Reform Judaism tends to take a fairly loose idea of prohibitions of the Torah.
My own parents were Reform Jews and there is a lot of good there and I saw a lot of holiness and light in my home. [Maybe I should qualify that. My parents went to a reform shul but I think their ideas were a lot close to Torah Judaism. In our home there was a tremendous respect for Torah Judaism. It was just between being a World War Two captain fighting  in the USAF and working for the Space program and Star War at TRW my Dad did not have a lot of time ]

However my parents were born before 1960's during times in America when religious issues were just not that interesting. The most pressing issues in the USA for Jews was being Loyal to Torah and also doing honest work to raise good families. For American Jews there was little doubt that the USA represented the most fair and just society possible. But later on times have show that there are problems inherent in the American system (by which I am fairly alarmed) and religious issues are not possible to ignore, and it is likely that  we all need to observe the laws of the Torah a lot more than Reform Judaism dictates, but also to be careful not to fall into the trap of religious fanaticism.

At any rate one issue I think deserves a lot more attention than it gets is that of idolatry. Reform does not concern itself with this because they think religious tolerance is an ideal of the Torah. That is simply not true.
I should mention that Chanukah was not a holiday of religious tolerance but rather it was a celebration of the successful overturn of an idol.

I think cult the Gra put into excommunication ignore the subject because they might be feeling that they are uncomfortably close to violating the prohibition themselves with their approach their teachers.

I think Christians do not want to deal with the subject from the Talmudic point of view for several reasons. One is that there is the issue of the mediator which is problematic to them. Also they clearly feel that they are not allowed to learn Talmud. It comes at least in the minds of Protestants under the list of prohibited books. That means they don't have much in the way of source information to decide what is considered idolatry. So they tend to claim that things like baseball cards or addictions are idolatry.

Hindu people do not see idolatry as a problem in the first place. In fact I get the impression that they think it is a good thing. See the Sutras for some examples.

Idolatry is the central issue of the Torah. So it is in everyone’s interest to get an idea of what is and what it is not.
Now I should admit that am just beginning to look into this subject myself. But I want to say that I think I have hit a gold mine. It is page 60b and 61a in the Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin.

what is great is that you get good idea of what idolatry is about without it being mixed up with side issues.

 While if you ask almost anyone on the street nowadays they will have their own pet peeves about what idolatry involves.  Almost anything someone does not like will end up being called an idol.

  But before I go, I just want to say that I think any being besides the One First Cause that is worshiped in order to get closer to that being or to receive some good from that being would be considered an idol. Worship in this case means any one of four types of service, sacrifice, burning incense, bowing down, pouring libations, or service which is unique to that idol. And I think this whole subject has to do with numinous reality. Serving a customer in a restaurant would not be considered idolatry.

Now I admit that some things people like to call idolatry today might in fact be so. But before we go around making accusations, we need first to get a good grasp of what the actual definition of the thing is.


[Bava Kama 19, Rambam Hilchot Nizkei Mamon 2:9]

It seems clear that Maimonides and Tosphot are agree in principle about the case of a hen with a string attached to its leg and a pail gets caught in the string an breaks. It really bothers me to say this but in spite of the fact that the Migdol Oz tries to defend the Rambam by saying he is like Rashi I think it is crystal clear that this can't be true.

You find a movement started by Reb Chaim Solovietckik to try to give answers to the question why does the Rambam decide like he does.
The major personalities in this movement were Reb Chaim himself, Reb Baruch Ber Lebovitz, Reb Shimon Shkop, Rav Elazar Menachem Shach ( of Ponovith in Bnei Brak in the 1980's).
Rav Sach wrote the Achiezer on the Rambam and that was the last of this massive effort to understand the Rambam that I am aware of. 

You can see what I am saying if you read between the lines. When Reb Chaim wants to deal with the Rambam in how he decides the law about something not intended on Shabat he ignores the answer of the Magid Mishna --almost as if to say that it is not worth serious consideration. [Which indeed it is not. I wrote about this elsewhere.]

Here is the basic issue in short.We have a debate between Rabbi Nathan and the sages about the case of a ox pushing another ox into a pit in Bava Kama 53a. To R.Natan what you can't get from the owner of the ox you get from the owner of the pit. In our case in Bava Kama 19a we have a hen with a string attached and a bucket that gets tangled in the string and breaks. To the Rambam when the  string has an owner, he alone pays not the owner of the chicken. Clearly the Rambam holds the difference is when the string has an owner he alone is responsible, and the case of the ox and pit is different because there both owners are responsible. Exactly like Tosphot-- Not like Rashi there who says that even though the owner of the pit pays it is a {kenas} penalty  and not that he is really responsible.
Also let me add something I have mentioned before this. Why if the string has an owner that he alone is obligated" why could not both people be obligated like in the case of R. Natan? Answer because in the case of  a change like flying or a string attached there cant be more that one half damage. This principle you see in Tosphot and the Rambam both. It is the reason Topshot gives for why the Gemara rejected its original approach to Rav Huna. [Not like Rashi!] And this is the only possible reason the Rambam could have to saying the owner of the hen is not responsible in the case when the string has an owner!

It seems to me that there should be some effort to understand the opinion of Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed also. 


The idea is that it is easy from the perspective of Jewish law to slip into idolatry. One does not need to claim to be a creator of the universe. There is not on record any god that was a creator of the universe. The closest you get is Brahma but him himself was created from Brahaman, so he does not count . And Brahman is not a creator. he is the universe.

So to be an idol is not as hard as people think.  And it is fairly easy for a person to become an idol. all he needs to do is to say one word "Evduni"{"serve me"} [Sanhedrin 61a]. To R Meir just by that one word alone he is considered "mesit umadiach" one to tries to convince someone else to serve an idol.


I have been gaining some clarity about idolatry

I do not claim to have understood the subject but just by doing a tiny drop of the Gemara [Talmud] in Sanhedrin [60b] the whole subject is getting a lot clearer for me.

(This is I think a good idea for people in general whenever they are confused about any issue. Read the part of Talmud that relates to that issue.)
I see now that there are two completely separate issue concerning idolatry. One is what is service to an idol and the other is what brings something into the category of being an idol.

The first subject is highly based on verses of the Torah. The basic approach is this [from the Talmud 60b]: "He will go an serve false gods" [Deuteronomy in Parshat shoftim] applies to all service [i.e. whether that is the way of that idol or not]. Then we find another verse "he will serve and he will sacrifice." "He will sacrifice" was already in the category of "he will serve" so it comes out of that category to that which is not the particular service of that idol  to  teach about the whole category that serve that is not unique to that idol has to be like one of three inner services that were done in the holy temple in Jerusalem. Then there is a third verse "he will serve and bow down." “Bow down” can’t be adding anything because we already limited everything by means of the word sacrifice. so ''he will bow down'' cant be telling us anything except that it is in the category of service even when it is not the way of that idol. [note 1]

Sorry if this is not clear but I am anyway in the middle of this subject and I admit that it is not very clear to me. There is a lot to talk about here. You can see this for yourself if you look at the Tosphot on the page and then the Maharsha.

But even though all this is not very clear to me still it does come out of this discussion an important point. That if something is not an idol it is not forbidden to bow down to it.  What is fascinating here is the fact that the instant something comes into the category of an idol, a whole new set of laws begins to apply to it.

So my question here is what brings something into the category of being an idol? [This seems to be the subject of Tractate Idolatry on the question of statues that are put up in honor of kings.]
And here also I am just staring to look at this. But one thing is clear. An idol or god is not a world creator.

For example we do not find that Zeus created the world. He had certain powers over certain aspects of the world. But that fact does not make him any less a god. Worshiping Zeus is still idolatry even if one does not consider him to have created the world.. Either sacrificing to him or even saying you are my god or doing a service to him that is the particular service of Zeus is still forbidden. Or if one serves Zeus in order that Zeus should bring him closer to God that is still forbidden.

I should perhaps mention that I am aware of the major types of idolatry that exist. I studies Greek mythology and the Iliad and Odyssey Euripides Sophocles and etc for years. I also learned Latin for about three years.
The Large and small Edas. Buddhism and Hinduism. And much more. So i have some idea of what idolatry is about. Though I know that each one of these areas of interest is vast. But still from the small amount of knowledge I have about them I can say that most gods are not world creators. Most of the time they find preexistent substances to make the world from.
Even Brahama is created and is emanated from Brahman. Brahman is not a world creator but his is the universe.

Clearly one does not have to be world creator to be a god.

So what makes one a god? This is relevant because the instant something becomes a god it is forbidden to have almost anything to do with it.

I mean to say that for example bowing down to people we find all the time in the Torah. During the middle ages the common way for men greeting each other was by a slight bow. Women would curtsy. This is not forbidden. But doing such a thing to a god would be forbidden. So what makes something a god?

Now this question should be considered different from what the Talmud is dealing with in Tractate Avodah Zara about how to tell which statues are idols and which are not. In that Gemara we find that rabbi Meir considers all statues to be forbidden to use because he is has a general opinion that we forbid a majority because of a minority.
 But all that part of the Gemara deals with either the sigh that something already an idol or that if one does worship it that it becomes and idol. But still something can be an idol before one worships it.

Now we can see the answer to our problem in Maimonides. The way to see the answer is to notice what Maimonides says about a mediator. He says to worship a mediator in order that he should bring one closer to God or to receive some kind of blessing from God is considered idolatry. So now we see what is going on. . To worship an entity with any of the types of service that were done in the Temple of with any kind of serve that is specifically for that entity in order to receive some blessing or to bring one closer to God is idolatry.

This all came up yesterday when I was talking with some Breslov Hasidim in Uman.

  The in the actual discussion after I mentioned the idea that a god does not have to be world creator to be an idol we got into the related subject of pantheism.  Now we know that the belief system of the Torah is Monotheism and that of Advaita Vedanta is pantheism. So in theory there should not be any ambiguity that when a person wants to be following the Torah that he is accepting a monotheistic kind of belief system. But for some reason the basic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta has become the dominant theology of a most Hasidim along with belief in the importance of Jewish rituals. But that is not the same as belief in the Torah. note 2]

[note 1] Like if you say have the set of all colors and also blue. why did you mention blue?the way we understand the Torah when there is a situation like this is to say the Torah mentioned blue to tell us something unique about the set of all colors. 
so when the Torah says he will serve and he will sacrifice it tells us something new.that service that is not the particular way of the idol has to be like a serve done in the Temple. Later the gemara will ask on this conclusion and ask that we could say just the opposite. But that I leave for another time.



I want to start a Musar Movement II [Jewish Ethics].

This was to be a side topic today. The most important thing I wanted to discuss was that I found what I believe to be a possible answer for the Rambam concerning the Talmud Bava Kama page 19B. But I think I will have to put that on another blog because I think the idea of Musar for the general public is more of immediate concern.

So concerning the Musar Movement II let me first state why I think Musar Movement I is not sufficient.
The problem with  Musar Movement I as it exists today is that it became frum [religious]. The main issue are, "Be frum, learn Torah all day, don't go to university, be a good part of the chareidi world," and all that is somehow supposed to be related to fear of God or fixing of bad character traits. Musar today does not seem to have any connection with fixing of bad character or at all; and fear of God it seems to define as  frumkeit [being extra strict in ritual most of which are not from the Talmud and are not halacha]. This alone would have to put a damper on any enthusiasm for Musar for any reasonable person.

My suggestions are these. Musar first of all should be based on the original texts that R Israel Salanter wanted to be the basis of Musar Chovot Levavot, Orchot Tzadikim, MesilatYesharim, Sefer Hamidot,Sefer HaYasher of Rabbainu Tam (and a few other basic Ethical works from the Middle Ages).

But I also wanted to add a philosophical angle to this whole project.
My basic reasoning is that Musar depends a lot on metaphysics. Now most of the Metaphysics in Musar you don't see in the original set. [Notable exception the beginning of the Chovot Levavot ] But as you go on in time and kabalah gets more to be a part of the Musar books you see more and more metaphysics being thrown in. Yet we know from Kant that metaphysics is a problem.
Kant is not an issue that can be ignored. If you accept him then metaphysics is impossible. You can just choose some pre Kant approach like the Kabalah and go your merry way.

Musar II would also have to include books related to world view issues like the Emunot Vedeot of Saadia Geon. Because you can't separate character traits from world view. They are highly interconnected.

[There is a tendency that you find in the book of Job, "Is not your fear your stupidity?"Fear of God is often coupled with not very smart doctrines. Musar as it exist today is a good example. Most Musar books that are published in the Orthodox Jewish would today are incredibly stupid.
Musar has certainly decayed from the time of Israel Salanter. This has to be changed.]


Property Damages

I wanted to mention a few of the problems that exist between the Rambam (Maimonides) and the Talmud on the issue that is brought in Bava Kama page 19.
 However since it occurs to me that some people might read this blog that would like a bit of introduction let me begin with the basic ideas.

We know from the holy Torah [Exodus 22 and 23] that there are several kinds of damages that one is responsible for. Many of them are stated explicitly in the verse from the holy Torah itself. One explicit kind of damage is when ones animal damages another persons animal or vessels or person.This is an open verse.
Besides this there are other many other types. But here I want to concentrate on this one type.
What happens I ask if ones animal kicks stones up while walking and by that damages someones property?

If in a public domain the owner has no responsibility. If in the domain of the nizak [the person that received damage to his property] then he pays half damage.

So far so good.

Now what happens if ones animal has a string attached to it? This is not exactly a case of kicking stones. But it is also not the usual type of damage.

Let's take the case the string has an owner; and the owner did not hide the string or bury it. The Rambam says  the owner of the string pays half damage.

This sounds simple, does it not? But it is not. It seems to be in direct contradiction to the Talmud in  many ways.
How can I even begin to count the ways?

Maybe for the sake of everyone reading this I ought just to say over the actual statement of the Talmud so you can see for yourselves the problems.

The Mishna gives a case of a chicken that has string attached to its foot is kicking up a fuss. And it says the obligation for damage is 1/2.

Rav Huna said that is when the string got tied to the chicken by itself. [the chicken was in someones yards and the string was lying on the ground and it got attached to the chicken.] But if someone tied the string to it then the obligation is full damages. The Talmud here asks on Rav Huna. Who is obligated to pay?It cant be the owner of the string  because if he hide it it is not his fault. If he left it out then he should pay full damages.

So it must be it is the owner of the chicken and it is a case when the chicken was flying around--so it is is a case of kicking stones. And Rav Huna was talking about completely different case. He was referring to a string that has no owner.

At this point i think you can see how different this is from the Rambam. If you want to see a way of looking at the Talmud here that follows the logic of the Talmud you can take a look at the Rosh [Rabbainu Asher]. But that is not going to rescue us.
So let me see if I can at least try to enunciate some of the problems. First the obligation of the owner of the string the Rambam says is because of the type of damage called  "Hole" which means digging  a hole in public domain or in the domain of the Nizak [person that received damage]. But hole is obligated for damage persons if  and animals not vessels. And why is the owner of the chicken not obligated here? Just because the string has an owner why does that take away responsibility from the owner of the chicken? What about the person that tied the string? Why is he not obligated? Is he not the principle source of damage? [Actually that last statement might not be true, for when the string has an owner it looks like the Gemara itself is considering the owner to be responsible. Not the one who tied the string.]


There is some support for the Rambam that idolatry means worship of a mediator. This is because ancient idolatry never involved a divine creator.

Idolatry was simply the idea that certain beings had control over certain aspects of the world. On the other hand these agents were not mediators.

So today when you find that people worship a corpse they can claim that they are not doing idolatry because they are not claiming that the corpse created the world. On the other hand it does seem that they are claiming that the corpse  is a mediator between them and God. That at least comes under the definition of idolatry to the Rambam.

But worse than this it seems they might be considering the corpse to have control over certain aspects of their lives. This would seem to be idolatry according to all opinions.

My feeling is to check from where the Rambam gets his idea of the mediator and that would seem to be Saadia Geon.

From the Talmud itself we have no source material on this subject. At best from the Talmud we have Shituf. That is like when people, would worship G-d  along with the Baal. They thought God had control over heaven and the Baal over the earth. So they worshiped both together.  That is Shituf. ="Joining." That is not the same as a mediator


Why are people irrational about Politics?

For my opinion concerning Israel and the situation today concerning the war between the Palestinians and Israel I would suggest to people to read the essay of Michael Huemer on why people are irrational about politics ( and also the essay of Kelly Ross considering fundamentalist Islam on his site .[]

But just for the record let me say that I think Israel has a right to protect herself. Furthermore in  a state of war I don't think they need to warn individual combatants. If fact I think the best think would be to drop the semantics and call it what it is: "War" (not conflict) and then let the rules of war apply. Obviously the Palestinians have no problem with targeting civilian populations. So this is war therefor Israel should do what one does in war. --take out its enemies. Period.

If Mexico was lobbing bombs on Los Angeles I don't think the USA would take long to respond with devastating force. That is exactly what Israel should do right now.

The only reason do not want Israel to respond is they like the idea of Jews being killed. 
People come to Uman to escape .

Of course other people come to Uman for the normal reason of praying by the grave of a tzadik in the hope that in his merit ones prayers will be answered.

But I did not want address this issue here. The first issue seems to me to be more interesting.
What you see is people that want to keep the Holy Torah but can't stand to be near any orthodox rabbi under any circumstances what so ever.
Personally I can relate to this feeling. But I am not sure of what kind of conclusion to draw from it.


I have a kind of sensitivity to numinous areas of value.

 is Breslov the same area of value as Torah?

 Now that does not mean I am asking: Is Breslov a different area of value as music is different? Rather I mean to ask if it is an area that we would think should be the same as Torah, but maybe is not? 

Or perhaps what some people in Breslov might say is the area of value of Torah and Mitzvot simply according to the Talmud the real area of value of Torah?  I know this sounds terribly insulting towards Breslov but still I think this is a question that needs to be asked.

Now with this type of philosophical analysis I think we can come up with proper answer.

A path of intensified numinousity of the Torah  people do tend to askew  into something that is not Torah. That does not mean it is a bad approach. It just means they did not understand his approach.

 Also, I wanted to address the problem that it can be hard to find a place to learn Torah. I.e. even if one is interested in Torah sometimes the local synagogue might have an approach that is highly divergent from Torah and still call it Torah.

[And there can be degrees of this kind of problem.]

 At any rate, my solution to this problem is to get yourself just one volume of Talmud plus some of the works of what is called Musar. Musar tends to limit how far astray people can go in their world views. I mean to say that without Musar, one can say the Torah means almost anything he imagines it to mean. One could find support for any conceivable world view. Musar tends to limit the range of possible world views one can claim for the Torah.


Rosh Hashanah in Uman.

  Nachman from Breslov.  Uman on Rosh Hashanah?.

Reb Nachman never said to come to his grave for Rosh Hashanah. If he would have do you not think that Reb Nathan would have written it down? He only said to come to his grave and say the ten Psalms. And he brought two witnesses to make sure that this could never be misunderstood. But he never did any such thing concerning Rosh Hashanah. He said to come to him on Rosh Hashanah when he was alive. He never said anything concerning his grave.

First let me make it clear that I did take a lot of time a effort to understand the opinion of Bava Sali concerning this issue. Clearly he had a very high opinion of  Nachman. What he apparently did not like were the small groups of cults of people that use his ideas to make up a new Torah. But  that did not diminish his respect for Rav Nachman himself. towards the end of his life he related a dream he had of his son coming to him from Gan Eden telling him how  Nachman was telling a Torah lesson to  the tzadikim [saints].

The minimum we can learn from this story is that Bava Sali did in fact have a positive opinion of Rav Nachman.

Reb Moshe [Feinstein] we also know did write a haskama [endorsement] on the petek of Israel Odesser.

Though this does not tell us anything about the petak [letter] again it is a clear piece of evidence that Reb Moshe also had a very good opinion of Rav Nachman.[especially if you see the actual word that Reb Moshe wrote.]

[And Rav Ovadia Joseph said it is allowed to come to Uman for Rosh Hashana. Rav Shach said no.]

What needs to be looked into here is the fact that some people do tie themselves with  Nachman.

According to the Nefesh Hachaim that is idolatry  My view of this is that one can do everything R. Nachman said and he or she should just be careful not to fall into idolatry.

I think that Rav Nachman came to help people keep Torah.
However there is a opinion that seems to be a basic belief in Breslov that one cant get close to God without going through Rav Nachman. This would be easy to dismiss if it was just Breslov. But they bring it from a statement of Rav Nachman himself in the Chayee Moharan. however if you look there at the actual Yiddish statement that Rav Nachman said you will see he said no such thing. Rather this: "There is something that comes into the world, that when it has come one can't get close to God without it." He did not say it was a tzadik or even a physical thing. Perhaps he meant it is some kind of spiritual dimension? see the Yiddish right on the page and you will see what I mean.


Philosophy at its best is vertical.

Philosophy at its best is vertical.
To explain what this means let me give an example. Take the Pre Socratics. The whole progression of thought from Parmenides until Plato was one long answer to the question of Parmenides, "How is change possible?"

In this case people today have had to look at the vertical progression of ideas and not concentrate overly much on any one particular philosopher. But in academic philosophy today even at its best almost has to take one particular philosopher and concentrate on him or at best on the small range of commentaries on him.

Sometimes this results in high quality work. You can find courses and books in Israel on Aristotle or Nietzsche or books devoted to Hegel which are of great quality.

But what is lacking here is the vertical chain of ideas.

To understand philosophy today you have to start with Spinoza and Leibniz and not learn them alone but also Locke and Hume. Only then can you get a good grasp on the debate between them and then you can see how Kant answers this debate in a very elegant way. But then to understand Kant you have several branches and side paths that lead nowhere. You need a strong sense of direction and also a highly developed analytical sense to be able to tell when post Kant thinkers doing their normal thing of circular logic.
You need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff also as in Frege.

It also is helpful to know Math and Physics in order to see when people talking in pseudo Physics terms to sound profound but in fact have no idea what they are talking about.
In fact you could say the major problem in philosophy today is that they suffer from physics envy.
The problem with Linguistic Analytic Philosophy or Post modernism is that once one has touched it he  can never regain his sanity ever again.

What Kelly Ross is good at is the big picture or the vertical line of thought . Also he felt under no pressure to get a job fast but took his time to digest what people were saying. So he could pinpoint the fallacious in Hume and later thinkers even while making note of their valid ideas.

So what comes out is that we get  a train of thought that starts with the argument between the empirical school and the rationalists until Kant. Then we see Kant's answer to this debate.
But we also see that his solution was a bit too much ad hoc. So we come to Hegel that Reason by some process gets into the dinge an sich


In order to understand the Talmudic tractate about idolatry [called Avoda Zara] it seems to me to be necessary to get an idea of what idolatry is.
 It seems to me to be necessary to understand what was going on in lets say Athens at the time when people really believed in idols.

This would not refer to the philosophers who probably thought most of what was going on in the temples of the gods was ridiculous.

Now for people who were not specifically devoted to one god or the other it clearly was a benefit to have the Pantheon in Athens so that an average businessman on his way to work could make a quick detour to the Pantheon and offer scarifies to all the gods or at least the major ones, (and specifically the one that he thought might have some power over his future transactions).

But of course, there were people that were devotes of a particular god. They would spend as much time  possible in the temple of that god and would do as much services to that god as possible. E.g., devotes of Dionysus would go around in groups in a state of ecstasy and frenzy and do damage as they would go around the city and countryside. (Wine was of benefit to help them get into a state of frenzy.) 

Devotees of Venus would have other services they thought would be pleasing to Venus. But that would not stop them from offering sacrifices to propitiate other gods also.

The major experience of idolatry was not fear of retribution. The god that one was devoted to provided  the meaning of life and of the universe and everything else.

Nowadays that science and philosophy have pushed the realm of religion into the background, we are not aware of how much the gods were a major source of the very meaning of life for the ancients.

The Talmud itself does not deal with any of this. It is interested solely in the laws relevant to the statutes of the gods. The reason is that the religion of the Talmud is monotheism. The underlying assumption of monotheism is that there is a First Cause of everything that exists and that this First Cause provides the meaning of everything that exits. He made it all for some purpose.

Nowadays, we do not find devotes of Dionysus or Venus. People do try to get into states of frenzy and do seek physical pleasures that one might associate with Venus but without being devotes of Venus. But we do find modern substitutes that can provide people with the same kind of experiences  that devotes of the gods had.

There are several major examples but certainly the cult the Gra ut into excommunication would be a good example. Graves of tzadikim [saints] also for that matter. [note 1] The kind of frenzy of Left Wing Politics seems to be also a good example.

[note 1] For the sake of clarity I think it is good to learn the books of a tzadik and to follow his teachings. I think one can do so and should do so without crossing the line into idolatry. But in spite of that there are people would do cross the line.

In fact I think after seeing some of the problems there are in the world of orthodox Judaism that at the very least we can say his understanding of Torah is deep and profound. 


Almost invariably when I was in Israel and I would just mention the name "Bava Sali", the person I was talking to would launch into a story of how he had some problem in his personal life that could not be solved no matter how much he tried, and then he went to Bava Sali for a blessing and the problem was solved. It mattered little if the person himself was religious or not. Just that they needed as much faith as necessary to make the trip to Netivot. [A city in Southern Israel.]

 But the curious thing about this was that between him and his community there was a kind of equilibrium. He himself was a super "separation from this world" type of guy while his community in Morocco were simple working Jews. [More or less religious.]

I have a few observations to make about the whole Bava Sali thing.
I would like to go into his conception of what Normal Torah observance involves and how applicable it is to other people, or even perhaps to gentiles. Also I would like to go into the question that the whole thing seems to have reached an impasse. There are lost more issues but these seem to me to be the more relevant right now.

First of all it seems to me that Bava Sali gives a good explanation of what Torah is supposed to be about. No shtick. That is no games. To him keeping Torah meant keeping Torah in the most simple basic way possible.  [note 1 ] People will always try to claim that Bava Sali supported their particular cult but this is universally not true if you dig into the actual facts. Straight Torah observance would be what defined the Bava Sali path. No beliefs in any person would be considered important or helpful in any way. Only keeping Torah personally. [note 3]  

On the other hand the Bava Sali thing has lost its momentum. The closest of the people to him Chareidi in way very different from the Sefardi tradition. Some people have used the aura of Bava Sali for gain. [note 2]

In spite of the difficulties of the Bava Sali thing, it still provide a rich domain of information about Torah and what it means to keep Torah simply with no games.