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30.12.13

Nothing is a holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.


World view issues. 

My basic was formed by growing up as a Jew  in a relatively decent and wholesome society. That was a thoroughly WASP society in Orange County in California.
So I have had every reason to believe that Democracy and Capitalism can create along with basic Torah values a highly wholesome and moral society. I have what could be considered as empirical evidence to testify to that fact. [The evidence is I lived in a wholesome home in a wholesome community in a whole country.--the way things used to be in the USA]

But to justify this kind of system based on philosophy can be a real sticky issue. While growing up this kind of question occupied me very much and I did plenty of reading. Plato, Buddhism, Torah, Nietzsche, Chinese Philosophy, Spinoza, Ann Rand, the Communist Manifesto, etc. And later,  I continued this and learned postmodern philosophy. [That was at the recommendation of my teacher  Shelomo Freifeld at Shar Yashuv. I myself would have been happy just to concentrate on Torah.]

With most of the systems that I studied, I noticed sooner or later different problems. And sometimes the problems were so thick that I decided that the whole system had to be thrown out, i.e. one mistake or another will not bother me much, but a lots of shoddy logic will eventually turn me off. [Postmodern philosophy is a good example of that]. [Also, empirical evidence counts for me. No matter how logical a system is, if I see its results in people acting in ways that are obviously evil, then I will reject the system. Nothing is as holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.]
 The best of philosophy today I have seen in  Dr. Kelley Ross in California. 


John Searle is obviously great but as Kelley Ross noticed he fell into scientism.
Habermas is Germany is also very great. Steve Dutch wrote a bunch of great essays on his site one of which is a detailed critique of Hume. Also Michael Huemer and Bryan Caplan and very good when they stick with their subject, not when they wander into other territories.






To be brief I think that there are universals. Universals are perceived by reason and by non-intuitive immediate knowledge. Universals applied to the human realm are moral values. [That is I do not hold from Empiricism,  Rationalism,  Nominalism, nor moral relativism].

The advantage of learning philosophy,  is that it gives a protection from  philosophers (and religious manics). For in general without learning to analyze ones world views, he or she will usually pick world view that often can't stand the test of reason and logic.


27.12.13

In terms of Yevamot page 3b.

Introduction; I ask an obvious question here on Tosphot.  One that everyone asks. Then I try to answer by saying the Braita is a Ma Metzinu, not a gezera Shava. But then I throw that out. Then I answer a different answer that the braita holds a gezra Shava can go just in one direction.





The Braita says how do we know the the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum? It answers that it says "upon her" in Leviticus and upon her in Deuteronomy concerning Yibum [Levirate marriage]. This looks like a Gezera Shava. [A "Gezara shava" means the same word is used in two different places, so we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the gezera shava.] Tosphot asks, "Why not turn the gezera shava around to the opposite direction?" He answers the teacher of this Braita holds that a positive commandment pushes off a negative commandment [even one that has cutting off as part of its penalty].

Since the Gemara concludes later on that  a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has cutting off as part of its penalty,-- therefore the reasoning would have to go in the opposite direction. [That עליה on her has to tell us she is allowed in yibum.] I mean to say: Fine. The teacher of the Braita thought the positive mitzvah would push off the negative mitzvah if not for the word "upon her." But we {who hold that a positive commandment does not push off a negative command that has cutting off in it} are left with nothing to tell us from where we learn the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum.

Now this is all just a short introduction to this subject. But I wanted to mention that one alternative way to look at this Braita is to say that it has nothing to do with a Gezera Shava. It is rather thinking like this: We find that the wife of ones brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of Yibum she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of Yibum. So now we need the extra word "upon her" to tell us that she is forbidden. [That is to say that the Braita is thinking of a "Ma Metzinu" [what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application] , not a gezera Shava]. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "upon her" all by itself.. The Braita definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a gezera shava.

And if this is gezera shava then the result is a disaster. The normal gezera shava puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "upon her" from levirite marriage into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of yibum!

I have not had a chance to look into this yet but my first reaction would be to find the book the Aruch Laner on Yevamot and see if he has any suggestions how to make sense of this.

I should mention that Rabbainu Isaac Hazeken--the grandson of Rashi just simply concludes that the teacher of the Brita thought all positive commandments push off negative commandments period and that is why we we the upon her to forbid her. [But we are still left with the unresolved issue of the gezra shava in general goes both directions.] Later note: No. Actually if a gezera shava goes in both directions is a debate. Perhaps we could use this idea to help us here and and go with the opinion the gezera shava goes only in one direction.

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The ברייתא says how do we know the the sister of one's wife is forbidden in יבום? It answers that it says "עליה" in ויקרא and עליה in דברים concerning יבום. This looks like a גזירה שווה. A גזירה שווה means the same word is used in two different places. So we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the גזירה שווה.




One alternative way to look at this ברייתא is to say that it has nothing to do with a גזירה שווה. It is rather thinking like this. We find that the wife of one's brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of יבום she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of יבום. So now we need the extra word "עליה" to tell us that she is forbidden. That is to say that the ברייתא is thinking of a מה מצינו what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application , not a גזירה שווה. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "עליה" all by itself.. The ברייתא definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a גזירה שווה.

And if this is גזירה שווה then the result is a קשה. The normal גזירה שווה puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "עליה" from יבום into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of יבום!

That is we have a question because a  גזירה שווה in general goes both directions.
Answer. Actually if a גזירה שווה goes in both directions is a debate. Here the נרייתא holds  with the opinion the גזירה שווה goes only in one direction.


) יבמות ג: הברייתא שואלת איך יודעים שאחות אשתו אסורה ביבום? והיא מתרצת שכתוב בויקרא אצל עריות "עליה" וכתוב בדברים אצל יבום "עליה". זה נראה כמו גזרה שווה. [גזרה שווה בדרך כלל היא שיש אותה מילה בשני מקומות, ולכן שמים את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני.] תוספות שואל, למה לא להפוך את הגזרה שווה לכיוון השני? והוא מתרץ, שהתנא של הברייתא אוחז בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זאת אומרת שבלי הגזרה שווה היינו אומרים שיבום דוחה איסור אחות אשתו. אם כן למה צריכים את הגזרה שווה? אלא על כורחך היא באה לומר את החידוש שאין יבום דוחה אחות אשתו.
עכשיו שמסקנת הגמרא היא (לקמן) שעשה אינו דוחה לא תעשה הסברה הייתה צריכה ללכת בכיוון השני. זאת אומרת שאין לנו מקום ללמוד ממנו שעריות אסורות ביבום. (אולי יש לומר שבאמת זאת היא סברת בית שמאי, אבל בית שמאי מתיר רק צרת ערווה לא העריות עצמן) אופן שני להסתכל בברייתא הוא זה: אין הברייתא מזכירה גזרה שווה. יכול להיות היא חושבת על "מה מצינו". והיא חושבת כך: אנחנו מוציאים שאשת אחיו אסורה אפילו אם אחיו אינו בעולם. רק במקום יבום היא מותרת. באופן דומה היינו צריכים להתיר את כל העריות במקום יבום. ולכן אנחנו צריכים את המילה "עליה" לומר לנו שאחות אשתו וכל העריות אסורות. הקושיא כאן היא שזה היה עובד אפילו אם היתה לנו את המילה "עליה" רק במקום אחד. והברייתא אומרת שהדין שלה באה מן העובדה שאותה מילה נמצאת בשני המקומות. עוד קושיא גדולה כאן היא שאם הברייתא מכוונת לגזרה שווה יש כאן אי הבנה. גזרה שווה רגילה נותנת את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני וממקום השני למקום הראשון. אם זאת היא גזרה שווה, אזי התוצאה של זו היא שמילת "עליה" בעריות מדברת רק במקום יבום, ואז כל העריות תהיינה אסורות רק במקום יבום. וזה אי אפשר. ולכן צריכים לומר שכוונת התנא היא שזה מה מצינו.
במילים אחרות. הברייתא אומרת איך אנחנו יודעים שאחותו של אשתו אסורה היבום? והיא עונה שהפסוק אומר "עליה" בויקרא ו"עליה" בספר דברים בנוגע ליבום. זה נראה כמו גזירה שווה. (גזירה שווה פירושו  המילה  זהה משמשת בשני מקומות שונים. אז אנחנו מיישמים את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, אלא אם כן קיים טעם ספציפי כי להפחית את כח הגזירה שווה.) דרך חלופית  להסתכל על ברייתא זו היא לומר שזה לא קשור עם גזירה שווה. אפשר לחשוב ככה. אנו מוצאים כי אשתו של אחיו (של אחד) אסורה אפילו אחרי שהוא  נפטר. ובכל זאת אנו מוצאים כי במקרה הספציפי של יבום היא מותרת. אז אנחנו צריכים לאפשר לכל היחסים האסורים במקרה של יבום להיות מותרים. אז עכשיו אנחנו צריכים את מילה אחת מיותרת "עליה" לספר לנו שהיא אסורה. כלומר כי ברייתא הוא חושבת על "מה מצינו", מה אנו מוצאים במקום אחד אנו מרחיבים באופן אוטומטי למקומות אחרים, אם לא נצליח למצוא סיבה ספציפית להגביל את תחולתו, לא גזירה שווה. הבעיה עם זה היא כי זה יעבוד גם אם רק הייתה המילה "עליה" לבדה. את ברייתא בהחלט מתייחס לעובדה כי אותה המילה משמשת בשני המקומות לגזור את  החוק שלה. אז זה בהחלט אומר שזה גזירה שווה. ואם זה גזירה שווה, אז התוצאה היא קשה. הגזירה שווה הרגילה מעמידה את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, ולהיפך. זה היה גורם לשים את "עליה" של יבום לתוך היחסים ולעשות את כולם אסורים רק במקרה של יבום! כלומר יש לנו שאלה משום גזירה שווה הולכת לשני הכיוונים. תשובה. למעשה אם גזירה שווה הולכת בשני הכיוונים הוא ויכוח. כאן נראה שהברייתא  בדעת שהגזירה השווה סובבת רק לכיוון אחד.
רציתי להציג נושא שעולה בתחילת יבמות. זה יעזור לענות על שאלה ששאלתי בתחילת יבמות. זוהי שאלת אשת אחיו מאמו. החוק בתורת כהנים שתוספות מביא בתחילת יבמות. משפט זה מובא על הפסוק  שלא לישא אשת אחיו של שאומר "נדה היא". תורת הכהנים שואלת למה להשוות אותה לנדה? מכיוון שבדיוק כמו נדה יש ​​זמן של רשות, כך גם היא, כלומר אם אחיו מת ללא ילדים. אז הפסוק לא ניתן לדבר על אח מהאם. יבמות מ''א.  הותרה ונאסרה וחזרה והותרה אסורה כמו שמואל ורב אסי. הסיבה לזה הרשב''א אומר היא הדעה שמכילה את היבמה באיסור כרת אבל עשה של יבום דוחף אותו. אבל הלכה בגמרא עצמה היא הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת כמו רב ור' חנינא וכי הדעה מחזיקה לאיסור של אשת אח יש מגבלת זמן ואחרי שהיא נופלת ליבום אין עוד כל כרת מעורב. לכן לשאלה שלי בתחילת יבמות יש תשובה. כי ההוראה המקורית שם זה  מחזיקה בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת וזו תהיה גם כמו הדעה שנדחתה בגמרא , הדעה של שמואל ואת רב אסי. היינו תשובתי על הברייתא בתחילת יבמות. שזו הולכת כמו שמואל ורב אסי שמחזיקים עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. אז התשובה שלי תהיה בכך בדיוק כמו שהרשב''א אמר ששמואל ורב אסי מחזיקים הותרה ונאסרה והותרה אסורה וזה יהיה בגלל שקבעו כי עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת ואפילו אשת אח מאביו איסור של אשת אח נמשך, אבל פשוט נדחף על ידי עשה של יבום. אבל הלכה היא כמו רב ור' חנינא כי הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת. וזה הולך כדעת אין עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זה הכי הגיוני כי בדרך כלל אנחנו מבינים יבום להיות כמו נדה באופן שבו לאחר הזמן של האיסור אין איסור כלל, לא כי הוא נדחף משם.

25.12.13

Tractate Yevamot. Page three of Yevamot is  a very important page in the Talmud. This is one of the  places  where the Talmud takes the time and trouble to derive its laws from the verses in a logically rigorous manner. The basic beginning on the subject comes from the question how do we know that a Tzarat Erva (צרת ערווה) is forbidden [to Beit Hillel]. The Talmud answers from the extra "upon her."(עליה) I would rather not go into the details here but the problem in this piece of Talmud are discussed on the side in the Tosphot Yeshanim.

I don't remember all the details but the basic idea was that the Gemara uses "upon her" (עליה) for a Gezeira Shava. (גזירה שווה) The Gemara says: "Just like in forbidden relations, a sister is forbidden, so also by yevamot a sister is forbidden."
  The Tosphot Yeshanim asks: "Let's turn the Gezeira Shava in the opposite direction to make her permitted in Yibum? He answers the Gemara is depending on a later page in the Talmud (sugia) in which we know the a positive prohibition pushes off a negative prohibition. So that is what we would think even without the extra words "upon her."(עליה)  So why do we need upon her? Only to tell us something different from what we would have thought, -and that is to make her forbidden.
  At this point I asked:  But what happens after later on the Gemara says a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has karet (being cutting off from ones people) as part of it penalty? After we know this, then without "upon her" we would already know he is forbidden. So what the the "upon her"(עליה)  tell us? That she is permitted! 

24.12.13

It is not really a big deal but when I was learning Isaac Luria a few years back I never did the subject of (Nukvah) the wife in depth.



 So for a few days I have been looking at Shaar HaNukva in Isaac Luria's Mavo Shaarim. I discovered something interesting that I had not seen before when I was skimming over it.

It is the fact that when the husband builds the wife, there are aspects of light that she gets from him and there are other actual aspects of her spiritual vessels that she gets from him. We know that she has a half of one third of his kindness in her Crown. But as I looked closer I saw some details I had missed. For one thing there is a difference between the man and the woman in this regard. The husband gets 2/3s of one kindness for his Sphere of Beauty. But he does not use it all for that Sphere. Rather 1/2 of 1/3 goes to his wife, 1/3 stays there, and a whole 1/3 goes up to his crown.

The wife gets a part of the outer light of kindness which is contained in his beauty and a part of the inner light.
She gets from the inner light only 1/2 of one third as I just mentioned. This stays in her crown. But from the outer light of his kindness she gets 1.5 thirds  [i.e. a whole half]. Here things are different for the wife than for the husband. She uses 1/2  of one third for her crown, another 1/2 of one third for her Intellect [Daat] and the last 1/2 of one third for her beauty. Actually you can see this easily. Did you ever notice how a bride becomes more beautiful after she gets married? I have seen this and the effect is sometimes startling.


However a word of warning. When i hear any kind of Hasidim talking about Kabalah i cringe. In general chasidm have not done the basic homework to know what they are talking about and explains concepts of Isaac Luria in  many  ways that are opposed of what Isaac Luria says. If they would not be pretending knowledge of Isaac Luria I would not mind so much but once you decide to talk about Kabalah you have a n obligation to have done the homework.




22.12.13

In Bava Metzia 14b we find that the Talmudic sage Rav said that in a case where one has bought something from a thief and the property returns to  the owner, that the buyer [party number three] gets the money he paid for it from the thief and the improvement also. Rashi explain that this is a case in which the original property was already improved and the thief damaged the property. So the original owner is getting back the property with zero improvement. Tosphot explains that the case is simply that the property was empty and the buyer improved it, and so when Rav says the thief pays back the improvement, it is a simple case of his giving back the improvement, and the original owner gives back the investment to the buyer.

The idea of Tosphot is that this is not any different from a case where a person goes into someone else's field and plants it. In such a case the owner pays the investment, but not the improvement.
This all seems simple and plain. Now this is also the way the Pnei Yehoshua understands this and it seems like there is no need of any explanation.

The problem here arises when we look at Bava Kama page 95a. It looks like this entire subject in Bava Metzia is going according to the opinion of Rabbi Meir over there, and against Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon.--which seems absurd on the face of it. Simply put, it so happens that R. Meir is the one person who holds that improvement goes back to the original owner with the stolen object--not Rabbi Yehuda or Rabbi Shimon. But if you try to explain the subject in Bava Metzia as if it was going like the halacha (law) in Bava Kama, you encounter major problems. Some of these problems were noted by the Pnei Yehoshua, but there is  a  question  that seems to me to be even more powerful that the questions the Pnei Yehoshua raised. The fact is that Shmuel is the person that argues with Rav in Bava Metzia and he says the third party --the buyer-- does not get back the improvement. If you try to explain this according to Rabbi Yehuda it makes no sense. Of course he does not get back the improvement -- because no one took it from him in the first place!
In short, the whole subject in Bava Metzia seems to be going completely like Rabbi Meir and we know from Tractate Eruvin that this is simply impossible. When there is an argument between Rabbi Meir and or Rabbi Shimon with Rabbi Yehuda the law always is like Rabbi Yehuda.

Here is a different idea on that some page.


 ב''מ יד: יש פה שלשה אנשים: נגזל,גזלן, ולוקח מן הגזלן והקרקע שנגזלה. הקרקע חוזרת לבעלים עם השבח שהשביחה הלוקח. רב אמר שהלוקח גובה מחיר הקרקע ושבחה מן הגזלן. תוספות אומרים שהדין של היורד לתוך שדה חבירו בלי רשות שמקבל היציאה שייך לפה. זה דין של רב בדף קג. ושם רב אומר ידו על התחתונה. זאת אומרת שאם השבח פחות מן היציאה, אז הנגזל משלם את היציאה. ואם היציאה פחותה, אז הוא משלם את היציאה. ועכשיו אפשר להבין כוונת התוספות פה בדף יד:. פה יש שתי אפשריות. א) השבח יותר מן היציאה. ב) השבח פחות מן היציאה. מצב הראשון הוא המצב שרב דיבר עליו. שם הנגזל משלם את היציאה, והגזלן משלם את השבח. [פה כוונת רב היא שהגזלן משלם את השבח היתר מן היציאה, היינו ההפרש. וזה שלא ככוונתו בדף קג. אולי יש פה איזו קושיא?] במצב השני שהשבח פחות, אז הגזלן אינו משלם כלום, והנגזל משלם את השבח. וזאת היא השאלה שלי. למה הגזלן אינו משלם את היציאה? אם אנחנו הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר, אז הוא חייב לשלם את היציאה. אם אנחנו לא הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר (אחריות לאו טעות סופר היא) אז גם השבח אינו משלם

[Looking at this essay later I am not sure why I did not write the first idea in Hebrew.  I think the reason I did not put the first paragraph into Hebrew was  I was thinking along the lines   of Tosphot that the two Gemaras pg 14 and 101 mean the same thing-that the שבח goes to the thief and then to the buyer. But later I decided that that can't be what Tosphot meant. Rather who ever did the שבח gets paid for it. And therefore the whole above essay becomes important again.

20.12.13

It is well known that the Yoseph Yozel Horowitz (from Navaradok) held that trust in God is of prime importance in life.
I have claimed that this is a good approach, but it only works if one has held to it as soon as he has heard of it, and not gone away from it. If one starts to depend on his own deeds and intelligence in obtaining life's needs, then one can't go back to trust.

Now the basic approach here is that trust in the concepts of Navardok is not belief nor is it religious frenzy. Nor is it related to the idea of sitting and learning Torah. It is however often mixed up with that, but  conceptually it is unrelated. One can in theory sit and learn Torah all day and be depending on handouts from the Israeli government or from rich Jews in America. One could also be working all day in physics job at New York University, and still be trusting in God.

However, we do find that Schopenhauer made a correct observation that there is no reason to assume that the Will has human good in mind. To him, the Will almost delights in surprising people and acting in unpredictable ways. At first glance these two points of view seem contradictory. I claim they are not.

But first I should mention is that there are sub-levels between the First Cause and the actual physical universe that when these levels intersect this world cause what can be called supernatural effects. But these sub levels are not identical with the First Cause.








To me trust in God is going to university and getting an honest job and working for a living but putting one's trust in God.

But then how does one relate this to Schopenhauer? My answer has always been to this question that even Schopenhauer agrees that there is an aspect of the Will that is beyond the dimension that he talks about in The World As Will and Representation. It is the dimension of the Good. This is mentioned in a last letter of his.

I would like to defend the idea that trust in God is an objective moral value. That is it is something people should do. But it is not something they must do. I.e. I claim there are moral values that are oughts, but not musts. It is a realm of value that is totally separate from Thou must.








There are several rival groups that come to the shrine of Nachman in Uman. One of the most infamous are the people connected with Rabbi Berland at Shuvu Banim. They are amazingly violent and extremely dangerous. And they have now taken over the grave site itself of Reb Nachman.


Perhaps I should have written more about this very  group before to warn people that they use the name of Breslov to attract naive people, but in fact it is a  cult.
I have usually taken the approach that since no one comments on my blogs anyway I am absolved of responsibility to make known the different evil cults that proliferate in Orthodox Judaism.

But I think after that Kelipa has taken over it no loner is worth the trouble to go there. Better stay home  and learn Torah.


17.12.13

On a side note I should mention that just because one is engaged in learning Torah that is no reason not to serve in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force].

Trust in God used to be for me a big factor in my personal decisions.  It is not so any longer because I think that once one has left trust and seen that running after worldly ventures does not work well for him or her, one simply can't get back and change modes at will to "Next World" type of issues. [That means in English "siting and learning Torah."]

That being said, I still think that trust is a pretty good idea.
I  discovered a book  The Level of Man (מדרגת האדם) by Joseph Yozel Horwitz (Novaradok).\

He writes that think that in the Torah are all the answers to all of life's problems. And he does not like the idea of compromise on the idea of learning Torah and devoting one's life to Torah.

I thought that this was a pretty good idea, and took this idea to its outer limits. And as long as I went with pure trust in God, there is no question in my mind that God reciprocated. But when I fell from this idea and decided to depend on my own mind and efforts, that is the second that God removed his Divine Providence from me and left me in the hands of the ways of the world.


OK, what is done is done. Why is this relevant for  people at this point? The answer is that it seems to me that the answer to the problems the Jewish people is facing probably is like Yoseph Horwitz suggested --trust in God. I have seen a lot of other approaches, but this one seems the best.

Now, I am aware  that  learning Torah in recent years has become  means of making money.  But I am also aware that there is no system that can't be abused. [Abuse does not cancel use. It is an old Latin saying: Abusus non tollit usum.  ] Just because there are  those that use the Torah to make  a living, there is no reason to blame the Torah for this.

That all being said we still need to find some kind of safeguard(s) so that Torah should not be used for making money.

On a side note I should mention that just because one is engaged in learning Torah that is no reason not to serve in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force]. We do not find people learning Torah that claim that they are not obligated to marry and bear children.. In fact just the opposite. many people use the fact of their learning Torah  as a means to get marry and make money. Certainly learning Torah does not exempt anyone from doing any mitzvah. That is not including in the halachic definition of learning Torah which implies as a prerequisite that one is keeping the Torah also.



People that use the holy Torah to make their livings are not able to understand the Torah. The Torah is jealous of its honor and does not reveal itself to people that make it a "shovel to dig" with. See the Gra on Pirkei Avot  where he derives the prohibition of using Torah as a means of livelihood from the king Balshatzar [in the book of Daniel] would used the vessels of the holy temple in Jerusalem and was punished.

[The major issue in Israel is that of Islamic Fascism, not land. But this essay was not meant to deal with the problem of Islamic Fascism and my learning partner thought it is a waste of time to do so. Still it seems to me to be a good idea to justify the State of Israel.  Dr Dershowitz, and the Alt Right blogs like Brett Stevens {defending nationalism}.The most telling comment was on one Alt Right blog where one person commented he would love to side with the Muslims in Israel except for the fact that after they would be done with Israel the next person on their list of people to attack would include that person making the comment. In other words Islam is on the march to crush the West. ]






9.12.13

 The Torah is clear about the importance of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

 There are not many people that are aware of this fact, but I think a precursory reading of the Five Books of Moses should be enough to convince anyone that the bringing of Jews to the Land of Israel is of primary importance in the Torah. You don't even have to read it in Hebrew to see this.
It is the major theme of the Torah.
[In fact it is the one and only major theme of the Torah. The giving of the Ten Commandments was a semi finial, but the theme of bringing the Jews to Israel is the one and only foremost theme of the entire Torah from the beginning to the end.]



But even without this, the fact than Iran wants to wipe out the Jews is an important issue. I was discussing the Cuban Missile crisis yesterday with a person who served in the KGB. I mentioned that the USSR was a totally different type of adversary than the Islamic world. The goal of both the USA and the USSR was to create a decent and fair system for their people. The goal of the Islamic world is to destroy Western Civilization. This was the reason the Russians traditionally always kept Muslims down to a small number. They knew that Muslims when in small numbers act better than anyone. They are more decent and more polite. But after anywhere from 10 to 20 percent things change radically.

8.12.13

I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me! [I see when I wrote this in Hebrew I thought the word for land is masculine which I think was a mistake.]

Leviticus chapter 25 verse 33

"The house shall go out in the jubilee."



Introduction. According to the Rambam, when a serf(מקבל) (a serf here is not a slave. He enters a voluntary agreement to wok and property and take some exact percentage of what grows) leaves his field at the end of his period and a buyer of a field when he returns it in the jubilee year, both keep the improvement (שבח,) [the amount which grew on the field not by itself, but from his efforts]. But if this is the case, then how can the Talmud (in Bava Metzia page 109a) ask why do we not learn serfdom from jubilee?
We do! It is the same law!

Frankly, I have no idea of how Reb Chaim Soloveitchik answers this problem in the Rambam [Maimonides] and I have no idea how to answer it myself. But I have one observation that I think might be useful in finding a solution. [Later sometime after I wrote this blog, I looked at the commentary of the Geon from Vilna(הגר''א) Eliyahu from Vilnius and he answers this question simply and powerfully.]
The thing I noticed about this law is that Maimonides does not mention anything about the sums of money the serf or the buyer put into the field. This is very strange because this is the first thing that you usually deal with in the case of a loaner and a borrower as in Bava Metzia 15b.

I know Reb Chaim has a whole different approach in his Chidushei HaRambam but I do not see how he answers this question; or how his approach could help us in any way.
I am getting so obsessed with this problem that I did not even do my regular math study today. I have been going through all the different possibilities that I can think of and nothing seems to work.

Incidentally, there is nothing in the Talmud itself that makes this difficult. It is just the way the Rambam understands the case of a serf and a buyer that makes this difficult. If we would have just the Talmud then it would read thus: Rava  says, a serf does not get the extra growth of  trees [when he decides to terminate his contract]. The Talmud asks on Rava : But in Jubilee the law is that the buyer keeps all extra growth besides the field itself.

(k) Answer (Abaye on behalf of Rava): Jubilee is different, for the Torah said "V'Yatza Mimkar Bayis" - the sale goes back, the improvements do not go back. [The Torah says that in Jubilee the house goes back--not the improvements]
(l) Question: We should learn from Jubilee to a renter!

I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me!

 ב''מ קט. הקדמה. נראה לי שהרמב''ם היה אומר שאף על פי שהדין של קבלנות והדין של יובל שווים לגבי הוצאה ושבח, הם שונים לגבי שבח שקמה. לגבי שבח שקמה, קודם שבע שנים המקבל אינו מקבל כלום אפילו אם עבד עליו. ואחרי שבע שנים הוא מקבל את הכל -גם השקמה בעצמה- אפילו אם לא עבד עליו (רק שעבד על השדה בכלל). ועל הדין הפרטי הזה הגמרא שואלת, "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" עכשיו נכנס ליותר פרטים. המשנה אומרת שהמקבל אינו מקבל את השקמה אם לא עבד על השדה שבע שנים. רבא אמר גם אינו מקבל שבח שקמה. והגמרא שואלת על זה מיובל איפה שאנחנו אומרים "שמין"- זאת אומרת שהלוקח מקבל מה שהשדה הצמיח. ופה הגמרא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל גזירת הכתוב "ממכר בית" חוזר, ולא שבח. ואז היא שואלת "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" והיא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל עוד סיבה, - הקרקע קנוי ללוקח. מצד עצמה הגמרא ברורה. הלוקח מקבל את מה שהצמיח השדה, ולא המקבל. מה החילוק? והיא מתרצת שהחילוק הוא שיש פסוק. אבל לדעת הרמב''ם, שני הדינים שווים. המקבל והלוקח מקבלים את מה שגדל בגלל העבודה שלהם, ולא את מה שגדל ממילא. רב חיים הלוי שואל את הקושיא הזאת,  אבל לא הבנתי את תירוצו. לי נראה שהרמב''ם היה יכול לתרץ את זאת כך: כשהגמרא שואלת אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל, הגמרא אינה מכוונת לכל מיני שבח, אלא דווקא לשבח אילנות. בשבח אילנות אפילו את מה גדל מחמת עבודתו המקבל אינו מקבל, והלוקח כן מקבל. ועל הפרט הזה הגמרא שואלת את קושייתה


אבל מלשון הרמב''ם אינו משמע כן. הרמב''ם כתב לגבי שבח שיקמה שאם המקבל לא עבד עליו, הוא לא מקבל אותו. בתחלה חשבתי שאולי רק אחרי התירוץ של הגמרא שהלוקח קנה את הקרקע [לא כמו שהגמרא חשב בתחלה שהוא כמו שוכר] אז הגמרא השווה את דין הלוקח עם דין המקבל בגלל שגזירת הכתוב משווה אותם. אבל יש קושיא על התירוץ הזה בגלל שכל קושיית הגמרא נבנית על בסיס ששמין ללוקח, ולא למקבל. זאת אומרת, גם בתחלה וגם בסוף הגמרא אוחזת את השיטה שדינם שונה.
בתחלה היה נראה לי שאי אפשר לתרץ את הקושיא הזאת בגלל שכל כיוון הגמרא הוא כנגד הרעיון שדינם שווה. הגמרא מתחילה עם המושג שיובל וקבלנות הם שונים, והיא שואלת "למה יהיו שונים?" והיא מתרצת את זה: הם שונים בגלל שיש פסוק. אבל עדיין היא לא יכולה להסתפק עם זה. ואז היא מוצאת עוד סיבה שיהיו שונים. ואחר כל זה, איך אפשר לומר שהם שווים? התירוץ לזאת היא מוכלת בשתי מילים של הגר''א. הוא כתב שהמילה "אילנות" ברמב''ם (שכירות פרק ח' הלכה י') היא טעות סופר. וצריך לומר רק "שבח", ולא "שבח אילנות". זאת אומרת שלגבי שבח בכלל הדין של יובל וקבלנות הם שווים כמו שכתב הרמב''ם.  אבל מה שקשה לגמרא היא הדין של שבח אילנות ששם אין דינם שווה. לגבי יובל שבח אילנות שווה לשבח רגיל. [אם הוא עבד עליו הוא מקבל אותו-ואם לא,לא.] אבל לגבי קבלנות, אפילו אם המקבל עבד על שבח אילנות, הוא אינו מקבל אותו. ואז גמרא משתדלת למצוא סיבה שיובל וקבלנות יהיו שונים.












6.12.13



In the strictest sense of keeping Torah, we do find that attachment with God is a primary principle in Torah--along with the Ten Commandments.  We  find the major things the Torah is concerned with are: (1) Bringing the Jewish people into the Land of Israel,  (2) Attachment with God, (3) Fear of God, (4) Love of God, and (5) The Ten Commandments. Now there are lots of commandants in the Torah besides the  ten, but the ten are considered to be the roots of all the others.


"What does God want from you but to fear and love God and to walk in his ways and do his commandments?" (Deuteronomy)

"לדבקה בו" to be attached with God is mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as a command. Though in a practical sense this means to be attached with 'Torah scholars" תלמידי חכמים still אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו and that is how the author of Sefer Yeraim  a disciple of Rabbainu Tam describes it.



5.12.13

Lithuanian Jewish world

 Now in the book of R. Chaim from Voloshin, Nefesh HaChaim, we see a definite emphasis on learning Torah specifically.









 people make a mistake in making a tzadik and his ideas the center of attention instead of the Law of Moses which should be our focus.

But once you get the idea that the Law of Moses should be the center of our attention, it is hard to get away from the Lithuanian approach.. After all, there are lot of laws in the Old Testament and the book itself obviously requires a logical analysis. And so far I have not heard of anyone who has come up with a more rigorous logical analysis of the laws of Moses outside of the Babylonian Talmud. For example we have several verse in Exodus discussing the obligations of  a person that  guarding something and the object is lost. Another example in Shabat. Clearly we need a good definition of what it means to keep  Shabat. And in this area it looks like  that driving on Shabat is a problem because driving involves of the use of a combustion engine.

If Christians would come up with a better analysis of the Laws of Moses than the Talmud then I would be happy to discuss this. But in general Christians do not feel under the obligation to keep the laws of the Torah, and so do not spend a lot of effort in defining them.

We Jews however are under the obligation to keep the Laws of Moses and so it is in our best interest to understand how to keep them.
If there is any group that seems to take a balanced approach to Torah it seems to be Conservative Jews. Mesorati Jews seems to take these obligations more seriously than other Jewish groups.



4.12.13

I have heard different explanations for the Holocaust

One that seemed promising to me was Judicial positivism. If you add this to ethical relativism and Nietzsche who was the prime philosopher in Germany from about 1890  and onward, then you get a powerful mix that could contribute to World War Two and the Holocaust. That means that I have sought reason for the Holocaust from the failure of philosophy. Recently it has come to my attention that there is  another more obvious reason-- anti-semitism. At some point it is possible that people just stopping thinking of Jews as worthy of life.

And the cause of antisemitism seems to me to be anti goyism (or anti gentilism). This is what I think is clearly the implication of a verse in Mishlei [Proverbs], "like the face is reflected in water so is the heart of man towards another man."

And the cause of Anti-Goyism I think is bureaucracy. That means to say some people get comfortable in rabbinical  jobs and cease to worry about the implications of their actions. So religious leaders are a similar position as a government bureaucrat. They become comfortable in their positions and cease to worry if their preaching is in any way reflective of the real world. After all they do not need to deal with the real world since they are insulated by their "shtele' [position ]. They are in that way like a government bureaucrat.

This is along way to get around to what is already stated in the Talmud [at the end of Tractate Shabat]--all problems that come into the world only come because of the judges of Israel.


 What passes for morality is in general the evil inclination dressed up in some mitzvah.  Nietzsche picked up on this theme  and held that all human morality comes from the human basement.
I do not think  all morality is from the human basement. Maybe most of it,- but not all. Some morality should be  attributed to the human attic. [The  urge to do good.]


2.12.13

Lev Tahor (Heart of Purity), which was founded by Moshe Helbrans

I knew this fellow. The problem I think is that anyone that people listen to [in any religion] is liable to start thinking of himself as more than what he really is. Moshe Helbrans was a disciple of Rav Shick of Breslov. I have written about him on my blog a few times and I don't feel like repeating it all here. But he was simply a person that people liked to listen to and Rav Shick also liked him very much. Rav Shick had a small group of followers in Safed at the time and I was one of them. Halbrans was the leader of the group appointed specifically by Rav Shick. (I was just some no good for nothing baal teshuva.) And it was all pretty nice. But at some point Halbrans left Rav Shick as I did also. In spite of problems involved with Rav Shick I think it was a mistake for me to leave him. He has a kosher path--except for the anti Israel stuff which he picked up from satmar

1.12.13

Hanuka  was the last time our family was together under happy circumstances. My mother had been sick but she was home again, and I was staying at home reluctant to go back to NY. But the second night I decided I had to return to NY because Reb Friefeld had made many overt hints that I was to be his future son in law. Mom suggested that maybe I did not really have to go back, but this fact of a possible shiduch/marriage prospect swayed my decision. So my brother David drove me to the airport. Then Mom got sick again and I was home on Shavuot until Sukkot. At any rate Hanuka was always a special time for me.
Today I see the wisdom of my parents, but then I was a very stubborn kid.



. My wife and I went to the Sochnut/Jewish agency to make arrangements for Alyia to Israel. The representative of the Israeli government was a religious Zionist and saw that we were a Charedi  family so he spent the entire meeting trying to dissuade us form making Aliya. After that meeting on the way home I remember my wife crying literally. She was upset and I had no words to comfort her.


 We did go to Israel and it was great. I have no regrets on that account except that I wish I had keep learning Talmud.[Talking with God is important, but you also need to learn Torah to hear what God is saying to you.. Talking with God is only you telling God what you want him to hear, not the other way around.]






[I do not try to use the general approach of the Rambam based on Aristotle, because I think Aristotle is just too problematic. I know lots of people read Ann Rand and secretly use her approach but her approach also I find way too problematic and incoherent.] [Neturai Karta I know uses Nietzsche to form their world view but this also I find to be problematic. Nietzsche had some points but as a logical world view he has much to be desired.]

I admit that do not myself have the intellectually ability to come up with my own unified approach.and there are plenty of areas in which I use idea from the Intuitionists like Dr. Michael Huemer in Colorado and Prichard and also Aristotle and the Rambam. [I have mentioned before what problems I see in some of these world views. Against Kant the best rival is Prichard, but [to turn the tables] it seems to me that there were some issues that Prichard clearly did not think out, as opposed to Kant.] [for example he thought that to Kant no action is right unless motivated by the moral imperative. That obviously is not Kant's view. To Kant no action is good unless motivated by the moral imperative]