Showing posts with label Learning Torah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Learning Torah. Show all posts


learning Torah

I believe that learning Torah will help everything turn around  for you for the good.  

Learning Torah goes very far if done on a consistent basis. Try to start learning Gemara  and Mishna yourself. Even just saying the words is a great mitzvah. The Jerusalem Talmud  says that even one word of Torah goes above all the other mitzvot. 

There are many mental blocks before this. That is it is not so hard in itself. But rather there are many questions on this. It is hard to accept. It was one of the first things I learned in yeshiva. That is I was in yeshiva in NY in the first place because I felt learning Torah is important. But in that yeshiva  Shar Yashuv I saw a book בנין עולם about the importance of learning Torah.
It is safe to say I fell away from this. But for the few years I had the merit to learn in Far Rockaway and then at the Mir in NY this idea about the importance of learning Torah really lit a fuse under me.

I do hold from the importance of Physics and Metaphysics also as the Rambam wrote, but that is only after one has finished Shas.


learning Torah

I don't know how to go about learning Torah. It seems to me the best idea --if at all possible to to get a small Talmud Bavli, [Babylonian Talmud] and set of Musar [mediaeval Ethics] books and to learn at home.
It is not that this is the best way to go about it, but rather that any other way seem to be unworkable.
Hillel's are more for fun activities. Synagogue are also for other things.

In Eastern Europe there was a concept of a place where people would go when they were off from work, and be able to go in a sit and learn Torah; but today there are no such places. Yeshivas  are private, and certainly not anyone can walk in and sit and learn. So the old concept of  a "beit midrash" is largely extinct.

Now if you have a Hillel or a Reform or Conservative Temple in your neighborhood in theory you could set aside a place inside for learning Torah alone. But that would depend on other people's desires. And you  don't want your learning Torah to be dependent on other people's desires.

What I mean by a small Talmud Bavli is the small set they used to print a few years ago. You could get the whole Talmud for about hundred dollars then. And it had the Rif in it also. I should mention that I do think the Ari is also good to learn. But Torah learning nowadays really has to be done at home unless you happen to be in the vicinity of a legitimate Lithuanian yeshiva. But those places are rare.


Learning Torah,

I have been trying to figure out a good argument for learning Torah. And I don't want to go the way of the Nefesh HaChaim to do so.
That is I am starting out with a conclusion and trying to figure out a good argument to bring to that conclusion.  X therefore Y. Y is "It is good to learn Torah." Solve for X.
The arguments against keeping or learning Torah seem infinite  and some seem convincing.

One argument against learning is when people see what happens when people overdo it. It is like eating too much. You can see what happens to people when they eat too much. But no one uses that as an argument not to eat.

One argument against it is to notice that Reform Jews support the State of Israel and clearly have the  benefit of mankind as the major goal. Yet they do not learn very much Torah. Just a drop.

I could try to point out that this good will of reform Jews while a great thing in itself can go over a line into over-tolerance.

What I can say as an argument for Torah is my own parents home which was an island of wholesomeness and decency and holiness and our home was based on Torah even though we were Reform Jews--in name at least. I am sure my parents held from Torah much more strongly than  the Reform Movement.

There is an aspect of numinous of Torah that I think is the best aspect of it. It connects one to the Divine.

For that reason I suggest having two sessions ever day in Torah. One in the Oral Law and the other in Poskim [i.e. people that sifted through the Talmud to come up with one law on each subject instead of  an argument on each subject.] That is to go through the oral law from start to finish Talmud Bavli Yerushalmi, Tosphta Sifra, Sifri, Mechilta, Torat Kohanim. And the Poskim: Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch with the commentaries.


And maybe Nietzsche was right. Maybe the conscious does distort the real truth

 Ignoring the vast subcontinent of the Id does not make it go away. And maybe Nietzsche was right. Maybe the conscious does distort the real truth.

  So what are the implications of this?

My advice about sex is to be in a Lithuanian yeshiva and learn Torah until you are offered a shiduch.
That seems to be the best idea because outside of the world of Torah,  girls aren't very good.

For a good marriage it is best that the girl have two characteristics: (1) Jewish, (2) daughter of someone who learns Torah. The guy--should  learn Torah. Now in Israel there are learners, and guys who learn half and work half, and guys who work. My approach was to learn and do a bit of science on the side, but at this point I might agree that half Torah and half work is better. I admit I am not sure. It is hard to say which path is better.

Rav Shach held -learn until marriage and then if one needs to work then fine. My parents held one should go to university and prepare for a honest vocation.
It is hard to know what to do as a rule. I was myself in Mir in NY before I was married and after that also. And later I went to Israel when Rav Ernster invited me to join his kollel in Safed. Learning Torah is important but there is something about the way the system is set up in Israel that annoyed me. It was like it was considered a 9-5 business and it was run in such a way. I did not want any part of a system that was making Torah into a money making factory so I left that kollel for all the seven years I was in Safed. The way I see it is accepting charity to learn Torah is an argument. The other rishonim disagreed with the Rambam on that point. They said it is allowed. But to have  a situation where one says if you come in at 9 to 5 and learn we will pay you-that makes Torah into a business. And I never heard of any Rishon that allows such a thing. So I threw myself on God's mercy and hoped he would support me without my doing something I thought was against the Torah. And he did help me until I left Israel.

After I left Israel and my wife left, I was no longer socially accepted and could not even walk into any yeshiva or kollel without being thrown out from either the first moment or a day or two.

Now I see most teachers of virtue (Torah) as being in it for the money,- because there is the problem that the students of teachers of virtue are unjust and not virtuous. So there must be something wrong with the system. [That is if the students turn out bad, that must say something about the teachers. Virtue and Torah I think are being betrayed.]

So unless we are talking about Ponovitch or the great Litvak yeshivas in NY, I have come to think of the whole system as terrible and not loyal to Torah. I see the Orthodox world as being organized around Compulsive Obsessive Schizoid leaders that are excellent at doing rituals and not connected with Torah except in appearance alone.

Since then I hope to merit someday to learn Torah. And I contemplate, "What went wrong?"
The answer of Nietzsche seems best: "Consciousness distorts Truth."

That means Nietzsche thought the Id has special access to the truth but it gets distorted as it gets to the surface of consciousness. The consciousness it to him just an phenomenon of the representation--not even of the Id. And clearly this is what Reb Israel Salanter was saying in his Igeret HaMusar. Learn Musar strong an long enough and it will penetrate into the Id and that will allow the Id to bring forth the un-distorted truth.

So what we have is apparently an argument between Rav Shach and my parents. But I think we can minimize the area of the argument to a small space. No one is disagreeing with the Rambam about the importance of learning Torah, Physics and Metaphysics as these last two were understood by Aristotle and the Rambam. And Rav Shach is agreeing also with the idea of  a vocation. I think for all practical purposes the area of disagreement approaches zero if we consider these facts.


What happens when you read book is your stream of consciousness is focused into what the book is saying. And if it is bad it can affect you badly. And some of it might even seep into your sub level subconscious]

I think most problems in the  world comes from a blurring of the distinction between
 books and great  books.
I mean there are  Jewish books that are not great. Even bad. [What happens when you read book is your stream of consciousness is focused into what the book is saying. And if it is bad it can affect you badly. And some of it might even seep into your sub level subconscious]

My orientation is as a Rationalist. But that does not cancel out the fact that I believe knowledge is available by non rational non perceptive means.
I have great respect for the Ari (Isaac Luria)and Rambam
The general rule of thumb I would like to suggest is that people learn the great books of Torah that are original, fresh, powerful, i.e. The Torah, Talmud (Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot).