Nothing is a holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.

World view issues. 

My basic was formed by growing up as a Jew  in a relatively decent and wholesome society. That was a thoroughly WASP society in Orange County in California.
So I have had every reason to believe that Democracy and Capitalism can create along with basic Torah values a highly wholesome and moral society. I have what could be considered as empirical evidence to testify to that fact. [The evidence is I lived in a wholesome home in a wholesome community in a whole country.--the way things used to be in the USA]

But to justify this kind of system based on philosophy can be a real sticky issue. While growing up this kind of question occupied me very much and I did plenty of reading. Plato, Buddhism, Torah, Nietzsche, Chinese Philosophy, Spinoza, Ann Rand, the Communist Manifesto, etc. And later,  I continued this and learned postmodern philosophy. [That was at the recommendation of my teacher  Shelomo Freifeld at Shar Yashuv. I myself would have been happy just to concentrate on Torah.]

With most of the systems that I studied, I noticed sooner or later different problems. And sometimes the problems were so thick that I decided that the whole system had to be thrown out, i.e. one mistake or another will not bother me much, but a lots of shoddy logic will eventually turn me off. [Postmodern philosophy is a good example of that]. [Also, empirical evidence counts for me. No matter how logical a system is, if I see its results in people acting in ways that are obviously evil, then I will reject the system. Nothing is as holy and as truth. And truth is the way things are.]
 The best of philosophy today I have seen in  Dr. Kelley Ross in California. 

John Searle is obviously great but as Kelley Ross noticed he fell into scientism.
Habermas is Germany is also very great. Steve Dutch wrote a bunch of great essays on his site one of which is a detailed critique of Hume. Also Michael Huemer and Bryan Caplan and very good when they stick with their subject, not when they wander into other territories.

To be brief I think that there are universals. Universals are perceived by reason and by non-intuitive immediate knowledge. Universals applied to the human realm are moral values. [That is I do not hold from Empiricism,  Rationalism,  Nominalism, nor moral relativism].

The advantage of learning philosophy,  is that it gives a protection from  philosophers (and religious manics). For in general without learning to analyze ones world views, he or she will usually pick world view that often can't stand the test of reason and logic.


In terms of Yevamot page 3b.

Introduction; I ask an obvious question here on Tosphot.  One that everyone asks. Then I try to answer by saying the Braita is a Ma Metzinu, not a gezera Shava. But then I throw that out. Then I answer a different answer that the braita holds a gezra Shava can go just in one direction.

The Braita says how do we know the the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum? It answers that it says "upon her" in Leviticus and upon her in Deuteronomy concerning Yibum [Levirate marriage]. This looks like a Gezera Shava. [A "Gezara shava" means the same word is used in two different places, so we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the gezera shava.] Tosphot asks, "Why not turn the gezera shava around to the opposite direction?" He answers the teacher of this Braita holds that a positive commandment pushes off a negative commandment [even one that has cutting off as part of its penalty].

Since the Gemara concludes later on that  a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has cutting off as part of its penalty,-- therefore the reasoning would have to go in the opposite direction. [That עליה on her has to tell us she is allowed in yibum.] I mean to say: Fine. The teacher of the Braita thought the positive mitzvah would push off the negative mitzvah if not for the word "upon her." But we {who hold that a positive commandment does not push off a negative command that has cutting off in it} are left with nothing to tell us from where we learn the sister of ones wife is forbidden in yibum.

Now this is all just a short introduction to this subject. But I wanted to mention that one alternative way to look at this Braita is to say that it has nothing to do with a Gezera Shava. It is rather thinking like this: We find that the wife of ones brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of Yibum she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of Yibum. So now we need the extra word "upon her" to tell us that she is forbidden. [That is to say that the Braita is thinking of a "Ma Metzinu" [what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application] , not a gezera Shava]. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "upon her" all by itself.. The Braita definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a gezera shava.

And if this is gezera shava then the result is a disaster. The normal gezera shava puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "upon her" from levirite marriage into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of yibum!

I have not had a chance to look into this yet but my first reaction would be to find the book the Aruch Laner on Yevamot and see if he has any suggestions how to make sense of this.

I should mention that Rabbainu Isaac Hazeken--the grandson of Rashi just simply concludes that the teacher of the Brita thought all positive commandments push off negative commandments period and that is why we we the upon her to forbid her. [But we are still left with the unresolved issue of the gezra shava in general goes both directions.] Later note: No. Actually if a gezera shava goes in both directions is a debate. Perhaps we could use this idea to help us here and and go with the opinion the gezera shava goes only in one direction.


The ברייתא says how do we know the the sister of one's wife is forbidden in יבום? It answers that it says "עליה" in ויקרא and עליה in דברים concerning יבום. This looks like a גזירה שווה. A גזירה שווה means the same word is used in two different places. So we apply the laws of one place to the other place unless there is some specific reason that undoes the גזירה שווה.

One alternative way to look at this ברייתא is to say that it has nothing to do with a גזירה שווה. It is rather thinking like this. We find that the wife of one's brother is forbidden even after one brother is gone. And yet we find that in the specific case of יבום she is permitted. So we should allow all forbidden relations in the case of יבום. So now we need the extra word "עליה" to tell us that she is forbidden. That is to say that the ברייתא is thinking of a מה מצינו what we find in one place we automatically expand to other places unless we can find specific reason to limit its application , not a גזירה שווה. The problem with this is that this would work even with just the word "עליה" all by itself.. The ברייתא definitely refers to the fact that the same word is used in both places to derive its law. So it definitely means a גזירה שווה.

And if this is גזירה שווה then the result is a קשה. The normal גזירה שווה puts the laws of one place into the other place and visa versa. That would put the "עליה" from יבום into forbidden relations and make them all forbidden only in a case of יבום!

That is we have a question because a  גזירה שווה in general goes both directions.
Answer. Actually if a גזירה שווה goes in both directions is a debate. Here the נרייתא holds  with the opinion the גזירה שווה goes only in one direction.

) יבמות ג: הברייתא שואלת איך יודעים שאחות אשתו אסורה ביבום? והיא מתרצת שכתוב בויקרא אצל עריות "עליה" וכתוב בדברים אצל יבום "עליה". זה נראה כמו גזרה שווה. [גזרה שווה בדרך כלל היא שיש אותה מילה בשני מקומות, ולכן שמים את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני.] תוספות שואל, למה לא להפוך את הגזרה שווה לכיוון השני? והוא מתרץ, שהתנא של הברייתא אוחז בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זאת אומרת שבלי הגזרה שווה היינו אומרים שיבום דוחה איסור אחות אשתו. אם כן למה צריכים את הגזרה שווה? אלא על כורחך היא באה לומר את החידוש שאין יבום דוחה אחות אשתו.
עכשיו שמסקנת הגמרא היא (לקמן) שעשה אינו דוחה לא תעשה הסברה הייתה צריכה ללכת בכיוון השני. זאת אומרת שאין לנו מקום ללמוד ממנו שעריות אסורות ביבום. (אולי יש לומר שבאמת זאת היא סברת בית שמאי, אבל בית שמאי מתיר רק צרת ערווה לא העריות עצמן) אופן שני להסתכל בברייתא הוא זה: אין הברייתא מזכירה גזרה שווה. יכול להיות היא חושבת על "מה מצינו". והיא חושבת כך: אנחנו מוציאים שאשת אחיו אסורה אפילו אם אחיו אינו בעולם. רק במקום יבום היא מותרת. באופן דומה היינו צריכים להתיר את כל העריות במקום יבום. ולכן אנחנו צריכים את המילה "עליה" לומר לנו שאחות אשתו וכל העריות אסורות. הקושיא כאן היא שזה היה עובד אפילו אם היתה לנו את המילה "עליה" רק במקום אחד. והברייתא אומרת שהדין שלה באה מן העובדה שאותה מילה נמצאת בשני המקומות. עוד קושיא גדולה כאן היא שאם הברייתא מכוונת לגזרה שווה יש כאן אי הבנה. גזרה שווה רגילה נותנת את הדינים של מקום אחד למקום השני וממקום השני למקום הראשון. אם זאת היא גזרה שווה, אזי התוצאה של זו היא שמילת "עליה" בעריות מדברת רק במקום יבום, ואז כל העריות תהיינה אסורות רק במקום יבום. וזה אי אפשר. ולכן צריכים לומר שכוונת התנא היא שזה מה מצינו.
במילים אחרות. הברייתא אומרת איך אנחנו יודעים שאחותו של אשתו אסורה היבום? והיא עונה שהפסוק אומר "עליה" בויקרא ו"עליה" בספר דברים בנוגע ליבום. זה נראה כמו גזירה שווה. (גזירה שווה פירושו  המילה  זהה משמשת בשני מקומות שונים. אז אנחנו מיישמים את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, אלא אם כן קיים טעם ספציפי כי להפחית את כח הגזירה שווה.) דרך חלופית  להסתכל על ברייתא זו היא לומר שזה לא קשור עם גזירה שווה. אפשר לחשוב ככה. אנו מוצאים כי אשתו של אחיו (של אחד) אסורה אפילו אחרי שהוא  נפטר. ובכל זאת אנו מוצאים כי במקרה הספציפי של יבום היא מותרת. אז אנחנו צריכים לאפשר לכל היחסים האסורים במקרה של יבום להיות מותרים. אז עכשיו אנחנו צריכים את מילה אחת מיותרת "עליה" לספר לנו שהיא אסורה. כלומר כי ברייתא הוא חושבת על "מה מצינו", מה אנו מוצאים במקום אחד אנו מרחיבים באופן אוטומטי למקומות אחרים, אם לא נצליח למצוא סיבה ספציפית להגביל את תחולתו, לא גזירה שווה. הבעיה עם זה היא כי זה יעבוד גם אם רק הייתה המילה "עליה" לבדה. את ברייתא בהחלט מתייחס לעובדה כי אותה המילה משמשת בשני המקומות לגזור את  החוק שלה. אז זה בהחלט אומר שזה גזירה שווה. ואם זה גזירה שווה, אז התוצאה היא קשה. הגזירה שווה הרגילה מעמידה את החוקים של מקום אחד למקום השני, ולהיפך. זה היה גורם לשים את "עליה" של יבום לתוך היחסים ולעשות את כולם אסורים רק במקרה של יבום! כלומר יש לנו שאלה משום גזירה שווה הולכת לשני הכיוונים. תשובה. למעשה אם גזירה שווה הולכת בשני הכיוונים הוא ויכוח. כאן נראה שהברייתא  בדעת שהגזירה השווה סובבת רק לכיוון אחד.
רציתי להציג נושא שעולה בתחילת יבמות. זה יעזור לענות על שאלה ששאלתי בתחילת יבמות. זוהי שאלת אשת אחיו מאמו. החוק בתורת כהנים שתוספות מביא בתחילת יבמות. משפט זה מובא על הפסוק  שלא לישא אשת אחיו של שאומר "נדה היא". תורת הכהנים שואלת למה להשוות אותה לנדה? מכיוון שבדיוק כמו נדה יש ​​זמן של רשות, כך גם היא, כלומר אם אחיו מת ללא ילדים. אז הפסוק לא ניתן לדבר על אח מהאם. יבמות מ''א.  הותרה ונאסרה וחזרה והותרה אסורה כמו שמואל ורב אסי. הסיבה לזה הרשב''א אומר היא הדעה שמכילה את היבמה באיסור כרת אבל עשה של יבום דוחף אותו. אבל הלכה בגמרא עצמה היא הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת כמו רב ור' חנינא וכי הדעה מחזיקה לאיסור של אשת אח יש מגבלת זמן ואחרי שהיא נופלת ליבום אין עוד כל כרת מעורב. לכן לשאלה שלי בתחילת יבמות יש תשובה. כי ההוראה המקורית שם זה  מחזיקה בשיטה שעשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת וזו תהיה גם כמו הדעה שנדחתה בגמרא , הדעה של שמואל ואת רב אסי. היינו תשובתי על הברייתא בתחילת יבמות. שזו הולכת כמו שמואל ורב אסי שמחזיקים עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. אז התשובה שלי תהיה בכך בדיוק כמו שהרשב''א אמר ששמואל ורב אסי מחזיקים הותרה ונאסרה והותרה אסורה וזה יהיה בגלל שקבעו כי עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת ואפילו אשת אח מאביו איסור של אשת אח נמשך, אבל פשוט נדחף על ידי עשה של יבום. אבל הלכה היא כמו רב ור' חנינא כי הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת. וזה הולך כדעת אין עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת. זה הכי הגיוני כי בדרך כלל אנחנו מבינים יבום להיות כמו נדה באופן שבו לאחר הזמן של האיסור אין איסור כלל, לא כי הוא נדחף משם.
Later note: This last paragraph is a answer to the question, but for some reason it looks like I did not bring it here in English. Maybe I wrote the English version somewhere else? I simply can not remember.


Tractate Yevamot. Page three of Yevamot is  a very important page in the Talmud. This is one of the  places  where the Talmud takes the time and trouble to derive its laws from the verses in a logically rigorous manner. The basic beginning on the subject comes from the question how do we know that a Tzarat Erva (צרת ערווה) is forbidden [to Beit Hillel]. The Talmud answers from the extra "upon her."(עליה) I would rather not go into the details here but the problem in this piece of Talmud are discussed on the side in the Tosphot Yeshanim.

I don't remember all the details but the basic idea was that the Gemara uses "upon her" (עליה) for a Gezeira Shava. (גזירה שווה) The Gemara says: "Just like in forbidden relations, a sister is forbidden, so also by yevamot a sister is forbidden."
  The Tosphot Yeshanim asks: "Let's turn the Gezeira Shava in the opposite direction to make her permitted in Yibum? He answers the Gemara is depending on a later page in the Talmud (sugia) in which we know the a positive prohibition pushes off a negative prohibition. So that is what we would think even without the extra words "upon her."(עליה)  So why do we need upon her? Only to tell us something different from what we would have thought, -and that is to make her forbidden.
  At this point I asked:  But what happens after later on the Gemara says a positive commandment does not push off a negative commandment that has karet (being cutting off from ones people) as part of it penalty? After we know this, then without "upon her" we would already know he is forbidden. So what the the "upon her"(עליה)  tell us? That she is permitted! 


It is not really a big deal but when I was learning Isaac Luria a few years back I never did the subject of (Nukvah) the wife in depth.

 So for a few days I have been looking at Shaar HaNukva in Isaac Luria's Mavo Shaarim. I discovered something interesting that I had not seen before when I was skimming over it.

It is the fact that when the husband builds the wife, there are aspects of light that she gets from him and there are other actual aspects of her spiritual vessels that she gets from him. We know that she has a half of one third of his kindness in her Crown. But as I looked closer I saw some details I had missed. For one thing there is a difference between the man and the woman in this regard. The husband gets 2/3s of one kindness for his Sphere of Beauty. But he does not use it all for that Sphere. Rather 1/2 of 1/3 goes to his wife, 1/3 stays there, and a whole 1/3 goes up to his crown.

The wife gets a part of the outer light of kindness which is contained in his beauty and a part of the inner light.
She gets from the inner light only 1/2 of one third as I just mentioned. This stays in her crown. But from the outer light of his kindness she gets 1.5 thirds  [i.e. a whole half]. Here things are different for the wife than for the husband. She uses 1/2  of one third for her crown, another 1/2 of one third for her Intellect [Daat] and the last 1/2 of one third for her beauty. Actually you can see this easily. Did you ever notice how a bride becomes more beautiful after she gets married? I have seen this and the effect is sometimes startling.

However a word of warning. When i hear any kind of Hasidim talking about Kabalah i cringe. In general chasidm have not done the basic homework to know what they are talking about and explains concepts of Isaac Luria in  many  ways that are opposed of what Isaac Luria says. If they would not be pretending knowledge of Isaac Luria I would not mind so much but once you decide to talk about Kabalah you have a n obligation to have done the homework.


In Bava Metzia 14b we find that the Talmudic sage Rav said that in a case where one has bought something from a thief and the property returns to  the owner, that the buyer [party number three] gets the money he paid for it from the thief and the improvement also. Rashi explain that this is a case in which the original property was already improved and the thief damaged the property. So the original owner is getting back the property with zero improvement. Tosphot explains that the case is simply that the property was empty and the buyer improved it, and so when Rav says the thief pays back the improvement, it is a simple case of his giving back the improvement, and the original owner gives back the investment to the buyer.

The idea of Tosphot is that this is not any different from a case where a person goes into someone else's field and plants it. In such a case the owner pays the investment, but not the improvement.
This all seems simple and plain. Now this is also the way the Pnei Yehoshua understands this and it seems like there is no need of any explanation.

The problem here arises when we look at Bava Kama page 95a. It looks like this entire subject in Bava Metzia is going according to the opinion of Rabbi Meir over there, and against Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon.--which seems absurd on the face of it. Simply put, it so happens that R. Meir is the one person who holds that improvement goes back to the original owner with the stolen object--not Rabbi Yehuda or Rabbi Shimon. But if you try to explain the subject in Bava Metzia as if it was going like the halacha (law) in Bava Kama, you encounter major problems. Some of these problems were noted by the Pnei Yehoshua, but there is  a  question  that seems to me to be even more powerful that the questions the Pnei Yehoshua raised. The fact is that Shmuel is the person that argues with Rav in Bava Metzia and he says the third party --the buyer-- does not get back the improvement. If you try to explain this according to Rabbi Yehuda it makes no sense. Of course he does not get back the improvement -- because no one took it from him in the first place!
In short, the whole subject in Bava Metzia seems to be going completely like Rabbi Meir and we know from Tractate Eruvin that this is simply impossible. When there is an argument between Rabbi Meir and or Rabbi Shimon with Rabbi Yehuda the law always is like Rabbi Yehuda.

Here is a different idea on that some page.

 ב''מ יד: יש פה שלשה אנשים: נגזל,גזלן, ולוקח מן הגזלן והקרקע שנגזלה. הקרקע חוזרת לבעלים עם השבח שהשביחה הלוקח. רב אמר שהלוקח גובה מחיר הקרקע ושבחה מן הגזלן. תוספות אומרים שהדין של היורד לתוך שדה חבירו בלי רשות שמקבל היציאה שייך לפה. זה דין של רב בדף קג. ושם רב אומר ידו על התחתונה. זאת אומרת שאם השבח פחות מן היציאה, אז הנגזל משלם את היציאה. ואם היציאה פחותה, אז הוא משלם את היציאה. ועכשיו אפשר להבין כוונת התוספות פה בדף יד:. פה יש שתי אפשריות. א) השבח יותר מן היציאה. ב) השבח פחות מן היציאה. מצב הראשון הוא המצב שרב דיבר עליו. שם הנגזל משלם את היציאה, והגזלן משלם את השבח. [פה כוונת רב היא שהגזלן משלם את השבח היתר מן היציאה, היינו ההפרש. וזה שלא ככוונתו בדף קג. אולי יש פה איזו קושיא?] במצב השני שהשבח פחות, אז הגזלן אינו משלם כלום, והנגזל משלם את השבח. וזאת היא השאלה שלי. למה הגזלן אינו משלם את היציאה? אם אנחנו הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר, אז הוא חייב לשלם את היציאה. אם אנחנו לא הולכים לפי מה שכתוב בשטר (אחריות לאו טעות סופר היא) אז גם השבח אינו משלם

[Looking at this essay later I am not sure why I did not write the first idea in Hebrew.  I think the reason I did not put the first paragraph into Hebrew was  I was thinking along the lines   of Tosphot that the two Gemaras pg 14 and 101 mean the same thing-that the שבח goes to the thief and then to the buyer. But later I decided that that can't be what Tosphot meant. Rather who ever did the שבח gets paid for it. And therefore the whole above essay becomes important again.


It is well known that the Yoseph Yozel Horowitz (from Navaradok) held that trust in God is of prime importance in life.
I have claimed that this is a good approach, but it only works if one has held to it as soon as he has heard of it, and not gone away from it. If one starts to depend on his own deeds and intelligence in obtaining life's needs, then one can't go back to trust.

Now the basic approach here is that trust in the concepts of Navardok is not belief nor is it religious frenzy. Nor is it related to the idea of sitting and learning Torah. It is however often mixed up with that, but  conceptually it is unrelated. One can in theory sit and learn Torah all day and be depending on handouts from the Israeli government or from rich Jews in America. One could also be working all day in physics job at New York University, and still be trusting in God.

However, we do find that Schopenhauer made a correct observation that there is no reason to assume that the Will has human good in mind. To him, the Will almost delights in surprising people and acting in unpredictable ways. At first glance these two points of view seem contradictory. I claim they are not.

But first I should mention is that there are sub-levels between the First Cause and the actual physical universe that when these levels intersect this world cause what can be called supernatural effects. But these sub levels are not identical with the First Cause.

To me trust in God is going to university and getting an honest job and working for a living but putting one's trust in God.

But then how does one relate this to Schopenhauer? My answer has always been to this question that even Schopenhauer agrees that there is an aspect of the Will that is beyond the dimension that he talks about in The World As Will and Representation. It is the dimension of the Good. This is mentioned in a last letter of his.

I would like to defend the idea that trust in God is an objective moral value. That is it is something people should do. But it is not something they must do. I.e. I claim there are moral values that are oughts, but not musts. It is a realm of value that is totally separate from Thou must.

There are several rival groups that come to the shrine of Nachman in Uman. One of the most infamous are the people connected with Rabbi Berland at Shuvu Banim. They are amazingly violent and extremely dangerous. And they have now taken over the grave site itself of Reb Nachman.

Perhaps I should have written more about this very  group before to warn people that they use the name of Breslov to attract naive people, but in fact it is a  cult.
I have usually taken the approach that since no one comments on my blogs anyway I am absolved of responsibility to make known the different evil cults that proliferate in Orthodox Judaism.

But I think after that Kelipa has taken over it no loner is worth the trouble to go there. Better stay home  and learn Torah.


On a side note I should mention that just because one is engaged in learning Torah that is no reason not to serve in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force].

Trust in God used to be for me a big factor in my personal decisions.  It is not so any longer because I think that once one has left trust and seen that running after worldly ventures does not work well for him or her, one simply can't get back and change modes at will to "Next World" type of issues. [That means in English "siting and learning Torah."]

That being said, I still think that trust is a pretty good idea.
I  discovered a book  The Level of Man (מדרגת האדם) by Joseph Yozel Horwitz (Novaradok).\

He writes that think that in the Torah are all the answers to all of life's problems. And he does not like the idea of compromise on the idea of learning Torah and devoting one's life to Torah.

I thought that this was a pretty good idea, and took this idea to its outer limits. And as long as I went with pure trust in God, there is no question in my mind that God reciprocated. But when I fell from this idea and decided to depend on my own mind and efforts, that is the second that God removed his Divine Providence from me and left me in the hands of the ways of the world.

OK, what is done is done. Why is this relevant for  people at this point? The answer is that it seems to me that the answer to the problems the Jewish people is facing probably is like Yoseph Horwitz suggested --trust in God. I have seen a lot of other approaches, but this one seems the best.

Now, I am aware  that  learning Torah in recent years has become  means of making money.  But I am also aware that there is no system that can't be abused. [Abuse does not cancel use. It is an old Latin saying: Abusus non tollit usum.  ] Just because there are  those that use the Torah to make  a living, there is no reason to blame the Torah for this.

That all being said we still need to find some kind of safeguard(s) so that Torah should not be used for making money.

On a side note I should mention that just because one is engaged in learning Torah that is no reason not to serve in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force]. We do not find people learning Torah that claim that they are not obligated to marry and bear children.. In fact just the opposite. many people use the fact of their learning Torah  as a means to get marry and make money. Certainly learning Torah does not exempt anyone from doing any mitzvah. That is not including in the halachic definition of learning Torah which implies as a prerequisite that one is keeping the Torah also.

People that use the holy Torah to make their livings are not able to understand the Torah. The Torah is jealous of its honor and does not reveal itself to people that make it a "shovel to dig" with. See the Gra on Pirkei Avot  where he derives the prohibition of using Torah as a means of livelihood from the king Balshatzar [in the book of Daniel] would used the vessels of the holy temple in Jerusalem and was punished.

[The major issue in Israel is that of Islamic Fascism, not land. But this essay was not meant to deal with the problem of Islamic Fascism and my learning partner thought it is a waste of time to do so. Still it seems to me to be a good idea to justify the State of Israel.  Dr Dershowitz, and the Alt Right blogs like Brett Stevens {defending nationalism}.The most telling comment was on one Alt Right blog where one person commented he would love to side with the Muslims in Israel except for the fact that after they would be done with Israel the next person on their list of people to attack would include that person making the comment. In other words Islam is on the march to crush the West. ]


 The Torah is clear about the importance of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

 There are not many people that are aware of this fact, but I think a precursory reading of the Five Books of Moses should be enough to convince anyone that the bringing of Jews to the Land of Israel is of primary importance in the Torah. You don't even have to read it in Hebrew to see this.
It is the major theme of the Torah.
[In fact it is the one and only major theme of the Torah. The giving of the Ten Commandments was a semi finial, but the theme of bringing the Jews to Israel is the one and only foremost theme of the entire Torah from the beginning to the end.]

But even without this, the fact than Iran wants to wipe out the Jews is an important issue. I was discussing the Cuban Missile crisis yesterday with a person who served in the KGB. I mentioned that the USSR was a totally different type of adversary than the Islamic world. The goal of both the USA and the USSR was to create a decent and fair system for their people. The goal of the Islamic world is to destroy Western Civilization. This was the reason the Russians traditionally always kept Muslims down to a small number. They knew that Muslims when in small numbers act better than anyone. They are more decent and more polite. But after anywhere from 10 to 20 percent things change radically.


I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me! [I see when I wrote this in Hebrew I thought the word for land is masculine which I think was a mistake.]

Leviticus chapter 25 verse 33

"The house shall go out in the jubilee."

Introduction. According to the Rambam, when a serf(מקבל) (a serf here is not a slave. He enters a voluntary agreement to wok and property and take some exact percentage of what grows) leaves his field at the end of his period and a buyer of a field when he returns it in the jubilee year, both keep the improvement (שבח,) [the amount which grew on the field not by itself, but from his efforts]. But if this is the case, then how can the Talmud (in Bava Metzia page 109a) ask why do we not learn serfdom from jubilee?
We do! It is the same law!

Frankly, I have no idea of how Reb Chaim Soloveitchik answers this problem in the Rambam [Maimonides] and I have no idea how to answer it myself. But I have one observation that I think might be useful in finding a solution. [Later sometime after I wrote this blog, I looked at the commentary of the Geon from Vilna(הגר''א) Eliyahu from Vilnius and he answers this question simply and powerfully.]
The thing I noticed about this law is that Maimonides does not mention anything about the sums of money the serf or the buyer put into the field. This is very strange because this is the first thing that you usually deal with in the case of a loaner and a borrower as in Bava Metzia 15b.

I know Reb Chaim has a whole different approach in his Chidushei HaRambam but I do not see how he answers this question; or how his approach could help us in any way.
I am getting so obsessed with this problem that I did not even do my regular math study today. I have been going through all the different possibilities that I can think of and nothing seems to work.

Incidentally, there is nothing in the Talmud itself that makes this difficult. It is just the way the Rambam understands the case of a serf and a buyer that makes this difficult. If we would have just the Talmud then it would read thus: Rava  says, a serf does not get the extra growth of  trees [when he decides to terminate his contract]. The Talmud asks on Rava : But in Jubilee the law is that the buyer keeps all extra growth besides the field itself.

(k) Answer (Abaye on behalf of Rava): Jubilee is different, for the Torah said "V'Yatza Mimkar Bayis" - the sale goes back, the improvements do not go back. [The Torah says that in Jubilee the house goes back--not the improvements]
(l) Question: We should learn from Jubilee to a renter!

I am open to suggestions here if anyone has an idea of how to answer this question on the Rambam. If you think you will be able to open up the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and understand his answer on this then be my guest. Please enlighten me!

 ב''מ קט. הקדמה. נראה לי שהרמב''ם היה אומר שאף על פי שהדין של קבלנות והדין של יובל שווים לגבי הוצאה ושבח, הם שונים לגבי שבח שקמה. לגבי שבח שקמה, קודם שבע שנים המקבל אינו מקבל כלום אפילו אם עבד עליו. ואחרי שבע שנים הוא מקבל את הכל -גם השקמה בעצמה- אפילו אם לא עבד עליו (רק שעבד על השדה בכלל). ועל הדין הפרטי הזה הגמרא שואלת, "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" עכשיו נכנס ליותר פרטים. המשנה אומרת שהמקבל אינו מקבל את השקמה אם לא עבד על השדה שבע שנים. רבא אמר גם אינו מקבל שבח שקמה. והגמרא שואלת על זה מיובל איפה שאנחנו אומרים "שמין"- זאת אומרת שהלוקח מקבל מה שהשדה הצמיח. ופה הגמרא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל גזירת הכתוב "ממכר בית" חוזר, ולא שבח. ואז היא שואלת "אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל?" והיא מתרצת שיובל שונה בגלל עוד סיבה, - הקרקע קנוי ללוקח. מצד עצמה הגמרא ברורה. הלוקח מקבל את מה שהצמיח השדה, ולא המקבל. מה החילוק? והיא מתרצת שהחילוק הוא שיש פסוק. אבל לדעת הרמב''ם, שני הדינים שווים. המקבל והלוקח מקבלים את מה שגדל בגלל העבודה שלהם, ולא את מה שגדל ממילא. רב חיים הלוי שואל את הקושיא הזאת,  אבל לא הבנתי את תירוצו. לי נראה שהרמב''ם היה יכול לתרץ את זאת כך: כשהגמרא שואלת אולי נלמד קבלנות מיובל, הגמרא אינה מכוונת לכל מיני שבח, אלא דווקא לשבח אילנות. בשבח אילנות אפילו את מה גדל מחמת עבודתו המקבל אינו מקבל, והלוקח כן מקבל. ועל הפרט הזה הגמרא שואלת את קושייתה

אבל מלשון הרמב''ם אינו משמע כן. הרמב''ם כתב לגבי שבח שיקמה שאם המקבל לא עבד עליו, הוא לא מקבל אותו. בתחלה חשבתי שאולי רק אחרי התירוץ של הגמרא שהלוקח קנה את הקרקע [לא כמו שהגמרא חשב בתחלה שהוא כמו שוכר] אז הגמרא השווה את דין הלוקח עם דין המקבל בגלל שגזירת הכתוב משווה אותם. אבל יש קושיא על התירוץ הזה בגלל שכל קושיית הגמרא נבנית על בסיס ששמין ללוקח, ולא למקבל. זאת אומרת, גם בתחלה וגם בסוף הגמרא אוחזת את השיטה שדינם שונה.
בתחלה היה נראה לי שאי אפשר לתרץ את הקושיא הזאת בגלל שכל כיוון הגמרא הוא כנגד הרעיון שדינם שווה. הגמרא מתחילה עם המושג שיובל וקבלנות הם שונים, והיא שואלת "למה יהיו שונים?" והיא מתרצת את זה: הם שונים בגלל שיש פסוק. אבל עדיין היא לא יכולה להסתפק עם זה. ואז היא מוצאת עוד סיבה שיהיו שונים. ואחר כל זה, איך אפשר לומר שהם שווים? התירוץ לזאת היא מוכלת בשתי מילים של הגר''א. הוא כתב שהמילה "אילנות" ברמב''ם (שכירות פרק ח' הלכה י') היא טעות סופר. וצריך לומר רק "שבח", ולא "שבח אילנות". זאת אומרת שלגבי שבח בכלל הדין של יובל וקבלנות הם שווים כמו שכתב הרמב''ם.  אבל מה שקשה לגמרא היא הדין של שבח אילנות ששם אין דינם שווה. לגבי יובל שבח אילנות שווה לשבח רגיל. [אם הוא עבד עליו הוא מקבל אותו-ואם לא,לא.] אבל לגבי קבלנות, אפילו אם המקבל עבד על שבח אילנות, הוא אינו מקבל אותו. ואז גמרא משתדלת למצוא סיבה שיובל וקבלנות יהיו שונים.


In the strictest sense of keeping Torah, we do find that attachment with God is a primary principle in Torah--along with the Ten Commandments.  We  find the major things the Torah is concerned with are: (1) Bringing the Jewish people into the Land of Israel,  (2) Attachment with God, (3) Fear of God, (4) Love of God, and (5) The Ten Commandments. Now there are lots of commandants in the Torah besides the  ten, but the ten are considered to be the roots of all the others.

"What does God want from you but to fear and love God and to walk in his ways and do his commandments?" (Deuteronomy)

"לדבקה בו" to be attached with God is mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as a command. Though in a practical sense this means to be attached with 'Torah scholars" תלמידי חכמים still אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו and that is how the author of Sefer Yeraim  a disciple of Rabbainu Tam describes it.


Lithuanian Jewish world

 Now in the book of R. Chaim from Voloshin, Nefesh HaChaim, we see a definite emphasis on learning Torah specifically.

 people make a mistake in making a tzadik and his ideas the center of attention instead of the Law of Moses which should be our focus.

But once you get the idea that the Law of Moses should be the center of our attention, it is hard to get away from the Lithuanian approach.. After all, there are lot of laws in the Old Testament and the book itself obviously requires a logical analysis. And so far I have not heard of anyone who has come up with a more rigorous logical analysis of the laws of Moses outside of the Babylonian Talmud. For example we have several verse in Exodus discussing the obligations of  a person that  guarding something and the object is lost. Another example in Shabat. Clearly we need a good definition of what it means to keep  Shabat. And in this area it looks like  that driving on Shabat is a problem because driving involves of the use of a combustion engine.

If Christians would come up with a better analysis of the Laws of Moses than the Talmud then I would be happy to discuss this. But in general Christians do not feel under the obligation to keep the laws of the Torah, and so do not spend a lot of effort in defining them.

We Jews however are under the obligation to keep the Laws of Moses and so it is in our best interest to understand how to keep them.
If there is any group that seems to take a balanced approach to Torah it seems to be Conservative Jews. Mesorati Jews seems to take these obligations more seriously than other Jewish groups.


I have heard different explanations for the Holocaust

One that seemed promising to me was Judicial positivism. If you add this to ethical relativism and Nietzsche who was the prime philosopher in Germany from about 1890  and onward, then you get a powerful mix that could contribute to World War Two and the Holocaust. That means that I have sought reason for the Holocaust from the failure of philosophy. Recently it has come to my attention that there is  another more obvious reason-- anti-semitism. At some point it is possible that people just stopping thinking of Jews as worthy of life.

And the cause of antisemitism seems to me to be anti goyism (or anti gentilism). This is what I think is clearly the implication of a verse in Mishlei [Proverbs], "like the face is reflected in water so is the heart of man towards another man."

And the cause of Anti-Goyism I think is bureaucracy. That means to say some people get comfortable in rabbinical  jobs and cease to worry about the implications of their actions. So religious leaders are a similar position as a government bureaucrat. They become comfortable in their positions and cease to worry if their preaching is in any way reflective of the real world. After all they do not need to deal with the real world since they are insulated by their "shtele' [position ]. They are in that way like a government bureaucrat.

This is along way to get around to what is already stated in the Talmud [at the end of Tractate Shabat]--all problems that come into the world only come because of the judges of Israel.

 What passes for morality is in general the evil inclination dressed up in some mitzvah.  Nietzsche picked up on this theme  and held that all human morality comes from the human basement.
I do not think  all morality is from the human basement. Maybe most of it,- but not all. Some morality should be  attributed to the human attic. [The  urge to do good.]


Lev Tahor (Heart of Purity), which was founded by Moshe Helbrans

I knew this fellow. The problem I think is that anyone that people listen to [in any religion] is liable to start thinking of himself as more than what he really is. Moshe Helbrans was a disciple of Rav Shick of Breslov. I have written about him on my blog a few times and I don't feel like repeating it all here. But he was simply a person that people liked to listen to and Rav Shick also liked him very much. Rav Shick had a small group of followers in Safed at the time and I was one of them. Halbrans was the leader of the group appointed specifically by Rav Shick. (I was just some no good for nothing baal teshuva.) And it was all pretty nice. But at some point Halbrans left Rav Shick as I did also. In spite of problems involved with Rav Shick I think it was a mistake for me to leave him. He has a kosher path--except for the anti Israel stuff which he picked up from satmar


Hanuka  was the last time our family was together under happy circumstances. My mother had been sick but she was home again, and I was staying at home reluctant to go back to NY. But the second night I decided I had to return to NY because Reb Friefeld had made many overt hints that I was to be his future son in law. Mom suggested that maybe I did not really have to go back, but this fact of a possible shiduch/marriage prospect swayed my decision. So my brother David drove me to the airport. Then Mom got sick again and I was home on Shavuot until Sukkot. At any rate Hanuka was always a special time for me.
Today I see the wisdom of my parents, but then I was a very stubborn kid.

. My wife and I went to the Sochnut/Jewish agency to make arrangements for Alyia to Israel. The representative of the Israeli government was a religious Zionist and saw that we were a Charedi  family so he spent the entire meeting trying to dissuade us form making Aliya. After that meeting on the way home I remember my wife crying literally. She was upset and I had no words to comfort her.

 We did go to Israel and it was great. I have no regrets on that account except that I wish I had keep learning Talmud.[Talking with God is important, but you also need to learn Torah to hear what God is saying to you.. Talking with God is only you telling God what you want him to hear, not the other way around.]

[I do not try to use the general approach of the Rambam based on Aristotle, because I think Aristotle is just too problematic. I know lots of people read Ann Rand and secretly use her approach but her approach also I find way too problematic and incoherent.] [Neturai Karta I know uses Nietzsche to form their world view but this also I find to be problematic. Nietzsche had some points but as a logical world view he has much to be desired.]

I admit that do not myself have the intellectually ability to come up with my own unified approach.and there are plenty of areas in which I use idea from the Intuitionists like Dr. Michael Huemer in Colorado and Prichard and also Aristotle and the Rambam. [I have mentioned before what problems I see in some of these world views. Against Kant the best rival is Prichard, but [to turn the tables] it seems to me that there were some issues that Prichard clearly did not think out, as opposed to Kant.] [for example he thought that to Kant no action is right unless motivated by the moral imperative. That obviously is not Kant's view. To Kant no action is good unless motivated by the moral imperative]


Pesachim 29b

Tosphot- -the commentary on Talmud has many layers of depth. The first layer is the the one which after you get what Tosphot is saying there seems to be some obvious question . That is the first layer you need to get past in order to start understanding Tosphot properly.
Just for a example of this first level. Pesachim 29b
In the Talmud there is an argument what happens if one eats leavened bread that belongs to the Temple on Passover. Is he required to bring a sacrifice? This is a debate. Rav Ashi says the reason for the one who says one must bring a sacrifice is because he hold one can derive pleasure from leavened bread on Passover.[That is everyone, not just the Temple.] [So he was נהנה (had pleasure) from הקדש (something that belonged to the Temple) so he brings a sacrifice]
Rav Ashi says that everyone is agreeing that one can't redeem the leavened bread on Passover. But the reason one brings the sacrifice is that since the leaven only has holiness of monetary value, it can be used to lite one's stove. That is the first level of Tosphot which seems to not make sense. Leaven seems more like holiness of body that can't be redeemed.
The next level is to understand that to the Temple, the leaven does have monetary value. So it makes sense to say it has holiness that applies to monetary value on Passover itself. We do not find that even on Passover that the Temple can't derive benefit from leaven. So it makes sense to say the Temple can sell it to be used to lite ones stove.


During the 60's the U.S.S.R. needed American wheat to feed their population. Here is an anecdote on a Russian web site.
[Historical note: this actually happened. The USA did send wheat to the USSR at the height of the cold war to save them from starvation.]

The General Secretary of the Communist Party and the President of the USA (Kennedy) are in a summit meeting. The General Secretary asked the President  to send wheat to save the lives of starving Russians.  The President agreed.

Then the General Secretary mentioned that they have a problem with producing  good tractors. Can the Americans send tractors also? The President agreed.

Then the General Secretary mentioned it seems that there was also a shortage of cattle in the USSR. Can the Americas send cattle? The president agreed.

Then the General Secretary mentioned that the are having trouble implementing a perfect Communist society. Can the Americans send over some advisers to help with that also?


In other words, the Ari is a highly Neo Platonic system that seems to reflect deep understanding of the metaphysical nature of the world

Though I do not have a theory worked out for this, I have noticed over the years connections between Mathematics and the Kabalah of the Ari [Isaac Luria]. The most obvious connection is in Vector Bundles, Homology and Homotopy. But I have never written about this because they seemed to be two separate areas of value. 

But when I started working on Category Theory, the connections became more obvious.

As a general introduction to this topic let me mention several areas of particular interest .

From Emanation we map from different spheres to lower level spheres. But we lose content. Only the spheres of Emanation are Divine as stated openly in the introduction to the Tikunai HaZohar.(באצילות איהו וחיוהי חד ולא בעלמין תתאין) and the Ari himself brings this Tikunai Zohar. [and the Remak, Moshe from Cordoba, also in his magnum opus the Pardes]

In Category Theory there is a well defined system to map from mathematical structures like rings or topological spaces like spheres to lower or higher levels. To me the connection seems obvious. Though I can imagine that this connection is ignored in academia for the sad reason that most of 20th century LA/P Philosophy [Linguistic Analytic] has been an attempt to deny the validity of metaphysics. Only recently has philosophy stated to climb out of their hole by the books of people like Jerold Katz that have exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of 20th century philosophy.
In the map from a sphere to the union of two spheres [(S^n) Psi to S^n/S^n-1 seems to be related to the idea of connection or joining (זיווג) between spheres in kabalah] The difference is that spheres in kabalah have numinous content while mathematical structures do not. But outside of that the connections seems clear.

I noticed some connections also between Logic and Kabalah a few years ago but this is mentioned in the "Book of Ideas."

A general observation is that mathematics is usually horizontal. It is only with the advent of Category Theory has it become vertical. And this seems also related to the difference between the philosophy of Plato [vertical ideas or forms] and Aristotle [horizontal]  and both are implicit in the general structure of the world of Isaac Luria. In particular you can see this in the Reshash (רש''ש)--Shalom Sharabi who holds that the entire system of the Ari [which starts out vertical and then morphs slowly into horizontal vessels] will change at some future time--the revival of the dead--when all the vertical world will become horizontal.
There is also some interesting parallels between Isaac Luria and Kant. Kant like Luria divides understanding into two parts (אמא עלאה  ואמא תתאה). For Kant one is empirical, and the other for a priori. The most striking parallel between Kant and Luria is concerning Kant's idea of a function of the mind that accomplishes synthesis between objects of the understanding and empirical objects --the exact idea of Daat דעת
There is also knot theory which explicitly uses a concept from the Ari [ in the title of the book itself].

The Ari himself is positing worlds that exist and were created on higher spiritual planes before this physical universe. Ar first glance this seems obvious. This world seems to have aspects to it that are not physical and seem to be embedded in it. For example the number "2." It does not seem to be something you stumble on as you walk down the street. But it would be hard to argue that it does not exist. The Ari mainly deals with these in between levels between God and this physical universe. And they are not considered outside the limits of experience. In  particular the moral plane, the world of moral law, though not physical is considered to be well within the range of experience.
In other words, the Ari is a highly Neo Platonic system  that seems to reflect deep understanding of the metaphysical nature of the world

There is another connection between Math and kabalah that astounded me when I encountered it.
It is the breaking of the vessels called מיתת המלכים. This refers to the kings of Edom that ruled before king ruled in Israel. [Genesis and in Chronicles.]. This small seemingly insignificant paragraph in the Torah occupies a major extremely complicated and involved subject in the kabalah of Isaac Luria.
There are seven kings of Edom. And this is considered to be the source of the breaking of the vessels and the root of all problems that come into the world.  The root of all catastrophes. And in Catastrophe Theory there are seven kinds of catastrophe in lower dimensions. [Seven major types.]
I noticed this Physics also. But that was a long time ago when I had ideas that I could defend on this subject.
Further look at the subdomains after integral domains. That is all the subdomains after you have the domain that can't be a clock. That is in clock 3^4 =0. The order of spaces under  a domain which is not a clock comes out to be the order of the ten sepherot. So to me it looks like Isaac Luria did have some important insights. [And besides that I should mention  that Yaakov Abuchatzeira calls Isaac Luria "Rabainu" (our teacher) with no other appellation. See for example the Pituchei Chotam of Yaakov Abuchatzaira]


I know that kabalah in general considered related to the Neo-Platonic point of view, but I found my own experiences were more in accord with the school of thought of Kelly Ross and the Freisians.]

I know many people are interested in spirituality.This desire can be channeled into crummy world view systems .
Personally, I went more for The Five Books of Moses and Talmud. But that was simply because I had and have an inherent love of Torah. [This was something I really did not get from my Reform Synagogue. It was more a combination of the influence of my wonderful amazing parents and also a great love of philosophy.] I was not expecting any great revelation of light or Divine experiences.
But as a logical step after doing a certain amount of Talmud at the Mir in NY I got involved in the kabalah of Isaac Luria and went to  Israel.

But there is at any rate a good lesson for people that are interested in true spirituality. Apparently from what I can tell the books of the Ari [Isaac Luria] and being in Israel are a remarkable help in this direction.

But one shouldn't go into this expecting magical powers. I have seen many of the Kabalists in Israel and for some reason it does seem to me that most of them got caught up in the phantom  zone [the intermediate zone in the terminology of a Hindu mystic.] [Or the Sitra Ahra itself.]

[The Ari I suggest should be learned along with the Gra, Rav Yaakov Abukasera's books] along with the Reshash [Rav Shalom Sharabi]'s Nahar Shalom.]


The Torah  (The Five Books of Moses)  makes a dramatic and unique claim that is usually overlooked. It is the simple claim that the sufficient condition for  human happiness is to keep the 613 commandments of the Torah. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.Deuteronomy 30:15-20
I have rarely heard of any living person who took this promise seriously. In general it is the custom either to ignore the commandments of the Torah or to add to them.Few people think that the Torah provides all the answers to human problems.

Some famous examples of commandments that are added to the Torah are commandment to believe in supposedly righteous people. Some people add the idea of believing in one person and they also the idea of adding  mitzvahs and as many rituals as possible. In any case there is no indication in the Torah that believing in any person is a requirement for "life and the good."
In the Torah, no human is a god.

In the Torah we do not find a requirement to go to therapy to merit to "The Life and the Good". Rather in terms the difficulties we find in human affairs we find a well worked out world view in the Torah that psychology is different from.

The world view of the Torah is in fact very different from most modern viewpoints.
[The Torah does not claim it was written by God. But it does claim a message from God. Do these commandments and you will proper. Don't do them and you will regret it.]


  The unique thing about the family of Israel Abuchatzeira is it gives a remarkable clarification of the question what is the service of God according to the Torah.

  What I mean by this is that it tends to be a confusing issue for most Jews and gentiles exactly what is the divine service that God asks from us. Even well meaning gentiles can come to the conclusion that running a 747 into the Twin Towers is a proper and respectable course of action. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity or resolve of the people that do this type of thing. Now we can all agree that this is because they believe in a false religion.

  OK, but what happens if you come closer to the Torah point of view? Now rigorous logical thinking in issues of theology was the specialty of the Middle Ages. Now matter how hard we try we are not going to come up with a better solution to this question than Maimonides and the other authors of Ethical books during the Middle Ages. This already shows a great advantage to the Musar movement of Israel Salanter that specialized in reading the Books of Musar and trying to fulfill them.

  But even this Musar Movement has great problems. Just look at the Musar movement today and tell me if you see much holiness or wholesomeness?

  The result of my study of these issues in the Jewish world has led me to the conclusion that the family of Bava Sali [Israel Abuchatzeira] has come to a remarkable synthesis that  works. I had a long history of dealing with this family and my conclusion is that they have reached a kind of balance between Torah and Derech Eretz [the art of being a human being ] that is remarkable.
  A good example of this would be for instance Shimon Buso in Netivot. On the outside there is not much to see. He sits and learns Torah all day. And to give himself an extra push, he joined a group that accepts on itself on voluntary basis to be tested on a lot of pages of the Gemara [Talmud] every month.
But what is remarkable about this is the lack of fanaticism. By Ashkenazic Jews, fanaticism seems to go with the turf. If you hold like the Litvaks (Lithuanian) that learning Torah is the greatest Mitzvah, then by means of some kind of fanaticism you translate that to mean everyone has to be doing that alone, and all other paths are bad.


David Abuchatzeira, the older brother of Bava Sali

The subject of David Abuchatzeira, the older brother of Bava Sali who was killed by Muslim fundamentalists in Morocco. 

A few stories about the  Abuchatzeira family

To begin with one minor story. The younger brother of David Abuchatzeira,  Isaac used to go around in Morocco collecting money for the school of Reb Masud in Tapilalt.  Issac loved a drink of alcohol called Irak. He got to one home, and asked for money. After they gave he asked for a drink. They said they do not have any. He said, "Yes, you do. I see it in such and such a place in your home." 
They said, "Yes, but that is saved for our son's Bar Mitzvah and the future weddings of our children."
He said, "Give some to me now, and I promise to you that that supply will never run out, -but only on condition that you never look inside to see it."

They did as he asked. After that they never ran out for many years. They simply lowered the bucket into the supply which was in an underground cistern and the bucket always came up full. This sufficed for all their children's weddings and bar mitzvahs.

One day the wife of the family could not contain her curiosity any longer and had to take one peek to see what in the world was going on. She could not believe how their original tiny supply could have provided so much. When she lifted the cover to look, all she saw was a well that was as dry as a desert and an empty broken bucket in the bottom of the well. That was the last day that it ever provided any Irak.
 Once I was at the home of the daughter of Bava Sali [Yisrael Abuchatzeira] and was discussing the importance vitamins and proper nutrition every day. She told me that she does not know about such things but she remembered that when she was a small girl it was her job to bring a daily meal to her father. It those days Bava Sali was in the attic in their home and did not come out for about two weeks at a time. No one really knows what he was doing in that tiny room for two weeks. He might have been learning Torah or praying or whatever. There is no information about it. But she would come in the morning, and leave a plate of food at the entrance to the attic. And in the evening she would return and the plate was always still there untouched.
Once in a Mikvah in Safed a grandson of a Moroccan Jew told me that his father once had the opportunity to drive Bava Sali in Morocco to the capital city. In Morocco in those days there was a severe penalty for speeding. Still Bava Sali had to get his destination on some public business, so he told the driver to ignore the speed limit. As they were speeding, a police motorcycle started to chase them, and signaled to pull over. They ignored his warning. So the policeman took out his pistol and stated shooting at them. At that point the driver was terrified out of his wits. Then, as he looked out into his rear view mirror, he saw the police motor cycle explode.  

I think I knew some descendants of David Abuchatzeira in Netivot. One was the wife of my downstairs neighbor. I used to go to them for Shabat. The last Shabat I was there there were a few kids there also that also were descended from Reb David, but I forget how. They were normally learning in a school in Bnei Brak called named after Avraham Kalmanowitz  the founder of the Mir  in  New York

There was a woman who did not keep mitzvahs but she heard about Bava Sali so drove from Kiryat Shmona to Netivot for a blessing. She was not let in because Bava Sali never talked with women. She told her request to the gabai [servant] and related the message to Bava Sali. Bava Sali asked for a check, and she wrote out some sum and she received a bottle of water in return. The blessed water was in fact quite usual but asking for a check never happened on any other occasion I have heard of. She drove back to Kiryat Shemona [about a six hour trip.] She got home and put the bottle of water on the kitchen counter and went to wash up. As she was washing she began think to herself I have running water here in my home! And bottles too! Why did I have to be so stupid to go to Netivot to get a bottle of water? When she returned to the kitchen the bottle of water was gone. Instead right where it had been place was her check.

David Abuchatzeira was like a square in Flatland that was taken into Spaceland--our 3-d world -and was sent back to proclaim the reality of worlds beyond this world.


  The basic title today of rabbinical ordination is conferred on a person that learns the beginning sections of Yoreh Deah [the second volume of Shulchan Aruch by Joseph Karo] concerning the laws of how to kill  cows and chickens. This line of education does not consider any expertise on how to deal with people.. The other title that people should learn is called "Talmid Chacham" a Torah scholar . (The Sefardim have a great name for the position of religious leader. They call him the chacham-- the sage.

Now if one is a Talmid Chacham-Torah Scholar, that of course does not imply he is a good person and more that having a degree in English literature does. But it does mean that the person has some experience on what the Torah says in a number of relevant areas that do not have anything to do with the murder of innocent chickens. All gentiles should be aware that if they are referred to a rabbi for a question on Torah law they are likely to end up talking to a person that knows nothing about Torah, except how to murder cows and innocent chickens and probably even that does not know every well.
They certainly do not know Talmud not can read it. They are enemies of family while espousing family values. If you have a family the most dangerous person for family relationships is a rabbi.
That is someone who will work towards the dismantling of your family and family relationships while publicly crusading for family values.


In terms of Kabalah

I wanted to mention a small point about Isaac Luria  [האריז''ל the Ari ]and the famous system of  the Reshash [Shalom Sharabi]. We know that the Reshash did base his interpretation of Isaac Luria on that essay called Derush Hadaat [דרוש הדעת essay concerning Intelligence] which does not show up in any of the writings of the Ari himself. And I have on occasion found things in the Ari concerning Daat that do not seem to go along with that Drush Hadaat. But on other occasions I find things in the Ari that seem to indicate clearly what the Reshash was saying.
 A good example of this concerns the pitcher (כד) of water that Rebbecca lowered into the well when she met Eliezer, the servant of the patriarch Abraham. In one place the Ari says the crown of "Girl" (כתר דנוקבא) has only two pitchers--the two lower thirds of the glory of Man (שני שלישי התפארת של זעיר אנפין). In that place the Ari is talking clearly about the vertical direction. In another place he says the two side pitchers are taken away and she is left only with the middle one. Unless you say like the Reshash you are stuck with an open contradiction.

But the main thing that I think Luria is trying to get at does not seem to come through learning Kabalah.

While  for me learning the Eitz Chaim עץ חיים gave me a good orientation, but still when I got to Israel, it seemed to me that the actual experiences of attachment with God came not through learning Kabalah, but rather by talking with God in  a forest. I was in Safed at the time, so there were lots of areas to wander around in those days.  Even I was hoping to spend more than one day --and make it an over nigher. But  I never did. My drive for serving God was I am sad to say highly limited. I saw the importance of Hitbodadut {conversation with God} but   and of fasting also. But never had the kind of drive that Bava Sali had when he did fasted for weeks  On one hand I felt a responsibility to come home to my wife at night so she would not feel alone. But that tuned out later to be  false reasoning. She would have done a lot better in life if I had gone all out towards the tzadik direction instead of my general lukewarm approach.  


I know that many Jews and gentiles are interested in a taste of the Divine Light.

I know that many Jews and gentiles are interested in a taste of the Divine Light.
Clearly this explains the popularity of Yoga and Eastern religions. Personally I was never attracted to Eastern religions except as an interest in the philosophy that underlies them.  My search was a kind of philosophical quest that was triggered by my study of Plato and other philosophers and writers [like Kant and Spinoza] during high school.

Yet without intending it I found a interesting path towards the Divine Light that I think it is worthwhile to share with others. It seems that the Divine Light depends to some degree on the concept of world view. For me  learning the Old Testament in a rigorous way was important in forming my world view. I think that world view does not just affect how people act but also how they are acted upon.
The next step involved learning Musar. The Talmud is situation specific. It does not address world view issues. For that one needs Musar [works of Jewish ethics written during the Middle Ages].
The next step in the Eitz Chaim [tree of life] of Isaac Luria. I can't account for the power of this book but it definitely opens a gateway into the divine for people that are properly prepared [sadly it also opens a gateway to hell for those that are not properly prepared.] Then next step was coming to the Land of Israel.

If you put all these four steps together the result should be a powerful influx of Divinity
Christians in general think that Kabalah has something to do with magic.This accounts for the reason many Christians consider it to be evil. and it also accounts for the reason that many people look into it anyway when they are in need of something that they think magic can help them with. However the type of Kabalah that I am referring to here --that of Isaac Luria is a map of spiritual worlds. It is a academic discipline and has nothing at all to do with magic.
And in fact this magical part of religion --whether in the religious world is in fact something I highly disprove of. A further problem with Kabalah is most authors of books of Kabalah after Isaac Luria are in  secret shabatians [followers of Shabati Tzvi.]. This sadly includes books that are traditionally associated with the Hasidim movement of the Baal Shem Tov. And even when the authors are not secret followers of the Shatz they still includes many basic ideas that were originated in the writings of Natan the false prophet of the Shatz. The Gra put that whole movement into חרם and I think the laws of חרם still apply to it an its evil essence in fact became revealed in time. [The Cherem however was very specific and would not apply to the Baal Shem Tov himself or his great grandson Reb Nachman nor to some of the disciples. Look up the actual excommunication to see the exact details]


It has become the current and popular opinion of the Jewish orthodox world to believe in Pantheism [or what they would claim is called "Panetheism."] Belief in this is presented as if it is a some deep secret by which if one believes in it can bring about miracles. [This makes orthodox Judaism a kind of fraud, since they are  not teaching authentic Torah.]

The Gra גר''א [the Geon from Villna] also thought that Pantheism was something that some Jewish cults got from other sources and not from the Torah and were trying to convince people that it is a Torah principle.

The problem here are far as I see it is that some people are not accountable to any external validation. They can define things and conceptions as Torah concepts as much as they like with no worry if Torah or reality agrees with them. The main thing is that other lunatics  should agree with them.
Nor do they need to worry if logical reasoning agrees with them. [At least some philosophers before the twentieth century used to be concerned if their conclusions could be supported by logical deduction. ]

What the Rambam [Maimonides] tells us in the Guide for the Perplexed is that the belief system of the Torah is Monotheism. This really was clarified by Saadia Geon in his book Emunot VeDeot but the Rambam spends much more time explaining this in his book.
The Hindu system is Pantheism, and if people want to be Hindu, then that is their option. But it is not an option to lie to people about the belief system of the Torah. 


The main obstacles to learning Kabalah are  the books that purportedly  give simple introductions to Kabalah.
I can't go into the many ways of learning Kabalah in the wrong way right now. But I will spend a few minutes trying to convince people to learn it the right way.

Obviously the first step is the have a solid background in Talmud and Torah. But after that the basic step is the Eitz Chaim [the book called the Tree of Life, עץ חיים] of the Ari  [Isaac Luria (האריז''ל)].
This is an extremely simple book, and easy to understand on the very first reading. All the introductions to it only make what is simple sound complex. And usually they are trying to expand their own agenda in the name of Kabalah. All kabalistic ashkenazic books have this serious flaw, and are because of this less than worthless.
Where the Ari gets difficult is when you get to the Eight Gates and try to apply its world view to the verse of the Torah. [Later note: I was trying to say that how the Ari applies his system to any particular verse of subject is  things get complicated. My advice for this problem is to first learn all the writings o the Ari in order from the beginning to end. That is the Eitz Chaim, Pri Eitz Chaim, and the whole set of  the Eight Gates. Altogether that is about twenty books. The way to do that is to have place marker and to read a little every day until you turn the page. Put in the place marker and the second day start from where you left off. It takes some time but eventually you get through it. And don't take any Kabalah classes for heavens sake. Not only will you learn nothing from them but they are traps to entice you into different cults.  ]

However I should mention the Reshash (רש''ש) (R. Shalom Sharabi). He has a pretty good system, but it seems to me that it should be reserved for a fourth year or graduate kabalah student.
The Reshash  is not the simple explanation of the Ari. And the simple explanation (not like the Reshash) of the Ari is how the Ramchal (רמח''ל) [Moshe Chaim Lutzato] understands the Ari and also  Yaakov Avuchatzaira. And it is largely based on an essay that he brings that is not a part of the canonical books of the Ari. (דרוש הדעת)
If you do not have the Eitz Chaim, or want a different approach, the Mavo Shearim (מבוא שערים) is a parallel version of the same, and also pretty good. Personally, I think nothing can compare with the Eitz  Chaim as a masterpiece of power and beauty.
 Incidentally, the system of the Ari is a highly evolved Neo Platonic system as so it is not to be expected that any Protestants can understand it. You need to have intuitively a Platonic world view in order to understand Kabalah. Also the Protestant bias against the very idea of keeping mitzvas stands in the way of understanding Kabalah. [Understanding spiritual light that doing mitzvahs as cause to bring into the world is a basic function of Kabalah. If.If you think as Protestants do that mitzvahs are worthless relics of a bygone era then there is no way they can understand what the kabalah is trying to accomplish.]
Now, I know the Rambam is highly Aristotelian and it does sees a mystic understanding of the Rambam is possible as we see in Avraham Abulafia. However in this essay here I am referring on to the Ari.

[Also I should mention that it is in fact in the Reshash that you find the two systems of Plato and Aristotle combined. In the  view of the Reshash all the higher worlds of the Forms become horizontal Universals contained in "things in themselves." (Dinge An Sich)]

Also I should mention that university Kabalah is Medieval Kabalah  and has nothing to do with the Ari'zal (Issaac Luria). It is an interesting subject in itself, but it is not what I am talking about in this essay. Gershom Sholem [The Professor at Hebrew University that made medieval  Kabalah into a respectable academic discipline] and his followers simply were doing work in a different area than the kabalah of Isaac Luria and Moshe Kordovaro.
It does seem to be likely that Hegel did some amount of borrowing from the Ari and put it into rational and philosophic terminology. Actually Hegel seems mostly to be like the Reshash with his triadic system. But I can't imagine Hegel had heard of the Reshash. But Hegel certainly did borrow from the Ari. So maybe it is just that both Hegel and the Reshash both came to the same conclusions based on the Ari. Though Hegel to it in the direction of Metaphysics


Just in case Christians are reading this who want a definition of repentance let me clarify. Repentance in a Torah context means this: There are about 613 commandments in the Old Testament. "Sin" is defined as not keeping any one of those commandments. "Repentance" is deciding to get back on track and start keeping that commandment.

  It has nothing to do with playing cards or drinking alcohol. These might be bad things, but they are no including in the Torah definition of "repentance."] [To know how to repent you have to focus on any particular commandment in the Torah that you suspect you might not be keeping, and rigorously clarify exactly what it is forbidden and what it is not, --(and you aren't allowed to add or subtract from that definition). If this seems a bit hard, you might open up the book called Torah Temima which goes into how to derive laws rigorously from the actual words of each verse.]

    For a long time after my wife left me, I  could find no girl friend or wife. [On the subject of girl friends: see the Torah, The Book of Chronicles, Volume One, chapter two [2:46] and four concerning Kalev ben Yefuna (כלב בן יפונה). He is the only person in the entire Bible that it says the unique phrase, וימלא אחרי השם "He walked completely after God." He had two girl friends.]
And being wifeless is a state of being that I hate.

Instead of getting mad at young adults that are interested in sex or ignoring the issue I recommend getting married early. When I was in yeshiva people were getting married right and left all the time. The average age was about twenty. Jews in Morocco and Yemen were generally married at very early ages. Bava Sali made a point of never being without a wife.

  Now on a more urgent issue it is mentioned in that chapter that doing repentance/teshuva is connected to the Divine name  in Exodus "I will be".  [This is mistranslated by Christians to "I am"] [It does  not mean "I am." If I want to say, "I will be in the store," I say 'Ani Ehye Bachanut"אני אהיה בחנות מחר . If I want to say, "I am in the store," I say Ani Bachnut. אני בחנות]


"What is wrong with America"--posted here from my other blog because of its importance.

What is wrong with America is this. Money influences the news, and the news influences public opinion, and public opinion influences public policy. [People do not make up their own system of values. They  get it from somewhere in their environment. You can see this in yourself. Are your values completely original, or did you pick them up from someplace? With no more authority to parents, where do you think people are picking up their opinions from?]
 While capitalism is not bad in itself, this system is insidious.

There is no question that the few people in the world that still believe in freedom and in the the American Constitution will find themselves in a deadly war with Islam. [The number of people that believe in the American Constitution is getting less every day. How many people do you know that Believe in freedom of speech--or that it is more important not to offend Muslims or Blacks? How many people do you know believe in the second amendment --the right bear arms? How many people do you know that think that powers not given to the federal government  are powers that it does not have, and if it tries to assume these powers, revolution is in order. For example the power to force you to buy insurance. Do you believe that now you have a right to publicly and politically advocate  revolt against the Government of the USA because it has usurped power? Or are you afraid of a audit on your taxes if you do.]

It will be instructive for people to learn how Islam destroyed the communities of the Zoroastrians in Iraq and Iran. It is the same method they are using in Europe and in the USA. First they start with a few good benign Muslims moving nearby. As long as they are small in numbers, they act exemplary. Then the numbers grow, and the youth are sent in to do theft and rape. Then the community starts to feel harnessed. This process goes on until the community is destroyed.

Rosh Hashanah in Uman.If Reb Nahman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?

This was certainly assumed by Reb Nathan his disciple. However this has been a source of ambiguity. We see things that imply it. First of all his well known promise to people that would come to his grave site and say the ten psalms that he specified. (note 1) ["I will pull them by their hair out of Hell."]
However in the five  books of Nahman we do not find any specific connection between Rosh HaShanah and his grave site. He never took  two two witnesses saying to come to his grave on Rosh HaShanah like he did for the Tikun Haklali (note 1). 

If Reb Nahman had said anything that would have indicated that he wanted people to come to his grave site on Rosh HaShanah do you think that Reb Nathan would have omitted it?(note 2) We know  Nahman from Breslov wanted people to come to his grave to say the Ten Psalms because he took two reliable witnesses [neither of whom was Reb Natan] and declared this in front of them. And said specially that he would do everything  to help that person. But he never took two witnesses about Rosh Hashana nor even said a simple statement like, "Come to my grave on Rosh Hashanah."

When he wanted people to come to his grave he said so openly. When he wanted people to come to him, while he was alive, on Rosh Hashanah, he also said so openly. But he never said or implied to come to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. And in fact no one, including Reb Nathan, came to his grave on Rosh Hashanah. They came to Uman, but not to his grave.
When he wanted to discuss his grave he did so in many ways. But his grave was never mentioned in the context of Rosh Hashanah.
[The obvious question then is: why did he not take again two witnesses and testify before them concerning some connection between Rosh Hashanah and coming to his grave? In theory he could have one so. And why was Reb Nathan not one of the two witnesses?] This does not mean that it is not a good idea to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. But there is no mitzvah in saying that Reb Nahman specifically said to do so. He certainly did not. Appendix:
(note 1) 16,32, 41,42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150 (Russians have a different way of numbering the psalms because they consider nine and ten to be the same psalm. So to them the numbers are different.)

(note 2) Reb Nathan did in fact begin the coming to Uman on the very first Rosh Hashanah after Reb Nahman had passed away. So it seems clear that Reb Nathan understood this to be a good thing though not explicitly  stated as such by Reb Nahman. However the saying of the ten psalms by his grave site was in fact explicit. 


All people have implicit and often explicit evil.

All people have implicit and often explicit evil. Some institutions and organizations reinforce this evil and some subdue it.

This fact is well known. And we can see this principle in action every day in the news. Muslims, though by nature may be the sweetest people in the world, but after many years of imbibing the lessons of the Koran can one day wake up and decide that today is the day for Jihad and to go out in a flame of glory by killing a couple of Jews or Christian infidels.

But I would like to suggest further that certain organizations can reinforce specific types of evil, while at the same time be lessening other types of evil.

A good example of this would be a school which does evil by emasculating the boys that go to it and yet lessens other kinds of evil.


Musar (learning mediaeval Ethics is great but need to be coupled with philosophy.)

The major--and I mean major-- problem with Musar is lack of philosophical sophistication--[i.e the movement started by R. Israel Salanter to influence everybody to learn the texts of Jewish Ethics written during the Middle Ages]. [That is the movement was founded on Ethics and almost ignored the thought behind the Ethics. That is: it needs to have the mediaeval philosophy of the Rambam and Saadia Gaon to back it up.]

The two essential works of Musar are the Obligations of the Heart (by Ibn Pakuda) and the Light of Israel (by Isaac Blazzer, a disciple of Israel Salanter).

This is not to imply  that the texts themselves lack philosophical sophistication, but that the whole movement morphed. Valid questions are ignored and by ignoring these questions we think we have answered them. Or we accept foreign ideologies and try to claim that they are what Musar says. And even worse,  the failure in the one thing it is supposed to be doing--character development.

The philosophy that backs it up  is in the Guide for the Perplexed, Joseph Albo and  Ibn Gavirol that people do not learn.
That is: the Musar of the Rishonim is highly linked with their philosophy. If you do not know this, then you can't even begin to understand their Musar.

What are you going to do? Just teach Musar and assume people will fill in the blanks with the basic philosophy behind it? Or you think people will not worry about justification for the ideas? Teaching Ethics from the Middle Ages is a great idea--but only if it is coupled with the philosophy of the Middle Ages. The Guide, Saadia Gaon, etc.

Maybe I am too ambitious here as to what people can reasonable be expected to learn.

So to make things simple get one book of authentic Musar [Obligations  of the Heart perhaps]. And one book of world view like the Guide of the Rambam.

Simcha Zissel from Kelm is one well known disciple of Reb Israel Salanter. In his yeshiva in Kelm people learned Musar most of the day.

There is another possible flaw that the movement was not coupled to practice. What better way to learn good character except by teamwork and outdoor skills. Self reliance, keeping your word, loyalty, working together a a team,- how better to learn these things except by camping and working on survival skills in a group? The general result of Musar without this outdoor component is that people that learning Musar seldom can be relied on to keep their word or help one in time of trouble.
Musar is just as important as Reb Israel Salanter said but it has to be coupled with outdoor skills and team work and also the philosophy of Torah


Ethics of Torah= Musar. Many aspects are contained in the Mediaeval Musar books.
The Sexual Ethics of Torah is not the same as Catholics understand it. Sex with one's girl friend is allowed. We find this with King David and Solomon and Calev Ben Yefuna in Chronicles where the list of his wives and girl friends is given.
See the Book of Chronicles, Volume One, chapter two [2:46] and four concerning Kalev ben Yefuna (כלב בן יפונה). He is the only person in the entire Bible that it says the unique phrase, וימלא אחרי השם "He walked completely after God." He had two girl friends.]


I hold that the Remak (R. Moshe Kordovaro) and the Arizal (Isaac Luria) were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets.

It should be clear to my dear readers that I do not consider the Zohar to be from R. Shimon Ben Yochai.
Perhaps people think that from that point on I ought to repudiate the validity of the Kabalah of the Remak and the Ari which are based on the Zohar.
But this would be a false conclusion. I hold that the Remak and the Arizal were in fact privy to deep mystical secrets. I admit that this conclusion is based on  criteria that most people would consider invalid. First is the most obvious fact that the Geon from Vilnius [aka Villna] held  strongly from the Kabalah.
 I consider Moshe De Leon putting the Zohar in the name of Rabbi Shimon to be a simple literary device that was common at the end of the Roman Empire and continued into the Middle Ages. Though I admit that by the time of Moshe De Leon, this device was rarely used. But being not a particularly smart person, I tend to defer judgment to people smarter than me like the Geon from Vilna.

[This whole subject came up when we were reading Genesis and I thought about the fact that the only explanation I have of most of the stories of Genesis are mystically based. For example the seven days of Creation I have thought for several years refer to the seven spheres of briah [the world of creation] and are not literal days.
In the same vein I consider the flood to refer to the feminine waters מיין נוקבין that did not have male waters מיין דוכרין coming to greet them. I don't think the flood was literal and I also think like the Rambam that many stories in Genesis are allegories.
[I don't think the Rambam was thinking exactly like Isaac Luria. The Rambam I think was more literal unless he had to explain things as allegories. The Ari is the first place see the whole Torah from beginning to end including the Talmud as mainly talking about the higher mystical worlds of Emanation etc and in fact having little to do with what goes on in the physical universe in the first place.].

[At any rate, I highly recommend the whole set of Isaac Luria. It is the size of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, but you don't need to go through the whole thing to get the main idea. It is enough to go through the Eitz Chaim [or the Mavo Shearim] to get the theory and then  the  couple of the volumes which explain verses of the Torah like Shaar HaPesukim. ]
Also do this with the Shalom Sharabi 's Nahar Shalom if you can because of the problem that after about half of the Eitz Chaim, the Ari goes into the order of the worlds and it modifies everything he said up until that point. So to get it you need the Reshash. (At least that is my opinion.)

I any case that is how I did this. You could do it also with the Ramchal [Moshe Lutzatto] or Yaakov Abuchatzaira's writings also I imagine but that is not how I did it.


The Torah has a specific world view. The Torah is not porous. You can't pour any world view you like into it.

Now I know that argument from authority is not to be used in certain types of fields. But when it comes to Torah, is the view of Maimonides irrelevant? Is the view of Saadia Geon irrelevant?  So why is it that the introductions to Torah thought written by Saadia Geon and Maimonides and the Chovot Levavot are excluded  and in their stead are placed books by  charismatic, fanatics  who could only dream to be about as smart as the toenails of the Rambam?

This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a present that keeps giving and giving.

There is one simple way to show that the Raavad  [the major arguer against the Rambam] holds like the opinion of Rashi and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) that when a terrorist plunges a 747 into the Twin Towers that he has to give back two new perfectly working 747s. [I should mention that he does not need to rebuild the Twin Towers, but rather we assess the damage he caused, and the original owner still owns the building, and the terrorist has to give back the amount of money that it  costs to rebuild ]

In Hebrew this is called "shamin" (שמין) for damages and not "shamin" for theft that is damaged. [Shamin means we  access the damage.] שמין לנזקים ולא שמין לגנבה

To show this we  need to look at two facts.
First the Raavad disagrees with the Rambam concerning theft that is damaged. The Raavad agrees that "we do not access"[ain shamin]  for the main value of the object (אין שמין לקרן) but says we do access [shamin] for the amount of double the value that the thief has to repay. (שמין לכפל) [Incidentally, it is a thief that has to repay double, not an armed robber who only pays back the main value --look into the Bible in Exodus in Parshat Mishpatim [The chapters immediately following the Ten Commandments] for the basic details]

One is that Reb Haim Soloveitchik says that the source for the Raavad is the Talmud,  Bava Kama page 65a. There Rav [the Amora] says the main amount is assessed at the time of the theft and the double and four and five at the time of standing in judgment. This Gemara, Reb Haim says, is the source of the Raavad. The next fact we need to look at is the way the law of Rav is explained on the same page in Bava Kama. [This law of Rav is agreed to by both the Rambam and the Raavad]. This law says in a case that the theft was 4 million at the time of the theft, and went down in value to 2 million at the later time of judgment, then the terrorist has to pay back 4 million for the main amount and another a million for the double. [This is because at the time of judgment (שעת העמדה בדין) the actual object is worth one million.] Now if the Raavad would be holding like the grandson of Rashi  [The Rashbam, R. Shmuel Ben Meir] that not assessing means to go by the later time of judgment then this would contradict the Rashbam. For here we are says we measure the double at the later time and the Raavad holds assessment at the later time is the law of "ain shamin"--not accessing. Yet he holds for the double that we do assess[שמין לכפל]. --a direct contraction. Therefore the Raavad must hold like Rashi and the Rosh. QED.
There is however a reason to disagree with this. It could be that the Raavad holds we access (shamin שמין) and we don't access (ain shamin אין שמין) work in exactly the opposite way from the Rashbam. Shamin (שמין) could mean we asses at the time of judgment and ain shain means to go by the time of the theft.

This argument between the Rambam and the Raavad is like elliptic equations. It is a  gift that keeps giving and giving. You can write about it forever and  still not exhaust all the possibilities and interesting issues that come up.

When Reb Naphtali Troup wrote about this issue [in his book Chidushei HaGarnat] he wrote at the end to look further because he just wrote a little of a lot that could have been written. He was not kidding.

sources: Mishna Torah (of Maimonides), Laws of Theft, chapter one, halacha 14 and 15
Bava Kama page 65a. and the Rosh (Rabbainu. Asher) on that page. Bava Metzia page 96b tosphot first words "Go and pay"--the last Tosphot on the page.
Bava Kama (בבא קמא) page 11 for the issue of shamin.

It might be easier to understand in Hebrew so here is this above idea along with a few other ideas on the same subject:

) בבא מציעא צו. תוספות ד''ה זיל מביא את שיטת הרשב''ם שגנב יכול לשלם מטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף. יש ספק לרב חיים הלוי אם הרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים מן השיטה הזאת. בתור הקדמה: הרמב''ם כתב ( הלכות גנבה א:טו) "מי שגנב כלי ושברו וא פחתו או נשבר או נפחת מאליו אין שמין לו הפחת אלא רואין כמה היה שוה אותו הכלי ומשלם לבעלים שנים בדמיו והכלי השבור יהיה לגנב." וראב''ד כתב אף על פי שאמרו אין שמין לגנב, הני מילי בקרנא אבל בכפילא שמין לגנב דומיא דגזלן והשכל מורה כן." רב חיים מביא את הדין של רב "קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין" בתור מקור לראב''ד. [המגיד משנה הביא את הירושלמי כמקור לרמב''ם. הירושלמי אומר מניין שאין שמין לגנב? שנאמר "חיים שניים ישלם".] יש צד לומר שהרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם שהגנב יכול לשלם במטלטלים. שווה כסף ככסף.
כדאי להזכיר פה שאם הדין כמו הרשב''ם, משמעות של "אין שמין" היא שאין מעריכים את ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה, אלא בזמן העמדה בדין. [ו"שמין" משמע שמעריכים ערך החפץ בזמן הגנבה.]

השאלה פה היא המקור שרב חיים מביא לראב''ד, "אמר רב קרן כעין שגנב וכפל כשעת העמדה בדין". (בבא קמא סה.) שאלה הראשונה היא שהגמרא שם מדברת בעניין יוקרא וזולא, ולא במצב שהחפץ נשבר. שאלה השנית היא שאפילו אם הגמרא מדברת במצב כזה, הדין של הראב''ד הוא להפך מן הדין של רב. דהיינו אם בשלב הזה אנחנו הולכים לפי שיטת הרשב''ם, אם כן הדין "אין שמין" אומר שמעריכים ערך החפץ בשעת העמדה בדין בשביל הקרן, ושעת הגנבה בשביל הכפל (לראב''ד). וזה להפך מן הדין של רב.
תירוץ לשאלה הראשונה: הגמרא ב''ק סה. אוחזת שמצב של שבירת החפץ שווה למצב של זולא. האופן לראות את זה הוא לראות שבלי זה, המשפט של רבה שם לא היה מציב קושיה לרב. [בגלל הקושיה הזאת, הגמרא מסכימה שהדין של רב הוא רק המצב שהחפץ היה שווה ארבעה והוזל לאחד.] אפשר לראות את זה על ידי דברי הטור, והבית יוסף והב''ח שאומרים שהדין של רב שייך גם במצב של שבירת החפץ. (אגב הרא''ש הוא בר פלוגתא של ברשב''ם פה, ואפשר שאין להביא ראיה ממנו לדברי הרשב''ם.)

אבל אם זה נכון, יש קושיה על הרשב''ם פה בב''מ צו.
התירוץ לזה הוא גם כן תירוץ לשאלה השנית. רב לא אמר שאין שמין לגנב. אם אוחזים כשיטת הרשב''ם, צריכים לומר שרב אוחז ששמין לגנב כמו רבי אלעזר בב''ק יא. אפשר לומר שאין הדין כמו רב.
והראיה לדעת הראב''ד היא שמאחר שרב אוחז ששמין, מזה לומדין שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא להפך, ולכן מעריכים את ערך החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) ב''מ צו: תוספות ד''ה זיל שלים ליה. על הצד שרב חיים הלוי מציע שהרמב''ם והרשב''ם שווים בדין, אפשר לומר שהרמב''ם חשב כך: בההלכה שכתבתי שמשלמים קרן וכפל עם כסף (ושווה כסף מובן כהרשב''ם) לא כתבתי שמשלמים לפי זמן העמדה בדין, בשביל שכתבתי בסעיף הקודם שבמצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ שהוא משלם לפי שעת העמדה בדין-- שזה הדין של "אין שמין" לגבי זמן הערך. שם כתוב, "היה שווה בשעת הגנבה שניים ובשעת העמדה בדין ארבעה אם שחט או מכר או שבר הכלי או אבדו משלם תשלומי כפל או דו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין." היינו שהרמב''ם אוחז שהדין של "אין שמין" הוא הדין של רבה שמעריכים הקרן והכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין.

עכשיו נראה שיש אפשרות שהרמב''ם אוחז הדין של הרשב''ם שהדין של "אין שמין" אומר לנו שכשהגנב שבר את החפץ, אז מעריכים את ערכו לפי שעת העמדה בדין. הטעם שאפשר לומר את זה הוא שהמצב שהרמב''ם פסק שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה הוא מצב אחר. הוא כשהגנבה ירדה בערך לא על ידי שבירה, אלא על ידי ירידת השער שבשוק. ובמצב שהחפץ עלה בערך ואז הגנב שבר אותו, הרמב''ם כן פסק כהרשב''ם שהולכים לפי שעת העמדה בדין. והמצב שהכלי נשבר מאיליו בלא שום מעשה של הגנב (שהולכים לפי שעת הגנבה) אינו שייך לדין "אין שמין". אין שמין שייך רק במצב שהגנב שבר את החפץ.

) אם אנחנו הולכים לפי הצד הזה שרב חיים מביא --שהרמב''ם אוחז כהרשב''ם, וגם מדגישים שההלכה כשהוזל ערך החפץ (שירד בערכו) היא אחרת משאם נשברה, אז שיטת הרמב''ם יוצאת יותר טוב. שלמעשה הדין כשהוזל היה קשה לרמב''ם. הדין הזה היה מכריח את הרמב''ם לאחוז "אין שמין" לכפל, אבל כן שמין לקרן. וזה בעיתי ביותר. אבל אם הדין של שבירה הוא שונה מן הדין של "הוזל", אז הכל בסדר. ברמב''ם כותב בסעיף שאחר זה שלא שמין במצב של שבירה, היינו שמעריכים את החפץ לפי זמן העמדה בדין.

) נראה שיש מחלוקת בין הרמב''ם והטור לגבי הדין של רב- היינו הדין שהוזל שוויון החפץ. רב פסק קרן כעין שגנב וכפל ודו''ה כשעת העמדה בדין. והטור פסק שזה שייך גם במצב של שבירת חפץ. אבל בההלכה של הוזל, הרמב''ם אינו מזכיר שבירת החפץ, וגם עניין הקרן הוא מדלג לגמרי. זה משמע שהחפץ לפנינו, רק שהוזל. [אפשר לומר שאם הרמב''ם אוחז כשיטת הרשב''ם זה גרם לו לפרש את הדין של רב רק לגבי זולא, ולא שבירה. זה בגלל שהדין של רב אינו בהתאם עם הדין של "אין שמין" לפי פירוש הרשב''ם.] [שיטת הרא''ש היא שמשמעות אין שמין היא שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים, ואין בזה שום סתירה לדין של רב, אפילו אם מפרשים אותו לגבי שבירה.]

) למעשה יותר טוב לומר שהרמב''ם פוסק כרש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם בכלים שלמים או כסף. הסיבה לזה היא שבהלכה י''ד איפה שהרמב''ם מביא את הדין של רב, משמע שהמצב של כפל דומה למצב של דו''ה, דהיינו שמדברים במצב שהכלי נשבר. ואם זה נכון, אז אין הדין הזה מתאים להלכה י''ד שהיא ההלכה של אין שמין. [זאת אומרת שההלכה של אין שמין בהלכה ט''ו מתאימה רק לשליש הלכה י''ד.] ולכן ההלכה של אין שמין אומרת לשלם בכלים שלמים ואינה מדברת בעיין זמן הערך.

) אם אומרים שמקור הראב''ד הוא משפט של רב בב''ק סה. היה אפשרות לומר שהראב''ד אוחז כמו רש''י והרא''ש שאין שמין משמע שצריך לשלם כלים שלמים. ורב חיים סאלאווייציק מביא את המשפט של רב למקור לראב''ד. מזה יש אפשרות לתת שני שלבים להראות שהראב''ד אוחז כרש''י. שלב ראשון: הראב''ד אומר אין שמין שייך רק לקרן. לגבי כפל הדין הוא שמין. שלב שני: בדינו של רב [שהרמב''ם והראב''ד אוחזים בו] אנחנו מעריכים את הקרן לפי שעת הגנבה, ואת הכפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין. ולכן אם במצב של שמין אנחנו מעריכים את החפץ בזמן העמדה בדין, אם כן שמין או אין שמין לא יכול להיות שייך לזמן הערך. ולכן הוא שייך רק לכלים שלמים. ואי אפשר להשיב "שמין" משמעו זמן העמדה בדין, בגלל שמשמעות הדין "שמין" היא גם בנזיקים ששם שמין את ערך החפץ בזמן השבירה דווקא, ואז מחזירים את החפץ ומשלימים החסרון בדמים. ושמה מה שקובע את ערך החפץ היא שעת השבירה.
אבל למעשה, יש אפשרות לראב''ד לאחוז כשיטת הרשב''ם. וכדי להסביר את זאת, אני צריך להציג את ההקדמה הזאת להסביר איך רב חיים הלוי מבין את דעת הראב''ד. דבר ראשון: מצב של שבירה נחשב לגנבה אריכתא (גנבה ארוכה) עד זמן השבירה. ובמצב כזה רב אמר לשלם כשעת הגנבה היינו שעת השבירה. וכשרב אמר לשלם כפל לפי שעת העמדה בדין הכוונה היא לשעת העמדה בדין כפשוטו והחפץ צריך להיות מצוי כדי להעריך אותו. וזה האופן שהראב''ד מפרש את הדין של רב-- החפץ נשברה במקצת. ולפי הראב''ד הדין של רב הוא הדין של אין שמין לגנבה. וככה מפרש הראב''ד הדין של רב: אין שמין את הקרן וכן שמין לכפל. וכשהחפץ נשבר במקצת הוא עדיין נחשב להיות בעין ומצוי בכדי להעריך אותו בשעת העמדה בדין. רק שאי אפשר להחזיר אותו בתורת הרי שלך לפניך. [וראב''ד מפרש "שמין" "ואין שמין" להיות שייך לזמן הערך, אבל במובן להפך מן הרשב''ם. להראב''ד שמין משמע בזמן העמדה בדין, ואין שמין משמע שעת הגנבה.]

It is astounding to me how mistaken I can be.This sometimes came up when I was learning with David Bronson. But it also came up when I was looking over my notes on Bava Metzia page 97a.

I was clearly trying to support an opinion of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik that says that the Rambam holds by Rashi and the Rosh in terms of what it means "One does not evaluate for a thief."  Of course that fact that I had neither the Ramba nor the Gemara nor the book of Reb Chaim might also have contributed to my mistake.I had no way of looking anything up {being in exile so so speak}.

But what occurred to me today is a fantastic new idea that came out of my mistake. The idea is this. I became aware at one point that Rav Elazar Shach says the Rambam holds with the Rashbam. So I saw that my forced reading on the Rambam laws of theft 1:14 was simply wrong and stupid and calculated to support Reb Chaim in spite of the obvious fact that I was reading it wrong.
But how to explain this properly I am not really sure of. Basically what I want to say is you have to read halacha 14 together with 15 almost as if they were one halacha.

So with that it all becomes clear. If the stolen object went down in value from 4 shekalim to 2 then the theif pays 4. That is the beginning of halacha 14. That is to say that the beginning of halacha 14 says nothing about the object being broken. It is clear the Rambam means he gives back the object and pays the extra 2 shekalim that it went down in value from the time of the theft until the day the case comes to court. But it might be broken also and then the same law would apply,that the thief give back the whole four shekalim. Then halacha 15 is just a continuation of halacha 14 which is "one does not evaluate for a thief." It is the case when the object was broken and all it says is the thief can not say "Your object is before you." It has nothing to do with the time at which you evaluate the object. Therefore the astounding result is that even the Rambam holds one can pay back with objects that are worth the same amount of money that he owes. But also that that law has nothing to do with the time one evaluates the object.