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29.11.10

Rambam rational

There was traditionally a school of thought that thought there was a mystical element in the Guide for the Perplexed of Maimonides. The mystic Abraham Abulafia wrote a whole mystical commentary on that book and also said the secret of the redemption is contained in the first 40 chapters of the Guide.


The Rashba however was not thrilled by Avraham Abulafia. I have mixed feeling about the Rashba. His letters attacking the Guide for the Perplexed of the Rambam and the great mystic,  Avraham Abulfia annoy me. And yet he is quoted by the Maharsha. In general you can see people that were against the Rambam still being quoted by the great achronim (later authorities) like  Akiva Eiger. So who am I to judge? If the Maharsha saw value in the Rashba then maybe you could attribute the whole thing to the "Argument between saints." Two true points of view that are not consistent one with the other ontological un-decidablity .  The existence of the world depends on there being  the Empty Space (חלל הפנוי) that needed to be created by God so that there could be a creation. See beginning of the Eitz Chaim and the Mavo Shearim of Isaac Luria for details.]
Schelling says the same thing: This is the emergence of the finite world of entities that are connected to each other in an infinite chain of predicates from an originary indifference which is unconditioned. This emergence is not a smooth transition but a qualitative leap, a diversion, a falling away (Abfall) from its originary ground. And this in fact comes from the preSocratics.  [I got that quote from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]



And as for the Rambam himself: apparently there is a mystic element in the Rambam that goes along with the  Geonic school of thought of the Chovot Levavaot (Duties of the Heart) that seems to have begun with Saadia Geon.
There was traditionally a school of thought that thought there was a mystical element in the Guide for the Perplexed of Maimonides. The mystic Abraham Abulafia wrote a whole mystical commentary on that book and also said the secret of the redemption is contained in the first 40 chapters.

[Incidentally, you can get his works in Mea Shearim bookstores nowadays. It used to be the case that you had to learn him with microfilm in the basement of Hebrew University. But recently someone printed them in regular Hebrew. But I perhaps should mention that they are difficult to understand. Professor Moshe Idel at Hebrew U and made a career of studying and publishing about Avraham Abulafia.]


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24.11.10

Fear of God

I would like to suggest that the basic path of fear of God of Torah is well explained in Gemara and Musar.


That is why I think education should be first:  the great books--Torah, Talmud,  Plato, Aristotle, the Ari. These are world books that extend infinitely beyond their time and space. Then there are lesser books which are also important which also extend beyond their time and space but not infinitely--i.e.  and Kant.

The problem though with Kabalah as some people have noticed that the Dark Side gets into the act.  Nowadays they are almost synonymous. And with chasidut a similar kind of problem exists--it is idolatry.


My suggestion for fear of God in a proper way is to "learn Torah." [That is the idea of Reb Shmuel Berenbaum, of the Mirrer Yeshiva in NY. His answer to most people when they came to him with some kind of problem was to learn Torah. This is in accord with the general idea that the Torah {the Oral and Written Law} contains all the answers to life's problems. I should mention that "learning Torah" in the Lithuanian yeshiva world is  considered a life goal in itself. The idea is that by learning Torah one brings good things into one's own life and into the world in general. This is a radical idea I know and hard to accept. But it is the major premise of all Litvak Yeshivas.





9.11.10

Worship as Will

Worship as Will
Of Man
1)

 To him the soul was not the bottom of the ladder (the bottom of all creation) but contained all the good and evil worlds, and in it is room for much more.


But his idea of the "self" is different from that of Nietzsche [which was borrowed by Freud and modern psychology.] Nietzsche opened the door for the idea of false consciousness- which is so well used by the Left. If people don't want what the Socialist government tells them is for their good, it is because they don't really know what they want--false consciousness. the depths of the soul into subterranean hell and into the highest of heaven are vast--but one always retains free will and knows what he is choosing.









Faith
2) The faith is faith in God now— faith in God is trust in God right now. Not any theology . Just simple plain trust in God right now. Anything that detracts from that, like creating articles of faith outside of that simple principle is simply a trick of the sitra achra (Dark Side) to detract from faith.\

 Prayer is actual prayer--not Shemona Esra. ) [Rav Shick did try to tell people \the Torah itself is pantheism. However this goes against the understanding that the Rambam and Saadia Gaon and all the rishonim (first authorities) had of the Torah. Plus לבד  means "alone". For example I  can say," I went to the market alone without Joe." So when the Torah says אין עוד מלבדו. It means nothing exists alone without God. No one that ever knew Hebrew thought it means pantheism. It is well known that the world view of Torah is monotheism.]
It is common to find books that supposedly explain the Torah but in fact change its meaning. That is why it is important to stick with books from the Middle Ages which were written before the different falsifying movements began. However the Musar schools of Israel Salanter do attempt to understand teh Torah as it is without changing its message to fit their agenda.



Reason and Faith
3) The crisis of our age is that our first principles are contradictory and incoherent. Reason and Faith (as in belief in reason and belief in Torah) is an absolute contradiction in belief.
4)a strong connection between reason and faith,  but it can't be at the expense of nullifying the essence of either one.

5) Just like the human brain is structured like a computer with levels and sub-levels so all aspects of a human being are reflected in mathematics. But the connection is inverse. It is not parallel but anti parallel. For in the purest form of mathematics logic there is absolute necessity but zero content—the sentence of logic can stand for anything you like. A sentence “A” can stand for any proposition you like and formal logic just deals with sentence like A, B etc. Spirit it is just the opposite. God is perfectly free. He is not bound but the law of contradiction, but he is infinite in content. Similarly everything in Mathematics is located in soul in an inverse relation.



6) There is a third type of perception that is not based on sensory perception and not on reason. It is called faith. It is how God is sensed. The first thing is to have faith and then a type of perception comes in. This is how the writings of the Arizal work also—one believes and then perception comes in. The main thing about it is it perceives content while reason only perceives form or universals.

7)  The rejection of reason is the equivalent of the rejection of morality.-This does not happen at first but eventually rejecting reason means a persons loses his conscience-- because all moral values have their basis in reason. One could object that he believes in Torah and that is a higher morality than reason, but in fact even the mitzvot of the Torah are perceived through the sense of reason (beside the fact that the Rambam and the Gemara understood that all mitzvot are based on some reason and are not goals in themselves).

8) There are different types of perception. Sometimes there is a zadik had the spiritual type and therefore he is believable in that area but not in areas where that kind of perception is not relevant—like areas of music or reason or justice or morality.


Values

9)  the underlying values in Torah.  speaking with God simply with no formulas, faith in God not in doctrines nor faith in books, the disagreement between tzadikim and also the disagreement between system of thought—all this to   is in the category of ontological ignorance. Not only that we don’t know and can't know but also that that lack of knowledge leads to great things e.g. the existence of the world itself depends on that lack of knowledge.

10) At first I thought there are paths of holiness. For a Jew only the Jewish path works. There are religions that are straightforward evil. But outside of them many religions have some very important elements of good and one born inside of that system should stay they and just ignore or get rid of the bad elements. But even a good path like Torah can become perverted. It can start out in the direction of God but right before it gets there it veers off to the side.
But now this seems to me now to be ridiculous—there are not several paths to holiness. There is only one—simple plain human decency and morality-pay your bills speak the truth, don't steal, honor your parents. i.e. The common sense morality of the Ten Commandments.)





Education

13) That means I am essentially saying a very simple thing: that education should consist of learning the great Torah books that deal with the essential questions of life—the existence of God, the meaning of life, is there reward and punishment? What is good? What is justice? Therefore the books that I think people should learn are the Torah, the oral and written law.[i.e.Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, Tosepfta, Sifri, Sifra. [You don't need to do every Rashi if you understand the Gemara, but you do need to do every Tosphot and Maharsha] This should not be particularly hard of you learn fast--say the words and go on. saying the words brings the מקיפים (surrounding light) of what you are learning closer]. But this also means not reading books that destroy the mind and morals. It means being able to discern what are really great books and what are modern fads, and shiny new theories that will disappear in a short time because essential they are just second rate hacks offering up re-digested material they got from else where and are presenting it as if it is original thought. (World books—books that contain a picture of the whole world and there is at least a possibility that they are believable and know something about what they are talking about and have some essential insights about human beings and human problems. And possible solutions)

) Existence itself is a field. Abstract objects hit the field and then start existing. Like when an electron hits a magnetic field and starts reacting.



) The indication is that fields of existence or of justice or music or morality are fields. That is why music was specifically in the area and time that it was. It is why Kabalah was specifically in Tzfat in the specific time and place that it was .
Talmud Study

16) Rather that the Gemara is a path to the light for one who already has good character traits.
Misuse of the Talmud does not cancel use. One can learn from the Talmud great morality and decency. That is the proper use of the Talmud. But one can misuse it also.

17) The unreasonable ineffectiveness of Musar (Books about Ethics written during the Middle Ages) to make moral people is disturbing. This is what I always noticed about Musar. It was not very effective to change people’s character. The reason is that it is not believable that it has some deep insight in life or human beings or the universe in general.

18) Torah has holiness and brings one close to God—but only to the degree that it influences one not to lie, not steal, to honor his parents, pay his debts, work honestly for a living. I.e. the essence of Torah is this and everything else about Torah has value only to the degree it is connected and brings to this. And that there is only one path towards the infinite light of God and it is to never lie and never to allow a lie into ones soul. It is not by lots of prayer or learning Torah.




19)  The purpose of Creation is to know God. Torah is to know God. But to know that something exists is not the same as knowing what it is. “To know God” means content. And that can't be known by doctrines and dogma. That comes by a simple faith that is totally independent of any doctrine not opposed to anything and is totally self sufficient. And it effects an person’s entire personality and every waking thought.