Monotheism of the Torah

Rav Shick [of Breslov] spent a great deal of effort and he must have printed  more than several million pamphlets trying to change the paradigm [world view] of Torah from Monotheism to pantheism.

I wrote an essay on this a few years ago that brought up the basic points, but was a little too sharp {I admit.} Since Rav Shick was claiming this as if Rav Nachman had supported this, I included critiques on Breslov.

But in that essay I brought some  of the relevant points: Spinoza, the Upanishads, where pantheism is held by. And I showed it has no support from the Ari''zal based on a least four of five references I brought there from beginning of the Eitz Chaim.

I did not bring up possible places of support like the Remak [Moshe of  Cardavaro] or the Shelah. Some suggested also the Ibn Ezra.

I discussed this once with Israel Rozen a friend mine in Jerusalem, and he pointed out that the Nefesh HaChaim does not actually support pantheism,-- even though some people understand it in that way.

All I wanted to say now was the clarify the basic idea of Monotheism of the Torah as understood by the Rambam and Saadia Gaon. That is that God is one and not a composite. And he made the world something from nothing. יש מאין. That is to say that even from God's point of view nothing exists without him making it exist every second --but not that is is Him. He made everything from nothing. The world is not Divine. [Causality does not imply identity though Buddhism and Hume both conflate these issues. Buddhism has to do this because of the fact that there is no substance that continues in time. So they have to adhere to some form of causality to get identity. But I can make a tuna fish sandwich, but that does not mean that I am a tuna fish sandwich.

As Dr. Kelley Ross wrote on this issue : "Since the approach of Buddhism to the world is to break attachments, so that one does not suffer because of relationships to things, a simple way to do that is to say, in effect, that there are no things. If nothing is substantial or has any essence, this will do that job. What we get instead are the doctrines of "momentariness," "no self nature," and "relative existence." If everything exists only momentarily, then nothing is durable, and we lose that characteristic of substances. If there is no self nature, then there is nothing in things that makes them what they are, and we lose the existence of essences. If things only exist relative to other things, then (1) nothing exists independently and we lose that characteristic of substance, and (2) nothing has its own character, so we lose that characteristic of essence. So what is actually there? Well, what we see is the "form" of things, the external appearance. Since there is no self nature and things only have relative existence, what are things in themselves when we take away everything else? Well, Emptiness. This is not nothingness (a major heresy), but neither existence nor non-existence nor both nor neither. In other words, we can't say or comprehend what is there. Later, in Mahâyâna Budddhism, we get the doctrine of the Heart Sutra that "Emptiness is Form, and Form is Emptiness."

Unfortunately, Buddhism always had difficulty with the implications of all this fundamental metaphysics. The loss of substance and essence takes with it identity, so that it becomes difficult to say that an individual, like the Buddha, achieves Enlightnment and Salvation. The individual, in fact, does not survive beyond the moment, and so it is a different being who achieves Enlightenment from the one who existed previously, and a different being in turn who achieves Salvation. Buddhism attempts to substitute causality for substance, so that what I am now is simply caused by what I was before. Unfortunately, this does not restore identity. If I make a tuna sandwich, and so cause its existence, this does not mean I am the tuna sandwich. Causal connections can be within substances or pass between them, and the identity relation is contributed by the substance, not by the causality. In the end, Buddhism seems to settle into the notion of "provisonal existence," which is durable and identical, and then, with some other expedients, ceases to worry about the matter. The popular belief, indeed, is that Buddhism is about finding one's true self, not about finding that there is no self at all (anatma or anatta, "No Self"). "

The Rambam thought this principle was important enough to spend the second volume of the Guide on it.


Yeshivas have fallen as institutions

Yeshivas have fallen as institutions for the sake of learning Torah. Most are more likely to cause damage than to help one grow. Therefore the best thing is to  learn Torah at home  That is to go through (word for word) every last word of the Oral and Written Law.
Most yeshiva s have become self serving bureaucracies.

It is in truth hard to tell exactly how they changed or when or why. I am pretty sure my experience was not limited to me alone. The basic story line seems to be consistent. They started out in Israel and the USA very much "for the sake of Heaven." Then it seems they became more alone the lines of private clubs for the head macho man and his goons.

The best approach is that of Reb Israel Salanter learn Musar [Mediaeval Ethics] and do what it says. That is very different than the yeshiva thing.  The Musar movement has become a kind of  "frumkeit" movement. The leaders of Musar and the Yeshivas are Baali OCD [masters of the Obsessive compulsive disorders.]

In short the frum world certainly  a different religion than Torah. But even the Torah World got the "frumkeit" virus (religious nonsense virus).

Part of the trouble is the song and dance they make to pretend "We are all one big happy family." This is a sin of "You must not place a stumbling block in front of  a blind man,"אל תתן מכשול because later when these same students they made the show and dance for actually come into a time of need, there is no question all these fair weather friends will turn their backs on them.  And I would be transgressing the sin of "Thou shalt not stand by the blood of your neighbor"  אל תעמוד על דם רעיך'if I did not warn people about this.


The belief system of the Torah is not pantheism but rather Monotheism.

  The disciple of the Gra, Reb Chaim from Voloshin brings in his book (the Nefesh HaChaim), the verse  אתה הראתה לדעת כי השם הוא האלהים אין עוד מלבדו "You were shown to know that the Lord is God, there is none other besides Him," to mean that not only is God the only god, but also the only independent power in the world.

  This verse is commonly used to support pantheism. I wrote an essay showing that the belief system of the Torah is not pantheism, but rather Monotheism. But for now I wanted to show what the verse really does mean. It means there is no independent power in the world. But there is a world that is not God. But it is not separate from God. No one can help or hurt you without the permission and will of God.
  Reb Chaim himself goes into this in this way:  from the perspective of God nothing can exist without Him. But from our perspective, the world is not God.
But he also says it is  a סגולה, a help, to keep this in mind, that no one can help or hurt you without God's permission and will.

This whole thing is  reflected in Quantum Mechanics which shows that the world is radically subjective. It does not exist until it is observed. So it all depends on one's perspective. That is to say we know locality and  causality from Relativity. And with Quantum Mechanics, reality can be either non-local or subjective. Therefore we know that the second choice is true. Reality is local and subjective.[I was critical at one time of this point of Reb Chaim and I thought it should not matter one' perspective. It is thus and thus or it is not by the law of the excluded middle. I am pretty sure I was  not the first to voice this critique on the Nefeh Hachaim.

It is common for people to think that this is pantheism but it is not.

The Rambam and all the rishonim have made a point that God is not matter, and has no matter or form. He  utterly simple. He is not a composite. He has no ingredients Thus most of the books in the religious world nowadays are explaining the Torah in a way contrary to the way the Rishonim understood the Torah.

[We know QM is true from the double slit experiment. One slit, the electron acts as a particle. Two slits, it acts like  a wave. We know Relativity is true from GPS. The satellite moves with respect to you so you have its goes slower by  some microseconds.You are closer to the centre of the Earth so you go slower by some microseconds. So you adjust the clock on the satellite accordingly. If you would not correct for these two effects the GPS in your taxi would be off every day by a few kilometers.]

 התלמיד של הגר''א, רב חיים מביא בספרו  נפש החיים , הפסוק אתה הראית לדעת כי השם הוא האלהים אין עוד מלבדו לומר כי לא רק שהוא האלוהים האל היחיד, אלא גם את הכח היחיד בעולם.   פסוק זה משמש בדרך כלל כדי לתמוך הפנתאיזם. כתבתי מאמר מראה כי מערכת האמונות של התורה היא לא הפנתאיזם, אלא מונותאיזם. אבל לעת עתה רציתי להראות מה הפסוק באמת אומר. זה אומר שאין כוח עצמאי בעולם. אבל יש עולם, וכי הוא לא אלוהים. אבל זה העולם אינו נפרד מאלוהים. אף אחד לא יכול לעזור או לפגוע בך בלי רשות ורצון האל.  ר 'חיים עצמו נכנס בזה בדרך זו: מנקודת המבט של  אלוהים אין דבר יכול להתקיים בלעדיו. אבל מנקודת המבט שלנו, העולם הוא לא אלוהים. אבל הוא גם אומר שזה הוא סגולה(לעזר) כדי לשמור את זה בחשבון, כי אף אחד לא יכול לעזור או לפגוע בך בלי הרשות של אלוהים. כל העניין הזה משתקף במכניקה הקוונטית אשר מראה כי העולם הוא סובייקטיבי לחלוטין. הדבר לא קיים עד הוא נמדד, כמו שאמר בוהר. אז זה הכל תלוי בנקודת המבט של המתבונן. כלומר אנחנו יודעים סיבתיות מהיחסות. ועם מכניקה הקוונטית, יודעים שהמציאות יכולה להיות או לא מקומית וסובייקטיבי. לכן אנו יודעים כי הבחירה השנייה היא נכונה. המציאות היא מקומית וסובייקטיבי. הרמב''ם וכל הראשונים החזיקו שיטה  שאלוהים אין בו חומר, ואין לו שום חומר או צורה. הוא לגמרי פשוט. הוא אינו מורכב. אין לו מרכיבים. אנחנו יודעים שמכניקת הקוונטים נכונה מן ניסוי שני הסדקים. חריץ אחד, האלקטרון מתנהג כחלקיק. שני חריצים, הוא מתנהג כמו גל. אנחנו יודעים שיחסות נכונה מלווין מיקום הגלובלי. הלווין נע ביחס אליך וכך זה ממשיך איטי ידי שבעה מיקרו שניות ממה שאתה. אתה קרוב יותר למרכז של כדור הארץ וכך הלווין ממשיך יותר מהר ממה שאתה ידי ארבעים וחמישה מיקרו שניות. אז לך להתאים את השעון על הלווין להיות איטי שלשים ושמנה מיקרו שניות.


Uman Rosh Hashanah.I am pretty impressed with Reb Nachman

Uman Rosh Hashanah. The main reason yeshiva students come to Uman is for the Russian girls. I can't disapprove. After all Russian girls are pretty. But no one should have an idea as if this is some kind of mitzvah, And though Reb Nachman was a great tzadik, still no one of the groups that worships him can be considered to be keeping the Torah in any sense.

The trouble is the whole thing seems ambiguous. No one gets involved with it without getting some kind of state of delusions along with it.

I am pretty impressed with Reb Nachman himself I admit. But the people in Breslov are nightmares.
Dr Kelley Ross

"Chief among the limits imposed on war is the principle that civilians are to be separated from combatants. This serves to limit the suffering to be endured by those, the non-combatants, who have not overtly been engaged and prepared to participate in war. A strong motivation for such provisions came from the experience of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), when armies not only lived off the land, taking the food and fodder they needed for the armies to survive and function, but they actively looted the land, even torturing and murdering peasants and tradesmen in the hope of finding hidden money and other valuables.

To separate civilians from combatants, three things are essential:  (1) combatants must be easily recognizable, which means they are in distinctively military uniforms, in obviously military conveyances (including naval warships), or otherwise wear something to distinguish them as soldiers; (2) combatants target only other combatants and not civilians; and (3) combatants do not hide or mix themselves among civilians while continuing to fight, which would require that the enemy, to fight back, cannot avoid injuring the civilians"

The problem in Israel is none of these conditions apply. Arabs militants wear nothing that distinguishes them from Arab civilians. Arabs target Israeli civilian populations. Arabs hide and mix among civilians while continuing to fight.

"Like spies, irregular combatants, out of uniform, who cannot be distinguished from civilians, cannot expect any protection from the privileges afforded to proper prisoners of war. They can be shot.

 "So, when civilians enter combat, they can neither expect to be treated as civilians, which they no longer are, nor to be treated as proper soldiers, which they have not become. If civilians wish to be separated from combat and be treated accordingly, they must behave as civilians. Otherwise, they warrant the fate of those who seek to evade the laws of war or seek advantage through deception."

Added to this is an optimistic argument that the idea of national-sims is gaining ascendancy nowadays. This seems to be a good thing as Howard Bloom makes clear in his book the Lucifer Principle. If so then this provides a strong argument for Israel and for the idea that Muslims do not belong there. It is not their land. Never was and never will be.

Simply learning and keeping Torah

1.) According to Kant there are areas of reality that human reason can not venture into, and if it does, it gets caught in self contradictions. This area he calls unconditioned reality.
2) But we do have access to unconditioned reality by ways other than reason. That is through a kind of knowledge that is not reason and it is not felt or sensed.
3) My story has to do with how I came into contact with this kind of knowledge.
4) I was reading a little about Wyatt Earp and realized that 30 seconds of his life defined his entire life--everything leading up to it and everything afterwards. That was the gun fight at the OK Corral.

And I realized that it is not always up to a person to choose his life's meaning. All you can do is accept it and try to be worthy. I saw this also when I was reading the trial of Joan of Arc.

5) So I thought to put down briefly the basic story.It seems to me that it really started with yeshiva in NY. I felt some kind of force drawing me there to the degree that even though my parents were against it (and I loved my parents dearly), I simply had to go and learn in a Litvak yeshiva. I think today that those years of intense study of Gemara helped to prepare me.
6) I got married while still in the Mir Yeshiva in NY.
7) After some years I decided to go to Israel
8) Right when I got off the plane and breathed my first breath of the air of Israel I could feel it.
9) When we got to Safed the next day everything started lighting up.
10) Then there was some kind of cleansing process for  a few months and then the Divine Presence hit me like  tidal wave.-that both my wife and I felt, and I think my children also.
11) What I think this means is that: simply  learning and keeping Torah in the most simple way leads to the Divine Presence. No intermediates are necessary, No mystic intentions. Just simple Torah and being in Israel.
12) After about seven years I simply could not take it anymore and decided like Yona the Prophet to escape the Presence of God.
13) And would have been that,-- if not that the daughter of Bava Sali, Avigail Buso reminded me of my destiny. [She was thinking mainly about the path of Musar of Reb Israel Salanter and the Tur, Beit Yoseph and Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and his students like Reb Shimon Shkop and Rav Shach and  the other gedolai Lita. That is it in a nutshell.
14) Therefore, I have mentioned on this blog the importance of learning Torah in a Litvak (Lithuanian) yeshiva where Torah is learned for its own sake along the lines of simply learning and keeping the Law of Moses -the Oral and Written Law. Nothing more or less.

There are issues in my life that are inherently ambiguous. After high school I went directly to a great yeshiva in NY of Reb Freifeld. Without that I highly doubt if I ever would have "been able to learn," or to reach any understanding of authentic Torah. Still my parents wanted me to learn a vocation along with Torah and thus this move did not please them. This issue still underscores my ambiguity about this issue until this very day. [It is not that in principle I could not have attended Brooklyn College at the same time--as people were doing anyway in Chaim Berlin. It is rather that Shar Yashuv was very far from Brooklyn College and also I can see today I needed a few years of Torah alone in order to get anywhere. Divided attention would have I am afraid to admit that I would not have gotten anywhere in anything,

Still there are many issues that are related and hard for me today to figure out.Being far from my parents I think was bad for me and for them. I think I lost a lot I could have learned from them, Still as I read in the Torah right after I got to yeshiva that God placed the fiery angels to guard the path to the Tree of Life--that one has to go through hell to get to Torah. And later I saw that also in the two books on Talmud that God granted to me to write. It was with an enormous amount of pain and difficulties that it seems I needed to go through in order to merit to write anything decent in Torah thought.