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I'm studying Chovos Halevavos. Can you provide me with some further sources to learn more about Chovos Halevavos's "bechina", i.e., reflecting on God's kindnesses in creation. Books/articles/shiurim would be ideal. I am not particularly looking for commentaries, but for additional ways to work on "reflection". Thus, secular books or sources relating to this topic are welcome as well.

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  • Like with all things said in Chovot HaLevavot, the first thing you should focus on is careful understanding of the precise meaning of the words he is using, understanding what kindness means and בחן, what you are translating as “reflection”, which actually means to examine, distinguish & probe all of Creation. It means deep scientific inquiry and examination of the natural world. What is often called חכמת העולם or גחמת הטבע. Through that, one better comprehends what the Torah is teaching. Dec 29 '21 at 14:01
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I would recommend Chapter 2 of Gateway to Happiness by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.

You might be able to get it at this link. The website claims the author made that chapter available for free download.

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Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt"l was a firm proponent of admiring G-d's creation and regularly spoke about how little things were representative of Hashem's great kindness.

He has a two volume series (Vol 1 & Vol 2) called Rabbi Avigdor Miller Speaks which mentions a number of ideas with a Q&A at the back of both books which addresses further examples.

His biography Rav Avigdor Miller: His Life and His Revolution also contains lots of anecdotes about how he taught about the importance of recognising Hashem's kindness in creation. My favourite story is when he was found with his head immersed in a bowl of water. When his family asked him what he was doing, he answered that he was appreciating how important air is, and how Hashem blessed us with the ability to breathe!

He also has a famous piece on acknowledging the apple seed. (In fact there is a kid's book written about it). Here is an excerpt from Tape #812 (Nov 1990):

So when you pass a fruit stand, don't walk by like a horse walks by. Take a look! Those delectable fruits are resplendent testimonies to the niflaos ha'Borei, the wonders of Hashem. A fruit is a miracle! Every fruit has a skin around it, that protects it and keeps it fresh for some time. And inside when you finish eating the delicious content of the fruit, you find a coupon that entitles you to another package - the seed! You spit out that seed and it's more niflaos ha'Borei. What that seed has inside is remarkable! That seed contains more information than the most sophisticated computer!

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  • Not negating any of this. Just be aware that Rabbi Miller also then segues into the same arguments for literal Creationism that many fundamentalist Christians employ. If that's your thing, great. If not, be prepared to read selectively.
    – Shalom
    Nov 29 '21 at 12:06
  • @Shalom I'm not sure I totally agree. And I'm sure if you said such a thing to Rabbi Miller he would be aghast at such a comparison.
    – Dov
    Nov 29 '21 at 12:15

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