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18.10.13

This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a present that keeps giving and giving.

There is one simple way to show that the Raavad  [the major arguer against the Rambam] holds like the opinion of Rashi and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) that when a terrorist plunges a 747 into the Twin Towers that he has to give back two new perfectly working 747s. [I should mention that he does not need to rebuild the Twin Towers, but rather we assess the damage he caused, and the original owner still owns the building, and the terrorist has to give back the amount of money that it  costs to rebuild ]

In Hebrew this is called "shamin" (שמין) for damages and not "shamin" for theft that is damaged. [Shamin means we  access the damage.] שמין לנזקים ולא שמין לגנבה

To show this we  need to look at two facts.
First the Raavad disagrees with the Rambam concerning theft that is damaged. The Raavad agrees that "we do not access"[ain shamin]  for the main value of the object (אין שמין לקרן) but says we do access [shamin] for the amount of double the value that the thief has to repay. (שמין לכפל) [Incidentally, it is a thief that has to repay double, not an armed robber who only pays back the main value --look into the Bible in Exodus in Parshat Mishpatim [The chapters immediately following the Ten Commandments] for the basic details]

One is that Reb Chaim Soloveitchik says that the source for the Raavad is the Talmud Babli Bava Kama page 65a. There Rav [the Amora] says the main amount is assessed at the time of the theft and the double and four and five at the time of standing in judgment. This Gemara, Reb Chaim says, is the source of the Raavad. The next fact we need to look at is the way the law of Rav is explained on the same page in Bava Kama. [This law of Rav is agreed to by both the Rambam and the Raavad]. This law says in a case that the theft was 4 million at the time of the theft, and went down in value to 2 million at the later time of judgment, then the terrorist has to pay back 4 million for the main amount and another a million for the double. [This is because at the time of judgment (שעת העמדה בדין) the actual object is worth one million.] Now if the Raavad would be holding like the grandson of Rashi  [The Rashbam, R. Shmuel Ben Meir] that not assessing means to go by the later time of judgment then this would contradict the Rashbam. For here we are says we measure the double at the later time and the Raavad holds assessment at the later time is the law of "ain shamin"--not accessing. Yet he holds for the double that we do assess[שמין לכפל]. --a direct contraction. Therefore the Raavad must hold like Rashi and the Rosh. QED.
There is however a reason to disagree with this. It could be that the Raavad holds we access (shamin שמין) and we don't access (ain shamin אין שמין) work in exactly the opposite way from the Rashbam. Shamin (שמין) could mean we asses at the time of judgment and ain shain means to go by the time of the theft.




This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a  gift that keeps giving and giving. You can write about it forever and  still not exhaust all the possibilities and interesting issues that come up.

When Reb Naphtali Troup wrote about this issue [in his book Chidushei HaGarnat] he wrote at the end to look further because he just wrote a little of a lot that could have been written. He was not kidding.

sources: Mishna Torah (of Maimonides), Laws of Theft, chapter one, halacha 14 and 15
Bava Kama page 65a. and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) on that page. Bava Metzia page 96b tosphot first words "Go and pay"--the last Tosphot on the page.
Bava Kama (בבא קמא) page 11 for the issue of shamin.

It might be easier to understand in Hebrew so here is this above idea along with a few other ideas on the same subject:

בס"ד
) בבא מציעא צו. תוספות ד''ה זיל מביא את שיטת הרשב''ם שגנב יכול לשלם מטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף. יש ספק לרב חיים הלוי אם הרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים מן השיטה הזאת. בתור הקדמה: הרמב''ם כתב ( הלכות גנבה א:טו) "מי שגנב כלי ושברו וא פחתו או נשבר או נפחת מאליו אין שמין לו הפחת אלא רואין כמה היה שוה אותו הכלי ומשלם לבעלים שנים בדמיו והכלי השבור יהיה לגנב." וראב''ד כתב אף על פי שאמרו אין שמין לגנב, הני מילי בקרנא אבל בכפילא שמין לגנב דומיא דגזלן והשכל מורה כן." רב חיים מביא את הדין של רב "קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין" בתור מקור לראב''ד. [המגיד משנה הביא את הירושלמי כמקור לרמב''ם. הירושלמי אומר מניין שאין שמין לגנב? שנאמר "חיים שניים ישלם".] יש צד לומר שהרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם שהגנב יכול לשלם במטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף.
כדאי להזכיר פה שאם הדין כמו הרשב''ם, משמעות של "אין שמין" היא שאין מעריכים את ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה, אלא בזמן העמדה בדין. [ו"שמין" משמע שמעריכים ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה.]

השאלה פה היא המקור שרב חיים מביא לראב''ד, "אמר רב קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין". (בבא קמא סה.) שאלה הראשונה היא שהגמרא שם מדברת בעניין יוקרא וזולא, ולא במצב שהחפץ נשבר. שאלה השנית היא שאפילו אם הגמרא מדברת במצב כזה, הדין של הראב''ד הוא להפך מן הדין של רב. דהיינו אם בשלב הזה אנחנו הולכים לפי שיטת הרשב''ם, אם כן הדין "אין שמין" אומר שמעריכים ערך החפץ בשעת העמדה בדין בשביל הקרן, ושעת הגנבה בשביל הכפל (לראב''ד). וזה להפך מן הדין של רב.
תירוץ לשאלה הראשונה: הגמרא ב''ק סה. אוחזת שמצב של שבירת החפץ שווה למצב של זולא. האופן לראות את זה הוא לראות שבלי זה, המשפט של רבה שם לא היה מציב קושיה לרב. [בגלל הקושיה הזאת, הגמרא מסכימה שהדין של רב הוא רק המצב שהחפץ היה שווה ארבעה והוזל לאחד.] אפשר לראות את זה על ידי דברי הטור, והבית יוסף והב''ח שאומרים שהדין של רב שייך גם במצב של שבירת החפץ. (אגב הרא''ש הוא בר פלוגתא של ברשב''ם פה, ואפשר שאין להביא ראיה ממנו לדברי הרשב''ם.)

אבל אם זה נכון, יש קושיה על הרשב''ם פה בב''מ צו.
התירוץ לזה הוא גם כן תירוץ לשאלה השנית. רב לא אמר שאין שמין לגנב. אם אוחזים כשיטת הרשב''ם, צריכים לומר שרב אוחז ששמין לגנב כמו רבי אלעזר בב''ק יא. אפשר לומר שאין הדין כמו רב.
והראיה לדעת הראב''ד היא שמאחר שרב אוחז ששמין, מזה לומדין שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא להפך, ולכן מעריכים את ערך החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) ב''מ צו: תוספות ד''ה זיל שלים ליה. על הצד שרב חיים הלוי מציע שהרמב''ם והרשב''ם שווים בדין, אפשר לומר שהרמב''ם חשב כך: בההלכה שכתבתי שמשלמים קרן וכפל עם כסף (ושווה כסף מובן כהרשב''ם) לא כתבתי שמשלמים לפי זמן העמדה בדין, בשביל שכתבתי בסעיף הקודם שבמצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ שהוא משלם לפי שעת העמדה בדין-- שזה הדין של "אין שמין" לגבי זמן הערך. שם כתוב, "היה שווה בשעת הגנבה שניים ובשעת העמדה בדין ארבעה אם שחט או מכר או שבר הכלי או אבדו משלם תשלומי כפל או דו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין." היינו שהרמב''ם אוחז שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא הדין של רבה שמעריכים הקרן והכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין.

עכשיו נראה שיש אפשרות שהרמב''ם אוחז הדין של הרשב''ם שהדין של "אין שמין" אומר לנו שכשהגנב שבר את החפץ, אז מעריכים את ערכו לפי שעת העמדה בדין. הטעם שאפשר לומר את זה הוא שהמצב שהרמב''ם פסק שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה הוא מצב אחר. הוא כשהגנבה ירדה בערך לא על ידי שבירה, אלא על ידי ירידת השער שבשוק. ובמצב שהחפץ עלה בערך ואז הגנב שבר אותו, הרמב''ם כן פסק כהרשב''ם שהולכים לפי שעת העמדה בדין. והמצב שהכלי נשבר מאיליו בלא שום מעשה של הגנב (שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה) אינו שייך לדין "אין שמין". אין שמין שייך רק במצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ.

) אם אנחנו הולכים לפי הצד הזה שרב חיים מביא --שהרמב''ם אוחז כהרשב''ם, וגם מדגישים שההלכה כשהוזל ערך החפץ (שירד בערכו) היא אחרת משאם נשברה, אז שיטת הרמב''ם יוצאת יותר טוב. שלמעשה הדין כשהוזל היה קשה לרמב''ם. הדין הזה היה מכריח את הרמב''ם לאחוז "אין שמין" לכפל, אבל כן שמין לקרן. וזה בעיתי ביותר. אבל אם הדין של שבירה הוא שונה מן הדין של "הוזל", אז הכל בסדר. ברמב''ם כותב בסעיף שאחר זה שלא שמין במצב של שבירה, היינו שמעריכים את החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) נראה שיש מחלוקת בין הרמב''ם והטור לגבי הדין של רב- היינו הדין שהוזל שוויון החפץ. רב פסק קרן כעין שגנב וכפל ודו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין. והטור פסק שזה שייך גם במצב של שבירת חפץ. אבל בההלכה של הוזל, הרמב''ם אינו מזכיר שבירת החפץ, וגם עניין הקרן הוא מדלג לגמרי. זה משמע שהחפץ לפנינו, רק שהוזל. [אפשר לומר שאם הרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם זה גרם לו לפרש את הדין של רב רק לגבי זולא, ולא שבירה. זה בגלל שהדין של רב אינו בהתאם עם הדין של "אין שמין" לפי פירוש הרשב''ם.] [שיטת הרא''ש היא שמשמעות אין שמין היא שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים, ואין בזה שום סתירה לדין של רב, אפילו אם מפרשים אותו לגבי שבירה.]

) למעשה יותר טוב לומר שהרמב''ם פוסק כרש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם בכלים שלמים או כסף. הסיבה לזה היא שבהלכה י''ד איפה שהרמב''ם מביא את הדין של רב, משמע שהמצב של כפל דומה למצב של דו''ה, דהיינו שמדברים במצב שהכלי נשבר. ואם זה נכון, אז אין הדין הזה מתאים להלכה י''ד שהיא ההלכה של אין שמין. [זאת אומרת שההלכה של אין שמין בהלכה ט''ו מתאימה רק לשליש הלכה י''ד.] ולכן ההלכה של אין שמין אומרת לשלם בכלים שלמים ואינה מדברת בעיין זמן הערך.

) אם אומרים שמקור הראב''ד הוא משפט של רב בב''ק סה. היה אפשרות לומר שהראב''ד אוחז כמו רש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים. ורב חיים סאלאווייציק מביא את המשפט של רב למקור לראב''ד. מזה יש אפשרות לתת שני שלבים להראות שהראב''ד אוחז כרש''י. שלב ראשון: הראב''ד אומר אין שמין שייך רק לקרן. לגבי כפל הדין הוא שמין. שלב שני: בדינו של רב [שהרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים בו] אנחנו מעריכים את הקרן לפי שעת הגנבה, ואת הכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין. ולכן אם במצב של שמין אנחנו מעריכים את החפץ בזמן העמדה בדין, אם כן שמין או אין שמין לא יכול להיות שייך לזמן הערך. ולכן הוא שייך רק לכלים שלמים. ואי אפשר להשיב "שמין" משמעו זמן העמדה בדין, בגלל שמשמעות הדין "שמין" היא גם בנזיקים ששם שמין את ערך החפץ בזמן השבירה דווקא, ואז מחזירים את החפץ ומשלימים החסרון בדמים. ושמה מה שקובע את ערך החפץ היא שעת השבירה.
אבל למעשה, יש אפשרות לראב''ד לאחוז כשיטת הרשב''ם. וכדי להסביר את זאת, אני צריך להציג את ההקדמה הזאת להסביר איך רב חיים הלוי מבין את דעת הראב''ד. דבר ראשון: מצב של שבירה נחשב לגנבה אריכתא (גנבה ארוכה) עד זמן השבירה. ובמצב כזה רב אמר לשלם כשעת הגנבה היינו שעת השבירה. וכשרב אמר לשלם כפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין הכוונה היא לשעת העמדה בדין כפשוטו והחפץ צריך להיות מצוי כדי להעריך אותו. וזה האופן שהראב''ד מפרש את הדין של רב-- החפץ נשברה במקצת. ולפי הראב''ד הדין של רב הוא הדין של אין שמין לגנבה. וככה מפרש הראב''ד הדין של רב: אין שמין את הקרן וכן שמין לכפל. וכשהחפץ נשבר במקצת הוא עדיין נחשב להיות בעין ומצוי בכדי להעריך אותו בשעת העמדה בדין. רק שאי אפשר להחזיר אותו בתורת הרי שלך לפניך. [וראב''ד מפרש "שמין" "ואין שמין" להיות שייך לזמן הערך, אבל במובן להפך מן הרשב''ם. להראב''ד שמין משמע בזמן העמדה בדין, ואין שמין משמע שעת הגנבה.]

It is astounding to me how mistaken I can be.This sometimes came up when I was learning with David Bronson. But it also came up when I was looking over my notes on Bava Metzia page 97a.

I was clearly trying to support an opinion of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik that says that the Rambam holds by Rashi and the Rosh in terms of what it means "One does not evaluate for a thief."  Of course that fact that I had neither the Ramba nor the Gemara nor the book of Reb Chaim might also have contributed to my mistake.I had no way of looking anything up {being in exile so so speak}.

But what occurred to me today is a fantastic new idea that came out of my mistake. The idea is this. I became aware at one point that Rav Elazar Shach says the Rambam holds with the Rashbam. So I saw that my forced reading on the Rambam laws of theft 1:14 was simply wrong and stupid and calculated to support Reb Chaim in spite of the obvious fact that I was reading it wrong.
But how to explain this properly I am not really sure of. Basically what I want to say is you have to read halacha 14 together with 15 almost as if they were one halacha.

So with that it all becomes clear. If the stolen object went down in value from 4 shekalim to 2 then the theif pays 4. That is the beginning of halacha 14. That is to say that the beginning of halacha 14 says nothing about the object being broken. It is clear the Rambam means he gives back the object and pays the extra 2 shekalim that it went down in value from the time of the theft until the day the case comes to court. But it might be broken also and then the same law would apply,that the thief give back the whole four shekalim. Then halacha 15 is just a continuation of halacha 14 which is "one does not evaluate for a thief." It is the case when the object was broken and all it says is the thief can not say "Your object is before you." It has nothing to do with the time at which you evaluate the object. Therefore the astounding result is that even the Rambam holds one can pay back with objects that are worth the same amount of money that he owes. But also that that law has nothing to do with the time one evaluates the object.













16.10.13

The way I deal with Torah is this. I take it as a given that on my own I would not be able to form a logical rigorous consistent world view based on my knowledge of Torah and Talmud. So I learned Musar and the works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon.
When later authorities disagree with Maimonides or Saadia Geon, I defer to the earlier authorities.


The reason is that I assume that  great people like the Baal Shem Tov do not constituent a alternative approach to Torah. And if they would, I would have to defer to Maimonides.


.
 So when I see Hasidic books teaching a different set of teachings than what I  know are against Maimonides, I simply ignore them.

 I am aware that the  Hasidic movement has become highly anti Rambam, even though they deny this fact. The issue is not whether they learn the Guide for the Perplexed   (they don't), but rather that most modern day Hasidic teachings are simply teaching Shabati Tzvi's teaching in disguise that neither the Rambam or any of our forefathers would have recognized as being Torah at all. By the teachings of shabati tzvi disguised as authentic Torah the teachings and i think energies of the dark side were able to penetrate into Orthodox Judaism.

This issue of world view is also the reason, learning Musar is important. Too much of modern day Judaism presents a world that contradicts the Torah

15.10.13

The moral of the story is there is no substitute for learning all the works of the Rambam from the beginning to the end--every last word.--starting from the Guide for the Perplexed

I was learning the Talmud yesterday with my learning partner. And I noticed something strange in the Talmud and in Rashi.

  For an introduction let me just say that in Tractate Pesachim chapter 2 we find Rabbi Abahu says when it says in the Torah not to eat something, it is implied not to derive pleasure from it.
The Talmud brings a question on this from trumah [the 2% of ones crops that goes to the priests] that a person can use to change his position on Shabat. [On Shabat you can't go out of 2000 yards. But you can put a meal at a distance from where you are currently at, and then the place of the meal will be considered your place on Shabat.]
Trumah is good for that even though you can't eat it.
  The answer the Talmud gives to this is you can undo  trumah. It is like an oath that three people can loosen. I asked on this.
  I asked --"But not every neder [oath] can be loosened?"
I was thinking of things like you find in tractate Nedarim chapter 9 like nolad [a new situation arises].
  He opened up a Rambam and showed me where the Rambam says that we do not open up a permission, but still if the person has regret, three people can permit any neder [commitment].

And to think that just before that I was criticizing him that his anti science world view  was in direct contradiction to Maimonides and Saadia Geon. I told him that his world view was based on  later Hasidim  that rejected the Rambam's world view. I was complaining that he did not learn the Guide For The Perplexed or the Emunot and Deot of Saadia Geon.

My point was that by his learning Hasidic books that gave him a world view that is not just contradictory to that of that of Maimonides, but also that it gives him a world view such that if someone tells him some idea from Maimonides or Saadia Geon, he considers it to be heresy.

The irony here is that I proved my own point. I had formed my ideas about oaths on the Talmud in Nedarim,  but never had spent much time learning the laws of Nedarim in the Rambam. So when I heard a view from  contrary to my views which I had in fact based on the Talmud, I thought it was completely wrong.

  The moral of the story is there is no substitute for learning all the works of the Rambam from the beginning to the end--every last word.--starting from the Guide for the Perplexed. P.S. David Hartman gives a good introduction to the Rambam.
I saw his book in the library of Hebrew University in Jerusalem where I used to hang out.
And I think I should mention that the Guide of the Rambam by itself is  hard to swallow. It does not have  magnetic pull . Still I think it is important because without it it is too easy to come up with alternative world views that are opposite to the Torah and yet still to be thinking they are Torah. When the Rambam writes his book for confused people he does not mean just people that know they are confused but especially people that don't think they are confused but think they know the worldview of the Torah better than the Rambam.


11.10.13

The Dark Realm

Jews  and gentiles are not aware of the fact the the Dark Side usually hangs out and surrounds places and sources of holiness. This is a well known Kabalistic concept, but seems to be unknown to most people.
This is slightly different from another well known phenomenon: the mixing of good and evil.
But here I am referring to the fact that the Evil Side is actually attracted to people and places and other sources of holiness.


For gentiles I am not sure how they could become aware of this phenomenon and protect themselves from it --but at least in the Jewish world I think this is a well known fact and so people tend to look at the good in any particular tzadik or holy place and when it comes to the question of mistakes or bad influences, they tend to ignore it and attribute it to this phenomenon.

[I think many Christians are aware of the problem with churches teaching a mixer of good and evil doctrines. But that is totally different from the phenomenon that I am describing here in which actual evil forces are attracted to places of holiness.]


I might try here to give a few examples. But before I do let me present a caveat. There are lots of times when I go with logic and label a certain movement or person as good or holy, and then through a combination of study and experience I discover I made a mistake. So I admit that the most powerful insights I have to the nature of the human world are based on experience and not logic. And this experience is uncommunicable to others because others can always doubt one person's experiences.
Be that as it may I think I have been able to identify places and teachings that communicate holiness to people and also to identify movements and people that communicate uncleanliness and evil to people. And I believe this is an objective assessment--not subjective--because like I believe in objective morality I also think there is a realm of values that are objectively holy and other values that are objectively unholy. And this does not depend on the observer but on the nature of reality itself.








In Israel I saw an opening to Being itself. But that seemed to have been temporary because at a certain point I saw evil descend to there. That was in 1989. Since then I returned a few times and I did not see any return of the open holiness,-- yet.









9.10.13

There are a few good reason to defend the Constitution of the USA. Certainly philosophers today are starting to become aware of this. Though philosophy (and in general humanities and social studies departments) in universities still are leftist havens, still a new generation of powerful philosophers is growing up aware of the bankruptcy of the Left.

However I tend to look at the Constitution of the USA more in Talmudic terms, and specifically how it affects Jews.
This makes me particularly impressed with it. Let me just give a few points here. I saw America before it became Socialist and highly racist against whites. I grew up in the USA,  Orange Country, California when it was a completely Wasp society. So I know that the Constitution of the USA is not just a theory, but a blue print for creating a working, decent, wholesome, fun society.

Also, as you can imagine, my learning of the Holy Torah and Talmud has put into me a great respect for private property and human values. In particular, I must say that the theory of Maimonides and Saadia Geon about natural law is embodied in the Constitution in a powerful way that I can't ignore. [Just take a quick look at amendments nine and ten in the Bill of Rights.]
All this goes to make me very upset when I see the Constitution trampled on daily by the USA government, and all the lunatic powerful minority groups that have already succeeded in undermining the kind of society that the USA once was. I feel that I have witnessed in my lifetime the fall of mankind's best and last hope. I dread to think what will come next. A coalition of Russia, Iran, and China? Heaven help us!

Sadly, white supremacists have noted the Jewish presence in Leftist movements that have undermined the USA. And they use this fact against us. My reaction to this is that when we are criticized for a true fault, we should not try to make excuses, but rather say right up front, "You are right"; and we should do our best to correct this fault. [I knew a woman in Israel,  who told me this. She sometimes complained about me, and when I tried to make excuses for my bad behavior, this was the advice she told me. And I think it is great advice in general.]

The major elements that are destroying the USA are the Africans, Socialists, and the Muslims. You can see this predicted in the   the story about a king who tried to destroy a country but couldn't until he put three groups into it. The first put into the country "bad language" which refers to the black destruction the Arts and Music. The next groups brought in sex addiction i.e. Muslims who like to rape white girls. The next group brought in the vice of suing people all the time --i.e. the armies of Socialist lawyers in the USA.





3.10.13

I went to Beverly Hills High School, and then to the Mirrer Yeshiva and Polytechnic Institute of NYU.


I went to Beverly Hills High School and by all accounts I had a good time. Good grades, and good teachers, and good parents and family. I had my pick of places to go after high school: Julliard school of Music, or UCLA where I was already accepted to and other places. But I had an interest also in meaning of life issues and questions that were not addressed by secular American society. So I opted for Talmud  At the Mir you leaned Talmud all day long from the morning from 8:30 A.M. until about 11:00 PM or midnight. There was a rest period in the middle of the day for the afternoon prayer and lunch.

Incidentally we were not rich. It was just that the USA government paid a lot of money to have good engineers build the space program and my Dad happened to be a good engineer. He had come to the attention of the USA military when he invented night vision and  a U-2 camera. So they recruited him again for SDI. [He created laser communication between satellites. That was needed so the Soviets could not eavesdrop.] ]




The atmosphere and feeling at the Mir Yeshiva in NY was electric. If you had to eat lunch, you couldn't wait until you got back into the Beit Midrash [Study Hall]. The Talmud study was simply the container for a kind of Divine energy that grabbed you. If you learned there 12 hours a day, you went home feeling you did not learn enough, and you hoped to do better the next day. And this learning taught you amazing things. It taught you how to be a mensch (decent human being--which an be harder than it sounds), it taught you respect for others, and for private property. It taught you to speak the truth at all costs. This was a type of energy that was intimated connected with the natural law and human decency. It did not just teach you, but it made you into a moral and  decent human being.

 During the spring or summer breaks when I would return to Southern California, I would call a nice Jewish girl [a brilliant girl] I knew from high school and tell her about what was happening in my school in NY. This excitement rubbed off on her, and she herself decided to start keeping Torah and do mitzvas and to follow me to New York, and even start pestering me to marry her. Eventually, I gave into this because of the advice of Arye Kaplan and a Rav Getz  in the Mir . In fact, she turned out to be an excellent choice. She agreed to come with me to Israel, and  the children I have with her are as sharp as tacks. [I did not pay much attention to it at the time, but her parents were German Jews. Now things make sense why my kids are smart.]

But the world surrounding the Mir was Orthodox Judaism. And Orthodox Judaism is a cult, kelipa [a shell], and it infiltrated into the Mir.

I could have joined the Eastern cults or ashrams in those days that penetrated every aspect of life  in Southern California and no one would have raised an eyebrow.

In fact, that was the most respectable thing a person could do in those heady days. But Orthodox Judaism was considered by everyone to be plainly and simply a fanatic, lunatic, fringe group that needed immediate hospitalization. And  with the wisdom that time grants, I have come to see some points about  this evaluation are correct.




15.9.13

The Spectrum of Heresy [apikorsus]

In Torah thought there is a spectrum of heresy [apikorsus] from innocent or even silly to outright damaging. I admit that I am not able to drawn exact line between heresy and apikorsus that is outside the line of kashrut. And I think this is in fact not a 2 dimensional line but rather an multi dimensional array.

My basic idea is to concentrate of what the Torah and the Talmud Bavli say. But given the wide range of interpretations that are possible, I look for rigorous thinkers like Maimonides and Saadia Gaon  and the Chovot Levavot [Duties of the Heart by Bacheye ben Pekuda] to define what is in the category of Torah and what is not.

I should mention that heresy is in fact an important theme in the Talmud. While we do not find the thirteen principles of Maimonides spelled out in that exact order and formulation, we do find all of them stated openly and it is stated in the Talmud that one that does not believe in them does comes under a general classification of "apikorus" or "min." [Heretic.]

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Many people have attempted for two centuries to bring pantheism into Torah. But according to Maimonides the Torah is not pantheistic. It is Monotheistic. There is a difference between God creating the world and a god being the world. This is entailed by the law of the excluded middle.

Others try to bring in moralrelativism. But moral relativism is surely false as can be demonstrated from two trivial axioms, namely, the law of excluded middle and the correspondence theory of truth. For if moral judgments represent claims, then we know from the law of excluded middle that they must be either true or false. That is just basic logic. And if they are true, then we know from the correspondence theory that that means they correspond to reality. And, finally, if they correspond to reality but they don't correspond to the nature of the object then they must correspond to the nature of the subject. But this last alternative is not true. we don't think if all  would think Nazism is good that that would make it good.
More so--the type of moral subjectivity is in violation of the naturalistic fallacy. You cant derive an "ought" from an "is." That fact that one or even many  say something is moral is an empirical fact. You cant derive an a priori "ought" from that fact.