The 18Forty podcast helps users find meaning in life through the exploration of Jewish thought and ideas.
Professor Allison Coudert: How did Religion Influence Science? [Science 2/4]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Professor Allison Coudert, of the Department of Religious Studies at UC Davis, to discuss the historical interplay of science with religion, and specifically with Kabbalah.
During a 1917 lecture talking about the rational mindset underlying science, Max Weber famously declared that “This means that the world is disenchanted.” Though this sentiment has permeated the public consciousness, Allison thinks the real story is more complicated. She thinks that science and enlightenment philosophy only heightened the magic we humans could experience, and that enlightenment movements have done so historically. In her mind, religion and science aren’t opponents, as they’re so often framed, but engage in a mutually-beneficial relationship, each inspiring and strengthening the other.
- What has the historical interplay of science and religion been?
- What influence has Kabbalah specifically had on scientists’ thought?
- What connotations do the words “modernity” and “enlightenment” tend to evoke in listeners?
- And are these evocations justified?
Tune in to hear Allison Coudert discuss the influence that Jewish thought has had since the Scientific Revolution.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/science/#coudert.
Dr. Jeremy England: What Does a Scientist See in the Torah? [Science 1/4]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Dr. Jeremy England, physicist and biologist, to discuss his lives as a Jew and an academic, and how, if at all, those lives interact.
Jeremy grew up a barely-affiliated Jew and obtained a degree in biochemistry from Harvard, but discovered his love for Judaism and began reading authors like Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Ruth Weiss. He is an accomplished scientist, having posited the theory of dissipative adaptation to explain abiogenesis, but still sees a depth and meaning to the words of the Torah. Though science plays an important role in his life, he feels that has managed to find a role for Torah despite this fact without compromising on the ideals of either.
- What are the abilities and limitations of science?
- What are the abilities and limitations of Torah?
- As a scientist, how did Jeremy reconcile the two as he became more religious?
- How does the study of each compare to the other?
- And what role should they ultimately play in one’s life?
Tune in to hear Jeremy England discuss his theory of abiogenesis and of living an intellectually complete life.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/science/#england.
Rav Moshe Weinberger: Can Mysticism Become a Community? [Mysticism 3/3]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Rav Moshe Weinberger, rabbi and educator, to discuss the role of mysticism in modern-day Judaism.
Rav Weinberger grew up Modern Orthodox and became attracted to Chassidus at a young age. Though he is a fan of the yeshiva system and believes that Halakha cannot be compromised, he has long watched with anguish as countless products of the system have been turned off by the dry, inhumane version of Yiddishkeit taught to them. Rav Weinberger believes that Jewish education must evolve over time, and that Chassidus is as good an approach as any for the current generation.
-How can one go about strengthening their connection to Hashem?
-What are the educational challenges of today’s generation?
-Where does the modern-day yeshiva system succeed, and where does it fail its students?
-And how can we attempt to tweak the system to suit everyone’s needs?
Tune in to hear Rav Moshe Weinberger discuss the challenges that he sees facing today’s generation of young Jews.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/mysticism/#weinberger.
Dr. Ora Wiskind: How do you Read a Mystical Text? [Mysticism 2/3]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Dr. Ora Wiskind, professor and author, to discuss her life journey, both as a Jew and as an academic, and her attitude towards mysticism.
Ora grew up in a Reform family in Ohio, receiving a top-notch secular education but a minimal Jewish one. After studying in France and Germany she found herself in Israel, eventually becoming Orthodox despite her rebellious nature. With her background in literature, she has contributed unique, hermeneutic perspectives on some Hasidic masters, like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and continues to break new ground with her scholarship on mysticism.
-What are mysticism and rationalism, and what are the appeals of both mindsets?
-How did someone with Ora’s background end up writing about the mystical works of Rebbe Nachman?
-How has her background in literature influenced her writings?
-How does she approach her work as a religious academic, where she must stay objective about the content she studies despite it giving her religious inspiration?
-And how has being an Orthodox woman shaped her career?
Tune in to hear Ora Wiskind discuss mysticism in the modern world and its relation to her academic work.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/mysticism/#wiskind.
Joey Rosenfeld: Can Mysticism Heal Us? [Mysticism 1/3]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Joey Rosenfeld, social worker and kabbalist, to talk about the differences between mysticism and rationalism and the roles they should play in our lives.
Mysticism is often misunderstood and dismissed by rationalists without much thought, but what is mysticism? One might define it by what it’s not: reductionism, which combined with complexity is science. But what if we saw things as their whole instead of their constituent parts? Maybe we’re limiting ourselves by reducing the big picture to a list of atomic components; maybe seeing the unfiltered unity in all things would be freeing.
Joey Rosenfeld began to learn Kabbalah in depth in yeshiva, when he was supposed to be dedicating his time to Talmud, and found its ideas to be profoundly life-changing. He does not fit the stereotype of the secluded, white-bearded mystic, as he is a social worker and addiction counselor. As someone with a unique window into people’s vulnerabilities, Joey sees deep connections between Kabbalah and psychology, particularly in the theory behind Alcoholics Anonymous, which drew from the work of Carl Jung.
-What are the differences between rationalism and mysticism?
-Are they compatible or incompatible?
-What approach should people take when learning Kabbalah?
-Are there parallels between mysticism and therapy?
-And how is or isn’t mysticism suited for a modern audience?
Tune in to hear Joey discuss the role that mysticism plays in his life, and how one can find peace in transcending rationality.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/mysticism/#rosenfeld.
Samuel G. Freedman: Can Jew vs. Jew Ever Become Jew with Jew? [Peoplehood 4/4]
In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Professor of Journalism at Columbia and author, Samuel G. Freedman, to talk about dissent not as a cause of ugliness and divide, but of beauty and unity.
Some would say that disagreement isn’t a bug of the Jewish community, but a feature. We have a rich history of debate in the Talmud and haven’t been able to shake this dubious quality even in the modern day United States. The internet has only exaggerated this, and while one can argue for the benefits of dissent, the fact that Jews seem embroiled in a perpetual state of debate remains.
-Is debate a healthy state of mind for our community?
-Should we be looking to avoid debate or embrace it?
-Does dissent cause only divide or can it be used as a means of understanding the other members of our community?
Tune in to hear Samuel discuss the roles that individual Jews play in the larger debate that is the Jewish community.
For more, visit https://18forty.org/peoplehood/#freedman
Customer ReviewsSee All
Deep, intelligent and fascinating. Essential listening for thinking people.
Always exciting when I get a notification that there is a new episode.
Deep dive into the profound questions of why we are Jews and how do we live Jewish lives committed to G-d, Torah/Talmud, community and the right and the good.