Monday, August 20, 2007

An Indirect Route? Hisbonenus vs. Hisbodedus

If a person wants to turn on a light switch. Why would he need to contemplate electricity [hisbonenus] and then audibly tell his finger to flip the switch [talking to oneself]?

With hisbodedus a person connects to the One who created light. So, why would a person take an indirect route?


At August 20, 2007 at 12:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

The point of hibonenus is so that the action of 'turning' the switch is not merely 'turning' it, but something meaningful . . .
If the action is only a means to an end i.e. turning on a light, then understanding the action is truly indirect.
In the case of a mitzvah, however, the mitzvah is a connection in and unto itself. The mitzvah itself, m'loshon tzavta, connectes to Hashem, and therefor by increasing our understanding of the aibershter and what is going on, it allows us to connect with greater kavana etc.

At August 20, 2007 at 2:11:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

ASJ seemed to question whether personal reflection has value. But what is Cheshbon HaNefesh, for example, if not a type of personal reflection? I don't see any point in choosing one approach (addressing HaShem or "addressing" oneself) for all situations.

At August 20, 2007 at 2:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Bob: The point I was attempting to make was the hisbodedus can include all these other things and I was wondering out loud why people did not simply resort to it if it were all inclusive.

At August 20, 2007 at 2:38:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Part of this Jewish Observer article discusses the use of hisbodedus by one school of Mussar:

At August 21, 2007 at 4:05:00 AM EDT, Anonymous AJ-X-Eli said...

ASJ, the main criticism one can raise about hisbodedut is: who are you adressing to? While you might think you're talking to Hashem, you might instead figure yourself you're talking to Hashem while just talking to yourself... That's not the case in Hisbonenut, which allows us to think about Hashem's greatness... Love and Shana tova, tikatev vetechatem !

At August 21, 2007 at 4:43:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

AJ-X-Eli: I could envision similar problems with hisbonenus.

When I am calling out to the Ribbono shel Olam in hisbodedus, I am speaking directly to Him and never to myself.

At August 22, 2007 at 1:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger DixieYid said...

Okay ASJ, as I promised you, I wanted to translate for you a few passages from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, chelek beis ch. 14 D"H "3 Levels: Machshava, Dibur and Ma'aseh", on his reasons for not jumping straight into Hisbodedus, but rather to first build up Machshava, a.k.a. Hisbonenus. I started the translation and then remembed that "My friend Yaakov" had already done the job at so I'm quoting here the most relevant passages in translation. Here goes:

Every level and every world must be properly built! If there is no solid process of thought before one comes to speak, a person falls too quickly from the world of thought to the world of speech. His thought is too weak, and thus, the speech based on it is not solid, and the entire structure is only like a castle built in the air.

What is the proper kind of thought? First of all, one must know that there is a Creator. He starts thinking about it. He doesn't say anything, but in his thought, he thinks, "Who created the world? There must be a Creator, etc." He contemplates this (each person according to the time needed), until the intellect clearly recognizes that there is a Creator.

In the second stage, he takes this point, and speaks about it to himself: "This is what I thought, and it became clear to me that there is a Creator, because if not, where did the moon come from? From where are the stars? From where are people?" and so on. Only in the third stage does he approach Hashem and speak to Him.

In other words, there must be three well-established phases. The first phase is real contemplation, spending a long time contemplating well about the matter. The second phase is that after the contemplation, one begins to speak to himself: "The world has a Master, He controls the palace, and I see His Divine Providence." The third phase is where he speaks to Hashem and says, "Master of the world, I have clarified for myself that there is a Creator, that You exist, that you control the palace, that every detail happens through You," and so on.

If one jumps immediately to the third phase, we can anticipate a total collapse! Even if one only skips over the first phase, the phase of thought, and jumps right away to the second phase, that of speech, it will still be difficult for his efforts to have any lasting value.

-Dixie Yid


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