« Throwing apples in Belz in Shabbos Shira | Main | Overheard: L'shem Shomaim »

February 09, 2010


Neil Harris

Very interesting. Thanks for posting the review.


Rebbe Nachman was adamant that all philosophy was intrinsically wrong in its approach (Sichos HaRaN 5). How ironic then that some Jewish studies academics want to try to fit his teachings into their preferred philosophical boxes. Doing so shows they do not take the subject of their study seriously on its own terms.

steve mcqueen

He did not recommend others using philosophy, but L'M is infused with it, and there is nothing per se wrong with someone who understands philosophy (or kaballa or psychology or literary theory) using the tools they have available to unlock the sefer. The more you know of these matters, the more you will be able to understand. Equally, if you lack certain other things, like knowledge of Judaism, midrash or do not approach the sefer with Yiras Shomayim or a commitment to traditional Jewish practice, you will also fail to understand the whole. Bottom line - you cannot criticise someone using the tools they have to understand L'M, but the more you know in both Kodesh and Chol the further you will get. And the more open your mind...


Advocating for clapping on Shabbat and Yom Tov is obviously very problematic (I didn't say forbidden or evil or anything else - just problematic), and in a synagogue where it is not expected (ANY non-chassidic synagogue), you ruin everyone elses chances for even focusing in those crucial few minutes that begin davening. This could be seen as disregard for the inner striving of others as well as halacha. R. Nachman has also stated other views about other darchei in Torah that are very problematic and not easily addressed in these attempts to "kosher" him for a wider audience.



That's fine if your goal is to fit teachings into your own perspective. However, if your goal is learn them on their own terms, that is another story. In this case, Rebbe Nachman expressed a strong view on the matter. Honoring his view would be the best way to understand his teachings from a coherent "inside" perspective.

The comments to this entry are closed.