j27   j15
Even though we find a lot of good points by the Religious Zionists, still if  you want to come to the service of God you have to have something along the lines of a Lithuanian Yeshiva. That is for a least four years you need to concentrate of Torah  in order to get anywhere in it. And that needs to be done with Musar. That is you need a straight Litvak Yeshiva or you need to do this on your own. And if you can't do it on your own you can at least help others to try to do this. The idea here is that a Litvak yeshiva is a kind of incubator for good Jews.

And you cant get the same kind of effect when you dilute the Torah. That is why traditional Litvak yeshivas learned only Torah.--though at Chaim Berlin people did go to Brooklyn collage in the afternoon. [Rav Hutner was going to introduce secular studies even beyond high school but Reb Aaron Kotler begged him not to do so.]

So you can either learn Torah at home or try to start your own Litvak yeshiva.
But how to start such a thing? If you are learning at home I have already written about how to go about learning Torah. Mainly you need to stay on one page for as long as it takes until you can start to see the depths of the Talmud. You keep at that same page day after day with the Maharsha and Maharam until it starts to open up. And you need  a fast session also.
That is for you alone. at most it is two hours per day. But as for making your own yeshiva you need someone that has fit to teach. That is need to impossible to find. One who knows "how to learn" is very rare. The main places you can find someone like this are in the basic set of Litvak yeshivas in Bnei Brak Jerusalem or NY. That is Ponovitch, Brisk, and in NY the Mirrer, Chaim Berlin, and Torah VeDaat. Anyone who has not learned in one of those place you can be guaranteed can't learn.
Don't be fooled by the frauds.

The issue is that the Rambam says that the land of Israel was divided among the tribes by Joshua so that when they would go and conquer it would not have the status of the conquest of an individual. [I think that is in Hilchot Trumah.]
You can see why this is important. Jerusalem was never conquered by any of the tribes until the time of King David. So we have now that the land of Reuben and Gad had the status of Israel along with all the rest of Israel. So far everything seems good. But what about Syria? Syria was conquered by the general of Kind David. But it did not gain the status of Israel because Jerusalem had not been conquered at that point. [or at least not all of the seven Canaanite nations had not be conquered.]

But if Joshua had already divided up the land so that no conquest of any area would be conquest of an individual then it should not matter if Jerusalem was in the hands of Israel at that point!!!

  The idea that there are times that the holiness of the land of Israel is not revealed. That is--even though the holiness is always there still it can't be revealed until Israel comes and conquers. That would apparently have to refer to כיבוש בבל when the exiles returned from Babylon. That is because the Talmud says openly that the first conquest did not sanctify the land except at that time alone.

This might help on on the point of joy also. There are lots of kinds of happiness that are evil. E.g happiness at the sorrow of another person. Good traits can becomes bad if misused. Certainly we don't consider compassion on the same level as cruelty. Yet compassion in the wrong time and place is cruel. That does not mean that compassion is bad. Not at all. Rather it can be misused. We find holy things can become profane. E.g. sacrifices that have not been eaten in the proper time period  etc.

It is mainly in Religious Zionist places that you find a combination of learning Torah and natural sciences. In the insane religious world  places you don't see this much. And when the the insane religious world  engage in secular activity it is never in the natural sciences. If they go into science at all, it is always pseudo science. And pseudo sciences are attractive, compelling, and false.
It is hard to balance natural sciences with learning Torah. The tendency is to lose the balance between the two. Or to denigrate one at the expense of the other.
But to ignore one or the other requires a enormous hubris.

Does the collective wisdom of the ages in the Old Testament and Talmud and books of Musar have nothing to tell us today? It requires a large degree of stupidity to think so. But on the other hand can you dismiss the natural sciences as false inventions of man? That seems to require even a greater degree of lunacy and stupidity than the first type.

These are not my considerations alone and they are not idea spun out of thin air.

The most compelling argument for what I am saying is a resort to authority, Moshe ben Maimon. The Rambam. He placed the natural sciences on  a plane higher than Talmud,  but required the Oral Law as proper preparation and foundation.

The easiest way to see this is in the son of the Rambam, Avraham. For the Rambam himself is a bit of a mystery. No one can seem to figure out the right kind of interface between the Mishne Torah {the legal book of the Rambam} and his Guide for the Perplexed [his philosophical work.]

The son of the Rambam provided that interface in his Musar book  מספיק לעובדי השם Enough for the servants of God. There you see in the same characteristic clarity of the Rambam the actual practical implication of what it means to live according to the ideas of the Rambam.


Music for the glory of God,

j12   j17   j16

But from the books of Musar we can that there are kinds of joy that are bad. rrect.
As Steven Dutch writes God's Grandchildren : Some will adhere to the established religion out of sincere conviction but will disagree with important tenets. They will attempt to recast the religion in more personally palatable terms, or possibly work to redirect the religion itself into more agreeable lines. The changes may be real reforms or merely redefinition into something more palatable.

That is a recasting to redirect things  is honest in itself as long as the basic principles of the religion are preserved. That is Steven Dutch's opinion and it makes sense to me.


If the  Confederate Flag is a reminder of slavery that ought to be banned, then are not blacks also a If the  Confederate Flag is a reminder of slavery that ought to be banned, then are not blacks also a reminder of slavery?

Nothing is wrong with slavery. It is just how you treat people is the issue. Whether a person is a slave or not everyone deserves a certain amount of respect-- when they act as decent people.
And when people do bad things they don't deserve respect--no matter if they are slaves or not.

And no one thinks slavery is bad. No one objects to making white people work for black people without getting paid. That is white people are forced to give black people free food  [food stamps] and free health care etc. White people in the USA are however not exactly slaves to black people. They are more like serfs that have to work  several days a week for their black bosses. That is if they work a whole years several months are spent working for black people with no compensation.
Some divorced women have no problem in using their children as tools to make their husbands into slaves.
As Steven Dutch put it: The Issue is never the issue.

The Sages of the Talmud said that every group of people has a very specific evil inclination that applies to that group much more than other groups. When you are part of some particular group it is hard to see this in your own group but it is easy to see in other groups.
These are not stereotypes but actual patterns of behaviors that are easily predicative. A certain group I know has theft embedded deep into its DNA. It is not that they don't see anything wrong with theft. It is that they cant have a good day without it. Another group I know of are bullies. They can't think in any other way but that they ought to control everyone else. Another group I am all too familiar with are insane. Everyone has a different kind of insanity but you can't be part of that group unless you have some kind of mental problem. I could go on and on.
The truth is we are all social creatures and need to be part of some group, and then when we join some group the evil inclination of that group invariably affects us.

See review of lucifer principle by bloom

See also Lucifer Principle

I have trouble reading things on line. If you can buy Howard Blooms Lucifer Principle and Allen Bloom's Closing of the American Mind and that is the best option. Both these books are worth their weight in gold.


What I am saying here is built upon the idea of Howard Bloom's super organism. I am saying not just that the super-organism is built upon  units of social information [memes] as he says but that in each group there is a hidden יצר הרע evil inclination.
And I agree with him that not all groups are equal in value. some groups have more than a hidden evil inclination. Their basic social meme is founded on some evil principle.
To make this more concrete:
There are yeshivas where people learn Musar [Classical Jewish Ethics]. That is a good social meme. But there is still a hidden evil inclination as I mentioned in other essays. But in itself learning Musar is a great idea. [These yeshivas go by a nickname of "Litvak Yeshivas" or more properly Lithuania Yeshivas.] They are in general good groups and  in fact it is almost impossible to get an idea of what Torah is about without going to one for at least some period.]

On teh other hand there are social groups that are founded on  social meme of murder. That is their core thesis is that it is good to murder infidels. This group might also have hidden evil inclination but it is more likely that the evil is apparent and the good is hidden.


Music for the glory of God,

Sin is a great subject. But a confusing one also.
When people are careful in minor rituals it is usually at the expense major law principles.
So even though term like sin are thrown around it usually has little to do with what the Torah actually consider to be sin.
The insane religious world  are the worst offenders in this regard but not the only ones. But the trouble is they confuse the whole concept of what it means to keep Torah. Because they erase the Ten Commandments people get the idea that the Ten Commandments are not a part of keeping Torah.
Is there any concept of honor of your parents in the insane religious world ? Not at all. All the honor goes solely to religious leaders. Stealing. They might not kidnap your wife and children, but they will try to convince your wife to leave you. In short, there is nothing in the Ten Commandments they consider binding.

Worshipers of Corpses

The major obstacles to keeping Torah are the the insane religious world , those that make a display of keeping Torah..

I will not hide the fact that I consider  the the insane religious world  to be mainly idolaters because of their worship of corpses.

What the the insane religious world  call repentance is horizontal repentance. It is moving over from one group to join their group. It has nothing to do with repentance of the Torah which is vertical repentance.

So to keep Torah I think you can either go to   Reform temple or Conservative one--though that is really not the best option. [Reform and conservative have been hijacked by principles not like the Torah.] The better option I think is Mizrachi or what is called religious Zionist. There is a complaint about the Mizrachi that they got too much into nationalism and have become a part of the establishment, still their basic approach is about as close to Torah as I think is feasible.

Or you could join a Lithuanian yeshiva which is perhaps even better than Mizrachi [religious Zionist] because of the level of Torah study. Mizrachi tends to be a little weaker in that area. Though I have met people that are associated with religious Zionism who do learn Torah on a high level but the Mizrachi just don't have people of the stature of Rav Elazar Menachem Shach or other Litvak Gedolim.

Though I was at two Lithuanian yeshivas both of which were great places, I think the anti Zionist stance is a poison which is like slowly acting acid which decays the foundations. Today there are no Litvak gedolim. Why not? I say it is the antisemitism embedded in their anti Israel stance.


This is an interesting film about abortion. It has a kind of Christian slant to it, but still I think it deserves a look.
My critique is that the idea of repentance according to the Torah is to stop sinning. And it also has to do with belief and trust in God. But according to the Rambam the Torah is against the idea of an  mediator. That is in the fifth of the 13 principles of faith. Other than that I think this video is very interesting.

Not to quibble but  the Ten Commandments have a more narrow definition than what he was saying on the video. But that is because they are commandments that contain sub commandments. Even so I think he had some good points.
A Great Title  This is a very early piece written when I was about 16.

This may seem a little serious for a 16 year old but I was dumped by my girl friend. That undoubtedly affected me.

Here is another piece from that same period.Orchestra


Here is a piece during a period I think I was pretty happy that I had found the solution to a Talmudic problem .h32  If you are curious about it the problem was in Tosphot Bava Metzia 97b. I can put here the whole thing in Hebrew for those that might wonder what made me so happy about finding an answer. You can see I went through lots of possible answers and excluded them all one after the other until God granted to me to find the one true answer.

) בבא מציעא דף צז: קודם כל בתור הקדמה, אני רוצה להציע  משפט מהמשנה וקצת גמרא, אחר כך קושיא בתוספות. המשנה אומרת איש אחד שאל פרה לחרוש בה ועשה תנאי שחצי יום תהיה שאולה וחצי יום תהיה שכורה. אחר כך באמצע היום הפרה מתה. אם המשאיל אומר "שאולה מתה", והשואל אומר "איני יודע", השואל חייב. ואם השואל אומר "שכורה מתה", והמשאיל אומר "איני יודע", השואל פטור. (היינו השואל אמר בשעה שהייתה שכורה מתה, ולכן יהיה פטור במצב של גזלה באלימות ("אונסים") והמשאיל אמר "איני יודע" - ולכן השואל פטור.) עכשיו המשנה אומרת שהדין הוא שהשואל שאמר "איני יודע" חייב לשלם. הגמרא אומרת שנראה מהמשנה שיש ראיה לרב יהודה בנידון הבא- שני אנשים באים לבית דין. הראשון אומר, "אתה חייב לי מאתים דינרים", והשני אומר "איני יודע". רב יהודה אמר, "ברי עדיף". זאת אומרת הראשון זוכה בדין בגלל שטענתו יותר חזקה, הוא ודאי והשני מסופק.
עכשיו תוספות שואלים מהגמרא בבבא קמא. שם כתוב במשנה "שור שנגח את הפרה ונמצא עוברה  בצדה" (ואפשר שהפילה קודם הנגיחה ובאופן הזה הבעלים של השור פטורים). הבעלים של השור אומרים שאינם יודעים אם הפילה קודם נגיחה, והבעלים של הפרה אומרים שהפילה מחמת הנגיחה. רב יהודה אמר בשם שמואל, "המוציא מחבירו  עליו הראיה", ולכן הבעלים של השור פטורים. ועכשיו התוספות מקשים, "והלא רב יהודה אמר, 'ברי עדיף'"? תוספות מתרצים שיש חילוק בין ברי חזק וברי רפוי. ברי חזק הוא כשהנטען גם היה שם כשקרו הדברים ולכן הוא במצב שיכול להכחיש או לתת גירסה אחרת. ועכשיו תוספות שואלים על התירוץ הזה ממסכת כתובות. שם יש מצב שאישה התחתנה והבעל לא מצא בתולים. באותם זמנים הייתה תקופה ארוכה בין אירוסין וחתונה. אבל למעשה, אחרי אירוסין היא הייתה אשת איש. עכשיו הבעל טוען שהיא נבעלה קודם האירוסין והאירוסין היו מקח טעות והוא אינו חייב כתובת מאתיים. היא טוענת שנבעלה אחרי האירוסין באונס. רבן גמליאל אמר, "היא נאמנת", ורבי יהושע אמר, "לא מפיה אנו חיים." ושמואל אמר שההלכה כמו רבן גמליאל. יכולים להיות הרבה טעמים ששמואל אמר את דינו. אבל שם בגמרא, אביי אמר שהדין של רב יהודה ש"ברי עדיף" הוא הדין של שמואל. זאת אומרת, שהטעם של שמואל הוא משום ברי עדיף, ורב יהודה למד מזה כלל למצבים אחרים. ואחר כך הגמרא דחתה את המשפט של אביי, ואמרה שיכול להיות שבין שמואל ורב יהודה אין קשר. ופה התוספות שואלים שאפילו בלי אביי, אנחנו חייבים להגיד שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל. פה דָּוִד שאל על המשפט הזה של התוספות, "למה"? [היינו למה  בלי אביי, אנחנו חייבים להגיד שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל?] (ועוד יש לשאול הלא הברי שלה רפוי ושמואל אמר בבבא קמא שלא הולכים אחרי ברי חלש. זאת שאלה טובה, אבל זאת לא השאלה של תוספות.) הם שואלים שגם בלי אביי צריכים לקשר בין שמואל לרב יהודה.
  אני עניתי בתחלה שאפשר להבין את קושיית התוספות כך, "המשנה בבבא מציעא היא מצב של ברי רפוי לכן רב יהודה ושמואל שווים בדין הזה!"
דָּוִד אמר: אבל זה אינו מועיל ליישב את השאלה. נלך אחורה קצת. בתחלה אמרנו שאביי הוא קושיא על תוספות בגלל שהוא מקשר בין רב יהודה ושמואל. בלי אביי לא היה שום שאלה משום שיכולים להיות הרבה טעמים לשמואל,- כגון חזקת הגוף (עיין במשנה למלך שם). ואז אביי בא ואמר שטעם שמואל הוא ברי ושמא. זאת הייתה קושיא לשיטת התוספות. אחר כך תירצנו את זאת ואמרנו שיכול להיות שאביי אוחז בשיטה אחרת שאינה שייכת לברי ושמא. ואז תוספות אומרים שבלי אביי, גם אנחנו חייבים לקשר בין רב יהודה ושמואל.
   יש קושיא עם שיטת שמואל, אבל זאת אינה הקושיא פה.
 ורואים את זה על ידי תירוצם, שבתור תירוץ תוספות אומרים שיכול להיות ששמואל מסכים עם השיטה השנייה כאן של רב נחמן ורבי יוחנן שברי ושמא לאו ברי עדיף. רואים שהם מתרצים את השאלה על ידי שמפרידים בין שמואל ורב יהודה, ואומרים הסיבה של שמואל לתת לה כתובה היא לא משום ברי ושמא, אלא מה שהוא אחר. ולכן השאלה תמיד הייתה על רב יהודה. ויותר מזה,- מה תוספות עושים עם אביי? כל הרעיון של תוספות הוא כנגד אביי!"
[אני רוצה לומר שאני מבין שעיקר כוונת תוספות היא לומר ששמואל היה חייב להגיד את דינו כאן שברי עדיף בשביל האפשרות השניה אינה פתוחה לו. בתור תירוץ הם עונים שגם האפשרות השניה (מתוך) כן פתוחה לו. אבל הקושיא שהם אומרים שבלי אביי צריכים עדיין להגיד מה שאביי אמר-- שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל. ומכל מה שאמרו תוספות עד עכשיו אין מקום להגיד את זה.]
בגלל הקושיא הזאת  אולי היה יותר טוב להגיד שכוונת התוספות היא שאפילו בלי אביי אנחנו יכולים לומר שהדין של רב יהודה כן בא משמואל בכתובות על ידי קל וחומר. אם מאמינים ברי חלש קל וחומר ברי חזק. (ובאמת לפי פשטות הענין, תוספות מכוון על המימרא של שמואל בכתובות.) אבל זה עובד רק אם תוספות מכוון להמשפט של שמואל בכתובות  וגם אם הטעם של שמואל הוא משום ברי ושמא. [הקושיא של דָּוִד נבנית על היסוד שתוספות מכוונים להמשפט של שמואל בבא קמא ששמאול אמר שלא מאמינים לברי חלש.] [וכנראה שכוונת תוספות היא שכל זמן שהגמרא בעצמה לא דחתה את הענין של ברי ושמא מהמשפט של שמואל בכתובות, אין לנו לעשות את זה. דהיינו ענין ברי ושמא עדיין יכול להיות שיקול וסיבה. ואם זה נכון אז אפילו בלא אביי, אנחנו יכולים לומר שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל על ידי קל וחומר.]
אבל מצד אחד לא יכול להיות שתוספות מכוונים על המימרא של שמואל בכתובות. הסיבה לכך היא זאת: הגמרא דחתה אביי ואמרה שהטעם ששמואל אמר הלכה כרבן גמליאל הוא משום מיגו. [האשה הייתה יכולה לומר מוכת עץ אני ותהיה נאמנת. ולכן מאמינים אותה כשאומרת נאנסתי.] במבט ראשון נראה שאין זה בהקשר עם הענין של ברי ושמא. אבל יכול להיות שטענת ברי שלה והמיגו שניהם גורמים שמאמינים אותה גם להוציא ממון. ונראה שזה חייב להיות נכון שבלי הברי ושמא לא היינו מוציאים ממון בגלל מיגו. ואם כל זה נכון קל להבין את תוספות. אם מאמינים ברי חלש קל וחומר ברי חזק. אבל זה לא יכול להיות נכון. אם מאמינים אותה בגלל צירוף של ברי ומיגו, אז בדיון של רב יהודה המיגו עובד לכוון ההפוך. הטוען שאומר "איני יודע" היה יכול לומר שהוא יודע שאינו חייב כלום, ויהיה נאמן. לכן יש לו מיגו טוב ועדיין רב יהודה אמר שלא מאמינים אותו בגלל שהוא טוען שמא כנגד ברי. בכתובות צריכים  לומר שטענת וודאי שלה  עוזרת שאם זה היה רק ​​שיש לה מיגו אנחנו אומרים לא אומרים מיגו להוציא כסף.ואפילו לפי השיטה שאומרים מיגו להוציא זו לא אמורה כאן להיות הסיבה היחידה.  אז זה מיגו עם טענת וודאי חלשה שמוציא מחזקת ממון. אין קל וחומר מזה כשיש טענת וודאי חזק אבל נגד מיגו כמו בדיון של רב יהודה עם שני אנשים בבית דין ואחד אומר שאתה חייב ואחר אומר שאני לא יודע.
ואפילו אם היינו אומרים שהייתה לתוספות גירסת תוספות הרי''ד, גם זה לא היה עוזר. תוספות הרי''ד גרס בכתובות שהמיגו עוזר בגלל שיש לה חזקת הגוף [חזקה מעיקרא שהייתה בתולה] כנגד חזקת הממון שלו. ואז היינו אומרים ברי חלש עם חזקת הגוף מספיק להוציא ממון. אבל זה לא עוזר לנו לישב את התוספות. שאין קל וחומר לומר אם ברי חלש עם חזקת הגוף עוזר כל שכן ברי חזק בלי חזקת הגוף כנגד חזקת ממון. ולכן חזרנו לומר שתוספות מכוונים להמשפט של שמואל בבבא קמא. ועדיין לא נראה ברור למה הדין של רב יהודה היה בא מהדין של שמואל.

אני רוצה לתת תירוץ על הקושיא הזאת. דבר ראשון כל כוונת התוספות כאן היא שהדין של רב יהודה ושמואל אחד הוא, (לא שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל). [בכתובות, הכוונה של אביי היא שהדין של רב יהודה בא משמואל, אבל זאת אינה הכוונה של תוספות פה.] ידענו שרב יהודה אוחז בשיטה של ברי עדיף, וברי חלש לא. וידענו ששמואל אוחז בשיטה שלא מאמינים לברי חלש. רק לא ידענו מה הוא אוחז במצב של ברי חזק. אולי הוא לא אוחז גם מזה. תוספות מביאים ראיה שהוא חייב לאחוז מברי חזק, שיש בשבילו רק אפשרות אחת של ברי חזק לפרש את המשנה, ולא אפשרות של "מתוך שאינו יכול להישבע". רק הקושיא על זה היא שהמשנה נראית כמו ברי חלש, אבל ברור שתוספות אוחזים שהמשנה היא ברי חזק - שאם לא כן, המשנה והגמרא כאן הם כנגד תוספות. רק מה לעשות בדף קטז. ששם ברור שהוא ברי חלש, ועם כל זה הגמרא בעצמה מפרשת את המשנה עם רב יהודה שרב יהודה היה אומר ברי עדיף!

This was written I think in Israel


The more religious they are, the further from the Torah they are.

Let's say there is a Jewish community in Eastern Europe that has a Rav and community leaders .
But its leaders are not religious. Would there be a movement to destroy it? Would there be a  mitzvah to destroy it? Why would thus be any different than the State of Israel today? Why is it that the insane religious world  think there is  mitzvah in destroying it, and work towards that end? [And hypocritically deny that fact.]
I will tell you why. It is because they think by doing so they are keeping the Torah. And if we are not talking about Satmar and least we are referring to all its friends and associate movements. And that means all of the insane religious world  excluding the religious Zionists.

None of this would make any difference if not for that fact that this makes keeping Torah a highly ambiguous endeavor. Those  that seem to keep the Torah with the most fervor and sincerity are rabid anti Semites friends of Ahmadinejad. It is in fact impossible to find any movement within the insane religious world  that does not have some kind of glaring flaw. Most are pure idolatry in religious clothing.

The more religious they are, the further from the Torah they are.

If we did not have to keep Torah none of this would make the slightest difference. We could all go our merry way and write them off as lost lunatics. The problem is that we do have to keep Torah. And the presence of these poisonous people makes it nigh impossible to figure out how to go about it.
For this reason I have take the approach of recommending that people just plow through the written and Oral Torah on their own without any connection with any organization unless you have to have  religious Zionist shul in your area.{Conservative and Reform are also good except that sometimes they go off in the non-religious direction too far. But  even the most extreme Reform can't touch the insane religious world  when it come to downright pure unadulterated Antisemitism. The the insane religious world  take the pride and prize when it come to that by a long shot right next to Ahmadinejad.}

Steven Dutch: "What we can call The Fundamental Fallacy of Modern Philosophy might be defined as the idea that it makes sense to study structure divorced from content. This is the idea that has given us businessmen who think they can "manage" without knowing anything about what they manage, critics who claim that only the technical excellence of a work of art matters, not its content, and sociologists of science like the one with whom I corresponded who think you can study the Velikovsky affair without regard to the scientific validity of Velikovsky's ideas."

I would like to add this this insight some thoughts about religious fundamentalism. You must have heard when a Muslim blows up a building with people inside that it is the fault of religious fundamentalism. That is we can blame the fact of someone being over religious, That is we don't blame their being religious but being too religious. How often do you hear the idea that content matters? Maybe it is not whether the guy was overly religious or not is the question. Perhaps it is the content of the book he is reading?

Surely Catholic nuns are also religious and maybe also too religious. Do you blame them also? Perhaps Muslims murdering innocent people is the fault of Catholic nuns who promote religious fervor?

On the other hand certainly American ideas of the 1960's of suggesting people get back to their roots had a predictable effect of getting Muslims back to their roots.

After this introduction I want to say
that in some way everyone is a fundamentalist. Everyone has a short list of basic principles that they operate under in their daily lives--and they stick to those principles. what matters is what those principles are.

The Ten Commandments? Thou shalt not lie, nor cheat, nor steal? 



e15  e19

Learning Torah,

I have been trying to figure out a good argument for learning Torah. And I don't want to go the way of the Nefesh HaChaim to do so.
That is I am starting out with a conclusion and trying to figure out a good argument to bring to that conclusion.  X therefore Y. Y is "It is good to learn Torah." Solve for X.
The arguments against keeping or learning Torah seem infinite  and some seem convincing.

One argument against learning is when people see what happens when people overdo it. It is like eating too much. You can see what happens to people when they eat too much. But no one uses that as an argument not to eat.

One argument against it is to notice that Reform Jews support the State of Israel and clearly have the  benefit of mankind as the major goal. Yet they do not learn very much Torah. Just a drop.

I could try to point out that this good will of reform Jews while a great thing in itself can go over a line into over-tolerance.

What I can say as an argument for Torah is my own parents home which was an island of wholesomeness and decency and holiness and our home was based on Torah even though we were Reform Jews--in name at least. I am sure my parents held from Torah much more strongly than  the Reform Movement.

There is an aspect of numinous of Torah that I think is the best aspect of it. It connects one to the Divine.

For that reason I suggest having two sessions ever day in Torah. One in the Oral Law and the other in Poskim [i.e. people that sifted through the Talmud to come up with one law on each subject instead of  an argument on each subject.] That is to go through the oral law from start to finish Talmud Bavli Yerushalmi, Tosphta Sifra, Sifri, Mechilta, Torat Kohanim. And the Poskim: Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch with the commentaries.


Music file

In the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics reality is subjective. But the laws that govern reality are objective.

In the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics reality is subjective. But the laws that govern reality are objective.

This corresponds well with Kant's idea of the thing in itself. And goes back even to Plato who saw world as not having objective reality but rather just a reflection of the higher forms.

This not news. But what I wanted to mention is the difference between the Kant school of thought which is based on a statement of Kant that the thing in-itself exists but we can't know anything else about it except what we measure.

I want to mention that the implication is that moral laws are objective. It is the corresponding thing to laws of quantum physics.

I should mention also this statement from the internet encyclopedia of philosophy on Kant:
".. Kant's claim that the mind of the knower makes an active contribution to experience of objects before us, ..."

That being said it is better not to read what philosophers write about quantum mechanics. Kelley Ross is right that Kant provided the essential insight but since then there have been very few people that work in philosophy that understand Physics well enough to say anything intelligent about it. And that means that few philosophers are competent to comment about reality. They might be able to give a course in philosophy but to say anything intelligent about the nature of reality they are far away from.

I should mention that Quantum Mechanics (Heisenberg) deals nicely with interference and you don't need the Schrodinger picture for that. See this post by Lubos that does the actual calculation To derive interference from the Heisenberg Picture

Here is an important quote from Lubos: OK, fine, then I don't understand what you mean by the word "objective". By saying that the world cannot be objective, I am saying that the data that manifest themselves in the observations can't be obtained as reflections of a universally valid and canonical collection of "objective information" - that must be shared by anyone - as long as the evolution laws and the dictionary to derive the observational outcomes from the "objective data" is Lorentz-invariant. This is what Bell's theorem implies.
Do you agree with that? If you do and if you still claim that something fundamental about the world is objective, what is it exactly? I agree that the laws are objective, but the reality - the particular history of this Universe - is fundamentally not objective. Whatever else aside from the physical laws is "objective" in your book must be unphysical because it can't be responsible for the results of observations.

Are there many universes? Reference Frame

What this means is amazingly simple if you want Fear of God  then you can't join any organization. Especially one that presents itself as fearing God, [any so called "the  religious world " that is]. They will turn out to be the biggest obstacle that prevent you from fear of god because of their amazing and shocking levels of hypocrisy. That includes Breslov sadly. That is the path to Fear of God is clear learn Torah--that is the Oral and written Torah and Musar--but don't dare venture towards any organization that is claiming to represent that path. The is no possibility that it will not turn out to be false. For that is the state of things today.

Reform Judaism

My parents raised my brothers and myself as Reform Jews. But not exactly like Reform. I am not sure what the Reform doctrines are today but in my home it was considered that keeping all the Torah and mitzvah with down to the last drop was  a great and wondrous thing.-- but it was voluntarily.
Of course there are many aspects of Torah that are not voluntary but in fact law. But still this was how things were in our home.You can do all the mitzvot you want but you can't force anyone else to do them and you can't ignore your obligations because you want to be frum.

Fear of God I began to consider to be a goal after I saw this idea in the book אור ישראל the light of Israel by a disciple of Israel Salanter.
In some way this was a natural result of my environment. I had been in Far Rockaway in the yeshiva of Shelomo Freifeld and they were not learning Jewish Ethics there. It was solely for the purpose of Talmud study. But I felt I needed some time with Musar  and also for other perhaps subconscious motivations I decided to go to the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. And that is  Musar yeshiva.

So one day I picked up one of the classical Musar books the Light of Israel and I saw this idea that coming to fear of God is a goal in itself. And that in fact is a little different than the idea that they were telling you in yeshiva that learning Torah is the goal in life.

Based on the Rambam of what leads to Fear of God [learning Physics and Metaphysics] I changed my schedule a little bit. Though learning Talmud I still feel is an important thing to do every day I do think that learning Physics and Metaphysics leads to some kind of internal transformation that the Rambam was talking about.
I know most people don't associate fer of God with learning the natural sciences but I have a "faith in the wise" אמונת חכמים  in the Rambam when it comes to this matter.

What I suggest is a daily schedule that roughly divides one's learning period into (1) Musar [Jewish Ethics] (2) Natural Science (3) Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud. That is on a personal level and this I think is a good idea for universities also. [In Chaim Berlin yeshiva in NY there is no secular program but it was understood that people would go to the nearby Brooklyn collage so that they don't have to spend their whole lives collecting charity. For this is a serious flaw in the the insane religious world  system. That it makes collecting money from rich reform Jews as a goal in life. And that method of keeping Torah is clearly flawed. And I don't think it has much to do with learning Torah or fear of God either.]

Isaac Luria is also important but I am not sure how to fit him into a learning schedule. One thing about Lurianic Kabalah is that it is hard to justify Torah without it. This even came up yesterday when I was learning Torah and the issue of how people were keeping Torah in the first Temple period. I would rather not go into the subject right now but this is for a a general principle. When I find contradictions between science and Talmud or some problem of interpretation of Torah I run to Isaac Luria's writings. For example we find they did not keep the Passover until Hezekiah or Sukkot.
What you have to do is to say to have the light of Torah תפארת "Glory", and that is a column of light.
Prophets during the first temple period were receiving light from a different source נצח  or  הוד. In order to but in a case where the light of Torah was lost a prophet  could move over to the column of light of Glory and receive what had been lost or forgotten. You don't have to agree with this. But you can see how the Ari can help solve problems in Torah thought amazingly easily.


Music for the glory of God

Reality is subjective and objective.  But it is also local.  It is surprising that people have not noticed the fact that Kant provided a good framework to understand Quantum Mechanics long before QM was discovered. 

See these good links to this subject
Reality is local

Reality is Subjective and Objective.


Quantum mechanics says that no "real" state of affairs exists prior to the measurements.

philosophy became euphemism for crackpotsThat is A Reference Frame essay.
But the idea could be used for religion also. But I think there are exceptions.  And Kant was no crackpot. Just the opposite. Kant's idea of the dinge an sich the thing in itself strongly suggest quantum mechanics

Here is what Lubos says:The reason why quantum mechanics (and yes, "Copenhagen interpretation" is being used just as an insulting synonym for quantum mechanics: there exists no "other" quantum mechanics than one described by the Copenhagen school) is being "widely challenged" these days is that the postmodern system has failed to eliminate incompetent pseudointellectuals and populist demagogues from the wider physical environment – science journals and even universities (especially their philosophy departments but not only philosophy departments). This fact changes nothing whatsoever about the point that physics has perfectly understood the status of the wave function for 90 years (without a few months: I guess that I will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Heisenberg et al. results this year).

 I agree that the laws are objective, but the reality - the particular history of this Universe - is fundamentally not objective. Whatever else aside from the physical laws is "objective" in your book must be unphysical because it can't be responsible for the results of observations.

It is in fact easy to understand Islam. You need to study the Eitz Chaim of Isaac Luria and you will see that the Dark Side has many aspects to it. It has an open aspect  That is what is called the Satan or male aspect of the Dark Side. That is Islam. That is the male aspect of the Sitra Achra. And there is a softer aspect the Female Dark Side, i.e. the side that disguises itself as a mitzvah.

We find in the books of Jewish Ethics [Musar] that there is a problem in joining evil people So it is important to be able to discern if some person or group is perhaps the Dark Side [Sitra Achra] in disguise. Books of Musar commonly bring this from the verse where the prophet Isiah told king Hezekiah "" when you joined together with Achaz, God made a breach in your works."
בהתחברך עם אחזיהוא פרץ ה' את מעשיך 

Music for the honor of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

Some people are attracted to the Dark Side. And others try to avoid it but get caught in it by trying to do mitzvot and good deeds. This is not news. We find in several spiritual disciplines the fact that evil disguises itself as good in order to trick people. And sometimes people want to do good and simply have  a strong urge to do evil even while knowing that it is evil. But they don't try to justify it. They excuse it saying it is not that bad.

I don't have a good answer for the problem of the Sitra Achra. But some of the practices i talk about on my blogs are meant to help myself avoid the Dark Side.

My main model of goodness is what I saw in my parents home. And my parents were Reform Jews. And our home was one of wholesomeness and decency. So to a large degree I try to emulate them.
But I think we were not careful enough in the commandments, so I do try to keep the commandments of the Torah more than what was done in our home. But I try to do this with balance. For I see people that accept some ritual commands of the Torah (which in itself is good), but that leads them to ignore more important aspects of the Law--like loving one's fellow man  or honoring ones parents.

In any case, my basic ideas about avoiding the Dark Side are to talk with God like one talks with a friend, and be especially careful about never saying a lie or anything not even slightly not true. When I found myself sinking, I decided to hold onto this trait with all my might--never to say anything not true under any circumstances, and I believed that the strength of the truth would help me get through everything and hold me up.

A good link to this subject by Kelly Ross attack on morality


Some ideas in Talmud learning חידושי הש''ס

These are ideas in Sanhedrin, Shabat, Bava Kama, and Bava Metzia
Baali Teshuva [newly religious Jews] are at a disadvantage in the frum [Ultra Religous Jewish] world. Everything is the opposite. The frum community acts like hydro-chloric acid to dissolve whatever relationships they have. Their marriages are commonly eroded and dismantled by the frum community. There is certainly no respect for them.
It is a toxic relationship by all accounts I have ever heard of.

Whether you realize it or not, you are in a relationship with the yeshiva you learn in and community you live in.
Here are  things to keep in mind 

Having mutual respect

Respect is hard to describe. We can tell when we get it and when we don't. Mutual respect means delivering on the things you commit to, showing up,  not talking down to others, and helping people.  Nobody wants to be a part of an environment where mutual respect doesn’t exist.
Imagine being in a relationship where you’re constantly in fear that your significant other is looking to find someone “better” than you. That’s not really much of a relationship is it? You need to be in a relationship based on trust where both you and the yeshiva are going to do your best to make things work. 
 You don’t want to feel like your yeshiva views you as and expendable cog and your yeshiva  wants you to just stick around for a few months and then leave. 

Leave when things are bad

Not every relationship is meant to be but it’s important for us to realize when it’s time to move on. Many of us are in abusive yeshiva relationships and we still stick around. We are talked down to,  we don’t credit for the work we do, we get transferred  without notice,  or we are constantly threatened with disciplinary action. None of these things are healthy. A bad relationship is something that either party can create. An student can take advantage of the yeshiva  or the yeshiva can treat the student as a “cog.” Regardless of who is at fault or why, it’s crucial to end a relationship when things get bad. It’s the best thing for both the yeshiva and the student.

The advice I have here is simple. Keep Torah on your own and don't be dependent on a community. The frum communities that I have seen are in a predatory relationship with baali teshuva. At first everything is made to look hunky dory--all sunshine and love. But that is an illusion they need to instill into the baali teshuva in order to gain their trust.
 But of you in fact have found a community that is in fact supportive then fine. But my feeling is that you need to  have a secular education and learn a honest profession and not be dependent on people's kindness's that can evaporate in a day. The yeshivas are totally dependent on charity. So they have to give the impression they are doing a public service. And maybe some are. At least the NY yeshivas I was in were in fact good places. But those are the exceptions.
What I suggest is the idea of a Beit Midrash, a place where Torah is learned but not paid for. Kind of like what you have in Hillel Centers.

Rav Shach as is known held differently than this. But I think he was thinking more along the lines of yeshivas like Ponovitch or the kind of great Litvak yeshivas where Torah is learned for its own sake. If he would see the situation today, he would agree with me.

What I am trying to say is like my learning partner told me when I brought up the subject of yeshivas. He said it is like what you find in the Talmud "מחזי". That is sometimes the Talmud forbids things because they look like something that is forbidden. So what we have here is great yeshivas in Europe like the Mir or Navardok where Torah was learned for its own sake. And people transferred those places in Israel and NY. But on the side you have people that noticed that they could make good money by starting a yeshiva. and so now you have  vast number of toxic yeshivas compared to the infinitesimally small places that are authentic



Music for the glory of God

Philip Rosten

My father' WWII record I can't seem to find. Mainly he served in the European Theater as a captain in the USAF. After that he invented the Infra Red camera telescope that I have a link to on this blog. Life Magazine . Then he worked at Hycon and the headed an operation to make a camera for the U-2 and then he made his own super accurate X ray copy mate machine. Then hired by TRW to make laser communication between satellites of SDI and NASA. Then he went private and invested in the stock market.
He valued being self sufficient in  a way that I think was common in the USA. His parents were Jews from Poland  and they were religious but we went to  a Reform Temple in Hollywood.

There was an amazing amount of love between my parents. And they loved being parents. They had three very different and three wild sons and had an amazing combination of firmness gentleness in raising us. Family vacations I think was the high point of our family.
Skiing sailing and the beach on Sundays. We never did anything on Shabat because we boys had to be in Hebrew school. Jewish family values were very important to my parents.
The Ten Commandments and being a mensch [decent moral human being] were the highest values for our family.

I should mention that he was not thrilled about my going to yeshiva. But the idea was that he thought yeshivas  were using Torah to make money. He did not think that is very good. But learning Torah and keeping Torah were certainly considered as great things to him--but with balance and equilibrium

A presentation of Tosphot Sanhedrin 61. Second to the top. This is only Tosphot. Here I ignore all questions on Tosphot and simply say over what tosphot is saying.

סנהדרין סא . תוספות ד''ה איכה יעבדו.
To make my presentation of תוספות in that little booklet on Shas clearer I want here just to say over simply what the question and answer of תוספות is without any relation to the Baal HaMeor and without any relation to any question I may have on תוספות.

שלב ראשון . We learn the three עבודות פנימיות from זביחה.
שלב שני. We ask why not learn from השתחוויה
That would forbid all רביע שני instead of just the three inner services.
 שלב שלישי. The גמרא asks if we would learn from השתחוויה then what would איכה יעבדו come to permit?
שלב רביעי
   תוספות asks why did the גמרא ask this only on השתחוויה? Why not ask also on זביחה?
שלב חמישי
  תוספות answers because השתחוויה would forbid all ארבעה רביעים and there would be nothing left for איכה יעבדו to do.

What I want to say today is this.  תוספות is mainly interested in רביע רביעי. This is the entire focus of  תוספות. It is absolutely essential to understand this fact in order to understand  תוספות at all.
Because רביע רביעי is the key to understanding  תוספות.
 תוספות is first bothered by the fact that the גמרא asks what would איכה יעבדו come to permit? Why not ask what does it come to forbid? But  תוספות is thinking, OK let take this simply  that the גמרא needs every verse to forbid something and permit something. Fine. No problem. We can accept that. And that makes sense here. We see that איכה יעבדו would forbid רביע רביעי which neither השתחוויה nor זביחה could do. But then we have our problem. Both השתחוויה and זביחה permit רביע שלישי, and זביחה permits even parts of רביע שני, so what is left for איכה יעבדו to permit?

Then  תוספות  says that this question is נבנית on the idea that איכה יעבדו has to permit something. But that assumption is wrong.  תוספות says that the גמרא really meant to ask if we learn from השתחוויה then what is left for  איכה יעבדו to come to permit or forbid? We did not ask this on זביחה because זביחה did not forbid רביע רביעי at all. So we had some use for איכה יעבדו. But we did ask on השתחוויה because if we were learning from השתחוויה then רביע רביעי  would have been forbidden and also רביע שלישי. Nothing would have been left to permit for איכה יעבדו

That is the end of my presentation today of  תוספות. And it is on this approach of  תוספות that I asked some question in  חידושי הש''ס that God granted to me to write.

The difference between תוספות and the בעל המאור is this. תוספות is thinking that both השתחוויה  and  זביחה permit רביע שלישי.
The בעל המאור says זביחה might have forbidden some parts of רביע שני if not for איכה יעבדו.
But for Tosphot there is no such thing.

סנהדרין סא. תוספות ד''ה איכה יעבוד

שלב ראשון. אנו לומדים שלוש עבודות פנימיות מזביחה.

שלב השנייה. אנו שואלים מדוע לא ללמוד מהשתחוויה
שיאסור כל רביע השני במקום רק שלוש עבודות פנימיות
 השלב שלישי. הגמרא שואלת אם היינו למודים מהשתחוויה אז מה היה איכה יעבוד באות להתיר?
שלב רביעי
   תוספות שואל מדוע גמרא שואל את זה רק על השתחוויה? למה לא לשאול גם על זביחה
שלב חמישי
  תשובת התוספות כי ההשתחוויה תאסור כל ארבעת רביעים ולא יהיה שום דבר נשאר לאיכה יעבדו לעשות. מה שאני רוצה לומר היום הוא זה. תוספות הוא בעיקר מתעניין ברביע רביעי. זה כל המוקד של תוספות. זה חיוני להבין את העובדה הזו כדי להבין תוספות בכלל.  רביע הרביעי הוא המפתח להבנת תוספות.  תוספות מוטרד ראשונה על ידי העובדה שהגמרא שואלת מה היה איכה יעבדו באה להתיר? למה לא לשאול מה הוא בא לאסור? אבל תוספות חושב, בסדר בואו נקבל את זה שהגמרא צריכה כל פסוק לאסור משהו ולהתיר דבר. בסדר. אין בעיה. אנחנו יכולים לקבל את זה. וזה הגיוני כאן. אנו רואים כי איכה יעבדו אוסרת רביע רביעי, מה שהשתחוויה ולא זביחה יכולים לעשות. אבל אז יש לנו הבעיה שלנו. שתיהם, השתחוויה וזביחה מתירים את רביע השלישי, וזביחה מתירה אפילו חלקים של רביע השני, אז מה נשארו  לאיכה יעבדו להתיר? אז תוספות אומרים ששאלה זו היא נבנתה על הרעיון שאיכה יעבדו חייב להתיר משהו. אבל הנחה הזו מוטעת. תוספות אומרים שגמרא באמת התכוונה לשאול אם אנחנו לומדים מההשתחוויה, אז מה שנשאר לאיכה יעבדו לבוא להתיר או לאסור? אנחנו לא שואלים את זה על זביחה, כי זביחה לא אסרה רביע רביעי בכלל. אז היה לנו איזה שימוש לאיכה יעבדו. אבל אנחנו  שואלים על ההשתחוויה כי אם היינו לומדים מהשתחוויה אז רביע רביעי היה אסור וגם הרביע שלישי. שום דבר לא היה נשאר לאיכה יעבדו לאסור ולא להתיר

The first is  a link to a small booklet on Shas. Mainly Sanhedrin and Bava Kama. Most of the work was done without  a learning partner so it  and I did not review it  very thoroughly. But it still seems to me to be pretty good.

חידושי הש''ס

This is a work in progress. But as it stands right now it is OK. The only thing is that between lines the formatting goes back to English and that needs to be corrected. But the basic work is still pretty OK as far as I can tell. [That is the ideas are sound but the writing of them is a little stilted.]

עיוני בבא מציעא chapter 8 and chapter 9   The formatting here I was able to change in Hebrew. So you don't get the same kinds of ripples that the booklet on Shas has.

This Bava Metzia booklet was done a lot with my learning partner. But there was a period when I was in Israel in which I did some work on my own. For example the ideas on Bava Metzia page 112 were done without my learning partner. In fact I think with him I did only up until page 104. Also the beginning of the booklet where I talk about Reb Chaim Soloveitchik's idea was done on my own.

None of this is anything to be proud of. Without a learning partner, I don't do very well in learning Torah. And that is a fact. But sometimes there is no choice but to do the best I can given my circumstances.


Songs of gratitude to God

The Torah is Never The Principle

When asked to justify some viewpoint, people often invoke some Torah or halacha, only to get tangled up very quickly in contradictions.
Mostly it's laziness (or shallowness) and an attempt to seize the moral high ground. It's hard to defend specific issues when you're confronted by someone who simply rejects your basic premises. How do you find out what lines of argument they would find persuasive? (Hint: ask them. Say "what exactly would you accept as proof that I'm right?" Most of the time they don't have a clue, because most people only think about why they're right, not how they might be wrong.) It's far easier to enunciate some broad, high principle like Torah or Halacha, except that it's very easy to get tangled up in contradictions.

So What Is the Principle?
Who Reaps the Rewards?

Both Reform Jews and the insane religious world  argue that the reward system of society should favor those who do the most for the society. For Reform and Conservative, that's workers and intellectuals, without whom there would be no labor force to accomplish anything. Conservative Jews argue that any Third World country illustrates what labor alone can do without vision, capital and direction. Conservative Jews believe the rewards should favor those who provide the vision, direction, resources and structure to make labor productive. The insane religious world  argue that they do the most by invisible means.
Who bears the Costs?

Reform Jews tend to assume that social problems stem from inequality and lack of empowerment. Their suggested approach is to redress the inequality by redistributing wealth and limiting the powerful. In the face of some social problem, their approach is to restructure society to minimize the problem or restrict actions that contribute to the problem. Conservative Jews, on the other hand, tend to assume that social problems stem from sociopaths or stupid individuals. Their approach is to protect the law abiding population while restricting the sociopaths and allowing the stupid to endure the consequences of their actions. Both groups want to place the burden on the people they consider the root of the problem.
the insane religious world want the wealth to be redistributed to themselves and by that they think all problems will disappear. And to eliminate Reform Jews and make Baali Teshuva into the worker class.

Reform Jews want to place tax and regulatory burdens on the wealthy and privileged, conservatives want to place them on criminals and the nonproductive.

Nobody Really Wants Equality or a Classless Society

Since both liberals Jews and conservative Jews favor some groups over others, it's clear that neither group really believes everyone should be equal. Both have their own hierarchy they would like to see in power. The liberal theory is that groups that have been systematically deprived of a place in American society should be empowered, while the forces that have denied them a place should be held in check. Superficially, this attitude looks a lot like favoring equality. Looking below the surface, we find a widespread sentiment that the middle class morality is inferior.

The disdain for the "middle class" on the part of liberals suggests pretty strongly that they consider the middle class drones, whose only value is to generate tax revenue for social programs to benefit the "real people" of society, who don't allow their authenticity to be sullied by deferred gratification. After all, a self-styled "civilized person" says the middle class has no values because they are "99% driven by imitation" and their expressed values are "merely oft-repeated platitudes."

  Conservative Jews hold that "socially constructive" people should govern while the "nonproductive" should change their lifestyles and work their way up. In practice this means conservatives favor
The wealthy over the poor,The managerial class over the working class, Property owners over non-owners,  The law-abiding versus criminals, The self-supporting over those on assistance.
Nobody Really Wants a Meritocracy

More specifically, nobody wants a meritocracy based on actual accomplishment.  What both camps really want is a meritocracy of values, that is, an aristocracy in which position is dictated by attitude and conduct. Class is neither race, nor wealth, but behavior, though different socioeconomic classes have distinctive behaviors that identify their members.
 The problem with meritocracy is there has to be a definition of merit. And liberals and conservatives hold radically differing views on the subject.
my comment on Maggie's Farm  Maggie's Farm

...  The word "liberal" in the way of common usage in the USA ... is Socialism. That is the reason the word "extreme" is being attached to it.  It is not referring to the type of liberal philosophy of John Locke that the USA was founded upon.
And Socialism can in fact be accurately defined as extremist because its methods and goals are extremist. The reason for this is that the socialist recognized the smallest social unit as society, not the family nor the individual. With no individual rights and no freedom, Socialism can rightfully be called extreme in the most prejudiced type of way.

For Believers in "Rights" You believe that gay marriage, Internet access, food, and health care are rights. Okay, prove it.

My own idea about this issue is the need to learn about Natural Law starting with Saadia Gaon, the Rambam, Aquinas and John Locke. And then to develop an actual legal system based on natural law and natural rights. Not manufactured rights.

From Steven Dutch

For Believers in "Rights"

You believe that gay marriage, Internet access, food, and health care are rights.

Okay, prove it.

"Proof" does not mean using the Caps Lock key and lots of exclamation points, or calling names or using invective. Anyway, "Fascist" proves nothing except your emotional response to an issue.

No, proof means starting from basic axioms and reasoning, step by step, using logic that can be demonstrated to be valid. See an old-time geometry text for how it's done.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" Well, that's the Declaration of Independence and those rights exist because they are "endowed by their Creator." That, by the way, is the only theory of rights in any of our founding documents. So those sentiments have been nullified by separation of Church and State. Talk about your law of unintended consequence

Here is the link: Steven Dutch Essay

My own idea about this issue is the need to learn about Natural Law starting with Saadia Gaon, the Rambam, Aquinas and John Locke. And then to develop an actual legal system based on natural law and natural rights. Not manufactured rights.
Now Rav Shach I think would not agree with this. I have heard that he held from Torah as the only valid form of government and law. But that was just yesterday that I heard this from my learning partner. But in Torah we do have the law "the law of the country is law" when it does not contradict the Torah. In any case, in a practical sense it is best not to give power to people that think they know Torah. Democracy might be the only safeguard to prevent people that think they know Torah from taking power.

Clearly the theory of the Rambam is that natural law is necessary in order to be able to keep and understand Torah law. [That is from the Guide.]
See this essay Essay by Kelly Ross


A link to music written for the glory of God

The booklet on Bava Metzia edited 

The other booklet on Shas needs editing

Rav Elazar Menachem Shach

Rav Shach [Elazar Menachem Shach] was connected with Navardok. He was in fact the Rosh yeshiva of Navardok for a number of years.

It seems to me that most people that did were great in learning Torah passed through the doors of Navardok at one time or other.
And the thing about Navardok was  that it was a Musar [Jewish Ethics] yeshiva. And Musar (Ethics) in Europe meant something very different than what it means nowadays. It was a whole program devoted to character improvement. It was not the twenty minute period before Mincha that you see nowadays.

Also I should mention that every school of Musar had one particular facet of Musar that they emphasized.

For Simcha Zizel was into order. Slobodka was in the greatness of man. Navardok was into trust in God with no השתדלות (with no effort).

So what I wanted to mention now that I have been able to get on the Internet, are two things. One is the importance of the book of Rav Shach. That is called the Avi Ezri. If he would not have gotten on  everyone's wrong side by insulting and offending  everyone, his book would be the most popular book in the Jewish world today. In my opinion it rivals the Chidushei HaRambam of  Chaim Soloveitchik. It is that amazing. Deep and yet completely clear and understandable all at the same time.

[I should mention he was not into secular knowledge. And as a rule he was right. It is just in teh two filed that that Rambam recommended I have to defer to the opinion of the Rambam, that is Physics and Metaphysics.]

The other thing I wanted to bring up is in fact Navardok and that whole idea of trust without effort.
It is known that this is an argument between the Duties of the Heart and the Ramban and Gra.

If you put it all together you get a path that looks similar to what I saw at the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn. That is that one can learn Torah and does not have to worry about making  a living. Though I am no where near this grand vision and ideal still it seems to me to be an admirable path and one worth emulating as much as one can.


To have an idea of what the world is about I think it is important to know Physics. You often hear people discussing the nature of reality who are not familiar with Physics. And that lack seems to disqualify them. I am not saying this is a positive reason to learn physics but at least it is a side motivation that I think is worthy. Who is guilty of opinions about reality without knowledge of physics. A lot of people I know.
But what if you are not good at math.
This is the point of my comment here. To learn Physics I think one needs two things (1) To say the words and go on. (2) 10,000 hours. The last requirement is the hard one. It is the time factor that gets harder as one gets older. For this reason it is important to do this during  the twenties.


The Quantum Enigma.

My suggestion here is a statement by by Leibniz. Representation causes consciousness. Not consciousness causes the representation. It is from this statement that Nietzsche discovered the Id. [That is to say that Nietzsche said that that is the source of his idea.]

So what we have is a case of ontological undecidablity.

As Dr Kelly Ross has noted that Kant's system accommodates quantum mechanics very well.

Appendix. What Nietzsche meant was the representation bring forth the subconscious and makes it conscious. But one can also understand Leibniz to mean the representation creates all levels of subconsciousness and also sub levels.


When it comes to religion I am pretty firmly in the camp of Israel Salanter. That is to say I like the idea of Musar which are classical books of Jewish ethics. They are based on the value system of the Talmud, but make it easier to grasp than if one would be learning the Talmud directly. But Musar avoids the problem that most books of Jewish ethics have today is that in stead of presenting teh value system of the Torah and Talmud they falsify it it. Musar has the advantage that it in fact is presenting authentic Judaism as it relates to values.

The two modifications I would make to the idea of  learning Musar is that I would learning it  with some amount of philosophy. The reason is that many of the concepts come from Plato and Aristotle and it is best to get their ideas directly --not second hand. Also I would try to concentrate of teh school of Musar based on the Rambam and Saadia Gaon. The more kabalistic Musar I think kind of leads to fanaticism.
It is not that I am against learning the Ari. Not at all. But not in the context of Musar.
. The connection between length of days with fear of God. To me that means two things. If I want long days--that is not to waste my days, then learning Musar stretches out the day. The other thing is if I in fact see that my body changes over time--so I do have a need for literal length of days-then also Musar is good for that.
My favorites are חובות לבבות  Duties of the Heart and אור ישראל The Light of Israel by a student of Israel Salanter named Isaac Blazer.

Musar can be divided into (1) Rationalistic Musar [that is medieval Musar], (2) Kabalistic Musar, (3) Musar of the disciples of Israel Salanter which could be called Talmudic Musar in that it mainly goes to the Talmud directly to support its ideas. But that is probably not  a good name for it in that it implies the other two are not Talmudic. It is just the emphasis is different.

I used to think that secular Jews simply had a bias against all religion. Whenever there would be some Muslim blowing himself up to kill Jews the secular Jews I knew would always blame it on religion and/or the State of Israel.
Of course to any average Joe like myself this seems ridiculous.  No all religions are alike. Islam is extremely evil. Others and in fact most are mixtures of good and bad elements. Blaming all religion seemed simplistic to an unreasonable degree.

But on further consideration perhaps there is something about religion that grabs a hold of people and make them see things that aren't there. I remember this distinctly during the time I was in Jerusalem.
I don't need to go into my own experience because I am sure that anyone who has been to Jerusalem has seen this.

My learning has been slow recently. We were doing the laws of the seventh year in the Rambam.  So I thought to breach this subject to my learning partner since things were going slow anyway.

His example of this was a follows: he used to go to the Western  Wall every day. He had been thrown out of the diaspora yeshiva and went to live with Peretz. Peretz once on the way home took another intransigent person. So David and this other fellow got into a conversation. After some time taking that fellow told David that he is Moses the prophet. No surprise there. Then he revealed the name of the Messiah and identity and address.  I asked him "Why did you not get his phone number and email?" And he said in two weeks the messiah will be revealed and there will be no more need for army bases in Israel and he will then give to David 200 acres  in Mitzpe Rimon. And in case he needs a sign he  gave to him 4 digits of the lotto number for the next day.

This goes on but you get the idea.

I think the Reform are right about a lot of things but they simply go off in the social justice direction way too far until they end up doing and saying things not like the Torah. The the insane religious world  do the exact same thing in the direction of rituals.  In order to keep Torah you simply can't accept either package deal but you have to do the work yourself to see how the Torah applies to your own life.

As far as religion goes there does seem to be a problem with getting too fanatical. The reform are right about that. But fanatical nuns don't blow up Jews. The reason people blame religion is because they don't want to blame Islam
Most of the debate over the Islam has less to do with advancing an explanation of terrorism than finding reasons not to accept some proposed explanation. People who otherwise aren't concerned with terrorism  become very concerned when terrorism is credited to Islam. The motives for rejecting this hypotheses: people either don't want to believe the hypothesis. 

The Ten Commandments are the basic principles of Torah but they are also Law.
That is we have in Torah some laws that are personal morality laws. And other are laws that are given to be actual law. This is one area in which  people are  confused. They think the Torah has only personal morality laws. That is not true. Most of the laws of the Torah are the Constitution of the people of Israel that was given by God and can't ever be abridged or amended.
But the Ten Commandments have both aspects. They are principles of personal morality, and also  are enforceable legal laws.

In any case the aspect of the Ten Commandments that is legal jurisprudence is more limited than the principles that they represent.

(1) For example "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Every lie a person says does not make him liable to the death penalty. So even though every lie is included in this prohibition, not every lie is liable the death penalty, but some are; for example עדים זוממים. That is when you have two witnesses that come to court and say, "We saw John Smith  having sex with another male and we gave him warning beforehand and told him 'If you do this you will get the death penalty.' And he said, 'I understand and even so I do this.'"

And then two witnesses come to court and say to the first two witnesses, "How could you have seen this? You will with us  the whole day in this other city?"

The first two get the death penalty for their false testimony.

(2) Another example is not to do idolatry. Not every act of idolatry gets the death penalty;- only the four services or service according the the usual way that idol is worshiped. Idolatry to be liable needs a physical object. There has to be something tangible that the two witness can say to john smith "If you bow to this [or do it regular service] you will get the death penalty." And he has to acknowledge the warning and say, "I understands and even so I do it." But still there is a large variety of things one can do to transgress the prohibition without being liable

(3) לא תגנוב "Thou shalt not steal". Not everything that a person steals gets him the death penalty. As far as jurisprudence goes the "Thou shalt not steal" goes on taking children from their parents. People that do this get the death penalty. Even if they think they are doing a mitzvah.
But as a principle it means that in any way money or anything gets into one's possession that does not belong there according to the law of the Torah is stealing.

(4) לא תנאף Thou shalt not commit adultery. ניאוף [adultery] has only one definition. It has a legal meaning. And that is only one specific act. Sex with a married woman. But when is a woman married? It is not the Chupa. It is ארוסין "espousal." That is the man says to the woman, "You are married to me by this ring or document," in front of two witnesses, and she accepts by her free will, then she is married. But she does not live with him until נישואין which could be much later.
 But there are other acts of sexual intercourse which have the death penalty which are not ניאוף adultery. For example homosexuals do get the death penalty.But as above it has to be in front of two witnesses, or else they might admit it themselves. That is they might come to court and ask to get married. And the judges look at each other wondering what that could mean. And then they explain. In that case they would by their own admission get the death penalty. הודאת פיו כמאה עדים דמי

I could go on, but you get the idea. Now this idea that Ten Commandments are principles of Torah beyond actual legal measures is well established


 It is a mistake to think people will not take their beliefs the the absolute extreme given a chance.
In Washington State also, Aaron and Melissa Klein also refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, and have been been threaten, by an administrative law judge no less, with a fine of $135,000, even though gay weddings weren't even legal in Washington when their supposed "offense" took place. The fine can be imposed with assent of the Stare "labor commissioner," who, of course, has no more real judicial authority than an administrative law judge.Donald and Evelyn Knapp have been ordered to perform gay weddings in their wedding chapel, with the threat of 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine for each "civil rights" offense, which means every day that they don't do it.