Realm of Holiness-living with balance

With Hegel there is a connection between areas of value. Even in the same area he says"content is itself the Idea as the unity of the Notion and reality."
With the Kant Fries School of Dr Kelley Ross the areas of value are independent.
So with Hegel the living with balance makes more sense. That is devoting let's say one hour of time to Gemara and another hour to Physics, and another to Music, etc until in one day you have covered all the areas of value. But with Dr Kelley Ross, it would make more sense to concentrate on the one area of value you need the most the whole day.

For me it seems better to divide the day into small sections. To concentrate on one area alone for me seems to work against that very area in itself. But I think that is simply a quirk of my own personality. I can see there are people that can concentrate on one area alone and gain great expertise in that area. But that does not seem to work for me.

There is great value in the Kant-Fries School of Thought. Still there are a few problem areas. One is implanted knowledge. There does not seem  to be any reason to believe that implanted knowledge corresponds to truth in any sense. And it does not does not seem to be the approach of the Rambam either. True that even natural law needs to be revealed, but once it is reveled, the veil of perception is taken away and then reason perceives it. Also the whole approach of Kant is absolute based on Hume,  and Hume never showed that reason only can perceive contradictions as Dr. Bryan Caplan makes clear.
To me it seems there is a lot of good in the Hegel approach.
The Ari and Rambam do have as a matter of fact a kind of progression towards the Divine Light anyway. That seems kind of curious because normally we understand the Divine Light --when it is the real thing from the Realm of Holiness-to be a simple gift from God. That is why the Ari and the Rambam seem hard to understand.  They both definitely say the approach towards God goes by stages. The Arizal even warns about jumping the gun in a few places that are relatively unknown. [Which is itself curious because it seems to go against the beginning of the Eitz Chaim. That Introduction to the Eitz Chaim is in fact the reason people learn it without being prepared. Still as I mentioned once I see no contradiction. Rather being prepared simply does not mean what most people imagine it to mean.]

Music for the Glory of God

Human problems

It is hard to erase problems. I am not really sure what to say about in terms of  a solution. My own approach is to do Physics and learn Rav Shach and other parts of Torah and hope that the light of Torah will erase all my problems. That is the best I can figure out. I also try to say over to myself a few statements of Musar in the morning when I get up that deal with issues I need to work on. There is a great Musar book called "Madragat HaAdam" by a disciple of Reb Israel Salanter that has a passage in it about Trust in God that he brings from the Gra's commentary on Proverbs which I try to say over to myself to remind myself about trust in God.  
But that is just for me. 

I am not sure about the issues that other people need to work on. But whatever they are I think the best idea is: learn Muar and when you find something that deals with some problem you are having then to write in down and repeat it to yourself every day when you get up in the morning


Shavuot page 43

R. Akiva says if a lender loses the pledge he has for a loan, then  the lender loses the amount that the pledge was worth. The pledge might very well be worth more than the loan and thus the lender might owe to the borrower money.  However Shmuel says the pledge goes for the entire loan.. Thus even if the pledge is worth more the lender would not owe anything. This seems to me to be  a proof for Rabainu Chananel. For to Rashi Shmuel is when nothing was said and R. Akiva is when the lender said something. But why would the lender say something that results in his losing money? Rabainu Chananel says on the contrary that Shmuel is when something was said and R. Akiva is when nothing was said.

Shavuot page 43
Here is a link to the book on Shas where I added this idea: Ideas in Shas

ר. עקיבא says if a lender loses the pledge he has for a loan, then  the lender loses the amount that the pledge was worth. The pledge might very well be worth more than the loan and thus the lender might owe to the borrower money.  However שמואל says the pledge goes for the entire loan. Thus even if the pledge is worth more the lender would not owe anything. This seems to me to be  a proof for רבינו חננאל. For to רש''י the case of  שמואל is when nothing was said and ר. עקיבא is when the lender said something. But why would the lender say something that results in his losing money? רבינו חננאל says on the contrary that שמואל is when something was said and ר. עקיבא is when nothing was said.
I am not saying that the lender is allowed to take a pledge that is worth more than the loan. I am only addressing the issue of if this happened.

ר. עקיבא אומר אם מלווה מאבד את המשכון שיש לו בגלל הלוואה, אז המלווה מאבד את סכום שהמשכון היה שווה. המשכון יכול מאוד להיות שווה יותר מן ההלוואה, ולכן המלווה עלול להתחייב  כסף ללווה. אולם שמואל אומר המשכון כנגד ההלוואה כולה. לכן גם אם המשכון שווה יותר המלווה לא חייב שום דבר. זה נראה לי להיות הוכחה עבור רבינו חננאל. לפי רש''י המקרה של שמואל הוא כאשר לא שום דבר נאמר ור. עקיבא הוא כאשר המלווה אמר משהו. אבל למה המלווה היה אומר משהו שגורם לאבד כסף שלו? רבינו חננאל אומר להיפך כי שמואל הוא כשנאמר משהו ור. עקיבא הוא כאשר לא שום דבר שנאמר. אני לא אומר כי המלווה רשאי לַעֲבוֹט משכון שהוא שווה יותר מן ההלוואה. אני רק מתייחס למצב אם זה קרה

Is it possible to worship Satan while believing one is worshiping G-d?

The signature of the Gra on the letter of excommunication opens an interesting question: Is it possible to worship Satan while believing one is worshiping G-d?  It seems clear that this is true as we know from Sanhedrin page 63 that there is such a thing as idol worship that is not intended.  And we know from the Rambam in the Guide that the Spirit of the World in not the same thing as God. So the issue of the excommunication is more severe and serious than people are aware of. [The Ari also brings this same theme in a few places]. It is no wonder that people joining that cult and thus worshiping the Devil believe they are being good religious Jews.
And this opinion of mine was apparently shared by the Gra and the sages of Musar [Reb Israel Salanter and his disciples] who rigorously excluded any mention of that cult. Clearly Rav Shach was also of this opinion. So I am not a lone voice of reason in the wilderness.  The greatest sages of Israel agreed with me and yet their opinions are ignored.


Not all religions are created equal. Not all hard work is equal. And not all patriotism is equal.

Some religions encourage really bad behavior. Others are more on the positive side. Some hard work is useless, some gets results. Not all countries have a positive social meme so patriotism towards one's country has value only in so far as that country in itself has positive value.

My basic idea of  proper Torah approach is to learn the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach [with the relevant Gemaras] and all the writings of the Gra, and Physics and Math and survival skills.

[Though I sometimes mention the idea of learning דרך גירסה just saying the word and going on, I found in doing the Avi Ezri that it is better to do review a few times on each chapter before continuing on.]

T52 F major  This still might need some editing

My Parents and Social Justice.

 In any case, it took me good and long to recognize the greatness of my parents even though I knew they were very special. Still the world in those days was very much anti-parents, so it took a lot of effort to see through the facade of society. Israel is much more close to traditional family values than the USA  The interesting thing about my parents was they spoke so little about how to live that the few times they ever said anything, it sticks out in my mind very clearly  -for the fact of it being so unusual. They definitely liked my learning Physics,--but only after I anyway showed interest in that direction. 
I was drawn to philosophy on my own, and  they were definitely not into it  at all. Especially my Dad. He was totally and absolutely oblivious to any philosophical questions what-so-ever. My Mom lent me a sympathetic ear to listen to my thoughts when I got home from school, but  it was not up her alley.They sent us to Hebrew school and expected we would grow up good Jews in the sense that they were. It is hard to explain. They were however cold to the idea of "Social Justice," which even back then was being preached in Temple Israel. They had a good idea of what Torah is about, and knew that Social Justice is not it. When I was getting more religious, I was praying the entire morning prayer every day in English which took me until 12 PM in the summer and my Mom came in and told me I needed to get out and get some fresh air. [They were not into religious fanaticism.]
 Social Justice became in the world of Reform to be the entire message of Torah. My Dad never said anything about it, but my Mom did one time when we were in Temple Israel. They knew it is just a code word  for Socialism. They were cold to the idea completely. They had from their own homes a very good idea of what Torah means.
"Why did Jews support communism do you think?" 
I guess it was the "in thing." Anyone who was anyone in the intellectual world thought Socialism as the wave of the future, and thought it had all the weight of evidence on its side.

Here is my Mom.
Torah, The Law of Moses, Physics, Music, Hard work, being self sufficient, being a mensch, marrying a nice Jewish girl. These were all important principle to my parents. Also loyalty towards family and friends.

They certainly believed in Torah and would have been pleased as a peach if I had managed to combine Torah in Ponovitch or some NY Litvak Yeshiva with learning Physics. As it was, I did not get involved in Physics until later. But the straight path of Torah was clearly their view. They were aware the religious world only makes a show of Torah but is really filled with the Dark Side. They knew something is highly wrong with the religious that make a show of Torah but are really from the Sitra Achra.


The cult and anti cult movement in the USA

The cult and anti cult movement in the USA have had a history of bouncing back and forth. I wish I had time to go into this in more detail. Obliviously the period from 1946 -1965 was quiet in this regard. But at the peak of the counter culture movement from 1965 until 1969, the cults had enormous success.  But it did not end there. A California judge decided in one case that there was no such thing as "brain washing".  That was under the influence of the mad professors of sociology  that  received enormous sums of money  for their "expert" testimony that gave clean bills of health to cults. The 1980's saw a rise in the anti-cult movements but the anti cult movement was brought to a dramatic finish in 1990.
 In any case the signature of the Gra on the Cherem [excommunication] had a similar history. It was meant to be the opening salvo against the cults. But the lukewarm reception of his opinion doomed it to oblivion. Still when the Litvak yeshivas arose  and after that the Musar movement, there was some attempt to distance themselves from the cults with little success. Thus most people that saw through the charade of the cults simply wanted nothing to do with Torah at all since the Sitra Achra [Dark Side] had become so tightly bound up with it.


The attitude is embedded deeply in sociology departments-- to defend religious cults and claim there is no such thing as brain washing in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Is there such a thing as brainwashing? It seems there is. The academic community has tried to ignore this thesis in spite of the fact that the best scholars like Zimbardo seems to support it. Evidence suggests that new religious cults do use mind control methods   that have proven effective and they do it on purpose.

Some people in the academic community have been given lavish support to protect cults.[The very people that write reports on cults are getting lavish gifts from those cults. No wonder they give them  clean bill of health.] The attitude is embedded deeply in sociology departments-- to defend religious cults and claim there is no such thing as brain washing in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The setting is simple. Control of the young persons' environment by the group under the leadership of the charismatic leader. Once you have those two components in place, brain washing becomes amazingly simple.

That is not to imply all religious interest is due to this, but some of it certainly is.  If you can control these factors, you can convince anyone of almost anything, long after the group is gone.

[There is a lot of research that needs to be done here. There is a paper by Benjamin Zablocki that goes into some details, but there is much more insidious history behind it all.]

Still there are legitimate establishments like the authentic Litvak yeshivas which are on the side of good--but they border on cults just by the fact of the cults trying to gain entrance.

All in all I would have to agree with those parents who are wary of all yeshivas unless it is a place that is so well known and established like Ponovitch that there is no doubts about it.

The trouble seems to be that you can take even a good set of doctrines that point people in a moral and good direction and still easily turn it into a cult by these two simple mechanisms--a) control of environment b) charismatic leader. Thus even Torah can be turned into  a cult.

The trouble is also that sometimes decent and good groups partake of some of these characteristics. The Marine Corp, or the Shar Yashuv Yeshiva in NY.  Still the goal of the group seems to make the whole project worthwhile.
I have thought to mention that Dr. Zimbardo thought the only solution to the problem of cults is to have a healthy society in which the temptation of cults does not exist.


You do see in Torah that different people come along and emphasize one particular aspect. This happened in Musar as you can see in Navardok with the idea of trust in God. But it is not confined there. I heard in Israel from a friend that this often leads to that one thing that is emphasized to be the very thing that people mess up. Still it does not seem to always work that way. It seems to be like corporations that sometimes they actually accomplish their goals, and yet in other corporations the accomplishment seems to go n the reverse direction.

No matter how you look at it the very principle in itself seems odd. Why would there be any particular command of the Torah more important than any other unless it is explicit in the Torah itself that that particular command is primary?

In any case the idea of trust in God and learning Torah has enough support to be able to commit to this ideal.

That is it might make some sense to start trusting in God to take care of your needs. The idea of trust in God usually worked for me as long as I stuck with it. It is rather when I deviated from it that it did not seem to work any longer.

In a rather strange way some people emphasize the very opposite of what the Torah requires and yet do so under the guise of Torah  Graves of tzadikm is one minor example see Deuteronomy 18:11. But there are many more strange examples.

וישבות ביום השביעי מכל מלאכתו אשר עשה. And He rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had made. [Genesis] What could this possibly mean? If he stopped working at the beginning of night on Friday night, but then simply did no more work, then it was not on the seventh day alone that he rested by the eight and ninth, and onward. So it must mean He continued working on the eight day in order for the entire seventh day to be one span of an interval of not working.

The Sages ask this and answer since then he makes "Shiduchim," matches-but that does not seem to come under the category of the 39 types of work.

I believe in the "noble savage" without the "noble."

I do not believe in the "noble savage" myth that was popularized by Rousseau.   Nor the Blank Slate of John Locke.  There are genes. Some genes are suggestions. Some genes are dictators. But there is also the social meme that plays a role [Howard Bloom in the Lucifer Principle.] Thus it is clear to me that Western Civilization had  at least these factors: (1) genes and (2) the Law of Moses (3) Plato and Aristotle.


Ellen White of the Seventh Day Adventists was definitely  using information fed to her (by informants) to appear to have the "Divine Spirit." This fact sheds light on the fact that Rav Shick was doing the same thing. It always seemed that way to some degree, but it was never anything I could put my finger on exactly.[I saw this a lot but never wanted to believe it. Clearly Erez was feeding to him information about me and others tat he would afterwards insert into hi public speaking that seemed to people to be "the Divine Spirit". Still there was some kind of trans-personal element about him that went beyond that, You could tell he was not getting his information by Divine Spirit because he made many mistakes. this was so clear to me that I could even tell exactly who had been his informant. But i till did not want to believe it because I really thought of him very highly. And without him  can see people can fall into much worse things.]

Even so Rav Shick had an almost Litvak approach to Reb Nachman that combined the best element of prayer with learning Torah and emphasized the best elements of Reb  Nachman instead of the more flaky aspects. All the better to get people to leave an authentic Litvak yeshiva environment and join his group.

[My general approach to this subject is based on the idea of the Intermediate Zone. People that get caught in that area definitely have some amazing spiritual power and manifestations, but all to give power to the Sitra Achra ( the Dark Realm).

In any case, Rav Shick was a lot better than all the rest of the Sitra Achra cults. He had the sense to emphasize the good aspects of Reb Nachman. Still, it is always regretful any involvement with any group that comes under the Cherem (excommunication) of the Gra.


path of Torah and how to accept "the yoke of Torah"

What makes it hard to recommend the path of Torah is the problem of the cults and kelipot that people automatically get involved with when they think they are coming to Torah. That makes the whole endeavor highly undesirable, and it defeats the whole purpose. After all, what do people learn when they imagine they are coming to Torah? The first lesson is to ignore one's parents. Next is to learn mysticism of the unclean realm as you can see on the faces of the people themselves. They get that Zombie look after a short time. Next is to despise the State of Israel and all secular Jews.
After all that, it is hard to see what possible benefit they could have out of the whole thing-- once they have lost their basic human decency.

So the basic issue is simple. How does one go about accepting the yoke of Torah in a way that does not lead to negative outcomes?   There seem to be only two ways. To learn at home as much as possible, Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot, Avi Ezri. Or to start an authentic Litvak yeshiva where bad influences are terminated with extreme prejudice.

If you are learning at home, I found a great way of doing Gemara, that is a עמוד [half page] per day with Rashi, Tosphot, Maharasha and Maharam. Also if you do get through Shas that way,  then do the Yerushalmi.

[There is a problem with time distribution. Taking the Rambam' four fold path of learning the Oral and Written Law plus Physics and Metaphysics, the question arises about time commitment. Each subject in itself requires a great deal of time.] [That is the 10,000 hours rule. That is: to become even half way decent in any of these subject takes 10,000. That is why Authentic Litvak yeshivas have their four year cycle. That end up being around 10,000 hours. Same goes for Physics.]

It would be the 12th day of the Omer today if you go by the molad. That would make April 11 the first day of peach. This is only to Tosphot in Sanhedrin. Most people think the present day Hebrew calendar was set up when there was real semicha but there i no record of that in the Gemara. And letters of the geonim have dates in them that do not correlate to today's calendar. To me it seems clear it was adopted during the middle of the geonic period. But with no semicha there is nothing to make it valid. 
"Around and around go the wicked." [סביב רשעים יתהלכון] (Psalms) You go from one thing to the other. You find Torah and then some group comes along and says, "Yes, keep Torah. But if you join us, you will do it so much better." 
And then one  goes and joins that cult. And then find it to be  a cult and finds some other  group or ideal and around and around he or she goes for years on end.

The way to be saved from this kelipa is by trust in God. To believe where you are --physically and spiritually--is where you are supposed to be. What is is what ought to be.

It is my tendency to be like this by nature--to investigate new things. But I am not alone in this. However the flaw in this is that cult and kelipot and dark side forces are not always obvious at first. They often cloth themselves with clothing of righteousness while the inner essence is evil.  

And in any case Litvak Yeshiva world where authentic true unadulterated Torah is learnt and kept in fact has numerous flaws, which do cause people to seek the Truth elsewhere.

[In any case, at some point I settled on the Gra  to "learn Torah." This makes the most sense to me as the set of paths that contains in it the proper paths that gives the right guidance, but is not too open to allow all things.] [This idea of learning Torah is defended by Reb Chaim from Voloshin in the book Nefesh HaChaim.]]

What it means to learn Torah is basically expressed well in Lithuanian yeshivas, Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot,  and Avi Ezri of Rav Shach but along with that I add Physics and Math mainly because of my parents and the Rambam.  (I admit that if it was only my parents, I might not pay that much attention as I should. [There is that spirit of rebellion against parents which minimizes the authority of parents sadly enough.] But there is the Rambam that puts Physics and Metaphysics into the category of the Oral Law. I know that each these subjects takes time and along with that there I the issue of a vocation. Still I try to set up my day in a way that I  get at least a mall amount of each of these essential vitamins.   Musar I should add gives one the basic practical aspects of the Oral Law

It is hard to explain why the school of thought of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and Rav Shach is so important. The basic reason is that it is hard to actually see what is going on in the Gemara without them.  There is a lot of depth in the Gemara that is easy to miss with them.
[There is a lot to be learned from the Ari''zal however all the cults that pretend to teach him are in fact teaching the approach of the Shatz and his false prophet Nathan of Gaza. This is how the Sitra Achra the Dark Realm got into the religious world. I could document this but it is easy enough to look up if you have the stomach for it. That is the reason the Gra puts that whole cult into excommunication. ]


T50 D major [I make no claims to originality. The songs in these pieces are adapted. The original song appears in the bass clef. The only claim I make is I like to write and to share music.] Most often the song that is in the upper clef that is heard to some kind of inverse of the original song. Sequences that go up I turn to going down. I do all kinds of variations based on what I learned from Mozart scores. There is no claim of originality except that these songs have never been heard before.
here in this link I change the clefs so the original song can be heard. In my opinion my change of the originals is slightly better. But that is just just me. [You will notice I all kinds of variations with view to improve the piece, but claim nothing in terms of originality.]

For a long time I simply used my own Songs that I thought up while walking outside. But anyway they were influenced by the music I was playing on the violin. People thought the songs were not original even though they were! The reason I I was anyway basing my song on themes I had seen while playing Mozart. So at some point after the E series I simply started looking at Renaissance Musik and adapting the themes in ways I thought were improvements. That is using the idea of inverse directions and also ideas I had seen in Mozart. For example Mozart sometimes prefers to go to a 6th when you would expect a 5th. That is one example I specifically use in this piece T50. Another thing Mozart does is to go to a 1-3-5 chord when you would expect a chromatic progression. I also use that idea here. There are tons of ideas like that in every single Mozart piece which anyone could dig up an adapt if they wanted to. [Bach I found a lot harder to figure out.]

Jewish Cults:They cloak themselves with outer signs of Jewishness in order to hide their moral perversions.

In the religious world the main thing is to avoid the cults. And the closer they seem to Torah the more dangerous they are.

Not enough attention is given to the problem of "masit umadiach" one who attempts to seduce another person into worship of an idol.
For  that is what the cults try to do in the disguise of Torah.

In Torah there is no such thing as a  proposition or a mysticism being ninety-nine point nine percent right, and point one percent novelty or error. It is either all or nothing, as the stakes are simply too high for anything else.  Teaching doctrines that are not of Torah in addition to Torah is just as bad and worse as not teaching Torah at all.
These obviously good and well  meaning people  start with half-truths. 
One minor example is that the Torah teaches Monotheism, that God is One and He created the world ex-nihilo something from nothing. That is, He is not the world and the world is not Him. But the problems with the cults only start with perversions of faith. They cloak themselves with outer signs of Jewishness in order to hide their moral perversions. 
And you can not walk into any place or building of their's without being infected. Their power is like that of a barnacle that attaches itself to a male crab and injects a kind of enzyme that makes it think it is  a female, and thus goes and digs a hole in the sand for its eggs. But it has no eggs. But the barnacle sure does.

Better yet. Instead of avoiding the cults, destroy them. Take them out. 


I do not have any magic system towards learning. When I was in yeshiva I found  certain people helped me to understand the Gemara. That was the Tosphot HaRosh, the Maharsha and the Pnei Yehoshua. I did not feel in any way ready for the big leagues like Reb Haim Soloveitchik though that was the bread and butter for most people. Having the English Soncino was a big help and for my first five years I used that as an aid. Having a good learning partner is also a great help. But when it came to Physics I did not really have any idea how to get started. It seemed a lot depended on finding the right book for me. But in terms of Physics, one way I managed to get through my courses at Polytechnic Institute of NYU was by a method I had seen mentioned by the Ari (Rav Isaac Luria Ashkenazi) and the Ramchal of saying the words forwards and backwards. This was an amazing help for me, and and I think once a person has gone through a book a few times straight with no review, then it is  a good idea to go back to review it with this method. I think a lot of people give up on it because they are not aware of the method by which they could open the lock.

[For fast learning what I did for a while was to do a half a page per day with Rashi Tosphot, Maharash and Maharam. That was for fast learning and only took about 40 minutes per day. I do not recall if I was learning also with my learning partner at the time. That would have been in a different session and his path was to stay on it until it was clear. We learned only about an hour a day, but he refused to budge until every last detail was clear. I think the average time on one Tosphot with him was about two or three months [sometimes more -up to I think six months.] He used to think up the most amazing questions with seemingly no effort, and sometimes great answers also. Some of the answers on questions in my two books on the Gemara I came up with only after years of thinking about his questions.][e.g. Bava Metzia page 97, the answer to the question there I thought of only after learning Rav Shach's treatment of the Gemara in Nida page 2b. The learning with my learning partner stopped after Bava Metzia page 104 but then picked up again later when we did the Gemara in Sanhedrin 63 and other Gemaras.]

One person said on Breitbart that religion motivates people to evil:
I suggested he look at Dr Kelly Ross and Steven Dutch.

I should mention I have in fact seen religion motivate people towards all kind of things,-- good and bad.

This is what Steven Dutch says:

Given the endless ways religions can be subverted and co-opted, the wonder is less that religions commit evils than that they do any good at all. And given the way Marxism was transformed into an unchallengeable dogma in the 20th century, the simple-minded prescription of John Lennon's Imagine:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
doesn't seem to offer much prospect of a solution. After all, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Stalinist Russia and Enver Hoxha's officially atheistic Albania didn't exactly shine as beacons in the darkness. One could readily see, in a world where Lennon's ideals somehow gained supremacy, that a few generations later people who atavistically clung to national identities or religious beliefs would be ostracized and persecuted. Solely because of the threat they posed to peace, harmony, and all-round good vibes, mind you.

In fact, blaming religion for the ills of the world is a wonderful way to avoid taking a hard look at human nature. It's a variation on the "noble savage" myth and suffers from the inevitable failure of believers in the myth to ask how innately benign people could ever be attracted to repression in the first place, and how we can guarantee that eliminating all forms of repression in the present will prevent its returning in the future.

the baali teshuva /newly religious.

The religious world was putting forth great effort to get Jews to be religious. [In the sense of keeping trivial rituals at the expense of the more weighty factors  like honoring one's parents.] [Certainly no religious organization was interested in strengthening one's observance of that mitzvah.] But there was more about it that was odd. No one has documented much of the spiritual abuse and the taking advantage of the baali teshuva [''newly religious'']. Maybe it is the prohibition of ''Lashon Hara'' [slander]?

But the main focus seems to have been to create  a slave caste to support the  supposedly superior "frum [religious] from birth". The whole thing reeked of hypocrisy and fraud until it gave a bad name to the holy Torah.
For themselves they would encourage and parade family values, but for baali teshiva
they would encourage their wives to divorce them, and the sexual abuse of the children from those marriages was rampant in the frum world. While pretending holiness and higher moral standards they would  act like the most depraved of humans.  I have long sought for a reasonable explanation of this phenomenon, and the best I could find was the influence of the Shatz and that whole movement that the Gra put into excommunication.

[It is not to say that the Litvak world [Yeshiva World based on the Gra] is immune. Just the opposite. They allowed elements from those movements to get inside, and thus partake of many of the flaws of fraud and spiritual uncleanliness.

So the solution, I imagine, would be simply to pay attention to the excommunication of the Gra. That would seem to be obvious. But for some reason, this obvious solution is ignored except by Rav Silverman in the Old City of Jerusalem and to some degree Ponovitch.

Rav Zilverman is the Rosh Yeshiva of Aderet Eliayhu which is the first yeshiva to specifically do everything according to the Gra. Since then, others have started. Ponovitch tends towards that approach also much more so than any American Yeshiva.


T47 E flat major That is a celesta in the middle. All the songs in these pieces are original in the sense that they have never been written or heard before. But in everything after the E and G series I look at old tunes from the Renaissance or later and change them in ways that make sense to me. [The original tune is in the bass clef.] So I am not claiming they are original. Nor am I claiming Divine inspiration. I am no Mozart. I simply like to write music and I love to rite music and to me this is the peak of my life. I was doing this a long time before I could share anything with others on the internet. Now I am grateful to God that He allows me to share. But I am not making any claims to originality. I definitely borrow  and then change in ways that make sense to me.

 I also tried for years to play Mozart's and Bach scores on a violin and this way I gained some small amount of ideas of how they would develop a theme. And sometimes I try to use make use of their ideas. Again I make no claim to originality.  My only claim is I am grateful to God that he grants to me to write Music and also to share it.

And I am sorry if I do not have the names of all the people I owe the original ideas of these pieces to. Mainly they are Renaissance [Italy] and also Irish and German. I try to avoid this problem the books on the Gemara where in most cases I gave credit to my learning partner [David Bronson] when an idea was his. But credit goes to him anyway because before I learned with him I had no ideas in the Gemara at all. Learning with him kind of awakened that aspect in me.
Nice article on Martin Luther

I had heard of this opinion [that is mentioned in that article--the Holocaust being mainly derived from Luther]  before, but I had not been aware of the evidence behind the thesis. My own opinion is that Pauline Christianity tends to waver between two extremes, abidance with the Law and then nullification of the Law. This is the never ending dilemma of Christianity which comes to full force in Luther.  

"You owe nothing to God except faith and confession. In all other things He lets you do whatever you like. You may do as you please, without any danger of conscience whatsoever." (see Grisar, "Luther", vol. iv, p. 145).
"The body has nothing to do with God. In this respect one can never sin against God, but only against one's neighbour" (W12, 131).3

"It does not matter what people do; it only matters what they believe." "God does not need our actions. All He wants is that we pray to Him and thank Him." Even the example of Christ Himself means nothing to him. "It does not matter how Christ behaved--what He taught is all that matters" (E29, 196), is Luther's subtle distinction.

[My point of view is the anti law approach is simply unfounded and mistaken. To me it is of greatest importance to keep the Law, The written Law and its oral explanation {that is the Torah and the two Talmuds}.The best way to understand the Gemara in a straightforward way is to learn the books on Ethics from the Middle Ages which explain the basic emphasis of the Torah on good character and fear of God.] 

the religious world

I  can not look it up, but I recall that the beginning of the book of Isaiah  starts on rather a negative note. It is just the opposite of what you would normally expect from Isaiah. You would think it would start on some positive theme  But instead he sounds like Jeremiah. His point is Jerusalem which ought to be a faithful city had become full of pus. From this we can see a parallel to the world of the religious today. That is the name "Jerusalem" is made up of two words. יראה שלמה. Perfect Fear of God. So when a person joins the religious world and expects to find encouragement to fear God and serve him faith fully instead he finds it is "full of pus" and is "infected from foot to head," as Isaiah puts it.
Thus there is no choise but to avoid the religious world as much as possible and buy oneself a Gemara, a few books of Ethics {Musar}, and the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach [which is as deep, but more self explanatory than the חידושי הרמב''ם ] and to learn Torah at home.
The problem is the religious world seems to have some kind of infectious disease that one picks up just by being around them.  
Unless one is in the vicinity of an authentic Litvak yeshiva, then there is nothing to gain by association with the insane religious. The idea that problems with the religious world is infectious can be understood in light of Toxo-plasmosis. This is juts the first of its kind to be discovered, but it is probable there are millions of such parasites that can jump from person to person to infect others with bad thoughts and false idea. This is like the parasite that can make  a male crab believe it is female and then it goes about digging a place in the sand to bury its eggs. One can go a step further and postulate that a social meme has this same characteristic as the ToxoPlasmosis parasite. It face the same challenge-- it can only reproduce in humans and thus faces a challenge how to get inside of humans? (I know this is a stretch-to say the super-organism ha a mind of its own but this seems to be the way Howard Bloom look at it in hi book the Lucifer Principle)

[Though the groups that follow Reb Nachman are in the same boat, still it is refreshing to see that Reb Nachman himself brought attention to this problem as the Na Nach groups points out. The drawback is that as much as one gains from Reb Nahman's good advice, the eventual outcome is to leave off learning Torah.]


essence of Torah

I do not have enough spiritual sense to be able to claim the absolute truth. Truth as in TRUTH. But I do have enough of that kind of sense to be able to tell quality when I see it and to be able to discern fraud.So I do want to share some of the valuable ideas I have see around.
One thing is the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. More than any other book I have seen that is the one set that contains the essence of Torah in crystallized form. I saw in my parents the path of Torah of balance-- i.e. Torah with Derech Erertz [That is "to be a mensch"decent human being--with good character and being self sufficient].  Their path as more or less the way of the Rambam with his four fold program of learning the Oral Law, the written Law, Physics and Metaphysics. In Reb Nachman I saw a wealth of great ideas --that is: particular pieces of advice, but all a vision of Torah that makes full use of his predecessors to create tapestry or a vast fresco of Torah. That is he weaves together the Tenach and Talmud with the Ari to create an amazing vision of what Torah is suppose to be about. That is not to give any kind of agreement with the group that supposedly go by his teachings. {Visionary would be a good word for Reb Nachman.}

[Among his good ideas are: (1) talking with God in one's own language. That is the real essence of prayer. (2) Avoidance of doctors. (3) Making an importance issue out of the kind of fast learning mentioned in Gemara and later books of Musar.]

Reb Israel Salanter had two disciples Isaac Blazzer, and the Madragat HaAdam. Both have written really amazing Musar books. The Madragat HaAdam is mainly about trust in God with no effort. If only I could come to that! But at least I am happy to be reminded about that. [A second book by Isaac Blazzer came out recently of his writings after he wrote the אור ישראל.]

Something strange is going on.

I seem to have trouble when it comes to learning Torah. It is as if there is some hidden obstacle(s).
The last day of Pesach was when a rosh yeshiva was having the last meal before the end of Pesach and I did not attend. That blew my chance of marrying his daughter. . Then getting back to Israel finding myself thrown out of every yeshiva that I attempted to sit and learn in got me to wonder if it is החרב המתהפכת לשמור דרך עץ החיים the fiery sword that guards the path to the Tree of Life. The truth is the obstacles to Torah for me are from so many directions that tend to wonder what is it all about?

Something strange is going on. So to some degree I found a kind of compromise by going with the opinion of the Rambam who advocates a four fold path of learning Torah (Oral and Written), Physics and Metaphysics. [The Polytechnic Institute of NYU I went to and majored in Physics]
Still something strange is going on. It is almost as if, even when I manage to get my hands on a book of Torah, that it does not take long until I lose it, or something happens in some way that I can not use it. Maybe I just do not have the merit to learn. Something always happens. So to cherish and love every word of Torah that I can manage to learn is my goal. To at least appreciate it from afar like a long lost love, and being aware that it can easily be taken away from me in the blink of an eye.

Maybe it is just some kind of test? But who knows? Or perhaps it is just a simple way of getting me to pay attention to the Rambam about the importance of Physics and Metaphysics along with learning the Oral Law (Two Talmuds) and the Written Law. If that was the idea, I would have to say that it was effective. Eventually I began to see the importance of the Rambam's four fold path.

The simplest way of understanding this is that it is the battle of the memes, units of social information. Every set tries to get a hold of as many people as possible in order to promulgate itself.

Even specific sins do this.


a problem with Islam

I think there is a problem with Islam in itself. What I have thought until now is that it makes a whole lot of difference whom you admire. That is even if their theology would be OK (I am not saying it is), then there would still be the trouble that they emulate a dark and evil person. Christianity seems to have trouble in the area of theology but has the redeeming value of whom they admire and strive to emulate.

Some people prefer to see only bad things Christians have done, and refuse to see any good. This seems to me to be intellectually dishonest. I have to say that it is an eye opener when you find yourself in a fix and not one of your supposed friends wants to help you or even admit he knows you and it always seems to be  a Christian that comes along to offer a helping hand


 Berkeley people are not dumb. I had a learning partner who had a degree in computer science from Berkeley who is light years smarter than me. The problem is that Leftism and Socialism in various shades from strong RED to Pink were simply the accepted academic university norms and still are until today. [I was horrified to see this in NYU.] Philosophers today are not visionaries and tend to be quite superficial thinkers. [With the exception of Kelley Ross.]  I think it was easier in the USSR to see the problems with the system of communism more than in the USA where people could dream about a socialist paradise without having to feel the jackboots on their necks.


Rome at the time was not a democracy. The issue I think was that Pontus Pilate was afraid the people would send a message to Rome that he was a bad governor. That kind of report I vaguely recall would get a governor dismissed and I think sometimes executed. Also religious fanatics (as the super religious people I think were) are not representative of all the Jewish people. I have not thought about the relation of the life and death of Jesus to the question of Democracy but it seems to me that a good deal of American Democracy is based on a long history of thinking about Jesus and natural law and freedom from Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Aquinas, John Locke, and the history of the rise and fall of Athens, and the Roman Republic. It is by no means obvious to me that the story of Jesus tells us something against the kind of Republic that the USA is.


Musar movement

Even though the Musar movement in the sense of Reb Israel Salanter is not all that possible--as a mass movement, still it seems to me important  to try to get through the major works of Musar. That is the basic set of books of Ethics from the Rishonim (medival authorities), mainly because of the need to work on one's character. Tikun HaMidot [self correction of bad character traits]. The Musar movement itself seems to have drifted off into religious fanaticism,- in spite of its original idea being to come to good character traits.

The Musar movement has become part of the fanatic religions world which has set itself against the State of Israel as a primary focus. So there is not much in the way of good character one can gain from it today.
Today in terms of gaining good character, it makes more sense to go to Israel and serve in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and  learn Torah in some Mizrachi [Religious Zionist Yeshiva like Merkaz HaRav], rather than join groups that are have more in common with Mein Kamp rather than true authentic Torah.
[In terms of Torah learning it is hard to say that the super religious have much of an advantage over the Religious Zionist yeshivas. The religious Zionist yeshivas learn pretty much the same material. The difference in learning seems to be evenly distributed. I have met great learners that were part of the Religious Zionist yeshivas.]

One advantage of the Musar movement is that it calls attention to what is really important in Torah--good character מידות טובות and this ironically the very area where the religious fail miserably.


cults inside of the religious (Jewish) world

Based on my extensive  interactions with cults inside of the religious (Jewish) world I have concluded that such organizations  are terrible groups, like the mafia, that merit social censure. Thus scholars who cover up the horrific criminal activities and other unfavorable aspects of such groups are comparable to a tobacco company scientist who asserts that smoking is not really harmful to one's health.
The problem is not just the cults but also the regular Roshei Yeshiva and Torah scholars who take a passive attitude towards  highly destructive groups as long as they parade and display outer `signs of religiosity. 

At least Reb Shmuel Berenbaum [the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir in NY] was adamant not to give any open agreements in writing or otherwise to any religious organizations. His "thing" was to learn and keep Torah.

Reb Shmuel had high confidence in "learning Torah". He considered this practice as being a cure all for every kind of aliment in mind body and spirit. [That is obviously the same approach as the Gra and the Nefesh HaChaim]. [I to some degree agree with this, but I add also Physics and Metaphysics based on the Rambam who puts these two subjects into the category of the Oral Law, as you can see in הלכות תלמוד תורה in the law where he says to divide one' learning into three parts. One is Talmud. And he adds '' העניינים הנקראים פרדס הם בכלל הגמרא. And he already defined פרדס In the first four chapters of Mishne Torah.]
I also add these two subjects because as the Gra said to the degree one lacks knowledge of the seven wisdoms [Trivium and Quadrivium] to that degree he will be lacking in knowledge of the Torah,  and I by experience have come to see the truth of that observation.

[One side benefit of math, I noticed, is that it tends to weed out pseudo intellectuals. That is-- there are people that think they are smart because they learned some Torah. This they assume means they are super geniuses in everything. Just a drop of math tends to put a damper onto such illusions. Math is an amazing filter. The pseudo intellectuals can get by every other filter, but not this one. This is the one thing that really separates the really talented people from the fakers that pretend to be smart because they give each other credentials.    
In fact , come to think of it, why not give every person in kollel a math test? That would take them down a few notches from "We are the elite of  Israel and so everyone should give us money" to "We are the most stupid and incapable in  Israel and can not do anything productive and so please give us money." It does irk me that people that are really stupid can pretend to be geniuses and by that have caused infinite damage to Israel

I have been around the block a few times and so I have seen  groups claiming that some practice or other will bring one ultimate  salvation in this world and then next, and also seen enough counter examples to falsify all their claims. The only thing left standing in my opinion is learning Torah as the Gra held and  heard from Reb Shmuel Berenbaum.
How do you have a counter examples for a claim about salvation? Mainly things that indicate otherwise. For example a claim if you come to such and such a place and do such a such a ritual you will be saved and have your whole life changed for the better and someone comes there and does that after fasting  for forty days and saying the whole psalms forty days in a row and then comes and dies right then and there, I would say we have a good counter example.  
It is the kind of process you us to falsify a philosophical claim. You find a plausible counter example as e.g.empiricism. Or the same way you falsify a theory in physics. You find one counter example.

And this same process works for spiritual claims. 

[The main groups to avoid are those censured by the Gra for being cults. Reb Nachman I should make an exception for since he was a great tzadik and not within the category of the cherem [excommunication.] Still the groups that supposedly follow his path are problematic. It is not worth leaving a legitimate Litvak yeshiva to run after false leaders.]


The obvious thing to do here is to say the רמב''ם does not hold from the idea that a מיגו can take out from a חזקה. and that opinion in תוספות might very well hold that we do not believe him when he says פתח פתוח מצאתי. But if that תוספות does not hold from that, then we are left with the question on the first משנה. Why make a תקנה for a virgin to be married on Wednesday if we do not believe him when he says פ''פ מצאתי.  What could that תוספות ב''מ ק''י answer for this?

הדבר הברור לעשות כאן הוא לומר שהרמב''ם אינו מחזיק מן הרעיון כי מיגו יכול להוציא מן חזקה. וכי לדעת תוספות אפשר להחזיק שאנחנו לא מאמינים לו כשהוא אומר פתח פתוח מצא. אבל אם תוספות אינו מחזיק מזה, אז נותרנו עם השאלה על המשנה הראשונה. למה לעשות תקנה עבור בתולה להינשא ביום רביעי אם אנחנו לא מאמינים לו כשהוא אומר פ''פ מצאתי. מה יכול תוספות ב''מ ק''י לענות תשובה לכך?
It occurred to me  a question in the  רמב''ם. The wife in הלכות אישות י''א הלכה י''א -י''ד  is not going מפטור לפטור. She is saying one thing alone, that she was a virgin. That has nothing to do with the subject  מפטור לפטור. It is a simple case of a מיגו. My  question is simple. Let's believe her when she says she was a virgin because she could have said משארסתני נאנסתי.  So why do we not believe her? She has a חזקה, חזקת הגוף שבתולה הייתה and a מיגו. He has two חזקות, חזקת ממון וחזקה אין אדם טורח הסעודה ומפסידה. So one חזקה cancels the other. And we are left with a מיגו against a חזקה, ואין אומרים מיגו להוציא מחזקת ממון. So the only question here is to תוספות in בבא מציעא ק''י ע''א to one מאן דאמר that a מיגו can take out from a חזקה.

 שאלה של רמב''ם. האשה בהלכות אישות י''א הלכה י''א -י''ד  היא אומרת  כי היא הייתה בתולה. זהו מקרה פשוט של מיגו. השאלה שלי היא פשוטה. בואו להאמין לה כשהיא אומרת שהיא הייתה בתולה כי היא יכלה לומר משארסתני נאנסתי. אז למה אנחנו לא מאמינים לה? יש לה חזקה, חזקת גוף שבתולה הייתה וכן מיגו. יש לו שני חזקות, חזקת ממון וחזקה אין אדם טורח בסעודה ומפסידה. אז חזקה אחת מבטלת את השניה. ואנחנו נשארים עם מיגו נגד חזקה, ואין אומרים מיגו להוציא מחזקת ממון. אז השאלה היחידה כאן היא תוספות בבבא מציעא ק''י ע''א לדעה אחת כי מיגו יכול להוציא מן החזקה.

The obvious thing to do here is to say the רמב''ם does not hold from the idea that a מיגו can take out from a חזקה. and that opinion in תוספות might very well hold that we do not believe him when he says פתח פתוח מצאתי. But if that תוספות does not hold from that, then we are left with the question on the first משנה. Why make a תקנה for a virgin to be married on Wednesday if we do not believe him when he says פ''פ מצאתי.  What could that תוספות ב''מ ק''י answer for this?

[In short, we have a question on Tosphot in Bava Metzia page 110. What could he answer for the first mishna in Ketubot? It is almost the time for Shabat to Rabbainu Tam so I have to stop.

There are a least a few good reasons to learn Musar

There are a least a few good reasons to learn Musar [books of Ethics from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance]. 
[There are about 6 classical books that come under this title Musar. It is not an open cannon but already fixed.] [חובות לבבות, שערי תשובה, מסילת ישרים, ספר היראה מיוחס לרבינו תם, אורחות צדיקים, מעלות המידות]/
One argument is given by one disciple of Israel Salanter, Isaac Blazzer. He brings down from the Rambam that Musar is a cure for all mental spiritual and physical illnesses. 
Reb Nachman brings down that fear of God is beneficial for length of days. [That is--to have long days in which you do not have to waste your time doing meaningless stuff. After all, the best way to spend one's life is to find the objective meaning and purpose that is already inherent in it. Not to put meaning into it. And to find the purpose of your life and to do it, is usually so hard that it takes almost one's entire life to find out what that purpose is.  

The point of learning Musar is not to find out what good character is. It is a tool to try to work on oneself in order to develop good character.

The whole idea of Reb Salanter was to use learning Musar as a kind of service in itself. Not as a way of acquiring information. 

In terms of the importance of good character a being one of the most essential goals of the Torah, there is the Reshash (Shalom Sharabi from Yemen and then from Yerushalaim, the Rambam in the Guide concerning the reasons for the mitzvot, the Chafetz Chaim, and other sources. They are all unanimous in the ultimate importance of good "midot" good character. [This is one good reason to avoid the religious world-- as they parade good character, but in action do the opposite. ] 


The Ari [Isaac Luria]

Some people take a negative view towards the Ari for different reasons. If it is the fact that all the cults put into excommunication by the Gra claim to be going by the Ari then that would make sense. But my feeling is that abusus non tollit usum, abuse does not cancel use.And if you look into the writings of Rav Yaakov Abuchatzaira you will see he always refers to the Ari as "Rabainu" our teacher. Still there is the problem noticed by many that getting into the Ari before having finished Shas a least a few times seem to cause major delusions.

One thing I think is obvious, that when people learn the Ari for the sake of the מדרגות or רוח הקודש [miracles or Divine spirit ] that definitely leads them down the path to the dark side. And then even when it seems they have powers, it is always powers from the dark side.

My own experience with this was doing Gemara for a few years in NY and then during the last year there getting involved with the writings of the Ari and then coming to Israel and getting a blast of the Divine light, and then at some point feeling I was getting ריבוי אור sunburn I was trying to turn off the bulb. That would have been the end of the story, except after that I got the impression that turning off the bulb was not the right thing to do, and also the daughter of Bava Sali indicated to me as much. So to make up for the mistake involved in that, I try to make up for it to some degree by blogging and I hope that somewhere maybe from my words someone will be inspired to  pick up a Gemara or a book of Musar or Rav Shach's Avi Ezri and by that perhaps I too will eventually merit to learn Torah.

[This idea come from a few books of Musar. I saw the idea of זיכוי הרבים bringing  merit to others in  אגרת המוסר, חובות לבבות, ומדרגת האדם at least three sources.]
[Added note. The only book of the Ari I did in NY before I got to Israel was the Eitz Chaim.]]

People and groups are more characterized by books they do not read than by books they do read.

People and groups are more characterized by books they do not read than by books they do read.The books they do read, or at least want to read represent the aspirations of the group. They books they avoid are represent the social memes they try to avoid. 

In the modern which is characterized by  intellectual and spiritual chaos the books one avoids are more essential than what one does read.
How can one tell what to avoid? The essence of any system is never revealed except by time. [The cult that the Gra put into excommunication is a good example of that. However I think Reb Nachman was not included in that Cherem [excommunication] and if you look closely at the language of that document you will see why.]

This is the one and most essential issue of this age. For every age has some major issue. When kings ruled, politics was non existent. But with the Enlightenment the concept of a State began as an entity in and of itself  and group politics began to take on a life of it own. Everyone had to be part of some "system" in order to be anyone at all. Then the age of cults began as an offshoot  of that energy. Now the issue is how to get rid of the cults--i.e. what books to avoid and throw out.
My own path is mainly based on the Rambam which emphasizes  four areas of study, the Oral Law (the two Talmuds), the Written Law (the Five Books of Moses), Physics, Metaphysics (by which the Rambam was referring to Aristotle set of books called the Metaphysics). [The Rambam was definitely  not referring to any mystic type of learning nor any other book besides Aristotle because he said Physics and Metaphysics as the ancient Greeks understood these subjects. Plus he had to be referring to Aristotle alone because there is in fact no such subject Metaphysics. Aristotle did not write down his lectures. That was left to his disciples. After they collected everything that they could about Physical sciences everything else they put into series of book they made up a name for "Everything after Physics"i.e. metaphysics] A Short Version of the Oral Law is the Rambam's own Mishne Torah. [The best way to do this learning is to go as fast as possible. Say the words and go on. By harping on every detail one usually loses the big picture. I saw a printed Mishne Torah with no commentary at all which is a good way to do it. But the second time around I recommend doing with with the כסף משנה ומגיד משנה, and as a separate session the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach. The book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik on the Rambam is also great but I found it hard to understand. Rav Shach's is a lot more self explanatory. Perhaps today if I had another copy I might appropriate Reb Chaim more.] 
But as I said, the main thing is what to avoid. And that is not everything outside of that list. After all we do have the Gra's emphasis on the "seven wisdoms" as the Trivium and Quadrivium were called during the Middle Ages. But most books of the religious world I find highly objectionable, and they seem  to have a hidden agenda to destroy the Jewish family, and build up their cult in its place.
[The 1800's was the age of throwing out monarchs and making mass movements. Even the Musar movement and yeshiva movement were part of this process. Now the age of movements has come and gone. It is time to get back to personal responsibility and to learn Torah.]

[The problems with the yeshiva movement became clear to me when yeshivas began to  throw out sincere people. So many have become obstacles to Torah. The best thing is thus to have in your own home a place to learn Torah. ]

[I should mention that in terms of halacha my feeling is the best thing out there is the Tur Beit Yoseph and the Shulchan Aruch with the Beer Heiteiv. ]

To depend on any yeshiva tor  a place to learn is to invite destruction into one's Torah life. The religious world excels in destroying faith in Torah. It is almost as if they are trying to give the holy Torah a bad name.


Just to defend myself, let me, mention that the present day calendar has no basis in the Gemara so we have to go by the actual molad, the time when the moon and sun are at the same longitude. Second day of Yom Tov is more complicated. My feeling about it is that the the reason for it is a debate in the gemara. One holds it is  a law derabanan. Rav Asi holds it is a custom [and that is the law]. But it is not a custom dreamt out of thin air. It has a reason. That is perhaps we might forget the actual time and have to go back to witnesses. So I say, fine, let's go back to witnesses. Once the supreme court in Jerusalem determines the date let them send witnesses by airplane. That is the original custom was not based on there not being a court. Rather it was based on not knowing the right time, and thus having to depend on the court.
Now if it would be a custom established by the Supreme Court, then it would have to be nullified by  a supreme court that is accepted by more חכמי ישראל. But the Supreme Court in Jerusalem did not establish it. It was a custom started in Babylon by the local people  because of the worry of forgetting how to calculate the molad and having to go back to going by the Supreme Court which would have to send witnesses. That is why even outside of Israel any place where witnesses can reach in time never has two days of Yom Tov. For example in Mitzraim. Therefore this law has nothing to do with being outside of Israel. It always depends on where witnesses can reach.

The point here is that the reason the religious world ignores these simple facts is not because they are hard to understand. Rather they simply do not care what the Torah says. Their religiosity is all smoke and mirrors. It is the same reason the Supreme Court thinks it can regulate what you grow in your backyard under the interstate commerce clause. It is not that they are so dense as not to understand the Constitution. It is rather that they do not care what it says.

I wanted to answer a question on the הרמב''ם

 I wanted to answer a question on the הרמב''ם. In the אבי עזרי על  הרמב''ם in הלכות טוען ונטען פרק ו' הלכה ג we see that רב שך defends the רמב''ם by means of several factors. כל factor by itself would not be enough. The הרמב''ם writes that we believe the husband when he says the wife he just married was not a virgin. The reason is simple. We can not say she was not מדקדק (she was careful in her words) when she is coming to ask for money. But we can say that a person that is getting out of  a debt is not careful in his words. But just to make myself a little more clear let me just add some background. The רמב''ם chapter ו law ג of טוען ונטען says: "A person comes to court and says you owe me מנה. The other says in court להד''ם, (I did not borrow). Then two witnesses come and say he borrowed and paid back. He must pay the מנה because כל האומר לא לוויתי כאומר לא פרעתי "Anyone who says 'I dd not borrow' is as if he said 'I did not pay back.'" And the other needs no oath because the borrower is already considered a liar." To defend this law רב שך needs  ר. עקיבא אייגר, the קצות, the נתיבות, the ר''י מיגאש.
 But to be as short as possible, let me just say he needs that "Anyone who says 'I did not borrow' is as if he said 'I did not pay back.'" is not an open confession. It is simply a statement that implies the result. That is like the רשב''ם says about a different case in בבא בתרא ל''ד. But in order to say that it does not imply the result automatically, it is necessary to say he was not careful in his words as the נתיבות says about the law one can go מפטור לפטור. That is the exact same law as the one in chapter ו law ג except that the borrower changed his plea before the witnesses came]. But we can only say that he was not careful when he is trying to get out of an obligation, not when he is asking for money. How do we know this? Because of the fact that the רמב''ם הלכות מלווה ולווה when the מלווה is not believed by a מיגו when he changes his plea from "It is a good document" to "The document was forged (שטר מזוייך) but I had a real document and it was lost."  So when he comes and says פ''פ (פתח פתוח) מצאתי, he is believed even though she has a מיגו that she could have said משאירסתני נאנסתי. But why should we not believe her. Do we not say a מיגו?  And a person can go from פטור לפטור. The reason is she is not going from פטור לפטור, but asking for the whole כתובה מאתיים.

[I should mention I am taking a guess here about מפטור לפטור. I have no books to look anything up and even when I read Rav Shach's Avi Ezri,]

 רציתי לענות על השאלה הזאת על הרמב''ם. באבי עזרי על הרמב''ם בהלכות טוען ונטען פרק ו' הלכה ג' אנו רואים כי רב שך מגן על הרמב''ם באמצעות מספר גורמים. כל גורם בפני עצמו לא יהיה מספיק. הרמב''ם כותב כי אנו מאמינים הבעל כשהוא אומר שהאישה שהוא נשא לא הייתה בתולה. הסיבה היא פשוטה. אנחנו לא יכולים להגיד שהיא לא מדקדקת (לא הקפידה במילים שלה) כשהיא מגיעה לבקש כל הכתובה. אבל אנו יכולים לומר כי אדם כשהוא רוצה להפטר מחוב אינו זהיר בדבריו. רק להוסיף קצת רקע. הרמב''ם פרק ו' ה''ג של טוען ונטען אומר: אדם מגיע לבית המשפט ואומר "אתה חייב לי מנה." השני אומר בבית המשפט להד''ם, (לא היו דברים מעולם. אני לא לוויתי.). ואז שני עדים באים ואומרים שהוא לווה ושילם בחזרה. הוא חייב לשלם את המנה כי כל האומר "לא לוויתי" כאומר "לא פרעתי". ולמלווה אין שבועה כי הלווה כבר נחשב שקרן. "כדי להגן על החוק הזה רב שך זקוק לר. עקיבא אייגר, את הקצות, את הנתיבות, ואת הר''י מיגאש. אבל כדי להיות קצר ככל האפשר, תן לי רק לומר שהוא צריך שהדין כל מי שאומר, "אני  לא לוויתי" הוא כאילו אמר "אני לא פרעתי.'" אינו אומר שזו הודאה מפורשת. זה פשוט ההוכחה שמשתמע מכך שלא פרע. (זה כמו הרשב''ם אומר על מקרה שונה בבא בתרא ל''ד). אבל כדי שזו לא תהיה תוצאה אוטומטית, יש צורך לומר שהוא לא היה זהיר בדבריו כמו הנתיבות אומר על החוק שאפשר ללכת מפטור לפטור. החוק הזה זהה לזו בפרק ו' הלכה ג' פרט לכך שהלווה שינה את טענתו לפני שהעדים באו.  אנחנו רק יכולים לומר שהוא לא היה זהיר כשהוא מנסה לצאת ידי חובה, לא כשהוא מבקש כסף. איך אנחנו יודעים את זה? בשל העובדה כי הרמב''ם כותב בהלכות מלווה ולווה שהמלווה לא נאמן ידי מיגו ברגע ששינה את הטיעון שלו ממסמך טוב להמסמך מזויף (שטר מזוייף) אבל אומר היה לו מסמך אמיתי, וזה אבד. אז כשהוא בא ואומר פ''פ (פתח פתוח) מצאתי, הוא נאמן למרות שיש לה מיגו שהיא יכולה לומר משאירסתני נאנסתי. אבל למה אנחנו לא מאמינים לה. האם אנחנו לא אומרים מיגו? ואדם יכול לעבור פטור לפטור. הסיבה היא שהיא לא הולכת מן הפטור לפטור, אלא מבקשת כל הכתובה מאתיים

Spiritual Abuse. Quilt of Cults

 A movement that appears  sound with regard to the central doctrines of the Torah, but whose actions and practices are cultic (or cult-like) in nature, can still be considered a cult.  

Thus  the religious world is just a  Quilt of Cults. The issue is not the lip service they pay to Torah in order to look good. The issue is their inner unclean and unholy essence from the dark side, Sitra Achra.  

Reb Nachman rightfully went into this in detail, but that did not help the groups called by his name. Their leaders are just as much cult leaders as any other of the cultic groups. But at least Reb Nachman did focus attention on this important issue [as the Na Nach group never tires of pointing out]. Religious teachers are generally  demonic. Telling women they need to go to these satanic leaders is  a recipe for disaster. [There was one group that the leader said all women need an adviser that is not their husband, and out of 3000 people after two years only a handful were still married. ]

Religious addiction is one problems with cults. And they feel they need to be supported by society in order to support their addiction.Unconditional aid is a social disaster. [Reb Nachman also never tired of this issue. It starts in LM volume 1 chapter 8 and goes up until volume 2 chapter 8--the last lesson he ever said.]


Divine realm

I should say right out that the way I defend Torah is by separating to levels of reality. I hold anything in Torah hard to understand in this world must be referring to some Divine realm. I mentioned this once to my learning partner. Clearly knowing a drop of Isaac Luria is helpful in this respect. [The Rambam held in a similar vein.]
Plato himself has two levels of reality though he links them by some mysterious process called participation. Kant and Hegel also. But to Kant there was no bridge. To Hegel there is a bridge- dialectics which it seems he thought was a kind of group endeavor. 

[Plato was forced into his opinion because of Parmenides. Kant was forced into his because of the problem that all character traits of things depend on the subject. That is Decartes, and also the problem between the rationalist and empiricists and the problem in his on home town between the Pietists and the school of the rationalists of Germany (Johann Salomo Semler,)]
The way Kant navigated between these two extremes was to find a ground of validity of each one, and thus one could know the limits of each one.

The problem is Leftism. I mean to say while the right is splintered, it still seems to be a much better approach, even in its original formulation of being on the side of Monarchy. But my feeling is the original constitution of the Virginia Colony  made the most sense with the obligation of belonging to some church [I do not think they were thinking about Jewish people at that point or what they would have said] while the government would stay out of religious affairs.  

My impression was that original constitution was inspired in some way by John Locke but I might be mistaken.

[This balanced approach was not taken by later colonies that left out all religious obligation. That does not seem right to me. Perhaps they thought the trouble was in the churches themselves with lots of problematic doctrines. And that problem has not seem to have been abated. I guess they could have chosen the best ones, and forbade the less desirable ones;--but instead they choose to say that Federal government ought to stay out of religion altogether. Anyway, I think some of the Founding Fathers were Deists anyhow, so it would not have made any sense to have clause that one has to belong to some church. Instead they focused on the mechanisms of government and tried to get that part right. That seems to work well. In that way they left the power to the states to support whatever religious orders they saw fit- and that seems to have worked well until recently. Even the Mir yeshiva in NY I think was getting state funds for being a  institution of higher learning. So this approach of the founding fathers seems to be a pretty decent model of government.

Hegel and Dr Kelley Ross.

''The second sphere of those manifestations of spirit which are more closely related to philosophy is the area of religious representations in general. Here belongs primarily religion as such, then mythology and the mysteries, and even to a certain extent poetry. Just as the first area of which we spoke had in common with philosophy its formal element, the I and the form of universality, so what is common here is the other side, i.e., the substantial element, the content.''

" man is conscious of God, i.e., how in consciousness he represents God, this being the objective form or determination of thought whereby man sets the essence of divinity over against himself, represents it as something other than himself, as an alien being in the beyond. The second characteristic is to be found in devotion and cult, which constitute the overcoming of this opposition, whereby. man raises himself to God and becomes conscious of his unity with God’s being.''

Introduction to the History of Philosophy.

Source: Hegel’s Idea of Philosophy, by Quentin Lauer, S.J. with a new translation of Hegel’s Introduction to the History of Philosophy;
Translated: from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Einleitung in die Geschichte der Philosophie, Hamburg, 1940.

It is hard to see here much difference between Hegel and Dr. Kelley Ross of the Kant Friesian School of Thought. Hegel is not coining a new term for holiness an attachment with God like Otto does with "Numinous" value, but still the message is obviously the same.

tying oneself to a "tzadik"

One of the problems of tying oneself to a "tzadik" is not just the problem that Reb Chaim from Voloshin noticed that it is the exact same prohibition in the Torah of not to type or bind one's soul to any idol. But furthermore when one allows someone to shadow his life as his 'spiritual leader' and dominate his thinking, he takes on the quirks, oddities and idiosyncrasies of his 'spiritual leader'. He becomes a disciple alright, but not of God. I have seen leaders who had produced hundreds of disciples--but every one of them had his obvious mishegasim [bad character and nutty habits] Their God-given distinctiveness has been absorbed by their hovering 'spiritual leader.'
Mainly the way I see it the problem all began with the movement of the Shatz and Natan from Gaza, his false prophet. An examination of the microfilm copies of Natan's book will show I think from where most doctrines of the religious world come from. [Not from the Ari Isaac Luria or Musar.] 
But I am not claiming any special insight into this outside of just plain horrific experiences. I was duped just like everyone else and fell for the polished image of respectability. I in fact fell harder than most and because of that I realize the sinister nature of the religious world. If I could go back today I would imply have stayed in the Mir Yeshiva in NY and not budged an inch. Or if I had to go to Israel--as I felt I needed to based on the Ramban-then I should have made it my business to be in an authentic Litvak yeshiva or Religious Zionist one. The trouble is this: outside of the authentic Litvak and Zionist places, the religious world is a large quilt of cults.

[No disrespect intended towards Reb Nachman who was a true tzadik, but even a true tzadik can make an occasional  mistake --even in doctrine. I think a close examination of the Cherem of the Gra will show it did not apply to Reb Nachman,