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30.10.13

"What is wrong with America"--posted here from my other blog because of its importance.

What is wrong with America is this. Money influences the news, and the news influences public opinion, and public opinion influences public policy. [People do not make up their own system of values. They  get it from somewhere in their environment. You can see this in yourself. Are your values completely original, or did you pick them up from someplace? With no more authority to parents, where do you think people are picking up their opinions from?]
 While capitalism is not bad in itself, this system is insidious.

There is no question that the few people in the world that still believe in freedom and in the the American Constitution will find themselves in a deadly war with Islam. [The number of people that believe in the American Constitution is getting less every day. How many people do you know that Believe in freedom of speech--or that it is more important not to offend Muslims or Blacks? How many people do you know believe in the second amendment --the right bear arms? How many people do you know that think that powers not given to the federal government  are powers that it does not have, and if it tries to assume these powers, revolution is in order. For example the power to force you to buy insurance. Do you believe that now you have a right to publicly and politically advocate  revolt against the Government of the USA because it has usurped power? Or are you afraid of a audit on your taxes if you do.]




It will be instructive for people to learn how Islam destroyed the communities of the Zoroastrians in Iraq and Iran. It is the same method they are using in Europe and in the USA. First they start with a few good benign Muslims moving nearby. As long as they are small in numbers, they act exemplary. Then the numbers grow, and the youth are sent in to do theft and rape. Then the community starts to feel harnessed. This process goes on until the community is destroyed.


Rosh Hashanah in Uman.If Reb Nachman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?

This was certainly assumed by Reb Nathan his disciple. However this has been a source of ambiguity. We see things that imply it. First of all his well known promise to people that would come to his grave site and say the ten psalms that he specified. (note 1) ["I will pull them by their hair out of Hell."]
However in the five  books of Nachman we do not find any specific connection between Rosh HaShanah and his grave site. He never took  two two witnesses saying to come to his grave on Rosh HaShanah like he did for the Tikun Haklali (note 1). 


If Reb Nachman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?(note 2) We know  Nachman from Breslov wanted people to come to his grave to say the Ten Psalms because he took two reliable witnesses [neither of whom was Reb Natan] and declared this in front of them. And said specially that he would do everything  to help that person. But he never took two witnesses about Rosh Hashana nor even said a simple statement like, "Come to my grave on Rosh Hashanah."

When he wanted people to come to his grave he said so openly. When he wanted people to come to him, while he was alive, on Rosh Hashanah, he also said so openly. But he never said or implied to come to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. And in fact no one, including Reb Nathan, came to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. They came to Uman, but not to his grave.
When he wanted to discuss his grave he did so in many ways. But his grave was never mentioned in the context of Rosh Hashanah.
[The obvious question then is: why did he not take again two witnesses and testify before them concerning some connection between Rosh Hashanah and coming to his grave? In theory he could have one so. And why was Reb Nathan not one of the two witnesses?] This does not mean that it is not a good idea to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. But there is no mitzvah in saying that Reb Nachman specifically said to do so. He certainly did not. Appendix:
(note 1) 16,32, 41,42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150 (Russians have a different way of numbering the psalms because they consider nine and ten to be the same psalm. So to them the numbers are different.)

(note 2) Reb Nathan did in fact begin the coming to Uman on the very first Rosh Hashana after Reb Nachman had passed away. So it seems clear that Reb Nathan understood this to be a good thing though not explicitly  stated as such by Reb Nachman. However the saying of the ten psalms by his grave site was in fact explicit. 






28.10.13

All people have implicit and often explicit evil.

All people have implicit and often explicit evil. Some institutions and organizations reinforce this evil and some subdue it.

This fact is well known. And we can see this principle in action every day in the news. Muslims, though by nature may be the sweetest people in the world, but after many years of imbibing the lessons of the Koran can one day wake up and decide that today is the day for Jihad and to go out in a flame of glory by killing a couple of Jews or Christian infidels.

But I would like to suggest further that certain organizations can reinforce specific types of evil, while at the same time be lessening other types of evil.

A good example of this would be a school which does evil by emasculating the boys that go to it and yet lessens other kinds of evil.

25.10.13

Musar (learning mediaeval Ethics is great but need to be coupled with philosophy.)

The major--and I mean major-- problem with Musar is lack of philosophical sophistication--[i.e the movement started by R. Israel Salanter to influence everybody to learn the texts of Jewish Ethics written during the Middle Ages]. [That is the movement was founded on Ethics and almost ignored the thought behind the Ethics. That is: it needs to have the mediaeval philosophy of the Rambam and Saadia Gaon to back it up.]

The two essential works of Musar are the Obligations of the Heart (by Ibn Pakuda) and the Light of Israel (by Isaac Blazzer, a disciple of Israel Salanter).



This is not to imply  that the texts themselves lack philosophical sophistication, but that the whole movement morphed. Valid questions are ignored and by ignoring these questions we think we have answered them. Or we accept foreign ideologies and try to claim that they are what Musar says. And even worse,  the failure in the one thing it is supposed to be doing--character development.


The philosophy that backs it up  is in the Guide for the Perplexed, Joseph Albo and  Ibn Gavirol that people do not learn.
That is: the Musar of the Rishonim is highly linked with their philosophy. If you do not know this, then you can't even begin to understand their Musar.


What are you going to do? Just teach Musar and assume people will fill in the blanks with the basic philosophy behind it? Or you think people will not worry about justification for the ideas? Teaching Ethics from the Middle Ages is a great idea--but only if it is coupled with the philosophy of the Middle Ages. The Guide, Saadia Gaon, etc.

Maybe I am too ambitious here as to what people can reasonable be expected to learn.

So to make things simple get one book of authentic Musar [Obligations  of the Heart perhaps]. And one book of world view like the Guide of the Rambam.

Simcha Zissel from Kelm is one well known disciple of Reb Israel Salanter. In his yeshiva in Kelm people learned Musar most of the day.

There is another possible flaw that the movement was not coupled to practice. What better way to learn good character except by teamwork and outdoor skills. Self reliance, keeping your word, loyalty, working together a a team,- how better to learn these things except by camping and working on survival skills in a group? The general result of Musar without this outdoor component is that people that learning Musar seldom can be relied on to keep their word or help one in time of trouble.
Musar is just as important as Reb Israel Salanter said but it has to be coupled with outdoor skills and team work and also the philosophy of Torah

Appendix:

Ethics of Torah= Musar. Many aspects are contained in the Mediaeval Musar books.
The Sexual Ethics of Torah is not the same as Catholics understand it. Sex with one's girl friend is allowed. We find this with King David and Solomon and Calev Ben Yefuna in Chronicles where the list of his wives and girl friends is given.
See the Book of Chronicles, Volume One, chapter two [2:46] and four concerning Kalev ben Yefuna (כלב בן יפונה). He is the only person in the entire Bible that it says the unique phrase, וימלא אחרי השם "He walked completely after God." He had two girl friends.]







21.10.13

I hold that the Remak (R. Moshe Kordovaro) and the Arizal (Isaac Luria) were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets.

It should be clear to my dear readers that I do not consider the Zohar to be from R. Shimon Ben Yochai.
Perhaps people think that from that point on I ought to repudiate the validity of the Kabalah of the Remak and the Ari which are based on the Zohar.
But this would be a false conclusion. I hold that the Remak and the Arizal were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets. I admit that this conclusion is based on  criteria that most people would consider invalid. First is the most obvious fact that the Geon from Vilnius [aka Villna] held  strongly from the Kabalah.
 I consider Moshe De Leon putting the Zohar in the name of Rabbi Shimon to be a simple literary device that was common at the end of the Roman Empire and continued into the Middle Ages. Though I admit that by the time of Moshe De Leon, this device was rarely used. But being not a particularly smart person, I tend to defer judgment to people smarter than me like the Geon from Vilna.

[This whole subject came up when we were reading Genesis and I thought about the fact that the only explanation I have of most of the stories of Genesis are mystically based. For example the seven days of Creation I have thought for several years refer to the seven spheres of briah [the world of creation] and are not literal days.
In the same vein I consider the flood to refer to the feminine waters מיין נוקבין that did not have male waters מיין דוכרין coming to greet them. I don't think the flood was literal and I also think like the Rambam that many stories in Genesis are allegories.
[I don't think the Rambam was thinking exactly like Isaac Luria. The Rambam I think was more literal unless he had to explain things as allegories. The Ari is the first place see the whole Torah from beginning to end including the Talmud as mainly talking about the higher mystical worlds of Emanation etc and in fact having little to do with what goes on in the physical universe in the first place.].

[At any rate, I highly recommend the whole set of Isaac Luria. It is the size of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, but you don't need to go through the whole thing to get the main idea. It is enough to go through the Eitz Chaim [or the Mavo Shearim] to get the theory and then  the  couple of the volumes which explain verses of the Torah like Shaar HaPesukim. ]
Also do this with the Shalom Sharabi 's Nahar Shalom if you can because of the problem that after about half of the Eitz Chaim, the Ari goes into the order of the worlds and it modifies everything he said up until that point. So to get it you need the Reshash. (At least that is my opinion.)

I any case that is how I did this. You could do it also with the Ramchal [Moshe Lutzatto] or Yaakov Abuchatzaira's writings also I imagine but that is not how I did it.








18.10.13

The Torah has a specific world view. The Torah is not porous. You can't pour any world view you like into it.


Now I know that argument from authority is not to be used in certain types of fields. But when it comes to Torah, is the view of Maimonides irrelevant? Is the view of Saadia Geon irrelevant?  So why is it that the introductions to Torah thought written by Saadia Geon and Maimonides and the Chovot Levavot are excluded  and in their stead are placed books by  charismatic, fanatics  who could only dream to be about as smart as the toenails of the Rambam?

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.