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19.10.14

Rav Eliyahu from Vilna. The Vilna Geon

Rav Eliyahu from Vilna held from learning Torah to a high degree. It is no accident that his inspiration caused yeshivas to be founded. But there obstacles preventing people from learning Torah. And the main one seems to be  a kind of spiritual obstacle. It seems like the Torah is so precious that one needs some kind of extra merit to be able to learn and keep it. At least this looks like what the Vilna Geon was thinking.And it looks like Rebbi Nachman was also thinking along the same lines. When  RN talks about being close and being tied to a saint/ tzadik he always refers to it in this way: The Torah is the main thing. And the Tzadik is connected and tied to the Torah. So for people that have fallen from the Torah the way to get back to Torah is to be close to a tzadik. It looks to me that he was not making a tzadik out to be a special category besides the Torah. So I think that he and the Geon from Villna were in fact saying the same idea.

Nowadays we know that yeshivas are only for people from 18 until about 24 years old. So what is one to do when he has no place in the Yeshiva World? It seems to be that there is no easy answer for this question. I think however the only advice is that one should do his best to go out and get the basic books of Torah and to learn them on his own. That is  the Old Testament,  the Babylonian Talmud, the poskim--that is the Rambam, Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch of Joseph Karo, the  basic commentaries Rabbi Akiva Eiger, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik [Chidushei HaRambam], and the writings of Isaac Luria. If you make a yeshiva in your own home at least you are not dependent on others to have a place to learn Torah.

And there is something to be gained from this endeavor.  He who accepts on himself the yoke of Torah from heave there is removed from him the yoke of the government and the yoke of making a living.

And if anyone needs to learn Torah it is certainly not just frum people. Everyone needs to learn Torah because everyone needs to become free from the government and free of  drudgery. I have never hear of a person who enjoys waiting in line at government agencies or enjoys interaction with any government, or enjoys having his time wasted on drudgery. Why not take the words of the sages at face value and start to learn Torah today?
But clearly not everyone is fit to learn Torah. There are obstacles that are placed in front of people to keep them from this great gift. There are questions in philosophy which make even the existence of a law given by the First Cause impossible. That is metaphysics has had a good number of of people that thought it is impossible. And then there are questions in one's own mind? I cant account for all the questions but I think a good deal of them have to do with abuse of Torah. And there are lots of variations of that. Like, "If Torah is so great why is so and so a jerk?" Or "If Torah is so great why did so and so suffer." These are all good questions. The last was asked by Job and God told him that his questions were good questions and that his friends that claimed he was suffering because of sin were in fact wrong. And in fact we know from the very beginning of the book that he was suffering in spite of his being righteous. So by analogy to the first question it is possible to say it also is a valid question. But in spite of this it is expected of us to do our best to discover Gods will for our lives and to fulfill it. That fact that others do not succeed to not mean we should follow their example.

This does not mean not to go to university. The Vilna Geon clearly himself  wrote  book on trigonometry and told one of his students to translate all of Euclid into Hebrew and to publish it. Not does this mean not to work for a living. It only means that when one is not working or doing university he should learn Torah in every day in this way. To have one session in the Old Testament in Hebrew. He should start from the beginning and have place marker in the book and just say the words in order. If one does not understand Hebrew then he should learn it with an English Translation along side of it. Don't do any commentaries because then you will never finish it.  You  need to get to the end. Then the second time you can add commentaries if you want. Then you need to have a separate session with the Gemara. Start from Brachot and say page after page until you have finished Shas at least once. And the same goes for the Rambam and the Tur and the writings of Isaac Luria.

I should mention  that none of the above requires one to accept any particular set  of beliefs.  All one is required according to Rabbi Joseph Albo is rather common sense propositions. That things had a beginning and so needed something to begin them- a first cause you could call it. And that there was only one first cause. Not two or more. Its seems straightforward enough. It is hard to know what kind on alternative reality people need to believe in in order to deny either of these simple propositions.





12.10.14

Learn the Eitz Chaim (Tree of Life) of Isaac Luria Ashkenazi. [No introductions. Just the actual book itself. Introductions are a waste of time.] If possible, learn it with Talmud and Musar. But even by itself the Tree of Life of Isaac Luria is an amazing masterpiece. And it is different from other masterpieces in that it has the ability to open up the higher spiritual worlds,- if one learns it in the right way. The other writings of the Ari [abbreviation for Haelohi Rav Isaac (Luria)]--the Pri Eitz Chaim and the Shemona Shearim [Eight Gates] are good, but without the background of the Eitz Chaim are not possible to understand. A word of warning: Almost all books on Kabalah written after the events of the time of Shabatai Tzvi (note 6) are highly influenced by Shabatai Tzvi and his false prophet, Natan. Even when they are not crypto followers of the Shatz [short for Shabatai Tzvi], they unknowingly use his basic approach to Kabalah. So it is important to give people an idea of which books were not affected by the teachings of the Shatz, and thus can be learned and studied without fear of being infected by the terrible virus (in a spiritual sense) that affected the Shatz. The books of Kabalah that were unaffected by the Shatz and have no secret teachings which stem from the Shatz are Sefardic. That means Rabbi Yaakov Abuchazeira's (note 1) books and Shalom Sharabi's (note 2) are all highly recommended. Almost all books of Kabalaist type of teachings in the Ashekenazic world after the Shatz are full of interpretations that come directly from the Shatz, even though I think this happened unintentionally. [But in these sensitive areas intention does not mean much. A mistake is still a mistake. It is just like a mistake in making a bridge  in which it does not matter how well meaning the student is. A mistake is still a mistake.] [I just know that people are wondering about the Ramchal (note 5) and Komarna. I think they are OK, but it is safer to go with the Sefaradi books I mentioned above. I hate to say it, as I myself am Ashkenazi, but in this case the Sefardim got it right. Notes (note 1) Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzira wrote many books and a lot do not deal with Kabalah at all. But there are books in which he deals with some Kabalah and they are excellent. (note 2) The Reshash [short for Shalom Sharabi] has a vast system based on modifications that the Ari added towards the end of the Eitz Chaim and the famous Drush HaDaat. (note 3) Pri Eitz Chaim is a book by Reb Chaim Vital about how to apply the concepts of the Eitz Chaim to prayer (note 4) The Eitz Chaim is the text from Isaac Luria which gives the basic structure of all the higher spiritual worlds. (note 5) Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzato, author of the famous Musar book, Mesilat Yesharim (note 6) The Shatz was a false messiah. His follower Rabbi Nathan in Israel was a tremendously and famous, brilliant, scholar of Talmud and Kabalah wrote very influential books on Kabalah that initiated approaches and ideas in Kabalah that were and still are widely accepted by Ashkenaic Jews. Perhaps a bit more detail is proper here. The Shatz was basically weak minded Baal Teshuva. When he came to the most famous tzadik Hador in those days Nathan from Gaza, Nathan told him that he is the messiah. I mean how would you react if you got an interview with Reb Moshe Feinstein and he told you that you are the messiah? After that this Tadik and the Shatz were accepted by 99% of world Jewry as being the promised Messiah. Just by mentioning the name of the Shatz people did amazing miracles all over the world.--Witnessed and recorded and notarized. Even up to the revival of the dead. This was even in places that people never saw the Shatz. After he became an apostate the Jewish people went through a period of great regret and there was a purge of all documents that could tie anyone to that movement. Appendix ) The Tzadik of Komarna wrote a kind of running commentary on th Five Books of Moses based on the Ari'zal and to me it looks very straightforward and kosher. ) Rebbi Nachman I think also has a valuable approach to understanding of R. Isaac Luria. ) The Geon from Vilna [ R. Eliyahu from Vilna] has a commentary on the Sefer deZniuta from the Zohar which I highly recommend. ) The student of The Vilna Geon, Reb Chaim from Voloshin has a book called the Nefesh Hachaim which is the best of all Kabalah based books to come out of the Aschenazi Jewish world - ever. ) There are dangers of learning Kabalah for people that are not properly spiritually prepared, even authentic Kabalah. All the more so is there danger in learning Kabalah that is not authentic. ) Rebbi Nachman's approach to kabalah is to learn it as a part of a normal Torah curriculum. He made a list of things that one must finish every year, the whole Babylonian Talmud, The Yerushalmi Talmud, The Poskim Rishonim i.e. the Rif the Rosh the Tur and the whole Shulchan Aruch with all its commentaries and the whole Zohar and the writings of the Ari etc. That does not mean literally that one must finish all this but rather he should have learning sessions every day in all these subjects in such a way that within some limited period of time he will go through all the above. You can see he said to learn Kabalah but only as part of a regular Torah learning curriculum. I think sometimes that Musar is important. Not just for Orthodox Jews but for all people. And then it occurs to me that Musar is a highly limited tool in character correction. Sic et non. Yes and no. (Musar means books of classical ethics based on the Torah and Talmud.) And then I think about Kabalah. And it occurs to me my own very inspiring experience with learning the writings of Isaac Luria. And then it occurs to me the effect I have seen Kabalah usually has on people. Sic et non. Yes and no. And then I think about the Gemara, Rashi, and Topsphot. Also I think about my experience and then I think about other people's. Sic Et Non. I would like to suggest that this must have been the situation facing Rebbi Nachman. And I think his solution is unique. Learn every day a little bit of the written Torah, and every day a little of the Gemara. And every day a little Kabalah. Jews are required to finish the Torah [That is the Five Books of Moshe] twice a year with the targum --Aramaic translation. And also to hear the Torah on Shabat in a way that they finish it every year. This is the day the Torah is finished and started again. I find it hard to keep this miztvah. At best I can barely get to a shul on Shabat and hear the Torah section. And Reform Jews depend on a Yerushalmi that Jews in Israel finished the Torah once every three years. So that is what reform Jews do. My suggestion is to learn the written Law along with the oral explanation-- the Mishna and the Gemara. Also Musar for character improvement. Also Kabalah. The reason is that without Kabalah it is very hard to see what is going on inside of the Torah. I mean to say the we Jews think that the Torah is divinely inspired, and that it hints to great hidden wisdom. But it is hard to see any of that wisdom on the surface level. So Kabalah is an attempt to scratch the surface of the Torah to discover its hidden depths. Kabalah has a bad name by gentiles as if it is some kind of magic. If that would be what it is about, then their critique would be justified. But that is not what it is about at all. When you sit down to learn Torah whether the Oral or written Torah don't you wonder what is the deeper meaning of the stories about Abraham, Isaac, Yaakov? That is what people like the Gra {The Villna Geon} Isaac Luria, and Moshe Kardovaro, and Shalom Sharabi wanted to understand.


However Kabalah is at best a commentary on the Oral and Written Law. It is not meant to take the place of Talmud learning and it was never intended to do so.  And at this point it is important to justify the Oral Law.
What is is and why is it necessary?

When we come to look at the Written Law/the Old Testament we find the first issue that confronts us is that of interpretation.. How do you resolve things that look like contradictions? Or how do you solve the problem that sometimes a verse says things that could have been said with less words. What are the extra words for? When we assume that this document is divinely inspired we have to know that there is a good reason for every word. This is the place of the Oral Torah. That is to resolve these issues. The Talmud does not claim to be divine. It only claims to be a rigorous examination of the verse of the Torah and the highly human attempt to get one coherent doctrine out of it. It assumes that it is not open to individual interpretation. It is meant to be a book of Laws for the Jewish people. and no law book is open to individual interpretation.
How would it look in a court of Law if the defendant could say to the judge Your honor I am afraid you interpretation of this law about murder is incorrect. In fact it does not mean what you say at all. It only means not to murder unless you are angry and can't help yourself.
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Also I think it is important to make a difference between the idea of a tzadik and the idea of the written and Oral Law.

We know that Rebbi Nachman does make the idea of finding and being close to a saint (tzadik) is something that is essential to keeping the Torah properly. But the idea of Rebbi Nachman is that the Torah--the Law of God is the main thing and the tzadik is a device that helps one to keep the Torah. The tzadik is not supposed to be a replacement for the Torah. However we also know that it is common in Breslov to conceive the Tzadik as being the central issue. But that is not  the position of RN himself. It comes mainly from  Reb Nathan.







Appendix: The concept of  a tzadik in the Lekutai Moharan is someone who is attached to God by means of keeping the Torah. And there can be many levels of such a thing. There can be greater saints and lesser saints. But they all have this trait of being attached with God  and as such can help others become attached with God.




2.10.14

Idolatry seems to have two different parts.One is accepting a different god other that the God of Israel as ones god. The other is actual service towards anything under God. That is the set of everything or anything under God. [That is how the Rambam out it in his commentary to the Mishna.]

Why I say this is because   that accepting any other god as ones god besides the God of Israel is idolatry.But Abyee in Tractate Sanhedrin page 61b that serving an idol from love or fear is also liable--So we see at least to Abyee that one does not need to accept this other god as ones god in order to be liable. Service alone is enough.

[For general information I should mention that "serve" in this context means that you have an idol or a statue of some physical object someplace and one either serves it according to its generally accepted way (like throwing stones at it --if that is its service) --or sacrificing an animal, or pouring  wine, or offering incense, or bowing.] These last four are learned from verses in the Book of Deuteronomy e.g. "Least he will go and sacrifice"]


Abyee brings a proof from a braita- -(a teaching from the period of the Tenaim but was not part of the Mishna).
In short, we see from the Braita is that there is such thing as serving idols accidentally. I can't go into the details right now and they don't matter for what Abyee needs the braita for.
Abyee goes through the different possibilities what this "accidentally serving idols" might mean. After he has gone through all the logical possibilities and nothing works, he decides that it must means from love or fear.

What I wanted to get to in this essay is this one simple point--apparently idolatry needs some level of knowledge that you don't usually need in normal prohibitions-- even to Abyee.The reason I say this is lets looks at what Abyee actually says.

He asks, if he bows down to a house of idols but thinks it is a synagogue, then he has not done anything wrong--his heart is towards Heaven . If he knows it is a house of idols, then he is liable. If it is the statue of  king then if he accepts it as his god, he is liable, and if not then he has not done anything wrong.

What I wanted to point out, is that why can't Abyee take the usual case of "accident"--one has two pieces of fat in front of him. One is forbidden fat, and the other allowed fat; and he eats one and finds out later it was forbidden. So why can't we say "accidentally" there is a synagogue and a  Buddhist temple and he walks in and prays the afternoon prayer and he found out it was a Buddhist temple.

Clearly we see that this would not be liable to either Abyee or Rava. Why Not? Because clearly idolatry needs a higher degree of knowledge that normal prohibitions just like Shabat.

Appendix:
I just wanted to mention here why this is important. Most people do not have an idea of what idolatry is. So they take hybrids are being prime examples. This does not serve in the cause of intellectual clarity. For example take Hinduism. If you take the Bahavagad Gita it looks like worship of  a god who seems much like the First Cause, the God of Israel. But if you take a look at normal worship in India it seems to be clearly idolatry. It is not good to take a hybrid and use it as a prime example because that just confuses things. This is why we need to go to the Gemara directly to understand in it essence what exactly does the prohibition of idolatry include and what does it exclude.










28.9.14

On the issue of idolatry in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, on page 60




To explain what I mean, let me give a little introduction.
In the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, on page 60, we find a teaching [called a "braita"] which tells us how do we know one is liable if he serves idolatry not according to its usual way. It says: We learn it from "He who sacrifices to the gods will be destroyed ." [Exodus 22] (i.e. If sacrifice is the usual way, then why mention it? It is already included in "How do they serve?" So it must be coming to tell us also not in its usual way is liable.)
Rava asks, why can't we learn instead from "least  he will bow?"((Deuteronomy 17))
Rav Acha asks on Rava if we would learn from bowing then what would "How do the nations serve their gods"(Deuteronomy 22)  come to tell us?

Why does Rav Acha not ask this same question on the original braita? That is the question both topshot and the Baal HaMeor ask.

Before I go further let me offer a little explanation. The point of the Gemara here is that we have two verses telling us the same thing. They intersect the same set.
The answer of the Meor HaGadol is yes they do intersect the same set but you might have thought they don't. You might have learning from "least he sacrifice" to make forbidden also things that are not the way of that idol, and yet still in the way of honor like kissing an idol that one usually hugs.

That is the verse "How do they serve" come in fact come to exclude something you might have thought even though in fact "sacrifice" does not forbid things of honor that are not the way of that idol.

Tosphot develops a different line of logic. He starts out showing that "How do they serve" comes to tell us at least things that are forbidden. His point is that even though the Gemara does finds something to it comes to permit still it is implicit that it forbids some things. So since the fact of the matter is that "He who sacrfices to the gods will be destroyed" (Exodus 22)  and "How do they serve?" (Deuteronomy 22) in fact intersect the exact same set of permitted things,  we have to understand the original question of the Gemara as being all inclusive what at all does "How do they serve?" come to tell us--that is even forbidden things. Because Tosphot is saying that we would learn everything from "bowing" even service according to its way-- even not in the way of honor.


Appendix

But I might add a little background information for people that have only a little bit of experience with learning Gemara.

[1] Service to an idol is forbidden in two ways. One way is service that is usually done to that idol, like throwing stones at an idol that that is its way of worship. That is even though throwing stones at something is usually considered as disrespect, still if it is the way of that idol  then one is liable.


Another way something can be forbidden is if it is one of four types of serve pouring wine, burning incense, sacrificing an animal or bowing.

[2] People can be objects of idolatry. This fact is not relevant to the above essay but still important to keep in mind.
But the Talmud itself does not go into much detail about what can be an object of idolatry. It was written in Babylon where the distinction between Jews going to their Temple and praying was clearly different from worshipers of idols going to their places of worship. Only much later did people like Saadia Geon and Maimonides have to deal with the issue of what can be an object of idolatry. But the fact that this is not talked about much in the Talmud means the issue remains blurry.












I want to show here a little of the depths of Tosphot. There is one line in Topshot that says something that seems to not fit the rest of what he is saying. I have already pointed this out that this kind of thing is found in almost every Tosphot in Shas. At first glance it seems like a mistake. Then after you think about it you start to see the point. And much later you realize that he was saying something essential to his argument. Before Tosphot states his answer he says "and without 'How do they serve?' we would not know service according to its way not in a way of honor would be forbidden." True, but it seems to be the opposite of what he is trying to say. What could his point be? And it can't be part of his answer which says just the opposite. I want here to say that Topshot is reinforcing his question-in this way: We know that, "How do they serve?" has no intersection with bowing or with sacrifice, so what could the question of Rav Acha be? Of course we need "How do they serve?" We would not forbid throwing stones at Markulis (an idol that one serves by throwing stones) without "How do they serve?" So we have to say there is some intersection with bowing that we would not have with sacrifice. Tosphot is trying to get to his point that bowing would forbid quadrant IV (Its way and not a way of honor). But here his point is that without saying that "bowing" forbids something in quadrant IV, we would not ask "What does 'how do they serve' permit?" We would not ask such a question unless it did not forbid something. So Tosphot is asking two questions. Why does Rav Acha not ask on "sacrifice" also? If you learn from "sacrifice" then what does "How do they serve" permit? So the Gemara has to mean that it has gone through the options of what "How do they serve?" might forbid and found nothing. How is that possible? It must be because "bowing" forbids everything that "how do they serve" forbids. And if "bowing" would not forbid something in quadrant IV then the question would not even start because we would need "How do they serve?" for that quadrant. A simpler way of putting this is this: Tosphot considers the question of the Gemara in two ways. He asks himself: "What does it mean to ask what do we need 'how do they serve?'? Does it mean, what does it forbid? But that can't be because we know it forbids something that neither "bowing" nor "sacrifice" forbid --i.e. all of quadrant IV. Then maybe it means, what does it permit? But that also can't be because then why ask it only on "bowing" and not on sacrifice also? (Because both "sacrifice" and "bowing" and "How do they serve?" all allow quadrant III.) Tosphot concludes that therefore we have to say that "bowing" and "How do they serve?" that both forbid quadrant IV and that is the reason the Gemara asks only on "bowing." The Meor Hagadol asks the same question but as I mentioned he answers it differently. He says we use "How to they serve?" (Deuteronomy 22) to tell us things in quadrant II are permitted that we might have thought are forbidden e.g. kissing an idol that one usually hugs. That is a good usage. But we can't do the same thing with "bowing" because "bowing" in fact forbids that very thing. Appendix 1) I wanted to add one small detail that I hope was clear. It is that if we learn from "bowing" then all quadrant II would be forbidden--i.e. service not like the normal way and yet in the way of honor. But in fact we do not learn from "bowing" anything except to tell us that it is a forbidden kind of worship towards any idol. The verse that we do learn from is "least he go and sacrifice" and that tells us all types of service that were done in the Temple are forbidden-not just any kind of honor.] 2) I also wanted to add a point that I skipped in the above essay because I thought it would detract from the continuity. It is the reason why Topshot is considering the question of the Gemara in two opposite ways. I.e. what does, "How do they serve come to exclude?" clearly the Gemara clearly tries to find what does, "How do they serve?" come to permit. So why does Topshot treat it as, "What does it come to forbid?" The reason is contained in the very cryptic phrases of Tosphot. He exclude the possibilities of coming to permit because what ever bowing permits sacrifice will permit more. So Tosphot is showing why he has to go to the opposite direction. 3)Tosphot thinks that there is no way that "sacrifice" can possibly be expanded to all of quadrant II (not the way of that idol but honorable service). And therefore there is no reason we would need how to they serve to eliminate it. That is the essential reason he disagrees with the Meor Hagadol. And in that he seems to have a good point. And Tosphot does not need a extra verse to tell us that all kinds of serve done with honor are forbidden because the gemara understands that that is the essential meaning of bowing.[Actually this last point I am a little fuzzy on. Why would Tosphot not need a verse to expand bowing to all the things he wants to expand it to?!!!] 4) One thing I did not mention is that according to way of thinking of the Meor HaGadol when there might have been a prohibition for all of quadrant IV and "how do they serve?" tells us that there is in fact no liability there then how to we know which direction is determinate? But why? Maybe we should go with the idea that that area is forbidden and use "how do they serve" for something else?!  

22.9.14




Talmud Sanhedrin page 61a.



We have a outside teaching--a braita that says we know you can't serve idols in a way that is not usual from the verse "he will go and sacrifice." Rava asks what not learn this from "he will  bow?"
Rav Acha asks on this question of Rava thus: If we would learn from bowing then what would "How do they serve?" come to tell us?
Tosphot asks on this question of Rav Acha why did he not ask it on the the original Braita where we learn from "sacrifice?"

allow HaMeor





The Gemara in Sanhedrin page 61a and the second Topshot that starts, "How do they serve?"


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Appendix:
Idolatry should not be worshiped in one of two ways. One is its normal service and the other is not its normal service. The not normal service in order to be liable needs to be either sacrifice, burning, pouring, or bowing. If one just hugs it, then he is not liable (if that is not the usual way of worship).

But the idea of the normal way of worship is a bit frightening. What if someone says, "Give me charity, and I promise you a good year?" Is that idolatry if someone gives him money? It certainly seems so. After all it seems the basic implication is that the person involved is claiming Divine powers. And that seems to be all one needs in order to be considered an idol.















21.9.14

Not all religions are created equal. The troubling issue with Islam is that when given a chance to vote they vote for fanatic Islam. This was unexpected. George Bush II thought he would take a dictator out of the picture in Iraq, and everything would be hunky dory. The reason he thought this was because much of politics during the twentieth century revolved around the question of Communism verse Capitalism. These were the only two options.  People in the USA thought that when the USSR fell, people world wide and especially in the Middle East would automatically gravitate towards capitalism and democracy. No one thought people in the Middle East would use democracy process to vote for terroristic Islam.

19.9.14

Rebbi Nachman and philosophers.


There is one place in the Lekutai Moharan that Rebbi Nachman begins to attack philosophers. That is Chapter 63. But there and in later places it seems he is talking about people that are "wise to do evil." 
In fact, that is the very first word he uses to introduce this topic. 
That is he is talking about people that learn philosophy in order to deny the Torah or to find faults in the holy Torah. (And almost anywhere where he attacks philosophy it is always in this context of people that believe in scientism --i.e only what science deals with has and truth value.)[I can only lament that this view is highly unscientific.] 

To me it seems that today the situation is reversed. Today it is hard for me to imagine how to defend Torah without philosophy.

That is I think that knowledge has to come from either material evidence or reason or something else. And I can’t see how material evidence supports the Torah. Nor can I see much in the way of reason except for the basic principles of faith. In fact I have to go towards non intuitive immediate knowledge.

Now I think that Orthodox Judaism today is based on the school of thought of the Ramban (Moshe ben Nachman) -- that is the fusion of Kabalah with Talmud.
[That is to say that Orthodox Judaism is not based on Maimonides in terms of world view but rather  Nachmanides]. And since that is the case many Orthodox Jews do not feel the need to defend themselves against questions based on reason. Because in the first place they are not thinking of anything outside of Torah as having any validity. Now I can't argue against that but personally I think the Rambam Maimonides was right.

But I should perhaps mention  that I can see that Rabbi Nachman was right anyway about discouraging the learning of philosophy because it does  little to advance peoples' fear of God. Plus philosophy seems to have sunk into an abyss in the last hundred years. Analytic philosophy is based on a mistake. While the critique of Wittgenstein on Frege's expanded idea of the a priori was true, analytic philosophy assumed this proved Kant's idea of the a priori was also not true.  [Kelly Ross: For most of L/AP, the counterexamples to the principle of sense determining reference were used to deny that there were intensional senses -- often then used as evidence that meaning is extensional, i.e. consisting of the individuals to which the terms referred. Katz, however, properly argues that they only refute Frege's theory of senses, specifically the part of the theory that holds that sense determines reference. There are intensional senses; but sense does not determine reference. It's simple. But, unfortunately, it provides no traction for the project of the tradition to reject metaphysics. Thus, Katz introduces an "autonomous" theory of sense, that issues and truths involving sense are independent of issues and truths involving reference. This enables him to shed one mistake after another that was put forward by Wittgenstein or Quine.][Frege wanted to improve on Kant's notion of analytic truth by making it more "fruitful." Thus, the analytic meaning of any concept consists of definitions and all the implications derivable from those by the laws of logic. But As Katz says, If the content of concepts is determined on the basis of laws of logic, then there can be no concepts.This blows away Frege's theory, but the point, naturally, was used by Wittgenstein to deny intensional senses altogether (in favor of his "usage," behavioristic, theory of meaning). Katz simply points out that it recoils only on Frege's, not on Kant's, conception of analyticity.] So all twentieth century analytic philosophy is based on a simple mistake.

Also I should mention  that even though I think the Rambam the truth and the light, I still see the other Rishonim (medieval authorities) as having valid points and critiques. That is to say that the world view I got in yeshiva of all Rishonim having some aspect of truth I still hold with. In fact this is something I wish Reform Judaism would be more aware of  i.e the importance of the Rishonim.