this is the second in a series of videos which overall is an interpretation of rabbi shlomo carlebach's "commentary on the torah, part 1, genesis". that book has the subtitle "the stone of shlomo" (hebrew: "ehven shlomo"). my videos seek to demonstrate the clear logical thinking that underlies this work of reb shlomo, which at first reading appears to be merely a collection of parables, "bubbeh maysehs" (yiddish: "grandmother stories"). i will follow each video in english with a version in hebrew which presents the same material. to prepare these videos i first extracted an index of key ideas from the "torah commentary" book, and grouped the sections of the book around those key ideas.
for this second video i selected 10 torah commentaries of shlomo which deal with the topic "covenant between god and man". in these 10 commentaries reb shlomo distinguishes two covenants: the one between god and noah and the one between god and avraham. when i consider the logical underpinnings of these two different covenants, i discover that we have once again in the history of religion an opposition between aristotelian versus platonic dialectical modes of thinking. shlomo sets up noah as the logical "bad guy" whose aristotelian rationalist system is of only limited use to shlomo's pietistic brand of judaism. but at least noah's covenant insures that the jewish world, in a certain sense, will not be destroyed. on the other hand, the platonic mystical approach which constitutes the covenant between avraham and god, much more finds favor in the eyes of reb shlomo. in terms of jewish sects, we see, then, that while reb shlomo was for a while a disciple of the chabbad hassidic aristotelian rationalist community, at the end of the day his loyalty clearly has shifted to the pietist neo-platonic mystical hassidic tradition. the torah of reb shlomo is, in my opinion, best regarded as two thirds neo-platonic jewish pietism and one third aristotelian jewish rationalism. since the pietistic world view nowadays in the jewish world is most strongly linked to the sect of nachman of breslav, therefore this "stone of shlomo" text turns out to be largely a supplement to nachman's "collected essays" (likutei moharan). and like nachman's book and unlike the systematic chabbad "tanya" bible, "ehven shlomo" is written in the style of parables linked by intuitive associations. as nachman says, "my torah is all associations" (hebrew: "b'chinot").
of course, i am not implying that all that reb shlomo gives us is dialectical philosophy. i merely am pointing out that along with all the other elements that his followers find attractive, there is this other not so obvious level of meaning that also is important, especially for those who would seek parallels of shlomo's work in other aspects of their lives in addition to religion. for example, much performing arts aesthetics and gestalt therapy work has a similar dialectical theoretical foundation. for me personally now that i have decoded reb shlomo's rich tapestry of metaphors, i am able to incorporate his wisdom into my own work training actors and doing healing work with spiritual seekers. in that sense, for example, we can see in reb shlomo's torah a jewish storytelling version of today's mystically tinged post-brechtian theater tradition, as found in the aesthetics of michael chekhov or the mabou mines theater. i illustrate some of these parallels in this video. see the following by theater director michael chekhov, for example, to appreciate the parallels. youtube.com/watch?v=RjooI15cOZE