Showing posts with label Trust in God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trust in God. Show all posts


trust in God

I have tried to deal with the issue of trust in God  a few times in this blog without much success because it is unclear in my own mind. You can divide the issue into several parts in order to make what is clear and where the problems are.
The simple part is what was going on in the Mir Yeshiva in NY. Learn Torah and God will do the rest. Don't worry about making a living because when you learn Torah for its own sake God will provide.

That part is the simple unambiguous part.

Then there come the later confusing issues when this structure seems to break down.You get to Israel when people "talk the talk" about trust, but in fact spend all their time and effort trying to get charity from rich secular Jews and the State of Israel and then call that "trust in God". Hypocrisy at the highest level.

Then you get to kollel's in the USA when they don't even bother to "talk the talk." There it is all about using "supporting Torah" as if they are geniuses at the RAND Corporation  Think Tank, and are getting paid for their work and services.

To add to the confusion is the history itself of Navardok which made trust their central meme and theme.

This  is a statement of the basic ambiguity that surrounds this issue. The difference between what the Torah says and what people do. People that present themselves as authorities in Torah that are insincere, scum bags that darken the name of Torah.

See Cult behavior:
Kollels certainly are cults.
You are not supposed to make  a living by learning Torah, nor teaching it. And you are not supposed to ask for charity because you are learning Torah. [See the Mordechai in Bava Batra dealing with the problem of even having teachers for children!!! I kid you not. מה אני בחינם אף אתם בחינם

Being unscrupulous is a trait of kollels. Lying to get money.

But the issue still remains how to come to authentic trust in God and to learn and keep Torah for real?

The trouble that I see is very rarely is any religious group anything but a cult. So to be Kosher Yid one really just has to learn Torah on one's own and give up the idea of being part of any group.

My suggestion is to support the places that I recognize as being "LeShem Shamaim" לשם שמים --for the sake of Heaven. I mean there are a few yeshivas that I was very impressed with that I thought were teaching people good values. Those are the Litvak Yeshivas in NY. Chaim Berlin Mir Torah Vedaat Shar Yashuv. I know little about Ponovitch in Israel, but just seeing the book Avi Ezri of Rav Shach shows me that that place must be the Mount Everest of the Torah world.


Trust in God

The Altar of Navardok (Joseph Horvitz of Navardok, a disciple of Israel Salanter) was into making yeshivas. This was a secondary theme in his life. The major theme was trust in God with no effort.
The kinds of yeshivas he made were what you would call Lithuanian that were loosely following the path of the Gra.
The yeshiva experience is holistic. It is not just learning Torah but it is living Torah.

And it tends to be an answer to the Enlightenment. On the Enlightenment there were two approaches: for and against. And in the USA the world view is universally that of pro. That is the idea that education is the redemption of mankind. Those that were against the Enlightenment thought education is not the redemption of mankind. They used reason to argue against reason.

But the type of education they were thinking of was divorced from Faith. And that was  approach of the Enlightenment in  the Jewish world also.

The Enlightenment was largely interested in secular education.  {And it was not mostly political as Allen Bloom thought.  But it had a political element.}

Georg Hamann within the group of  German Idealism was the most powerful anti enlightenment thinker and brought out some great points.

But going back to the kind of thought we see in the Rambam and Saadia Gaon it is hard to see a conflict between Reason and revelation. Just the opposite--neither can exist without the other.
And this synthesis is what the Lithuanian yeshivas strove for. But not in an intellectual way but rather as living the Torah in a holistic way.

Given all this you would think I would recommend yeshivas. At least authentic ones. The trouble is cults. They masquerade as the real thing.  They have found it profitable to present themselves as authentic.

I try to combine reason and faith. I try to learn a little Torah and a little natural sciences every day. And I also pray to God in my own words when I need something. And when I am walking on the street I also talk with God and explain my problems to him and ask for help.
But I am not holding myself as a good example for people. If I could I would be learning Torah in Ponovitch or Brisk. But because of bad decisions I am not in the yeshiva world. [However even if I was in the Yeshiva world I would still learn Natural sciences as per the Rambam.]


Trust in God as it was translated at the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn

Trust in God as it was translated at the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn meant to learn Torah and not to worry about what will come in the future.
Or to be more explicate it meant as a unmarried student just to learn Torah according to the regular four year program at the yeshiva.

The idea was that after one would be married somehow things would work out if one trusts in God.
[The concept of God here is more than the First Cause. It is the First cause that made Nature, but sometimes interacts with  the world in a way above Nature. Also there are intermediate realms, like a moral plane that interacts with the world.]

Now according to the view of the Torah, we have two kinds of trust: One of the Duties of the Heart חובות לבבות that is trust with effort. That is to do what is necessary but also to trust that God will make things work out in the way that he wants.

The other kind is of the Gra that one needs no effort and in fact it is better not to do any effort to get things, but to put everything into God's hands. [This idea is attributed to the Ramban also by Israel Salanter.]

[When I  saw the Torah being used a   means to make money, I got turned off.
But that is just abuse of a high ideal--and a good ideal. People should learn Torah and trust in God. Abusus non tollit usum. Abuse does not cancel use.

Steven Dutch:
Whether religion or unbelief have been sources of good or evil are absolutely irrelevant to anything. The only issue of any significance is whether a position is true. If it's also good, that's a side benefit. I would like nothing better than to find ways around the speed of light and the laws of thermodynamics, but they are still true even if I don't like how they affect things I'd like to do. If something is true but evil, then that's something we have to deal with. Is it at all possible that the Universe was not designed by Walt Disney? Is it possible that our current prejudices  ... may be more based on sentimentality than reason?

And another idea from Steven Dutch which I think applies to Judaism: A lot of people will misunderstand the religion and stress trivial issues, ignore or downplay significant ones, or garble concepts. In extreme cases people who disagree with the established religion will attempt to redirect it into a form very different from the original, or take it over entirely. The Gnostics of the early Christian era who cast Persian mystery religions in Christian terms are a good example. Many people will use the religion to rationalize other motives; they will use it as a pretext for prejudice, or dominating others, or lashing out at authority.
Some will adhere to the established religion out of inertia. They feel a need for some kind of spiritual activity, and the established religion is the best (or only) game in town. Some will adhere to the established religion out of fear. They may not really believe in the established religion, but are afraid of misfortune or damnation if they abandon it. Some will adhere to the established religion primarily as a means of securing good fortune, as a security blanket, or as a means of easing guilt feelings. Often they will select elements of the religion for emphasis and ignore other elements.
 Many will adhere to the established religion for social acceptance. They may like participating in special occasions, or may value the religion as a symbol of national or group identity. Some will adhere to the established religion for cynical reasons. They may secretly disbelieve everything about the religion but go through the motions for personal advantage, reputation, or social standing or, in really intolerant societies, merely to stay out of trouble.
Once a religion becomes really established, the religion itself can be a route to power, prestige, and privilege. Not only will some people adhere to the religion for cynical reasons, they will become entrenched at its very center.

   All the above Professor Dutch says is dishonest. The only honest approaches are these: Some will sincerely believe in the established religion, will critically evaluate its teachings, and will attempt seriously to model their lives on its tenets. Some will decide they do not believe in the religion at all. If the society is reasonably open, they may either become nonreligious or convert to something else. In intolerant societies, they may go through the motions of belief merely to stay out of trouble. Some will reject the religion to the point of revolt and active opposition. Some will adhere to the established religion out of sincere conviction but will disagree with important tenets. They will attempt to recast the religion in more personally palatable terms, or possibly work to redirect the religion itself into more agreeable lines. The changes may be real reforms or merely redefinition into something more palatable.

Appendix: "Trust in God" was a major issue at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. The reason for this in part was that it was a Musar Yeshiva. That means a yeshiva that introduced Ethics (Musar) into part of the daily sessions of learning.  "Ethics" here does not mean worldview issue or what is called hashkafa. It means simple books about ethical behaviour. Now part of the reason I think this was important at the Mir is that the students there were not learning Yore Deah for ordination. The entire yeshiva was learning Torah  because one is supposed to learn Torah. So people needed a kind of justification for what they were doing. 
Later on I noticed that this emphasis on trust in God was much less in other places. Sometimes it was completely absent. But at the Mir it was definitely a part of what was going on  and that affected my own worldview since then. [Just to prove my point there was a whole shelf at the yeshiva (in the Musar section) of about 15 volumes of the מדרגת  האדם  The Sum of Man the book by Joseph Yozel Horwitz. The major theme there is trust in God.

It should be noted that the trust in God at the Mir Yeshiva in NY was in order to learn Torah. That is the idea was you trust in God so that you will not have obstacles towards learning Torah.  It is directed towards removing obstacles from learning. The Gra has this in the opposite way. He says the entire purpose of Torah is to come to trust in God.