The clash of ferocious Islam against Judaic Christian civilization.

I think that people in the West are not aware of the power that numinious values play in people's lives. Because they are not religious they cant see how religion can be the major motivation.
The Enlightenment intended this. The idea was to create secular societies where religion was a minor trivial play thing. So when people encounter  ferocious Islam, they simply can't comprehend from it comes. Did not Walt Disney tell us "It's a small world after all?" And everyone is the small on the inside and we should all sit around the campfire singing kubaya?

It is a clash of Islam against Judaic Christian civilization.

I used the term Judaic Christian civilization because it seems to describe the Civilization that arose in Western Europe-- that is the “meme” that was the seed of that civilization.
If the term was coined late, that does not mean it is inaccurate.


I still really believe like the Madragat HaAdam מדרגת האדם that with the right amount of trust in God things would work out for me. Most of my problems I attribute not to lack of God's grace, but to lack of trust. That is: I see lack of trust in God as my own most serious problem,- because it is at the root of all other problems.

Trust in God is incidentally the major theme of the school of thought "Navardok." [that is part of the title of this blog]

 The idea of trust gave me great strength to do things that I felt were right to do, but I would have been scared to do them if I had thought about them too much. For example, going to Israel to live there at a time when it was  very dangerous. Also sitting and learning Torah, though I had no idea where a making living would come from. Both of these things I did because of trust in God along these lines "I will do what is right and God will help me."

Of course later on I fell from learning Musar [Ethics] and trust. Slowly but surely. And as I fell so did God's help.

An advantage of trust in God is you can speak the truth and never be afraid of bad consequences. And speaking the truth always even by itself is an amazing thing. It provides one with a protective shield that nothing can penetrate. And it is a spear that can pierce tall mountains. I found for myself that a commitment to speak the truth always under all circumstances is an anchor that keeps me safe in stormy seas.

Therefore what I suggest is something along the lines of a Navardok yeshiva. That is a regular Litvak  Musar yeshiva but with a emphasis on trust in God. This in fact the basis structure of the Mir Yeshiva in NY when I was there. There was a whole shelf in the Ethics section of only the Madragat HaAdam.

Every yeshiva seems to have a meme. A unit of social information. That is even among the really great yeshivas that I have seen there are differences.  We already know that each school of thought after Reb Israel Salanter emphasized a different character trait. So Navardok was just one approach of many. Slobadka was גדולת האדם the greatness of man. The Mir was more modest. The Mir in NY where I went to seemed to pride itself on being second best. In any case among all Litvak yeshivas that I have seen there is a basic emphasis on worship of God alone and good character traits. Personally I can't think of any one Litvak Yeshiva that is not worthy of support even though there are some I am less happy with.

Still I would have to say one should learn Physics and Math along with the regular Gemara and Musar program. That is the basic modification I would have to say is important.

Ideas in shas  Ideas in Bava Metzia  with editing and some additions.

The truth is I see most of Shas as virgin territory. The types of basic questions and issues that I see in every Tosphot look to me to be things no one has ever touched on..

I am on one hand sad that I was not able to write a similar kind of book like the Ideas in Bava Metzia on other chapters and tractates. But maybe someone will come after me and do the work. I hope so.

The yeshiva model of depending on charity does not work. It ends up baiting naive college students making them think "we are all one happy family" while spitting them out when they are no longer useful or their rich parents no longer want to support them. And it shames the name of Torah to have the disgusting creatures at the head of the hierarchy.

Whether using the Torah for money like kollels do is permissible according to the Torah [or not] is not the question. Maybe they can find support for this practice in some achronim [later authorities]. Fine. The point  is that it does not work. It makes a highly perfidious system with the worst kind of slime at the top of the hierarchy.

Yeshivas should make it clear from the start that Torah is not to be used for making a living. Everyone should learn a decent vocation as part of the program.

Trust in God has to be trust in God--not in the system.

I have tended to "conflate" {mix up} trust in God with trust in the yeshiva system. I went to yeshiva thinking that God would provide for parnasa issues [making a living issue].
This probably would have worked if I had stayed inside the system. But to some degree I think I lost this confidence in God and instead started trusting in the system itself. I might have continued in this illusion if not for the yeshivas themselves proving untrustworthy. [Or the people running things.]

The Lakewood Kollel did not throw me out, but very much encouraged my wife to leave me because of my sin of learning Torah for its own sake and not using it to make money. So we see we ought to make a distinction between מתיבתא דרקיע and מתיבתא דארעא- The world of yeshiva in heaven and the word of yeshivas on earth. [Very often religious people have megalomania. A kind of insanity in which they are the center of the universe and control the universe.]
That does not mean any of the principles of the Torah ought to be doubted. Rather that "people are people." That is: a highly degenerate offshoot of primates.

Still  there are great lessons to be learned. Lesson One is: Trust in God has to be trust in God--not in the system.

Lesson Two: That it is important to learn a vocation for the times when one falls from absolute confidence in God or when God hides his Face and things do not work out as well as one expects.

It is possible also to make  a note that the yeshiva system as such is only a loose confederation and depends on charity. As such, the rules are fluid, and each institution itself depends highly on the actual person running it.

One suggestion was made to me by Avi Preder to simply have "Batei Midrash" houses of study.  But that  would seem to lack the benefits of having an authentic Lithuanian yeshiva. The truth is I do not know what it all means, or how to fix things, or if things can be fixed.

So for myself, I would like to have my own personal space where I can learn Gemara (Talmud) and Musar (Ethics) in private, and not depend on people's kindnesses. But even getting to that point, I have found is hard.
 And just walking into yeshivas to learn did not work out very well (to say the least). And the further problem is the whole yeshiva model has given rise to numerous cults that pretend to be real yeshivas, but are in fact destructive cults.

In short, I have found the whole yeshiva world to be highly troubling, and in fact it raises many more questions and problems than it seems to solve. It might be an idea to take money out of the equation. But I wonder if that would help much. The places that are authentic probably should be supported like Ponovitch.

It could be the Mizrachi types of places are the best idea: Torah with a vocation.

To make a general rule seems impossible. The best bet is to sit and learn Torah yourself Gemara and Musar-and forget about institutions.

[I am not recommending any particular path or yeshiva here. Just sit and learn Torah and try to keep it as best you can. And avoid the cults and their leaders at all cost.]

group identity

I noted that in fact some people consider group identity to be national and ethnic. I understood this about two days ago when I saw someone mentioning this on a blog. For myself, for as long as I remember, I always thought keeping the Law of Moses was the most important thing. The Five Books of Moses. Not any kind of  identity. Identity did not seem like much of an issue in the Five Books of Moses  and its Oral Commentary, the two Talmuds.

Furthermore, I see group identity is very important to a lot of people, much more so than to be moral, decent people.  This group identity thing seems wrong, and to be a evil inclination, a trick of the Sitra Achra to get people to forget about simply, basic morality; and get distracted so as to obey some charismatic leader or to follow the herd.

Of course, I am not alone in this. The general approach of the Lithuanian yeshiva world was in essence to find out in a practical way how to keep the Law of Moses. In fact, that was the only thing that mattered there.

But outside of that particular environment, what drives religious people is group identity. And most of them are insane. That is not completely insane but insane to a certain percentage.

The nice thing and important thing about the Talmud is it give the only practical way to keep the Law of Moses.