"What is wrong with America"--posted here from my other blog because of its importance.

What is wrong with America is this. Money influences the news, and the news influences public opinion, and public opinion influences public policy. [People do not make up their own system of values. They  get it from somewhere in their environment. You can see this in yourself. Are your values completely original, or did you pick them up from someplace? With no more authority to parents, where do you think people are picking up their opinions from?]
 While capitalism is not bad in itself, this system is insidious.

There is no question that the few people in the world that still believe in freedom and in the the American Constitution will find themselves in a deadly war with Islam. [The number of people that believe in the American Constitution is getting less every day. How many people do you know that Believe in freedom of speech--or that it is more important not to offend Muslims or Blacks? How many people do you know believe in the second amendment --the right bear arms? How many people do you know that think that powers not given to the federal government  are powers that it does not have, and if it tries to assume these powers, revolution is in order. For example the power to force you to buy insurance. Do you believe that now you have a right to publicly and politically advocate  revolt against the Government of the USA because it has usurped power? Or are you afraid of a audit on your taxes if you do.]

It will be instructive for people to learn how Islam destroyed the communities of the Zoroastrians in Iraq and Iran. It is the same method they are using in Europe and in the USA. First they start with a few good benign Muslims moving nearby. As long as they are small in numbers, they act exemplary. Then the numbers grow, and the youth are sent in to do theft and rape. Then the community starts to feel harnessed. This process goes on until the community is destroyed.

Rosh Hashanah in Uman.If Reb Nahman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?

This was certainly assumed by Reb Nathan his disciple. However this has been a source of ambiguity. We see things that imply it. First of all his well known promise to people that would come to his grave site and say the ten psalms that he specified. (note 1) ["I will pull them by their hair out of Hell."]
However in the five  books of Nahman we do not find any specific connection between Rosh HaShanah and his grave site. He never took  two two witnesses saying to come to his grave on Rosh HaShanah like he did for the Tikun Haklali (note 1). 

If Reb Nahman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?(note 2) We know  Nahman from Breslov wanted people to come to his grave to say the Ten Psalms because he took two reliable witnesses [neither of whom was Reb Natan] and declared this in front of them. And said specially that he would do everything  to help that person. But he never took two witnesses about Rosh Hashana nor even said a simple statement like, "Come to my grave on Rosh Hashanah."

When he wanted people to come to his grave he said so openly. When he wanted people to come to him, while he was alive, on Rosh Hashanah, he also said so openly. But he never said or implied to come to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. And in fact no one, including Reb Nathan, came to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. They came to Uman, but not to his grave.
When he wanted to discuss his grave he did so in many ways. But his grave was never mentioned in the context of Rosh Hashanah.
[The obvious question then is: why did he not take again two witnesses and testify before them concerning some connection between Rosh Hashanah and coming to his grave? In theory he could have one so. And why was Reb Nathan not one of the two witnesses?] This does not mean that it is not a good idea to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. But there is no mitzvah in saying that Reb Nahman specifically said to do so. He certainly did not. Appendix:
(note 1) 16,32, 41,42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150 (Russians have a different way of numbering the psalms because they consider nine and ten to be the same psalm. So to them the numbers are different.)

(note 2) Reb Nathan did in fact begin the coming to Uman on the very first Rosh Hashanah after Reb Nahman had passed away. So it seems clear that Reb Nathan understood this to be a good thing though not explicitly  stated as such by Reb Nahman. However the saying of the ten psalms by his grave site was in fact explicit. 


All people have implicit and often explicit evil.

All people have implicit and often explicit evil. Some institutions and organizations reinforce this evil and some subdue it.

This fact is well known. And we can see this principle in action every day in the news. Muslims, though by nature may be the sweetest people in the world, but after many years of imbibing the lessons of the Koran can one day wake up and decide that today is the day for Jihad and to go out in a flame of glory by killing a couple of Jews or Christian infidels.

But I would like to suggest further that certain organizations can reinforce specific types of evil, while at the same time be lessening other types of evil.

A good example of this would be a school which does evil by emasculating the boys that go to it and yet lessens other kinds of evil.


Musar (learning mediaeval Ethics is great but need to be coupled with philosophy.)

The major--and I mean major-- problem with Musar is lack of philosophical sophistication--[i.e the movement started by R. Israel Salanter to influence everybody to learn the texts of Jewish Ethics written during the Middle Ages]. [That is the movement was founded on Ethics and almost ignored the thought behind the Ethics. That is: it needs to have the mediaeval philosophy of the Rambam and Saadia Gaon to back it up.]

The two essential works of Musar are the Obligations of the Heart (by Ibn Pakuda) and the Light of Israel (by Isaac Blazzer, a disciple of Israel Salanter).

This is not to imply  that the texts themselves lack philosophical sophistication, but that the whole movement morphed. Valid questions are ignored and by ignoring these questions we think we have answered them. Or we accept foreign ideologies and try to claim that they are what Musar says. And even worse,  the failure in the one thing it is supposed to be doing--character development.

The philosophy that backs it up  is in the Guide for the Perplexed, Joseph Albo and  Ibn Gavirol that people do not learn.
That is: the Musar of the Rishonim is highly linked with their philosophy. If you do not know this, then you can't even begin to understand their Musar.

What are you going to do? Just teach Musar and assume people will fill in the blanks with the basic philosophy behind it? Or you think people will not worry about justification for the ideas? Teaching Ethics from the Middle Ages is a great idea--but only if it is coupled with the philosophy of the Middle Ages. The Guide, Saadia Gaon, etc.

Maybe I am too ambitious here as to what people can reasonable be expected to learn.

So to make things simple get one book of authentic Musar [Obligations  of the Heart perhaps]. And one book of world view like the Guide of the Rambam.

Simcha Zissel from Kelm is one well known disciple of Reb Israel Salanter. In his yeshiva in Kelm people learned Musar most of the day.

There is another possible flaw that the movement was not coupled to practice. What better way to learn good character except by teamwork and outdoor skills. Self reliance, keeping your word, loyalty, working together a a team,- how better to learn these things except by camping and working on survival skills in a group? The general result of Musar without this outdoor component is that people that learning Musar seldom can be relied on to keep their word or help one in time of trouble.
Musar is just as important as Reb Israel Salanter said but it has to be coupled with outdoor skills and team work and also the philosophy of Torah


Ethics of Torah= Musar. Many aspects are contained in the Mediaeval Musar books.
The Sexual Ethics of Torah is not the same as Catholics understand it. Sex with one's girl friend is allowed. We find this with King David and Solomon and Calev Ben Yefuna in Chronicles where the list of his wives and girl friends is given.
See the Book of Chronicles, Volume One, chapter two [2:46] and four concerning Kalev ben Yefuna (כלב בן יפונה). He is the only person in the entire Bible that it says the unique phrase, וימלא אחרי השם "He walked completely after God." He had two girl friends.]


I hold that the Remak (R. Moshe Kordovaro) and the Arizal (Isaac Luria) were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets.

It should be clear to my dear readers that I do not consider the Zohar to be from R. Shimon Ben Yochai.
Perhaps people think that from that point on I ought to repudiate the validity of the Kabalah of the Remak and the Ari which are based on the Zohar.
But this would be a false conclusion. I hold that the Remak and the Arizal were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets. I admit that this conclusion is based on  criteria that most people would consider invalid. First is the most obvious fact that the Geon from Vilnius [aka Villna] held  strongly from the Kabalah.
 I consider Moshe De Leon putting the Zohar in the name of Rabbi Shimon to be a simple literary device that was common at the end of the Roman Empire and continued into the Middle Ages. Though I admit that by the time of Moshe De Leon, this device was rarely used. But being not a particularly smart person, I tend to defer judgment to people smarter than me like the Geon from Vilna.

[This whole subject came up when we were reading Genesis and I thought about the fact that the only explanation I have of most of the stories of Genesis are mystically based. For example the seven days of Creation I have thought for several years refer to the seven spheres of briah [the world of creation] and are not literal days.
In the same vein I consider the flood to refer to the feminine waters מיין נוקבין that did not have male waters מיין דוכרין coming to greet them. I don't think the flood was literal and I also think like the Rambam that many stories in Genesis are allegories.
[I don't think the Rambam was thinking exactly like Isaac Luria. The Rambam I think was more literal unless he had to explain things as allegories. The Ari is the first place see the whole Torah from beginning to end including the Talmud as mainly talking about the higher mystical worlds of Emanation etc and in fact having little to do with what goes on in the physical universe in the first place.].

[At any rate, I highly recommend the whole set of Isaac Luria. It is the size of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, but you don't need to go through the whole thing to get the main idea. It is enough to go through the Eitz Chaim [or the Mavo Shearim] to get the theory and then  the  couple of the volumes which explain verses of the Torah like Shaar HaPesukim. ]
Also do this with the Shalom Sharabi 's Nahar Shalom if you can because of the problem that after about half of the Eitz Chaim, the Ari goes into the order of the worlds and it modifies everything he said up until that point. So to get it you need the Reshash. (At least that is my opinion.)

I any case that is how I did this. You could do it also with the Ramchal [Moshe Lutzatto] or Yaakov Abuchatzaira's writings also I imagine but that is not how I did it.


The Torah has a specific world view. The Torah is not porous. You can't pour any world view you like into it.

Now I know that argument from authority is not to be used in certain types of fields. But when it comes to Torah, is the view of Maimonides irrelevant? Is the view of Saadia Geon irrelevant?  So why is it that the introductions to Torah thought written by Saadia Geon and Maimonides and the Chovot Levavot are excluded  and in their stead are placed books by  charismatic, fanatics  who could only dream to be about as smart as the toenails of the Rambam?

This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a present that keeps giving and giving.

There is one simple way to show that the Raavad  [the major arguer against the Rambam] holds like the opinion of Rashi and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) that when a terrorist plunges a 747 into the Twin Towers that he has to give back two new perfectly working 747s. [I should mention that he does not need to rebuild the Twin Towers, but rather we assess the damage he caused, and the original owner still owns the building, and the terrorist has to give back the amount of money that it  costs to rebuild ]

In Hebrew this is called "shamin" (שמין) for damages and not "shamin" for theft that is damaged. [Shamin means we  access the damage.] שמין לנזקים ולא שמין לגנבה

To show this we  need to look at two facts.
First the Raavad disagrees with the Rambam concerning theft that is damaged. The Raavad agrees that "we do not access"[ain shamin]  for the main value of the object (אין שמין לקרן) but says we do access [shamin] for the amount of double the value that the thief has to repay. (שמין לכפל) [Incidentally, it is a thief that has to repay double, not an armed robber who only pays back the main value --look into the Bible in Exodus in Parshat Mishpatim [The chapters immediately following the Ten Commandments] for the basic details]

One is that Reb Haim Soloveitchik says that the source for the Raavad is the Talmud,  Bava Kama page 65a. There Rav [the Amora] says the main amount is assessed at the time of the theft and the double and four and five at the time of standing in judgment. This Gemara, Reb Haim says, is the source of the Raavad. The next fact we need to look at is the way the law of Rav is explained on the same page in Bava Kama. [This law of Rav is agreed to by both the Rambam and the Raavad]. This law says in a case that the theft was 4 million at the time of the theft, and went down in value to 2 million at the later time of judgment, then the terrorist has to pay back 4 million for the main amount and another a million for the double. [This is because at the time of judgment (שעת העמדה בדין) the actual object is worth one million.] Now if the Raavad would be holding like the grandson of Rashi  [The Rashbam, R. Shmuel Ben Meir] that not assessing means to go by the later time of judgment then this would contradict the Rashbam. For here we are says we measure the double at the later time and the Raavad holds assessment at the later time is the law of "ain shamin"--not accessing. Yet he holds for the double that we do assess[שמין לכפל]. --a direct contraction. Therefore the Raavad must hold like Rashi and the Rosh. QED.
There is however a reason to disagree with this. It could be that the Raavad holds we access (shamin שמין) and we don't access (ain shamin אין שמין) work in exactly the opposite way from the Rashbam. Shamin (שמין) could mean we asses at the time of judgment and ain shain means to go by the time of the theft.

This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a  gift that keeps giving and giving. You can write about it forever and  still not exhaust all the possibilities and interesting issues that come up.

When Reb Naphtali Troup wrote about this issue [in his book Chidushei HaGarnat] he wrote at the end to look further because he just wrote a little of a lot that could have been written. He was not kidding.

sources: Mishna Torah (of Maimonides), Laws of Theft, chapter one, halacha 14 and 15
Bava Kama page 65a. and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) on that page. Bava Metzia page 96b tosphot first words "Go and pay"--the last Tosphot on the page.
Bava Kama (בבא קמא) page 11 for the issue of shamin.

It might be easier to understand in Hebrew so here is this above idea along with a few other ideas on the same subject:

) בבא מציעא צו. תוספות ד''ה זיל מביא את שיטת הרשב''ם שגנב יכול לשלם מטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף. יש ספק לרב חיים הלוי אם הרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים מן השיטה הזאת. בתור הקדמה: הרמב''ם כתב ( הלכות גנבה א:טו) "מי שגנב כלי ושברו וא פחתו או נשבר או נפחת מאליו אין שמין לו הפחת אלא רואין כמה היה שוה אותו הכלי ומשלם לבעלים שנים בדמיו והכלי השבור יהיה לגנב." וראב''ד כתב אף על פי שאמרו אין שמין לגנב, הני מילי בקרנא אבל בכפילא שמין לגנב דומיא דגזלן והשכל מורה כן." רב חיים מביא את הדין של רב "קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין" בתור מקור לראב''ד. [המגיד משנה הביא את הירושלמי כמקור לרמב''ם. הירושלמי אומר מניין שאין שמין לגנב? שנאמר "חיים שניים ישלם".] יש צד לומר שהרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם שהגנב יכול לשלם במטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף.
כדאי להזכיר פה שאם הדין כמו הרשב''ם, משמעות של "אין שמין" היא שאין מעריכים את ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה, אלא בזמן העמדה בדין. [ו"שמין" משמע שמעריכים ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה.]

השאלה פה היא המקור שרב חיים מביא לראב''ד, "אמר רב קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין". (בבא קמא סה.) שאלה הראשונה היא שהגמרא שם מדברת בעניין יוקרא וזולא, ולא במצב שהחפץ נשבר. שאלה השנית היא שאפילו אם הגמרא מדברת במצב כזה, הדין של הראב''ד הוא להפך מן הדין של רב. דהיינו אם בשלב הזה אנחנו הולכים לפי שיטת הרשב''ם, אם כן הדין "אין שמין" אומר שמעריכים ערך החפץ בשעת העמדה בדין בשביל הקרן, ושעת הגנבה בשביל הכפל (לראב''ד). וזה להפך מן הדין של רב.
תירוץ לשאלה הראשונה: הגמרא ב''ק סה. אוחזת שמצב של שבירת החפץ שווה למצב של זולא. האופן לראות את זה הוא לראות שבלי זה, המשפט של רבה שם לא היה מציב קושיה לרב. [בגלל הקושיה הזאת, הגמרא מסכימה שהדין של רב הוא רק המצב שהחפץ היה שווה ארבעה והוזל לאחד.] אפשר לראות את זה על ידי דברי הטור, והבית יוסף והב''ח שאומרים שהדין של רב שייך גם במצב של שבירת החפץ. (אגב הרא''ש הוא בר פלוגתא של ברשב''ם פה, ואפשר שאין להביא ראיה ממנו לדברי הרשב''ם.)

אבל אם זה נכון, יש קושיה על הרשב''ם פה בב''מ צו.
התירוץ לזה הוא גם כן תירוץ לשאלה השנית. רב לא אמר שאין שמין לגנב. אם אוחזים כשיטת הרשב''ם, צריכים לומר שרב אוחז ששמין לגנב כמו רבי אלעזר בב''ק יא. אפשר לומר שאין הדין כמו רב.
והראיה לדעת הראב''ד היא שמאחר שרב אוחז ששמין, מזה לומדין שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא להפך, ולכן מעריכים את ערך החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) ב''מ צו: תוספות ד''ה זיל שלים ליה. על הצד שרב חיים הלוי מציע שהרמב''ם והרשב''ם שווים בדין, אפשר לומר שהרמב''ם חשב כך: בההלכה שכתבתי שמשלמים קרן וכפל עם כסף (ושווה כסף מובן כהרשב''ם) לא כתבתי שמשלמים לפי זמן העמדה בדין, בשביל שכתבתי בסעיף הקודם שבמצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ שהוא משלם לפי שעת העמדה בדין-- שזה הדין של "אין שמין" לגבי זמן הערך. שם כתוב, "היה שווה בשעת הגנבה שניים ובשעת העמדה בדין ארבעה אם שחט או מכר או שבר הכלי או אבדו משלם תשלומי כפל או דו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין." היינו שהרמב''ם אוחז שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא הדין של רבה שמעריכים הקרן והכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין.

עכשיו נראה שיש אפשרות שהרמב''ם אוחז הדין של הרשב''ם שהדין של "אין שמין" אומר לנו שכשהגנב שבר את החפץ, אז מעריכים את ערכו לפי שעת העמדה בדין. הטעם שאפשר לומר את זה הוא שהמצב שהרמב''ם פסק שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה הוא מצב אחר. הוא כשהגנבה ירדה בערך לא על ידי שבירה, אלא על ידי ירידת השער שבשוק. ובמצב שהחפץ עלה בערך ואז הגנב שבר אותו, הרמב''ם כן פסק כהרשב''ם שהולכים לפי שעת העמדה בדין. והמצב שהכלי נשבר מאיליו בלא שום מעשה של הגנב (שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה) אינו שייך לדין "אין שמין". אין שמין שייך רק במצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ.

) אם אנחנו הולכים לפי הצד הזה שרב חיים מביא --שהרמב''ם אוחז כהרשב''ם, וגם מדגישים שההלכה כשהוזל ערך החפץ (שירד בערכו) היא אחרת משאם נשברה, אז שיטת הרמב''ם יוצאת יותר טוב. שלמעשה הדין כשהוזל היה קשה לרמב''ם. הדין הזה היה מכריח את הרמב''ם לאחוז "אין שמין" לכפל, אבל כן שמין לקרן. וזה בעיתי ביותר. אבל אם הדין של שבירה הוא שונה מן הדין של "הוזל", אז הכל בסדר. ברמב''ם כותב בסעיף שאחר זה שלא שמין במצב של שבירה, היינו שמעריכים את החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) נראה שיש מחלוקת בין הרמב''ם והטור לגבי הדין של רב- היינו הדין שהוזל שוויון החפץ. רב פסק קרן כעין שגנב וכפל ודו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין. והטור פסק שזה שייך גם במצב של שבירת חפץ. אבל בההלכה של הוזל, הרמב''ם אינו מזכיר שבירת החפץ, וגם עניין הקרן הוא מדלג לגמרי. זה משמע שהחפץ לפנינו, רק שהוזל. [אפשר לומר שאם הרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם זה גרם לו לפרש את הדין של רב רק לגבי זולא, ולא שבירה. זה בגלל שהדין של רב אינו בהתאם עם הדין של "אין שמין" לפי פירוש הרשב''ם.] [שיטת הרא''ש היא שמשמעות אין שמין היא שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים, ואין בזה שום סתירה לדין של רב, אפילו אם מפרשים אותו לגבי שבירה.]

) למעשה יותר טוב לומר שהרמב''ם פוסק כרש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם בכלים שלמים או כסף. הסיבה לזה היא שבהלכה י''ד איפה שהרמב''ם מביא את הדין של רב, משמע שהמצב של כפל דומה למצב של דו''ה, דהיינו שמדברים במצב שהכלי נשבר. ואם זה נכון, אז אין הדין הזה מתאים להלכה י''ד שהיא ההלכה של אין שמין. [זאת אומרת שההלכה של אין שמין בהלכה ט''ו מתאימה רק לשליש הלכה י''ד.] ולכן ההלכה של אין שמין אומרת לשלם בכלים שלמים ואינה מדברת בעיין זמן הערך.

) אם אומרים שמקור הראב''ד הוא משפט של רב בב''ק סה. היה אפשרות לומר שהראב''ד אוחז כמו רש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים. ורב חיים סאלאווייציק מביא את המשפט של רב למקור לראב''ד. מזה יש אפשרות לתת שני שלבים להראות שהראב''ד אוחז כרש''י. שלב ראשון: הראב''ד אומר אין שמין שייך רק לקרן. לגבי כפל הדין הוא שמין. שלב שני: בדינו של רב [שהרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים בו] אנחנו מעריכים את הקרן לפי שעת הגנבה, ואת הכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין. ולכן אם במצב של שמין אנחנו מעריכים את החפץ בזמן העמדה בדין, אם כן שמין או אין שמין לא יכול להיות שייך לזמן הערך. ולכן הוא שייך רק לכלים שלמים. ואי אפשר להשיב "שמין" משמעו זמן העמדה בדין, בגלל שמשמעות הדין "שמין" היא גם בנזיקים ששם שמין את ערך החפץ בזמן השבירה דווקא, ואז מחזירים את החפץ ומשלימים החסרון בדמים. ושמה מה שקובע את ערך החפץ היא שעת השבירה.
אבל למעשה, יש אפשרות לראב''ד לאחוז כשיטת הרשב''ם. וכדי להסביר את זאת, אני צריך להציג את ההקדמה הזאת להסביר איך רב חיים הלוי מבין את דעת הראב''ד. דבר ראשון: מצב של שבירה נחשב לגנבה אריכתא (גנבה ארוכה) עד זמן השבירה. ובמצב כזה רב אמר לשלם כשעת הגנבה היינו שעת השבירה. וכשרב אמר לשלם כפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין הכוונה היא לשעת העמדה בדין כפשוטו והחפץ צריך להיות מצוי כדי להעריך אותו. וזה האופן שהראב''ד מפרש את הדין של רב-- החפץ נשברה במקצת. ולפי הראב''ד הדין של רב הוא הדין של אין שמין לגנבה. וככה מפרש הראב''ד הדין של רב: אין שמין את הקרן וכן שמין לכפל. וכשהחפץ נשבר במקצת הוא עדיין נחשב להיות בעין ומצוי בכדי להעריך אותו בשעת העמדה בדין. רק שאי אפשר להחזיר אותו בתורת הרי שלך לפניך. [וראב''ד מפרש "שמין" "ואין שמין" להיות שייך לזמן הערך, אבל במובן להפך מן הרשב''ם. להראב''ד שמין משמע בזמן העמדה בדין, ואין שמין משמע שעת הגנבה.]

It is astounding to me how mistaken I can be.This sometimes came up when I was learning with David Bronson. But it also came up when I was looking over my notes on Bava Metzia page 97a.

I was clearly trying to support an opinion of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik that says that the Rambam holds by Rashi and the Rosh in terms of what it means "One does not evaluate for a thief."  Of course that fact that I had neither the Ramba nor the Gemara nor the book of Reb Chaim might also have contributed to my mistake.I had no way of looking anything up {being in exile so so speak}.

But what occurred to me today is a fantastic new idea that came out of my mistake. The idea is this. I became aware at one point that Rav Elazar Shach says the Rambam holds with the Rashbam. So I saw that my forced reading on the Rambam laws of theft 1:14 was simply wrong and stupid and calculated to support Reb Chaim in spite of the obvious fact that I was reading it wrong.
But how to explain this properly I am not really sure of. Basically what I want to say is you have to read halacha 14 together with 15 almost as if they were one halacha.

So with that it all becomes clear. If the stolen object went down in value from 4 shekalim to 2 then the theif pays 4. That is the beginning of halacha 14. That is to say that the beginning of halacha 14 says nothing about the object being broken. It is clear the Rambam means he gives back the object and pays the extra 2 shekalim that it went down in value from the time of the theft until the day the case comes to court. But it might be broken also and then the same law would apply,that the thief give back the whole four shekalim. Then halacha 15 is just a continuation of halacha 14 which is "one does not evaluate for a thief." It is the case when the object was broken and all it says is the thief can not say "Your object is before you." It has nothing to do with the time at which you evaluate the object. Therefore the astounding result is that even the Rambam holds one can pay back with objects that are worth the same amount of money that he owes. But also that that law has nothing to do with the time one evaluates the object.


The way I deal with Torah is this. I take it as a given that on my own I would not be able to form a logical rigorous consistent world view based on my knowledge of Torah and Talmud. So I learned Musar and the works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon.
When later authorities disagree with Maimonides or Saadia Geon, I defer to the earlier authorities.

The reason is that I assume that  great people like the Baal Shem Tov do not constituent a alternative approach to Torah. And if they would, I would have to defer to Maimonides.

 So when I see Hasidic books teaching a different set of teachings than what I  know are against Maimonides, I simply ignore them.

 I am aware that the  Hasidic movement has become highly anti Rambam, even though they deny this fact. The issue is not whether they learn the Guide for the Perplexed   (they don't), but rather that most modern day Hasidic teachings are simply teaching Shabati Tzvi's teaching in disguise that neither the Rambam or any of our forefathers would have recognized as being Torah at all. By the teachings of shabati tzvi disguised as authentic Torah the teachings and i think energies of the dark side were able to penetrate into Orthodox Judaism.

This issue of world view is also the reason, learning Musar is important. Too much of modern day Judaism presents a world that contradicts the Torah


The moral of the story is there is no substitute for learning all the works of the Rambam from the beginning to the end--every last word.--starting from the Guide for the Perplexed

I was learning the Talmud yesterday with my learning partner. And I noticed something strange in the Talmud and in Rashi.

  For an introduction let me just say that in Tractate Pesachim chapter 2 we find Rabbi Abahu says when it says in the Torah not to eat something, it is implied not to derive pleasure from it.
The Talmud brings a question on this from trumah [the 2% of ones crops that goes to the priests] that a person can use to change his position on Shabat. [On Shabat you can't go out of 2000 yards. But you can put a meal at a distance from where you are currently at, and then the place of the meal will be considered your place on Shabat.]
Trumah is good for that even though you can't eat it.
  The answer the Talmud gives to this is you can undo  trumah. It is like an oath that three people can loosen. I asked on this.
  I asked --"But not every neder [oath] can be loosened?"
I was thinking of things like you find in tractate Nedarim chapter 9 like nolad [a new situation arises].
  He opened up a Rambam and showed me where the Rambam says that we do not open up a permission, but still if the person has regret, three people can permit any neder [commitment].

And to think that just before that I was criticizing him that his anti science world view  was in direct contradiction to Maimonides and Saadia Geon. I told him that his world view was based on  later Hasidim  that rejected the Rambam's world view. I was complaining that he did not learn the Guide For The Perplexed or the Emunot and Deot of Saadia Geon.

My point was that by his learning Hasidic books that gave him a world view that is not just contradictory to that of that of Maimonides, but also that it gives him a world view such that if someone tells him some idea from Maimonides or Saadia Geon, he considers it to be heresy.

The irony here is that I proved my own point. I had formed my ideas about oaths on the Talmud in Nedarim,  but never had spent much time learning the laws of Nedarim in the Rambam. So when I heard a view from  contrary to my views which I had in fact based on the Talmud, I thought it was completely wrong.

  The moral of the story is there is no substitute for learning all the works of the Rambam from the beginning to the end--every last word.--starting from the Guide for the Perplexed. P.S. David Hartman gives a good introduction to the Rambam.
I saw his book in the library of Hebrew University in Jerusalem where I used to hang out.
And I think I should mention that the Guide of the Rambam by itself is  hard to swallow. It does not have  magnetic pull . Still I think it is important because without it it is too easy to come up with alternative world views that are opposite to the Torah and yet still to be thinking they are Torah. When the Rambam writes his book for confused people he does not mean just people that know they are confused but especially people that don't think they are confused but think they know the worldview of the Torah better than the Rambam.


The Dark Realm

Jews  and gentiles are not aware of the fact the the Dark Side usually hangs out and surrounds places and sources of holiness. This is a well known Kabalistic concept, but seems to be unknown to most people.
This is slightly different from another well known phenomenon: the mixing of good and evil.
But here I am referring to the fact that the Evil Side is actually attracted to people and places and other sources of holiness.

For gentiles I am not sure how they could become aware of this phenomenon and protect themselves from it --but at least in the Jewish world I think this is a well known fact and so people tend to look at the good in any particular tzadik or holy place and when it comes to the question of mistakes or bad influences, they tend to ignore it and attribute it to this phenomenon.

[I think many Christians are aware of the problem with churches teaching a mixer of good and evil doctrines. But that is totally different from the phenomenon that I am describing here in which actual evil forces are attracted to places of holiness.]

I might try here to give a few examples. But before I do let me present a caveat. There are lots of times when I go with logic and label a certain movement or person as good or holy, and then through a combination of study and experience I discover I made a mistake. So I admit that the most powerful insights I have to the nature of the human world are based on experience and not logic. And this experience is uncommunicable to others because others can always doubt one person's experiences.
Be that as it may I think I have been able to identify places and teachings that communicate holiness to people and also to identify movements and people that communicate uncleanliness and evil to people. And I believe this is an objective assessment--not subjective--because like I believe in objective morality I also think there is a realm of values that are objectively holy and other values that are objectively unholy. And this does not depend on the observer but on the nature of reality itself.

In Israel I saw an opening to Being itself. But that seemed to have been temporary because at a certain point I saw evil descend to there. That was in 1989. Since then I returned a few times and I did not see any return of the open holiness,-- yet.


There are a few good reason to defend the Constitution of the USA. Certainly philosophers today are starting to become aware of this. Though philosophy (and in general humanities and social studies departments) in universities still are leftist havens, still a new generation of powerful philosophers is growing up aware of the bankruptcy of the Left.

However I tend to look at the Constitution of the USA more in Talmudic terms, and specifically how it affects Jews.
This makes me particularly impressed with it. Let me just give a few points here. I saw America before it became Socialist and highly racist against whites. I grew up in the USA,  Orange Country, California when it was a completely Wasp society. So I know that the Constitution of the USA is not just a theory, but a blue print for creating a working, decent, wholesome, fun society.

Also, as you can imagine, my learning of the Holy Torah and Talmud has put into me a great respect for private property and human values. In particular, I must say that the theory of Maimonides and Saadia Geon about natural law is embodied in the Constitution in a powerful way that I can't ignore. [Just take a quick look at amendments nine and ten in the Bill of Rights.]
All this goes to make me very upset when I see the Constitution trampled on daily by the USA government, and all the lunatic powerful minority groups that have already succeeded in undermining the kind of society that the USA once was. I feel that I have witnessed in my lifetime the fall of mankind's best and last hope. I dread to think what will come next. A coalition of Russia, Iran, and China? Heaven help us!

Sadly, white supremacists have noted the Jewish presence in Leftist movements that have undermined the USA. And they use this fact against us. My reaction to this is that when we are criticized for a true fault, we should not try to make excuses, but rather say right up front, "You are right"; and we should do our best to correct this fault. [I knew a woman in Israel,  who told me this. She sometimes complained about me, and when I tried to make excuses for my bad behavior, this was the advice she told me. And I think it is great advice in general.]

The major elements that are destroying the USA are the Africans, Socialists, and the Muslims. You can see this predicted in the   the story about a king who tried to destroy a country but couldn't until he put three groups into it. The first put into the country "bad language" which refers to the black destruction the Arts and Music. The next groups brought in sex addiction i.e. Muslims who like to rape white girls. The next group brought in the vice of suing people all the time --i.e. the armies of Socialist lawyers in the USA.


I went to Beverly Hills High School, and then to the Mirrer Yeshiva and Polytechnic Institute of NYU.

I went to Beverly Hills High School and by all accounts I had a good time. Good grades, and good teachers, and good parents and family. I had my pick of places to go after high school: Julliard school of Music, or UCLA where I was already accepted to and other places. But I had an interest also in meaning of life issues and questions that were not addressed by secular American society. So I opted for Talmud  At the Mir you leaned Talmud all day long from the morning from 8:30 A.M. until about 11:00 PM or midnight. There was a rest period in the middle of the day for the afternoon prayer and lunch.

Incidentally we were not rich. It was just that the USA government paid a lot of money to have good engineers build the space program and my Dad happened to be a good engineer. He had come to the attention of the USA military when he invented night vision and  a U-2 camera. So they recruited him again for SDI. [He created laser communication between satellites. That was needed so the Soviets could not eavesdrop.] ]

The atmosphere and feeling at the Mir Yeshiva in NY was electric. If you had to eat lunch, you couldn't wait until you got back into the Beit Midrash [Study Hall]. The Talmud study was simply the container for a kind of Divine energy that grabbed you. If you learned there 12 hours a day, you went home feeling you did not learn enough, and you hoped to do better the next day. And this learning taught you amazing things. It taught you how to be a mensch (decent human being--which an be harder than it sounds), it taught you respect for others, and for private property. It taught you to speak the truth at all costs. This was a type of energy that was intimated connected with the natural law and human decency. It did not just teach you, but it made you into a moral and  decent human being.

 During the spring or summer breaks when I would return to Southern California, I would call a nice Jewish girl [a brilliant girl] I knew from high school and tell her about what was happening in my school in NY. This excitement rubbed off on her, and she herself decided to start keeping Torah and do mitzvas and to follow me to New York, and even start pestering me to marry her. Eventually, I gave into this because of the advice of Arye Kaplan and a Rav Getz  in the Mir . In fact, she turned out to be an excellent choice. She agreed to come with me to Israel, and  the children I have with her are as sharp as tacks. [I did not pay much attention to it at the time, but her parents were German Jews. Now things make sense why my kids are smart.]

But the world surrounding the Mir was Orthodox Judaism. And Orthodox Judaism is a cult, kelipa [a shell], and it infiltrated into the Mir.

I could have joined the Eastern cults or ashrams in those days that penetrated every aspect of life  in Southern California and no one would have raised an eyebrow.

In fact, that was the most respectable thing a person could do in those heady days. But Orthodox Judaism was considered by everyone to be plainly and simply a fanatic, lunatic, fringe group that needed immediate hospitalization. And  with the wisdom that time grants, I have come to see some points about  this evaluation are correct.