Rav Shach brings a difficult Rambam

Rav Shach brings a difficult Rambam in the laws of idolatry. ch 4 law 2. The Rambam says for a עיר הנדחת [a city that does idolatry] you need 100 or more to be seduced to worship an idol, and you need the area to be  a city with no less than 100 people. And he also says you need a majority of the city.
Then it gets the category of a city that does idolatry which must be destroyed. The max limit is the majority of a tribe for the size of the city. And the max limit of the number of people is also the majority of a tribe.

This does not seem to be in accord with any opinion in the Gemara.
R. Yoshiyah says you need the city to be from 10 people  up until 100 people. R. Yonatan says from 100 people until the majority of  a tribe. Sanhedrin 15b

So the Rambam does decide like R. Yonatan, but if we go by the majority of a city, then 51 should be enough if the city has 100 people.

I am wondering how Rav Shach answers this which I did not understand.

I am also wondering if "and" could help us. That is intersection. Perhaps the Rambam is thinking that "and" in the verse means you need two conditions- both: (1)100 people and (2) a city of a hundred.

Since "and" is an argument between these two amoraim perhaps that is how the Rambam understood the Amora that he is deciding like. But intersection is the opinion of R. Oshiyah and that does not seem to help.
But since in this case the only difference between R Yoshiya and R Yonatan in the numbers, not in the verses so the Rambam might hold both hold the "and" is to cause intersection. {This and that. Not "this or that".}


trust in God --the message of Navardok (Musar)

Since there is a deeper kind of knowledge beyond empirical knowledge and reason that both empirical knowledge and knowledge based on reason depend on for their ground of validity-therefore that ground conditions  reality. Faith. 
This explains what you see in the Altar of Navardok in terms of his trust in God when he was in the forest in his hut there and learning Torah, and in the middle of the night his candle ran out and someone knocked on his door and handed to him   new candle. Faith determines reality. [The Altar of Navardok, Reb Joseph Yozel Horvitz, was a disciple of Reb Israel Salanter.]

In short what I am saying here is that there is knowledge which is not derived from experience [five senses] nor from reason. Faith.  And the claim is that faith is a deeper sort of knowledge than reason. So I am adopting a version of Kant's principle that phenomena must be conditioned by the structure of knowledge. I am going a bit further and saying that both knowledge and also phenomena must be conditioned according to faith. This is a simple one step further than Kant.

But to the Rambam and Hegel,  Faith and reason are not two things. They are the same essence but differ in degree. 

to oppose Islam.

I do not think the West is in any state to oppose Islam. Christianity is in essence lukewarm. It is good for a Sunday morning thrill to make people feel good, but that is all. As soon as they are out again on the street, everything is forgotten. I simply do not see anything in the West capable of stopping Islam in its attempt to expand and take over. 

Once Christianity was vibrant and powerful enough to stop it But certainly no longer. 
And what else could stop it?

Tanks and guns against ideas? That is no match. Ideas will win every time. People willing to blow themselves up along with as many Jews and Christians as possible simply can not be stopped by all the guns and bullets in the world. The more you throw at them the happier they are.

Personally I see Christianity not just as lukewarm, but also mistaken on a few fronts. 

My own approach is that of the Gra and Reb Israel Salanter and Rav Elezar Menachem Min Shach on three fronts. Learning Torah, Ethics, Learning Torah in depth. 

This more or less goes along with Reb Shmuel Berenbaum's (the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir in New York) idea when he was confronted with life problems that people asked him about. His answer was "Learn Torah" but never at the expense of doing kindness in places that were needed.

That was his idea of the one and only solution to all individual and all of mankind's problems. Thus it is my suggestion for people to acept on themselves to learn Torah every day for at least one hour (that is to accept bli neder [with no oath]).

That is for one hour to learn either the Written Law (Old Testament) or the Oral Law [The Two Talmuds] in such a way as to finish them at least once. Girls that are not required to learn Torah should be committed to marry guys that learn Torah.
[What counts as Torah? Books of חז''ל the sages of the Talmud which includes the midrashei halacha and midrashei agada. Rishonim mediaeval sages. Musar. Plus a few achronim like the Maharsha and Rav Shach.] [To the Rambam, Physics and Metaphysics are included in the Oral Law, but in my view that would mean to learn the Talmud in one hour per day session, and in another session learn Physics or Metaphysics. The Rambam obviously meant Plato,  Aristotle Plotinus, but I would add Kant and Hegel

The battle against socialism.

Part of the battle is to provide support from thought, for everything starts at thought and then goes down to word and then to action. Ayn Rand did some work in the right direction and Howard Bloom also. I think Richard Epstein also is doing good work. 

(The Lucifer Principle)

Since I read Howard Bloom (The Lucifer Principle) I definitely agree with nationalism. But as a rule I felt that people have a right to their own stuff and therefore leftism never made any sense to me. I think leftism is a way to justify greed and theft. 
I think the main reason I think people have a right to their own stuff is mainly because of the Ten Commandments but I believe that my sense of this was probably deepened by learning Torah and Ethics. Since then whenever I see government schemes to take stuff from people as in Socialism or when I see theft and fraud not from government my sense of outrage is ignited.  But that does need a kind of taking back Hegel from the Left. If you want to defend people's right you can not let the Left use Hegel anymore. You need to take from them their ammunition.
My neighbor, John Factor, (brother of Max Factor) really summed up the problem one day for me. He as (all Reform Jews in those days) adopted the basic world view of Leftism. He must have thought all blacks needed was a helping hand. So he gave them a million dollars to build a sort of sports center (in or near the black areas in downtown LA). His comment to me was "They never even said, 'Thank you.'" Six immortal words that to me sums up the whole problem.

I remember one black fellow telling me the same basic idea way back then before any of this problem had started. I forget the exact words but his idea was essentially this “We (the black community) are gong to bring down and destroy the USA.” That is he meant it as intention, not as a by product of wrong polices.


The Sitra Achra (Dark Side) gives awesome powers and miracles--true powers and miracles to people so as to when the real question arises --what is God's will?--then they will be believed when they say to worship false gods.

Why would Achav believe false prophets? [In the biblical book of Kings] Was it not clear to him that they knew nothing? Answer: because up until then everything they said was right. Every prediction came to pass exactly like they said. They were given power and miracles so that when the time would come to say something false,then they would be believed. That is the way of the Sitra Achra Dark Side. It gives awesome powers and miracles--true powers and miracles to people so as to when the real question arises --what is God's will?--then they will be believed when they say to worship false gods.

The history of the events was thus: Chizkiah and Achav got together to go to war. But before they went Achav called all his prophets  to hear what they had to say. (Why would he do this, unless they had been proven accurate on every other occasion that he consulted with them?)

They all came and said he will win the war. Chizkiah then asked:
 "Is there no prophet of God here?"
Achav said: "There is one; Michaihu is his name. and I hate him.
"Why is that?"
"Because he speaks only badly of me all the time."
"Call him and let's hear hat he has to say."

He came and said you will win the war. Achav said to him how many times do I have to tell you to say in prophecy only the truth in Gods name?

The Michaihu said that he would be killed in battle.
Achav then commanded he be put into prison until his return.
Michaihu said "If you return alive, then I am not a prophet of God."

Achav was killed. He had been fooled because everything else the prophets of the Baal had said had always turned out right.

The Republic (of Plato), Law of Moses, and Western Civilization

The Republic (of Plato) is very important but not the sole basis for Western Civilization. The West was built out of the Mediaeval synthesis of Reason and Revelation. Plato and Aristotle form and important part of that. But so does the Law of Moses.[As Hegel noted this. The Jews gave devotion to the Law part of Western Civilization and Christians the compassion part.] What is the right synthesis is a good question, but that knowledge that such a synthesis is necessary is the  condition for Western Civilization.
[When Rambam talks about Metaphysics he is referring to Aristotle, but his understanding of Aristotle seems to me to be clearly the neo Platonic synthesis of Aristotle and Plato.]
I am no scholar, but from the little I read I saw a great deal of the advancement of the West after 1350 was based on foundations that that were created during the Middle Ages.

Things like parliamentary system of government, universities, water systems that became adapted to electricity, Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides were huge influences with Natural Law. I guess you could disagree but that is the way I see it. 

[It is my impression that  Kant,  and Hegel are as important for Western Civilization as Plato and Aristotle.]
People do not give enough credit to the Middle Ages. The way to put Reason and Faith together is by no means simple as we can see in the many Gnostic schools and also in Philo and Plotinus. Just looking at that you get the idea that there were infinite possibilities of false and wrong and really dumb ideas about whether such a synthesis is possible and desirable at all and if it it then what is it? But only one possible right answer.

The Rambam's four fold way. Learning the Written Law (Old Testament), the Oral Law (the two Talmuds), Modern Physics, and the Metaphysics of Aristotle.

To understand any thinker it is usually necessary to understand their background and what they were reacting against. But then not to limit them to just a reaction.

The idea is similar to Kant. In his city there were people that were very pious and others that were super rational. And on the larger world that he was born into there was a school of the rationalists like Spinoza and Leibniz and another school of empiricists. like Locke and Hume. But I do not limit Kant's insights to mere reaction but that reaction caused a spark to ignite. His search for a ground of validity in both schools gave the spark that created the three great Critiques.

So with the Rambam. He also wanted to find a path that synthesized Reason and Revelation and not just find a middle path. 

In a similar way my own thinking is thus: I want to find out what is the service of God? And after I know that I want to know what is the service of God with מיסרת נפש [self sacrifice]? And after that I would like to share with others my insights. My own conclusions are largely a reaction to the world I found myself in.

That is to say: I was in yeshivas in NY which more or less concertized and personified the Nefesh HaChaim [נפש החיים]of Reb Chaim from Voloshin (disciple of the Gra). That is.-- yeshivas that accepted the basic idea of the Gra that the prime service of God is to learn Torah. Though one must keep all the commandments, still the focus should be on learning Torah and then everything else good will flow from that.

On the other hand I also saw a world of events after my divorce that got me thinking there must some ways that that yeshivish approach is right, and in some ways it is missing out on something.
While this was going on I returned to Israel and noticed the Guide of the Rambam in a Beit Midrash in Ramot Gimel that said something that got me interested  לא הצם והמתפלל הוא הנרצה אלא היודעו (Not he who fasts and prays is desirable rather he who knows Him.). Over  the years I was in Israel at the time the ideas of the Rambam began to crystallize in me and though I might have been vaguely aware of his ideas before that, during my time in Israel it became more and more clear that he was on a slightly different track than Reb Chaim from Voloshin and that his track also had some ground of validity.

So to a large degree my own ideas of what is the service of God come as trying to find what is valid in both approaches. 

My set of experiences I take as a background to understanding this question and I take my own experiences as empirical evidence. Ad Hominem what kinds of people are on one path or the other is not an irrelevant consideration when it comes to the service of God. It cant be the entire  determining issue but it must not be ignored. 

That I hoe gives to anyone reading this a bit of understanding in what way I arrived at my basic approach which more or less centers on the Rambam's four fold way. Learning the Written Law (Old Testament), the Oral Law (the two Talmuds), Modern Physics, and the Metaphysics of Aristotle.
That is to say I did not arrive at this by picking up a rabbit  out of a hat. Not by going "Ei Mini Mini Mo"closing my eyes and picking something that appealed to me at random. Rather this came as a long process of observation of myself and others and close consideration of the different opinions involved.

{1}Getting divorced was very important to this process because it showed me how people act towards someone that has no social status as opposed to someone that has social status and money that they want. Being "down and out' is the best way to see the reality of what people are like as very different from what they say and pretend. 
{2} My path is not only the Rambam. The whole Gra thing is very important in terms of the prime mitzvah being the learning of Torah
Also in terms of learning in depth, not just the Gemara but the Rambam also. That is the whole school of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and his disciples and Rav Elazar M. Shach.  But I also see the great importance of Rav Kook and the State of Israel--which many great people in the Torah world did  not see.

(3) I learned the hard way that the  religious world is  place to stay as far from as possible in order to survive [Unless we are talking about the great Litvak Yeshivas in Bnei Brak and New York.]. [They talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. Acta non verba.] But I also realized the importance of the Gra and the Rambam and Reb Israel Salanter. I think it is possible that my choice to go to authentic Litvak yeshivas in NY and then to Israel made all the difference. 


Divine light

 God's light and salvation is not confined to dogmas and theology.

In any case, my basic approach I would like to define as mainly the path of my parents. That is more or less conservative Judaism, but with a special emphasis on learning Torah. The Jewish religious world itself is believe is filled with demonic spirits, especially the leaders and the books also.
The Litvak world at the time I was there I thought was however very good, but nowadays I try to stay home and mind my own business. Something seems to have gone haywire even with the greatest of the yeshivas.

So my path has is more or less what the Gra, and Reb Israel Salanter, and Rav Shach were teaching. If there is any place around today that walks in that straight Torah path I would have to say that is great, but as I said something seems to have gone wrong.

That is: they have become businesses. Greed has destroyed the yeshiva world.
Th frum world is full of counterfeit Torah.
[One practical thing to do would be to throw out all the books of the cult the Gra put into cherem/excommunication and also any book that quotes them. I am ignored. Fine. But I have said what needed to be said.

Psychology is a profession that attracts mentally ill and sadistic personalities.

I would not out much stock in any particular psychology handbook. I may not know exactly what is wrong with it but that whole so called "science" is mainly pseudo science. Something is deeply wrong with that whole profession. 

One possible problem is that it is the prime example of pseudo science. It is not falsifiable. But that just seems to be the beginning of the problem. The major problem is their main result is to take normal people and make them mentally sick. That is there seems to be some internal evil that characterizes the whole profession. [They seem to have the ability to inject true mental illness into healthy people and by that to force them to keep coming to them for some imaginary cure.]

The main problem seems to be it is a profession that attracts mentally ill and sadistic personalities.

I think the goal is to define all of humanity as psychologically sick except for psychologists.

The disciple of Israel Salanter Isaac Blazer wrote the best cure for sickness of the soul is Musar bringing that idea from the Rambam in the Rambam' Musar book  Eight Chapters. Why Musar? Mainly Musar is about being a mensch a decent human being. It reveals that that is what the Torah is about. This is hard to know and even harder to fulfill. But since the religious world itself is mainly satanic the best approach is to learn on your own or in Reform and Conservative synagogues but avoid the religious world. [Unless you happen to be in the area of an authentic Litvak Yeshiva or a Mizrachi yeshiva.]

If you need confirmation of this view take a look at all the people that count the mitzvot, not just the Rambam and you will see that all there are plenty of the 613 that have to do with good character. So good character is from the Torah itself--not just from the words of the scribes.

In any case the religious world is very evil and very sick and they may hide behind Torah but the essence is wrong. 
[Musar mainly refers to Mediaeval books of Ethics like the Obligations of the Heart. There are also books from the disciples of Israel Salanter which are very good.]

problems in life are spiritual

 From my point of  the problems in life are spiritual, and the solutions come from learning Torah [that is the Old Testament, the two Talmuds and Musar (mediaeval Ethics)], repentance, worship, and holy living. For the secular people the problems of life are material and thus best addressed with money, technology, and good policy. 

 For me  the adversary is Satanic demons and organized well funded demonic charismatic teachers of Torah religion instead of authentic Torah. To secular people the adversary is lack of education and unjust structures and systems. 

For me  the world is an "enchanted place," full of secret connections where the central issue is how to do God's will. (How to get right with God according to the holy Torah.) For the secular, the world is a material place that can be improved by reason and science. 

 For me the best human future (for all people) is being in accord with God's will  and loving one's neighbor. For the secular, the better human future is some form of material well-being. 


Christians are uniformly against the Talmud

Christians are uniformly against the Talmud for little reason. They might not burn it for the same reason they do not burn the Communist Manifesto. But the attitude is roughly the same.
This comes directly from a statement in the NT, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees."
Then comes a long tirade against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. A well deserved tirade, I must add. 
The prushim פרושים in fact are considered highly related to the Baali HaTalmud [authors of the Talmud] as we can see in many historical documents (Hippolytus) that people in general divided Israel into three parts Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees. The curious thing is that the gentiles did in fact distinguish between the different groups of Essenes. But here between the Prushim and the people that were involved in keeping the Oral and Written Law they seem to have not made any distinction. [Christians in fact were generally considered just a subsection of the Essenes]. 
 From my point of view this all seems curious because the פרושים (Pharisees) and the Baali HaMishna and Talmud ([authors of the Mishna and Talmud]) are not the same group as we can see all the time in the Talmud itself. The Prushim may have held by the validity of the Oral Law, but so did the Essenes, and so did Jesus himself.  Some braitot (outside teachings, i.e. teachings outside of the Mishna) brought in the Talmud in fact were borrowed from the Essenes. [This type of thing gives rise to the constant occupation of the Talmud to figure out which braitot (outside teachings) were legitimate and which were not.]

At any rate, the clear critique of Jesus was against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, not against the Oral Law as close examination of his statement will show. Plus his little noticed statement "The Pharisees sit on Moses' throne,- so all that they say and teach that you must fulfill." (I should not neglect to mention that the Talmud and Mishna have parallel critiques of the hypocrisy of the Prushim which I mentioned in other essays.)

The thing which bothers me about all this is that one is required to keep the Law of Moses. It was not replaced, nor done away with. So along with throwing out the Law of Moses, there seems to be little or no concern about what it actually means -- until it gets into an area that Christians are particularly sensitive about because of their level of disgust at certain a practice forbidden in the Law of Moses.   

Natural Law comes into play here as Aquinas did by using the ideas developed by Saadia Gaon and Maimonides (the Rambam).  Still, all in all, neither Natural Law nor Divine Law have had much popularity in Western Christianity for  along time. Christians as a rule go to Paul to decide what is forbidden according to "Scripture." They certainly never go to the OT (Old Testament) nor to the actual words of Jesus, since the actual words of Jesus would just make things a million times more strict than the Law of Moses. That is something no one wants even to consider.)

In any case, my basic position is that the Christian distaste for the Talmud is completely uncalled for, and based on a simple mistake in understanding the NT.

On the other hand, if their critique was on the charlatans and demonic teachers that pretend to teach and keep the Talmud, then their critique would be justified. For that reason I avoid the religious world like I would avoid a leper colony. But that is people misusing the Talmud. Abusus non tolit usum.  Abuse does not cancel use.  If  you have authentic Lithuanian types of yeshivas in your area, then fine. But if not, then I would avoid the religious world at all cost. Go to Reform, Conservative, or Mizrachi synagogues.

What does this mean in a larger Christian context? I admit that from my point of view, I see Peter and James as more valid than Paul. Still issue of the Talmud is a separate question.
Most Christians see Paul as representing the most valid understanding of Jesus, while Peter and James are basically lukewarm. Still that does not seem to have any bearing on the issues I discussed up above. [ See this book which goes into the issue. But this was already noted by many authors that I have seen. Not the least the Recognitions of Clement.] However it is clear from the New Testament itself that Peter and James disagreed with Paul completely and held his approach of anti Torah was against Jesus himself. James could not have been more clear: one is required to keep every single command in the Old Testament from A to Z. And that means all the commandments not just the Ten. There are lots of commandment in the Old Testament that are not in the category of the Ten and they were openly told to Moses that they are for all time for example the commandments pertaining to the Building of the Temple and the bringing of sacrifices.

Bava Metzia page 112. You have an artisan that fixed a vessel and asks 2 shekalim for his work. The owner of the vessel say the agreement was for payment of one shekel. One braita says you believe the owner and the other says you believe the artisan. Rav Nachman bar Izchak says the difference is when there are witnesses you believe the artisan because the owner has no migo (literally "he could have said...") to say לא היו דברים מעולם-I never saw you before. I wanted to say the reason Rav Nachman bar Izchak says this is that he can not make a difference between if the vessel is movable or not.  That is he hold even when it is movable the owner still has migo to say I do not know you because he might think the amount the artisan is asking is more than the actual worth of the vessel. I mentioned in my notes that I believe Rava disagrees with Rav Nachman bar Izchak and holds the difference is the case you believe the owner is when the vessel is not movable and so he has a migo.

[You can look at the notes but the simple and short of it is that Rav Nachman bar Izchak  was  going along with Rav and Shmuel that hold you believe a worker that says he was not paid only when there were witnesses that he was hired. Rava disagreed with Rav and Shmuel so I was suggesting that Rava also would disagree about the artisan and give a different answer that Rav Nachman]. That train of reasoning led me to find support to Rav Joseph Halevi that holds  a migo is causes one to be believed to say he does not have to pay money but does not absolve from an oath. The idea was there are versions of the  braita about the artisan and the owner in which you believe the owner. One is you believe him with an oath and the other is without an oath. The one with an oath would be like Rav Joseph HaLevi and the other like the Ran [Rabainu Nisim who holds a migo also lets one of the hook of taking an oath.]

I might add one thing I did not mention in my notes. This all occurred to me because I realized that almost every migo has something working against it. Just like in the Torah we have מודה במקצת הטענה נשבע because the Torah is thinking he wanted to deny everything but he would rather not because אין אדם מעיז פניו בפני בעל חובו. That is if he had denied everything he would have been beloved so why not believe him when he admits only a portion? Answer because a person does not have arrogance in from of someone that did  for him a favor. So the Torah put an oath on him. [I wrote that the argument between Rava and Rav Nachman bar Izchak is when you say a migo. I forgot what I meant when I wrote that. But today it occurred to me that the above idea is what i might have meant.]

Four elements and the problem with the the fifth element. There are many fundamental concepts in kabalah which come from Ancient Greek Science. I wrote a whole essay about this once long ago [That essay called Ten Sepherot in some blog entry]. The "Aether" was one of the first times I noted this. So what my learning partner suggested was the Greeks got it from the Kabalah. But then that just makes it worse. Since it is wrong, then it was the Kabalah that mislead the Greeks.

Aether is not the same thing as space. If someone had suggested that empty space is a thing in itself with nothing in it, then that would have been an insight. But that is never what anyone is referring to when they talk about the four elements and then the fifth one.

I went into some detail about this in terms of the ten sepherot and the ten orbits of the planets and sun around the earth from Ptolemy and Medieval science. But I brought a lot of other things along teh same vein but with less detail.  Still the point is the same.


Demonic synagogues.

Demonic synagogues. Do not judge a book by its cover. They might be raking in money by the barrel-full but that means nothing.
[That is a theme that sometimes come up with Reb Nachman but his main point is that the teachers are bad. He usually does not focus on groups.] False friends and false teachers tend to be the problem. And when they are bold and fearless they are worse. False teachers have all the virtues. They have every good quality but truth.

The Satan has all the gifts. They demonic synagogues will promise every type of good thing that they can in fact deliver, Parnasa money, shiduch [wife] but when payment time comes to pay, the toll is awful. There are no free gifts. It is at the cost of one's soul.

There is pseudo Torah, phony Torah. Or as Reb Nachman  called it תורה של הסטרא אחרא Torah of the Dark Side. This what the demonic synagogues teach and it makes money and has enormous success. People are not what they appear to be.

While focusing on the negative I might as well mention the basic things that are Torah from the Bright and Holy Realm. The trouble is the Dark Side uses every means  to seem to be kosher. What every kind of learning I could recommend they will jump at.  

[The only kind of places I would go to would be Reform or Conservative synagogues or Litvak yeshivas. The  religious world is devoted to many forms of  worship of the dead, and keep Torah  in clothing and appearance alone.]

Around twenty years old one's destiny is fixed

The reason I think my parents understood the importance of college is that at around twenty years old one's destiny is fixed in stone. What you are doing then and the crowd you are with will more or less determine your future. So my own situation to some degree was fixed by my decision to go to yeshiva in New York as opposed to University. 
[You do need to learn Torah. You do need to get through the whole Oral and Written Law. But that is a separate question from yeshiva.]

And this same principle applies to every single person. You can not start at forty what you did not start at 20.

So the very nature of the frum religious world is highly relevant to the discussion of whether to go to yeshiva or to learn a vocation.

Whether it is good or bad or a mixture is important to know since joining almost any yeshiva and being that at the  age of twenty will largely determine everything that happens later.

And to back off and try to sound impartial  makes no sense since this is not an academic question. Whether people like it or not, what they decide at twenty will determine everything that happens in their life from then on.

My general impression of the religious world is pretty low and I know of no one in the religious world itself that would disagree with me. However there are a few remarkable yeshivas that I think are on the right track an those are the well known Lithuanian kinds of yeshivas based on the path of the Gra. 



The whole subject of demons is important since they come up in the Zohar and often in the Agadic parts of the Talmud. The Torah forbids dealing with them, but they exist. In the Torah, people that are in contact with the spirit world are called אוב וידעוני מכשף ומעונן קוסם ודורש אל המתים. [who seek the dead, witches, etc] The Torah is amazingly  strict about this. For example, we find in Devarim 18:10-11 (Deuteronomy ch 18 verses 10-11) the Torah goes through a  list of all the different kinds of ways people get in contact with the spirit world. The shocking thing is how much of this is accepted as kosher in the religious world. The spirits {or as they are called שדיים} run all the synagogues and all the religious denominations in the world.

There are people born with an inherent gift to get information from the spirit world. The last one ודורש אל המתים ("one who seeks the dead") is common in the religious world. They  think they are actually in communication with some spirit of some saint, but the spirit of the saint is in Heaven, and all these people talk to are demons that are super smart and know all there is to know about that tzadik (saint) and about the future.

[These all get the death penalty. I forget which one. (There are four types.) You should look up the Mishna in Tracate Kritut to find out which one applies.] The whole subject actually comes up in שמות Exodus 22:18 with the verse מכשפה לא תחיה and also in ישעיהו  Isaiah 8:19
Everyone knows the story of Saul and Samuel. But few know the the reason he died  was because of the event of not wiping out Amalek and also for seeking a familiar spirit as brought in Chronicles I 10:13-14 even though the last sin was not mentioned as the cause of his downfall in the book of Samuel.

One story brought in the Gemara was about one fellow who went to sleep in a graveyard and heard the spirits talking to each other and he found out what crops to plant that year. The spirits always give useful information but in the end they extract payment of one's life and family in this world and then in Hell.

The religious world presents a picture that looks similar to Torah in a few select rituals. It sounds like Torah in some ways. But instead of directing their service towards God it is directed towards idolatry.
People want to hear good stuff and how they are OK and if they join the club everything will be good for them.  Secular Jews are largely at fault for this because they accept the frum (religious) narrative and all te money for yeshivas comes from secular Jews. If not for the monetary support and the compliant acquiescence of Reform and Conservative Jews the whole rotten structure of religious world would collapse.

There are demons that get into the head. This is the main problem.But there are many other types.
And the spirits have information that is not available to us. In the religious world every indication that someone has extra knowledge of the future or miracles it is assume they get it from the Bright Side. This assumption is usually false. Most of what are called "tzadikim" are people in connection with the dark spirit world and thus get amazing powers and knowledge.


Demon spirits. The Dark Side and the Intermediate Zone.

The Dark Side and the Intermediate Zone. דורש אל המתים. מנחש ומעונן etc. The Torah actually forbids interaction with the spirit world. A lot people are looking for spirituality and by that open a door to the the spirit world.
While on this blog I have tried to mention the good aspects of Torah. but the religious world of Judaism is sadlly is filled with demonic spirits.

Spirits are very good at making up false religions and appearing to people in the guise of some tzadik. [People think they are safe by listening to false spirits, but then they fall suddenly.] ]

Islam is a good example of a "familiar spirit" that appeared and gave a very complicated mixture of truths and falsehoods.
Demon spirits mislead people. They make people feel good. People want spiritual things, so the false spirits take advantage of this.

The spirits can also come in through a family tree. So even if you have never been involved in any familiar spirits, still they can come in through the fact that somewhere in the past their ancestors were involved in them.
This mainly came into Judaism through the events of the Shatz, but it continue in different  forms until today. The best thing is to avoid the religious world since the familiar spirits there can come into a person just by being in the same synagogue.  

[Some examples of demon spirit inspired things: Yoga, astrology, modern music, mysticism, psychology etc. That is spirits reveal true things in order to get people involved bad stuff.] 

The trouble with all this stuff is that it involve spirits from the Dark Side, and in the Torah most of this stuff gets the death penalty. So even if people are doing their occult necromancy in the name of the Torah still that does not make it OK.

The tendency of philosophy has been to deny all metaphysical phenomena, but that is not my approach. I go rather with the Rambam Maimonides approach which accepts Metaphysics but does nothing to discern between the Bright and Dark Sides. 

My approach to these issues is that it is hard to discern. I would say most spiritual phenomena are from familiar spirits and not from holiness. But that does not mean people with familiar spirits do not have vast powers and knowledge of the future. Rather they do, but it is not from the Bright Realm.

 I assume the business atmosphere in the USA will probably change for the better now. Until now business owners were getting slapped with more and more taxes and regulations, and so did not want to hire. The trouble with hiring anyone in such an environment is they can sue if they do not get hired; and if they get fired, they can also sue. 
I believe now business owners will be more open to hiring people 

The American Civil War

The Civil War  was religiously motivated. That is each side thought that the message of Christianity was more or less what they were saying were their motivations. But they did not say it was because of Christianity but that was the unspoken undercurrent. My opinion is that slavery is included in two commandments in the Torah. That is there is a positive command in the Old Testament to judge according to the laws of slavery. That is many things in the Old Testament have lots of details. But you do not count each detail as a separate command. So the whole idea of slavery is a positive command.

[The reason this is not usually stated is that Divine Law has not been  accepted  West for a long time. Nowadays even Natural Law is also not accepted.

This is the same today. The whole left wing of the protestant church is just as much anti Torah today. They are the ones that are upset that lots of Americans want to get back to the traditional values of the Torah

The Constitution was supposed to work with people that had values based on the Bible. I think that at least Jefferson thought that education also would be necessary. But this fact is little noted in the West. Much political debate assumes the kind of people that were weaned on Bible stories. It was noted this flaw in utilitarianism also. They assume something that is not at all to be assumed.

"Frum community" [the religious community]

The Hegelian idea of the State is very different from that of Howard Bloom and Hobbes. To Hegel the State is the manifestation of the Divine Idea on earth [borrowed as such by Rav Kook and to a lesser extent by Herzel.].
To Howard Bloom it is an idol. (The Leviathan.)

To go into this might be a good idea but for now let me just say to the "frum community" [the religious community] the prime mitzvah is to be part of their community. To my way of thinking, the primary sin is to be part of the frum community. It is pure idolatry, and has nothing to do with the holy Torah. It is the Lucifer Principle that swallows one's soul and absorbs it into the idol, the dark side (sitra achra). The way they get one to join is by promising things: (1) money and (2) a shiduch and (3) outward appearance of Torah. [The religious world sadlly is filled with familiar spirits.]

The way to be saved is by "יאוש" to give up all hope. Not to keep on hoping everything will be fine if you join them [as they tell you]. Just the opposite. To realize that the ways things are is the way they are supposed to be. Things did not work out because God was trying to get you to a broken spirit. To die to the things of this world and to live for Him alone.

The way to live for God is to learn and keep the Torah, the Old Testament and the two Talmuds that provide the rigorous painstakingly worked out explanation of how to go about keeping Torah. But that has nothing to do with the frum world which is a deception and scam and filled with familiar spirits and kundalini spirits.

If you let the frum community into your life, they will steal you blind (of your spouse and children and money) and leave you to rot in the wind, because they have no conscious and no soul. [As I know myself and have heard from Meirav, the major of  a frum city {Bethar} in Israel, in exactly those words: "They have no conscious" אין להם שום מצפון.] [I recall Merav had another term he used for the frum world "חיות" animals while referring to his position of having to deal with them as major of the city..]

The appearance of observing Torah is a scam in order to get money out of secular Jews. You have to inspect what kind of people are the fruits of these communities. If the fruit is rotten, you know the community itself is sick and demon filled. 

However I must make an exception for the few sincere places that truly try to keep the Torah with no pretense like the great Litvak Yeshivas in NY (Mir Torah VeDaat, Chaim Berlin) and a few in Israel like Ponovicth. [The Mir in Israel is not  a yeshiva but a bus station. Most yeshivas in Israel are  just businesses and have unclean spirits.] The good places are the Mizrachi types of places like the "Merkaz" of Rav Kook. I think the name they go by is "Bnei Akiva."

[I should mention that the Mizrachi Rav Kook path  mainly appeals to me because it is in essence the path of learning the Oral and Written Law of the Torah plus Physics and Metaphysics plus learning a vocation. ]

 (I should mention the most essential commentary Torah book on the Rambam  is the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach.]


I had a few little pieces of advice I wanted to share. I had lost everything. And yet God still kept me and protected me. The religious world was truly full of snakes and scorpions and I had put all my eggs into that basket. So when the true nature of the religious world revealed itself in all its nasty, perverted glory I found it necessary to hold onto certain basic things.
These are the two things I recommend. (1) Speak the truth at all cost. (2) Say the 13 principles faith of the Rambam every day. I used to do  this right when I got up in the morning.
So I believe hanging on to faith and truth are sufficient to bring others through their difficulties also from my own experience.

The religious world should really be called the world of delusion. They keep telling you and themselves everything will be fine if you listen to them. First of all they are lying. They do not have the holy Torah. 
[I do make an exception for the authentic Litvak yeshivas like Ponovitch and Brisk. If you are not in the area of a place of real Torah then the best thing is to learn Torah at home. That is the Tenach and the two Talmuds. [If you have been through it once then to do Tosphot.] [I should add that my general approach is that of the Rambam to emphasize the learning of the Oral and Written Law and Physics and Metaphysics. The short way to do that is to do the Mishne Torah with the Keseph Mishne and modern Physics and the Metaphysics of Aristotle.]

There is nowadays a great need to discern what is true tradition and what is false. With the great profusion of false Torah from teachers of the dark Side, it is necessary to limit the set.

learning Mathematics

For me in learning  Mathematics, I found a lot depends on understanding certain key concepts. I was in Hebrew University trying to restart math [because of the Rambam's opinion as I mentioned earlier] and I was looking at math and physics books.  A certain girl, Michal, came over to me and explained the basic concept of a derivative. That is, she showed the basic way that Newton had come upon the concept, and then showed how it in fact worked to get the derivative of x^2 to be 2x by taking the limit. [She actually sat down with me and showed me step by step the exact derivation.] 

That one basic concept turned out to be the key concept that later made Calculus  clear to me. 
Same went for Algebra. It made no sense to me either until I think it was the same girl that showed to me how 2 (x+y)= 2x+2y. Again it was one simple key concept that made everything clear. 
Again in Quantum Mechanics I really had no idea what was going on on until one day I stumbled across a book by Eyal Buks from the Technion in Israel that said simply the inner product is equal to the delta function (that is one when both vectors are equal, and zero otherwise.).

[I am not saying one should be stuck until he understands every concept. Just the opposite. I hold from what is called דרך גירסה-to say the words in order, and go on. Eventually, one will understand. And even if he does not get it, he still has the mitzvah of listening to the Rambam and having אמונת חכמים belief in the wise.

[Using Torah to make money made no sense to me, so I decided to start afresh with learning an honest occupation like Physics. I also had seen most people that make money by using the Torah, just do not seem kosher or decent in any sense. Seeing that people using Torah for money turn out really nasty, gave me a lot of incentive to find a different path. This is in any case exactly what the Torah itself says. Take a look at Pirkei Avot ch 4 ולא קרדום לחפור בה מכאן אמרו כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נוטל את חייו מן העולם and the Rambam explains there מן חיי העולם הבא.  [Pirkei Avot brings the statement in ch 1 "Do not use Torah to make money." Then it repeats it in ch 4 an adds, "From here they said he who uses Torah to make money takes his life out of the world," and the Rambam adds "from the life of the world to come"]. (For the majority of people in yeshivas, learning Torah is a career choice. It is a way to plan ahead by using Torah to make money and get a shiduch. Outside of the implausible excuses, it is exactly what the Mishna in Pirkei Avot says not to do. Another thing they do is to make as much as they can to be forbidden unless under their control. By adding countless restrictions they get everyone under their thumb.]I wish I could say otherwise but the truth needs to be told: yeshivas are disaster zones. Even the best. It has gotten to be just a business. A business that produces nothing but heart ache for those people naive enough to think the products of yeshivas have anything to offer but the swiftest way to break up homes and families. [It was not always like this and it does not have to be. I remember a time at the Mir in NY and in many places in Israel learning Torah was in fact known to be the highest goal and people did it with sincerity.]

 In any case. it was kind of late to start a new career, but I did have some nice experiences  in math. As I wrote on this blog, I did have a nice opportunity to give a few seminars in HU on Differential questions, and to spend time at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU.

the holy spirit schechina

My own experience with the holy spirit schechina went in stages. That it it had definite stages going up and definite stages coming down. The beginning I think was really in my parent's home where there was an amazing atmosphere of wholesomeness and love. At some point I felt an intense need to learn Torah and that was still while in California while I was a junior and senior in BH High School.  Then in Far Rockaway that same level of interest in Torah continued. But when I got to the Mir in NY then there was kind of step up. Then at some point I decided to make aliyah to Israel and then the first step out of the airplane, the shechina was already felt in the air. Next was in Safed where there were definite stages. First a kind of cleansing for a few months and then a kind of intense light started shining all in and around me along with a kind of powerful {almost electric pulsing}. That was while Bava Sali [Israel Abuchatzeira ] was still alive. Then the slow but definite fall from grace also came in definite stages. After around 1985 the light got less. The main thing was when I myself pushed off the Divine presence shechina. Then after I left Israel that was the end. But again all that went in stages that I would rather not get into. . I realized by personal experience that there is such a thing as knowledge that come not through thinking an not through sense perception.

In any case what you get from  all this is the importance of the Law of Moses in an general way. But in a practical sense how should we understand this? What I see after all this is that my parents were actually on the right path. That is a kind of menchlichkeit human decency that is at the core of Torah.


the laws of the Torah are the life and the good.

I am surprised that people think the laws of the Torah are temporary. I certainly never understood this until I read the letters of Paul. After seeing him disparage the the laws of the Torah in really shocking ways, I got the idea from where people got this idea. Of course, Rav Saadia Gaon also noticed this, but to me it seems clear the laws of the Torah are forever. One place you see this is in Deuteronomy 5:29 (הבט משמים" סימן") [The verse says keep these laws "כל הימים" all the days.] If people start out with Paul, no wonder they do not tend notice the differences between him and the Old Testament and between him and Jesus. [That is of course the very reason that Martin Luther stressed the letters of Paul above anything else in the NT, even the four gospels.]
But even without that place in Deuteronomy, it is implicit  in the entire book of Deuteronomy. There is a constant emphasis that keeping the laws of the Torah are the life and the good. And not keeping the laws of the Torah are death and evil.

The thing that makes this difficult is the teachers of Torah tend on the whole to be demons. I am not really sure why this is, but it has been obvious to me for a long time. Even from the very beginning of my learning Torah intensely, I was quite aware of this problem. But I was certainly the only one.  Everyone else in yeshiva thought the supposed teachers of Torah outside of the yeshiva world were perfectly fine people. I had no idea why people were not able (or not willing) to see the difference between the roshei yeshiva [teachers of Torah in authentic Litvak yeshivas] that are sincerely devoted to the holy Torah, and the supposed teachers of Torah outside the yeshiva who are satanic demons as a rule. [I have never seen an exception to this rule.]

Even in Torah literature you find this willful ignorance.

In any case, the simple way to make the distinction is plain and simple. People connected with an authentic Lithuanian yeshiva are in general very good. But in the religious world--the minute you walk outside the door of the authentic yeshivas, one encounters the Sitra Achra [unclean and unholy Dark Side] immediately.


Reb Nachman

In spite of my critique on Breslov, there are an amazing amount of things that Reb Nachman got 100% right. Some of them were mentioned before him,  but some were pretty unique to him. One thing he got absolutely right was the problems with those that set themselves up to teach Torah. He called them "demonic Torah scholars." That is however just one area that he hit the nail on the head. Maybe I should go into the other areas also, but for now I wanted to dwell on this because it comes up so often in the Lekutai Moharan. The thing that you see in the LM is that the one and most major obstacle on the path of Torah is the Satanic  teachers of Torah.
In a way this is quite an elegant way of putting it, because it corresponds to what Reb Nachman thought was the greatest help toward coming to Torah - and that is finding a true tzadik.

But my basic feeling is to stay away from all Satanic teachers of Torah. I would rather not risk my immortal soul by going anywhere near them. And nowadays they have penetrated the entire religious world. There is no where safe in the religious world that I know of that has not been infiltrated,-- and that includes most Litvak yeshivas which you would suppose to be immune and the very best, and this includes Breslov itself.

[I would like to go into this a drop, but this is one topic that causes me to lose all my readers. Still it seems important enough for the few that care to listen. Mainly this comes from famous verses in Jeremiah and Isaiah about God giving false teachers to Israel since we did not listen to true teachers.
This topic comes up in the Mishna, and quite often in the Talmud itself. "All the problems that comes into the world are from the judges of Israel,"[at the end of tractate Shabat].  But Reb Nachman himself brings the idea from the Zohar. In any case, unless you have a yeshiva of the stature of Ponovitch or Brisk in your area, I suggest just avoiding the religious world.  You might pick up one or two mitzvot but lose your soul. It is not worth it.
[This is not just in theory, but experience shows this to be true. The religious teachers leave long trails of broken lives where ever they go. No wonder the Rambam had a simple solution for this problem. Simple and radical--fire them all. Stop giving them money. After all, they are not allowed to teach or learn Torah for money anyway. So why pay them to ruin our lives? It is not as if we do not have enough trouble without them. Where you can see this is in the Rambam in Mishne Torah and his commentary on Pirkei Avot I think around chapter 4 where it says, "One who uses the crown passes away," and also the Mordechai on Bava Batra at the end of the first chapter where he brings the law that one is not allowed to teach Torah for money. "God said, 'Just like I taught Torah for free, so you must teach Torah for free.'" And there the Mordechai brings the problem of "Melamdim"--teachers of children. That is in a practical sense how do you have any schools, if you can not pay the teachers?  I forget how he answered this. In any case, are not they saying to keep Torah even when it seems wrong in our eyes? Is it not true that the Torah knows better about right and wrong than our limited intellect? Fine so lets start keeping Torah by not paying people to learn or teach it which is an open Halacah for all to see.
[Just as a side point Reb Nachman was amazingly insightful and most of his advice and ideas are great. The problem tends to be Breslov.]

Religious fanaticism and the placebo effect.

Religious fanaticism is so bad that even with knowledge it just becomes worse. in itself is a form of OCD and insanity. This applies also to political fanaticism. 

While basic faith is important some prayer also, but still I have seen people that think the reason they do not get their problems solved is from lack of faith or prayer. My approach is rather to learn Torah--the word of God, to seek God, and then all good things will come to one. But my approach to learning Torah is a bit different from way the Lithuanian yeshiva world understands it. For as per the Rambam, I include Physics and Metaphysics along with the Oral and Written Law.

[Take philosophy out of the set and you end up with fanatic ideology. Thinking comes before believing because belief is nothing else than thinking with agreement.]

The trouble is the Jewish religious world is solely that of fanaticism. Even the groups which are apparently  are moderate are simply moderate  as a result of being fanatic about moderation. Their moderation is just as sick.

Most of the writings in the religious world are placebo religion.[Plecebo is the sugar pill you give to a patient that they believe is a real pill and it in fact makes them feel better.]

In placebo religion all the benefit comes from the belief of the believer. Not surprisingly there are psychological benefits, just like there are with a placebo pill, but there is no evidence that there's any spiritual benefit in the writing itself. For example, there is no evidence that in it there is an 'absolute Truth' or that finding it will lead to some sort of miraculous change in one's life. Without belief a placebo religion, just like a placebo pill, has nothing substantial to offer. And to offer placebo religion as though there's something substantial in it is clearly deceptive and immoral.

Frankly I think pretty much or all religious writings is all placebo pills that make people feel good and holy without having any real benefit, spiritual or otherwise. I do not deny that most religious writings make people feel good--very good and part of their group just like the sugar pill gives real positive effects when people believe in it. But in the long run it is a lie.
However the basic set of the Tenach and Two Talmuds with the Halachic and Agadic midrashim with the rishonim I believe to be of real objective benefit. Sola scriptura sola talmuda. אין לנו אלא דינא דגמרא ("We only have the law of the Gemara.") [That is a statement from Reb Chaim from Voloshin a disciple of the Gra. But it is obvious to anyone whose has learned any poskim [legal authorities] at all. All poskim [legal authorities] without exception are looking for דינא דגמרא (law of the Gemara). For example the Magen Avraham, Shach Taz, חלקת מחוקק, 
 בית שמואל ר'עא ונתיבות etc. always look for (law of the Gemara) דינא דגמרא. If that is how the Shulchan Aruch come out then fine. But if not then they have no trouble throwing out the decision of the Beit Joseph in the Shulchan Aruch and going by the Gemara.


Gra based Musar yeshivas

 The most curious phenomena in religious history; the bright and dark sides are almost invariably found together. Whenever an attempt is made to shed some light on the mystery of the world and of man, the whole nature is pulse of nature is accelerated , and if the animal nature  is the stronger, it becomes all the more uncontrolled.  Every area of value when it deteriorates it deteriorates into its opposite.

I should mention that in Israel I felt a tremendous outpouring of God's light on me, but it did not give me understanding. I do not know what it was all about, but at some point I pushed it away for invalid reasons. In any case, I believe pushing away God's light was a mistake based on a commentary with no name on the first four chapters of the Mishne Torah of the Rambam. In any case, my basic approach based on this experience is that the basic path that had led me to God's light is the best of all paths. And that is the basic learning of Torah in the straight and simple Gra way. For all other paths I believe are paths of deception and evil. No sooner does one come to an authentic yeshiva like the Mir or Ponovitch that someone comes long to seduce him to some path of the Dark Side. In religion light and darkness are sadly mixed.
{I hold from Reb Israel Salanter, but I do not want to knock yeshivas like Brisk that learn Gemara only. After all, my first yeshiva, Shar Yashuv, of Rav Freifeld was a Gra based non Musar yeshiva. But if you would ask me, I would say it is important to have two musar sessions per day. And Rav Shach (Elazar Menachem  Shach) also says Musar is important as you can see in one of the introductions to the Avi Ezri.}

 That is that a synthetic priori knowledge is known through knowledge that is known not through sense perception nor through thinking]. That applies also to the dinge an sich (things in themselves) through Schopenhauer. That is that the dinge an sich can be known until we get to the Ding An Sich (God). 

One fundamental advantage of Kant is that he provides a good account of light and the electron. As far as light goes the principle of Einstein that its speed is the same to anyone watching it, whether moving or not means that space does not exist except as a way of measurement. The electron also we know depends on the observer in order to decide whether to be a wave or  a particle, so its existence is independent of the observer but its characteristics are not

Stop. You are going to Hell. Turn around and go back. Reb Israel Salanter

I have given Hell a lot of consideration, and I would like to divide the topic into two parts. One part is "What actually gets a person out of Hell?" and the other is "What is sin?"  

First I want to give my perspective and then mention other points of view.

My own perspective on this issue really came to me one Rosh Hashanah at the Mir yeshiva when I was already married. During Musaf during חזרת הש''ץ (repeating of the prayers) I spent learning the אור ישראל Light of Israel of a disciple of Reb Israel Salanter, Isaac Blazer.  
That book is really a collection of several books but the one I opened up to dealt with the difficulty of getting out of Hell.[I have zero sefarim with me so I can not look it up to tell you which book it is. I vaguely recall that it is the first section.] His point is simple. It is hard to get out of Hell. He brings lots of proofs from the Talmud. Thus, even if one is thinking he keeps the entire Torah properly, (or thinks he has some other guarantee), in all likelihood he or she is deciding based on lack of evidence. 
To a lesser degree you can see this same in the books of the Chafetz Chaim, Reb Israel Meir HaCohen.

What bears on this issue in terms of an answer I want to bring the Reshash (Shalom Sharabi) and the Rambam.

The Reshash in Nahar Shalom נהר שלום says the soul is the character traits. Mitzvot are only the clothing of the soul. Learning Torah is nourishment of the soul. Thus a sin one can repent on. Also lack of Torah. But a lack of a good character trait is a basic limb of the soul that is missing. On that little can help. מעוות לא יתוקן
Proverbs "What is crooked can not be made straight." [The Chafetz Chaim says the same in שמירת הלשון.]

The Rambam says in Mishne Torah that one's portion in the next world depends on גודל המעשים וגודל החכמה deeds and wisdom.
[Thus what matters in the long run is not one's standing in the superorganism nor one's social group. Nor commitment to religious or political movements.]

[During the Middle Ages the issue of Hell was in the forefront of most people's mind. See Dante for example. Dante for me was גירסה דינקותא the learning of my youth. I had it with me all the time in high school. One thing you see in Dante is this same opinion expressed by the Reshash--that Hell depends on character traits. Each circle of Hell is for one particular character trait. I forget the order. I think the top is for excess desire, then anger, greed, lying, stealing, and being traitorous to people that trust one.

The christian perspective also relates to the issue of how not to go to  Hell and instead go to the Garden of Eden.[called salvation]. (Soteriology). To the Catholic baptism is a sine qua none for salvation. But it apparently is not sufficient. One can wreak it up as we see in Dante lots of people in Hell even after being baptized including a pope.  [That is there are things  that take care of Purgatory. But that is not baptism. But baptism does not save from Hell proper if one does any of the deadly sins like lying etc.]

  Protestants  don't believe in that but rather say faith alone saves, but good character is an epi-phenomenon of being in fact saved.
In any case, there is also the basic fact of salvation and good character [human decency] as being closely tied. [There is some degree of tension here. Catholic are trying to have their pie and eat it too. They want sin to be forgiven by baptism but then to still need repentance. And Protestants want to have no sin after one says a few words about faith. This trivializes sin.]

Now there is another subject of what is sin. Protestants mainly want to define this without reference to the Bible. This  has some justification since they are looking for what you would call wholesome living  along with kindness. That is the exact same things I was discussing above about having good character. Still the ignoring completely the laws of the Torah and making up their own set of what is called sin is disturbing to me and apparently also to Peter and James in The Recognitions of Clement. [
Baur was the first to point  out, and his followers in the Tübingen school elaborated his views into the theory that Simon Magus is simply the legendary symbol for Paul. The remarkable similarity of the doctrinal points at issue in both the Petro-Simonian and Petro-Pauline controversies cannot be denied, and the scholarly reputation of the Tübingen school is such to make this probable..] Apparently Paul came up with this doctrine and as we see in the first Corinthians his followers took him quiet literally which left him aghast and caused him to backpedal.

To make a long story short what my approach is is mainly that of Reb Israel Salanter in the sense that I accept this idea that midot is the main and primary thing. However I also can see the idea that midot is an epiphenomenon of some internal state of the soul. This was note by the Chazon Ish --that midot do not come differentiated. One is either a good and decent person and that is that or not. Kant noticed the same thing and he called it by some name that I forget. The idea is that one is either radically good or radically bad based on one thing alone--the acceptance of the moral law.