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30.12.13

Nothing is a holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.


World view issues. 

My basic was formed by growing up as a Jew  in a relatively decent and wholesome society. That was a thoroughly WASP society in Orange County in California.
So I have had every reason to believe that Democracy and Capitalism can create along with basic Torah values a highly wholesome and moral society. I have what could be considered as empirical evidence to testify to that fact. [The evidence is I lived in a wholesome home in a wholesome community in a whole country.--the way things used to be in the USA]

But to justify this kind of system based on philosophy can be a real sticky issue. While growing up this kind of question occupied me very much and I did plenty of reading. Plato, Buddhism, Torah, Nietzsche, Chinese Philosophy, Spinoza, Ann Rand, the Communist Manifesto, etc. And later,  I continued this and learned postmodern philosophy. [That was at the recommendation of my teacher  Shelomo Freifeld at Shar Yashuv. I myself would have been happy just to concentrate on Torah.]

With most of the systems that I studied, I noticed sooner or later different problems. And sometimes the problems were so thick that I decided that the whole system had to be thrown out, i.e. one mistake or another will not bother me much, but a lots of shoddy logic will eventually turn me off. [Postmodern philosophy is a good example of that]. [Also, empirical evidence counts for me. No matter how logical a system is, if I see its results in people acting in ways that are obviously evil, then I will reject the system. Nothing is as holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.]
 The best of philosophy today I have seen in  Dr. Kelley Ross in California. 


John Searle is obviously great but as Kelley Ross noticed he fell into scientism.
Habermas is Germany is also very great. Steve Dutch wrote a bunch of great essays on his site one of which is a detailed critique of Hume. Also Michael Huemer and Bryan Caplan and very good when they stick with their subject, not when they wander into other territories.






To be brief I think that there are universals. Universals are perceived by reason and by non-intuitive immediate knowledge. Universals applied to the human realm are moral values. [That is I do not hold from Empiricism,  Rationalism,  Nominalism, nor moral relativism].

The advantage of learning philosophy,  is that it gives a protection from  philosophers (and religious manics). For in general without learning to analyze ones world views, he or she will usually pick world view that often can't stand the test of reason and logic.


27.12.13

In terms of Yevamot page 3b.

Introduction; I ask an obvious question here on Tosphot.  One that everyone asks. Then I try to answer by saying the Braita is a Ma Metzinu, not a gezera Shava. But then I throw that out. Then I answer a different answer that the braita holds a gezra Shava can go just in one direction.





The Braita says how do we know the the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum? It answers that it says "upon her" in Leviticus and upon her in Deuteronomy concerning Yibum [Levirate marriage]. This looks like a Gezera Shava. [A "Gezara shava" means the same word is used in two different places, so we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the gezera shava.] Tosphot asks, "Why not turn the gezera shava around to the opposite direction?" He answers the teacher of this Braita holds that a positive commandment pushes off a negative commandment [even one that has cutting off as part of its penalty].

Since the Gemara concludes later on that  a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has cutting off as part of its penalty,-- therefore the reasoning would have to go in the opposite direction. [That עליה on her has to tell us she is allowed in yibum.] I mean to say: Fine. The teacher of the Braita thought the positive mitzvah would push off the negative mitzvah if not for the word "upon her." But we {who hold that a positive commandment does not push off a negative command that has cutting off in it} are left with nothing to tell us from where we learn the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum.

Now this is all just a short introduction to this subject. But I wanted to mention that one alternative way to look at this Braita is to say that it has nothing to do with a Gezera Shava. It is rather thinking like this: We find that the wife of ones brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of Yibum she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of Yibum. So now we need the extra word "upon her" to tell us that she is forbidden. [That is to say that the Braita is thinking of a "Ma Metzinu" [what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application] , not a gezera Shava]. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "upon her" all by itself.. The Braita definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a gezera shava.

And if this is gezera shava then the result is a disaster. The normal gezera shava puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "upon her" from levirite marriage into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of yibum!

I have not had a chance to look into this yet but my first reaction would be to find the book the Aruch Laner on Yevamot and see if he has any suggestions how to make sense of this.

I should mention that Rabbainu Isaac Hazeken--the grandson of Rashi just simply concludes that the teacher of the Brita thought all positive commandments push off negative commandments period and that is why we we the upon her to forbid her. [But we are still left with the unresolved issue of the gezra shava in general goes both directions.] Later note: No. Actually if a gezera shava goes in both directions is a debate. Perhaps we could use this idea to help us here and and go with the opinion the gezera shava goes only in one direction.

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The ברייתא says how do we know the the sister of one's wife is forbidden in יבום? It answers that it says "עליה" in ויקרא and עליה in דברים concerning יבום. This looks like a גזירה שווה. A גזירה שווה means the same word is used in two different places. So we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the גזירה שווה.




One alternative way to look at this ברייתא is to say that it has nothing to do with a גזירה שווה. It is rather thinking like this. We find that the wife of one's brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of יבום she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of יבום. So now we need the extra word "עליה" to tell us that she is forbidden. That is to say that the ברייתא is thinking of a מה מצינו what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application , not a גזירה שווה. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "עליה" all by itself.. The ברייתא definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a גזירה שווה.

And if this is גזירה שווה then the result is a קשה. The normal גזירה שווה puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "עליה" from יבום into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of יבום!

That is we have a question because a  גזירה שווה in general goes both directions.
Answer. Actually if a גזירה שווה goes in both directions is a debate. Here the נרייתא holds  with the opinion the גזירה שווה goes only in one direction.


) יבמות ג: הברייתא שואלת איך יודעים שאחות אשתו אסורה ביבום? והיא מתרצת שכתוב בויקרא אצל עריות "עליה" וכתוב בדברים אצל יבום "עליה". זה נראה כמו גזרה שווה. [גזרה שווה בדרך כלל היא שיש אותה מילה בשני מקומות, ולכן שמים את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני.] תוספות שואל, למה לא להפוך את הגזרה שווה לכיוון השני? והוא מתרץ, שהתנא של הברייתא אוחז בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זאת אומרת שבלי הגזרה שווה היינו אומרים שיבום דוחה איסור אחות אשתו. אם כן למה צריכים את הגזרה שווה? אלא על כורחך היא באה לומר את החידוש שאין יבום דוחה אחות אשתו.
עכשיו שמסקנת הגמרא היא (לקמן) שעשה אינו דוחה לא תעשה הסברה הייתה צריכה ללכת בכיוון השני. זאת אומרת שאין לנו מקום ללמוד ממנו שעריות אסורות ביבום. (אולי יש לומר שבאמת זאת היא סברת בית שמאי, אבל בית שמאי מתיר רק צרת ערווה לא העריות עצמן) אופן שני להסתכל בברייתא הוא זה: אין הברייתא מזכירה גזרה שווה. יכול להיות היא חושבת על "מה מצינו". והיא חושבת כך: אנחנו מוציאים שאשת אחיו אסורה אפילו אם אחיו אינו בעולם. רק במקום יבום היא מותרת. באופן דומה היינו צריכים להתיר את כל העריות במקום יבום. ולכן אנחנו צריכים את המילה "עליה" לומר לנו שאחות אשתו וכל העריות אסורות. הקושיא כאן היא שזה היה עובד אפילו אם היתה לנו את המילה "עליה" רק במקום אחד. והברייתא אומרת שהדין שלה באה מן העובדה שאותה מילה נמצאת בשני המקומות. עוד קושיא גדולה כאן היא שאם הברייתא מכוונת לגזרה שווה יש כאן אי הבנה. גזרה שווה רגילה נותנת את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני וממקום השני למקום הראשון. אם זאת היא גזרה שווה, אזי התוצאה של זו היא שמילת "עליה" בעריות מדברת רק במקום יבום, ואז כל העריות תהיינה אסורות רק במקום יבום. וזה אי אפשר. ולכן צריכים לומר שכוונת התנא היא שזה מה מצינו.
במילים אחרות. הברייתא אומרת איך אנחנו יודעים שאחותו של אשתו אסורה היבום? והיא עונה שהפסוק אומר "עליה" בויקרא ו"עליה" בספר דברים בנוגע ליבום. זה נראה כמו גזירה שווה. (גזירה שווה פירושו  המילה  זהה משמשת בשני מקומות שונים. אז אנחנו מיישמים את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, אלא אם כן קיים טעם ספציפי כי להפחית את כח הגזירה שווה.) דרך חלופית  להסתכל על ברייתא זו היא לומר שזה לא קשור עם גזירה שווה. אפשר לחשוב ככה. אנו מוצאים כי אשתו של אחיו (של אחד) אסורה אפילו אחרי שהוא  נפטר. ובכל זאת אנו מוצאים כי במקרה הספציפי של יבום היא מותרת. אז אנחנו צריכים לאפשר לכל היחסים האסורים במקרה של יבום להיות מותרים. אז עכשיו אנחנו צריכים את מילה אחת מיותרת "עליה" לספר לנו שהיא אסורה. כלומר כי ברייתא הוא חושבת על "מה מצינו", מה אנו מוצאים במקום אחד אנו מרחיבים באופן אוטומטי למקומות אחרים, אם לא נצליח למצוא סיבה ספציפית להגביל את תחולתו, לא גזירה שווה. הבעיה עם זה היא כי זה יעבוד גם אם רק הייתה המילה "עליה" לבדה. את ברייתא בהחלט מתייחס לעובדה כי אותה המילה משמשת בשני המקומות לגזור את  החוק שלה. אז זה בהחלט אומר שזה גזירה שווה. ואם זה גזירה שווה, אז התוצאה היא קשה. הגזירה שווה הרגילה מעמידה את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, ולהיפך. זה היה גורם לשים את "עליה" של יבום לתוך היחסים ולעשות את כולם אסורים רק במקרה של יבום! כלומר יש לנו שאלה משום גזירה שווה הולכת לשני הכיוונים. תשובה. למעשה אם גזירה שווה הולכת בשני הכיוונים הוא ויכוח. כאן נראה שהברייתא  בדעת שהגזירה השווה סובבת רק לכיוון אחד.
רציתי להציג נושא שעולה בתחילת יבמות. זה יעזור לענות על שאלה ששאלתי בתחילת יבמות. זוהי שאלת אשת אחיו מאמו. החוק בתורת כהנים שתוספות מביא בתחילת יבמות. משפט זה מובא על הפסוק  שלא לישא אשת אחיו של שאומר "נדה היא". תורת הכהנים שואלת למה להשוות אותה לנדה? מכיוון שבדיוק כמו נדה יש ​​זמן של רשות, כך גם היא, כלומר אם אחיו מת ללא ילדים. אז הפסוק לא ניתן לדבר על אח מהאם. יבמות מ''א.  הותרה ונאסרה וחזרה והותרה אסורה כמו שמואל ורב אסי. הסיבה לזה הרשב''א אומר היא הדעה שמכילה את היבמה באיסור כרת אבל עשה של יבום דוחף אותו. אבל הלכה בגמרא עצמה היא הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת כמו רב ור' חנינא וכי הדעה מחזיקה לאיסור של אשת אח יש מגבלת זמן ואחרי שהיא נופלת ליבום אין עוד כל כרת מעורב. לכן לשאלה שלי בתחילת יבמות יש תשובה. כי ההוראה המקורית שם זה  מחזיקה בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת וזו תהיה גם כמו הדעה שנדחתה בגמרא , הדעה של שמואל ואת רב אסי. היינו תשובתי על הברייתא בתחילת יבמות. שזו הולכת כמו שמואל ורב אסי שמחזיקים עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. אז התשובה שלי תהיה בכך בדיוק כמו שהרשב''א אמר ששמואל ורב אסי מחזיקים הותרה ונאסרה והותרה אסורה וזה יהיה בגלל שקבעו כי עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת ואפילו אשת אח מאביו איסור של אשת אח נמשך, אבל פשוט נדחף על ידי עשה של יבום. אבל הלכה היא כמו רב ור' חנינא כי הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת. וזה הולך כדעת אין עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זה הכי הגיוני כי בדרך כלל אנחנו מבינים יבום להיות כמו נדה באופן שבו לאחר הזמן של האיסור אין איסור כלל, לא כי הוא נדחף משם.

25.12.13

Tractate Yevamot. Page three of Yevamot is  a very important page in the Talmud. This is one of the  places  where the Talmud takes the time and trouble to derive its laws from the verses in a logically rigorous manner. The basic beginning on the subject comes from the question how do we know that a Tzarat Erva (צרת ערווה) is forbidden [to Beit Hillel]. The Talmud answers from the extra "upon her."(עליה) I would rather not go into the details here but the problem in this piece of Talmud are discussed on the side in the Tosphot Yeshanim.

I don't remember all the details but the basic idea was that the Gemara uses "upon her" (עליה) for a Gezeira Shava. (גזירה שווה) The Gemara says: "Just like in forbidden relations, a sister is forbidden, so also by yevamot a sister is forbidden."
  The Tosphot Yeshanim asks: "Let's turn the Gezeira Shava in the opposite direction to make her permitted in Yibum? He answers the Gemara is depending on a later page in the Talmud (sugia) in which we know the a positive prohibition pushes off a negative prohibition. So that is what we would think even without the extra words "upon her."(עליה)  So why do we need upon her? Only to tell us something different from what we would have thought, -and that is to make her forbidden.
  At this point I asked:  But what happens after later on the Gemara says a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has karet (being cutting off from ones people) as part of it penalty? After we know this, then without "upon her" we would already know he is forbidden. So what the the "upon her"(עליה)  tell us? That she is permitted! 

24.12.13

It is not really a big deal but when I was learning Isaac Luria a few years back I never did the subject of (Nukvah) the wife in depth.



 So for a few days I have been looking at Shaar HaNukva in Isaac Luria's Mavo Shaarim. I discovered something interesting that I had not seen before when I was skimming over it.

It is the fact that when the husband builds the wife, there are aspects of light that she gets from him and there are other actual aspects of her spiritual vessels that she gets from him. We know that she has a half of one third of his kindness in her Crown. But as I looked closer I saw some details I had missed. For one thing there is a difference between the man and the woman in this regard. The husband gets 2/3s of one kindness for his Sphere of Beauty. But he does not use it all for that Sphere. Rather 1/2 of 1/3 goes to his wife, 1/3 stays there, and a whole 1/3 goes up to his crown.

The wife gets a part of the outer light of kindness which is contained in his beauty and a part of the inner light.
She gets from the inner light only 1/2 of one third as I just mentioned. This stays in her crown. But from the outer light of his kindness she gets 1.5 thirds  [i.e. a whole half]. Here things are different for the wife than for the husband. She uses 1/2  of one third for her crown, another 1/2 of one third for her Intellect [Daat] and the last 1/2 of one third for her beauty. Actually you can see this easily. Did you ever notice how a bride becomes more beautiful after she gets married? I have seen this and the effect is sometimes startling.


However a word of warning. When i hear any kind of Hasidim talking about Kabalah i cringe. In general chasidm have not done the basic homework to know what they are talking about and explains concepts of Isaac Luria in  many  ways that are opposed of what Isaac Luria says. If they would not be pretending knowledge of Isaac Luria I would not mind so much but once you decide to talk about Kabalah you have a n obligation to have done the homework.




22.12.13

In Bava Metzia 14b we find that the Talmudic sage Rav said that in a case where one has bought something from a thief and the property returns to  the owner, that the buyer [party number three] gets the money he paid for it from the thief and the improvement also. Rashi explain that this is a case in which the original property was already improved and the thief damaged the property. So the original owner is getting back the property with zero improvement. Tosphot explains that the case is simply that the property was empty and the buyer improved it, and so when Rav says the thief pays back the improvement, it is a simple case of his giving back the improvement, and the original owner gives back the investment to the buyer.

The idea of Tosphot is that this is not any different from a case where a person goes into someone else's field and plants it. In such a case the owner pays the investment, but not the improvement.
This all seems simple and plain. Now this is also the way the Pnei Yehoshua understands this and it seems like there is no need of any explanation.

The problem here arises when we look at Bava Kama page 95a. It looks like this entire subject in Bava Metzia is going according to the opinion of Rabbi Meir over there, and against Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon.--which seems absurd on the face of it. Simply put, it so happens that R. Meir is the one person who holds that improvement goes back to the original owner with the stolen object--not Rabbi Yehuda or Rabbi Shimon. But if you try to explain the subject in Bava Metzia as if it was going like the halacha (law) in Bava Kama, you encounter major problems. Some of these problems were noted by the Pnei Yehoshua, but there is  a  question  that seems to me to be even more powerful that the questions the Pnei Yehoshua raised. The fact is that Shmuel is the person that argues with Rav in Bava Metzia and he says the third party --the buyer-- does not get back the improvement. If you try to explain this according to Rabbi Yehuda it makes no sense. Of course he does not get back the improvement -- because no one took it from him in the first place!
In short, the whole subject in Bava Metzia seems to be going completely like Rabbi Meir and we know from Tractate Eruvin that this is simply impossible. When there is an argument between Rabbi Meir and or Rabbi Shimon with Rabbi Yehuda the law always is like Rabbi Yehuda.

Here is a different idea on that some page.


 ב''מ יד: יש פה שלשה אנשים: נגזל,גזלן, ולוקח מן הגזלן והקרקע שנגזלה. הקרקע חוזרת לבעלים עם השבח שהשביחה הלוקח. רב אמר שהלוקח גובה מחיר הקרקע ושבחה מן הגזלן. תוספות אומרים שהדין של היורד לתוך שדה חבירו בלי רשות שמקבל היציאה שייך לפה. זה דין של רב בדף קג. ושם רב אומר ידו על התחתונה. זאת אומרת שאם השבח פחות מן היציאה, אז הנגזל משלם את היציאה. ואם היציאה פחותה, אז הוא משלם את היציאה. ועכשיו אפשר להבין כוונת התוספות פה בדף יד:. פה יש שתי אפשריות. א) השבח יותר מן היציאה. ב) השבח פחות מן היציאה. מצב הראשון הוא המצב שרב דיבר עליו. שם הנגזל משלם את היציאה, והגזלן משלם את השבח. [פה כוונת רב היא שהגזלן משלם את השבח היתר מן היציאה, היינו ההפרש. וזה שלא ככוונתו בדף קג. אולי יש פה איזו קושיא?] במצב השני שהשבח פחות, אז הגזלן אינו משלם כלום, והנגזל משלם את השבח. וזאת היא השאלה שלי. למה הגזלן אינו משלם את היציאה? אם אנחנו הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר, אז הוא חייב לשלם את היציאה. אם אנחנו לא הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר (אחריות לאו טעות סופר היא) אז גם השבח אינו משלם

[Looking at this essay later I am not sure why I did not write the first idea in Hebrew.  I think the reason I did not put the first paragraph into Hebrew was  I was thinking along the lines   of Tosphot that the two Gemaras pg 14 and 101 mean the same thing-that the שבח goes to the thief and then to the buyer. But later I decided that that can't be what Tosphot meant. Rather who ever did the שבח gets paid for it. And therefore the whole above essay becomes important again.

20.12.13

It is well known that the Yoseph Yozel Horowitz (from Navaradok) held that trust in God is of prime importance in life.
I have claimed that this is a good approach, but it only works if one has held to it as soon as he has heard of it, and not gone away from it. If one starts to depend on his own deeds and intelligence in obtaining life's needs, then one can't go back to trust.

Now the basic approach here is that trust in the concepts of Navardok is not belief nor is it religious frenzy. Nor is it related to the idea of sitting and learning Torah. It is however often mixed up with that, but  conceptually it is unrelated. One can in theory sit and learn Torah all day and be depending on handouts from the Israeli government or from rich Jews in America. One could also be working all day in physics job at New York University, and still be trusting in God.

However, we do find that Schopenhauer made a correct observation that there is no reason to assume that the Will has human good in mind. To him, the Will almost delights in surprising people and acting in unpredictable ways. At first glance these two points of view seem contradictory. I claim they are not.

But first I should mention is that there are sub-levels between the First Cause and the actual physical universe that when these levels intersect this world cause what can be called supernatural effects. But these sub levels are not identical with the First Cause.








To me trust in God is going to university and getting an honest job and working for a living but putting one's trust in God.

But then how does one relate this to Schopenhauer? My answer has always been to this question that even Schopenhauer agrees that there is an aspect of the Will that is beyond the dimension that he talks about in The World As Will and Representation. It is the dimension of the Good. This is mentioned in a last letter of his.

I would like to defend the idea that trust in God is an objective moral value. That is it is something people should do. But it is not something they must do. I.e. I claim there are moral values that are oughts, but not musts. It is a realm of value that is totally separate from Thou must.








There are several rival groups that come to the shrine of Nachman in Uman. One of the most infamous are the people connected with Rabbi Berland at Shuvu Banim. They are amazingly violent and extremely dangerous. And they have now taken over the grave site itself of Reb Nachman.


Perhaps I should have written more about this very  group before to warn people that they use the name of Breslov to attract naive people, but in fact it is a  cult.
I have usually taken the approach that since no one comments on my blogs anyway I am absolved of responsibility to make known the different evil cults that proliferate in Orthodox Judaism.

But I think after that Kelipa has taken over it no loner is worth the trouble to go there. Better stay home  and learn Torah.