Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Silencing the Philosopher Within - By Rabbi Micha Golshevsky


The halacha is that if something treif (or milk in meat etc.) falls into a pot of kosher food, it is permitted if there are 60 times the amount of kosher food relative to whatever treif food fell into the pot. If 1 oz fell into the pot and there are 60 oz in the pot, it's kosher. If a second oz. of the same material fell in, we do not say that if there are 60 oz. relative to the new trief oz. alone, that both are nullified. Rather, there needs to be at least 120 oz of kosher in the pot since "matzah min es mino." The 2nd treif element combines with the earlier oz and exudes taste in the food unless there is enough in the pot to nullify the taste of 2oz of treif.

The same holds true for engaging in sophistry, philosophy or other spiritually negative endeavors. We all have some of these attributes in us already, however. According to Rav Avraham ben Rebbe Nachman, we have a built in philosopher who feels that we need not do anything except what our baser elements dictate.

If we study heretical writings or talk to people who are ruled by their inner philosopher, (each person in his own way) we need to be very vigilant that this not effect us negatively.

Rebbe Nachman says gives an antidote for such negativity (negative fire) in Likutei Moharan. He wries that through the fire of judging oneself in hisbodedus, one burns off the negativity that inevitably rubs off on him when trying to draw people who are distant to Torah closer to Hashem.

We negate the bad influences which pull us down spiritually through fiery prayer and distilling out the proper way to act in each element of our lives and asking for assistance to act the way we should. (For example: Since Hashem, our loving Father, is right there with us always, is it proper to act in such and such a way? Please help me change this etc.)

Hashem should help us truly do hisbodedus to remove the "philosopher within!"

(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

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2 comments:

Αλέξανδρος said...

As the famous story about an old man who could climb up an icy hill says, “One who is tied above does not fall below.”

An interesting question is why philosophy, as well as other chochmas chitzoinius was allowed at a certain point. Were Jews stronger then?

Micha Golshevsky said...

Good question.
As far as I understand it was only permitted de facto to combat this compelling movement "from within" as it were, during their times.
I believe this point emerges from Teshuvas Harashbah. At the very least we see there the vast confusion regarding this issue in his time--and how he avoids taking a clear side while validating the rights of those who forbade philosophy.
(I have it written up somewhere but haven't found it yet.)
This seems pretty obvious anyway. After all, even the Rambam called his famous work "The Guide for the Perplexed."
As the Beis Halevi said to Rav Chaim Brisker when he saw him learning "Guide for the Perplexed": "If you are not "navuch," perplexed, why are learning Moreh Nevuchim?"
You are correct about the story you mentioned above. Although it sounds simple is very hard to achieve "connection above" in practice, especially for someone in a bad environment--be this reading material in College or non\anti spiritual friends etc.
I never cease to be amazed by the wealth of practical advice found in the vast store houses of Chasidus and especially Breslov.
Hashem should help us to fulfill this advice, a potent anti-dote to heresy!