Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Faith and reason – rabbi’s synthesis of two never intersecting planes

By
From page C3 | January 27, 2013 |

Faith and Reason.

It’s not just that they’re natural antagonists, but that they seem to inhabit two different, never intersecting planes. Faith is unequivocal; reason is reasonable. Faith is supra-human and thus (to us) unreal; reason is realness made human-sized, defined and confined, drained of wonder and life. For many centuries each dwelled on its plane with its loyalists, viewing the other with suspicion, even disdain.

Until there came a man who was a citizen of both worlds. He passed freely from one to the other, building bridges between them, describing a symbiotic faith-reason universe in which each flows into, feeds on, and buttresses the other.

His name was Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, born in Li’ozna, White Russia in 1745. As a young man he joined the Chassidic movement, founded a generation earlier by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. By 1772, he was developing his own branch of Chassidism, which came to be known as “Chabad.” In 1796 he published Tanya, the book that contains the fundamentals of his teachings, over which he labored for 20 years – a book that prompted one of his great contemporaries to exclaim, “How did he put such a great G-d into such a small book!” By the time of his passing in the winter of 1813, exactly 200 years ago, he had sown the kernels of the seven generations of Chabad teaching and activism that were to revolutionize Jewish life across the globe.

The intellect and the powers of the mind play a central role in Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s system. Study, comprehension and meditation are the tools by which faith is internalized and made real, so that permeates the person, developing and guiding his emotions and motivating his actions. Indeed, the name “Chabad” is an acronym for the Hebrew words for “wisdom,” “understanding” and “knowledge,” and Chabad is often referred to as the “intellectual branch of Chassidism.”

That categorization is not entirely correct. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was not an “intellectual” – at least not in the common sense of one who regards the intellect as the ultimate arbiter of truth. On the contrary, he taught that ultimate truth lies in our deeply held convictions, in the things we know without understanding them – in the beliefs that are ingrained in our self-awareness by virtue of our soul being a spark of the Divine. In fact, the intellect will often suppress and distort these truths. But that is only when the intellect’s function is misapplied – when it sees its own bounds as absolute, and what lies beyond them as beyond its ken. True intellect, said Rabbi Schneur Zalman, is receptive to the supra-rational, and harnesses its own tools to the task of apprehending it and “internalizing” it.

The fact that you cannot rationally understand something is no reason not to study it. You know it to be true – your deepest self tells you it is. So contemplate it, analyze it, meditate upon it. Don’t be intimidated by your mind’s initial inadequacy. When you embrace faith’s infinitude with your mind’s finite tools, you’ll eventually find those tools “expanding” to receive it. And you’ll find your finite reality saturated with the divine supra-reality you’ve always regarded as “beyond” you.

A group of Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s disciples were once discussing the Messianic Age and the great miracle of “the revival of the dead” destined to then take place, when one of them said, “But we see this miracle every day! Our own master has this power – he, too, revives the dead. What is a corpse? Something cold and unfeeling. Life is movement, warmth, excitement. Is there anything as frozen in self-absorption, as cold and unfeeling as the mind? And when the cold-blooded mind understands, comprehends, and is excited by a G-dly idea – is this not a revival of the dead?”

Rabbi Chaim Zaklos is the executive director of Chabad Jewish Center of Solano County and can be reached at Rabbi@JewishSolano.com.

Rabbi Chaim Zaklos

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 7 Comments

 
Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New focus on achievement gap of black males

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 13 Comments | Gallery

 
Sandbags available in advance of storms

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Governments shut doors for holiday

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A3

Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Union focuses on security guards at Apple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Sports

Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

Dora Maria Aranda

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Adrian Looy

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

How to give holiday gift cards

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

How to establish gift spending limits

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

How to save on high-tech gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

Great gifts for music lovers

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Great gifts for the family foodie

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Holiday shows abound in Solano County

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

Great gifts for people who love to read

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

2014 holiday toy predictions

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Things to consider before buying this holiday season

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

Gifts to keep kids engaged

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

Gift wrap tricks to save time

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

Gift exchange dos and don’ts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30