Kelley Ross

Modes of possibility follow modes of necessity 

Modes of possibility and modes of necessity. This seems to me to be central to metaphysics. 
It seems to me there are different levels of unconditioned reality. 

What I mean to say in plain English is that I think the Kant Fries modification of Platonic thought really includes a very important ingredient from Aristotle. And to me this shows an important result that the Rambam was right all along in his combined metaphysics that made a synthesis between Aristotle and Plato. 
Sometimes the Rambam  says outrageous things  that seem utterly silly on the surface, but if you think deeply about what it, you can see how on a deeper level he was right.

What I am saying is here in Dr Kelley Ross's essay 

"tzadikim" [ religious leaders]

The problem with "tzadikim" [ religious leaders] or the cult that worships tzadikim is the problem that goes along with the wider range of problems associated with the cult of celebrity. The wider problem is easier to define. Mainly it is that people with no knowledge of justice or goodness or expertise of any kind suddenly become considered experts in all these matters and all matters relating to human life.  In the context of Torah it means people that have no knowledge of Torah nor are good or decent people in any sense, but are very good at doing long hard rituals, suddenly are considered to be experts in Torah and goodness. [That is the person chosen to be the head of the cult is usually a schizo type personality that has enough control over his voices and delusions to hear them only at the right times- the times that are socially accepted.]

"Everyone worships something. William Penn once said: men not ruled by God will be ruled by tyrants."

This topic is related to the larger problem of charismatic leadership. When the Torah itself is not considered obligatory then people go after a charismatic leader who then defines the Torah as to mean that everyone who serves the noble leader comes to human perfection. That is not what the Torah says but people believe this because they are no longer following the Torah.

Then next step is to make a pretense of bring people to Torah while in fact trying to get them into the cult in order to worship their Satanic leader.

[No offense intended to true tzadikim like  Reb Nahman. It was not their fault that their "thing" collapsed into idolatry.]

 I want to mention that it is often a very good thing to have good people to admire like the Chafetz Chaim. This is important because we humans tend to model our behavior after people we admire.
Still we need good judgment to decide whom to admire and we need not to fall for cults that are not at all related to the idea of admiration for great people but an approach which Reb Haim from Voloshin says is pure idolatry--spiritual connection with tzadikim.

Most people could be great in Torah even without being very smart.

I love Avraham because Avraham teaches the whole world how to learn Torah.

Most people could be great in Torah  even without being very smart.
At least that is what Reb Elchanan Wasserman said. He mentioned how he was not at all smart, but somehow being committed to Torah helped he gain in intelligence.

I think we would have to admit seeing his book, the Koveitz Shiurim that this is in fact true.  

How to become a gadol BaTorah. How? I The basic path is being interested in the Chafetz Chaim. Thi is a very important thing. It shows great promise.  Interest in not speaking Lashon Harah slander is an important step. 

But how to bring this to fruition? The truth is to learn and understand Torah takes time. I really did not even start to get it for a long time. Even all my years in yeshiva I was just absorbing it subconsciously but I really did not know what was going on. It helps a lot to be in a Torah environment. If you can't be in an authentic Lithuanian yeshiva which is the Noah's ark of this generation then perhaps you getting good learning partners like Rav Shach, Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, Reb Baruch Ber would help.

I love Avraham's Music

r23 cmajor  
I love Avraham's Music


I think outside of an "in depth" session in learning, that one should have also one session in which he goes through one half page of Talmud per day. That is to do this in the way of what is called "Girsah".  girsah means to say the words and go on. So what I suggest is to say one half page of Gemara Rashi Tosphot Mahrasha and Maharam from Lublin. Tomorrow to do the next page.

This way to get through the Talmud Bavli [Babylonian Talmud] and Yerushalmi [Jerusalem Talmud].
This should not take more than 40 minutes per day.

My suggestion is to do the same with Math and Physics. Even though these last two subjects do not have an established cannon, still there are a few basic books that go through the basic material. For example there are a few comprehensive texts which go through Abstract Algebra {Nathan Jacobson}, and another one that goes through Algebraic Topology (Allen Hatcher).  One could get the basic set and just plow through them.

I recommend also to do the book of Rav Shach on the Rambam in the same way.

The Chazal (sages) have told us to learn from the world how to serve God. Also I should mention that Rav Miller's books were very popular in the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn and he uses this idea in his books.. The original idea that he expands on of learning how to serve God from the ways of the world comes from the Musar book, חובות לבבות  [The Chovot Levavot]. That was the first place I saw that the Rambam is not alone in his opinion to learn Physics and MetaPhysics. I was in a shul in Jerusalem and picked up the חובות לבבות [Chovot Levavot] and saw in chap 3 of Shar HaBitachon that learning Physics and Metaphysics is the way to come to love and fear of God. The reason is there he makes a distinction between learning what is the spirituality in things which people would call Kabalah and learning the physical nature of the world. And he says it is this later thing that brings one to true love and fear of God.

[I do not really care much if you think you do not understand the Gemara if you learn it fast in this way.  You pick up much more unconsciously than you are aware of. See the Musar book The אורחות צדיקים that goes into this in length.


excellent at doing the rituals

The cult that the Gra signed the  excommunication on is organized schizophrenia, organized around a schizo personality.
In history the religious leaders are often those that are best at doing the rituals in the most compulsive way --at the right times. (That is: in the times that are socially acceptable.) If they do it at the wrong times, they get labeled as crazy. If they do it as the right time, they get thousands of followers.

Mainly what people want is someone who is excellent at doing the rituals and especially the hard ones. The harder the better.

The reason they learn psychology is in order to be able to credibly accuse people of that know about their secret evil. It is not curiously to understand human nature but rather as a weapon.
Schizo  type people have plenty of reproductive success. That does not make them right. It is just a good evolutionary strategy.

Concerning Lashon Hara if your warn your children form an evil cult that you know by empirical evidence and experience that they are completely evil, and terribly destructive and fraudulent and deceitful  then you do not need to go up to every single member of the group to give them rebuke before you can warn your children of others.

There is a degree that this kelipa has infiltrated all of the rest of Judaism. But here I am just concentrating on the head of the snake.

[I would rather not mention exceptions, but I think I have to so as not to cast aspersions on genuine sincere people like the Baal Shem Tov himself and Reb Nachman who were surely sincere and great people that helped many and certainly did not intend their "thing " to become idolatry as it has. My main point is the cults that pretend to bring people to Torah, but instead use rituals of Torah to bring people to the Devil that is embodied in their leaders.

Lashon Hara is very important.  What I wrote in my previous blog could be looked at as on the borderline. I have tried to defend my thesis with the idea of "group  behavior." That is: when warning about a group you by the average behavior (which is easy to document and see). If you warn your children about a group, you do not need to see if every single person in the group follows the average pattern. 

  With this idea we can see why the Gra signed the excommunication. His signature was the top signature. 

Still, if this would be a matter of theory I would not say a word. It is from empirical evidence that I warn about the terrible hidden dangers that someone with less experience might not be aware of. I also have had myself and seen what I am writing about.

I am warning about that which I know about all too well and have had devastating and horrible experiences and I see their effects on others. I would be remiss in my obligation as a Jew not to say what I know about this subject.

The Chafetz Chaim, Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, and Reb Israel Salanter.

It is helpful to look at three central people in Europe to understand Torah.
The Chafetz Chaim, Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, and Reb Israel Salanter. Looking at just one alone gives I think a skewed picture. People tend to try to absorb one into the other. And that seems to me to makes things unclear. There is some overlap however.

But to understand the interest and emphasis of one as if they were the same as the other gives a false notion.

The Musar movement was not the same thing as the Chafetz Chaim. It was first and foremost about Musar--mainly the aspect of correction of personality flaws inside the individual by means of intense learning of Musar many hours per day. This was quite definitely not the Chafez Chaim. [And this approach has been almost completely forgotten.] Even after the Musar movement became coupled with the Yeshiva movement and they both became fused together still Musar was not the same as the Chafez Chaim. Musar reveals an important face or aspect of Torah that no one else reveals. The importance of correcting bad character and the importance of the essence of fear of God;- not the manifestations of fear of God as in external rituals-- but the thing in itself.

The Chafetz Chaim is well known. His emphasis was on Laws of Slander and general Jewish Law (Halacha).

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik was not part of the yeshiva movement at all. He became absorbed in it and influenced its direction but his area of interest was something completely different. He wanted to create a revolution in understanding the Rambam. That was to not just believe the Rambam knew what he was talking about, but that it could be shown rigorously. Clearly this process had started with the regular commentaries, especially the Mishhna LaMelech. But Reb Chaim brought this to a whole new level.

I suggest that each of these people revealed an important facet of Torah, not like the other.

Reb Chaim's path was left uncompleted by him, but his close disciples and Rav Shach went a long way in picking up the slack. I have to confess my personal opinion that Rav Shach's book the Avi Ezri goes way beyond anything I have seen thus far. If I can be excused for saying so,-- it is much more clear-- and at least as deep as Reb Chaim's Chidushei HaRambam.

They depend on secrecy so blogs  that make uncomfortable truths public  are slandered in order to make them silent. They depend on the illusion of caring about Torah in order to gain support.  The main problem is religious teachers. But to go into this is not of interest to me. You can look at the blogs that document  their corruption if you can stomach it. I can not look at that blog even though I know most of his reports are accurate. Whatever time I have to spend on Jewish subjects, I would rather concentrate on the positive side. I am so behind anyway on the things I need to do every day. Spending time warning strangers about something the Gra warned about already 250 years ago and is still ignored does not seem like a worthwhile expenditure of time. I had to find out the hard way how infinitely evil religious teachers really are for the message to come home. The one person they hide behind is the Chafetz Chaim because they need deceit and secrecy. They do not want people to warn their children about them.

That is sad because it is easily corrected by simply learning the books Musar, the Chafetz Chaim and Reb Chaim.]

I did some reading on the History of Spain and the Islamic conquest of Spain. I think this is very important reading because to me it shows what is going on today is not new, but an old and well proven procedure how to take over a country. All Muslims are doing is applying the same strategy that has always worked before. Not frontal assault, but rather softening up a population by a combined strategy of: a) partly showing themselves fine up right people; and b) another part making people afraid to speak up; and c) another part by terror tactics.
 In this regard I recommend to people to learn the history of Spain.
{I did this reading years ago. Not recently. It was in relation to the history of Jews in Spain. So I went back to the Roman period and went on from there. This was very instructive and gave me an ability to see how Muslims were able to corrode the Spanish culture and people.]


Ideas in Talmud The only thing I wanted to add to this notebook this minute is just a comment on Sanhedrin 61. I did not mention in my notes there anything about the Maharsha. But I did go into the argument between Tosphot and the Baal HaMaor. What is significant is that this is the only time I remember seeing the Maharsha quote the Baal Hamaor. And I think in my notes we can see why he does this. I do not remember exactly what he says and I have no way to check. But it seems to me the question in my notes on Tosphot almost has to force us to admit the Baal HaMaor was right.

How can I put this? Clearly what Tosphot was thinking was that when the Gemara limited the scope of השתחוויה השתטחות it meant only quadrant III not its way and not honor. And I guess that it is true that that is all the Gemara says explicitly about what is limited by השתחווייה. But it also adds that unique phrase מה השתחוויה דרך כבוד אף כל דרך כבוד which I think surely must mean that all that can be forbidden by השתחוויה is only the way of honor. So I think we are forced to admit that quadrant IV is left open [its way, but not a way of honor]. And thus there is something for איכה יעבדו  to forbid--that is quadrant IV. So we can see why the Maharsha would have pointed us in the direction of the Baal Hamaor.

 The only thing I wanted to add to this notebook this minute is just a comment on סנהדרין ס''א ע''א. I did not mention in my notes there anything about the מהרש''א. But I did go into the argument between תוספות and the בעל המאור. What is significant is that this is the only time I remember seeing the מהרש''א quote the בעל המאור. And I think in my notes we can see why he does this. I do not remember exactly what he says and I have no way to check. But it seems to me the question in my notes on תוספות almost has to force us to admit the בעל המאור was right.

How can I put this? Clearly what תוספות was thinking was that when the גמרא limited the scope of השתחוויה השתטחות it meant only רביע השלישי not its way and not honor. And I guess that it is true that that is all the גמרא says explicitly about what is limited by השתחווייה. But it also adds that unique phrase מה השתחוויה דרך כבוד אף כל דרך כבוד which I think surely must mean that all that can be forbidden by השתחוויה is only the way of honor. So I think we are forced to admit that רביע רביעית  is left open כדרכה, but לא דרך כבוד. And thus there is something for איכה יעבדו  to forbid, that is רביע רביעית. So we can see why the מהרש''א would have pointed us in the direction of the בעל המאור.


It also seems to me to add an important point in this book. That is the Rambam does not mention flying in Bava Kama 19b.   My thesis is this: The Rambam held flying is a difference [an unusual type of damage as in "half damages of pebbles"]  and thus can only be obligated 1/2 damages. Therefore if there are two owners they both pay at the most 1/2/ If it is not flying, they both pay 1/2 each to get to full damages.

גם נראה לי להוסיף נקודה חשובה.  הרמב''ם אינו מזכיר מצב שהתרנגול עף בבבא קמא י''ט ע''ב. התזה שלי היא זו:  לרמב''ם עפיפה נערכת  כשינוי (היינו כחצי נזק צרורות) ולכן יכולים להיות מחויבים רק חצי נזק. לכן אם יש שני בעלים אחד לתרנגול ואחד לחוט, שניהם מחוייבים לשלם ביחד לכל היותר חצי. אם התרנגול לא עף, שניהם מחוייבים לשלם כל אחד חצי להגיע לנזק שלם.

 רמב''ם כלומר אני מציע בכל מקרה הלכה זו הולכת יחד עם רבי נתן בעמוד נ''ג כי זה וזה גורם נזק שלם, כל אחד משלם חצי. ומה נראה לי להיות ברור בכל מקרה לא משנה מדוע רמב''ם אומר את מה שהוא אומר. אבל לפחות אנחנו יודעים שהוא אינו מזכיר את עפיפת העוף. וזה המצב היחיד שהגמרא אמרה שהיא חצי נזק. זה ידוע לנו. יתר על כן אנו יודעים שהרמב''ם מחזיק עם רבי נתן. אז  אנו יכולים להסיק עוף זה עם חוט הוא מקרה של נזק מלא. וכך אם העוף ואת החוט אחד יש להם בעלים אז כל אחד משלם חצי. ואם זה מקרה של טיסה, הסכום הגדול היותר האפשרי הוא חצי, אז גם שם כל אחד משלם חצי, אבל זה יוצא להיות שכל אחד משלם רבע. ועכשיו אנחנו יודעים מדוע הרמב''ם לא כתב את החוק על עוף מעופף. כי זה יכול בקלות להיות מובן מהחוק שהוא כן  כתב.

Stanford's Robert Sapolsky on Depression

Comment on Islam by a T. Turner:
I could imagine myself saying to any Muslim I might meet casually if I had the guts: "The thing you call a religion tells you to lie to those of us you believe to be in the 'house of war.' I won't lie to you. You are not welcome here, and I don't ever want to be like you or live the way your pedophile, robbing, lying, blood-thirsty 'prophet' told you to live. You may call yourself peaceful and innocent as anyone, but if you can't denounce sharia, jihad and your 'prophet' for the hurtful things they are, then you are a coward or a liar or an enemy."

"In fact, for you to even be in this country, and subscribe to a philosophy that considers this country to be 'the house of war' is treasonous, in my opinion. If this is the house of war, then you are the enemy, and if I had a weapon, I should just shoot you and be done with it."

I have mentioned it before hand but this relates to the issue of the social meme and the  further question of how much of this is biological. See:


That is: is there a parasite  that affects their thinking and causes the to think murder is praiseworthy? For example there is a barnacle that attaches itself to the back of a crab and injects a hormone that causes the male crab to think it is  a female. Then the male crab digs a hole for its eggs. But it has no eggs. But the barnacle does!

I spoke with a black fellow once in Central Park late at night. He described to me his religious search over many years--him and his wife together.  Part of that account includes  a mosque in NJ. He gave me details of a murder that happened when one member decided to leave Islam. They did not just murder him but his whole family. Until this day the police filed it away as unsolved.

Music for the glory of God

j1 j2 j6 r1 h69 p120 q96 e e33 e36 e69  r27 r26 e71  [In r27 there is some effort to work with dissonances. It is known that Bach did this a lot. Less known is Mozart also did.]
There is a kind of effort in the Lithuanian yeshiva world to minimize the effects of cults.

There is a certain amount of policing to keep out the hasidic  nuts. That aspect to the people that have been kept out is hurtful, yet they seem to lack the self awareness that they might have been carrying a hidden virus with them--a Trojan horse. But on the other hand the whole thing became a gigantic self serving bureaucracy.  So to learn authentic Torah can be a challenge. The best idea I can come up with is private learning at home. Every day to have a session in Talmud, Musar, and what is called Hashkafa "world view" by which I mean the any of the books of the Rishonim concerning Jewish Philosophy, and to avoid rigorously pseudo Torah.

In fact that last step of avoiding pseudo Torah and cults is probably more important than  the first.

Next on can try to identify places where there is an authentic spirit of Torah and support them and even perhaps try to lend  a hand in building up such places.

Just because most people are unaware of it let me say over the basic list of what counts as legitimate Haskafa: Saadia Gaon's Emunot VeDeot, Rambam's Guide, Crescas, Joseph Albo, Ibn Gavirol,Abarbenal {actually Abravenal in Spanish}, the father and son. Isaac Abravenal and Yehuda

If all this seems a bit hard to relate to, then as an introduction: the  best things are the Chafetz Chaim and Shimshon Rafael Hirsh.

Appendix: Litvaks do not know it but what is a cult? It is an archetype. The leader get absorbed into a certain  archetype. That gives him amazing powers from the sitra achra. People are drawn to him like a magnet. But the archetype is a level lower than human, not higher. It is a lower order of being.
This explains the reason the Gra put that group into excommunication. The trouble is that it is infectious. It is like the Toxo parasite. It takes over the mind.


The question is in Avot. One who learns to teach is given to learn and teach. One who learns to do is given to learn teach and do.

I think that mishna is hard to understand.  I can see the advantage of teaching Torah and also of doing. From what I remember the Gra brings a source for that mishna that might explain it. My thought is Torah has to be learned in order to do it. But what if one has sinned and caused others to sin? Then one needs to do and to learn and teach also. I am not saying this explains that mishna.. I will have to think about that mishna.

 It is connected with the mishna that anyone who is מחטיא את הרבים אין מספיקים בידו לעשות תשובה. anyone who causes the many to sin is not let to do teshuva (repentance). I was surprised to see some books of Musar [Mediaeval Ethics] that I respect bring this down. The first place was in the חובות לבבות. And then Reb Israel Salanter in his letter of Musar and then in the Madregat HaAdam by Joseph Horvitz from Navardok. They all bring down this problem that once one has sinned and caused others to do so he can not do repentance. But then they give a solution to the problem.  המזכה את הרבים To bring merit to many. This seems to me to be very important. It is giving a solution to a problem which seems in solvable. If one can not repent on his sins what hope is there for him? But then they bring this mishna that if one brings merit to the many that serves as a way out of the problem. I think Bava Sali must have been thinking along these lines also. He was once saying words of Torah and it was after the time for the generators to go off line. People were getting ready to leave the hall. He said, "As long as words of Torah are said here, the lights will not go out." And that is what happened. Thus, I see teaching Torah as a way to come to keep Torah.

What is the kernel of what I am saying is that I think that sins stops one from seeing the light. They cause one to  lose the way, and think evil is good, and good is evil. Thus, after one has sinned, and especially caused others to sin, it is virtually impossible to repent. Because if he tries to repent while thinking what is evil is really good,- then all the more he repents, all the more sin he will be doing.

The best advice is thus to learn Torah, with the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach and Chidushei  HaRambam of Reb Chaim from Brisk in order to get an idea of how to understand any given law in the Torah.

toxo and marx  (Stanford)

Can a virus take over your mind? How much of what we think is because we want to and how much because some parasite in us wants us to think it? It can make a mouse be attracted to a cat. What else it out there --or inside of us-making us think and act in ways that cause our demise?

 How can you know what is abnormal if you do not know know what is normal?

Howard Bloom thinks of the same kind of idea in terms of a meme a unit of social information that seeks to perpetuate itself via a host like a human being. But could it be biological? Just some hidden pathogen or parasite that gets contracted by contact with other infected people.

Hasidim could be understood in this light. A kind of parasite on the body on Torah redirecting it towards its own destruction.

So the question is this:

Toxoplasmosis and the social meme? Is there a connection?

There is a barnacle that rides on the back of  a crab that injects a hormone into a male crab that causes teh male crab to act like a female. It then digs a hole for its eggs. But it has no eggs. But the barnacle sure does!! How much of our behavior and thoughts are  directed some hidden parasite like hasidim that need a host? 

This goes back to what the Torah means. The Torah has a basic meme. That is Monotheism. That God made the world something from nothing and He is not the world and the world is not Him. This is the background worldview of the Torah. This was so obvious that it did not need to be expressed until Saadia Gaon and later the Rambam. But this meme can be lied about. Hasidim deceive concerning the meaning of Torah. They can do so because sentences express abstract features, but these are always in a context of other abstract features (a network)
Torah has a basic meaning and every verse in Torah also. The meaning depends on the background and network. Thus worship of tzadikim is not defined by what anyone wants. Idolatry in the Torah has a specific meaning that depends on the entire network and context.


I think from what I understood from talking with the son of a sheikh for hours over several years that Islam does recommend to people to make war on the infidel and that that is considered justified--not just in the book and in Sharia but in actual practice. In fact, it was  a common occurrence in Israel to have some Muslim just walk up to someone with a kitchen knife and kill them. This happened daily at least once per day in one city or the other during the 80's and 90's.This was so common that it was not reported even in Israeli newspapers, much less international news. When bus bombings happened (usually once per week) the media always downplayed it as an "obstacle to peace."

The way to understand this is by Carl Jung. The collective unconscious. It is not known to most people--that this comes from Kant's dinge an sich.

I mean to say we have with Kant the "self." This idea of Kant is sadly under-treated in Allen Bloom's book, The Closing of the American Mind. -Because Bloom himself tilted towards Hegel. Otherwise his treatment of the self is a masterpiece. [It is somewhere in the middle of the book. I forget where..]
But Kant's self is a ding an sich a thing in itself whose essence is hidden from us. This became in the hands of Nietzsche the "Id" that s more well known. But what I am suggesting is that is this the source of Jung's collective unconscious which is similarly hidden from view but motivates all the important actions of any people or nation.
An article about Black anger towards white people

This is explained clearly in Howard Bloom books about the power of the meme. People get a certain meme inside them and it stays there. If people get it hardwired in them that the White person is teh cause of all their troubles this idea will not be defeated by contrary evidence. I think further that this has something to do with Kant's dinge an sich. I think it is a kind of collective consciousness type of thing.
 What does it mean to "know how to learn?" This is hard to say. When I was in Shar Yashuv in NY the rosh yeshiva told me that I would know how to learn within a  year or two years. I forget which. To some degree that happened because of a combination of factors. First I was doing the work. Next is after I would do the work I went up to Naphtali Yeager with what I thought was a good question. And before I could ask the question he would have me recite the entire Tosphot [in my own words] to see if I understood what Tosphot was saying. While doing so often something would feel a bit out of place. There would be some extra word in Tosphot that one would normally look over and go on. But then Reb Naphtali would show me the deeper questions that Tosphot was meaning to ask there. 
So the question of how to introduce one to the concept of knowing how to learn has come up. I wrote a small essay on this. But in short the best thing is to get an Avi Ezri of Rav Shach and by that to see how to learn. In the meantime you do not have that you might just take a page of Gemara with Rashi and Tosphot  with the Maharsha and try to do some  work. 

This is just the short and simple of it. But if possible I suggest getting the entire set of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, Baruch Ber, Shimon Shkop, Rav Shach and Naphtali Troup and plow through them word by word.
[I mean you do have to learn the Gemara that their essay is written on, and look up the Rambam and what ever else they are bringing up in their essay.

OK I have gone over the mechanics of it. But what does it mean? It means you cant know the law unless you know the source of the law and its context and the entire framework from where it comes.
The law is an abstraction and as such can mean almost anything anyone wants it to mean anytime unless it is understood as part of a network. Thus memorizing the whole Shas , being able to recite a law by heart is less than meaningless. It is negative. It gives the false impression of knowing a law of the Torah when in fact shows no understanding at all.

But memorizing laws is what most people are impressed with. They have not the foggiest idea of what it really means to know how to learn. Even if the person knows what the law means it still is nothing because without knowing the Background and context he has no idea of how it applies. 

Change can come by small sparks. The fall of the USSR was unexpected by most people. Maybe no one at all saw it coming.  But sudden change usually come by some pressure buildup. When people get frustrated enough with hypocritical religious teachers especially that destroy families while building up their own,-- they will react.
 But change can go in different ways. My suggestion is to get back to authentic Torah. Gemara Rashi Tosphot. But this can only come by recognizing that the rot of the religious teachers came not from Torah, but by impersonation and deceit.

The reason for this state of affairs is difficult to know. But there is still the Noah;s ark of genuine Lithuanian yeshivas. Few and far between though they may be.  So when I suggest coming to authentic Torah I mean to say to also get rid of the charlatans. And make it clear the charlatans do not represent Torah.
Pirkei Avot is most unusual in that it is part of the Mishna. Why would a Musar book be made part of the Mishna by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi?
What I think is Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was codifying objective moral values, not just writing morals, but claiming that this book codifies morality in the same way the rest of the Mishna codifies halacha.

 It seems that there is a moral aspect to Torah outside of the legal aspect of it. Some things are moral but not legal and somethings are legal but not moral.
The trouble with the commentaries on Pirkei Avot is the same trouble that you have in all of Tenach. The commentaries obscure things instead of making them clear. Just like if you are looking for the  meaning of verses in the Torah, the last place you look is in Rashi so in Pirkei Avot. The more you read the commentaries the less clear it becomes.

Rashi's main job is to bring Midrash, never the simple explanation -except in the one place he says he is explain the verse according to the simple explanation. A whole world of myth has grown around that Rashi as if Rashi is to tell us the simple explanation of every verse; and that is palpably false. [He says on one verse alone that there he is explaining the simple explanation--that is on just that verse.] Rashi always brings the Midrash; and in places where there is no midrash, he brings the Halachic Midrash Sifra and Sifri.

The same goes for Pirkei Avot. Every one explains it according to what they want it to mean. Like when everyone says Islam is a religion of peace. They are expressing what they want to be true. Not what is true.

What ought to be done with Pirki Avot is to expand the commentary of the Gra which simply brings the sources for each statement from the Old Testament and also to learn it with the commentary of the sages themselves that is Avot DeRabbi Nathan and the perush HaRambam.


 I am wondering if an authentic, Lithuanian kind of Yeshiva would maybe be the best thing for California [Ukraine, etc] . Something like  the Mir Yeshiva in NY? Would it not make sense to have such  place near your home where you could learn  Torah? What I mean by authentic Torah is the kind of that was in the Mir in NY and in Far Rockaway with Reb Freifeld.

The trouble is there are too many cults, and not enough of the real thing.

I know there are cults that claim to represent Torah. But that is not what I think is positive. Rather what interest me is the real authentic thing.

The authentic thing is hard to come by. I think it is the responsibility of secular Jews to be educated enough to tell the difference between authentic Torah and charlatans. The reason there are cults is the fault of Reform Jews that do not know enough Torah to stop supporting evil things. They get fooled by what looks in appearance to be religious so they throw money at it. That is what comes from not learning enough Torah. people end up supporting bad stuff.

I claim that this kind of system [Lithuanian Yeshiva] is good because I have a basis for comparison. That is,-- if one would be familiar with only one system of thought and one way of life, he could never claim to know that it is best. It might be the worst - for all he knows. Even if one is following it faithfully because that is the system he was born into. But I do have a basis of comparison. I have been sociably mobile, and have fit in with many systems and societies. So I know ways of life not just by book reading, but by being there and a part of those systems, and seeing how they work from the inside.
 I am genuinely curious about other systems. But when I go there with no pretense at all, somehow I manage to fit in well enough to see what is going on. And then I confront the elders and leaders with the facts of their corruption and immorality, and see their reaction.

What is the intellectual basis for the Oral and Written Law? Mainly the synthesis of Torah and Aristotle/Plato of Maimonides and Saadia Gaon. [All the more reason to look into both more thoroughly than I have done until now.]

In any case, there is a problem of infiltration of yeshivas by cults. You need to police the institution. But in fact this is too late. Already most even so called Litvak yeshiva have already been taken over by cults.

So when I suggest Torah is the best thing out there, I do not mean religious world which is clearly a satanic cult. Not that it has the wrong ideas, but because it has been taken over by religious teachers that have taken over the narrative. That is it is all completely sitra achra [dark side] nowadays. religious teachers are the enemies of Torah. They want to turn the Torah into a forum for their idolatry-worship of their "tzadik." They suck the essence of Torah and replace it with a spirit from the Dark Side. But they dress and play the game so as to make people think they are the authentic thing.

religious teachers are the head of the snake. They are the ones that could have known better, but instead chose to follow the path of the Devil. The damage they do is in exactly the areas they claim to defend-family values. Talking to a religious teacher about family problems is exactly the same thing as igniting an atom bomb in your living room in terms of the damage it will cause to your  family.

So while we need true Torah-we  need to be rid of the cults.
You get see the change in their faces when people join a religious teacher's cult. The face changes to: a)  dog face, or b) zombie face. There is also a "c)" which I have not yet been able to identify. Stick around long enough with them and the change is inevitable. On the other hand stick around with authentic Torah, eventually one gains, "And He created man in his image"

(1) The emphasis in the West on words. People tend to take the meaning of the words as the essence of their belief. [text based faith.]  The words of the Torah  and the Talmud are what defines our faith. Even if we do not understand the words.
For this reason it does not seem to me to be  a good idea to engage in  criticism or attacks on someone's faith. That is usually not a good idea unless it is  a case where there are no redeeming characteristics of their faith.

(2) The problem of universals in the West morphed into the problem of meaning starting with  Frege.

(3) One of the problems with Kabalah as a rule is the emptying of words of their meaning and putting in something else. I do not mean this as a critique on the Ari, but later supposed "mystics" that thought they were explaining him while in fact just explaining their delusions. I always found them annoying in their claims of grandeur with nothing to show for it but their own delusions.

[ So let me try to give a brief explanation. Knowledge that we have by our senses cant be checked and verified. Knowledge that is not by the senses might be right but how can we double check it? That is called A priori. If it is by definition then OK. Kant said we have a priori knowledge that is not by definition. How?  But we know it. This refers to the dinge an sich. Things that are but take away all their adjectives what is left? The thing in itself. [As Kant put it: things in themselves. In this realm of things in themselves--reality that we know but we do not know by reason nor by senses there are different areas of value. All form and no content as in mathematical logic. Then all content and no form--God. I hope this leaves my readers satisfied. 

(5) Now for how this relates to me personally.  My own approach is what I learned in the Mir Yeshiva in NY. That is in a nutshell: I go by the Written and Oral Law. That means I go by the Old Testament. But I do not say that I can understand it on my own. I use the Oral Law as my guide for interpretation. But since the Oral Law is a lot to read and understand, I listen to the Rishonim and Geonim as to what is the big message. That is I listen to what Saadia Gaon and Maimonides said it means. That is I defer to argument from authority when it comes to these larger issues. So in  nutshell you now know why the Duties of the Heart  (and other books of Musar of the Rishonim) and the Guide for the Perplexed of the Rambam are important to me. The reason is that they settle the issues of interpretation.
So for example I think Monotheism is the approach of the Torah. That is that God is the First Cause and simple. Not a composite. And he made the world something from nothing, not from Himself like a spider weaves a web. From Nothing. Ex Nihilo. And the world is not God. Nor is it any part of God. The reason I think this is not just the literal sense of the Torah. It is I confess because that is how all the rishonim (and the Ari himself) said it means.
But even more so. Now you know why Musar is important to me.  Because more clearly than anything else it clarifies these issues.

I can not understand anything unless I see how it fits into the larger picture. This is not a matter of how hard I concentrate. It is just the way I see things. This was certainly my experience in yeshiva. I had to see the whole Shas in order to understand the slightest little thing in Tosphot. My learning partner on the other had is the kind of person that the big picture distracts him. The only way he understand things is in depth in their place.

You have met both kinds. Probably in high school you may have asked or heard some fellow student ask, "Why is this relevant?" People with philosophical minds are like me. We need to see the big picture and until we do we cant understand a thing. This is like Plato. Universals are out there.. Aristotle puts universals smack in the middle of things.

For this reason it is a good idea in yeshiva to learn in pairs because of this double take aspect.

Now to develop this idea further. Let's say you are like me and you want to--No-you need to see the big picture. But your time is limited. What do you do? You find something small that contains a lot. For example it might take you some time to go through Shas with Rashi, Tosphot Maharsha and Maraham from Lublin. I know this took me a long time and there were lots of dumb interruptions also. So what you do is you get the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. And you learn just one essay there well. You go over it day after day. Once of twice every day. Once you know it well, you are already on your way to know about half of Shas. The reason is it contains both aspects of learning. The in depth and the wide broad horizons.

When someone shows interest in learning Torah I think of giving  to him the book of Rav Shach, the Avi Ezri, and perhaps the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik the Chidushei HaRambam, and perhaps  the Chafetz Chaim, [the book about the laws not to slander.] 

 The thing is the book of Rav Shach is a bit expensive. in Israel it is about $60 for the five volumes, but in NY who knows how much it could be. \

Yevamot 3b

The ברייתא says how do we know the the sister of one's wife is forbidden in יבום? It answers that it says "עליה" in ויקרא and עליה in דברים concerning יבום. This looks like a גזירה שווה. A גזירה שווה means the same word is used in two different places. So we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the גזירה שווה.

One alternative way to look at this ברייתא is to say that it has nothing to do with a גזירה שווה. It is rather thinking like this. We find that the wife of one's brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of יבום she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of יבום. So now we need the extra word "עליה" to tell us that she is forbidden. That is to say that the ברייתא is thinking of a מה מצינו what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application , not a גזירה שווה. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "עליה" all by itself.. The ברייתא definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a גזירה שווה.

And if this is גזירה שווה then the result is a קשה. The normal גזירה שווה puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "עליה" from יבום into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of יבום!

That is we have a question because a  גזירה שווה in general goes both directions.
Answer. Actually if a גזירה שווה goes in both directions is a debate. Here the נרייתא holds  with the opinion the גזירה שווה goes only in one direction.

הברייתא אומרת איך אנחנו יודעים שאחותו של אשתו  אסורה היבום? והיא עונה שהפסוק אומר "עליה" בויקרא ועליה בדברים בנוגע ליבום. זה נראה כמו גזירה שווה. גזירה שווה פירושו  המילה  זהה משמשת בשני מקומות שונים. אז אנחנו מיישמים את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, אלא אם כן קיים טעם ספציפי כי לפחות את כח הגזירה השווה. דרך חלופית אחת להסתכל על ברייתא זו היא לומר שזה לא קשור עם גזירה שווה.  די לחשוב ככה. אנו מוצאים כי אשתו של אחיו (של אחד) אסורה אפילו אחרי שהוא  נפטר. ובכל זאת אנו מוצאים כי במקרה הספציפי של יבום היא מותרת. אז אנחנו צריכים לאפשר לכל היחסים האסורים במקרה של יבום להיות מותרים. אז עכשיו אנחנו צריכים את מילה אחת מיותרת "עליה" לספר לנו שהיא אסורה. כלומר כי ברייתא הוא חושב על מה מצינו מה אנו מוצאים במקום אחד אנו מרחיבים באופן אוטומטי למקומות אחרים, אם לא נצליח למצוא סיבה ספציפית להגביל את תחולתו, לא גזירה שווה. הבעיה עם זה היא כי זה יעבוד גם אם רק הייתה המילה "עליה" לבדה.  את ברייתא בהחלט מתייחס לעובדה כי אותה המילה משמשת בשני המקומות לגזור את  החוק שלה. אז זה בהחלט אומר שזה גזירה שווה. ואם זה גזירה שווה, אז התוצאה היא קשה. הגזירה שווה הרגילה מעמידה את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, ולהיפך. זה היה גורם לשים את "עליה" של יבום לתוך היחסים ולעשות את כולם אסורים רק במקרה של יבום! כלומר יש לנו שאלה משום גזירה שווה  הולך לשני הכיוונים. תשובה. למעשה אם גזירה שווה הולכת בשני הכיוונים הוא ויכוח. כאן נראה שהברייתא  בדעת שהגזירה השווה סובבת רק לכיוון אחד.


There are a good deal of Aristotle's  concepts bantered about in mystic books that at the same time claim metaphysical knowledge of the world. And which tend to knock Aristotle as a know nothing ignoramus. The Ether, the four elements, substance and form. The Ari himself I can excuse for just placing his revelations in the mental structure of his time. He does not claim anything beyond his own formulation of the metaphysical structure of the world. But books that knock Aristotle while at the same time using his concepts seem to be ill informed.
[We can make a good guess from where the concepts come from since there are many possible ways of understanding the metaphysical and physical nature of the world. It does not have to be four elements and ether and substance and form. For example you can have the 1000 systems of totally different metaphysics from China, none of which have any of the above concepts. Or you can have Buddhist philosophies of no substance, or the 6 schools of Hindu thought. Once people are obviously borrowing from Aristotle, you might think they would have the manners not to insult him, and claim that they themselves came up with the ideas on their own. It is like cheating on a test and then claiming the other guy stole it. There is little that is more despicable.

If they would have some deep knowledge of the world you would think they might have noticed things like atoms!

I had some ideas about yeshivas which I thought to share . The idea is that I see the Litvak yeshiva as a great and important ideal but it saddens me that the ideal have been perverted into bureaucracy and cults. My suggestion is to revive the original idea. So here are my thoughts:

The basic idea of a yeshiva is the Oral Law. That is the purpose is to get a decent idea of how to keep the Torah.The way I see it the best approach to this problem was formulated well by the Lithuanian kind of yeshiva. That is I expect there to be flaws and bureaucracy and all the normal human problems that go along with any human institution. But overall I think the idea is sound. And you do not need a large investment for such a thing. You can put tons of money into Jewish institutions and come out with nothing but rot. The reason is the most important thing is missing--the Idea.
Without the idea or with the wrong idea all you get is a cult or tzadik worship,
It is the idea of a yeshiva that makes it what it is.

So what is the idea? It is Gemara, Rashi, and Tosphot. Period.
In a practical vein this means a morning session from 10:00 to 2:00 and and afternoon session from 3:30 to 8:00.  About a hundred years ago the question of adding a little bit of learning Ethics came up. And also at some point someone decided to add a small Halacah session. But these were additions onto the main idea.

Kollel is a perversion of this idea and something that all gedolai Israel would have opposed if it had been brought up during a time when there were still people around that knew better. [That is you never pay people to learn. The whole concept is as absurd as paying someone to pray.]

What people did in NY was to go to Brooklyn Collage in the afternoon. This was sanctioned by Rav Hutner. This was in order to learn a vocation. Torah with Derech Eretz.

So in any case what you need is a straight forward Litvak yeshiva in every town and hamlet. Where there is Torah then there is everything of value.

On the other hand the lack of authentic Torah opens the door to cults which mimic true Torah but whose inner essence is satanic. These cults are sadly the main body of religious world today.

I should mention that the ideas here took me a long time to come to. I admit I was part of the kollel at the Mir Yeshiva in NY. But on the other hand there really was nothing wrong with that. They were simply accepting government grants. No one was claiming that learning Torah could be used making money. It was clearly charity. If the yeshivas in Israel would be run the same way I would have no objection.

Unconditioned realities. The trouble with understanding morality is that of knowing any unconditioned realities. This is the source of moral contradictions. Just as Kant said that when pure reason ventures into the real of unconditioned realities contradictions automatically pop up.

The Rambam clearly had a graded system. Levels of Pure Reason.

The objects of experience are individual, particular, and concrete, while, on the other hand, the objects of thought, or most of the kinds of things that we know even about individuals, are general and abstract, i.e. universals.

So he shifted from the regular Neo Platonic approach which had been begun by Saadia Gaon and went to Aristotle. That gives knowledge of individual things since universals are in the individual. From there there will be higher levels of pure reason that can conceive of higher things.

This idea of the Rambam is not isolated. It is a theme that pops up often in his writings. And it gives us a hint of how he would have dealt with this problem posed by Kant.

In short what I mean is the Rambam is not going to have intellectual intuition as per the intuitions like Prichard or Michael Huemer. But he will not have Kant's complete inability to know unconditioned realities either. He will be thinking that there is pure reason as opposed to human reason. But pure reason itself is gradiated. And human reason can access pure reason by going through the steps.

Appendix. Aristotle by putting the forms inside of things helped bridge between objects of experience and universals. this was the source of the Rambam of thinking there are different levels of pure reason. Some levels of knowledge of individuals. And other levels of knowledge that are concepts alone. It goes from the Oral Law, to Maase Breshit מעשה בראשית and from that to Maase Merchava מעשה מרכבה

Letter to a friend

Dear ...: That is a long letter with lots of points. As for the first point. Dale Martin is getting all of his material from other sources. He just puts it together very well. Better than I could ever do. But the actual sources are difficult. At Polytechnic I saw a few books in the library about the hypothetical documents.  But this is a long and involved study.

The Rambam [Maimonides] concerning Maase Breishit is also a difficult subject. I think looking into the Ramban [Nachmanides] is a good area of investigation. All the Rishonim are worthy of study. I do not think there will be any great kashe about the Rambam however because he seems to be uniform in his opinion from the beginning of his life until the end and hinted at it in many places. You are right that without the Ramban (Nachmanides) the Rambam (Maimonides) would have been forgotten and marginalized to the point of vanishing.

Besides that I think that it is helpful to get a general idea of all the rishonim in order to understand any particular one. Context makes a difference.

[I should add that Yaakov Abuchatzeira and the Gra clearly held from the Ari.]

the belief system of Torah is Monotheism

The Sages asked why was Mordechai called a "Yehudi". Today we understand the word to mean a Jew (or Jewish). But it means from the tribe of Yehuda [Judah].
He was from the tribe of Benjamin. So what could it mean?

They answer because he denied idolatry -- because anyone who denies idolatry is  as if he confess to the whole Torah.  Anyone who admits idolatry is as if he denied the whole Torah. [Yehuda comes from the word admit.]

Thus I decided to stay away from idolatrous cults that seem to infest Orthodx Judaism like lice.  Even if they are the only show in town. To me it is more important to stay away from idolatry.

This clarity only came to me after learning Sanhedrin 63 fairly well. Before I learned that page in Sanhedrin the whole concept of idolatry was fairly ambiguous to me. I wrote some of my ideas about that Gemara in my little booklet on the Talmud. Mainly I was concentrating on the Tosphot there. But learning it in depth helped me understand the subject better.

An example of idolatry a person says any created thing besides God, "You are my god, save me" that makes the thing itself into an idol. The person himself gets the normal penalty for idolatry.

I should mention in this context that the belief system of Torah is Monotheism.  That is that God made the world something from nothing. That is Torah belief excludes pantheism. And it excludes worship of tzadikim.

God also is a simple One. He is not a composite of substance and form. He has no form nor substance nor anything that we can conceive of. There is a limit to human reason and even to pure reason in this regard. We can know he exists and that is all.

Also in the Torah there is no sense that God is imminent in nature or tied to natural substances or phenomena.  Nature also is not divine. It's  de-divinized; the created world is not divine, it is not the physical manifestation of God. The line of demarcation therefore between the divine and the natural and human worlds is clear. 

Nature isn't God himself. He's not identified with it. He's wholly other. He isn't kin to humans in any way either. So there is no blurring, no soft boundary between humans and the divine. 

So, to summarize, the view of God is that there is one supreme God, who is creator and sovereign of the world, who simply exists, who is  incorporeal, and for whom the realm of nature is separate and subservient. 
Indeed, creation takes place through the simple expression of his will. "When God began to create heaven and earth," and there's a parenthetical clause: "God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." He expressed his will that there be light, and there was light and that's very different from many Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies in which there's always a sexual principal at work in creation. 


r22 g minor  
Why do you need to speak out against cults?

Is it slander to speak about cults?

The illusion of being careful about Slander.

Selective enforcement.

Force includes relying on the legal system, which ultimately rests on the use of force as a last resort. Goading your opposition beyond endurance to the point where they respond violently is non-violence only in the most hypocritical, specious sense.

Putting people in the position where they either have to yield to your demands or resort to violence to stop you is emphatically not non-violence.

The three items on the list are calculated, manipulative, and deceptive practices.
 Can you really claim to be non-violent if you threaten someone else's position to the point where they feel they must resort to violence to protect their interests?

Forms of  peace

The only truly non-violent tactic, in the sense that it neither commits nor provokes violence, is complete non-resistance and submission to the demands of the power elite.

Women would have to submit meekly to rape rather than struggle to resist. And no "pacifist" I have ever heard of advocates that.

Generally, what passes for "non-violence" or "pacifism" is one of the following: Relying on the law. This is not non-violence because if all other measures fail, the legal system will use force to achieve its ends. That's why we speak of enforcing the law.

Maintaining a facade of pacifism while provoking the opposition to violence, or creating an intolerable obstruction that can only be removed by force, or threatening their position to the point where they feel they have to resort to violence to protect their interests. This position, as already noted, is hypocritical, manipulative, and deceptive.

The Cycle of Violence

Before we go any further, take your mouse and put the cursor on the bold lettering above.Now, notice what you did. In order to move the mouse, you had to exert force, and very precise and gentle force at that. You didn't rip the mouse cord out of the computer, or crush the mouse in your grip, or push so hard on it that you mashed the trackball flat. The notion that force inexorably spirals out of control is precisely that trivially easy to refute. Now it's probably true that resorting to unnecessary violence may very well lead to retaliation. So restraint in dealing with confrontations is usually a good idea.

Most pacifists react to this issue by simply pretending that it doesn't exist, that people either never deliberately choose violence, that violence always stems from earlier violence, poverty, or injustice, or that if people do deliberately choose violence, it's in rare cases that are not really of great importance. But history abounds with examples of people who have deliberately chosen violence. The ease with which people from non-violent backgrounds have been induced to commit atrocities in wartime shows how easy it can be for the violent to recruit assistants, and for the gratification factor to take hold. Thus, a single individual who opts for violence because he enjoys domination may succeed in recruiting many others less bold than he is.

How do we respond to people who have opted for violence? Appeasement merely reinforces the conviction that violence gets results. Moreover, it provides gratification by reinforcing the feeling of dominance. When confronting people who have already opted for violence, non-violence has a very good chance of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Retaliatory force, on the other hand, makes the results of violence a lot less simple, a lot less effective in getting results, and a lot less gratifying.

Furthermore, violence is only the far end of the spectrum of force. Every screaming brat who throws a temper tantrum in public is testimony to the fact that children do not need to be taught the use of force. And regardless how loving, benevolent and diligent a parent is in meeting and supplying the child's needs, every child sooner or later runs into the fact that other people, much less the physical universe, will not. Sooner or later every human being has to face the fact that some desires will not be gratified.

Throwing the First Punch

Pacifists are vociferous in denouncing "aggression." I can think of a number of cases where "aggression" either shortened a war or ended genocide. None involve the United States, by the way.In 1971, civil war broke out in Pakistan, which was then made up of two ethnically and geographically separate areas. A million people died and ten million fled into India. Faced with an overwhelming refugee crisis, India invaded East Pakistan, which became independent as Bangladesh.

Not only is it morally permissible to commit aggression, sometimes it's morally obligatory.

So What's Your Plan?

There are intellectual pacifists whose real though un-admitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism.
Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States.

 Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty....

 Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

The basic reason people support Trump

The basic reason people support Trump is mainly frustration of the vast majority of Americans of seeing the Left destroy the USA and its values. This might not be felt by people that are part of bureaucracy of government. But this frustration is felt deeply by most ordinary Americans.

But what are the forces at work to destroy the USA? Mainly Socialists, Muslims and blacks on welfare. These three are the three headed hydra that is hard at work to destroy everything good and godly  and wholesome about the USA.

The basic reasons I do not agree with socialism are outlined in an essay by Michael Huemer. I will try to find the link. Mainly the reason is that socialism in its very core is based on the labor theory of value which is simply not a true doctrine. I just found the link. Here is the essay: The Theory of Economic Value.

I can not be accused of being ignorant of the arguments for Socialism. I spend a good deal of time learning the whole game plan from Russeou, Hegel, Marx, etc. Probably I spent a lot more time on this than it deserved.  [Not all of the above authors. Just a lot of their writings and also more modern treatments of their thought, like the Cambridge Companion Edition of Hegel, plus  the vast site on the internet devoted to Hegel and Marx.]

What makes more sense to me is: The Talmud, Maimonides, Israel Salanter, the Chafetz Chaim, John Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Popper, Jung. These are all on the side of the individual and private property  and the main job of government is to protect the private sphere of activity [civil society].
To help to put all the above together it is helpful to learn The Closing of the American Mind by Allen Bloom and the Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom.

But I have carefully considered all sides of the arguments. I have also discussed these issues with many people that lived under socialist systems and also in the USA before the age of political correctness. With ordinary people and with people thoroughly entrenched in both systems.

To understand Torah, the Chafetz Chaim is helpful, but to my understanding it would make sense to get the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. The reason is this. Knowing Hebrew is in fact some help to understanding Torah, but not as much as you might think. 

What you need because of limited time is something small and simple that gives you the basic idea. That is definitely Rav Shach's book the Avi Ezri. What he does is to give a good idea on how to analyze any given halacha in the Torah in a very deep way, but also in a very simple way. 

I could recommend Rav Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik's book the Chidushei HaRambam, but there is something about Rav Shach's book that goes way beyond the Chidushei HaRambam. But since the Chidushei Harambam is smaller you might try to get that and to work on just one long essay.   If you have the Chafetz Chaim in Hebrew his own notes at the bottom of the page are also excellent ways of learning how to learn.

I cant really explain very well what the thing is bout Rav Shach's book. It is simultaneously simple to understand and yet very deep. However I admit that it was Rav Chaim Soloveitchik who opened the door to the Rambam.  There were some preliminary steps before him but they were just cracks in the door. Reb Chaim opened it swung it open. Rav Shach then walked in. That being said if possible the best thing would be to get the books of his two disciples Barch Ber and Shimon Shkop and just plow through them.


blaming Israel

I had thought that people would notice a problem with Islam after 9/11. But instead everyone went about claiming it is a religion of peace and blaming Israel. I do not see why this should be any different. Everyone will keep on saying it is the fault of the Jews and that it is because they don't give enough territory  and that Islam is wonderful.

In fact, American were so convinced Islam is great they voted twice for a Muslim President. On the other hand I have to admit I am not really sure what seems to be the problem with it. I can see why people might make a mistake. It took me a long time to realize there might be a problem with Islam. I was certainly willing to give Muslims a chance. It is a long story. But at some point it began to dawn on me that something is really really wrong with it.

אין אדם עומד על דבר אלא אם כן נכשל בו
I had to learn the hard way about a lot of things. But I am not recommending this procedure. It is just the only way I found out about things that had good reputations that were really insidious cults.
And sometimes personal experience is not enough to evaluate things. You know your own experience is just a microcosm of the large picture. So you need a kind of balance and common sense. 

Slander, Chafetz Chaim, Halacha

I think the Chafetz Chaim is very important. [The book of laws on not to speak slander]

But warning people about insane baali tesuva and hypocritical back stabbing FFB is not Lashon HaRa.

But in any case, I along with most other people could use a good dose of Chafetz Chaim. 

 There is a whole set of the works of the Chafetz Chaim in Hebrew that is very inexpensive. You could get it plus and English Hebrew dictionary and go through it at home. I went through almost the entire set while I was at the Mir yeshiva in NY. I skipped on the small book that he wrote to Jews in the USA telling them about basic mitzvot. At the time this seemed redundant to me.

I mentioned to Shimon Buso a grandson of Bava Sali, that there are plenty of ways of misusing the Chafetz Chaim. He answered to me that without learning it, slander is הפקר [a free for all].

I have mentioned that I tried to stick with saying the truth all the time, because the slander thing seemed to me to be impossible to keep. I needed something to stick with that was both powerful and yet practical.

In any case though the Chafetz Chaim is important, I think it is clear that without a good background in the basic works of Philosophy during the Middle Ages that people almost automatically fill in the gaps in their education with pure nonsense. Thus I suggest to go through this very basic minimum: אמונות ודעות by Saadia Gaon, The Guide of the Rambam. Ibn Gavirol, Joseph Albo, Crescas,  Isaac Abravenal, Jehuda Abravenal. Why this should be so hard is beyond me. People do at least this much reading every two weeks. Tally up  the time they spend on novels and newspapers. The exact same time they could go through the above list.

As far as Halacha goes I think it is best to learn the Rambam with the commentaries. That is to go through one half a page of Rambam per day with the Kesef Mishna and Magid Mishna. After that to do the same with the Tur Beit Yosef.