Yotzeir Or, part I

(I was on vacation and so there was no shiur last week.)This week’s shiur picks up with Borkhu and the question of what makes it, or any other prayer (including at least Qaddish and Qedushuah) a davar shebiqdushah (a declaration of holiness).The majority of the shiur was dedicated to opening of the berakhah of Yotzeir Or. We discussed the structure and topics of the berakhos that surround Shema and their relationship to Shema itself, some of the basic thrust of this particular berakhah, and the history behind its opening sentence. The opening of the berakhah was explained in relationship to the pasuq which it paraphrases, a message Hashem gave the prophet Yeshaiah to record for King Cyrus of Persia to eventually receive.

The bulk of the shiur was a discussion of evil, the nature of evil — both as the tragedy in people lives and the evil people do, the question of what defines evil (one Jewish resolution to Plato’s Euthyphro’s Dilemma), and finally four different ways in which tragedy forces us to respond. (The last point is expressed also in my essay “The Four Sons Confront Tragedy“, relating these responses to the responses each of the four sons of the Hagaddah have to the seider.)

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