He examines the philosophical contributions of Hasdai Crescas, including his ideas on:
Divine knowledge replaced by Divine love
Divine omniscience, providence, and omnipotence
The purpose of the world and the happiness of the soul.
Crescas, who was known for his critique of Aristotle, had revolutionary ideas that would pave the way towards a new humanism.
David then discusses Yosef Albo, a student of Hasdai Crescas, and Albo’s ideas on:
The existence of God
Reward and punishment.
Albo recognised true faith through a series of derivatives (shorashim), known as:
God’s interested omniscience
Revelation through prophets
The authenticity of the prophets
His ideas led to a systematic theological restatement of Jewish belief on the eve of a new philosophical era.
With late Medieval Spain as the historical setting for both of these extraordinary figures, David provides their fascinating but fraught historical backgrounds, including the impact of the 1391 massacres in Barcelona on Crescas and the disputations at Tortossa for Albo.
For a historical overview of the period, watch David’s series ‘Hope in Darkness: Jewish History of the 14th & 15th centuries’ here.
This week David examines the beginnings of Chassidism, one of the most influential Jewish spiritual movements to emerge in the modern Jewish world. He discusses key individuals who launched – and developed – this extraordinary revolution and explores the central ideas and contributions of Chassidism to Jewish history, practice, religion, and life. As part of this fascinating Jewish history lecture, David focuses on the lives and ideas of:
The Baal Shem Tov – Shivchei HaBesht
Avraham Gershon of Kitov
Maggid of Mezeritch
Yaakov Yosef of Polnoyye
Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Nachman of Breslov.
He examines remarkable concepts developed by early Chassidic leaders, including:
the sparks of love
the light of the intellect
conversations with G-d.
as well ideas like:
exile of the soul and raising the sparks
prayer over study
the ecstatic service of the heart
the spiritual importance of joy
love of every Jew
the idea of the tzaddiq.
David also maps out the historical context of this remarkable phenomenon. He discusses opposition that emerged in large parts of the Jewish world to Chassidic ideas and practice and the destructive nature of some of these conflicts. He also considers a number of interesting developments that resulted in Jewish history in the wake of Chassidism.
The Book of Job (Iyov) is a philosophical discussion on the nature of divine justice in relation to human suffering. In this podcast episode, David provides a fascinating overview of the story of Job whose tragic circumstances cause him to demand an explanation from G-d on the question: Why has this happened to me? As David explores each chapter of this biblical text, he unravels the various philosophical positions as expressed by G-d, Satan, and a range of other biblical characters to this age-old question. David also draws on views expressed by the sages, rabbis, and mystics on the Book of Job and its questions.
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