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29.6.12

 However I think that everyone in the world should learn and finish the Talmud with Tosphot and the Maharsha. However I don't want it to seem that this is because the Talmud is somehow the greatest of all books. Not at all. Rather because it is a great book and opens up a connection with the Divine.The way it does this is it examines the written word of God in rigorous logic. It does not think that it is up to every individual to decide what it means for them, but rather that it has objective meaning that it is upon us measly human beings to strive to find out with all means possible.

This might seem difficult to understand but perhaps I can make it clear. It seems to me that God has blessed humanity with a few great books. Each one is important but does not have all the truth about people and life. But rather some aspect of truth. To me it seems the one on the top of the list is the Torah (The Old Testament).

There are two approaches to Talmud. One is the present day  way which began with R. Chaim Soloveitchik. I must say that I did not learn this way personally. I heard many lessons along the lines of Reb Chayim. But when I got back to my shtender "seat" I plowed through the Talmud with the Tosphot and Maharsha and the early "achronim" (later authorities like the Pnei Yehoshua). Sometimes I would go over and over a Pnei Yeshoshua about ten or more times until I got it.
But even this way could not be called traditional. The traditional way of learning was different. The principles were these: (1) Learn Tosphot. (2) It is forbidden to add any so called principles to make Tosphot make sense. He wrote it to make sense on its own. If you have to add outside concepts, then you don't understand it. [Sadly, most people are taught that you don't understand it unless you add some outside principles. So they spend the whole day making up nonsense, and they call it "learning" and think that people that don't do this idiocy can't learn.] (3) There is a point that you get to when you understand Tosphot that something comes up almost by magic. Some thought or question. It is that magical point that is called "Learning." For me it is very hard to get to that point.
The way of Reb Chayim Soloveitchik was different. He did add yesodot יסודות or principles, but from elsewhere in the Talmud itself. And he did it in a way that does fit.
The major school of thought of Reb Chaim [Chidushei HaRambam] continued through Baruch Ber (the Birchat Shmuel), Shimon Shkop, and the most difficult  of all- Rav Eliezer Menachem Shach of Ponovitch (that is his book the Aviezri).
These four constitute a whole and complete set by which it is possible to understand the Rambam.
No home is complete without them.

28.6.12

psychologists provide much of the ideology justifying divorce

Professor Allen Bloom: "Psychologists provide much of the ideology justifying divorce—e.g., that
it is worse for kids to stay in stressful homes (thus motivating the potential escapees—that is, the parents—to make it as unpleasant as possible there). Psychologists are the sworn enemies of guilt. [The exact opposite of the Torah which says that without feelings of guilt there is no repentance. ] And they have an artificial language for the artificial feelings with which they equip children. Psychologists who deal with these matters simply play the tune called by those who pay the piper. The facts of the market and the capacity for self-deception, called creativity, influence such therapy. Teenagers are not only reeling from the destructive effects of the overturning of faith and the ambiguity of loyalty that result from divorce, but deafened by self-serving lies and hypocrisies
expressed in a pseudo-scientific jargon. Modern psychology at its best has a questionable understanding of the soul. It has no place for the natural superiority of the thoughtful life, and no understanding of education. So children who are impregnated with that psychology live in a sub-basement
and have a long climb just to get back up to the cave, or the world of
common sense, which is the proper beginning for their ascent toward
wisdom. and they have an ideology that provides not a reason but a rationalization
for their timidity."





Socrates: And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness for any art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that a woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians and their wives ought to have the same pursuits.

What Socrates is saying here in plain English is that we don't start out thinking men and women are different in ability. We give them exactly the same education. But when and if an individual begins to show more aptitude or interest in one specific area then we concentrate on that.






As an introduction let me just say that I have liked woman from day one. It is only bitches that I don't approve of.




The Republic by Plato:

"Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women to be subject to similar or nearly similar regulations; then we shall see whether the result accords with our design.

"What do you mean?"

"What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said: Are dogs divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under the idea that the bearing and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?"

"No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between them is that the males are stronger and the females weaker."


"But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bred and fed in the same way?"

"You cannot."

"Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the same nurture and education?"

"Yes."

(The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic.)

Yes.

Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war, which they must practice like the men?

That is the inference, I suppose.

I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals, if they are carried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.

No doubt of it.

Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longer young; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than the enthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles and ugliness continue to frequent the gymnasia.

Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal would be thought ridiculous.

But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not fear the jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation; how they will talk of women's attainments both in music and gymnastic, and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!

Very true, he replied.

Yet having begun we must go forward to the rough places of the law; at the same time begging of these gentlemen for once in their life to be serious. Not long ago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is still generally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a naked man was ridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans and then the Lacedaemonians introduced the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed the innovation.

No doubt.

But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye vanished before the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any other standard but that of the good.

Very true, he replied.

First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in earnest, let us come to an understanding about the nature of woman: Is she capable of sharing either wholly or partially in the actions of men, or not at all? And is the art of war one of those arts in which she can or can not share? That will be the best way of commencing the enquiry, and will probably lead to the fairest conclusion.

That will be much the best way.

Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing against ourselves; in this manner the adversary's position will not be undefended.

Why not? he said.

Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. They will say: 'Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary need convict you, for you yourselves, at the first foundation of the State, admitted the principle that everybody was to do the one work suited to his own nature.' And certainly, if I am not mistaken, such an admission was made by us. 'And do not the natures of men and women differ very much indeed?' And we shall reply: Of course they do. Then we shall be asked, 'Whether the tasks assigned to men and to women should not be different, and such as are agreeable to their different natures?' Certainly they should. 'But if so, have you not fallen into a serious inconsistency in saying that men and women, whose natures are so entirely different, ought to perform the same actions?'—What defense will you make for us, my good Sir, against any one who offers these objections?"

27.6.12

(I am trying to avoid saying that Hegel was positivist but he sure was on the slippery slop towards it. And his thought led to disastrous consequences in the twentieth century. Despite his depth of thought, it is hard not to see all the tendencies of Nazi and Communist totalitarianism in his thought.

In Western Civilization following the Enlightenment, there is supposed to be a connection between Man's Laws and Natural Law [Natural Law is not what people do naturally but rather do what is their "telos" to do. That is at any rate how natural law was understood by its originators the Stoics, Saadia Geon Maimonides and Aquiness]. Man's laws are at least supposed to have as a goal to come to Divine Law. This started with Saadia Geon who defined many of the laws of the Torah as Laws of Reason. The Rambam (Maimonides) took this process further. It ended up with John Locke. The attack of on this Natural Law concept was from Austin. This is what is called legal positivism.

After this introduction, we can understand Germany. Hegel was the most popular and powerful influence in Germany during the entire 1800's. His idea of the individual being an insignificant part of the State is what led Germany to a radical Legal Positivism. Sadly, this same process is happening in America. (I am trying to avoid saying that Hegel was positivist, but he sure was on the slippery slope towards it. And his thought led to disastrous consequences in the twentieth century. Despite his depth of thought, it is hard not to see all the tendencies of Nazi and Communist totalitarianism in his thought.
This does not bode well for systems based on Hegel today or Legal Positivism. (In fact, taking a glimpse of Supreme Court decisions in the U.S.A. it is hard to see any connection at all with the U.S.A. Constitution. It looks to me like pure Legal Positivism. I mean, for Bruce's sake, what does someone growing vegetables in his back yard have to do with interstate commerce? Why would the Supreme Court think they have any right to rule in such matters- except that they want to?

[Just to be clear- Hegel still sees the "Absolute" as the standard. And to him, the Absolute is rational. To to have it embodied in "The State" does not in theory equal Legal Positivism. This is because there is a prior source of authority. It could be that he would even agree that the Absolute might not be embodied automatically in all government resolutions.]

26.6.12

So you don't want to hire criminals? Hmmm...

In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission signaled that it would begin to crack down on employers who use the criminal histories of job applicants to discriminate against them illegally. ...

So you don't want to hire criminals? Hmmm...

24.6.12

(1)The God of Maimonides and Aristotle

(1)The God of Maimonides and Aristotle tends to lack personality. (2) The omnipotence and benevolence of God, while happy and comforting to contemplate, generates the Problem of Evil, that the evidence of the world and of events frequently would seem to contradict an omnipotent and benevolent agency.
(3) It seems to me that Yaakov along with Job and King David found some way of dealing with these issues. The way they did this was to project God's goodness out over a longer period.
To me it seems that this was the opinion of Job and God himself who agreed with Job.
The friends of Job said: "God is just". God said they were wrong. Point blank. At point blank range. There is no way to misinterpret this because the entire Book of Job shows this.


 The first statement is that Job was without sin. So trying to fudge the variables here does not work. Trying to make it that there were other faults is clearly not what it says. Then the whole story of how God caused him to suffer in order to win a debate with Satan just shows the point. Because you want to win a debate with someone does not give you cause to make someone else suffer. This is the clear position of the narrator of The Book of Job 



What enrages people is that the Rambam understands the Torah thorough the eyes  and world view of Aristotle. And that he is not embarrassed about that makes it worse. At least he could try to hide where he gets his ideas from like everyone else. And what makes it even worse is that no one can claim to understand the Torah better than the Rambam unless they want to seem like an arrogant, ignorant fool. Thus people just ignore the Rambam when it comes to the world view of Torah.

My approach is different than the generally accepted approach. I say the Rambam was right, and everyone else simply does not understand the Torah.

In any case  the Rambam's approach to Torah is I think about as close to the actual Torah approach as possible. In another approaches there are strong elements of polytheism. They may not reach pure polytheism but they certainly come close. Today  Torah practice often contains polytheist beliefs. In fact it is almost an axiom that the more strict one is in practices the more likely there are underlying polytheistic beliefs. Monotheism is not the same as polytheism except in number. There is more than a quantitative difference. There is a qualitative difference. A difference in world view. And the world view of Torah could not be further away from what people think it is today. It presents a reality that is radically different than what people think the Torah is about.

A Rambam Yeshiva would not be anything like the yeshivas we see today. The books there would be the Mishne Torah and Aristotle's encyclopedic work, Physics and his other encyclopedic work, the Metaphysics.   In the beginning of Mishne Torah he writes that the Mishne Torah contains all the Oral Law and take a good look at his language there when he says "One does not need any other book from among them."  "One reads the Old Testament and then the Mishne Torah and one does not need any other book from among them for any law," i.e. the books that he just mentioned in that paragraph. However he says one needs no other books to know what the law is (that is what among the laws of the Talmud is the halacha. But that does not mean that one understands the meaning of the law without knowing the Talmud. That is how all sages of Israel after him understood him. That is without the Talmud one can not know the meaning of any law in the Mishna Torah of the Rambam. Just like the Guide require background in Aristotle and Plato so the Mishna Torah requires the background of the Talmud.



So you can ask then what to do after you have read the Mishne Torah? You can finish it in two weeks easily. Start at 9:00 AM and go until 5:00 PM. A normal working day. You can finish it in two weeks. Then he explains you learn "the work of Creation and the Divine Chariot which are the Physics and Metaphysics of the ancient Greeks." Here too he explains this clearly in several places in the Mishe Torah and  Guide. And he not ambiguous in any way. You can see what enraged people about the Rambam. He says after one has finished reading the Written and Oral law (as he defines Oral Law to mean his book the Mishne Torah) then he spends all his days learning Physics and Metaphysics.



So clearly a Rambam approach to Torah  would be a radical departure from what people think today compromises a Torah approach. And he writes in a letter that the only reason that his book was not accepted as the final decision is because of the arrogance and pride of people wanting honor and power. So when the final redemption comes and arrogance and the evil inclination will be eliminated from the world then his book will be accepted as the objective truth. In the future the Mishne Torah of the Rambam will be considered as the truth and final decision. The son of the Rambam who became the Rav of the city after the Rambam in fact taught the Mishna Torah instead of Mishna or other things that had been customary to teach between the afternoon and evening prayers.

 My personal opinion is that Physics today (and Metaphysics) has gone considerably beyond Aristotle and that today the Rambam would hold to learn the Old Testament, then the Mishne Torah and then modern Physics and Kant. (I must admit I  have not gotten far in Mathematics or Physics. My impression is they both need about the  same amount of time and effort as knowing the Talmud even at the most amateurish level.  That is about 20,000 hours each. That is you have the normal 10,000 hours for just barely scratching the surface. Then the next 10,000 hours for gaining expertise. That was in any case my own experience with Talmud and it seems to me that Math and Physics are not all that different.)

And I should mention that this is the way I have accustomed myself to be learning for some time now. The only thing is I admit I do learn Talmud as I thing it is the only way to understand the Mishne Torah. Without knowing from where the Rambam gets his decision, people always misunderstand what he is saying. [And they think they understand.] For that reason, one should also learn Talmud and Rav Shach's commentary on the Rambam together with the Rambam..

[I should mention that this is not how Litvaks go about learning. And for myself if I have any time for learning at all I go straight to the Gemara. Being limited to what you can get I would say get a Bava Metzia (one full Talmud Tractate with Tosphot Mahrasha and Rif.). One Musar book and one of Jewish world view like the Guide for the Perplexed.

22.6.12

Why do I think that Islam is a threat to America? (This is rhetorical question.)

Why do I think that Islam is a threat to America? (This is rhetorical question.)


Ask the Bulgarians, Greeks, Ionian Greeks and Armenians about how different things were. Moslems were murdering, raping scum from the start, and they are murdering raping scum today. Dirty too. Greeks founded and maintained a circle of splendid cities on the perimeter of Anatolia 5 hundred years before Christ. Islam massacred raped and pillaged the city of Smynra (Izmir now) in 1922 and at that time over one million Greeks who had lived in Analtolia for thousands of years were either killed or forced to emigrate to Greece. Similar stories of course with the Armenians, Hungarians, Serbians and Bulgarians, in fact with all unfortunate enough to come in contact with these people.
Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Christian empire till 1453 when 'peaceful' Islam conquered, massacred, raped and pillaged it.
It is today what it always has been, an anti-civilization nomadic primitive and violent culture. Islam has no place and no part in Western civilization and must be entirely removed from Europe and America.

Though I am against Communism- but still it was based on the Enlightenment ideas and trying to create a just society. (And there were abuses that the czars were doing at the time, e.g. getting involved in WWI.) So I see the debate between Communism and Capitalism as an internal thing, a honest disagreement of how to have a working just society. But Islam is different. It is the worst threat to civilization on every possible level. Islam is the number one threat to the continued existence of the human race and planet Earth.



"To begin with, all manner of leftists are stuck with that whole cultural-relativism thing, at least when it operates to the detriment of the white race, Western culture, and America and old American ways. That drives them to cuddle up to primitive non-Western peoples, the more dodgy and exotic the better; and, to the extent they can, import them into the United State." -Nicholas Strackon

Most leftists (including the femi-nazis) are reticent to admit that they will ally themselves with the most barbaric creatures on Earth if they too are anti-Western and anti-American.
They know EXACTLY who/what they are standing with, but will do so anyway.



Just while I am at it let me mention a problem in political philosophy that relates to the inability of the left to see the threat of Islam.
As John Searle put it: "The leading political event of the twentieth century was the failure of ideologies such as communism, and in particular the failure of socialism in its different and various forms. The interesting thing is that we lack the categories in which to pose and answer questions dealing with the failure of socialism. If by “socialism” we mean state ownership and control of the basic means of production, then the failure of socialism so defined is the single most important social development of the twentieth century. It is an amazing fact that that development remains unanalyzed and is seldom discussed by the political and social philosophers of our time. "

Here is a good example from todays news:
Muslim insurgents attack Kabul hotel; 15 killed
One guest at Spozmay Hotel, Sharif Aloko, said he and 11 friends were sitting on the patio eating dinner when the gunmen entered wearing police uniforms and strapped with explosives. Three of them stood guard outside the restaurant while another one shot a father and a daughter while Aloko and his friends watched in horror and the family members pleaded “please don’t kill us.”
(Washington Post)
In the world of philosophy, there is no way to understand what is wrong with Islam. And when people lack a way of understanding something they simply can't see it. (like south American tribes that live on plants that they grow. They will starve rather than go fishing because the concept does not exist for them.) I mean take yourself for example. You are reading this little essay. How would you examine this? Clearly people have lots of buttons you can push. If you read Talmud or the Bible--it tends to push certain buttons in people. Some people read the Bible and go out and start a Salvation Army or a soup kitchen. Some people read Talmud and decide on daily schedule that that is basically taken up with learning and prayer and high moral standards. Some people read the Koran and decide that to murder lots of Jews is the way to come to the highest spiritual levels of Enlightenment. But if you try to analyze why this is or what is going on you are at a lose. The problem is Modern Philosophy in itself. It is the prime fallacy of Philosophy. It is the fallacy that it makes sense to look at a structure without knowing the contents of the structure. So philosophers feel they can examine religion without regard to the contents of the religion.
Here is what Steven Dutch says about this: " What we can call The Fundamental Fallacy of Modern Philosophy might be defined as the idea that it makes sense to study structure divorced from content. This is the idea that has given us businessmen who think they can "manage" without knowing anything about what they manage, critics who claim that only the technical excellence of a work of art matters, not its content, and sociologists of science like the one with whom I corresponded who think you can study the Velikovsky affair without regard to the scientific validity of Velikovsky's ideas."

21.6.12

hindu revisionism and Prabhakar Kamath

Hindu Revisionism: Was Shankaracharya Deceptive Or Just Ignorant?



(1) I want to mention that the type of revolution that the Bhava Gita was trying to do I look on with approval because of many aspects.
To break through the rule of the Brahmins seems to me to be worthy since basically the ruling class of Brahmins came to India from Iran and enslaved the local population and made them into the untouchables and created the Vedas to give spiritual significance to their rule. The BhavaGita and the Upanishads intended to break that rule and bring people to a true spirituality.



20.6.12

"I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years"

"I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years"
Now is his chance.
The problem in America is possible to analyze as one problem with different faces.

(Problem 1) Democrats are depending on their belief that Americans are stupid and can't remember a promise made four years ago. ["I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years." (It has gone up 17 trillion dollars.)]

Personally, I think this is wrong. I don't think Americans are stupid and I think the Democrats are wrong in this.
In fact, I was very impressed when I was growing up with just the general level of intelligence of average Americans. Whether it was my teachers in school in Math or Physics or just regular American soldiers. Not only did I discover that Americans are smart, but that they are alarmingly smart. So smart to make me intimidated. The average America solider could talk with me about Spinoza or a regular professor of English in Brooklyn Collage could talk to me about Dostoevsky and display an expertise which really flattened my ego. My high school teachers studied the Book of Job with a depth that I never saw afterwards. America today has changed, but the old America was unbelievably smart.


(Problem 2 in America) There is no division of power. Long ago the different parts of government decided that they could all act in concert, as one unit. So the Supreme Court has never limited government power-because they have decided that they themselves are a part of government. Why should they limit their own power?

(Problem 3) This monolithic government can then promise to people lots of money and the blacks and people that their social identity (progressive) depends on their supporting black causes (i.e. reform Jews) vote this monolithic government into power in spite of it being against the constitution of the USA which limits government power.

(Problem 4) In the original America, people like Jefferson did not think that it would work without education. But education today is political indoctrination. And the higher one goes into American universities, the purer the Marxism becomes. I personally saw the texts that they were teaching in social studies at my university where I was learning Physics. They were pure Hegelian-Marxism.

19.6.12

Reb Eliyahu from Villna. The Villna Geon

Today a learning Talmud partner of mine mentioned to me about the Kol Hator [קול התור] of the Geon from Villna. He had not seen the book before so he was unaware of a lot of the history about the Gra. He wanted me to fill in the details.I will try to be as brief as possible. I said "the nice thing about the Gra is he is Kosher."
The Gra (the Geon Eliyahu from Villna) had an unusual way of learning. In general he has a completely different way of looking at any subject and only mentions it in hints. But sometimes when he is more explicit he surprises you. Like on the Mishna "aruga which is 6^6" his commentary looks at it from a completely different perceptive than anyone else and answers all the questions on the Mishna perfectly and it is a way of looking at it which seems to be impossible to think of on one's own.

This seems to be characteristic of the Gra.

This conversion got in the question of the excommunication. I said that it is clear to me that the Gra was right. I mentioned that one reason for the excommunication was due to  teaching Shabati Tzvi's version of Kabalah and also pantheism. I am pretty sure that the Besht did not know that the teachings of the silversmith from Villna that the Besht praised so highly  were from a false prophet of Shabati Tzvi.
(He said that one that learns them will merit to true Divine Spirit.)

But ignorance people say is no excuse. The fact of the matter is that in Orthodox Judaism today are  teachings that are  based unintentionally on Shabati Tzvi.


Pantheism: Now I have nothing against pantheism. If Spinoza would have proved it, that would be fine by me. But that is not the issue at all. The issue is that the Torah does not hold from pantheism. It holds from monotheism. So to lie about the Torah and to claim that it teaches Pantheism is a problem of fraud and lying.

And it does not help to make a difference between Pantheism and Panetheism since the difference is meaningless since the word "pan" means everything. To say you mean that God is everything and beyond everything is simple expanding the word "everything" to include "everything." [It is just a word game to try to get out of the fact that they are teaching pantheism.] But that is what it meant in the first place. So Orthodox Judaism is playing with words. Also the Torah does not teach either one. not pantheism nor panetheism. The faith  and world view of Torah is Monotheism.












17.6.12

In Israel I saw a lot of kabalists. There was never anything about them that indicated any higher type of person.



In fact, if I could I would today change the whole way I went through the Talmud.
The things I would change would these: I would have gone to university 1/2 the time like Reb Shelomo Friefeld [the Rosh Yeshiva of Shar Yashuv in Far Rockaway] told me to do. I would not have ignored the advice of my parents and teachers. (But at the time, I did not see much I liked in university and was not up to learning Physics. Nowadays I have discovered a way of learning Physics, I just say the words and it goes in. This is no joke. It actually worked when I was in Polytechnic Institute New York University. But there I modified this system a little  to say the words forwards and backwards.)
In terms of learning Torah itself, I would have one daily period of Talmud with Tosphot and the Maharsha in order from the beginning to the end of the Talmud. The other daily session I would have would be Chaim Soloveitchik's masterpiece, the Chidushi HaRambam. This means in plain English that I would spend much more time of the so called in depth type of learning which I ignored at the time.

In Israel I saw a lot of kabalists. There was never anything about them that indicated any higher type of person. This in fact would be a great subject for another essay. 

16.6.12

I want to mention a serious problem with package deals.

I want to mention serious problems with package deals. One major problem with package deals is that one rejects things that are good because they are part of some package that has some flaw. A good example of this is the Talmud. The Talmud can be taken as one package, and then rejected because it has some areas which it is flawed in. Or it can be accepted as one package and then one accepts doctrines which are in fact "not very good" as my dad would have put it. The usual example of a part of the Talmud which is not so great is the attitude towards gentiles. However if we look at the Muslims that are devolving, we can see at least a little of the point of the Talmud. Clearly the human race is breaking up into two distant parts--Western civilization (the Judeao-Christian West) and the Muslims on the other side (with some nations like China and Japan being part of the Western part because of their orientation.)
The problem is that obviously gentiles from Christian nations are not the worshipers of the stars [Akum] of the Talmud. They are not idol worshipers in any sense of the word because to be qualified as an idolater, one has to be worship a different god than the God of the Old Testament. Christians simply do not qualify because their God is the God of the Old Testament, even if they worship him in a different way than we would consider kosher.


Further examples are numerous. Christians also taking the New Testament as a package deal get bogged down in the quagmire of internal contradictions.

However there are times that one should take a package deal and just try to sort out stuff after he has bought the product. I got born into a great package deal--the home of my parents. This was--it is true a Jewish home-but it was also much more. It was a home that had too much love that is possible to describe. The powerful principles that was there are not possible to put now on paper. They can not be described. Torah was a part of our home' and so was Physics and the other natural sciences. Classical music was important there even though my brothers listened to modern stuff that shall remain nameless. But all this was external. There was something about the very essence of our family which made it one package deal that I can not describe.

At any rate, some package deals are pretty good.

()  Let me just say that the Talmud is great package deal if you decide to just accept the good things which are three basic things. One is rigorous evaluation of individual laws of the Torah, second is the structure of the laws--how they all fit together; third is the rigorous evaluation of verses.
Of course people that say they are taking one whole book as a package deal are never really doing so. They are taking some issue- usually a completely trivial issue that has little of nothing to do with the basic message of the book and elevating this trivial issue to Divine status. [However it does seem to me that some people in fact do get close to the basic message]

Of course sometimes Talmudic scholars are not very good examples of  Jews. In fact often they do not provide good examples. This is to be expected as the prophets themselves cursed the Jewish people with the curse of having bad leaders. When we did not accept true prophets we were cursed with accepting false prophets and following them.

Even today the the group known as Na Nach  assume that any famous rabbi is a wicked person by definition. They can be a little extreme in this but it is often quite true. ("Arrogance of office" as Shakespeare put it.)




() Another example of a package deal is racism. Sometimes based on game theory this can be justified.
I quote: Geoff's Blog (Geoffrey Falk):" For example: Kirsten Brydum was traveling across the country with an Amtrak pass and an old bicycle. She was meeting with fellow Marxists around the country and campaigning for Obama. Fresh from protesting the RNC National Convention, she arrived in New Orleans by train. While bicycling around New Orleans’ all black 9th ward ghetto to campaign for Obama, she was shot in the head. Residents would not even call the police to notify them that a dead white girl was laying on the sidewalk. Her body laid in the streets for hours until a construction crew drove by and noticed her.

Even the New Orleans police issued a statement saying “robbery does not appear to be the motivation.” All evidence suggests that she was murdered simply because she was white.

That girl would still be alive today, if only she had believed the “racist” stereotypes about black violence.

We have no qualms about being treated as “numbers in actuarial tables” when it comes to paying for health insurance, split down by [the different life-expectancy of] men vs. women, or by smokers vs. non-smokers … and we certainly don’t consider the (actuarial tables) practice itself to be the least bit immoral … yet if you judge others by their membership in, say, a high-crime group (e.g., poor blacks), you’re guilty not merely of judging individuals based on the characteristics of their group, but of a moral fallacy (and a moral failing).

If racism and sexism are morally wrong (for judging people by the characteristics of their group), then group-characteristic-based insurance must be equally morally wrong. And so are all other forms of mechanical prediction, even though they work better (i.e., “as well as or better,” which on average is better) than the “clinical method” of treating people as individuals.

That is, the most-efficient way of doing things, which causes the least total suffering, and the greatest benefit for the greatest number, is also morally wrong.

Actuarial tables are “formal, statistical stereotypes,” based on simple things like sex, smoking, diet, race, etc. They provide more-accurate (and thus more fair) judgments about the individuals they represent, on average, than do one-on-one, individual evaluations of the same people. What makes you think the same thing wouldn’t be true for other characteristics, outside of life expectancy? And if it would, what makes you think that that superficially unfair approach wouldn’t be the best way we have available to minimize suffering (or alternatively, create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people)?"

11.6.12

 Descartes. When one sees a mountain the mountain is contained in one's mind. The actual mountain that one sees being in one's mind. Descartes said basically the same thing but there are several ways some people interpret him.
Decartes: "There is an ambiguity in the word "idea". "Idea" can be taken materially, as an operation of the intellect, in which case it cannot be said to be more perfect than me. Alternatively, it can be taken objectively, as the thing represented by that operation; and this thing, even if it is not regarded as existing outside the intellect, can still, in virtue of its essence, be more perfect than myself"



Dr. Michael Huemer An essay on Descartes ;-- That the actual mountain is in ones mind. The way Huemer understand this in Descartes is by another idea of Descartes that there are different levels of existence. Existence to Descartes is not an all or nothing proposition. [A good example of this is universals.] [This levels of existence thing I remember seeing in either Plato or Aristotle--I forget which.]
Huemer: "But in Descartes' ontology, things are capable of having different grades of existence (165) (he considers this "completely self-evident" (185)). Further, he makes it clear that the way in which things exist in the intellect is one of the lower grades of existence."




The other way to understand this is by the representation theory of ideas. This is how Thomas Reid understands Descartes.

also had a representation theory of ideas, based on what he says about vision in which he closely rephrases the Aristotelian idea about how vision works, but with subtle differences that make it more in accord with quantum mechanics}. Its seems to me that he would go with the idea of direct perception and not with the neo-Kant idea of representation.
a value creator  like Moses or Socrates; - a civilization founding person. A bringer of new values into the world.  The things that are particularly interesting about him are the seminal ideas-- ideas that he just hints at, but which open new horizons of thought. The originality of his thought also is indicative that we are dealing with a real mystic, not not a good copy cat of other people.



Appendix:

1) In short what Professor Huemer is getting at is that for the rationalists the idea of the mountain is more perfect than the mountain itself and thus  is more real. It is a modified version of Plato.



2) Prof. Michael Huemer is located at
Philosophy Department, CB 232
University of Colorado

3)
 The area to think about here is the idea of Kant--the thing in itself-the dinge an sich. And this he applies to objective objects just as much as to objective ideas. Could this dinge an sich be more real than this reality in the cave? Surely Schopenhauer thought so. Schopenhauer wanted the real dinge an sich to apply to the Will--certainly the most real thing to Schopenhauer. 
 [What I mean here is that the dinge an sich can be understood to be on a different plane of existence than phenomenological reality.]






10.6.12

My father served 8 months in the European Theatre of Operations ( France , Germany and Switzerland )

I know I should have posted something about my fathers military record on June 6, D-day. I am sorry I did not so at least for today I am putting it here. The reason I have not mentioned it much is that it always seemed to me that what he accomplished after World War II eclipsed what he did during WWII.

He enlisted on October 12, 1942 when he was 24 years old. He attended the Yale Airplane Maintenance Engineering Class 44-33. According to his enlistment record, he was qualified in arms—carbine and was an expert with a pistol and a sharpshooter. He was an aviation cadet for maintenance engineering. He was discharged so that he could receive a commission as a second lieutenant. This record indicates that he was called to active duty on November 4, 1943.


He entered active duty on July 20, 1944, and was an aircraft engineering officer 4823. His medals were the American Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal and World War II Victory Medal. He served 1 ½ years in the US and almost 8 months in Europe. He left active duty on September 29, 1946. His serial number was 0 872 281. He was promoted to captain just before he left the US Army, and served in the US Army, Headquarters and Base Service Squadron 413th Air Service Group 40th Bomb Wing United States Air Forces European Theater. In the US, he served at Great Bend , Kansas and was in charge of maintaining 6 B-29 aircraft for the unit. He supervised the work of 75 enlisted men. In Europe, he was a civilian personnel officer. He served 8 months in the European Theatre of Operations (France, Germany and Switzerland ) with the 413th Air Service Group and was in charge of 1500 German civilians, supervising 1 officer and 20 civilians. He spoke German fluently at the time.
[He was responsible to decide whether to hold a German for war crimes or not. So besides the specific Germans that he was in charge of, he had to sign the release forms of thousands of Germans. That he why he decided eventually to shorten his name from Rosenbloom to Rosten. I think this was someone's idea of a great joke--to have a Jew sign the release papers of  Germans.


He had a base in France in which damaged aircraft could come in and be repaired within minutes. He trained different personal to how to check and fix only one small part of the plane. So when a plane came in with damage his whole crew swarmed over the ship and fixed it up in minutes and sent it on its way. This was the reason for one of his medals.



The most interesting time of Dad’s professional career was when he returned and was at Fort Monmouth and then his very secret work at Hycon, and created the camera of the U-2, and on the highly secretive SDI Star Wars project.

Much of this information I found out after he was gone. As a father I knew him as a very simple person that loved me, my brothers and my Mother very deeply.
He never talked about his work of his WWII experiences. The peak of living for him was taking us all to the beach on Sunday, and going into the mountains of Southern California skiing once or twice a year. We could not go to the beach on Shabat because I had to spend my time learning Hebrew and Torah.

After seven years working on SDI [star wars] he left TRW and began private business and also he invested in the Stock Market.

His was the general path  Torah with "Derech Eretz", (the path of the world). Torah and work as two sides of the same coin--but not  any work but some work for the benefit of others. I can't explain this but my brother used the word that I think describes it best "Balance."
A word that describes it is Yiddish is to be a "mensch"
He invented a machine called the "copy-mate" which was an extra sharp kind of zerox machine based on focusing of x rays. And he marketed it for about five years until the American military swooped down and recruited him for SDI. So from what I can tell it seems his major contributions to the American Military were night vision and focusing of infra red -- and laser communication between  satellites. He might get honorable mention for the U-2 camera but there apparently were two teams for that and I am not sure whose actual camera was used in the end.


Most people are sensitive to spiritual things to more or less degrees but can't tell when it is real and when it is not.




I have said it a million times. The Torah as it stands with the Talmud is a neat system.


But if we think further into this issue we can see that it is a common feature of cults to have great public faces and hide and a whole string of hurt and broken lives that it leaves in its wake. This has to be at least a warning sign that religious Judaism is has become a cult. It is not just because some people abuse it that it is bad. In what way is it any different from the Divine Light Mission or Adi Da? In what way is it different that any Eastern Cult?

The warning signs are there.

The way  cults work is by a process called Confabulation. This means that there are spiritual phenomena. But even normal sane people can confuse spiritual phenomena with illusion. You don't need to be mentally ill to do this. It is in all people. Because most people are sensitive to spiritual things to more or less degrees but can't tell when it is real and when it is not.
This is where the leader come in. He can create in people the illusion of spirituality. This is a collective venture.
(This was like the type of things that Adi Da would do.) This does not imply holiness. Doing miracles or giving people powerful spiritual experiences does not imply holiness.

9.6.12

Pseudo-Torah

Pseudo-Torah just has a distinctive tone and structure. If there was a debate about something I know nothing at all about, like the metrical structure of Tang Dynasty Chinese poetry, I'd be able to tell in ten minutes who were the real scholars and who were the charlatans. Real scholars look at the totality of the Talmud; charlatans rely on stories and anecdotal evidence. Real Torah scholars know what constitutes being an expert (I will not write that here right now), and rely on the findings of experts. Charlatans cite people with irrelevant credentials, or marginal credentials as if they were on a par with the real Torah scholars on the other side. Charlatans pile on accusations that they were being unfairly treated and complain that important questions are not being addressed, when even a cursory examination of the literature shows that they are.

Since this is a little abstract I should probably give a few examples. The best examples I knew were the Roshei yeshiva of the Mirrer yeshiva in NY. The knew the Talmud inside and out with an amazing level of expertise and depth. Shelomo Haliua the acting Rosh yeshiva of Chaim Berlin also.
I also met a lot of people that were far from that high level but were aspiring towards it and working towards it.
The charlatans tend to be chasidic.

8.6.12

(1)I want to mention what I think are two problems in Kant plus a few other thoughts.

) I want to mention what I think is a problem in Kant. Problems in Kant is a wide subject and has given rise to many schools of thought. Some people because of these problem simply go out a form new schools. At any rate my problem is that the self is for Kant on the level of the "thing in itself" (dinge an sich ). But if this were so then moral obligations could apply to oneself. It is a basic characteristic of morality that it refers to obligations towards others. [Kant's ethics is the categorical imperative.]
[Actually I saw later in the Gra (Eliyahu from Vilnius) that morality consists of three parts: obligations (1) towards God, (2) towards others (3) towards oneself..]

This question of course depends on the conception of self of the Enlightenment. (See Allan Bloom in his Closing of the American Mind for a thorough treatment of this topic) If we think of the self as the soul as per the Middle Ages this might not be a problem.

) Brian Caplan mentioned an important point--that if we can know things only by deductive reasoning and the information of the senses, then moral values are impossible for the simple reason that the "is- ought" boundary can't be penetrated. [And Kant seems to accept only these two types. If we add immediate non intuitive knowledge to Kant (as we can according to Dr Kelley Ross) then this problem disappears.]

) The realm of nature is the realm of freedom of the will. God created the world in such a way that the rules of nature would unfold by themselves until such a time that a being would evolve that would recognize God and by prayer could reach out to Him and receive help. But this spiritual aspect of things is not a part of nature, but above it. But freewill is an inherent part of nature. So the realm of freedom is not the thing in itself. This is another problem I have with Kant.

) A further problem is that I think you need reason to perceive but not be implanted with structure. One basic answer to Kant's problem how is synthetic a priori possible is immediate non intuitive knowledge.  And this can be falsified in theory which makes it actual knowledge. But how can you falsify it in practice? It perceives unconditioned realities. [I think I asked this question to Kelley Ross and he answered it and I posted the answer on this blog somewhere.]


I hope people don't take this in the wrong way. Kant is the most important Philosopher since Aristotle. The fact that there are problems is similar to the kinds of problems we have in Talmud. It  means we have lots of quality time to spend working out the problems.


6.6.12

I have written a little about Reb Shmuel Berenbaum in some essay long ago. But just to recount in short a little of my experiences at the Mir in Brooklyn.  The Mir was one of the Ivy league in those days. [Other people like Reb Moshe Feinstein were more into halacha [Jewish law].

 One of the best books to come out of the Mir is the Sukkat David which was simply the classes [shiurim] of the first level class in the Mir --for first year students. Yet it is a great book and in fact even in Israel when people what to learn a little about how to learn they go to the Sukkat David.
My first year there I finished up tractate Yevamot which I had started in Far Rockaway. The thing is that for some strange reason I think my own learning fell at the Mir. I may have learned longer hours--but the intensity of learning for me was lacking. While at Shar Yashuv (in Far Rockaway) I could be in the mountains with the Friefeld family in some empty beit midrash and learn all day long with extreme intensity. Most of my learning during my Far Rockaway years were with the Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot and the Beit Yospeh and Tur which I used as commentary on the Gemara. When Tosphot was unclear to me I learned the Ritva and Rosh and other rishonim (Mediaeval authorities) to help me figure out what Tosphot was saying. Often the other rishonim [first authorities i.e mediaeval commentaries.] would say different things than Tosphot but learning them helped me put the idea of tosphot into context. In Far Rockaway also there was the presence of Reb Naphtali Yeger who had a really neat way of learning. It was completely different that the regular way of looking at the Chidushei HaRambam (by Reb Chaim Soloveitchik) or other achronim

 In fact the whole idea of finding the yesod--the foundation of Tosphot was completely wrong in the eyes of Reb Naphtali. (Don't put something into Tosphot that is not there. Don't put outside principles into Tosphot. If you cant understand Tophot without putting in some principle that he does not say there then that means you don't understand Tosphot.)

Any extra word of idea that you had to put into Tosphot to make it make sense simply meant that you did not understand Tosphot. What he did was make me repeat the Tosphot--not word for word but explain what he was saying from beginning to end. And during that process I would notice some glitch in the reasoning of Tosphot. It was in these glitches that Reb Naphtali used to uncover the infinite layers of depth in Tosphot. The answer to a glitch would seems to make the glitch disappear but bring another question in its turn. and the answer to that question would bring another answer in its turn. The usual amount of sub-levels that Reb Naphtali discovered in a Tosphot in this way was about twenty. In the Mir this was unknown. And in Israel I discovered to my great disappointment that people were dogmatic believers but not devotees of the Talmud.





Back to the Mir. I went to Reb Shmuel's class right when I came into the Mir. This was not usual because most people had to start at the first level and work their way up. I don't know why I was accepted for the highest class. His way of learning was very deep but it was the Reb Chayim type of approach which I mentioned was not liked by Reb Naphtali Yeger. At any rate in the hands of Reb Shmuel this was a great approach. (It can be abused. People can make up yesodot principles all day long and stick them into any given Tosphot or Rambam all day long. I can do that too and it means nothings. You can always force any given text to say anything you want any time.) But Reb Shmuel had this logically rigorous type of way of going deeper and deeper into the subject but again he was starting with the basic Reb Chayim approach. Personally let me say I was coming from Beverly Hills High School do I zero experience with this Brisk type of learning. I had no way of deciding between Brisk and Naphtali Yeger. To this day both approaches seem to me to be valid. But when I do my own thinking into a Tosphot I usually take the Naphtali Yeger approach simply because I am kind of stranded and don't have a Reb Chaym here.
My second year in Mir they started learning Ketubot which I had just finished in Far Rockaway. So I joined a group doing Shabat instead.-




Reb Shmuel Berenabum- loved the Gemara and learning and living it is what he was about.
He lacked the highly negative traits of  dogmatic believers.

But let me just say for now that the few short years I was at the Mir were an amazing experience. So I want to put down a few memories that are not on the other essay.
First in the home of Reb Shmuel there was little in the way of ornaments. Mainly there were walls lined with books. And he really lived a Talmudic type of existence. I used to come over there on Shabat and on Motzai Shabat [Saturday Night] with my violin and play for the family and also tell bedtime stories to the children. But his basic entertainment was to learn Gemara. The rebitzin [his wife] would clear the table and after havadala and he would learn Talmud.
The music I played on the violin was in general classical music. [Mozart,  Handel, ]




I have not said much about how he learned. It is true that it was very much based on Reb Chaim Soloveitchik. But he had a depth to him. Once I was in a shiur in Zevachim and he was giving over some idea--a "yesod" type of the type that you see in the Chidushei Harambam of Reb Chayim Soloveitchik. And one person brought in another way to on the surface seems also to fit. But Reb Shmuel showed how it would not work. I.e. to use the "foundation" idea of Reb Chaim, you need a great deal of depth that most people don't have.

Reb Shmuel was very strict about Lashon Hara. Let me just say that he was not judgmental. He was not interested in being a frumy [religious] policeman.




I did not go to university at the time but after some years I asked him about university, and he said if it for parnasa (making a living) it is fine. I tried to say that it is a mitzvah in itself. I tried to bring sources from the Guide For The Perplexed and the Gra, but he simply said, "Only if it is for parnasa."

I might mention that sometimes the questions and issues that he raised were the same as you find in the Mishna Lamelech on the Rambam.

Don't get the impression that I was good disciple.-I am a barbarian. I live and eat like a bear. If I learn Gemara it is not because I think it is scientifically accurate. It is rather because I think it contains a holy core which I like. I am no where near the idea that all truth is in the Talmud. Nor is it infallible. It greatness lies to two areas. One is explaining verses of the Torah. The other area it is great in is  Law.

But though I admire Reb Shmuel let me just say that I am basically Reform. I have great interest in the Divine truths of the Torah and Talmud, but my real teacher was my father and his copilot my mother. It is his understanding of God and Torah that informs my beliefs. It is the understanding of Torah and what it means to live a decent upright life that I gained from my parents that is determinate. I know from my parents and their friends what it means to be a Jew. And the world of the Talmud to me is an important part of that if it is done with "Daat" common sense and equilibrium with Music and science and other aspects of life that constitute being a full human being, a mensch.

5.6.12

evil cults

 You can have a evil cult that is an offshoot of a religion that teaches good things. And also a good cult in a religion that teaches bad things. Right now I want to deal with both these questions in short order.
Section (1): The question of religion. A religion needs a few requirements. If it teaches things about the physical world, then, we need to ask if what it says actually corresponds to reality? [External consistency].  Is it self consistent? [Internal consistency.] If it teaches some moral system, does this system correspond to what common sense tells us is moral? This is called "phenomenal conservatism." That is, things are the way they seem unless some convincing piece of evidence show otherwise. This is a forgotten principle in the world of philosophy, but none the less it is very important. It seems to me that murdering 10 million people for the fun of it is wrong and if a religion teaches otherwise then it is up to the religion to bring convincing evidence.
I will say here my own point of view so you know where I am coming from. I think all people don't care about evidence. People care about being part of a group. This desire to be part of a group goes against even the instinct for self preservation as we see in the 15,000 Kamikazes in World War Two. Their group was more important to them than their personal survival. All the more so when it comes to group identity, people don't care about logic or evidence (especially to Americans to whom books are just words). The only time this can change is when group identity itself is that of believing in material or logical evidence as it is the case in the Judaism of Maimonides.


Cults. Today instead of cult let me deal with cult apologetics. Because of group identity people will ignore and twist evidence that goes against what their cult says. The only way I can imagine how to change this is to join a group that believes only in following logical evidence or material evidence e.g. Maimonides. I.e. there are beliefs in areas that there is no evidence or scanty evidence. But these beliefs are contingent on evidence. it is understood that any future evidence can change the nature of belief. E.g creation something from nothing. To Maimonides if this would be disproved we would have to accept it. This is a serious statement for him because to him the entire Torah rests on Creation ex nihilo. That means that if it would be disproved, then the Torah itself would lose it foundation. [The view of Maimonides is what is known as Monotheism.

That is that God made the world something from nothing, and he is not the world nor is the world him.According to the Torah God has no substance nor form, and so he did not create the world from his substance. He created in יש מאין from nothing. ex-nihilo.
Cults try to pretend they keep Torah by doing lots of external rituals while their inner core is טרף and נבלה. That's the reason the Gra put his signature of the document of excommunication.



 God would never ratify the message of a false prophet. That so
many religious leaders  and teachers  fell under the spell of Nathan from Gaza  attests
to the fact  he was not a peripheral figure in the mystic circles, but his influence with regards to the movement’s adoption and approach to
the kabalah of the Ari   was  decisive. This taken by itself
represents should represent a devastating blow to the propagandists of a new
movement, but when coupled with the other little known facts about the
origins of these mystic circles should lead any and all Jewish people desirous of being
led to the truth that this movement was nothing but a successful deviation of
historical Torah. I do not want to go into it in detail. But it is simple to draw the line between the dots.





4.6.12

Torah and Freedom


  My idea of a just society is that of a circle of freedom contained in a larger circle of government. The purpose of government is to protect the inner circle of freedom where people have a right to be left alone.
  To be as brief as possible let me just say that the question of creativity and freedom in relation to Torah and Talmud is a immense project. It means first of all dealing with the origins of the idea of freedom being a good thing--and the critiques of Nietzsche and Rousseau against the Rational Enlightenment {that advocated the rule of Reason}. Any possible answer would have to answer this critique of freedom and defense of creativity.

The participants in this debate are John Locke, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Jonathan Swift, Rousseau, Nietzsche,  Marx.
Locke was pro freedom. The rest not. Hegel was in the middle. Not I think as people understood him.


Rawls did a noble task of trying to find some middle path, but Habermas blew him into smithereens. Kant did a good job in opening up a path between these paths. But his work is still in great need of elucidation. and how it could apply to Torah also is not clear.





My personal take on all this goes back to the argument between Aristotle and Plato about universals. I am basically with Plato on this which means I go by Socratic ignorance that what we think we know we really don't know at all. And Platonic knowledge--that there are things we do know but we don't know that we know. For me this opens the area of civil society in which people have the right to be left alone and government to led the lives the what to lead and make the contracts and relationships with others that they want to make. Their individuality is realized not as part of a group or a nation but as part of their own family and circle of friends. This is the area of Freedom and free will. In this area there is Divine service.





2.6.12

I deplore abuse and misuse of the Torah. Like any work of literature, the text has meaning, words have meaning.

I can't ignore the question of what to do with a text. Do you go by (1) Charity (i.e. one gives it an interpretation that makes more sense to him) or (2) "He meant what he said?" This questions comes up in many texts that either I believe in fully or at least believe they are inspired. Take for example the Torah. Or the Talmud or Plato.
  My attitude towards this is based on my experience with the side commentary in the Talmud called Tosphot. But also on a separate group of experiences that happens to me when people ask my advice about something or other. Also I like to look at the wide message of a text. This later idea I got from English literature classes.
  My first set of experiences with Tosphot is "He meant what he said."  But then inside of what he says is always contained something that looks like a glitch. But you go over it until you see the meaning in such a way that the glitch was actually not a glitch at all; but you see that you thought it was a glitch because you did not understand it perfectly. This has given me confidence in the "He meant what he meant" approach always even in Torah or anything that I read. But I have seen that often when people asked me for advice I would say exactly opposite things to different people-because of whom I was talking with. Different and even opposite pieces of advice apply to different people.


The problem with the (2) charity approach is that any text can say anything you want it to say.

  The third way of context I learned in my English literature classes in Beverly Hills High School with some great teachers.
Take for instance the Five Books of Moses. The context is clear. The basic approach is clear. The theme of these Five Books is clearly united.

Just in case this needs a explanation let me just say what Torah is not about first. It is not about Pantheism. It is not about Learning Torah. It is not about minutia that you can pick out from halacha books. It is not about the length of girls skirts. It is not about belief in any tzadik/saint including Moses.
It is about what King David said to Golath, "You come to me with a sword and a spear and I come to you in the name of the Lord God of the armies of Israel who you have insulted this day."
The basic theme of the Torah is the importance of Israel coming into the land of Canaan and building the Temple there and keeping all the commandments of God.