Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sfas Emes Meditation: Spoke vs Said

R' Sokol (my LOR) often describes the comments of the Sfas Emes on Chumash as "meditations". I hadn't read much of the Sfas Emes inside, but found a nice one to say over at Shaleshudis this week in R' Sokol's absence. (how's that for a bit of modern Judeo-English (inside, say over, Shaleshudis). And it really is a meditation, in the sense of Hisbonenus as used by Chabad, or the Nefesh haChaim (i.e., Misnagdim as well as Chassidim).

אחז"ל כל הנביאים נתנבאו בכה אמר ה' מוסיף עליהם משה בזה הדבר. ענין הפרש זה כמו החילוק בין עשרה מאמרות לעשרת הדיברות. כי מאמר היא רק לחוץ להודיע הרצון יהי רקיע. יהי מאורות. ודיבור הוא פנימיות עצם הדיבור. כענין שם מדבר שנקרא האדם מדבר. ולא אומר. כי הדיבור הוא בעצם לא במקרה כמו המאמר. ואמת שזה עצמו ענין החילוק בין זה לכה. כי יש כמה מדריגות בנבואה. ועצם הדיבור מתלבש ומתפשט אח"כ למדריגות אמירה ולכן באמירה כתיב כה ובדיבור זה. לכן כ' וידבר ה' כו' לאמר כי מהדיבור בא אח"כ אמירה. וכן הי' מעלת בנ"י בקבלת התורה שנגלה פנימיות דבר ה' בדיברות יותר מעשרה מאמרות. ומעין זה החילוק בין ימי המעשה שהוא כח עשרה מאמרות שבכל יום הי' בריאה מיוחדת יהי אור. רקיע. ובשבת לא הי' בריאה וכ' ויברך כו' את יום השביעי א"כ הוא בחי' עצם הדיבור. ובכל הימים שכ' ברכה כ' ויברך כו' לאמר כו' וכ' ויברך כו' ויאמר להם כו' פרו ורבו. ובש"ק כתיב ויברך סתם והוא עצם הדיבור. ולכן בשבת ניתנה תורה שהם בחי' עשרת הדיברות כנ"ל. וזהו עצמו שכ' בזוה"ק בשבת דלא אשתכח בי' מזוני מה ברכתא אשתכח כו' אלא שהוא שורש הברכה ע"ש. והוא כנ"ל.

He starts from the first verse in the parasha, then almost free-associates, finding similar ideas to the puzzling bit in the verse, explaining the ideas, finding analogies, etc.

The verse tells us that Moshe spoke to Israel, saying "This is the thing..." He brings the Midrash (Rabbah) telling us that this indicates Moshe's prophecy is greater than other prophets, in saying "This is the thing," rather than "Thus said God" - drawing distinctions between "said" (distancing, offhand) and "spoke" (inner essence of a statement, direct communication); and between "this" - this is the thing, direct to you, and "thus" - the thing was that, and this is how I understand it, indirectly.

He then wanders off to comparing "said/spoke" to the 6 days of creation (created through ten Saying (amarot)), vs. Shabbos, which was directly blessed without an "amar" - so Shabbos becomes the Source of blessing for the rest of the week. Again saying vs. direct communication. This then leads back to the ultimate Statements - the Ten Statements, Aseres haDibros, which were communicated directly to all Israel.

I would expand a bit and say that in Creation, the physical world was naturally distant, disassociated from the infinite G-d, necessitating Amirah - at a distance; while at Sinai, G-d was creating a direct communication of His Will to all of us, hence the need for Dibur.

Retaining a meditative experience long enough to write it down is really something, to share in the subjective experience of a great mind.

(note: text pasted from DBS)


Avromi said...

Look here for more Sfas Emes Torah.

Anonymous said...

"lehavdil the Nefesh haChaim" LEHAVDIL???

thanbo said...

Well, the yeshivishe velt and Chabad have been at loggerheads since the time of the Gra. The Nefesh haChaim went a long way towards reconciling them, but there are still major differences. Compare the 4th part of NhC with the Alter Rebbe's Hilchos Talmud Torah on meditation vs. study - which is instrumental and which is the ikkar. For Chabad, a short period of study prepares you for meditation, for R' Chaim Volozhin, occasional meditation prepares you for study.

So yes, lehavdil. They're consciously different derochim in avodas haBorei.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and Slabotka was different to Nahvardok, but I never hear anyone say lehavdil between them.

thanbo said...

Uh, I don't recall any war of charomim or really nasty polemics between the gadlus ha-adam (slabodka) and katnus ha-adam (novardok) sub-schools of Musar.

On the other hand, many books have been written about the mainstream's war on Chassidus.

Not that it was successful, but it went on for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever see RYBS use a lehavdil when referring to the Tanya? Methinks there may be something more to your position than meets the eye. Will have to ask you friend Zev if he knows whats going on ;)

thanbo said...

RYBS always had a soft spot for Chabad after he had a tutor teach him Tanya as a child.

We're not talking about RYBS, we're talking about the Yeshivishe velt, which always excluded YU, and after 1946 excluded RYBS. Note, however, that if you're dragging up Chabad specifically, there's the remark of the Brisker Rav about the late Rebbe that "he thinks he's moshiach, he's going to cause problems" or something to that effect. And that was in 1950 after he started hinting in Basi Legani.

By the way, referring to "your friend Zev" while you sign "anonymous" - that's dirty pool. Use your own name - it doesn't cost anything to register with Blogger.com. It's very nasty, saying "I know who you are, but you don't know who I am, nyah nyah nyah."

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that you keep your identity secret at all. Anyway, slowly the truth comes out...your deep seated animosity towards modern day Chabad and it's leader. You have the right to your feelings, just be upfront with them. Projecting your anger back to the Baal Hatanya, who's words are quoted hundreds of times in the Mishna Brura, who is quoted by REED, etc, as if his shittos are somehow not a legitimate part of our mesora, and deserve a "lehavdil" OL"P, is offensive. And YOU talk about being nasty??

thanbo said...

*I* do not keep my identity secret. My name is right at the top of my blog. *You*, however, are hiding behind a wall of anonymity and throwing brickbats. Further, you keep shifting the grounds of your "objection" - which only shows that it has no legs of its own.

Your evident animus towards me is your problem, I suggest you deal with it.

Meanwhile, do you have any Torah to contribute?

thanbo said...

By the way, you should think about this:

- Reuven says something that
- Shimon interprets as negative about a group that
- Levi associates with.

Reuven and Levi are moderately friendly.

Shimon plans to tell Levi that Reuven said something negative about Levi's group.

And today is erev Tisha B'Av.

That's it.

Anonymous said...

And you should think about this:

-Shimon assumes Levi knows what Reuven thinks of this group

-Reuven's outrageous and hateful statement was made in public, during the 9 days.

-Shimon would love to know why Reuven wears this animosity on his sleeve

-Shimon bears Reuven no hard feelings, but protests the denigration of a gadol be'yisrael

thanbo said...

Lo teileich rachil b'amecha.

Doesn't matter what other people think, that mitzva applies solely to the rachil.

You can cast blame for your paranoid fantasies, and your desire to tell tales, all you like, but they still remain your own problem.

As I noted in an Avodah post many years ago (look up "Nefesh haChaim" in the subject index), Chassidim like to paper over the differences between themselves and others, while Misnagdim like to note the differences. Mostly it seems to be for the Chassidim to say "we're not so different from you, we should all get along". You, however, use it to say "you note the differences, therefore you must think you're better than Chabad, in fact a "chabad-hater", and are therefore a terrible person." That's reading motives into my statements that are not really there, which is paranoid thinking. I know this personally, because often I have thought that way, and recognize it as a major personal flaw in myself. So it's not that hard to recognize in others.

I would have said this in personal email, but you have left me no choice, since you continue to hide behind an anonymous label. This sort of thing should have remained private.

I really don't know why Zev thinks I hate Chabad. I know he does, but he should also know that I've been trying to make my peace with the Hechts since leaving Park Slope, I think somewhat successfully. And I've been reading so much about Chabad in recent years, whether primary-source chassidus, or secondary-source analysis (Elior, Lowenthal, Ehrlich, etc.) or shiurim (elder and junior R' Paltiels, R' Walters), that it drives my wife nuts, since she has little interest in the mystical or chassidic realms.

Nor do I understand your claims that I am "denigrating a Gadol". The Alter Rebbe was a gadol, whose works are cited all over the lot. But his Chassidus was very different from the avodah of the Seventh Generation, consciously constructed by the last two Rebbes as a response to the challenges of America. It's very different trying to bring spirituality and self-discovery to a largely traditional, if not introspective, population (as the Alter Rebbe did with Tanya, the "portable yechidus", and trying to bring Yiddishkeit to a population completely separated from it, in a country where anti-religious forces already rule most Jewish institutions.

And when I was talking about "lehavdil", you really should read the teshuvos of the Chasam Sofer, Orach Chaim around 15-16, where he too talks about the primacy of minhag hamokom and resisting the chassidish desire to impose their nusach changes on other places. The war between chassidim and misnagdim was still going on when the Nefesh haChaim was written.

There's probably a bigger difference between the original introspection of the Alter Rebbe and the Tanya, and the outer-directed kiruv organizations of today, than there was between the Alter Rebbe and R' Chaim Volozhiner - even though one held meditation to be the ikkar, while the other held it to be secondary, and optional at that; both maintained prayer to be superior to learning and to meditation.

And, as I said in the other post, I wasn't aware that you would read the word with such negative connotations.

So it had absolutely nothing to do with either "denigration" of the Alter Rebbe h"v, or "hatred" of contemporary Chabad h"v, but with historical reality.

Anonymous said...

I have obviously hit a raw nerve and should never have started this. I apologize.