Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Notes from Rabbi Gordon's Class

In Rabbi Gordon's class, we have been studying a great work by the acclaimed student of the Vilna Goan, Rabbi Chayim Vilozhin. It is called 'Nefesh Hachayim'.

R. Gordon encouraged me to write up postings from my notes in class so here goes. (This is beginning with a few weeks ago)

Few things in review from previous lessons:
-Hashem is constantly pumping energy into the world
-man is Betzelim Elokim (in the image of G-d; maybe there's a better word in English for image?; see the Rambam for more details-'Moreh Nevuchim')
-man by doing/breaking mitzvos puts forth positive/negative energy into the world
-Eliyahu Kramer (in the name of the Vilna Goan): "G-d wanted it so that Israel could have merit (z'chus) so He gives Israel many Mitzvahs to perform."
-the Hebrew for 'Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe' in gematria is 611. Plus there were 2 Mitzvahs that the whole people of Israel heard at Sinai. This = 613. There are also many other things: the Talmud relates there are 365 negative commandments which corresponds to the 365 days of the solar year and 248 positive commandments which correspond to the number of limbs on the body.
-according to Vilna Goan there are 613 roots and then there are the many mitzvos that stem out of this and this is how a Tzadik (righteous person) can constantly be putting out positive energy into the world in all of his actions.
-talks about how man corresponds to the universe and universe corresponds to man.
-something like man's soul is to his physical body as man is to the universe (so man functions as the soul to his universe)
-the soul is the driving force and the body is the vehicle
-relates how elements of the universe are perfected with faculties of the human body.
-many many more notes (come to the class or check out the previous lessons which will probably be on http://www.jsn.info/audio.html )

Some ideas from the Shiur on Perek daled:
-talks about how Jews create unprecedented good or harm in the spiritual realms through their actions (most effectively), their speech, and even their thoughts; for instance if a Jew were to have a negative thought in mind like for example the idea to get with a prostitute, he brings much more spiritual damage than when Titus brought a prostitute into the Holy Temple (with the Roman's destruction of the Second Temple)
-in this example it's interesting because the Hebrew word for prostitute has something to do with the symbol of jealousy. Leads the discussion somehow in the direction of asking: "but it states that Hashem Himself is a 'jealous G-d'..."
-So we ask, who here is jealous? G-d is because where He is supposed to be, a prostitute is; what is supposed to be used for His service and a place of holiness is being used for immorality
-the point of this is also that if human beings are passionate creatures, passion needs to be satisfied--so if this must be done in a Kosher way. (Side note: this was pretty heavy stuff for me at the time.)
-discussion of being able to control thoughts which ultimately have profound impact on the world since thought leads to speech leads to action; so R. Gordon mentions R. Nachman of Breslov who says, "if you believe you can destroy, believe you can fix."
-humans in being Betzelem Elokim have the ability to create worlds with their deeds and creative actions. So they can create tons of positive worlds or negative worlds (Has v'shalom)
-many, many more things,

There will be a lesson tonight, come tonight if you're able to, sorry for really short notice. If not, come in the future, the address is posted weekly. All I can say is, it's the real deal, it's really fascinating stuff given in an intellectual forum (though most of the things that are brought down are beyond most people's abilities to comprehend logically like say if it were a Gemara class). You have to come to see for yourself.

Please send me comments; was this too long? too scattered? too obscure? Would it be better if I did more of a summary than giving bullets replicating my actual notes?


Blogger Rabbi Yisroel Gordon said...

Eliyahu Kramer (in the name of the Vilna Goan): "G-d wanted it so that Israel could have merit (z'chus) so He gives Israel many Mitzvahs to perform."

That quote is actually a Mishnah, the Vilna Gaon explains that the merit of so many Mitzvot is our ability to be doing a Mitzvah every single moment; the 613 are just the roots of innumerable mitzvot...

(BTW, Eliyahu Kramer is the Vilna Gaon!)

Yasher Koach! Keep at it!

Tue Dec 12, 10:41:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Sounds like a great class! To bad I am missing out on it (sadly, man has to labor and toil....).

Thanks for the update, Zev!

Wed Dec 13, 04:21:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Orlegoim said...

Shalom Zev,

I think it's a good idea to put notes to a class, but personally, if I may make a suggestion, I think if you put fewer notes, making it appear less daunting, and more "cleanly" present the basic ideas, you will have increased readership.

Wed Dec 13, 01:42:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Orlegoim has a great point.

I know that this post summed up a lot of info from a number of class meetings, and thus had a lot of info. I think making a post after every class (if you have time of course) is a great idea. Perhaps instead of just summing up all the ideas presented, you could pick one or two concepts that really interested you, and make the majority of the post deal with that concept.

Wed Dec 13, 05:49:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

I very much agree with orlegoim and fb, and I believe that I have stated as much in the past.

Would someone publish their class notes in the Leviathan? I don't think so.

Obviously, the information is important to share, but you might want to write it in a more reader-friendly way, using complete sentences and paragraphs, and focusing on a few of the main ideas.

Otherwise, yasher koach and keep learning Torah.

Wed Dec 13, 11:08:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous chabadnik said...

dude the post is awsome only it would be really cool if they werent like class notes and more just an article giving some ideas class!

thanks man
keep up the hard work

Thu Dec 14, 05:02:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Eli Federman said...

interesting post.....lots of material..
though it is a bit disjointed and I didn't take anything specific from it....You might want to develop one or two ideas so people will be able to really internalize, not just accumulate hodgepoged info.....

Thu Dec 14, 09:47:00 AM 2006  

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