My suggestion is the Kantschool of thought. That is an extension of Kant that uses Schopenhauer for metaphysics and Hegel for epistemology. 

It is kind of like Ayn Rand and John Locke in practice.

The importance of Schopenhauer is great. Also  German Idealism [i.e. Kant, Fichte, Schelling,  et al.]. I still have a great deal of trouble with Hegel. I see most Marxist principles and Leftist Socialism stemming from him. I can not figure out if the trouble was people misusing him or if there really was something "off". This is not an irrelevant question. The fate of about 100 million people perishing under socialist governments in the 20th century seems to raise some some doubt about Socialism. 

From a Jewish point of view German Idealism is important because the basic structure of Metaphysics of Torah is mainly Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian. [That is the metaphysical backbone that is clearly stated by Saadia Gaon and the Obligations of the Heart and Maimonides and the Ari.] There are questions about this structure which need to be addressed and not just papered over. [The general way to deal with the Rambam and Saadia Gaon is to ignore them an pretend they did not write anything about the basic metaphysical structure of Torah.]
That is,- there is a reason why Saadia Gaon and the Rambam adopted the Neo Platonic point of view. The same reason gives us today a further reason to find support for the Torah point of view after that much of the medieval concepts used by the Rambam and Saadia Gaon seem quiet,.. well..--medieval. That is,- axioms that do not seem all that true anymore.

[After I wrote the above essay I thought to mention some points. Mystic experience is not what the holy Torah is about. Because the Rambam rational approach is not interesting to people they go instead to mystics. The trouble is most of them all are teaching the teachings of the Shatz in different form.]

Jewish cults. What you tolerate you get more of.

Events similar to this are repeated ad nauseam in the history of the  Jewish people.  A charismatic (in the generic sense) leader, claiming a special calling, and extraordinary powers, will, little by little, gain control over people’s hearts, minds, women and (significantly) their property. Impressing upon their followers the imminence of the "Geula"גאולה/Redemption, or some global catastrophe, and assuring them that they alone will be the survivors, they assure these followers that  they will occupy a position of power and influence in the new world to come. Readers will note that this has  happened in Uganda, where thousands of innocent persons lost their property, their freedom, and finally their lives in a hideous fashion after being duped by a charismatic leader. 

I am not immune from this myself and  there are lots of shades of grey in this. Even some authentic Lithuanian  yeshivas can have some characteristics of cults.

Kabalistic and mystic error mixed with a combustible pseudo-spiritual empowerment and magnetism has constantly proved a deadly mixture. Unfettered by authentic Torah and unmoved by charity, which is not mere affectation, or emotional attachment, it will breed jealousy, rivalry, quarrels and sects, and fulfill the demonic purpose, which is the further fragmentation of the Jewish world.

Indeed, primitive man understood that to him belonged the responsibility not only to provide for himself and his family, but also the duty of beating the $h#t out of any man or animal that threatened his family’s existence. This is why when you encounter a Jewish cult, your obligation is not to run and hide, but to beat the living daylights out of them because they threaten the very existence of yourself and your family. It is why the Gra put them into Cherem 
What you tolerate you get more of. And it is simple to show the origin of their teachings come from the Shatz. The trouble is it is all one big mass deception. There is nothing in the Torah about being possessed by the neshama {soul} of a tzadik. That is pure idolatry. In the Torah we are not automatons.

The constant craving for spiritual experience, as is attested to by all the great mystics of the Torah like Rav Avraham Abulafia and the Ari, is addictive, like a drug. Since the experiences are indeed spurious, they will never ultimately satisfy the soul that hungers after them, and will be required in stronger and stronger doses. In light of this, it is no surprise that cult leaders themselves were no longer content with mere Torah but went further and further down the road of absurdity and fanaticism.

It is an undeniable fact that most Jews take their values and beliefs from other people. When listening to teachers they like, they will retain some of their teachings; when listening to teachers they don't like, they ignore just about everything being said, whether or not it is truth. They will read certain authors and underline the bits they like. They will listen to secular leaders on  radio and imbibe whatever is current thinking. In this way, the majority of Jews build up a formidable store of haphazard knowledge. 
The trouble with this store of knowledge is that it is mostly useless!  There can be only one type of useful, valuable, knowledge… knowledge  given by God, and which points to God and His Truth. Everything else is worthless. It does not matter how 'academic' a topic is. or how important it is in the eyes of others; if it does not agree with God's view of things, then it is, bluntly, nothing but rubbish!
Along with this magpie-collecting of odd bits of knowledge, comes a growing interest in New Age ideas, concerning everything from incense and soothing oils, to yoga and spiritualism. Oh, how evil loves to hide its true self behind many guises! Weird ideas from occultists, New Agers, unbelieving scientists and plain sceptics, have tended to shape popular Jewish culture. So, when it comes to demons, there is a wide diversity of opinion concerning their presence, their ways and their aims.
Favourite aunts, uncles, or even parents, are seen; usually they have come to 'comfort' those they leave behind. It is assumed, that this 'proves' ghosts are spirits of dead people and that most of them mean no harm.
This is a great error, for all ghosts, without exception, are demons: wicked angels whose only task on this earth is to deceive and to harm. We are told this in the Torah. Ghosts are never friendly. They are always wicked, even if they appear to be kind. Their purpose is to make us believe they are spirits of the dead. Once they manage to delude us, they continue to hold our attention, so that any belief we may have in God as He is presented in scripture, is eroded to nothing.
Demons are angels who were thrown out of God's presence. Satan was the chief of all angels, of incredible beauty and power. But, he sinned, even before Man sinned. When he was cast out of heaven, those angels who followed him were also cast out. All of this is found in scripture. They were bound to this earth and they have lived here since the world was formed. They devote their sleepless, evil lives to harming God's people, deluding and harming others and generally wreaking havoc in the lives of all humankind. They will persuade and nurture Hitlers and Neros; they will make great preachers fall; they will cause governments to oppress and individuals to rebel.
Evolution, much of psychiatry and psychology, many scientific ideas, social practices, are formulated and initiated by demons, through humans.  Often, they will work through just one person: have you ever come across someone whose very presence makes your skin crawl and whose every word is tinged with malice? It is highly likely that the person is 'led by the nose' by demons. What about those in society whose perversions spill over, often dramatically, so that many in society are at danger? It is likely that they are the pawns of demons. Demons are like stalking lions, watching for easy prey. And when they find someone, they pounce with a ferocity that is boundless and totally vicious.

The main problem with the cult that the Gra put a Cherem {חרם} excommunication on is idolatry. That is: people have a natural tendency to worship some idol. It does not really matter which one it is. That cult made worship of its leaders as a kind of supposedly kosher idolatry and created a sophisticated system to show how it is kosher based on the kabalah and also used ideas from the Shatz and also makes sure to look kosher in dress and rituals to try and get away with this fraud.

interpretation of Torah

I have been thinking about the question of interpretation of Torah.

It is not just the approach of Saadia Gaon and Maimonides that when the simple explanation of the verse is not possible then we go to allegory. Rather I have been thinking about the history of interpretation from the Middle Ages and up until Heidegger and  hermeneutic circle. [ It refers to the idea that one's understanding of the text as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole. Neither the whole text nor any individual part can be understood without reference to one another, and hence, it is a circle. However, this circular character of interpretation does not make it impossible to interpret a text; rather, it stresses that the meaning of a text must be found within its cultural, historical, and literary context.]

Interpretation of the Middle Ages we already know about. פשט רמז דרש סוד or allegory.

Later came the questions of who has the right to interpret? Is is duly constituted authorities or any individual or perhaps a charismatic leader that the individual decides to accept? [This is not unrelated. The idea that every individual could interpret a text according to how it applies to him or her led immediately into disposing of the relevance of the text and going towards delusional charismatic leaders.]

I do not have a lot to add except to say that the  hermeneutic circle is really only closed in Torah because God is the ground of validity. Without that any text has  an non enclosed circle.  Also I wanted to mention that Torah might share some aspects of myth but it is not myth. It is Revelation. 

So to put together a whole approach based on these issues seems important to me but not really possible right now because it is a little foggy and vague how to put it all together.

In any case we already know חגי זכריה מלאכי סוף נבואה רבינא ורב אשי סוף הוראה.  Zachria, Malachi, Chagai are the end of prophecy and Ravina and Rav Ashi are the end of Halacha decision making. So we already know the attempts to claim these two gifts are invalid.


learning Torah

I believe that learning Torah will help everything turn around  for you for the good.  

Learning Torah goes very far if done on a consistent basis. Try to start learning Gemara  and Mishna yourself. Even just saying the words is a great mitzvah. The Jerusalem Talmud  says that even one word of Torah goes above all the other mitzvot. 

There are many mental blocks before this. That is it is not so hard in itself. But rather there are many questions on this. It is hard to accept. It was one of the first things I learned in yeshiva. That is I was in yeshiva in NY in the first place because I felt learning Torah is important. But in that yeshiva  Shar Yashuv I saw a book בנין עולם about the importance of learning Torah.
It is safe to say I fell away from this. But for the few years I had the merit to learn in Far Rockaway and then at the Mir in NY this idea about the importance of learning Torah really lit a fuse under me.

I do hold from the importance of Physics and Metaphysics also as the Rambam wrote, but that is only after one has finished Shas.


Musar and Gemara [Talmud].

 The constant barrage of propaganda via the media in the USA definitely gets to a person whether he likes it or not.  There is an effect. 
It was this exact thing that Reb Israel Salanter wanted to turn around for the good. That is he saw constant exposure to a certain social meme has an inevitable effect. He saw this in Reb Shmuel of Salant who was a great tzadik and had come to his level by means of learning Musar [Medieval Ethics].  

What I recommend thus is Musar and Gemara [Talmud].

I also have a view that prophecy ended after the first temple was destroyed. Also that Ravina and Rav Ashi were סוף הוראה the end of the period when a Halachic decision could be made. These are both statements from the Talmud itself. That is modern efforts to claim these gifts are illegitimate. [This is the reason why later halacha books try to prove their point from the Talmud. Because רבינא ורב אשי סוף הוראה ]
There are lots of ways that people try to claim these gifts for themselves but we already know from the Talmud to ignore them. What ever signs and wonders they show are from the Sitra Achra-the Dark Side.
Anyone who has studied cults to any considerable degree will note that the
founders of such groups will not go very far in increasing
their membership by making ordinary or every day claims-they must promise
something extraordinary.

The trouble is the dark side has not just managed to worm its way into the religious world but rather to take it over completely. The religious teachers all teach Torah of the Dark Side. If one really wants to be loyal to Torah the worst thing is to have anything to do with the religious with their false religiosity.
Not only that but we know from toxo-plasmosis that there are parasites that effect one's mind. Just hanging out with the religious induces insanity.  That is if you do not have an authentic Litvak yeshiva in town there is then no other option but to learn at home. But one must avoid the religious at all cost.

[I  would not have the gumption  to mention this if not for the fact that the daughter of Bava Sali thought that I have to ability to say things that would be listened to.  Therefore I have to obligation to say the truth even though it is uncomfortable for people to hear it.]

Since it is difficult to find a place of authentic Torah, the best thing is to get your own: Avi Ezri of Rav Shach.


It is not that halacha is wrong but that it is highly sensitive to initial conditions.

Learning Torah and trusting in God  seem to me to be the two major principles that I transgressed in my personal life. I had been at the Mir yeshiva in NY and at one point decided to make aliya to Israel. Not a bad decision in itself but  diminished  learning Torah to a vast extent.  Another bad decision was to leave Israel based on the idea of the Rav of Satmar that to be part of IDF was the prime sin of all sins. This was and still is to a large extent the basic doctrine of the Ultra Orthodox. But the choice to leave Israel also was based on the idea of keeping Halacha. That is the Halacha that one should work for  a living an not be learning and depending on charity [a kollel check which is charity pure and simple ,unless you say you are learning Torah to make money in which case it is even worse.]
From here I learned one can do what the Halacah says and still be doing a terrible sin. That is why learning Torah is the main thing not halacah--because halacha can be and often is highly misleading and can lead to terrible evil. It is not that halacha is wrong but that it is highly sensitive to initial conditions. That is it depends on the Gemara itself. It depends on the actual  state of affairs. Without perfect knowledge of these two things it can be the exact opposite of what the Torah requires. [It certainly does not depend on what people say. ]
The trouble seems to be with what Reb Nachman called Torah scholars that are demons. שדיים יהודאיים which he brings from the Zohar. That is most of the people that supposedly represent the holy Torah are actually demons in human form. They may claim to be teaching Torah, but in fact are teaching the Torah of the Sitra achra. the dark side. For this reason I have tried to make it a point to  emphasize going and learning Torah only from authentic Lithuanian kinds of yeshivas. 
[The whole subject of Torah scholars that are demons and get their powers from the dark side is actually gone into by the Ari Isaac Luria to some degree. But Reb Nachman brings out the point in a way that you can't miss it. Sadly  the entire religious world has missed the point, and still follow their leaders who are in fact demons in human form. The Gra tried to warn people. Rav Shach tried to warn people. But it is like my brother said hen he would try to warn people about a bad business deal. No one ever listens--without exception. They always make some kind of excuse. And then they fall.]

Saadia Gaon, Rambam, John Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kelley Ross.

Mainly the Left is based loosely on Rousseau, Hegel, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche. Also it is highly connected with existentialism. These all seem to me to be wrong turns. It once was considered the most sensible. 

The better approach seems to me to be based on Saadia Gaon, Rambam, John Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kelley Ross.

I perhaps should go into what is wrong with the Leftist philosophers but the critiques are well known.
I do not see what I could possibly add to the discussion except to say that the emphasis in learning and education ought to be shifted away from second rate philosophers to first rate philosophers. Why concentrate on what is wrong and flawed?
[To go into what is wrong with Nietzsche in short: moral values have prima facie validity. To defeat moral values you would have to have starting principles that have more initial plausibility. That is let's say you have a principle A that seems sort of OK. From A is implied B. Then if B makes no sense then you would have to reject A. All leftist philosophers start from some A that sounds sort of OK. They come up with something nice sounding but which has very little initial plausibility, but being a naive first year college student you really do not have the intellectual power to  disagree.  Then from A is deduced some B like all morality is relative. Since B has no initial plausibility it would require some strong A to prove it.  Just the opposite "not B" has more prima facie plausibility than A.] [What is wrong with Post Modernism is this: Frege wanted to expand the a priori. This was easily defeated. But then people took this defeat to mean there is no a priori. The problem was תפסת מרובה לא תפסת. Don't bit off more than you can chew. Do not try to prove too much.]



With the Rambam there is a kind of four fold program. The Oral Law, the Written Law of Moses, Physics of Aristotle and the Metaphysics of Aristotle. I would like to say that this is only an introduction. That is, I think the Rambam would agree that after one has finished the Mishne Torah of the Rambam (which he held contained the Oral Torah) that after that he should spend his time  on Gemara, Modern Physics, and Metaphysics as it was developed later by Kant.

The Rambam did hold his book the Mishna Torah is sufficient to know the Oral Torah, however look in the "Laws of Talmud Torah" where he explains that one divides his day into three parts, and one is for deepening one's understanding of the Oral Law, and also the subjects that he briefly touched on in the beginning of Mishne Torah which are called ''Pardes'' and are in fact the areas of Physics and Metaphysics.[He goes into more detail in the Guide.]

If one has a authentic Litvak yeshiva in his area, he should definitely go there to learn Torah,-- especially with a learning partner. But if not, the best thing is to make one's own space into a place of Torah.

I also am a big fan of speed reading in Torah. That is-- to say the words and to go on. That is to have a session in Gemara, Rashi Tosphot in such a way that he will eventually finish the whole Oral Law i.e. the two Talmuds, Tosephta, Sifra, Sifri, and the Midrashim. What one does not understand here, they will remind  him of in the next world. I am also a big fan of Rav Shach and Reb Israel Salanter, and thus I believe that everyone should go through the entire Avi Ezri of Rav Shach at least once, and all the books of the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter on Torah Ethics (plus the books of Musar of Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira the grandfather of Bava Sali).

[To understand the Rambam I also think it is important to learn the books and letters of his son, Reb Avraham, and of course the very important Guide for the Perplexed. Some people are so perplexed they do not even know they need the Guide. Reb Avraham Abulafia wrote that the secret of the final redemption is contained in the first forty chapters of the Guide.

In case it is not clear what I was saying: The Mishne Torah is good as an introduction to Torah, but it is a terrible idea to decide any halacha without knowledge of the Gemara and the source of the halacha as the Mahrasha and Maharshal wrote and many others.
[As for learning Halacha as they do  in Authentic Litvak Yeshivas for 45 minutes in the morning my basic feeling is to get through the entire Tur, Beit Yoseph, and Bach. I consider that the prime Halacha book. Though I admit the Aruch HaShulchan is a close second.] [For the halacha session in the morning I recommend one of three things: (3)  Rambam Keseph Mishna, (2) Tur, Beit Yoseph (3) Shulchan Aruch with the Beer Hetev.

You can bring support to this idea of the Rambam from the LM Vol II. chapter 12 of Reb Nachman. This idea is this :Even though God's glory fills the whole world there are areas where his glory does not reach. מקומות המטונפים as it says in a verse וכבודי לאחר לא אתן. But since nothing can exist without God's making it exist every second how can those places exist? Answer: They get there life force from the מאמר הסתום. That is in Genesis it says for each act of creation He said" The tenth statement is the very first statement In the beginning God created heaven and earth. That is the highest statement corresponding to the sephirah of Keter the crown. So when one turn to God from those places where God's glory is not apparent he gets sustenance from the highest level of the Crown and brings up all the fallen souls. 

There are many other places in the LM where you could bring support to the Rambam like what Reb Nachman says about stories. This is to be expected because the thought of the Rambam and Reb Nachman are in general highly correlated. 

Oral and Written Law, plus Physics [Modern] and Metaphysics [of Aristotle].

 Torah is not about mystical experience. However as a result of true attachment with God one can have as a side thing the experience of oneness with God. Devekut.

But it is not experience -it is a kind of  knowledge and sense of meaning.  It is what I felt in learning Torah, and it certainly is what learning Torah is all about. Yet, it is a kind of thing which has a close connection with morality. And it is on one hand highly powerful. It is the meaning of life. It is certainly not mystical experience. 

This area of value is on one hand the most powerful thing in the world and in any person's life, and yet the most delicate and sensitive and can be destroyed simply by the slightest whisper.
The approach of the Rambam --to learn the Oral and Written Law, plus Physics [Modern] and Metaphysics [of Aristotle]. There I seek the luminosity and numinous value that is hidden in the ten statements of Creation in which the light of Torah is hidden. 

[That is the Rambam himself saw that what people consider Torah alone is not enough to come to what the Torah requires of man.]

Faith plus reason had early beginnings even before the middle ages-with Saadia Gaon.

Faith in the wise is one of the 48 ways the Torah is acquired in  Pirkei Avot. The question is that of interpretation. What does the Torah mean? And who has the right to interpret it? The Talmud to a large degree has settled this question. "Divine Spirit" is not the way to interpret the Torah. Only rigorous painstaking reason as we see in the Talmud and Tosphot.

The influence of Protestantism  however is very apparent nowadays that people think they have the right to interpret the Torah on their own. This has very terrible implications. (1) Divine spirit is claimed as a guide which in practice means to ignore what the Torah actually says. (2) People claim authority though in fact ignorant  of Torah.

A Deadly MRSA Spread to Everyone by Homosexuals

A Deadly MRSA Spread to Everyone by Homosexuals

"A flesh-eating form of pneumonia that is easily passed between healthy people on public transport is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.
The deadly strain of MRSA called USA300 passes easily through skin-to-skin contact. It can also survive on surfaces and so has the potential to be picked up on crowded buses and tubes."
"It was first seen in the U.S but cases are now being reported in the community and not just hospitals in Britain." (Daily Mail, 2 February 2012)
"Preliminary results from a small Spanish study in December 2010 indicates that 75% of gay men are carrying the Human Papilomo Virus (HPV). This is a significant marker for HIV and it causes cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. Similarly, a 2007 American study showed that homosexuals are spreading a new highly-infectious and extremely dangerous bacterium called MRSA USA300 which can only be treated with rare drugs. The bacterium manufactures toxins that can cause necrosis - the death of surrounding tissue." (LifeSiteNews, 2 December 2010)
The study's authors note that the strong link between unhealthy behavior, particularly among homosexuals, is the driving force behind the disease. "Spread of the USA300 clone among men who have sex with men is associated with high-risk behaviors, including use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, sex with multiple partners, participation in a group sex party, use of the internet for sexual contacts, skin-abrading sex, and history of sexually transmitted infections," the authors write. (LifeSiteNews, 15 January 2008) also (Annals of Internal Medicine, 19 February 2008)
"The same patterns of increased sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men - which have resulted from changes in beliefs regarding HIV disease severity with the availability of potent antiretroviral therapy - have been driving resurgent epidemics of early syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections in San Francisco, Boston, and elsewhere," add the researchers.
The study, which focused on clinics in the San Francisco area, found that in some cases up to 39% of patients had the MRSA USA300 infections in their genitals or buttocks, although the disease can be spread by general skin-to-skin contact and can even be picked up from surfaces.
This indicates that what was once confined to American homosexuals has now reached out to ordinary folk in the community.
What is apparent is that the medical professionals are not disclosing the true source of this terrible disease.

Comments from K B Napier, Founder, Bible Theology Ministries:

"What later became known as AIDS was ONLY found in homosexuals, when it was discovered in the 1980s. It spread ONLY by homosexual sexual activity, but quickly affected those they infected, such as prostitutes, wives, babies, girlfriends, and people who needed blood transfusions. At the time the government REFUSED to identify homosexuals as the ONLY source of AIDS, for fear of a 'backlash' (though they deserved a backlash). The homosexual connection was completely hushed up and medics were given bad advice. The result is that HIV and AIDS are now firmly embedded in all societies and kills millions.
This new MRSA is different, because it can spread without sexual contact, just by touching skin or things touched by infected people. When AIDS first became known, brave experts advised that homosexuals with the disease should be isolated. But, pro-gay propaganda got rid of common sense, and the results are seen around us today with huge social and financial costs.
With this new and wickedly-caused disease, certain things should be done:
As the first person to examine the spread of AIDS from a Christian perspective, I suggested strongly that we should never shake hands with homosexuals, because HIV passes by way of bodily fluids. Of course, this was scorned at the time. As I wrote in the Educational Times, teachers who come across a child with HIV, who bleeds in a schoolyard accident, should treat the child with extreme caution. It was not the child's fault to carry HIV, but HIV has deadly consequences and so teachers should wear gloves, etc.
Now, this 'no-touch' policy is vital. If you know someone is homosexual, do not allow body contact, such as hand-shakes. Also beware of food handled by homosexuals, homosexuals who sell in shops and handle your goods; perhaps we will soon have to resort to wearing gloves that can be easily washed – but remember that there is no cure for this new MRSA and it can lead to death very quickly. Watch out for homosexuals in tube trains, trains, and so on, and do not touch what they touch. There may be a need for many more strategies, but that will suffice for now. None can say this is 'hate speech', when the cause and spread is already known!
Of course, homosexuals and government will cry out in horror. Frankly, I don't care about their sensibilities. They (less than 1%) have brought one great scourge - AIDS - on the people of the world. Now, they have brought us something even worse. It is not time to be pro-gay and to be 'sensitive'. They have produced this new foul disease by indulging in immoral sexual acts. San Francisco homosexuals began this evil by having AIDS sex parties in which infected and non-infected gays had sex with each other in orgies... those who were not yet infected saw it as 'exciting', and those who already had AIDS called passing HIV on to others 'gifting'!!
We have nothing to thank homosexuals for – but plenty to blame them for. If the new MRSA grips society, we must at last stand up and fight for our most basic of health demands. And if this means isolating them, then so be it. It took Pharaoh's eldest son to die as the angel of death passed over, killing the first born of everything and everyone, before he let the Hebrews go. Perhaps this new disease will at last cause governments to see how stupid they have been in giving homosexuals so much legal freedom, as potentially many thousands become seriously ill or die because of homosexual immorality.
The avoidance of disease is common-sense, therefore the suggested ways to avoid the new MRSA is just medical good practice. The same advice would apply to ANY persons with a communicable disease.”


Musar {Torah Ethics} and Halacha.

My approach to Musar is to emphasize the classical books of Torah ethics from the Middle Ages. That is what would be called the rational approach. The more mystic approach which got into Musar  I tend to think was an unfortunate detour. No offence to the Ari {Isaac Luria} but that approach tends to fanaticism and delusion.   When I was more involved with Musar I tried to go through all the basic set of the books written by the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter and this I still think is important.

[When Bava Sali came to Yerushalim on on of his first visits and people came to him to get a blessing he told his gabai [servant] not to let any kabalist in.]

My approach to  Halacha is to learn Gemara and to depend on דינא דתלמוד the law of the Talmud. Only after learning the subject in the Gemara itself does it make sense to me to look up how the Tur Beit Yoseph understands any given subject. There are no short cuts. And see the Nefesh haChaim "אין לנו אלא דינא דגמרא". "The only thing that matters is the law of the Gemara." He wrote this to a rav that he knew had made a wrong decision.

The thing to be careful of is religious people that use the appearance of Torah to hide their cults.

In any case to come to fear of God which is one of the major goals of Musar is not solely by learning Musar but Physics and Metaphysics also as the Rambam stated clearly in the Mishna Torah and the Guide and hints to in many place. Musar is important but to the Rambam it is not the real source of fear of God.


[frivorce] frivolous divorce

I went through this [frivorce] (see this link) in around 1990. This left me with not just a personal problem but also an intellectual problem. That is how to synthesis the information in order to create a more accurate worldview and then to act properly based on this new world view. I never got very far with this, But i found an approximate solution based on the opinion of Maimonides and Rabbainu Yona from Granada. That is to concentrate of personal improvement and not look at what is wrong with others but rather to find what is wrong with me and to seek to improve myself. That is to learn the Law of Moses, Physics and Metaphysics. That is I attributed my problems to some kind of lack of understanding and some kind of attitude problem and some kind of lack of good character within myself. I figured if I could change myself for the better then the whole world would change for the better. But I needed an accurate idea of what is good character. So I needed to synthesize   information that I was getting from reading the Law of Moses (Written and Oral) and reading about the world and also experience. 


(1)(The main thing is not to affix blame on anyone but rather to work on self improvement and to stay away from  evil people that will harm you and your family if given half a chance. This is part of the Mizvah of not saying Lashon Hara which comes in the same place in the Torah along with the mizvah do not stand by the blood of your neighbor. That is there is an obligation to warn people about dangerous people.) 

(4) [When the Rambam Maimonides refers to Physics and Metaphysics he says he is talking about these subjects as understood by the ancient Greeks.]  My opinion about it is it would  include Kant and the general school of German idealism.[Schopenhauer, Hegel, Fichte. Some people go with Hegel. and think of him as even greater than Kant. I can not do that. But others in the German school itself thought low of Hegel. I can not do that either.

 My impression always was there is a big difference between authentic Torah at Lithuanian yeshivas and the false Torah of the Sitra Achra of the religious world.  The main difference is that the ultra religious world makes up tons of rituals which have nothing to do with Torah and they claim it is Torah. The Lithuanian world tends to focus on what the Torah actually requires.


The Closing of the American Mind

It was Allen Bloom [The Closing of the American Mind] that thought there was a direct contradiction between two opposite flows of thought enlightenment and anti enlightenment that were coming int direct collision in the USA universities in the 1990's. His solution  was to learn the Republic of Plato along with what was called the great books.

Why would he have not mentioned learning Torah? Certainly the Gra would have. Is it possible that he had noticed that Torah alone does not produce the kind of answers he was looking for?

It seems the Gra and the Rambam both must have seen the same.
The program of the Rambam would be to learn the יד החזקה the Mishne Torah, Physics and Metaphysics. The Gra said that to the degree that one is lacking any knowledge of the seven wisdoms to that degree he will be lacking in knowledge of Torah.

So they are both thinking of  a polynomic theory of value. Torah provides an "in" into Numinous value. But they wanted a balance of values. 


Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is an amazing book but I think a little unfair to the Middle Ages.Work then was being done on lots of fronts like Faith and Reason and lots of areas. Progress was being made that made things later possible. One example that comes to mind is water technology. That was a total Medieval invention. And when electricity was discovered it was easy to transfer from water to electricity.

It is common to find people that do not respect the Middle Ages. One of my first lessons in yeshiva as to correct me from that attitude. "Rishonim" are not just considered more logically rigorous than achronim. They are in fact more logically rigorous.

The Ari [Isaac Luria] brings this idea that a person can be basically good or even 99% good but have some evil core.

There is evil in quantity and evil in quality. The Ari [Isaac Luria] brings this idea that a person can be basically good or even 99% good but have some evil core. This gives a way to judge people on the scales of merit. For in fact most people that we see are evil simply choose a little less good that their environment would have dictated. Thus even if you see yourself as much better than them, this is only because your upbringing was better. not because you choose better.

Being out in nature and being able to survive

In California when I was growing up there there was a kind of ideal between nature and city life.  Being out in nature and being able to survive and thrive were considered just as much a part of growing up  as academic studies. Being out in Nature was considered as a great ideal all in itself. This was universal and also it went parallel to my own father's basic approach of emphasizing being self sufficient.

The way most American parents expressed this value was by in fact going out to nature every weekend which as the unspoken but universal rule in the USA. Jewish people did this on Sunday and Shabat was to learn Torah and Christians did this on Saturday and went to church on Sunday. The other very common thing was the Boy Scouts. Nowadays you would have to find an alternative this this.
[I have to admit I found keeping this balance very hard. I never got very far in the Boy Scots and even in academic studies I found myself very challenged.] Some Jews were just naturals at this type of thing. Like my Dad who was pretty much good at anything he tried to do. And also my father in law [Bill Finn] who was in Poland at the beginning of WWII and escaped from the Nazis to the eastern front and was taken by the Red Army and since he had German citizenship he was sent to Siberia. There he was so good at fixing anything he was made head of the work camp there. Later he got to NY and worked for Donald Trump's father.


The path of Torah

The path of Torah is to have  session of Gemara [Talmud] one hour per day and one half hour of Musar.
[The hour session can be review of one page for a few months or even one Tosphot, or it can be to make lots of progress by doing a few pages per day.] I should confess that I have had great difficulty in trying to do this. I would love to have an hour session in Gemara and a half hour of Musar. I am at this point very much longing to do this, but so far I have not been able to. But I see the desire in itself as being a great thing. The desire to do the right thing and the knowledge of what it is is already a big step in the right direction. 


Kabalah tends to lead to a kind of world view in which the experience and high LSD high gives validity to what ever the ideas are.

The trouble with Kabalah. The constant craving for spiritual experience,as is attested to by all the great mystics,is addictive, like a drug. If the experiences are indeed spurious,they will never ultimately satisfy the soul that hungers after them, and will be required in stronger and stronger doses. 

But Kabalah became embedded in Musar from the  start. It is an inevitable step from traditional Musar into Kabalah and from their into worlds of  delusions of grandeur.

Not that this was the case with authentic mystics like the Ari or Bava Sali.

You can see why Reb Chaim  and Brisk did not have Musar as part of the daily session. Kabalah tends to lead to a kind of world view in which the experience and high LSD high gives validity to what ever the ideas are.   

There is a problem with the slippery slope.People can not change the Torah openly because no one would accept that. Instead they claim mystic visions and explain the Torah in the way they want. That way they think they can nullify the Torah and be accepted.

Once the pursuit of spiritual power replaces the striving after straight Torah, then the flood gates have been opened up and it is only a matter of time before there will be an overwhelming confusion of spirits,and error and division will be the order of the day. The world of the religious today is sadlly overwhelming from the Dark Side Sitra Achra. That is not do there there is no spirit at work there. However it is not the spirit of God but rather the occult.


The fact that divorce was accepted in the Protestant  world  made it acceptable in the Jewish world also. Divorce would be the classic example of where shaming someone worked very well. People would whisper "she is divorced" under their breath as if some horrible unspeakable monster had been let loose.  Poland is a mainly Catholic country  the fact that divorce was considered as a horrible demon had the effect on Jews that Jews also simply did not get divorced except under extreme circumstances.

when they throw out the Law of Moses

I noticed people have some kind of moral code automatically. I have long thought that when they throw out the Law of Moses they do not become free but rather adopt some other set of values with the same kind of emotional fervor that you see in religious fanatics. Just the fanaticism is directed in different directions.  

They adopt some other thing to be fanatic about.

The basic idea of Howard Bloom in his book the Lucifer principle,-- that is the centrality of the social organism and the fact that the social organism is formed and based on some social meme [unit of social information.]

 So to people throw out the Law of God and find some other meme to coagulate around.


Musar Movement [Learning Ethics]

 In the Musar Movement of Reb Israel Salanter there was a subtle shift of emphasis from the axis of Musar during the Middle Ages to a new axis. In the Middle Ages the axis was a balance between Reason and Revelation. [That is Faith and Reason.]
The Musar Movement itself emphasized fear of God and good character traits. 
[Even though each one of the great Musar Yeshivas built by the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter all had a different focus, still the ground level  was these two principles--Fear of God and work on good character. 

No one really knows any more how they worked on character. You can try to dig up hint in the books that they wrote but it is not at all clear. Nowadays the most you have is a few minutes of learning Musar before Mincha and Maariv.   

I can not say I am very happy with this. The average session of Musar in the great Musar yeshivas was 40  minutes and 45 minutes.

But I am myself no "Baal Musar" If I could I would rather focus on the points brought out and emphasized by three individuals. The Gra, Reb Israel Salanter, and Rav Shach. That is these three points:(1) Learning Torah (2) Learning Musar (3) combining the Rambam with the Gemara.  [If possible it makes sense to make a commitment to learning Gemara an hour every day and Musar and the Tur, Beit Joseph in such a way as to get through the basic material from cover to cover, every last word.What one does not understand in this world he will understand in the next world.] The Talmud itself ought to be done with Tosphot and the Mahrasha. That is to have one session in which you keep at the same Tosphot for days and weeks until it starts to become clear.


The fundamental problem with yeshivas

The fundamental problem with yeshivas involves the difference between them and let's say for example medical school. The difference is one trains doctors and thus asks government funding. The other asks for public money for what reason? To enable people to learn Torah.

Therefore for yeshivas there is no excuse to throw out people that are there to learn Torah. The fact that they do throw out people shows they are not in fact existing to provide a place for people who want to learn Torah, but rather to make money by providing a show of learning Torah. 

You could throw out all modern day yeshivas and not lose a thing. They are mostly all scams using the show of Torah to make money. But still there are places that are magnets for sincere people like Ponovitch and the great NY yeshivas, Chaim Berlin, Mir, Torah VeDaat. 

Since the religious are using Torah to make money, the Torah has no effect on their character except to make them worse and then when people see them acting like jerks (as is their custom), that gives people a bad impression about the holy Torah itself. That is called in Hebrew a חילול השם "a desecration of the Divine Name."

[For the sake of being fair there are offshoots of Ponovicth that are admirable. That is people that learned there and then went on to start their own Beit Midrash elsewhere. Same with the NY yeshivas. Just for one example of a yeshiva I was impressed with is the place of Rav Montag in Netivot which definitely had the real spirit of Torah as far as I could tell. 

 I should mention Rav Freifeld's place in Far Rockaway which I felt had the spirit of Torah very strongly and the level of learning was very high. It starts with beginners but reaches into very high levels of learning.
I should mention that I am allowed to write this because:

Shaming people is a permissible tactic. In the book on laws of slander by Israel Meir Hakohen he makes a distinction if it is for obligations between man and his fellow man and obligations towards God. See chapter 4 and the difference between there and ch 7.
מפרסמים את הרשעים מפני חילול השם
There seems to be some difference between shaming for sins that are between man and fellow man an sin between God and man. The later case has clear permission from the book on slander by Israel Meir HaKohen in ch 4 as long as the sin is not just a one time event but done on purpose on a constant basis and private rebuke has done nothing.


The USA is the result of a kind of ideological movement started by Hobbes and John Locke. It had a basis in Aquinas and Maimonides in terms of natural law. The very essence of American identity is bound up and tied with these thinkers.

What people are complaining about on this blog is the kind of Leftism based on Rousseau.

The difference is vast. But one thing that does stand out is Rousseau does not have any human rights. He has only the General Will. That is his center of gravity. To John Lock the beginning point is the rights of the individual.
But these rights are not more than the Ten Commandments translated from what one  person can not do to another to being right that the individual has not to be stolen from. 

But the difference between rights to get free stuff and rights to be left alone has been obliterated in the USA.


To marry a virgin

The world has changed. It used to be known that being a virgin was very important. The Ketubah [marriage contract] is 100 (zuz) for a girl that is not a virgin, and 200 for a virgin. Also If he was tricked into thinking she is a virgin the marriage is null to some opinions. And at least she loses her Ketubah. [Either the whole thing or just 100. That is also an object of debate. See Ketubot pages 9 and 13.] From the first act of sex there is always something left inside according to the Ari [Isaac Luria]. However I heard that the Ben Ish Hai said that is only when the first act is after marriage. [That is not from the actual book the Ben Ish Hai, but from some other book that he wrote on the Ari. I assume he must have some source for that opinion. Maybe he saw it somewhere in Reb Hayim Vital?]
I forgot all the details. But, at any rate, this is a very big deal.

"Western Civilization."

"Christendom" used to be the term for it. Now it is called "Western Civilization." The problem is the weight of intellectual evidence weighed on the side of Christianity during the Middle Ages with heavy hitters like Aquinas et al.
The after that period the weight of Reason and Evidence did not go in that direction. This was not the fault of the Enlightenment philosophers. It was just the way things were. You certainty can not accuse John Locke of having a bad heart or evil intentions.  There was and still is a crisis of faith that no one has been able to mend.

To a great degree this had a parallel in the Jewish world also. And the advice there by Israel Salanter was to learn the books of Mediaeval Ethics. This to me seems highly applicable to the Christian world. That is to learn the books of classical Christianity, Augustine, Anslem etc. The reason is because everything starts in the mind. All deeds and all words and all attitudes start there. If you cultivate a good mind then you cultivate good deeds and good words. So learning the right kinds of things is the beginning of the correction.
Neo Reaction from Amerika: “They’ve essentially thrown out centuries of Christian tradition, practice, and scholarship in order to assert that here in the 21st Century, we’ve finally discovered the true doctrine, and it just so happens to be the one pushed by Christianity’s ideological enemies.”

Though not Christian myself, I have long thought that Christians have ignored Aquinas, Anselm, and Augustine at great loss to themselves and to everyone else. [I do not mean they ought to be Catholic.]


introspection can be bad for the health:

The trouble with psychology is that it makes people insane. 

"Indeed, introspection can be bad for the health: it is a road to “mental illness” (‘Illuminism and Terrorism’, 1798, [Immanuel Kant]

That means that talking about your problems with a psychologist or anyone in the related professions is the best way to go insane. Kant goes into great detail why this is the case.

People like to talk about their problems and about sex and all one needed to do to make money from this was to create the impression that doing this is good for them and then set yourself up  as one  whom to talk to. The terrible thing about this is that the real effect is just the opposite.


The reason I think making commitments to change one's deeds is a good things is this. It is based on something I learning with my telescope looking at the stars. I noticed that if u look directly that it gets out of focus. But if you look slightly to the side then the star is clear. Thus I see the idea of making commitments as a way of solving personal problems. That is: I see there are lots of problems in my life that I cannot solve. And I also see if I take the direct approach that usually backfires, or at least does nothing to solve the problem. Therefore I say like Rabbainu Yona in the Musar Book Shaari Teshuva that אין יסורים בלי עוון "there are no problems without sin." So it must be that the problems are coming from something that I am doing that I ought not to do, or from lack of doing something that I ought to do.

The study of Musar {Mediaeval Ethics} has helped me understand certain areas of improvement that I have needed to face. But as a general rule it is certain that Reb Israel Salanter would have said that if you are going to make any commitment to do anything it should be to learn Musar every day  for a certain length of time.
I have a lot of faith in this idea of Reb Israel Salanter and my older brother agreed with me when I mentioned it to him. Still I do not want to put too much into it. We do not want a scenario in which people are learning Musar and acting badly --  which would discredit the whole idea. Rather Musar is a simply a way of recognizing your own personal faults and working on them if you want to. It is no guarantee to have or to acquire  good character.  

It is a map but it is not the destination.

In any case commitments can not be things you pick out of a hat. They have to be things you anyway believe to your best knowledge that these are God's Will for you, but you just have not had the will power to do them. 


I am no expert but a great deal of Leftism was attractive to people because they thought that it made sense. They had a few minor philosophers to go with and then some heavy hitters like Hegel. The only reason I am not a leftist myself is because of my own intellectual background which is more along the lines of the Talmud, Maimonides, Aristotle and then of utmost importance--Kant.  That is to say place Hegel on a lower level than Kant and also take the general approach of the people that developed Kant in a certain direction. That is not Hegel and not the Neo Kantians who took Kant in what I think is  a wrong direction. In any case in the long run I am saying Hegel did not prove his point and Leftism is based very much on Hegel. See for example the writings of Lenin on Hegel and also see Marx's Capital which is very much based on the labor theory of value -that something's value depends on how much work went into it.
In any case the Left used to have a case. But the judge of time and experience and Reason has thrown their case out of court.


Family history in California

The idea of my Dad in moving to California was to work for a company called Ford Aerospace. He had gotten there after work in NJ at an US Army base in Monmouth NJ where he was the head of the team that made the first Infra Red Camera. [Later that device was miniaturized and made into night vision goggles.] That got him into Life Magazine. Then McCarthy came there and started his anti communistic thing right there at that base  on Friday. The next Monday My Dad came in with Bernard Marcus and they were the only two people left on the team. Everyone else had been fired. That was about fifty engineers who were all Jewish plus one German fellow whose wife was Jewish. 

They were all rehired after the heat was off. But my Dad and Marcus were put off by the whole thing, and so accepted a job offer in CA.   

After three years he invented in the garage a kind of copy machine that was super sharp based on x-rays and marketed it. After some time he sold the company and moved to Beverly Hills and worked on Laser Satellite Communication for Star Wars [SDI] at TRW.
That was the same time the KGB had a mole there. My Dad left that after about 5 years and right after that the mole was discovered and the company went under, and a major motion picture was made about the incident.