Category Archives: Emergence of Ethical Man

Ethical Man 10

This shiur is l’ilui nishmat Michael Yirmiyahu (Jeremy) haCohen Barkan.

This is the concluding shiur in the series, and is an overview of the entire book “The Emergence of Ethical Man.”

Rabbi Triebitz asks the following question:

Rav Soloveitchik has reduced man to a naturalistic being, so is there any room for spirituality in the Rav’s system? Is there any transcendence in Judaism?

Rav Tzadok explains (likutei maamarim 5a) that kabbalah is the ‘internal’ of Greek wisdom.

Rav Soloveitchik describes his vision of the future as a merger of ontology and ethics. It is clear that through understanding the relationship of the two, that Rav Soloveitchik would have said that the historical evolution of naturalism and natural ethics is the external embodiment of an internal movement where ethics and ontology merge.

The overarching theme is that by understanding Scripture in a contemporary scientific way on is able to create a vision which is an outergarment of a spiritual garment which is only alluded to in this book.

Chovot HaLevavot says that in matters of hashkafa there is no Sanhedrin, and it is rather based on tradition and intellect. Rav Soloveitchik is continuing in this path, using modern thought to understand Torah and Torah to understand modernity.

We have seen many comparisons between the thought of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Kook. In Shemonah Kevatzim Rav Kook presents a veiw of techiyat hameitim which sounds very similar to the Rav. Rav Soloveitchik could not have known these works of Rav Kook which were only published last year, but the themes of using science and integrating it with hashkafa is the common idea to both of them.

At first glance they would appear to be very different – the one a kabbalistic mystic with chasidic tendencies, the other a rational philosopher influenced by his grandfather and the Brisker derech.

Yet they both arrived at similar conclusions that science informs our understanding of Torah.

Rav Triebitz discusses the ways in which the challenges to Judiasm from contemporary scientific, archeological and theological thought can be resolved with traditional Judaism. He suggests that ‘The Emergence of Ethical Man’ can serve as an example of remaining a traditional religious Jew in the face of the challenges of modern thought.

I want to thank Elijah so much for all the work he has done to make these shiurim happen on the internet. He recorded, uploaded, and most of all thought about how to make the videos as good as possible. Thank you.

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

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Ethical Man 10
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Ethical Man 10

Ethical Man 09

This shiur concludes the book “The Emergence of Ethical Man”. (It is not yet decided whether there will be one final shiur or not).

Rav Soloveitchik discusses two concepts of G-d as king – one ontological and one ethical. One political/autocratic and one covenental/democratic.

Rabbi Triebitz also quotes from this book: The Invention of Hebrew (Traditions) and shows parallels between the ideas there and the ideas of the Rav.

In summary, the shiur is about different relationships between G-d and the world (and other gods and the world).

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

Video of shiur 09

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 09
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Ethical Man 09

Ethical Man 08 – Avraham Avinu

In last week’s shiur Rabbi Triebitz explained that Rav Yosher Ber understands Adam and Eve as aesthetic beings.
Rabbi Soloveitchik continues with a discussion of Abraham, and shows that he is the correction for the sin of Adam and Eve.
“The charismatic personality must free himself from the place where he was born…”
In this Rabbi Soloveitchik echoes Bergson’s concept of radical religion, where man leaves his home and seeks his own path.
We also find the concept of loneliness – “A lonely man finds a lonely G-d”. This is the first prerequisite for prophecy.
What is the ethics of charismatic man?
How can freedom loving and anti-authoritarianism be a source for ethics?

The charismatic person revolts against a non-moral legalistic society, whose ends and objectives often collide with the basic tenets of a natural, living morality. He refuses to obey an external authority and to accept the dicta of a society that is guided by a highly technical, though magical, civilization. He prefers spontaneity to artificiality, improvisation to the routine. The moral law is revealed to him by his God, who is at once friend, comrade and master, and who speaks from beyond and within his own personality. The source of the law is the mahazeh, the prophetic vision, not the royal decree. The charismatic person discovers the ethos himself.

Rabbi Triebitz skips chapter 9, and goes to discuss chapter 10 – the next charismatic man – Moshe Rabbeinu. There are many parallels between Avraham and Moshe. The major difference between them is that Moshe has both freedom, and submission/determinsim. “Angelic role”.

What is the source for Rav Soloveithik’s distinction between freedom and determinism, such that the synthesis of both leads to ethics. This is not from Bergson. It seems to be the Rav’s innovation.

However the source of these ideas is (according to Rabbi Triebitz) kabbalah, which is Jewish philosophy.

In the lecture notes he explains that “radical naturalistic” interpretations are kabbalistically motivated.

I want to thank Elijah very much for his efforts in recording this entire series of shiurim, and particularly this shiur (because I couldn’t make it). He has also spent weeks trying to work out the best lighting system for the shiurim. If you notice the improvement in this shiur please let me kn0w (and i’ll pass it on to Elijah). Thank you.

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

Video of shiur 08

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Ethical Man 08
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Ethical Man 08

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Ethical Man 08

Ethical Man 07 – Ethical Development

In the Emergence Of Ethical Man (Meotzar Horav) Rabbi Soloveitchik discusses ‘The Emergence of Sin’ (p.95ff).

The demonic personality expresses itself in a change in man’s personality.

Rav Soloveitchik brings Santayana, Nietsche and Bergson as his sources.

Rabbi Triebitz claims that Rabbi Soloveitchik draws inspiration from Ernst Cassirer and especially his book An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture

The greatness of the Rav was taking ideas from philosophy and integrating them into his Jewish philosophy. Seeing his sources and inspiration allows for a better and deeper understanding of the Rav’s work.

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_07.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 07

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Ethical Man 07
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Ethical Man 07

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Ethical Man 06 – Man as Animal

In this shiur Rabbi Triebitz goes through chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5 in The Emergence of Ethical Man.

He begins with a recap of ‘Lonely Man of Faith’ and the concept of Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is intellectual and technological. Adam II is ethical and religious. Rabbi Triebitz shows how both Adams are in ‘Ethical Man’.

Then Rabbi Triebitz learns through a piece from Rav Kook’s ‘Four Kevatzim’ (vol. 4) in which he expresses ideas similar to those in ‘Ethical Man’.

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_06.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 06

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 06
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

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Ethical Man 06

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Ethical Man 06

Ethical Man 05 – Evolution to Animal

In this Shiur Rabbi Triebitz continues with ‘The Emergence of Ethical Man’. Rav Soloveitchik shows how there was an ‘evolution’ from plant-like to animal-like to human. He demonstrates this with verses from Bereishis, relating to eating animals, and the soul which is in the blood.

Rabbi Soloveitchik also has a radical understanding of sacrifices, stemming from his synthesis of ethics and ontology. He concedes that the pagan concept of human sacrifice is indeed the will of G-d, however it must be tempered with G-d’s ethics, which forbid human sacrifice, and instead transform it into animal sacrifice.

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_05.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 05

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 05
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Ethical Man 05

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Ethical Man 05

Ethical Man 04 – Human as Plant

Chapter 1: Man as an Organic Being

Rabbi Soloveitchik shows how humans are similar to plants. In chapter 2 he will go on to show how humans are carnivorous beings. There are many parts to a person, which are evolutionary, going from a lower to a higher form.

He brings several verses showing the connection between mankind and plants: “Man is a tree of a field”; the instruction to be fruitful and multiply is given first to the plants, and then to humans in the same wording. etc.

Rabbi Soloveitchik also traces this deep connection between humans and plants on the halachic level.

On page 15 the Rav quotes Murphy who speaks about the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ structure of plants.

Rav Soloveitchik likens this to a fetus. He then begins a discussion based on Rambam’s ruling about when it is permitted to perform an abortion to save the life of the mother – based on when the fetus becomes a ‘nefesh’.

Rav Chaim (Beis HaLevi), Rav Soloveitchik’s grandfather, in his chidushim on Rambam, gives a different analysis and claims that the fetus is already called ‘nefesh’ even while in the womb.

Needless to say, this interpretation is not agreed to by everyone. In fact, Rabbi Triebitz claims that it does not fit very well with Rambam himself! In Moreh Nevuchim III:40 Rambam understands the concept of ‘rodef’ very differently. The reason it is permitted to kill a rodef is to save him from sin, rather than to save the life of the victim. Which is why Rambam here says ‘like a rodef’.

The fetus represents ‘man as a plant’.

At the other end of life, when a person is on death’s door (goses), in a vegetative state, they share qualities with a plant.

We see from all this that the Rav’s understanding of natural imminence is fundamental to his understanding of halacha.

Later in this chapter (p. 19), the Rav elaborates on the halachot of Zeraim. “These laws involve empirical study of plants, and classifications of structural, physiological and technical…. Scientific knowledge of the realia contributes…”

The Rav understands that Chazal are acting as scientists when they make claims about the physical world. This is not to say that they follow the modern scientific method, but nevertheless they are scientific.

It is interesting to compare and contrast this with the thoughts of the Chazon Ish. He understands the halachic system not as scientific, but rather as ‘prophetic’ – somehow connected to man’s inner understanding of the world.

This difference between the Chazon Ish and the Rav is a fundamental concept in all areas of halacha and Judaism.

A third idea within this chapter is brought out in a footnote on p. 17. He notes that man is rooted within the environment, and is ‘primitive’.

Certain philosophies are bent on freeing man from his confinement to a fixed environment. European intellectualism and rationalism and scientific technologism pursue it as a prime objective. Primitive man was more tied in with natural surroundings that the modern homo sapiens… Some philosophies proclaim the ideal fo return to nature… In the last century, European intellectuals thought that one becomes more man in proportion as one dissociates himself from his fatherland. The ideal of cosmopolitanism implies detachment from fixed surroundings… the method of abstraction, prima facie a logico-espistomological method, is also, at times, a way of living. Man abstracts his own existence from the concreteness of the environment; thus all those philosophies which saw in intellectual abstractionism the model of cognition display cosmopolitan tendencies. With the return of certain philosophers to the aboriginal sensuous apprehension of reality and with the rehabilitation of the primitive immediacy of naive knowledge, the contact between man and the world outside becomes more intimate. Such a romantic upsurge of man toward primordiality and oneness with the world outside has its effect upon political philosophy (Bergson’s elan vital, intuition).

Rabbi Soloveitchik understands that Judaism returns man to his earliest anthropology where he is enmeshed within his environment, within his land and his people.

From this Rabbi Triebitz claims that the Rav does not believe that Judaism is a ‘religion’ but rather a connection to a people. He also then shows that this is reflected in the halachot of conversion. He also claims that he changing definition of Judaism (and its becoming a religion) necessitated a changing definition of conversion.

I would like to especially thank Elijah for recording these shiurim and spending so much time thining about the best way of dealing with lighting, audio quality and other issues. Yashar koach!

We hope you enjoy these shiurim.

At the moment, these shiurim are free of charge because Rabbi Triebitz has generously volunteered his time and there are no overheads. If you would like to show your appreciation to Rabbi Triebitz, please contribute to this site by pressing the ‘donate’ button on the side of the page. Contributors will receive American tax receipts for charity upon request.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_04.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 04]

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 04
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Ethical Man 04

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Ethical Man 04

Ethical Man 03 – Transcendence

Rabbi Triebitz continues with the Emergence Of Ethical Man.

According to Rabbi Soloveichik there is no contradiction between the evolutionary description of creation and the Biblical account.

He then goes on to say that we need a new philosophy of Judaism that is based on halacha, and not on Rishonim. He claims that the Rishonim were influenced by their surroundings, and by Christianity, rather than being an authentic tradition of Judaism.

This is what he wrote at the end of Halakhic Mind, that we need to find a new philosophy of Judaism based on the Torah, not on the philosophy of the Rishonim.

What is the concept of metaphysics according to the Rav? How does he explain spirituality?
Rabbi Triebitz shows that the Rav’s concept of transcendence and immanence is based clearly on the Baal HaTanya’s concept of tzimtzum.

And underlying everything that the Rav says are the concepts of Bergson, as expressed in his book Matter and Memory

These shiurim are free of charge. Please enjoy them. At the moment nobody is sponsoring the shiurim, and Rabbi Triebitz is giving of his time voluntarily. Thank you very much to those of you who have contributed to this website. If anyone else would like to have a share in the merit of these shiurim (and is in a financial position to be able to do so) we would welcome any donations. There are no overheads, so any money will go to Rabbi Triebitz. We can also give American charity tax receipts if you want. Otherwise there is a ‘donate’ button on the side of the page.
Thank you.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_03.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 03

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 03
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Ethical Man 03

AND FOR APPLE I-POD USERS:
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Ethical Man 03

Ethical Man 03 – Transcendence

Rabbi Triebitz continues with the Emergence Of Ethical Man.

According to Rabbi Soloveichik there is no contradiction between the evolutionary description of creation and the Biblical account.

He then goes on to say that we need a new philosophy of Judaism that is based on halacha, and not on Rishonim. He claims that the Rishonim were influenced by their surroundings, and by Christianity, rather than being an authentic tradition of Judaism.

This is what he wrote at the end of Halakhic Mind, that we need to find a new philosophy of Judaism based on the Torah, not on the philosophy of the Rishonim.

What is the concept of metaphysics according to the Rav? How does he explain spirituality?
Rabbi Triebitz shows that the Rav’s concept of transcendence and immanence is based clearly on the Baal HaTanya’s concept of tzimtzum.

And underlying everything that the Rav says are the concepts of Bergson, as expressed in his book Matter and Memory

These shiurim are free of charge. Please enjoy them. At the moment nobody is sponsoring the shiurim, and Rabbi Triebitz is giving of his time voluntarily. Thank you very much to those of you who have contributed to this website. If anyone else would like to have a share in the merit of these shiurim (and is in a financial position to be able to do so) we would welcome any donations. There are no overheads, so any money will go to Rabbi Triebitz. We can also give American charity tax receipts if you want. Otherwise there is a ‘donate’ button on the side of the page.
Thank you.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_03.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 03

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 03
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Ethical Man 03

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Ethical Man 03

Ethical Man 02 – Henri Bergson

Rabbi Triebitz continues with a second introduction to the Emergence Of Ethical Man

One of the basic ideas of Henri Bergson‘s philosophy was that all matter has two components: mechanistic and creative.
He termed the creative component the elan vital. These two components, mechanistic and creative, allow for matter to both remain constant and static, yet evolve and grow.

In his later book Two Sources Of Morality And Religion
Bergson extends his philosophy, and these two concepts to ethics and religion.
In terms of ethics, these two concepts become closed morality versus open morality, and in religion they are called static and dynamic. To quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

There is the closed morality, whose religion is static, and there is the open morality, whose religion is dynamic. Closed morality and static religion are concerned with social cohesion. Nature has made certain species evolve in such a way that the individuals in these species cannot exist on their own. They are fragile and require the support of a community….But, there is another kind of morality and religion, according to Bergson. The open morality and dynamic religion are concerned with creativity and progress. They are not concerned with social cohesion, and thus Bergson calls this morality “open” because it includes everyone. The open morality is genuinely universal and it aims at peace. It aims at an “open society.”

Rav Soloveitchik quotes Bergson and includes these ideas as fundamentals of his Ethical Man. On p. 115 he discusses Bergson. (I don’t have a copy of the book. I have found a small extract on google books but not the relevant pages. If anyone can send me the actual quotes I will include them here).

Rav Triebitz then discusses the Rav’s view on tzimtzum. He shows that despite being a descendant of Nefesh HaChayim (Shaar Gimel begins here) the Rav clearly held like the Baal haTanya when it came to tzimtzum (Shaar Yichud ve-Emunah is here)

(For a discussion about the difference between the two views of tzimtzum listen to this shiur from Rabbi Triebitz, as well as the series on the Asarah Klalim.)

I apologise that the flv file is larger than it should be. I am trying to shrink it – if I succeed I’ll upload a smaller version. But at least the quality is good. And many thanks to Elijah for all his technical help.

These shiurim are free of charge. Please enjoy them. At the moment nobody is sponsoring the shiurim, and Rabbi Triebitz is giving of his time voluntarily. Thank you very much to those of you who have contributed to this website. If anyone else would like to have a share in the merit of these shiurim (and is in a financial position to be able to do so) we would welcome any donations. There are no overheads, so any money will go to Rabbi Triebitz. We can also give American charity tax receipts if you want. Otherwise there is a ‘donate’ button on the side of the page.
Thank you.

You can watch and download the shiurim below. As always please send any comments, thoughts, ideas or criticisms to admin at hashkafacircle.com

[flv:/Ethics/Ethics_02.flv 240 180]
Video of shiur 02

Click here to download the shiur as an flv file
Ethical Man 02
(you may have to right click on the link and click ‘save target as’)

Click here to download the shiur in audio mp3 format
Ethical Man 02

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Ethical Man 02