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31.10.15

Kant and Hegel

It used to be that the world was divided between people that were unconsciously thinking like Plato and others that were thinking like Aristotle.This expressed itself in Religion and Politics from the time of Plato and Aristotle until Kant and Hegel. Since that time the world has been divided in this new way.


The old division was like you had in the Jewish world the mystics who were going with Plato and Neo Platonic thought as opposed to the Rationalists like the Rambam.
And this original division was based on the ancient question how is change possible? To Plato the forms were unchanging and this imperfect world changes. To Aristotle change is from potential to action.And action is the perfect thing. Aristotle  changed the old paradigm in which change was considered imperfect.


This expressed itself in Christianity also staring from Augustine (Plato)-and going largely towards the Russian Church.The west went with Aquinas (Aristotle) and based on his theory of natural law evolved societies of based on natural rights.


Since Descartes however the major question has been the mind body problem and this found its major type of solution in Kant and Hegel.
Before Kant the question was between the rationalist and empiricists which was a natural division considering the mind body problem. But both thought the mind perceives. To Kant the mind has a
 active part in the representation (that is the way Schopenhauer understands Kant). At any rate, Hegel did not think the mind had any limitations, but progress by a kind of dialectal process.



Since then the world has been divided between these two.

Where things are going to go from here is therefore simple. This same process will simply continue. There will be periods in which individual autonomy seems to be the dominant view. There will be other periods in which the State is the key factor.

I don't know why this is that after two great thinkers, that everyone after that seems to automatically adopt either one or the other's way of thinking,  and considers it totally natural and simple common sense. Clearly Rav Kook was thinking about the State as some kind of Divine goal.


To some degree it is true that Kant opened the door to faith by limiting reason , but he also unwittingly opened it for people to believe in noise and fury.


The ancient question on which all philosophy was based how is change possible seems silly to us today. But the "Mind-Body" question is at the center of all philosophy, and you can't ignore the question of the "State-as opposed to the Individual" either.

I believe this thesis  here is central to understanding the world we live in today and it is likely to be the key for the next thousand years of history. Then at some point some other question will arise and there again will be two thinkers that tackle it in two dramatically different way and they will determine the next thousand years of history etc.

That is the first question was how is change possible? That question had slow beginnings until it reached its peak in Plato and Aristotle. Then had a slow winding down process--resulting in the synthesis of Plotinus. Then the Mind Body Mind Soul problem came to its peak in Kant and Hegel and since then there also has been a kind of winding down process --trying to create synthesis of the approaches of both.  At some point some other unforeseen question will arise and the same process will begin again.

It is important to listen to the Rambam about the importance of learning the Written Law תנ''ך the Oral Law גמרא Physics and Metaphysics. Though the Rambam was referring openly to Plato and Aristotle and Plotinus, still I think Kant and Hegel should be added.

Hegel has been treated unfairly. In my mind, he excels and goes beyond Kant. He was not a statist in the sense that Popper accused him being. In fact Popper's critique on him is mainly false as Walter Kaufman pointed out.

30.10.15

Songs for the glory of the God of Israel

My parents had a polynomic theory of value. But not being philosophers they did  not put it in that way.

For me that means there is a continuum of positive value and an opposing continuum of negative value.

 Bu my parents added one value-balance. And the general scheme was called by one name "to be a mensch" i.e.  decent human being.

The way I see this is you could take almost any mitzvah and emphasize it. And that would be a good thing to do. Either mitzvahs between God and man  or mitzvot between man and man. Just to give you an idea of what I mean. Take  the importance of talking with God.
The Gra saw the prime value as being learning Torah. I think that no matter how you cut the cake it would be great if a person could spend all day long just talking with God an asking to come close to his service. Or doing some other mitzvah. Or learning Torah. Or doing kindness. Building a hospital or soup kitchen. But I try to strive for some kind of balance between all areas of positive value. And I try to discern in each area of value what its opposing value is --in order to avoid it.

That is there is authentic Torah. And that is holy. And there is pseudo Torah that is unholy. There are the natural  sciences that are good. And there are pseudo sciences that are bad. Same with Music. and Art and literature.




Ideas in Talmud
 Ideas in Talmud Title Page


Ideas in Bava Metzia



Dear Readers. The Ideas in Talmud book I edited a few times since the last time I printed it. The other one I think is still the same as a month ago. In the meantime I have been trying to learn Rav Shach's book on the Rambam. [I.e the Avi Ezri by Rav Elazar Menachem Shach of Ponovitch] But I don't have a lot to add to his analysis. Mainly I am learning it in order to gain greater clarity in the Rambam. I really don't think I have the merit to learn Torah. The obstacles are so great that even to  to learn one word of Torah is like pulling teeth. But I thank God for even that one word as if I had found a vast fortune.

I also edited the Ideas in Bava Metzia because I think one idea there was a mistake.--on page BM 110. I think when I wrote it I did not understand the idea of Tosphot. Actually I still don't understand what Tosphot is asking but at least I wrote my question properly. --that is that Tosphot wants to ask on Ravina that if he is right the the regular case in Bava Batra about the guy that has  field three years and the other says he stole it the second guy would be believed because he could have said משכנתא דסורא/
I don't get this at all. as far as I can see in our case in Bava Metzia 110 we have two guys that both agree it was  משכנתא דסורא. And there Rav Yehuda holds from a migo for the person that at present still has the field though he is not the owner and Ravina says we believe the owner and does not believe the migo of the other. I might not be writing this right but you get my point. Tosphot question works only to Ravina and Ravina is the one guy that does not hold from a migo. and also in Bava Batra if he would say משכנתא דסורא who says we believe him? We only are believing him here because both agree it is a משכנתא דסורא. I may not be writing this correctly --but I don't have to. I am simply asking two questions. You don't need any standards of rigorous logic to not understand something.

Maybe I should just write this straight in English. Two guys come to court. Both agree the case is that of משכנתא דסורא. A משכנתא דסורא is a case in which one persons loans money to the other. as a guarantee for the loan he gets the filed of the borrower. And he eats the fruits of the field. And after ten years the field goes back to the borrower even if he pays back nothing. But in our case they are arguing if instead of ten years their agreement was for three or five years. Ravina says we believe borrower. That is to say he gets back his field after three years. Rav Yehuda says we believe the lender and he keeps it for five years. The reason is he could have said he bought it.  Tosphot asks if Ravina is right then in the case of two guys coming to court, one says I bought this field and we know it has been in his possession for three years and the other says he stole it the second should be believed because the second could have said משכנתא דסורא. Two questions. Here Ravina does not hold from migo and we have seen that migo is only mentioned by a guard. To learn it elsewhere we need some compelling reason. Maybe Ravina does not hold from it anywhere except by a guard. Another question. Here is a case where both agree it is משכנתא דסורא. Who says in the case in Bava Batra where one says he stole it and the other says he bought it that the accuser would be believed if he saidמשכנתא דסורא?


Now Tosphot answers his question thus: It is  migo to take out. That is a good answer. But I still don't see why Ravina should hold from any migo except the one the Torah says openly.
that is you believe the borrower here because we know he owns the field. the other is just eating teh fruits.We don't believe the other by a migo because it is  migo to take out. and also a migo of the owner would not work after three years in bav batra because it too is  amigo to take out.--i guess? or would you not say here you should believe the migo of the lender because for no the file dis in his temporary possession and the fruit  in any case is in his possession.! If only I had  a Bava Metzia to look this up! But like I said--i was thrown out of almost every yeshiva I ever walked into. And in exile from places of Torah at the best I can only grab a NY minute with Torah from time to time.












About Sucah

In the first Mishna in Sucah the Rav from Bartenura brings the Gemara which says if the sun and branches are even on top then the shadow is more on the bottom so it is kosher. כדאמרי אינשי כזוזא מלעילא כאסתירא לתתא
If you are in a desert and you are trying to spot a fighter plane in the sky, the way to do it is to look for its shadow. The reason is the shadow is always much larger than the plane itself. What is puzzling about this is the fact that the Gemara seems to consider the shadow on the floor to be the determining factor as to whether the Sucah is kosher or  not. It says that being equal is OK because on the bottom the shadow is more.
According to this reasoning then the top סכך (branches) could be much less than the shadow because of the bottom the shadow of the סכך (branches) will be expanded. That means this Gemara is a puzzle because it says on top the סכך (branches) and sun need to be equal.

[I had a small copy of the  Mishna [on Moed] I carried around with me for years so that I would not forget my learning as I was being thrown out from every yeshiva I stepped foot in. For some reason I was not just unpopular, but literally thrown out (sometimes physically, sometimes it was from the sound of people saying I was there for their hot-dogs and other times I was accused of much more horrendous things. But the main thing seemed to be the intent to get rid of me more than the accuracy of the accusations.) from every yeshiva I walked into. Maybe I am not worthy to learn Torah? And if I happened to be married they made sure to correct that situation as fast as they could also. So for me to hold on to Torah was hard,--and still is.
I still have great problems when it comes to keeping Torah, internal and external. This tells you part of the reason that I think Torah with Derech Eretz . Torah with work =  that is a regular job and not to use Torah to make money. That  is  a better approach than Torah all day. It is mainly because the Torah all day approach seems to have the law of limited returns working against it. It is like drinking water. The Torah is after all compared to water. There is a certain point one can get to that drinking more than his stomach can hold can be dangerous.

  Just to be clear yeshivas should throw out people as many as possible, But not people that are  there to learn Torah for its own sake. There is nothing wrong with throwing out trouble makers. But trouble makers are not usually whom they throw out. Just the opposite. It is usually the sincere people that get thrown out.


   But in any case if yeshivas existed in order to learn Torah, then this would be inexplicable. But if they exist in order to use Torah as a business or as a way to get out of army service, then this makes a lot of sense. They don't want people that learn it for free or for its own sake. The solution to this is not easy. But the general direction I would take would be to separate Torah from Money. Torah should not be paying profession because when it is that attracts the flies.




In any case in that copy of the Mishna I wrote a possible solution to this dilemma. My solution is the fact that there is no exact mathematical solution to the problem of diffraction. I mean to say that every shadow has one area that is dark, and another area that is half dark and half light. That area can extend to infinity. So when you say the shadow on the bottom has to be more than the light, it is not clear what that means. The area of the shadow can be infinite.  Therefore the Gemara held only when the shadow and סכך (branches) on top are equal is it kosher.
You could perhaps also suggest to take the dark area as the key factor. You could call it 100% shade. And then when that gets to be 49% light call it not shade.  I don't know why the Talmud did not choose this approach? Besides I wonder if we could go by just the dark area alone? But again the Talmud does not seem to want to focus on the dark area either. Instead it chooses this path where on top they are even and on the bottom the dark area is larger. Maybe a physicist could come up with an explanation of what the Talmud is saying here and why it choose this path?

_____________________________________________________________________________

In the first משנה in סוכה the רב from ברטנורה brings the גמרא which says if the  סכך and צל are even on top then the צל is more on the bottom so it is kosher. כדאמרי אינשי כזוזא מלעילא כאסתירא מלבר
If you are in a desert and you are trying to spot a fighter plane in the sky, the way to do it is to look for its shadow. The reason is the צל is always much larger than the plane itself. What is puzzling about this is the fact that the גמרא seems to consider the צל on the floor to be the determining factor as to whether the סוכה is kosher or  not. It says that being equal is OK because on the bottom the צל is more.
According to this reasoning then the top סכך could be much less than the shadow because of the bottom the shadow of the סכך will be expanded. That means this גמרא is a puzzle because it says on top the סכך and shadow need to be equal.


In any case in that copy of the משנה I wrote a possible solution to this dilemma. My solution is the fact that there is no exact mathematical solution to the problem of diffraction. I mean to say that every shadow has one area that is dark and another area that is half dark and half light. That area can extend to infinity. So when you say the shadow on the bottom has to be more than the light it is not clear what that means. The area of the shadow can be infinite.  Therefore the Gemara held only when the shadow and סכך on top are equal is it kosher.
You could perhaps also suggest to take the dark area as the key factor. You could call it 100% shade. And then when that gets to be 49% light call it not shade.
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 במשנה הראשונה בסוכה הגמרא אומרת שאם הסכך והצל שווים על גבי הסוכה אז הצל הוא יותר בתחתית כך שהיא כשרה, כדאמרי אינשי כזוזא מלעילא כאסתירא מלבר. אם אתה במדבר ואתה מנסה לזהות מטוס קרב בשמיים, הדרך לעשות את זה היא לחפש צלה. הסיבה לכך היא הצל הוא תמיד הרבה יותר גדול מהמטוס עצמו.  התמוה על זה הוא העובדה שנראה שהגמרא שוקלת צל על הרצפה כדי להיות הגורם המכריע בשאלה האם הסוכה כשרה או לא. זה אומר שלהיות שהם שווים למעלה הוא בסדר כי בתחתית הצל הוא יותר. על פי היגיון זה אז סככת העליון יכולה להיות הרבה פחותה מהצל בגלל שבתחתית הצל של הסכך יורחב. זה אומר גמרא זו היא חידה כי זה אומר על גבי סכך והצל צריך להיות שווה. הפתרון שלי הוא העובדה שאין פתרון מתמטי מדויק לבעיה של עקיפה (דיפרקציה). אני מתכוון לומר שלכל צל תחום אחד שהוא כהה ואזור אחר שהוא חצי אור וחצי כהה. האזור הכהה יכול להאריך עד אינסוף. אז כשאתה אומר הצל בתחתית צריך להיות יותר מןמהאור, לא ברור מה זה אומר. האזור של הצל יכול להיות אינסופי. לכן הגמרא מחזיקה שרק כאשר הצל וסכך על גבי סוכה שווים זה כשר. אתה אולי יכול גם להציע לקחת את האזור הכהה כגורם מפתח. אפשר לקרוא לזה מאה אחוז כהה ואז כשזה הופך להיות ארבעים ותשעה אחוזים  לקרא לזה לא צל. אבל הגמרא לא בחרה בדרך הזו.


















29.10.15

Religious fervor and fanaticism

The major problem today is a kind of excess of religious fervor in unhealthy directions.

This takes lots of forms but a good deal of the trouble I think is setting religion above reason as if it was immune to critique. I would like to go into this but I am tired and it has been a long day.
But in short what I see is something that has been named religious fanaticism.
What brings me to this issue of היכלי התמורות. This is actually a long subject in the Zohar.   when people discover  מפורסמים של שקר lunatic charismatic leaders this comes from the fact they get caught in the היכלי התמורות the "Intermediate Zone" [as Aurobindo so aptly put it].[That is the see  good ideas and so they get attracted and get involved  and then drop learning Torah and start following any one of the insane leaders of a movement.


So while fervor to keep the Torah is a great thing what happens is people get sidetracked by false teachers. And they teachers are given amazing powers to do miracles and to know future things by the Dark Side --in order to seduce innocent Jews and other people.

So what I suggest is to learn Torah in a authentic Lithuanian yeshiva--at least part of the day, and to avoid cults with tremendous fervor. If you don't have a Litvak yeshiva in your neighborhood then at least try to start one.  That means in essence learning Talmud from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. And the afternoon one should go to university. [That is the seder of Chaim Berlin and it was also of the Mir.] You could reverse this also and learn Torah half the day in the afternoon and evening. But it has to be authentic Torah that is straight forward Gemara Rashi and Tosphot.

Religious fervor and fanaticism can be directed towards good goals. One could for example be a fanatic about honoring one's parents. That is after all what the Talmud calls חמור שבחמורות the most important of all important mitzvot. But that is not usually on the agenda of insane, charismatic, religious leaders. The last thing they want is people to listen to their parents.

The main good thing about Breslov as a movement is it saves people from worse movements. But it has the problem that when people are on a good path it derails them.

However there are a lot of movements that are cults, but it is less obvious, because they strive for a good image.
There are some that have trans-personal powers. Some with actual powers from the Dark Side. Not one is a Torah scholar. That is none of them "know how to learn." They get called the name of respect, but they can't learn. They get these powers because the Satan gives them miracles in order to deceive people and push them off of decent paths they are already walking on.


Part of what is happening with religious fanaticism is that reason contributes to the representation of the "ding an sich" (Kant's thing in itself). That is reason is only able to reach into unconditioned realities when there is some aspect of them that is empirical. When it tries to reach into regions of unconditioned realities that have no empirical aspect then it creates anti-monies--contradictions. So this is what is happening in people's minds when they reach into these regions-- they create self contradictions  in their minds. Or maybe that is just some people. I think Yaakov Abuchatzaira and his children and Bava Sali did spend a good amount of time learning Isaac Luria and apparently held very highly from him.




Trinitarian creed

The  Trinitarian creed obligates Christians to believe x=y= z but x not does equal z. [The Father= God= Son but Father does not equal the Son.]
Christians could try to solve this with predicates, but predicates have problems. I forget who noticed this but the idea was that adjectives on God if you make them somehow  part of God they have to be onto-logically first. This makes again problems with Divine simplicity.


See Boethius in his book On the Trinity. He tries to use predicates and he does use divine substance. But Jewish people do not believe that God has any substance or form. Not even spiritual substance. Or infinitely spiritual substance. God has no substance nor form. Even what is called the Infinite light the Sefer Yetzira calls "created light." That is even the light of God is a creation.


There is also the problem of assigning Divinity to a human being.

But  I didn't think that assigning divinity to a human was much of  a problem because we find this in the Talmud in Sanhedrin with the barber that gave to Sennacherib a haircut.
And we know it means it literally because it says if not for the verse then it would be impossible to say. If it was not literal  then it would be possible to say. So it has to be literal.
 But then I mentioned why Christians were forced into this quandary. They want to absorb the Son into the Godhead so as to preserve monotheism. They don't want a fluid boundary between God and his creation. Creaton has to be ex nihilo. They don't want anything to be God except God -- the one and only simple unity. The problem you get when you have neo-Platonic things like emanation is the boundary becomes blurred. And that is characteristic of polytheism.
This provides a defense at least for how Christians were forced into an untenable position. They could also resort to Kant and thus not be worried about contradictions in unconditioned realities. When  pure reason enters into unconditioned realities it encounters self contradictions because unconditioned reality is not a place where reason can go and still be valid.
So there is a defense of Christianity. Still to me it simply makes more sense to drop the Trinity. Why makes such claims? Can't they just follow someone without making him into  a god?


The problem is than anyone that follows a certain human leader tends to get into the problem of Creation ex nihilo.They may not say so but they tend to.

The best approach I think is straightforward Monotheism. God is a simple one. He is not a composite. And he made the world something from nothing. And he is not the world and the world is not him. And no person is God or a part of God. There can be holy people whom it is good and important to follow but it is best not to assign "divinity" to them. That is I think Christians bit off more than they can chew. But I am sympathetic. I realize that for human beings to be decent takes enormous effort. If anyone less than God Himself says be decent humans will always find some reason to be animals. So when they ascribe Divinity to the Son then I say fine if that it what it takes in order to listen to his advice then so be it. [The Alter of Slobadka in the beginning of his book out kindness as the most important principle of Torah. Rabbainu Yerucham of the Mir said the same. So I figure what ever it takes to get people to be decent is good.]

I realize to some people Jewsih identity is the main thing in life and they must look afoul of what I write here in defense of Christians. And I can see their point to some degree. But I concentrate more on Torah and it is vastly more important than Jewish identity.

28.10.15

MusicMusic

My approach would be to make schools based on the Rambam (Maimonides) idea of learning the written Law [Bible] the Oral Law [the Mishne Torah of the Rambam], Physics [String Theory], Metaphysics {Plato, Aristotle, Kant.} 


This seems to me better than any other schools because within Physics is contained areas that are legitimate ways of making a living--for example Mechanical Engineering. Mechanical Engineering is really just a sub-branch of Physics that at a certain point starts veering off into it own directions.
Also learning the Rambam straight was definitely the idea of the Rambam. And he said it contains the entire Oral Law. So when he says to learn the Oral Law later in the Laws of learning Torah he is not referring to Talmud but rather to the Mishne Torah itself.  However to understand the Mishne Torah today I think it is necessary to learn it with the Chidushei HaRambam of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. [Clearly one should look up the specific place in the Talmud from where the Rambam derives his law in order to get a proper idea of what he is talking about in an in depth session. But that should be separate from a session of just reading the Mishne Torah straight.] [One should find the Kapach edition of the Rambam which is based on original manuscripts of the Rambam from Yemen from the time of the Rambam.] In effect this is what Litvak yeshivas do anyway. The morning is preparation for the shiur. The shiur (class session) then is on the Tosphot and Rambam along the lines of analysis of Reb Chaim from Brisk. That means it is in effect learning the Rambam in depth.


When the Rambam says Metaphysics he says he is talking about what the ancient Greeks called Metaphysics. I would like to add that I think he is referring specifically the the 13 volume set of Aristotle called the Metaphysics.

If the idea of the Rambam about Physics and Metaphysics would be his alone I might not take his opinion so seriously. But you can see the same opinion in the חובות לבבות Duties of the Heart. In chapter 2 of שער הבחינה and the מעלות המידות from Binyamin the doctor --another Rishon.
All schools that stemmed from the geonim held from this. The anti Rambam people however did not and that is the reason why today some people are against this. But here I am only trying to present the opinion and approach of the Rambam which I think is the right approach.


There is also an important point here. It is an idea from the Talmud about learning "דרך גירסא", in the way of just saying the words. This is how I think learning should be in general because otherwise people get bogged down.
 You need to start out your learning in the morning  saying the words and going on and then you will be able to get through the entire Written and Oral Law, not just the Rambam but also the two Talmuds and all the midrashim and rishonim and all known Physics and Math,including Abstract Algebra and String Theory--and to understand them better than if you got bogged down on every detail.

In any case I think that learning by saying the words and going on is important. This refers to both Talmud and Physics and Math.







27.10.15

Allen Bloom also thought the Enlightenment project had reached a crisis point in the USA.

MacIntyre  advances the notion that the moral structures that emerged from the Enlightenment were philosophically doomed from the start.
I heard this also from my learning partner. I think he heard it from his father. The idea is that once the pursuit of pleasure is legitimized  then the USA is just going on the natural path that that leads to.

Allen Bloom also thought the Enlightenment project had reached a crisis point in the USA. [In catastrophe theory that would be considered a cusp in which one can jump up or fall down but can't continue in the same path because the manifold stops there. [To jump up the USA would have to return to Judeo-Christian values and get rid of the terrorists.] I can't draw a picture of this but the idea is you have a critical point which has several points where it can veer off to. And sometimes there is no path at all but because of the momentum one is forced to a jump point. Allen Bloom thought the USA had come to such a point. He did not put it in that way but if he had known catastrophe theory I think he would have.


MacIntyre went to Aristotle and  Catholicism and Thomism. That would not be my answer. But my answer would not be far away. But my focus would be Maimonides

This is not so far from MacIntyre.  

In theory I found a few difficulties with the Catholic approach that I think Aquinas did not deal with satisfactorily. Same goes with Aristotle. Besides that I saw in my parents who were Reform Jews  an amazing level of Menschlichkeit [human decency] that would indicate to me that the Jewish approach was a better alternative (with certain limitations.) 

["Reform" but with belief in the Oral and Written Law unlike official Reform doctrine. Probably Conservative would be a better description.]


I might have mentioned this before but I saw a problem in Aristotle's Metaphysics that seemed unanswerable to me. And many other thinkers seemed to have problems. I cant even begin to name them all.   Concern for the moral implications of any social theory is also important to me. And the Kant approach where moral autonomy is central makes a lot more sense to me than system where discipline is imposed on people from some outside authority. It is the most comprehensive and logically rigorous system since Aristotle. I am a bit shocked that people in the west are not aware of it while in the USSR this school of thought was well known--(if only because it was a direct attack on Communism). But at least they did not ignore it.

My approach would be to make schools based on the Rambam idea of learning the written Law [Bible] the Oral Law [the Mishne Torah of the Rambam], Physics [String Theory], MetaPhysics {Plato, Aristotle, Kant.}





The Rambam considers Torah and Mitzvot to be an introduction to Physics and Metaphysics. And he makes it clear he means the kind of things the ancient Greeks called Physics and Metaphysics. (See the introduction to the Guide for the Perplexed.) Not Mysticism.

The Rambam considers Torah and Mitzvot to be an introduction to Physics and Metaphysics. And he makes it clear he means the kind of things the ancient Greeks called Physics and Metaphysics. (See the introduction to the Guide for the Perplexed.) Not Mysticism. For this reason I thought to say over what kind of path I think can help people in this direction. It is the idea that you see in the Talmud לעולם ליגרס אדם אף על גב דמשכח ואף על גב דלא ידע מאי קאמר. One should always be "גורס". One should always just say the words and go on even though he does not remember and even though he does not know what he is saying. This does not take the place of time and effort though.But I have found this to be helpful. You can see this idea expanded on in Sichot HaRan chapter 76.

In any case this is not to take the place of learning Gemara. The basic idea of the Rambam is this: That the fulfillment of the commandment to love and fear God is by learning Physics and Metaphysics. But one can't get to that level without first learning the Oral and Written Torah. Now in fact you could say the Rambam holds the entire Oral Law is contained his  book the Mishne Torah and you could go through it in a week easily. Fine. Do so. But still in order to understand the Mishne Torah one needs to learn the Talmud.
And this should not be taken as an excuse for Bitul Torah. [Bitul Torah means not learning Torah when one has the time to do so. It is considered a major sin Talmud. ] When one can be learning Torah he must do so. It is just that the Rambam considered these two fields to be part of the Oral Law.You can see that if you compare the beginning of Mishna Torah where he says Physics and MetaPhysics =Pardes, and the Laws of learning Torah where he says Pardes is in the category of the Oral Law.

26.10.15

If one has the opportunity to go to university and learn an honest profession then leaving that to go to yeshiva full time is a step down.

There are people for which going to yeshiva would be step up. There are others for whom it would be a step down.
If one has the opportunity to go to university and learn an honest profession then leaving that to go to yeshiva full time is a step down. There is no opinion that one can use the Torah to make money as modern yeshivas are. כל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטילה "All Torah that is without  a job is worthless." That is a statement from the son of Yehuda HaNasi. And I have definitely seen this in every person that is in kollel. They are a completely worthless bunch of sanctimonious jerks. Their main job is to get people to give them money. That is their major goal is to create a slave class of people that will support them. Baali Teshuva. (That is to make them depend on the community so they can't escape and to keep them down in menial jobs so they can't rise and have to support the master race, the frum from birth. ) Kollel people are stupid people pretending to be smart and then demanding to be supported for their supposed smartness. There is nothing wrong with being dumb. But fraud is wrong.


Yet in universities there is nothing for students that want to learn about the most basic questions of life: Why are we here? What should we be doing? What is it all about? For that reason learning Torah is important. For that reason learning the Guide for the Perplexed of the Rambam and Gabirol and other Jewish philosophers from the Middle Ages is important. And if the choice would be yeshiva or some cult or dishonest profession then clearly learning Torah and even accepting charity in order to be able to learn  is preferable. It really depends on what one's situation is. But f one goes to yeshiva at least it has to be a legitimate Litvak (Lithuanian) place. No cults. And if there are cults on one's area, then the first thing is to run them out of town.

The major thing seems to be that learning Torah is important but when people decide to use it for money it loses it value. And those people along with it. Jewish people are in search of the values of the Torah and there are plenty of charlatans that want to capitalize on their naivety.






25.10.15

Some advantages to learning Jewish Philosophy: Monotheism instead of Pantheism. Divine Simplicity. Much less idolatry and lunatic charismatic leaders.

I want to suggest that yeshivas should learn Jewish Philosophy. I am not sure where they could place such learning. Maybe instead of two Musar sessions they could make one Jewish Philosophy.

The idea would be to do Halacha from 915 -10. Then Talmud from 10-2 then 20 minutes Musar. Then break. The 4-8 Talmud. Then at 8 to have 30 minutes for Jewish Philosophy. That would mean Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Joseph Albo (ספר העיקרים), and Hasdai Crescas ( Or Hashem אור השם), and Gabirol.

The idea is I have seen what happens when people don't know the Hashkafa (world view) of Torah. Instead of being Hashkafa-less they get their hashkafa from other sources and call it ''Torah''. And when that happens Musar does not help at all. For everything follows from ones world view.

Now this project in itself is limited to Jewish Philosophy. But Jewish Philosophy did come in a larger context. So some background would be necessary to understand what are the issues that the these Rishonim were dealing with.
And maybe that is one of the reasons the philosophy is excluded from yeshivas. Maybe they don't want people learning Aristotle and Plotinus.  In any case I see the effect of not learning philosophy.

I feel like Israel Salanter who started the Ethics (Musar) movement. He saw a problem--that people could be religious and yet have bad character. But he also knew a great person. Shmuel from Salant. And he also know how Shmuel came to his great level--by learning Ethics/Musar. So he put two and two together to decide that what people needed was Ethics/Musar.
I have seen a different problem. That is without Jewish Philosophy, Musar does not help. People can learn Musar all day but because of crummy world views, they act badly and think they are doing good.

If people have to go to collage or technical school in the afternoon, you could have the philosophy session back to back with Ethics. That is 10 -1:30 Talmud. Then 30 minutes Musar and then 30 Minutes Jewish Philosophy.

Some advantages to learning Jewish Philosophy: Monotheism instead of Pantheism. Divine Simplicity. Much less idolatry and lunatic charismatic leaders. There are probably other advantages that don't occur to me this minute.


One needs to be careful not to budge from the Torah. And not to use Breslov as an excuse to do so.

I know one fellow who was  a student of Rav Hutner and in Jerusalem but still went to the Breslov synagogue in Mea Shearim. Rav Hutner said to him you can't go there and come to me also. You have to choose which one you want. So he choose Breslov and you can see that he lost the whole learning Gemara thing. I saw this not just once or twice but countless of times.


 Rav Hutner had the Lekutai Moharan on his stender for  full year.
It is just that Breslov is  a consciousness trap to lure people in. And then they stop learning Torah. Note that Rav Hutner would not have had any problem with that fellow learning the Lekutai Moharan all day day. It was just joining Breslov that he objected to.
My learning partner asked him you had  a chance to be a disciple of one of the greatest sages of the generation and you turned it down to go to the shul in Mea Shearim? What were you thinking? He answered, "There is a thing about Breslov as a group." Right. And lose all desire to learn Gemara along with it. Really.

I saw two students from a Ponovitch Yeshiva


Then I told one one them about the above mentioned story and I said, "If you have already merited to be in a Ponovitch yeshiva, then you must not leave under any circumstances, but hold on for dear life."
Then he said, "We is going right back to the yeshiva in Jerusalem."
I told him, "That makes no difference. That whole story was in Jerusalem itself."

 Breslov is as fishermen use bait. This is often found in cults. They use some great teachers ideas as consciousness traps to entice people.





24.10.15

My father was a good Jew



 My father was a good Jew, a good father, a good husband and a good son to his parents and  a good brother. He was able to instill family values in his children in  way I have never seen anywhere else. He was an amazing husband to his wife, my mother. They never argued. He never raised his voice. He could solve differential equations, do integral Calculus, design laser satellite communications for NASA, he could fight with honor  in World War II as a captain in the USA Air Force. [That is a flight commander that would take an aerial squadron into battle. His squadron consisted of a squadron of B- 29 heavy bombers.] He could build a base in France that would take a damaged airplane and fix it and get it off the ground within hours. When he suffered the devastating loss of my mother, his wife he could get up again and start life again. He sent me to the Mir Yeshiva in NY. He literally flew out to to NY and picked me up out of a yeshiva where he realized I was not doing very well and plopped me down in the Mir Yeshiva and paid the tuition. He could start his own business and play the violin.  He never asked for help and never complained even when down and out. He would always pick himself up and start again. I have heard of many people that are claimed to be tzadikim --saints. But none of them come within light years of what my father was. He could invent an infrared camera that was the forerunner of night vision goggles for the USA Army. He invented an x ray copy machine and build the camera for the U-2. He was a patron of the Los Angeles Opera and gave generously to Israel. I should mention that none of this would have been possible without my mother. They were one in heart and spirit. And he could die standing on his two feet. Philip Rosten (Rosenblum).
That is my role model.

Here is a picture that explains what a flight commander is. The airplane on the far left at the head of the squadron is the flight commander.




Here is a picture of the B-29



I should mention. He never lied, he never said lashon hara [gossip or slander] and he never bragged.
Whether he was designing laser communication for NASA or what he did in WWII, I had to drag the information out of him. And he always had time for his family. He took us on many family vacations skiing on the winter break and every weekend we went on a family outing either to the beach or the mountains. [Not on Shabbat when I had to go to Hebrew School at Temple Israel. Our outings were always on Sunday.] And he always had time to spend with each one of us brother individually. and he had plenty of time to listen to me and guide me and hear my complaints and problems and doubts. I always wanted to take walks with him and he always came with me whenever I wanted, and he listened to me with amazing patience and love.
He was an expert marksman, because he was raised in a home that spoke only Yiddish he transferred that easily to German (Deutch) and after WWII was  in charge interviewing  German civilians and signing their release papers when he was convinced they were not Nazis. He was I think close to an expert skier. But I am not sure. There are three levels and I know he was close to the top level. That is either at the third level or at least close to it. He was a good sailor. He knew how to handle a sail boat. But as far as things are with me, the main thing was he knew how to be a good father. He knew when to be firm and when to be lenient. I should mention my Dad's parents were dirt poor immigrants on the Lower East Side and could not speak a word of English when they got off the boat.

All that being said what this all means is that my Dad had balance. He could balance between different areas of value well. I don't claim he could do Physics like Einstein or compose like Mozart.  But within him was contained many aspects of values that he directed and guided his children to continue on.  For learning Torah I try to learn from and emulate the Gra and my teacher at the Mir Yeshiva Reb Shmuel Berenbaum. When it comes to Music I try to study and learn from Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.








Our beliefs about morality are guided by the social group we want to fit into, the self-image we want to maintain, the desire to avoid admitting to having been wrong in the past, and so on. It is pure accident if we actually form correct beliefs. An analogy: suppose you go to the doctor, complaining of an illness. The doctor picks a medical procedure to perform on you from a hat. You would be lucky if the procedure didn’t worsen your condition.

Whom one follows is the main question in life. People are such that they need an Alpha male.
Whom one chooses to model his or her lives on is the most important question in life.

 I think what religion or politics or world view one follows is trivial and in fact makes no difference.

Therefore one ought to be extra careful about whom he or she follows since everything depends on this one question.
And it does no good to say one will be his or her's own person. Everyone gets their values from somewhere. Even people that claim to have no rules like the hippies are the most intolerant of any deviation from the norms of behavior of their communities. Values come from one's peers, parents, T.V., Movies, Religion, etc. But rarely (if ever) does one come up with his own values from scratch.



This idea is why I see people that follow a false prophet in a negative light even if their general world views are OK. And this is why I think well people following a true prophet but who may have some ideas that are mixed up. To me whom they follow is everything.


This means there is some kind of problem to work out with the Rambam who hold the major prohibition of idolatry to to serve an intermediate in order to come close to God.You could simply say serving an intermediate is forbidden but following a teacher is ok.


In any I am generally unhappy with the results I see in people following almost any charismatic leader. That includes even people I would consider to be tzadikim. You might say I am not happy with any tzadikim. Though people do follow their particular charismatic leader still, I think following God alone and  to learn and keep Torah is best. When people follow any leader they tend to fall into idolatry as fast as a speeding bullet.

Breslov I have to admit is kind of a mixture of idolatrous cults--each one with their own demigod.  their leaders are always the major object of worship of their followers.


This does provide a defense of people that follow some true tzadik even though their theology my be messed up.  [They are committed to the Trinity which is problematic to say the least.  But that seems to be a small price to pay for following a righteous person.  Compare that to Muslims who have no problem with a Trinity yet are following a "rasha" wicked person. It seems clear to me that Christians have the upper hand morally.]

Christians (because of the Trinitarian) are  committed to the following claims:
(1) The Father is God
(2) The Son is God
(3) The Holy Spirit is God
(4) The Father is not the Son
(5) The Father is not the Holy Spirit
(6) The Son is not the Holy Spirit
(7) There is exactly one God



The problem with this is: Reflexivity:  x = x. Symmetry:  If x = y then y = x. Transitivity:          If = y and y = z then x = y. This makes (4) a problem.
If all that matters is they are following a righteous person then they would be off the hook. (They could also resort to Kant that reason cant venture into unconditioned realities and when it does it comes up with self contradictions.) There would still be a problem with nullification of the commandments of the Torah however.
\
My approach for those that are curious  is to follow the path of my father and mother as closely as I can get to it.  To me the commandment of "Honor thy father and mother" is  real and immediate and I think to myself often how many problems I would have been saved from if only I had paid attention to them. But I realize some people have bad parents and the sages of the Talmud were also aware of this fact.  So as a general rule I suggest people use common sense reason.

But common sense is not common.  Our beliefs about morality are guided by the social group we want to fit into, the self-image we want to maintain, the desire to avoid admitting to having been wrong in the past, and so on. It is pure accident if we actually form correct beliefs. An analogy: suppose you go to the doctor, complaining of an illness. The doctor picks a medical procedure to perform on you from a hat. You would be lucky if the procedure didn’t worsen your condition.



Songs for the Glory of the God of Israel

q58 This i think needs editing.

Orchestra piece

CHS
Mathematics

L57

p129

e72


L78

L82
L83 [needs editing]
L84

L86

L87

L88

23.10.15

Philip and Leila Rosten

I come from a family of ordinary Jews. My Dad was a working guy and never asked for handouts. [link] And so was all my family from as far back as there are any records. We were what you could call Goldilocks Jews--not too hot, and not too cold, but just right. We had great respect for Torah--the Oral and Written Law.
If I had decided to learn Talmud along with my regular studies in high school and university my parents would have been thrilled.  But instead I decided to spend all my time on Talmud and not prepare for any career. I certainly was not planning on using the Torah as a means of making a living.

Why I bring this up is part of my reasoning at the time was I simply found my abilities to be limited in subjects that I was interested in. And there were other subjects that I was interested in but I thought they had little value.

So what I suggest today is in fact to learn Talmud Torah but not to use them as a means to make money. And in spite of the excuses people make to use Torah for a livelihood I have found that it usually leads to the dark side.--but not always. Clearly there were great roshei yeshiva like Reb Shmuel Berenbaum-the Rosh yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in NY who was the genuine article--a real gaon. So to be a Rosh Yeshiva  was apparently considered as a kosher thing just like in Europe there was a job to be a rav. That was not being paid to learn or teach but give advice and take care of religious matters in town or in the yeshiva.

And as for subjects where it is allowed to make a livelihood I recommend the path of learning of  "Say the words and go on." [From the Talmud 63. לעולם לגרס איניש אע''ג דמשכח ואע''ג דלא ידע מאי קאמר Forever one should say the words and go on even though he forgets and even though he does not know what he is saying.]


I think that if I had known of this simple advice when I was younger I might have in fact been able to balance between Talmud learning and the other subjects I was interested in.

And if I had known the Rambam' opinions about learning the seven wisdoms that might have made a difference in my career choices. The Rambam holds learning Talmud is just to prepare a person to be able to learn Physics and Metaphysics. And it is by the later two that  a person comes to human perfection.



the religious world

There is a certain amount of Sitra Achra (Dark forces) that has weaseled itself into the religious world
This seems to me to be similar to something that happened with Muslims after their golden age of philosophers like Al Kindi.


חבלים נפלו לי בנעינים destroyers have fallen upon me in pleasant places.

Whenever the Sitra Achra sees something precious and wholesome, it strives to get close into it and make it unclean.
This happens when you try to go to Israel. Right when you get there something happens to take away the good flavour. Or you are learning Torah in a good authentic Lithuanian yeshiva and then the Sitra achra sens its human demons to make it uncomfortable for good people.
And once the dark forces get in, then they spread everywhere and there is no place safe. This is my reasoning why I never venture near any the religious synagogue and will pray only with Reform or Conservative Jews.

Bringing secular Jews into the religious world has been a major movement in the religious world. I think its main purpose is to create a slave class. That is to make people that are slightly religious but will never be accepted in the the religious world. The reason for this movement is that the religious world always make their living only by using the Torah to make money. And without a slave class to support them they would be out of business.




21.10.15

the philosophy of the Torah.




There are a good number of books that deal with the philosophy of the Torah. They are not books of mysticism that use Torah as a jumping point for mysticism. And also they are not books about the השקפה or world view of Torah. They are actually books that deal with the philosophy of Torah. The main ones are from Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Ibn Gavirol,, Crescas, Joseph Albo, Isaac Abrabanel, Judah Abrabanel.  You almost never see them in yeshivas. In many yeshivas they are excluded on purpose. The reason I think is that there is great fear that some yeshiva student might pick one up and discover that they all claim the worldview of Torah is Monotheism, not pantheism. What yeshivas want their students to think is that no one ever thought about worldview issues of Torah until books came along that claimed the Torah's world view is pantheism. The ironic fact is that only Reform and conservative Jews have a belief system that is in accord with the Torah--Monotheism.


There was a controversy about the idea or desirability of learning Philosophy after the Rambam came about with the Guide for the Perplexed.  The people opposed to this generally went with the more mystic kabbalist traditions. Each blamed the other for the perils of Jews in Spain.

The very fact that all philosophy [including all of the great Jewish philosophers from the Middle Ages] is excluded from all yeshivas shows where the weight of this debate came down on. That leaves only Secular and Reform Jews believing in Monotheism. You can see this fact in daily life. Often I hear some secular Jews tell a religious Jew that one must pray to God alone, not to any person. That I hear in answer to the statement of the religious Jew that the secular Jew ought to go to some tzadik and ask him for help. 

Shabat. Work on Shabat that is not intended, but it must happen.

There is an argument about doing some kind of work on Shabat that is not intended but it must happen.  There are 39 type of work on Shabat that are not allowed, e.g. sewing, lighting a fire, building etc. Many of them have to do with types of things that would go into baking bread. But that would not apply to baking with electricity which is not fire.]

In any case The Ri [Rabbainu Isaac] holds when it is a work that must happen it is forbidden even if he does not want it. The Aruch says when he does not want it is it permitted. This comes up in Tosphot in Yoma page 34 [that is the biggest Tosphot I think I have seen in a long time]. Tosphot brings this argument in Shabat also. And Joseph Karo also brings it.
This subject is also R. Akiva Eiger's object of study in one of his long essays.

What I wanted to say today just before I have to run is this. I think the Aruch makes a lot of sense. Just think about it. We are going with R. Shimon that מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה פטור. Right?  So what is going on in דבר שאינו מתכווין? It is that he is doing something else that results in the work. And let's say the work must happen. Why would that be any worse that doing the actual work itself, but with a different intention from what the work is liable in? He could be digging a pit which is actual work but if he only needs the dirt then he is not liable! I would have to say the Aruch makes a lot of sense to me. [Incidentally R. Akiva Eigger also spends his entire long pamphlet on this topic defending the Aruch.]
I brought this up with my learning partner, and he said first of all he can't see any difference between  מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה and דבר שאינו מתכווין שהוא פסיק רישא.
And he also pointed out that the Ri is in fact saying something very sensible. That דבר שאינו מתכווין שהוא פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה is forbidden by rabbinical law as a fence around the Torah. He is not claiming that it is forbidden from the Torah itself.
_______________________________________________________________________________
There is an argument about doing some kind of מלאכה on שבת that is not מתכווין but פסיק רישא.  There are ל''ט types of work on שבת that are not allowed, e.g. sewing, lighting a fire, building etc. Many of them have to do with types of things that would go into baking bread.

In any case  ר''י רבינו יצחק  holds when it is דבר שאינו מתכווין שהוא פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה. The ערוך says פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה is  permitted.


 The ערוך makes a lot of sense. Just think about it. We are going with רבי שמעון that מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה פטור. Right?  So what is going on in דבר שאינו מתכווין? It is that he is doing something else that results in the מלאכה. And let's say the work must happen. Why would that be any worse that doing the actual work itself but with a different כוונה from what the מלאכה is liable in? He could be digging a pit which is actual מלאכה but if he only needs the dirt then he is not liable!


I brought this up with my learning partner and he said first of all he can't see any difference between  מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה and דבר שאינו מתכווין שהוא פסיק רישא.

And he also pointed out that the ר''י is in fact saying something very sensible. That דבר שאינו מתכווין שהוא פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה is forbidden דרבנן as a fence around the Torah. He is not claiming that it is forbidden from the Torah itself.















20.10.15

Music for the glory of God

q54



This I think might need some editing. It seems likely to me that it does but I am not sure.

The discipline of learning Torah.It must cease to be an activity conducted by moles and religious fanatics, each burrowing in its own hole, and become a public and co-operative enterprise.



There is a philosophical side to Torah which deals with the big questions. The trouble is people that are fit and understand Torah well enough to deal with that side of Torah are usually involved in Talmud. That leaves those areas of deep interest open to the frauds.   the religious world is a Mafia in which the almighty dollar is their god. The best approach to to dismantle their organizations and replace them with authentic Torah scholars. The religious world depends on its reputation for being authentic to be able to make money and get respect. That is why the trivial  rituals and Yiddish and dress are so important to them.


What I suggest is that one area of time of Torah study should be devoted to the philosophical side of Torah. That means I am suggesting something along the lines of Israel Salanter. he started the Musar movement which was successful in bringing the between man and his fellow man aspect of torah to the attention of many Jews--both religious and nonreligious. Now in almost all authentic Lithuanian yeshivas there are two short Musar sessions and a Musar shmoose on Thursday. What I suggest is to add the philosophical side of Torah also to yeshivas.

That is to say to have a section in the Beit Midrash with the Guide of Maimonides, Emunot VeDeot of Saadia Gaon. And the people that finished the basic set of books that compromise Jewish Philosophy-- Joseph Albo, Avudraham, Abrabenel,  Crescas, Ibn Gavirol, Duties of the Heart.

To get back and understanding of the issues they were dealing with I would also have to add the entire set of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant. Without the first two it is impossible to understand the Guide of the Rambam. And Kant is an important because of the Critique on Pure Reason. That is to know the limits of not just human reason, but to know the limits of pure reason.








19.10.15




I have to warn people that I have seen plenty of people that left a Lithuanian yeshiva environment and get involved in Breslov . It is hard for me to understand why people would think that stopping learning Torah and running around with nonsense all day would make them close to a tzadik.



Some strange doctrines have entered into the religious world. So I should mention that by belief in the great tzadik  I am not condoning the idolatry or pantheism that people by mistake seem to hold by in the religious world. Prayer must be directly towards God alone. But we can pray in the merit of a tzadik or ask him to pray for us. And pantheism has already been dealt with and disposed of by Saadia Gaon, the Rambam in the Guide and the son of the Rambam. So I don't know why people still try to claim the Torah holds by pantheism.    God has no substance so nothing is God's substance. The world is not God. Saying things have godliness in them does not mean they are godliness. And what ever Godliness is it is not God. It is a creation. And even the infinite light is also a creation as the Ramban says openly in Breishit and the Arizal also.

California. The religious teachers there are demons.

Why I think California is an עיר הנדחת [condemned city] in terms of Torah is that the religious teachers there are demons. I know there are great universities there and maybe in fact the best in the world. [Stanford, Cal Tech, etc.] But as far as Torah goes the real Torah scholars are in New York or in Bnei Brak. People that could not make in on the East Coast went to California  and presented themselves as authentic Torah scholars and the secular Jews there "bought it". The fry yidden got tricked by the scam artists, and frauds.

I think however there is some possibility to correct this. The first thing to do is to stop supporting the frauds and to kick them out of town. And never go to any religious synagogue there became they are dens of the devil. That is  step one. Step two would be find an authentic Torah scholar and to start the real thing there. This would be the hardest thing because the frauds always try to get rid of the authentic thing. Until every last religious teacher is kicked out of Los Angeles there will never be an authentic Lithuanian yeshiva there. Th liars that are there can't stand the truth and will do everything possible to stop real Torah from being brought there.

18.10.15

the proper path in life

I have a few questions about the proper path in life. The reason is that I found that I have certain limitation in my abilities. That is I follow the law of limited returns. I can concentrate on one subject for  a long time and never get any further than if I would spend just a minimum amount of time on it.
But there are other people like my ex girlfriend Wendy Wilson who could excel in any subject she choose and the sky was the limit. You probably know some people like that.
For this reason I find myself in a kind of dilemma. It seems as a general rule that unless you are dealing with really brilliant people the best thing is to get a balanced education. That seems to have worked best for me. But there are people that would get distracted by a general education and need to concentrate on one thing alone.

I should mention in  the USSR, very young children could choose a path in life at a very early age. They could decide to go into the hard sciences or music or a few other venues. So apparently the Soviets were aware of the advantage for some people to concentrate on one area alone.

That being said I think that in general a balanced approach should be the general rule. Bearing that in mind I would like to recommend this kind of "seder hayom," order of the day.
You start a 9:15 with Halacha. That is you do the Rambam with no commentaries allowed,  and you just read straight until 10:00. That will get you through the whole Rambam in less than a year. Then at 10:00 you do Talmud in this fashion. You take one עמוד one side of a page and do it with Rashi Tosphot and some Maharsha and Maharam. That takes about 40 minutes.  Then you do another side of a page and you keep on going until 2:00. That will get you through Shas in less than a year. Then at 2:00to 4:00 you have your break and then at 4:00 you go to Brooklyn College to learn natural sciences or even perhaps law. But not any subjects that are pseudo sciences. In Chaim Berlin Yeshiva this was simple because Brooklyn College was right around the corner. But in theory even at the Mir one could do the same by taking a bus down King's Highway. That is for NY.  California is sadly an עיר הנידחת and there is as of yet no authentic yeshiva. It takes a lot more to build a yeshiva that to paste a name on a building. All religious establishments in California are branches the yeshiva of the Satan. So I don't recommend them.

17.10.15

songs for the glory of God

(1) There is an argument that David Hume presents on  knowledge based on reason. It is that we can check our  empirical knowledge. If we see an object we can get closer and check to see what it feels like and make other tests. But knowledge based on reason what can we check it against? What measuring stick do we have but to check it against other knowledge we also know by reason.

This does not seem to me to be a good argument. We check empirical knowledge against other empirical facts and we weigh degrees of certainty. We check a priori knowledge with other a priori knowledge and we weigh degrees of certainty.

(2) Spinoza thought to prove pantheism based on an axiom that is highly doubtful; that no substance can affect another substance. But he was doing this for a good reason. He wanted to answer the Mind Body problem raised by Descartes. He thought to do this by turning Descartes argument inside out.

(3) In any case both these thinkers had something right about them. It was Kant that was able to create his synthesis between these two schools of thought the rationalists and the empiricists.

(4) Dr. Michael Huemer makes some powerful arguments against Kant, but I think his arguments are answerable. One question he has is against the very beginning of Kant's argument. That is the question how is a priori synthetic knowledge possible. He follows the intuitionist school to answer this. He says that we can perceive a priori synthetic knowledge by reason. And that is true. But the axioms we start with have to be known in a different way than how we reason from axioms. We know the beginnings of reason or unconditioned reality by immediate non intuitive knowledge. (See Kelley Ross's web site. )

The truth of my assertion here is actually contained in Kant's initial question. How is synthetic a priori knowledge possible. What Kant has done here is he has already created a third category of knowledge. While Hume thought that all reason can do is to deduce things from definitions and see contradictions in those things, Kant has made a direct attack on this and claimed there is a kind of knowledge that sees things that are not contained in their definitions and not perceived by the senses.

But what Kant wanted was synthetic a priori after you know definitions and some basic ground of knowledge. What Kelley Ross and Michael Huemer what is synthetic a priori to tell us axioms and things before we start to reason about them.







(5) In order to defend Torah I depend on both reason and immediate non intuitive knowledge.
I say moral principles are the basis of Torah and moral principles are known by reason. This much is clear from the Rambam in The Guide for the Perplexed. But  reason itself needs to be based on immediate non intuitive knowledge. [He says natural law which was known by Abraham and later on by the ancient Greeks could not have been known by reason but needed to be revealed.]
The idea here is that there are universals. Here is a proof that universals exist from Michael Huemer: 

Paul Benacerraf originally raised it as a problem about mathematics: since we have no interaction with the number 2--we do not bump into it on the street, and so on--how can we have knowledge of it? I might plead that it is not the moral philosopher's job to answer this. Whether or not there is moral knowledge, there is a priori knowledge of other kinds, so there must be some solution to Benacerraf's problem. Whatever the explanation for a priori knowledge in general is, there is no reason to think it would not work equally well for moral knowledge.





'Universals' are abstract things (features, relationships, types) that two or more particular things or groups can have in common. For instance, yellow is a universal. It is something that lemons, the sun, and school buses, among other things, all have in common. Yellow is 'abstract' in the sense that it is not a particular object with a particular location; you will not bump into yellow, just sitting there by itself, on the street. Nevertheless, yellow certainly exists. Here is an argument for that:
1.
The following statement is true:
     (Y) Yellow is a color.
2.
The truth of (Y) requires that yellow exist.
3.
Therefore, yellow exists.(53)
Comment: Suppose I say, 'The King of Colorado is fluffy'. Since there is no king of Colorado, some would say the sentence is false; others would say it is neither true nor false. But no one thinks it would be true. Sentence (Y) is of the same form, so it can be true only if 'yellow' refers to something--that is, only if yellow exists.
Some philosophers (the 'nominalists') say that the only thing multiple particulars have in common is that we apply the same word or idea to them.(54) Here is an argument against that:
4.
Yellow is a color, and lemons have it.
5.
No word or idea is a color, nor do lemons 'have' words or ideas.
6.
Therefore, yellow is not a word or an idea.


And moral principles are a priori universals --that is not known by observation.
A proof of this from Michael Huemer:


(1) Moral principles are not observations. The content of every observation is descriptive.
That is, you do not literally see, touch, hear, etc. moral value.
(2) Moral principles can not be inferred from descriptive premises. This principle is just an instance of the general fact that you cannot derive a conclusion within one subject matter from premises in a different subject matter. Just as you cannot expect to derive a geometrical conclusion from premises in economics, or derive a conclusion about birds from premises that don't say anything about birds, you should not expect to derive a conclusion about morality from non-moral premises.


Moral objectivism (like objectivism in general) seems to be entailed by the law of excluded middle and the correspondence theory of truth, along with a couple of what seem equally obvious observations about morality:

(1) There are moral propositions.
(2) So they are each either true or false. (by law of excluded middle) (3) And it's not that they're all false. Surely it is true, rather than false, that Josef Stalin's activities were bad. (Although some communists would disagree, we needn't take their view seriously, and moreover, even they would admit some moral judgement, such as, "Stalin was good.")
(4) So some moral judgements correspond to reality. (from 2,3, and the correspondence theory of truth)
(5) So moral values are part of reality. (which is objectivism)

How do we know moral principles? One can ask how can we know anything?


For if we know some particular thing, then there are only three possibilities as regards its justification:
(a) it is infinitely regressive. That is, there is a reason for it, and a reason for the reason, and then a reason for that, and so on indefinitely.
(b) it is circular. That is, it is based on some chain of reasoning in which something ultimately is supposed to (directly or indirectly) justify itself.
(c) it is foundational. That is, the item of knowledge itself is, or is based upon, a fact that is known directly and without any argument or reason given.



Imagine an argument with  person that thinks every piece of knowledge requires proof.
\
Me: I know that it's wrong to torture people just for the fun of it.
Skeptic: What's your reason for thinking that?
Me: Isn't it self-evident? Why do I need a reason?
Skeptic: Because if you don't have one, then it's just an arbitrary claim.
Me: How do you know that?
Skeptic: Why, that's self-evident.






(6) The way to understand immediate non intuitive knowledge is this. The best place to start is with the Sidur (prayerbook) of the Gra (Elisha ben Shelomo the Gaon from Vilnius). In one comment on the hagadah on ברוך המקום ברוך הוא  there the Gra explains everything has a hidden aspect and a revealed aspect. כל דבר יש לו נגלה ונסתר
That means when we see a sidur we see get information about that object. We we then feel it we get more information about it. The more senses we use we get more information. We might open it and read it and get even more information. But we are only getting information about the object. But what is the object we still know nothing. Lots of people knows lots of information about you. But no one knows who you really are inside.
The dinge an sich. The thing i itself. What is it that tells us there is some difference between what we sense about an apple and the apple in itself?

  If you were to remove from the apple its redness and roundness, sweetness and hardness, coldness and smoothness, would there be any apple left? Yes. The thing in itself. 


How we know unconditioned realities is different than how we process information based on senses or reasonable deductions.

(7) The Torah is holistic. It encompasses all of human life. Religious and political and  interpersonal. But it considers all its laws to be from One Divine source. It makes no distinctions between laws that are between man and fellow and man and laws between man and God.
That is it avoids the common mistake that religious people make. They get all excited about serving God and therefore emphasis commandments that are between God and Man thinking that that is the source of meaning and value. The Torah could not be more explicit that this is  a mistake. The holy and numinous aspect of the Torah, its unconditioned reality, is both for commandments that are between man and his fellow man and between man and God.

(8) The practical way to keep Torah is by learning Torah in an authentic Lithuanian Yeshiva and to avoid cults like the Black Plague. Since the religious world has become infested with cults that means in effect that one can't pray in a religious Synagogue. In fact, even some authentic yeshivas are borderline cults. But at least they are teaching authentic Torah--so they are OK to learn in and pray in. I would not go anywhere near an religious synagogue because I think they are dens of the Sitra Achra (Dark Side) and I fear for my life and soul.