Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin

Episode 5 April 02, 2024 01:01:55
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin
The Koren Podcast
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin

Apr 02 2024 | 01:01:55

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Show Notes

We were joined this week by Jewish renaissance man, teacher, author, podcaster, twitter star, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin!

Rabbi Bashevkin is the Director of Education at NCSY, Clinical Assistant Professor of Jewish Values at the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University. He has published four books, Sin·a·gogue: Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought, a Hebrew work B’Rogez Rachem Tizkor (trans. In Anger, Remember Mercy), Top 5: Lists of Jewish Character and Character, and Just One: The NCSY Haggadah and is the founder of 18Forty, a new media company that helps users find meaning in their lives through the exploration of Jewish thought and ideas as well as the host of the incredibly popular 18Forty podcast (maybe not as popular as The Koren Podcast) where his series on an unbelievable breadth of topics inspire his many thousands of listeners. 

Listen now as he shares his Torah al regel ahat.

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www.18forty.org

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The Koren Podcast was written and hosted by Aryeh Grossman and Alex Drucker and was edited and produced by Alex Drucker. Artwork by Tani Bayer. Music by Music Unlimited via pixabay.com

The Koren Podcast is part of the Koren Podcast Network, a division of Koren Jerusalem.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Is I don't say anything. I'm not looking to process anything. I'm not silent either, because I do think that there is a responsibility to share, if you have the ability to share. [00:00:29] Speaker B: Welcome back to another episode of the current our reg Alachad. We are absolutely delighted, thrilled and honored to be joined this week by a educator, scholar, gentleman, and host of the other wonderful jewish podcast, 1840 Rabbi Dobid Boshevkin. Thank you for joining us. [00:00:51] Speaker A: What a joy. I look at, as I mentioned to you before, I look at 1840 and Corinne as such natural partners. We're really just getting started. And so many of your books, your authors have informed the work that we are doing, and I just hope that we, this is only the beginning. This is not the ceiling of our work together. And I am just so touched and overjoyed to be joining you today. [00:01:19] Speaker B: Yes, definitely watch this space for the wonderful things to come. Please God. But let's jump into this episode of the podcast. [00:01:27] Speaker A: Sure, sure. [00:01:28] Speaker B: Rabbi Bashek and David, please can you teach us the whole Torah al Ragallachat standing on one leg? [00:01:35] Speaker A: What a crazy premise for a podcast. It's so absolutely nuts. I kind of like it. It's very different. I asked you, we got on maybe 30 seconds ago, and you told me this. And I'm going to go with the first answer that jumped out at me, to me, the entire Torah on 1ft. My mind immediately went to one passage of the Talmud in tractate, get in on page 60 B, which says that I'm going to say it in Hebrew first. And then of course, I'll translate Devaram Shabbich sav rashai lomram balpe and devaram shabbal peh e at a rashai lichtavan. The oral Torah that we have cannot be transmitted in writing and the written Torah that we have cannot be transmitted orally. If I were to boil down the entire Torah of what it feels like experientially, not only to a jew, but to be engaged in Torah and almost to be a human being in this world, it is learning how to negotiate between the fixed aspects of our lives. Let's call that the things that are written down. They are unchanging, and the way that we interpret and react and confront those fixed components of our lives and construct meaning through them, which are the things that can only be transmitted orally, only through the spoken word. Is that it? Are we done? [00:03:09] Speaker B: Yeah, we'll start recording now. [00:03:10] Speaker C: Thanks so much for joining us. [00:03:13] Speaker A: We could wrap up right here. [00:03:15] Speaker C: Well, I mean, so, taking that, I mean, thinking back about, I guess, where you stand today, I don't know if, in, like, jewish world terms, you're like a triple threat, quadruple threat. Like, we're looking at podcasts like jewish Twitter, yu ou ncsy, like so many different things. [00:03:30] Speaker A: And I write. I write books which, unfortunately, have not yet been. Not yet been published by Korran. [00:03:38] Speaker C: And watch this space, all of those things together. Like, how is this. How has that Torah informed the journey that you've been on, especially the past few years? How has that led you to where you are in the moment? [00:03:55] Speaker A: I think that at different points in our lives, and certainly in my life, we feel sometimes constricted or sometimes suffocated by that fixed. That fixed components of our lives. The things that we do not have agency to change, the things that we are reacting to and we did not create, they came down from above through revelation. That is the notion of a written Torah. And there are points in our lives where we can feel lost and unmoored, where the only thing that we're able to have is an oral Torah. And we feel completely detached from anything fixed and. And stable and have that anchor. The reason why I came to that passage is like, tell me the Torah on 1ft is that, I think, experientially, almost like the phenomenology of what it feels like to be a jew is to negotiate with those aspects of our tradition that are fully fixed, that are fully fixed, and. And we are following rules that we did not create. We could call them revelation prophets. I think at this point, it would also be included much of what's been written, the. The gemara, the rambam, that there is something very fixed that we are looking to subsume into our lives. And what I have tried to do is almost rediscover that world of Torah Shabbat in its truest sense, which is the Torah of the Baal Peh, the Torah of the speaker, the Torah, the fluidity of Torah, which is how we construct meaning when we confront those things that are fixed in our lives. And I think there's a reason why. At the heart of Judaism is this bifurcation between written and oral Torah, which we're sometimes very desensitized to. We use terms like Torah Shabbat Sav and Torah Shab Alpe, to demarcate texts, you know, the. The written Torah and the oral law, which we usually use to refer to as the gemara. But the Gemara has been written for. For well over a thousand years. So you know, a lot of people get lost and they forget, well, what does TOraH SHAba al Peh mean in a contemporary world with printing? And they almost get lost. And Judaism and religion itself becomes almost entirely Torah Sheba sav. Their relationship to it feels totally, you know, imposed on them other, and they don't feel any sense of agency or flavor, literally. Tom is the hebrew word. Tom is something that you can only discover if you bring it inside of you. It's the only. It's the only of those senses that need. You need to take the object and devour it and have it become and suffuse to your very self. And I think that each generation has struggled with different aspects of that, and. And a lot of what I try to do and a lot of my own struggles in religious life have been trying to balance that world of fixedness, that world of writing, and that world of orality, which is constantly fluid, always changing and impermanent, and be able to find beauty at the nexus where these two worlds meet. And regardless of one's educational background, I think everybody is negotiating between the Torah, Shabbat saav of their lives, the written components of their lives, the fixed aspects of their lives, and the Torah, the orality, the constantly changing, constantly evolving, constantly developing components of their lives. [00:07:37] Speaker B: I mean, I really want to drill down into sort of that thought process as well. But before we do, you know, Aria referred to you as a triple threat. [00:07:45] Speaker A: Was my answer to. Was my. Was my. Wait, before, was my. Is this too intense? Did I misread what this is supposed to be? [00:07:52] Speaker B: Absolutely not. Of course not. No. No. [00:07:54] Speaker A: Okay. Okay. Just checking. [00:07:57] Speaker B: Aria refers you, Arya refers you as a triple threat, quadruple threat, pentuple threat. You're a jewish Renaissance man. I guess this idea of keeping. What is Tari Shabbal Peir as Tari Shabbal peir as Bechtav, as bechtab, and sort of finding, I guess, the outlet that gives the most meaning or the most useful experience to whatever aspect of Judaism it is. I remember listening to a podcast in which two comedians were talking to each other, and they sort of discussed this idea that a joke will often tell you sort of what format it lives in. Is a joke a sketch? Is it a season? Is it a tweet? Whatever it is, I'm interested to hear from you. How do you decide when an idea, whenever a piece of Tara. How do you decide when is it most effective as a tweet? When is it most effective as a podcast episode or a book? What is that process? How do you decide? How could other people try and figure out for themselves what's the most meaningful, the most effective way to share their Torah? [00:09:15] Speaker A: First and foremost, thank you for the kind words. It does mean a lot. I'm terrible at receiving compliments, but it does mean a lot to me, and it's nice to hear. Um, I'm very curious what podcast that was. I'm trying to guess. Was it Jesse Fox's podcast called a good one? That is such a profound. That it's such a profound analogy that, again, my love of comedy. I don't know if you're deliberately brought that up, because I love comedy so much, but that. That is extraordinarily profound that I never even thought of that connection, and I love it so, so much. For me. For me, the Torah that is most gratifying, the answer is all Torah can exist in all mediums. And the Torah that I enjoy most is the one that I have given over as a oral shear, so to speak. You know, like a shear after davening. I speak in my local shul, young Israel of Teaneck, after davening at 830. And then I can repurpose it into an article, and then I can repurpose that into a more formal podcast, and then I can repurpose that into a book chapter, and I can repurpose that into a presentation from a safer. I have many torahs that have gone through that entire genesis. The real question is, what is my starting point? Where do I choose to begin? I believe Amuna Shalema, in the versatility and resilience of Torah, that great Torah can exist in multiple outlets, but you need to develop a mastery in all outlets. Unfortunately, today, there's been such a proliferation of publishing and writing that our ability to transmit Torah in writing has, I think, been severely handicapped. Not obviously, taking a shot at any publishing house, certainly not, Corin, but there's a lot of garbage out there. I really mean that, and it does not pay respect, aside from the lack of respect to Torah, does not really pay respect to the medium of writing itself, which is meant deliberately. You know, Cusvane Ledora, we try to write for that sense of permanence, and people write in a way that is so unbecoming of the ideas they are trying to transmit, that, unfortunately, what the readers are often left with is a sense of lack of esteem for the idea. When the lack of esteem is for the medium, any medium, whether it is the spoken medium or a written medium or something more visual, requires a real commitment and responsibility. Your answer? I am not. I don't like the answer. Whether it's on Twitter or it's a book chapter, or it's a podcast or it's a conversation, a live conversation. It all begins with respecting the medium. You must respect the medium. And unfortunately, we live in such a fluid society where content is being barfed out quite literally, and I'm using a coarse term deliberately. People have lost their respect for the art of, for the art of the medium. And I think we, we should have more responsibility for, especially writing Torah. Writing Torah, specifically non halachic Torah. Halakhic writing generally mimics legal writing, which makes it very dry and formulaic. But that's the right way, I think sometimes to present halacha. I think where we suffer with the most are people who are able to transmit the majesty of Yiddishkite, of the, of the thoughts of Yiddishkite in writing. I mean, obviously we have rabbi Sacks, and I'm overjoyed and partnered with rabbi Sacks for so long. I know I'm not answering your question, but I'm getting back to it. We've partnered with rabbi Sacks for so long, I am worried that we're going to have a generation who thinks that rabbi Sacks was the closing of the written canon. We need more people who are striving to do that. There's more work to be done at the very highest of levels, and we shouldn't act like deers in the headlights. Rabbi sacks, first and foremost, would not want us to do that. I'm just staring like a deer in the headlights and just, you know, repurposing for the next thousand years. Rabbi Sachs, incredible Torah. Rabbi Sax's Torah is inviting us to participate in this exact fusion of finding the moment and the right written words and the right Torah ideas to respond to every moment in front of us. And we shouldn't be daunted from that. We should be inspired and motivated from it. As I said, all Torah can exist in all mediums. I've done it in my own life. I have things that started as a sheer, then it became a book and then became a podcast that became a tweet. The question I always ask is, is, where do I begin? What's the starting point? And the way I approach it, where do I begin? Where do I start with that is always dictated by the audience. The way I approach content is with a triangle. If you could imagine a triangle of three points, one point is your audience, the next point of the triangle is the medium, and the third point of the triangle is the topic. Topic, medium, audience topic, medium, audience. There is an audience you are trying to reach. There is a medium through which you reach them, and there is a topic. The message that you are trying to reach them with usually. Usually, you know, two out of the three. And this triangle also serves as an equation. If you tell me the topic and you tell me the audience, I will tell you the right medium to reach them with. [00:14:59] Speaker B: You can. [00:15:00] Speaker A: Usually, if you have two out of the three, you should solve for the third angle of the triangle. So, if you tell me a topic and a medium, I want to write something on. On the laws of Shabbos. On the laws of Shabbos, I will solve a written article on the laws of Shabbos, I will solve what kind of audience that will attract. If you tell me I want to reach teenagers through. Through writing, I can solve for what kind of topics will be able to resonate with teenagers in writing. So I look at it as an equation, and I approach all content this way. So when I usually begin, I am beginning with that equation. I usually know who the audience is that I am trying to reach. And I usually, you know, either know the topic or the medium. And I use that triangle again, topic or topic? Audience, medium as that. That equation, knowing two out of three, solving for the third to figure out where should I be beginning. But once I've begun and I've given something over whether it's to teenagers, to adults, to the Internet, to a podcast, I am usually able to repurpose it. Not because. Let me rephrase that. I was going to say, because I have invested very deliberately in building my capacity, and it's not something unique to me, building my capacity to understand each of the mediums. Halavai. I wish I was as great a Talmud chacham as I am with my great respect and admiration for the mediums through which I transmit Torah. But my expertise is really in these different types of mediums and how we deliver Torah ideas. So I've invested a lot in my writing. I continue to try to build my writing ability. I continue to build my speaking abilities, podcasting abilities, tweeting abilities. And that requires time. And it begins with a respect for the medium itself, which brings us back to that Torah that I began with, which is telling you that written words should not be transmitted orally. Oral words can't be transmitted, can be transmitted in writing. What that is telling you is really, to paraphrase, and it's a. Predates what we normally associate with Marshall McLuhan, which is that the medium is the message part of the way we transmit information is subsumed in the very message that we are looking to impart. [00:17:41] Speaker C: I want to think a bit about, I guess, the past few months, maybe from a few different perspectives, but the things that we were thinking about before that I think are just interesting that I've heard you talk about on 1814 other places, but also just specifically what you're saying now. Maybe just to start off with, we're seeing those mediums used in terms of trying to figure out what is going on in the jewish world today, what is going on in Israel today, what's going on in the world today, those different mediums used for different things, like how do you think things have changed over the past few months? Or how's your view of how we should be using those mediums, or how those mediums are being used? How do you think that's changed over the past few months? Or maybe has it actually enforced your thoughts on how different mediums should be used? [00:18:30] Speaker A: That's a pretty profound question and one that's not normally spoken about, given the enormity of the trauma and the tragedy of October 7. But it's something that I actually did pay quite a bit of attention to the moment after October 7, and I addressed this on 1840, but not from this lens. I think there was an overwhelming sense, and you literally heard people say the phrase, we have no words. We have no words. I think that when someone says that, or even more so, when they feel that there is a sense that we need to retreat to the world of Torah Shabbat, that inner world of processing a moment. Processing the trauma of a moment that is not yet ready to be written down. It is not yet ready to be fully processed. The act of writing is an act of processing. There is a why, after the formative trauma of the destruction of the base hamikdash, we reverted. And. And the way that we transmitted Torah was exclusively orally. It was an oral tradition. That is how we react to trauma. It is a reaction to trauma because we retreat internally. And it is very hard to almost express carefully what we're saying in a way that should be committed to writing. There's something about writing something down which is already part of the process of the trauma itself. And what I do in those early moments after October 7, you know, I remember after I heard we were in America, so obviously the lag was much worse, but we heard the news, et cetera, et cetera. What I always do after these moments is I don't say anything. I'm not looking to process anything. I'm not silent either, because I do think that there is a responsibility to share if you have the ability to share. But I. Well, I don't want to give anybody comfort. We're. We're in the trauma right now. So what do you do? Even though we say we have no words, we always have words. And those are the words of Tehillim, which is the ultimate nexus between the experiential and written. It stands at the. At the corner, at the crossroads of Torah and Tela. There's some very beautiful midrashim about David Hamelech almost praying for his, for his experiential processing, which is what Tehillim is, to be transformed into Torah, to be considered like a mishnah in ahalos. And I usually share something from davening or from Tehillim. I happen to remember exactly what I shared after October 7, which is the words that we say after Tachonan, and is now the opening song to 1840, which is Shomir Yisroel, shomir sha Eris Yisrael. That's the words that I come back to. I almost always come back to the words of tachinon. The words of my first sefer is Barogez Rachem Tiskor, which is a posse also. But something that we recite in Tachnan, I think Tachanon is the experience, is the experience of trauma after prophecy. If we look at Shimona Esra, if we look at prayer of that intimate, that intimacy of standing before, before God as an act of almost prophecy, where we feel this sense of connection to the divine, the moment that we take three steps back, we have this nephilis apayim that we go down, we put our head on our forearm, and I think that moment is processing daily the trauma of not living with prophecy, not living in the world of prayer, not living in the world of that connectivity. And that is why I usually find so much expression in the words of Tachinon, because Tachin in itself is the processing of the trauma. It's the processing of we no longer have prophecy, we no longer have that clear connection, we no longer have that immediacy of the divine. And now we are left with this feeling of bereft, that absence, which is what trauma is all about. And that. That is what I think Tachin is processing. The second stage after that of sharing, you know, sook him, is where we begin to develop some words or articulate our diminished capacity to process. I think that it's kind of like raw processing. I would compare that to someone's written notes. I wouldn't be ready yet to write an essay that is published, but maybe a podcast episode. The first podcast that I did after September 11, as I've shared with my audience, I put on Tallis and fill in, and I said, I'm not yet ready to, you know, share and analyze and give words of comfort, but we can dive in. We can dive in together. We can. We can sit together. And I looked at that as a religious moment. You know, when I am podcasting, I do feel a great sense of responsibility to the audience that I am trying to reach to the point where, again, I literally put on Talisman. It was not 08:00 in the morning. It was way past the time of any minion, even if you live in a, you know, more stable hasidic community. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I put on Towson's film. I needed that strength and immediacy to do it. I think we're at, you know, a stage where we are already. There is enough space and distance and processing, and the scalding temperatures of the trauma have cooled to a degree, which is normal. And there's a fear of even tasting that normalcy. There's a very profound show that I don't feel fully comfortable recommending on this podcast, but it's based on a book, and I can recommend the book. And the book is called the Leftovers. The Leftovers is a. Is a novel that is about processing trauma, processing disappearance and how different people react. I think what makes it very hard to talk about it, for me in particular, and you see this in others, is that there is a. There is a need in a real way to share and. And to provide comfort and perspective on what is going on in Israel. Yet there is an understanding, number one, that nothing you can say will capture the enormity of what the jewish expert, jewish people just experienced. And number two, and this is maybe unique to me, but something that I feel, it is hard to share sincerely, it is hard to not feel performative at times. And I see this a lot with the, you know, with, you know, visiting Israel and sharing clips and sharing moments and wanting to capture that, that need to be radically sincere and authentic and in the moment, yet at the same time, also be in the business of manufacturing content, to me, is a very hard paradox to square. I probably err to the side of sincerity to the point where I may lose a lot of my potential audience. I may be not as viral as some other content that is created, but it is my and I probably overshare and can get overly emotional in my own podcast. I. I can get overly emotional at points. I'm probably getting overly emotional right now for the. For the current podcast. Teach me Torah on 1ft. And. And that's a reality. But it is my aversion to performative sharing, because I think when. When things become too performative, it sucks away the vitality and the life of the moment itself and the Torah Shabbat, that living Torah of the presence of the moment itself. And I am very conscious of that and very suspicious of being sucked into the vortex of performative content. Performative sharing, it's something I'm always aware of, will never be able to escape entirely. But I think it hovers over the way we process all information and all content. But it is particularly acute, and the stakes are much higher when that is hovering over an event that is so authentically traumatic for the history of the jewish people. [00:27:20] Speaker B: I mean, what you just said speaks to me very, very deeply. I think the first episode that Aria and I put out after Simchat Torah was. I don't remember exactly how long after it was, but we recorded an episode, like, in the car. We had driven to an army base not far from where we both live in Modin to deliver some Sudarim and things to Khayalim, to soldiers. And we just recorded a conversation in the car, which I know a number of people, listeners were in touch to sort of say how helpful it was to them, to help them process, both here in Israel and there in America and abroad. But very selfishly, it was very. I don't want to say cathartic, but it was. It was. It helped. [00:28:06] Speaker A: Why don't you want to say cathartic? I think that is the right word. I think that. I think, unfortunately, part of the hard thing, and I think this has to deal with people who have platforms, but it is cathartic, and we need that catharsis, and we're afraid to allow ourselves to process because why should I be on some, I don't know, tweeting about an event when. When we have jews sacrificing their life over something? But you have, I believe, in giving yourself permission to process you. We need that catharsis. [00:28:38] Speaker B: I know. For sure. As in for sure. Like, definitely, I feel I have permission to process. I feel like catharsis is a bit more final. [00:28:48] Speaker A: Ah, okay. [00:28:50] Speaker B: More towards the end of the process than perhaps this conversation was. Again, it was very early on in what's been going on, you know, I still processing what's happening. And, you know, yeah. And every day, which, you know, we find it with process. But the. Have you looked back or have you listened back to tweets or articles or to Shiurim or to podcasts that you've done? And I think in the same way that you mentioned how, like, Tehillim is, how David Hamelech was processing what was happening to him, or perhaps when we spoke to Erika Brown before Sukkot, how Kohelet and Sher Hashirm sort of are these two snapshots in the life of Shlomo Hamelech. [00:29:33] Speaker A: Beautiful. [00:29:34] Speaker B: Have you looked back at sort of some of the stuff that you've, you've put out over the last four or five months or so, and are you able to sort of track how. How you're processing and how you're feeling, your journey of catharsis? Have you been able to sort of. To do that? Or is there some element to, you know, this is the Torah, this is the idea, this is the thought process I'm having right now. And then, you know, a week, two weeks, a month, two months later, you're in a completely different space. And again, you're not, sorry, rejecting what you've said previously, but you don't necessarily feel the same way. You wouldn't give the same. The same vault over. [00:30:12] Speaker A: No, no. [00:30:12] Speaker B: I appreciate that. [00:30:14] Speaker A: I happen to almost always listen to the episodes I put out. It helps me get better. I did not go back and listen to most of the Israel series. They definitely have developed because in May of last year, we did a series versus where I am now. You know, you know, 2024 is night and day. I think. I think my historical thinking and sense of religion, Israel has accelerated immensely. Americans on why, what is associated with. With Zionism has, I think, in many ways been carefully, broadly speaking, a failed project in american jewelry. I've never met. Forget about saying hollow. Not say hollow. I've never met someone who lives in America who took off from work. I know people take off. Maybe I've never met somebody who's taken off. Why is that case? I'm not the first person to notice. Well, ten years ago, somebody can dig it up. It's a very profound view. And he basically says this mock zor, which most, even from even Zionists, no one is using. I hope it sells. I've linked to the essays in there many times in my own writings. It's wonderful. I hope it sells a billion copies, but it's not really used that much in America in the way it's supposed to be used. Maybe there is a previous year. It's not overwhelming. It's not overwhelming. And I have become increasingly haunted by that knowledge. And I think that has been deeply, if not from the event, how we think, what does the state of Israel, what part of jewish history are in thinking in, you know, let me use the word messianic terms, deeply messianic terms of thinking. What does this mean? Where are we really bridge the gap? Traditional thinking is actually with, you know, radical theological thinking. I think he's writing and quite moving, but, you know, thinking about theology, barrier, what has worked and how divide America and the United States are issues that I've become increasing increasingly. I see a great, great deal of understanding on those we'll call a criticism push back from Israel. And I loved it. I love. But I think we need to have deep, deep stations to bridge the gap between, you know, even Zionists in America, Yeshiva University based Judaism, good Judaism, producing all of the american rabbis that we have and building a stronger bridge to want to, well, develop Israel. About why I think that the bridge, bridge is hoping that the event, the events of October 7 help reinforce those bridges. But that is the evolution of my thinking on this topic. [00:35:26] Speaker C: So I'm interested to hear more because obviously I listen to your. So a few of the episodes you did in the Israel series, were you outraged? [00:35:36] Speaker A: Were you outraged, Ari? [00:35:38] Speaker C: No, I wasn't. No. No at all. [00:35:41] Speaker B: Have you ever been outraged? Because you should know, I've known you a long time. [00:35:45] Speaker A: I want to say something for the record. This is very important. The divide I am talking about is not the same divide. I did not use the word diaspora. It is not. I spent time in Sydney, Australia. I've spent time in London. The relationship of Jews to Israel in Australia, in London, in almost any other. I think even in Canada, it's different. There is something different about american jewelry because maybe we've had it so good and there is such a deep sense of religious hakaras hatove where we call it a. You know. Alana Steinheim, I believe, has a beautiful article on this in the festrif that was recently published for Rabbi doctor JJ Schachter. Let me get his proper titles and honor that he very much deserves right the second time around about America being called the medina shel hesed and how we have actual like language that we describe the american experience as being unique. That uniqueness, I think, has blinded us to some of that, some of the ricketiness of that bridge. But continue. I cut you off in the middle. [00:36:58] Speaker C: No, I'm interested to hear more, I think, because obviously your guests were reflecting from their own perspective. A lot of the times. I was like, what does David think about this? I want to hear more about that journey you personally have been on, but also, I guess, your reflections on the wider american jewish community. And I guess, to what extent do you think these ideas about Zionism or. I found your conversations about perceptions of religious Zionism, the Dutilu community in Israel from America to extend. He thinks those are things that are fixed, like fixed perceptions that can't be changed. That's just how it's always going to be. The cultural barriers are too wide to divide. There they have that fears, like you say. And to what extent do you think actually maybe these approaches to Israel and these approaches to religious designers in America are torres shabbal pair, and actually the next generation are going to read them and talk about them in a different way? [00:37:53] Speaker A: I'm so glad that you brought it back to kind of the opening Torah al rag al ahas. There is no doubt in my mind that culture is a form of Torah Shabbal peh. What I said before, you know, the medium is the message and is suffused to the way that we transmit. So one of the mediums that we transmit aside, you know, it's not just a divide between written and oral. Culture is a way that we. That we transmit Torah. It's in many ways the subject of Rabbi Saloveyczyk's eulogy for the great rebbets in the great Rebbe Tullna, who discusses, you know, the. The difficulty of transmitting culture and how important that is. So culture is very difficult to transmit. I think for some people, I think some people heard me emphasizing the cultural differences as being, how can you talk about something so shallow at a moment like this? And I actually think that's deeply misguided. Culture may seem shallow. The way we dress, the way we present ourselves, the way we talk. There is nothing stickier than culture in the way that we transmit ideas. And. And it suffuses itself to the very ideas that we look to transmit. The good part about culture is that is a part, you know, in this model, broadly speaking, it is closer to the world of toshibal Peb, meaning it is extraordinarily fluid. Is extraordinarily fluid. There is no doubt in my mind that the cultural differences, at least on the Israel side, are changing year to year, year to year. I think culture in America is a little bit slower to change. I think you feel the dynamicism of Israel a great deal more. You feel that sense of building something new. We have not yet arrived at any finality of. Of what's working, what's not working. There is a sense of dynamicism that exists in Israel that I find extraordinarily uplifting. It is yiddishkite as it is meant to observe, to be observed. I think in America there's a lot of comfort in because of the success of what we've built in America, which sometimes I think, unfortunately, people approach our institutions and our culture of what american Judaism feels like. Growing up in America is a little bit more fixed than they should. And I think, you know, the analogy I would use, which is, you know, from a conversation I had with a guest who came on anonymously last year in our introduction to Torres about pest series, let's call him j, because that's the first letter of his first name. A lot of people know who it is. It's okay. It's not, it's not a classified secret. It. But I think, you know, the analogy to use, to allow me to use a pop culture reference is the Matrix, where in the Matrix, at the very end of the matrix, he pierces through the veil of what, how reality seems and begins to see the world as the zeros and ones that comprise the images that we look at. And I think what American Jewry needs to be able to do is see past the image and start to really understand the coding, which is the yiddish kite itself, which is the Masorah itself, which is Judaism itself, and remind ourselves not to confuse the image with the actual coding, and to kind of pierce through that layer and see the zeros and ones of our yiddish kite and remind ourselves what is most important to keep the main thing. The main thing is something that is much easier to forget in America. And even when we remind ourselves not to forget, the way we remind ourselves can become subsumed in the american mentality itself. You know, pointing. You know, I don't want to get into examples, because it's going to get. This is what I want to say. It's hard for me to talk about right now, because anytime you talk about American Jewry, it sometimes gets false into other boxes, none of which I am describing, where it's like, oh, you mean materialism? Oh, you mean like, you know, too much cell phone and technology. Oh, you mean, and, and I don't mean any of those things. Those are all symptoms of, I think, a much larger, experiential, phenomenological issue that haunts, I think, in some ways, American Judaism it haunts everybody. But I think it's unique to American Judaism, and I have a hard time putting that essential issue to words. So therefore, I sometimes highlight many of the symptoms. And some people may say, oh, that's not the real. I know it's not the real thing. There's something underneath it, the vitality of what Yiddishkite actually is and what we are preserving and what we are building. I'm gonna get, like, I'm about to get, like, too wacko mystical right now because I think all of this is animated by really mystical ideas. But I think our perception and history of time has been warped because of the ready availability, not just of print, but of images and videos. And we are going to have a harder time evolving as rapidly as we once did because we preserve memory so starkly. It's going to be hard to access the vitality of Torah Shiba al Peh, of that orality that I think is needed in Yiddishkite, in Judaism, because of the. Even the way we process death and mourn absence, because of video, because we have access to so much. It is so much easier to get stuck in one mode of culture, one mode of presentation, the way we process time and history itself has evolved so rapidly in the last 30 years with cell phones and AI. Again, I'm not talking about technology. I'm not like, I don't want to, like, file this in the how technology is destroying Judaism class. Like, no, that's not what I'm saying. I am saying, I'm not talking about our attention spans even. I am talking about the way technology shapes and filters the very lens and perspective with which we see ourselves, the way we see our community, and even more so, the way we see history. I'm sorry for this. [00:44:26] Speaker C: It's fine. No, I think there's like a. I mean, we're not having the time. [00:44:30] Speaker A: Let me add. Let me add one thing. Let me add one thing that kind of, in a mystical sense, there is a reason why the written Torah is associated and both phenomenologically and in Makshava and in jewish thought, to the notion of mukhome and space and rootedness. It's part of the reason why we say, say Hamakom Yanachem Eskim. We try to look for that stability of place and rootedness and why all of Torah Shib al Peh is rooted in time and in Zman, not just, you know, Zman Nakat, you know, being the acronym for Zoro moe Nashem and Zika Kutcham Taharos. But the very process of speaking, as Alan Lightman talks out, requires the medium of time itself. You wouldn't be able to process language without time. And how all revelations of the oral law begin with miscommunications in time, that being Luko Schneos of the story of Heta egal and the Purim story. I'm going off the map. Somebody cut me off. Isn't that your job? [00:45:28] Speaker C: This is like, this is like cut off the mic, the next podcast together, I think. [00:45:33] Speaker A: But I think, I guess I'm really sorry about this. I feel like I did not fully understand the assignment. I have no idea who you're, no. [00:45:41] Speaker B: You, whether or not you understood it. Where we are, the aim is, I. [00:45:46] Speaker C: Think I grace, for everyone to leave with their heads exploded. [00:45:49] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:45:51] Speaker A: Just to understand. We're recording this in the week, which I think is the most foundational parsha in the entire Torah. It is the roots of the Purim story itself. You know, Moshe Low Yada, the first Adalo yada that we have in the, in the Torah. And my brain, I'm obsessed with Parsha's kisisa, and that is where my brain is, because not only am I obsessed with it, it happens to be the parsha that we're recording for this week. [00:46:17] Speaker C: Oh, wow. Okay, so I'm gonna hold back from my parsha Kitisa tangent for another time. So, talking, I guess, looking at this moment as well, you talked about, like, the Matrix idea, this piercing through, like, the veil of what we see before us, the sealah, like, the code behind. Was there a moment for you over, whether it was like, whether it's over the past few months or before that, where, where you had your neo moment, where you're like, actually, was there an event or something that made you stop and realize that this is the chance to piss the, oh, this is what this is all about. That the way things appeared is not how, you know, really what it is all about. [00:47:00] Speaker A: I think the question that snapped me into this mode of thinking was listening not to our worst, worst enemies, which are people who are actually murdering jews, but like, one step beyond that, which are, let's say, you know, ivory tower professors and think pieces who essentially are saying, the state of Israel should not be a jewish state. We don't want bloodshed, we don't want terrorism, but let's make this like the United States, like any other state, and let's, let's say goodbye to the jewish state. And it, it opened. And these are people who are, you know, advocating for this. They're not. I'm not calling them terrorists. I'm not saying that these are, you know, people who probably don't love the jewish people and don't love Jews, but they're looking at the state of Israel and saying, why do we have a jewish state? And there was this foreboding feeling that I asked myself, it was really happened in two stages, which is, could it possibly be that we are the generation to lose the state of Israel? That was the first haunting thought that dawned on me, and the second haunting thought, and these would obviously be outsized tragedies in my mind. But I don't think I ever confronted it through this lens. But if you pay attention to what, you know, real people are saying, not just barbarian terrorists, but real people are evoking this. The second question that I asked myself is, is how would the jewish community react if we lost the state of Israel without bloodshed? Let's say it was the UN and the US, and they all came together. What would it mean? Would that. What would that mean for jewish history? Is that Tisha bav. Is that. Is that tiny Esther, what is that day? And I think it as scary as these questions are, as startling and as unnerving as these questions are, it opened up for me kind of that real confrontation with where are we in history? And what does this moment of history represent that we are living through right now? And I think the. The jarringness of these questions helps snap you out of the more formulaic way with which we process our own religious growth and the hierarchies of religious growth that were certainly become accustomed to, particularly in the United States of America. You know, the different hierarchies of, you know, from. To less from, and, you know, more from Leshtar, all these words that we use. And I think for some reason, those opening questions which don't follow sequentially from the questions I started, but opened up a little bit of a pandora's box where I began to really confront that question of where. Where are we in history right now? [00:49:55] Speaker B: I think that ties really nicely to what you were saying before about how, I guess, like, the way that we, like, the way our memory works now. Again, not going into the whole of, like, technology ruining life, but how, like, our memories work now because of the access we have to. It used to be when we were growing up, you know, you had to think before you took a photograph, and you only had whatever, like, 18 photos taken on a roll of film. And so you had to think about it. So now you take 124 in one go, but 24, I apologize. It's been a while since I used a film camera, but the, you know, how sort of our memory works differently, and therefore how we're processing sort of what's happening right now works differently. And I wonder whether does our memory work differently or do we have we sort of like uploaded the need for a memory onto our phones or into the cloud that I don't have to remember this moment because I know I've taken a photograph of it. I don't have to remember this because I can go back to the podcast of the video, and I want to try and turn that into a question as well, connected to what you were saying before that you were talking about, like, the experiential meaning of things and sort of the experience of Judaism and the experience of jewish life and the experience of Judaism in Israel versus that in America. Two very different things. And that's possibly part of what's causing the bridge to lose its sort of structural integrity, I guess. Aria and I incredibly, incredibly privileged to interview for the podcast both the family of one of the soldiers who was killed on October 7, Yosef Dalia, his father and his brothers, and also the parents of Hirsch Goldberg Polin Poland, who is still, at the time of recording, being held by Hamas as a hostage. And both of those families, one of the things that they highlighted to us about as part of their Torah, al Raghelacha, both families, independently of each other, was the idea of being in Israel and living Judaism, living like Yiddishkite, living Torah, in like a way that it was designed to be in the land of Israel. So I try and turn that into a question. And being conscious of your time, like how, again, like jewish life in America has been incredibly comfortable. It's been incredibly easy to sort of live a meaningful and wonderful jewish life for generations. And the same thing in the UK and the same thing in Australia, the same thing in Canada, all these places that you're talking about, what are the ways that we sort of, how do we hold onto the memory of what, I guess, what Judaism is supposed to be? How do we hold on to the ideas that come down through Tara Shabaktav and Tara Shabbal peh and as an experiential medium and bridge that divide, the Zionist in me wants to say, just everyone get on a plane, everyone make aliyah, everyone come and live here. Obviously, there are practical reasons why that doesn't work for everyone. So as somebody who is rethinking the way that you approach Israel from a religious perspective, as someone who gives so much meaning to a religious, experiential, religious life sitting in America. What are you proposing, al Raghadaka? What are you proposing to do that we all do, both here in Israel and there in America, to strengthen that bridge? [00:53:44] Speaker A: I have not made any proposals. I have not made any proposals. It's something I'm thinking about again, it's a different question than how to encourage aliyah. That's a related question that to me is a symptom. The goal, I don't know or think, is to get all american or diasporic Jews to Israel. I'm not sure if that even is the, is the immediate goal from kind of in the moment that we are in now. And I'll only say a word about this because I plan on discussing it more at length in 1840. I think, particularly in America, the place where we should examine much closer and be a lot more creative and inventive is the role of the Israel, the gap year Israel yeshiva seminary world. What is going on there? How could it be reinvented? How could it respond better to the moment that we are in now? I think that entire ecosystem is in desperate need for re examination and perhaps radical reinvention. But that's all I'm gonna say about that. [00:54:56] Speaker B: I mean, you have an enthusiast. You have, you have an enthusiastic nod from me. And I saw Rea also stifling a. [00:55:05] Speaker A: Forthcoming series for our forthcoming 1840 series. God will get there. [00:55:11] Speaker C: Yeah, I guess as a final question, like wrapping up, looking ahead and thinking back to your Torah, trying to balance those things that are fixed in our lives, the Torah Shabbat versus the things that the Torah Shabbat pair, whether it's the things that not fixed or the temporary or the things that flow, I guess there's different ways of looking at it. What do you think? Looking ahead, I think we've all got to a stage in our lives where we're sitting in the first quarter of 2024, and we're quite prepared to accept that we have literally no idea what is going to happen for the rest of the year. Certain like this. What do you think of the most important fixed things that we have to hold on to? And what do you think of the things that are more shabbal pair that we need to be open to, whether it's re examining or, I guess, solidifying? [00:56:13] Speaker A: I wish my answer were more soaring and profound. I think the, what, what we should all be investing in, to me, the fixed thing, and maybe it's, for me, is, is Shabbos. I think Shabbos is, is a very Torres Abba sav fixed experience even, you know, halachically, we don't create the kedush of Shabbos like we do with young tiff. It comes and teaching people at all stages of life how to build a healthy, joyful relationship with Shabbos. For some reason, I don't know, Shabbos to me feels, I mean, not, not just to me, it is directly connected to redemption. It is directly connected to the, you know, his nari may offer cool Kumi that mikdash that we talk about in Lechadodi, the what we say in benching, and we add in on Shabba's benching. It is our connection to redemption, and we should not allow exile to drown and suffocate out our sense of joy and hopefulness of what Yiddishkai can be. And I think that we had a generation who sacrificed so much to create the Shabbos that we have now, both in Israel and in America. And I hope that the next generation and is able to build those relationship with Shabbos. And in terms of the Torah Shabbal pair, I think that we need to shift back to a yiddish kite that is transmitted in the home much more than in jewish institutions. I think, I'm not calling, God forbid, our institutions are incredibly strong and powerful and address so many different, so many different points within the jewish community. But I think in many ways, I think we have forgotten how to transmit the culture of Judaism in our homes in joyful ways. We almost like imitate the yeshivas and seminaries that we went to and try to practice that on our kids, which is a massive, massive mistake. And the ultimate Torah Shabbal peh, the ultimate orality and fluidity, is the one that the parents can create. It's not for nothing that we call a Kaddish Baruch hub hashem, that divine presence of the shechina that we can have in our homes, rather than just in the base medrash and in shul. But feeling that immediacy of Akadash Baruch Hu, in our daily lives, in our homes with our children, with them driving us crazy with them watching YouTube and home from Zach, with all of that, be able to build homes where we feel a deep confidence in the Yiddishkite that emerges from our homes, and that requires work both on how we transmit Yiddishkite in the home, and work on ourselves to be able to have the confidence to transmit. And I think, unfortunately, many in different ways suffer from some measure of insecurity of the yiddish kind in their homes. And we should, we should. And sometimes it's warranted and justified. They should feel insecure. There's not much going on in the home, but we should rebuild and earn that confidence that I think is very much needed to preserve that fluidity, that personalization, that individuality, to uncover, you know, that lave, that Rahman Alibaba, that inner heart and soul of Yiddishkayt that I know exists collectively among the jewish people. We should find it in every single jewish home and in the hearts of every individual among Amchi Yisrael. [01:00:01] Speaker B: I can't think of a better way to end the podcast. So I just want to say thank you so much to for joining us on the current podcast. Everyone listening, if you haven't encountered him before now, where have you been? Follow him on Twitter. Follow 1840 Dov is everywhere and he deserves to be, be. And so thank you so, so much for joining. [01:00:26] Speaker A: That means so much to me, really. It really, really does. That was very moving for me and my absolute privilege and pleasure. I hope we get to connect again soon. Thank you so much friends. [01:00:36] Speaker B: That's all we've got time for this week. Thank you so so much to Rabbi psychevkin again. Definitely one of my favorite episodes so far. I hope you enjoyed too. If you want to be in touch with us, you can contact us by email, podcastorinpuff.com or on social media at corrinepublishes. You can find Rabbi Sheflow in any way you look Twitter 1840 through yu the ou ncsy. He is very, very contactable, but we'll put some of those places down in the show notes. You can get 10% off [email protected] including the Jormatzmann Maxa that Rabbi Bischevgen spoke about. If you enter the promo code podcast at checkout at www.currentpub.com. Until next time, this has been the crying podcast. Goodbye.

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