Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Welcome to the Yeshiva

Ye’ush Mi’Da’as is a Talmudic concept delineating when it is possible to ascertain that one who has lost an object has certainly despaired of ever finding it.

The essays in this blog will have nothing to do with that sugya, at least not le’chatchila.

So why ye’ush mi-da’as?

I can offer three definitions.

Giving up on Knowledge (“da’as” as noun). I have despaired of ever attaining that level of da’as depicted and revered in Talmudic literature. Now I don’t think that one can be boreach mipnei da’as and have da’as run after him, the way kavod apparently runs after one who is boreach mimenu. (I wouldn’t know about running from kavod; I haven’t tried it.) Then again, I have a habit of confusing various Rabbinic maxims (maxi?); who was it that said “kol hamarbeh sicha im ha-isha harei zeh me-shubach?” (Full disclosure: I am single, male, and a resident of the Upper West Side.)

Giving up willingly (“mi-da’as” as adverb. Or, if my grammatical assessment is incorrect, I’ll rely on a reply post to remind me. There’s your first definition of ye’ush mi’da’as in action.) In other words, though I look at where I am madrega-wise and don’t necessarily like what I see, I am loath to do anything about it. Maybe, once upon a time, I heard someone say “sonei tochachos yichyeh.” Maybe that someone was me.

So what’s the curriculum in this Yeshiva?

I will attempt to post on a weekly basis (bli neder. Really bli neder. So bli neder that if was any more sure that it was bli neder, it would be a…nedava!) I will use an inyan from the parsha as a starting point, and then throw everything I can into it, like a chulent. (For those of you who have not yet been privileged to be fed my chulent, I am famous in certain circles (read: Upper West Side) for putting Pringles and Diet Coke in my chulent. That should tell you something). As far as I am concerned, anything is fair game.

Which brings me to what is probably Yeshivas Ye’ush Mi-Da’as’ raison d’etre: the exhibition of a fierce intellectual irreverence, yet one that avoids a slide into sacrilege. Some may say that such an undertaking is impossible; others may say that even if it were possible, the propriety of such an endeavor would be questionable at best.

While I won’t attempt to justify what I do—I’ll let the essays, and (hopefully) the reply posts, provide all the necessary justification (or lack thereof), I will provide three vorts by way of explanation.

A) My rav muvhak, Rav Aharon Bina, related sometime during my shana bet (yep—I went shana bet) that the Chazon Ish used to say that if there are three guys in a shiur, and at least one guy isn’t batt’ling, then it’s not a real shiur.

Think of me as your representative batlan. So what’s your excuse?

B) Rabbi Norman Lamm tells about preparing for a shiur with Rav Soloveichik where he was able to explain a sugya the way the Rav had taught it, to which the Rav retorted: “That’s what I said. What do you say? The problem is you brought your yetzer tov to the bais medrash. You were supposed to also bring your yetzer hara.”

I, on the other hand, just left my yetzer tov somewhere in front of OZ. (I’m an upper west sider; I couldn’t commit.)

C) The Gemara compares Torah to a drug in many places. It also says, “hamayeminin ba, sama dechaya [to those who go Right with it, it is life giving]; hamasm’ilin ba, sama demosa [to those who go Left with it, it is deadly]”.

Now, avoiding any specific religio-political implications because a) I would have to go on forever and b) eventually, I probably will go on forever, lets just assume for argument’s sake that, in line with my stated intention to be irreverent, I will be “going Left”. (And yes, masm’il rhymes with maskil. Cute.)

The gemara also says that “ein divrei torah niknin ela le’mi shememisin atzmo aleha [the words of Torah can only be acquired by one who kills himself over them].”

So, what quicker acquisition than as a sama demosa?

Oh, I forgot the third definition of ye’ush mi-da’as?

I lost my mind and I can’t find it.
But you probably figured that out already.

By the way, I forgot to save this before I posted it, something went wrong with Explorer, it got completely erased, and I had to write it again. My hava amina was that it was a siman min hashamayim to be misya’esh on the project

So was I misya’esh?

No. And it came out better the second time.

1 comment:

Joseph J. Ravitsky said...

nice little vort about bringing your yetzer hara to the bais medrash, so true.

will try to read and occasionally comment, good luck with this endeavor. Based on previous blogs i've had and read, I can only say the key is frequency and consistency. have you tried tumbler, btw?