Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tanya Ch. 16 Overview

Part of the problem of switching from one system to another (from Mac to PC in this case) is the whole idea of having to learn the whole new method, shifting whole files from the old one to the new, and the lot. So I’m afraid I’ve gotten lost in all that and haven’t been able to sit too long at the keys and write.

Finally having the chance to sit down with Ch. 16 of Tanya I see that some subtleties escaped me and that I needed to get back and rewrite. Wrapped up in all the stuff I mentioned above I’ve been unable to put the time into it I’d like. So I thought I’d present the gist of the chapter here, lay out the over-all content and some of the complexities to be dealt with, and go step by step until I rewrite my take on it. I think I’ll do this on a regular basis for both Tanya and Da’at Tevunot.

Tanya’s Ch. 16 presents 2 different ways to put a little more verve in your avodah: the optimal way and what I’d term the default way. The optimal comes to revving up the right attitude, coming upon the right perspective, and realizing things. It’s a cerebral process at bottom.

The default way touches upon bring up the right emotions, and doing that by drawing upon what RSZ refers to as the native love of G-d that sits instinctively in the Jewish heart. The point is that the second is easier to come to, less effective -- but alright. And it’s somewhat like contributing a large sum of money from an inheritance rather than from a fortune you’d worked hard to earn.

Now, we’d expect RSZ to prefer the more cerebral method, since that’s what sets his Chassidut apart from the others, which are more emotional. What’s particularly interesting, though, is the fact that he uses rapturous terms for the emotional method as opposed to the rather cool and detached ones he uses for the analytical one. Not meaning to wax too psychological, I’d offer that that seems to reflect an inner-conflict. After all, RSZ was rather emotional in his love of G-d, yet extraordinarily analytical as well.

In any event, those are some of the things we’ll discuss once we get back to the chapter.