Monthly Archives: April 2009

Rabbi Triebitz and the Leshem

I couldn’t resist putting this ‘mugshot’ online. Rabbi Triebitz is holding his coffee mug. The words read “I heart Leshem” (I don’t think they could fit “Leshem, Shvo ve-Achlama Hakdamot u-Shearim” on the mug). That just about sums it all up.

Hopefully the shiur will be posted online in the next couple of days.

Rabbi Triebitz and the Leshem

Rabbi Triebitz and the Leshem

Leshem Introduction

This is the first page of the introduction of Leshem, Shvo ve-Achlama Hakdamot U-Shearim. This will be the source material for the first shiur of Rabbi Triebitz on the philosophy of the Leshem, which will hopefully be posted in a couple of days online.

Leshem Introduction

Taamei HaMitzvos 01

Purpose of Creation

In these shiurim Rabbi Triebitz and the hashkafa circle will be examining the last section of Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed) in which Rambam explains the reasons for the mitzvot. These shiurim will cover the majority of section III in the Guide (iy”H).

As Rabbi Triebitz says, this part of Moreh Nevuchim is one of the least studied and most controversial sections, which is really only known to most people because parts of it are quoted by Ramban in Chumash (who argues with Maimonides).

Rambam begins section III; chapter 25 with an attack on the philosophy of the Ashariah which is an early part of the Islamic Kalam philosophy. They claim that one cannot ask “What is the purpose of creation?” Divine Will is ineffable, and cannot be questioned or understood.

Rambam takes issue with this, and explains that it is based on their lack of knowledge of science and philosophy.

However, as Rabbi Triebitz points out, Rambam himself, in Section III; chapter 13 says that one may not ask the purpose of creation!

Luckily, Rabbi Triebitz finds a resolution to this apparent contradiction.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. Please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at

Video of shiur 01

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Taamei HaMitzvos 01
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Taamei HaMitzvos 01

Coming Attractions: Leshem and Rambam

Next week (beginning if Iyar) we will begin again with two new series of shiurim from Rabbi Triebitz and the hashkafa circle.

On Mondays at 5:30 Rabbi Triebitz will be examining the Rambam’s explanations of taamei hamitzvos (the reasons for the mitzvos) which is the major theme of the third section of Moreh Nevuchim.

and on Thursdays, also at 5:30 Rabbi Triebitz will look at the hashkafa, philosophy and worldview of the Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv through selections from his book “Leshem Sh’vo ve-Achlama: Hakdamos U-Shearim”. Unfortunately at the moment only two of his other books are available online:
Sefer He-Biurim and Sefer Ha-Klalim
(there is a translation of part of Ha-Biurim into English on this website:

We are trying to get Hakdamos u-Shearim added to their website. (A word of warning – if you are looking to purchase the book make sure you don’t get one of the others by mistake – or the Shearei Leshem, which is a collection of his writings and seems to come up more often on web searches)

Here is a brief biography of the Leshem from Bezalel Naor

Rabbi Elyashev, a brilliant talmudist, had studied in the yeshivot of Minsk and Telz. After the death of Rabbi Isaac Haver (Wildman), Rabbi Elyashev emerged as the major exponent of Lithuanian Kabbalah. Rabbi Yizhak Eizik Haver of Suvalk (author of Pithei She’arim) was a student of Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Shklov, who in turn, had been apprentice to the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah, founder of the Lithuanian school of Kabbalah. (Concerning the personality of the Gaon, see the introduction of his foremost disciple, Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin, to Be’ur ha-GRA le-Sifra di-Zeni-uta.)

There is also a Hebrew biography of him printed from pages 6-9 in Sefer Ha-Biurim.

Hopefully the shiurim will start going online next week. If you live in Yerushayalim and want to participate in the live shiurim please contact me and I will reveal the details of the ‘undisclosed location’ somewhere in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom