches that explain the existence of disbelief. We will also discuss the non-philosophical proof of R. Yehuda Ha-Levi. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #19: Belief in God (3) In the previous shiur, we explored the position that religious faith stems from logical proof, whether philosophical or historical. A second approach to understanding the basis of faith is found in the concept of emuna peshuta, simple faith, espoused by many Chassidic philosophers. In this shiur, we will examine this idea, as well as the approach of R. Soloveitchik to the foundation of faith, and we will attempt to reach some conclusions about the proper approach for modern day Jews. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #20: Jews and Gentiles In this shiur, we will explore two very different conceptions of the difference between Jews and gentiles. The Sefer HaKuzari and the Tanya see an essential difference between Jew and gentile, expressed as qualitative superiority by the Kuzari and as the contrast between good and evil by the Tanya. The Rambam, in contrast, understood that all human beings are essentially alike and that the exalted nature of the Jewish soul results from the educational influence of Torah and mitzvot. This dispute affects the way we view and relate to gentiles, converts, and renegade Jews. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #21: Are Matches Made in Heaven? In this shiur, we will explore the sources in the gemara regarding the idea of a divinely destined spouse, and we will analyze three different approaches to this issue. Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #22: Lo Ba-Shamayim Hi The gemara in Bava Metzia relates the famous story of the debate between R. Eliezer and the Sages, in which he brings supernatural proof to his point of view and R. Yehoshua responds that the halakha is not determined by divine assent - lo ba-shamayim hi. In this shiur, we will study three different views regarding the scope of this statement, as well as three different views regarding its justification. How is it possible that we are willing to violate the will of G-d for the sake of maintaining the halakhic process? Topics in Hashkafa
Rav Assaf Bednarsh Shiur #23: Halakhic Pluralism (Part 1) In this shiur, we will examine three different understandings of the Talmudic phrase, "Both these and those are the words of the Living God." How is it possible that both sides of a dispute can be right? Topics in Hashkafa