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28.12.12

Max Weber was the first person to see the basic crisis of the Enlightenment. [Rousseau and Jonathan Swift were the first to attack the Enlightenment but Weber saw that the whole project itself had entered a phases of crisis] (For bit of background information: The Enlightenment was political project or conspiracy to take power from princes kings and priests and give it to the intellectuals and scientists. It succeed like no movement had ever succeeded before. It said to the kings and queens: "Either you will listen to our ideas about justice and freedom or we will make you listen."]

This was a reaction against reason and a search more natural wholeness. The attack against the enlightenment had been started by Rousseau but the first one to see the actual dissatisfaction with reason and the ultra rational world of European Civilization before WWI was Weber.

This is clearly the reason for the radical movements of the twentieth century. The baal teshuva that feels the emptiness of secular America, the Communists and the Nazis-just some people went to religion to fill the emptiness and others went to secular religions like Nazism or Environmentalism or Radical Feminism.

All the above was stated clearly by Weber and later by Allen Bloom




I would like to defend the idea that problem with the Enlightenment goes back to Renaissance Italy from where the whole movement began with the Humanists and can even be traced back to Antiquity. The thing that makes me say this is the fact that even Renaissance Italy with all its glory fell into nothingness after 1500. From there it migrated to Northern Europe and eventually to the USA. But the seeds of its destruction are still there. It can't exist for any extended period without the Bible--without holiness, without a connection with numinous reality.

But this Bible [or Old Testament approach] can't work either without ancient Rome and Athens. Freedom and equality are in no way Biblical values. It's the unique combination of Athens, Rome, and the Torah that created Western Civilization.--and is needed for its continuance.
 
However there is a  problem with how many people approach the Bible. They look at it as if it is porous. They feel they can put in any interpretation that suits their fancy. For this reason for Jewish people the books of Musar [books of ethics from Jewish thinkers in the Middle Ages] are  essential. It is not that these books are so insightful into human nature  or into the Divine Realms [like Isaac Luria]. It is rather that they excel in the one thing the Middle Ages excelled in: logical rigorous thought. There is almost no way to get a self consistent logical approach to the Torah without basing yourself on some Medieval thinker. The reason is that that is what they were good at in those days. It is the same reason why no modern commentary on the Talmud comes anywhere  in lights years of one word of a Tosphot on the Talmud.

For Christian people this all would imply the need for them to learn the books of Aquinas, and Anselm and Abelard.

The modern Jewish synthesis of the medieval books of Musar are contained in the writings of the giants of the Musar movement of  Israel Salanter.
[But sadly that movement fell into the trap of frumkeit and' or the  pseudo  science of psychology.]

But the original Musar movement was definitely on the right track.

For a good example of what is wrong with that movement today a glance at the garbage written in Michtav Meeliyuah of the books of Avigdor Miller will suffice.

In conclusion: You need a balance between  Athens and the Torah. and neither one alone suffices. This was clearly the opinion of Maimonides and of Aquinas. And I would not even have to mention if if not for the problem that today the divorce between Torah and Plato and Aristotle has been completed  to the detriment of both. and this divorce was definitely against the world view of the Rambam, and the Baali Musar from the geonic school like the Chovot Levavaot. [Though I admit that this modern religious fanatic approach was in fact quite in accord with the Rashba, and others of the anti Rambam school. I can not answer this objection except to say that I think the fanatic religious approach is not for everyone. But it might very well be for some people. there was even for me a period in my life that i could not dream of tearing myself;f away from the holy words of the Torah and Talmud for even a minute.--except during the time between morning seder and afternoon seder which was the time periods that i got married in.]









27.12.12

The Musar movement

 The Musar movement is a movement based on the idea that people ought to learn the medieval Jewish books of ethics.] I have been critical of this because first of all those books are in fact medieval with all the good and bad that goes along with that. I.e. they are rigorous logical and powerful but highly scholastic and petty and have some false axioms upon which they base themselves..
On the other hand I had today an eye opening experience which indicates to me that Musar if fact goes along way in giving people a basic idea of the total world view of the Old Testament along with a good summary of the basic practices that the Old Testament involves. I.e. how it would apply to people in a modern framework.


Maybe I should make a quick list of the Musar I found helpful in case anyone wants it for reference.: Yesod Veshoresh Haavoda, Chovot Levavot, the 8 chapters of the Rambam on Avot, Shaari Teshuva, Maalot Hamidot, Sefer Hayashar attributed to Rabbi Tam,  Reshit Chachma. and the major disciples of  Israel Salanter: Madragat Haadam [Joseph Horwitz from Novardok, Simcha Zisel from Kelm and Isaac Blasser from Petersberg. His book, Or Israel is a masterpiece].


In some of these books there are ideas concerning science that are false. That does not make them pseudo science. Mistakes made in good faith are not pseudo science.
Catholics have their own sets of books of ethics that are similar in purpose and for Christian people it is probably a good idea to learn them.



25.12.12

There is a difference in natural law doctrines that have affected me.growing up in the USA I definitely imbibed the natural law theory embodied in the Declaration of Independence of Thomas Jefferson along with the emphasis in Southern California to be an individual, and not follow the crowd.
This Thomas Jefferson doctrine is different than other theories of natural law.
The basic idea I should state here is that people have natural rights that they are endowed with by their Creator. These rights are natural rights, and do not owe their existence to any government. And here is the key point--governments are formed not just to preserve these rights, but also people give up a certain amount of their rights in order to form a government.

This is due to John Locke. Further the identification of Divine rights with natural rights comes from Thomas Aquinas.
There is a theory of natural law from Saadia Gaon who associates all laws of the Torah --Divine Law with laws of reason-not nature. This is a different natural law theory than Aquinas.




24.12.12

It is possible to defend the idea that one should visit at least once the grave of Nachman in Uman and say the Ten Psalms that he designated.


 While this can't be defended from the aspect of empirical knowledge, it can be defended as an aspect of a priori knowledge. This would not be a priori knowledge that comes by reason, but rather by non intuitive immediate knowledge. In this case this would be an area of all content and no form. The fact that there is no form in this area would be the reason why the faculty of reason can't perceive it.






 I admit there is a certain aspect of "faith in the wise" of this. But even the idea of faith in the wise can be defended. In general when you open a book on algebra, you have a certain amount of faith that the author knows something more than you about the subject. And you  also depend on the implicit belief that there are no errors in the book. Even the knowledge that there is one single error in the book would immediately force you to put it down. So you do depend on faith in the wise for this.


 This little essay gives an idea why I feel that the intuitionist school of philosophy missed a basic point about Kant.--that Reason can perceive universals. Once you get out of the area of universals you have to look for another source of knowledge. For instance the thing in itself. Once we are out of universals what reason do you have for thinking that reality should conform to what you think of it?
[Universals are explained by Michael Huemer: I have here two white pieces of paper. They are not the same piece of paper, but they have something in common: they are both white. What there are two of are called "particulars" - the pieces of paper are particulars. What is or can be common to multiple particulars are called "universals" - whiteness is a universal. A universal is capable of being present in multiple instances, as whiteness is present in many different pieces of paper. A particular doesn't have 'instances' and can only be present in one place at a time (distinct parts of it can be in different locations though), and particulars are not 'present in' things.]
\

 Almost all ideas of the cult th Gra put into excommunication can be traced directly to Natan, the false prophet of Shabati Tzvi. The reason that most people are not aware of this is simply that they are usually not familiar with both sets of writings.

The area of non intuitive immediate knowledge is where the Intuitionists [like Prichard] are missing the point. They rightly see that reason perceives more than analytic propositions. But they do not see that still there is a limit to reason-the limit that it sees only universals.







22.12.12

Why is the present administration stockpiling ammo?


One question few are asking: Why is the present administration stockpiling ammo? It recently purchased 450 million rounds of.40 caliber hollow-point ammunition (banned by the Geneva Convention and not used by the U.S. military) and then another 750 million rounds of anti-personnel ammunition for the DHS and other government agencies. 1.2 billion rounds? That’s four bullets for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Since this ammo can’t be used on foreign battlegrounds, where do they plan on using it? And on whom? [From a  note on the New York Post.]



Another note on the New York Post: . If Congress and all federal and state buildings now have armed guards why can't the schools be like protected? I went to a Social Security office recently in a small town...and it had an armed guard!....and we can't guard the schools???? Every parent would be glad to pay, for example, a one dollar security fee each month for their child.

\For further information about self defense see the second amendment to the USA Constitution. This is only meant for those people that can read English.

I am  in favor of self defense. 



For people in New York I think they should not send their children to public school but rather home school.  A school where anyone armed can come in a kill is not a conducive learning environment. And NY schools are a disaster zone even beside this. American companies that need to hire someone competent in Math or science usually have to hire Russians or Japanese or Chinese people. I even meet these types of people of international flights I was on. I remembered sitting next to one Russian that went to the University of Siberia who was working for an American company in the USA that needed someone competent in Math.




There was a case I remember in Israel in which some boat from Lebanon landed on and Israeli beach. The passenger s from the boat walked up to the nearest apartment building and knocked on the front doors of the homes. When the door was opened they shot the inhabitants and then moved on to the next door. They keep on doing this until they got to one door. Before they could knock it opened and the inhabitant shot them. And that is how the cookie crumbles.


20.12.12

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sfl-edge-mayan-doomsday-calendar,0,1683565.flash

For the end of the world I recommend for everyone to buy lots of beets.They are  great by themselves and with meals.



Basing my views on the Talmud I identify strongly with the Conservative movement in the USA.
I will just go over a few points to make myself clear:
[1] Private property and free market.You can't learn even one page of the Talmud without having this drilled into you. Yet the thing is that the Talmud along with the American Conservative Movement does recognize the need for government intervention at certain times. This would avoid some of the problems associated with unlimited capitalism that provided the sense of outrage that Karl Marx felt towards the capitalist system.

[2 ] I do not identify with the Libertarian Party because of philosophical problems that I find there. Also almost every Libertarian thinker seems to have some area of flakiness.

[3] I disagree with the basic approach of the Conservatives and Neo-Conservatives to identify Communism as the prime enemy. What I mean to say by this is that America for about fifty years has supported vicious dictatorships as long as they were not communist. This started in Vietnam and continued up until today. I see this as a mistake. Communism and the John Locke type of American Democracy are not enemies.They are two rival ideas of how to solve the political question how to create a just society that provides equality and freedom for all. Communism was vicious but it was vicious in pursuit of a worthy goal. And most people that lived under the dominion of the USSR miss the stability. Even the children of a former KGB agent that I know recognize that the level of education in the USSR was much higher than it is today in former USSR territories.

In the USSR the was no welfare. If someone did not work they went to jail, i.e a Soviet jail-not an American hotel jail. And after three years if they still refused to work they were sent to Siberia.
Everyone worked and everyone had food and raised their own families without social workers tearing apart the families as they do in America. When people hear about people that suffered in the USSR they mainly are hearing about people that were trying to tear down the government. almost ever single person that lived in the USSR that I have asked about how it was always says things like, "It was not bad . There was stability." The people I have heard complain about it were usually trouble makers.  [And in few societies is real political dissent is tolerated. Dissent is squished in the USA as much as it was in the USSR. Let me suggest for example that someone would suggest that blacks are stupid. I do not say this is true. But how long do you think that persona would be tolerated anywhere in American society whether in business soft government? They would throw him the the American equivalent fo Serbia before you could say"Karl Marx." ]



In spite of the theory of Karl Marx being objectively wrong still there is the point of the Talmud-the law of the country is the law. according to the Rambam [Maimonides] that means that once the coin that is minted by the government has become the coin that is used in the market place then the government has the legal category of a government . In that case all it laws are valid except for anything that goes directly against Torah law. This has wide application as you can see from the Gemara in Bava Batra that it applies even to disputes between Jews in which they could go to a Jewish court if they wanted to. This means the common conception of the law of the country among religious Jews is   has no Talmudic basis. [i.e. the chasidim can't blame their lack of morality on the Talmud.]

18.12.12

Pork is the Answer for Peace in the Middle East

http://holgerawakens.blogspot.com/2012/12/pork-is-answer-for-peace-in-middle-east.html

Controlling large unruly mobs is always troublesome but nowhere is this truer than in the Islamic Middle East. Violence always almost escalates and it takes only a few "martyrs" to instigate a revolution. Just think of how many lives would have been saved if the Syrian regime had better managed the initial anti-government demonstrations?

So, how can an angry mob of Muslims on the verge of deadly violence be constrained? Unfortunately, as recent events show, the standard repertoire-tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets usually fail. Protestors just run and quickly reassemble as the tear gas dissipates or the police run out of rubber bullets or water. Desperate police or soldiers then resort to live ammunition and disaster follows.

There is, however, a solution that would not require new and expensive technology let alone training Third Worlders in enlightened western-style crowd control. The answer is pork and the reasons are obvious--save the most secularized, every Muslim detests pork, and even indirectly coming into contact with a swine product can be nearly debilitating. Supposedly, even mere proximity will deny the observant entrance to Paradise, so forget about those awaiting 72 dark-eyed virgins (no small matter for millions of sex-starved young men).

The easiest tactic would be loading 00 shotgun shells with savory bacon bits. Such "pigshot" when fired into the air would quickly send the panicked fanatics fleeing for cover and contaminate the area for days if not months. Water cannons could also stray crowds with pig broth and just imagine protestors trying to get the stench out of their clothes. The "infected" would stink for days and thereby be ostracized from civil society. Individual soldiers need only be armed with aerosol cans with an active ingredient of 2% pork (or .01% pig blood) to squirt rowdy protestors (much better than pepper spray or guns).

For defensive purposes, bacon grease could be smeared on streets, Holy sites or around government buildings and foreign embassies. A twenty-foot wide "white line" of rancid lard separating Sunni from Shia (or Copts from Muslims in Egypt) virtually guarantees peace. Just to make sure, post signs with pig faces and crossed bones every few feet.

Pork products can facilitate major but humane military operations with zero loss of human life. Property damage would also be minimal and thereby alleviate costly post-conflict re-building. Better yet, no depressing TV coverage of bombed out neighborhoods, over-crowed hospitals and maimed children. Hear that Mr. Assad!! Just fill artillery shells withed cubed ham, sausage patties, deep fried pork rinds, chitterlings or whatever else the mission demands. A single scrapple filled 155mm shell exploding at an altitude of, say, 50 meters could easily contaminate a small village. Inhabitants might not return for twenty years after such a bombardment.

Further add the possibility of humane gas war fare that, being non-lethal, would not violate any Geneva conventions. Flat bed trucks could be modified as mobile Chinese field kitchens, complete with a traditional large exterior ventilating circular fan. When the enemy is within range, computerized sensors would guide the exhaust fan and the pork strips would be cooked in giant woks. Panic would ensue as fanatics whiffed some twice cooked pork drifting their way.

Yes, this sounds fine in the abstract but who will use this weaponry? Surely no self-respecting Muslim will even handle a pork sausage filled artillery shell. Recall the widespread and violent 1857 Indian Sepoy Mutiny when both Muslim and Hindu troops employed by the British East India Company rebelled rather than bite a rifle cartridge covered in grease made from beef tallow or lard. Hard to imagine any Muslim government, no matter how secular ordering its Muslim citizens to touch pork products.

Fortunately there is a solution-outsiders and non-believers. For centuries Muslims have used non-believers for tasks deemed too unclean for the faithful. Many Jews, for example, were skilled silversmiths in Yemen since metal working was too dirty for Muslims (tanning was also off-limits). Most Muslim countries still have Christian populations and in Egypt Christians once used pigs when collecting garbage.

More relevant, a long tradition exists of Arab governments utilizing outsiders (even fellow Muslims) to impose domestic security since outsiders have few ties to natives. The Mamelukes , originally slaves imported from Turkey rose to power thanks to their superior military ability and even held the Egyptian throne from about 1250 until 1517 and still exercised influence until 1811. The most famous mercenaries, of course, are the Swiss Guards who have for centuries provided security for European royalty and it would not take much to create a Middle East equivalent.

So, Muslim regimes will quietly use local Christians or recruit mercenaries (today called "contract workers) from around the world notable for both their military prowess and an affinity for pork products. Yes, these pork-lovers will be hated but that's the point-strike terror into those prone to violent protest. Far superior to dispatching ill-trained young military recruits who might panic and start shooting or, worse, defect to join the protestors.

These riot control specialists might be called the SOW team (for Special Operation Weapons) and will be instantly recognized by their uniforms--pink berets with matching curly tails, pigskin suede jackets embellished with wild boar emblems and, for especially dangerous missions plastic strap on snouts and will often be accompanied by aroma-heavy trucks carrying real pigs trained to sniff out bomb factories, smuggling tunnels or whatever else needs to be found (recall how pigs can sniff out truffles). Perhaps once a year this SOW team will go on parade chanting oink! Oink! Such a sight, no doubt, will terrify Muslim mothers who will warn their children "Watch out or the Pigs will get you!"

The upshot, hopefully, will be a return to political stagnation-no incessant calls for democracy, Sharia compliant states or anything else beyond the paralyzed status quo. Life would return to the good old days when nothing happened, hardly a disaster considering deadly events in contemporary Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. But, it would be an improved stagnation vis-à-vis past dictatorships of torture and imprisonment. Peace through pork, so to speak. Aren't pigs wonderful?

9.12.12

A problem with Sharia Law is that it is legal to lie to infidels. This legal loop hole is what is allowing Muslim to take over Europe by vowing to uphold the legitimate Constitution while in fact intending to enforce Sharia law. and I personally have a problem with people that lie.  I probably should have learned this in my parents home but my parents taught mainly by example and not but Musar shoomzes [informal talks about ethics]. Even at a Lithuanian institution [The Mir in NY and Shar Yashuv in Far Rockaway] I did not find  a lot of emphasis on not lying. At the Mir i found a lot more emphasis on monetary issues [not to steal of to defraud or even to touch someone else's possessions of honor in any way with out their permission and on not speaking slander.] The main emphasis on telling the truth i found in R. Pinchas of Koritz a disciple of the Baal shem Tov.

7.12.12

Karl Popper rightfully noticed the totalitarianism in Plato. But I have a feeling that blaming the abuses of the medieval period on Plato and Aristotle does not make sense. He quotes from one book (Rats Lice and the Middle Ages) that correctly shows that people were miserable. But to blame Aristotle for that? There were no rats or lice in Africa or South America? Were there no totalitarian societies like the man eating  Polynesian tribes   that had not heard of Aristotle of Plato?
I have heard of other complaints about European civilization in the Middle ages coming from the Russian Orthodox church claiming that the West misunderstood Aristotle's "energia."  [This is not actually energy. It refers to the fact that a body can change from one state to another.
Now the Russian church has a point about dynamic energies from G-d. This idea however seems to stem from the more ancient view of the church that was neoplatonic.This really wouldn't work  with Aristotle.
They could claim that dynamic change is implicit in the Aristotelian idea of energy but it is still is not what would be called today energy. it is the reverse of potential. something can be hot or cold.when it becomes actually cold that is when it come from potential to actual energia a stopped non dynamic state.


]
It seems to me everyone is against Europe's case claiming for themselves  a higher level of humanity and civilization.


4.12.12

The way I see it the first night of Hanuka ought to be Thursday night [the first day should be December 7]. This would be based on the idea that the actual beginning of the Jewish month should be at the time of the molad [when the path of the moon and sun are on the same longitude.]. It is not that I am truing to disagree with the rambam that says the present day Hebrew calendar is from Mount Sinai. It is just that his position seems to me to be untenable. I have no fun out of disagreeing with the Rambam but in this case I have to. The present day calendar was the calendar that was accepted in ancient Athens and instituted by Meton. It is not mentioned in the Talmud anywhere. The idea that Hillel the second sanctified it is also simply nonsense. If he had done so it would have been mentioned in the Talmud.
lacking a specific calendar we have to fall back on the simple  idea of the Torah itself and the Talmud in Sanhedrin that the time of the beginning of the month is the conjugation. [see the opinion of Rava and Rav Ashi in Sanhedrin as rashi explains them there.]

28.11.12

Welfare checks for not working were non-existent. If you did not work you went to a nice comfy Soviet Prison. I am just letting the people in the USA know what they are getting themselves into with their African President

 The blacks in the USA are activity trying to create a welfare  state in which the white people will work and the blacks will enjoy their welfare checks and get university degrees by means of Affirmative Action [every university must have the same percentage of blacks that there are in the general population outside the University. also every business. Otherwise the university is sued for racial discrimination] instead of the traditional way by study).
This is hiden in the USA by Hollywood always portraying blacks as saints and by the fact that there are outstanding black people like Est and the supremo court Justice Sowell.  But these few black people do not change the general animosity of blacks towards everything that America represents. and their attempt to turn it into a  African Socialist state.

White people are forgetting an important fact about welfare states-people work. In USSR there was no welfare. Thought it is true that bread was 22 kopecks [less than five cents] and doctors were free, still people had to work. A person that did not work was sent to prison for an average of three years. If after that he still did not work he was sent to Siberia. Ar,y service was an obligation. And after that you got three month vacation. But right after two weeks someone from the government would come and find out if you already had work lined up. It had to be written on your work card. Welfare checks for not working were non-existent. If you did not work you went to a nice comfy Soviet Prison. I am just letting the people in the USA know what they are getting themselves into with their African President

22.11.12

One of the problems that I see about Arabs bombing civilian buses is that this generates a lot of sympathy in Americans for Islam. The fact that Arabs are willing to murder  shows after all a real commitment to their ideals and real authenticity. These are values that have been taught in American Universities  for over a generation by the Post-Modern school of philosophy. .The sad thing is that many Jews have been in the forefront of this lunacy like that madman Derrida. I don't know how a pure schizophrenic madmen gains academic respectably today but I that God I did not major in philosophy of any of the pseudo social sciences in American Universities that have been on the forefront of the war to destroy American values. I mean to say that in the old days you had to have a logical argument to be considered a philosopher, not just lots of dense sounding words.

16.11.12

The basic freedoms that American took for granted a generation ago are gone

I think a lot of the problem in America is a lack of Judeo-Christian values. The types of values you were taught at home and in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts: honor, loyalty, trust in God.
Now America  is a society that is constantly on the lookout for new values. And when Americans arrives at some new value, they hold from it as if it was given at Mount Sinai, (Instead of the actual Torah which was given at Mount Sinai.)  It was inevitable that as the media keep on portraying black people as great saints, (and the bad guys in movies are always  businessman) that eventually they would get a black president who is sucking the life blood out of America.  But you can't call him evil. Nor a sinner. Nor a racist against white people. That would be a sin.
  The only hope I see at this point for America is a return to the Constitution of the USA. But I don't see that this could ever happen. The basic freedoms that American took for granted a generation ago are gone. In it place is a a society of vampires.

if every Food Stamp recipient voted for Obama, it would account for 75% of his total. It is time for America to get rid of the vampires.

If every Food Stamp recipient voted for Obama, it would account for 75% of his total. This is an indication that the real support of the present federal government is not from Americans but from people that are vampires. They are in America not to work, but to suck the life blood out of it. It is time for America to get rid of the vampires.

12.11.12

Hard exercise lifts testosterone levels.
[I used to jog but it was too public. Now I exercise at home. In the USSR they had a 10 minute radio program every day at 7:00 AM. This encouraged people to exercise for ten minutes in the morning. I think this is an amazing and great idea.

Alcohol diminishes testosterone.
Sex once a week lifts levels of testosterone
Bad for testosterone: cell phones and wifi  waves.

No hormones. Stop sugar.  Plastics demolish testosterone levels.





I am not in favor of testosterone therapy. I don't think it does anything. It is like vitamins. The body needs it -but it needs it in a natural way.

I know many Christians have a negative idea towards sex. This seems to me to be a good approach to some degree because when guys chase after girls the girls tend to run away. It seems a basically retrained approach is best. However just for the record let me say that I think the Christian attitude is highly based on Paul and not very much on the Torah. [In the book of Tecla, Paul basically says that anyone who has sex will not get into the kingdom of heaven]. In the Torah itself we find a different approach. Calev Ben Yefuna had two girlfriends, and he was "totally with God. " וימלא אחרי השם
Not only do we not find criticism for his several wives and two girls friends, but he is the only person in the entire  Bible that it says about him this unique phrase. On some people it says they were righteous, others it say walked with God. Other walked before God. But to be totally with God? That unique phrase is only used on Calev who was definitely having sex outside of marriage. [That is what a פילגש is. I looked up the place in the Shulchan Aruch which brings this argument between the Rambam and the Raavad and I looked at the Gra and he brings this proof to the Raavad from Calev Ben Yefuna.]

I should mention that health has been a major concern of my learning partner for some time. So before and after we learn our session of Talmud he fills me in with the latest insights.
I have not mentioned them collectively but a few  times. Let me say he got me started on beets a few years ago. I was over weight and he said to me something about vegetable juice. He had a vegetable mixer and that was his thing in those days.

Now you have to understand that he takes more care of his diet than he would normally have to do because he is in a situation  where he can't jog or take long strenuous walks. But recently I found myself in a similar kind of situation so I also am taking more of a look at diet.

At any rate, in those days the vegetable mixer was not working for me either, so I just started having a raw beet with black bread in the morning. I would do a short math session. Then I would jog. Well you can guess the weight just came off like that. Bamm!

Any questions about diet I ask my learning partner who spends a good amount of time studying this subject. But I also learned from him the idea of egg yokes. I found this surprising because in fact Ashkenazic Jews have used egg yokes as coffee creamer for about 200  years. Not just as nourishment but also that it makes one not want bad food.

When he mentioned this to me about egg yokes I told him about Arnold Schwarzenegger in some movie that puts raw eggs in a mixer when he got up in the morning. His comment was why do you think he looks like that? If you are in the USA however you want to make sure there are not anti antibiotics in the chickens from where the eggs come from. Even in areas where people grow their own food like the Ukraine  or Russia there is still a difference between eggs. Brown ones are more likely to be antibiotic free.










9.11.12

There used to be a lot of really good songs being sung on Shabat in Brooklyn, New York. I fear they are mostly being forgotten. I remember my friend at the Mir , Shelomo Berger, who had in his family tradition and really nice Yah Ribon Olam. It was almost like a small symphony. I also remember when I was at the school of Shelomo Friefeld the Yom Kipper  and Rosh HaShanah service like like a  great Beethoven Symphony. It was not that the songs [nigunim ] were more accurate, but that the songs were connected and related in the way that Mozart or Beethoven would weave a strong rigorous framework with a few basic themes. My sadness about all this being forgotten is not just one sided. It applies also to the spirit of Torah that existed then.  It was a vast enterprise to build up a moral and just society according to the Divine law.

The social "meme" was Torah. People acted by their own free will according to the dictates of God's Law. Thus you had a moral decent society as long as that lasted. What went wrong is a mystery to me. At some point the social structure which was in place to protect from dangers of the secular world became worse than the secular world.  I think a lot of its attraction was based on the idea that it gave immunity from the evils of secular society. But this protection became instead a kind of trap.

So in simple terms what was right was a joint community effort to keep the Law of God. תורת משה. What went wrong is that this ceased to be the major motivation. People began to use Torah as a means to make money and status. 

8.11.12

An argument by Ruth Marcus helps the Godel's proof of the existence of God.

An argument by Ruth Marcus helps the Godel's  proof of the existence of God. One critique is that there seems to be a contradiction in different perfections.
The argument of Marcus about moral perfections seems to overcome this objection.

Marcus defines a consistent set of moral principles as one in which there is some "possible world " in which they are all obeyable. That they may conflict in the actual world is not a mark of inconsistency. As in the case of necessity of identity, there was a resistance to this interpretation of moral conflict. Her argument counts against a widely received view that systems of moral rules are inevitably inconsistent.[3]

1.11.12

I have modified version of Ayn Rand's idea

I have modified version of Ayn Rand's idea that a society follows it philosophers. I think a society also follows its religion. If the society is unjust, then you do not need to bother examining the religion.

People also have two modes of operation. Inherent character and world view. And these are warring. Sometimes bad character warps a good world view. Sometimes a bad world view warps good character. And sometimes the opposite. The Geon from Vilna has a similar idea and you certainly see this in Isaac Luria's writings in Shar Hagilgulim.

In any case Ayn Rand has a wealth of great ideas


29.10.12

Once blacks became lawyers, they made it their business to check that every corporation had an exact amount of blacks working for it, and every bank was giving loans to an exact amount of blacks.

  For people that are unaware of the problem, the failure of the banks,  was because they were forced to make toxic loans to blacks. Once blacks became lawyers, they made it their business to check that every corporation had an exact amount of blacks working for it, and every bank was giving loans to an exact amount of blacks. [Less than this exact amount would bring a law suit of discrimination and the owner would lose his business and be put into jail.] Normally, a bank manager can tell when a loan is a bad idea. He sees an unemployed black walking into his bank asking for a home loan. Normally, he would show him the door.
But because of the fear of lawsuits, he would have to give him the loan.

Normally, an employer can tell when a black person is not able to do a certain job. In such a case, he would not hire him. But then there is the real possibility of being sued for discrimination and losing his entire company. So he hires the black, and puts him in some position in which he hopes the black will not do too much damage to his firm.
You multiply the effect of this several million times, and you get  the story of the failure of the American economy.
It makes me wonder about the wisdom of the Civil War. After all the American Constitution is in its essence a contract that the Northern States were unilaterally trying to change. This is in general not how contracts work. The normal way a contract works is that after you sign on the dotted line you can't change the terms without the consent of the other party. This is clearly what the North was doing and so by definition of contract it justified the secession of the southern states.

26.10.12

A second application of the compactness theorem shows that any theory that has arbitrarily large finite models, or a single infinite model, has models of arbitrary large cardinality (this is the Upward Löwenheim–Skolem theorem).


Two years later I don't know why I wrote the above note but I think it was because I wanted to prove the consistency of the  idea of Godel that a being can have an infinity of positive traits. He uses this idea in his proof of the existence of God. And it has been criticized. I thought to answer that criticism with the Lowenheim Skolem theorem. [Say the ''s'' in Skolem as in English-- not ''sh''.][This is similar to why C^n is not used instead of C^infinity, which is the it makes no difference which manifold you use. So C^infinity is always used.]

The actual idea of Gödel's proof of the existence of God came from Anselm. People argued whether it was rigorous or not. Leibniz showed that it is. Godel put it into logical notation and thus it is easily shown by on proof checking software program computer that is is a rigorous proof. No one dares to suggest that the proof is not rigorous. Rather the critics focus on the axioms.

20.10.12

I learned Books of Ethics (Musar) along with the Talmud.  This set of books  set of books were written in the middle ages and are meant to distill the basic ethics of the Talmud.

I once heard say that whenever one is asked for charity, he should always give and mot ask about who is asking. This is derived from a law in the Shulchan Aruch about Purim. It so happened that I was in a certain city playing the violin on the street. In this city there were anti Semites.
Eventually other beggars stated asking me for money as I was playing the violin. There was one German fellow who also used to ask me for money. He thought that since I was playing Mozart that I must like Germans. In fact he is wrong. I just happen to like Mozart. However since he is poor and he he was asking for money so according to this idea of always giving to a poor person I had to oblige. Once he heard his friends in the center of town scheming to rob and kill me, and warned me and  introduced me to the head of the Mafia in that area and told him to keep watch out for me. It so happened that the head of this Mafia was also of German extraction [though he spoke  only Russian].
That was the end of that problem.

After this I thought to myself of the verse cast your bread on the face of the waters and in the space of many days you will find it again.

15.10.12

Eli: Spodek: Really relationships are reflections of world powers.

 Eli: Spodek: Really relationships are reflections of world powers.


Sarah Adelle Spodek:|or world powers are reflections of relationships!"


Me:   However Hegel (and people that borrowed his ideas like the feminists and communists and nazis and psycho therapists) reduce all relationships to power struggles. I tend to think that this is not true and that in fact the idea of borrowing from Hegel is not a smart idea.
However the point of Sara is true that international relationships are highly based on personal motives and the actual people involved more that the interest of each nation.

14.10.12


(1) Problems in American Democracy. Not just the present day Socialist States of America--because it is a state that pretends to respect the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. But has voted for an African president whose goal in life is the subversion of the American Democracy. This is to me a  slightly interesting present day question. The real burning question to me is how did such a seemingly good system fall into tyranny? To this I  look for hints in Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and European monarchism and history for hints about this. I don't put a lot of confidence in Democracy . To me, it has to prove itself by the upholding of natural law {Maimonides and Saadia Geon and Aquinas.} If it can't do that, then as far as I am concerned, the whole enterprise is one big failure. And that is how I look at America today.
Natural law is a concept based on the Aristotle. [It does not come directly from Aristotle but but it has a connection with Aristotle's idea that humans have a purpose]. It assumes man has a natural purpose. It has nothing to do with natural desires. But rather of a using of human potential to come to human perfection and action. It has people that go by Plato in its arena but in essence it is an Aristotelean concept. That is Natural Law is to bring to natural purpose.



One of the basic tests that I put any religious doctrine through is that of physical evidence. This already knocks a lot down. The other test that any doctrine has to pass is logical rigor. But I am  Neo-Platonic and kabalistic in my thought so I allow for mystic religious experience, and Divine revelation. [Actually Revelation I would allow for even if I was Aristotelean like Maimonides or Aquinas]

11.10.12

  The idea that man can perceive moral values  was accepted during the Middle Ages.  Saadia Geon says the laws of the Torah include laws of reason. Later Maimonides developed the idea in depth which I have written about before.

The Rambam does not hold you can perceive moral values.  The Rambam holds there is Natural law --but it can't be perceived. It has to be known through revelation like with Avraham Avinu [Abraham the Patriarch]. And later on there was a higher degree of revelation at Mount Sinai. But both Natural Law and Torah Law need to be revealed.


  Many post-Enlightenment Jewish and Christian thinkers resented the effort of the Middle Ages to integrate reason and revelation and degraded the role of reason in the determination of moral values. But this backfired. I will not go into all the post Enlightenment philosophers that were only too happy to relegate reason to figuring out that  bachelors are not married. I will not go into the disastrous linguistic and so called analytic "philosophy" of the twentieth century and terrible totalitarian philosophies  like Feminism, Nationalism, and Communism and the American Supreme Court. But let me just say that I think  throwing out the great philosophers of the Middle Ages was a disaster.

  I want to mention that I hold from both the position of Maimonides  This middle position seems to me to be where Maimonides is. The first plane of knowledge is  immediate first principles. But it is perceived in some third type of way. And then and after that comes the Kantian synthesis, where understanding allies concepts of pure reason to a priori objects and to empirical objects.  (This is called Daat by Isaac Luria and Shalom Sharabi.)


What I am trying to say is that moral values have two parts to them. There is the internal principle--the thing in itself (the dinge an sich.) That is not accessible to human reasoning or perception. Rather to non intuitive immediate knowledge. The other part is the applications to specific situations. This aspect of moral is what is called "universals". Can be understood to apply to moral just like they can to other areas.









7.10.12

teshuva repentance

Repentance
I had a great deal of benefit from R. Yona [the author of the medieval book, The Gates of Repentance שערי תשובה]. It is a drop on the strict side I think. But it certainly gives a clear idea of what repentance is about from a Torah perspective. I may not keep everything he says to do but at least I have an idea of the right direction.


There is an original sin that is the first of ones sins, This is why we say in prayer "hamaavir rishon rishon."[המעביר ראשו ראשון] But it seems to me that  this does not mean the original sin in chronological order, but in ontological order. That is a person might have an original sin. But that might not be the original sin in terms of causation. It might be a later sin which draws a person towards itself by small  sins, one at a time. Also, there can be  several original sins. But in practical terms the implication  seems to be that it is of utmost importance for a person to discover his original sin (or sins) and repent on them and then the later sins automatically start to fall away.

In any case the subject of repentance is hard. In the Christian world  repentance is often defined as: (1) not drinking alcohol, (2) not playing cards, and (3) not being a racist.
This already shows us that sin and repentance have come a long way from Torah in the Christian world. Torah is no longer considered to be the standard of what defines sin.
In the Jewish world, while the above things are not considered sins, but the definition of  sin and repentance is to do lots of rituals. The more the better. So in both cases, the Torah is not considered the standard (the measuring stick) to decide what is a sin and what is not.

And if one does not know what a sin is, he can't repent.

My suggestion is to read the books called "Musar" that explain in detail what it is that the Torah wants from us in plain language. In English or German, the best books out there that explain this are of Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (The Horev and The 19 Letters).
To avoid cults that claim to be teaching Torah is the most  important thing. This is because most of people's sins come about when they think they are doing a mitzvah. [LM I:1 The evil inclination is dressed in mitzvahs.  It never says, "Come do a sin." Rather the Satan seduces people by saying, "Come and do a mitzvah."]

 In Hebrew the best books are the famous Musar books: Duties of the Heart, Mesilat Yesharim, Shaarei Teshuva, Orchot Tzadikim and the books from the school of thought of Israel Salanter. Mainly that would be the Madgrat HaAdam from the "Alter of Navardok."

On a personal note, I should mention that Musar really got into me  when I was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. It did not last long though because I got involved in Breslov which was a side track.   I lost the learning Torah focus. People that get involved  should be made aware of this tendency which is wide spread in Bresov.  \



Appendix

1) The idea of Israel Salanter was this: Since one's inner self (who one really is deep inside) is hidden from one, therefore one's real motivations remain hidden even from oneself.  But this deep inner essence is not completely impenetrable. It is possible to affect it. That is by learning books of Medieaval Ethics. That is lots of learning of Mediaeval Ethics. That is he thought the time factor was very important. While I cant do what he suggested what I do try to do is to spend the first couple of minutes when I wake up in the morning on some kind of Medieval ethics learning.--Or something from the Gra whom I consider like a rishon {medieval authority.}

2) Christians ought to remain Christians, and Jews ought to remain Jews. So in applying my advice here about learning books of Ethics from the Middle Ages the set of books would be different for both categories. I am mainly talking about Jewish books, but Christians might pick up Augustine or Aquinas. It is not that all religions are the same. Some are extremely evil. But if people are already Christian it is hard to see what they would gain by changing to straight Torah. They might gain one or two things and lose others. And if people are Jewish well they already have the best thing. The fact that some people misuse Torah should not count against it. Abuse does not cancel use, as the Romans used to say.

3) I would like find an argument for Musar but the only one I can think of is that it helped me understand the Torah.  And to some degree I think it helped me work on my character traits.



6.10.12

Modesty and Jewish Orthodox world in Israel.


Obsession with cleaning rituals, hatred of sex, obsessive compulsive disorder of schizoid personalities

In the  Jewish religious world in Israel the idea of modesty has become of paramount importance. But the question remains, "How much support does it have from the Talmud?" At first glance there does seem to be some support. A man is not allowed to say a blessing while looking at a woman's  uncovered hair or other areas that it is the custom to cover. And this has further support from Ketubot 72 and the Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 116. The Talmud says: AND WHAT IS DEEMED TO BE A WIFE'S TRANSGRESSION AGAINST JEWISH PRACTICE? GOING OUT WITH UNCOVERED HEAD. Is not the prohibition against going out with an uncovered head Pentateuchal; for it is written, And he shall uncover the woman's head, and this, it was taught at the school of R. Ishmael, was a warning to the daughters of Israel that they should not go out with uncovered head — Pentateuchally.
It is quite satisfactory if her head is covered by her work-basket; according to traditional Jewish practice, however, she is forbidden to go out uncovered even with her basket on her head.

R. Assi stated in the name of R. Johanan: With a basket on her head a woman is not guilty of  going against Jewish custom. In considering this statement, R. Zera pointed out this difficulty: Where [is the woman assumed to be? If it be suggested, 'In the street', it may be objected that this is already forbidden by Jewish practice; but if she is in a court-yard the objection may be made that if that were so you will not leave our father Abraham a single daughter who could remain with her husband! — Abaye, or it might be said, R. Kahana, replied: The statement refers to one who walks from one courtyard into another by way of an alley.

[http://www.come-and-hear.com/kethuboth/kethuboth_72.html#PARTb]*

There is a basic debate here about the courtyard requirements. The Rambam on one side and everyone else against him as is common .i.e. Rosh, Tur, Shulchan Aruch etc.]

This little paragraph of the Talmud is good example of the issues that arise in learning the Talmud. I have actually not looked at the Tosphot there for centuries, but just off hand you can see some of the major questions that arise right away. First, what in the world in R. Yochanan talking about?!!! Is he coming to disagree with R. Ishmael? Or just with the conclusion of the Gemara that in a public domain even a basket if forbidden? Or is it possible he is not disagreeing with the conclusion? [Even though that seems highly unlikely.]
Then next question. What in the world is R. Zera talking about? The Mishna or Braita or Rabbi Yochanan?  Now we have 6! (factorial) [6*5*4*3*2*1= 720] possible combinations of possibilities of how to explain this Gemara, even before we get into questions of content!
  The problem here with the Orthodox is that in fact they do not cover the hair of their unmarried daughters. so they obviously do not hold that R. Ishmael is the Halacha. Rather they are depending on the fact that it is not the Jewish custom to cover the hair of unmarried girls- even though  R. Ishmael says it is forbidden by Torah law.
  But furthermore, the whole Gemara and Shulchan Aruch for  do not mention anything about covering any other part of the body. Now the frum [religious ] are right that it would seem that the other parts of a woman's body might be considered to fall into the same category. But the problem with this is that there is not a single authority that says so. Just open the Shulchan Aruch and you will see many authorities discuss the issue about the hair and no one says that you can extrapolate out of that anywhere else. [And when the Gemara wants to include other things besides hair in the category of what is forbidden it has no trouble stating them openly. I don't need to mention examples because they are  many. one example is what parts of the body need to be covered when a man is there saying the Shema. Another example is what parts she needs to cover if she is taking trumah. She does not in fact have to cover any part. But she needs to be siting.]
And the third problem is it depends on the common Jewish custom. The last time I checked the Orthodox does not represent the common Jewish custom .There are many Jews with other customs like going to the beach on the weekends.

In any case i have not learned this with a learning partner so i am not making any halcha conclusion right now. i am just bring up the points that need to be looked into




The nice thing about the religious is that they do try to learn the Talmud and there is a very special holy aspect of this. But it seems that the Conservative are a lot more Kosher. They don't make it a mitzvah to try to destroy and bankrupt the State of Israel. [If the orthodox had only this one flaw, it would be enough to consider them anti semites. The fact that is is even a question puts the whole Orthodox  movement into question.] But the question of the right path is not what is bothering me about the Orthodox. It is more of a feeling that the whole thing seems to have something hidden in it that is not kosher. This is not just a feeling, but based on empirical evidence.

4.10.12

Orthodox Jewish utilitarianism at first seem to propound act-utilitarianism,

utilitarianism-criticisms-and-responses

One thing bother me about  utilitarianism is the a priori claim  that this can be known without evidence that this is a true good.   Many people in our day, because of lack of proper education, hold this theory to be "modern" and "self evident", which it is not.
The best critique I saw on it was from Michael Huemer but he only mentioned a few of his idea in passing without expanding on them.
I think many Jews and Christians just don't understand how different the morality of the Torah is from  utilitarianism.

I should admit that when I read John Stuart Mill I was impressed. II am really not much of an analytic thinker. Only after a long time of thinking about something do the problems start to become apparent to me. and I alway like to give everyone the the benefit of a doubt.

Nowadays there is also a kind of Orthodox Jewish  utilitarianism. This is that people judge  other people based on whether they are a potential benefit for the super-organism of Orthodox Judaism.

  Orthodox Jewish  utilitarianism at first seem to propound act-utilitarianism (act in a  way that brings the greatest benefit to the super-organism of Orthodox Judaism), but then when it comes to explaining why we should follow the principles of halacha, they resort to the claim that these laws, if adopted as general rules, promote the greatest spiritual good. The problem is simply the argument is self contradictory.
For the thinking person the claims of Orthodox Judaism simply seem incoherent and has little to do with the actual moral principles of the Torah.

Philo Gabriel: The verdict of most philosophers is that utilitarianism is not able to completely overcome all objections, that while the total happiness contained in the consequences of acts surely is of moral importance, it probably fails to contain everything that is of moral importance. Hence most present day moral philosophers argue for a mixed theory that contains both consequentialist and non-consequentialist elements. But the debate continues.[http://www.helium.com/items/1744710-utilitarianism-criticisms-and-responses?page=6]


3.10.12

The Will does not necessarily have human good in mind. And it seems to me that the book of Job supports this conclusion. The friends of Job said G-d is Just. God said to Job that they were wrong.And the whole book supports this. the narrator who has the privileged position says openly that Job was suffering because of a bet that the Satan made with God, not because of sin. and he makes an effort right straight at the beginning to declare that Job was without sin. later his friends said he was suffering because of sin and that God always acts justly. God said at the end of the book that they were wrong.
Now I do this that it is true that God does help people in ways that seems to come from a world that is higher than this world. But this is in the realm that is not possible to understand by human understanding.
I in general do like like the excuses made to turn Torah into a frum document. but i can't resist mentioning this one thing about Ezechiel  (Apologetics Press) .


"Tyre in Prophecy. The city of Tyre had a rather interesting and beneficial geographical arrangement. About half a mile off the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea stood a small rocky island on which the original city of Tyre was most likely founded. Some time after the founding of this island city, the mainland city of Tyre was founded, which was called Old Tyre by the Greeks (Fleming, p. 4)"
  Apologetics Press[http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1790]
I mention this here because I know most people do not like my blog because it is neither secular or religious It seems I sometimes argue from a secular standpoint and sometimes I seem deeply religious.. The reason for all this is that my viewpoint is Neoplatonic. and that in a certain respect I think that Neo-Platonism made a few false moves away from Plato,--especially by assigning too much power to Reason. I think that the way synthetic a priori knowledge is acquired is not by reason by by a third type of perception which Plato calls memory of the eternal world before we were born. Now this might not be actual  memory but it is close to the idea of internal perception that Kant developed. This is a move away from the secular world. It is deeply religious. But this religious viewpoint does not make it a mitzvah to deny facts like the  the  Ultra Orthodox world does.
  And this religious point of view believes  that the person that wrote the Torah and all the prophets had a highly developed sense of this non intuitive immediate perception.




Just to mention some examples that show the Torah is not frum: (1) King Shelomo had a woman's choir.
(2) Sukkot was not celebrated during the First Temple period, and people in the Babylonian Exile had not even heard of it.(3) Tamar said to Amnon that with the permission of king David she could be his wife.
(4) The idea of Hillel II making the Jewish calendar is a falsehood. It is no where mentioned in the Talmud. Other decrees of Hillel II were mentioned. You would expect a fundamental decree that the entire future of klal Israel depended upon would merit at least a mention! The Jewish calendar is in fact the ancient Greek calendar of Meton. According to the Torah the day of the Rosh Chodesh is the day of the new moon. Not before or after.


[I should admit by Neo Platonic point of view was developed a long time ago way before i started any Talmudic studies, when other kids were playing basketball or baseball, I was studying Plato and Spinoza]
This was not because I was studious. The thing was my home was very far away from school so I had no place to hand out except at the public library until my Dad picked me up at 6 PM. So I was too far away from other kids homes,es to be able to play sports and by the time I got home I was exhausted.

30.9.12

Because of the problem of Muslim attacks on America it seems to me that people should have some basic knowledge of biological and chemical warfare.

Because of the problem of Muslim attacks on America it seems to me that people should have some basic knowledge of biological and chemical warfare.
  I remember in Israel when Iraq was bombing Israel, that we were all given masks to protect from chemical warfare and told to sit in sealed rooms and also given a standard kit for injections in case it was determined that chemical instead of biological agents were released. I admit that this was done very well. Yet the one problem I feel that the whole program lacked was that people did not know any basic information. No one was told the difference between a virus and bacteria or explained the different types of bacteria and how this is relevant to biological and chemical warfare. But at least the basic kit was given out.  [The way you were told whether to do the injection was by the type of alarm system that you would hear and in case the radios were still worked this information was broadcast on radio. I forget today the meaning of the different types of alarms.]
  But in America it seems to me the problem is worse. No one is even given the basic kit of a chemical warfare mask or the necessary injections in case of attack.And America has already been attacked. I don't see why the government would not at least make an effort to guard American lives unless guarding American lives was simply not interesting to the government.
When I returned to Israel later I had lost my old biological and chemical warfare kit so I had to pay for the old one before I could get a new one. That was before the Hizbalah in Lebanon started bombing Israel They did not use chemical weapons at the time but I had no way of knowing what type of weapons they would use. So I thought it was wise to be prepared. At any rate, they were only bombing  North  Israel and I was in Yerushalim at the time.
[When Iraq was bombing Israel I was also in Jerusalem where bombs did fall.]

29.9.12

two types of tyranny



We should distinguish between two types of tyranny: (i) the tyranny of those who abuse authority they legitimately acquired and hold; and (ii) the tyranny of those who obtained and hold power by usurpation.Usurping tyrants  (level two)—as, in effect, parties making war against the political community—may legitimately be resisted and even killed by anyone who has the effective power to do so.  By contrast, where legitimate rule has degenerated into tyranny, the tyrant  is entitled to something like what we might call “due process of law.” It is up to other public officials, operating as such, and not (ordinarily) to private citizens, to overthrow their regimes and, if necessary, bring them personally to trial and punishment.

In the present day this seems to apply to the government of the USA as a whole. You can't really point to any one person who has created the monstrosity the vast government of the USA. But it is clearly against the Constitution which calls for limited government

28.9.12

The conflict is between Divine simplicity and the reality of the ideas.

  I want to make clear the problem that the Pre-Scholastic Christian thinkers struggled with and how this caused a radical shift towards Aristotle in the 1200's. And I want to deal with how the later Jewish thinkers dealt with the same problem.
  The problem is simple. In Plato and Neo-Platonic the ideas are the really real. This world is a reflection of the higher spiritual worlds. So all the multiplicity in this world is really in the Mind [Logos] of God.-- and that creates multiplicity in God.
  Understandably this is not acceptable in any approach based on the Torah. The conflict is between Divine simplicity and the reality of the ideas.
  The general move of Maimonides and later Jewish thinkers was towards Aristotle that universals and the ideas are real, but depend on particulars. In the Christian world this same problem led to the ideas being considered less and less until we get straightforwards Nomalism [that the ideas don't exist].
Shalom Sharabi (הרש'ש) (in his book Nahar Shalom) developed an approach that is dynamic. His claim is that spiritual reality is itself in a process of change from universals being independent to their being dependent. (This is a problem in itself because the ideas were originally conceived as answering the problem of Parmenides "What is must be and was is not can't be;" so the Ari making change in the world of ideas in itself is already a radical departure from the original concept. so you have to posit higher levels of spiritual world in which there is no change --like the Remak הרמ''ק)
  I should probably mention Isaac Luria. It always seemed to me that his major point was simply to put God beyond all processes of creation. In his thought even though Emanation (אצילות) and Adam Kadmon (אדם קדמון א''ק) are Divine, there still come after a long process of contractions and lessening on the Divine light.

 To the Ari and the Zohar all lower worlds after emanation are not Divine. And also the Zimzum  [contraction] is specifically in God himself the Arizal states many times at the beginning of the Eitz Chaim.
The sad thing is that people that supposedly teach Kabalah are never doing that. They are always teaching some corrupted version of pseudo  Kabalah

27.9.12

A Jewish approach to politics

This would not include the Democratic Party in the USA which is positively hostile to America and which has imported  Sharia law to the American  mainland and supported a takeover of the Middle East by Muslim fanatics. Today the Democratic Party is the Muslim party.  Anyone who hates America has a home in the Democratic party.
The problem is that in a democracy, people have realized they can vote for themselves other people's money. This is what Americans are doing when they vote Democrat.. The fact that they are destroying America, one brick at a time, does not bother anyone because there is no longer any national spirit.
It was suggested to me that  America is on its way down because of the Muslim president,




But a Libertarian also would not be an option because of the the conception of natural law of Maimonides and Saadia Geon is not compatible with the thesis of self-ownership -- which is the very heart  libertarian-ism


The Torah is a natural law approach to ethics.

Also self ownership makes no sense.  We cannot plausibly be said to own ourselves in a substantive way. We don't own ourselves in the same way as a piece of property.

This really leaves only the Republican party which is compatible with the world view of the Torah.


An argument against self ownership by [Edward Feser.] : Suppose, for example, that you and I are castaways and wash up on some tiny island upon which no human beings have ever trod. You immediately pass out on the beach, while I get to work constructing a bamboo fence whose perimeter happens entirely to enclose your body. Upon waking, you accuse me of imprisoning you and thereby violating your self-ownership rights, and demand to be released. Suppose I then respond as follows: “I have not imprisoned you at all! I’ve simply homesteaded all the land around you -- which you had no right to, since it was virgin territory -- and I’ve built a fence around it, to make sure you don’t come onto my land and take any of the resources I’ve justly acquired. True, you’ve got nothing in the way of resources in the seven-foot by four-foot plot of sand I’ve left you, but that’s not my fault. That’s just your bad luck, sorry. I suppose it would be nice of me to give you some of mine, but at most I’d be unkind rather than unjust if I decide not to do so. And I was very careful not to touch you as I built my fence. I do respect your right of self-ownership, after all!” 

26.9.12

Before the 60's fascination with crackpot religions there was a warning
Hoffer argues that all mass movements such as fascism, communism, and religion spread by promising a glorious future. To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements often glorify the past and devalue the present.

The reason few people heeded the warning of Hoffer was that there was an opposite tendency. Nietzsche had glorified authenticity and this somehow became a part of the young American mentality. So people that were interested in joining a cult  simply ignored questions of truth and preferred authenticity. And then when they get disappointed and leave they are still fascinated by authenticity instead of truth. The Mentality of the Fanatic never changes. So they become obsessed with attacking what they believed in. The truth is the great books of Talmud and Mishna are good books. Abuse does not cancel use.
The Old Testament [Torah], and Talmuds, the Babylonian and Jerusalem, connect one to a plane of existence-- an "a priori" transcendental plane of moral and numinous value.


25.9.12

 Nachman of Uman deals with the question which bothered philosophers: "How does multiplicity come from One." This was originally answered by Plotinus  [the founder of Neo Platonism] and then developed in Christian thought by pseudo Dionysus. [The reason Plotinus is not sufficient in this question for people of Jewish or Christian background is that there is no problem of potential multiplicity in the Nous. But for Torah based people, we have to have absolute simplicity in the One.] The one person who addressed this question straight on was the medieval prescholastic thinker, John Scotus Eurigena (c.800 - c.877). This indicates that  Nachman was familiar with Medieval Pre-Scholastic thought. [This is not news in Breslov. Everyone know he borrowed from medieval kabalists. and was familiar with philosophy.]
The problem which bothers me here is: Did  Nachman know that this question bothered Christian thinkers for about a thousand years until finally they just gave up on Neo-Platonic thought during the 1200's and decided to switch to Aristotle?" However neat and clean Aristotle is for all the problems that bothered the Neo-Platonic philosophers for a thousand years, still for people that want to continue with Neo-Platonic thought like the Ari [Isaac Luria] and  Nachman and the Rambam {Maimonides} himself this seems to present difficulties.
 Just  two of the problems for people in Neo-Platonic thought. Problem (1): For the personal God of the Torah, there does not seem to be any reason to create the physical world. If people here are mere reflections of a higher person in the Mind of God then why bother creating this flawed world? [And the Ramchal (Moshe Lutzato) does not much good here. No reason why God could no bestow good on people without there being the option of bad. If I had no chose but to accept a million dollars tomorrow would that make it worthless to me?]-  Problem (2) The reality of Divine idea introduces multiplicity in God -- a big "no."
I admit, a lot of the problems that bothered the Neo-Platonic people like the pre scholastic Christian thinkers never bothered me much because I accepted the Neo-Platonic system of Isaac Luria which deals pretty well with a lot of the basic problems. [Or maybe not as Rav Nelkenbaum pointed out to me at the Mir  in New York, Issac Luria  does not really deal with the "Why?" but the "How?"]  Rav Nelkenbaum did not put it that way but that is what he meant. At any rate, with "shevirat hakelim" שבירת הכלים [breaking of the vessels] you get a whole bunch of answers for the Neo Plato people.
Of course, Christians ever since the 1200's have an extreme aversion to anything which smacks of neo Platonism. I don't think they are right about this. As many problems the neo Platonics had, still the move towards Aristotle and Nomalism has not done any better and has lead to plainly anti-Torah philosophies and false philosophies. I mean the one thing that characterizes post Renaissance philosophy is its reliance on circular reasoning starting with Hume and ending up with the modern trash that goes by the name of philosophy.
The delicate balance that  Nachman walked between Neo Platonic thought and Maimonides shows he wanted to preserve Divine simplicity and divine ideas.{even though creation ex-nihilo is not a proof of  Nachmans'  type of thought. For that is a theme in Neo platonic thought also.)


It is strange that Reb Nachman asks the question of the Philosophers and then uses their answer and at the same time as he uses their answer he disparages them for asking the question.-The Platonic Forms along with the whole scheme of Emanation of Plotinus.





23.9.12

 Neo Platonic thought in Jewish thinkers Maimonides and the Duties of the Heart.
 and the problem of how to reconcile Plotinus with Jewish  thought.
It is hard for me to not see a strain of the thought of Plotinus in Maimonides . I think that we can all admit that Plotinus is much more in agreement with the Torah.[note 1]
My thoughts:
(1) We see Neoplatonic thought often in Maimonides. As a  support we can see that Maimonides considered knowledge of Physics and Metaphysics as the path to attachment and knowledge of God. This is a powerful and clear a statement of a Neo Platonic belief system.
(2) To the Rambam  knowing creates connection with the known. "Knowledge and the knower and the known are one." This is straightforward Plotinus. Otherwise there is no reason to expect that since I know anything about an orange that that should make me an orange.
(3) Maimonides:  one's portion in the next world depends on "sechel hanikne" שכל הנקנה [acquired intelligence]  and expands on it to include the idea that one must know this acquired intelligence with one "yedia" (ידיעה)[one act of knowing]. This is a move of Christian Mediaeval thinkers that tried to get Plotinus's multiplicity of ideas to fit into the oneness of the Creator. They had thought that they had successes in this, but it seems to me that Maimonides and Aquinas must have felt the lack of logical rigor in this attempt, and so made the move towards a more radical Aristotelian approach.

(4) Maimonides  has a rigorous self consistent system (With the Rambam at least we know he had a system This is easy to see when we consider Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and his work on the Rambam's Mishna Torah. It is too bad he did not do the same thing with the Guide but at least we can know that in potential such a thing is possible)


But it is my personal belief that both of these thinkers could be shown to be rigorous if someone would spend the time and effort to show it like Chaim Soloveitchik did with the Mishna Torah of Maimonides.


This has seemed irrelevant for most people for about two hundred years since reason itself has been under attack. But if Reason ever regains its prestige [as it seems to be doing in modern day philosophers like Kelly Ross and Michael Huemer] then the issues that were burning intense issues of metaphysics will become  in the future also burning and relevant issues. The nice thing will be that there will be Kant and  and later thinkers like Otto, and Nelson  to help create a consistent logical Torah approach.

I mean philosophers have spend plenty of time trying to make adolescent-rage philosophers like Nietzsche logical and rigorous. It is not time to give Maimonides?

[note 1] The trouble with the Divine Mind also is troublesome for Quantum Mechanics. No one can know the state of the electron before it is measured,--even the Divine Mind.  We know Schopenhauer was going with the Ding An Sich [singular] as the Will and I was pretty happy about that 







18.9.12

Laws do not change in meaning over time

In the conservative shuls/synagogues  they count women as part of a minyan. I see this is the difference between me and Conservative Judaism.. I agree to change Shulchan Aruch based Judaism-but I change it based on internal sources like the Talmud or other internal sources of authority. [This is like the  book of the Supreme Court Justice Scalia that sets out the legal philosophy, called "textual original-ism," which says judges should adhere strictly to the text of laws and give them the meaning understood by the people who adopted them. Laws do not change in meaning over time, they contend.]
Part of my approach to how I would modify the Shulchan Aruch would be to notice the argument between the Rambam and the Raavad about rabbinical laws.
The  Rambam holds rabbinical decrees do not lose their force when the reason for them drops off. The Raavad disagrees with this, and Tosphot also disagrees with the Raavad. (Any place in Shas where this issue comes up, Tosphot says this.)
So decrees of the Sages are highly connected to the reason they were made. That would mean that some laws of Shulchan Aruch would automatically change if the circumstances changed.
[When I say Shulchan Aruch I mean the four volume book by Joseph Karo written in Safed about 500 years ago, along with his commentaries-the Shach, Taz, Magen Avraham, etc. It is a very large book and to go through it takes a lot of time.


As for the contention of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, I think he is right. Laws don't change meaning over time.  But he is referring to the laws of the Constitution of the USA. And that has a different ground of validity.
The ground of the Constitution is Natural Law and the contract theory of John Locke.
The Supreme Court justices are thinking in different terms than people involved with Torah think.
They might be considering the fact that if they people pass laws that are bad for them "Who are we to disagree?"  I don't know if there is a name for this but  it could be called "judicial minimalism."
They might be thinking if the people don't like the laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president it is their prerogative to get themselves a different Congress and a different president.
They get this chance every four years. And perhaps now would be the time to start preparing. After all more than 50% of Americans believe in conservative values. Why should it be so hard to get a president who respects those values?















13.9.12

One of the ways that I disagree with  the  Ultra Orthodox is in the issues of: (1) Anachronism, (2) Objective moral values, (3) Divine Command theory.
(1) Anachronism. While I agree there is great value in the Talmud, but I do not see it as the system of law that was in place during the time of the prophets of Israel.
(2) Right and wrong are not  dependent on what people think.  Nor do they depend of social conditions or upbringing. They are not relative. The reason this is so is that relative morality is logically incoherent. It can not claim its own truth without contradicting itself.

(3) G-d commands us things to do in the Torah because these things correspond to a natural order that he created. They are not good because he commanded them, and they are not arbitrary.



Abuses of rabbinic power are swept under the surface. It is hard for a person who wants a clean conscious to be part of a word that has a guilty conscious and is more afraid of the light of truth than the darkness of lies.

The reason it seems to me that people are afraid of the truth is because in fact as Nietzsche said "the truth is terrible." We live in a harsh world and we ourselves from the aspect of our animal nature are terrible beings. And we use the appearance of  morality to cover up our savage, cunning, violent, lustful, sadistic nature. But what makes this all the more terrible is the meaningless aspect of it. We are in a desperate search for meaning. So    the  Ultra Orthodox world will do anything to guard the sanctuary of what they think gives them meaning. This is where I disagree with them. In this issue I am a monotheist--God gives me meaning. I do not need to find it anywhere else.

12.9.12

Values, if they are objective, can't be Jewish. There can't be Jewish chemistry or Jewish mathematics.

Values, if they are objective, can't be Jewish. There can't be Jewish chemistry or Jewish mathematics. Even if Jews do these things, that does not make them Jewish. And even if only Jews did them, they still would not be Jewish. Only subjective values can be Jewish. The reason we learn Torah is that because of the evil inclination it is hard for an person to discover on his own true objective values. So we need to learn Torah to discover these values. [The move to disregard Divine ideas (Plotinus) to preserve Divine simplicity in Aquinas caused reason to no longer be the criteria of morality, but rather the Divine Will. This was a mistake.  At least, to my relief, Maimonides preserved a lot of neo Platonic thought.

[But I can't prove that he did so with logical rigor. I hope someday some one will do the same job on the Guide that Chaim Soloveitchik did on the Mishna Torah. Before Reb Chaim people believed the Rambam was rigorous even thought it seems to be full of contradictions. Reb Chaim proved it is rigorous.]

However if someone would say, "Then, fine. Jewish values are subjective.-So what?

Then it will follow that if we all took an attitude of approval towards Adolf Hitler, then Adolf Hitler would be good. Beside this, there are other objections to subjective values. [See Kelly Ross, Michael Huemer, John Searle.]
I think it is important to note that to the Rambam [Maimonides], the values of the Torah are objective and not observer dependent.

[Kelly Ross does defend Divine Command theory but I have not gotten a chance yet to see how he does it.]

So in short my attitude about moral values is this: Moral values are objective. They are embedded in reality. They are not observer dependent. And they are known by reason. Torah is to help us to know moral values that we would automatically know if not that the evil inclination affects our reasoning.

[Some people think belief in some system or other is the most important thing. This is found by religious people of most denominations. That is they put faith in their system above what reason perceives as moral value. That is not my approach. And I think it is not the Torah approach either according to Saadia Gaon or Maimonides. But this faith based approach did become the universal approach of religious people across all spectra.

11.9.12

There are too many subjects to write about today. so just a quick list as a reminder. [1] The very important argument between Nietzsche and  the Ari  concerning the Will. With Nietzsche it causes nothing and is just a effect of deeper things happening under the surface. The known will is just indicative of which one of the lower level wills beats the others. (Leiter, the foremost Nietzsche scholar, thinks there are several possible approaches to Nietzsche's opinion about the will. But at least we know he is disagreeing with Schopenhauer). To sum it up: To Nietzsche neither the will nor consciousness causes anything.
To  the Ari the Will is everything. It breaks through all barriers. It is clearly a causative agent. And I agree with this. I think modern psychology has way too much accepted the doctrines and Nietzsche and not realized that the will has the ability to overcome all personal flaws and mental problems. [Though they dress their guesses in scientific language to impress people. Feynman openly called all social sciences pseudo sciences.]
My own opinion here is that I don't know if there really is an argument.I would first have to see which will Nietzsche is attacking. It seems to me unlikely that he is knocking the actual will of Schopenhauer (the higher Will). Sure he knocks Schopenhauer but in terms of what Schopenhauer though people know they are willing something. Not in terms of the will as the dinge als sich alein. Maybe I am wrong but it seems more likely that he is attacking the individual will, i.e. what people call their will. The more basic thing I think is going on is Nietzsche is trying to attack free will which  Ari clearly holds from.
 If you believe in free will, obviously the will is going to play a large role and not just the higher will but the individual will.


[2] The other issue I wanted to deal with is Constant the French aristocrat that saw the genius of Rousseau but also his flaws. The difference between the freedom of ancient Athens and the freedom of the moderns.


 But the pure secular is a empty of content. [I mean meaning of life type of content]  so clearly people have a good motivation in getting involved with Torah in a Lithuanian Yeshiva.
I am reminded of a televised debate [or discussion] in the 1980's between the USSR and the USA.

Someone asked a woman on the panel about their attitude towards sex in the USSR. She said, and I quote, "We don't have any sex in the USSR."
Notes
() My own perspective on this is towards the Schopenhauer and  Ari axis.
() These two subjects are related because if you think like Nietzsche that the will is nothing then free will will also mean little to you. and if free will means little then why bother letting people do what they want.? This is the reason freedom has suffered in the modern age. If people are determined then why let them be free. This is the reason why totalitarianism  of the Democrats today in America has so little appeal to me since I see freedom as a prime value.



9.9.12

Learning Torah according to the Gra

According to the Gra and his disciple Chaim from Voloshin Learning Talmud is the goal in life.  There is no  basis in reason for this which makes it work. It is based on faith. [They have plenty of support for this thesis from the Talmud itself. But they make it more clear that what you would think from reading the Talmud. And I tend to agree with this in principle, but I have a few preconditions. Learning Torah has to be not a means of making  a living. And it should be done with Musar (books of ethics).]

The problem with this path is an test that I have. It is:  If a certain service in fact unites one with God, then it has to be visible by the person's actions. This puts a big hole in the learning Torah for money path- since there are some people for whom this does not work.

The problem is I actually felt the holiness that is at the center of the learning Talmud path. So I do not want to discount it. Rather, I think when the Torah is used as a mode to be making money, it turns into its opposite. It becomes a source of negative value.


My own idea here is that the one highest service to God is what is called in Torah, "Attachment with God" (or as this is often referred to as the Highest Awe of God. In my way of thinking all services of God are to bring to attachment with God. [Attachment with God is a commandment in the Law of Moses and is mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as a command in and of itself. It is also counted in the list of the commandments of the Rambam. ]


Yet, I also have another idea which seems to contradict this. It is that a person's portion in the next world depends on his actions towards his fellow man. And that attachment with God is simply the way that one's personal actions will in fact be good and not just appear good.

So what we have is in the Torah itself there seems to be a hierarchy of value. We have the things that the Torah clearly considers to the the fundamental essence of Torah-- the Ten Commandments. However you read it these two tablets of stone are clearly the climax of the Torah and what it puts all its energy into.

The rest of the commandments are clearly secondary. But we do find that the Torah and later prophets stress keeping all the commandments which includes everything that God says in the Torah. Most have to do with building the temple and also bringing the Jewish people into the land of Israel and  laws of property and how God wants society to function when the Jews arrive in Israel

To understand the Gra and the idea that everyone word of Torah is worth more than all the mitzvot we need two things. One is to recognize that all  a person's deeds depend on what he thinks. The next step is Hegel. We can understand empirical reality to flow from the Mind. [In that way Hegel is  close to the Neo-Platonists]

[I should mention however that in Silverman yeshivas which go by the path of the Gra, they concentrate on the Tenach (Old Testament)  and Mishna.  Only after the ages of 18 or so do they start on the Gemara. And I might mention that I really loved learning Mishna with the commentary of the Rav from Bartenura. (That is the regular edition of Mishna).]



The general result of the Silverman Method is that people that graduate from the system know the Tenach [Old Testement] and the Mishna very well. Almost by heart.