Stoicism and Serving god with passion – Rabbi Leib Tropper -Written by David Gold

Lecture delivered in Pennsylvania during the summer . Recorded  and written by
David Gold
Marcus Aurelius praises his stoic tutor Sextus of Chaeronea for being free
From passion yet full of love AKA natural affection. (Meditations, 1.9)
Because the Stoics appear to have used the guidance of reason to pursue
Virtue it was easier for them to love the ordinary person. Reason offered them
A vision of some virtue in everyone. Emotion is often not fair and can be
Very discriminating.
The founder of Stoicism , Zeno of Citium which survived as a way of life for
Some for close to 500 years had a ‘ way of of life ‘ to offer. Modern day
Philosophers are not certain how to understand and apply the principles of
Stoicism today. A passionless life of virtue is a complex idea.
The Torah perspective is quite different. The performance of acts of virtue
Require passion , warmth or in Hungarian ‘patima’.
In the book of Psalms King David says “all my bones speak your praises”.
When a Jew is able to serve consistently with enthusiasm, warmth and
Passion he/she have reached the capstone of spiritual achievement.
In some houses of service, silence during prayers is the way of the seriously
Penitent communicate.. And carries a palliative component for the common
We will soon see that the Jews in Egypt constantly raised their vocal
Protest to Hashem regarding their suffering. They CALLED out to G’D
Etc..far from a silent protest…
When Jews join in answering ‘yehay shamay raba’ in a gallant and vociferous
Manner , we are taught in the Talmud that the gates of heaven are opened
Even if they were closed.
The passion spreads to the physical as the body oscillates and the hands
Implore G’D for his intervention during what is called the silent shmone
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Daas Torah: the words of the Chazon Ish,zt’l – Rav Leib Tropper-recorded by David Gold

A very confusing word to say the least. Daas Torah as a concept has been uncontested for the most part until relatively recently. Daas Torah which is the
Word used to express the view of the Torah in an authoritative sense, highlights
Those views that are not treated as if they are in the “domain״ of Torah  although
They ought to.

One is not considered to have “Daas Torah” unless they have earned the title
“Talmid Chochom”. This statement would probably be contested,as it is quite
Difficult to achieve the status of a Talmid Chochom. In the maelstrom of our
Turbulent times there isn’t an abundance of people who are considered to be talmeidei chachomim.  It is our diluted perspective that allows us to believe
That one can be involved in prime rib ‘loshon  hora’ , learn Torah and be called a
Talmid Chochom. It is our “small mindedness” that allows us to merge a full time scientist and a part time learner who uses a computer search for Torah information,
To be categorized as a Torah Scholar.

That is by all standards an illusion. It is actually a dangerous illusion. Professional
Stand up comedians who learn for 3 hours per day are not Daas Torah though
They may act as if………

Sitting and studying everything but the depths of Talmud cannot qualify as a
Torah Scholar in the traditional sense of the word.

Rabbonim who tell tear jerking stories to their congregants may have the gift of
Articulation and power of inspiration . That has no influence on being a Torah
Scholar. (To be continued)

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The Wisdom of The Chazon Ish,zt’l

1-The Chazon Ish advised Men Seeking to marry to stay away From Stubborn women. (Maran Harav Sternbuch,shlita in the name of the Chazon ish)

2-A Teacher in a yeshiva is not only required to be a competent Teacher and a good communicator ,a Teacher is required to be one with SUPERIOR character. (Emunah Ubetachon)

3-Choosing the right words to say captures the virtue of silence More than complete silence.

4-it is spiritually unhealthy and Dangerous to postpone talking with someone who seeks help and inspiration. (Letters of the Chazon ish)

5- it is quite doubtful that someone who lacks in his character could achieve torah Scholarship.

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The Following Topics will be Discussed on Youtube over the Next few months with Rabbi Leib Tropper

1-Prayers with Tears


2-What and who is a Rabbi?


3-Strict and Halachic Leniency


4-Is there a hebrew word for ‘fun’?


5-The qualities of a friend


6-A Comparative study of Truth

And Truthfullness


7-Living in Exile and its consequences


8-Respect for government

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What is not happiness?

There is much written about the one of the ineffable emotions called happiness.


Even a writer unknown to most of the population at large but familiar to many

In the Orthodox Community , Rabbi Zelig Pliskin ,attempts to press a position

Regarding Happiness.


Rabbi Leib Tropper,shlita  does not suggest to invite himself into the Happiness

Topic. When I asked Rabbi Leib Tropper for an explanation he responded that

Happiness is דברים שבלב  as it says in תהילים  Which is recited in Davening 

Every shabbos  ישמח לב מבקשי ה׳. Happiness is a cardiac rooted feeling . It does 

Not need an expression. Undoubtedly , Maran Harav Y.D. Halevi Soloveitchik, zt’l

Was a very happy man. Perhaps not fitting the juvenile profile described by Rabbi

Zelig Pliskin,shlita. A member of the Family of Maran Harav  Soloveitchik,zt’l 

Made it quite clear to me that the Rav’s position regarding happiness is that it

Does not require an external expression. A stoic can enjoy happiness of and in life.


Rabbi Pliskin , shlita quotes pieces of Alfred Adler. I can suggest that Rabbi Pliskin

Read Paul Johnson’s book ‘intellectuals’ where he has less than flattering biographical sketch of Adler’s unhealthy life. 


Bertrand Russell ,a British philosopher and Victor Frankl who was a philosopher and a practicing psychologist disagrees with Rabbi Pliskin. They  both maintain that the

Pursuit of happiness is the only impediment to happiness. Rabbi Leib Tropper

Uses the description ‘the taking of one’s happiness temperature ‘ is the nemesis for

Growing the experience of happiness


My assertion is that Rabbi Pliskin’s position on happiness is empty of any emotional

Depth and is inaccurate from a Torah perspective and a Secular perspective.

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Rationalist Judaism? What does that mean?

Based on a recent lecture in Syracuse, New York- recorded by Avi Bluming


An unresolved topic is the issue of a Judaism based on “rationalism”.Though the Rambam AKA Maimonides is considered one of the most important thinkers of Jewish philosophy, he Suffered Much undesired controversy. The critics of his rationalistic project were great thinkers such as Hasdai Crescas and R’Don Yitzchok Abarvanel. Another important alternative to Maimonidean Rationalism was jewish mysticism AKA Kabbalah . R’ Don Issac Abarvanel is Particularly critical of the Rambam’s understanding of miracles which downplays their supernatural qualities. In Abarvanels books, Mifalot Elokim and Rosh Amana he asserts that Miracles are supernatural events performed by Hashem directly as the creator of the Universe.


During the 11th century jews were blessed with a unique scholar known as Rabbenu Yehuda Halevi. He authored a book that the Gaon of Vilna encouraged jews to study. The book was Called the ‘Kuzari’.


The Kuzari expected religion to be based in a subjective and personal experience not rational Explanation (that is how he explains the episode of Moshe Rabbenu and the sneh aka burning Bush).


However in contrast to R’ Don Y Abarvanel, the Kuzari was not anti Rationalist.


(To be continued)

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A dialogue with Rav Leib Tropper-June 22 2014 Recorded by David Gold

Rabbi Leib Tropper, what do you think triggers so much emotional angst amongst People today?



Response- If surveys count for anything , I guess the feeling of meaninglessness pushes People into an emotional maelstrom. Recent surveys tell that 70 percent of people suffer The feeling of absence of meaning in life. It is profound sardonic humor in a world abundant with Material distraction. The “God shaped vacuum” has yet to find a spiritual or emotional Utopia.


Rav Moshe Chaim Lutzato in the opening of his most celebrated work called ” Mesilas Yeshorim” talks about the ultimate meaning for a Jew . To constantly strive to master The art of servitude to God is the only true meaning of a jew’s life. The dynamic and static Pleasure and contentment experienced by striving for the above is most fulfilling.


Q-Rabbi Leib Tropper, does that imply that non Jews have no meaning in life?


Response- of course they can have real meaning. There however is one caveat to discovering Meaning. One will never find meaning if Maslow’s “self actualization” is the focus of their life.

Meaning is only felt in transcendence . Rav Yitzchok of Volozin writes in the introduction to His sacred book Nefesh Hachaim that he heard from his father (Rav Chaim of Volozin) that Man’s life purpose is to help others.



(To be continued)

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