There is a lot of stuff going on in Gitin about what constitutes a valid divorce.

The interesting thing is that apparently the Rif and Rambam both said that R. Elazar who said עדי מסירה כרתי [the witnesses that see the giving of the document cause the divorce to be real] really meant אף עדי מסירה כרתי [also the witnesses that see the giving of the document cause the divorce to be real]] which is a surprise to me. [R. Meir said the witnesses on the document cause it to be real and valid. So the argument is only in that R Meir disagrees with R Elazar. But R Elazar agrees with R Meir.]

[Not that I ever learned that tractate very well anyway.] In any case, I saw Rav Shach brings up the larger subject of what constitutes any valid שטר (document). And he says that a valid document to be valid at all needs witnesses. But כתב ידו [one's own handwriting] also counts as a valid document.

That is he says that famous Rambam about  a document that says שדי קנוי לך ("My field is acquired to you") is valid even with no witnesses- is talking about כתב ידו (handwritten).
This is what leads to the famous practice in Litvak yeshivas that when someone asks for a loan, they write a small note, "I owe you $10." (for example). [That practice is based on two principles. (1) One should not make or receive a loan without a document or witnesses. (2) The other is כתב ידו (a handwritten document has the category of a valid document) is מחייב (obligates).]

Keeping one theology simple and in accord with Reason.

I recall Steven Dutch having some great essays about this subject. One point of his that I vaguely recall is  the simplest theology wins.But I would have to look up his essays again to remind myself. In any case, I think one other point of his is that it helps to have reason on your side.

Thus it seems Christians throwing out Aquinas was not the smartest move. [I only say this because at least I did a drop of work on Aquinas. I just never got to St. Augustine--though I am aware that some of St. Augustine's good ideas were accepted into the Jewish world. Like time and space being creations.] [Even Aquinas I had a very limited ability to spend time on.] Dr. Ross also has some interesting thoughts on the subject.]. In any case it is a good idea to keep things simple and limit one's claims in areas he knows nothing about as Kant said.

Hegel was clearly trying to do what Aquinas had tried before him.

In any case the combination of Reason with Faith was a hard thing to get to as you can see from Hippolytus . It is a very specific approach of the Middle Ages. And for  Protestants to throw out that approach I think was a terrible mistake.

The basic approach of Reason with Faith you can see in Philo how it can result in something far from Torah. It was really the Rambam and Saadia Gaon that made a reasonable combination.

[I might mention that the Ari and Reb Nachman both go a long way in making the bridge between human reason and Torah.] That is in at least making it as understandable to human reason as possible.

I would have trouble explaining my own position because as the basic structure I go with the Rambam. But the Rambam himself is a neo Platonic thinker which means that one can fill up missing gaps in his structure with insights from the Ari and Reb Nachman

My basic idea of what Torah is about is to things: Good character and devakut [attachment with God.]. Thus anything which leaves to either of these results, I consider good. [Attachment with God is one of the 613 commandments.]

The trouble with the devakut thing is the tendency is for self deception. People that are part of a religious tradition believe they are good because they are part of that tradition. Not because they actually are good or decent people at all. And the more spiritual it is the more there is a tendency to let in a surge of immorality,. People begin to believe they are Divine. A small part of large creek in an ocean of divinity. Especially their leaders they think of as divine. Worship of their leaders is not uncommon. The "great leader" thinks his unrelated wishes are Divine Revelations. They have no law but their own will and twist the holy Torah any way they please in their pretense to be knowledgeable. There is no stopping their grossest desires. The thin film that divides religious fervor from passion and delusion is dissolved and  erased.

As for good character I think Reb Israel Salanter was absolutely right about the Musar Movement.[That is to learn Medieval Ethics.] In fact, it was in my learning Musar that I began to realize how much the Torah requires good character. Still, Musar was subject to debate and many people thought it was a distraction from Torah learning. I am not sure. Rav Shach credits Reb Israel Salanter a lot but I am not sure if that means the approach of combining Musar with yeshivas or if it is general agreement with Rav Salanter. I just can not tell..


What was it about those Spartans? A king of Sparta (Demaratus) that had been thrown out of Sparta (and bore no love for Sparta anymore. He was stateless and was welcomed by Darius.) told Xerxes -1.7 million men against 300 Spartans is not an even contest. There simply was no way Xerxes could win. [The number 1.7 was obtained by crowding 10,000 men into a walled space. Doing this many times in succession resulted in the number 1.7 million. That is the number given by Herodotus. Recent historians put the numbers much less from one million to 600,000]

 Demaratus told Xerxes, the most important thing to the Spartans was to obey the law. And they only had one law. Never Retreat.

I think there was something about Sparta that had a lot to do with training. In the Armada of Xerxus there were plenty of Ionians and other people of the exact same ethnic group as the Spartans. (Dorians were in the Armada of Xerxes.) So it was not DNA. It must have been training and mental attitude.

Xerxes is more well known in the Jewish world as Akashverosh. The reason this is not known is that Xerxes in the way Herodotus  was translated into Latin. But the actual pronunciation sounds exactly like Akashverosh in Hebrew. He was the son of Darius. Mordechai does not seem to be in the picture when Xerxes was considering to invade Europe or not. [Neither Haman nor Mordechai appear as advisers.]

I might mention that that expedition came as the result of a few very forceful dreams warning Xerxes what would happen to him if he did not undertake that war. He then placed his adviser Artabanus on his throne and he got the same warning.  [A warning to people that listen to insistent dreams.] [Artabanus was the same person that killed Xerxes later.]

I was never convinced by the "Black is beautiful" slogan. I thought black is in fact kind of ugly. But I also did not identify any kind of agenda behind the slogan. Only time has shown that it was not as innocent as it sounded.

As it turns out there is a great deal of hidden animosity towards white people. This even exists in the Jewish world as I sadlly began to notice when Sefardim seem intent on finding some fault with Ashkenazim and then pounce on it as soon as they imagine they have got it. The trouble is it is not all Sefardim. There does not seem to be any way of telling. It would be easy to deal with if it was uniform. But it is not. There were great sefardim tzadikim and a lot of sefardim are great people [like the descendants of Bava Sali]. That complicates the issue.
I would even venture a guess that among the descendants of Reb Yaakov Abuchatzeira there are still hidden tzadikim.[My guess would be from the daughter of Bava Sali Avigail Buso and also the descendants of the older brother of Bava Sali, Reb David who was killed on kidush Hashem.]


An idea of רב שך  concerning the רמב''ם in הלכות אישות כ''ג:ג. The רמב''ם says when the husband מתנה שאין לו זכות in the פירות of her נכסי מלוג, then land is bought with them and he eats the fruit of the fruit. The question of the רא''ש is that that does not fit with the גמרא כתובות פ''ג ע''ב. at all.
 גמרא כתובות פ''ג ע''ב. A question was raised. A husband removes himself from any right to the fruit of the fruit. Has he remove himself from the everything--that is also the fruit, or not? It must be he removes himself from everything because if he did not remove himself from the fruit and he eats it then from where comes the fruit of the fruit? But then according to that reasoning what about the משנה that says  ר. יהודה says he always eats the fruit of the fruit.  When he removes himself from the fruit he still eats the fruit of the fruit. How can that be? So it must means some of the fruit was left over. So in our case some of the fruit remained unused. From this גמרא the רא''ש asks on the רמב''ם הלכות אישות כ''ג: ג. The גמרא is clear that she has let over from the fruits, and if that happens, then land is bought with it and the husband eats the fruits of the land. That is פירי פירי. It can not mean that the husband left over from it, because he has no right to it in the first place after he סילק את זכותו  from them.  That means she might leave over from the fruits. If so then we sell them and buy land and he eats the fruits of the fruits. But it does not seem to mean she must sell the fruits. רב שך shows how there existed another version of the גמרא. The original version was this: They asked if he removes himself from the fruit of the fruit does he eat the fruit?  The answer must be yes. If that was not the case then  from where would the fruits of the fruits come from? Answer. he left some of the fruits.
I want to show how important it is that the גמרא means the husband leaves over from the fruit. For if that is the right גירסה, then the רמב''ם comes out perfectly, because the husband anyway has made a condition that he has no זכות in  the fruit. So the only thing it could mean is the he lacks some זכות in the fruit. Frankly I can not see how any other version of that גמרא could possibly make any sense. Just think about it in the version we have with רש''י. The גמרא is bothered by the question: from where the the fruit of the fruit would come from if there is no fruit, היינו he eats the fruit? That means it should be perfectly happy with the opposite scenario of his eating the fruit of the fruit, but not the fruit. But then that is the exact thing the גמרא asks on! The beginning of the גמרא does not and can not fit with the end. The only reasonable version is that that רב שך מציע. And if that is the case then we are left with the original question; what could it mean he leaves over from the fruit if he anyway removed himself from it? So to make sense of  this the רמב''ם had to say the the husband lacks ownership in the fruit. He can eat it but he does not own it.

רמב''ם ב הלכות אישות כ''ג: ג. רמב''ם אומר כאשר הבעל מתנה שאין לו זכות  בפירות של נכסי מלוג שלה, אז קרקע נרכשת איתם והוא אוכל את הפרי של הפירות. שאלת הרא''ש היא שזה אינו מתאים עם גמרא כתובות פ''ג ע''ב. עלתה שאלה. בעל מסיר מעצמו כל זכות הפרי של הפרי. האם הוא הסיר את עצמו מן הכל - (גם פרי), או לא? זה חייב להיות הוא מסיר את עצמו מכל מה שכן אם הוא אינו מסיר את עצמו מן הפרות והוא אוכל אותם, אז מאיפה מגיע הפרי של הפרות? אבל אז בהתאם לזה מה לגבי המשנה שאומרת ר. יהודה אומר שהוא תמיד יאכל את הפרי של הפרות. היינו כשהוא מסיר את עצמו מן הפרי הוא עדיין יאכל את הפרי של הפרות. איך זה יכול להיות? ולכן הוא חייב להיות שהפירוש שחלק הפרי נשאר. אז במקרה שלנו גם כן כמה פירות נותרו ללא שימוש. מכאן הרא''ש שואל על רמב''ם הלכות אישות כ''ג: ג. הגמרא ברורה כי אם היא מותירה מהפרות,  אז קרקע נרכשת עם זה ובעל אוכל פרותיהם. כלומר פירי פירי. זה לא יכול להיות שהבעל השאיר, משום שאין לו שום זכות עליה מלכתחילה לאחר שהוא סילק את זכותו מהם. כלומר, היא השאירה  מהפרות. אם כך שזה קרה אז אנחנו מוכרים אותם וקונים קרקע והוא אוכל פירותיהם של פירות. אבל זה לא נראה שהיא חייבת למכור את הפירות. רב שך מראה כיצד התקיים גרסה אחרת של הגמרא. הגרסה המקורית הייתה זו: הם שאלו אם הוא מסיר את עצמו מן הפרי של פירות האם הוא יכול לאכול את הפירות? התשובה חייבת להיות כן. אם זה לא היה המצב, אז מאיפה  הפרות של הפרות באים? תשובה. הוא השאיר כמה פרות. אני רוצה להראות כמה זה חשוב כי הגמרא אומרת הבעל משאיר מפרי משום שהבעל ממילא עשה מצב שאין לו זכות בפרי. אז הדבר היחיד שהוא יכול להיות הוא, הוא חסר קצת זכות בפרי. למען האמת אני לא רואה איך כל גרסה אחרת של אותה הגמרא יכולה לעשות נכונה. רק תחשוב על זה בגרסה שלנו עם לפי רש''י. לגמרא  הטרידה  השאלה: מהיכן הפרות של הפרי יבואו אם אין פרי, היינו הוא שאכל את הפרות? כלומר, זה צריך להיותשהגמרא תהיה שבע רצון לחלוטין עם התרחיש ההפוך שהוא רשאי באכילת הפרי של פירות, אך לא את הפירות. אבל  זה הדבר המדויק שהגמרא שואלת! תחילת הגמרא לא יכולה להתאים עם הסוף. הגרסה הסבירה היחידה היא שרב שך מציע. ואם זה המקרה, אז נותרנו עם השאלה המקורית; מה זה יכול להיות שהוא משאיר מעל מפרי אם הוא ממילא הסיר את עצמו ממנו? אז כדי להבין את זה הרמב''ם מחזיק הבעל חסר בעלות בפרי. הוא יכול לאכול את זה אבל הוא אינו הבעלים זה. היינו הוא אוכל את הפירות? הוא יכול לאכול את זה אבל הוא אינו הבעלים זה.

The major thing I added here was to show how only the Rambam's way can get the Gemara to make sense.
It's things like this that gives me a great deal of confidence in the Rambam about other things.