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2.3.16

Ideas in Shas

What I am doing in the Gemara is mainly based on how I learned how to learn in Shar Yashuv. In the Mir in NY, Reb Shmuel Berenbaum was largely dealing with what you could call Global Issues. That is how the Gemara in front of you fits in with the rest of Shas. And he would do this based on the regular achronim, Reb Chaim Baruch Ber, R Akiva Eiger etc.

But what I am doing is more like working on the actual calculating the sugia on the page itself. And sometimes I go into how it relates to other sugiot.
The thing about the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn was that each of the four Roshei Yeshiva knew Shas very well and almost all of their classes had to do with "global issues"- how the subject on teh page related to other areas in Shas. It was in Far Rockaway that I had gotten the idea that the first step is to work on the subject on the page completely before looking into the issue of how it relates elsewhere.



The original idea of Navardok was trust in God as you can see in the book מדרגת האדם which is really a fantastic book. But after Isaac Blasser discussed with the Alter of Navardok [Joseph Horvitz] the importance of public work, the focus became making yeshivas. "Yeshiva" here means places that learn Talmud all day. That has little to do with modern usage of the term. The modern yeshiva is  a chat factory.
But there are a few notable exceptions which hearken back to the original idea.

I would not bring this up if I did not think there is something very special about this kind of institution. But extreme care must be taken that if one starts such a thing, that it not go off course.

My own experience in yeshiva was remarkable. I mean it was luminous. But for some reason my steps were guided towards authentic yeshivas. For all I know, I could have been guided towards very bad places [cults whose main focus is on the worship of their leader]. [It was the son of Elchanan Wassermann who told me about Shar Yashuv.]

 I was guided towards two very great places. Shar Yashuv and the Mir in NY. Shar Yashuv is more for beginners and the Mir in NY is for more advanced levels. But both places were prime examples of what a yeshiva ought to be.

But to describe what a yeshiva ought to be is not easy. Mainly I would say it is a link between Reason and Revelation. That is one works on the hard details of what the Torah is telling us by reason. But somehow that reason approaches the Divine. It is a kind of symbiosis between numinous reality and the mind. You can't really say what it is-but you know the instant you walk in the door.

I really have no idea what it takes to make such a place. But I was drawn to authentic places. [Then my own stupidity got me involved in insane cults.] [But the nice thing about being in an authentic yeshiva is that you never, ever forget the taste of the "real thing."]
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Maybe I should hide this fact but here it is anyway. I had an emotional connection with both yeshivas. I was in the kind of dilemma that is described by Heidegger. The emptiness of modern life was oppressing me. When I walked into  a place learning Torah in an authentic way I felt like I could breathe. So I admit there was an emotional component to all this. It was not just intellectual curiosity.

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Just for background information for those that might not know. The major authentic yeshivas today are few. The list is short. Ponovitch, Brisk, Mir in NY, Chaim Berlin in NY, Torah VeDaat in NY.
[Tifrach I have heard good things about, but it is mainly a branch of Ponovitch.]

Hasidic so called "yeshivas" are dens of the Dark Side. The sexual abuse of children is already on police record in Israel. I think that this comes from the origins of the movement. And even non hasidic people  that are aware of this are silent because of the power of the movement. They are afraid of taking it on least they lose their jobs. But constant patterns of behavior shows that the child abuse is not accidental but an integral part of the movement.





Possibly the most consistent argument one is faced with when discussing politically incorrect subjects is the knee-jerkingly reflexive, "You can't generalize like that!" This is usually followed with an anecdote about someone's friend 

Any logical person will soon realize that when discussing macro-issues in regard to society and its trends, not only can you generalize but in fact you must generalize. 

Condensed from here  

I take it that when you see consistent behavior in group that it is obligatory to generalize even though you know there are exceptions.

1.3.16

Music


r8  r9 mathematics bar yochai chs  [bar yochai needs editing] b104 b101 e36 e33 b105  b100 b98
פילגש girl friend. Not the same as prostitute.
To the Rambam it is an איסור עשה--a prohibition that is derived from a positive command. To most Rishonim it is permitted.
I have pointed out that כלב בן יפונה had what you would call a few wives and girls friends. Kalev Ben Yefuna was the friend of Joshua. He was righteous and the only person in the entire OT that it says about him וימלא אחרי השם "he went totally after God." You can find the relevant verses in Chronicles.

Christians clearly would not agree with this because of reasons I do not understand. Maybe they think  Paul can override this? Maybe they are not aware? I really am not sure.  I any case it is not my business.

I m not recommending this idea as a first option. It is only in case you find yourself wifeless. Then a girlfriend is a very good and permissible option.  And even if if you have  a wife, it is still a good option.

The reason Christians are against this is mainly Paul. There are two Pauls. One is the marriage is not good but better than worse things. The other Paul is the Acts of Paul and Thecla which hold that marriage is sin. In any case no of this has relevance for the Old Testament. In the Old Testament ניאוף adultery has a very specific definition and it has nothing to do with sex outside of marriage. It is specifically sex with a married woman with one who is not her husband. A man can have many wives and sex with all of them and that is not adultery. And he can even have a girl friend outside of marriage  and that is also not adultery. But as I mentioned it is subject to a debate among Rishonim. The Rambam in fact holds all sex outside of a a marriage  is forbidden. Only a king is allowed a girlfriend. But even to his opinion sex with a girlfriend is not a straight prohibition לאו. It is rather a לאו הבא מכלל עשה a prohibition that is derived from not doing a positive command.

In any case, the Rambam is a minority opinion. All other rishonim allow it.


The main idea of marriage is that you need two witnesses in order to be married.
That means you need two males above the age of 13 to witness it. And you need the man and woman to intend to be married. A woman can be acquired as a wife in one of three ways: sex, money, or a document in front of 2 witnesses. Plus you need some kind of words along the lines of "You are married to me by this ring" or "You are acquired to me by this ring (or document)"

The verses from where these are learned from are brought down in Kidushin on the very first Mishna. Plus they use the idea of a גזירה שווה. (That is: when one word is used in two different places, you apply the laws of one place to the other.)
That is דבר ערווה and יקום דבר have the same word so we say to marry requires two witnesses.

על פי שני עדים יקום דבר, על כל דבר ערווה, אין דבר שבערווה פחות משניים That is one verse says "No thing shall stand except by the word of two witnesses" and the other verse says "on everything that relates to  עריות." From this they learn that all things related to marriage and divorce need two witnesses.





Adultery is sex with a married woman. That is not symmetric. A man can be married to two wives. But a woman can  be married only to one man. But if a woman married to a man has sex with another man both the man and woman get the death penalty. The reason for the death penalty is because it come under the category of עריות forbidden sexual relations mentioned twice in Leviticus
[Also, marriage only works for people that are allowed to marry. Thus any of the relationships mentioned in Leviticus can not marry. Thus even if one marries his sister in front of two witnesses, nothing happens. The marriage is not חל that is it never happened. It is null and void. That is the state of marriage can only happen in a permitted situation. Thus the sister does not need  a divorce because she was never married in the first place. And if sex occurred in front of two witnesses they both get the death penalty if there was a warning issued by the witnesses. "Don't do this and if you do you should know such and such is the penalty"


Girl friends are not wives. But there is an argument if a girl friend is permitted.[Or even what such a concept is in the first place. See the Gra on the Shulchan Aruch.]
The Rambam said girls friends were permitted only to kings. The Gra shows from Chronicles I 2:46 that that is not the case.



What is going on in the NT is not the issue here. Rather I am just trying to clarify what the law of marriage is according to the Old Testament.



Paul clearly has other ideas. One idea of Paul is that marriage is not a sin. So the church said that celibacy is best. But if not celibacy then marriage is OK. Then there is the Acts of Paul and Thecla in which marriage is considered a sin. In any, case in the Old Testament things are different.


Oaths and vows are not the same thing as getting married. Vows are נדרים. Oaths are שבועות. The laws in which a father or husband can annul the vow of a נערה [girl from 12 to 12.5 years old] refers to things people take vows for. For example "This loaf of bread is like a sacrifice to me." Thus since no one is allowed to eat a sacrifice from the time it is sanctified until it is offered in teh Temple so she can not eat the loaf of bread. But if her father or if she gets married then her husband hears the vow then he can nullify it if is still daylight. [up until 72 minutes after sunset.] Marriage is not like that. Marriage is a state. It can only be taken off by a divorce document given in front of two witnesses.

Marriage comes in two parts. Kidushin and Chupa. That is even after Kidushin even though she is legally married they are not allowed to live together until Chupa. The Chupa is the act of her coming into his space. That needs ten people.  These difference come up in the laws of vows mentioned in Numbers. The word מאורסת means married buy so far without Chupa.




reason and faith.

In the mediaeval philosophers there is a strong connection with reason and faith.
But they did think that reason had limits. This is not so different than  Kant. But Heidegger thought to exploit the limits of reason initiated by Kant to begin an anti reason movement that would get in contact with real Being.

Part of the problem that I see is that Being has two sides to it. A realm of holiness and a realm of darkness. The exclusion of reason which is the step ladder to Being, can only lead to the opposite side of being. 


Heidegger did see the modern problem. Meaningless existence. But who is the culprit?  Reason? Let's think back to beginning of it all Pericles's Athens. Did was there reason to think others were living more authentic lives? Or today. Perhaps in the Sudan people are living more authentically?
And when people do want to get in touch with Being where do they go but fall straight into the hands of cults? 

My feelings were similar. People had been skeptical of the Enlightenment way before Heidegger, starting from Jonathan Swift. But Heidegger put his finger on the modern problem. My own experience was pretty much like Heidegger describes it. And I found my own connection to Being in Shar Yashuv Yeshiva in Far Rockaway and later at the Mir in NY. 

But the same feelings as a rule lead people to terrible cults and demonic, charismatic leaders. There also people find meaning and the "Truth."

None of this would have surprised the Rambam. To him Reason as understood by Aristotle was a prerequisite before Sinai  could happen. "For Rambam an essential attribute of rationality is its transhuman quality.  Abraham is not, for Rambam, a prophet in the fullest sense of the word (a station unique to Moses of Sinai); rather he is a philosopher of the highest rank who discovers a notion similar to what we would call "natural law. Only after the descendants of Abraham have created a community of natural-law abiding persons who will not confuse a revelation from God with the oracles of intermediary beings is the world made safe for the Mosaic revelation." Sunwall.