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17.3.12

The truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions."

Why learning Torah and Talmud is important? The truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions.

Though I think orthodox Judaism is highly problematic I do agree with a basic premise of the system. That Torah and Talmud are important. Divine Law is important. Torah is important because it is Divinely inspired. Talmud is important because it is a rigorous logical understanding of Torah. Rambam is important because you need a logical basis for faith. Without that basis you end up with hasidut which rejects the philosophy of the Rambam. Systems without a logical and moral basis often end up badly. My impression of Hasidut is that the first mitzvah is fraud. The first thought when a chasid wakes up in the morning is how can he fool some gullible reform Jew into giving him a lot of money.

But a new magnet for intellectuals is emerging: radical Islam. It's not that intellectuals are likely to embrace radical Islam themselves anytime soon - for one thing, the requirement of believing in God would deter many of them. But what they can do is obstruct efforts to combat radical Islam and terrorism, undermine support for Israel, stress the "legitimate grievances" of radical Islamists, and lend moral support to the "legitimacy" of radical Islamic movements.


Most people have a tendency to forgive excesses committed in the name of some cause they support. They either regard them as unfortunate misdeeds by aberrant individuals, or as necessary evils in the name of some higher good. That is, of course, if they admit them at all. Very few things were more bizarre than the spectacle of free-love advocates in the Sixties extolling the virtues of Marxism
Denying the mass murders of Marxist regimes is on exactly the same intellectual level as denying the Holocaust,
To quote Allen bloom, "Positivism and ordinary language analysis have long dominated, although they are on the decline and evidently being replaced by nothing. These are simply methods of a sort, and they repel students who come with the humanizing questions. Professors of these schools simply would not and could not talk about anything important, and they themselves do not represent a philosophic life for the students. [p.378, boldface added]
Neither a living presence nor the mere inertial continuation of classics speaks well for the state of academic philosophy. What was the worst about all this stuff was the aim of much of it to justify why the philosophers involved were no longer seriously interested in metaphysics or ethics -- the truths of Being and Value, Bloom's "humanizing questions." If metaphysics and ethics are either meaningless or just not matters of knowledge, then philosophy doesn't have to worry about them.

In his late period [I might say, even in his late period, ed.], Wittgenstein, like Carnap, continued to pursue his former positivist aim of showing that metaphysical sentences are nonsense.

I knew the head of the Lev Tahor movement (the Taliban women) in Safed.

I knew the head of the Lev Tahor movement (the Taliban women) in Safed. (His name then was Erez Shelomo Halberns). He is magnetic and charismatic is a very high degree. He was a disciple of Rav Shelmo Shick. Rav Shick stayed in the home of Erez every time he came to Safed and showed him great warmth. Erez at the time was trying to create a synagogue  on the name of  Nachman of Uman in Safed--but this did not succeed. Later Abraham Traceman tried to start a building project, "Breslov City" in Safed and even spent a few thousand dollars to have an architect draw up the building plans.[he also had a phone bill for about a thousand dollars trying to coordinate this project with Rav shick who was in New York at the time.] This also did not succeed. The major problem was the Breslov community did not want competition and did a lot of very dirty tricks to stop the establishing of alternative Breslov community in Safed. One example is that when Erez managed to get permission to start a Breslov synagogue he and put a Breslov sign on it. People from the Breslov community pulled down the sign and beat him up to an inch of his life and he spent a few days in the local hospital (Ziv). There were many more events like this. The major issue here was money. The Breslov in Safed were making millions of dollars in regular trips to the USA by representing themselves as the true Breslov community in Israel. They did not want any competition.
Erez eventually left Rav Shick and that is where the history in the article starts.
But it is important to note that everything that was written in the newspaper Haaretz about the period that I know something about was all wrong. It makes me wonder if this is their standard of accuracy?

Breslov in Safed tended to very non kosher tactics. They wagged a kind of silent war against anyone connected with Rav Shick. This included me. They had clever ways of waging war against me. After all they thought I could not know who was harassing my family and me. And they knew that there was nothing I could do to protect my family from, their types of harassment.

Eventually most of the leading Breslov people in Israel have woken up to the threat of the Breslov in Safed. They have publicly signed a public statement against them.
Though I have certain difference of opinion with Rav Shick I still highly respect him. Learning Torah and keeping the plain Shulchan Aruch is the fundamental aspect of his teaching and at the core of what he actually does.--not just says. And frankly I have a hard time disagreeing with this. My basic complaint against Rav Shick and the general frum [Orthodox] approach is not that this approach is wrong,- but that it could be and should be better and more human and less totalitarian. But it would be better for me to have wings also. That does not mean I should complain about airplanes.



Erez (Halberns), incidentally, tried opening a Breslov Synagogue all over Safed. Every few weeks he would take me along to some person who had offered to him a building to start a synagogue. Once we were at the major of Safed. Other times we were at some home owner [in Canaan, North Safed] that happened to have a synagogue on his property. Somehow Breslov in Safed had spies that were keeping track of Erez. So what would happen would be we would be offered help and the deal be sealed with a handshake [which has the status of a contract in Halacha]. Then the Breslov people would come and tell slander to the person. Then the next time Erez would go there he would be thrown out. (I was usually not present at the occasions on which he was thrown out. I was invited usually just for the initial meetings)
Incidentally, Rav Shick absolutely loved Erez. He definitely was setting him up as his prime disciple in Israel after Nissan David Kivak. I was definitely at the bottom of the barrel. Rav Shick (you could say) did not like me. I could never figure out why. [I think I probably rubbed him the wrong way because of my free thinking. This free thinking has annoyed everyone  in the religious world, and in fact broke my once chance at real shiduch.  The religious like followers, not thinkers.]


At any rate, back to Rav Shick. As a final note I must say that when I was at a speech from Rav Shick and he would talk about Faith--I would feel the whole world light up. He definitely had this power to convey this to people. I assume it was from the Intermediate Zone which is from the Side of Holiness but is still mixed with some Sitra Achra. Hey, but that is just my opinion.

Concerning the Divine Presence. My basic feeling about it is that when one fulfills the basic path of Torah, then  there is some type of aspect of the Divine Presence that seems to descend on people. But the drawbacks to this are first --that it is like I said often mixed with the "Intermediate zone" depending on the spiritual vessels of the person.  Holiness does not in any way imply right opinions or intelligence of even good character. And also even when it is pure Divine spirit, well she is simply hard to take. Most people if they would have a glimpse of the Divine presence for even a second would never ask for it again. It sears and fries the soul.

13.3.12

Marx embraced the Labor Theory of Value (LTV). This theory holds that the price of
a good will be proportional to the amount of labor that was necessary to produce the
good.
How important is the LTV to Marx’s overall philosophy? The answer is that it is
crucial to his critique of capitalism. Central to that critique is his claim that, in a capitalist
system, the workers are ‘exploited’ by the capitalists (businessmen). If one accepts the
LTV, then Marx’s argument for the theory of exploitation is persuasive. But if one rejects
the LTV, then the argument collapses.

of economic theories LTV was the worst to pick.

We know that Marx’s general economic theory is false, because he made a number of testable predictions which are now known to be false. For instance, the middle class did not shrink and disappear as he predicted; nor did the upper class
shrink as he predicted; nor do we see wages set, in capitalist countries, anywhere near subsistence level; nor has the rate of profit fallen as he predicted; and nor have capitalist economies collapsed because of their internal ‘contradictions’ as he predicted. But, on
a theoretical level, what is wrong with the LTV and the argument for it that we
summarized above? This can be understood in terms of the standard modern theory of
value.


Of philosophers, Rousseau and Hegel were also the worst to pick for other reasons.

The diehards who also say that the totalitarian police state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary: the rejection of civil society. This goes back to Rousseau -- helping to explain the Terror of the French Revolution. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes incautiously reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication. [Rousseau held that "civil society" was simply a conspiracy by the rich to guarantee their plunder.]


Marx went around picking the worst aspects of few systems of thought and making a cholent out of them--but a cholent that was and is a powerful social glue. It tells the poor they can steal from the rich and feel good about it. The thing here is that America does not have an social glue. It is becoming unraveled. So while it is important to notice that communism is a highly evil system, this still leaves the question open of what could be better. The principles of John Locke that America is founded on, are currently ignored in the USA. I would say we are at a time of crisis in Western civilization.

11.3.12





The next issue (also related to freedom): the very important debate between James Madison and Thoma Jefferson and the Bill of Rights. This little piece of history is of vast importance because it tells the story of the Bill of Rights in a compelling way. Without this story, idiotic people can think they have the rights to have all their needs taken care of without having to lift a finger,- as is the situation today in the USA. If people would know the story behind the Bill of Rights I don't think things would have decayed so much.



The Republicans have become shy of being accused of being "mean" if they are not willing to hand out free stuff to "needy," i.e. politically noisy, constituencies. In these circumstances, the conservative plurality is rendered disproportionately ineffective, and the power of the left enhanced

An appalling and shameless burst of authoritarianism can be found in The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, by Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy [Oxford University Press, 2002]. Nagel and Murphy (on the Law Faculty -- a terrifying thought -- at New York University) not only reaffirm the thesis of Sunstein and Holmes that rights do not exist without the state and taxes, but they proceed to the logical conclusion that people simply have no right to their property, savings, and income, i.e. to the fruit of their own labor, "in any morally meaningful sense."

"Rights," (benefits) which serve to enslave or steal from others -- are claims of forced labor (violating the 13th Amendment as "involuntary servitude") against others -- are today mostly what people scream about when they demand their "rights."

A "right to a job" means that somebody else must be required to provide the job. A "right to medical care" means that somebody else, doctors and nurses, must be required to provide that care. These kinds of rights thus will either effect "involuntary servitude" on the part of employers, doctors, nurses, etc.,\\
As Brian Caplan put it: Free government money is a key foundation of long-term male unemployment and out-of-wedlock births. Reduce or eliminate that free government money, and you start a virtuous cycle of working class self-improvement. Males would be a lot more likely to find and hold a job. Women would be a lot more likely to focus on men's industry and dependability instead of aggressiveness and machismo.

6.3.12

some interesting comments on an article in Yahoo about: Racial divide runs deep in U.S. schools, study finds

Racial divide runs deep in U.S. schools, study finds

Comments:
When I was in college there weren't any blacks in my calculus courses, organic chemistry. Physics. None, nadda, zero! Plenty of blacks on campus but they were apparently working on other degrees that didn't involve any of the natural sciences, math or engineering

There were Whites, Asians, Indians and Hispanics.

Comment:
So it is the choice of the school to offer calculus and physics, not whitey keeping the minorities down. Go to your school boards and demand the courses to prepare students for college and quit blaming the system. You don't like it, change it.
Comment:
Oh good GRIEF!!! Here we go again. If a black kid gets kicked out of school, it's for BEING BAD, not for BEING BLACK. It's always whiteys fault that blacks are bad, commit crimes more, won't work, etc etc. Sick of it already.

Comment:
What an incredibly biased article. Maybe there's a reason behind the high rates of suspension. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to turn to the "hip hop" culture and cause trouble. I graduated in 03, am Hispanic, was in Gifted courses, and am now in the Air Force.

My comment: Many Hispanics have a work ethic that could would put most people to shame.
When I was in Collage, there was this one girl from Cuba that was really smart and a real hard worker. She had a FULL load of courses and still she got top grade in the classes we shared (Mathematics Physics etc.)

4.3.12

Green Techlet?

I agree Rav Shach was Gadol and I also agree that Rav Ovadia Yoseph is extremely smart. But the place where I would look for greatness in Torah --the Lithuanian Gedolim are not. Read a bit what they have written and you will see for yourself. However I admit they can learn. That much I will grant to you. But does this level of learning justify the changing the halacha from one "must not" take money for learning Torah to one "must". Or changing the halacha to fight in a war of protecting the Jewish people-- milchemet mizvah (war of obligation)--in which you draft even a bride out of her bride-chamber. All the more so in this case in which learning Torah is not a petur (permission to refrain) from doing even the smallest mitzvah--much less this greatest of all mitvot.
[however I do admit that Torah Scholars do not have to go out to fix the wall of a walled city with everyone else. This is a true halacha in the Talmud. But serving in the Israel defense Force is in the category of protecting the Jewish people for which purpose one drafts even a bride at the minute of her chupa. I might mention in this context that learning Torah is not a petur from any mitzvah. If asked to do a mitvah even the smallest mitzvah it is never a answer to say I am busy learning. This is simple shulchan aruch. All the more so for the greatest of all mitzvot-serving in IDF.


But I do admit Litvaks (Lithuanians) learn better than Religious Zionists. I still remember that stupid article in the main publication of Dati Leumi (Relious Zionist publication) arguing for techelt thread that was green!
What is wrong with this: Absorption of light. Water doesn't look blue; it is blue. It absorbs in the infrared and enough in the visible range that red wavelengths are absorbed before blue. So the farther away something is under water, the bluer it looks. Also the fuzzier and fainter because even clear water has suspended particles to scatter light. The deeper you go in the ocean, the bluer the scene gets (because red light from the surface is absorbed) and the darker.

divorce

divorce


In the Torah there are very specific instructions as for the get process. One is that the husband can't be forced (except in certain specific cases). In Eastern Europe there was a famous case (sorry I forget the name of the Rav--later note--R. Elchanan Spector of Kovno) of a husband being tricked into giving the get by promises and this was deemed to be forced.
However the Rema does mention in a teshuva different situations in which the husband can be forced. He does mention the question of danger. But he says playing cards or being mechalel shabat does not come into that category.
The next question is the money issue. This woman will almost certainly go to court to ask for half his assets and the court will in all likelihood grant this to her.
using a get as a weapon is not right I agree but using the power and might of the state as a weapon to steal from her husband is also not right.
This is stealing since the Torah does not grant to her half of her husband's assets so she is using the power to the state to steal. And stealing is forbidden according the Torah. Also there is a further question of the child but in this case the woman might be right for having the child with her. In general girls are with the mother and boys at a certain age with the father according to Torah law.
The next most pressing question here is rebelious wife (moredet). Simply put: the basic din of a rebellious wife is that she loses the ketubah plus the fruit of property she brought into the marriage (nichsai zon barzel and melug). In this case however she will surely try to steal most of his property. Why no rabbi thinks that stealing is a problem is a mystery to me.
And there the further question of why he does not want to go to a kangaroo court that he already knows what the verdict will be. I can't answer that question. especially when he know that what a beit din decides is in general not what the Torah says so it ha no din of a beit din.

my notes on renitzins husband:
Adam ZurMar 6, 2012 12:52 AM

I have a little thing I have thought about Gitin (Divorce) for a long time. It is the date. The sages established the date as from the time the present government began its reign. Counting from a different date makes the get not kosher. An example would be counting from the time of the beit hamikdash (from its building or destruction or from the time of a different government). These are all ways to posel a get. And though the present form is well established for along time,- but hey, so was the form of the get in the time of Rabbainu Tam established. That did not stop him from changing it. (Though I might not accept it, I would be very interested to know what R. Ovadiah Joseph would have to say about this. I don't always accept his conclusions but his halachic reasoning is very brilliant in general.)
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The Rebbetzin's HusbandMar 6, 2012 07:23 PM

Adam-
That's why we write למנין שאנו מונין. See Nachlas Shivah on Kesuvos, Siman 12, where he stresses this.
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Adam ZurMar 7, 2012 02:33 AM

Thank you. That answers my question.
(At least according to Tosphot. But Tosphot always goes according to the opinion that when the reason for a law is null then the law is null. So along with tosphot (in gitin)and your answer this answers the question fully. My main question was really according to the Rambam. But at this point it seems like nit picking since i always go by tosphot anyway.
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Adam ZurMar 7, 2012 06:26 AM

I was also wondering about the issue of the fact that the husband appoints someone to write the get. I remember that the Tiferet Israel brings this question in the his booklet on Nashim. But I was wondering if there are other people that deal with this question. (To be clear: why does shlichut help in this case?)