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6.9.12

weaknesses in libertarianism

People that live under the American democracy have forgotten how precious freedom is. This is how the Democrats have been successful in undermining the American Democracy. [Clinton capped the second night of the Democratic National Convention with a rousing speech designed to remind voters of the budget surpluses and job growth he led in the 1990s during his two terms in the White House. This is a logical fallacy called a red herring. It has nothing to do with the fact that the present day president has led America into an unprecedented era of stagnation and 222 trillion dollars of debt.]


However there are weaknesses in Libertarianism {I.e. Thomas Jefferson and John Locke type of Democracy}. Ayn Rand is a gold mine of holes.
Holes in Libertarian philosophy:  the most simple of all problems is the fact that man is not a blank slate and that the social group is infinitely more important to people than self preservation or morality based on logic. People become religious fanatics every day because they don't care about rules of logic and material evidence but rather on the need to join a social group.
I.e. John Locke's idea of the blank slate is not true, and it is essential to his idea of a just government.


Also, I am bothered every single day when I see the good and bad that were part of the USSR. A determined enemy of freedom could easily find enough evidence to knock serious holes in Libertarianism.

Some of the good things the USSR were housing, central heating of whole cities from a central plant, the attempt to create a society based on justice, and not arbitrary rule of religious fanatics, their space program. Also, they seem to have been able to avoid some of the evils that are plaguing America right now-extreme addiction to law suits, an incapability to withstand the forces that are opposed to freedom and democracy from within like Muslims and the Democratic Party.



You can see a more robust libertarian approach based on nature law. At least this way we would avoid the obvious  conflict between John Locke and Darwin. That is we don't have to chuck out John Locke but we would have to modify him. And the nature law approach would help a lot of things in the USA. It would mean that people can protect themselves when government refuses to do so.
It means people have a natural right to their own property. It would eliminate the politics of the left which is based on making people angry at rich people.












5.9.12

Kabalah of the Ari and Moshe Kordavaro. This is Neo-Platonic.

  The system that is accepted by the Kabalah of the Ari and Moshe Kordavaro. This is Neo-Platonic. Personally while I have a great respect for this, still I do not see that universals can exist outside of particulars. Also even if I would agree with this the fact remains that the thinkers who tried to use this approach ended up with a basic contradiction. Universals in the mind of God introduce a pluralism in God that is unacceptable in Jewish thought.

For just a fast run down of some of the ways to understand Torah, Talmud,   Rambam are these: (1) What did the author meant. But obviously with  the Rambam this is very hard to know. So we ask a different question: How did people understand him?
 We can guess at what probably a  reader would have taken the text to mean. To me the great sin in understanding Torah is anachronism.  So while I realize that the Torah has many levels of understanding, but I also think that when the Ari [Isaac Luria] dressed his insights in verses of Torah, he was doing just that. He was not saying that that is the meaning of the Torah. He is rather dressing his own insights in the verses. I also hold by a idea of the Rambam that there is a level of religious truth that is not accessible by reason. So if people have personal inspiration by verses of the Torah, I do not discount that.

Appendix:

The subject I wanted to deal with is Plotinus (the founder of Neo Platoism) [You can imagine I have a great respect for him because of my Kabalistc background.] as he relates to ethics. The sides of this issue I wanted to deal with are, (1) The bankruptcy of modern ethics.   (2)  The need to found ethics on Faith.  (3)Kabalh's Neo-Platonic point of view.   (4) The Rambam's-Aristotelian point of view  (5) Kant and Hegel.
Also, I wanted to mention the Neo-Platonic Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages that got stuck in the problem of the ideas being in God. While this would work for the Neo-Platonic school, it can't work for any Christian or Jewish school of thought. So if I have time I would like to argue for a Kant approach to ethics which I consider a modified Neo-Platonic approach.

 First I want to mention some reason why people should reconsider the Neo-Platonic approach. The most basic reason is that the approach to theology based on Aristotle of the Ramam and Aquinas is too fraught with problems. I could go through a whole list here. On the other hand the nice thing about it is that with Aristotle universals depend on particulars. This is nice and in fact can work very well in the system of R. Shalom Sharabi [a Yemenite Jew]. That means that in the context of a Neo- Platonic system, it might be possible to work in this important insight of Aristotle.



) Secular Ethics: The problem with secular ethics is that it not an end in itself, but rather a means to further social-political aims. The outwardly professed sensitivity for ethics and ethical treatment of popular causes of the Left and the Democratic Party in the USA in effect affords people with a pseudo-religious engagement with reality, in what is otherwise an anti-religious, morally sterile, secular age. For people reading this blog outside of the United States I have a revelation for you. In the Democratic Party in the USA , Reason and Logic are not  held to be the final court of appeals in settling rational matters.  Debating has become a pointless and fruitless activity given that the foundation of morality has been vanquished.

In essence, debating today has become a rhetorical tool used for relativists to control problems of the day through obfuscation. Ethics, according to our leading academics, has everything to do with our social environment. This is obviously false.We have indeed tried out as many types of societies in human history as we have been quick to conceive them. In every one of them there always surfaces that undeniable, pesky entity called man.--who refuses to be formed and molded by his social environment.












4.9.12

The Godel proof of God I should say up front is something that I believe in. I know that as Dr. Kelly Ross wrote: "the modern principle in this respect is the formula, "Existence is not a predicate." Now, I tend to agree with this, but I do not think that the issue is anywhere near settled or certain. The modern case is compromised with the decision in logic to treat existence as part of the system of logical quantification. I think this is nonsense. In traditional logic and ordinary language, existence clearly is a predicate. A more sophisticated and accurate approach would be to develop the difference between verbal and nominal predicates. Existence would not seem to be a nominal predicate -- though there are indeed languages without a present tense verb "to be" that must use a nominal construction. "

 In Mathematical Logic there are two  principles which answer the objection of Kant.
(Completeness Theorem)(Compactness Theorem).
I am not at present involved in this subject but I thought to write it down just for a reminder to look at this later.
The place I learned about these two theorems was from Stefan Bilaniuk's book Chapter 4. [http://euclid.trentu.ca/math/sb/pcml/pcml-16.pdf]


29.8.12

Creation ex nihilo, and the Rambam.

[I consider the Torah to be in the realm of the "dinge als sich alein" of Kant-the thing in itself. This means that reason can determine its existence, but the character and universal principles about the thing in itself are half from the object and half from the subject.--(I am going out of my way to distinguish this from the Neo Kant school.)]


 Creation ex nihilo. To say that God creates is to say that beings now exist that did not exist before. Finite beings are not made “out of God”. They are made, produced, created. There is nothing contradictory in saying that a Creator brings beings into being. He makes to exist what was non-existent without the act of creation!
Even the verse that some people use to defend Pantheism, "the whole world is full of his glory,"  still implies the world is not Him. There are areas where His Glory does not extend to וכבודי לאחר לא אתן "My Glory to another I will not give."


It seems basically clear that Torah does not hold of pantheism.  Even Reb Nachman was going with the Rambam on creation ex Nihilo as he says in at least one place in his major book. [I forget the exact place but it is easy to look up with the printed index at the end of it.]


The evil inclination begins at its lowest level in physical desires and goes upwards until it reaches it root in Satan.  the higher one goes in the service of God, that the kelipot [dark forces] get awoken every time one reaches a higher level. Putting these two idea together we can understand that as one gets higher in the service of God that the evil inclination that is awoken against him becomes more evil but less physical.

24.8.12

some quike thoughts about Kant

Some quike thoughts about Kant"
The story starts from Hume and the idea that reality need not be related to our beliefs about it. A realist wants beliefs to correspond to reality, and not reality to correspond to beliefs. Because of this Hume simply says there is no knowledge about things we don't experience. Logic can tell us nothing but what is included in the definition of things but nothing about reality. Kant disagrees with this. He says there can be synthetic a priori knowledge. The question he needs to answer is "how?"
{An example he gives that shows us that we do have synthetic a priori knowledge is Mathematics.}

Some suggestions on the ways we can have this knowledge. Kant: Structures already in the mind. [This is not as ridiculous as it sounds. Clearly a bathtub of computer chips is not the same thing as a computer. For computer chips to do anything, the structure has to be implanted.]\
Hegel holds reason can get to the dinge an sich


Kant is tripped up by the  basic question of how to get reason to perceive things outside the realm of experience. So he comes up with this category of the thing in itself. Reason perceives its existence but to understand its character is by structures in reason. My problem here is that the synthetic knowledge Kant is talking about is universals. The way I see it Reason perceives universals plenty well with no help of inherent structures. And this leads me to the Intuitionst (Michael Huemer, G.E. Moore, Prichard) approach to the problem of Kant. He expands the role of reason. Is this legitimate? By simply expanding the role powers of reason can Michael Huemer answer the problem of Hume? I am not so sure. Kant wants a justification -not just a blank statement. [It seems to me that Fichte hold from intellectual intuition.]


Furthermore, a very troubling thing about Kant. He expands the role of reason beyond Hume. That is nice, but then he limits it. He says it must not go into metaphysics. But he adds that it automatically does go into metaphysics. And when it does so it comes up with self contradictory beliefs. And the most troubling thing is that he is not talking about the human faculty of reason. He is talking about pure reason, Reason in its essence. And it is this reason in its very essence which by necessity falsifies information about the world (by the antimonies); How are we supposed to understand this?
Does not this seem strange?




 Hegel. He obviously does not impose any restrictions on reason at all. I can only say that I am a bit horrified that Jurgen Habermas is not horrified by Hegel and Marx. It is not just the collapse of Socialist totalitarian systems founded on the thought of Rousseau, Marx, and Hegel which bothers me. And it that I think there must be something in these systems that is wrong but not apparent to the human eye. They all sound great on paper. [Now two years later I retract. Hegel has two areas he is good at-- analyzing other philosophers and building up a metaphysical system. Th dumb part is his social theories and politics]
Looking at all this I can only say that I agree with Kant about the limits of reason. In my mind only a society founded on reason and the faith in the Torah can be just in any sense. I have heard enough horror stories about socialized medicine to chill anyone's blood. We definitely need a reasoned defense of the type of Liberal democracy of John Locke which is possible to defend only by Kant. Locke himself is not very good at defending liberal democracy because his system has no moral autonomy. Self interest is the motivating force, not moral justice. So a real decent defense of John Locke would have to start with Kant. But it could not end there. 

I have thought this way for years. I apologize to all readers that it took me so long to state this openly.

23.8.12

Nietzsche derived the existence of the subconscious from Leibniz and christened it the Id. This was later borrowed by Freud.

Nietzsche derived the existence of the subconscious from Leibniz and christened it the "Id." This was later borrowed by Freud (and is generally attributed to Freud). Nietzsche thought the Id is the source of true values. And he said openly "consciousness falsifies."
[It is true that Leibniz did originate this concept. He said that representation causes consciousness and not as people think that consciousness causes representation.]
Kant went further. He thought that Reason itself (i.e. the very essence of the faculty of reason ) falsifies. He got this from Hume. Hume based himself on one basic insight that he says over and over again and it is clear that all of his reasoning rests on the cornerstone of one basic principle. That reason itself can only perceive contradictions. But the way Hume said this is misleading for most people. Can you conceive or unicorns yes. Can you conceive of a square circle? No. This sounds like what Hume was talking about. But it is actually more profound. Does the contradiction of something imply a contradiction? This sounds like I can convince that 2+2=5 would not imply a contradiction. But this is not what Hume means. He uses the word imply the way it is used in logic today. Can you derive from the same fact two contradictory things? Then that is called implying a contradiction. This is an important difference. I can conceive of circular argument not implying any contradiction. But the way Hume means this is since I can derive two contradictory things from a circular argument it is therefore false.

This makes the fact that Kant based himself on Hume a lot more reasonable. Hume's point is a good point. The great philosophers today like Bryan Caplan and Michael Huemer definitely considered reason capable of conceiving a lot more stuff than contradictions. But this precisely the point of Kant. Kant definite expanded reason way beyond Hume.-He thought that reason itself can cross the border to see the existence of the thing in itself-but he said the character of the thing in itself depends on the observer. [Exactly like Quantum Mechanics.]

But Kant held that at a certain point Reason tries to go beyond its boundary into metaphysics. This is where I think that insanity comes from. Not consciousness like Nietzsche thought, but from Reason itself venturing where it does not belong.\

 Reason falsifies. But his approach was more along the lines that Reason coupled with another faculty he called Faith (or as philosophers call it  immediate non intuitive perception) does perceive the truth. Faith corrects Reason.

I realized after writing the above essay that it stops right where it ought to begin. So what is a young collage student to do? What does this say about the essence of life? What does it mean in terms of personal direction?

You need to find one basic moral value and stick with it at all cost. This has to be something of your own choosing. I can make recommendations but it has to be something that you believe in has the power to redeem you from evil and the sitra achra {the dark side}. But I believe that if you hold to even one basic simple moral value at all cost then you will be redeemed.



22.8.12

There are cults which are really bad -- even though they are founded on a saint or tzadik

There are cults which are really bad -- even though they are founded on a saint or tzadik. This is the reason I have not written an essay today.





[I want to mention in reference to my essay yesterday that I think the Torah [the set of the Five Books of Moses] is not porous. I know every Jewish group looks on the Torah as being able to absorb any world view the want to impose on it --in my view the Torah is not porous. Rather it  has a very specific world view ]



I consider the tzadikim of Chasidim to be in what is called the intermediate zone which is high above the trans-personal zone but still not the same thing as total enlightenment.
I consider the general chasidic movement however to be basically based on people that only reached the transpersonal zone.
I am a bit rushed but in plain English this means that following most chasidic cults leads one into the Dark Side.

The reason I as a philosopher am discussing these issues is that basically I hold from the Kant school of thought that Carl Jung was a part of.

The  areas in which i think that breslov is wrong and are are: Pantheism, so called Zniut and actually many other things
However i admit that I don't consider chasidut to be of the degree of  authority that breslov gives it.In this case i think every person should and must create his own world view based on the Torah and philosophy and science and Logic and reason and especially his or her own parents.

With the emphasis in breslov on  the cultic features that define any cult one would be almost tempted to say that chasidut is  not any different than any cult. [one feature is that ''so and so was the greatest such and such that every lived.'' When you encounter this philosophy in any group you are definitely dealing with a cult.]



20.8.12

The essential event that happens is one starts to think of himself as a god or as G-d or the true tzadik or many other variations of ego inflation.

(Morality  means: Never lying, and working honestly for a living, and not asking for handouts, and being married. The Ten Commandments.
 I consider morality and holiness to be closely connected. (That I got from Hegel).
  On the other hand Kabalah and/or Eastern religions tend (when they are effective in opening the gates to the beyond)  to be traps. What I am trying to say is the standard common sense morality and logic and reason seems to me to be the only valid standards of behavior and spirituality. Logic may not be very good, but it is the best thing out there. Common sense does not seem perfect, but it is the best among  all other options.

We must distinguish what we might call common sense morality. One ought not to tell lies, one ought to keep agreements, one ought not to attack others without provocation--these are all elements of common sense morality.


[I was at The Mir and then when I got to Israel I did get a kind of sense [immediate non-intuitive knowledge] for the spiritual realm. But I don't think this is exclusive. Also, I think that the basic reason that this path worked was for the basic moral values in the path
Torah contains two levels. A first level moral law and then a second level Divine Law. To see this in detail see the Rambam/(Maimonides). The first level is the law of the ancient Greeks, natural law. The next level is Mount Sinai.  The Rambam holds the first level also needed Revelation. People are in no way automatically moral. To get even to the level of natural law needed some kind of Divine input.
Then when people were ready for it came the second level of Mount Sinai. Now what I wanted to point out is the are plenty of aspects of the first level of natural law in the Torah. Because the Rambam and the Talmud make clear that the Laws of the Torah have reasons. And these reasons are not mysterious. They are knowable. and the Rambam [Maimonides] himself gives some of the reasons, some of which are straightforward natural law.]




Now I can get to my point after this introduction. The point is once one gets in connect with the spiritual realm the basic event that happens is the Dark Side shows up, and also ego inflation occurs. This is totally outside the basic effect of learning kabalistic literature which causes ego inflation even when one is not in contact with the spiritual realm.
The essential event that happens is one starts to think of himself as the Messiah or as G-d or the true tzadik or many other variations of ego inflation.

The fact of ego inflation does not take away the fact that one may have true insights into spiritual  and human nature. In this mixed realm,  great insight and miracles tend to be mixed with an overgrown ego and personality problems that get inflated because of the power of this realm. I have not seen or heard any safeguards against this. Every spiritual group that I have seen or heard of seems to have the same exact set of problems.



19.8.12

The problem is simple. Muslims are addicted to murder. It is just a bad habit that is hard to break.

 However I remember going to the Kotel (Western Wall) by bus, and every day there were some Arabs in the Gate of Shechem area that threw Molotov cocktails at the bus and rocks. But this was at a time when Eged [the bus company] had gotten smart and put unbreakable windows on the buses. But this was a daily incident. I highly doubt if any of the Arabs were even searched for by the police. The Israeli police in that area were in general Arabs or Druze themselves. This type of incident did not seem to bother them much. [That is to say I do not know if they were Druze or Arabs, because they seemed to be both. It seems to me that Israel sometimes put straightforward Arab police in the area and other times put Druze from the North. It seems to me clear that the Druze would have been  more eager to enforce the law and protect the buses. [In fact, even Arabs from the north of Israel probably would have been more eager to enforce the law. The Arabs from the North of Israel were in general peaceful decent citizens in  those days.] But that never happened. The attacks on the buses were daily over the several year period that I was going to the Kotel(Western Wall) every day.]  But besides this there were many attacks on me and others on a daily basis that never got into the news. I remember one professor at Hebrew University in Givat Ram [the Natural Sciences  campus] that was killed on one bus. This bothered me more than usual because I knew him. He was the professor that the Russian Physicist, George Ryzanov did his experiments in his lab to test his Unified Field Theory. So I had some dealings with him. [I no longer think his theory is right.]
Here is an important insight from the foremost philosopher of this generation:
"Historically, terrorism falls in a category different from crimes that concern a criminal court judge."
Jurgen Habermas
This is the problem in Israel The terrorism being practiced daily on Jews are not criminal offensives. The media thinks they can cover of the nature of the problem by the weasel word way of referring to "the conflict" in the Middle East. This is not a "conflict." It is war. And in war you can't go and question every person from the enemy side to see if he is actively attacking Jews today.  And even if you could find out, what can you do if tomorrow he decides to buy a non refundable ticket to Gan Eden by killing some Jews or Christians?

Can you imagine in World War I walked out of your trench across the battle field to the other side and reading Miranda rights to the soldiers on the other side?
The problem is simple. Muslims are addicted to murder. See the article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali:The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World. [http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/02/05/ayaan-hirsi-ali-the-global-war-on-christians-in-the-muslim-world.html] It really does not matter if it is Jews or Christians or other Muslims. It is simply an addiction that there is no cure for. It is like cigarettes addiction or drugs. At a certain point, the person just can't help himself anymore.

18.8.12

Is there a moral obligation to observe social norms?

Is there a moral obligation to observe social norms? I have a few questions that bother me about social norms. The questions that bother me about social norms are :  Are they natural law? Or are they legal positivism? They seem to be neither, but occupy some middle ground. These questions bother me  because I was born in America at a time in which the major goal and value was self reliance and individuality. Even though the hippies were attacking social norms,  but they just elevated these values beyond their usually accepted level. In Southern California to be independently minded was the  given prime value. No one debated this. [Unlike in the USSR where individualism was attacked.]
But as for what values one would come up with? Clearly Nietzsche was the big thing in those days and also Ann Rand. (She held from agent based values). [Marxism was the economic theory  the philosophy of the hippies.] So the American value of self reliance was swallowed by other value systems. To Nietzsche the Ubermensch creates his own values. To Marx, moral values are an invention of the ruling monied class to exploit the workers. It is a form of moral relativism like Nietzsche. Still the hippies were attacking authority and emphasized the need to be your own person.
Later when I leaned Talmud I discovered that it was very similar to Spinoza in that it holds from an objective moral system than does not depend on the observer.

  Talmud was very different than science because in science you could not start to do your own research until you finished and knew the subject. In Talmud each area stands by itself. So you can in theory open up one Tosphot and understand it without having to have gone through the whole Talmud. [Science is like a pyramid.]

  The Rambam (Maimonides) holds from two axioms that are prime values in his mind. One that there is no difference between the laws of the Torah and the Talmud. That seems simple enough. In general the law of  Talmud is  connected and supported by Biblical law. The Sages of the Talmud sure spend enough time and effort to defend this. However you can't see how successful they were without Tosphot.
The other thing that occupied the attention of Maimonides was to show that the system of law based on the Law  is  rigorous. He succeed in this. No one before or after him ever did.


  However like Von Mises' critique of communism,  any system of human beings that controls people from the top is doomed to failure. The first reason is the reason of Von Mises. Lack of information. While Maimonides showed the logical rigor of the Law,  if you look in any one area, the basic questions of application come fast and heavy until you realize that  in spite of how simple it looks you really don't know the law. The other thing is concept of an all knowing judge (of Ronald Dworkin). Even if he know all the details of the law and all the details of everyone's life--it is still a system being administered from the top to the bottom. There is still no self reliance or independence.

  What is bothering me is social norms. These are clearly very important to people trying to create a super-organism. But do they have any moral value?



Three things bother me. First that the social norms  are considered authoritative, not the Talmud or Rambam, nor Shulchan Aruch. Mere social norms are elevated to Divine status. This bothers me because it was not how I understood the Talmud. The whole idea of the Talmud was that God gave men laws to keep. These laws are objective. They do not depend on what people think of them. This is certainly how Maimonides understood the Talmud.  If not for this, the leaders at the desert of  Sinai could simply have decided that worshiping the Golden calf was perfectly permitted, and you go by a majority vote.

  Social norms gained status after the Middle Ages. Very little of what came after the Middle Ages impresses me except for Mathematics and  the  natural sciences. Even getting rid of kings bothers me. (Large portions of the populace vote themselves money and various carve-outs out of the public coffers. These groups vote monolithically as ethnic blocs to do achieve these takings.Who needs dumb voters?)

  This lead me to the third thing that bothers me more than any of the above. The difference between esoteric doctrine and exoteric doctrine. Once a community is stating public doctrines that are meant to entice people to join the movement, but holding from esoteric doctrines  in which the real norms of behavior are different and often directly opposed to the exoteric doctrines--then I define this community as an cult with all of the negative connotations that go along with that noun. What bothers me is the rationalization of crime when the criminals  in authority and the use of social norms to justify this.

  As for me, I think Reason can know objective moral values . Moral values are based on Nature,-not the will of men. This can also be called Divine Law. The Torah is to tell us what we ought to be able to perceive on out own if not for the evil inclination. This is my own approach to moral issues based large on the Torah and the medieval thought of Maimonides.
 
  This approach is somewhere in between the Kant approach that reason can perceive ''the thing in itself'' though he does not say how, and the intuitionists like H.A. Prichard  and say that reason perceives universals, and morals are universals applied to human affairs. {In this way the intuitionists are like Hegel.} [This is directly opposed to the so called neo-Kant school which is not like Kant at all. To Kant the existence of the ''thing in itself'' does not depend on the perception of the subject.]


16.8.12

And maybe Nietzsche was right. Maybe the conscious does distort the real truth



 Ignoring the vast subcontinent of the Id does not make it go away. And maybe Nietzsche was right. Maybe the conscious does distort the real truth.


  So what are the implications of this?

My advice about sex is to be in a Lithuanian yeshiva and learn Torah until you are offered a shiduch.
That seems to be the best idea because outside of the world of Torah,  girls aren't very good.

For a good marriage it is best that the girl have two characteristics: (1) Jewish, (2) daughter of someone who learns Torah. The guy--should  learn Torah. Now in Israel there are learners, and guys who learn half and work half, and guys who work. My approach was to learn and do a bit of science on the side, but at this point I might agree that half Torah and half work is better. I admit I am not sure. It is hard to say which path is better.

Rav Shach held -learn until marriage and then if one needs to work then fine. My parents held one should go to university and prepare for a honest vocation.
It is hard to know what to do as a rule. I was myself in Mir in NY before I was married and after that also. And later I went to Israel when Rav Ernster invited me to join his kollel in Safed. Learning Torah is important but there is something about the way the system is set up in Israel that annoyed me. It was like it was considered a 9-5 business and it was run in such a way. I did not want any part of a system that was making Torah into a money making factory so I left that kollel for all the seven years I was in Safed. The way I see it is accepting charity to learn Torah is an argument. The other rishonim disagreed with the Rambam on that point. They said it is allowed. But to have  a situation where one says if you come in at 9 to 5 and learn we will pay you-that makes Torah into a business. And I never heard of any Rishon that allows such a thing. So I threw myself on God's mercy and hoped he would support me without my doing something I thought was against the Torah. And he did help me until I left Israel.



After I left Israel and my wife left, I was no longer socially accepted and could not even walk into any yeshiva or kollel without being thrown out from either the first moment or a day or two.

Now I see most teachers of virtue (Torah) as being in it for the money,- because there is the problem that the students of teachers of virtue are unjust and not virtuous. So there must be something wrong with the system. [That is if the students turn out bad, that must say something about the teachers. Virtue and Torah I think are being betrayed.]



So unless we are talking about Ponovitch or the great Litvak yeshivas in NY, I have come to think of the whole system as terrible and not loyal to Torah. I see the Orthodox world as being organized around Compulsive Obsessive Schizoid leaders that are excellent at doing rituals and not connected with Torah except in appearance alone.

Since then I hope to merit someday to learn Torah. And I contemplate, "What went wrong?"
The answer of Nietzsche seems best: "Consciousness distorts Truth."

That means Nietzsche thought the Id has special access to the truth but it gets distorted as it gets to the surface of consciousness. The consciousness it to him just an phenomenon of the representation--not even of the Id. And clearly this is what Reb Israel Salanter was saying in his Igeret HaMusar. Learn Musar strong an long enough and it will penetrate into the Id and that will allow the Id to bring forth the un-distorted truth.

So what we have is apparently an argument between Rav Shach and my parents. But I think we can minimize the area of the argument to a small space. No one is disagreeing with the Rambam about the importance of learning Torah, Physics and Metaphysics as these last two were understood by Aristotle and the Rambam. And Rav Shach is agreeing also with the idea of  a vocation. I think for all practical purposes the area of disagreement approaches zero if we consider these facts.

11.8.12

I had in mind a great theme to discuss --Sin.

I had in mind a great theme to discuss --Sin.
Sometimes I have one major thesis in mind that I want to defend. But today I just wanted to bring up different aspects of this very fascinating subject.
First of all let me just be straight and upfront. I think the concept of sin is a great idea. The ancient Greeks certainly had this in a powerful way. But for them a sin for Aphrodite was a mitzvah for Venus. You just could not win them all. And even the gods were subject to the Fates. And all together, even the Fates, were subject to the meta-Divine realm. When God gave the Torah, this changed. In the Torah, the concept of sin is very  well defined. The Torah reveals an amazing fact. That there is only one God that we will have to give a reckoning to. And that day of reckoning will come.


But because people are sinful, they like to excuse  sin in different ways. One is by defining sin out of existence. Another is to make the social norms of the social group to be the definition of virtue, and deviation from social norms they define as sin. Philosophers get out of the problem of sin by coming up with some nice sounding abstract principle. When you first hear it, it sounds reasonable. But then they use it to justify out things which people know by common sense are wrong  In fact, this is the major occupation of philosophers in this generation. [Examples: Principle of Double Effect of Anscombe. or for example people know it is wrong to steal. But Marx comes up with a whole theory that property is theft and you get  Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Stalinist Russia and Enver Hoxha's  atheistic Albania. Not beacons in the darkness.]

I  would like the defend the idea of sin as a simple concept. It is things that God says in the Bible not to do. Or it is ignoring things that you are supposed to do. And someday you and I will have to give an account for why we ignored this.
Now I know that some people use the Talmud to over define sin. I agree that this is bad. (Some people take obscure statements from the Talmud and make it look ridiculous.) But based on the Torah and Talmud, I think I can come up with a short list of things that can define for every person the idea of sin. In fact, I don't even have to do it. There already is this short list. It is called the Ten Commandments. But since this list has been clichéd out of existence maybe I still need to state plainly what sin is.
Sin is: disobeying your parents. Sin is to lie or even say an non truth with no malicious intention. Sin is to cheat in business. I could go on, but you get the idea. Well, maybe I should go on.  Sin is coveting that which belongs to your neighbor, or using your voting power to get possession of what belongs to your neighbor. Sin is adultery (sex with a married woman. Not sex out of marriage.).--which has a specific definition--but I would include all the relations mentioned in Leviticus.

But every groups has it own norms that differ from these that they try to make into the level of the Ten Commandments. In some groups it is the greatest sin to support the Jewish state. In other it is a sin to wear the wrong clothing. I agree that these things are taken with great seriousness. I just hold that the social norms that religious cults or political movements  to promote do not have the benefit of Divine approval.
Now I need to get to the second idea about sin.I don't hold that it is wrong because God commands us not to do it. I don't think it is wrong and so God commands us not to do it. Rather i believe that God made people in a certain way.A nature way, and also made hidden paths to his divine Light.the things that God commands us are just telling us about an existing road map.Not being the road map is wrong because it leads one off the cliff. It is not wrong simply because it is written in the road map. there is a reason it is there.
I hope this does not sound like religious fanaticism. If it does I apologize. I know some people even in this subject do go a bit overboard. I have heard of people that in fact know than sin is wrong. But then they are aware of an alternative religion science-ism--the belief that only what science says is true , and these people starting from Kierkegaard wanted to defend the Bible from the onslaught of Hegel and philosophy. They said science is wrong and goodbye. This I feel is wrong. I grew up in a Jewish home in which there was a place fro Torah and science together with zero contradictions I feel that Torah and Talmud can hold their own ground in any competition with any philosopher. But I don't think they could win a war against philosophy and science. They just deal with different issues. When I go to town is see there are stores which sell clothing and others which sell food. I don't see that there is any conflict. Clothing and food are different things which I value. No conflict.








10.8.12

Conformity is valued in all groups. But in some non conformity is punished in worse ways.

There is a whole science of the super-organism that waits to be discovered.when one joins a group he thinks it is from his own free will and thinks he can leave of his own free will. but this is not the case. Once inside a group the rules change. There are for example social norms that if one violates the groups has a way of punishing. this does not happen by any particular individual in the group by by the power and energy of the group itself. This gets to be problematic if the stated norms of the groups are different from the actual norms.

Conformity is valued in all groups. But in some non conformity is punished in worse ways. Growing up in Anglo American society one gets used the idea of individuality being tolerated and sometimes even respected (if one can prove his merit). (It was considered an ideal to aspire to to be your own self in the 1960's) But in many groups individuality is harshly punished. Sometimes  because the group is just a small religious group there is not much they can do legally. But still they tend to label anyone that  deviates from the norms as a kook; and because of the power of the super-organism, this label can in fact stick. This problem is impassible for all human beings.
For being part a of a group is no different than a cell that is part of a human body. Though it seems self sufficient. Taken away from the larger body it decays and dies. So again if one does not want this to happen to him or her he should be careful what kind of group he joins.



At any rate I am pretty sure that the fact that being part of a social organism is so essential to the human being that this must be the reason Habermas [who some people consider the greatest philosopher of this generation] is not as against Marxist theory as most serious philosophers are. He must see it as a kind of social paste.--and who knows maybe it is. But my complain is that once a long time ago the Constitution of the USA was a marvelous social glue. But the effect of the socialist policies introduced in the 1960's did what socialist entitlement policies generally do--they create interest groups who have no sense of identity with the general society, and instead try to suck the life out of the larger society. This has happened in America.

9.8.12

super-groups and super organisms.

(To have any group you need law. No law-no group. And the law is always based on ideology. This is part and parcel of human beings.. You want to have a true ideology as opposed to a false one. But even among true principles there can be a lot of divergence. All animals seems to be organized around some basic principia. Super-organism are just  examples of this. (The U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. were good examples. The problem with Socialism is it forces people into rival interest groups, that try to suck the blood out of society to support their own group. But still there the you see the basic aspects of the human need to be part of a super-group or super organisms.
These super-groups have all the traits of a real life form.
They develop hooks that they stick into people that want to leave the group. Once part of a group one can never leave it without losing his life except by some miracle. But not all these groups are bad. Sometimes a person comes along that wants to found a movement or group based on some good principles.

E.g. the Madragat HaAdam (a disciple of Israel Salanter) that tried to start a movement based on trust in God. I tried to follow this path myself. I discovered a funny thing. It worked until I left it. But once I left it I could not make it work again. But as long as I stuck with it it worked.

Hegel thought individual conscious can only exist in connection with other peoples consciousness. 


6.8.12

Capitalism it is true does not reward virtue. So what does? Did the USSR reward virtue? Does Cuba reward virtue? Does the welfare system in America reward virtue?
Or does it reward laziness and covetousness?
Capitalism rewards greed. And Communism Does not? here is a anecdote that has a kernel of truth of how property far from being considered theft was actual worshiped in the USSR. a group of solders are standing watch around a perimeter before nuclear test. they are given instructions that if the yield of the Bomb is more than expected they should hold their rifles away from their bodies so that as the rifle is melting it should not drip onto their boots which are soviet state property.[It is hard to predict accurately neutron absorption. Also it is true there were a lot of nuclear related incidents and accidents that happened. People know about Chernobyl but not so many know about the K278 on April 7 1989.
However that was a very advanced model. It could dive more than twice as deep as a Los Angeles class or an Alpha ]



On 7 April 1989, while under the command of Captain 1st Rank Evgeny Vanin and running submerged at a depth of 335 metres (1,099 ft) about 180 kilometres (100 nmi) southwest of Bear Island (Norway)[1], fire broke out in the aft compartment, and even though watertight doors were shut, the resulting fire spread through bulkhead cable penetrations. The reactor scrammed and propulsion was lost. Electrical problems spread as cables burned through, and control of the boat was threatened. An emergency ballast tank blow was performed and the submarine surfaced eleven minutes after the fire began. Distress calls were made, and most of the crew abandoned ship.

The fire continued to burn, fed by the compressed air system. Several hours after the boat surfaced, it sank again in 1,680 metres (5,510 ft) of water. The commanding officer and four others who were still on board entered the escape capsule and ejected it. Only one of the five to reach the surface survived.

Rescue aircraft arrived quickly and dropped small rafts, but many men had already died from hypothermia in the 2 °C (36 °F) water of the Barents Sea. The floating fish factory B-64/10 Aleksey Khlobystov (Алексей Хлобыстов) arrived 81 minutes after K-278 sank, and took aboard 25 survivors and 5 fatalities. In total, 42 men died in the accident.

1.8.12

It has bothered me for some time why a great philosopher -Jurgen Habermas seems to like Marx.
The only explanation that I can see is he likes the idea that means of production {and apparently means and ways of making a living} determine people's morality and world view, instead of the world view determining their means of support like they claim. If this is the whole big deal about Marx--that people are irrational primates, then I don't see what the great news is. Original sin is a doctrine that I have heard of before. People are born into sin and then they excuse it with philosophy. Fine.
(Kelly Ross: "Karl Marx did not have a theory of morality; he had a theory of history. Thus, Marxism was not about right or wrong but about what will happen in history.
and what his theory predicted did not happen. The problem with Marxism was that it has never been willing to accept the discipline of falsification. The Marxist "high tide of prophecy," in Karl Popper's phrase, was perfectly willing to kill people by the millions rather than accept that "wreckers," spies, or some diabolical conspiracy were not responsible for the failure of Marxist economics.")

Maybe what is going on is the idea that desires determine perception--and especially the class one belongs to of better yet the social group. But this is saying the same thing. people desire to be upstanding member of a social group more than life.as the kamikaze pilots of WWII teach us.

OK you can say all I need to do is to read Habermas. But there is the trouble (besides the German language). At blowing Rawls (and the postmodern lunatics) out of the water he is great. But in building his own system he does not seem all that great.
Personally I would like to ask him why he does not spend more effort on John Locke and John Locke's state of Nature?

28.7.12

I think that Nietzsche is not a bad guy.Dress up anything as science, and Americans will believe it. Psychology is the best example of this.

I think that Nietzsche is not a bad guy. He might be my opponent. He might be wrong. But that does not make him bad or have some kind of evil heart. I do think that his critique against morality has some very important points. You might say that I see his critique on morality as actually being pretty astute. I see him kind of like I see Kant in his critique on pure reason. Kant saw the limits of reason, and Nietzsche saw the limits of morality. So today, any defense of Jewish-Christian morality of the Bible definitely needs to take into account the Nietzsche critique if it is to have any validity at all. Otherwise, it is like you are giving a class in the Talmud and someone asks a question and that you can not answer, but you decide to ignore it, or to put down the questioner as if he is too stupid to understand you. Obviously, all your credibility is gone in an instant.

Now I first would like to deal with the issue of logical fallacies in his thought. The fact that people did not create themselves does not contradict the existence of free will. The idea of Nietzsche was that since we are not self created (which he would call being free agents) then we have no free will. In spite of the powerful rhetoric behind his words, this does not logically follow.

This is just one example but the logical fallacies in his thought are numerous. [It is possible to prove that moral relativism is false.] [Actually it is possible to prove relativism itself is false. Not just moral relativism See the essay of John Searle from Berkley.] Rather I would like to mention some of the good points he makes. First he holds that morality is in general a weapon used against others, not a tool of self improvement. In fact, it obvious that this is what he does not like about it. If he would be in fact against morality, then why would this bother him? If it is a lie used by the powerful to subdue their enemies, then what could be wrong with that? If Nietzsche would be against morality, then he should welcome this.-- The point it he hold from Jewish-Christian morality, but he hates how it is misused. I can only agree with him in this.

He is right that people are different. But this is not an argument against morality. I boil milk and broil steak. Milk and steak are different. But this does not make how I cook them to be arbitrary or non objective. Again Nietzsche has a great point, but the logical conclusion is different from what he thinks. [He is of course knocking Kant that wanted to place all morality on one universal principle--much like the ancient Greeks wanted also.]


This I think is relevant for today, since I think it is the Nietzsche critique against morality which is the basic foundation of the Democratic Party in America today. People don't really think too deeply into morals, but they hear that they don't need to be moral and they like what they hear. Especially since psychology has becomes dressed with an air of science and is basically saying the same thing--it gives extra power to this. [To real scientists it has become clear that psychology is a pseudo science and that is why it has been rigorously excluded from the natural sciences.]
No wonder America is slipping.

Mainstream America loves to hallucinate, believing pseudo science. Dress up anything as science, and Americans will believe it. Psychology is the best example of this. Most Americans, for example, believe that financial details don't really matter as long as the spending party continues. (In the last four years, the national debt has risen 17 trillion dollars. That is real money.) Americans believe that you can get something for nothing if you just manage to fool enough people.
I was swamped with scams in the mail when I lived in New York--even Reader's Digest which you would expect to have some standards of decency.


But this I repeat does not make Nietzsche wrong. It just means that someone has to figure out a way of dealing with the issue of morality that takes into account the Nietzsche critique. This is a harder job than it may seem. It does not mean simply refuting his arguments. It means we have to reexamine the entire structure of Christan-Jewish ethics and figure out where and if it is wrong or might need correction.

I have a little more time on the Internet today so let me just at this point at least present my own basic approach to morality. Moral values are objective. They really exist, and are independent of observers.
2. Moral knowledge is an example of universals.
But in this case I go with Maimonides and Aristotle that universals are not independent of particulars --but that they exist.
I know many people will think this strange. After all, you do not bump into moral values as you walk down the street. But on the other hand, you don't often bump into the number two as you walk down the street either.
[Also to prove universals exists: (1) Yellow is a color. (2) The truth of statement (1) depends on the fact that yellow exists . Yellow is a universal. Therefore universals exist. QED]]



This brings me to the idea of argument from authority which is a logical fallacy. The trouble with Orthodox Judaism  as it relates to this topic is that the major issue which is all consuming  is who is the biggest rabbi --yours or mine. Logic and material evidence are not even considered as evidence. and how do you determine this all important question who is the biggest rabbi? By stories.
The trouble with this is that stories are not evidence. They can be helpful inspiration for what you know already by reason, but they can't cancel out reason or logic.

Now the importance of the Talmud for Christians is simple. I should preface my remarks that I am not saying the Talmud is divine. [It never claims such a thing. This is an orthodox invention.] The importance of the Talmud is simply to understand the basic question it deals with: What do the laws of the Old Testament mean? This is the area that the Talmud excels. To go looking for dumb statements in the Talmud, and thereby disparage the whole thing makes no more sense than doing the same thing with Shakespeare, Hegel or Nietzsche which have plenty of more outrageous and self contradictory statements than the Talmud. Shakespeare if you did not know lionized Brutus- -the murderer of Caesar. I forget which play that was in but the last line (I think maybe it was the play about Mark Anthony) was something like: "Here was a real man"--about Brutus! Oy Veehs Mir!

This is relevant for today's news:
Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company, which puts faith ahead of profits by closing on Sundays, was “guilty as charged” for backing the “biblical definition of a family.”

He later ratcheted up the rhetoric in a radio interview, saying: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”

Christians don't need to accept the Talmud. But with a little knowledge of what it is about, all this would not even be an issue.
In fact, you could even just look at the Mishna (the short version written by R Yehuda HaNasi) in Tractate Kritot and see the general rule about what is considered strict and what is considered minor in the Torah. [In short the 36 types of things that one gets the death penalty for are considered strict. You might say.]

26.7.12

\




The basic sources of information concerning Nietzsche: The statement “consciousness is a surface.” And the fact that he gets this from  Leibniz. [If Leibniz actually meant this is hard to say. He said, “consciousness
(Bewusstheit) is merely an accident of representation"] The there is a debate nowadays between Mattia Riccardi and Paul Katsafanas about some important questions about the meaning of Nietzsche.
She holds of conscious causation, while Paul thinks Nietzsche changed his mind about it, and the other thing that Nietzsche says about consciousness is consciousness  is “basically superfluous”. [When it comes to understanding of people, I prefer to go to the original thinkers instead of to the pseudo science of psychology which is just a business of lunatics by lunatics and for lunatics that shall never be divided, while at least Nietzsche had real insights.]


The entire structure of the Eitz Chaim of Isaac Luria --the entire universe and all the higher spiritual worlds and lower depths are all in the human heart. the other place is where is specifically states that what we call the self is the nefesh--the soul--or rather the upper layer of the soul.--the surface layer.plus the fact that he sees the souse of evil extending from the lowest level of simple animal desires up to the it root in holiness== fallen angel in one unbroken string or linkage, .i.e. after the simple animal desires there is a specific spirit that inspires people to do things that have zero desire or please. The sole motivation of this evil inclination is to do wrong because it is wrong. And there is the general middle levels where the sin has some pleasure but the main motivation is because it is evil and the level where people believe they are doing a great mitzvah. The Satan dresses himself up in Mitzvas. There is a level also where one does mitzvas for honor, power, and sex (to get a shiduch marriage opportunity) etc.
OK I hope I have not exhausted your patience with me as I get to my point--which is this: For  Torah, free will is important.  And for Torah, morality is objective.
[How could it not be objective? It could be like if someone says "Redness is not objective because whether a thing is red depends on the nature of the observer and not just on the nature of the object. Saying" Morality is objective" here means: there is some actual state of the world that corresponds to a value judgment.
To prove it is objective I offer this point by Michael Huemer: Moral objectivism (like objectivism in general) seems to be entailed by the law of excluded middle and the correspondence theory of truth, along with a couple of what seem equally obvious observations about morality:

(1) There are moral propositions.
(2) So they are each either true or false. (by law of excluded middle) (3) And it's not that they're all false. Surely it is true, rather than false, that Josef Stalin's activities were bad. (Although some communists would disagree, we needn't take their view seriously, and moreover, even they would admit some moral judgement, such as, "Stalin was good.")
(4) So some moral judgements correspond to reality. (from 2,3, and the correspondence theory of truth)
(5) So moral values are part of reality. (which is objectivism"

Another refutation of relativism. You can't even state moral relativism without denying it. Suppose you say
1. All moral truth is relative to the interests and perspective of the person
making the truth claim [like Nietzsche]. or 2. There are no universally valid moral truths. or
3. There are no absolute truths. It looks like in each case you have to exempt the claim itself from the scope of its application. But then you have given up the claim, for the claim was supposed to be universal in in its application. Or else there is one exception to the claim. If there is one why not more?]

The result of there being free will is that consciousness has to be the major battlefield between good and evil. For Nietzsche, the consciousness is superfluous because he does not hold there is any function of the conscious to choose. (Now if Nietzsche holds from free will at all I am not sure, since he might hold of such a thing for the higher man though he denies it in general.] But clearly the place of the choosing is in the deeper layers of the subconscious.
 He apparently felt he was waging battles on higher planes of existence. But the place where the final discretion lays is this physical world.





It is interesting to compare all this to Kant in which it seems most of what is going on is on the surface level where reason organizes sensory input into it categories. One would be justified in asking, "Where do this structures of reason come from?"


To both there are independent objective values that the self recognizes




And of course, last but not least, it is very important to understand how all this relates to John Locke and his (and his teacher's (the Earl of Shaftsberry)) idea of the self which in turn is the basis for his type of government.
John Locke's self as is known is the enlightened self [what some people call the bourgeois]. And much as the Left despises this, it is the basis for the American Democracy. The question here is simple. What is wrong with Socialism and Marx and Lenin and Nazism [all based on the concept of the general will of Rosseau and Hegel and as basically setting the pattern for the deeper aspects of the self and ignoring John Locke], and why is this government of superficial, selfish, unenlightened, bourgeois selves of America so successful? [In the ways that it is. I am not claiming there was nothing good about the USSR.]
Nietzsche. To Nietzsche, conscious falsifies

Another subject that is related is the desire to be part of a community which seems to be the direct opposite of the desire to be an individual. And in my opinion the desire to be part of a community is the most fundamental of human desires.--not the enlightened self interest of John Locke. So the question is how does this play out here.   With Nietzsche also this is a difficult issue. He was pitted against Democracy which he despised.


This is simply false/ here is one good example of a pure state of state of innocent human life as it is before contaminated by TV and McDonald's; Yanomamo men have two great sports--hunting and war. The patterns of their warfare bear a strange resemblance to those of the langur.
Yanomamo men sneak up on a neighboring village and attack. If they are successful, they kill or chase away the men. They leave the
sexually-capable young women unharmed. But they move methodically through the lean-to-like homes, grabbing babies from the
screaming captives. Like the langurs, the Yanomamo men beat these infants against the ground, bash their brains out on the rocks, and
make the footpaths wet with babies' blood.]

25.7.12

SDI

On the "Life in Israel" blog: there is a comment: "Star Wars(SDI strategic Defense Initiative). I seem to remember that a large part of how Ronald Reagan brought the Soviets to the knees in the '80s was via the Star Wars program. An arms race was created in which the United States and the Soviet union competed to see who could spend more money than the other on weaponry, satellites, and the like. Eventually, the US was able to out-buy the Soviets, and essentially bankrupted the Soviets into collapse."


My comment: "It was not just money. This was battle of Talent. There was a whole sub layer of events concerning Star Wars. First of all it is important to understand that Star Wars was being developed by the USSR and the USA long before either announced it. In fact after the Russians already had a head start with sputnik they leaped ahead with star wars right in the beginning of the 1960's. at that point they had more technology and even more of the mathematics necessary for such a program. America got wind of this and gave subcontracts to private firms like TRW and Hycon to develop a USA Star Wars. These corporations went t to my Dad and hired him to build a laser communication system between satellites so that the Russians could not monitor our communications.(the trouble with radio waves is that they spread. That means the Russian can eavesdrop. Lasers lack that drawback.) By the time Reagan announced it. we had caught up with the Russians and had gone beyond them.


One Russian told me it was battle between the American Jewish scientists and the Russian Jewish scientists.

“In order to overthrow a nation its people must first be disarmed” ~ Karl Marx

The basic idea I had in mind was to go through the development of the idea of Constitution government and especially John Locke's two treaties on government which provided the basis of the USA Constitution. then I wanted to show from treatise two section 214 how the USA government today in not constitutional because it has nullified the rule of law --i.e. the Constitution itself. This it does by the fact that the Supreme Court says that whatever they say is what the Constitution says. this is a downright straightforward lie and is the opposite of the idea of the rule of law. And this is not just in theory. The USA government has pitted itself against the American father, and made women depend on government and not their husbands. This is no accident but contrived. I hold that therefore the government of the USA should be overthrown--or else vote in a president who will uphold the Constitution.

I am sure the next major step of the illegitimate American government will be to try to disarm everyone with a gun.

"ISN’T IT AMAZING that whenever a drunk driver kills people on our streets and highways, the media and all others NEVER point their fingers at the CAR being the CAUSE of the carnage but at the PERSON RESPONSIBLE…..then whenever a GUN is employed in killings, it is the GUN that is the “problem”! ~ Crazy, huh?!!!

Bottom Line: “In order to overthrow a nation its people must first be disarmed” ~ Karl Marx (Notice that Marx mentions nothing about taking motor vehicles away from the people!)"
http://www.propublica.org/

notes on bava metzia page 61

I want to mention here two important points about Tosphot (the first on the page that starts with the words im aino inyan). The major question I see here is that the Maharsha seems to say that Rashi agrees with Tosphot, after Rashi has abandoned the idea of the hava amina ["I would have said"]. But looking at Rashi in the conclusion of the Gemara it seems Rashi is not saying the same thing.
To Tosphot, "Don't take neshech (interest) for money and food" is enough to tell us not to take neshech for money and food. Then the word "neshech" is extra in order to tell you that for "increase" food and money are forbidden. But Rashi says both times the word "neshch" is used it is telling you about the increase because neither are needed for neshach (interest). "Lo tashich" was enough for that.
[i.e. to Tosphot one word interest is to tell you about increase and the other is for a gezera shava.]


But then Rashi is stuck that nothing is left over for a gezera shava. But that is, I think, the exact point of Rashi. You don't need an extra word for a gezra shava. You just need similar words in two places. And this is exactly why Ravina can come along to say we don't need it (until he also uses it at some point later). He could not say that if the word was extra. While to Tosphot the only one word "neshach" is needed for increase (ribit), and the other one for the gezrea shava.
[Rashi would be unable to explain here why you need a verse for the lender at all.(I.e. the verse in Leviticus is not needed. All it should say is to the lender, "Don't take interest," and just use the word "neshech" and that will be enough to make a gezera shava (gezera shava means if the same word is used in two places that means you take the laws of one place and apply them to the other place.) To him you learn all the laws for the borrower and then apply them to the lender by the gezera shava. All you would need for the lender would be to say, "Don't take ribit." But to Tosphot this makes perfect sense since ribit (increase) is written only for money is devarim. So you need the verse in Leviticus to bring in ribit for food for a lender also.]



According to Tosphot one word "neshech" is needed for ribit and the other for a gezera shava. But then you have question, "Why is the verse for the lender [in Leviticus] written at all?" For the lender all you should need is a verse telling you not to take interest and then you can learn all the laws from the borrower. The answer is that "neshech" written by the borrower [in Deuteronomy 23] that refers to ribit is written only for money. This is why Tosphot made a point that the gezera shava is open at both ends [it goes in two directions]. So that you will learn ribit for money from the borrower to the lender and learn ribit for food from the lender to the borrower.


However the question on this is that both words food and money for the borrower are needed for neshach (interest). We don't know which one is to be applied to ribit. All we have to include ribit by a borrower is one word "neshech". We could just as easily say it applies only for food just like it applies only for food for a lender.
The answer to this is that after you have the gezera shava, you do not need the word "food" for interest. So though you could learn from "lo tashich food and money" from the borrower to the lender you only need the word food. The word money then can only come to tell you about ribit. So from the gezera shava you learn ribit food from lender to borrower and ribit money from borrower to lender.

I should mention that the way the Talmud here deal with interest as different from increase it does not look to me that it holds from the previous paragraph about both being the same thing, and the only difference between them is that there are two prohibitions--. This seems to me to be forced. After all there is not lashes for interest so who cares how many prohibitions there are. As Tosphot makes clear on this same page that the only time the Torah will add prohibitions to something is when it makes a difference in the punishment. So I would have to say that that Rashi means only to the opinion [the tana kama of R. Nechemiah and R. Elazar ben Yaakov] on page 62 that there is lashes for taking interest. This seems simple to me even thought I have not seen anyone mention it.

______________________________________________________________________________

ב''מ ס''א ע''א
I want to mention here two important points about תוספות ד''ה אם אינו עניין The major question I see here is that the מהרש''א seems to say that רש''י  agrees with תוספות, after רש''י  has abandoned the idea of the הווא אמינא  . But looking at רש''י in the conclusion of the גמרא it seems רש''י  is not saying the same thing.
To תוספות, the verse לא תקח נשך כסף ואוכל is enough to tell us not to take נשך for כסך and אוכל. Then the word נשך is extra in order to tell you that for ריבית food and money are forbidden. But רש''י  says both times the word נשך is used it is telling you about the ריבית because neither are needed for נשך interest. לא תשיך was enough for that.
I.e. to תוספות one word נשך is to tell you about ריבית and the other is for a גזרה שווה.


But then רש''י is stuck that nothing is left over for a גזרה שווה. But that is, I think, the exact point  of רש''י. You don't need an extra word for a גזרה שווה. You just need similar words in two places. And this is exactly why רבינא can come along to say we don't need it,  until he also uses it at some point later. He could not say that if the word was extra. While to תוספות the only one word נשך is needed for increase ריבית, and the other one for the גזרה שווה.  I think רש''י would be unable to explain here why you need a verse for the מלווה at all. I.e. the פסוק in ספר ויקרא is not needed. All it should say is to the מלווה,  a פסוק saying לא תקח נשך and just use the word נשך and that will be enough to make a  גזרה שווה. That means if the same word is used in two places that means you take the laws of one place and apply them to the other place. To him you learn all the laws for the לווה and then apply them to the מלווה by the גזרה שווה. All you would need for the מלווה would be to say, לא תקח ריבית. But to תוספות this makes perfect sense since ריבית  is written only for money  בספר דברים. So you need the verse in ספר ויקרא to bring in ריבית for food for a מלווה  also.



According to תוספות one word נשך is needed for ריבית and the other for a גזרה שווה. But then you have question why is the verse for the lender in ספר ויקרא written at all?" For the lender all you should need is a verse telling you not to take נשך and then you can learn all the laws from the borrower. The answer is that נשך written by the לווה in ספר דברים 23 that refers to ריבית is written only for כסף. This is why תוספות made a point that the גזרה שווה is open at both ends, it goes in two directions. So that you will learn ריבית for כסף from the לווה to the מלווה and learn ריבית for אוכל from the מלווה to the לווה.


However the question on this is that both words אוכל and כסף for the לווה  are needed for נשך interest. We don't know which one is to be applied to ריבית. All we have to include ריבית by a לווה is one word נשך. We could just as easily say it applies only for אוכל just like it applies only for אוכל for a מלווה.
The answer to this is that after you have the גזרה שווה, you do not need the word אוכל for ריבית interest. So though you could learn from לא תשיך אוכל וכסף  from the לווה to the מלווה you only need the word אוכל The word כסף then can only come to tell you about ריבית. So from the גזרה שווה you learn ריבית for אוכל from מלווה to לווה and ריבית money from לווה to מלווה.

I should mention that the way the תלמוד here deal with interest as different from increase it does not look to me that it holds from the previous paragraph about both being the same thing, and the only difference between them is that there are two לאווין. This seems to me to be דוחק. After all there is not מלקות for ריבית so who cares how many prohibitions there are? As תוספות makes clear on this same page that the only time the תורה will add prohibitions to something is when it makes a difference in the punishment. So I would have to say that that רש''י means only to the opinion [the תנא קמא of רבי נחמיה and רבי אלעזר בן יעקב on page 62 that there is מלקות for taking interest. This seems simple to me even thought I have not seen anyone mention it.

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 ב''מ. גמרא: סא. אם אינו ענין. המהרש''א משמע שרש''י ותוספות לא חולקים אחרי שרש''י עזב את ההווא אמינא. אבל כשאני הסתכלתי בסוף הגמרא, היה נראה לי שרש''י ותוספות לא אומרים אותו דבר. לדעת התוספות "לא תשיך נשך אוכל  נשך כסף" מלמדת אותנו שלא לקחת נשך אוכל או כסף. ומילת "נשך" השניה היא מיותרת לומר שגם בשביל מרבית אוכל וכסף אסורים. אבל רש''י אומר ששתי הפעמים שמילת "נשך" מוזכרת, הן להגיד לנו הדין לגבי מרבית,- בגלל שהן לא נצרכות להגיד הדין של נשך. היה מספיק בשביל זה המילים, "לא תשיך".
אבל רש''י צריך לתרץ הקושיא שאין שום דבר מיותרת לגזרה שווה. אבל נראה לי  שרש''י כשיטה  לא צריכים מילה מיותרת בשביל גזרה שווה. צריכים רק אותה מילה בשני מקומות. [יש מחלוקת בזה. יש אומרים שגזרה שווה צריכה להיות מופנה מצד אחד ויש אומרים שהיא צריכה להיות מופנה משני הצדדים.]
וזה בדיוק הסיבה שרבינא יכול לבא ולהגיד שלא צריכים את הגזרה שווה. הוא לא היה יכול להגיד את זה אם המילה היתה מיותרת.
אבל לתוספות, רק מילת נשך אחת  נצרכת לריבית [מרבית], ונשך השניה היא באה בשביל הגזרה שווה.
אגב, לרש''י כאן יש קושיא, למה צריכים שום פסוק בשביל הלווה? לרש''י לומדים את כל הדינים של הלווה, ואז אומרים שהם שייכים למלווה גם כן. לא היה צורך להגיד בשביל הלווה שום דבר חוץ מן "לא תקח ריבית".
אבל לתוספות אין קושיא בגלל שריבית נכתבה בשביל כסף לבד (בספר דברים). ולכן צריכים את הפסוק בספר ויקרא להביא ריבית בשביל אוכל בשביל לווה גם כן




24.7.12

I want to mention here a thought I had about the Talmud

I want to mention here a thought I had about the Talmud Bava Metzia. Actually I would prefer to write this in Hebrew first but I can't do that right now so. So here it is in English.
I basically want to say that there is an argument between Rashi and Tosphot on Bava Metzia page 61a [first Tosphot on the page] and that I think it comes out a draw between them. The reason is that Rashi can explain Ravina better but Tosphot can answer the question, "Why do you need a verse for the lender?" [The verse for the lender in in Leviticus] Perhaps in this case it would be easier to start with toshot because he is a lot more simple than Rashi. To Tophot: you know interest for money and food by the words "Don't take interest for money and food" [lo tashich]. Simple. Then there is an extra word "interest" that you don't need. So you use it for increase (ribit). Then there is another extra word "interest" that you don't need. So you use it for a gezara shava from the borrower to the lender.
So far so good. But then you could ask on Tosphot, "You have only one word for learning to increase. So how do we know that it applies to both money and food?" The answer is elegant. Because this is why Tophot made sure to emphasize that the gezra shava is open at both ends. So that you learn increase in money from the borrower to the lender and increase in food from the lender to the borrower.
So Tosphot comes out perfect as usual. No surprise here.
The question is with Rashi. In spite of the fact that the Maharsha says that Rashi and Tosphot do not disagree in the conclusion of the Braita-- clearly they do. Rashi uses both words interest [neshach] for ribit. [The Maharsha means Rashi does agree with Tosphot that "lo tashich" was enough to tell us interest]. So to Rashi, I ask, why do you need any verse for the lender besides just saying to the lender "Don't take interest." Why do you need to go on to mention increase in food and interest in money for if you learn everything from the lender?

But I started this essay saying that Rashi and Topshot is a draw, because Rashi can explain Ravina. Ravina says you don't need the gezera shava and learns out everything for the lender from the verse about the lender. This is fine if there is no extra word. But if one extra word exists-- interest by the borrowers--as it does for Tosphot, then how can Ravina disagree with it?

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בבא מציעא ס''א ע''א

I basically want to say that there is an argument between רש''י and תוספות on בבא מציעא ס''א ע''א,  first תוספות on the page, and that I think it comes out a draw between them. The reason is that רש''י can explain רבינא better but תוספות can answer the question, "Why do you need a verse for the מלווה?" The פסוק for the מלווה in in ויקרא .Perhaps in this case it would be easier to start with תוספות because he is a lot more simple than רש''י. To תוספות: you know נשך for כסף and אוכל by the words "Don't take ריבית for money and food" [לא תשיך].  Then there is an extra word "ריבית" that you don't need. So you use it for ריבית. Then there is another extra word "נשך" that you don't need. So you use it for a גזרה שווה from the לווה to the מלווה.
So far so good. But then you could ask on תוספות, "You have only one word for learning to ריבית. So how do we know that it applies to both כסף  and אוכל?"  Because this is why תוספות made sure to emphasize that the גזרה שווה is open at both ends. So that you learn ריבית in money from the borrower to the lender and ריבית in food from the lender to the borrower.
So תוספות comes out perfect as usual. No surprise here.
The question is with .  רש''י . We have רש''י that uses both words  נשך for ריבית. . So to רש''י I ask, why do you need any פסוק for the מלווה besides just saying to the מלווה "Don't take ריבית." Why do you need to go on to mention ריבית in אוכל and נשך in כסף for if you learn everything from the מלווה?

  רש''י can explain רבינא. We have that רבינא says you don't need the גזרה שווה and learns out everything for the מלווה from the verse about the מלווה. This is fine if there is no extra word. But if one extra word exists "ריבית" by the לווה as it does for תוספות, then how can רבינא disagree with it?


בבא מציעא ס''א ע''א

יש ויכוח בין רש''י ואת תוספות על בבא מציעא ס''א ע''א, תוספות הראשון בדף. רש''י יכול להסביר רבינא טוב אבל תוספות יכול לענות על השאלה, "למה אתה צריך פסוק עבור המלווה?" הפסוק עבור המלווה הוא  בויקרא. להערכת תוספות אתה יודע נשך עבור כסף ואוכל על ידי המילים "אל תיקח ריבית עבור כסף ומזון" לא תשיך. אז יש מילה נוספת "ריבית"  שאתה לא צריך. אז אתה משתמש בו עבור ריבית. ואז יש עוד מילה אחת מיותרת "נשך" שאתה לא צריך. אז אתה משתמש בו עבור גזרה שווה מן הלווה אל המלווה.
 אבל אז אתה יכול לשאול על תוספות, "יש לך רק מילה אחת ללימוד ריבית. אז איך אנחנו יודעים שזה חל על הכסף ואוכל?" בגלל זה הוא מדוע תוספות טרחה להדגיש כי הגזרה השווה פתוחה בשני קצותיו. אז יש לך ללמוד ריבית בכסף מהלווה למלווה וריבית במזון מן המלווה ללווה.
השאלה היא עם רש''י. יש לנו את שרש''י משתמש  במילת נשך עבור ריבית. אז  לרש''י למה אתה צריך כל פסוק עבור מלווה לבד. רק תאמר אל מלווה "אל תיקח ריבית." למה אתה צריך ללכת על להזכיר הריבית באוכל ונשך בכסף  אם אתה לומד כל דבר מן המלווה?

  רש''י יכול להסביר רבינא. יש לנו את זה שרבינא אומר שאתה לא צריך את הגזרה השווה ולומד את הכל עבור המלווה מהפסוק של המלווה. זה בסדר אם אין מילה אחת מיותרת. אבל אם מילה נוספת קיימת כזו "ריבית" על  ללווה אז איך זה יכול להיות שרבינא לא מסכים עם זה.








21.7.12

the movement that does everything according to the rulings of Eliyahu from Vilnius known as the Villna Geon.)

Rav Zilverman (the movement that does everything according to the rulings of Eliyahu from Vilnius known as the Villna Geon.) was invited to join the newest lunatic Sanhedrin. 

Rav Elyashiv said, "No." So you see a little sane leadership is a good thing. I am sure there must have been other good things. It seems to me that the Litvaks (Lithuanian type of Jews) do learn Torah. OK maybe not as much as I would like--but neither do I learn as much as I would like. Basically it seems to me Rav Elyashiv was a kosher leader, even if there are specific areas I disagree with him--like the issue of IDF.
Rav Zilverman also asked me what I thought of it. I said a short answer but it was based on the fact that the Rambam says to make a Sanhedrin you need to gather all the wise of Israel and they confer semicha (ordination) on someone to start a new semicha. So my answer was short and simple, "First they need to be wise." {The implication is that I was saying they are a bunch of idiots so he should not join them.}
The nice thing about basic Lithuanian type of Judaism is that it is authentic. 

19.7.12

Soviet Socialist States of America

If we consider government to be a kind of messenger  as the Rashbam  רשב''ם says in Bava Batra, then certainly it would be null and void if the person does not keep his word. [note 1] This in fact gives me great doubt about the validity of the American government at present. What makes it worse is not the lies of the politicians, but the very nullification of the American Constitution. The government found a way to overcome the problem of division of powers that was supposed to limit government. They decided they would all act as one monolithic body. So it has became a government against the people, not for the people. [That was just step one. Then the media became an arm of government against the people.]
In John Locke's Two Treaties of Government, we find a clarification of when it is morally permissible to make a revolution and overturn the government. Based on those two treatises, I would have to say that the American government is long overdue for a revolution. There is unbelievable abuse of power. The government assumes everyone and everything belongs to it, your money, your children, your body. According to the American government, you never accomplished a damn thing in your entire life. Anything good you ever did is because of an African president, the Savior. It has become the Soviet Socialist States of America. [I admit here the word "soviet" might not be proper. That would be an insult to the USSR. There are really no "soviets" per say --advisory bodies that I know of.  A better way of saying this is, The Union of Socialist States of America.

The system of comprehensive government planning of economic affairs in America creating tyranny. With all production, employment, and distribution of output completely under the control of the State, the fate and fortune of every individual is at the mercy of the Black House.

[note 1] See Bava Metzia and Gitin for details. The main idea here is that when you appoint a messenger to do something, and he changes from what he was told, the messenger-ship is void. That is: let's says he was appointed to do kidushin [קידושין] (marriage) of a woman in a certain place for the sake of a friend, and he did it in a different place, then the kidushin (marriage) is null and void. The Rashbam explains the authority of government comes from messenger-ship in his comment on the law of the country is the law. (In  tractate Bava Batra) John Locke said the same thing in his most famous book Two Treaties of Government. In spite of the cool temper of John Locke and the seemingly innocuous title of the book, it is a recipe for revolution when a government abuses its power as is the case in the USA


The question of an electric light on Shabat

The question of an electric light on Shabat.


While it does look clear that an electric light that produces heat would be forbidden by the Torah according to the Rambam, it is hard to see why building/ (בניין) would apply to electricity. (And the Rambam seems to be a minority opinion here. Besides that why is not then a glass you use to focus sun rays also forbidden. And we know it is not except derabanan.) We do find that putting together a bed or menorah in a way that it could not be taken apart except by an artisan would be forbidden because of tikun mana תיקון מנא, but it is hard to see why electricity would be like that. The way the Chazon Ish understood the idea (closing a circuit) can perhaps be squeezed into the the Gemara. But it is not general way that binyan בנין or tikun mana תיקון מנא were understood by the commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch.
[The reason I always put binyan/building (בניין) and tikun mana/תיקון מנא fixing a vessel together is that the Gemara says they are the same work melacha except that one is for something attached to the ground and the other is not]
I heard from Rav Nelkenbaum (at Mir N.Y.) that he heard from a great man אדם גדול that the Chazon Ish does not actually fit into the Gemara. This might be true, but  I have not heard why.
To me it seems like the Chazon Ish went to great length to show how his idea of building/ binyan could be fit into the Gemara.---the bed and menorah are not possible to use until they are finished. The electric circuit is not finished until it is lit. In theory this seems to work.  The problem is: How does you understand electricity? Is it like water you pour from a tea pot? Or is it a part of the tea pot? I mean the teapot is useless until you pour water into it and then pour it out. Is now it forbidden to open the lid and pour out the tea?
But I admit that the Chazon Ish is an impressive book.

There are some interesting side topics here like a Rambam in laws of vessels  and the end of chapter 9 in Bava Metzia. But they don't change the law

I asked Reb Nelkenbaum to tell me the name of that "great man" but he refused to tell me. And I think he probably would not tell anyone else either because I think he was sworn to secrecy.
So if anyone has the time the only thing to do now is to open up that Chazon Ish and try to get to the bottom of this.
 I saw once that Rav Elizer Menachem Shach had a piece on this in his book the Avi Ezri. And that would be worthwhile looking at. I seem to remember his basing himself on the Rambam. This was about twenty years ago I glanced at it while at the Mirrer Yeshiva.  I think he was concentrating on the Rambam about any heat producing process in terms of making coals.

I think in the long run the reason I am thinking that electricity is OK is the Gemara at the end of chapter 3 in Shabat: about cooking stuff on hot pavement  (or perhaps with a magnifying glass) תולדות החמה. To me that seems to indicate that any heat producing process is  not the same thing as fire.
I think the Chazon Ish realized how absurd it is to think any heat producing process is fire. So he went in another direction-building בניין. And he was thinking that he could get a lot farther with building than he could with just fixing a vessel because building even less than an atom is still liableבנין בכל שהוא חייב . It is probably that distinction between building and fixing that the Chazon Ish is trying to use to get to his idea of forbidding electricity.

As far as what Rav Shach mentions in the Avi Ezri about coals-- clearly the Rambam that he brings there is going like Rabbi Yehudah that a מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה is liable. But we don't follow this ruling. We go by the idea that מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה is not liable. [In any case the whole issue of coals is from fire, not תולדות החמה or any other kind of heat making process.]

So there it is. Maybe someone will come up with some other reason to forbid it. But the reasons that have been given are ridiculous. בורר might be the next suggestion. One is choosing the good electrons from the bad ones by means of a vessel. So it is like choosing the good from the bad with a vessel which is liable from the Torah. But if someone wants to use this idea it might take another few hundred years to show why it is not correct.

I should add that the idea of keeping the Torah strictly is a good idea. Even a great idea. But it is not a good idea to make up prohibitions out of thin air. It is better to keep what the Torah says without adding prohibitions or subtracting them. There is in fact a prohibition in the Torah not to add prohibitions. It is called "לא תוסיף" "Don't add."

Instead of making up prohibitions my suggestion is to be strict about keeping the Ten Commandments.

 אור החשמל ביום שבת. השאלה של אור חשמל ביום שבת. למרות שזה נראה כי אור החשמל שמייצר חום יהיה אסור מן התורה על פי רמב''ם, קשה לראות מדוע בניין יחול על חשמל. ואת  רמב''ם נראה כדעת מיעוט כאן. חוץ מזה,  זכוכית  שאתה משתמש בה למקד קרני השמש גם תהיה אסורה. ואנחנו יודעים שזה אסור רק דרבנן. אנחנו מוצאים להרכיב מיטה או מנורה בצורה כזו שהיא לא יכולה להיות מפורקת למעט ידי אומן ייאסר בגלל תיקון מנא, אבל זה קשה לראות מדוע חשמל יהיה ככה. האופן שבו החזון איש הבין את הרעיון, סגירת מעגל, יכול אולי להידחק בגמרא. אבל זה לא האופן הכללי  שבניין או תיקון מנא הובנו על ידי הראשונים. הסיבה ששמתי בניין ותיקון מנא (תיקון כלי) יחד היא כי הגמרא אומרת שהם זהים, הם אותה מלאכה, פרט לעובדה שהאחד הוא במשהו מחובר לאדמה והשני לא. לי נראה שהחזון איש הלך באריכות כדי להראות עד כמה הרעיון שלו של הבניין יכול להיות מתיאם לגמרא. המיטה והמנורה הם לא ניתנו להשתמש עד שהעבודה הסתיימה. המעגל החשמלי לא נגמר עד שמדליקים. בתיאוריה זה נראה נכון. הבעיה היא: איך אתה באמת מבין בו חשמל? האם זה כמו מים שמוזג מקנקן תה? או שזה חלק של הסיר של תה? כוונתי שהקנקן הוא חסר תועלת עד שאתה לשופך את התה מתוכו לכוס. האם עכשיו זה אסור לפתוח את המכסה לצוק את התה? ישנם כמה נושאים צדדים מעניין זה כמו רמב''ם בהלכות טומאת כלים ועוד בסוף פרק תשעה בבבא מציעא. אבל הם לא משנים את החוק. אני חושב כי חשמל הוא מותר בגלל הגמרא בסוף הפרק השלישי בשבת: על בישול דברים על מדרכות לוהטות, או אולי עם זכוכית מגדלת שהם תולדות החמה. לי זה נראה בבירור כי כל תהליך ייצור חום הוא לא אותו דבר כמו אש. אני חושב שהחזון איש הבין עד כמה אבסורדי זה לחשוב כל תהליך ייצור חום הוא אש. אז הוא הלך בכיוון אחר, בניית בניין. והוא חשב שהוא יכול לקבל יותר עם בניין ממה שהוא יכול עם תיקון כלי מכיוון שבנייה אפילו פחות מאטום הוא עדיין  בנין בכל שהוא שחייב. זה כנראה ההבחנה בין בנייה ותיקון מנא שהחזון איש מנסה להשתמש בה כדי להגיע למושג לאסור חשמל. ככל מה רב שך מזכיר גחלים ברמב''ם, ברור שהרמב''ם הולך כמו ר.יהודה כי מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה חייב. אבל אנחנו לא הולכים לפי פסיקה זו. הולכים לפי הדין מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה אינה חייבת. בכל מקרה את כל נושא גחלים הוא מאש, לא תולדות החמה או כל סוג אחר של תהליך קבלת חום