Monday, September 26, 2005

Things they would never say in Yeshiva

I have a shuir I like to go to on Sunday night. It is at the Kollel, and the Rabbi brings up a topic for discussion, and we talk about it and related issues for the next fort-five minutes.

Over the past year we have been learning the Rambam's list of Mitzvot. Of the 613 Mitzvot, there are only 60 that apply in Chutz L'Aretz to all men (Women have even fewer, as they are not obligated in Mitzvot that are time-bound.)

These mitzvos include things like T'fillin, Lulav, Matza on Pesach. The Rambam does not include negative commandments on his list, these are justt he things you need to do.

Anyway, last night we were talking about 6 mitzvot that one is obligated to do 24/7, which include Believing in HaSham and Fearing Hashem.

During the discussion we talked abuot how it is possible to think these things 24/7. After all, even if you are working on just doing these six mitzvot, it is very difficult to both fear god and love god in the same moment. It would seem that one could only do one of these Mitzvot at a time. And most of the time, we are not sitting around just focusing on these mitzvot, which the Shulchan Aruch says one is obligated to do 24/7.

For example, the rabbi said, what if you are doing something that is halachikly permitted, like playing sports, watching a game, doing math or following politics. How can you focus on what you are doing and still do these Mitzvot.

I found his example to be extraordinary. I spent quite a few years in Yeshiva, and never heard a rabbi say that any of these pursuits were acceptable or encouraged by the Torah. The party line at Yeshiva was that there was one acceptable use of one's time, that of learning Torah. Sure, there were times when you might not be able to learn, but that was not fulfilling Hashem's plan. Yet, Rabbi Klein came straight out and said there was nothing wrong at all with doing any of these outside activities.

In case you were wondering how to fulfill these mitzvot while you are busy doing other things, the answer is we internalize these feelings toward God, and are constantly doing these mitzvot udner the surface. To make his point, the rabbi said if you ask someone while they are focused on a different activity if they love their wife, they would answer yes, even though their focus is not at all on their wife, She may be the farthest thing from his mind right now, but that doesn't mean that his love for her is buried inside.


Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

now you know why you had no comments.

September 26, 2005 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truthfully, they wanted to tell us such things in yeshiva, but then they would have had to kill us

September 26, 2005 12:05 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Yeah. I just attribute it to having no readers.

September 26, 2005 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R -

I am not sure which yeshivas you went to, but the rabbeim in WITS and even the Rosh HaYeshiva - R' Henach - say that sports, relaxation, and music are necessary parts of life. They provide a release of pressure; they give one energy to spend your other time earning a parnasah, learning Torah, and being a good Jew. Yiddishkeit excludes few activities - the key is to make the rest of the activities, including the ones you mentioned, part of a Jewish life.

September 26, 2005 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hon, I'm glad to know I'm the furthest thing from your mind when you're angrily slamming into someone in a heated hockey game...


September 26, 2005 1:23 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Anon -

I went to fairly right wing yeshivas, and although they acknowledged that we needed to play ball, did not feel that it was an efficient use of time, and would recommend spending an extra seder after night seder in the beis medracsh rather than going to the gym for a game of Hockey or basketball.

And for those wondering, I went to Ner Israel in Toronto, Yeshiva Gedolah In Detroit, and Mercaz HaTorah in Israel.

I also went to Skokie and Torah MiTzion in Great Neck Long Island, but those Yeshivas had a much different life philosophy, and were post-high school. My post is more reflective of the right-wing yeshiva attitudes rather than the Skokies of the world.

September 26, 2005 1:28 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Wow, that was great. I've learned that also, but I've never heard the same thing from some-one else; especially out of the Yeshiva and/or Kollel world.

September 26, 2005 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you really think rabbi klein would espouse this position to his family or to yeshiva people?
i would like to suggest he is dumbing down the religion for those who are incapable of sticking to the law as it should be. of course, i could be wrong. still, i suspect there is an element of kiruv in this shiur.

and about chafetz chaim and reb henoch, do not get me started.

September 27, 2005 6:47 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

AirTime: 3 Miztvot which are all encompassing: (in order of level)

1. Shmirat Shabbat

2. Sitting/Eating/Living in sukka on Sukkot

3. Living in Eretz Yisrael.

#3 is pretty amazing when you think about it - that every microsecond of living in Israel you are mikayem a mitzva. No Kavana needed at all!

There's also the chiluk made between yeshivat Eretz Yisrael (living in the land) and yishuv Eretz Yisrael, which is actual building up of the land; settling the land in places not built up.

September 27, 2005 8:34 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Jameel -

This shuir (and list of six mitzvot) are based on the Rambam's list of six mitzvot that men are obligated in outside of Israel. So living in Israel is not on the list.

We did talk about Succah as a mitzvah you can do while you are sleeping.

I believe the six mitzvot (4 positive, 2 negative) on this list that one is obligated to do 24/7 are:
Emunas Hashem (RAMBAM translates as knowing rather than believing in god)
Fearing God
Loving God
Accepting the oneness of God
Not having other gods
Not going after your heart and eyes

The last one seems to be out of place, as the other mitzvot all deal with belief systems while the sixth mitvah here seemingly deals with an action. We tried to reconcile it by saying this mitzvah is all about putting yourself in a position where you are away from temptation.

September 27, 2005 8:57 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Anon - I think he believes what he is saying at the shuir. I don't know what he says to other shuirim, but I would imagine if asked he would answer what he believes rather than the yeshiva party line.

September 27, 2005 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey jameel -- you forgot covering your hair (for women).

and if you are going to include israel, you may as well include tzitzis in that list.
and from there we can continue, for example, tefillin (wear it all day), and how about good old limud torah?

September 27, 2005 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i strongly suspect he personally is a member of the yeshiva establishment.

September 27, 2005 9:22 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

AirTime: According to the Rambam, Living in Eretz Yisrael is a mitzva kolelet. (sort of like a meta-miztva)

The mitvot listed you listed require lots of kavana, while just by being in a sukka, keeping shabbat, and just by living in Eretz Yisrael you accomplish these mitzvot in a total, complete and encompassing way that is very hard to attain with the other miztvot you listed.

September 27, 2005 9:43 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

The point of the shuir was that these mitzvot don't need any Kavanah, as it is not possible for someone to have kavanah in these mitzvot at the same time (How can you love and fear and know and believe in the oneness of god at the same time?)

Yet these are things that one is obligated in 24/7. Tzitzis are only obligated during the day if you are wearing a 4-cornered garment, t'fillin is only obligated during the day, shabbos happens once a week and succos, seven days a year.

The only way one can do these six mitzvot constantly is to internalize them, so that they become a part of you and don't require constant attention.

September 27, 2005 9:48 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Airtime: Rav Goldvicht ztl from Kerem BiYavneh used to say -- you need to look at everything through proper halachik glasses. When you see a sunset, you should first think:

1. Ma Rabu Maasecha Hashem
2. Did I daven mincha yet?

That proves if you've internalized things.

September 27, 2005 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow jameel.
you really swallowed that zionist crap hook line and sinker.

meta-mitzva. give me a break! simply put, it is not one of the 613.
it is not like kosher or shabbos, or according to the man air time voted in as rabbi, covering hair for women.


that meta thingy is zionists way of trying to explain why the ramban is the only guy who counts yishuv israel as a mitzva.
but let us not kid ourselves.

October 03, 2005 9:28 AM  
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