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The Great Sources with Rabbi Shnayor Burton

The Great Sources with Rabbi Shnayor Burton

By Shnayor Burton
Lecture series in Jewish Philosophy.
What was the purpose of Creation? What is man's place in the world? What are prophecy and prayer about? What is the significance of Shabbos and the Promised Land?
Explore these fundamental questions of Judaism from their sources, and become familiar with the systems developed by the great Torah thinkers: R' Saadiah Gaon, R' Yehuda HaLevi, R' Bachya ibn Paquda, Rambam and the school of the Mekubbalim.
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#13 Resurrection of the Dead, according to the Rambam and Avodas Hakodesh

The Great Sources with Rabbi Shnayor Burton

#13 Resurrection of the Dead, according to the Rambam and Avodas Hakodesh

The Great Sources with Rabbi Shnayor Burton

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#39 The Unification of God, according to the Mekubalim
Hear O Israel, Hashem is one; one and not two, one and not composite – that is the simple meaning. But the Mekubalim say: Hear O Israel, Hashem is unified. This mystical unity of God with His Attributes gives unity to the entire creation and history, all rooted in one God and tending towards one good. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
44:38
October 18, 2020
#38 Hashem, Source of Living Water: Eden, Sukkos and Sodom
On Sukkos we’re judged regarding water. The basis of life, it plays a central role throughout the Torah: Eden, Sodom, Egypt and Eretz Israel are each defined by their water sources. In a cryptic statement about the unique mitzvos of Sukkos, Chazal allude to a little-known journey from the rivers of Eden to the waters of Sodom, and to the stream that will one day flow from the Holy Temple. Learn how Sukkos is part of this journey and why water is so pivotal to our relationship with Hashem. For this episode's sources, click here  Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
48:39
September 27, 2020
#37 The Power of Repentance
How does repentance work? Can a wrong be made right with no more than regret and a commitment to be better? Teshuva goes much deeper than regret and commitment, teaches the Avodas Hakodesh. The sinner who engaged with evil must reconstruct God’s divine world by understanding the roots of good and evil; by facing his evil and repudiating it, he strengthens the connection between Hashem and His creation. This endeavor secures atonement and redemption for him and the whole of creation. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
31:32
September 21, 2020
#36 The Day of Judgment
What exactly is determined on this awesome day? A deep reading of the sources shows that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah isn’t, essentially, about what will happen to man; it is about man himself. On the very first Rosh Hashanah Hashem saw everything that He created, and it was all very good in His eyes. The creation was all goodness, but man introduced evil and became evil himself. On every subsequent Rosh Hashanah Hashem again reviews each individual man, looking at him and seeing if he is good or evil. Every new year, man gets another chance to align himself with the good, to redeem himself and all of creation with him. For this episode's sources, click here  Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
34:43
September 13, 2020
#35 The Oneness of God, according to R' Bachya ibn Paquda
God’s oneness is the foundation and basis of R' Bachya ibn Paquda's monumental religious system delineated in his "Chovos HaLevavos." Beginning with The Gate of Divine Unity and ending with The Gate of the Love of God,  this book charts a journey of spiritual development that starts with the first verse of the Shema: “Hashem is one,” and culminates with the second: “And you shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might," the oneness of God leading to oneness of devotion.  For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:23
September 6, 2020
#34 The Jewish Credo – Shema and its Translations
It is a simple passage that declares God’s unity, but its translation is far from simple. The most fundamental statement of faith that is constantly on the Jew’s lips, the Shema is given three distinct interpretations by Rashi, R' Bachya ibn Paquda and Ibn Ezra. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
34:27
August 30, 2020
#33 Tzitzis and the Holy Land; Rectifying the Sin of the Spies
The Meraglim viewed Eretz Yisrael – and land itself – wrongly, maintaining that physical Earth could never be made divine. What is the remedy for their flawed sense of vision? How can we train ourselves to properly view this materialistic, temporal world? The answer is hiding in plain sight: Tzitzis teaches us how to see. As the four corners of the Earth hide their Maker, the most inner and true reality, the four corners of a garment hide their wearer; Tzitzis guides us to penetrate the outer mask and always look for the inner world.  For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
59:15
August 23, 2020
#32 A Nation's Original Sin: Rejecting the Promised Land
If, as Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi says, the Holy Land is the axis of all spiritual experience, then to spurn the Holy Land is the root of all evil. Indeed, this idea lies at the heart of the Meraglim story. Commissioned not merely to see the land, but to see what a land could be, the Meraglim were on a mission to determine if it's possible to replicate Heaven on Earth. They erred, and that original error is the root of all the Jewish nation’s shortcomings. For this episode's sources, click here  Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:59
August 16, 2020
#31 Eretz Yisrael, Land of Holiness, according to the Kuzari
What is the most central aspect of a Torah life, the axis of all spiritual experience? Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi gives a surprising answer which is foundational to his system of man's connection to the divine: the Holy Land. If a land can be hallowed, then the dimension of holiness can be manifest in the physical world – heaven can be brought down to earth. This inspiring concept is the heart and motivation of all spiritual living. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
32:53
August 9, 2020
#30 Man, Center of Reality
Man searches for absolute truth, a precise system of God’s ways. But is there one definitive solution? What if our opinions themselves affect nature and determine how God acts? It may sound like science fiction, but Chazal state it clearly: God modifies His ways according to human opinion. His connection with man is absolutely imperative, but the specific methods of that connection are flexible. The idea of God’s flexibility redefines the concept of machlokes. Two contradictory notions can both be true; different realities can exist for different people.  Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:51
August 2, 2020
#29 The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Empire, part 2
How did the city so full of people become so alone? So begins the great lament, with a question that also hints – in coded language – to an answer. What made Israel a godly nation and what led to their downfall? Seen through the lens of Moshe’s parting speech to his people in the Book of Devarim, the opening cry of Eichah answers this with a complete theology of a holy people, its land and exile. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
37:49
July 26, 2020
#28 The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Empire, part 1
How did the city so full of people become so alone? So begins the great lament, with a question that also hints – in coded language – to an answer. What made Israel a godly nation and what led to their downfall? Seen through the lens of Moshe’s parting speech to his people in the Book of Devarim, the opening cry of Eichah answers this with a complete theology of a holy people, its land and exile. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
54:47
July 26, 2020
#27 Negative Theology; from Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon to the Mekubalim
What do we know about God? This is the most central dispute between the rival philosophic and esoteric schools of Jewish thought. Armed with ink and quill, the opposing camps have waged impassioned and heated battles throughout the centuries. Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon, Rambam and others assert that it is impossible to understand Hashem's essence. We know only that He exists, or, more accurately, that He doesn’t not exist. Nothing else. R’ Chasdai Crescas and others, including the Mekubalim, reject that philosophy as antithetical to the Torah. We can know that Hashem is mighty and all-knowing and merciful. However, attributes that pertain to God are entirely unlike attributes that pertain to humans. God's attributes, like God Himself, are infinite. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
39:04
July 19, 2020
#26 The Chosen People, according to Kuzari and Shaarei Orah
Why was one nation chosen from among the seventy – are all human beings not equal before the one God? No, says Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, most emphatically not. In the sublime system of the Kuzari, the nation of Yisrael alone is a metaphysical, divine people. Only its members can be prophets, and only in their Holy Land; the Torah is decidedly nationalistic. Others are not as exclusive. Rambam maintains that even non-Jews can attain prophecy, and the Shaarei Orah delineates a unique spiritual role for all nations of the world; universalism is the Torah's ultimate goal. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
35:12
July 12, 2020
#25 Reincarnation of Souls, from Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon to Ramchal
Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon considered it preposterous.  Mekubalim attributed it to Eliyahu HaNavi.  Abarbanel and others adduced the authority of Pythagoras in its support. Hotly debated for thousands of years, the mystical doctrine of gilgul is given cogent form by Ramchal. The recurring rules of reality are based on divine attributes that appear and reappear throughout history and the lives of men; more than one individual can actualize the same divine rule, and in that sense they truly share the same essence, the very same soul. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
38:08
July 5, 2020
#24 The Relationship between Man and Woman
After completing each creation God saw “that it was good” and after completing the whole of creation “that everything He made was very good.” All was complete and perfect – except for just one thing: “It is not good for man to be alone.” Cosmic goodness was in jeopardy, hinging on the rectification of this problem, and indeed, Rashi teaches, man’s very relationship with God depended on this matter. Why? The relationship between the sexes has a secret purpose of the highest order: knowledge of God. For only through knowing another person – a completely separate, other consciousness – can the mind expand to know the Ultimate Other, God. Without another person, man would remain trapped forever in the narrow confines of his own mind; only seeing things from his limited, selfish perspective, he would never see God and His goodness. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
32:12
June 28, 2020
#23 Torah vs Prophets: Knowing God
The Torah's message differs from the prophets': the former focuses on law, the latter on morals. Concomitantly, the prophets taught knowledge of God, while the Torah indicates that this is an impossibility: He is utterly unknowable. If you can know Hashem, then you should emulate Him; if you cannot, then you should obey the fixed, inflexible, and sometimes inscrutable law. Explore how these contradictory teachings are both true – on different levels of consciousness. Together, these diametrically opposed philosophies comprise one great system that allows for both negative theology and anthropomorphism. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
36:32
June 21, 2020
#22 Torah vs Prophets: Sacrifices
The Torah's message differs from the prophets': the former focuses on law, the latter on morals. Nowhere is the difference starker than in regard to sacrificial worship; when the prophets insist that God does not desire animal sacrifice and wants only kindness, justice and righteousness, the discrepancy becomes outright contradiction. But on close analysis we find that there is no true contradiction. Rather, this divergence encapsulates the essential nature of the Torah and the prophetic books, respectively. The Torah is the law with which to worship the unknowable, transcendent God, and the prophetic books are the framework by which He makes Himself known to man. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
39:29
June 14, 2020
#21 One God, Un-gods and Other Gods
Of major focus in the Torah, idolatry is the subject of numerous commandments, warnings and punishments; but what, precisely, is it? And who are those "Other Gods" that the Torah forbids to worship? Are there more gods than the One God? According to Rambam, idolatry is, essentially, a forbidden practice. While it is theoretically fitting to venerate the heavenly servants of Hashem – the sun, the moon and the stars, actions resembling worship are nonetheless prohibited because they lead to erroneous beliefs. Ramban explains the matter differently: idolatry is an expression of faithlessness. It is the deification of the other divine beings – the angels. These lesser divinities are actually appropriate, in a sense, for other nations to worship, but for Hashem’s unique people, only He is truly God. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
38:08
June 7, 2020
#20 Keeping Time; Sefiras Haomer, Pesach and Shavuos
One, two, three, four days; we bridge the Exodus to the revelation at Sinai by marking time's passage, seven time seven weeks, and all this is rooted in the harvest and its special sacrifices of barley on Pesach and wheat on Shavuos. How? This mitzvah takes us back to the beginning of time, to Bereishis. Adam sinned and was sentenced to a life of backbreaking labor in the field. Such a life, long as it may be, is likened to just one day that ends with death: fleeting, ephemeral, and devoid of meaning. If he won’t learn to count his days, man will never find his way back to the Tree of Life. Like Adam all people. The holiday that celebrates freedom from slavery is followed immediately by the harvest season, and with it the grave danger of never-ending work; counting the days protects from this hazard and leads to receiving the Torah, the true Tree of Life.   Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
46:22
May 24, 2020
#19 Tests and Trials
Why does Hashem test people? Isn’t the outcome known to Him in advance? One of the “greatest problems in the Torah” according to the Rambam, the idea of trials is given various explanations by the great Jewish thinkers. But all the reasons only serve to justify an imperfect relationship between man and the Divine, for omniscient God indeed has no need for trials; they only have a function within a world controlled through divine beings who lack perfect knowledge – the angels. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
40:08
May 17, 2020
#18 The Second Temple, the Greeks, and the Oral Law
Many people think of the Second Temple as a replay of the first: the Jewish nation returned to the holy land to rebuild the great house of worship and revelation. But it was nothing of the sort. In that pivotal era, prophecy ceased, the divine presence did not return to its sanctuary, and the period of the Oral Law began. All this, Chazal hint, is linked to the ascendancy of the Greek Empire. The development of Greek wisdom marked a broad shift in the focus of human consciousness. Even the way that God makes Himself known changed: prophetic image was replaced with intellect and revelation with deduction, and man became creator of divine law.  For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
35:03
May 10, 2020
# 17 The Tree of Knowledge, according to the Rambam
The story of man eating from the Tree of Knowledge is the fundamental, foundational story of mankind, of humanity’s capacity for perfection or failure. It is the key for us to understand ourselves – but what does it mean? What would man be without knowing good and evil, and how does this knowledge lead to his downfall? In the Rambam’s understanding, the crux of matter is the quality of man’s intellect. Instead of making decisions based on the value judgment of knowing good from evil, man could and should make decisions based on discerning truth from falsehood: through intellect alone. This faculty is represented by the Tree of Life, for truth and intellect are eternal. Man's eternal perfection depends on perfecting pure intellect; to the extent that he does not, he is merely another mortal animal.  This profound idea lies at the heart of the Rambam's whole system of philosophy.  For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
34:59
May 3, 2020
#16 The Nature of Evil, according to the Rambam and Avodas Hakodesh
Evil – what is it? Where does it come from? Is it real? Will it last forever? The Rambam and the Mekubalim teach diametrically opposed approaches to the ancient problem of evil in a good God's world. According to Rambam, evil has no real existence, being merely the lack of good. God's creation is absolutely good – although we don't always understand its goodness – and much of the evils we face are man-made. In this optimistic philosophy all of us, here and now, partake fully of Hashem's goodness in His perfect world. In contrast, the Mekubalim teach that evil is real, indeed very important. There is a metaphysical reality to this force that opposes good – but only for the time being; our mission is to overcome and overpower it and thereby perfect a currently imperfect world. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
32:51
April 26, 2020
#15 The Significance of Shabbos
Why is Shabbos so central to the Torah? What is signified by abstaining from work? This simple practice contains the most profound declaration of faith and, Chazal teach, purifies its observers from all sin. Rooted in the creation story and man's original, root transgression of knowing evil along with good, Shabbos proclaims the pure goodness and faultlessness of God's universe – work is unnecessary in a perfect world; by recognizing this perfection, man repudiates evil and commits himself to the service of the good. All this and more is alluded to in the psalm that ushers in the holiness of Shabbos, the "song for the Shabbos day." For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
36:20
April 19, 2020
#14 The Meaning of Matzah
Why is the mitzvah of matzah so important? How could a food be so fundamental to redemption and its remembrance?  The story of Avraham, Lot and Sodom allude to the secrets of this simple bread. Sodom, like Mitzrayim, was economically secure, supplied with water from a river, while the land of Israel depends on rain, Hashem's heavenly blessing liable to be withheld if not earned by doing His will. The bread of Mitzrayim is the food of pride and insolence: economic security engenders haughtiness, root of all Sodom's evil, while the bread of affliction is the food of Hashem's land, reminding us of the ever-present possibility of hunger if we lose Hashem's favor.  To eat and be aware that all sustenance is a heavenly gift that can be denied – that is central to our relationship with Hashem and characteristic of His holy land, and also at the heart of Sh'ma and Tefillin. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
53:07
April 5, 2020
#13 Resurrection of the Dead, according to the Rambam and Avodas Hakodesh
The significance of The Resurrection is a matter of dispute: according to Rambam, it merely serves as the greatest miracle – the dead will come back to life, live and die again, while perfect, eternal reward is purely spiritual; according to the Mekubalim, resurrection is the ultimate and everlasting reward. This dispute is rooted in a fundamental debate about physicality: Rambam maintains that only spiritual and intellectual perfection are truly ideal; the Mekubalim teach that the ideal reality is one of bodily and physical perfection, for eternity. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
36:37
March 29, 2020
#12 Why do the Righteous Suffer?
Why do bad things happen to good people? This ancient question about how to make sense of all the senselessness is dealt with cryptically by Chazal, who put it at the heart of the human condition. Our lived experience is comprised alternatively of understanding Hashem and not understanding Him; these are two paths of life, two types of relationship with the Master of the Universe who is sometimes revealed and sometimes hidden, and these paths themselves are contingent on two forms of worship – the path of complete righteousness and the path of repentance. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
32:51
March 22, 2020
#11 Prayer: What and How
Two problems trouble people regarding prayer: first, how does it work (can our opinions influence God?), and second – but it doesn't! Of course, if you can't answer the first problem, you can't begin to solve the second; understanding how prayer works is the key to making it work. Explore what the great Torah thinkers taught about this central practice called the "worship of the mind." Prayer, they tell us, is rooted in an understanding of Hashem and His ways. We contemplate Hashem and His actions, and articulate how He would act according to our conception. This meditation is the foundation of our relationship with Him; to the extent that He desires to relate with us, our words of prayer define the framework of that relationship and, when they are accepted and fulfilled, enable us to discern Him through His actions, further strengthening our relationship. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:52
March 15, 2020
#10 The Holy Tongue, Prayer and Prophecy
What is the essence of lashon hakodesh? Why is it inextricably linked with prophecy and prayer? Chazal hint that perfect knowledge depends on words. With the correct words for things, we have proper mental representation and accurate knowledge: we know what the world really is like from Hashem's perspective, and we can affect it through word, through prayer. That is the holy tongue of the prophets who gave us images of reality. The 70 languages, on the other hand, are 70 ways to misrepresent reality.  With true word came prophecy and the power of prayer; when the era of the true word ended prophecy ceased, and even prayer would have no longer been possible if the last remaining prophets wouldn't have founded a new way of relating to Hashem for the post-prophetic era, beyond word and beyond mental representation.  For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
40:19
March 8, 2020
#9 The Interdependence of Prophecy and Idolatry, according to Reb Tzadok
At the same point in history, both prophecy and the impulse for idolatry ceased, changing the face of Judaism and its struggles. Can these two things – one of the greatest godliness, the other of the greatest wickedness – somehow be related? Yes, says Reb Tzadok, prophecy and idolatry have the same root: God's immanence and visibility. In the era that God made Himself known through prophetic image, there was a concomitant passion to concretize Him, to represent the divine with physical form and direct our worship to that. Prophecy ended and now God is hidden, to be approached through intellect alone. For this episode's sources click here  Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
34:31
March 1, 2020
#8 Understanding the History of Judaism; an alternative to Kuzari
The trajectory of Judaism seems to be a downward one: the era of prophecy and revelation in the Holy Land is past, while the current era is one of divine concealment. Indeed, according to Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi – whose opinion accords with Resh Lakish – we should be focused now on recovery, on regaining our lost glory. But there is an alternative, diametrically opposite approach to this matter. According to Rabbi Yochanan and others, exile itself has a positive purpose, and Judaism was always supposed to be transformed and enriched by it. Hashem's complete revelation can be attained only subsequent to His concealment; the early years of glory were really an advance, early sense of what will be fully realized after the historical process of exile and redemption. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:34
February 23, 2020
#7 The Lost Judaism; an introduction to Kuzari
Judaism as we know it is incomparable to the one that was, when Hashem communicated through prophets and dwelt among Yisrael. How are we to relate to this absence? Can we consider our religion complete in its current, diminished state? No, we cannot, says Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, and this incompleteness must always inform our religious feeling. In his monumental work, The Kuzari, HaLevi gives a magical sense of the Judaism of old. Prophecy, the Holy Land and the nation of Yisrael are central to this theology of yearning; we, today, have mere impressions of a divine system unlike anything familiar, glimmers of godliness, and our spiritual focus must be centered on recovering this lost glory. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
37:10
February 16, 2020
#6 Man's Divine Image, according to the Shaarei Orah
Man was created "in the image of God." What does this mean? How could the form of man be identified with the formless and shapeless God? Shaarei Orah teaches that the human being is the symbolic representation of the divine. God is formless, shapeless – and utterly unknowable. We can know Him only indirectly, through an image that represents Him: the human being. According to this teaching, man's perfection is to properly represent the divine, to actualize it in this physical and limited world. When perfecting himself, man is perfecting God's representation and actually embodies the divine. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
35:04
February 9, 2020
#5 Imitatio Dei – Going in Hashem's Ways, according to the Rambam
The Torah commands us to walk in the ways of Hashem: to be as He is and do as He does. But what does it mean for a mortal being to go in the ways of Hashem – can we truly define Hashem's character traits and emulate them? No, says the Rambam, we cannot. Hashem and His ways are in fact utterly unknowable. The terms and images that the prophets use to describe Him and His ways are actually a facade, a guise that Hashem takes so that we have a representation of a Godly image to emulate. This cosmic idea lies at the heart of the Rambam's whole system of theology and ethics. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
39:11
February 2, 2020
#4 The Nature of Shedim, according to the Rambam and the GR"A
What are shedim? Are these monstrous beings real?   Explore the conflicting perspectives of two Torah giants about these issues, and learn how they provide a window into two divergent systems of religious thought. The dispute is based on fundamental questions about the focus of avodas Hashem. According to the Rambam, avodas Hashem is rooted in the world of the intellect; according to the GR"A, in the world of action and experience. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
33:38
January 26, 2020
#3 The Purpose of Creation, according to the Ramchal
Could a perfect God who lacks for nothing have a motive for creating the world? If He has no needs, what impetus is there for Him to create?  Ramchal teaches that creation does indeed have a clear and specific purpose: goodness. God is good and therefore does good. Not out of need but out of pure beneficence, God created a world of goodness, which is identical with godliness. This profound idea is the crux of Ramchal's system of theology and is also the basis of his great ethical work, the Mesillas Yesharim. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
26:00
January 19, 2020
#2 The Purpose of Creation, according to the Avodas HaKodesh
Can we speak of creation's purpose? Can we fathom a perfect God needing something from this world? Indeed we can understand the objective of creation, says the Avodas HaKodesh. Our worship serves Heaven's needs, actualizing the unity of God. This astonishing and wondrous idea – known not through logic but through tradition – lies at the heart of a complete system of religious theory and can give meaning to everything we do. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
24:31
January 10, 2020
#1 The Purpose of Creation, according to the Rambam
Whyever did God create the world? Can we even give a reason for a perfect God to be motivated to act? This most fundamental question about our existence has occupied many of the greatest Torah thinkers.  This lecture explores the Rambam's unique and profound opinion about the purpose of everything. The Rambam asserts that creation has no purpose in the usual sense of a motivating reason to do something. Rather, the purpose is God Himself: His will or His wisdom, which are His essence. For this episode's sources, click here Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening! You can email Rabbi Burton with questions or comments at oros.yaakov@gmail.com
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January 10, 2020