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31.3.12

The Wall Street Journal has an article blaming Catholics for Islamic addiction to murder.

The Wall Street Journal has an article blaming Catholics for Islamic addiction to murder.
(Voltaire and Toulouse, Then and Now)
Here is a comment (not mine):
Here is an extraordinary exercise in cynicism. Using the killings in Toulouse as a pretext, the author manages to write (another) expletive against Catholicism, under the guise of a condemnation of an abstract sentiment: “religious fanaticism”. Being a professor of history, the author certainly does not ignore that the complexities of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, as well as the subsequent emergence of the Enlightenment rationalism, do not even remotely fit into his suggested and preposterous caricature of a dualist fight between “reason” and “religious fanaticism”. One does not expect a treatise, or an essay, from an opinion column, but the format is no excuse for such gross historical misrepresentation.

However, this is not the worse: the author manages to dedicate eleven paragraphs to a judicial absurdity that occurred in 1762, while only mentioning the murderer of French soldiers and a Jewish family in the last two paragraphs, but only after invoking Voltaire’s writings –malgré lui même– to engage in (another) exculpatory exercise of Islamism. A distracted reader could be excused for thinking that Mr Merah’s murderous ideology of Islamism was an offspring of Catholicism.

In a word: deplorable.

30.3.12

I would only pray in a Reform Temple or a Conservative one. Ethical Monotheism





Reform Judaism is right about Ethical Monotheism. This is first of all true. Also it is what the Torah is about.  But Reform is wrong in ignoring the Oral Law and the efforts of the  Sages to understand Divine Law. Also-It is bourgeois. They have no Gra, or Chaim from Voloshin, or Isaac Luria, Israel Abuchatzeira. No juice. No taste. The batteries need charging



Reform  ignores the most important aspect of Torah,- the holy numinous aspect.

There are a few people in the context of Torah who discovered and  revealed parts of the divine reality contained in Torah. They were the Rambam and Ari (Isaac Luria), the Gra, Israel Salanter,
Also "social justice" is an 1840's invention of two Catholic priests meant to replace noble obligation (Noblesse oblige). It is not the main idea of the Torah, nor the Prophets, nor the Writings.[תנ''ך, תורה נביאים כתובים]  Social justice is the opposite of justice. Social justice is steal from the rich. This is based on the idea that the rich must have somehow gotten rich in some non proper way even if there is no evidence for this. Justice means don't steal; not from the rich and not from the poor. Simply don't steal.

In spite of this, I would only pray in a Reform Temple or a Conservative one. I would run from the "Charedi" like one runs from a charging leopard. That is just how frightened I am from them. (This is not irrational fear. It is fear based on personal experience and observation of what I see they do to people. They make a tremendous effort to make baali teshuva (to make people religious) and then destroy them systematically.) [But one does have to learn and keep Torah. To learn Torah you should take one page of Gemara and keep learning it day after day. That is read it from the beginning until the end with the Tosphot and Maharsha--every day the same page until something gives way and you understand its depths.  This is  the "in depth" session. besides that you need a fast session to get through the  Oral Law- Bavli, YerushalmiTosefta, Sifri and Sifra. But you don't need to go anywhere near a religious synagogue, Heaven forbid!]





And it would not matter if the only mikvah in town was in an religioussynagogue. I would still simple refuse to go anywhere near the religious. [I would go to the ocean.  When I was in the mountains there was a nearby stream which I dug deep into so it could be used for  mikvah.
The Sitra Achra (Realm of Evil) just got too much intertwined with "religious" Judaism until it is impossible to separate the two.


This fact is hidden to many religious  people because they think their approach is based on Talmud and Halacha. They are unaware that it is not based on Halacha at all, but rather it takes a few  rituals to cover up what is really going on.

This was not always the case. Before the time of Shabati Tzvi things were straightforward. But after his time the energy of teachings of the Shatz (Shabati Tzvi) got totally entwined with religious Judaism. What makes this almost impossible to know is that people today rarely every learn the books of the Shatz and his prophet Nathan from Gaza. But if you have had the sad experience of  reading those misguided books, then you can see right away how the most basic teachings of the Shatz are part and parcel of "Charedi"Judaism today.

[If I was back at Beverly Hills I would not drive to Temple Israel in Hollywood on Shabat. I would stay home and learn Torah. But I would make an effort to be part of a Conservative, Reconstructionist or Reform Temple during the week. The trouble with driving is that it involves  fire. I learned that in a high school physics books about how the spark plug and the four- cylinder car engine works. If it would be just electricity, that would be allowed.]

In sum: Reform is right about some things but wrong on others. My younger brother in fact goes to a conservative shul. But there are things I think conservative have also gotten a bit wrong. Personally I just can't see anything as good as a straight normal Litvak yeshiva.




Appendix:
1) The major support of Reform and Conservative Judaism comes from Musar (Ethical) books of traditional Judaism.
I mean the major principle of Reform Judaism is what? That between man and your fellow-man comes before between Man and God. This is the exact principle of Musar.
 "You should walk in his ways, and keep his mitzvot."
The command to walk in his ways we know is the commandment "What is he? Kind. So you too be kind."
R. Chaim Vital, the disciple of Isaac Luria, in chapters one and two of his Musar book Shaarei Kedusha makes the same point. And the great Yemenite Kabbalist, The Rashash (R. Shalom Sharabi), goes into this exact point in detail. He says the soul of a person is his character traits. The mitzvot are simple the clothing and food of the soul, but not the soul itself. [נפש השכלית]
Reb Chaim Vital says, "One must be more careful to stay away from bad character traits than be keeping positive and negative commandments, because bad traits are very much worse that sins."
There is no clear connection between being religious and being a decent human being. It is clear from that that the religious world is not keeping Torah properly. Fanaticism is just a cover up for something that is not Torah.


2) The major problem with the religious is not so much in places where there is a strong Litvak yeshiva presence. For example in Brooklyn where the three major Litvak yeshivas are located {Chaim Berlin, Mir, Torah VeDaat} even local shuls (synagogues) tend to be straight Torah oriented.
3) The main problem I see with the strictly religious  is the idea of a עיר הנדחת a city in which false gods are worshiped. The law is that the city is destroyed--everyone  and everything. The reason being that even the tzadikim inside the city acquiesced. That is they did not actively protest or simply leave. Only Rav Shach saw the problems and objected.




[I hope it is clear what I am saying. If I would have  A Litvak yeshiva in the area that would be one thing. But the religious world outside of that is very insane. And sadly to some degree the insanity has penetrated.]



27.3.12

At any rate I want to mention that in the USSR they had a system of physical education that I think should be used in the West

I had a P.E. in HS teacher that told me he wants to train us students to be fit at that time and not to depend on the idea that we would continue to exercise in collage. But clearly he believed that exercise should be a daily thing. Also I think there are two ages when the basic metabolism of the body changes--about 40 and then again at 55.
And I think the same applies the the mind.

At any rate I want to mention that in the USSR, they had a system of physical education that I think should be used in the West. On the radio at 7:00 A.M. they had a ten minute program of home exercise.
The reason I think this is important is because I think the West made a great mistake when it linked physical education to school. This almost guarantees that people that are out of school will stop.

24.3.12

Moral obligations (that is, the facts that we ought to act in certain ways) should be self-evident. But we need the holy Torah because though the principles of Torah should be self evident, most people allow considerations (of what social group they want to fit in with) to cloud their judgment about what is moral.




My basic contention is that the Torah is objective. As I am using the word "objective" to mean "not subjective" -i.e. not dependent on anyone's opinions or viewpoint. Further I want to contend that the Torah consists of principles, not laws.

And that the difference [between principles versus laws] is easily seen in today's society where you have collages giving out rule books about sexual conduct (to protect themselves from lawsuits) and theaters have to tell people not to talk during the show. This is because people have forgotten the basic principle--don't be inconsiderate.


Yosi Faur contends that the Rambam (Maimonides) discovered this objective aspect of Torah, and all his opponents were off the true path.

(My feeling is that the Rambam together with the other "Rishonim" (people from the Middle Ages that wrote either commentary on the Talmud or Halacha books) form a seamless whole.)

At first the Rambam seems to stand on his own, but then little bugs in the system start to creep in. It looks to me that Yosei Faur was trying to make out like that the Rambam/Maimonides found the absolute truth of the universe, and he writes very convincingly in this direction.

At first I was convinced by Yose Faur. But that is me. I find myself always between great charismatic leaders that are very convincing. It takes me a long time to step back and to try to consider things from a rational point of view.

After some time I looked at the original essay of Yosi Faur and I discovered what you can see in a lot of religious writing--they sound very convincing about subjects you know nothing about, but then when it gets to a subject you know something about their supposed genius falls apart. (But I admit this does not happen with the Rambam or Tosphot, or the Torah itself. For me the deeper I go into these things, the better they become.)

  But my claim is that no one person discovered the real Torah. And that true Torah observance is not person based, and not even text based, but rather God based.

  Also my final contention is that one should be like a hound dog with his nose to the ground. That is after one has read and learned Torah and the Talmud, then one should look at the individual questions that come before him. I.e. the big picture is not just too big, but distracting. People that learn Halacha (Law) or Kabalah forget how to be simple decent human beings.

 Moral obligations (that is, the facts that we ought to act in certain ways) should be  self-evident. But we need the holy Torah because though the principles of Torah should be self evident, most people allow considerations (of what social group they want to fit in with) to cloud their judgment about what is moral.





23.3.12

The problem with the American democracy is in its very essence. It is based on the empirical British school of thought begun by John Locke. And empiricism is wrong.

The problem with the American democracy is in its very essence. It is based on the empirical British school of thought begun by John Locke. And empiricism is wrong. Here, I will give a counter-examples to empiricism.

Nothing can be both entirely red and entirely green.

A naive empiricist might appeal to my experiences with colored objects: I have seen many colored objects, and none of them have ever been both red and green. One thing that makes this implausible as an explanation of how I know that nothing can be both red and green is the necessity of the judgment. Contrast the following two statements:

Nothing is both green and red.
Nothing is both green and a million miles long.
These are justified in completely different ways.

And there is a connection between the idea that all knowledge from from the senses and John Locke idea of a democracy. People are not blank slates. Not when they start and at no time. They have genes. And genes are not blank slates. And stuff is written on them. Sometimes really bad stuff.  Sometimes really great stuff. (All men are created equal comes from the idea of the tabula raca, empty slate. But the slate is not empty.)

My learning partner noticed this also. He thinks the direction the USA is going in is is almost the default position.You might say it gives license for people to follow their desires with no restraint. So why not take it all the way? What stopped this for so long was obviously the fact that people were believing in Torah. [Christians and Jews]. But take away that numinous core you have nothing to hold society together.



Charles Darwin and John Locke continue to exercise extraordinary influence from the grave. The former birthed a revolution in biology which has persisted to the present day, the latter fomented a revolution in political philosophy which reasserts itself in every contemporary iteration of “individual rights.” Darwin’s theory is widely taken to be the unifying theory in modern biology; apparently nothing in biology makes sense except in light of his view.

And Locke’s classical liberalism, developed in diverse ways, has had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers of the United States. Collectively, Darwin and Locke tell human beings where they have come from, what they are, and how they ought to live with each other. The combined legacies of these men could hardly be more powerful.

Yet  Darwinism and classical liberalism hold incompatible visions of morality, human nature, and individual autonomy.That means that basic biological science has as view of human nature that is in direct contradiction to the view of human nature as understand by John Locke.

Thus the American democracy can only work together with Torah. It can't hold together without Torah.

















22.3.12

Dear Professor Michael Huemer,

Dear Professor Michael Huemer,
I have been reading you writings for a few years and i want to thank you for making public your ideas. I find your writing to be very impressive. My question for you is what do you think about the Kant-Fries school of Professor Kelley Ross. I know you have a some major critique on Kant's "thing in itself," but it seems to me that your thought on this issue runs parallel to the Kant-Fries school.

Your critique of Kant is something that the scholars from that school also deal with.

In fact, the one major difference that you seem to have with that school is that they believe in immediate nonintuitive knowledge, while you don't believe in any such knowledge. It seems to me that you believe that reason itself has the ability to perceive universals--but no universals are inherently known.

I also wonder what he thinks of Princeton school of philosophy. They seem to be doing some good work--but i did not include it in my letter.


The answer: "Thanks for your message. I have not studied the Kant-Fries school and thus have nothing useful to say about it.

I am not sure what you mean by "inherently known". Perhaps you are referring to innate ideas. In that case, I don't know whether there are innate ideas. That seems to be more a matter for cognitive psychologists than for philosophers to investigate.

I am also unsure what you have in mind by "immediate non-intuitive knowledge".

Sorry not to be of more help.

--
Prof. Michael Huemer"



Afterword: The school of thought of Michale Huemer begins with Prichard and is called the "intuitionists." The closest thing to it in German idealism is Fichte.




21.3.12

I want to claim that forming beliefs based on non rational methods is in itself against the Torah.

I want to discuss the thesis that reason can know moral values, and moral values are objective. On the other hand by non rational considerations people can form non moral beliefs and think that their beliefs are moral. (A good example of this is Islam. In Islam people believe that it is a mitzvah to murder Jews or Christians as we see in this news: "Gunmen linked to Al Qaeda shot dead an American teacher in Yemen on Sunday, accusing him of Christian proselytizing." This shows that people can believe in things that are against reason.) This gives a great beginning to understand how God could create a covenant relationship with Israel.
This would not work very well to the Rambam (Maimonides) but I think this fits with Saadia Geon pretty well. And you can actually see this in the Gemara itself where mitzvot are assumed to have rational reasons that support them.

The problem is that the beliefs that people hold are determined by their self-interest, the synagogue they want to fit into, the self-image they want to maintain, and the desire to remain coherent with their past beliefs. People can deploy mechanisms to enable them to adopt and maintain their preferred beliefs, including giving a biased weighting of evidence; focusing their attention and energy on the arguments supporting their favored beliefs; collecting evidence only from sources they already agree with; and relying on subjective, speculative, and anecdotal claims as evidence for religious theories.

I want to claim that forming beliefs based on non rational methods is in itself against the Torah. This is at least implicit in the Rambam and the Сhovot Levavot (Duties of the Heart).
The Rambam considers the halacha process of the Talmud to be using reason to analyze and legal material that was received by tradition. The idea of the Geonim that the Talmud itself is received tradition he said was a very bad view--מְתֹעָב "disgusting" he called it.



Suppose I offer the opinion, "Colors are objective." What then is it that I am saying about colors? What I am saying is that colors are 'in the object.' In what object? In colored objects. What does "in" mean here? It means that a color - redness, say - is a property of the objects that are said to be red. That is, that the nature of those objects themselves and not anything else determines whether they are red or not. Hence, to say that morality is objective is to say that whether an action is right depends on the nature of that action; whether a person is good depends on the nature of that person; etc.

If one knows moral relativism to be true, then one cannot rationally believe any moral judgement. One cannot do so because in order to rationally believe something, the proposition must first be justified, and as a moral relativist you know that no moral proposition is true before you believe it, so you would not have any justification for accepting it.


So if moral values are objective, it is hard for me to imagine that the Torah would say to do otherwise. Rather we say we should keep Torah because it is good--it can't be measured against a standard of objective good. If it would be good by definition then saying "It is good" would be question begging. And this is how it is possible to analyze the Torah by reason as the Talmud does. Torah reveals what is good objectively, and the Talmud analyzes it. This leads to the type of understanding the Rambam had of Torah --a strong correlation between Torah and reason.
The sad thing about the lack of gentile understanding of the Talmud, is that it creates a situation in which they can't understand  the Bible either because they don't know how to learn it with rigorous logic.

 It seems to me that natural law [as some understand it] is not the same thing as the morality that we can perceive by reason. Natural law seems to imply that one who nature is to murder ought to murder since it is part of his nature. But the morality that can be perceived by reason says no.

Now you might complain to me that religious people are often not moral. That is because morality and spirituality are two separate areas of value. Each is perceivable of reason but they are two separate areas. 

18.3.12

Race correlates to a high degree with failure to pay rent.


But as far as I can tell, people think that discrimination is rampant in the housing market. It probably is, but not the way that is usually assumed. Namely, it is likely that race correlates to a high degree with failure to pay rent, among other things. Most landlords that I know of would rent to anyone who would pay the rent on time and not damage the property. But if they know that there is a correlation between race and lower landlord earnings, they will indeed "discriminate." And THIS kind of discrimination does not get competed away. But is it at all plausible to you that landlords would discriminate in the malicious sense to any important degree if this correlation were illusory? Moreover, do you think it at all plausible that landlords would SYSTEMATICALLY overrate the magnitude of the correlation?

17.3.12

The truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions."

Why learning Torah and Talmud is important? The truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions.

Though I think orthodox Judaism is highly problematic I do agree with a basic premise of the system. That Torah and Talmud are important. Divine Law is important. Torah is important because it is Divinely inspired. Talmud is important because it is a rigorous logical understanding of Torah. Rambam is important because you need a logical basis for faith. Without that basis you end up with hasidut which rejects the philosophy of the Rambam. Systems without a logical and moral basis often end up badly. My impression of Hasidut is that the first mitzvah is fraud. The first thought when a chasid wakes up in the morning is how can he fool some gullible reform Jew into giving him a lot of money.

But a new magnet for intellectuals is emerging: radical Islam. It's not that intellectuals are likely to embrace radical Islam themselves anytime soon - for one thing, the requirement of believing in God would deter many of them. But what they can do is obstruct efforts to combat radical Islam and terrorism, undermine support for Israel, stress the "legitimate grievances" of radical Islamists, and lend moral support to the "legitimacy" of radical Islamic movements.


Most people have a tendency to forgive excesses committed in the name of some cause they support. They either regard them as unfortunate misdeeds by aberrant individuals, or as necessary evils in the name of some higher good. That is, of course, if they admit them at all. Very few things were more bizarre than the spectacle of free-love advocates in the Sixties extolling the virtues of Marxism
Denying the mass murders of Marxist regimes is on exactly the same intellectual level as denying the Holocaust,
To quote Allen bloom, "Positivism and ordinary language analysis have long dominated, although they are on the decline and evidently being replaced by nothing. These are simply methods of a sort, and they repel students who come with the humanizing questions. Professors of these schools simply would not and could not talk about anything important, and they themselves do not represent a philosophic life for the students. [p.378, boldface added]
Neither a living presence nor the mere inertial continuation of classics speaks well for the state of academic philosophy. What was the worst about all this stuff was the aim of much of it to justify why the philosophers involved were no longer seriously interested in metaphysics or ethics -- the truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions." If metaphysics and ethics are either meaningless or just not matters of knowledge, then philosophy doesn't have to worry about them.

In his late period [I might say, even in his late period, ed.], Wittgenstein, like Carnap, continued to pursue his former positivist aim of showing that metaphysical sentences are nonsense.

I knew the head of the Lev Tahor movement (the Taliban women) in Safed.

I knew the head of the Lev Tahor movement (the Taliban women) in Safed. (His name then was Erez Shelomo Halberns). He is magnetic and charismatic is a very high degree. He was a disciple of Rav Shelmo Shick. Rav Shick stayed in the home of Erez every time he came to Safed and showed him great warmth. Erez at the time was trying to create a synagogue  on the name of  Nachman of Uman in Safed--but this did not succeed. Later Abraham Traceman tried to start a building project, "Breslov City" in Safed and even spent a few thousand dollars to have an architect draw up the building plans.[he also had a phone bill for about a thousand dollars trying to coordinate this project with Rav shick who was in New York at the time.] This also did not succeed. The major problem was the Breslov community did not want competition and did a lot of very dirty tricks to stop the establishing of alternative Breslov community in Safed. One example is that when Erez managed to get permission to start a Breslov synagogue he and put a Breslov sign on it. People from the Breslov community pulled down the sign and beat him up to an inch of his life and he spent a few days in the local hospital (Ziv). There were many more events like this. The major issue here was money. The Breslov in Safed were making millions of dollars in regular trips to the USA by representing themselves as the true Breslov community in Israel. They did not want any competition.
Erez eventually left Rav Shick and that is where the history in the article starts.
But it is important to note that everything that was written in the newspaper Haaretz about the period that I know something about was all wrong. It makes me wonder if this is their standard of accuracy?

Breslov in Safed tended to very non kosher tactics. They wagged a kind of silent war against anyone connected with Rav Shick. This included me. They had clever ways of waging war against me. After all they thought I could not know who was harassing my family and me. And they knew that there was nothing I could do to protect my family from, their types of harassment.

Eventually most of the leading Breslov people in Israel have woken up to the threat of the Breslov in Safed. They have publicly signed a public statement against them.
Though I have certain difference of opinion with Rav Shick I still highly respect him. Learning Torah and keeping the plain Shulchan Aruch is the fundamental aspect of his teaching and at the core of what he actually does.--not just says. And frankly I have a hard time disagreeing with this. My basic complaint against Rav Shick and the general frum [Orthodox] approach is not that this approach is wrong,- but that it could be and should be better and more human and less totalitarian. But it would be better for me to have wings also. That does not mean I should complain about airplanes.



Erez (Halberns), incidentally, tried opening a Breslov Synagogue all over Safed. Every few weeks he would take me along to some person who had offered to him a building to start a synagogue. Once we were at the major of Safed. Other times we were at some home owner [in Canaan, North Safed] that happened to have a synagogue on his property. Somehow Breslov in Safed had spies that were keeping track of Erez. So what would happen would be we would be offered help and the deal be sealed with a handshake [which has the status of a contract in Halacha]. Then the Breslov people would come and tell slander to the person. Then the next time Erez would go there he would be thrown out. (I was usually not present at the occasions on which he was thrown out. I was invited usually just for the initial meetings)
Incidentally, Rav Shick absolutely loved Erez. He definitely was setting him up as his prime disciple in Israel after Nissan David Kivak. I was definitely at the bottom of the barrel. Rav Shick (you could say) did not like me. I could never figure out why. [I think I probably rubbed him the wrong way because of my free thinking. This free thinking has annoyed everyone  in the religious world, and in fact broke my once chance at real shiduch.  The religious like followers, not thinkers.]


At any rate, back to Rav Shick. As a final note I must say that when I was at a speech from Rav Shick and he would talk about Faith--I would feel the whole world light up. He definitely had this power to convey this to people. I assume it was from the Intermediate Zone which is from the Side of Holiness but is still mixed with some Sitra Achra. Hey, but that is just my opinion.

Concerning the Divine Presence. My basic feeling about it is that when one fulfills the basic path of Torah, then  there is some type of aspect of the Divine Presence that seems to descend on people. But the drawbacks to this are first --that it is like I said often mixed with the "Intermediate zone" depending on the spiritual vessels of the person.  Holiness does not in any way imply right opinions or intelligence of even good character. And also even when it is pure Divine spirit, well she is simply hard to take. Most people if they would have a glimpse of the Divine presence for even a second would never ask for it again. It sears and fries the soul.

13.3.12

Marx embraced the Labor Theory of Value (LTV). This theory holds that the price of
a good will be proportional to the amount of labor that was necessary to produce the
good.
How important is the LTV to Marx’s overall philosophy? The answer is that it is
crucial to his critique of capitalism. Central to that critique is his claim that, in a capitalist
system, the workers are ‘exploited’ by the capitalists (businessmen). If one accepts the
LTV, then Marx’s argument for the theory of exploitation is persuasive. But if one rejects
the LTV, then the argument collapses.

of economic theories LTV was the worst to pick.

We know that Marx’s general economic theory is false, because he made a number of testable predictions which are now known to be false. For instance, the middle class did not shrink and disappear as he predicted; nor did the upper class
shrink as he predicted; nor do we see wages set, in capitalist countries, anywhere near subsistence level; nor has the rate of profit fallen as he predicted; and nor have capitalist economies collapsed because of their internal ‘contradictions’ as he predicted. But, on
a theoretical level, what is wrong with the LTV and the argument for it that we
summarized above? This can be understood in terms of the standard modern theory of
value.


Of philosophers, Rousseau and Hegel were also the worst to pick for other reasons.

The diehards who also say that the totalitarian police state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary: the rejection of civil society. This goes back to Rousseau -- helping to explain the Terror of the French Revolution. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes incautiously reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication. [Rousseau held that "civil society" was simply a conspiracy by the rich to guarantee their plunder.]


Marx went around picking the worst aspects of few systems of thought and making a cholent out of them--but a cholent that was and is a powerful social glue. It tells the poor they can steal from the rich and feel good about it. The thing here is that America does not have an social glue. It is becoming unraveled. So while it is important to notice that communism is a highly evil system, this still leaves the question open of what could be better. The principles of John Locke that America is founded on, are currently ignored in the USA. I would say we are at a time of crisis in Western civilization.

11.3.12





The next issue (also related to freedom): the very important debate between James Madison and Thoma Jefferson and the Bill of Rights. This little piece of history is of vast importance because it tells the story of the Bill of Rights in a compelling way. Without this story, idiotic people can think they have the rights to have all their needs taken care of without having to lift a finger,- as is the situation today in the USA. If people would know the story behind the Bill of Rights I don't think things would have decayed so much.



The Republicans have become shy of being accused of being "mean" if they are not willing to hand out free stuff to "needy," i.e. politically noisy, constituencies. In these circumstances, the conservative plurality is rendered disproportionately ineffective, and the power of the left enhanced

An appalling and shameless burst of authoritarianism can be found in The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, by Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy [Oxford University Press, 2002]. Nagel and Murphy (on the Law Faculty -- a terrifying thought -- at New York University) not only reaffirm the thesis of Sunstein and Holmes that rights do not exist without the state and taxes, but they proceed to the logical conclusion that people simply have no right to their property, savings, and income, i.e. to the fruit of their own labor, "in any morally meaningful sense."

"Rights," (benefits) which serve to enslave or steal from others -- are claims of forced labor (violating the 13th Amendment as "involuntary servitude") against others -- are today mostly what people scream about when they demand their "rights."

A "right to a job" means that somebody else must be required to provide the job. A "right to medical care" means that somebody else, doctors and nurses, must be required to provide that care. These kinds of rights thus will either effect "involuntary servitude" on the part of employers, doctors, nurses, etc.,\\
As Brian Caplan put it: Free government money is a key foundation of long-term male unemployment and out-of-wedlock births. Reduce or eliminate that free government money, and you start a virtuous cycle of working class self-improvement. Males would be a lot more likely to find and hold a job. Women would be a lot more likely to focus on men's industry and dependability instead of aggressiveness and machismo.

6.3.12

some interesting comments on an article in Yahoo about: Racial divide runs deep in U.S. schools, study finds

Racial divide runs deep in U.S. schools, study finds

Comments:
When I was in college there weren't any blacks in my calculus courses, organic chemistry. Physics. None, nadda, zero! Plenty of blacks on campus but they were apparently working on other degrees that didn't involve any of the natural sciences, math or engineering

There were Whites, Asians, Indians and Hispanics.

Comment:
So it is the choice of the school to offer calculus and physics, not whitey keeping the minorities down. Go to your school boards and demand the courses to prepare students for college and quit blaming the system. You don't like it, change it.
Comment:
Oh good GRIEF!!! Here we go again. If a black kid gets kicked out of school, it's for BEING BAD, not for BEING BLACK. It's always whiteys fault that blacks are bad, commit crimes more, won't work, etc etc. Sick of it already.

Comment:
What an incredibly biased article. Maybe there's a reason behind the high rates of suspension. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to turn to the "hip hop" culture and cause trouble. I graduated in 03, am Hispanic, was in Gifted courses, and am now in the Air Force.

My comment: Many Hispanics have a work ethic that could would put most people to shame.
When I was in Collage, there was this one girl from Cuba that was really smart and a real hard worker. She had a FULL load of courses and still she got top grade in the classes we shared (Mathematics Physics etc.)

4.3.12

Green Techlet?

I agree Rav Shach was Gadol and I also agree that Rav Ovadia Yoseph is extremely smart. But the place where I would look for greatness in Torah --the Lithuanian Gedolim are not. Read a bit what they have written and you will see for yourself. However I admit they can learn. That much I will grant to you. But does this level of learning justify the changing the halacha from one "must not" take money for learning Torah to one "must". Or changing the halacha to fight in a war of protecting the Jewish people-- milchemet mizvah (war of obligation)--in which you draft even a bride out of her bride-chamber. All the more so in this case in which learning Torah is not a petur (permission to refrain) from doing even the smallest mitzvah--much less this greatest of all mitvot.
[however I do admit that Torah Scholars do not have to go out to fix the wall of a walled city with everyone else. This is a true halacha in the Talmud. But serving in the Israel defense Force is in the category of protecting the Jewish people for which purpose one drafts even a bride at the minute of her chupa. I might mention in this context that learning Torah is not a petur from any mitzvah. If asked to do a mitvah even the smallest mitzvah it is never a answer to say I am busy learning. This is simple shulchan aruch. All the more so for the greatest of all mitzvot-serving in IDF.


But I do admit Litvaks (Lithuanians) learn better than Religious Zionists. I still remember that stupid article in the main publication of Dati Leumi (Relious Zionist publication) arguing for techelt thread that was green!
What is wrong with this: Absorption of light. Water doesn't look blue; it is blue. It absorbs in the infrared and enough in the visible range that red wavelengths are absorbed before blue. So the farther away something is under water, the bluer it looks. Also the fuzzier and fainter because even clear water has suspended particles to scatter light. The deeper you go in the ocean, the bluer the scene gets (because red light from the surface is absorbed) and the darker.

divorce

divorce


In the Torah there are very specific instructions as for the get process. One is that the husband can't be forced (except in certain specific cases). In Eastern Europe there was a famous case (sorry I forget the name of the Rav--later note--R. Elchanan Spector of Kovno) of a husband being tricked into giving the get by promises and this was deemed to be forced.
However the Rema does mention in a teshuva different situations in which the husband can be forced. He does mention the question of danger. But he says playing cards or being mechalel shabat does not come into that category.
The next question is the money issue. This woman will almost certainly go to court to ask for half his assets and the court will in all likelihood grant this to her.
using a get as a weapon is not right I agree but using the power and might of the state as a weapon to steal from her husband is also not right.
This is stealing since the Torah does not grant to her half of her husband's assets so she is using the power to the state to steal. And stealing is forbidden according the Torah. Also there is a further question of the child but in this case the woman might be right for having the child with her. In general girls are with the mother and boys at a certain age with the father according to Torah law.
The next most pressing question here is rebelious wife (moredet). Simply put: the basic din of a rebellious wife is that she loses the ketubah plus the fruit of property she brought into the marriage (nichsai zon barzel and melug). In this case however she will surely try to steal most of his property. Why no rabbi thinks that stealing is a problem is a mystery to me.
And there the further question of why he does not want to go to a kangaroo court that he already knows what the verdict will be. I can't answer that question. especially when he know that what a beit din decides is in general not what the Torah says so it ha no din of a beit din.

my notes on renitzins husband:
Adam ZurMar 6, 2012 12:52 AM

I have a little thing I have thought about Gitin (Divorce) for a long time. It is the date. The sages established the date as from the time the present government began its reign. Counting from a different date makes the get not kosher. An example would be counting from the time of the beit hamikdash (from its building or destruction or from the time of a different government). These are all ways to posel a get. And though the present form is well established for along time,- but hey, so was the form of the get in the time of Rabbainu Tam established. That did not stop him from changing it. (Though I might not accept it, I would be very interested to know what R. Ovadiah Joseph would have to say about this. I don't always accept his conclusions but his halachic reasoning is very brilliant in general.)
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The Rebbetzin's HusbandMar 6, 2012 07:23 PM

Adam-
That's why we write למנין שאנו מונין. See Nachlas Shivah on Kesuvos, Siman 12, where he stresses this.
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Adam ZurMar 7, 2012 02:33 AM

Thank you. That answers my question.
(At least according to Tosphot. But Tosphot always goes according to the opinion that when the reason for a law is null then the law is null. So along with tosphot (in gitin)and your answer this answers the question fully. My main question was really according to the Rambam. But at this point it seems like nit picking since i always go by tosphot anyway.
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Adam ZurMar 7, 2012 06:26 AM

I was also wondering about the issue of the fact that the husband appoints someone to write the get. I remember that the Tiferet Israel brings this question in the his booklet on Nashim. But I was wondering if there are other people that deal with this question. (To be clear: why does shlichut help in this case?)