David Solomon explores messiahs of the modern period of Jewish history and the dangers of mystical attempts to bring about redemption.
Among the figures David discusses are:
- Yosef Della Reina
- Rabbi Avraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi
- Shlomo Molcho and David haReuveni
- Asher Lemlein
- Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital
- Shabbetai Zvi
- Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal
- Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov
- Jacob Frank
- Gaon of Vilna
- Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
- Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, the Maid of Ludmir
- Rav Abraham Isaac Kook
- Theodor Herzl
- Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Ideas that the lecture examines include:
- a return to the apocalyptic- this time with mystical magic
- the transformation of Christianity
- the concept of a ‘special time’
- end times
- redeeming the sparks
- the antinomian messiah
- redemptive consciousness
- kabbalistic efforts to bring redemption
- sexual practices to bring the special soul
- the redemptive spirit in the special soul.
David discusses the stories of these fascinating messianic figures and thinkers and unpacks their ideas, influences, and contributions to history as well as to the ever-developing notion of redemption and messianic fulfillment.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:27:18 — 64.5MB)
Continue reading “#109 The Messianic Idea in Jewish History (4)”
David Solomon explores the post-Talmudic period to the Renaissance in the third lecture of his series “The Messianic Idea in Jewish History.”
- The emergence of ‘the Midrashic Messiah’
- The concept of the false messiah
- The disappointment of Bar Kokhba
- The influence of Islam on the messianic idea
- Spiritual messianism
- The impact of the Spanish Inquisition and Expulsion on Jewish messianism
- Other messianic movements.
He examines several messianic figures, including:
- Nehemiah ben Ḥushiel
- David Alroy
- Avraham Abulafia
- Shlomo Molcho and David Ha Reuveni.
David also explores different messianic types, including:
- The ‘classic’ Rabbinic messiah
- Ishmaelic and Edomic models.
And discusses various ideas of messianic manifestations through Jewish history, including the messiah:
- as warrior
- as king
- as magician
- as persecuted
- as kabbalist and wonder worker
- as penitent
- with a plan.
David examines passages from key Jewish texts which chart discussions about the concept and role of the messiah. He also provides historical context to the people, events, and developments mentioned throughout the lecture.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:19:50 — 60.5MB)
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The second in David Solomon’s series “The Messianic Idea in Jewish History” explores fervent messianism in the land of Israel in the first century CE.
In the latter years of the second temple in Jerusalem, the atmosphere was rich with apocalyptic eschatology. As a result, several people emerged contending to be the messiah. In this talk, David examines the actions and impact of some of these contenders, with a particular focus on:
David also discusses factors contributing to this time of heightened messianic expectation and presentation, including:
- The welding of the pre-exilic ‘ideal ruler’ of Davidic descent with eschatological anticipations,
- The idea of the anointed one,
- The warrior spirit of redemption and the inspiration of the Maccabees in the past,
- The revival of Hebrew,
- The Dead Sea Scrolls,
- The promise of the prophets and the reality of Roman occupation.
David also explores two types of messianic figures presented in Jewish literature – Ben Yosef and Ben David.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:21:57 — 62.7MB)
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David Solomon examines major works and ideas in Kabbalah over the past five centuries in this final part of his lecture series, A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time.
The talk explores the contributions of:
- The GR”A, the Vilna Gaon
- Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal
- Rabbi Naphtali Bacharach.
It also discusses the ideas of the following rabbis:
- Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov
- Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezeritch, the Maggid
- Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, the Gramam
- Schneur Zalman of Liadi
- Nachman of Breslov
- Yitzchak Izaak Chaver
- Shalom Sharabi, the Rashash
- Yehuda Ashlag, the Baal Hasulam
- Shlomo Elyashiv, the Leshem.
Some of the concepts covered in the lecture include:
- Lurianic kabbalah is an extended allegory
- Revelation and concealment in relation to creation
- The people of Israel in cosmic and world history
- The revelation of esoteric knowledge, the secret level of Torah
- The Torah is light
- Darkness is a reality, not merely an absence
- The role of Sabbateanism
- The intersection of Kabbalah and Chassidut.
In addition to providing an overview of the development of Jewish mystical ideas since the AR”Y (Rabbi Isaac Luria), David explains the context of the examined thinkers and their work and provides historical background to their contributions.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:06:33 — 48.1MB)
Continue reading “#105 A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time (4)”
David Solomon provides a remarkable historical overview of the origins of kabbalistic ideas through the emergence of its early fundamental texts. The series explores numerous questions regarding the development of Kabbalah:
- What are the key kabbalistic books to have shaped our understanding of Jewish mysticism?
- When did they appear?
- And what were the profound ideas they contributed which would shape our understanding of the mystical dimensions of heaven and earth?
This first lecture in the series examines three early kabbalistic texts:
- Sefer Yetzirah,
- Sefer Bahir, and
- Sha’arei Orah
and discusses numerous ideas, including:
- The creation of the universe,
- Attributes of the sefirot,
- Divine interaction with the world,
- The divine flow of energy and wisdom,
- Cosmic time,
- The reincarnation of soul,
- Divine male and female imagistic symbols, and
- The patriarchs and other figures from the Bible as representations of Divine attributes.
David maps out the timeframe and locations of the development of Kabbalah through Jewish History. He explains the context of the evolution of Jewish mystical thinking, its influences, impacts, and legacy.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:05:57 — 56.8MB)
Continue reading “#102 A Kabbalistic Journey Through Time (1)”
This final part in David Solomon ‘s four-part Zoom series in the lead-up to Yom Kippur, The Power of Challenge, the Challenge of Teshuva, looks at the issue of repentance and forgiveness within community.
David examines three fascinating and, at times, heartbreaking stories from Jewish History of people who have:
- accepted their mistakes,
- sought communal acceptance of their penitence,
- found revelation in teshuva.
Exploring the experiences of:
- Rabbi Yonah of Girona, a medieval rabbi who explored the concept of seeking forgiveness for misdeeds from the deceased;
- Uriel de Costa, a 17th-century radical thinker with a tragic story of communal punishment; and
- Franz Rosenzweig, the 20th-century philosophy who found inspiration in the idea of teshuva.
In each of these episodes, David draws out the principle of individual repentance and its relationship to communal acceptance, connection, and redemption. He also provides essential historical and cultural background to the stories, giving context and depth to the ideas and events discussed.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 32:26 — 44.5MB)
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This third lecture in David Solomon’s Zoom series, The Power of Change, the Challenge of Teshuva, different ways the Talmud discusses the concept of teshuva.
David explores three illustrative episodes from Tanach and the Talmudic period identified by the sages as:
Examples that teach the importance of teshuva
Halachic guidance in the process of seeking – or bestowing – forgiveness
The importance of self-responsibility in teshuva.
David considers the discussions of the sages in relation to the stories of:
- King David
- Rav and Mechilah
- Elazar bar Dordia.
He also summarises the messages from these episodes and draws them down to their meaning for us as we each consider our actions and failings and come to terms with our individual relationships with teshuva.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 30:57 — 17.7MB)
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Part two of David Solomon’s Zoom series, The Power of Change, the Challenge of Teshuva, looks at the idea of individual and collective teshuvah in Tanach.
The lecture examines the story of the prophet Jonah and the teshuvah of the city of Nineveh. David explores different views around the city’s repentance and its connection to the divine message entrusted to Jonah for the population. He also discusses Jonah’s struggle with the responsibilities placed upon him and his path towards his own teshuvah.
The other story examined in this episode is that of Menasseh, King of Judah. David discusses prophetic passages that deal with Menasseh’s repentance and its reflection in the general prophetic narrative on teshuvah.
As always, David provides overall context to these biblical texts and their associated messages. He also reminds us of the opportunities they offer in our own explorations in teshuvah.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 31:06 — 18.3MB)
Continue reading “#99 The Power of Change, the Challenge of Teshuva (2)”