The Torah is clear about the importance of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

 There are not many people that are aware of this fact, but I think a precursory reading of the Five Books of Moses should be enough to convince anyone that the bringing of Jews to the Land of Israel is of primary importance in the Torah. You don't even have to read it in Hebrew to see this.
It is the major theme of the Torah.
[In fact it is the one and only major theme of the Torah. The giving of the Ten Commandments was a semi finial, but the theme of bringing the Jews to Israel is the one and only foremost theme of the entire Torah from the beginning to the end.]

But even without this, the fact than Iran wants to wipe out the Jews is an important issue. I was discussing the Cuban Missile crisis yesterday with a person who served in the KGB. I mentioned that the USSR was a totally different type of adversary than the Islamic world. The goal of both the USA and the USSR was to create a decent and fair system for their people. The goal of the Islamic world is to destroy Western Civilization. This was the reason the Russians traditionally always kept Muslims down to a small number. They knew that Muslims when in small numbers act better than anyone. They are more decent and more polite. But after anywhere from 10 to 20 percent things change radically.


I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me! [I see when I wrote this in Hebrew I thought the word for land is masculine which I think was a mistake.]

Leviticus chapter 25 verse 33

"The house shall go out in the jubilee."

Introduction. According to the Rambam, when a serf(מקבל) (a serf here is not a slave. He enters a voluntary agreement to wok and property and take some exact percentage of what grows) leaves his field at the end of his period and a buyer of a field when he returns it in the jubilee year, both keep the improvement (שבח,) [the amount which grew on the field not by itself, but from his efforts]. But if this is the case, then how can the Talmud (in Bava Metzia page 109a) ask why do we not learn serfdom from jubilee?
We do! It is the same law!

Frankly, I have no idea of how Reb Chaim Soloveitchik answers this problem in the Rambam [Maimonides] and I have no idea how to answer it myself. But I have one observation that I think might be useful in finding a solution. [Later sometime after I wrote this blog, I looked at the commentary of the Geon from Vilna(הגר''א) Eliyahu from Vilnius and he answers this question simply and powerfully.]
The thing I noticed about this law is that Maimonides does not mention anything about the sums of money the serf or the buyer put into the field. This is very strange because this is the first thing that you usually deal with in the case of a loaner and a borrower as in Bava Metzia 15b.

I know Reb Chaim has a whole different approach in his Chidushei HaRambam but I do not see how he answers this question; or how his approach could help us in any way.
I am getting so obsessed with this problem that I did not even do my regular math study today. I have been going through all the different possibilities that I can think of and nothing seems to work.

Incidentally, there is nothing in the Talmud itself that makes this difficult. It is just the way the Rambam understands the case of a serf and a buyer that makes this difficult. If we would have just the Talmud then it would read thus: Rava  says, a serf does not get the extra growth of  trees [when he decides to terminate his contract]. The Talmud asks on Rava : But in Jubilee the law is that the buyer keeps all extra growth besides the field itself.

(k) Answer (Abaye on behalf of Rava): Jubilee is different, for the Torah said "V'Yatza Mimkar Bayis" - the sale goes back, the improvements do not go back. [The Torah says that in Jubilee the house goes back--not the improvements]
(l) Question: We should learn from Jubilee to a renter!

I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me!

 ב''מ קט. הקדמה. נראה לי שהרמב''ם היה אומר שאף על פי שהדין של קבלנות והדין של יובל שווים לגבי הוצאה ושבח, הם שונים לגבי שבח שקמה. לגבי שבח שקמה, קודם שבע שנים המקבל אינו מקבל כלום אפילו אם עבד עליו. ואחרי שבע שנים הוא מקבל את הכל -גם השקמה בעצמה- אפילו אם לא עבד עליו (רק שעבד על השדה בכלל). ועל הדין הפרטי הזה הגמרא שואלת, "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" עכשיו נכנס ליותר פרטים. המשנה אומרת שהמקבל אינו מקבל את השקמה אם לא עבד על השדה שבע שנים. רבא אמר גם אינו מקבל שבח שקמה. והגמרא שואלת על זה מיובל איפה שאנחנו אומרים "שמין"- זאת אומרת שהלוקח מקבל מה שהשדה הצמיח. ופה הגמרא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל גזירת הכתוב "ממכר בית" חוזר, ולא שבח. ואז היא שואלת "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" והיא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל עוד סיבה, - הקרקע קנוי ללוקח. מצד עצמה הגמרא ברורה. הלוקח מקבל את מה שהצמיח השדה, ולא המקבל. מה החילוק? והיא מתרצת שהחילוק הוא שיש פסוק. אבל לדעת הרמב''ם, שני הדינים שווים. המקבל והלוקח מקבלים את מה שגדל בגלל העבודה שלהם, ולא את מה שגדל ממילא. רב חיים הלוי שואל את הקושיא הזאת,  אבל לא הבנתי את תירוצו. לי נראה שהרמב''ם היה יכול לתרץ את זאת כך: כשהגמרא שואלת אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל, הגמרא אינה מכוונת לכל מיני שבח, אלא דווקא לשבח אילנות. בשבח אילנות אפילו את מה גדל מחמת עבודתו המקבל אינו מקבל, והלוקח כן מקבל. ועל הפרט הזה הגמרא שואלת את קושייתה

אבל מלשון הרמב''ם אינו משמע כן. הרמב''ם כתב לגבי שבח שיקמה שאם המקבל לא עבד עליו, הוא לא מקבל אותו. בתחלה חשבתי שאולי רק אחרי התירוץ של הגמרא שהלוקח קנה את הקרקע [לא כמו שהגמרא חשב בתחלה שהוא כמו שוכר] אז הגמרא השווה את דין הלוקח עם דין המקבל בגלל שגזירת הכתוב משווה אותם. אבל יש קושיא על התירוץ הזה בגלל שכל קושיית הגמרא נבנית על בסיס ששמין ללוקח, ולא למקבל. זאת אומרת, גם בתחלה וגם בסוף הגמרא אוחזת את השיטה שדינם שונה.
בתחלה היה נראה לי שאי אפשר לתרץ את הקושיא הזאת בגלל שכל כיוון הגמרא הוא כנגד הרעיון שדינם שווה. הגמרא מתחילה עם המושג שיובל וקבלנות הם שונים, והיא שואלת "למה יהיו שונים?" והיא מתרצת את זה: הם שונים בגלל שיש פסוק. אבל עדיין היא לא יכולה להסתפק עם זה. ואז היא מוצאת עוד סיבה שיהיו שונים. ואחר כל זה, איך אפשר לומר שהם שווים? התירוץ לזאת היא מוכלת בשתי מילים של הגר''א. הוא כתב שהמילה "אילנות" ברמב''ם (שכירות פרק ח' הלכה י') היא טעות סופר. וצריך לומר רק "שבח", ולא "שבח אילנות". זאת אומרת שלגבי שבח בכלל הדין של יובל וקבלנות הם שווים כמו שכתב הרמב''ם.  אבל מה שקשה לגמרא היא הדין של שבח אילנות ששם אין דינם שווה. לגבי יובל שבח אילנות שווה לשבח רגיל. [אם הוא עבד עליו הוא מקבל אותו-ואם לא,לא.] אבל לגבי קבלנות, אפילו אם המקבל עבד על שבח אילנות, הוא אינו מקבל אותו. ואז גמרא משתדלת למצוא סיבה שיובל וקבלנות יהיו שונים.


In the strictest sense of keeping Torah, we do find that attachment with God is a primary principle in Torah--along with the Ten Commandments.  We  find the major things the Torah is concerned with are: (1) Bringing the Jewish people into the Land of Israel,  (2) Attachment with God, (3) Fear of God, (4) Love of God, and (5) The Ten Commandments. Now there are lots of commandants in the Torah besides the  ten, but the ten are considered to be the roots of all the others.

"What does God want from you but to fear and love God and to walk in his ways and do his commandments?" (Deuteronomy)

"לדבקה בו" to be attached with God is mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as a command. Though in a practical sense this means to be attached with 'Torah scholars" תלמידי חכמים still אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו and that is how the author of Sefer Yeraim  a disciple of Rabbainu Tam describes it.


Lithuanian Jewish world

 Now in the book of R. Chaim from Voloshin, Nefesh HaChaim, we see a definite emphasis on learning Torah specifically.

 people make a mistake in making a tzadik and his ideas the center of attention instead of the Law of Moses which should be our focus.

But once you get the idea that the Law of Moses should be the center of our attention, it is hard to get away from the Lithuanian approach.. After all, there are lot of laws in the Old Testament and the book itself obviously requires a logical analysis. And so far I have not heard of anyone who has come up with a more rigorous logical analysis of the laws of Moses outside of the Babylonian Talmud. For example we have several verse in Exodus discussing the obligations of  a person that  guarding something and the object is lost. Another example in Shabat. Clearly we need a good definition of what it means to keep  Shabat. And in this area it looks like  that driving on Shabat is a problem because driving involves of the use of a combustion engine.

If Christians would come up with a better analysis of the Laws of Moses than the Talmud then I would be happy to discuss this. But in general Christians do not feel under the obligation to keep the laws of the Torah, and so do not spend a lot of effort in defining them.

We Jews however are under the obligation to keep the Laws of Moses and so it is in our best interest to understand how to keep them.
If there is any group that seems to take a balanced approach to Torah it seems to be Conservative Jews. Mesorati Jews seems to take these obligations more seriously than other Jewish groups.


I have heard different explanations for the Holocaust

One that seemed promising to me was Judicial positivism. If you add this to ethical relativism and Nietzsche who was the prime philosopher in Germany from about 1890  and onward, then you get a powerful mix that could contribute to World War Two and the Holocaust. That means that I have sought reason for the Holocaust from the failure of philosophy. Recently it has come to my attention that there is  another more obvious reason-- anti-semitism. At some point it is possible that people just stopping thinking of Jews as worthy of life.

And the cause of antisemitism seems to me to be anti goyism (or anti gentilism). This is what I think is clearly the implication of a verse in Mishlei [Proverbs], "like the face is reflected in water so is the heart of man towards another man."

And the cause of Anti-Goyism I think is bureaucracy. That means to say some people get comfortable in rabbinical  jobs and cease to worry about the implications of their actions. So religious leaders are a similar position as a government bureaucrat. They become comfortable in their positions and cease to worry if their preaching is in any way reflective of the real world. After all they do not need to deal with the real world since they are insulated by their "shtele' [position ]. They are in that way like a government bureaucrat.

This is along way to get around to what is already stated in the Talmud [at the end of Tractate Shabat]--all problems that come into the world only come because of the judges of Israel.

 What passes for morality is in general the evil inclination dressed up in some mitzvah.  Nietzsche picked up on this theme  and held that all human morality comes from the human basement.
I do not think  all morality is from the human basement. Maybe most of it,- but not all. Some morality should be  attributed to the human attic. [The  urge to do good.]


Lev Tahor (Heart of Purity), which was founded by Moshe Helbrans

I knew this fellow. The problem I think is that anyone that people listen to [in any religion] is liable to start thinking of himself as more than what he really is. Moshe Helbrans was a disciple of Rav Shick of Breslov. I have written about him on my blog a few times and I don't feel like repeating it all here. But he was simply a person that people liked to listen to and Rav Shick also liked him very much. Rav Shick had a small group of followers in Safed at the time and I was one of them. Halbrans was the leader of the group appointed specifically by Rav Shick. (I was just some no good for nothing baal teshuva.) And it was all pretty nice. But at some point Halbrans left Rav Shick as I did also. In spite of problems involved with Rav Shick I think it was a mistake for me to leave him. He has a kosher path--except for the anti Israel stuff which he picked up from satmar


Hanuka  was the last time our family was together under happy circumstances. My mother had been sick but she was home again, and I was staying at home reluctant to go back to NY. But the second night I decided I had to return to NY because Reb Friefeld had made many overt hints that I was to be his future son in law. Mom suggested that maybe I did not really have to go back, but this fact of a possible shiduch/marriage prospect swayed my decision. So my brother David drove me to the airport. Then Mom got sick again and I was home on Shavuot until Sukkot. At any rate Hanuka was always a special time for me.
Today I see the wisdom of my parents, but then I was a very stubborn kid.

. My wife and I went to the Sochnut/Jewish agency to make arrangements for Alyia to Israel. The representative of the Israeli government was a religious Zionist and saw that we were a Charedi  family so he spent the entire meeting trying to dissuade us form making Aliya. After that meeting on the way home I remember my wife crying literally. She was upset and I had no words to comfort her.

 We did go to Israel and it was great. I have no regrets on that account except that I wish I had keep learning Talmud.[Talking with God is important, but you also need to learn Torah to hear what God is saying to you.. Talking with God is only you telling God what you want him to hear, not the other way around.]

[I do not try to use the general approach of the Rambam based on Aristotle, because I think Aristotle is just too problematic. I know lots of people read Ann Rand and secretly use her approach but her approach also I find way too problematic and incoherent.] [Neturai Karta I know uses Nietzsche to form their world view but this also I find to be problematic. Nietzsche had some points but as a logical world view he has much to be desired.]

I admit that do not myself have the intellectually ability to come up with my own unified approach.and there are plenty of areas in which I use idea from the Intuitionists like Dr. Michael Huemer in Colorado and Prichard and also Aristotle and the Rambam. [I have mentioned before what problems I see in some of these world views. Against Kant the best rival is Prichard, but [to turn the tables] it seems to me that there were some issues that Prichard clearly did not think out, as opposed to Kant.] [for example he thought that to Kant no action is right unless motivated by the moral imperative. That obviously is not Kant's view. To Kant no action is good unless motivated by the moral imperative]