Showing posts with label Gra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gra. Show all posts


Moses, Kant, Hegel, Gra, Israel Salanter, Rav Shach, Tosphot, Rambam.

To build up a good  approach it would be required to provide and intellectual basis. Leftism was a kind of trampling of Biblical Values. Or subverting Biblical values to serve its purpose by means of useful idiots.  However the  Right has just as much claim to intellectual virtue through a different array of patron saints. 

That is-- the left had a list of patron saints. Freud, Marx, Russeou.  Some people were absorbed into the Left like  Nietzsche, though he was not a leftist at all.

My suggestion is to emphasize a whole different set of patron saints. Moses, Hegel, Kant, Gra, Israel Salanter, Rav Shach, Tosphot, Rambam, the Ari (Isaac Luria). [The Rambam, the Ari and Hegel are very Neo-Platonic so it is easy to fit them into one system.]

As for the last three the basic idea is that there is no reason to think that one could be put into a room with the Oral and Written Law of Moses and come up on my own the basic approach of Torah. If I understand the importance of learning Torah as a value in itself and of working to attain good character traits and if learning Torah in depth, then I owe a debt of gratitude to these individual who worked this out and showed the way. 

What you need from each of the above thinkers is this: The Gra for learning Torah; Rav Shach and Tosphot for showing the depth of Torah; Kant for the limitation of reason and knowledge that is known but not through  physical senses nor through reason. [One could have  used the Rambam for that also.]
The Rambam for Torah Law, and learning Physics and Metaphysics. The Ari and Hegel for Metaphysics. John Locke for freedom and private property. The last one you could have gotten from the Two Talmuds but for some reason most people miss the message there. They think the welfare state and Socialism which is organized theft is kosher. Reb Israel Salanter one needs for good character plus fear of God.  

The Gra has a whole school of disciples  that are worthwhile to learn:  the commentaries on the page of the Yerushalim Talmud, the Nefeh HaChaim, the Netziv, etc. The Nefesh HaChaim is important  from many angles. One of the points he brings out is that intention to unite one's soul to the soul of a tzadik righteous person is idolatry.
[Rav Kook the founder or religious Zionism already incorporated Hegel into his ideas as is well known. ]


Gra, Reb Israel Salanter and Rav Shach (I.e. Rav Elazar Menachem Shach)

The most important three people in the Torah world that did the best job of explaining the Torah for simple people were the Gra, Reb Israel Salanter and Rav Shach (I.e. Rav Elazar Menachem Shach).

I am not talking in terms of what baali teshva are looking for "spiritual trips." Rather I am referring to the basic need to explain what the Torah asks from us as simple plain Jews that need its set of values and hierarchy of values explained. Without these three people one could take the Torah to mean anything at all, and in fact that is exactly what baali teshuva do.

What each did was reveal an important aspect of Torah, The Gra: learning Torah. Reb Salanter: Midot good character traits. Rav Shach: How to learn.

In plain English what I am saying is that you learn from these three people three important things about Torah: (1) It is very important to learn Torah and avoid Bitul Torah. (2) To be a "mench" good character traits. (3) To learn Rav Shach's, Avi Ezri shows how to learn Torah.


However to know any single halacha properly one needs to know the Talmud from where that halacha comes from.

As for Halacha in fact the only valid source is the Talmud. But because not everyone has the time it is perfectly fine to go by the Rambam or the Tur Beit Yoseph. The only Achron in Halacha I have much respect for is the Aruch HaShulchan. There are people that go by the Gra in every detail like Rav Zilverman in the Old City. These are all very good approaches. However to know any single halacha properly one needs to know the Talmud from where that halacha comes from.

As for the other issues like problems with all religious teachers  being creeps that I brought up in my essay. I would not say what I say if I did not know it to be true.  And like I mentioned before there is such a thing as group behavior.  There are plenty of examples of this in the Gemara. See the end of kidushin "Where it says stay away from that group that are from such and such a city because they are all liars."  In any case my essay was really meant to address a public problem which is very real and everyone knows it except the people that want everyone else to be blind. 
And there are the obvious exceptions of people that are sitting and learning Torah all day who can be trusted and in Israel there is in fact is pretty good rigorous system in place. But these are side issues and tend to detract attention away from the widespread catastrophe that surrounds us.
It is for good reason I have mentioned the importance of  a legitimate Lithuanian yeshiva. If you do not have one there, then at least  get the book of Rav Shach so you can be yourself a walking Litvak Yeshiva, keeping the whole Written and Oral Law. Get to you also the books of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik and the other great sages of Lita.

[What people call halacha nowadays is a joke. They take the majority of the frauds and liars that are as crooked as snakes and go by the majority opinion. That is what they call Halacha.]


Gra told him that to the degree one lacks any knowledge of any one of the seven wisdoms, to that degree he will lack in his understanding of the Torah.

Baruch of Shkolov wrote in his introduction to his translation of Euclid a statement of the Gra about secular knowledge. He writes that the Gra told him that to the degree one lacks any knowledge of any one of the seven wisdoms, to that degree he will lack in his understanding of the Torah.
This statement of the Gra is rarely quoted, but Litvaks are aware of it to some degree.
The significance of this is the statement of the Gra in the Shulchan Aruch about not learning secular wisdoms. The Rema and the Rambam write about the Pardes and there is a note from the Gra that is a  polemic against learning philosophy. It is very uncharacteristic of the Gra. One person wrote after that that that note in Shulchan Aruch is not from the Gra and he knows who put it there אני יודע את האיש ואת שיחו "I know the guy and his talk". Later on people claimed the note is authentic.
Since the note deals with general secular wisdoms and contradicts what we know the Gra said elsewhere it seems reasonable to say like the first opinion that it is not authentic.

We know Rav Hutner [The Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin] sent his students to learn in Brooklyn Collage in the afternoons to learn a honorable profession and not depend on using Torah as a way of getting people's charity. And Reb Shelomo Freifeld  [The student of Rav Hutner and the Rosh Yeshiva of Shar Yashuv] in fact told me to go to collage. In fact he ordered me to go to collage.
[Eventually I did listen, and  majored in Physics at the Polytechnic Institute which is connected with NYU. ] I am not a good example for this matter. My parents also wanted me to go to collage. It was the only thing that they exercised their parental authority about. And it was about the only thing I refused to listen to them. On one hand today it looks like a good thing I went to yeshiva in NY instead. Yet the way NY was I think I could very well have spent 1/2  a day in yeshiva and 1/2 in Brooklyn Collage. [But who knows? At the time it seemed to me that I needed to concentrate on just Torah alone. And at the Mir as a student you were not supposed to take time off to go to university. That practice was only at Chaim Berlin yeshiva and Torah VeDaat

The Seven Wisdoms
1) Grammar
2) Rhetoric
3) Logic
4) Arithmetic
5) Geometry
6) Music
7) Astronomy