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Rav Aharon Kahn

Rav Aharon Kahn

Rav Aharon Kahn is the Joel Jablonski Professor of Talmud and Codes at Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). Rabbi Kahn was ordained at RIETS in 1969 and later earned Semicha Yadin Yadin from the Rabbi Mendel Zaks ztz”l and Rabbi Moshe Dovber Rivkin ztz”l. He studied with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik for 20 years and acted as Rabbi Soloveitchik's assistant for ten years. Rabbi Kahn served as spiritual leader of the Downtown Talmud Torah Synagogue in Manhattan's Lower East Side for 18 years. He is currently rabbi of Congregation Bais Keneses Avigdor in the Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Mitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro, l’atsmo and l’kono

August 2, 2011, by

Shiur #36 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: Mishlei 2:9. Three agendas – bayn adam lichaveiro, bein adam li-atsmo and bein adam li-kono. Discussion of the erosion of fulfilling mitzvos bein adam li-chaveiro, as being a function of golus: (a) Golus is a dangerous place – it is us against them, and (b) the perceived need to emphasize that which makes us uniquely Jewish.

Citations: Besides the commentaries related to Mishlei, the following sources are also referenced in this shiur: Chiddushei HaRashba (Bava Kama 30a) found in the source packet on page 2, and Gemara Bava Kama 30a found in the source packet on page 2, and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 378:1 with S”ma, found in the source packet on page 3, and Meshech Chochmah (Devarim 6:5), found in the source packet on pages 3-4, and Rabbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos 1:1, found in the source packet on page 4.

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Free choice and ordeals

August 2, 2011, by

Shiur #35 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: The ordeal of Yosef haTzadik. More of Rav Dessler’s Kuntres HaBechirah. Analysis of Lot, his education in chesed and the consequences for understanding the nature of his ordeal in not revealing that Sarah was Avraham’s wife. The relation of this ordeal to Avraham’s sending him away.

Citations: The following sources are referenced in this shiur: Gemara Yuma 35b and Kuntres haBechirah.

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Insights into Pirkei Avos regarding “who is rich, who is mighty?”

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #34 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: The moral/middos definitions of osher, gevurah. Pirkei Avos discusses those possessions where you truly worked on yourself to achieve them. Regular osher and gevurah are not mine, they are straight from Hashem. The gemara of “Hillel michayev ani’yim” informs us of what is humanly possible, removing such circumstances from oness rachmana patrei.

Citations: The following sources are referenced in this shiur: Gemara Yuma 35b, found in the source packet on page 1, and Rambam Hilchos Teshuva (4:4,5 and 5:2,3) found in the source packet on pages 2-3.

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Free choice and the effect of one’s upbringing and education

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #33 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: More on the nature of free choice, from Rav Dessler. The internal battle choosing truth versus ‘falsehood dressed up as truth’. Shifting battlefields; we don’t struggle with every issue at every moment. Affect of positive or negative upbringing. Only regarding the issues with which we struggle does the Torah say “uVacharta ba-chaim.” With respect to the other issues we face, where our decisions are largely determined by our positive or negative habit or upbringing, we have no “uVacharta.” There we have only “na’sati li-fanecha.” Bechirah and finding one’s beshert.

Citations: Michtov MiEliyohu 1st chelek, Kuntres haBechira – 1st chelek, 2nd and 3rd perakim, found in the source packet on pages 1-6.

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The mechanism of choice – how is it that we can choose poorly?

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #32 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: More on “Kol haGadol mi-chavero, yitzro gadol himenu.” How does desire or ruach shtus make us “lose” our freedom of choice? Suspension of da’as allows negative emotions and powers to take over. Kuntres haBechirah of Rav Eliyohu Dessler: You can’t have two desires ‘in the driver’s seat’ at the same time. Therefore, if picked, the weaker or more foolish desire may rule, and after the decision is made, you may indeed be helpless. The choice is in your hands, and the moment before you choose, you control your destiny.

Citations: Michtav MiEliyohu 1st chelek , Kuntres HaBechirah, 1st chelek, 1st perek, found in the source packet on pages 1-6.

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Analysis of the nature of an ordeal – challenges and capacities

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #31 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: “Kol ha-gadol mi-chavero, yitzro gadol himenu.” Yad HaMelech – Maamar haYirah vi-haChochmah: Challenges always match one’s capacities. Desire causes one to redefine values in one of two ways: ‘temporary insanity’ in a normally stable person, or chronic insanity for somebody totally corrupted by the yetzer hora. Self-doubt is the main cause of failure – it is not that failure is the cause of self-doubt.

Citations: Yad HaMelech, Maamar HaYirah viHaChochmah, found in the source packet on pages 1-3.

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The yetser hara and ordeals of great people

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #30 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: Verse 22:13. Special attention the yetser hara pays to Talmidei Chachomim. Kol ha-gadol mi-chaveiro, yitsro gadol he-meno. Is there value in putting oneself into a nisayon, in order to withstand the ordeal and thereby earn reward? Connection to the debate of lesisah – soaking wheat kernels to soften the shells in the process of preparing matzah for Pesach – forbidden, allowed, or required? This debate over lesisah is a mashal for conquering the yetser hara by fighting it instead of avoiding it altogether.

Citations: Besides the commentaries related to Mishlei, the following sources are also referenced in this shiur: Gemarah Sukkah 52a with Rashi, found in the source packets on pages 1-2, and Gemarah Avodah Zarah 17a with Rashi, found in the source packet on pages 2-3, and Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah (22:21), found in the source packet on page 3, and the Maharsha to Avodah Zarah 17a, found in the source packet on page 3, and Gemarah Pesachim 40a, found in the source packet on pages 3-4, and Chayei Adam [Klal 143 (Hilchos Yom Kipur), 1st halacha], found in the source packet on page 4, and Pri Tzadik (Parshas Terumah), found in the source packet on pages 4-5.

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Does Torah learning weaken a person?

June 2, 2011, by

Shiur #29 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: Mishlei verse 2:7. Explanations of “Torah mateshes kocho shel adam.” Possible opposite conclusion from the Zohar Chodosh; several approaches to explain the apparent contradiction.

Citations: Besides the commentaries related to Mishlei, the following sources are also referenced in this shiur: Gemara Bava Metsia 84a with Rashi and Maharsha, found in the source packet on page 1, and Zohar Chodosh, found in the source packet on pages 1-2, and Chiddushei HaRitva, Maseches Yuma 28b, found in the source packet on page 2, and Teshuvos Divrei Yatziv, found in the source packets on pages 2-3, and Keren Orah on Sanhedrin 26b, found in the source packet on page 3.

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Analysis of Chochmah, Binah and Da’as. Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem

April 13, 2011, by

Shiur #28 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: Further development in defining Chochmah, Binah and Tevunah. Binah is developing the original flash of an idea, and giving it shape and substance. Tanya: contemplation leads to yiras Hashem, which itself then leads to ahavas Hashem. Rambam: contemplation leads to ahavas Hashem, which is a pre-requisite to Yiras Hashem. However, the closer you approach Hashem, the more you pull away. Tanya: Da’as is attaching to Hashem every moment of your life.

Citations: Rashi and Ibn Ezra on Shemos 31:3, found in the source packets on page 1, and Sefer HaTanya, 1st chelek, chapter 3, found in the source packet on pages 1-2, and the Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (1:1, 1:6, 2:1, and 2:2) found in the source packet on pages 2-3.

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Proper influences; cleaving to Talmidei Chachomim

April 13, 2011, by

Shiur #27 in Rav Aharon Kahn’s Hashkafah Series Based on Mishlei with Biur HaGra.

Content Description: Malbim on verse 2:2, defining chochmah. Inability of mankind to independently determine what is right and wrong; you need a transmission from Torah or Chachomim. Rashi and Rambam’s understandings of “ul’davka bo” – cleaving to Talmidei Chachomim. Teshuvas Mahari Asad regarding Talmidei Chachomim cleaving to other Talmidei Chachomim. Everyone needs proper influences. “Vi-halachta bidrachav” means personal transformation.

Citations: Besides the commentaries related to Mishlei, the following sources are also referenced in this shiur: Rambam Hilchos De’os 6:1,2, and 1:6, found in the source packet on page 2.

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