Concerning Iran

Concerning Iran, I want to mention:

Most pacifists react to this issue by simply pretending that it doesn't exist,- that Muslims either never deliberately choose violence, that violence always stems from earlier violence, poverty, or injustice, or that if people do deliberately choose violence, it's in rare cases that are not really of great importance. But history abounds with Muslims who have deliberately chosen violence. The ease with which Muslims from non-violent backgrounds have been induced to commit atrocities shows how easy it can be for the violent to recruit assistants

How do we respond to people who have opted for violence?
Appeasement merely reinforces the conviction that violence gets results. Moreover, it provides gratification by reinforcing the feeling of dominance. When confronting people who have already opted for violence, non-violence has a very good chance of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Retaliatory force, on the other hand, makes the results of violence a lot less simple, a lot less effective in getting results, and a lot less gratifying.


To answer briefly my critics here let me just say that I am not doubting the value of walking in the path of the Rambam and Saadia Gaon. But social sciences and humanities are the indoctrination laboratory of "new" Marxism since the 1990's. But these are easy areas in which pseudo intellectuals  like to get degrees. It is not that I doubt the essential value of these fields but rather that since they were dumbed down in the 1960 they are both now worthless except as being good indication of pseudo intellectuals.

Let me just say for the record that we Jews have found a warm and welcoming home in the USA. I think it is be a sad commentary on us that we either do what we can in the  to undermine all principles of freedom and democracy and attempt to undermine American values and place radical Marxism in its place in the guise of progressivism.


Liberal arts--humanities and social studies are worthless and in most universities highly Marxist.
These are the exact studies that
pseudo intellectuals learn
to show off their sophistication without knowing any Gemara.
To indicate that Marxism is
a fraud let me mention that it is no accident that Marx is rigorously excluded from economics departments in which real world economics is studied.
why would you consider the inclusion of Marxist theology into Jewish education to be a plus?
For me i would take reading writing arithmetic and gemara any day of the week.
while it is true that litvak Torah scholars have traditional learned a specific area outside of Talmud but these unspoken areas were in general rigors sciences --not pseudo sciences. I believe Reb Elchanan Wasserman had some expertise in Kant and i had a friend in Safed who besides learning Gemara all day also learned the biology of trees. (Other people like Reb Berenbaum did not have other areas of interest -- so this is not a universal phenomenon.)


My father was an American veteran (from World War II who graduated from Cal Tech before he volunteered for the USA Air Force. Perhaps I don't know much about veterans nowadays, (Judging from my father and his friends who also served their country during World War Two). American values were very much a part of my upbringing.  Being a Californian I tended to look at everything and everyone with these sunny friendly full of grace eyes.


   History often goes in cycles. In the beginning of the 20th century religion, was highly discredited. It was something you did in private or just on the week ends. The whole modern involvement with cults began in the 1960's when going into a cult was the "in thing" to do. Religion had lost its shame and became the popular thing. But a lot of it was directed towards Eastern cults. But some of that energy was dissipated in different directions, and some people instead went into the Orthodox Judaism  and other into different varieties of other religions.
Now the pendulum is swinging backwards as people are seeing what is wrong with the religions they went into. Many want to swing into anti-religion and become reform Jews and support the Democratic progressive party which supports Islamic Fascism. This seems to me to be an undesirable option.

  And this brings me to the other point about cults and religions. Their major good function is to save one from other cults and religions. This is like the purpose of the original nation states. They did nothing to help one in life's daily problems. All a nation state did was to protect one from other nation states that would take one and kill him or enslave him and rape his wife and then enslave her too.
This is one thing that is good about Torah. It saves from other cults and evil ideologies.
That is until it starts to morph into a cult instead that one joins thinking it will protect him, but the he finds himself enslaved and his wife stolen from him.

  In essence this is sad because in fact there is nothing wrong with the basic classical Torah books that are deemed holy. It is only that after Shabatai Tzvi teachings and energies of the Sitra Achara (dark side) got mixed up in it. The  Geon from Vilnius tried to prevent that development but he failed.  His warning went unheeded until this very day.

I make an exception for Nachman from Uman who I think is very important, and I think he rose above his origins. So my opinion is that the sitra achara [evil realm] is just too much a  part of Hasidim because of the many teachings of Shabatai Tzvi that are  apart of Hasidim.


How to learn Talmud-

  Soncino Talmuds are excellent.
Also you might want to get a large Hebrew English dictionary and a Jastrow (for Aramaic). This is just for a general introduction. The minimum level of learning everyone needs to get to in Talmud is to read and understand every Tosphot on the page and to be able to see the obvious questions.

The secret of Tosphot is that in every Tosphot there is some place that on the surface seems problematic. It is either a phrase or an idea that Tosphot introduces that seems to be out of place. It is in these spots that Tosphot plants the deepest ideas. (I learned to spot these areas when I learned with Rav Naphtali Yeger in Far Rockaway. Later when in the Mirrer Yeshiva in NY, I discovered that most people are not aware of the deeper aspects of Tosphot, but there there still was very high level of learning. But every person can discover this for himself if he is willing to spend the time on a Tosphot that is required. For people like me that is a lot of time. Like a week usually.)

Also, it is important to know that on every tractate there are one or two major achronim (later authorities written after 1520) which are very important to learn. (Though I do knock the so called later authorities, but I am not referring to people that wrote on the Talmud itself. When I knock acharonim (later authorities), I am referring usually to people that wrote on halachah (like modern day pseudo halacha books). I would never dream of disparaging people like Rav Shach, R. Akiva Eiger or the Pnei Yehoshua (פני יהושע).

As for the Chidushei Ha'Rambam (חידושי הרמב''ם) of Chaim Soloveitchik, -- it was the path of Reb Shmuel Berenbaum (of the Mir in New York). But this path has a great danger to it. It is easily misused by people that don't understand the Gemara itself. Quoting Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, or making up principles (yesodot) along his lines, provides an easy way for sounding like one knows how to learn (i.e. understand the Gemara). It is like giving a weapon into the hands of children.

So to learn Gemara you need to take just one Tosphot and learn it until you can answer these basic questions: What is Rashi saying? What is the Ri (R. Isaac) saying? Why does the Ri (R. Isaac Hazaken) disagree with Rashi. This is called learning. Most people skip this step. They think by jumping into questions of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik that they can sound profound without understanding the basic page of the Talmud. And by skipping this step they are skipping something important for our day and age. Because inside of Tosphot  is a whole sub-layer which does not get revealed until you start noticing small questions inside the Tosphot. This layer is something that people during the Middle Ages learned how to include in their writings without openly saying so.

If you have gotten to that step, the next step depends on faith. If you understand Tosphot, then you believe that there is a whole sub-level inside of Tosphot that you are missing. And you keep working and repeating the same Tosphot day after day. At some point you start noticing things that you did not notice before, and a whole sub-level opens up. [This last step can be really frustrating. Sometimes it happens when you notice that there are lots variables flying around in the Gemara that Tosphot is not mentioning but they make a difference when it comes to understanding Tosphot. But sometimes no. This last step is hard because there is no way to predict how long you have to keep on reviewing one Tosphot until something that seems simple you see starts to becomes complex.] If you absolutely can't spend this type of time on it, then at least learn the Maharsha and the Pnei Yehoshua (or the major achron on that tractate. Like for Yevamot go to the Aruch LaNer.)-and then go on. (That is incidentally how I did it. I admit to get through Shas I could never have spent this kind of time on every Tosphot. But if one is not exposed to this type of learning at a young age, he never discovers this depth inside the Talmud. That is why at least some time has to be spent with people that can do this deep learning inside of Tosphot. The sad thing is they are hard to find. )

[If I could do so today I would have a separate class in  Tur and Beit Yoseph in order, and also Rav Shach's Avi Ezri word for word until I have finished the whole set. But  in those early days, I was driven to finish Shas with the more basic people-the Maharsha and the early achronim. And, I admit, I did not finish Shas with all those people. I got married and moved to Israel, and so the only tractates I did with most Tosphot and Maharasha were Ketubot, Yevamot and Shabbat.] [For example, on Nedarim there was ידות נדרים and for Ketubot and Yevamot I used the Aruch Laner ערוך לנר. There is usually one major achron [later book] for every tractate.]

Ketubot was basically done with the Maharaha, Tosphot, Pnei Yehoshua. Towards the end, I did a lot of Tosphot HaRosh because he would basically quote Tospohot, but with small differences. These small differences were a great help for me to understand Tophot, and the difference between Tosphot and the Rosh. I don't recommend this because it is just characteristic of my own mentality that I need some other commentary to put any commentary into perspective. This happens to me all the time. I can't understand Tosphot until I do the Maharsha. Then I can't understand the Maharsha until I do the Pnei Yehoshua etc.

[Traditional learning means to "calculate the sugia." This is very different that the Reb Chaim path of finding yesodot (foundational ideas). Yesodot/foundations are ideas that one assumes the argument between people depend on. ]


There are two approaches to Talmud. One began with R. Chaim Soloveitchik. I must say that I did not learn this way personally. I heard countless lessons along the lines of Reb Chaim. But when I got back to my shtender (seat), I plowed through the Talmud with the Tosphot and Maharsha and the early achronim (like the Pnei Yehoshua). Sometimes I would go over and over a Pnei Yeshoshua about ten or more times until I got it.
But even this way could not be called traditional. The traditional way of learning was different. The principles were these: (1) Learn Tosphot. (2) It is forbidden to add any so called "principles"("yesodot") to make Tosphot make sense. He wrote it to make sense on its own. If you have to add outside concepts, then you don't understand it.  (3) There is a point that you get to when you understand Tosphot that something comes up almost by magic. Some thought or question. It is that magical point that is called "learning." For me it is very hard to get to that point.
The way of Reb Chayim was different. He did add "yesodot" or principles, but from elsewhere in the Talmud itself. And he did it in a way that does fit.

 If one  wants to learn the best halacha book, the Tur with the Beit Yoseph is the best thing out there.

For Reform and Conservative Jews that don't have time for this but still need a basic introduction, I suggest as I mentioned above to take one page of Talmud and do it with the Tosphot. After that you need to find the people on the page from this selection: Akiva Eiger, Chaim Soloveitchik, Rav Shach. This will give a good basic introduction to what learning Gemara means. Of all the above, probably Rav Shach's book, the Avi Ezri, shows in the most basic simple way possible what it means to learn Talmud. [I don't agree with skipping Tosphot. Not for anyone, and especially not for Reform Jews who have limited time to spend on learning Torah.]

[I also believe Physics is important but I do not have an system for it except what the Sages already wrote לעולם ליגרס אדם עא''ג דמשכח ואע''ג דלא ידע מאי קאמר one should say the words in order and go on even though he forgets and even though he does not even understand what he is saying. And it has been noted before that learning Talmud with ethics (Musar) is important, for otherwise the whole point is lost and in fact has a bad effect. For the whole purpose here is to gain good character and compassion and fear of God. When Talmud is learned together with Musar, it has the above named effects. Without Musar it not only lacks this effects but causes the opposite traits. So I am definitely on board the idea of the Lithuanian Musar Yeshiva.]
Ideas in Talmud  Ideas in Bava Metzia chapters 8 and 9

In these two books I am pointing to a new direction which I think learning Talmud ought to go. That is to concentrate on  Tosphot. I feel Tosphot is simply ignored way too much. Or that people simply skip over something troubling inside of Tosphot without realizing the depths of what he is saying.
I would like to correct that. And in these two books I show the way to do this  a little bit. But I highly regret I have not had time to write similar books on all of Shas. But I hope people will come after me that will continue this great work.

There is one basic yeshiva edition which is called the "Villna Shas" It has no English and is the standard kind that they learn in all Litvak yeshivas like Chaim Berlin.  There are all kinds of modern editions which are no good. You have to be sure to get the right kind of thing.


My idea of Talmudic law is thus: the x axis is Talmudic material. The y axis is Natural Law (natural law as I see it is with a goal of human flourishing, and this means Democracy as in the concepts of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson of limited government). The z axis is spirituality.
There will be at least one point where they intersect. There might be several of these points and in fact all the points of intersection can form a curve. Now in theory, the halacha might be anywhere in which all three intersect. However I suggest that there will be a cusp point where all three functions are maximized.
But now that we have come this far I want to go further and suggest that these three axis are not enough to accommodate all values. (See the polynomic theory of value.) In practice you want each value to have its own axis and then to maximize the function. E.g. you want the God axis to be the z axis and justice to be the y one and beauty the x axis and so on for other modes of value.


Electricity on Shabat

On the subject of Electricity on Shabat: if you invent elaborate enough evasions, you can make any idea at all work.
What happened is no one cares about the Chazon Ish but forbidding electricity on Shabat is a good way to de-legitimize Reform Jews.

Orthodox Judaism encountered, and failed, its first great test of whether it had the qualities a truly religious person is supposed to have: humility, and respect for the truth. (Sorry the first great test was Charles Darwin. No sorry the first one was the Rambam. At least that test the Jewish people passed well enough. Though his philosophy is not taken seriously by any Jewish group, at least he is accepted as part of the cannon.)

But I can understand why someone would want to be strict like the Chazon Ish just from faith that he knew what he was talking about (faith in the wise), but personally I have never been able to make any sense out of that particular place where he says using electricity is binyan בנין.
(It fits with the Gemara but it introduces an outside principle not implicit in the Gemara-- plus it is against all the Rishonim. Given enough ad-hoc postulates, it is possible to make any theory, no matter how bizarre, work.)

I once thought the Chazon Ish had some support from an argument in Kelim between the Rambam and Raavd. But subsequent thought convinced me that neither the Rambam or Raavad gave him any support.
And the problem is in fact greater than this. The problem is that in the Chazon Ish most of the time he is absolutely brilliant. But then sometimes out of the blue he writes stuff that just makes  no sense.

Reb Shelomo Zalman Aurbach  spent a lot of time in his book trying to disprove  the Chazon Ish, but then put in some statement at the end to make it politically correct--(not for halacha he wrote)

The best reason to forbid electricity I could ever come up with to say that electricity should be forbidden is in the fact the basic act of work of lighting a fire is when it is in order to make coal [as was done in the Tabernacles], so that a light bulb would be forbidden by מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה  work done not for its own sake. If electricity was fire then this would in fact be forbidden. The problem really comes from the fact that electricity is not fire

Rebitzin's husband: Adam,
What do you mean, don't quote R' Shlomo Zalman? Of course in Meorei Esh he attempts to completely disprove previous halachic understandings of electricity, including that of the Chazon Ish. However, what do you mean that his psak forbidding electricity was to be "politically correct"? He forbids on a Torah level an incandescent light-bulb as you mention, and forbids ALL other electrical devices because of minhag. I am pretty confident that just as he davened maariv every night, he did not use electricity on shabbat.

Me: True he also noticed that particular Rambam about the burning coal. If that is what he is standing on then you are right-a light bulb is forbidden according to that Rambam.

Later I heard Rav Shach [Menachem Eliezer Shach] discusses this and in particular brings that Rambam about the coal. But I don't have his book.  In the meantime I did a little work on "work that is not necessary for its purpose" concerning coals. This area of investigation is totally separate from the making vessels or building aspect on things and here I admit that I did not finish. The reason being that we were in the middle of that Tosphot in Yoma, [You know which one. The biggest Tosphot in Shas, page 34.] and then I saw the Rabbi Akiva Eiger who tries to prove the opinion of the Aruch. At that point I gave up and decided to go to Sanhedrin. I admit there is still plenty of work to do on this issue but so far I have not seen a thing which would indicate any problem about electricity.
I must have written on some blog some of the issue that came up in those days. The main area of investigation at this point seems to the page in Tractate Kritut and the Reb Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik.
The major point that comes up is that burning of a fire is liable when one's intension is to make coals. And this seems to be the case no matter how you look at מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה.
That is to say there is an argument how to understand this basic concept. But no matter turning on an electric light is not going to be considered needed for its sake in any case.
So since we go by Rabbi Shimon this at least is not liable. And the Rambam that thinks it is liable is because he does not decide like Rabbi Shimon.

But so far all we have is an electric light which is far anyway from electricity in general


The higher root of sex.

higher root of sex. Freud insisted in seeing animal urges in all higher human aspirations. And he had to do this because the teleology of Aristotle had been rejected by science for many years and Freud wanted his steam engine model of human psychology to be respected as a science. But this resulted in the amazing failure of psychology to see goals and principles in human beings. And in the Orthodox Jewish frum world the attitude towards sex comes from the Puritans--also no insight.

Many people thought by psychology they would reach sexual happiness. This was the sexual revolution. Instead it left people with all the same problem but no way to even begin to understand from where those problems come from. So immediately after the sexual revolution came the extreme vilification of sex by the Feminist movement with an explicit understanding by therapists and psychologists that all men are sexual abusers and most men (expect of course psychologists and therapists) were all child abusers.
As opposed to all this stupidity and wickedness, the approach of the Torah is special and amazing and refreshing --that sex is powerful and holy but needs to be directed towards marriage. Because sex is the most powerful force in the universe and the most holy. It is like a atomic reactor. When it is running alright then there is a great energy and power. But when things get off track --then the result is nothing less than total disaster.


My approach to sex was based on the ideas of Rav Yaakov Emden in his Sidur.

Sexuality is the center of life. Not reducing it to the basement of the human being deserves study.

 And it is not simple. Mainly you need a Neo Platonic idea of the world in the first place which people don't have anymore.

You need a concept that sex between a man and his wife does great corrections in the higher worlds and the more holiness in that relationship the more corrections are done. If done with attachment with God, sex is the highest divine service. But if a person is not attached in his soul to God, then sex  loses its holiness. So according to the degree sex is removed from this standard, that is the degree it loses it holiness and becomes a tool of the Sitra Achra, [the Dark Realm].

My approach to sex was based on the ideas of Yaakov Emden in his Sidur. That is to sanctify oneself before the act and during. Especially when conception is possible. [Read the Sidur, I do not want to be a spoiler, but the main idea there was when conception is possible it it must be after the exact  middle of the night and only on Friday night. That is when holy souls come into the world.] That is you have to calculate the exact middle of the night of Friday night and go  to the mikvah or a river or lake and pray to merit to bring in holy souls into the world.
[The way to go into a cold river is to take off your shoes first and dip you feet into the water.Then draw out your feet. Then the pants, and to go into the water up to your waist. Then leave the water. At that point the body knows that you are going into cold water so it automatically begins to send the blood into the inner region of the thighs, and the outer areas become used to the cold. Only then do you take off your coat and shirt and go into the water only once [as the Rambam said.] Also your feet need to be not on the snow or cold ground, but on a towel or other piece of clothing.


Franz Rosenzweig

Franz Rosenzweig seemed to me to be over influenced by Hegel. Yet on the other hand I understand the need for Reform Judaism to have some book to base their movement on besides the Guide for the Perplexed and after all the Star of Redemption is a deep book. But that still does not make it a great book or a book you you base a meme on. This is why reform Judaism flounders. But in their need for a modern Jewish thinker they are not alone.
The problem really is that after the Rambam there has not been a Jewish philosopher of his stature.




I want to mention few words about my parents

Their relationship had the effect on me that I was permanently effected by this rose colored picture of reality. Things may be hard,  but they retain this rosy soft color for me. I believe love, marriage, and having children as the greatest privilege a man or woman can have. This image in my mind was definitely painted by my parents.

Beyond this was also Mom's and Dad's introducing me to amazing aspects of the world--Torah, Einstein, the Mount Palomar Observatory, Cal Tech, Mozart. [I went with my Dad to the yearly Alumni day at Cal Tech.] [My Dad gave me the Magic Flute by Mozart for a Hanukkah present.]

 Also he brought me to his laboratory in TRW where he was the chief scientist working on laser communication for the SDI, (i.e the Star Wars) Strategic Defense Initiative for NASA.
(My Dad was working on laser communication in connection with SDI (Star Wars). He was the head of the team that developed it. He was the head of the engineering team that made the infrared night vision at Monmouth, NJ.)

Incidentally, he was the first to create a camera that could detect infra red waves --i.e. he made the first night vision device for the USA Army. [There was a write up about it in Life magazine. His sister told my brother that my grandmother would have given ten years of her life just to see my Dad's picture in Life magazine. I have a link to the actual article on the side of this blog.] Later he made the camera for the U-2 spy plane. [Later note. I am not sure, but it looks to me that the reason his name is not mentioned in connection with the U-2 is from what my brother told me there were two teams and the camera from the other team was the one they actually put on the U-2. ] Incidentally, almost all the scientists that created the devices that make the American military the top in the world were all created by Jewish and German scientists. Frankly speaking they were mostly Jewish. In the lab where my Dad created night vision, there were 50 Jews and one German. (From what I can tell without the Jewish input into American technology, America would not be a first world power.) (All the Jews were fired after McCarty held a press conference there; except for the two top scientists, my Dad and a friend, Marcus. But they were brought back shortly after that. But that was the reason my Dad and Berny Marcus moved to California.) Also I might mention, my Dad was a Captain in the US Air Force during World War Two, and later worked for the Army on many secret projects which I still know nothing about.) Their attitude towards us children and their tolerance and wisdom in guiding us was amazing. We sure gave them hell with our own stubbornness and the atmosphere of the times that rewarded subordination against parents --and yet we must remember that they were not superhuman. They had no good information about how to raise children or how to act in society. Everything they did was intuitive. But their combination of tolerance but firm guidance was amazing.

In short their approach was "to be a mensch." That is a decent human being. That was their idea of what Judaism is about. It is  a kind of balance between obligation between man and God and between man and his fellow man. You could say it was their way of keeping the Ten Commandments, but that in itself nowadays has become subject to debate. But if one tries to keep the Ten Commandments simply and plainly that just about approximates as closely as possible the approach of my parents.--As in: Don't lie. Don't cheat. Honor your parents, Belief in God, etc.

On Shabat we went to Temple Israel in Hollywood and that is where I had my bar mitzvah. Jewish education was very important to my parents. I remember that we also went sometimes to Mount Sinai conservative synagogue  in Westwood.
Their approach towards Torah was one of balance.  That is it is good to keep Torah but with balance.תורה עם דרך ארץ. Torah with a vocation. [But Torah with Derech Eretz means more than just a vocation. It means the whole spectrum of being a "mench."]

The way I try to live this dream is by a kind of balance between learning the Oral Law Gemara, Rashi Tosphot, along with Physics, and outdoor skills.

After High School I went to Shar Yashuv [a yeshiva in N.Y.] and then to the Mir in NY and then to the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Mainly I am trying to walk in the way my parents taught to me. Torah and Derech Eretz.


I feel that after the 60's when academic standards and requirements were lowered because of affirmative action that the result was that a humanities degree and a social science degree are worthless.

I feel that after the 60's when academic standards and requirements were lowered because of affirmative action that the result was that a humanities degree and a social science degree are worthless. (I have to say there are Achronim that I respect like the Aruch Hashulchan and the actual commentaries on the page of Shuclan Aruch. Achronim (later authorities after Yoseph Karo) written on the Shas (Talmud) like the Maharsha are the exception here. They tend to be very good.)
(The scam of the insane religious world  is that it is built on the Achronim or later authorities that simply ignore anything in Talmud or first authorities that seems to them to be not strict or fanatic enough. This used to have the name of Maharil'ism but now you could call it Mishna Brura'ism.)

So the Gemara has great validity in the realm of value. But what value structure is implicit in the Gemara itself?

And this affects the very future of Democracy. For the modern world is a result of a small handful of thinkers starting with Machiavelli up until John Locke. Yet this Enlightenment project has come to a crisis of no content inside the human being.\
 Freud to saw all higher aspects of a human being as coming from his basement (Id).

My basic approach is to accept John Locke in the political sphere and inside of political society I put civil society. And civil society needs a spiritual backbone which I consider to be Torah and Talmud. But this would not give the Talmud authority in the political realm. For the realm of freedom is the thing in itself--the core of individual.
The result of the Enlightenment thinkers is that wonder of the world,-- the U.S.A. But this wonder of the ages has become under siege. It values are no longer treasured. Freedom is seen as sham. Human rights has become a mercenary tool to deprive others of their rights to their own property and freedoms.

  Democracy is no longer in danger because of the Soviet Union. It is now in danger from within. The rot has spread so deeply that some leaders of the free world are conspiring to make it no longer free.

I say that only the Torah can't hold up democracy any more. But when Torah becomes a tool of oppression then where can we go for help?

  This is where Reb Nachman becomes essential. Reb Nachman is the only thinker that sees the source of value and authority in the individual. In fact the only path to God in the thought of Reb Nachman is by the aspect of "one was Abraham."
RN said: "Abraham served God only by this aspect that he thought in his own mind that he is alone in the world with God and he did not look on any obstacles from people discouraging him."
And this is where Reb Nachman adds the key words--"and similarly any person that wants to come to God can do so only in this manner --of thinking he is alone and not paying attention to those who try to prevent him."


I want to suggest that Hobbes and John Locke were correct about human rights. This is an essential aspect of natural law (Avrahamic law in the conceptual scheme of the Rambam). But there are many problems in John Locke. The most obvious one is that there is no social contract!! (Kelly Ross used the word "implied" (i.e. implied social contract in order to answer this question.)
But the attack on the Enlightenment starting in Rousseau and reaching it intellectual low in Marx I disagree with.
I suggest the Rambam saw all of this before it happened and suggested Divine law as a higher category than natural law--but that you need the natural law for it to be based on otherwise what looks like Divine law maybe be the based on communion with the spirit that pervades the universe (chasidut)--not with communion with the Creator of the universe.
And we find that even divine law depends on natural law dorshin taama dekra. (which in one place the Rambam says is the even for a Law of the written Torah (deurita din) if the reason does not apply then the law does not apply.)
This is to say in politics I agree with John Locke and I place the emphasis on freedom--not equality like the school of Marx and Rousseau. In fact I say that equality is not a ideal at all and contrary to reason. And this can be proved logically.
But I am seeing Democracy implode on itself just like Aristotle foresaw that it would. I think that Democracy can't be held up without The Torah to back in up in private life.


September 11

September 11

What is lacking here is the recognition that faithful, religious, believing Muslims (not fanatics--rather simply believers in the simple meaning of the Koran) attacked the Jewish people and America and Western civilization. Moses already had an answer for that. "Call to them for peace; and if they don't accept people, then give it to them over the head." (or something like that)

After Pearl Harbour not only did we defeat Japan and Germany, with no quarter given, but went on to crush and obliterate the ideologies that drove them. The result is a decent and democratic Germany and Japan, never again to return to their self-destructive ideologies.

IN opposition to this, the actual response after 9/11 has been weak and self-defeating. The result is that Islam is empowered worldwide, and more so in America. What else can one expect when the immediate response of Pres Bush after 9/11 was to visit a mosque and proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace.


A way of seeing the hidden nature of reality.
This starts with Huygens principle (Huygens proposed that every point to which a luminous disturbance reaches becomes a source of a spherical wave) and a vector potential (that is something that you take its derivative and you get a vector field) called A which is the potential that you derive the Maxwell equations from.
The next step is to look at the scattering of a wave of an electron acts when it interacts with another electron. (This is by the Born approximation).
Then you have to see how this scattering is described by a Green's function.
(The Green's function is something you put into an integral--like a kernel to make the integral come out to be a solution of a non homogeneous differential equation.
It sounds mysterious but in fact most people are probably already familiar with in in the regular context of integral equations in which there is a function you put inside the integral to make the equation come out just right.


So you see that when you are looking at an electron that is in close contact with another then you are really looking at a very small part of the actual infinite electron wave.
This was suggested by David Bohm to show how reality might have higher layers.
This seems to be born out by string theory. the only real rival to strings was the GUTs but the fact that the blue and red light from that super nova a few years ago arrived at the same time showed that all GUT s are wrong. This left String Theory the only person still standing in the ring. (Its projective aspect is a refinement of David Bohm idea of noticing how the Green's function takes a little piece of the infinite electron wave.)

I mean to say that the Mind body solution is very trivialized nowadays because people in general don't understand the problem and therefore think they have solutions when they in fact do not.
The mind body problem comes from five basic facts that are all very hard to deny and yet they contradict.
Personally i think the one fact that might be the weak link in the chain may be the fact that mental states do not seem derivable from physical states. Kindness, opinions, love do not seem to be properties of atoms.
I suggest that since the first one cell organism at some point seems to have swallowed a bacteria which became its nucleus that we can see a mental state coming from the characteristics of atoms. Ie the larger call wanted to eat the smaller bacteria and it could not because of the defenses of the bacteria and so the bacteria became a nucleus inside the cell.
This would push back the mind body problem to God the creator of the laws of physics and of matter and energy himself. i.e. it dissolves the mind body problem and simply says that mind states are derivable from physical states and the only mystery remains God himself.


Accusing Richard Feynman of being anti women.

Richard Feynman wrote, I received a long letter from a feminist group. I was accused of being anti-woman because of two stories: the first was a discussion of the subtleties of velocity, and involved a woman driver being stopped by a cop. There's a discussion about how fast she was going, and I had her raise valid objections to the cop's definitions of velocity. The letter said I was making the woman look stupid.
The other story they objected to was told by the great astronomer Arthur Eddington, who had just figured out that the stars get their power from burning hydrogen in a nuclear reaction producing helium. He recounted how, on the night after his discovery, he was sitting on a bench with his girlfriend. She said, "Look how pretty the stars shine!" To which he replied, "Yes, and right now, I'm the only man in the world who knows how they shine." He was describing a kind of wonderful loneliness you have when you make a discovery.
The letter claimed that I was saying a woman is incapable of understanding nuclear reactions.
I figured there was no point in trying to answer their accusations in detail, so I wrote a short letter back to them: "Don't bug me, man!"
Needless to say, that didn't work too well. Another letter came: "Your response to our letter of September 29th is unsatisfactory ..."—blah, blah, blah. This letter warned that if I didn't get the publisher to revise the things they objected to, there would be trouble.
I ignored the letter and forgot about it.
A year or so later, the American Association of Physics Teachers awarded me a prize for writing those books, and asked me to speak at their meeting in San Francisco. My sister, Joan, lived in Palo Alto—an hour's drive away—so I stayed with her the night before and we went to the meeting together.
As we approached the lecture hall, we found people standing there giving out handbills to everybody going in. We each took one, and glanced at it. At the top it said, "A PROTEST." Then it showed excerpts from the letters they sent me, and my response (in full). It concluded in large letters: "FEYNMAN SEXIST PIG!"
Joan stopped suddenly and rushed back: "These are interesting," she said to the protester. "I'd like some more of them!"
When she caught up with me, she said, "Gee whiz, Richard; what did you do?"
I told her what had happened as we walked into the hall.
At the front of the hall, near the stage, were two prominent women in the American Association of Physics Teachers. One was in charge of women's affairs for the organization, and the other way Fay Ajzenberg, a professor of physics I knew, from Pennsylvania. They saw me coming down towards the stage accompanied by this woman with a fistful of handbills, talking to me. Fay walked up to her and said, "Do you realize that Professor Feynman has a sister that he encouraged to go into physics, and that she has a Ph.D. in physics?"
"Of course I do," said Joan. "I'm that sister!"
Fay and her associate explained to me that the protesters were a group—led by a man, ironically—who were always disrupting meetings in Berkeley. "We'll sit on either side of you to show our solidarity, and just before you speak, I'll get up and say something to quiet the protesters," Fay said.
Because there was another talk before mine, I had time to think of something to say. I thanked Fay but declined her offer.
As soon as I got up to speak, half a dozen protesters marched down to the front of the lecture hall and paraded right below the stage, holding their picket signs high, chanting, "Feynman sexist pig! Feynman sexist pig!"
I began my talk by telling the protesters, "I'm sorry that my short answer to your letter brought you here unnecessarily. There are more serious places to direct one's attention towards improving the status of women in physics than these relatively trivial mistakes—if that's what you want to call them—in a textbook. But perhaps, after all, it's good that you came. For women do indeed suffer from prejudice and discrimination in physics, and your presence here today serves to remind us of these difficulties and the need to remedy them."
The protesters looked at one another. Their picket signs began to come slowly down, like sails in a dying wind.
I continued: "Even though the American Association of Physics Teachers has given me an award for teaching, I must confess I don't now how to teach. Therefore, I have nothing to say about teaching. Instead, I would like to talk about something that will be especially interesting to the women in the audience: I would like to talk about the structure of the proton."
The protesters put their picket signs down and walked off. My hosts told me later that the man and his group of protesters had never been defeated so easily....
After my talk, some of the protesters came up to press me about the woman-driver story. "Why did it have to be a woman driver?" they said. "You are implying that all women are bad drivers."
"But the woman makes the cop look bad," I said. "Why aren't you concerned about the cop?"
"That's what you expect from cops!" one of the protesters said. "They're all pigs!"
"But you should be concerned," I said. "I forgot to say in the story that the cop was a woman!"


The pluses and minuses of Rebbi Nachman.

The minuses of Rebbi Nachman:

(1) The groups founded on him are cults. ( Versions of the Rimbardo prison experiment.)

(2) Groups founded on him are innocent when it comes to science. But his paradigm of believing in all saints (tzadikim) can solve this problem in potential, since believing in all saints (tzadikm) includes Maimonides who made it his major project to marry Aristotle and Torah together.
The innocence in regard to science is also a problem in the Litvak world (see Genesis and the Big Bang) but at least there is acknowledgment of the validity of science in the realms where it applies.

Pluses are he was a true tzadik filled with great advice. If people would not have turned his "thing" into  a cult, he would be a great role model.

The major issue with Reb Nachman is the movement he was involved with was put into excommunication by the Gra for good reasons. Reb Nachman by himself is obviously amazing and fantastic. But combined with that movement,  that ruins the whole thing.

1) The Rambam (Maimonides) had a system. The idea of his system was that in the Torah there are no contradictions. and he expanded that to include the Talmud. So in his system there is no contradiction between Torah and Talmud. Furthermore he also had a modified Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian system {that he does not define exactly} and this system he assumes is the underlying world view of Torah.

The idea that there is no contradiction in Torah was common in the Middle Ages.  It led Aquinas to create his system based on his idea that there is no contradiction between the Old Testament and the NT and later people called the church fathers and Boethius. This is very different from today when people feel they individually interpret the Torah to mean what they feel it means to them. Or when groups interpret the Torah to mean what it means to their particular charismatic leader.

There is no idea that the Torah is a self constant whole that means something very specific and and nothing else. and that meaning can be discovered by human reason. For if it could not be discovered then why was the Torah given at all in the first place? So in terms of understanding the Torah we have to call the Middle Ages the "Age of Reason." the period stated after the middle ages we should call the age of darkness.

Even in Musar you can see this. Musar had three distinct periods: (1) The Middle Ages, (2)  then all Musar became Kabalistic, and then (3) the post Israel Salanter Musar which was getting back to \the Talmud kind of Musar


Marxist mouthpieces.

Many people wonder why the social studies and humanities of American universities are all Marxist mouthpieces. This is no mystery. Both departments were targeted and penetrated by the GRU.
I used to speculate that maybe it was the KGB that managed to turn the collage professors and get them into their pocket but now I have come across some information that in fact it was the GRU and not the KGB.
Obviously the KGB had a lot of interest in the hippies in the 1960 but they were did not take any active part. They simply saw that it would be too difficult to influence America through its collage students. It was the GRU that saw that all they needed to do was to get the collage humanities and social studies professors in their pocket and that would trickle down to the collage students that would eventually become America's leaders. And in that way they succeeded in putting a closet Marxist into power in America even after the USSR became defunct.

In the word of Steven Dutch
When we try to discover what fascism, Marxism, and radical Islam have in common, the field shrinks to a single common theme: hatred of democracy.


Here is the answer of Dr. Kelly Ross about the need for non intuitive immediate knowledge.

"Kant's sees the content of Reason in terms of the forms of logic, as he details in the Analytic of Concepts in the Critique of Pure Reason. This provides thin ground for his view that the concepts of substance, causality, etc. can be derived from these forms by way of the Schematism and the Analytic of Principles. However, none of this provides more than the quid facti -- that we have in fact such concepts. The quid juris, that we are justified in using them, is something else. That is where we get the Transcendental Deduction, and this indeed is the answer to Hume. We are justified in using the concepts because they have already been used to generate, through synthesis, our experience of the phenomenal world.

"Non-intuitive immediate" knowledge does away with Kant's approach that rational truths come out of the forms of logic. The theory is more Platonic, but without the temptation of intuitive justification that bloomed in Neoplatonism. Instead, mediate knowledge, which represents immediate knowledge, is tested by Socratic examination and falsification -- i.e. discovering possible contradictions."

(Best wishes,
Kelley Ross )

This was in answer to my question why reason alone can't take the place of non intuitive immediate knowledge.
I did not mention the fact that I did not make up this question on my own but I saw it in Mike Huemer. I have anyway assumed for a long time that Kant was building on Hume to discount mediate knowledge and this has bothered me greatly.
I did not want to mention Mike Huemer because I needed to hear what Dr. Ross would answer to the question directly without having to deal with people's other opinions.
I am still very afraid of the sin of gossip (lashon hara) and try not to mention anyone's name in a negative context--even on my blog.

Anyway look at this sentence: "...mediate knowledge, which represents immediate knowledge." You can see that Dr Ross is holding a close connection between what reason by itself perceives and what this beyond reason faculty perceives.
This is what I have suspected for a long time: that reason is closely connected to non intuitive immediate knowledge. Dr. Ross calls it a "representation." What does this mean? Is it like the way we perceive the "thing in itself"?
Does he in fact mean that nonintuitive immediate knowledge perceives universals the way the senses perceive the "thing in itself"?
I am thinking of writing to him again but I want to be sure to frame my question in the right way.
I don't want this to turn into a debate between great thinkers. I just want to understand Kelly Ross properly.
Also I am not sure how to frame my question. You see in his letter (I hope he forgives me for publishing without his permission) he again says the same thing that has been bothering me. He limits reason to perceiving outright contradictions. Why can't reason perceive universals also?
And perhaps even more? In the mind of Maimonides and Ibn Pakuda (author of Chovot Levavot Duties of the Heart) there is a point that reason gets so perfected that it starts to perceive spiritual reality also; and one comes to attachment to God! This is the Rambam's program of devekut (attachment with God --as opposed to oneness with God)--Torah, then Physics, then Metaphysics along with good character.


This from a bewildered Texas rancher:

While riding down along the border this morning, I saw a Muslim extremist bobbing in the Rio Grande River- he was struggling to stay afloat because of all the guns and bombs he was carrying.

Along with him was a Mexican who was also struggling to stay afloat because of the large backpack of drugs he has strapped to his back.

It was clear to me that if they didn't get help soon, these men would surely drown. Being a responsible Texan and abiding by the law to help those in distress, I informed the El Paso County Sheriff's Office as well as the US Department of Homeland Security.

Alas- it is now 4pm -both have drowned- and neither authority has even responded!

I'm starting to think I wasted two stamps.

My recommendation is Conservative synagogues or Reform

My recommendation is Conservative synagogues or Reform simply because of the commitment to the "between man and his fellow man" part of the Torah and the realization that that part comes first.

Religious synagogues seem to lack that basic knowledge of what the Torah is really about. And too many doctrines got mixed up with Religious Judaism that come from Shabati Tzvi for my taste. They might not know where they are getting their idea from from, but I do. [Others are beginning to notice this. You can read the three books of Natan the false prophet of the Shatz and discover where most doctrines of the religious today come from.]

Many ideas and approaches from Shabati Tzvi's kabalah got into mainstream Judaism in subterranean ways.
At some point I just could not stomach it anymore.
I also noticed a determined effort to hide any of these connections

The fact is, the links between the religious and and the Shaztz are  so  strong that  I am surprised that they are not more widely known. (I think this be a deliberate attempt to  put  some  "distance" between the Shatz and his false prophet Natan  and the religious world?)  Actually,  one only has to take a cursory
look at the readily-available information to begin to see  the  very strong linkages.

[No critique intended on Reb Nachman himself who was a tzadik in spite of his being born into a fasle movement.]

This is music written on midi files.


look up fugue,Schopenhauer, kepher site, survival flashlight better smaller or larger?


The problems with Orthodox Judaism are several. And the reasons for the problems are twofold.
Moral corruption and mental corruption and spiritual corruption are the problems.

The reason for these problems is a dark side has gotten mixed with Torah.
Therefore the solution is two fold.
First is to subtract the books that have gotten mixed up with Torah that are disguised as Torah but are in fact planted agents from the Sitra Achra (Dark Side). The way to do this is to determine which exact books represent Jewish spirituality and morality in its highest form. That would be The Old Testament, the Mishna and Talmud.
Almost all other books are planted agents from the Dark Side.
Most Musar books (even classical Musar) are from the Dark Side --from people that their mental processes determined that the Rambam (Maimonides) was a heretic. We for some strange reason still read and learn their books as if they have something intelligent to say about morality.
How can anyone who considered the Rambam a heretic have anything intelligent to say about Torah or morality or spirituality?
The next step is a bit more subtle. After the destruction of the first temple the ten spheres of holiness fell into the Dark Side. This is the reason that right at that time several aspects of holiness are seen to have gone to Athens and the Far East. The only Sephere that remained in Israel was Royalty which is contained in the Talmud.
It would be supposedly an easy task of finding the other spheres and brining them back into the realm of holiness except they all became mixed up with the dark side.
so the separating process has to be done there also.
It is also important to identify locations of positive holy energy and negative energy and mixed energy. Positive energy places like the Mir in Brooklyn are easy to tell. You just walk in the door and you know what they place is about without anyone having to tell you. It hits you in an instant.
Mixed places are harder to understand. This is the paradox of Noga-- the intermediate zone--it is helpful for some and hurtful for others.
These places have a seductive power given to them from below in order to create zones of darkness.



The Zimardo study shows cultist principles apply to any closed group. Add a little theology with that and you have a full fledged cult. The point is to stay away from all spiritual schools--period. It does not matter if the leader is totally enlightened or just in the intermediate zone or con artist.

In Kabalah we find that everything must start with thought; then trickle down to speech; and only then come to deed. Philosophy for better or worse is the beginning of everything. Before there could be an America there had to be a John Locke, Hobbes, and John Calvin.
But this morality (what was called by Rousseau "bourgeois") gives legitimacy to the self enlightened person. While the Enlightenment originally meant to strip priests and princes of their power and put the industrious man in its place, this ideal has been corrupted


Maimonides spelled out the proper path of attachment to God and enlightenment

I believe the Rambam (Maimonides) spelled out the proper path of "devekut" (attachment to God)and enlightenment--Talmud, Physics, Meta-physics.
I think that a lot of the many problems in the Jewish world come from the fact that this plan and path of the Rambam is not taken seriously.
In the Rambam's approach, Talmud and his own Mishna Torah are not meant to displace Philosophy and Science. They are meant as introductions to philosophy and science.

But even in science and philosophy the Rambam has a very specific path in mind. That would be to learn only natural sciences.
And in philosophy also he would go only with Aristotle and begrudgingly he might say to learn Plato after Aristotle in order to understand Aristotle. I personally can't agree with that. Because Aristotle has a few problem if taken alone.
A good example of a problem in Aristotle is the fact that the form of the tree is not visible in the seed.

The best thing in my mind would have been to go back to Plato instead of the radical Abelard approach where there are no universals.


What caused the problem of Islamic expansion in America. To my mind it is explained very nicely in the closing of the American mind by Allen Bloom. The basic idea is that there were real problem in Medieval philosophy and in the medieval system.
The solution proposed by the Enlightenment Philosophers, Freedom and Justice (and thinkers among whom Calvin was one and also highly influenced John Locke) eventually became one of the wonders of the world--the United States of America.
But in this solution there remained great problems that were noticed by Rousseau. from the array of problem in the Enlightenment project became the Left--the French revolution and communistic Russia. This does not mean the problems with America are not there. It simply means the project of the enlightenment is incomplete.

But this left an opening for Islam to expand. When a fascination of the noble savage gained prominence in Christian lands this was easily misunderstood and identified with Muslims.


The Ancient Greeks rise like a Phoenix in every generation which is looking for new inspiration.
At the end of the middle ages the world needed new understanding of what a human being is and what a proper politically and religious system might be. It went to the Greeks for inspiration. They survive and thrive through the most contrary ages between pagan Rome, Athens, Christian Europe, then the Renaissance ages.
This is because the sparks of holiness of wisdom and beauty and royalty fell to ancient Athens. Similarly when an age need new spiritual inspiration they go to the ancient Hindus. They also arise Phoenix like in every searching generation. Even in the Jewish world to understand what people are talking about one needs to go to the ancient Hindus otherwise you know you are getting information second and third and that has been watered down and the Hindu names attached to the doctrines are taken out and the teachings are then ascribed to Kabalah.

German philosophers are like that also.

For better or worse even in the Jewish world people think in Nietzschian terms of "self esteem" and the "ego" and "Id" and "subconscious" and "life style" and "values" and "commitments and goals"all easily tranced to Nietzsche and appropriated by Freud and other later thinkers. (No books before Nietzsche said that you are thinking thoughts that you don't know you are thinking. The discovery of the Id goes directly to Nietzsche.) Even the modern gurus had go the Nietzsche for the subconscious and the Id.

My complaint about all this is that I am not much of a fan of Nietzsche. Nor Hegel which are the sources of most Jewish though today (The ideal of the state of Israel being the realization of the spirit of Israel, Rav Kook got from Hegel the state being concrete essence of the Spirit of God in the world.)


halacha. i used to think a lot more about halacha than i do nowadays.
Though the Gemara is a master piece and the rambam has never been matched before of after in his redaction of the halacha but the problems are several.. First for something to have hope of being a moral system it should be logically derivable from it that unmoral actions should be forbidden-- and not just derababan.
Since this is not derivable from halacha therefore halacha needs to be combined with reason in the typical rambam and old sefaradi school of thought (Rif and chovot levavot etc.)
I say this with sadness because i used to think that sincere commitment to halacha was enough to make a person moral. The sad truth is that it does not. Only that after a person is already moral then halacha can guide one to devekut in God.

But even halacha itself i have a few comments about.
Shulchan aruch was never written as a pesak halach rather as a short review of the beit yoseph. the beit yoseph itself is not the actual opinion of the beit yoseph. he wrote that he wanted to write his opinion but that road is short but long. So instead he wrote the majority of rif rambam and rosh. In plain English that means he poskin like the rambam except for ketuboth. but the idea was that comminities were going in different directions in pesak and the beit yoseph wanted to make a sefer that everyone would accept--even if it is not his actual opinion. This is a major problem in the idea of the validity of the shulch an aruch as being a viable halacha sefer. It was written to be political correct --not to be accurate.
The other problem is that when you say shulch aruch what exactly do you mean. The shach taz and magen avraham on almost every page disagree with the shulchan aruch. The actual page is many different conflicting opinions.
In my opinion the only real halacha sefer ever written is the rambam with the rif a close second.The rest iof iy is just like some kid with a crayon trying to copy the Mona Lisa/.
The further problem is that it is a mask to hide rabbinic agendas.
So my actual opinion of halacha (which i wrote in my little booklet on bava metzia) is that the only real source of halacha is the Talmud. The rambam himself claims validity only in so far as it can be proven that his pesak is the real pesak of the gemara.


the modern dilemma. It is the search for meaning. With many so called "Torah" books the problem is there has to be some possibility that the author had some idea of the meaning of life.
This you don't see much in Musar. Musar today has de-evolved into simply psychology.
And Psycholgy has no coherent theory of the human being. It has one school in which man is simply matter --Skinner. Another school which is just the opposite.
The Litvak approach is in essence a straightforward attempt to get back to classical Torah of Talmud and the medieval Jewish thinkers. This is admirable. And it has an important ethical backbone. And that ethical part of it is important because devekut is impossible without ethics.
However there are flaws in Medieval system. These flaws were there in the first place and creating a pseudo Middle Ages --i.e. a movement to supposedly return to that type of mentality does not work.
And it weakness is already apparent by the fact that Nietzsche has already conquered "chareidic" Judaism (by way of his messengers Weber and Freud.). You can't have a conversation with a charidi without Nietzschiean concepts --commitments, life-goals life-style, values, self esteem taking over.
I was having a conversation with one chasid who had never even heard of Nietzsche and had learned in Satmer his entire life and he was trying to prove to me that the Rambam hold lack of self esteem is the source of sin--not pride. You see from this that chasidic thought has been emptied out and replaced by Nietzsche thought.


Plato or Shakespeare

There is a richness of thought in certain Jewish books like the Tenach. They have taste and content. In the secular world the appreciation of such books is rare. Instead there is psychology which has no coherent picture of a human being but can make lots of money by the pretense that it does. I think that you might be used to the spiritual content of great books of Torah and perhaps find the secular world a bit shallow when it comes to the understanding of a human being. I recommend finding the great books that would satisfy your soul. I don't say they have to be Jewish.
Plato or Shakespeare might be the right thing for you. Feed yourself on the best and the great thinkers and great spiritual people.