a problem with Islam

I think there is a problem with Islam in itself. What I have thought until now is that it makes a whole lot of difference whom you admire. That is even if their theology would be OK (I am not saying it is), then there would still be the trouble that they emulate a dark and evil person. Christianity seems to have trouble in the area of theology but has the redeeming value of whom they admire and strive to emulate.

Some people prefer to see only bad things Christians have done, and refuse to see any good. This seems to me to be intellectually dishonest. I have to say that it is an eye opener when you find yourself in a fix and not one of your supposed friends wants to help you or even admit he knows you and it always seems to be  a Christian that comes along to offer a helping hand


 Berkeley people are not dumb. I had a learning partner who had a degree in computer science from Berkeley who is light years smarter than me. The problem is that Leftism and Socialism in various shades from strong RED to Pink were simply the accepted academic university norms and still are until today. [I was horrified to see this in NYU.] Philosophers today are not visionaries and tend to be quite superficial thinkers. [With the exception of Kelley Ross.]  I think it was easier in the USSR to see the problems with the system of communism more than in the USA where people could dream about a socialist paradise without having to feel the jackboots on their necks.


Rome at the time was not a democracy. The issue I think was that Pontus Pilate was afraid the people would send a message to Rome that he was a bad governor. That kind of report I vaguely recall would get a governor dismissed and I think sometimes executed. Also religious fanatics (as the super religious people I think were) are not representative of all the Jewish people. I have not thought about the relation of the life and death of Jesus to the question of Democracy but it seems to me that a good deal of American Democracy is based on a long history of thinking about Jesus and natural law and freedom from Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Aquinas, John Locke, and the history of the rise and fall of Athens, and the Roman Republic. It is by no means obvious to me that the story of Jesus tells us something against the kind of Republic that the USA is.


Musar movement

Even though the Musar movement in the sense of Reb Israel Salanter is not all that possible--as a mass movement, still it seems to me important  to try to get through the major works of Musar. That is the basic set of books of Ethics from the Rishonim (medival authorities), mainly because of the need to work on one's character. Tikun HaMidot [self correction of bad character traits]. The Musar movement itself seems to have drifted off into religious fanaticism,- in spite of its original idea being to come to good character traits.

The Musar movement has become part of the fanatic religions world which has set itself against the State of Israel as a primary focus. So there is not much in the way of good character one can gain from it today.
Today in terms of gaining good character, it makes more sense to go to Israel and serve in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and  learn Torah in some Mizrachi [Religious Zionist Yeshiva like Merkaz HaRav], rather than join groups that are have more in common with Mein Kamp rather than true authentic Torah.
[In terms of Torah learning it is hard to say that the super religious have much of an advantage over the Religious Zionist yeshivas. The religious Zionist yeshivas learn pretty much the same material. The difference in learning seems to be evenly distributed. I have met great learners that were part of the Religious Zionist yeshivas.]

One advantage of the Musar movement is that it calls attention to what is really important in Torah--good character מידות טובות and this ironically the very area where the religious fail miserably.


cults inside of the religious (Jewish) world

Based on my extensive  interactions with cults inside of the religious (Jewish) world I have concluded that such organizations  are terrible groups, like the mafia, that merit social censure. Thus scholars who cover up the horrific criminal activities and other unfavorable aspects of such groups are comparable to a tobacco company scientist who asserts that smoking is not really harmful to one's health.
The problem is not just the cults but also the regular Roshei Yeshiva and Torah scholars who take a passive attitude towards  highly destructive groups as long as they parade and display outer `signs of religiosity. 

At least Reb Shmuel Berenbaum [the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir in NY] was adamant not to give any open agreements in writing or otherwise to any religious organizations. His "thing" was to learn and keep Torah.

Reb Shmuel had high confidence in "learning Torah". He considered this practice as being a cure all for every kind of aliment in mind body and spirit. [That is obviously the same approach as the Gra and the Nefesh HaChaim]. [I to some degree agree with this, but I add also Physics and Metaphysics based on the Rambam who puts these two subjects into the category of the Oral Law, as you can see in הלכות תלמוד תורה in the law where he says to divide one' learning into three parts. One is Talmud. And he adds '' העניינים הנקראים פרדס הם בכלל הגמרא. And he already defined פרדס In the first four chapters of Mishne Torah.]
I also add these two subjects because as the Gra said to the degree one lacks knowledge of the seven wisdoms [Trivium and Quadrivium] to that degree he will be lacking in knowledge of the Torah,  and I by experience have come to see the truth of that observation.

[One side benefit of math, I noticed, is that it tends to weed out pseudo intellectuals. That is-- there are people that think they are smart because they learned some Torah. This they assume means they are super geniuses in everything. Just a drop of math tends to put a damper onto such illusions. Math is an amazing filter. The pseudo intellectuals can get by every other filter, but not this one. This is the one thing that really separates the really talented people from the fakers that pretend to be smart because they give each other credentials.    
In fact , come to think of it, why not give every person in kollel a math test? That would take them down a few notches from "We are the elite of  Israel and so everyone should give us money" to "We are the most stupid and incapable in  Israel and can not do anything productive and so please give us money." It does irk me that people that are really stupid can pretend to be geniuses and by that have caused infinite damage to Israel

I have been around the block a few times and so I have seen  groups claiming that some practice or other will bring one ultimate  salvation in this world and then next, and also seen enough counter examples to falsify all their claims. The only thing left standing in my opinion is learning Torah as the Gra held and  heard from Reb Shmuel Berenbaum.
How do you have a counter examples for a claim about salvation? Mainly things that indicate otherwise. For example a claim if you come to such and such a place and do such a such a ritual you will be saved and have your whole life changed for the better and someone comes there and does that after fasting  for forty days and saying the whole psalms forty days in a row and then comes and dies right then and there, I would say we have a good counter example.  
It is the kind of process you us to falsify a philosophical claim. You find a plausible counter example as e.g.empiricism. Or the same way you falsify a theory in physics. You find one counter example.

And this same process works for spiritual claims. 

[The main groups to avoid are those censured by the Gra for being cults. Reb Nachman I should make an exception for since he was a great tzadik and not within the category of the cherem [excommunication.] Still the groups that supposedly follow his path are problematic. It is not worth leaving a legitimate Litvak yeshiva to run after false leaders.]


The obvious thing to do here is to say the רמב''ם does not hold from the idea that a מיגו can take out from a חזקה. and that opinion in תוספות might very well hold that we do not believe him when he says פתח פתוח מצאתי. But if that תוספות does not hold from that, then we are left with the question on the first משנה. Why make a תקנה for a virgin to be married on Wednesday if we do not believe him when he says פ''פ מצאתי.  What could that תוספות ב''מ ק''י answer for this?

הדבר הברור לעשות כאן הוא לומר שהרמב''ם אינו מחזיק מן הרעיון כי מיגו יכול להוציא מן חזקה. וכי לדעת תוספות אפשר להחזיק שאנחנו לא מאמינים לו כשהוא אומר פתח פתוח מצא. אבל אם תוספות אינו מחזיק מזה, אז נותרנו עם השאלה על המשנה הראשונה. למה לעשות תקנה עבור בתולה להינשא ביום רביעי אם אנחנו לא מאמינים לו כשהוא אומר פ''פ מצאתי. מה יכול תוספות ב''מ ק''י לענות תשובה לכך?