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30.4.15

I have a basic set of attitudes about current day issues. But I try to base my attitudes as much as possible on the Written and Oral Law (the Torah and Talmud).
So what I think about Islam, or discrimination or Christianity or personal issues or even the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is going to be predictably based on the Talmud.



So in essence I don't have to write anything. Just open up the Talmud and you will see what I think.

Of course the Talmud can be hard to understand so it is helpful to go to Rishonim medieaval authorities.  [Achronim are a waste of time, except for the few outstanding ones like R. Akiva Eiger and the school of Chaim Soloveitchik and Rav Shach on the Rambam.

But I realize that people are not learning Talmud very much. Especially Christians barely touch the book.  So I might as well say over a few of my opinions based as much as possible on how well I can grasp what the Talmud is saying.

1) Islam. The Talmud says one has aright to self defence.  הקם להרגך הקדם להרגו "When one person is getting up in the morning to kill you, get up earlier and kill him." Israel has a right to self defence. And it does not need to wait until it is attached. It can attack as long as the intentions of its neighbors are clear. And the intentions of the  Arab population living in Israel are clear. Israel does not need to wait until every Arab attempts to murder a Jew.

2) Blacks deserve to be treated with honor and respect as any human being. But when the intentions of whole communities becomes clear, the same above mentioned right to self defense applies to whites. Wasps (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) have a right to self defence.

3) Russia does not have a right to support the separatists. This is based on the Rambam who gets it from some place in the Talmud. In the Rambam there is a concept of a country מדינה, and one country is not allowed to invade another country. If this was just an issue of right and wrong it would be simple to tell the separatists to lay down their weapons and get back to everyday business.

4) Sex changes are not valid.  A woman remains a woman and a man a man.

5) Male Homosexuals. If the act is done in front of two witness. it is liable the death penalty. But you can bake a cake for them.  If the act is not done in front of two witness, but still done on purpose, there is not much anyone can do. If the act is done accidently, they both need to bring a sin offering to the Temple in Jerusalem,--a she goat or a female sheep. If there is no Temple, they need to build it, and then bring the offering. They can't depend on the death of any Tzadik to take their place. The Torah requires a sin offering and that is that.

6) Christianity has two things,  one is right and one is  wrong. One thing right is  a tzadik. One thing wrong is worship of a tzadik. You can look up Avraham Abulafia and Yaakov Emden who have the same opinion. [Professor Moshe Idel made a career of studying Avraham Abulafia, and his first PhD thesis brings this opinion of Avraham Abulafia.] Some people think that it is a mitzvah to fight Christianity and block it and stamp out every last remnant of it in the USA and the whole world. That is not my opinion. And for those that think this way I recommend learning the essay if Yaakov Emden and the books of Moshe Idel and Rav Abulafia. So when I see the Supreme Court and the  homosexuals and   Democrats and Muslims intend to wipe Christianity off the face of the Earth, my feeling is that Christians ought to fight back. Fight evil.  Don't let them win.




Sometimes people believe in a tzadik [righteous person] too much. That is they overdo it. And that I think is a problem.
We know from the Gemara that an intermediate is forbidden according to the Torah. As the Rambam puts it, we must not worship or praise or pray to any being besides God himself in order that that being should be an intercessor between us and God. But that is better than believing in a bad person.


We find people that are not strictly Monotheists in the sense of the Rambam and yet  believe in some tzadik  and that seems to be helpful. And we find other people that are monotheistic and yet believe in some bad person and that seems to affect them also to become wicked.

From what I can tell this idea of belief in  a tzadik [that is that it is important to find a true tzadik] is highly plausible. Even Litvaks try to find the most righteous Rosh Yeshiva to learn from.The truth is it is hard to argue with this premise.
That problem is -as many people already are aware- that once a person gets the idea that belief in a tzadik is important, he or she will most often attach themselves to some charlatan and plays the role of a tzadik with great expertise.

There are groups that I think are on the wrong path, and I am thinking it is usually because of some issue with their leader, rather that how monotheistic they are.
For example Muslims. It seems to me that the issue is that their false prophet was a bad man. Also I see people get involved in some charismatic leader that is teaching values that are highly questionable and that in fact seems to affect them to act in bad ways.




29.4.15

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai of the Mishna says you go by the reason for a mitzvah to see if the mitzvah applies. דורשים טעמה דקרא

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai of the Mishna says you go by the reason for a mitzvah to see if the mitzvah applies. דורשים טעמה דקרא
And the Sages say you don't.

It is known that there is a contradiction in the Rambam [Maimonides] if we go by R. Shimon or the Sages.
 And this came up in Bava Metzia but I never got there with my learning partner so I never learned that subject with any depth.
But I thought to at least lay out the basic subject for public information.
In Bava Metzia this comes up about the widow. לא תחבול בגד אלמנה"Thou shalt not take a garment of a widow as a pledge for a loan." R. Shimon] says if she is not poor you can take a pledge [because we go by the reason for the verse. Even though the verse don't take a pledge from a widow still we know the reason for this is because of compassion for her poor state. If she is not poor there is no reason not to take  a pledge.] [Notice we do not say there is any mystical reason for the mitzvah. Even the sages agree that we know the reason for all the mitzvot except for just one. The only argument is if we go by the reason or by what is written.]
Here the Rambam goes with the Sages. But by the prohibition of marrying a woman that serves idols the Rambam goes by the reason and not by what is written.
I thought the Rambam had an idea of the reason modifying how we apply the mitzvah because of what he wrote in the commentary on the Mishna.
But then I saw Rav Shach [of the Ponovitch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak] wrote about the law in the Rambam about a city of idolaters on the border of Israel, that even Rabbi Shimon agrees that the only question is if the mitzvah applies in a certain situation or not. We never use the reason to modify the rules.
The law in the Rambam is Laws of Idolatry 4:4. A עיר הנדחת  If a city of idolaters is on the border of Israel we don't destroy it so that the border should not be left open. That reason is to R Shimon. From this Rav Shach proves his point you don't modify the law based on the reason for the law.
The idea here is how you would apply the law here would be different if we went by the Sages--which we do. So the Rambam bringing the reason of RS is not meant to modify it.

[I have depended on RS even though he is not the halacha, because I consider my situation to be שעת הדחק  emergency. We use the same logic for other things like new produce  חדש. We say We can depend on R Eliezer in an emergency. This is even though clearly the halacha is not like him. This gives rise to the fact that I sometimes take any opinion mentioned in the Gemara as my rule. In fact I have used the Gemara as my personal code of law --ever since my entire situation became a state of extreme emergency. But because the world is messed up I thought I should tell others because there could be other people out there that also find themselves in situations that are hard and can't be as strict in law as perhaps we all should be. What makes my situation to be  what I think is a emergency is the group of people that normally I would try be fit in with--the group that tries to keep the Torah-had been taken over by the Dark Side, the Sitra Achra, as is well known. So if I or anyone else wants to keep the Torah we have to do it on our own and and say as far as possible from those that make a display of keeping Torah. Hasidim work for the exact opposite of what they claim. In this world nothing is what it seems.]







I should mention that there are people that do not consider going through an intermediate as a problem. There are groups that think this is OK. But I think the Torah is right that this is a problem. I dont know why people ignore the Torah in this detail, but to me it seems like a serious matter.With the vav they were joining G-d with the Golden Calf

Is "joining" שיתוף (Joining something to G-d) more serious than idolatry or less?
This is an argument between R Meir of the Mishna and R Shimon Ben Yochai

But the Rambam seems to make an amalgamation of the two opinions.
The argument is in Sanhedrin 63.
R Meir said, "If not for the letter vav in 'These are your gods,'
(which was said to the Golden Calf) Israel would have been liable to be destroyed."
[The vav makes it plural. Without it it would have been "This is your god" referring to teh Golden Calf. With the vav they were joining G-d with the Golden Calf]
R. Shimon said, "But anyone who joins the name of God with something else is uprooted from this world as it says 'to God alone.' Rather the vav is to tell us they desired many gods." [In Avoda Zara it is explained that that means they accepted the Golden Calf but were open to accepting other god also. But they did not join God with the Golden Calf. And if they had that would have been worse.  ]

The Maharsha says that joining is what the Rambam describes at the beginning of the Laws of Idolatry. And there the Rambam says the main idea of idolatry was they saw that God put the stars in Heaven so it is his will that we should honor them just like he honors them, and by that they will be advocates for us. [The Rambam  goes into detail about this also in his commentary on the Mishna. This is known in the  as the problem of the אמצעי intermediate. That is people know God is the creator but they feel they can't approach Him directly so they go through a middle step like a person or anything else to serve as a middle step.]
Then the Rambam says  the actual idolatry that we know came after that. It seems the rambam is saying the later step was worse. That is the אמצעי (emtzai) (using an  intermediate) is less serious.

But then when you look at the Rambam about actual שיתוף joining --in the only place he actual brings up our Gemara-he says one who swears by God and something else will be uprooted--that is the opinion of R Shimon. Not like R Meir!

So what we have here is what seems like a contradiction in the Rambam.
I should mention that there are people that do not consider going through an intermediate as a problem. There are groups that think this is OK. But I think the Torah is right that this is a problem.
I don't know why people ignore the Torah in this detail, but to me it seems like a serious matter.
I don't mean to be critical of any tzadik. But even a tzadik  should not be an intermediate.






28.4.15

When I read  the introduction of Maimonides to the Mishna, I was surprised to see that he had already at the beginning of his life laid out his plan about what he was going to write. He already had the basic outline of the Yad HaChazaka (Mishneh Torah) and the Guide for the Perplexed already laid out in his mind.
This reinforced what I was anyway thinking about the Rambam that his switch to Aristotle was intentional and meant to clarify the issue of idolatry. He meant it from the beginning, and it was not some fluke at the end of his life.

He wanted the difference between idolatry and Monotheism to be sharp and distinct and not dependent on degrees. Of course you could ask who does not want that? Everyone wants that! But my point is no one could get it. With Nachmanides or any Neoplatonic system, it is completely arbitrary where you draw the line between godliness and not godliness. Obviously the Rambam meant right from the beginning to stamp that out.
As long as you believe in Emanation, then anything you want can be godliness. And you can conveniently say the line stops where you want it to stop so that your system is conveniently kosher and everyone else's is not.  Perfect. [I don't claim that was the only reason the Rambam switched to Aristotle. The Neo Platonic systems had anyway been tried and failed. I don't recall what the problems were off hand. Maybe the third person problem was one thing.(Which is only a problem if you consider substance to be not a composite.)]

At any rate, we do have Nachmanides with his Neoplatonic approach, which does tend to balance the playing field.

And this leads to the question about שיתןף "joining" in Tosphot Sanhedrin 63b.

 I am not sure what that Tosphot means. He says one can have a business with Christians because of 1) when  they swear by their holy things, they don't intend godliness, 2) when they mention Jesus, they intend the Maker of heaven, 3) they are not commanded about "joining."
So far I have not been able to make heads or tails about what Tosphot means here.

I am guessing that maybe in the Middle Ages people would swear by the wafer. The second thing seems to be dealing with the Trinity of Athenius.  The third thing seems to be some kind of idea about Emanation because otherwise why would they not be commanded not to do joining?

And it is hard to know why Christianity would be "joining" שיתוף. Joining we know from page 63a means to join something else to God. What Christians do is say x=y. That is not the same as x+y.

Appendix:
1] I should mention just to clarify that saying someone is the son of God is not a problem because the Torah does this all the time.  בנים אתם להשם אלהיכם, שלח את בני ויעבדני, בני בכורי ישראל "You are the children of the Lord your God," "Send out my son so that he will worship me." "Israel is the first born of God." "My son, my first, born Israel." So if all the Jewish people are children of God, then specifying one particular member of the entire set as a son of God is not an exception to the rule.
So if your father says, "These three boys are my children" and then says "This boy [who is in the set of all three boys] is my son," there is no contradiction because he was already part of the entire set.
2] Tosphot is not referring to Roman Catholic doctrine after Aquinas. Rather to pre-Aquinas doctrine which was Neo-Platonic.
3] We can see why pantheism would be a problem. Not only is it not what the Torah is saying, but also it has this aspect that the Rambam did not like about  Emanation. [To the Rambam there is no emanation.]
4] To the Rambam God is the First Cause. He is not a composite.
5] It is not just that I do not understand the individual points of Tosphot. It is also I don't know how he is combining his points.
6] We find for example that the Ari considers the souls of people like the patriarchs to be from the world of Emanation. And that we know from the Zohar and the Ari is Godliness. To the Ari the bottom of Emanation is where godliness ends and creation begins. That is explicit in the Zohar. And in the Shaar HaGilgulim of the Ari and Reb Chaim Vital we find this theme extended greatly. We find even Bava Sali said about his son, Meir Abuchatzeira that his soul was from Emanation. So it is not unusual to claim someone is Divine. No one considered it even to be a theological problem. Mainly because people form their ideas based on group identity, and not because they actually think about the implications of their beliefs.
7] So the venues of future exploration are the Gemara in Suka and the other Tosphots that bring up this issue.   The Gemara in Suka asks on the Mishna the question of "joining."
8] My own opinion I should mention is like that of the Rambam. God is one, not two and not three, and not a composite. And I don't think anyone's soul is Godliness. But I am willing to accept that some people are divinely inspired like Moses and the prophets.












) Stay away from doctors.
) Stay away from psychologists.
) Stay away from people that present themselves as teaching Torah. (There are not many exceptions but the heads of Lithuanian yeshivas are exceptions to this rule in that they in fact are just teaching Torah.)

)They are all false healers, and are put on earth in order to make people sick. Doctors are here to make people physically sick. Psychologists to make people mentally sick. And people that teach Torah are to make people spiritually sick.

) Learn Torah in the straight Lithuanian Yeshiva Path. Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot.

) Go to a forest to talk with God (This is hard in NY, and easy in Safed. If you are in NY, and no forest is around, just being in your room alone and talking with God is also good.)


) Learn fast. Very fast. Say the words quickly in order and go on. I have used this method for years but also learned in ways that I think applied to me. For example I have a learning partner which is a prime axiom in the Litvak world.  Also when I was at Polytechnic, I said the words forwards and backwards because I was under pressure to pass exams. I could not rely on the idea I would eventually read the material again. I had to know it then and there.
For myself I also combine ideas from my parents,  the Rambam, the Gra and Rav Shach.  I am not saying my path is anything anyone else would agree with. It is just that it works for me.







I notice that sometimes I bring up this small paragraph in the Talmud about the argument between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai and it seems to make some people uncomfortable. The basic idea is simple. R Meir said they said to the Golden Calf, "These are your gods Oh Israel which brought you out from Egypt." If they had said "This is" they would have been destroyed. R. Shimon said But anyone who joins the name of God with something else is uprooted from this world . So it must be they desired many gods.
This statement of R Shimon has two possible meanings. One is that joining is worse than idolatry. But then there would be a question from the verse he brings as a proof "Only to God."
Or he means idolatry and joining are equal but they did not accept the Gold Calf but just desired it. But then we have a question from the verse where they said "these are your gods."

The reason I think that people don't like to her this is because "joining" is a delicate point.

For one thing sometimes a person is following some great leader--and in fact that leader is great, or sometimes there are following someone who is not great. But in both cases they are adding something to God. So when I mention this particular small paragraph it makes them uncomfortable.







27.4.15

There is a limit to sexual freedom from the standpoint of the Torah. Reform Judaism is admirable in many ways but in this issue I think they are going against the Torah.
The right aspects of Reform are its support of Israel and recognition of the importance of laws of the Torah between man and his fellow man. And my family in fact went to Temple Israel of Hollywood and that is where I had my bar mitzvah. But Reform is not careful enough when it comes to laws between God and man. In any case, I would still attend only Temple Israel as that was the place my parents decided was right for us. But personally I would try to be more careful about the laws of the Torah.
In any case, when I decided to learn Torah I went to NY, and was very happy with the Lithuanian yeshiva world. But if I was in LA, I still would go only to Temple Israel,  [and avoid the insane religious world  there like the black plague.]
[I was a few years in Shar Yashuv Far Rockaway, NY which was an amazing place. And later at the Mirrer Yeshiva which was better than an LSD trip.] OK that is maybe not the best metaphor. Let's just say the Mir was a stupendous  place for the few years I was there. And I think that anyone who wants to have an idea of what the Torah is about also should attend a straight Litvak place for at least four years.[Which was the time I was at the Mir.]
I should mention for the general public that the normal time frame of a Lithuanian yeshiva is in fact exactly four years. You go through  four levels until the top class. But the actual cycle of a Litvak yeshiva is seven years--for the three Bava's  and Ketubot, Gitin, Kidushin and Yevamot.

[For me everything got mixed up because in my switch from Shar Yashuv to the Mir I ended up in Far Rockaway in the middle of Yevamot   and I had just finished Ketubot. Then when I got to the Mir they were doing Nedarim for Elul and then started Ketubot. So I joined the Shabat group. That was a small group that were doing Shabat.] 

It is hard to figure out what R. Shimon ben Yochai is saying in Sanhedrin 63.
There is one question because the verse he brings does not distinguish between "joining" (שיתוף) and regular idolatry בלתי להשם לבדו [To God alone].

So let me lay out the basic paragraph and then I will say over the problems.

 Rabbi Meir said, "If not for the letter "vav" in 'these are your gods, O Israel, which brought you out from Egypt,' the Jewish people would have been destroyed."

R Shimon said, "Anyone who joins the name of Heaven with something else is uprooted from this world. Rather it means they desired many gods."

What it seems at first glance  is this. It would not have mattered if they had done pure idolatry or joining--in any case they would have been destroyed. Rather they only desired other gods. This makes sense. But then what do we do with the fact they said, "These are your gods Israel." They did more than desire. They accepted.

So now we understand why Rashi said in fact just that: They accepted other gods. But then what is R. Shimon saying?

Now just to be clear, the verse בלתי להשם לבדו "To God alone" is from the verse "He who sacrifices to the gods will be destroyed,.. only to God alone." Exodus 32. That is: One must not sacrifice to the gods, only to God. This does not distinguish between to other gods and to other gods with God. As far as this verse is concerned it is all the same thing. One must sacrifice to God alone, and anything else is bad.

And I hoped to get insight by opening up the Talmud in Suka 45b. But so far I have gotten nowhere.

What I had thought at first is R. Shimon is saying joining something with God is worse than straight idolatry. And if that was the case, everything would be OK except the verse "To God alone." --which has one complete set of services towards God alone--and everything outside that set is not OK.

This is relevant modern day issues because Christianity is considered by Tosphot to be "joining" [Sanhedrin 63b].  That is Tosphot thinks Christianity is joining someone to God. But then he says gentiles are not commanded against this. But why not?
In any case, it looks to me that Tosphot is right because even Thomas Aquinas has trouble getting past the idea that the physical body of Jesus was God. I forget his answer but at the time I read it, it did not sound very convincing. I will leave that to  modern Scholastic Scholars like Feser.



26.4.15

There is a basic canon of Torah that is different than the Christian canon. The basic Torah cannon includes the written Torah which we have together with Christians but also the Oral Law which Christians don't accept.
But the Torah cannon is not fluid. You can't just write a book in Hebrew about Torah topics and say it is a part of the Oral Law.--even though people do this all the time. The reason they do this is the basic Torah cannon is hard to read. It is not light literature. And it is hard to understand. And it is against worship of people. If some person has  a particular figure he admires and he wants to worship him or her, they add some book or series of books that  make worship of that person to be considered kosher and desirable.


Appendix:
1) The Torah cannon is the regular "Tenach" (Old Testament), the two Talmuds, Mechilta, Sifra, Sifri, Tosephta, Torah Cohanim, Midrash Raba. It is  lot to read, but you could go through it in a year or two.  When you add the commentaries, it takes more time.
2) The Torah cannon also is different in the weight given to each section. The Oral Law is not given the same weight as the Written Law. We know it is just human beings trying to understand the Divine wisdom of Torah. But it has more weight that just anyone's opinion.
3) Halacha literature has a funny kind of status. Because it tends to stick with the Oral Law it partakes in some aspect of the respect we have for the Oral Law. It at least has the advantage that it is understandable. You don't need to spend two weeks on one page as you do when you study Talmud. But it has the disadvantage that it is not in fact the Oral Law. It is just someones opinion of what the oral law would say about some issue.
4) Kabalah also has a funny kind of status. It is not the Oral Law. But some people think it was handed down in some kind of secret tradition. Even so, it is not the Oral Law. It is, at best, a possible addition.
5) Shelomo Luria had a few choice words about the Rambam. Let's say he did not like the idea of anyone trying to rewrite the Oral Law--even someone of the stature of the Rambam. Nowadays the divorce between halacha and the Talmud is complete.  People that follow halacha don't know nor care what the Talmud says. And the modern Halacha books of the Charedi world are perversions of halacha as understood by the Talmud--even those of Rav Ovadia Joseph. Certainly Reb Ovadia did not intend this but the simplifications he introduced into a halacha are definite perversions.
E.g. you can crack nuts on Shabat and put the shells on the table. To say otherwise is a perversion of halacha. You can't make a pile. So what you have is people supposedly trying to make halacha simple but what they end up doing is distorting it into Picasso portraits.
And in fact even this is being stricter than you really have to be. Because that Mishna (Chapter Beit Shamai in Shabat where this issue comes from) is Beit Shamai--the Gemara reversed the order right there. The opinion of Beit Hillel right there is even shells of nuts that you can't eat are not mukza. [That is Rashi's opinion there on the page.] And that is  Stam Mishna (a mishna with no names) [Beit Hill and Beit Shamai is considered "stam"] coming after an argument and the Halacha is like Stam, Not to mention Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai who does not hold by mutza at all except for things that are not fit for any use and which one put away like figs on a roof to dry.[The halacha is in far like Rabbi Shimon, but the Talmud itself does state cases in which R. Shimon would agree there is muktza --so I am not using his opinion here to find a permission. I am just mentioning it as another factor to add to the role call.] And if you look at the reason for muktzah the Raavad brings, the reason for it don't apply when there is no public domain around. [600,000.]
So I am not saying Reb Ovadia is not right. Rather it is possible to simplify halacha without perverting it. Halacha today means taking the most strict opinion and making it stricter (in the name of making it "simple") and then presenting it as an unquestionable immutable law given at Mount Sinai.

So fine that Reb Ovadia wants to say that shells are muktza. Fine, he has plenty of support. All I am saying is when people write in his name not to peel the shells and put them on the table that is plainly false. And even the shells --it is not to everyone that they are mukza. What if not everyone wants to be strict?  But strict or not is not even the issue. It is the fact that the Talmud is considered irrelevant to this discussion. No one would even dream of opening up  a Gemara to discover a halacha. That is what I mean to say when I say the Halacha has been divorced from the Oral Law.





And this creates  cognitive dissonance. People believe in Torah and yet  worship humans. It is a true critique that I feel should not be ignored.
Some Litvaks, like my friend Rav Silverman [pronounced Zilverman] in the Old City (Jerusalem), see this flaw and therefore decided that the Gra was right to dismiss the entire realm of anything coming from the Baal Shem Tov. [Even though the actual Cherem was on the school of  Magid from Meztrich.]




Appendix:
1)There are other Litvaks [Lithuanian Jews] who see this flaw


24.4.15

There is a verse in the Torah which Rav Shick used as a proof of pantheism, "There is nothing without God" אין עוד מלבדו. But if you open the Rambam יסודי התורה א:ה you can see he explains that verse to mean there is nothing without God, not there is nothing but God.


There is a word that is used to describe the faith of the Torah--that is traditional Jewish Faith -Monotheism. Rav Shick has tried to present panentheism as traditional Jewish faith and some people are taken in by this scam because of lack of learning Torah.

Now Rav Shick himself was probably never aware that what he was teaching was not the Jewish faith. He never read the basic works of traditional authentic Jewish thought. That meant he never read the Guide of the Rambam, nor the Emunot VeDeot of Saadia Gaon or the Ibn Ezra. or the first chapter of the Chovot Levavot. So if all his reading consisted of Kabbalah, it is easy to see how he might have missed this basic fact of Jewish faith--monotheism.

Not that I have anything in particular against pantheism as a philosophical possibility. Just I am not thrilled when it is presented as Jewish faith.


So Rav Shick made an honest mistake. But it is no credit to him if we continue believing this mistake.The Torah is Monotheistic.]






The main idea of Israel is the idea of protection of individual rights for everyone in its borders-regardless of faith. This is displayed very well in the case of enemies of Jews that live in Israel that work to kill Jews and yet their rights are still respected unless they actually break some law. It is a degree of respect for individual rights that you don't see anywhere else.

At any rate the only way that I can see one can defend the state of Israel is from a libertarian point of view, of respect and protection for all people in its borders--even those that ought not to be protected.



 There is something about the superorganism and the State that is interesting at least. All I am saying is that you can't defend any state from the standpoint of Hegel because I just don't think nationalism is that great of a principle. While people certainly choose their morality based on group identity but I see that as a negative thing. I think it is better to choose ones morality based on principles that are perceivable by reason.

23.4.15

In Israel, there is a tight kind of community that believes in just learning Torah. This is different from the American yeshiva world, in  that going to work in Israel is considered a bad thing. The thing that keeps this going is government stipends from the State of Israel. Some use this stipend system even though they could not care less about learning Torah. But that is to be expected with any kind of institution. There will always be people around that will try to misuse it.
In any case, it seems to be an ideal situation for people that want to learn Torah their whole lives. And some people manage within this system fairly well.  I can tell by a glance who is learning Torah seriously, and who is just playing games. And I can tell there are a considerable number of people that are very much into the idea of sitting and learning all their lives for the sake of Torah alone. You don't see this much in the USA, even if people say that that is what they are doing. But in Israel you see this in  cities where there are traditional Lithuanian yeshivas.

I should mention this is an ideal I believe in, even if I don't have the merit to do it myself.

On the other hand there is a parallel community of Religious Zionist yeshivas that do believe in work and this system also I approve of. And each one I think is good and I have no preference one over the other. But it is when I see abuse of either system that bothers me.
The advantage of the Religious Zionist is that you see less abuse of the system. If people want money, they work.  If they are satisfied with little, they learn. You don't get that freedom in the Lithuanian yeshivas. But in the Lithuanian yeshivas, you get a degree of learning that is of the highest quality.
Both systems and communities complement themselves. It is like a natural ecosystem with its natural balance.
I cant stress enough how essential this idea of sitting and learning ones whole life is in the Israeli system. And the source of the idea is legitimate. [See the Nefesh HaChaim from Chaim from Voloshin. He brings the main sources. But you can see this yourself in the Gemara and Rambam.] And throughout the ages this was considered the highest ideal. It is just that it was never realizable until the State of Israel was born. Before that it was kind of ad hoc. The best a person could do who wanted to be learning was to accept some rabbinical post but that often had the unfortunate effect of taking ones time away from Torah. There never was sufficient funds in any community to support anyone who wanted to get married and still spend all their time learning. So people found arrangements with rich father-in-laws. I am not saying you have to like this, or agree with this. It is just that you have to understand it in order to understand what the Litvak yeshiva world in Israel sees as the goal of life.
But in the USA you see less of this, perhaps because of the expenses involved.
Certainly I saw plenty of people in the three great NY yeshivas, Chaim Berlin, Mirrer, and Torah VeDaat that also wanted to spend their whole lives learning Torah and somehow managed it. But in no case did I ever see this without the support of the wife.

 I would have to say the Religious Zionist approach is probably closer to the actual path of the Torah.
Mainly because as you have guessed that living off charity ones whole life is not the path of Torah. And in the USA, I have even seen places that claim Torah is a legitimate means of making money in order to get people to support their kollels. [That is, of course, a lie; and a malicious one at that. It is meant to scam people.] So there are enough kinks in this system to get me thinking the Religious Zionist approach is better. Torah with Work. And if one does Torah alone, then he does not lie about what it is he is doing. Torah is not a means for a living. Rather there is a kind of permission  (to some opinions) to accept charity in order to learn. But that is all it is -- charity.







דברים שבלב אינם דברים

Words in the heart are not words


The two blank areas are where we do not know what Rav Shach and the Rashba would say. [Unless I could get around to learning this with my learning partner.]

I mean we have Truma and kadshim where we know words in the heart are words and we have an open Gemara in Shavuot circa 26 that says we don't learn from them because of the rule שני כתובים הבאים כאחד אין מלמדים
Marriage is an act so we clearly need words. Buying and selling are acts so we need words to show intention.

See Kidushin 49b and the Rashba there , and Ketubot 75 and the Tosphot there.
Rambam Hilchot Shavuot 3 about an oath to a person that is using violence.
And what about Chametz and הפקר letting go and abandoning something. מבטלו בלבו ודיו he nullifies the Chametz in his heart and that is that." What about דברים שבלב אינם דברים



The Golden Calf and Joining something to God.

R. Meir said that if not for the vav in "These are your gods Israel which brought you out of Egypt," the Jewish people would have been destroyed. The vav meant they were not denying that God brought them out, but rather God and the Golden calf. ["These are your gods," not "this is your god"].
R. Shimon Ben Yochai said joining (שיתוף) is liable destruction. So rather it means they desired many gods.
 How is R Shimon answering R Meir?
I think he is claiming "joining" is worse than regular idolatry.
At least that is how Rashi explains this saying that they in fact accepted other gods.
In any case, I think we can see clearly from this Gemara what the problem with the Golden Calf was. It was either adding something to god [that is R Meir's opinion] or it was worshiping another god in which case joining would have been worse.

Now once I was connected with Moharosh's group in Safed and I think they were giving hell to the local rav. [I am not sure of all the details but I think they had tried to take over a local building under building 7, to make it a Breslov shul. That is a law in Israel that once a building has been made into a synagogue you can't do anything with it after that.] In any case the Rav was bothered and so made  a speech that was critical of Breslov. The idea of the speech was that the problem with the golden calf was not that they denied God but they said the God is everywhere and in everything and so it was the part of God in the Golden Calf that brought them out of Egypt. I felt he was being critical of me, but later I decided that I was mistaken in that notion. [Later he invited me back to the community after I had left so clearly he was not mad at me. ] Rather I think he was just being critical of that group. But was that in fact the problem with the Golden Calf?  Not according to our Gemara here in Sanhedrin 63. Here in Sanhedrin 63, the Gemara is thinking God  made the world and he is not the world. The trouble with the Golden Calf was adding something onto God. "Joining."
But what that rav said might be true anyway. It is just that you don't see it in our Gemara. They were not subtracting but rather they were adding. 

)סנהדרין סג. הקדמה. רב אמר האומר לעבודה זרה אלי אתה חייב. התלמוד שואל חייב במה? אם מיתה זה כבר כתוב במשנה. אלא להביא קרבן חטאת. אבל אם זה נכון אז רב אמר משפטו רק לפי דעת רבי עקיבה שאמר בן אדם חייב גם על מעשה קטן למשל השתטחות. ומה היינו חושבים בלי רב? שכרת כתובה רק אצל גידוף. קא משמע לן שיש היקש ויזבחו וישתחוו ויאמרו אלה אלהיך ישראל. זה הגמרא. השאלה כאן היא שהגמרא התחילה לשאול על דיבור. מפריע לגמרא שבן אדן יהיה חייב קרבן על דיבור. ואז היא מביאה פסוק שיש בו היקש בין דיבור ומעשה. זה אמור להורות שיש חיוב על דיבור. אבל קרבן ע''ז נכתב דווקא על מעשה, וכרת נכתב רק על דיבור במצב של מזיד."כי השם הוא מגדף". מה שהגמרא מכוונת כאן היא שע''ז חייב קרבן בגלל שקרבן נכתב הפירוש אצלה ויש היקש מ"אלה אלהיך ישראל" ל מעשה ע''ז. ומה היתה ההווא אמינא? שאין חיוב ע''ז אלא אם כן נכתב כרת אצלה. וכרת נכתב רק בפרשת שלח לגבי ע''ז במזיד


The Talmud in Sanhedrin wants to find a way of getting saying "You are my god" to a false god to be liable a sin offering. It can't do this except to R Akiva who says bowing is liable, and bowing is not considered a pure act. [I think because it does not act on anything.] But if we had R Akiva alone we might not know that saying you are my god to a false god would also be liable because cutting off is written only by cursing. So Rav informs us that saying "You are my god" is also liable a sin offering because of a juxtaposition "They bowed and sacrificed and said these are your gods O Israel."

The question was how does this work? We have a juxtaposition היקש from "You are my god" to idolatry but there is no cutting off written by regular accidental idolatry  only for idolatry done on purpose and for that there is no sacrifice.


The important thing to realize here is that cutting off is not written by accidental idolatry. So what the Talmud means is we know regular idolatry is liable a sin offering because a sin offering is written by it explicitly, at the end of Parshat Shelach  Number 16. So we have a היקש from saying "You are my god" to regular idolatry.

In any case, the way the Talmud puts this is difficult. We have R. Akiva saying bowing is liable a sacrifice. Then the Talmud says If we had had only this statement of R Akiva I might have thought that is liable because it is גידוף blasphemy and for blasphemy there is a כרת that is openly written. So now with Rav we know saying you are my god is also liable because of our היקשץ

This last paragraph I am just saying over what the Gemara says. But what is difficult here is this: In the parshah where we have a sacrifice for doing idolatry Numbers 16 גידוף blasphemy is not mentioned at all.  And right after that when it does mention גידוף it is talking about doing idolatry on purpose for which there is no sacrifice. There is something going on here I just can't figure out.











Appendix;

Introduction: In the Talmud we have a statement of Rav that one who says to an idol "You are my god" is liable.
The Talmud asks liable for what? If the death penalty when he does it knowingly, then that is anyway what is says in the  Mishna. [Rav has told us nothing new and that is not good. He would not have just repeated the Mishna unless he would say that that is what he is doing.]
So he must have meant he is liable to bring a she goat [a sin offering]--the sacrifice prescribed by the Torah for doing idolatry by accident.
The Talmud asks that this does not seem to be like the Sages but only like Rabbi Akiva. [And that is not very good. We already know the law is not like Rabbi Akiva against more than one sage. If he would be arguing with only one other person that would be different.]
Where do you have this argument? In a Braita [teaching] that says:  One is liable to bring  a sin offering only for an act, e.g. bowing, pouring, burning, and sacrifice.

Reish Lakish said, "That is coming to Rabbi Akiva who said the law is one can be liable even when there is not a perfect act, but even just a small act like bowing."
The Gemara concludes that you have to say that the statement of Rav is coming only like Rabbi Akiva. (Even though the Talmud is obviously not happy with this.)

"So what might have we thought?", the Talmud continues. That being cut off from ones people is not written by idolatry. So now we know it is by means of a hekeih היקש -אתקושי אתקש-juxtaposition that God told Moses, "Go down from this mountain because the people gave sacrificed and bowed down and said these are your gods Oh Israel."

End of introduction.

So what is the obvious question here? It is that we start out not being happy with a obligation to bring a sin offering for speech. In the middle of the discussion we discovered that R.Akiva makes one liable even for bowing which is an act with no object.  So we decided that for speech also R Akiva would say one can be liable even though it is an act with no object.
But then look what happened. "We might have thought that כרת cutting off is not written by idolatry. So now we know it is by this juxtaposition. for idolatry.
We know you need an act to bring a sin offering because of Leviticus 4. ועשה אחת מהנה. And we know כרת  is written by idolatry in Numbers 16 where it gives the rules for the high priest,  the king, the congregation, and an individual to bring a sacrifice for idolatry. But there it is speech that is singled out. The verse says "This is the law for one who does by accident, but one who acts on purpose will be cut off from his people, he has blasphemed God." So what do we learn from the  היקש juxtaposition? That acts are also liable! Not just words.
So we learn from speech to acts. What the Talmud is trying to do is to learn from acts to speech. So what is going on? Could it be the Talmud is trying to answer for R. Akiva, and not Rav as it seems? Any suggestions?


)סנהדרין סג. הקדמה. רב אמר האומר לעבודה זרה אלי אתה חייב. התלמוד שואל חייב במה? אם מיתה זה כבר כתוב במשנה. אלא להביא קרבן חטאת. אבל אם זה נכון אז רב אמר משפטו רק לפי דעת רבי עקיבה שאמר בן אדם חייב גם על מעשה קטן למשל השתטחות. ומה היינו חושבים? שכרת אינו כתוב אצל עבודה זרה. קא משמע לן שיש היקש ויזבחו וישתחוו ויאמרו אלה אלהיך ישראל. סוף ההקדמה.השאלה כאן היא שהגמרא התחילה לשאול על דיבור. מפריע לגמרא שבן אדן יהיה חייב קרבן על דיבור. ואז היא מביאה פסוק שיש בו היקש בין דיבור ומעשה. זה אמור להורות שיש חיוב על דיבור. אבל קרבן ע''ז נכתב דווקא על דיבור



Can one be liable to bring  a sin offering if he accepts a false god in his heart without saying anything?
This would be practical if it were the case. He could come to the Beit Din [the court] and say he accepted some god like Allah or Brahman, and ask if he must bring a female goat. And they say "Yes." I could go further, but I think clearly you can't be liable for thoughts of idolatry.
If you were then why does the Talmud in Sanhedrin bend over backwards to find a way to make liable  someone who said to a false god, "You are my god?" And it has to conclude it is only like Rabbi Akiva, and it obviously is not happy with that fact, because that would push it out of the realm of Jewish Law. [The law we know goes by the majority. But there are many exceptions. Still in this case it is an established principle: The law is like R. Akiva against his friend, but not against his friends.    הלכה כרבי עקיבה כנגד חבירו ולא כנגד חבריו]

Now I have to mention that the Gemara is not involved in the issue of the death penalty for when one does idolatry on purpose. It knows that there is an open verse that one who bows to a false god gets the death penalty. It is only bothered by the question of-- if the guy does it by accident does he bring a sin offering? And that is where the Talmud is bothered because for a sin offering we need some act with an object. [See the discussion of Prichard of the British school of Intuitionists about what constitutes an act. But in our case here we see the Talmud considers an act to be only something that has an object.- not bowing, and not words.]

Of course, you can imagine this got me thinking about דברים שבלב אינם דברים - קידושין דף מט
ב words in the heart are not words [Kidushin 49 Ketubot 75 and see the Rashba  Shelomo ben Aderet on that Gemara in Kidushin  who has the idea that this is only when the words in the heart contradict some act. (That is his idea. You won't find it in Tosphot.) [Not the same as the Rashba of Tosphot who is Shimshon ben Avraham]  [What I mean is that the thought can make him obligated in a sin offering even if he say nothing. The Beit Din cant make himobligated but he knows himself that he is obligated.]

And Rav Elazar Menachem Shach [author of the Avi Ezri] says that applies specifically where one makes an act by means of his words.

In any case, you are obviously thinking about the Gemara at the end of Chulin about guy who was sending off the mother bird from the eggs and fell and got killed, and the Gemara suggest that it was because he might have been thinking thoughts about idolatry.  For thoughts one does have to bring a burnt offering, which can be brought  just like a peace offering. It does not have any conditions attached to it. You get get up in the morning and say "There is  upon me to bring a peace offering" or "a burnt offering." But you can't do this with a sin offering which can be brought only for very specific things.



22.4.15

 Obama's  agenda is to transform America. 
Swarm the country with illegal aliens and Muslims, to permanently alter its demographics in favour of the traitorous Left.
It's only a matter of time, America will become like Europe which is currently under siege from Muslims who refuse to integrate. Jihad attacks will escalate, no-go Sharia enclaves will emerge, Jews will flee, and America will become anti-Israel.
Welcome to Amerikanistan - Islamic States of America.



The number one language spoken by refugees admitted to the United States last year is Arabic. The third most common language is Somali.
Almost twice as many Somalis as Spanish-speakers were admitted as refugees last year. Minnesota alone has suffered under the weight of over 10,000 Somalis over the last decade. And the number of Somalis more than tripled under Obama, flooding communities and devastating entire areas of the country.
The number of Arabic speakers also drastically increased, going from under 10,000 to nearly 18,000. We took in four Arabic speaking refugees for every Spanish-speaking refugee.
While it might be nice to imagine that persecuted Christians or Yazidis are being taken in from Syria, the vast majority of refugees are Sunni Muslims, the same sect that birthed Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS.
In one month, we took in 437 Sunni Muslims from Syria, 1 Catholic, 47 Christians and 1 Yazidi.
The Volags may invoke the Bible in defense of refugee resettlement, but they are invoking it in the service of the Koran. Whether a cross or a star dangles on the door, inside is the dark crescent of Islam.
Unlike most other forms of immigration, refugee resettlement is the most dangerous and the least likely to be questioned. Its tactic of dumping migrants into communities, which are swiftly forced to adapt to demands for interpreters, social services, welfare and violence, is clothed in the pious garb of religion.
While the government gives religious groups money, they give it moral shielding, and the local people lose their rights, their homes, their money and sometimes their lives. But the attack on Spartanburg has brought attention to the practices of this secretive and deceptive program.


“It was a little army and a little battle, but it was of mighty portent,” Hoover said of the Spartan Regiment and the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Even if we do not form great armies and fight great battles, we can all be little armies fighting little battles and it may be that we shall one day learn that these little battles were of mighty portent.

https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/refugee-resettlement-fact-sheets/
http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/dgreenfield/an-invasion-of-refugees/

https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/breaking-news-spartansburg-south-carolina-targeted-to-be-colonized-as-next-refugee-seed-community/
A letter:
Since Spartanburg is my home, I’ve done a lot of research into the RRP, including here at this blog. When ‘speculation’ is demonstrated over and over and has written and verbal confirmation from the welcoming communities, international organizations and government offices involved (though it may be presented in convoluted language to control the narrative) speculation looks a lot like facts.
No one wishes to turn away strangers in need, but when that altruistic spirit is being used as a weapon against kind and generous people, it ceases to be about compassion for either the refugee or the community that opens it arms. It becomes something so deceitful, it fails every rational or reasonable test of principled compassion.
The people who would have us believe we’re unkind, uncaring, bad Christians or whatever other disparaging adjective they can wring out of legitimate concern are manipulators. Name calling and deceitful practices meant to silence ‘pockets of resistance’ tells us everything we need to know about the resettlement scheme.
If asking legitimate questions, requiring respectful honest answers without the community organizing tactics and psy-op strategies makes me a pocket of resistance, then I will pay for my own button and wear it proudly. Compassion has never been a suicide pact. Love is not detrimental permissiveness. Charity begins at home.
I care because I care about our own vulnerable citizen population. I care that Spartan High and Dorman don’t have 82 different languages being spoken that we have to provide translators for. I care that assimilation takes precedent over integration and navigation, so a positive experience is provided for the limited number of any people we can aid in becoming successful Americans and for ourselves. I care that those people must want to be American, that their need is real, that our community is the best place for them and that they’ve abided by our laws in truth and in spirit. I care that we will not be expected to cater to them, but that they want to embrace us, while retaining cultural traditions that fit well into the community and our laws. I care that we don’t kill the goose because she was too timid or vain in her own self-image of false goodness that she stuck her neck out to be chopped out. Believe it or not, I care about the refugee being manipulated too.
I’ve learned enough about subversive tactics over the last 8 years or so to fill a book. America must not be fooled again, for if we do not believe what we see with our own eyes, we shall surely perish and that will not be a good thing, no matter what the tiny minority of our population who have maneuvered themselves into power want us to believe. These poor souls will rue the day they believed their own lies. It never fails. History is our friend. Logic and reality still reign and the most loving thing we can do for them, illegal aliens and refugees is to stop them in their tracks now.










The main engine of yeshivas in NY is the idea ביטול תורה כנגד כולם. Lack of learning Torah is equal to all the other sins put together.
It is not the idea that learning Torah is equal to all the mitzvot put together. If learning Torah was just a nice mitzvah there would be little reason for yeshiva.
But this idea that lack of learning Torah is equal to all the other sins together means that Torah is an obligation on every person.
And the idea that lack of learning torah when one is able to learn is a sin has a good source in the gemara in Sanhedrin כי דבר השם בזה הכרת תכרת הנפש ההיא מקרב עמה זה מי שאפשר לו ללמוד ואינו לומד.
This would be the reason why I myself went against my parents wishes and went to yeshiva instead of to university. I felt learning Torah was that important. Still in hindsight I  see that my parents were right and if I could go back, I would have learned half a day in the yeshiva, and spent the other half in Brooklyn Collage.

I know there are different opinions about this issue. Some people think that one should learn Torah all the time and that is that. That is in fact the general approach of Lithuanian yeshivas in Israel. In fact, in Israel if one works and learns he is considered a second class citizen in the Charedi world. Forget about decent shidduchim for his children. People won't touch him with a ten foot pole.
And based on the statement in the Talmud about the importance of learning all the time it is hard to argue with the Israeli approach.
I don't have a clear resolution to this matter, but I think that a possible solution goes like this: If you are learning Torah and you don't let go for any reason, then there will be help from heaven that you can continue to learn. But if you let go, even a little bit, then you will not be able to get back to it. And if you try to get back to it after you gave it up --it will blow up in your face. It won't be real Torah you will get back to, but some false pseudo Torah. [I can't explain this. It is just what I think I see happens.]
I can' answer this contradiction and I don't minimize its importance. But I can minimize the area of conflict.
I claim there is much less of a controversy here than people think. Litvaks traditionally had a side learning project. And we know the Rambam held that one must learn Physics and Metaphysics. I think that areas outside STEM subjects in fact should be shut down in universities. I can't see any good in any of the social or humanities departments  in most colleges.






Sanhedrin 63

Introduction: In the Talmud we have a statement of Rav that one who says to an idol "You are my god" is liable.
The Talmud asks liable for what? If the death penalty when he does it knowingly, then that is anyway what is says in the  Mishna. [Rav has told us nothing new and that is not good. He would not have just repeated the Mishna unless he would say that that is what he is doing.]
So he must have meant he is liable to bring a she goat [a sin offering]--the sacrifice prescribed by the Torah for doing idolatry by accident.
The Talmud asks that this does not seem to be like the Sages but only like Rabbi Akiva. [And that is not very good. We already know the law is not like Rabbi Akiva against more than one sage. If he would be arguing with only one other person that would be different.]
Where do you have this argument? In a Braita [teaching] that says:  One is liable to bring  a sin offering only for an act, e.g. bowing, pouring, burning, and sacrifice.

Reish Lakish said, "That is coming to Rabbi Akiva who said the law is one can be liable even when there is not a perfect act, but even just a small act like bowing."
The Gemara concludes that you have to say that the statement of Rav is coming only like Rabbi Akiva. (Even though the Talmud is obviously not happy with this.)

"So what might have we thought?", the Talmud continues. That being cut off from ones people is not written by idolatry. So now we know it is by means of a hekeih היקש -אתקושי אתקש-juxtaposition that God told Moses, "Go down from this mountain because the people gave sacrificed and bowed down and said these are your gods Oh Israel."

End of introduction.

So what is the obvious question here? It is that we start out not being happy with a obligation to bring a sin offering for speech. In the middle of the discussion we discovered that R.Akiva makes one liable even for bowing which is an act with no object.  So we decided that for speech also R Akiva would say one can be liable even though it is an act with no object.
But then look what happened. "We might have thought that כרת cutting off is not written by idolatry. So now we know it is by this juxtaposition. for idolatry.
We know you need an act to bring a sin offering because of Leviticus 4. ועשה אחת מהנה. And we know כרת  is written by idolatry in Numbers 16 where it gives the rules for the high priest,  the king, the congregation, and an individual to bring a sacrifice for idolatry. But there it is speech that is singled out. The verse says "This is the law for one who does by accident, but one who acts on purpose will be cut off from his people, he has blasphemed God." So what do we learn from the  היקש juxtaposition? That acts are also liable! Not just words.
So we learn from speech to acts. What the Talmud is trying to do is to learn from acts to speech. So what is going on? Could it be the Talmud is trying to answer for R. Akiva, and not Rav as it seems? Any suggestions?

 
)סנהדרין סג. הקדמה. רב אמר האומר לעבודה זרה אלי אתה חייב. התלמוד שואל חייב במה? אם מיתה זה כבר כתוב במשנה. אלא להביא קרבן חטאת. אבל אם זה נכון אז רב אמר משפטו רק לפי דעת רבי עקיבה שאמר בן אדם חייב גם על מעשה קטן למשל השתטחות. ומה היינו חושבים? שכרת אינו כתוב אצל עבודה זרה. קא משמע לן שיש היקש ויזבחו וישתחוו ויאמרו אלה אלהיך ישראל. סוף ההקדמה.השאלה כאן היא שהגמרא התחילה לשאול על דיבור. מפריע לגמרא שבן אדן יהיה חייב קרבן על דיבור. ואז היא מביאה פסוק שיש בו היקש בין דיבור ומעשה. זה אמור להורות שיש חיוב על דיבור. אבל קרבן ע''ז נכתב דווקא על דיבור




21.4.15

I am not so upset about "yes" means "yes." Mainly my feeling is that people should marry young. That is right after high school I think people should spend about 4 years in yeshiva learning Talmud and girls should be in seminary. During that time they should get married. Then after that work or collage. And this aspect that collages in the USA are becoming more puritan is I think a good sign.

And what starts in California inevitably goes east and more east and west. Though I suffered greatly in yeshiva but now I can see that the whole thing was good for me. I know there are people that have legitimate complaints about yeshiva but it is after a human institution with human failings. Still it is the best thing out there.

But the  yeshiva can't be a cult yeshiva. Those are easy to spot. What you need is a place like Ponovitch or Mercaz HaRav. It is usually very clear the distinction between an authentic yeshiva  and a cult yeshiva.

Guns and the 2nd amendment just saved a whole crowd in Chicago.

A group of people had been walking in front of the driver around 11:50 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue when Everardo Custodio, 22, began firing into the crowd, Quinn said.
The driver pulled out a handgun and fired six shots at Custodio, hitting him several times, according to court records.  Responding officers found Custodio lying on the ground, bleeding, Quinn said.  No other injuries were reported.
If The Supreme Court hadn’t corrected decades of Progressive attacks on the 2nd amendment, the only person who would’ve been armed in this story is the bad guy. The Uber driver wouldn’t have even been able to stop to help. He’d have been defenseless.
Thanks to conservatives and libertarians, that Uber driver was an armed hero waiting to happen, and everyone lived.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-uber-driver-shoots-gunman-met-0420-20150419-story.html
In the Far East we have pure pantheism and in the West pure materialism. People do not feel God in their daily lives at all. In the Far East all people feel is Brahman . Israel certainly seems to have this ground of Monotheism in which people feel God, but not to the degree of going overboard towards Pantheism nor in the other direction towards materialism.
Now during that time I thought pantheism was normal Yiddishkeit. I had no reason to think otherwise.


Now most of that time I knew that pantheism was at least defensible because of Spinoza. But some questions started popping up about Spinoza. I read a book about Aristotle at Hebrew University and the author made a point to mention that Spinoza puts more constraints on substance than does Aristotle. I realized just take away those constraints and the whole edifice falls. Later in Netivot I saw the critique of Leibniz. Now all this time I knew that pantheism is not mentioned in any traditional authentic book. But the way Rav Shick was presenting it was that it was some deep secret that they were hiding.
The thing that convinced me that Spinoza was not correct was that I discovered the website of Kelly Ross. I discovered that website when doing some research on Spinoza. It was not any particular question Kelly Ross asked, but  the problems between the empiricists and the rationalists and the approach of Kant  that convinced me that Spinoza was just one step towards some proper approach.
Now we know the approach of the Rambam and Saadia Gaon is Monotheism but without the Kant school it is very hard to brings Maimonides down to earth in a concrete easy way to understand.
The Guide of the Rambam is known to be dense and difficult.
Another thing which woke me up was an essay by a person that had been in some Hindu cult in Southern California. The author had some critique along the lines that thinking everything is God doesn't make people better.  (The same author also wrote a book  Saved from the Darkness. His name is  Brad Scott, I think)




20.4.15

In Sanhedrin 63  we have an argument between two Sages of the Mishna about what the problem with the Golden Calf was. They both agree it was  שיתוף [joining] something to God, but to the first sage that is not pure idolatry. To Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai it is pure idolatry. Why not define idolatry as according to the number of gods one worships or the identity of the god? This is the unspoken problem I have been thinking about for a few days that got me to realize what the Talmud is getting at.  In the Talmud God is the Creator and everything else is created. To add anything to God and saying it has "godliness" is what the Talmud calls שיתוף joining.






To understand idolatry it seems you can classify it by  Advaita or pantheism will be on one end of the spectrum in the Far East. Then as you are on the longitude of Jerusalem you have Monotheism (God made the world and he is not the world). Then you go West and You have Monotheism, but with one person besides God also being God. And who you pick seems to be a matter of taste. The further you go West, the more you get materialism. In  the furthest west in Japan you get Buddhism which is zero-theism. And right between Japan and India the two lines meet so we find in fact Buddhism and Advaita being very similar. [Buddhism is atheism according to the Dalai Lama. I figure he must know.]

 Rav Shick [nicknamed "Mohorosh"] printed the books of Reb Nachman  Then started the period of the small pamphlets.


In his books, he would have regular statements of the Sages, but also throw in a statement of the Zohar איהו ממלא כל עלמין וסובב כל עלמין "He fill all worlds, and surrounds all worlds." And then he would add his signature statement אין שום מציאות בלעדיו כלל  "Nothing exists besides him." And sometimes also throw in his second signature statement  הכל אלקות גמור. ["Everything is pure godliness."]


In  letters he wrote "everything is the infinite light" הכל אור אין סוף ב''ה and "everything is the infinite one." הכל אין סוף ב''ה
All this comes from the Remak {Moshe Cordovero.} as quoted by the Shelah Hakadosh. That is probably where the Baal Shem Tov picked up the idea.

From what it is possible to tell this all might be an innocent mistake. We would say that nothing exists without God. Simple.  And this is all the Remak (Moshe Cordovero) meant. But it snowballed all out of proportion. By the time it got to the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, Pantheism became the official doctrine. And Rav Shick being raised in a Satmar home thought it was traditional Torah thought. [And he never read the Guide for the Perplexed of the Rambam so there is no reason to think he would ever have become aware of authentic Jewish theology.]
He father was a friend and disciple of the Satmar Rav, Reb Joel.
Later on, this got mixed up with the Tzimtzum [contraction of the infinite light ] as a kind of way of defending pantheism.
With the Ari (Isaac Luria) we have none of this. Everything above Emanation is godliness, and everything below is not.  And that is straight from the Zohar itself. And this is in fact what we see in Nachmanides concerning the Golden Calf and the interface between God and his creation and his creatures. Obviously with the Rambam {Maimonides} only God will have godliness and everything else will not.

 In conclusion a taxonomy of idolatry will be how much outside of  God , the God of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses] is considered God. In the East everything.  That is Shankara. Then you move  a bit West and you get Ramanuja where there are gradations. Then on the longitude of Jerusalem you get Monotheism. Then in Europe you add one person. Until you get to Buddhism or zero-theism.

Now we understand the Talmud in Sanhedrin 63 about joining things to God being the problem with the golden calf. And we understand now why the Talmud takes this approach to idolatry and not the more natural thing to discuss the number of gods.
And now we can understand the Geon from Vilna (Vilnius). H could have put any number of groups into excommunication.  There were plenty of Shatz [Shabatai Tzvi] groups around. (Every city had its secret Shatz group especially in the Ukraine) But the Shatz was not claiming pantheism. Nor were his followers.
The Gra saw something more sinister in panentheism. He saw it as a sneaky way to direct worship towards people while pretending to be kosher.

Appendix and notes:

1) Reb Nachman said not to learn the Guide for the Perplexed of the Rambam nor any books that deal with Jewish Theology written by the Rishonim. And this is good advice from one aspect because those books are about orientation not learning Torah proper. Learning Torah proper means the Oral and written law, not books of theology. On the other hand for Rav Shick, the lack of knowledge about the מורה נבוכים the Guide had the result that he did not know that Judaism is Monotheism, not Pantheism. This was certainly in his case an honest mistake. He thought that when Reb nachman emphasized the importance of Faith that he was talking about pantheism when in fact Reb Nachman was referring to Monotheism. And this error has come to permeate all of Breslov including Na Nach.
[In Breslov looking at The Guide for the Perplexed or any book of authentic Jewish theology by any of the Rishonim (who were by all accounts the only people qualified to write such books) is considered a very great crime. I mean if you don't think the Rambam know what Torah is about then who does? But this creates the perfect storm. You have people intensely interested in what the Torah is about and yet can't open any authentic book of Jewish thought like Saadia Gaon or the Rambam to find out.  And after a few years these same people after spending all their time reading just Breslov books go out and write more Breslov books all in complete utter innocence of what the Torah says or means.
Now of course Reb Nachman himself is perfectly authentic and legitimate. He is simply coming from the school of thought of  Nachmanides and the Arizal. I have no complaints about that. On the contrary I find his books to be very helpful. It is just people that later write what they claim to be books based on Reb Nachman that I find to be problematic since they are always being written in ignorance of Torah






2) Brahman in Advaita is the only thing that exists. See the Bhagavad Gita with the commentary of Sankara for a detailed exposition of this point of view that is coming from a more religious perfective than Spinoza. Brahma the Creator of the Universe is created and exist for only one day of Brahman so this is not the same thing as  the Torah's point of view. (Spinoza is a bit close to Torah with his distinction between "Nature" and Nature naturing.")










Here is a link to a new paper by Michael Huemer

http://studiahumana.com/pliki/wydania/In%20Praise%20of%20Passivity.pdf

or look at http://www.owl232.net/





 Philosophers today (and thus have tended to be except for the notable exceptions of Kant, Descartes, and Leibnitz. ) tend to be innocent when it comes to science.



So when philosophers today make false statements about a field I know something about it tends to turn me off. And if the errors get too dense then I simply stop reading that philosopher. And postmodern philosophy is built on errors so I tend to not look at it at all. See Jerold Katz's book.




19.4.15

The בן סורר ומורה rebellious son has to fulfill a lot of conditions before he can be liable. Too many for it to be practical.
But this mitzvah does tell us something about honoring ones parents--that it is so serious as for the Torah to give a death penalty to one who does not obey his or her parents.
That means Torah considers this mitzvah to be more than just serious. Now we can understand that this does not apply when a parent is telling one to do something against the Torah. But that is not the usual case  when children or teenagers rebel.

But what I find interesting is the Torah in general does not command openly about respect to anyone. Respect towards kings, or prophets, or even priests is no where commanded in the Torah.
The only human beings the Torah tells to to respect and obey are our two flesh and blood parents. Not spiritual parents. Our actual physical -in this world- parents.
Why is this mitzvah so universally ignored is beyond me.
There is an interesting idea on this subject from the Naphtali Troup [The green book you see in yeshivas]. But I don't have than book with me now but if you can find it I remember he had some good ideas about this subject.
Rav Shach  thought that the kind of Lithuanian yeshivas that were built on the European model were the  sole source of Torah in this generation.And in particular he mentioned the idea that learning Talmud together with Musar was the sole means for Torah to continue. There is a lot to be said for this. But mainly we can see that his intention was that people should learn Torah whatever way that would be possible. And for people beyond the age of yeshiva [18-24] there is not much choice but to learn Torah at home.
 But it is probable that Rav Shach was thinking of the idea of kollels. In Israel I was a part of this system and it is basically geared so that people can learn Torah their whole lives--and it is supported by the State of Israel. In NY this kollel system I think is supported by the State of NY but I am not sure. It might be from the Federal government.--I never asked. The wife of Shmuel Berenbaum was in the office all day long taking care of the business matters of the yeshiva while her husband did the learning and teaching. All the people in the kollel, including myself, just simply were handed a check every month by Rav Handlesman [or his son] who was her assistant.

In any case, the major idea of Rav Shach was that learning Torah is a requirement for every person from young to old, sick or healthy, etc. and no one is exempt.
This idea I have found is almost impossible to relay to people. And whenever I have tried to express this idea to people I have encountered a lot of resistance.

But the fact is it is this idea of Torah being an obligation on everyone which forms the basis of the idea of Rav Shach that since most people are not learning Torah as much as they ought, therefore the only place where the Torah is found is in Lithuanian yeshivas where at least the ideal is nurtured.

Now the idea that Torah is important you can find in a statement of the Gra

But for right now I want to quote the Gra: "Everything that was, is, and will be is all contained in the Torah from "In the beginning God created.. until in the eyes of all Israel," [the Five Books of Moses]- not just the generalities, but the specifics of every species, and every single person and everything that happened to him from the day he was born until his last breath and everything in between, and also every living creature,--everything that will happen to each one individually. Everything that is said about the Patriarchs and Moses is in every generation. For they and their sparks are in every generation. And all of that is  contained in the first section of the Torah from Genesis until the story of Noah. And also in the first chapter of Genesis. And in the first seven words of the Torah--from the beginning until the end of time."


The letters of the Torah are the life force of everything that exists. On the face of it this idea looks different but you can see that since the Torah is the source of all life and being then it all must be contained in the Torah.
 it is possible to find Torah everywhere and in everything. but the letters of Torah are not always shining. The lights might be turned off. To find the light of God and Torah in things requires a kind of merit. It is not by knowing by means of kabalah what letters are in things. It requires a kind of sexual purity in order for the letters to shine.


Appendix:
I tend to agree with Rav Shach and his was the general yeshiva approach in those days.  The basic idea of Rav Shach is that in every waking moment everyone should be learning Torah except for the time needed to be making  a living. And it is agreed in this approach that Torah is not to be used to make money. And that makes the kollel thing awkward.   In any case the idea of kollel is that they  receive money in order to learn, not learning to receive money. That is at least the theory behind the whole thing. In practice things have evolved so that kollel becomes  a way to make money.

In any case, in this approach it is hard to find time for other areas of value. One can in theory claim he is finding letters of the Torah in other activities when that might be just an excuse. So the great yeshivas in Israel I still think are worthy of support. I can even name a few for those who are interested. Ponovitch, Mercaz HaRav of Rav Cook, Tifrach [I have heard tremendous praises but I have not seen the place, and Rav Montag's Kollel in Netivot which seems more like a full fledged yeshiva rather than a kollel, and Rav Zilverman's Aderet Eliyahu in the Old City of Jerusalem. All these places I think are worthy of support.--though again I have never seen Tifrach but from what I have heard it is off the map.]









Does one have to say something to a false god in order to be liable?
Well clearly not when it comes to the four services or for עבודה כדרכה (service according to the way it is usually served e.g. throwing stones at an idol that that is its way of being served.)
That is five things. But there is a sixth way of being liable for idolatry--and that is to accept it as ones god. Does that need a word?





In tractate Kidushin pg 50 it says דברים שבלב אינם דברים words in the heart are not words.
There is a Tosphot in Ketubot  that deals with the difference between words in the heart are not words and the conditions of the children of Gad and Reuven when they came into the Land of Israel. They had to make a condition that had in it "sic et non" (yes and no). "If we go up and make war with the inhabitants then we will inherit our portion. And if we do not go up and make war then will will not inherit." I forgot that Tosphot.
This is also relevant to what you find that women go up to a certain point in sexual activity and then  do not want to go further. That is very common. Even in cuddling. And now in collages women bring rape charges not because they said "no" but because they did not say "yes." "Yes" means "yes."



But what I wanted to mention here is that Shelomo Ben Aderet [the Rashba] said that words in the heart are not words only when the contradict one actions or spoken words.

Now all this is just preliminary. I have not yet studied the actual Gemara that I am tried to deal with here with my learning partner. That is the Gemara in Sanhedrin page 63 a.
But just off hand we know already that for truma [the tithe given to the priest] and sacrifices to the Temple that words in the heart are words. But that is OK. The Talmud already said in Kidushin that these are derived from two verses and so we don't learn from them a general principle. שני כתובים הבאים כאחד אין מלמדים.
This the Rashba answered in his way that there the actions and words in the heart correspond.
But then why would the Gemara have to learn this from special verses? Rav Shach (Elazar Menachem Shach) said that there is a difference when something is accomplished by the word one speaks. For example getting married. קידושין. We know from verses in the Bible that one has to say something like, "Behold you are married to me by this ring according to the Law of Moses and Israel."

And there are places where we don't need words except to show intention--the words themselves accomplish nothing. In Yeshivish jargon they don't make a "חלות"

According to this in idolatry one would not need words to be liable.

If one does not need a word to be liable then the Mishna in Sanhedrin pg 62 side b is hard to understand. "המקבלו כאלוה והאומר לו אלי אתה" One who accepts it and says to it you are my god. is liable. What does that mean? You need both or either? Et or vel?

In any case the Talmud goes into the question, "Why is saying a word liable?" It seems to take it as a given that that the mishna is all one clause.

Does this apply to people? Can people be idols? Well obviously according to the Rambam in the 13 principles of faith. [Not the redaction the Sidur but in his actual commentary to the Mishna].
But what you see in the Gemara in Sanhedrin 63 is that joining something to God is also a problem. To Rabbi Shimon it is straightforward idolatry. To Rabbi Meir it is not. In any case it seems to be a problem to Rabbi Meir also.

Appendix
In the tithe [truma] to the priest if one puts his mind on one side of the wheat stack to call it the tithe"truma" he is allowed to eat from another side. There is a special verse to show this. So there words in the heart are words. But in a case where one sold something with intention to go to the land of Israel and was stopped from doing so--but he did not say anything about that condition--then words in the heart are not words. The sale goes through.
In marriage if she says, "You are married to me," and gives him a ring, she is not married. Only the man can say, "You are married to me." If she says give money to so and so and I will be married to you by that, she is maybe married. It is a doubt.  Because in marriage we need a word to make an act.




18.4.15

Salaries are a price, just as the price of chocolate is a price. Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK

 Salaries are a price, just as the price of chocolate is a price. They’re just the price at which someone’s work sells.  This is true no matter what your job is or how much you’re being paid--if your wage is the price at which your labor sells, the salary a CEO gets paid is also the price at which his labor sells. So we shouldn't give a different explanation for the wages/salaries of rich people from the explanation we give for the wages/salaries of poor people. All  salaries are determined by supply and demand for the labor in question.


http://www.owl232.net/economics.pdf



See:


Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK


http://themattwalshblog.com/2015/04/16/fast-food-workers-you-dont-deserve-15-an-hour-to-flip-burgers-and-thats-ok/