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24.11.17

In terms of the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam, I wanted to share the idea of saying them right when you get up in the morning right after you say the Shema before saying another word.
The idea to start the day right with words of Musar [Medieval Ethics]  and faith seems very important to me.
This I say even though I am aware that not all rishonim held by the 13 principles are articles of faith. There is Rav Joseph Albo [the author of the commentary on the Guide printed in most versions of the Guide.] And also Abravanel. Still I think they are important.


You can see this idea of starting the day right also in the Nefesh HaChaim of Reb Chaim fromVoloshin who says that when one accepts on himself the yoke of Torah when he wakes up in the morning-- then all distractions are remove from him.

The problem is obviously it is hard in the first place to accept the "yoke of Torah," to sit and learn Talmud many hours each day. The truth is the whole concept of the yoke of Torah is hard to get to in the first place or even understand what it means and even then the biggest enemies of it are the pseudo Torah scholars that just want other people's money by their pretending to learn Talmud.
The astounding amount of fraud in the religious world is  a challenge to anyone's faith.
When people advertise how religious they are by their dress, you know something is rotten there.




First Hundred Items to Disappear in a crisis.

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and
friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate
    near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war
   quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to
   do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without
    heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of
    the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs
    enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in
    bulk.
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more
    valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival
    guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll
    have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many
    people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of
    toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to
    lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches

23.11.17

pseudo sciences

Classical education used to stress Western Civilization. To some degree the fault that this disappeared is in the Frankfurt school that intended to undermine USA ideals. But also I should mention that the pressure of Sputnik I think caused the focus of education to change towards STEM. [And I am all for STEM but I also realize you need a basis in Western Ideals to support it.]


Mainly what education needs is to drop all the pseudo sciences  and anything that has the word "studies" in it. (What is pseudo science, everything that has the word "science" in it. The word "science" is always added to make something stupid sound profound].

I think there is plenty of room in high school for both STEM and Classical Quadrivium and Trivium which are known in books of Musar as "the seven wisdoms".


I should mention that the concepts of the Quadrivium and Trivium are not exactly as they sound today. The concepts are related Trivium means where the three roads meet. Quadrivium means where the four roads meet. That is there is a connection. number (Arithmetic), number in space (Geometry), number in time ( Music), number in space and time (Astronomy) etc. Thus today this would mean Vector Analysis, Physics, etc.

[If guess of mine is true then it is possible to equate the Gra and the Rambam. We know from Rav Baruch of Shkolov in his introduction to his translation of Euclid that the Gra emphasized learning the seven wisdoms. We also know the Rambam emphasizes Physics and Metaphysics. These seem like different areas. But we we understand the Quadrivium and Trivium not in their simple meaning but more as the ancients understood them then we can equate the Rambam with the Gra. [Thus Grammar:defining the objects and information perceived by the five senses. Hence, the Law of Identity: a tree is a tree, and not a cat. That is knowledge of phenomenal reality. etc.]

22.11.17

Jesus and Rav Avraham Abulafia

The major thing that I find  intriguing about Jesus is not the New Testament at all but rather Rav Avraham Abulafia, the mystic from the Middle Ages.  It is not just that he identifies Jesus with the Messiah son of Joseph mentioned in the Talmud Suka, the Zohar,  and the New Tikunim  by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzato, but more of interest is the  subject of Messiah Son of Joseph that you find in the Gra and the Ramchal. Furthermore in the Ari you find this idea of ירידת בדורות the lowering of the generations, but also many ideas that indicate something going on with Jesus of great interest. One thing is there are a few hints towards the idea of Jesus being the messiah son of Joseph in the commentary of the Ari on the end of Genesis where he associates Jesus with the soul of Joseph son of Yaakov. [The writings of the Ari are just called that. They are actually from Reb Chaim Vital. In any case, the major ones are the Eitz Chaim and the 8 Gates [eight books]. Three of those books are commentary on the Five Books of Moshe, and this idea is brought there.]

Some people take great offense at the slightest mention of anything positive about Jesus, but this has been my position since around 1993 when I was in the basement of Hebrew University studying the manuscripts of Rav Abulafia. 
 Dr. Moshe Idel has written a few books on Avraham Abulafia and Medieval Mysticism, but his major treatment of this issue is in his first book which was his Ph.D Thesis at Hebrew U.

In the meantime, you can actually get the books of Avraham Abulafia yourself without having to go through the torment of reading Medieval manuscripts. They were all printed up in the later years after I discovered this, and I think are available in books stores. At least I saw the entire set being sold in a book store near Kikar Shabat in Jerusalem.

I should mention that Rav Abulafia is brought down in the Chida and also Reb Chaim Vital in the last volume of Shaari Kedusha [not by name] where Reb Chaim Vital brings down unifications that come directly from Avraham Abulafia  (not the Ari).



[I would have spent more time learning Rav Abulafia, but in the meantime I started doing Physics and that took up a lot of time. But if  could, I would try to plow through all the books of Rav Abulafia along with the Ari and Remak. There are also some very nice books by Rav Yaakov Abukazeira and Shalom Sharabi, but where  am today they are not available. Besides that I think I was doing a lot better in life when I simply was learning Gemara at the Mir and in Israel. While the mystics are important and have a lot a great information, I find myself a lot more happy with simply learning Gemara. You can disagree with me, but my feeling is that the great mystics are good commentary on the Law of Moses, the Oral and Written Law-but that they are only a side issue. A Branch, but not the Law itself.]

[It occurs to me to bring up the idea of attachment  and "oneness" with God. This is actually a command in the Torah in Deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 20 and it is brought as far as I can recall by all of the people that enumerated the 613 commandments [mitzvot]. Thus the fact that Jesus said "the Father and I are one" does not mean the Trinity, but rather that he was attached to God or as most mystics put it "נכלל באור אין סוף" (included in the Infinite Light. I can understand that people that have not experienced this kind of Devekut (attachment with God) can find this hard to understand. Still this is a well known phenomena of a person feeling completely attached to God.]





The issue of trust in God comes up with King Asa who was one of the better kings of Judah and Benjamin. He got sick in his feet and the verse blames him for going to doctors instead of to God.
The Primary Musar book Obligations of the Heart חובות לבבות  says he should have trusted in God  but that השתדלות effort was allowed. One is not blamed for taking reasonable steps to get his needs met.
Reb Israel Salanter in the magazine he published in Vilna, the'' Tevuna'', says the Ramban [Nachmanides] disagrees with this. The disciple of R. Israel Salanter, the מדרגת האדם, brings this idea in the name of the Ramban.
I asked David Bronson (who studied the Ramban for years) where this Ramban is located? So far no one seems to know.

In any case the issue seems to me to be unclear when effort is required and when it is even forbidden and reflects lack of trust in God.

I think when the דרך הטבע [way of the world] mechanism is well understood, then one should go with that. It is rather in things that are not well understood that one should be passive.[That would be why King Asa was blamed for going to doctors.]

Trust was a major issue in the Mir Yeshiva in NY because of two issues: Parnasa [making a living] and Shiduchim [finding a wife].
I can not say I have a clear idea about when one should trust and when one should do effort, but the story about the death of George Washington is instructive. He was sick and the doctors were called in. The recommended blood letting. And after all, if a little blood letting is good for you, then a lot must be better. So they drained off about half his blood. Sometimes if you do not know what to do or you do n0t know the mechanisms involved, it is best to do nothing.



21.11.17

why do righteous people suffer?

The book of Job presents the issue of  why do righteous people suffer? This is a debate there.The sages of the Talmud take the position that Job was wrong. All suffering comes from sin.
But what does one do when he or she does not know what sin he is doing that he needs to repent on?
I should mention that often one's children do suffer from their own sins, but that if a parent repents on his sin that causes thoughts of repentance to enter into the minds of their children. But that leaves us with the original problem.
The books of Musar bring down the statement of the sages, "What should one do when he has sinned a grievous sin and is liable  the death penalty towards heaven? If he used to learn one page (of Gemara), he should learn two pages. If he used to learn one chapter (Mishna) he should learn two chapters." That is,-- to increase one's learning Torah. That is as Reb Nachman said because, "Torah is higher than repentance." If one learns Torah, that causes corrections in the world of repentance also.

Learning Torah ought to be along these lines:

Mikra, Mishna, Musar, Math. The four "M"s. "Mikra" in Hebrew means the Old Testament. Mishna refers to the six books of R. Yehuda HaNasi which contains the essence of the Oral Law. [The two Talmuds were both written as commentaries on the Mishna]. Musar (Moral principles) refers to mainly Mediaeval Books of Ethics but it also refers to more recent books of the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter. Math is basically my own short hand way of describing what the Rambam said about learning Physics and Metaphysics. Physics is mainly Functional  Analysis and Lie Groups.[But it has to be checked by objective reality. That is what makes it Physics.]

My parents also emphasized learning a vocation and survival skills.
[Survival skills means first of all to get as far away as possible from evil people. That s one tip they do not share with you in survival manuals.]



I should mention that the very best book I ever saw on the Mishna is the commentary of Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura which is printed with the Mishna in almost every edition. I just ate up that like apple pie. Every second I was not in the regular yeshiva sessions I ran to the Mishna with that commentary.