It also draws on the Sufi influences of al-Andalus [1] [3] and also on the Greco-Roman Classics as translated by the school of Hunayn ibn Ishaq. Taking the Jewish Confession, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One," as a starting-point, the author emphasizes the fact that for religious life it is not so much a matter of the intellect to know God as it is a matter of the heart to own and to love Him. Nor should the belief in God be such as might in any way be liable to be understood in a corporeal or anthropomorphic sense, but it should rest on conviction which is the result of the most comprehensive knowledge and research. It is therefore a duty incumbent upon every one to make God an object of speculative reason and knowledge, in order to arrive at true faith.

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Specifically hatred towards those who love Hashem and love for those who hate Him prevent a person from loving Hashem. Yehoshafat was one of the greatest and most righteous kings of Judea while Ahab was one of the most evil and wicked kings to rule over the ten tribes of Israel.

When we study Tanach we see that there was usually tension if not outright warfare between these two Jewish kingdoms. The exception to this state of affairs was the relationship between Yehoshafat and the family of Ahab. He also participated in maritime ventures with another son of Ahab, Ahazyahu.

He must have had very good reasons for working with the kings of Northern Israel. Perhaps he thought that by working with them he could influence them to do teshuvah.

But whatever his motives may have been Hashem did not approve of this cooperation and his joint ventures ended in failure. Rabbeinu Bachya says over and over that true love for Hashem is an all-encompassing emotion and can leave no room for other loves, and certainly not for any love towards people like Ahab.

The Poskim applied the lesson of Yehoshafat towards our relationships with non-observant Jews. There are fewer discussions about dealing with groups or movements of non-observant Jews. In the 19th century with the triumph of the Haskalah , Reform and other such movements the observant Jews found themselves to be an embattled minority within the Jewish people. This change in the composition of the Jewish people has made the question of how we should relate to non-observant Jews one of the most important issues facing us today.

The 19th century authority, the Netziv [4] adopted a nuanced approach to the question. And even though the Halacha permits us to pray with non-observant individuals there is no basis for assuming that this group will do teshuvah en masse. The Netziv, basing himself on a verse from Mishlei says there are two realms in which we may be called upon to cooperate with non-observant Jews and each realm has its own appropriate response.

If we are called upon to cooperate with non-observant Jews in commercial or other secular ventures then we may do so if we are careful not to allow this business relationship to evolve into a personal one. The other realm for cooperation is the religious one. Here it is absolutely forbidden for us to cooperate with non-observant Jews since the religious habits of non-observant Jews are totally incompatible with the Halacha and are destructive.

Even though the goal of the partnership was profit their relationship was a friendly one [6] and thus culpable. On the other hand the Netziv opposed a policy of Orthodox Jews seceding from the larger Jewish community. The Netziv opposed this tendency. We must do all we can to strengthen the observance of the Torah, but this can only be done by the strengthening Jewish education and separating ourselves into competing communities will not further this goal. In the 20th century this question arose in the United States where Jewish communities established community-wide institutions such as the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.

The leading Halachic authorities of the time with one exception forbade Orthodox Jews from contributing to these funds. Supporting non-Orthodox institutions simply empowers those who transgress the Torah.

On the other hand , he ruled that there is nothing wrong with cooperating with non-Orthodox Jews in purely civic matters. The decision that Orthodox Jews need to abstain from cooperating with non-Orthodox Jews caused a tear in the Jewish community that still exists.

In one respect it helped the struggling Orthodox community to maintain its way of life when assimilationist tendencies were threatening to lead to the demise of Halachic Judaism in the United States. On the other hand it made cooperation on topics of community-wide concern fraught with tension. As I mentioned there was one authority who held that Orthodox Jews should contribute to community-wide philanthropic funds.

The need to separate between cooperating and endorsing is of course essential. Thanks to everyone who participated in the shiur. During his term as head of the Volozhin yeshivah, the student body of that institution included more than students, who received close personal attention from him.

Berlin was active in communal affairs, and he supported the Chovevei Zion movement, which advocated Jewish settlement in Israel.


Chovot Halevavot: Duties of the Heart

He also completed a degree in physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and was a research associate in nuclear physics for some time before heading off to yeshiva. The Chovos Halevavos is the crown jewel of all the post-talmudic ethical works. The commentaries wrote that Chacham Tibon was a singular, master translator who was able to translate the book in such a way that the full depth and all the allusions to different facets and multiple interpretations were preserved, as Maimonides who knew Arabic wrote: "I recognized in your words that your heart plumbed the depths of the matter and uncovered the hidden secrets" Masoret edition pg. As is known, the torah way is to condense volumes of information in very few words, carefully crafting ambiguities to allow for different allusions and interpretations for the one who contemplates them, as the Talmud expounds Sanhedrin 34a "Is not My word like fire, and like a hammer that shatters a rock into pieces? For this reason, the HSebrew is difficult to understand and was studied mainly by high-level Torah scholars.


Bachya ben Yosef ibn Paquda (Chovot Halevavot)


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