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18.10.17

On the subject of constellations of belief I realize that people disappointed with one value system that they have inherited often jump into another value system and tend to project into its leaders all the holiness and light that they expected to see in their former value system but wre disappointed.
So no wonder that given enough time they discover in the new system the same degree of fraud and chicanery.
Mainly here I am referring to the recent scandals in Buddhism but I think my remarks apply in general.

Still I might mention that I do have myself my own constellation of values based on a few fundamental principles based on the Oral and Written Law [the law of Moses].
But I would have a hard time defining my own values. Still just the fact that my son was here in Uman with his interest in Buddhism got me thinking.

First of all I would have to say I disagree with Buddha in terms of the highest ideal being to be unattached to anything or anyone in this world. Non attachment seems to be a good principle when it comes to bad people-- to stay away from them as far as possible. But this is not a good principle when it comes to good and decent people. In particular I see Buddhism as having a goal of breaking family attachments and relationships. That seems frankly as the opposite of getting to one's true self. one's true self is not an isolated bubble in the void.

There are other things also that I am not sure how to phrase. One thing is meditation to come to know one's own mind is not possible since one is only thinking about what one remembers that he or she was thinking a few moments before. You can not think about what you are now thinking because you are thinking it now.


Constellations of Belief

People choose their belief system based on non rational principles. That is they choose a constellation of beliefs that have no rational connections.  For example in politics many beliefs of the Left are unconnected. e.g. animal rights having more value than the rights of an unborn child.
Also these beliefs are resistant to evidence. So clearly these constellations of belief are not based on reasons nor on evidence. Rather they are most often reactions against parents or some perceived opposite social group.


My son  was in Uman for Rosh Hashanah and brought with him a lot of books of Buddhism of the Westernized versions. [Not one authentic Buddhist text.] That got me thinking about this issue of constellations of values.

My basic reaction to Buddhism is that it is a much better than a lot of other things out there.

That is, I do have a basic idea of objective moral values based on my experience in my amazing parent's home. So any value system I measure with this measuring stick: does it bring to objective moral values? That is I do not even look at motivation, or words. Acta non verba. [Actions, not words].

To a large degree this idea of measuring any system based on objective values is certainly based on my own parent's home. But it is surely influenced by my background in high school where I did a lot of reading of Plato, Dante, Spinoza, the book of Job.

[I mean to say I had an idea about objective values from an early age and that was reinforced by my readings of Plato et al. My own religious education was in Reform Jewish Schools--so I also had a decent idea of what the Old Testament is about.]


[I am sorry I have not had much in the way of original ideas since I broke my foot and have been sick. I have not been able to do much thinking.]


A Constellation  of belief means if you believe one axiom of that group that you want to be associated with you have to believe other unrelated axioms or else be kicked out.





"Felix Mendelssohn I think was very great, but simply on a second tier. I mean you have top level Bach Mozart Beethoven. Then the second tier where there are a lot more people Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sibelius etc. Then there are people that are somewhere between those two levels Handel, Hayden Vivaldi etc. and lots of Renaissance.



As for literature --it is hard to tell who is really great. The reason is that takes a lot longer to tell what is of lasting worth. Shakespeare for example has withstood the test of time and even so I am not sure that he is as great as people claim [Not that I read all of his work. After around the play that slandered Joan of Arc I gave upon him.]. In terms of plays and stories on the top level I think Sophocles is a lot better.
{Besides that I think the Rambam would have forbid reading "literature". I doubt if he would have thought there is any intrinsic worth in it. But for that matter he would have also forbid music of any kind. He did not have the same opinion as the Gra about the "seven wisdoms." This basic idea of spending my time learning Torah I would be doing except that I did not get along very well in the religious kinds of places where books of Torah are to be found. So just from simple self preservation I do not go to such places so as not to give them a chance to hurt me any more than they already have.
But if I could I would get my own set of books of Torah and do them at home.--Torah is valid and important but the Sitra Achra has taken over the entire religious world from head to toe.]





I was once playing on the violin on the street in Geula, and a grandson of Rav Israel Abuchatzaira came by and asked me to play something from Felix Mendelssohn. [I think he might have asked specifically for the violin concerto.]
His mother [Avigail Buso] is very much into listening to classical music--i.e. the daughter of Rav Israel Abuchatzeira.
She however did not approve of my playing violin on the street. She offered me this offer: If I would sit and learn Torah she would pay all my expenses. I did not accept at the time because of my grievances against the religious world.They had already done enough damage to me to the degree I did not see this offer as a good thing.

17.10.17

In the book of Isaiah it says in ch 40 "To whom will you liken me?"  The Rambam (Maimonides) uses this verse as a commentary on the verses of the Torah that say God has no form.
The Rambam understands this verse to mean simply  that God has no character trait that one could ascribe to anything physical. Thus God has no form, no matter, no substance, no "essence" or anything else that could be ascribe to any physical being.
This is well known and common place, but in the Jewish religious world in the next breath, people will start to talk about God as if he has characteristics that could apply to physical beings or things.

Thus the basic beliefs are self contradictory, and therefore false.

I mean to say that if God would have any form or substance, then there would be things [Heaven forbid] that one could compare Him to. Therefore nothing that one can attribute to a physical being can be applicable to God.
 With the religious this change in the belief system of Torah goes along with worship of their religious teachers. They ascribe Divine traits to their leaders. Thus this change in the philosophy of Torah goes along with a hidden agenda. It is not an innocent mistake.
During the Middle Ages people did not think about politics even though they were aware that there were other forms of government like that of ancient Athens or Rome. Religion was the major source of value in people's lives that is what they spent their spiritual and mental enegy upon.
The reason for this is that politics was irrelevant. They lived under monarchs.


Nowadays people take that same energy and spend it on politics or conspiracy theories or alternative religions.
Breslov, New Age, Buddhism  are all motivated in this same way. Religion nowadays is almost always a reaction against something. Breslov is a last chance effort to find value in the religious world when people have been severely burnt. Buddhism (in the West) is a reaction against Christianity. New Age is similar.

Buddhism tries to break people's ties with their family and friends as if that will lead to Nirvana. They do this in the way of claiming there is no objective truth and therefore all truth is only what is inside of one, not in his relationship with others.

Webs of words are woven by all these cults not to reveal truth but to hide it.

Erez [a disciple of Rav Shick who later became a cult leader seperate from Rav Shick] used to say about Rav Shick's booklets "they have shining words". I always used to wonder about this. Shining words are not necessarily true words. In fact I have an aversion to too many words and too much talking.  One of the reasons I never went for a degree in philosophy was I could not stand the obsession with words that philosopher have. As soon as a philosopher says something about language I change the channel.



16.10.17



Reb Nachman  emphasized the need for a spiritual teacher. The problem with this is legitimating-idolatry -and-cultish-behavior.
[This should not be taken as critique on any of Reb Nachman's teachings but rather on how people misuse them. I consider Reb Nachman to be a true tzadik and I feel that a good deal of my personal growth while in Israel should be attributed to my following his good ideas.]


The legitimating narrative of Breslov lays the groundwork for an authoritarian inclined leader/tzadik– – to draw his followers into a cult-like world dependent on obedience, the master’s approval, and an ethical framework reflecting the master’s self-serving interests.

Breslov

In Breslov it is related related the following exchange  that indicates a view of what a tzadik is supposed to do or be. Someone asked, “If a tzadik is capable of doing miracles, why doesn’t he do them?… Why doesn’t  the tzadik make the blind see, or touch a crazy person and make him sane? Wouldn’t even such a showy miracle as walking on water make people believe in Breslov…” One person replied, “ Miracles are not the thing of Reb Nachman. Many people want miracles, and if they witness miracles they become attached to them. But miracles are only a technique. They are not the true way.”

Here we see the tzadik implying that he too could perform  miracles , only that he dismisses them as “only a technique” which is “not the true way.” He claims not to do miracles because it would distract people from “the true way.” His reply is a slap at Christainity for using flashy techniques to attract people who do not have the highest goals.

One person said
"It should be remembered that the mind of the tzadik is ever pure… and even if the tzadik sins, he is still to be considered a true tzadik

Here the reader is informed that no matter what the tzadik does, it is beyond both the reader’s and the student’s understanding, because the tzadik’s mind is ever pure, a mysterious state beyond the ordinary person’s comprehension. The student is informed that the master’s authority must be taken totally on faith in the infallibility and omniscience that is implicit in his title tzadik. According to this the student is incapable of making any judgments relating to the master’s activities.

 The student is informed that the tzadik’s authority must be taken totally on faith in the infallibility and omniscience that is implicit.. According to Breslov, the student is incapable of making any judgments relating to the tzadik’s activities.

One person wrote:
A tzadik is a person who has actualized that perfect freedom which is the potentiality for all human beings. He exists freely in the fullness of his whole being. The flow of his consciousness is not the fixed repetitive patterns of our usual self-centered consciousness, but rather arises spontaneously and naturally from the actual circumstances of the present. The results of this in terms of the quality of his life are extraordinary-buoyancy, vigor, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, security, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity and unfathomable compassion … Without anything said or done, just the impact of meeting a personality so developed can be enough to change another’s whole way of life. But in the end it is not the extraordinariness of the tzadik that perplexes, intrigues, and deepens the student, it is the teacher’s utter ordinariness.
 This introduction was meant to describe a real tzadik, and by extension, as is clearly stated, all people with the title tzadik. It is not an idealized reference to a heavenly being or some distant or mythological religious figure.

To summarize, in the definitions and descriptions of the tzadik quoted above, there is an extraordinary claim to authority. These descriptions were given by individuals who are themselves thought to be tzadikim (tzadik plural), the very official spokespersons for institutions and believed by credulous people to be the only valid voices of Torah.

One can easily see from these descriptions of a tzadik that it is not necessary for any particular tzadik to make claims concerning his/her own enlightenment or his/her own level of perfection: because  institutional traditions repeat this claim for the person sitting in the role of tzadik. Any particular Breslov follower, who is adequately socialized into a given group, cannot but see the tzadik as expressing the Mind of God. Indeed, the tzadik often believes the same thing. Through its structure, mythology, its ritual practices, and perhaps most significantly through its use of a special set of terms and definitions, the institution reinforces this claim for the tzadik.

WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR  CLAIMS OF SUCH AUTHORITY?

Breslov bases its authority  through the idea of soul to-soul  transmission. This transmission is ritualized as  an event  by which the enlightened mind of the tzadik itself has been passed down through the ages. Similar to one candle lighting the next in a supposed unbroken chain, the enlightened mind of the tzadik is transmitted, from one enlightened tzadik to the next. Breslov claims this transmission is a separate transmission outside the teachings, that is, outside of texts. In doing so it marks itself as essentially different from and more authoritative than a straight forward Litvak yeshiva that claims no authority outside of what is written in the Oral and Written Law which anyone can buy and read. In this Breslov scheme, the living tzadik standing in front of you is the last in this unbroken series of enlightened beings. Hence, holding the title tzadik becomes an unquestioned marker of authority. Everyone else is open to delusional thoughts, self interest, self aggrandizement, and all the short comings of ordinary human beings.

To summarize, the basis for  authority is composed of three elements:

(1) tzadik is considered an enlightened being beyond the understanding of ordinary people – a living person who sits in for the true tzadik.
(2) transmission according to convention is the formal recognition on the part of the tzadik that the disciple has attained an understanding equal to that of the teacher.
(3) Unbroken lineage supposedly starting long ago and continuing through the historical tzadik down to the present day living tzadikim.
It will help in understanding Breslov social functioning to keep in mind the basic model of religious authority. That the standard setup for religious authority requires three mutually reliant zones: (1) a deep origin of truth or perfection in the form of a past sage, saint, deity, or Being; (2) a means for bringing that truth-perfection forward in time; and (3) a contemporary spokesperson for that primordial truth-perfection who is sanctioned to represent it in the present, and distribute it to the believing public, which delegates to him just this power and legitimacy. Religious authority always involved in a "to and fro" back and forth, shuttling back and forth between its deep origins and its application in the present. Put otherwise, in any moment of religious authority, there is always an audience focused on the singular priest-figure, who is expected to funnel the totality of truth and being from the past into the group.


In Breslov the tzadik is the deep origin of truth, transmission and the idea of unbroken lineage are the means for bringing that truth-perfection forward in time, while the living tzadik is the contemporary spokesperson for that primordial truth-perfection.  It is not surprising that around Breslov centers the focus is on who does and does not have  transmission rather than on what it actually means or what these people actually are or do.

This creates a hierarchical power relationship. So called "insight" or "wisdom", can function as the basis of this relationship between student and tzadik. Essentially, every aspect of the student’s life is open to the teacher’s judgment. The struggle occurs over at least two issues, the student wanting to be recognized for having realized the "truth", and over the student being authorized to be a teacher in his/her own right along with the perks and privileges of the position. Both these issues depend solely on the teacher’s unquestionable decision.

 Breslov places importance  on their "tzadik's  lack of self interest and supposed unconcern with his public image. This doesn’t mean there is, in fact, a lack of self-interest, only that the master’s self-interest can more easily be disguised beneath the  ideals of "enlightened mind," selflessness, and teaching. In contrast, common people cannot be trusted because by nature their actions are driven by self interest. The imputed lack of self interest of the tzadik implies that everything the tzadik does is to help the student, whether the student understands this or not.

These imputed qualities of the master:
(1) lack of self interest
(2) everything the master does is to help the student
easily combine to become tools of dominance and abuse in interpersonal relations between the master and his disciples.

And in fact there is widespread abuse.







Causality is true and things have no space-time coordinate until observed.

The general way I have thought about causality for a while is that the fact that nature violates Bell's inequality means we have to throw out one of two things (1) reality, or (2) causality/locality. Since GPS proves relativity is correct so we know it is the first assumption must be thrown out.
[That is we know there is space-time, but things have no space-time coordinate until observed.]

There would be no reason to mention this except that I noticed the locality also comes up in QM in terms of showing that Dirac particles (of 1/2 spin) must be fermions (obey the Pauli exclusion principle) and can not be bosons.
You need the commutator [ψ (x, 0),  ψ*(y,0)] must be zero because the separation between x and y is space-like.  So it seems to me that an important result in QM depends on the fact that there can be no effects that are not local. (The star * I mean as the complex conjugate transposed).

The fact of locality is denied so often that I feel it is important to mention this more than once.

The nicest explanation of this subject I saw in a free book of lectures on QM by Dr. Doren Cohen in Beer Sheva. He explained the subject of Bell's inequality very nicely. Later on on I noticed in the lectures of Allan Guth at MIT how the fact that things with integer spin can not obey the Pauli exclusion principle depends on relativity.

15.10.17

I used to be a lot more positive about Islam until Muslims made multiple attempts to take my life. One time I think I was saved only in circumstances that could only be described as miraculous. Since then my attitude change slowly. It took time for the full impact to sink in. So nowadays I look at the Muslim invasion of Europe as being a basically bad thing.

The great thing about Reality is that it corrects false beliefs.
Islam has nice sounding words on paper, but when people try to translate it into the real world, something goes haywire and the tendency is to become violent.

When the World Trade Center was destroyed no one thought for a second maybe it is the work of some Catholic nun or Buddhist monk. There is clearly some evil spirit infesting Islam. 
 Should one  follow signs?  I generally do. This was mentioned by Reb Nachman as being a lower level of awareness, but even so it has validity. But one can get too involved in it. When the Dark Side notices one is following signs, then it begins to send signs of its own.
It works better when it is spontaneous--that is when one is not looking, and then out of the blue comes some sign. A friend of mine Moshe, suggested that signs are the result of the higher realms of reality sending messages into this realm.  A lot depend on what god one is following.

14.10.17

Guaranteed income? Who will pay for it? You,

Briefly, the reason is that hypothetical thought experiments  provide a way of mentally isolating a causal, explanatory, or logical factor for examination on its own which normally, in the real world, cannot be isolated, and to do so while still discussing a concrete situation.

 David Hume once came up with this thought experiment: suppose that in the middle of the night, the  money in everyone's wallet, safe, or other stash, suddenly doubled in quantity - so there is twice as much money, but no other changes are made. Would the country then suddenly be enormously better off - would we all be twice as wealthy as we are now? No, in fact we would have exactly the same amount of wealth as we presently do, for there would be exactly the same amount of capital around, and the same availability of labor. (Everyone could then double their prices.) What this shows is that increases in the money supply do not translate to increased wealth; it can also be used to explain why increases in the money supply cause inflation.

Of course, such a scenario is impossible: all our money cannot magically double in quantity. But that is not the point. The reason the thought experiment is useful is that this way of thinking of it enables you to mentally isolate just the one factor desired for consideration: the quantity of money. We imagine just the quantity of money changed and nothing else. In the real world, one cannot do this. In the real world, it is not possible to change the money supply uniformly (i.e. increasing everyone's money, without redistribution) and it is impossible to change the money supply without affecting the economy in some other way at the same time. So I cannot cite a historical case in which nothing but the money supply was altered. This is why thought experiments are useful.

The fact the the big "Trusts" come up with studies saying the opposite is that they have been pro communism for  along time.







In the Torah there is a command to obey and respect one's parents. And in the Shema we find the specific command of learning and teaching Torah to be from father to son. Teachers of Torah get no respect in Torah.

When a  doubt arises in a specific law there is  a command to go to the Sanhedrin to decide how to apply the law. That is; the court of three; and if they do not know, then the local court of 23; and if they do not know, then the supreme court of 71. [That is the authority of parents is basically what they say you must unless it against something else the Torah says. The authority of the Sanhedrin is only in specific cases that come to court because how to apply the law is in doubt.]

Teachers of Torah have  a few things going against them. (1) The prohibition of taking a salary of money in order to teach Torah.  (2) The prohibition of taking a salary of money to learn Torah.
(3) There is no semicha [ordination] ever since the middle of the Talmudic period. (4) Willful lying about all three of the above mentioned items.

But if you look at the general picture of religious abuse it seems to me that the whole problem if really just part of  a larger problem; the fact that the Sitra Achra [Dark Side] uses religious teachers to destroy people's moral values (and sense of reason).
Thus the best idea is to learn Torah at home, along with the few other subjects recommended by the Rambam and the Gra, "the seven wisdoms,"  Physics and Metaphysics. [I mean the Gra said to learn the seven wisdoms and the Rambam wrote that one should learn Physics and Metaphysics.]


13.10.17

How do you find a teacher that will not cause more damage than benefit?

There was a discussion in ancient Athens about if it is worthwhile to train one's children how to fight in armor. Socrates and two distinguished generals and two fathers went to a demonstration of how to do this. One of the generals said that he had seen the fellow doing the demonstration in an actual battle and he had shown himself to be  a perfect coward and incompetent. [See the book of Plato called Laches]

This brings out the more modern question should one send his teach his children to teachers to learn .. meditation? Torah? survival skills? How can one tell what they might pick up?

Even if you have a good idea what to teach your children, how do you pick find competent teachers?
How do you find a teacher that will not cause more damage than benefit?

There is also the trouble of how to avoid criticizing some teacher who very well might be a trickster, but one who still your children get benefit from?
Sometimes one cult is a good way to escape from a worse cult.

  I see this world as a battle ground between good and evil in each area of value. So even if one area of value is good, still the most famous teachers are more than likely to be damaging to that area.

Mainly I am referring here to teachers of Zen and other forms of Eastern religions. My impression is they do not add much good to people's character. But my comments could just as well apply to the religious Jewish world.

I should add that thanks to God I usually was guided in such a way as I almost always had great teachers. Beverly Hills High School, then Shar Yashuv in Rav Freifeld's yeshiva and then the Mir in NY. the best ones were Mr Smart the music teacher. Naphtali Yeagert the rosh yeshiva in Far Rockaway and Reb Shmuel Berenbaum the rosh yeshiva of the Mir.





Lashon Hara/slander

I noticed that when people divorce they often tend to say something negative about their former spouse.This brings up the subject of Lashon Hara [which means saying something critical about someone else].

This subject was very much in the consciousness of most people at the Mir Yeshiva in NY when I was there. It was not a part of the official sessions but there was a grandson of Rav Avigdor Miller  who started a kind of mini-session every day after the morning prayer.
One question that was brought up the was about the law of באפי תלתא in front of three. That is  the law that if lashon hara has been said in front of three people, one can spread it even further because it is already considered to be known publicly. The problem is the person that is asking the question is one of the three. So just tell him "No" and then there will not be three people spreading the lashon hara.

I mentioned to Shimon Buso that often this prohibition is used to protect corrupt people in authority. And he answered me that without learning the Chafetz Chaim, then the whole issue is הפקר a free for all. That is unless people learn the laws about lashon hara then they usually are not even aware that what they say might be lashon hara.
Rav Israel Abuchatziera had only one picture in his home, that of the Chafetz Chaim. No one knows why. But it is possible to speculate that it was a combination of respect along with the reminder to be careful about lashon hara.

On the other hand you are suppose to warn others of possible dangers about fraudsters and crooks and cults. The Na Nach group assumes all religious teachers are fraudsters until proven otherwise. It certainly seems true to me that they have  a good point. [But to me it seems that the real problem is the religious world follows social norms that are opposite to everything the Torah says. What Na Nach say however is true that the main problem starts with the teachers. There seems to be some aspect of the Dark Side that takes over their personalities. The issue was brought up by Reb Nachman who discussed מפורסמים של שקר charismatic evil teachers. But Reb Israel Odessar shortened it to "מפורסם= שקר" once a teachers is famous, then you already know he is false.



12.10.17

Some people in order to lend to their ideas the appearance of divine authority adopt the same device as Zoroaster and Mohammed.
Mani did this having discovered a cave through which there ran a stream of water, he laid up in it a store of provisions, and retired there for a year, giving out that he was on a visit to heaven.  In this retirement he produced his book a work  the ingenuity of which has been greatly praised.

This is common nowadays in the Jewish world. People do not claim to visit heaven physically but they do claim to have gone there in spirit and to bring back their particular configuration of confused ideas. [Instead of trying to nullify the laws of the Torah they make them irrelevant or secondary to their new revelations.]

The particular problem with this is that in the Law of Moses it is stated there will never be  a new Law from God. Sinai was a one time event. [Prophecy is not to bring new teachings nor new interpretations of the Torah]. [Deuteronomy 29:29]

Nowadays it is easier to claim divine revelation since one does not have to go into a cave for a year to do so. But one has to make sure that his disciples are the ones that claim it openly, not himself. It is fairly easy in the West but harder in India where people are used to charlatans and give them tests to see if they are real. In the West all one needs is one or two gullible disciples to get the ball rolling.

Besides all that, a prophecy to add or subtract any commandment in the Torah gives the prophet the category of a false prophet [Deuteronomy 13].

11.10.17

I recall Allan Bloom [in the closing of the American Mind] brought the idea that the social studies departments and humanities at USA universities were mainly postmodern nonsense.

My basic feeling is to go through the basic ABC's from beginning to end. That is to have one session in the Written Law, one session in the Oral Law starting with the Mishna  and getting up to the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. Then one session in Physics and another in Math. Though the Rambam emphasize both Physics an Metaphysics I would hold off on Metaphysics until I had finished Shas and Physics.

The teachers of Postmodern stuff and PC and pseudo Torah I recommend shooting.



[In short the  major ideas about learning I want to introduce are these (1) דרך גירסה the path of just saying the words in order and then going on with no review until one has finished the book. (2) שיעורין כסדרן sessions in order. That is to have separate sessions  each day in all the major subjects. That is to learn them in order. (3) To learn the Written Law  (the Old Testament), whole Oral Law in order,  the two Talmuds and all the midrashim; Physics, Metaphysics ]

limits of knowledge

(1) What you can derive from Socrates  is that it is more important to know what you do not know than it is to know what you do know. There were plenty of people in Athens that knew how to work as a blacksmith and other professions. But they were not  aware of the limits of their knowledge.

The oracle had said about Socrates that he was the wisest and that meant he was the most wise because he knew that he knew nothing. That is to say that even when he went around in Athens talking with artisans that in fact knew their own professions very well, that did not add up against the fact that they were unaware of what they did not know. Therefore Socrates was wiser that all of them because of his awareness of not knowing anything except that one fact that he was ignorant of everything.

(2) This is one of the difficulties I discovered in yeshiva. Sometimes you could find someone who knew a little Talmud. But along with that knowledge came a kind of hubris  that: "Since we know  Talmud, therefore we know everything." Clearly that is a leap in logic that does not follow

(3) This comes up in Reb Nachman a few times. תכלית ידיעה שלא נדע: "The peak of knowledge is that we should not know." [It comes up in a chapter that is reputed to be from the ספר הנשרף the  book that had his deep lessons that he burnt because he thought the world was not ready for those higher lessons. ]

This also come up in השמטות the lessons that were left out but later included as an appendix. That is where he says all the מידות were מתפשטות until God limited them and that includes wisdom.

[4] In the way Buddhism is presented in the West [and Hinduism also] you get this impression that often people that teach it and learn it are unaware of what they do not know. They do talk about higher knowledge without actually being aware of what constitutes knowledge in the first place and what makes it different from opinion.  Nor does it seem to bother them that if there is no atman-no self then there is nothing that can become enlightened.



[5] I would like to mention Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in this context. Dr Kelley Ross holds that there is a third source of knowledge which is not sensory nor reason. Hegel holds that through a process of dialectics reason can cross the boundaries of reason.
 Though I left Kant for last, still I feel his approach to this whole issue is the best.











I was sick

Yesterday was the first day I actually walked (or limped) in 49 days. I am very grateful to God for sending me to the local hospital in Uman where there is a great doctor [Alexandr Sergevitch] and  a great nursing staff. After I broke my leg  and foot in three places,  I was offered a new apartment by a fellow Sasha and my son came from the USA to take care of me.
So God's mercies are great. However this all still leaves me wondering about what lessons were meant to be learned?



I mean to say-- that there is a principle brought in the Talmud: "אין יסורים בלי עוון" "There are no troubles without sin." So any kind of trouble I have is always with some kind of sin. Either some sin caused it, or that the sin simply took away some kind of Divine protection.
I might have seen this in the gemara Shabat itself or the Gates of Repentance by Rabbainu Yona. [In both places that statement of the sages is brought.] But I think I probably saw it in one of the books of Musar from the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter.

[I should mention I was sick in my stomach after being released [from the local hospital in Uman]  and went to the "hospital of the region" where also there was a great staff of doctors and nurses that helped me get better. In fact after taking the medicine they prescribed, the pain went away within about one or two minutes-and that was about the most excruciating pain I have every felt.


Clearly repentance as a concept is simple: to correct what one is doing that is not in accord with the Law of Moses. That is simply to keep the law of Moses. However what that actually means in practice is  not clear to me. What generally was done at the Mir yeshiva in NY was for people to emphasize  certain basic principles in the hope that that would help to come to keep the entire Torah. So in practice what almost everyone did was to emphasize not speaking lashon hara [i.e.not to speak evil about others] and to learn Torah. Those were clearly the two most important principles at the Mir. One could easily say in my case there is a  need to get back to these two things.

10.10.17

Divine simplicity

Divine simplicity is something  that Christians have had trouble with as is well known. I have been hoping to write something about this for a few days but just have not had energy.

The main point I wanted to bring up is that this is the reason I think the (Rambam) רמב''ם made it a point to emphasize that God has no מידות, character traits.

It has been known for some time that introducing ideas into the Mind of God violates Divine simplicity. But what I think the Rambam is doing is even suggesting that even introducing Divine traits violates Divine simplicity.

I think the letter of excommunication that the Gra signed also was intended to guard Divine Simplicity.

Divine simplicity means God is not a mixture of things. (He is not a composite.) Also it means: He has no characteristics that are associated with the physical world. He has no form, no matter, no substance, etc.
I am grateful to God for granting to me a girl friend. I fully understand that it is better to be married but the religious world made sure and doubly sure that that would not be. It is in that area that I found the religious world to be as evil as humanly possible. They say they are for family values but I would be married today if I had never had anything to do with them. Thinking that they keep the Torah just because they claim so is  a grave error. They did everything possible to hurt my family and since then I have learned to keep as far from them as possible.

It is however an interesting question to ask, "Why and from where this problem stems from?" But others have asked this and no one that I have ever heard of has given much of an answer. Reb Israel Salanter tried to deal with this issue.

My basic impression I have to say is that the closer people are to keeping the path of the Gra the closer they are to holiness and human decency. The main trouble seems to be when people ignore the signature of the Gra on the letter of excommunication.

I do not have much of  a theory for this--it is just my observation based on many years of experience.



In any case I just wanted to mention the basic idea of a girl friend is an argument among Rishonim. Rambam against.  All others are in favor. The Gra brings the verse about Calev ben Yefuna in Chronicles chap 2 verse 46 as a proof that a girl friend in allowed.



In Kings 18 it says the reason Israel was exiled was because they were not keeping the laws of Moses.

In terms of having a good  idea of what the actual Torah requires the best thing is to learn the Mishna of R. Yehuda Hanasi. This is the book that contains the entire Oral Law. This has the advantage of being short and concise. It is simple and understandable.
Knowledge about what the Torah requires is needed in this generation since there are too many liars that claim to know this--and even expect to get paid for their false knowledge.

[In theory one could just go through the whole Talmud  but that is a big project. The Talmud itself was written as a commentary on the Mishna so it is best at first to get the basic structure of the Oral Law.]


There are books that gives to the layman basic knowledge of what the requirements of the Torah are. But in my view it is better to go to the original sources.

Some people like layman introductions, but I prefer to go to original sources. For some reason I have always been like this. Even when I was circa seven years old, I preferred learning a collage chemistry book rather than simple introductions to chemistry written for my age group. (My mother offered to buy a simple introduction but I asked her to buy the college chemistry instead.) But since I am not very smart I often go to secondary material after I have read the original sources.

But since original source material is often hard to understand what I do is to say the words in order and to just go on and not worry if I understood everything perfectly. This idea is brought in the Musar book אורחות צדיקים and Reb Nachman also goes into this in Sichot Haran 76.

Exchange of the commandments is a major problem nowadays. People often want to keep the Laws of Moses but then come along people that exchange their commandments with the commandments of the Torah--and then they claim their commandments are in fact what the Torah requires. So to have an idea of what the Torah actually requires is important so that you know what it does not require or even forbids. Mitzvot made up out of thin air is the major problem nowadays.



9.10.17

U-17 G Major u-18 U-20 A Major

Psalms 92: For You have made me joyful Lord by your works, I will sing about the doings of you hands.

כי שמחתני ה' בפעליך במעשה ידיך ארנן For You have made me joyful Lord by your works, I  will sing about the doings of you hands.

From the standpoint of Maimonides, there is a close connection between learning Physics and Metaphysics with Love and Fear of God.

This has nothing to do with mental capacity, but rather it is simply considered more or less along the same lines as learning Torah.

This you can see is based on Saadia Gaon. Later the Rambam [Maimonides] and the Obligations of the Heart חובות לבבות  and the מעלות המידות pick up the same theme.

Clearly later on polemics against all secular learning were reactions to the Enlightenment. However some geonim and many other rishonim were against all forms of secular learning unless it is for the sake of a vocation, e.g. Rav Hai Gaon--the last gaon, and the Rashba and Ramban/Nachmanides.


So the issue is simply a מחלוקת ראשונים an argument among mediaeval authorities. And once you have come to realize that, then there is not a lot more to say. An argument among mediaeval authorities is simply one of those things that are un-decidable. They are (as Motti Freifeld [son of the Rosh Yeshiva of Shar Yashuv] once told me) "אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים" "These and those are the words of the Living God." [That is  a quote from the Talmud about an argument between the sages of the Mishna.]


I should mention just as a side note that nowadays I generally go with the approach that Physics ad Metaphysics are important which is along the lines of the Rambam and my parents. However when I was in the Mir in NY and also in Israel I was going with the "Torah alone" approach.
One way to defend the Rambam approach is by the idea of the hidden Torah inside the work of creation.  That is a mystical concept from Reb Nachman but it does seem to be the way the Rambam is understanding this.
The way I personally do Physics nowadays is the way of  "not trying." That is I just say the words and go on. This is called דרך גירסה and for me it seems to work. This path of learning  is brought in the Gemara and the Musar book אורחות צדיקים


[I might mention the requirement of learning Torah along with this which to me means basically Gemara Rashi and Tosphot and the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach which is the best thing in terms of "Lumdut." --deep learning. I might be doing more of that myself if I had any books.]




















8.10.17

a bad education can damage one's soul permanently.

[1] What is bothering me about  religious education is the fact that a bad education can damage one's soul permanently.
[2] Few people are aware of the dangers of a  Jewish education.  Learning Torah is not the same as being an apprentice under the local blacksmith. Torah is very different. And since it is usually taught by people that are not worth anything, the results are obviously not far off.

I would perhaps go into this if I was not so weak and sick. But in short the main idea is that bad teachers produce bad results and Torah is not like learning a profession. It goes down into the very essence of one' soul.
Obviously the Na Nach people are acutely aware of this more than any group I have seen. In any case, the issue really  began in my mind this morning when I thought about the basic idea of the Rambam that the commandments of the Torah have a purpose and that is to bring to several things which could be called objective morality.

The people that are there even in the best of yeshivas to teach Musar/ Ethics to me seem to be  far from normative objective morality. So perhaps how to become a decent person is possible to teach and to learn but they do not seem to be the people capable of doing so.

Just to be fair there are still around a few good places like Ponovitch or the great NY Litvak yeshivas. But my point is that the idea that just getting an education is  a good thing is completely wrong. In fact unless you are actually going to the Mir or some clearly decent place then the best thing is to avoid the whole bunch of frauds and jerks.

To teach Torah for money is forbidden. מה אני (לימדתי תורה) בחינם אף אתם (תלמדו תורה) בחינם. So in any case the whole scam does not have anything to stand on. And that is an open Gemara in Bava Batra.




England used to execute thieves.

One person (call him Moshe) was telling me he would not have a problem with people attacking him because he treats people with respect. That ignores the fact that there are people who choose violence as the first option. I have unfortunately encountered people that choose theft and violence as the first means of getting what they want and there are plenty more that I have not met.  The next day that same person, Moshe  was walking in the city and met a person who told him openly that he is  a  thief  and after talking a while asked him to buy some alcohol. Moshe said fine and bought 50 grivans worth with a 200 grivan  bill and the thief returned 100 grivans. Thus teaching Moshe that some people steal and lie just for the fun and thrill of it.  This is just one mild example of a very terrible phenomenon that exists among people. There are plenty that choose theft and violence just because it gets results and is fun.

England used to execute thieves. Japan also until recently. No wonder these two countries are First World countries. They got rid of the bad genes and the DNA carriers. [You could also just lock them up long enough to make sure they do not pass on their genes to the next generation.]

[The reason the Tzar and the USSR dealt harshly with thieves was this reason: There is no cure for a thief. Once they have started down that path they do not ever go back to human decency.]

What do we do about people who have already turned to violence as their tactic of choice? Most pacifists react to this issue by simply pretending that it doesn't exist, that people either never deliberately choose violence, that violence always stems from earlier violence, poverty, or injustice, or that if people do deliberately choose violence, it's in rare cases that are not really of great importance.

The Cycle of Violence Steven Dutch's essay

Before we go any further, take your mouse and put the cursor on the bold lettering above.

Now, notice what you did. In order to move the mouse, you had to exert force, and very precise and gentle force at that. You didn't rip the mouse cord out of the computer, or crush the mouse in your grip, or push so hard on it that you mashed the trackball flat. The notion that force inexorably spirals out of control is precisely that trivially easy to refute.

Now it's probably true that resorting to unnecessary violence may very well lead to retaliation. So restraint in dealing with confrontations is usually a good idea. But all the talk about "ending the cycle of violence" fails to address the key question what do we do about people who have already turned to violence as their tactic of choice? As a problem-solving tool, "violence first" has a couple of things going for it:

It's simple
It gets results, especially after word gets around that you don't hesitate to use violence
It's gratifying. You get to vent pent-up rage, feel dominance over others, maybe even a sexual turn-on
Most pacifists react to this issue by simply pretending that it doesn't exist, that people either never deliberately choose violence, that violence always stems from earlier violence, poverty, or injustice, or that if people do deliberately choose violence, it's in rare cases that are not really of great importance. But history abounds with examples of people who have deliberately chosen violence. The ease with which people from non-violent backgrounds have been induced to commit atrocities in wartime shows how easy it can be for the violent to recruit assistants, and for the gratification factor to take hold. Thus, a single individual who opts for violence because he enjoys domination may succeed in recruiting many others less bold than he is. How do we respond to people who have opted for violence? Appeasement merely reinforces the conviction that violence gets results. Moreover, it provides gratification by reinforcing the feeling of dominance. When confronting people who have already opted for violence, non-violence has a very good chance of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Retaliatory force, on the other hand, makes the results of violence a lot less simple, a lot less effective in getting results, and a lot less gratifying.

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

Throwing the First Punch

7.10.17

How much is Hegel really to blame for the terrible use the Marxists make of his writings?

 How much is Hegel really to blame for the terrible use the Marxists make of his writings? They reject openly most of his system [objective morality] but still use some of his paradigms. [Marxism holds that moral values are not objective but are mere fictions invented by the ruling class to further its class interests (much like religion)] It should be easy to say this except for the fact that obviously the Kant/Friesian school does not like Hegel and in fact put the full blame and guilt of communism on his shoulders. Popper especially. It is not uncommon to hear people saying Hegel was incoherent.

But there was one thing that always bothered me about the idea of accusing  Hegel of absurdities. That is that I had read about 20 years ago in NY a Cambridge companion to Hegel and I knew he had a well worked out system.

To me it  makes more sense to redeem Hegel than to blame him.


This issue seems urgent because the USA is breaking apart over  the battle between traditional family Judaeo-Christian values as opposed to Marxism (Socialism). And to me it seems obvious that without Hegel, the Marxists would never have gotten off the first floor. They  could never have convinced anyone of their absurdities if not for taking the name of Hegel in vain. It was the use of Hegel that let  them be  believable.

[I broke my leg and after that got diverticulitis.  I was in a hospital in Uman and my brother urged me to leave the Ukraine and get an operation in either the USA or Israel. I stayed where I was and I am very grateful to God that He sent to me a great doctor who did the operation Alexandr Sergevitch, and a great nursing staff. Later after I was released I got diverticulitis and went to the other hospital right outside Uman that has a very good reputation that is called the hospital of the region. [Bolnitza Rayona.]  [It is outside of Uman on the Kiev Odessa highway.]  There God again had compassion on me and sent to me great doctors. [There had been a doctor at the first hospital who was a leftover from the old USSR who caused disasters on whom so ever he touched. But he was no longer working there. The doctor who saw me after my accident was not Soviet trained but young and had learned in Dnepropetrovsk. Apparently they have  a big institution there.]

This accounts for my not writing on my blog. I have been very weak and not able to do any learning or thinking.]

After I was out I talked  with a nurse that was visiting from Estonia. I told her that I suspect that medicine in 1st world countries is not so great, and that is one reason I did not run to the USA for an operation.  And she told me about one patient of hers that the doctors in the one of the best hospitals in the West killed by means of chemotherapy. He walked in looking 50 years old and two weeks later looking 70 and then a short time later died. I said: "The trouble with medicine in 1st world countries is they have too many toys."















6.10.17

Putting together my worldview in elementary school and high school. Going to a Lithuanian yeshiva was the best possible choice.

I spent a good amount of effort putting together my worldview in elementary school and high school.

I had a notebooks filled with ideas that I would jot down at night before going to sleep. Often I would think of some new idea right before falling asleep and get up and write in down and then go back to bed.

It is hard to know if I would have been doing this thinking if the atmosphere of the time did not call for it.That was at the height of the hippie movement. The hippies had one basic message:"Tear down the system," and they assumed that after they would succeed they would build a utopia in its place. But most people did not think tearing down the system was the best idea. But people did accept that the system needed to be examined.

I did a great deal of readings: Plato, Dante, Spinoza, Herman Hesse, Chinese Philosophies. But Philosophy of the twentieth century seemed to me to be obviously false and vacuous. It was not just that it was self contradictory and full of circular reasoning, but also they (twentieth century philosophers) did not care about reason and logic at all. To them the more unreasonable their ideas were  the better.

But my ideas had a lot to do with Socrates and living the good life. Not just philosophy for the sake of interesting ideas.

So going to Shar Yashuv and the Mir Yeshiva in N.Y. was about as a well thought out choice as I could have made.

There was also the issue that my parents obviously had a extremely happy marriage and sense  of family values. And to me it seemed secular society was on the warpath against family values. I did not think I was going to manage to build a family in secular society.

In hind sight, the going to a Lithuanian yeshiva was the best possible choice I could have made in terms of family. But right outside the door of many Lithuanian yeshiva is a "kelipa" (a dark force of evil/ the religious world) which is a power from the Dark Side that is more destructive to family than secular society.
I was not aware (at the time) of the danger of the religious world. I am now.

[The way to understand the problem is that where holiness exists, the Sitra Achra (the Dark Side) surrounds it as it says in Psalms "Around and around go the wicked." Wherever there is holiness, around it is always found the forces of the Dark Side trying to get in.]
It is well known that Evil that does not pretend to be other than what it is, is much less dangerous than Evil which pretends to be Holiness.




Las Vegas

I  am inspired by the amazing stories of heroism--parents protecting their children with their own bodies etc. Someone commented to me that that is no surprise when it comes to Americans  that have a kind of compassion for others built into their souls.

The good thing about this is that the first reaction of Americans when they see a person that needs help is to help. That is the prima facie position. Only if evidence adds up to show otherwise will this change.  

5.10.17

I did a lot of reading about cults when I was trying to figure out the issue for myself.   The reason is that once one is involved in a group, it is difficult to get a 3-d perspective on it. You can not just learn more about it, and then decide if it is  a cult or not. I found looking into other groups that  are cults was helpful to gain some perspective on these issues. In particular, I read as much as I could about Adi Da and also Scientology- two very good examples of cults; the later more secular and the other religious. After gaining some knowledge about those cults, it became a lot easier to evaluate almost any cult.

My basic impression when it comes to Torah is the closer one gets to the Silverman approach the better. That is to go with the Gra's approach, or what is more commonly known as the Litvak Yeshiva approach.

[The basic idea is when you are coming into some area of positive value, e.g. Torah, there is a nee to pass through the regions of the Dark Side that try to seduce you with clever words. The best thing is to go by your gut instinct-- if it walks like  a cult, if it talks like a cult, then it is a cult and stay away as far as possible.


People might know the name of Clifford from Clifford Algebras. But it so happened that he wrote a nice essay on the ethics of belief that says it is not ethical to believe in whatever u want to. Your beliefs effects those around you. There is an obligation to test your beliefs and to believe only on sufficient evidence.

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him at great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.



The credulous man is father to the liar.





4.10.17

quick dismissal of the ISIS claims

https://motls.blogspot.com/2017/10/stephen-paddock-could-have-been-muslim.html#disqus_thread

I've found the quick dismissal of the ISIS claims by "authorities" very odd. Probably just more western authorities not wanting to stoke "islamophobia" so desperately hoping for another explanation. Every time a terror attack happens in Europe and the person is an ethnicity that is 99% Muslim they still spend time searching for a mysterious motive or saying its unknown why "they did this". So no surprise when an old white guy kills some people they dismiss it even when Daesh is jumping up and down saying he is their guy.



Something else to consider is U.S. has many mass shootings. Does ISIS claim them? Only in a very small number of cases, and they were right as far as we know.

ISIS released even more posts this morning. They have doubled down, tripled down, and quadrupled down on their claim. I am sure ISIS is not that stupid (their IQs may be above 105) and they know these repeated claims will immediately cause Daesh to lose all credibility if any evidence of another motive comes out. Of course ISIS can make false or mistaken claims. But for them to back it up to such a strong degree, I would say its very unlikely they would do so and risk losing all credibility going forward.
My basic feeling about Reb Nachman is that important aspects of reality were revealed to him. Or as one person put it, "He is one important part of the big picture."


The problem is well known to be the cults  and groups that pretend to be going by his approach.

The general rule of cults is they are never satisfied. And the danger is they can get a person off track. And that usually happens by means of the the good ideas that are mixed up with bad ones.





3.10.17

Islam and Mass Murder

 In Islam to die by means of killing infidels is considered the only guarantee to get into Heaven. I mean to say that in Islam there is nothing about living a good life that guarantees getting into heaven except one  thing--to die by means of murdering infidels. So as far as that murderer was concerned, he went out in the only reasonable fashion possible.

And in Southern California in those days, to follow your dream and find the truth of things was very much in the air.

Someone noted that the path of the Mir yeshiva (New York) was not exactly the path I was raised on {Beverly Hills High School}.
My basic excuse for leaving the path of secularism was mainly I think because I found something profoundly empty and meaningless about secular society.
And in Southern California in those days, to follow your dream and find the truth of things  was very much in the air. For me to find a path that made me happy and in which I found meaning was certainly not against my parents wishes.

I eventually did leave the Mir to go to Israel and eventually left the straight and narrow path. But I would have to admit I was no time as close to my essence as much as during the time I was at the Mir.

[I am not saying there should not be doctors and physicists but in terms of finding my inner essence I definitely have to say that that I found at the Mir. However the modification in my own schedule I would make today  would be to allot  some part of the day to learning Physics as per the Rambam.]







2.10.17

Islam

Howard Bloom has a small section on Islam in his book The Lucifer Principle which seems to fit his basic approach about the power of the super-organism. Going with Howard Bloom seems much better that trying to attribute things to the power of mind control of cults.

This is basically as the Rambam held that free will does not work when one is part of a group.He or she is automatically drawn after the "meme" unit of social information and opinions of the group.
Thus all one can do is to make sure he is part of good group.

Football

I do not like it when I see or hear people disparaging the USA. I guess this shows I am not alone.

Insulting the American Flag definitely gets under my skin.

The Left and mass murder.

To get back to Kant and Hegel. That is the common ground everyone can agree upon. It is true that the Left uses Hegelian ideas, but because of that they can be shown the error of their ways. The errors seems mainly to be  from the labor theory of value which is not from Hegel. But once they accept the Labor Theory of Value they then use Hegel.


Even Kelley Ross admits that people that go with Hegel are believing in objective morality.



From my own personal personal perspective, when the Rambam says to learn Metaphysics and Physics that includes Kant and Hegel even though he was referring openly to the Metaphysics and Physics of Aristotle. I tend to take the Rambam in that he meant the basic subject matter, NOT just just the specific writings of Aristotle.

1.10.17

Man kills 2 with knife at French station, yells 'Allahu akbar'--http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-french-train-station-knife-attack-20171001-story.html

The Chicago Tribune is putting that at the very head of its article. It is not hiding the fact that it is another incident of Islamic Terrorism.

But the NY Times as usual hides the truth:"
The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism cases nationwide, said on Sunday that it had opened a terrorism investigation, but the authorities said the assailant’s motives were not entirely clear.
“This act could be of a terrorist nature, but at this hour we cannot affirm it,” said Gérard Collomb, the French Interior minister, who is in charge of domestic security."


[It was that kind of coverage of Islamic Terrorism that got me frustrated over the years.]


The issue of evil came up recently in a conversation. I basically took the approach of Dr Kelley Ross about a continuum of values on the side of holiness and by implication the exact opposite also. That is that Evil is a real presence. That is most clear in Islam because of the devious demon they worship. But the problem exists even in the larger religious world where evil hides in more subtle disguises. 

Yom Kippur

My feeling about repentance is that the best time to repent is after Yom Kippur when we are aware of the issue. And the main issue of course is that it is not at all clear about what we need to repent on. So we have not even come up to the preparatory stage of being open and willing to repent.

This was mentioned by the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter as being one major reason for learning Musar [Ethics]--in that it at least signifies a person;s willingness to learn and to be open to changing his ways for the better.

And I do not think that it is particularly young people that are more open to repent than older people. I think repentance is a mainly a matter of software. That is deleting the old bad programs, and inserting in their place good programs. And is simple how to do so. Learning Musar. That is to make a conscious effort to gain an idea of what objective morality is.

The simple way to do this is to get the basic set of Musar which is divided into the classical books from the Middle Ages,  and the basic set of books from the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter.


It seems to me that I got sidetracked from Musar --and probably because of that lost my way and direction. And even today, I find it hard to get back on track, or to figure out exactly how where and what to repent on.
For some reason, I got involved too much with the mystic side of things, and that started because of the very good Musar book, the Mesilat Yesharim. But in the printed Mesilat Yesharim, they added another small book by the same author [the Ramchal ] that recommends learning mysticism. That got me off track. Considerably off track. -Not the fault of the Ramchal, but rather the way I understood him.]


American Nationalism

I am fairly impressed with American Nationalism because it is not a blank approval of all kinds of nationalism, but rather sees something special about the principles upon which the USA was founded: Natural Law and Natural Rights. These are things that Hegel himself would have greatly approved of even though his system was hijacked by the Left. 

30.9.17

Divorce. Torah is no protection and in fact makes things worse is because we live in the Age of Counterfeit Torah.

Someone suggested that the Protestant world is to blame for the present day situation [with marriage] because divorce got to be acceptable. No more embarrassment was attached. That is Protestants might have made a crusade against divorce instead of evolution, but instead decided evolution was the thing to fight against.

Something has changed about the very nature of marriage. It seems to be across the board--regardless of place.




  • This topic overshadows all others.We need to get back to marriage and family and only with that can Western civilization survive and prosper.

    That Torah is no protection (and in fact makes things worse) is because we live in the Age of Counterfeit Torah. This is the age in which everything that presents itself as authentic Torah is just the opposite

      Hidden Torah inside Creation

      Learning Physics is not usually considered a part of service of God. Nor is it considered a way to come to enlightenment. Both of these assumptions are not like the Rambam [Maimonides].[That is to come to fear and love of God and attachment with God is through Physics and Metaphysics.]
      [That is along with learning the Oral and Written Law. That is the Old Testament and the Mishna.]


      In the Guide, the Rambam is more explicit about this, but it turns up in Mishne Torah also, and in the Musar book Obligations of the Heart.

      The question is how to do this for people that are not particularity talented in that area and for that I think the best idea is just to say the words and go on and to know that eventually you will understand. [That is given enough time.]


      [Of course you have to understand enlightenment in a wider way than just experiencing the "Infinite Light". I mean to say one can even have true experience of the the Light of God, but that does not necessarily come with right knowledge. The kind of enlightenment the Rambam is talking about is a wider concept that simply experiencing the Divine Light.
      The way to make sense of this in my opinion is through the idea of the Hidden Torah inside Creation (the physical universe).


      [The Rambam openly says he is referring to the Physics and Metaphysics of the ancient Greeks. --not mysticism.]'''


      The hidden Torah inside Creation is a theme which comes up in Reb Nachman quite often. But the most simple way to explain it is  the idea of the Hidden Statement [the highest statement of Creation.]

      [I think it is proper to mention here the idea of שיעורים כסדרם (learning sessions in order) which means to learn short sessions in the different subjects that you need to cover every day. This can be helpful when you are in a situation where you have a few subjects you need to cover daily like Tenach (Old Testament), Mishna, Gemara, Midrash, Physics, Metaphysics. What is helpful is to do just two pages of  each subject and then to go on to the next subject.] [Sessions in order is how Bava Sali learned. It comes from the Ari.]



      29.9.17

      Buddhism.

      My son came to help me during this period when I am recovering from breaking my leg. He has with him some books on modern Buddhism. And that reminded me that different systems of thought have different ideals about what is the proper way to live.

      Certainly gaining "higher consciousness" does not seem like a Torah ideal. But still the Buddha had some pretty good ideas: the four noble truths and the eight-fold way.[In short: Life is suffering and the solution is to cease desiring and stop ignorance.]
      What makes it especially interesting is the fact that he seems to have found in that group people he gets along with and can relate to.

      Though the way it is presented in the West is far from the original ideas of Buddha, still some important elements remain. In particular the fact that he grasped something about the nature of the Divine which goes beyond human understanding.


      [The Four-Fold Negation and is a fundamental Buddhist philosophical principle that deals with attempts to characterize Nirvân.a or ultimate reality:  we cannot either affirm or deny anything about it.]

      [In Lithuanian yeshivas (based on the Gra) learning Torah is considered as the prime ideal. This is in fact due to the aspect that it does get one to the Infinite Light (אור אין סןף) and for me it seems hard to distinguish this from the Buddha idea of "Higher consciousness or enlightenment"]

      [Nowadays I have a slight modification of the Litvak ideal. While the Litvak ideal is to learn the entire Oral and Written Law, my own approach is to  do that-- but add the two things of the Rambam: Physics and Metaphysics. And to do all this fast. That is to say the words and to go on.  ]
      Also I should mention I do not have any sefer, but if I did have a Villna Shas I would first and foremost have an in-depth session..[That is, to do the same  page over and over again for  few weeks]. That is what I mentioned before to have an in depth session and also a fast session. At this point with limited time I would spend my time on Gemara to be in depth. Faster sessions I would have in other subjects.]




      28.9.17

      Learning and reading is not always of benefit.

      "Who knows what else is out there?" Sapolsky. [In terms of mind control parasites like Toxo-plasmosis.]

      Lots of times in what one reads or hears there is some hidden unit of social information [meme] that changes dramatically how one thinks about the world he lives in and thus that changes how he acts.

      Learning and reading is not always of benefit. Sometimes depending on what one reads. Learning can be really damaging.

      This is brought in the Mishna [of R. Yehuda HaNasi] אלו שאין להם חלק לעולם הבא: הקורא בספרים חיצוניים

      "These are they who have no portion in the next world:.. One who reads "outside" books."

        According to the Rif and Rosh this means the exact opposite of what most people think it means.
      People think it that if they read just Jewish religious books, that is OK.

        The Rif and Rosh say just the opposite. They explain"Outside books" means books that supposedly explain the Torah but not in the way the sages did. That means almost all religious books nowadays are "outside books," because they explain the Torah but not in the way the sages of the Mishna and Gemara did so.

      I am only saying this because I take this personally very seriously. In the religious world, there is little that I consider kosher at all. The best is obviously the great Litvak yeshivas: Ponovitch, Brisk, Mir-but that does not stop the dark side from trying to gain entrance into these places.

      I have no objection to learning wisdom from all sources. But that is not what most religious books are about.They are mainly abut finding some dark side doctrine that appeals to them and then presenting it as authentic Torah.

      [Thus when it comes to Torah I am careful  in what I read. And most of the religious stuff out there I will not come within ten feet of.]






      27.9.17

      race is real.

      I have thought for a long time that race is real. This might have come from my parents. I recall once going on a skiing vacation that the issue of race was brought up, and I heard my mother say some comment which indicated to me that she did not think that all races were the same. I forget the comment, but the idea was mainly that black people are not necessarily as talented as white people. I do not know why that was a surprise to me. Perhaps I was myself being indoctrinated by the public school system without my being aware of it.

      If you do not have something nice to say--do not say anything.

      I tried to impress upon myself the importance of not giving rebuke for a few years. I would repeat to myself the statement of Reb Nachman's  אע''פ שתוכחה היא דבר גדולה ומוטל על כל אדם להוכיח את חבירו כשרואה בו דבר שאינו הגון, אע''פ כן לאו כל אדם ראוי להוכיח

      "Even though rebuke is a great thing and it is an obligation on every person to rebuke their friend when they see them acting in a way that is not proper, still not every person is fit to be able to give rebuke. As R. Akiva said "I would be surprised if there could be found even one person in this generation who is fit criticize..'"

      The Shelah brings this up and the Gra also but in a different sense. There is a sense just saying what the proper thing is. This is brought up in the אבן שלמה which is  a small book of sayings of the Gra.

      The whole issue starts with the fact that rebuke is in fact one of the 613 commandments to the Rambam (and I think also all of those who counted the mitzvot like the Smag and Semak.].

      It is significant that Reb Nachman only said one Torah lesson in Uman and this statement of his is the beginning of that Torah lesson. It is obvious to me that he thought of this fact (not to rebuke) as being of prime importance--way beyond how it sounds to us. To me and probably to most people it just does not seem like a big deal. But clearly to him, this was the one and only principle he wanted his last days on earth to be about.

      Fast learning

      Fast reading I found helpful in terms of learning.--Especially for difficult subjects. The difficult thing is to find some middle ground between fast learning and in-depth learning. I also think that there is an emotional aspect to learning. That is that one needs an emotional commitment.

      One place I was learning at divided the day into slow in depth learning in the morning and fast learning in the afternoon and I have long thought that that combination makes the most sense.
      That was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in NY.

      Before the Mir, I had been in Shar Yashuv and there Reb Freifeld, Rav Naphtali Yeager and Motti Freifeld all emphasized in depth learning.

      [So the fact that there I would do the Gemara and each Tosphot about twice and then go on was way too fast for their taste. Still some time later, I have begun to see the wisdom of their approach. I am sure that if I had not been exposed to real in-depth learning when I was in my teen age years, that I would not have been able to pick it up later. So I can see why Litvak yeshivas do emphasize this kind of (in-depth) learning. But I also think it needs to be balanced with fast learning.]





      I have known people that could learn fast and comprehend. Shimon Buso and others. But I think the benefit of fast learning is usually not visible right away.