In our continuing series on Masechet Shabbat we began to bring together some of the bigger issues as it relates to Av / Tolda / Mishkan. Rav Gustman, in a brilliant essay on Bava Kama, summarizes beautifully the three approaches to Mishkan and Importance (chashivut). He then presents us with a classic distinction between siman (sign) and sibah (reason) as it relates to the Avot of Shabbat. What Rav Gustman offers us is the attractive idea that the Avot as a category are actually meant to be pointing us in the direction of what he calls, “ikar ha-melacha (the essence of labor).” The concept made a link for me back to the notion of malacha as it appears in the beginning of the second chapter of Bereishit. By describing the list of 39 in Shabbat 7:2 as simply a siman and not a sibah Rav Gustman forces us to think about what that list might be seeking to accomplish in the world.
These two shiurim dealt with a series of mekorot that are very important in understanding the intimacy of the encounter that we will find in the tefilah of volume two of the Alei Shur. Here we are introduced to the notion that we are simply not permitted to say words unless they were formulated by the Rabbis. Even within that framework, if the work appear false to us, then we may not falsely flatter God who is ultimate a God of truth. The truth that Hazal were speaking of were questions of theology. We discussed questions of history (like nachem on 9 AV). This text raises serious questions about what people who simply do not believe out to say.
This then lead to place where we simply could not praise God outside of the context of Prayer. This type of radical truth and ultimate silence leads to a certain level of distance between human beings and our creator. As we proceed forward in the Alei Shur we will encounter a very different relationship between us and God.
You can find the source material at this link.
Here are the two audio files:
This was the concluding section of the Alei Shur vol 1 on Tefila. He sets up the notion of different pathways into prayer and the need for each of us to find the “way in” that works for us.