Learning an ancient Mediaeval mystic, Avraham Abulafia is what got me interested in Jesus. I was reading the microfilms of his books in the library of Hebrew University when I stumbled on some positive statements about Jesus.  I was in shock for about an hour, and could not move out of my chair even I had to get going to light the olive oil lights for the Festival of Lights.
[Rav Abulafia wrote in Hebrew but the mediaeval script was hard to read]

I was aware that not everyone held by Rav Avraham Abulafia, so I had a choice whether to go with what he was saying, or with the people that dismissed Rav Abulafia as a crank.
To me it seemed the weight of evidence was on the side of Rav Abulafia because he was accepted as legitimate by Rav Haim Vital.[That is the last volume of שערי קדושה].

[A very great Rishon, The Rashba, disagreed with Rav Abulafia. But he was not alone. But to me it seems better to go with his ideas as valid. Still, for me it is too easy to go off onto crazy tangents.]

[In the meantime right after that some fellow started putting those books into legible Hebrew and printed them up. That took around twenty years but he finished and the entire set of Rav Abulafia's books are now a lot more easy to read.]

I might mention that the way Jesus is usually understood seems to me to be not well founded.
I could go into a few examples, but the one that brings this all to mind is Kierkegaard who definitely assumed the Trinity. In fact most Protestants  that think the Trinity is true assume אהיה means "I AM." which is  mistranslated. The name of God revealed to Moses is "I WILL BE", not "I AM." 

[People always bring the statement of Jesus when he was asked who he was and said "I am" as proof. But for this to be proof he would have had to have answered "I will be".]

[None of this is meant to detract from the greatness of the Rashba who was a great Rishon. But rather the idea is that the area of expertise of the Rashba was different than that of Rav Avraham Abulafia. So in terms of spiritual insight it makes more sense to go with the opinion of Rav Abulafia.]

The major issue with the Mikveh

The most delicate issue of a mikveh is how thick is the concrete? If it is thick enough that it could be lifted whole an stay in one piece, then it is  a vessel--and not good as a Mikveh.

The major issue with the Mikveh is that it needs to be a natural body of water.
אך מעיין מקוה מים יהיה טהור מה מעין בידי שמים אף מקוה בידי שמים

So it is hard to make it by man's hands and still have it be natural. The issue really is from a Gemara that says if a pipe  is formed and then attached that makes the mikveh no good. But if it is attached and then hollowed out that is OK. To the Rashbam that is a pipe of stone or wood.
But later the Gemara says that is only according to the idea that drawn water is no good only from the words of the sages. But if drawn water is no good from the Torah then even attached and then hollowed is no good. And that applies to either rain water or even drawing off from a spring.
So the issues just keep getting more and more.

[Unless we would go with R. Isaac who in fact holds a mikve made of drawn water is no good only to the sages and that would leave the teaching of the Gemara in its place. A further point is that Tosphot says the case if where the pipes were made to receive and hold something in them--not just to have something passing through them. According to that, the plastic pipes or wood would be  fine since even when made and later attached they do not receive uncleanliness.]

Further reason to say one needs a river is the Rambam that brings the statement of the Gemara of a pipe plainly -not like Tosphot that says it has to be מקבל טומאה. But one reason to be lenient is that R. Hananel and the Rashbam hold the law is like R. Eliezer that what is attached to the ground is like the ground.

[I should mention that I would feel a lot better about this if I would have either spent more time on Tosphot or have learned it with my learning partner. Here I am just giving the basic outline of the subject but there is plenty of work that I still need to do on Tosphot.]

All I am saying is if you have a spring or river or ocean, anywhere around, that is the best idea.
I know girls have trouble in this area because most rivers are pretty cold. I hope that girls start to develop a rougher bark and get less delicate.

In NY a woman could go to the ocean on the seventh day and be OK at night. In Israel there are often springs and rivers around.

[Since my general approach is that once there is a Rishon that allows something then one can depend on that, then one could just go with R. Isaac and the first Tosphot in which case things are OK. The only thing is it is clearly better to go to an authentic natural body of water because of R. Tam.]

I want to make it clear that even in cold winter it is possible to go a cold river much more easily that people realize. The reason is if you put your foot into cold water and then take it out, the body automatically starts to drawn the blood from the outer areas. So when you put your foot in a second time it does not feel cold at all. And the same goes with one's legs. So to dip in a river is possible if one does so gradually in small steps. That is to put the feet in an then take them out. Then the legs. Then the whole body. Also going   in with  clothing that is not tight also makes it much easier.


The importance of straight Litvak yeshivas

I had the great merit of being in two Litvak yeshivas Shar Yashuv and the Mir in NY. However I got off track. I had seen some very great insights and ideas in Breslov books, and even though there is a lot of things to learn from the great tzadik, Nahman of Breslov, still that was a bad reason to leave the Litvak approach which is that of the Gra-- straight and simple Torah with no frills.

 I seem to have a bad habit.  Often God gives me great things, and then I mess up. And yet for some reason, He seems to give me second chances.

[It is not that all Litvak yeshivas are so great. But those two that I went to were really special.]

In any case, it seems to me today I could very well have learned things from Breslov books, and still remained in the path of the Gra.

It takes some kind of common sense to learn something good in some other system of thought, but still to retain what good one already has. Not to throw everything overboard because one sees some great insight in some other backyard.

[The importance of straight Litvak yeshivas is the emphasis on God and his holy Torah. There one can come to authentic Torah.] [It might not be something I can communicate very well to anyone, but for what it is worth, the main thing one can get in an authentic Litvak Yeshiva is something he can not get anywhere else:-the spirit of Torah. But like I said it's unlikely that most people will understand what this means.]

Reb Naphtali Troup [one of the great Lithuanian sages] held that to obey one's parents is a positive commandment.  I mean to say that it has the same class as other positive commands that can override a negative command.

This should be fairly obvious but it is not to most people because of the statement of the sages that it does not override a negative command like keeping the Sabbath day holy. But keeping the Sabbath is a negative command that has being cut off from one's people as part of the punishment. So no positive command overrides it. In any case Reb Naphtali brings this idea from the Rambam. The whole essay is in his book חידושי הגרנ''ט

Why I bring this up is interesting case of the descendants of Yonathan ben Rehav in the book of Jeremiah. There the grandfather Yonathan ben Rehav had asked his children not to drink wine or any alcoholic beverage. And they listened to him even several generations later. Even though there is no prohibition of drinking wine except for a Nazir who accepts on himself not to drink wine, still they listened because of the command to obey  one's parents.

The promise given to the descendants was rare. The Patriarchs  had received promises from God concerning their descendants, Aaron and Pinehas, and King David also, and then the descendants of Yonathan Ben Rekav.

The basic idea is clear. If one's parents ask one to do something wrong, then clearly one should not obey. But in cases where there is no specific command otherwise, then it is a positive command to obey. It is more of an important issue than most people are aware of.

There was an event in the life of the older brother of Bava Sali, Rav David Abutzeira, where he had said something only slightly disrespectful to his father, Rav Masud, and when he realized his mistake went into exile for a month.

As for my parents I should mention that the Physics emphasis was more or less because of my own showing in interest in that direction. That was probably in itself from admiration of my own father and Albert Einstein. But in and of itself, that was probably not what they would have emphasized. After all they did not  adopt the same attitude with regards to my brothers. Rather it seems what they held was to be decent human beings with good character traits as per the Ten Commandments and to learn a honest vocation and survival skills.


The problem with the false ordination is brought up by Reb Nachman in a few places. One is LM Vol I ch 61 where he brings the idea that it causes exile. Another place is in LM II ch 8 where he brings the idea that it causes sexual sin.  In any case, the whole issie ought to have been settled by the fact that all ordination is a scam since true ordination ceased during the middle of the Talmudic Period.
So people that claim ordination are either malicious or ignorant.

But Reb Nachman goes into this issue in LM  ch 12 which is the place where he brings down the idea of "Torah scholars that are demons" which he brings from the Zohar. The Ari also goes into this in his unique kind of way -- so that you have to read between the lines. But the surprise is the Talmud itself goes into this in the end of tracate Shabat. So why it is ignored nowadays is beyond me.
So many more homes in Israel would be safe and whole and wholesome if people were more aware of this issue.

Also if a mikveh with drawn water is no good [which is the opinion of R. Tam and the R. Shmuel ben Meir] from the Torah itself, then even קבעו ולבסוף חקקו is no good because המחובר לקרקע לאו כקרקע דמי.

For the Mikveh I would avoid going anywhere near the religious. The reason is the religious world is sick and full of the Sitra Achra evil forces. The best idea is to go to the ocean or a river.

People usually take off their clothing before going in a mikveh but if the clothing is porous it is not needed. In places like Russia or the Ukraine the way to go into a cold river is to get used to it slowly.That is to put in your feet and then take them out. Then the legs. Then the body automatically starts to draw away the blood from the outer layers and so by the time you go to put your whole body in it does not feel cold at all.

[In Beverly Hills there is a reservoir  next to Coldwater Canyon that could serve as a mikveh.]
In general, it is hard to get a mikveh that is artificially made to be valid because often it itself is a vessel. That is it is made of  concrete such that if one would lift it out of the ground, it would remain in one piece. So it is not valid--since it is a vessel. And that is how all mikvas are made nowadays.
The more well known problem of how the water gets into the mikve is subject to a well known story about R. Israel (Bava Sali) in Morocco. But there, the mikve was not made of concrete.
The issue there was how the water was drawn to the mikveh. [The pipes can not be made and then attached even if they can not receive Tuma (uncleanliness.) . But even wood or plastic have to be attached and then hollowed out. In short-- it is better to go to a river.

[The mikveh itself can not be dripping out. So to have cement or concrete is OK but the problem is when it is made so solid that the whole thing could be lifted out whole. Also often plastic is placed between the concrete and the ground which makes the whole thing no good.]

Also if a mikveh with drawn water is no good [which is the opinion of R. Tam and the R. Shmuel ben Meir] from the Torah itself, then even קבעו ולבסוף חקקו is no good because המחובר לקרקע לאו כקרקע דמי.

Girls anyway ought get used to roughing it. Outdoor skills are not just for guys.


Music whether by voice or by instruments

Music whether by voice or by instruments is an argument between the Rambam and Tosphot. To the Rambam only songs of praise towards God are permitted . To Tosphot only in a house of wine is music forbidden. I generally depend on the opinion of Tosphot but in this Music I do intend it for the glory of God. I do not know it that makes it permitted to the Rambam, but in any case I have Tosphot to depend on. [The Rambam's idea of Music for the glory of God does not include using verses of Torah or Psalms. Rather things like songs you sing on the Shabath day meal--but not verses of Torah.] [In Sephardi prayer books you find lots of religious poetry  to sing on the Sabbath day for this very reason --not to use verses of Torah as lyrics for songs.]

U-35 A Major

The excommunication that was signed by the Gra. Some people just find that religion is a good way of getting their needs met. It makes good money. But internally they are just jerks. For them, Torah is just good business..

The major problem with the religious world is a kind of fraud. That is when they come to ask you for money and charity, they present themselves as having chosen God, and not Mammon--money, when in reality they have simply found an easier life style where they can sit around all day and do nothing but chat with their friends and pretend that is choosing God. The vast majority of yeshivas were set up simply as ways of avoiding military service and  making an easy buck through the support of the State and secular Jews.
However it is important to make note that some places are much more sincere like the great Litvak yeshivas in Bnei Brak and NY [and Rav Montag's place in Netivot].

Still there is a problem that seems to have seeped into the religious world in some way. Ignoring of the חרם ["herem"] excommunication that was signed by the Gra seems to be at least one source of the problem. [ You can wonder why it was ignored, since after all, a חרם has legal validity. It is brought down in the commentaries on the Rambam in Laws of Oaths that the חרם "herem" comes from the law of נדרים in which one person can make his object forbidden to use to others. So also the "herem" has the kind of validity;- that if a qualified court makes it, then it has legal validity, and ignoring it is not an option. One that ignores it gets the same category as being under the same "herem". These legal categories do not depend on whether or not individuals agree with them.]

{Ignoring evil also does not seem to be much of an option as we see in the events surrounding the פלגש בגיבעה. There an evil was done to the concubine of one person--she was murdered. And the entire Jewish nation rose up in arms to avenge her death and basically wipe out almost the entire tribe of Benjamin. The reason was that the tribe itself did not do anything about it. They accepted it  and did not punish the men that did it. When evil is done today however, everyone sits back and enjoys the spectacle. That is what I have seen over and over again.]

Some people just find that religion is a good way of getting their needs met. It makes good money. But internally they are just jerks. For them, Torah is just good business..

The reason to stay away from Sitra Achra people is that is  the first command of the Torah not to do idolatry. First you have to avoid evil and only then can you do good. Staying away from evil and stupid people is brought down in Proverbs by King Solomon." Better to meet an angry bear bereaved of its young rather than a fool." [Meeting any bear is dangerous, even if the bear is just minding its own business. But an angry bear? That is extremely dangerous. Almost certain death. Still King Solomon says that is still better than meeting a fool. The fool can get you to lose your life in the next world.]
[Reb Nachman of Uman does more than just mention the problem of Torah scholars that are demons. He brings up this issue many times in his Torah lessons. The Na Nach groups in fact seem nore aware of the problem than any other groups.]


Rambam's fourfold division.

In the Rambam's fourfold division of the subjects one must learn every day comes up Metaphysics.
[This he says over briefly in Mishne Torah but goes into more detail in the Guide. ]
What he says openly in the Guide is that he is referring to the Metaphysics of the ancient Greeks.
Clearly that is a reference to Aristotle's set of books called the "Metaphysics".
But to me this seems to include also Plato, Plotinus, Kant, and Hegel.

That is if you go by the basic subject matter. I know there are a set of great thinkers who were singularly unhappy with Hegel but to me that just makes the whole matter more interesting.
The basic critics of Hegel are:  Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and Kelley Ross, and Marx and Popper. The questions they ask seem to me to be enlightening but not in the way that they thought. [i.e. they thought they were refuting Hegel but in fact doing a service in making us dig more deeply into what he was saying. People misusing Hegel does not seem to me to be disproof.

As for Physics it is also clear what the Rambam meant. The set of books of Aristotle called "Physics."
To me also it seem necessary to include Quantum Field Theory in this --for the same reason--that I think the Rambam was referring to the subject matter not the specific set of books. [There are a few things one needs to learn along with Quantum Field Theory like Lie Algebras.]

As for the Oral Law the Rambam makes clear in his letter to Yemen that "Just as there is no adding or subtracting from the Written Law so there is no adding or subtracting from the Oral Law."  So again it is clear he means the actual set of books the two Talmuds. But also it seems necessary to expand this a little. After all the two Talmuds are are to understand without Tosphot and the Rishonim and a few of the important achronim like Rav Shach and the Pnei Yehoshua.

The Written Law is of course the Five Books of Moses but again it seems necessary to include the rest of the Old Testament along with the explanations of the sages in the several books of Midrash written on it. [e.g. Midrash Raba, Sifrei, Sifra, and few other Midrashim written by the sages of the Talmud.]

[I do not claim to have done this. I got interrupted, and also when I returned to Israel with intent to find  a place to sit and learn Torah I was evicted. That has proven to cause a lot of wasted time that I might have just sat and learned in some odd corner away from everyone. [However the time I spent in Netivot was well spent in terms of learning and also I was allowed to sit in there in the Yeshiva of Rav Montag and people were gracious to me. And that also is where I was able to put together my notes on Bava Metzia. Mostly Sephardim learn there but the Rosh Yeshiva in Ashkenazic. In any case, that was a very nice place. It was kind of like the first time I was in Israel up North which also was very nice.] Besides that I do not seem to have the same amount of energy needed to go through the above list that I did have when I was in the Mir. Thus I suggest getting started on that above list as soon as one is able, and not waste time on side stuff that just turns out to be  a waste.]

It all seems like a lot to go through but it really is not. All you need to do is to do a half a page a day  in order. Just say the words and go on. But it is best to get started already since it does take a few years. No use putting it off.

The way to do this is when you get up in the morning right away to start learning Tosphot. That should be one Tosphot that is reviewed every day for a few weeks. Then some Physics. Page after page. Just say and words in order as fast as possible and go on until you have finished the whole book at least four times. Then if there are still some things that you did not get you can go slower.[Metaphysics is hard to get an idea of what is best there. Hegel seems about the best.]

Kalev ben Yefune comes up in the Five Books of Moses. First he is one of the spies that Moses [Moshe] sent to the Land of Canaan. Later he is brought up in the Book of Joshua  as asking Joshua to give him Hebron as an inheritance (as as promised to him by Moshe Rabainu [Moses]). Later he is mentioned in Chronicles. as the husband of a few wives and girl friends and having children from all. This fact is what the Gra uses as proof that the פילגש girlfriend kind of relationship is permitted.

The place to find this information is in the Laws of Kidushin. [This issue comes up in the Rambam, in the Tur and also by Rav Joseph Karo.]

Mutiny on the Bounty.

Mutiny on the Bounty. The kind of mud children that come by mixing races seems to have been the basic result of that whole episode. The mutineers --as much or little as they were justified,  ended up such that their children were little brown babies.
Though nowadays there is much effort spent in trying to make these mud children, still one would thing that common sense ought to prevail.
Parents can only despair of seeing their race continue.
Marriage is only rocks on ruin and families also.
What is one to do?

The best idea I think is repentance. For the actions of parents affect their children. And how does one repent. It is brought in books of Musar if one is accustomed to learning one page of Gemara, he should learn two. If one chapter of Mishna, then he should learn two.

One thing got me personally into learning was the idea of the Gra based on the Yeushalmi that every word of Torah is equal to all the other commandments of the Torah. And in fact it seems that without confidence in the Gra and his approach, no one can come to Torah.  All people end up with is counterfeit Torah. I think a lot of effort ought to be spent on getting rid of counterfeit Torah, before it can even be suggested to come to authentic Torah.


political and religious authority

I have been thinking about political and  religious authority for a while.The thing that got me interested was an observation that love of power and oppression are very human traits and people that have these tend to look for careers in politics or as religious leaders.

The fact of political authority seems best to be defended based on a consequential theory. That is- without the state, human flourishing would be impossible, and we would all be at the tender mercies of the worse of society that feel no compunctions or conscious moral restraints.
This does not apply in the religious world as Reb Nachman pointed out often about religious leaders.
[We would all be better off without religious leaders, since they always cause trouble and malice.]

In fact, Reb Nachman emphasized personal service: The verse says "One was Abraham"--that means that Abraham served God in the way -that he thought of himself as being alone with God and did not look on obstacles placed in his path by people, or even his own father and family. In a similar vein, it is impossible to come to God except by this trait of "One was Abraham" to think to yourself that you are alone with God and not to look or pay attention to obstacles from your family or supposed friends. [It is important to take note that Reb Nachman did not just say that that is how Abraham reached God. Rather he goes on to add that no one can reach God except in that way.]

In another essay Reb Nachman went into the issue of lack of faith that causes that people need hard services to come to God. Reb Natan said to him "But it seems to me that I have faith." And Reb Nachman replied that sometimes it is lack of faith in oneself that causes one to fall.

The  thing about the great NY yeshivas like the Mir is that there is no claim of authority at all. The message is simple: What ever the Torah says, that is what it says.

[I mean to say that political authority is legitimate. Religious authority is however a scam since true and authentic ordination does not exist. It ended during the middle of the Talmudic period. Authority is however still claimed stupid people still like to present themselves as smart and wise in order t get power and money an be able to inflict pain on others.] This critique however does not apply to Litvak yeshivas  which learn Torah for its own sake which is a very great and important thing.

Music for the Glory of God


Bitul Torah [being idle from learning Torah]

The whole concept of Bitul Torah [being idle from learning Torah] comes from a verse in Numbers 15 כי דבר השם בזה הכרת תכרת הנפש ההיא מעמיה. "For the word of God he despised". [That is the Torah is saying there to bring a sin offering for doing idolatry by accident, but not for doing idolatry on purpose. It might have stopped at that point. But then it continues to say this extra idea "for the word of God he despised." So you see this idea from the fact that the verse might have just stopped at saying one does not bring a sacrifice for a sin done on purpose.

This idea of ביטול תורה [being idle from learning Torah] is mostly ignored nowadays except in Litvak yeshivas where people are more aware of this issue.

That does not mean one can not learn a vocation. But it does mean that in the time one is not learning or being involved in his vocation he is required to be learning Torah.

However my feeling is it is best to learn Torah at home to avoid the confusing people that hang out around yeshivas trying to entice people into all kinds of insanity.

[This is the reason for the fact that Litvak yeshivas throw out people along with  other reasons. I agree that the yeshivas are right about this general practice.]

The Rambam includes Physics and Metaphysics of the Ancient Greeks in the category of learning Torah. In any case, exactly what is called learning Torah in order to be safe from the sin of Bitul Torah tends to be unclear. The most strict definition would be only the exact text of the Old Testament and the two Talmuds. Then you would add the actual texts of Aristotle that the Rambam includes--the Metaphysics and Physics. I think however it is safe to enlarge the definition to learning Rashi, and Tosphot and the basic Rishonim, plus the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach along with Quantum Field Theory.  But one has to evaluate very carefully what he wants to include in learning Torah.

[I should mention I found the Pnei Yehoshua very helpful. Also the books of the Gra I found very helpful. If all this seems too much the best thing is to simply learn the Mishna of R. Yehuda HaNasi along with the commentary of  Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura

[If you are in the walking distance from the great Litvak NY yeshivas or Bnei Brak then by all means learn there. But if not, home is better than anything else. Also if you have the ability to start you own place along the lines of the straight Torah of the Litvaks that is of course the best thing.]


Eliyahu the prophet asked Israel on Mount Carmel, "How long will you jump between the two extremes? If the Lord is God, then serve Him. If the Baal is God, then serve him."
At the time the Temple of Solomon was in Jerusalem, and people would go there and worship God and then return home and go to the local Baal Center and worship there. That way that had all their bases covered.
The Gra [Eliyahu from Villna] had the same  point. He saw people were worshiping God but also worshiping their leader or "tzadik." They would say to worship according to the Torah, but add on this one little thing--the worship of their leader or his grave.
They would come up with some religion that externally looked like Torah but in essence was the exact opposite.
The general approach has been to ignore the Gra except for the Zilverman yeshiva in Jerusalem, but I tend to think this ignoring of the Gra was and is a mistake.

Eliyahu the prophet is saying "Either this or that, but not both." That is the same thing the Gra said. Make up your mind.

[I am not sure but this whole event I think was only for Israel (the ten tribes) but not Yehuda and Benjamin. In any case the king there is the king of Israel, not the king of Judah. I do not even know if there was anyone from Judah present. So in any case we do see that even the ten tribes were still serving God. Were they allowed to go up to Jerusalem on the three festivals? Yeravam had forbidden that years before this event. In any case, you see some kind of worship of the Lord still existed in the ten tribes. The thing which is sad is not long after that the ten tribes were exiled because apparently  they were still doing idolatry even though they had listened to Eliyahu and after seeing fre fall from heaven had answered "The Lord is God, the Lord is God."]

Musar Movement

The basic idea of the Musar Movement  was not at all connected with yeshivas originally. It was simply the realization that no one is automatically moral without learning. [Moral principles are included in what is called "universals." Things that apply to different particulars.And it is characteristic of universals that they are  recognized by reason. One might need sense perception to understand the meaning of a universal, but it is reason that recognizes the principle as Michael Huemer goes into detail in his essay criticizing Ayn Rand.]

The  insight of the Musar movement was the realization that the Rishonim [authors during the Middle Ages] had an extra measure of logical rigor in understanding the principles of the Old Testament and the two Talmuds as opposed to achronim[authors after the Middle Ages.]

[This is a well established fact even though I find it very hard to get into the Rishonim without the help of the Achronim on the Gemara.
But in terms of the basic principles of Torah, achronim go off on tangents far away from Torah. Sometimes they find some odd principle that appeals to them and they decide that that principle is what the whole Torah is all about. The examples are many. Sometimes the principles they come up with are in direct opposition to Torah and sometimes they are just some minor issue that that person want to exaggerate into some big deal.]

So even though in the Musar movement itself--the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter--they also wrote books explaining  ethical principles of Torah but as a rule they are sticking with the approach of the rishonim. [That is until the second generation of Musar which then started also going off on tangents.]


worst case scenarios

In terms of preparing for worst case scenarios  I wonder which books I would consider the most important to have with me and which books  would be needed to build up Western Civilization.
I think the Rambam deals with this question in a straightforward way in his emphasis on The Written Law, the Oral Law, Physics and Metaphysics.
That is the Old Testament, the two Talmuds [the Villna Shas], the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach, some basic texts on Quantum Field Theory, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, the Constitution of the USA.[the basic set of Musar books also  חובות לבבות ,שערי תשובה, אורחות צדיקים, מסילת ישרים ספר היראה המיוחס לר''ת]
[I put Hegel here even though there are a few people that are unhappy with him like Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer. Still to me Hegel seems pretty important.]

I have been thinking about the idea of  preparation for some time and I am not sure how to deal with the balance between being prepared and trust.  That balance is actually dealt with in the Musar of  Navardok [in one of the chapters on Trust in God]. In any case, as far as I recall, he said when the situation is in one's hands and he is able to do something, then he should.

Do genes affect behavior?

Sapolsky on the question when do genes affect behavior? People with genes that tilt them towards criminal activity, will do so in spite what the Torah says. They will simply interpret the Torah to mean what they want it to mean.


To teach children and young people good character was the actual aim of the person that started the Boys Scouts. The idea was to learn and gain good character  as a by product of doing camping and team work. This was the one of the major goals of the Musar Movement of Reb Israel Salanter.
But Reb Israel Salanter's idea was more direct. That people would gain good character by learning books of Ethics about good character.
Both ideas seem to me to have validity, and  I think to combine them would be the best approach. To have summer retreats where survival skills and Musar are both taught.
I heard there has been some suggestions to take the grave of Reb Nachman to Israel and that makes a lot of sense to me. The only trouble I foresee  is  that  the actual grave site is about 6 yards  due west of where people actually think he was buried. This was explained to me in detail by someone who knew the actual place where the grave was before it was destroyed in WWII.

The main reason this make sense is the story of Reb Nachman himself about the statue of the king with whom there had been peace in his days. To me the whole story seems to indicate this idea. Besides that the very reason Reb Nachman  wanted to be buried in Uman was so that people would have access to his grave site n order to say the ten psalms there and in general pray and learn Torah there. That would seem to apply to this situation.


Is there any authority to make extra decrees not in the Torah?

The big issue I have not addressed in general is if there is in fact any authority to make extra decrees not in the Torah and from the Commentary on Pirkei Avot from the amoraim it seems there is no such authority. This book is called אבות דר' נתן and it is included in every edition of the Vilna Shas. The basic idea there is on the Mishna "Make a fence around the Torah" and the general approach there is to say that Adam HaRishon added to the command of God [don't eat and do not touch] and that  caused him to fall. R.Yose said there "Better ten hand-breaths high that stand rather than 100 yards high that fall." There the Gra makes a few corrections to the text. I showed this to Rav Eliyahu Silverman the Rosh Yeshiva of the Aderet  Eliyahu the Yeshiva that goes by the path of the Gra in the Old City of Jerusalem and he agreed with me that that is the meaning of that commentary on the Mishna.

I brought this issue up with my learning partner and he opened up the Rambam on this issue. In any case it does look like most of the sages held there is authority to make laws that are outside of Torah Law.

And the reason I usually am lenient in those laws is because in most cases the reason for the law no longer exists--so I basically depend on the Raavad and pretty much all the Tosphot in Shas that when the reason for the law is gone, so is the law.

[For the public let me make this clear: Pirkei Avot is part of the Mishna. And in general commentary on the Mishna from the sages of the Talmud  is part of the Talmud. But for some reason this book is not included in the actual Talmud and rather comes under the category of Midrash. Another thing is that general Litvak yeshivas  are the gold standard by which everything else is measured. An example would be the Mir in NY. But the Aderet Eliyahu is unique in that it goes by the Gra in all details. That makes it the Gold Standard by which other Litvak yeshivas are measured.]

To say to yourself some lesson in Ethics every morning right when you wake up.

You can see this idea of starting the day right also in the Nefesh HaChaim of Reb Chaim fromVoloshin who says that when one accepts on himself the yoke of Torah when he wakes up in the morning-- then all distractions are removed from him.

The problem is obviously it is hard in the first place to accept the "yoke of Torah," to sit and learn Talmud many hours each day.

[The truth is the whole concept of the yoke of Torah is hard to get to in the first place or even understand what it means and even then the biggest enemies of it are the pseudo Torah scholars that just want other people's money by their pretending to learn Talmud.
The astounding amount of fraud in the religious world is  a challenge to anyone's faith.
When people advertise how religious they are by their dress, you know something is rotten there. They are up to something fraudulent. They are trying to get people's trust so that afterwards they can impose their own agenda. It is important to stay away from false friends. And also people that are rude and abrasive. Because when it comes down to time of need it will turn out that they are in fact your enemies. The religious world is generally into the entitlement mentality which makes them especially dangerous. The pretense of keeping Torah is a cloak and disguise. The little bit of Torah learning they do have makes them able to fool. The main principle is if they are not working at a real job then they are using the holy Torah to make money and therefore they are just con artists in disguise.]
In any case, what I try to do is to find the basic little paragraphs on Musar [Ethics] of the Gra or any Musar books and try to say it over to myself every morning right when I wake up. That is, I try to find the lessons in Ethics that I think I am most in need of. A good example is, in fact, that whole paragraph of Reb Chaim from Voloshin about accepting the yoke of Torah. Also there is a statement about trust in God from the Gra I tried to say to myself when I woke up. After that I would try to learn some Gemara, Tosphot and some Physics. in order to start the day right.  If  would have a Avi Ezri of Rav Shach I would probably try to just plow through one whole chapter in the morning also.

I admit  this guess work. I am just trying to figure out as best I can what character traits I need to work on.

In one book of Musar that was at the Mir in NY it was recommended to have a child right when he reaches the age of 13 also to start out learning Torah  more than usual -for the same reason of staring out right.

[The statement of the Gra about trust in God is brought in the "Levels of Man" by Yoseph Horvitz the disciple of Reb Israel Salanter. It is argued by Ibn Pakuda in the Obligations of the Heart whether one needs effort with trust or not. The Gra argues no and Ibn Pakuda argues yes.]


The Gra also brings this idea. He says that "One who is lacking knowledge in any one of the seven Wisdoms will be lacking in knowledge of Torah a hundred time more."

The idea of the Rambam (Maimonides) of including Physics and Metaphysics in the Oral Law (note 1) can be supported by the Tikunei HaZohar which brings  the idea of the hidden statement of Creation that is hidden in the works of Creation. There is a mystical element anyway of the Guide for the Perplexed as noted before by some people. In particular Rav Avraham Abulafia, the Mediaeval Mystic, wrote that in the first 40 chapters of the Guide for the Perplexed is contained the secret of the redemption.

(note 1) Where the Rambam says this in the Law of Learning Torah. There he refers to the first four ch.s of Mishne Torah as being called "Pardes" and he says what is called Pardes is  part of learning Gemara.

The thing about this is that even in Torah there is an aspect of סם חיים סם מוות medicine of life or poison of death as the Gemara says "סם חיים למימינים  בה וסם מוות למשמאילים בה"  The Torah is the medicine of life for those that learn it for its own sake and poison of death for those that learn it for money.[ישרים דרכי ה' צדיקים ילכו בם ורשעים יכשלו בם. הושע י'ד פסוק ט] One can learn Torah and become worse. Thus sometimes it is better to receive Torah in  the way that is hidden in the work of Creation.

The Gra also brings this idea. He says that "One who is lacking knowledge in any one of the seven Wisdoms will be lacking in knowledge of Torah a hundred time more."

[The path of  Gra is however not well known or accepted. Even the top Litvak yeshivas take him only in an approximate way. The only place that I know of that tries to follow the Gra in every detail is the Silverman Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem.]

[The way to do Physics is by faith--to believe in what the Gemara says לעולם לגרס איניש אף על גב דמשכח ואף על גב דלא ידע מאי קאמר] "One should always learn in the way of 'Girsa' which is to just say the words in order and to go on, even though he forgets what he is learning, and even if he does not  even know what he is saying." Saying the words is important. The Gemara says one that learns wthout saying the words will forget. But even more so--the saying of the words  helps to come to understand.

בבא בתרא י''ח ע''ב A question on and an answer for R. Tam.

בבא בתרא י''ח ע''ב  The גמרא first brings the משנה that that the חכמים say to keep the mustard away from the bees and that is  a question on רבא that says something that causes damage must be kept away from the boundary even if there is nothing on the other side that could be damaged.  Then it answers the question telling us that the משנה is just saying mustard can cause damage, but the law of רבא still stands that even when there are no bees still one can not put mustard next to the border.
Then the גמרא asks from ר' יוסי. The גמרא says that ר' יוסי says it is permitted because the owner of the mustard can tell the owner of the bees why tell me to keep my mustard away? You should keep your bees away because they cause damage to my mustard. To ר' תם and ר' חננאל, the גמרא answers this thus "רבינא said the חכמים hold the one that causes damage must keep the object that cases damage away from the boundary." I mean to say that this answer is a different answer than that of רב פפא. The way ר' תם  explains it is thus. At first we thought the חכמים held the one that causes damage must keep his object away. and now after the answer we think he must keep his object away only when there s something on the other side of the boundary that could be damaged. That is, that רבא retracted his statement.  My question is then what does this have to do with the question they were asking from ר' יוסי? In the גמרא we apparently took care of the first part of the משנה. It was from ר' יוסי that we were asking.

בבא בתרא י''ח ע''ב הגמרא מביאה את המשנה כי  החכמים אומרים להרחיק את החרדל מן הדבורים וזו שאלה על רבא שאומר משהו שגורם נזק חייב להיתרחק מן הגבול אפילו אם אין שום דבר בצד השני שיכול להינזק. אז היא עונה על השאלה שהמשנה אומרת לנו  שחרדל יכול לגרום נזק, אבל החוק של רבא עדיין עומד שגם כאשר אין דבורים עדיין אי אפשר לשים חרדל ליד הגבול. ואז הגמרא שואלת מר' יוסי. הגמרא אומרת כי ר' יוסי אומר שזה מותר, כי הבעלים של החרדל יכולים להגיד לבעלים של הדבורים למה להגיד לי להרחיק את החרדל שלי משם? אתה צריך להרחיק את הדבורים שלך משום שהם גורמים נזק לחרדל שלי.  לדעת ר' תם ור' חננאל,  התשובת גמרא היא בכך "רבינא אומר חכמים מחזיקים שאחד שגורם נזק חייב להרחיק את האובייקט שגורם נזק מן הגבול." תשובה זו היא תשובה שונה מזו של רב פפא. הדרך שר' תם מסביר את זה היא בכך. בהתחלה חשבנו שחכמים מחזיקים  מה שגורם נזק חייב להתרחק משם. ועכשיו אחרי התשובה שאנחנו חושבים שהוא חייב לשמור האובייקט שלו משם רק כשיש משהו בצד השני של הגבול שיכול להינזק. כלומר, כי רבא חזר בו מדעתו. השאלה שלי היא אז מה זה שייך לשאלה שהם שאלו מן ר' יוסי? בגמרא  טיפלו כבר בחלק הראשון של משנה. עכשיו  מן ר' יוסי אנחנו שואלים.

I think the answer is this. רב פפא is not coming to answer the question היכי משכחת ליה. Instead he is coming to answer the original question on רבא from the משנה on משרה וירק

Talmud Bava Batra 18b  The Gemara first brings the Mishna that that the sages say to keep the mustard away from the bees and that is  a question on Rava that says something that causes damage must be kept away from the boundary even if there is nothing on the other side that could be damaged.  Then it answers the question telling us that the Mishna is just saying mustard can cause damage but the law of Rava still stands that even when there are no bees still one can not put mustard next to the border.
Then the Gemara asks from R. Yose. R. Yose says it is permitted because the owner of the mustard can tell the owner of the bees why tell me to keep my mustard away? You should keep your bees away because they cause damage to my mustard.

To R. Tam (and R. Kananel), the gemara answers this thus "Ravina said the sages hold the one that causes damage must keep the object that cases damage away from the boundary." (I mean to say that this answer is a different answer than that of Rav Papa.)

The way R Tam explains it is thus. At first we thought the sages held the one that causes damage must keep his object away. and now after the answer we think he must keep his object away only when there s something on the other side of the boundary that could be damaged. That is, that Rava retracted his statement.  My question is then what does this have to do with the question they were asking from R Yose? In the Gemara we apparently took care of the first part of the Mishna. It was from R Yose that we were asking


trust in God along with effort or without effort

The argument about whether  בטחון עם השתדלות or בטחון בלי השתדלו one should trust in God along with  effort or without effort is between the Gra and Rav Ibn Pakuda (The Obligations of the Heart) and centers on King Asa. [King Asa was the King of Judah]. That is the verse that says he was punished because he went to the doctors instead of to God for a cure. Ibn Pakuka says it was OK to go to doctors, but that he also should have trusted in God. The Gra's statement is not focused on King Asa, but rather the verse in Proverbs בטח אל ה' בכול לבך ואל בינתך אל תשען.["Trust in God with all your heart and do not depend on your intellect."]  But still it looks like the Gra is frowning doing effort to get one's needs met. Rather one should trust in God. To the Gra it looks like an either this or that, but not both. Rav Ibn Pakuda suggests that trust in God can go along with effort.
My question is why does no one mention the fact that King Asa sent for help from the king of Syria to fight against Basha, the king of Israel,-- and that the prophet specifically criticizes him for the same exact reason that later he was criticized about the doctors?

The general approach towards "rishonim" medieval authorities is that it is impossible to decide between them because both are אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים "These and these are the words of the Living God." Thus in this case also [which is a מחלוקת ראשונים and argument between First Authorities] it is not possible to say which one is right. [Authorities after the rishonim can be wrong,-- and are wrong quite often.]

I was in the hospital in Uman with my foot and leg broken  with multiple fractures. Two guys saw I was in trouble and called an ambulance, and brought me to the hospital.  I am extremely grateful to God that he granted to me help and  a great doctor  and I can walk again. [I still can not jog.] But to me this seems like one case where going to the doctor was of great importance. Still other times it seems to me that all my efforts in almost any direction backfire to make things even worse than if I had just left things alone. Thus clearly the approach of Ibn Pakuda is the best idea and other times that of the Gra.

[The reason this was a big issue in the Mir is that it relates to the fact that almost everyone in the Mir in NY was learning Torah for its own sake [לשמה] and had no plans on using it for money.]

U-33 A Minor 6-8 time  [Not edited]


You can see the problem with false prophets even in the period of the First Temple in the Old Testament. Also with false leaders. This problem has not gone away.

To be it seems related to idolatry because I think it is possible that idolatry and the Sitra Achra [the Dark Side] are really the same thing in essence.
 The main issue is the problems with Torah scholars that are demons as brought down in the Zohar and the Ari.

The trouble is that you need to be around with people you can trust. The religious world makes this show of  "We are all one big family" when they want your money. But if, God forbid, you are ever in need --forget it. More so- demonic Torah scholars  try actively to cause damage to you because that is their inner essence.
This problem is however not in Reform or Conservative groups from what I can tell.  But it did get into the religious world.
Some people have found this kind of trouble even in the top Mount Everest-the Litvak Yeshivas-which one would normally expect to be immune. The reason seems to be that where holiness is to be found, that is where the Sita Achra tries the hardest to run interference.

My opinion about this is that the best approach is that of the Litvak yeshivas that go strictly with the Gra, like the Silverman Yeshivas in the Old City of Jerusalem.

בבא בתרא י''ח ע''ב The actual way the גמרא however understands ר' יוסי is that one person put his bees or mustard by the border and then the other שכן can also put his object there. So the גמרא asks,  How could this situation arise that anyone put anything by the border in the first place according to רבא? But perhaps that is exactly what ר' יוסי means? Each can put his thing by the border. The question I want to ask is this. Why does the גמרא insist on asking on ר' יוסי "How could this situation be found?" All ר' יוסי says in the משנה is "It is permitted." And even though the גמרא brings the full statement that says, It is permitted because the owner of the mustard can ask the owner of the bees: "Why tell me to keep my mustard away? You keep your bees away.
Why not understand ר' יוסי simply to mean as it sounds? Both the mustard and the bees can be put next to the border.  How is it found? It is found because to ר' יוסי it is permitted.

What I mean to say is that the three תוספות on the page deal with the answer of the גמרא to the question but as far as I recall they do not change  the question itself. Except the ר''ת and ר''ח that say רבינא is  a different answer.  And in רבינא the understanding is that ר' יוסי means  the bees can be put Next to the boundary because the bees  are damaged but do not cause damage. That is at this point in the גמרא. The גמרא however does change this.

 I mean that my above question is only to the other תוספות because ר''ת can simply say that that is the very answer of רבינא, that the bees can be put there.
However R. Tam does not say that this idea that Ravina is a new answer makes the question on Rava dissolve. just the opposite. He says it makes the question on Rava all the more powerful to the degree that Rava has to retract his entire thesis --at least when it comes to the sages.

בבא בתרא י''ח ע''ב הדרך בפועל שהגמרא מבינה ר' יוסי היא כי אם שכן אחד שם דבורים או החרדל שלו ליד הגבול, ואז שכן השני יכול גם לשים האובייקט שלו שם. אז הגמרא שואלת, איך יכול להיות המצב הזה?  מי יכול לשים דבר על ידי הגבול מלכתחילה על פי רבא? אבל אולי זה בדיוק מה ר' יוסי מכוון? היינו שכל אחד יכול לשים הדבר שלו ליד הגבול. השאלה שאני רוצה לשאול היא זו. למה הגמרא מתעקשת לשאול על ר' יוסי "איך יכול המצב הזה ניתן להימצא?" כל מה ר' יוסי אומר במשנה הוא "מותר". ואף על פי הגמרא מביאה את ההצהרה המלאה שאומרת, זה מותר כי הבעלים של החרדל יכולים לשאול את הבעלים של הדבורים: "מדוע אתם אומרים לי לשמור החרדל שלי רחוק משם? תשים את הדבורים שלך הרחק משם?למה לא מבינים ר' יוסי פשוט? הן החרדל הן הדבורים ניתן לשים ליד הגבול. איך זה נמצא? זה נמצא כי לר' יוסי זה מותר.

 שלושת התוספות על הדף אינם משנים את השאלה עצמה. מלבד ר''ת ו ר''ח  שאומרים רבינא הוא תשובה אחרת מתשובת הלוקח. וגם להם לרבינא ההבנה היא כי ר' יוסי אומר הדבורים ניתנות לשים ליד הגבול כי הדבורים יכולות להינזק אך אינן גורמות נזק בשלב הזה של הגמרא. גמרא אולם משנה זו אחר כך

 אני מתכוון כי השאלה הנ"ל שלי היא רק לתוספות אחרות בגלל שר''ת פשוט יכול לומר כי זו היא התשובה של רבינא, כי הדבורים ניתנות לשים שם..

It occurs to  me to ask really a simple question on Bava Batra page 18-b.

The question I want to ask is this. Why does the Gemara insist on asking on R.Yose "How could this situation be found?" All R. Yose says in the Mishna is "It is permitted." And even though the Gemata brings the full statement that says It is permitted "because the owner of the mustard can tell the owner of the bees why tell me to keep my mustard away? You keep your bees away."
Why not understand R. Yose simply to mean as it sounds? Both the mustard and the bees can be put next to the border.

The actual way the Gemara however understands R. Jose is that one person put his bees or mustard by the border and then he says the other can also put his object there. Soon that the Gemara asks according to Rava how could this situation arise that anyone put anything by the border in the first place? But perhaps that is exactly what R Jose means? Each can put his thing by the border.

[I do not think Tosphot answers this even though I could be wrong. What I mean to say is that the three Tosphots on the page deal with the answer of the Gemara to the question but as far as I recall they do not change  the question itself. Except the R.Tam and R. Kananel that say Ravina is  a different answer.  And in Ravina the understanding is that R. Jose means  the bees can be put there because they are damaged - but not damagers.]

 I mean that my above question is only to the other Tosphots because R. Tam can simply say that that is the very answer of Ravina--that the bees can be put there.
 As for problems I think there is not anything I can say about specific problems;--  and in fact when the reason for a problem is unknown and not well understood, it is always best to do nothing. The reason is the as long as the source of any problem is unknown, almost anything one does to improve the situation is almost guaranteed to make things worse. George Washington was sick and the doctors advised blood letting.They did it so much that they certainly caused his death. So when actual mechanisms are not understood then doing nothing is always better than "something must be done." [Something must be done almost always amounts to walking into a pharmacy and just picking out any medicine on the shelf on the assumption that everything there is healthy.  ]

On the other hand there are things one should  do as general aspects of healthy living. Learning the Old Testament and the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. Also Learning Physics and Math and talking with God when one is  outside walking and trying to get exercise and eating healthy. 

medieval ethics

The idea of Reb Israel Salanter of learning medieval ethics in order to learn and develop good character  is a great idea in terms of learning the basic worldview of Torah. But it should not be assumed that people that represent this Musar movement today are anything like the original idea. The whole idea of the Musar movement basically got to be a kind of ''frumkeit'' [i.e. religious fanaticism].
But I have yet to hear of any system that can not be abused.  . Thus Musar also can be abused. But the basic idea is good and sound. In fact, I myself tried at one point to actually follow that path. I mean not just the basic set of Mediaeval Musar, but also to get through the Musar books that came later like the Shelah and Yesod Veshoresh HaAvodah, and in fact to keep to what ever those books were saying.
I got off track I admit. However I do think if I had managed to stick with it, I would be doing a lot better today.
 The disciple of Reb Israel Salanter Isaac Blasser, gives a list of about thirty books that count as classical Musar in his own book of Musar "The Light of Israel."

[I am thinking that the fact that I got sidetracked, might be more common than is expected. That could be the reason that some Litvak yeshivas refused to become Musar yeshivas. It is hard to find the right balance. Musar can lead to getting out of balance. But I have to say that I think the advantages outweigh the risks. In any case I think that while I was at the Mir in NY the combination of Musar along with Gemara really was great for me.


The Sages of the Talmud say: מה למעלה מה למטה מה לפנים מה לאחור "What is above? What is below? What is inside? And what is outside? For one who looks into these things --it is better if he had never been created."
It does seem that most people that go into mysticism go a little bit insane. But they remain sane enough to hide their nutty ideas of grandeur. But eventually it comes out to the surface. They can not hide it forever.

The general approach of authentic Litvak yeshivas towards this is to disavow any knowledge. The response of roshei yeshiva towards this kind of thing is "It is high things." 

I myself spent a lot of time learning the Ari and the Reshash and Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, but at this point it seems to me I would be doing a lot better today if I had stuck with Gemara Rashi and Tosphot.  

learning Torah is very great and holy so there seems to be nothing to do but to find a Litvak yeshiva and learn there or learn at home but to avoid all other religious organizations.

Reb Nachman fromUman mentions in quite a few places the problems involved in following Torah scholars that are demons. From this point of view, a person might seem like a true Torah scholar but in fact be a demon. This idea in fact is mentioned in the Talmud--but in such a way that the message gets lost. For in the Talmud it says the Evil Inclination [Satan] leaves the whole world and comes to rest on the Jewish people. Then it leaves them, and comes to rest on Torah scholars.

There are other hints to this in the Talmud itself, but the basic idea comes from the Zohar and the Ari.
Therefore  it became the custom in the Na Nach group to simply disavow any involvement with any Torah scholars at all;-- which seems to be the safe approach.

Since I do not have the books of Reb Nachman available I can not look them up to give references.  Mainly I am thinking of LM Vol. I ch. 8, ch. 12, ch. 28; vol 2 ch. 8. [Just now I also recall vol I ch. 61. In any case, there are other places Reb Nachman hints to this idea that I can not recall  off hand.]

The truth be told it is hard to know how to deal with this problem;-- which seems to be getting worse. The main problem certainly is in the groups that came under the excommunication of the Gra where the Satanic influence is obvious. The trouble is that this influence seems to have spread.

Reb Nachman also said that even if one would just take one statement of his and walk with that his entire life, that would be enough to make him a good person. The implication is that if all one would do would be to avoid Torah scholars that are satanic, that would be enough to guarantee that one will make it to the Garden of Eden.

But I should mention that learning Torah is very great and holy so there seems to be nothing to do but to find a Litvak yeshiva and learn there, or learn at home.

[Reb Nachman also mentions that in every area of value there is a side of holiness and an opposite side of the Sitra Achra. This applies  in this case also. That is why I am very grateful to God that he sent me on the straight path of Torah right from the start--to Shar Yashuv in Far Rockaway [Reb Freifeld] and to the Mir in NY {Rav Berenbaum}]


בבא בתרא דף י''ח עמוד ב' תוספות ד''ה מכלל על סוגיא של חרדל ודבורים. שאלת הגמרא היא שהחכמים מחזיקים שהמזיק מחוייב להרחיק את עצמו, ולכן  חייב להיות שר' יוסי מחזיק על הניזק להרחיק את עצמו. אבל אם כך אז למה הוא לא אומר את אותו הדבר על משרה וירקות? כלומר, החכמים מחזיקים שאת החרדל יש להרחיק מן הדבורים כי למרות שהדבורים גורמות נזק, עדיין הן נחשבות ניזוקות כי הן הועמדו ליד הגבול ברשות. ר' יוסי מחזיק בשיטה שאחד יכול לשים את החרדל ליד הדבורים, משום ששניהם שווים, וכיוון שהדבורים נמצאות ליד הגבול, כך גם את החרדל אפשר לשים ליד הגבול. אז תשובת הגמרא היא כי ר' יוסי גם אומר על המזיק להרחיק את עצמו. פירוש הדבר כי ר' יוסי מחזיק כי הדבורים גורמות נזק ושהחרדל אינו גורם נזק כלל לדבורים ולכן יש להעביר את הדבורים ששה טפחים הרחק מהגבול. ישנן שתי שאלות. מדוע תוספות משנה את החכמים. בהתחלה הם מחזיקים שהדבורים נחשבות דברים ניזוקים כי הן הועמדו ליד הגבול ברשות. ובתשובת הגמרא הם מחזיקים שדבורים לא גורמות שום נזק בכלל. השאלה השנייה היא זו. למה הם משנים את דעתו של ר' יוסי גם? ראשית הם אומרים שר' יוסי מחזיק שיכולים לשים את החרדל ליד הדבורים, כי שניהם שווים. מאז שהדבורים נמצאות ליד הגבול, כך חרדל גם ניתן לשים ליד הגבול. אז תוספות אומר כי ר' יוסי מחזיק כי הדבורים גורמות נזק לחרדל, אבל החרדל לא גורם נזק בכלל לדבורים. לכן מחוייבים להרחיק את הדבורים ששה טפחים הרחק מהגבול. אני מתכוון באמת כי לא נראה שיש סיבה לשנות את דעתו של ר" יוסי כך דרסטי. גם בחלק שאלת גמרא מובן כי דבורים גורמות נזק, אז אפשר להשאיר העובדה הזו במקום ולומר שר' יוסי אומר שאתה יכול לעזוב את הדבורים במקום לשים את חרדל לצד זה. ההבדל היחיד יהיה בחלק שאלת גמרא העובדה שהוא היה מותר לשים הדבורים ליד הגבול וזה הופך את הדבורים להיות נחשבות ניזקות. בתשובה שהתקבל אתה יכול פשוט לעזוב את הרעיון הזה כי ממילא בתשובה לא אף אחד מחזיק בזה

In בבא בתרא page י''ח ענוד ב the  תוספות ד''ה מכלל on the סוגיא of mustard and bees. The question of the  גמרא is since the חכמים hold על המזיק להרחיק את עצמו, so it must be that ר' יוסי holds על הניזק להרחיק את עצמו. But if so then why does he not say the same this about a  משרה and vegetables? That means to תוספות that the חכמים hold the mustard must be kept away from the bees because even though bees  cause damage, still they are  considered to be damaged because they were put next to the border by permission. ר' יוסי holds  you can put the  mustard next to the bees because both are equal and since the bees are next to the border so the mustard also can be put next to the border. Then the גמרא answers that ר' יוסי also says על המזיק להרחיק את עצמו. That means to תוספות that ר' יוסי holds  that the bees cause damage and  that the mustard does not cause damage at all to bees and therefore the bees have to be moved ששה טפחים away from the border.There are two questions.  Why does תוספות change the חכמים. At first they hold from the bees are considered things ניזוקות because they were put next to the border by permission. Then they hold bees do no damage at all.
 The second question I have is this. Why do they change the opinion of ר' יוסי also? First they say that ר' יוסי holds you can put the  mustard next to the bees because both are equal. Since the bees are next to the border, so the mustard also can be put next to the border. Then תוספות says  that ר' יוסי holds that the bees  damage mustard, but  that the mustard does not cause damage at all to bees. Therefore צריכים להרחיק את הבורים ששה טפחים  away from the border. The answer these questions must come from the way the גמרא answers the question on ר' יוסי.

I  mean  there really does not seem to be any reason to change the opinion  of ר' יוסי so drastically.  Even in the question part of the גמרא it is understood that bees cause damage, so one could  leave that fact in place and say ר' יוסי means you can leave the bees in place and put the mustard next to it. The only difference would be in the question part of the גמרא the fact that he was allowed to put the bees there make it that the bees are considered the ניזק. In the answer you could simply leave out that idea which in any case n the answer no one hold from, not even the חכמים

IN Plain English:

In the Talmud Bava Batra the third Tosphot on the sugia of mustard and bees [page 18 side B] there are two questions that I have. One is why does Tosphot change the sages from the bees are considered things subject to damage because they were put next to the border by permission, to they are considered subject to damage but not causing  damages because they in fact cause no damage.
The second question I have is why do they change the opinion of R. Yose also from you can put the  mustard next to the bees because both are equal and since the bees are next to the border so the mustard also can be put next to the border. To then saying that the bees are the only things that cause damage and  that the mustard does not cause damage at all to bees and therefore the bees have to be moved 6 hand-breaths away from the border.

The answer to both questions must come from the way the Gemara answers the question on R Yose saying he and also the sages hold it is upon the one that cause damage to remove the object.

Just to make my questions more clear let me present what Tosphot actually says. I just make it clear that this Tosphot is not anything like the Tosphot that comes right before it and they both are holding radically different ideas about this sugia  and they disagree on major points. [However both Tosphot hold that this part of the Gemara is still holing that half the field was bought.]

The question of the Gemara is since the sages hold the one that causes damage must remove his object so it must be that R. Jose hold the one that is damaged must be the one to remove his object.
[But if so then why does he not say the same this about a washbasin and vegetables?] That means to Tosphot that the sages hold the mustard must be kept away from the bees because bees are  considered things subject to damage because they were put next to the border by permission. R Jose holds  you can put the  mustard next to the bees because both are equal and since the bees are next to the border so the mustard also can be put next to the border.

Then the Gemara answers that R Jose also says that it is upon the one that causes damage to remove his object. That means to Tosphot that R Yose hold saying that the bees are the only things that cause damage and  that the mustard does not cause damage at all to bees and therefore the bees have to be moved 6 hand-breaths away from the border.

I  mean even in R. Jose there really does not seem to be any reason to change the opinion so drastically.  Even in the question it is understood that bees cause damage, so leave that in place and say R. Jose means you can leave the bees in place and put the mustard next to it.


Navardok yeshivas

Trust in God does have some support from Jeremiah chapter 17 verses 5-8 as Joseph Yozel Horvitz points out in his book "The Levels of Man."[He was the founder of the Navardok yeshivas that emphasized trust in God.]
Rav Joseph Yozel also brought the events surrounding Elisha the prophet that are brought in the second book of Kings. There was a famine in the land and Elisha said that on the next day one measure of  wheat would be sold for one shekel and two measures of barely for the same price. There was a person that was entrusted with the king's finances or held some high government post.  He heard the words of Elisha and said "Even if God would make windows in the heavens to rain down bread could such a thing be true?" Elisha said you will see it but not eat therefrom. The next day in fact wheat was sold for that  but the prince that doubted was tramped and died.
Therefore if you put these two things together that God does promise good to those that trust Him and that there is a punishment for not trusting in him, you get the basic idea of Navardok yeshivas.

Navardok I should mention was a big presence in Lithuania. It was not the regular run of the mill Litvak yeshiva but their presence was felt.The Stipler Rav was the son in Law of Rav Joseph Yozel who along with Rav Shach was one of the greatest sages of the previous generation. [The Stipler wrote some very good books called the Kehilat Yaakov but personally I find Rav Shach's Avi Ezri to be just about the best book written by any achron. Maybe it is just a matter of taste -I do not know.

In any case the whole Navardok thing was a little outside the actual requirements of the Torah. For as is very well known the Torah requires one to be working and also learning--not just learning and  thus to be dependent on charity. But Navardok stepped over that line--far beyond it in fact. The idea was trust in God and learn Torah and He will send a shiduch [spouse] and also Parnasa [a vocation or cash]. 
However yeshivas have changed character and thus for myself I find it better to learn Torah on my own and not to be involved in any community. Spiritual health requires me to come to hope and trust in God and I find most religious groups are very bad for my spiritual health. They bring me down so far that it may take years to get back up.

[The religious groups that I find good and healthy are mainly the Lithuanian yeshivas in NY and Bnei Brak, and also the Silverman yeshivas in Jerusalem which go strictly by the Gra. However I should mention that I have a lot of respect for Reb Nachman, but not any of the groups that are under the excommunication of the Gra.]

the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam

In terms of the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam.
This I say even though I am aware that not all rishonim held by the 13 principles are articles of faith. There is Rav Joseph Albo [the author of the commentary on the Guide printed in most versions of the Guide.] And also Abravanel.

Rav Joseph Albo did not disagree about the truth of the principles but rather whether they are axioms of faith that one is required to believe.

 I should make clear that since I learned the writings of the Rav Isaac Luria, I do not think the simple explanation  of every verse in the Old Testament is what people think is literal. You can see this yourself if you learn the writings of the Ari {Isaac Luria}. For example when he explains the seven days of Creation as the seven lower sepherot of the world of Creation [under Emanation] he says clearly that that is the actual meaning of the verses, not a mystical explanation.
That is the simple Peshat "explanation" is the seven days are the seven lower sephotot of the world of Creation. The deeper explanation is what the verses refer to in Emanation.

First Hundred Items to Disappear in a crisis.

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and
friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate
    near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war
   quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to
   do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without
    heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of
    the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs
    enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more
    valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival
    guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll
    have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many
    people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of
    toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to
    lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches


pseudo sciences

Classical education used to stress Western Civilization. To some degree the fault that this disappeared is in the Frankfurt school that intended to undermine USA ideals. But also I should mention that the pressure of Sputnik I think caused the focus of education to change towards STEM. [And I am all for STEM but I also realize you need a basis in Western Ideals to support it.]

Mainly what education needs is to drop all the pseudo sciences  and anything that has the word "studies" in it. (What is pseudo science, everything that has the word "science" in it. The word "science" is always added to make something stupid sound profound].

I think there is plenty of room in high school for both STEM and Classical Quadrivium and Trivium which are known in books of Musar as "the seven wisdoms".

I should mention that the concepts of the Quadrivium and Trivium are not exactly as they sound today. The concepts are related Trivium means where the three roads meet. Quadrivium means where the four roads meet. That is there is a connection. number (Arithmetic), number in space (Geometry), number in time ( Music), number in space and time (Astronomy) etc. Thus today this would mean Vector Analysis, Physics, etc.

[If guess of mine is true then it is possible to equate the Gra and the Rambam. We know from  Baruk of Shkolov in his introduction to his translation of Euclid that the Gra emphasized learning the seven wisdoms. We also know the Rambam emphasizes Physics and Metaphysics. These seem like different areas. But we we understand the Quadrivium and Trivium not in their simple meaning but more as the ancients understood them then we can equate the Rambam with the Gra. [Thus Grammar:defining the objects and information perceived by the five senses. Hence, the Law of Identity: a tree is a tree, and not a cat. That is knowledge of phenomenal reality. etc.]


Jesus and Rav Avraham Abulafia

The major thing that I find  intriguing about Jesus is not the New Testament at all but rather Rav Avraham Abulafia, the mystic from the Middle Ages.  It is not just that he identifies Jesus with the Messiah son of Joseph mentioned in the Talmud Suka, the Zohar,  and the New Tikunim  by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzato, but more of interest is the  subject of Messiah Son of Joseph that you find in the Gra and the Ramchal. Furthermore in the Ari you find this idea of ירידת בדורות the lowering of the generations, but also many ideas that indicate something going on with Jesus of great interest. One thing is there are a few hints towards the idea of Jesus being the messiah son of Joseph in the commentary of the Ari on the end of Genesis where he associates Jesus with the soul of Joseph son of Yaakov. [The writings of the Ari are just called that. They are actually from Reb Chaim Vital. In any case, the major ones are the Eitz Chaim and the 8 Gates [eight books]. Three of those books are commentary on the Five Books of Moshe, and this idea is brought there.]

Some people take great offense at the slightest mention of anything positive about Jesus, but this has been my position since around 1993 when I was in the basement of Hebrew University studying the manuscripts of Rav Abulafia. 
 Dr. Moshe Idel has written a few books on Avraham Abulafia and Medieval Mysticism, but his major treatment of this issue is in his first book which was his Ph.D Thesis at Hebrew U.

In the meantime, you can actually get the books of Avraham Abulafia yourself without having to go through the torment of reading Medieval manuscripts. They were all printed up in the later years after I discovered this, and I think are available in books stores. At least I saw the entire set being sold in a book store near Kikar Shabat in Jerusalem.

I should mention that Rav Abulafia is brought down in the Chida and also Reb Chaim Vital in the last volume of Shaari Kedusha [not by name] where Reb Chaim Vital brings down unifications that come directly from Avraham Abulafia  (not the Ari).

[I would have spent more time learning Rav Abulafia, but in the meantime I started doing Physics and that took up a lot of time. But if  could, I would try to plow through all the books of Rav Abulafia along with the Ari and Remak. There are also some very nice books by Rav Yaakov Abukazeira and Shalom Sharabi, but where  am today they are not available. Besides that I think I was doing a lot better in life when I simply was learning Gemara at the Mir and in Israel. While the mystics are important and have a lot a great information, I find myself a lot more happy with simply learning Gemara. You can disagree with me, but my feeling is that the great mystics are good commentary on the Law of Moses, the Oral and Written Law-but that they are only a side issue. A Branch, but not the Law itself.]

[It occurs to me to bring up the idea of attachment  and "oneness" with God. This is actually a command in the Torah in Deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 20 and it is brought as far as I can recall by all of the people that enumerated the 613 commandments [mitzvot]. Thus the fact that Jesus said "the Father and I are one" does not mean the Trinity, but rather that he was attached to God or as most mystics put it "נכלל באור אין סוף" (included in the Infinite Light. I can understand that people that have not experienced this kind of Devekut (attachment with God) can find this hard to understand. Still this is a well known phenomena of a person feeling completely attached to God.]

The issue of trust in God comes up with King Asa who was one of the better kings of Judah and Benjamin. He got sick in his feet and the verse blames him for going to doctors instead of to God.
The Primary Musar book Obligations of the Heart חובות לבבות  says he should have trusted in God  but that השתדלות effort was allowed. One is not blamed for taking reasonable steps to get his needs met.
Reb Israel Salanter in the magazine he published in Vilna, the'' Tevuna'', says the Ramban [Nachmanides] disagrees with this. The disciple of R. Israel Salanter, the מדרגת האדם, brings this idea in the name of the Ramban.
I asked David Bronson (who studied the Ramban for years) where this Ramban is located? So far no one seems to know.

In any case the issue seems to me to be unclear when effort is required and when it is even forbidden and reflects lack of trust in God.

I think when the דרך הטבע [way of the world] mechanism is well understood, then one should go with that. It is rather in things that are not well understood that one should be passive.[That would be why King Asa was blamed for going to doctors.]

Trust was a major issue in the Mir Yeshiva in NY because of two issues: Parnasa [making a living] and Shiduchim [finding a wife].
I can not say I have a clear idea about when one should trust and when one should do effort, but the story about the death of George Washington is instructive. He was sick and the doctors were called in. The recommended blood letting. And after all, if a little blood letting is good for you, then a lot must be better. So they drained off about half his blood. Sometimes if you do not know what to do or you do n0t know the mechanisms involved, it is best to do nothing.


why do righteous people suffer?

The book of Job presents the issue of  why do righteous people suffer? This is a debate there.The sages of the Talmud take the position that Job was wrong. All suffering comes from sin.
But what does one do when he or she does not know what sin he is doing that he needs to repent on?
I should mention that often one's children do suffer from their own sins, but that if a parent repents on his sin that causes thoughts of repentance to enter into the minds of their children. But that leaves us with the original problem.
The books of Musar bring down the statement of the sages, "What should one do when he has sinned a grievous sin and is liable  the death penalty towards heaven? If he used to learn one page (of Gemara), he should learn two pages. If he used to learn one chapter (Mishna) he should learn two chapters." That is,-- to increase one's learning Torah. That is as Reb Nachman said because, "Torah is higher than repentance." If one learns Torah, that causes corrections in the world of repentance also.

Learning Torah ought to be along these lines:

Mikra, Mishna, Musar, Math. The four "M"s. "Mikra" in Hebrew means the Old Testament. Mishna refers to the six books of R. Yehuda HaNasi which contains the essence of the Oral Law. [The two Talmuds were both written as commentaries on the Mishna]. Musar (Moral principles) refers to mainly Mediaeval Books of Ethics but it also refers to more recent books of the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter. Math is basically my own short hand way of describing what the Rambam said about learning Physics and Metaphysics. Physics is mainly Functional  Analysis and Lie Groups.[But it has to be checked by objective reality. That is what makes it Physics.]

My parents also emphasized learning a vocation and survival skills.
[Survival skills means first of all to get as far away as possible from evil people. That s one tip they do not share with you in survival manuals.]

I should mention that the very best book I ever saw on the Mishna is the commentary of Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura which is printed with the Mishna in almost every edition. I just ate up that like apple pie. Every second I was not in the regular yeshiva sessions I ran to the Mishna with that commentary.

The disciple of the Gra, Reb Chaim from Voloshin concerning the issue of idolatry.

Worship of a human being [or even of a dead human being] does not have anything to do with the idea that he or she was immortal, or all knowing, or even the Creator. This you can see in the book of the disciple of the Gra, Reb Chaim from Voloshin the Nefesh HaChaim. There, Reb Chaim goes into detail showing that idolatry has to do with intention to connect one's soul with the spirit of that person.
This you can see most clearly in Buddhism. Even though today Buddha is considered "all knowing" [omniscient] by his followers, in the original texts there are statements that contradict this. In any case, even though Buddha is certainly worshiped, that  has nothing to do with the idea of his being immortal or a creator or omniscient. This is clearly as the Nefesh HaChaim points out.

[Nowadays, few people worship statues, but many people do worship dead people. I would not have believed how easy it is to fall for this if I myself had not seen this in the religious world. Even for this reason alone it is worthwhile to listen to the Gra.]

When you read the Old Testament and see how the kings of Israel (and even the kings of Judah) fell into idolatry, you cannot help but feel great frustration. You keep on asking yourself, "How could they have been so stupid?" And yet nowadays that the external form has changed, it is all too easy to fall into the same mistake and yet to think of ourselves as being clean and innocent of transgression.

[You could rightfully ask on this from the stories of Reb Chaim Vital going around to Kivrei tzadikim and making unification to tie his soul to the soul of that tzadik. Also Reb Nachman does say to tie one's soul to the soul of  a tzadik is a great thing. I have no good answers for these questions. Certainly I can see tying one's soul to a tzadik is better than doing so to a bad person. But still that does not take it out of the category of idolatry.]
As far as I can see going to Uman for Rosh Hashana is perfectly fine and even a great thing, but one must still be careful to direct all his/her prayers towards God alone.

Keeping the Law the Law of God is mainly a personal matter. The whole public show and dance really has nothing to help in that direction and mainly hurts.When it is public is usually just a show they put on to make pretend they are keeping Torah in order to get the money of secular Jews.
That does not mean that in theory there might be communities around authentic Litvak yeshivas that  in fact hep one to come to and keep Torah.
But mainly the whole show and dance is a scam to get people's money.
Best to stay away from the whole scam.
They love-bomb you to make the whole show seem credible. But if one really interested in keeping God's Law the only way is as a private matter. 


Sometimes people look at this blog that might not know the distinction between true Torah learners and counterfeit Torah scholars that are demons. Usually I assume people know the difference.
But just in case the basic idea is this: true Torah is based on the Gra and regular striaht Litvak yeshivas and false Torah of the Sitra Achra [Dark Side] is from the cults the Gra put into excommunication.
Also  have to add for the sake of clarity that Reb Nachman was not included in the excommunication.

[Normally I would not even bother to mention this, but when I see people looking at this blog from Indonesia I feel adding some clarity would be helpful.] [Most of the time the only readers I see I from the USA or the former republics of the USSR and also from Italy.]

One thing you might have noticed--and I did notice when I was still at the Mir in NY was that Rabain Gershom one of the commentaries on the page in Bava Batra holds that the law of saying lashon hara [saying something bad about someone] in front of three people is talking about straight lashon hara--not the dust of lashon hara. It's not just the Rashbam but Rabainu Gershom also.
This law says two things. Not just that if lashon hara has already been said n front of three then one can go an advertise it further. Also it says that it is allowed to say it in front of three.
This seems to be a proof to Rabainu Yona that lashon hara on true facts is not forbidden unless there is a possibility of collateral damage.
Furthermore I wanted to point out that the gemara uses this law of lashon hara in front of three to bring a proof that מחאה is in front of three witnesses. Thus a clear proof that the law of in front of three means that the one saying it is not one of the three!!

The prohibition of lashon hara is as it stands hard to keep and is a serious crime. But that does not mean one should make it more strict that the actual law requires.