Rav Soloveitchik zt”l – The Appointment of Yehoshua

Please tune in to this terrific derasha from the Rav, released last week, in which the Rav vividly and animatedly explicates concepts of Mesorah that are at times largely absent from the discussion. (Please also see pp. 217-223 here for a written version of much of this derasha.)

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17 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    Note the Rav mentioned a 2nd mesorah is not one from merely attending shiurim but seeing what person did, thus mistake to rely solely on people no matter how brilliant who knew someone from a teacher of shiurim .Look what the person did Halacha lemaaseh and what was done with his approval-that is at least as important as even a very accurate quote of a chakira from shiur

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Would it be fair to state that RYBS was referring to one Mesorah of Lomdus and conceptualization on the highest intellectual level such as knowing Masecta Shabbos inside and out with the various Shittos Rishonim and experiencing the Kedusha of Shabbos at the Shabbos table in a Shomer Shabbos home?

      Yasher Koach to R Gordimer for presenting another wonderful drasha from RYBS!

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I would posit that RYBS set forth there is a Mesorah of Lomdus such as knowing Masecta Shabbos inside out on a very high level and a Mesorah of experiencing Shabbos that begins on Erev Shabbos is expressed at the Shabbos table and continues until Motzaei Shabbos RYBS mentioned that he gave shiurim on RH YK and Teshuvah but that he could not transmit the experience of how we should properly experience the Kedushas HaYom The challenge of transmitting the two Mesorahs remains as important in 2020 as it was in 1963

      • Mycroft says:

        One had to witness RYBS doing anything and his feelings were easily transmissible. Not transmissible by shiur alone.

      • Steve BriZel says:

        WASR you missed my point RYBS was clearly talking about a Mesorah of Lomdus and a Mesorah of transmission by experience and osmosis of anticipating Shabbos enjoying the Kedushas HaYom and holding on to the Kedushas HaYom as lon as possible

  2. joel rich says:

    1. A great opportunity for non Yiddish speakers to listen first WITHOUT looking at subtitles, just to fully sense the passion

    2. Of course The Rav famously felt himself a failure at transmitting the experiential mesora to his talmidim. (I’m not exactly sure what one can do other than the Vulcan mind meld to accomplish this end)


  3. Mycroft says:

    Certainly there were talmidim who saw the Rav outside of shiur and experienced seeing him perform Mitzvot. Joel I believe similar to you it is impossible to transmit individual experiences to others even if one saw the other doing it.
    Of course, the Rav was famous for his statements to the affect that he has students who would come middle of the night to hear him give a shiur but believe he is an apikores.
    Eg geraniol but reflects probably much of the Ravs differences from being a classic traditional Yeshiva product.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Mycroft- WADR transmission of the Kedushas HaYom obviously is not accomplished solely by knowing the Halachos inside out but how the Halacha affects your you in terms of your anticipationpreparation and enjoyment of the Kedushas HaYom and your unwillingness to part with it If Shabbos and YT are not internalized in that sense you will not enjoy the Kedushas HaYom and that attitude will have an effect on you your family and be reflected in how your friends view Shabbos and YT as a burden rather than opportunities for Dveikus and demonstrating Ahavas HAshem

    • dr. bill says:

      Undoubtedly, those with a nascent Hareidi orientation while sitting in shiur must have found the Rav ztl an enigma. His comment that they thought him an Apikoret was said in jest and a slight exaggeration. In time they recreated the Rav in their image just as Xenophanes’ horses painted the gods in their own image.
      Those of us leaning to the centrist/modern orthodox side, took all this as acceptable, in fact refreshing.

      Anyone who heard (and understood) the Rav in 1968 with his quip on the phrase “am Mordechai” knew he had an active, albeit, sophisticated sense of humor.

      Among the handful of individuals who had serious philosophical conversations with the Rav, I was privileged to learn much in class and in private conversation from Rav Walter Wurzberger ztl. However, one should never forget Rav Wurzberger’s description of something he was privileged to witness about 70 years ago: the Rav mesmerized reciting Hallel at the Pesach seder.

      • Mycroft says:

        Obviously, the Ravs comment that students thought he was an Apikores was not intended as literal, but your comment about recreating the Rav is crucial. The same thing that happened to RSRH has happened to RYBS. Biggest challenge to mesorah, no problem want to reject what he said but one must accurately represent his views

      • dr. bill says:

        starting with Rav Schwab returning to frankfurt and trashing his Mesorah, something prof. Katz responded to forcefully, to today where the german community has in many respects joined the hareidi world, RSRH ztl has been distorted beyond recognition.

        the Rav ztl died at the birth of the modern era of communications and the distortions came quicker. Fortunately, there are more written works, letters, etc. and the distorters have gone too far, too quickly. Unfortunately, those closest to the Rav hashkafically / philosophically are in the olam ha’emet, need rachamei shamayim, or consider it undignified to battle with those they see as mental midgets, at least in secular wisdom.

  4. dr. bill says:

    Both components can be reformulated more generally. The intellectual Mesorah was described in the abstract terms of the Brisker derech. It can equally well be described by the various and diverse intellectual approaches to Limmud. The emotional/phenomenological approach can be described a bit more
    concretely and further from Hassidic thought as the fifth chelek of the SA.

    But the brilliance of the Rav ztl was the ability to take such brilliant/insightful thought and anchor it in the Torah, Nach, Talmud, Rambam etc. This unique ability has occurred infrequently in our history. Rambam and the Maharal, to name two, in the past transformed their philosophical insights into explanations of the texts of our Canon . That creativity is central to how our mesorah, both halakhic and emotional, operates.

    I was zocheh to learn shabbat what I now know was at least the fourth time.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    One need not engage in philosophical language to describe the passion for the transmission and proper attitude that enhances and transforms Shabbos and renders it different from Ymei Chol that is obviously evident in this drasha

    Look in Neviim especially Isaiah and Ramban about how Shabbos is supposed to be anticipated and observed and you will see that what RYBS was saying was clearly anchored in Neviim and Chazal

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    There is a famous story of the Kotzker Rebbe Zl being told by a Chasid that he had learned all of Shas The Kotzker responded by asking how much of Shas remained in the Chasid R Tusrael Salanter commented that it was far easier to learn Gantz Shas than to change one Midah RYBS was in a similar vein simply emphasizing that Lomdus without sending the Medushas HaYom was spiritually worthless

  7. Bob Miller says:

    How much of the experience of being with the tzaddik can be conveyed to us second- or third-hand by oral or written descriptions by someone on a lesser level?

    • dr. bill says:

      i would have to agree that it is hard to completely transmit an experience. In something I have misplaced, I read a description of the last Mussar schmooze in Slabodka before the Nazi’s YSv’Z, recorded by one who abandoned his former halakhically bounded life; I felt like I was overcome by the sense of the moment. Was it remotely similar to being there, despite its massive impact, I will never really know, but on further reflection, I doubt it. Nonetheless, the image of a Torah scroll being burnt with its letters rising towards the heavens to be reassembled elsewhere remains haunting.

  8. Harel Rosenberg says:

    Thank you, that was very moving. שנזכה!

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