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  ה”ב 

ד”עשת’ה אצת יכ ’פ ק”שרע 
Meet My Rebbes Series
Rav ShaGaR (Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, 1949­2007) 
Shiur #4 ­ Repairing the Fractured Self of the Postmodern Jew 
jrosenfeld@lss.org @Shuaros 
 
 

1. Vayikra Rabba, no. 7
לבא .ול אוה יאנג םירובש םילכב אוה שמשמ םא ,הזה טוידהה :ירדנסכלא ’ר רמא
ילכ ה"בקה
…אכדנו רבשנ בל ,הרבשנ חור םיקולא יחבז :'אנש ,םירובש ושימשת

R. Alexandri said: it is a disgraceful thing for the commoner to utilize broken vessels.
However, God’s own vessels are broken ones, as it is written: a broken spirit is the sacrifice of
God, a broken and depressed heart…

II. Ish ha-Eshkoliot (Renaissance Man)

2. R. Menahem Hai Froman, Interview with Yediot Aharonot (6/11/07)
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לש ימשרה תועדה הגוה ,קוק ברה תנשמב שיש החטבהה שומימ יניעב אוה ר"גש ברה
ומכ ,ברה לש םינכתב ללכ-ךרדב קיזחמ ונלש רוביצה .ימואל-יתדה רוביצה
,יתעדל ,קוק ברה תנשמ לש הרקיע ךא ,לארשי תלואגו ,ל"הצ ,הנידמ ,לארשי-ץרא
התא הבש תישפוחה הרימאה אוה רקיעה .שפוח לש רואב יתדה םלועה תא ריאהל אוה
.ךלש םייתדה םייחה תא יח

In my eyes, R. Shagar was the promise of R. Kook’s teachings wrought tangible - the official
thinker for the Religious Zionist community. Our community in general adheres to certain
aspects of the Rav’s teachings, like the Land of Israel, Statehood, the Army, and the
redemption of Israel, but the truth is that the core of R. Kook’s teachings, I think, is to
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:ןאכמ .ינושחנ יבוק תאמ ,"קוק ברה לש החטבהה שומימ היה אוה" YNET רתאמ 
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L­3411460,00.html

illuminate the religious world with the light of freedom. The main thing is the truly free
expression in which you live your religious life.

לש קומע ישפנ ןבומב אלא ,ילאוטקלטניא שפוח לש ןבומב אל ,תאז שמימ ר"גש ברה"
לע דואמ ןירקה הזה רבדה .ךכ תמרוז ולש שפנה לכש םדאכ ,תישפוח המירז
לש הזבו ,יסאלקה יתדה םלועב םינכתה לכ לש שרושה יתעדל הזו ,ולש םידימלתה
,הימדקא ישנא םקלח ,םינבר םקלח ר"גש ברה ידימלת ושענ ךכ קר .קוק ברה ידימלת
םייתד-אל םג םקלחו ,ןורטאית ישנא םקלחו ,םירפוס םקלח

R. Shagar personified this, not [just] in the sense of intellectual freedom, but in the sense of
the ‘flow’ of freedom in the depths of his soul, like a man whose entire heart moves this way.
This radiated greatly upon his students, and it is to my knowledge the source of all the classic
forms of religion - and in this way he was a student of R. Kook. It is only in this manner that
R. Shagar’s students ended up - some as Rabbis, some as academicians, some authors, some
actors and playwrights, and some also irreligious.

3. R. Yuval Sherlo, An Ember From the Flame: A Eulogy (Kipa website, 6/19/97)
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תמא שיא .דוכילל םינתינ יתלב םיניינע וב ודכלתה .קוק ברה לש ונוזחל רתויב בורקה היה ל"צז ר"גש ברה
םיימש ארי שיא ;הרשי ,תבקונ ,םדאה תהלאהו הריפכה לובג לע ,ןירוח תב ,תינרתח ,תרעוב תמא ­ היה
תדרל דימתמ ןויסינב תברועמה תיסאלק תיאטיל תונדמלב ,תיתמשנ תודיסחב ,ףוס ןיא תוקיבדב ­ היה
אחרואמ הקוחר ךכ לכ תיארנה תינרדומ­טסופה הפשב רבידש שיא ;ינחורה העמשמב היגוסה שרושל
תרותב קסוע ­ היה דוס שיא ;התוא םישקבמה הלאל תדחוימ תינחור הרושב אצמ הכותמו אתונמהימד
…ומצע ינפב דוסו דוסה

R. Shagar z’l was the closest possible to the vision of R. Kook. There were locked up
within him many things that could not be locked up together. He was a man of truth -
burning, probing, unhindered truth, on the very edge of heresy and deification of man,
piercing and direct; he was a man with fear of heaven - in everlasting deveikut, with a
zealousness of the soul, with classic Lithuanian learning mixed with a continual drive
to uncover the spiritual underpinnings of the sugyah. He was a man who spoke in the
language of postmodernism, which seemed so far away from the path of faith, and
from within it he uncovered a unique spiritual message for those who seek it; he was a
man of secrets - dealing with the “Torah” of secrets and himself a secret.

ףא ילואו ,שדוקה לא אל ףאו ,ותמשנ לש םישדוקה שדוקל סנכיהל חילצהש ןעוטה וידימלתמ ימ ןיא ,דבב דב
לא םג ,ומצע לא םג ,ויתותימאב םג ,ויתוקפסב  םג ,ויתויוטבלתהב םג ,ויתוקיתשב םג רביד אוה .הרזעל אל
אורקל לק אל ;ומצע תא םדאה ףייזמש ףויזה רקיעבו ,ול ביאכה ףויז לכ ­ ותציחמב תויהל לק היה אל .םירחא
…םירעוב "קר" ­ םייטנרהוק אל םירדוסמ אל ,םיכורע אל ,הובג םלועמ תוצוצינ ,תובשחמ יעטק ­ וירבד תא
At the same time, not one of his students claim to have succeeded in entering into the sancta
sanctorum of his soul, maybe not even close. He ‘spoke’ also with his silences, with his doubts,
with his truth, to himself and to others. It was not an easy thing to be in his company - any
fakery pained him, especially the frauds that people perpetrate upon themselves; it is not
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http://www.kipa.co.il/jew/21445.html :ןאכ ,"הפיכ" רתאמ 

easy to read his words - fragments of thought, sparks from a higher world, not always
coherently organized...
4. R. Haim Sabato, Interview with Ha’aretz (6/17/2007)
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קפס ןיא .םשה יכרד תנבהב תושדח םיכרד רחא ץימא שופיחו ,הנומאב תולאש ולצא הררוע המחלמה
םייתועמשמ םייח תבייחמ ולש הלצההש שח אוהו ,ותוא הקיסעה דואמ ,לצינ אוה אקווד המל הלאשהש

The war raised within him questions of faith and a brave search/quest for new paths in
which to understand the ways of God. There is no doubt that the question of why specifically
it was he who survived, occupied him greatly, and that he felt as if his rescue obligated him to
pursue a life of great meaning.

5. R. Yair Dreyfus, Words of Remembrance and Introduction (Foreword to Panecha
Avakesh, pp. 11-12)

it is clear that the path from youth to advanced age for an individual, and certainly for R.
Shagar, is a series of crises, breakdown and rebuilding. The Rav was wont to remember from
time to time the words of R. Kook, that only one who is prepared for great destruction can
merit great building….


He knew quite well the heavy price to be paid by one who relentlessly pursues the truth,
without countenancing any fraud - a price that is not just social and familial, but mainly
personal. Throughout his years, the Rav spoke of pursuing the truth, as explicated in one of
his drashot from this book: “the point of truth is dependent upon the person. Only one who
has purified themselves of all their own desires, lusts, and subservience and completely
yearns to arrive at the eternal truth - only for this individual gleams the recognition of truth.
This recognition shines in the darkness, whence there is nothing left for the person to lose...
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http://www.haaretz.co.il/misc/1.1418486 :ןאכ HAARETZ רתאב ,"םינחורה לש אבאה" ,גלש ריאי לש ורמאמ 


R. Shagar suffered from the tension between adherence to the tradition and faithfulness to
his inner truth, and his spiritual flourishing was by no means linear. His internal struggles
can be compared to a great extent to R. Nahman…


The whole issue of Yeshiva is that of advanced age. It is virtually impossible to learn only
from the young or on one’s own… connection to Torah is primarily a connection to the
power of our heritage [forefathers], and this is what is meant by ‘advanced age’...
One who is unable or unwilling to become a part of that chain of tradition, and thinks that
they can innovate a Torah of one’s own… who wants to be an individualist, to remain
estranged and on the outside, learning like an ‘enlightened one’ - will never be able to call
themselves a ‘ben Torah’...

…I believe that this country is, in one way or another, able to bring to fruition the prophetic
vision, as a country of righteousness and justice and as a miraculous country. Not just once
have I felt that this task is burdened specifically upon us, the religious and Haredi, and it is up
to us to improve our ways in order to precipitate this process. It is possible that we may
reveal that is was our enclosure within the old, the agreed-upon, the ossified and staid that
was the greatest hindrance to redemption.

II. Postmodern Orthodoxy

6. R. Shagar, Tablets and Broken Tablets: Jewish Thought in the Age of
Postmodernism (Yediot: 2013); p. 431, 433

Postmodernism doesn’t have a solid definition, and many quills have been broken trying to
define it. Many postmodernists themselves are opposed to attempts to define their
weltanschauung. For the purpose of our inquiry, we can at least say that postmodernism is
the stance that claims there is no single ‘truth’, because that which we call ‘truth’ is actually a
cultural-social construct, man-made. We can also describe postmodernism as a radical thrust
towards freedom - the freedom of man to determine himself and his values.
...Many educators, most educators, utterly negate and repudiate this notion of
postmodernism completely… however, in my eyes there is something much more radical
amiss.


I feel that postmodernism, deconstructivism are a sort of ‘shattering of the vessels’, although
this breakdown potentially grants us a far-reaching, vast freedom, and in the religious sense
- a freedom to believe, even sans ‘proofs’ and such.
...perhaps postmodernism can turn out to be our Yetsiat Mitsrayim, in the most radical sense
of the term.


In this postmodern world is buried, in my opinion, an option for a very elevated and
advanced belief. What excites me is not the notion that God is some special, enormous entity,
but rather the notion that God is not this ‘thing’; God is the essence of purity, the essence of
freedom, the infinite; as Maimonides wrote - he exists, although is not in existence…

7. R. Shagar, Shattered Vessels (Yeshivat Siah Yitzhak, Efrata: 2004); p. 20 n.7, 25

…and then comes the day of death, those whom he supported are also gone, and nothing
remains, together with this we still believe that there is some everlasting worth to our
actions. Similar to postmodernists, R. Nahman intimately knew that the final questions, the
metaphysical questions, are beyond the purview of language. However, contra the
postmodernists who concluded that the questions are ultimately meaningless - nonsense… R.
Nahman opens new vistas for possibilities of deep faith...


...

In this manner we can now read the following words of R. Kook: “why does deconstruction
occur? Because divinity gives according to its [unlimited] power, and the receiver is limited,
therefore the good bestowed is limited… and unable to receive all the good bestowed lest they
burst and shatter. And therefore the receiver strives all it can to return to its root place in
which it can receive in an unlimited sense… to join the creator on the level of wholeness…”
...the shattering creates the possibility for rebuilding reality anew.

The logic behind the transition between postmodernism to mysticism is simple, it is actually a
small epistemological shift from a pluralistic point of view, with word games in which no
truth is discerned… to a point of view of unio mystica that declares that all is truth and all is
within God, and that ‘no venue is free from God.’