Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Torah Lishmah -- New Course by VBM

I have written about "Torah Lishmah" (Torah study for its own sake) in other posts. It is a concept that I really love.

Starting today, the Virtual Beit Midrash is offering a class entitled, "Torah Lishmah - A New Horizon" by Rav Elyakim Krumbein -- http://vbm-torah.org/archive/lishmah/01lishmah.htm

I really look forward to it and cannot recommend it enough. In the course Rav Krumbein will be dealing with one of my favorite Orthodox works of commentary -- Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s work, Torah Lishmah: Torah for Torah’s Sake in the Works of Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin and his Contemporaries.

In the opening shiur Rav Krumbein quotes Rav Shagar z”l, "One who is not prepared to be part of that tradition and thinks he can begin the Torah by himself, one who is not prepared to reach that intimacy with the world of Torah and with Judaism, one who wants to be an individualist and remain alienated, and study like a 'maskil' – he will never be a ben Torah."

In the footnote to this quote, Rav Krumbein writes, "These words were written by a man who is regarded as a most original thinker and lamdan, despite the tension that he faced between creativity and fealty to tradition, as mentioned in that book." This description makes me want to learn more about Rav Shagar.

What I find interesting is that in David Brooks' Op-Ed column in the New York Times today, entitled, "What Life Asks of Us" he wrote, "In this way of living [living within institutions], to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us." He goes on to describe how the push toward individualism has degraded and devalued this approach.

For me the words from Rav Shagar and David Brooks resonate together and challenge me to listen.

1 comment:

GSK+ said...

I think that anything worth seriously attending to is likely worth it for its own sake.
This particularly applies to (Works of) Art -- and even a non-believer like the philosopher Rorty granted Torah/Talmud status as "literary" Works, whatever else.For one for whom said status is much higher -- so much more the validity of "for Itself".
A serious analogy, offered at the risk of sounding flippant: My doctor recommends that I drink, moderately but regularly. Now, if I didn't like an occasional wine or whisky, this would be a burden. It is not, thus my having a drink is an expression of both intrinsic and instrumental value -- mutually-referent and no conflict.
This perspective colours my reading of Brooks yesterday. In one sense, he was stating from the Historical/Institutional side the insight of Marx that Man makes History which makes Man who makes History, etc. What his article also does is join with President Obama in making the case that the claim the World has on us has been under-actualised lo these past four or more decades. I agree.