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31.7.17

The issue of Christianity comes up from time to time.  The basic approach I have towards this is based on Rav Avraham Abulafia--a mystic from the Middle Ages who said about Jesus some pretty positive things. Not that that makes the basic approaches of Christainity right,. but it does show a different side to the whole issue.

In other words--the problems are well known--Paul certainly opened the gates to an very anti Torah approach which was not the approach of Jesus at all. But on the other the general attitude that I have encountered is that one has to say and believe that Jesus was a bad guy, and that is the one and only thing that makes one kosher--that also seems wrong. It does not seem to reflect on a commitment to truth but rather to ideology.
Since it is clear that the Rambam holds the פטור of מתעסק בשבת is because מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה then how does he understand Abyee in Sanhedrin 62b? Abyee says one who bows down to a statue and he did not know it is an idol לא כלום הוא
I realize that to cleave to God is not as exclusive as having the right set of beliefs. But nor is it irrelevant to ones's beliefs.
The way I see it is that it is really in the realm of the Ding An Sich as Schopenhauer would put it. That is to say God is simply beyond pure Reason and reaching Him is possible but not by means of having a right set of beliefs. Cleaving to God is possible even with mistaken beliefs. And even with right beliefs one can be far from God.
The Rambam already in the Guide that people have no inherent sense of the Divine Law or Moral Law. We depend on the one time revelation on Mount Sinai. A Unique event in History.
That is there is no access by means of reason. But there is access by faith.

I feel there were great people that had basic belief in Torah and yet maybe had a few things off. Still i think there were connected with the Divine Realm. I do not think purity of belief is much of a proof or criterion for being kosher. The Sitra Achra has plenty of agents that can get through that  test.


My learning partner argued that one can be obligated a sin offering for מתעסק a mistake in the facts, only when there is הנאה pleasure. The normal case of a חטאת is when there is  a mistake in law, not in the physical facts.
Later I saw that this can not be the case to the רמב''ם as רב שך goes into  in laws of איסורי ביאה א:י''ב. What my learning partner suggested is in fact the opinion of תוספות and all other ראשונים but not the רמב''ם.
To make things short:
The רמב''ם in three places says the reason מתעסק בשבת is not obligated in a sin offering is because מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה. He does not say is is because he was not נהנה These places are ה' שגגות פרק ב' ה''ז פרק ז' הי''א and also in פירוש המשנה כריתות פרק ספק אכל. In all three places the  רמב''ם says the reason מתעסק בשבת is פטור  is because מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה and he says nothing about whether he was נהנה or not.
However נהנה even to the  רמב''ם can make one a מזיד in order to be obligated in lashes.


השותף ללמידה שלי טען כי אחד יכול להיות מחויב חטאת עבור מתעסק (טעות בעובדות), רק כאשר יש הנאה. המקרה הרגיל של חטאת הוא כאשר יש טעות במשפט, לא בעובדה הפיזית. רק אחר כך הבנתי שזה לא יכול להיות כן לרמב''ם כמו רב שך נכנס בזה בה' איסורי ביאה א: י''ב. מה שותף הלמידה שלי הציע הוא למעשה דעת תוספות והראשונים אבל לא הרמב''ם. כדי לעשות הדברים קצרים. הרמב''ם בשלושה מקומות אומר שהסיבה מתעסק בשבת אינו מחויב בחטאת היא משום מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה. הוא לא אומר שהוא משום שהוא לא נהנה. מקומות אלה הם ה' שגגות פרק ב" ה''ז, פרק ז' הי''א וגם בפירוש המשנה כריתות פרק ספק אכל. בכל שלושת המקומות האלה הרמב''ם אומר שהסיבה מתעסק בשבת הוא פטור היא משום מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה. והוא לא אומר כלום לגבי השאלה אם הוא היה נהנה או לא. עם זאת נהנה אפילו לרמב''ם יכול לעשות אחד למזיד כדי להיות מחוייב במלקות.
I saw that I had written something in my notes on Shas (Gemara. That is the Oral Law) in the name of my learning partner. He argued that one can be obligated a sin offering for מתעסק [a mistake in the facts,] only when there is הנאה pleasure.. That is the normal case of a sin offering is when there is  a mistake in law, not in the physical facts.
Later I saw that this can not be the case to the Rambam. Rav Shach goes into this in laws of איסורי ביאה א:י''ב. What my learning partner suggested is in fact the opinion of Tosphot and all other rishonim but not the Rambam.
To make things short:
The Rambam in three places says the reason מתעסק בשבת is not obligated in a sin offering is because מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה. He does not say is is because he was not נהנה (get pleasure.) ה' שגגות פרק ב' ה''ז פרק ז' הי''א and also in פירוש המשנה כריתות פרק ספק אכל in all three places the rambam says the reason מתעסק בשבת is פטור  is because מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה and he says nothing about whether he was נהנה or not.
However נהנה even to the Rambam can make one a מזיד in order to be obligated in lashes.
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30.7.17

a problem in the רמב''ם about laws of Passover הלכות חמץ ומצה ג:י''א.

The שאגת אריה and רב חיים הלוי deal with a problem in the רמב''ם but there is something unsatisfying about their answers. רב שך also deals with this question in  a way that seems to wrap up the issue completely.
The basic question is simple. Why does the רמב''ם say there are מלקות for owning חמץ on פסח against an open גמרא in פסחים  page צ''ה. בל אראה ובלימצא הם לאו הניתק לעשה. There are no lashes because owning חמץ has a correction, getting rid of it.

The basic answer רב שך gives is this. We have an argument between the sages and ר' יהודה about תשביתו. To ר' יהודה  that is by burning. To the sages it is in any way. רש''י says the argument is only before the time the leaven is forbidden and תוספות says after the time.
So the גמרא on page צ'ה to רש''י can only be to the sages and to תוספות it it is both to the sages and ר' יהודה.
The רמב''ם says תשביתו starts before the time of the prohibition הלכות חמץ ומצה ג:י''א.
So the correction starts before the time of the prohibition so the prohibition is not a לאו הניתק לעשה to the sages but it is to ר. יהודה if you go by תוספות. Simple. So the גמרא on page צ''ה  is going like ר. יהודה which is not the הלכה.

It could not be more simple. But the שאגת אריה and רב חיים הלוי gives answers why there are lashes to the רמב''ם which would work perfectly well on page צ''ה to be giving מלקות. However רב חיים הלויsays בל יראה is a positive and a negative command. Besides the question from where he would get this, if it would be true then on page צ'ה why is it considered a לאו הניתק לעשה?
The שאגת אריה answers it is two לאווין which is perfectly true, but then again the same question arises. Why would that not be so also on page צ''ה

בעיה רמב''ם על הלכות פסח הלכות חמץ ומצה ג: י''א. השאגת אריה ורב חיים הלוי עסקו עם בבעיה זו הרמב''ם אבל יש משהו מאכזב על בתשובותיהם. רב שך עוסק בשאלה זו בצורה שנראית לפתור את הבעיה לחלוטין. השאלה הבסיסית היא פשוטה. מדוע הרמב''ם אומר שיש מלקות בגין החזקת חמץ על פסח נגד גמרא פתוחה פסחים דף צ''ה. אל יראה ואל ימצא הוא לאו הניתק לעשה. אין מלקות משום שלבעלות בחמץ יש תיקון, תשביתו. התשובה הבסיסית של רב שך נותן היא זו. יש לנו ויכוח בין החכמים ור" יהודה על תשביתו.  ר" יהודה אומר הוא על ידי שריפה. הכחמים אומרים זה בכל דרך. רש''י אומר הטיעון הוא רק לפני זמן שהחמץ אסור והתוספות אומר לאחר הזמן. אז הגמרא בעמוד צ''ה  לרש''י יכול להיות רק לחכמים ולפי תוספות  הוא לפי חכמים או ר" יהודה. הרמב''ם אומר תשביתו מתחיל לפני זמן של איסור חמץ הלכות חמץ ומצה ג: י''א. אז התיקון מתחיל לפני זמן האיסור כך שהאיסור אינו לאו הניתק לעשה לחכמים אבל כן היא לר. יהודה אם אתה הולך לדעת תוספות. פָּשׁוּט. אז הגמרא בעמוד צ''ה הולכת כמו ר. יהודה אשר אינה ההלכה. זה לא יכול להיות יותר פשוט. אבל שאגת אריה ואת רב חיים הלוי נותנים תשובות למה יש מלקות לרמב''ם אשר תתעבדנה היטב בעמוד צ''ה לתת מלקות. ( רב חיים הלוי אומר בל יראה הוא עשה ולא תעשה.  אם זה נכון אז בדף צ"ה למה זה נחשב לאו הניתק לעשה? השאגת אריה עונה זה שני לאווין. זה נכון לגמרי, אבל אז שוב את אותה שאלה נשאלת. למה שלא יהיה כך גם בעמוד צ''ה?


הלכות חמץ ומצה ג:י''א.The Shagat Arye and Reb Chaim Soloveitchik deal with a problem in the Rambam but there is something unsatisfying about their answers. Rav Shach also deals with this question in a way that seems to wrap up the issue completely.

The Shagat Arye and Reb Chaim Soloveitchik deal with a problem in the Rambam but there is something unsatisfying about their answers. Rav Shach also deals with this question in  a way that seems to wrap up the issue completely.
The basic question is simple. Why does the Rambam say there are lashes for owning chametz on Pesach against an open Gemara in Pesachim page 95. בל אראה ובלימצא הם לאו הניתק לעשה. {No lashes because owning chametz has a correction--getting rid of it.}

The basic answer Rav Shach gives is this. We have an argument between the sages and R.Yehuda about תשביתו ["you must get rid of all leavened bread']. To R. Yehuda that is by burning. To the sages it is in any way. Rashi says the argument is only before the time the leaven is forbidden and Tosphot says after the time.
So the Gemara on page 95 to Rashi can only be to the sages and to Tosphot it is both to the sages and R Yehuda.
The Rambam says תשביתו starts before the time of the prohibition הלכות חמץ ומצה ג:י''א.
So the correction starts before the time of the prohibition so the prohibition is not a לאו הניתק לעשה to the sages but it is to R. Yehuda if you go by Tosphot. Simple. So the Gemara on page 95  is going like R.Yehuda. which is not the halacha.

It could not be more simple. But the Shagat Arye and Reb Chaim gives answers why there are lashes to the Rambam which would work perfectly well on page 95 to be giving lashes. Reb Chaim says בל יראה is a positive and a negative command. Besides the question from where he would get this, if it would be true then on page 95 why is it considered a לאו הניתק לעשה?
The Shagat Arye answers it is two לאווין which is perfectly true but then again the same question arises. Why would that no be so also on page 95

28.7.17

Music for the glory of God

Getting out of the rat race

There is something about the basic idea of accepting the yoke of Torah along with trust in God to provide that really works. This was a path I was on for only a few years until the evil inclination got the better of me. Still it is worth while making clear what it means

The basic idea is to learn Gemara, Rashi and Tosphot without having it in mind to use it as a means to make money. That is called Torah "Lishma"--Torah for its own sake.
Most yeshivas nowadays use Torah to make money, and so the higher blessing is obviously absent.

It is not a phrase that I have heard for a long time, but recently Moshe Rosten mentioned it to me: To get out of the "rat race." That reminded me a lot of what I think must have been my original idea in going to yeshiva to learn Torah. I think to  large degree I wanted to get out of the rat race and devote myself to the service of God.
And to a large degree I still think that must be for me a major motivating factor.
It is not that I succeeded so well, but I think that without my actually being able to put it in those terms, I must have been very upset at the idea of spending my life in pursuit of things of this world.
And to a large degree I think this was the motivating idea for a lot of people in the Litvak NY yeshivas.

The idea of escaping the rat race to be attached to God and his service by going to a NY Litvak yeshiva was my approach to escaping the rat race. But where I grew up, most people were thinking in those directions. And those that were serious went into Eastern religions.
But then I came to Israel and there the religious  world was functioning on a different wavelength. Religion was more like a mass movement, and conformity was the goal. Still for my seven years in Safed, I felt absolutely attached to God.
What I suggest for myself and others to regain this basic approach of seeing attachment with God as the ultimate goal  is by means of learning Musar [Mediaeval Ethics]

In most of the cases of people joining some religious cause to get out of the rat race--the ultimate end was disappointment --especially with eastern religions. In my own experience in the religious world my own feeling also is largely that of disappointment.  Not that the path is wrong but a lot of the people on the path are not there with the goal of escaping the rate race but rather to use Torah as means to get farther in the rat race than others.

So I can honestly say that my intentions were certainly affected by the larger mentality that was around in California at the time--the search for truth and meaning. But mine was more a kind of philosophical approach to Torah than a religious one. That could be a lack of awareness of a certain area of value.Though I certainly had some religious interest, but still it seems I was more in tune with the rational nature of Torah. The deeper spiritual aspects perhaps not. So when in fact I became somewhat attached to God, perhaps I simply was not prepared, and so jettisoned the whole thing.
So looking back on it all today, I would have to say that the Mir yeshiva was right--learning Torah (that is- the plain and simple Gemara Rashi and Tosphot) is the key to everything--all the good and all the light in all the worlds.
[I should mention that if I had been aware of the Rambam's opinion in the Guide and Mishne Torah that Physics and Metaphysics are a part of the Oral Law then I very well have added them to my learning session. But who knows? I might have felt not ready to take them up before doing Shas a few times. I anyway felt a tremendous surge of energy when I got involved in learning Gemara.


27.7.17

There is a prohibition in the Torah to add to the commandments. This comes up even in places were you would not expect it. The Rambam explains a priest can not add to the three blessings he is commanded to bless the Jewish people. The curious thing is that this is one a lot.People go to those who they think are holy to get a blessing. See the Ramban {Nachmanides} on Deuteronomy ch 4 verse 2. Even in the sidur we have  a father should bless his children on Friday night.
The Ramban explains the basic prohibition is not to make up mitzvot out of one's own heart. This idea of blessing people seems to be in this category.
To me it seems people make up their own mitzvot--all the time.

The questions here are a lot. First of all it is hard to know the definitions. Also we have the Ari giving lots of unifications and saying certain verses as corrections for sins. Reb Nachman also said to say what is called the tikun klali [psalms 16, 31,41,41,59,77,90, 105 137 150 as a general correction for sins.]
But none of that seems to be adding to any commandments. It is already a mitzvah to pray. That is in fact why we say the prayers and psalms.

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There is a לאו in the Torah to add to the מצוות. This comes up even in places were you would not expect it. The רמב''ם explains a כהן can not add to the three blessings he is commanded to bless the Jewish people. The curious thing is that this is one a lot. People go to those who they think are holy to get a blessing. See the רמב''ן on דברים פרק ד' פסוק ב' .
The רמב''ן explains the basic prohibition is not to make up מצוות out of one's own heart. This idea of blessing people seems to be in this category.


I admit this was a surprise to me. The reason most people including myself are unaware of this is the fact that it is mentioned there in the laws of the blessings of priests that a non kohen transgress the verse you but not strangers only at the time the regular blessing is supposed to be said. But from this Rambam we see  that means only to transgress that particular verse. But to transgress the general prohibition of adding to the mitzvot anyone including a kohen can be considered to transgress at any time-just by saying a blessing to another person.


In the laws in forbidden sexual relations  Rambam 1:22 we have that if there was קינו וסתירה (warning and then she went to a private area with the man she was warned not to go with) and then one witness comes and says he saw her sleep with another man not her husband, then she can not drink מי סוטה (the bitter waters) and if her husband is a priest and then has sex with her, he gets lashes for זונה (prostitute).[When the Torah forbids a priest to sleep with a prostitute it means a woman who has had any forbidden sexual relation (even a prohibition that comes from an  עשה), not the normal definition]
[The normal case is there is קינו וסתירה a warning and privacy and then her husband brings her to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and she drinks the bitter waters. That is: water that is from the regular fountain in the Temple, and then the paragraph about the Sota is blotted out over it, and it is mixed with dirt from a special area in the Temple. She drinks it, and if she is pure, nothing happens, and if she is not pure then it has a bad effect. What is different in our case is one witness comes and says he saw her sleep with the other man. That makes it impossible to drink the bitter waters.]
Reb Chaim [Soloveitchik] says the reason is the prohibition of  זונה comes at the same time he has sex with her..
Rav Shach says this does not seem right for the fact that the very act of sex that makes her a זונה can not be the same one that causes him to get lashes for having sex with a זונה.
Though the proofs of Rav Shach are clear, still I wanted to suggest from where Reb Chaim might have gotten his idea. בור עשרה וזרק לתוכה חוליא פטור.
A person throws dirt in a small private domain on Shabat. Small  means the minimum size. Ten hand-breaths tall and four by four wide. He would normally be obligated to bring a sin offering. But in this case his throwing in the dirt is the same act which makes the private domain become less than the required size.

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In the רמב''ם הלכות איסורי ביאה א:כ''ב we have that if there was קינו וסתירה  and then one witness comes and says he saw her sleep with another man not her husband, then she can not drink מי סוטה (the bitter waters) and if her husband is a כהן and then has sex with her, he gets lashes for זונה .
רב חיים הלוי  says the reason is the prohibition of  זונה comes at the same time he has sex with her..
רב שך says this does not seem right for the fact that the very act of sex that makes her a זונה can not be the same one that causes him to get lashes for having sex with a זונה.
Though the proofs of רב שך are clear, still I wanted to suggest from where רב חיים הלוי might have gotten his idea. בור עשרה וזרק לתוכה חוליא פטור.
A person throws dirt in a small רשות היחיד on Shabat. Small  means the minimum size. עשרה טפחים tall and four by four wide. He would normally be obligated to bring a sin offering. But in this case his throwing in the dirt is the same act which makes the רשות היחיד become less than the required size.









the main goal and direction of Torah is to come to fear of God and good character.

The whole Musar Movement idea is not a bad idea but I think that today is is more likely to try to gain fear of God and good character based on home learning. That is to get the basic set of classical Musar [ethics] and to learn at home.

The whole idea of Reb Israel Salanter makes a lot of sense but I think there can not be any kind of mass movement that gets to what he was thinking about.

I mean to say he was right to notice that the main idea of Torah--the main goal and direction of Torah is to come to fear of God and good character. And the best way to achieve both goals is by learning the classical mediaeval books written by the Rishonim that deal with these issues. To me it is clear he was 100% right about this. But today the emphasis has to be on home learning.

[The disciples of Reb Israel Salanter wrote some very great musar books like the Madragat Haadam.]

26.7.17

Fake Torah scholars that are actually demons.

FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO KEEP TORAH THERE IS A STUMBLING BLOCK PLACE IN THEIR PATH--THE SO CALLED TEACHERS OF TORAH THAT TEACH TORAH OF THE SITRA ACHRA.
 The Gra tried to deal with this problem by putting his signature on the letter of excommunication that warned people about these fake scholars that are actually demons.

The trouble is that until this problem is taken care of there is really almost no way to keep Torah. The entire religious world is a den of the Satan and his minions. So one can try to keep and learn Torah by oneself. In fact nowadays that might be the only way. [Though I think of  few places that are still pure, like Ponovitch and the great NY Litvak yeshivas. But these kind of places are rare.]

This problem was noticed by the prophets and brought also in the Gemara. It is mentioned also in the Mishna as far as I recall. The place that I remember most vividly is towards the end of Tracate Shabat. There the sages said, "When you see a  generation that troubles are coming upon it, go and check the judges of Israel. For all troubles that come into the world only come because of the judges of Israel, as it says in the verse 'שופטיה בשוחד ישפוטו וגו "Its judges judge with bribes."

So we see this problem has been around ever since the time of the prophets and the Mishna. As long as there have been true prophets, there have also been  people that figured out ways of making money  and getting power out of Torah.

[Thus, keeping Torah sincerely has always been a personal project. ]


Clearly the ideal way to go about learning Torah is to combine two factors (1) accepting the yoke of Torah. That is to be committed to sit and learn Torah no matter what the cost. (2) Trust in God with no השתדלות No effort.

The problem with this in Israel is the way the system is set up. It only works in such a way that one need to use Torah to make money--or he can't be learning at all. That is the whole system is set up in such a way as to make only Torah not for its own sake possible. Not Torah for its own sake.

The USA has at least in NY where the system is set up as to make Torah for its own sake possible. But in Israel the only place that seems to work is in Bnei Brak in Ponovitch.

Just one example would be the idea of taking tests to show you did the learning in order to get the paycheck. An open violation of the prohibition of learning Torah to make money.
To me it seems the only way to learn Torah for its own sake in Israel is to do it own one's own time and expensive. And in some way that is probably a good thing because the religious community there is anyway pretty messed up. The leaders tend to be demons in human form and their vicious anti Israel agenda just goes to show it.
The general path that was accepted in the Mir and also in Shar Yashuv was that Torah should be learned without any intention of using it for money. As for a vocation, the general advice was to go and learn a trade or go to university. How it got to be accepted to use Torah to make money as the entire religious world does today is a complete mystery to me.  I thought that everyone knew that Torah should not be used to make money or to be asking for donations. It is not just that it is in Pirkei Avot. It is something I thought was common knowledge. But hanging out in the religious world I found out that using Torah for money seems to be perfectly acceptable nowadays.--even admirable.
And in terms of kollel which comes under the category of accepting money to learn Torah--if it is done in that way then it is OK to Rav Joseph Karo the author of the Shulchan Aruch, but that is not how it is done nowadays.





25.7.17

natural law

Though natural law became a big thing in the West because of Aquinas, I have come to see that to the Rambam there is no essential difference between Torah Law and natural law. Torah Law is simply the fulfillment of natural law. [Or rather let me put it this way. To come to natural law one needs the Torah. But Torah also adds another dimension that is lacking in natural law that is perfection. But my point is the kind of distinction you see in Aquinas between the Divine Law and Natural Law really is just not there to the Rambam.]


Divine Law has always been a problem in the West because of the Antinomianism of Paul. Even Catholics when they appeal to something in the Law of Moses always suggest the reason is because of Natural Law.

Though חוקי השכל [laws of Reason] really was suggested as the reason for the laws of the Torah by Saadia Gaon, still no one made much of a distinction between the laws of reason and the laws of Torah until Aquinas.

There is what to go into about all this from the standpoint of Hegel and the Kant Friesian School.  That is not to mention the Natural Law people (like Dworkin). {See this nice paper}As far as this goes to me the German idealists look something like the pre Soctratics before Plato and Aristotle.  That is each one has a set of very important points but we have yet found any way to combine their collective insights into one cohesive system.








There is a famous law in Sukka גוד אסיק מחיצתא we consider the walls of a roof to be extended upwards in order to make the Sukka valid. The Rambam brings this in Law of Suka 4:11 [if memory serves correctly.] It says there that if one builds the Suka on the roof with just four poles the walls of the roof are considered to extend upwards to make it valid.


 But then he also brings the law of a mound of dirt in 4:14 to say the walls are not extended upward. There it says if one has a Suka in which the covering branches are too high (above 20 yards) and puts in a mound of dirt (10 hand-breaths high)in the middle to make the difference between the floor and cover to be less that is not valid.
Reb Chaim Soloveitchik brings down this question and so does Rav Shach.
Rav Shach adds an additional piece of information that a mound of dirt is considered a private domain in Shabat.  That means even for a mound of dirt we do say גוד אסיק מחיצתא we bring up the walls even though there is nothing to distinguish between the mound itself and what we would be calling its walls.

I do not know why no one seems to say this but to me it seems the main difference must be that we do not say  גוד אסיק מחיצתא to make the covering branches valid but we do say it to make the wall valid.
I still do not have any idea why this would be so but to me it seems clear that this is the only possible explanation for this problem.

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The רמב''ם brings in הלכות סוכה ד:י''א גוד אסיק מחיצתא we consider the walls of a roof to be extended upwards in order to make the סוכה valid.  If one builds the סוכה on the roof with just four poles, the walls of the roof are considered to extend upwards to make it valid. But then he also brings the law of   הלכות סוכה ד:י''א  א that is if one has a סוכה in which the סכך is too high למעלה מעשרים אמה and puts in a תל of dirt עשרה טפחים גובה in the middle to make the difference between the floor and cover to be less that is not valid. The מחיצות are not extended upward. צריכים מחיצות הניכרות כמו שאמר רבא.
רב חיים הלוי brings down this question and so does רב שך.
רב שך adds an additional piece of information that a תל of dirt is considered a רשות היחיד in שבת.  That means even for a תל of dirt we do say גוד אסיק מחיצתא we bring up the מחיצות even though there is nothing to distinguish between the תל itself and what we would be calling its מחיצות. To me it seems the main difference must be that we do not say  גוד אסיק מחיצתא to make the סכך valid but we do say it to make the מחיצות valid. I still do not have any idea why this would be so but to me it seems clear that this is the only possible explanation for this problem.



רמב''ם מביא הלכות סוכה ד: י''א גוד אסיק מחיצתא אנו רואים קירות הגג להתארך כלפי מעלה על מנת להפוך את הסוכה תקף. אם אחד בונה את הסוכה על שפת הגג עם רק ארבעה עמודים, קירות הגג נחשבים להאריך כלפי מעלה כדי לגרום לזאת תוקף. אבל אז הוא גם מביא את החוק  בהלכות סוכה ד: י"ד לומר אם לאחד יש סוכה ובה סכך גבוה מדי (למעלה מעשרים אמה) ומכניס עמוד בגבוה עשרה טפחים באמצע כדי להשלים את ההבדל בין הרצפה ולסכך להיות פחות כי הוא לא תקף. המחיצות לא הוארכו כלפי מעלה. צריך מחיצות הניכרות כמו שאמר רבא. רב חיים הלוי מביא את השאלה הזו וכך גם רב שך. רב שך מוסיף   של מידע נוסף כי תל  נחשב רשות היחיד בשבת. כלומר, אפילו עבור עמוד ותל אנחנו אומרים גוד אסיק מחיצתא, אנו מעלים את המחיצות אף אם אין להבחין בין העמוד או התל עצמו ומה שהיינו קוראים מחיצות שלו. לי זה נראה ההבדל העיקרי חייב להיות שאנחנו לא אומרים גוד אסיק מחיצתא להפוך את הסכך חוקי, אך אנו אומרים את זה כדי להפוך את המחיצות תקפות. אני עדיין אין לי שום מושג למה זה יהיה  כך אבל לי זה נראה ברור כי זהו ההסבר היחיד האפשרי עבור בעיה זו.













24.7.17

I am not sure how to put this in short. I saw that Rav Shach has an answer for the Rambam [Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 12:1] that is a little different than the answer I put down in my little booklet on Bava Metzia.

In short the Rambam says it is a prohibition from the Torah to marry a gentile. The curious thing about this is that it seems to be going like R Shimon that we look at the reason for  a verse. The gemara in Kidushin and Yevamot says one can not marry a gentile. It asks why not? To R. Shimon it is clear because the verse says בתך לא תתן לבנו Do not give your daughter to his son nor your son to his daughters because they will tilt the hearts of your children towards idolatry. {Deuteronomy.}
But that is only to R. Shimon who looks at the reason for a verse. But to R. Yehuda the verse is only talking about the seven Canaanite nations.[The Gemara answers it is a decree.]

In short Rav Shach brings another argument in Sanhedrin about the verse that says a king should not have many wives because they might tilt his heart. The Sages say no more than 18. R. Yehuda says He can marry more than 18 as long as they do not tilt his heart. R. Shimon says even one that tilts his heart is forbidden. Then why say "He should not have many"? To tell us even if they are a righteous as Abigail.
 The way Rav Shach says it is that we see R. Yehuda holds דורשין טעמא דקרא (we go by the reason for the verse, not the literal meaning) if the reason is stated in the verse. So to R. Yehuda only the seven nations would be forbidden because they are very attached to idolatry but others not. However the Sages would hold that the simple explanation of the verse would be referring to all gentile nations. [This is different than my own explanation  but still closely related.] One problem I see with this is that R Yehuda holds if the reason for the verse is stated then it would mean you could marry anyone as long as they do not tilt your heart. That is one possible question on Rav Shach's approach.

[That is the exact parallel to what R. Yehuda says about a king where there also is written the reason for the verse.]

[I might mention that the Tur, the son of Rabbainu Asher decided the halacha like R. Yehuda that we do no go by the reason for the verse, but rather by the literal meaning which in this case means only the seven Canaanite Nations are forbidden.]

 It is also important to point out that idolatry is not limited to gentiles. Thus anyone doing idolatry would be forbidden to marry. כל המסירות all that could cause one's heart to stray from God to serve false gods.will be forbidden. And the religious world is sadlly jam packed with false gods-(non with standing the extreme emphasis on rituals).




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 I saw that רב שך has an answer for the רמב''ם   הלכות איסורי ביאה י''ב:א
In short the רמב''ם says it is a prohibition from the Torah to marry a gentile. The curious thing about this is that it seems to be going like ר. שמעון that we look at the reason for  a verse. The גמרא in קידושין and יבמות says one can not marry a gentile. It asks why not? To ר. שמעון it is clear because the verse says בתך לא תתן לבנו Do not give your daughter to his son nor your son to his daughters because they will tilt the hearts of your children towards idolatry.
But that is only to ר. שמעון who looks at the reason for a verse. But to ר. יהודה the verse is only talking about the שבעת העמים.The גמרא answers it is a דרבנן.

Without being aware of what רב שך had written I wrote my own explanation of the רמב''ם that in fact is closely linked to רב שך, but slightly different.

In short רב שך brings another argument in סנהדרין about the verse that says a king should not have many wives because they might tilt his heart. The חכמים say no more than שמנה עשרה. But ר. יהודה says he can marry more than שמנה עשרה as long as they do not tilt his heart. ר. שמעון says even one that tilts his heart is forbidden. Then why say "He should not have many"? To tell us even if they are a righteous as אביגיל.
 The way רב שך says it is that we see ר. יהודה holds דורשין טעמא דקרא if the reason is stated in the verse. So to ר. יהודה only the seven nations would be forbidden because they are very attached to idolatry but others not. However the Sages would hold that the simple explanation of the verse would be referring to all gentile nations.  One problem I see with this is that ר. יהודה holds if the reason for the verse is stated then it would mean you could marry anyone as long as they do not tilt your heart. That is one possible question on רב שך approach.


לרב יש שך תשובה עבור הרמב''ם הלכות איסורי ביאה י''ב: א'. בקיצור רמב''ם אומר שזה איסור מן התורה להתחתן עם גויה. הדבר המעניין בזה הוא שזה נראה שהולך כמו ר. שמעון שהולכים לפי הסיבה של פסוק. הגמרא בקידושין ויבמות אומרת אחד לא יכול להתחתן עם גויה. זה שואל למה לא? ועונה זה ל ר. שמעון  כי הפסוק אומר בתך לא תתן לבנו (אל תיתן בתך לבנו) ולא בנך לבנותיו כי הם יוכלו להטות את לבם של הילדים שלך כלפי עבודה זרה. אבל זה רק  ר. שמעון שמסתכל על הסיבה של הפסוק. אבל אל לר. יהודה הפסוק רק מדבר על שבעת העמים. גמרא עונה היא דרבנן. בקיצור רב שך מביא טיעון נוסף בסנהדרין על הפסוק שאומר למלך אסור להתחתן עם נשים רבות, משום שהן עלולות להטות את לבו. חכמים אומרים לא יותר משמנה עשרה. אבל ר. יהודה אומר שהוא יכול לשאת יותר משמנה עשרה, כל עוד שהן לא נוטות את לבו. ר. שמעון אומר אפילו אחת שנוטה את לבו אסורה. אז למה הפסוק אומר "לא ירבה"? כדי לדווח לנו שאפילו אם הן צדיקות כמו אביגיל. הדרך שרב שך אומר הוא שאנחנו רואים שר. יהודה מחזיק דורשין טעמא דקרא אם הסיבה נאמרה בפסוק. אז אל ר. יהודה רק שבעת האומות תיאסרנה משום שהן קשורות מאוד לעבודה זרה אבל אחרות לא. אולם חז"ל מחזיקים כי ההסבר הפשוט של הפסוק מתייחס לכל אומות העולם. בעיה אחת שאני רואה עם זה היא כי ר. יהודה מחזיק אם הסיבת הפסוק נאמרה, אז זה אומר שאתה יכול להתחתן עם מישהיא, כל עוד שהיא לא נוטה את הלב שלך.
My own answer here was that when the reason for the verse is written then the Sages and R. Shimon agree. [I think that was my answer, but I have not looked it up to check.] But if so then on my answer also there is a question because R. Shimon and the Sages do not look to agree completely in such a case,



23.7.17

Each group seems to have its own particular variety of the evil inclination.

I can see that people feel they are on the side of good just because of some group they belong to. And there is often some reason that justifies their belief. In the groups I have hung out with I have seen this much. But the Sitra Achara--the Dark Side has its own formulas for each group.
There is always some special brand of evil that attaches itself to every group and none are immune.

Dante is a good cure for that delusion.
That is in Dante,  hell is reserved for people with bad character. That is to say when people do evil, they end up in hell and the social group they belonged to does nothing to help them out of it.
I have found this a lot in Jewish groups, but all groups seem to have this problem with unwarranted pride. That however does not mean all groups are the same. Each one seems to have its own particular variety of the evil inclination.

Even though democracy in itself has drawbacks still a lot depends on who is involved. The Athenian Democracy is different than a democracy that has to take blacks into account. It is not the type of government that is the issue but the kind of people involved.

Sparta after all did not produce anything except warriors and the destruction of Athens. Athens on the other hand produced the greatest Art, Mathematics, literature, music, philosophers that the world had ever seen.
From the Rambam's point of view however there would only seem to be one justification and that is that it is a contract. That is whatever system people decide to live under has the force of Torah Law as long as it does not violate other Torah Laws. The reason is because any contract has the force of Torah validity. This applies to government also as is brought in Bava Batra.

Government of course is not the same as private contracts-. But all the more so that gives it a need and validity that goes beyond private contracts. For without government, no private contract is possible as Dr Epstein makes clear in his debate with Dr Michael Huemer.
There is some connection between trust in God with no effort and accepting the yoke of learning Torah. Both of these things are accepted parts of the Litvak yeshiva world but no connection between them is ever spelled out exactly.

The way both are connected are in the sense that it is understood that: if one accepts the yoke of learning Torah, then the troubles and difficulties of making a living will be removed from him. But in fact both ideals on the surface to be totally independent.  What exactly is the connection?
I am not really sure about this even though there is  statement from the Gra about the right path of trust in God is specifically without effort on one's own part. It is not as if the Gra accepts the חובות לבבות opinion about trust in God with effort on your own part. See Proverbs 3:25 the commentary of the Gra there.





22.7.17

For writing on the computer on Shabat I depend on the Rema in the Shulchan Aruch that the prohibition of writing is Ashurit [and I would imagine also the ancient Hebrew letters called "Ketav Evri."]  along with the idea of the idea brought down on buildig that the form needs to be preserved for twenty four hours -not stored in megabytes.
But I admit there are perhaps many other areas in which I am too lenient. The truth is it is hard to get exactly how to keep the holy Torah. There are inherent ambiguities like honor of one's parents. It is hard to tell how far to take that.
 It is not just when one mitzvah seems to interfere with another. It is that sometimes the actual fulfillment is unclear.
I have written about the problems involved in keeping Torah quite a lot but not in a unified format. Mainly the problems come from the Sitra Achra {the Dark Side}which pretends to keep Torah in external form but internally is demonic. That makes trusting anything that the religious world says about Torah almost certainly wrong.

Some of the basic difficulties and ambiguities  are:
(1) The attitudes towards Reb Nachman, who was certainly a great tzadik, but when people get involved in Breslov they definitely get caught up into the Sitra Achra
(2) The ignoring of the signature of the Gra on the letter of excommunication. This is not simply ignored but outright declared wrong. To me it is clear that the Gra was 100% correct. [But that it would not apply to Reb Nachman for reasons that are easy to see if you read the actual letter itself.]
(3) The attitude towards the State of Israel. I would rather not go into this right now but service in the IDF and general support of Israel I consider very important.
(4) Attitudes towards what are called secular studies. To the Rambam there is no such thing as secular studies. Physics [in his terminology means also Chemistry] and Metaphysics are holy studies that are part of the Oral Law. Other things that are considered secular are simply treif, nevela, in the opinion of the Rambam.
(5) Attitudes towards kollel. This really is not that ambiguous in practice because you can pretty much tell whether people in any institution are using Torah to make money or if they are accepting money in order to learn Torah. If the later, then  clearly it is  great thing what they are doing.

(6)My own mistakes seem to be in the area of the Mir Yeshiva in NY. On one hand you might say it was important to get to Israel but that seems to have caused a lot of bitul Torah and getting involved in pretty dumb sitra achra stuff. What perhaps I might have done would have been to find  a Litvak kollel in Israel. But even that is hard to say could have made up for the loss of not learning in the Mir.










There was on America's Most Wanted a story about a father and son Taylor and Taylor that had been kidnapped for the apparent reason that they had found some means of commutation  or communication with distant regions of space. I can not imagine what it was, but I assume that there in fact might be something like that. If forced to I could think of a few things. If some small particles are black holes, they might have thought to combine enough together to make a worm hole.Also since their experience was in electrical engineering maybe they had thought of some aspect of electricity which always  involves imaginary time. Another suggestion would be that if one takes the paper of Feynman about two arrows of time and puts it together with two more arrows of entropy he gets results that are remarkable and suggestive of some deeper structure. 

Overall, the current findings provide evidence that interracial couples elicit disgust

Humans Naturally Dislike Mixing of Race.

Study 1   demonstrates that bias against interracial romance is correlated with disgust. Study 2 provides evidence that images of interracial couples evoke a neural disgust response among observers – as indicated by increased insula activation relative to images of same-race couples. Consistent with psychological theory indicating that disgust leads to dehumanization, Study 3 demonstrates that manipulating disgust leads to implicit dehumanization of interracial couples. Overall, the current findings provide evidence that interracial couples elicit disgust and are dehumanized relative to same-race couples.

The fact is that everyone knows that if you are mixing races, you have turned your back on your heritage. This puts you in the camp with traitors, cowards and profiteers.
Next, they realize that you are an unfortunate person. Other than for novelty points at the bar, you will never have a real identity. Instead, you will always be flogging your “uniqueness” while neither of your constituent groups accepts you.
Finally, looking into miscegenation shows us the inner workings of life. We do not like to think about it, but we are biological beings with our personalities arising from genetics. Miscegenation breaks apart the visions of people that we process socially, and shows us that beneath the level on which socialization operates, we are animals and can be bred as such.
As the age of ideology ends, tribe becomes more important. The result of this is that people are struggling to find their identities and live within them, lest them become people without a nation or origin, which in a time where identity is more important than elective categories like political alignment or religion, makes them the loneliest people in the world.
What makes the current study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, more conclusive is its size. The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That’s an error rate of 0.14 percent.
Neil Risch, PhD, a UC-San Francisco professor who led the study while he was professor of genetics at Stanford, said that the findings are particularly surprising given that people in both African-American and Hispanic ethnic groups often have a mixed background. “We might expect these individuals to cross several different genetic clusters,” he noted. That’s not what the study found. Instead, each self-identified racial/ethnic group clumped into the same genetic cluster.
Over the long term, people resist miscegenation because it destroys who they are, which they innately know is tied to genetics and history even if these concepts offend their notions of “free will” and individuality. In other words, having an identity that gives the individual a starting point in their narrative of self — origins, purpose, rank — is more important than joining the generic, mixed-race social group.
For this reason, they also dislike and instinctively are disgusted by miscegenation. The mixing of racial groups constitutes the destruction of those groups over time, so in the practice of miscegenation, people see the erasure of their identity. As a result their is a natural revulsion to loss of identity, which is in part a destruction of the self.


Highlights

Bias against interracial romance is correlated with self-reported feelings of disgust.
Interracial couples elicit a neural disgust response among observers – as indicated by increased insula activation.
Manipulating state disgust leads to implicit dehumanization of interracial couples.
Findings suggest that meaningful social units (e.g., couples) influence person perception.

21.7.17

.So if one is in a place of authentic Torah like the Mir yeshiva in NY there are always little whisperers telling him "Perhaps someplace else is better."

Every area of value seems to have an equal and opposite area of value that is indiscernible from the real thing. The reason seems to be what you have in the Armed Forces "the need to know."
Merit does not seem to depend on finding the right path, but rather in every path there is good and evil. Merit depends of some ability to discern evil on one's path and avoid it.  Not on finding some  abstract right path.

To be a little more explicit:
 Value starts with things like Formal Logic  in which the sentences are empty and can stand for anything but the rules are formal. If A implies B and B implies C and A is true, then C is true.
Up the scale you get Mathematics which has more content but can not be reduced to formal logic as Godel showed. Value gets greater as content increases  and form gets less. E.g. Music.
But every area of value-whether is has much or little content has an equal and opposite area of value which in externals looks exactly the same. That is so that there should be free will.

[I have mentioned this a few times. But the new idea I wanted to bring out is that this ignorance is the realm of the Dinge An Sich--Kant's Thing in Itself--is intentional. To choose good otherwise would be simply a mater of finding the right path and following it. Certainly some people assume that is the case. But then there would be no room for free will. The way the world was made it self there is room left for anyone to choose good or evil on what ever path they were born into. Most people think since they were born into some path which to them seems good, they can basically do what they like.

In this I am building on Dr Kelly Ross (Kant-Friesian School) and the Rambam.

Dr Kelly Ross taught in a CA Community College. I think the whole system has gotten so messed up that you can find idiots that teach at Harvard and geniuses that teach in a community college.
Recently Dr Ross taught at an ivy league school on the East Coast (Rutgers). It is nice that someone finally recognized him for the genius  he is.
That being said I thing the curriculum is too much. If possible I would reduce the requirements to the Natural Sciences, Music. No "Humanities" or "social studies"  which nowadays are just propaganda.

To make this seem less abstract: Let's say you are on a Torah path. In itself that is great. The trouble is the Sitra Achra that comes to greet anyone that starts out on that path.So if one is in a place of authentic Torah like the Mir yeshiva in NY there are always little whisperers telling him "Perhaps someplace else is better."

In summery, there are any areas of value-but whatever area you go into it is important to choose the authentic thing.






20.7.17

to learn fast--(just to say the words in order and go on) t

Even though most of the time I try to learn fast--(just to say the words in order and go on) that is whether it is Gemara or Physics, etc, still there are times that I revert to an idea of saying the words forwards and backwards that seems to help in understanding complicated issues.
This idea of saying the words forwards and backwards you can even find in the sidur itself and it is brought by Rav Isaac Luria. Still I never heard of anyone applying it to math which is where I found it the most useful. [Forwards and backwards is how I manage to get through my Physics and Chemistry  courses at Polytechnic Institute of NYU. But it is only for a very concentrated type of learning. Most of the time I think it is best to do בקיאות fast learning.]

For example in learning Gemara or Reb Chaim Solveitchik, I have found it is best just to plow through a whole section or a whole page and then the next day to just repeat that same section. [and do this for many days in a row]


18.7.17

the belief system of the Torah is Monotheism

"And though all the forces of the sphere pervade all the existents..."
chapter II, 10 of the Guide
The Rambam far from having a mechanistic view of the universe, actually sees the cosmos as a single organism. A sort of "Gaia hypothesis" stretched to include the heavens!
But that Gaia spirit of the higher spheres is not the same thing as God. Worship of the spirit that permeates everything is to the Rambam idolatry.

The Rambam and all rishonim understand the Monotheism of the Torah to mean God made the world, and he is not the world.
The fact that the belief system of the Torah is Monotheism is so trivial that it really should not have to be brought up except for people that claim it holds differently. That is the almost universal belief of the Jewish religious world, and they definitely worship the spirit that pervades everything. That is pure idolatry to the opinion of the Rambam 

17.7.17

DNA does seem to determine a lot.

It is a good point that England was a caste society and reached its peak and greatness when that system was in operation. And in fact DNA does seem to determine a lot. I see this all the time. There are people who seem predisposed towards theft, others seem predisposed towards robbery with violence, others towards other bad traits. According to Sapolsky {Stanford} genes do determine a lot.
To me it seems certain belief systems help people to restrain bad traits and come to good traits. Other belief systems seem to aggravate already existing bad traits. But little comes close to the power that DNA has on people.
Reb Israel Salanter already noted the difficulty in one's correcting his own bad traits.
It seems pretty clear to me that when people think they are repenting, they are as a rule just reinforcing in themselves their own messed up ideas.It is clear like Rav Salanter said:One can have good traits without Musar. But one can not go from bad traits to good traits without Musar.

[Musar [ethical works from the Middle Ages] has a limited definition. Not everything people claim is Musar is actually Musar.
There are also however specific lessons  to accept from certain tzadikim. The Gra revealed the importance of learning Torah. The aspect of learning in depth however really is  a Litvak thing.

In any case if one would thing about the caste system idea the most likely place to look would be the descendants of Rav Yaakov Abuchatzaira. That is not from DNA, but rather some kind of אור מקיף divine light that seems to surround that family. Not that it is same thing as it used to be; still there is some aspect of the whole Bava Sali thing that I think is still there.

The descendants of Rav Abuchatzeira are mostly located in Israel.

16.7.17

natural law and Divine Law to the Rambam.

I am beginning to wonder if there is any real difference between natural law and Divine Law to the Rambam. The reasons for the laws we know were implicitly understood by the Chazal (Sages) except for the Red Heifer. But only later the Rambam spelled out the reasons.

But there does not seem to be any definite account of what Avraham Avinu's natural law approach might have been in the Guide. (That is Abraham the Patriarch). It is almost as if the Rambam is saying in order to get to natural law you have to keep the Torah. He certainly does not think of the legal structures of Ancient Greece as fulfilling the requirement of natural Law.
He puts the nomoi (laws) of the Greeks into the same area of the ravings of the Sabians in the Guide.
In the Guide, the Rambam makes clear most of the laws of the Torah are to bring to things that he considered natural law.




Socialist programs are not part of the constitution and not the Torah

Socialist programs are not part of the constitution and  not the Torah.  Dr Epstein (NYU) pointed out the general welfare clause is not a permission to benefit one part of the population at the expense of the other parts. It is almost always taken out of context.

I have long thought the voting for socialist programs which benefit the religious is against the Torah. Pretty soon after I got to Israel and realized the basic problems with the system- Torah for money, and  the religious voting for themselves other people's money, I dropped out of the system. I learned on my own at home or in the fields around Safed. That was not much learning, but at least it was for the sake of Torah, and not for money.

I have tried to keep down my critique on this because on rare occasions some good comes from it. But in general I think the Rambam was right that there should not be monetary payment for learning or teaching Torah.  When money gets involved with it, it ruins the holiness.

However there are great yeshivas where you can feel just when you walk in, that the Torah there is learned for its own sake and for those kinds of places I think it is  a great thing to support them.


Learning Torah for its own sake [not for money] constantly and with energy

Learning Torah for its own sake [not for money] constantly and with energy (with תמידות and מרץ) is an issue that comes up in Litvak yeshivas. Some people have found that making a yeshiva is  a good way to make money so they pretend that this goal of learning constantly and with energy is in fact their goal. Others are straightforward enemies of this goal. They hate the idea of people learning Torah for its own sake. But if it is for money [like they do] -then it is OK.
This is not just an issue of a some intellectual puzzle, but for me was and still is a very personal issue.

The reason kollels were created [the original idea started with Reb Israel Salanter] was to remove one of the biggest obstacles of learning Torah--marriage.

That to some degree might seem to help, but to me it looks like it just contributes to the problems of people using Torah to make money.

The best idea to marry a "Bat Talmid Chacham" (the daughter of a authentic Torah scholar) [not the phony types].

The general answer to this problem is not known to me except that people ought to be taught the importance of learning Torah for its own sake and to do so on one's own and to support the Litvak yeshivas which in fact do this.

I had a long history in this subject. To go into it in detail seems too much for me right now. but in short the issue can be divided into several time periods.
Time Period I: Yeshiva. That is where I first encountered the concept. Later reading the Nefsh Hachaim made it more clear. [The issue was not really dealt with in more general books of Musar]
Time Period II. Getting married. The girl I married was not exactly a Bat Talmid Chacham (the daughter of a authentic Torah scholar) but she certainly appreciated what I was doing in yeshiva.[Her father was a working guy.] Something about what I was doing seemed to affect her in some kind of deep way--enough to get her to run to NY an chase me for years in spite of my constant refusals. I guess you would have to say that something of the spirit of Authentic Torah must have touched her soul.

Time period III. Getting involved in Breslov. In some ways great. But as far as learning Torah goes, it caused me to lose interest. It is given lip service but the actual essence is gone. Still that was a great period in many ways. It gave me interest in getting to Israel and for the seven years I was there there was a kind of opening into a higher consciousness.

Time Period IV.  I found out how nasty the religious world really is.  A tremendous effort was spent after I returned to California  to separate me from my wife and children all because I was learning Torah.  That is learning the hard way to stay away from the religious world and the demonic "Torah teachers" that are obviously into Torah because that is where the money and power is.

Time Period V: trying to figure it all out. One good approach I discovered is Schopenhauer. He does deal with this question in a straightforward way. Human good is not something that interests the "Will."
That is however not very satisfying in my own case since it seems clear that in any case for the seven years in Safed i was not doing much learning Torah anyway. So it is kind of expected that hen one has gone away from learning and then tries to get back to it, that obstacles will be encountered.

In any case I am no poster child for this particular position. If I got back into learning at all, it is a lo due to David Bronson with whom I learned Gemara with after all the above mentioned events.


15.7.17

The thing is the Greek States choose their form of government. And that is what made them free as opposed to Persian rule. But I see that any form of government can be corrupted. That is a good point. The Democrats definitely have shown that point all too well.

The Rambam does not put any form of government in the category of natural law. I assume he had read Aristotle's/ book on the constitutions of the Greek states.
He puts the nomoi of the Greeks and ravings of the Sabians all into one category. Clearly to him only the Torah itself can guarantee natural law.
This leaves one wondering nowadays when one finds religious neighbors to be particularly obnoxious, what could the Rambam have answered? That they are not keeping Torah well enough? Then what kind of state did he envision? One in which everyone is a tzadik?It is well known living under the rule of religious authorities is a Kafkaian nightmare.  

laws of neighborhoods and my own problems with neighbors.

Little is known about the laws of neighborhoods and neighbors outside the Litvak yeshiva world where chapter two of Bava Batra is learned  once every seven years. The religious world focuses on religious rituals, and thus the aspects of Torah which deal with relationships between neighbors is ignored. This is just one example of what I have been saying for  along time. The Jewish religious world has nothing to do with Torah.

In any case, there are three basic opinions concerning things that cause damage to a neighbor's.  property. The Ri MiGash that to put things that would cause damage to a neighbor's wall if there was a wall are permitted to put there as long as there is no wall. If the neighbor puts up a wall then the things that cause damage must be removed. Another opinion is if the things were put there before the wall is built, they do not need to be removed. Another opinion is they can not be put there ever, because the neighbor might build a wall.

There seems to be a contradiction is the Beit Yoseph's Shulchan Aruch concerning this where he goes by the Ri MiGash.[I noted that Rav Shach goes into this in some detail.]

I noticed years ago that Reb Ahron Kotler had a big piece on this in his collected writings on Shas but never got a chance to learn it. My own study in Bava Batra was very limited to "Girsa" saying the words and going on along with the English Soncino. I never got much of a chance to do it in depth. [This was in spite of the fact that they had begun this in the Mir in NY when I was there, but by that time I was off into Seder Moad and also getting ready to come to Israel. Rav Ernster was given a Kirya in Safed by the Israel Government on condition that he fill it. Thus I was invited to Israel at that time. [I believe it was a Labor government at the time, since I am pretty sure the Likud never got into power until later.]
Hindsight suggests to me that being in Rav Ernter's kollel would not have been a bad option but at the time I though the taking tests to prove that you did the learning was along the lines of using Torah to make money. I still wonder about that. Some time later I saw that Shimon Buso was talking part in a program to learn and take tests  though clearly his intention was to  have an extra kind of motivation for the learning. If I had been smart I think I would have gone to Rav Fievelson's kollel in the old city of Safed--a litvak kollel. But in any case I was Moharosh's orbit {Rav Shick} at the time.That is hard to judge. Rav Shick had some good points and there was a kind of opening into the Infinite Light that seems to be connected with him. The negative things are perhaps better left unsaid. Still I was not into learning since after getting involve in Breslov my basic worldview had changed.

The Kirya of Rav Ernster was great for most of the time I was there. It got after some time people that were less than desirable neighbors. towards the end people took telling their children to stone my kids to indicate to me that I was not wanted there.


OPEN BORDERS

It was noted before that economists tend to look at things from the aspect of economy. The economic advisers to the White House during the Vietnam War looked at the war from the perspective of cost analysis to the North Vietcong. Their advice was based on the idea that if the war could be made non cost effective to the Vietcong, they would give up. It is hard to imagine worse advice.

If you would do that enough, all you will get is another Cambodia. Open Borders

Dr Caplan is the author of some really great essays. But it is true that on this  a few other issues he seems to be less that at his peak. This in fact is one of the reasons I stopped looking at that blog that he contributes to.
That author of the essay in "The Economist" writes
"Workers in rich countries earn more than those in poor countries partly because they are better educated but mostly because they live in societies that have, over many years, developed institutions that foster prosperity and peace. It is very hard to transfer Canadian institutions to Cambodia, but quite straightforward for a Cambodian family to fly to Canada. "

 If you would do that enough, all you will get is another Cambodia.

14.7.17

I was stolen from this morning as I went out to buy stuff for Shabat. Stealing is not uncommon in the Ukrainel.(It almost impossible to guard oneself from this.) But this event seems worse than usual, since it was my bank card along with money.
This probably means a lot of trouble for me to replace old documents. Mainly I consider things like this to be reminders to repent on my sins even though my repentance does not seem to ever last long.
The basic path of Torah is pretty well defined by the Litvak yeshiva [which concentrates on learning Torah] where mainly Gemara Rashi Tosphot are learned along with the idea of trust in God to provide. What some yeshivas added was the idea of learning in depth. That path was once unsure and not written down but nowadays it is pretty well contained in the חידושי הרמב''ם by Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and the Avi Ezri by Rav Shach.

The idea of Parnasah making a living is really well defined.It is to trust God for a living. And if after one is married, paranasa does not just how up, than it is permissible to go and find work. There is no allowance for using Torah to  make money. But the kollel system where the State of Israel gives money to the Rosh Yeshiva according to the number of people in his kollel; and he divides it up has been accepted for some time already by almost all Torah scholars. This has some support from the fact that that seems to be the way the yeshivas in Babylonia were run during the time of the geonim.

The geonim themselves were were supported by the community.

13.7.17

We already know the respect the Rambam had for Aristotle. [It shows up in the commentary on Avot but is mainly in the Guide.] That is no secret and it caused alarm and disgust in his contemporaries as much as it does today.
This comes from two directions One is his high respect for Physics and the Metaphysics of Aristotle and Plato and Plotinus and this learning being the fulfillment of the mitzvahs to love and fear God.

But also what dismayed people was the natural law concept of the Rambam which he in fact does not spell out but which hearkens back to Aristotle and Plato's discussion about justice and human good.
 If anything the Rambam had to be thinking of Aristotle's' political system of Aristocracy as natural law, not democracy nor Sparta's system.




HOWEVER-it is easy to confabulate and confuse this with the actual political systems of Athens and Sparta. In fact just the opposite. The Rambam places the Nomoi (laws) of the Greeks in the same category as the raving mad speculations of the Sabians.

As Sunwall puts it: "Although the ancient republics, on the whole, ended rather badly, as indeed modern studies of public choice would tend to predict, modern interpretation persists in seeing deliberative legislation as completely different from, and qualitatively superior to oracular law, judicial astrology, and the political use of divination.
It is precisely this distinction which Maimonides, in linking the "nomoi of the Greeks" with the "ravings of the Sabians" refuses to admit. Although as a rationalist, Maimonides makes a clear psychological distinction between reason and the imaginative faculty, he calls into question, by linking the Greeks and the Sabians, whether deliberative acts of legislation (nomoi) are entirely rational. For Maimonides an essential attribute of rationality is its transhuman quality. Unlike mathematics, but rather similar to poetry and other imaginative productions, legislation is clearly the result of the exercise of human will. Thus in a broad sense idolatry and legislation can both be seen as works of the human imagination. Therefore the Greeks and their nomoi can be grouped together with less obviously rationalistic cultures, not on the superficial basis that the Greeks used an elaborate iconography to represent the divine, but because their institutions like those of other pre-monotheistic cultures, were the result of arbitrary human innovation."

The Rambam does not respect any system of law that is anything other than straight Torah. He is not thinking of the Democracy of Athens or the Republic of Rome as being a fulfillment of natural law.


Appendix: The idea of the Rambam of the Physics and Metaphysics is in a few places  in the Guide and Mishe Torah but the most famous is the parable of the king. In this parable there are many levels of closeness with the king. The lowest level is people outside of his country. The next level is people in the country. Then people in the capital city. Then people near the palace. Then people in the palace. Then people in the inner parts of the palace. This is a parable concerning God. People outside the country are the barbarians. People in the country and in the capital city have natural law. People around the palace are people that keep and learn the Oral and Written Law. People inside the palace are the Physicists.    People in the inner corridors of the King are the prophets and Philosophers.
You can see how this parable would have bothered many people







12.7.17

Chafetz Chaim made known the problem of slander,

ואם לא יגיד ונשא עוונו if he does not tell then he will bear his sin. That is there is an obligation to give testimony that one saw whether he is asked to testify or not.
[I should mention a curious fact-that the Rambam says the obligation to testify is only if the plaintiff or defendant ask him to come to court when the issue is דיני ממונות- an issue of money. But when it is an issue of דיני נפשות human life, then he must testify whether he is asked to or not. That is what the Kesef Mishna says right there on the Rambam himself--that in issues of human life he has to testify whether asked to or not. The trouble with all this is ספר המצוות מצוות לא תעשה רצ''ז where the Rambam says even in issues of money one must testify  if he saw the events whether asked to testify of not because of the verse לא תעמוד על דם רעיך. This looks like  a problem since in Mishne Torah the Rambam says in הלכות עדות that one must testify only if asked to.



The Chafetz Chaim made known the problem of slander, but this is emphasized in the religious world mainly to give them a blank check to do their abuses and crime and then when an innocent baal teshuva speaks up he is accused of lashon hara,
People that know that teachers of Torah are fraudsters need to speak up because they know testimony that others need to hear.
The astonishing amount of damage the supposed teachers of Torah do is so out of proportion to the expected normal bell curve that I suspect that Reb Nachman was right that they are demons. [LM vol I ch 12: Torah scholars that are demons etc.] [According to the normal distribution, you would expect some to be good, some to be bad and the vast majority around average. But what you actually find Torah scholars do an astounding amount of evil and damage. The curve it tilted far by far towards evil. Perhaps it is because they are not Torah scholars at all but demons using the Torah to make money? That would seem to have been the Rambam's view.]
It does no good to do like Na Nach to just simply complain about them in general. People need to make known specific events of abuse and to shout it from the rooftops.
Because of this problem I simply avoid the religious world and stay away from them as far as possible.

Is there any correction for this problem? Not that I know of. The Litvak world which is by far the best is also infected. The supposed solutions I tend to believe actually aggravate the problem.
The best thing thus is to learn Torah and Musar  on your own and forget about the organizations that claim Torah. Something of the Dark Side has taken control of the religious world.
One thing that lends itself is the occult. Though the Ari and his system is very impressive, still it lends itself to empower these teachers  by their claims to secret knowledge. It is just a perfect trap for naive people that want a taste of the supernatural.





I was not very happy with the Left even  before they became Anti-Semites. The reason was simply because their values were against Torah.  Good examples are private property, abortion. Dr. Kelley Ross thinks the Left is Satanic. See this essay: http://www.friesian.com/satan.htm. I would not go so far because i think Leftists were at first idealist and as Nietzsche did they saw the abuses in religion and of princes and kings. Maybe not all. But a lot were simply interested in Justice and were upset with the abuses they saw in the System [in Russia and the USA.] And as Bezmenov pointed out, the KGB did not need to create Leftists in the USA. They were already there. They just needed to give them a little extra help. {I can not go into this here. See his long lecture on Utube}
(1)It takes some kind of merit to be worthy of learning the Gemara [The Two Talmuds] that apparently I do not have. Thus it can happen that one [e.g. I] learns Gemara for a while, and then drifts off into other things that seem more spiritual.
I wanted to deal with this problem from the standpoint of Maimonides and Rosenzweig.

(2) If possible I would like also to go into the problem of זה לעמת זה עשה אלהים. That in every area of value there is an equal and opposite area of value that is its exact opposite, and yet externally looks exactly the same as the original authentic thing. This opposite is not just a lower level of the first, but rather the exact opposite. [That is: It looks like Torah and dresses up in clothing which seem Torah'dick, but the inner essence is of the Devil (Sitra Achra)--which is most of the  religious world. The Gra already pointed out this problem but for some strange reason he was ignored and still is.]

(3) As for the first issue I would like to mention the Maimonian concept of the Giving of the Torah as being a one time event in history with no second upcoming event to supplant it, or take its place.
The Rambam (Maimonides) concept here is  contained in the Guide for the Perplexed.

As Sunwall puts it: "Historically there is only one revelation defining absolute and transhistorical standards of human behavior and opinion, that of Moses from Sinai. Everything else throughout history which is not imitative of it is the product of reason, imagination, or madness."
So we learn Gemara to understand the the laws of the Holy Torah. What cults do is to give lip service to the Law of Moses, but to claim priority status for their leader's book where are written his delusions.

(4) As for the second issue , the best thing is to make an authentic Litvak yeshiva in one's neighborhood in order to have a place to learn genuine Torah -the Oral and Written Law in depth with Rav Shach's Avi Ezri,  and Musar. 


11.7.17

President Trump offered a concise, powerful statement of western achievements and why they are worth defending. “We write symphonies,” he said. “We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. . . . We cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything.”-
Reminds me of Pericles. On the other hand the basic things I think are important about the West are actually more limited. The Law of Moses, Aristotle, Plato, Physics and Music. Most of the literature I am not happy with. Music sadlly fell after Beethoven. Philosophy after Hegel and Schopenhauer is vacuous.
Even in terms Attic Greek literature  am not sure of how much is of value. I think the West does best when it looks back towards Attic Greece, Rome, the scholastics of the  Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. That gives it direction and stability.

To the Rambam and the Gra there is a limit to how much is of value. The Rambam has Physics and Metaphysics and the Gra the Seven wisdoms (Trivium and Quadrivium). Outside of that it is all pretty much "Bitul Torah"  wasting time from Torah.
Myself I would have to add survival skills and the Boy Scouts as being important.
Learning a vocation was very low on Rav Shach's list. Not that he forbade it but rather he said people ought to learn Torah and after they get married of they need to to just to do any kind of vocation that presents itself. Not to waste years of bitul Torah in university learning nonsense just to get a piece of worthless paper.

[A great deal of what is taught in high school and 90% of what is in universities is all bitul Torah--wasting time from learning Torah, plus the obvious fact that most of it is positively destructive.]










The truth  told -the Musar movement needs repair.It has basically gone into high gear into fanaticism. And that is not what Torah is about. The basic idea was to come to good character and fear of God. Not extra doses of religious insanity.
There were a few great disciples of Reb Israel Salanter that managed to get the high ideals of Musar into the great Litvak yeshivas but nowadays the work on character has fallen off and been replaced by Anti-Israelism.

10.7.17

t80 D major unedited. I can not tell how this sounds until I get headphones.
One of the difficulties in Israel are the Trojan Horses. It seemed to me that when I was there, everyone was more or less on a crusade to get rid of me. Sefardim certainly did their utmost to get rid of me as I certainly am not one of them. The religious certainly did their utmost to get me as  I was not one of their sick cults.  Arabs never tired of trying to kill me whenever they got a chance.  The few friends I had were mainly useless.in terms of any help. [Not that all Sefardim are like that. The trouble is there always is at least one like that in every group, and none of the others does anything to stop them. ]

My advice to Zionists: If you want to build a state, don't invite your enemies. And if your enemies are already there, then ask them politely to leave. Otherwise they will make it impossible for people that really want to help to be there. Get rid of the sick religious cults and the Arabs, and you will be swamped by millions of people making aliyah that really appreciate the State of Israel.

The Gra identified idolatry inside the Jewish world

 Idolatry is equivalent  the Sitra Achra [the Dark Side.] This simple thesis I have thought for a long time but have not been able to bring much in the way of proof. But going by this simple identification much becomes clear as to why the Torah makes such a huge issue out of it.   And this has more practical consequence nowadays than people realize. For many of the mitzvot have a purpose to keep one away from idolatry and to in fact do everything just the opposite of what idolaters do.
There are numerous instantiations of this in the "reasons for the statutes" portion of the Guide. These all involve turning some idol custom around to its opposite. For example, the idolaters are clean-shaven, the Jewish men are to wear beards (Guide III, 37); the idolaters practice hybrid aboriculture, the Jews are forbidden to graft certain trees onto one another (ibid. III, 37); the idolaters pray to the morning sun in the east, the Jews are to set the Holy of Holies in the west and pray in that direction (ibid. III, 45); the tolemistic animals of the idolaters become the sacrificial animals of the Mosaic covenant (ibid. III, 46).
So while idolatry per se  nowadays can be hard to identify, the Dark Side is a lot easier.

The Gra helped a lot in this subject by identifying idolatry inside the Jewish world that was pretending to be keeping Torah. The verse in Proverbs also helps אוהב מוסר אוהב דעת ושונא תוכחת בער. People that hate Musar are from the Sitra Achra.
I should mention a few years ago there was a great edition of all the major works of Musar from the Publishing House Eshkol. They had all five books in one set. חובות לבבות, מסילת ישרים, שערי תשובה אורחות צדיקים ספר היראה המיוחס לרבינו תם. [I managed to get through them in my spare time and that added  a lot to character I think.]
I was looking at my notes on bava metzia page 101 and I realized my treatment of the subject there was incomplete. here is a new link Ideas in bava metzia.

I added a drop but in truth I realized there are a lot of issues I did not deal with over there that really need to be addressed. Besides that even my explanation was not written out completely.

here is one thing I added:סנהדרין לג. המשנה בסנהדרין אומרת כשדיין טועה בדין, הדין חוזר. הגמרא שואלת על זה מן המשנה בבכורות שאומרת שהדין קיים והדיין משלם הכיסו. אם אנחנו הולכים לפי גירסת רש''י, הוא מובן שההלכה לרב יוסף הוא שלגבי מומחה הדין חוזר, ולגבי אינו מומחה הוא משלם מביתו.
So the whole few paragraphs are these:) ב''מ קא. אחד נכנס לשדה של חברו ונטע אילנות- מה הדין? רב אמר, בעל השדה משלם את המחיר הכי נמוך של השוק. שמואל אמר, בעל השדה משלם את המחיר הרגיל (לפי הפירוש של בעל המאור). (הגמרא אומרת שאין חילוק בין רב לשמואל. אם השדה עשוי  לטעת, הוא משלם את המחיר הרגיל. ואם אינו עשוי לטעת, הוא משלם את המחיר הנמוך.) רב פפא אמר שהמימרא של רב לא נאמר בפירוש רק מובן מסיפור. מי שהוא בא לרב ואמר, "מי שהוא נטע בשדה שלי בלי רשותי." רב אמר, "תשלם לו." הוא ענה, "אני לא רוצה." רב אמר, "תשלם את המחיר הכי נמוך." הוא ענה, "איני רוצה." רב שתק. איזה זמן אחר זה, רב ראה אותו בן אדם שהוא בונה גדר סביב שדהו. רב אמר לו, "גילית דעתך שזה בסדר לדעתך, ולכן תשלם את המחיר הרגיל ויד העובד על העליונה." לפי המשנה פה, נראה שאחד יכול להמתין עד זמן נטיעת אילנות או עבודות אחרות כגון לתקן גג, ואז לטעת אילנות או לתקן גג בלי רשות,-- ואז להזמין את בעל הבית לבית דין, והם יחייבו את בעל הבית לשלם את המחיר השוק. איך זה יתכן? הרמב''ם ושאר הראשונים מתרצים שלא כן הוא. הבעל הבית יכול להגיד לבן אדם לקחת האילנות שלו ולצאת. (ומה קורה אם עשה עבודה כמו נקיון?)
אבל עדיין לפי פירוש הרמב''ן, הגמרא הזאת מייצגת קושיא. זה נשמע כמו שאנחנו נותנים קנס בגלל השערה ונתונים שלא נוגעים לגוף השאלה.
למה זה משנה אם הבעל הבית בנה גדר? תגיד למשל שהבעל הבית היה משלם מה שרב אמר לו--המחיר הנמוך. וביום המחרת יצא וראה אותו בונה גדר. מה היה קורה? שום דבר. למה? בשביל שרב היה אומר, "עכשיו הוא שינה את דעתו ורוצה לקיים את האילנות." אז שיגיד אותו דבר בדיוק הגם שאתמול הוא לא שילם!

תירוץ: סנהדרין לג. המשנה בסנהדרין אומרת כשדיין טועה בדין, הדין חוזר. הגמרא שואלת על זה מן המשנה בבכורות שאומרת שהדין קיים והדיין משלם מכיסו. אם אנחנו הולכים לפי גירסת רש''י, הוא מובן שההלכה לרב יוסף הוא שלגבי מומחה הדין חוזר, ולגבי אינו מומחה הוא משלם מביתו. היינו אם בעל השדה היה משלם אחר כך רב היה רואה אותו בונה גדר, רב היה אומר שהוא בעצמו טעה בדין והדין היה חוזר.




The other issues are these: to the Rivam there is no such thing as changing one's mind. This comes from the idea that an owner of crops of grain that finishes work on the sheaves in order to sell them is not obligated to give a tithe. The obligation of tithes is only if he finishes the work for his own use, not to sell. But if he did in fact sell them, we say he did not change his mind. rather we say that was his original intention. OK so maybe the source for the Rivam is this Gemara in Bava Metzia? That is one point.
Another point is the beginning on Yoma about sudden change. And in out case was there in fact sudden change or did the owner simply lie?  This is relevant to the subject of: a person that admits  a debt outside a court of law can he deny it in court? plus another important thing is חזקת השתא. We see he is now building a fence. Does that mean yesterday his intention was to build a fence?
[Of course the beginning of Yoma is based on three words in one verse. It might not be that in general we think a sudden unexpected change is worth preparing for. It might be there only that there are three wors that tell us to separate the cohen gadol before Yom kippur and before burning the Red heifer (calf).]



The issues seem to be endless. I do not know where I could even begin to deal with them.
At any rate just for the sake of the couple  of people that might not know Hebrew very well let me just say over the basic gemara in English. A person went into someone else's field and planted trees.They went to the court of Rav. The owner complained. Rav said to the owner "Pay the person that planted." The owner said, "I do not want to." Rav said pay the lowest price. The owner said "I don't want to." The next day Rav went and saw him building a fence around his property. Rav said You have revealed you want the trees. Go and pay the planter the highest price.

(Maybe the owner did not want the trees? Maybe he was just making a fence so that no one else would come in a and plant more trees and then later plans to uproot the trees?)


This whole story is brought by the Gemara as being relevant to what looks like an argument between Rav and Shmuel. The original discussion was this: A person plants in someone else's field. what is the law? Rav said he pays the lowest price. Shmuel said he pays the higher regular price that is available in the market place. The Gemara says there is no argument. One is a case of a field that is meant to be planted. The other is a case in which the field is not meant to be planted. [That is the explanation of the Baal ha'Meor.]

So what was Rav thinking? That is the question. I think he must have been thinking along the lines of Tosphot in Nida page 2 side b. There Tosphot says חזקת השתא and  חזקה מעיקרא have equal strength. [others hold חזקה מעיקרא is stronger. Perhaps Rav was thinking further-that חזקת השתא עדיף? so if we see him building a fence now we say that was his intention yesterday even to take out of חזקת ממון

Just a side note; in the above essay my basic answer for the gemara is that the planter and the owner both have some percentage in the trees. That is the source of the difference between whether the field is meant to plant or not. In any case the issues are just too many to go into right now