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Still here

Just really busy with yeshiva.

I'd like to write about all kinds of interesting things like: group dynamics, the way that Ivy League culture carries over into the beit midrash (at least this beit midrash), the differences I've noticed in learning in all-women's vs. co-ed batei midrash, introversion vs. extroversion, Torah min hashamayim, what being observant is or isn't all about, having or not having a sense of commandedness, how fun Gemara is and Rishonim are, how little I care about philosophy of any kind even though I feel like I should, how different learning seriously with a group of people from such vastly different backgrounds is from learning either not-seriously with a similar group or seriously with a more homogeneous group of, let's say, Modern Orthodox people, and how this is, in so many ways, like a second adolescence for me, but without all (some of?) the angst. Also, how much better, in general, it is to be 28 (almost 29) than to be 20 or 22.

Also, I just have to say that so many of the people here are so warm and interesting and, best yet, open to and desirous of learning from others. The openness is so refreshing!


May all your Jewish (and other) learning experiences be so positive--Shabbat shalom!
You said that you don't care very much about philosophy, though you feel like you should. I do find philosophy interesting, but several things have recently convinced me that there is very little connection between philosophy and one's approach to Jewish observance, so there is no reason to spend time learning philosophy if you don't find it interesting in itself.

Partly, this is from observing people I know who are experts in philosophy. D, for example, who was brought up a secular humanist, and became a haredi ba'al tshuvah around the age of 20; R, who was brought up modern Orthodox and became a secular humanist around the age of 50; and S, who was brought up Conservative (his father was a Conservative rabbi in a middle-sized midwestern city) and still is, as far as I know. All three have PhDs in philosophy, and all are brilliant and accomplished academic philosophers. But in no case do I believe that their knowledge of philosophy had much effect one way or the other on their approach to Jewish observance.

And partly, this feeling is based on historical figures. I recently read Marc Shapiro's book on Maimonides' Thirteen Principles, where he discusses various medieval rabbis who were very smart, very knowledgeable and sophisticated about the academic philosophy of their times, and entertained radically different, and in some cases rather bizarre, philosophical ideas, without this causing them to go outside the consensus approach to halacha, or to differ very much in their approach to halacha. I am thinking, for example, of the Rambam and the Ralbag.

So there is no reason to feel guilty about not being interested in philosophy!
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