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9.7.13







I am still on the subject of conversion to Judaism.

First of all let me just say that in spite of the fact that the Rambam says: Gentile A is bought from a gentile B. Gentile A can jump into the Mikvah and he becomes free; still it might not work for a regular gentile from the street to do the same thing to become Jewish. This idea depends on the understanding of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik in that particular Rambam.

 what we call rabbinic ordination today is a legal fiction. according to Torah law there is no such thing as ordination any more.It has to be rav from rav until Mount Sinai. This the Talmud says explicitly. And there is no disagreement with this in the Talmud or any later authorities. Rabbi like to hide this fact but it is none the less true.

So why do we accept converts today? We depend on Tosphot that we are doing the messenger-ship of the people that did have true ordination thousands of years ago. So far so good. But as for converts today it would seem if we are doing messenger-ship then it has to be done exactly like the rishonim said or it is nullified..






8.7.13

For example: a Devout Muslim accepts Islam because it is the religion he was born into and has seen and heard not particular things about it to disturb his faith. But then he learns that if Islam is true then he ought to go out and murder as many Christians and Jews as possible. This is however less plausible than the original assumption. Therefor logic would dictate that he denies the original assumption. Sadly at that point most Muslims are not thinking in terms of which premise is more plausible based on cold hard logic.

What is moral reasoning?
Almost all people do not choose their own value system but accept it from parents from school, from friends from TV and from books. They in general choose to accept certain values and not to accept other ones.The criteria are, for example :[1] Personal Interest. A person who stands to benefit from affirmative action is more likely to think it is just than a person who does not stand to benefit or even to lose a place in a university on account of it. [2] Group Identification. There are lots more.

Logical moral reasoning: most people do not know what it is.
When you say the word logic most people think you mean something along the lines of: If A is true then B is true; i.e the laws of formal logic
But that is only one part of it.The main part of logic is the issue of plausibility.
If A is true then most people will accept B if they know that, "If A then B."
But what happens if Not B is more plausible than A? The logic would dictate that you turn around and deny your original assumption.
For example: a Devout Muslim accepts Islam because it is the religion he was born into and has seen and heard not particular things about it to disturb his faith. But then he learns that if Islam is true then he ought to go out and murder as many Christians and Jews as possible. This is however less plausible than the original assumption. Therefor logic would dictate that he denies the original assumption. Sadly at that point most Muslims are not thinking in terms of which premise is more plausible based on cold hard logic.


This is just one example. I have no intent here to pick on Muslims. The same would apply to any belief system in which the conclusion is less plausible than the premise.I could go on and on almost to infinity because study of fringe literature and cults and fringe groups is a hobby of mine for many years. It has gotten to the point that a very respectable person in Bresolv on Shabat asked me to examine a book written in Israel  by someone who is supposedly walking in the footsteps of the Baal Shem Tov. Within five minutes I had already picked out three fatal flaws in his arguments.
Many religions try to present themselves as logical. And concerning original assumption they might well be.









5.7.13

great gifts


 Here is the list:
 [1] Raw beets. Don't worry about diets. Just stuff yourself with raw beets.When you get tired of that try other raw vegetables

 [2] Jogging. President Kennedy discovered this one and I have decided that there is no substitute for it. Even if spend as much time in the gym, --there is something that is irreplaceable about jogging.

 [3] Talking with God alone in a forest or in some other place alone.[


 [4] Musar. Reb Israel Salanter noticed something about several books of ethics written by Jewish ages during the Middle ages that they tend to bring Fear of God into a person. I know that there are lots of  claimants that say they have some substitute that is more effective. These claims often false. The proof is in the pudding. Would you trust a Hasid in a business deal until you have the money in your hand? Of course not. So the idea that any books of chasidut [even the best] can replace Musar is obviously false.
 Later people did claim this but that is not supported by internal evidence.
 [5] The greatest gift I have above all others is this : Don't Lie.
 The power of truth can take you through all problems and pierce tall mountains. If you hold to this one thing nothing can hurt you. People can try to hurt you,You can have setbacks. But the strength of always saying only the exact truth carries one above it all.
 [6] Maimonides. There is something about his path of combining Torah with reason as defined by Aristotle and Plato that is see as a great gift to the world.

 [7] Don't accept substitutes for these gifts. This is my particular contribution to this subject. Some people will tell you: you can get these benefits in other ways but I say don't believe them.
 For example some will say you don't need the path of Maimonides about the importance of Greek Philosophy. But what happens to many people is this: They are taught some kind of simple faith and then they discover the world does not correspond to the simple faith they were taught. So they revert to reason. But with no background in philosophy they think that reason says things that it does not say. For example some people disillusioned with Faith revert to materialism or relativism. Neither of these positions is defensible but since people think these views are scientific they tend to fall back on them.

[8] Shower once. Wash with soap. Rinse. Soap Again. The idea of doing this twice is that there is some layer of grease that does not come off until one has soaped twice

[9] Gravity. My wife discovered this amazing thing in child birth.. If you are a woman, don't lie down for child birth but remain standing as long as possible. Gravity helps immensely to make the process short and easy.

3.7.13

In terms of the feud between Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and the Kesph Mishna

In terms of the feud between Reb Chaim Soloveitchik [in the second halacha in "Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations"] and the Kesph Mishna [R.Joseph Karo].I have to admit that I think the Beit Joseph is right.

I really wanted to write about this yesterday when it was fresh in my mind but I have other things to do beside blogging.
At any rate as fast as I can let me go over the major points.
In Yevamot (Tractate Yevamot) we find that Rav Awiya says a Jew that buys a gentile from another gentile the fellow jumps in the mikvah (body of natural water) and becomes free because the first gentile only had possession of the work of the hands. But if the gentile sold himself, [in a case let's say when he needs to pay off his debts] then he can't do this.
This is how Reb Joseph Karo understands the Rambam. The Rambam says a gentile buys a gentile from a different gentile he can do the jumping into the mikvak trick and he is free. It seems clear that from the way the Rambam puts it, that if he sold himself he can't do this trick.
Later when the Rambam says even acquiring the gentile from another gentile, the Jew  gets possession of the body simply means after the mikvah was done for the sake of slavery.

So far the Rambam looks perfectly clear. The only thing Reb Chaim has against this are several points which are easily answered.

[I really would not say anything but in spite of the  greatness of Reb Chaim opening up the whole idea of learning the Rambam in a deep way I still have found too many flaws] In the thing I wrote about before about work done not for its sake also everything the Reb Chaim said was great except that it contradicted the Rambam about the definition of a work that is not intended.


Reb Chaim is depending on an "even though" (Laws of Slavery chapter 9). Even though the Jews only buys the work of the hands, he still acquires the body. Reb Chaim is wondering what this even though is doing here. I answer: Because you might say the normal way of acquiring a slave is when he sells himself. So here we have something new.
However just to say a word on the side of Reb Chaim; he is understanding that Rav Achai disagrees with Rav Awiya about the case the Jew acquires the gentile from himself that there also the gentile can jump in the mikvah. It is not at all clear that this is what Rav Achei means.





2.7.13

I hope everyone is truly shocked. Yes there is slavery in the Torah. And the Torah does mean what it says. And the commandments are not good advice, they are laws. When the Torah says for example to honor your parents it does not mean to be nice to them. It means something much more radical. Homosexually is also the same. Slavery come to think of it might be a great idea. If there would be slavery in the USA maybe you would not have a Muslim Brotherhood president in the White House.

There is a reason to learn the Rambam with Reb Chaim Soloveitchik.

So far it looks like the score is even between the Beit Joseph and Reb Chaim.
If you look at the Rambam about slavery after you have looked at the Talmud it seems like he is saying that if  Jew buys a gentile from another gentile that if the gentile is smart he will jump into the Mikvah [any natural body of water] and shout out "Leshem Ben Chorin" [For the sake Freedom!!] before the owner has a chance to dip him in he becomes Jewish and is free. [But also he is required to keep all the mitzvot.]
The way it looks to me is that this does not refer to a case in which the gentile sold himself. [In a case where he had a lots of debts and wants to pay them off.]

The reason is that after looking at the Talmud itself this is the opinion of Rav Awyia. However so far we do not know if the Rambam decides like Rav Awyia. But is is significant that the Rambam says he buys him from a gentile. It seems implied that if the gentile sold himself that this would not work.

Reb Chaim disagrees with this.He says in any case the gentile can  jump into the mikvah and becomes free. and he has a good argument for this. And in this we will see if I can get a chance to write about it that he is disagreeing with the Beit Yoseph.


First of all both to Reb Chaim and the Beit Yosph the Rambam is deciding not like Rav Awyia but rather Rav Achai is opponent in the Talmud. and though to Rav Awyia there are two kinds of acquiring Reb Chaim holds that to Rav Achei there is only one--that is a type of acquiring that only gives the owner the right to dip the gentile in the mikvah , and until then no slavery exists.

I hope everyone is truly shocked. Yes there is slavery in the Torah. And the Torah does mean what it says. And the commandments are not good advice, they are laws. When the Torah says for example to honor your parents it does not mean to be nice to them. It means something much more radical. Homosexually is also the same. Slavery come to think of it might be a great idea. If there would be slavery in the USA maybe you would not have a Muslim Brotherhood president in the White House.


1.7.13

The fact that the charedi world has been using the Torah as a tool for making money has to stop.


 This is connected to another phenomenon in the Charedi world. It has the characteristics of the Eastern cults. Every small Charedi groups seems to have it s own Guru that they attribute Divine powers to.

I am willing to admit that every city should have a  a class in the Talmud in the local Beit Midrash. I have been an advocate of Beit Midrash Judaism for a long time. That is every city should have  a place for Jews to get together an learn Torah- but not for money.

I have been doing plenty of thinking about cults and sadly I have way too much experience with them.

But most of the time I look at them from a mystical point of view.  I try to understand if their powers are true at all and if they are they are they from the Side of Good or the Dark Side? Recently I have been looking at this question from the standpoint of Sociology. After all in spite of my distance for the profession I admit that Max Weber and the originators of the profession has good insights.