Sitra Achra yeshivas

The most essential principle of the religious world is: "Use Torah to make money, but do not say that that is what you are doing." It is rare to find authentic Litvak yeshivas that learn Torah for its own sake and only accept money as a last resort in order to be able to learn Torah without interruptions.

It is not hard to tell the difference between the authentic Litvak yeshivas and the Sitra Achra yeshivas that use Torah to make make money or gain power and influence.


I think the main reason why religious leaders are so against Math and Physics is because they are afraid they will exposed as idiots. The stereotype of the dull stupid religious leaders has a real element of truth. Far more than people know.

Even though there is some debate (in the Rishonim) about secular wisdoms, I do not think that there is any debate about learning Physics and Mathematics. Obviously Nahmanides did not share the same high opinion of Aristotle as Maimonides did. But natural sciences I think everyone would agree are important. [In most Rishonim this is implied, but not stated openly. However in the Rambam Maimonides it is stated openly.]]

The way to go about this I think is to start the day with Musar [works on Ethics from the Middle Ages or the disciples of Rav Israel Salanter. And then to plunge into Physics and Mathematics right away in the morning.

[I confess that I do not know how to learn Physics. My education in Shar Yashuv and the Mir was about "how to learn" Gemara which I have already written about. But Physics I have no idea about. Some people are talented in that area and need no advice from me. Others feel if they have no talent they why waste the time? But I feel for those without the natural talent it is still important. And thus to go about it in דרך גירסה saying the words in order from the beginning of the book until the end and then to start again.]

[I think the main reason why religious leaders are so against Math and Physics is because they are afraid they will exposed as idiots. If STEM subjects were a part of Torah learning as the rishonim held it ought to be, then the fact that religious leaders would be known for what they really are. The reason is that it is easy to fake Torah knowledge. But it is impossible to fake Math knowledge.

The stereotype of the dull stupid religious leaders has a real element of truth. Far more than people know. 

One must not accept lashon hara [slander]

Even though one must not accept lashon hara [slander] still one is obligate to be careful that "perhaps it is true." The Hafetz Haim [Rav Meir Hakohen] goes into this in detail but in any case the surprising thing is that being חושש [being careful on the side of caution] is an obligation. He brings this from Tractate Nida [page 61] with the verse "the people that were killed by Gedaliah". The Gemara explains that Gedaliah should be been careful on the side that perhaps it was true that Ishmael ben Korah wanted to kill him.

There is an argument over there in Nida between Tosphot [in the name of Rav  Ahai Gaon] and the Maharshal about this law.
In any case, one must be careful on the side that the Gra was correct for signing the letter of excommunication, even if one thinks it was mistaken.
[That is nowadays it has become clear that it was not a mistake; and everyone that thought the Gra was wrong were the one who were mistaken.]

In the laws of חרם excommunication we  find not to learn from the person who has been excommunicated. So why are they still quoted?

[Incidentally, according to the actual phrasing of the letter, Rav Nahman of Breslov is not included in the excommunication.]


The question is how not follow charismatic leaders. How to tell when in spite of everyone saying that such and such a leader knows Shas baal pe [the whole Talmud by heart] that in fact he is a fraud?
How can one be safe from charismatic leaders who are frauds and yet you have no way of telling.
Not that there is no difference between them.
How to be safe from charisma?
There probably is no way. There is no safeguard.this applies to the larger secular world and also in the world of Torah.
Learning Torah does not seem to do it since most of the Torah world follows scam artists. Prayer alos seem not to work well.


What is presented nowadays as Torah is usually just Sitra Achra Torah

It occurs to me that to learn Torah at the minimum limit which is to get through the entire Oral and Written Law on my own is an impossible task. And furthermore this same thought probably occurred to Rav Zilverman the founder of the Yeshiva on the name of the Gra in the old city [of Jerusalem]. In other words, people that found at a certain point that it was unlikely for them to fulfill the minimum obligation in terms of Torah learning may very well have thought that at least if they could found a straight Litvak yeshiva that would learn authentic Torah [not Torah of the Dark Side (Sitra Achra)], that that merit would go to their credit.
The obstacles towards learning might be different in each case. But the solution that some people settled on was to make yeshivas that would learn Authentic Torah. --not what is presented nowadays as Torah which is usually just Sitra Achra Torah.

[More or less it is almost as if everyone decided they they are better judges of what is authentic Torah than the Gra or Rav Shach.]

[This is not meant as a critique on Rav Nahman from Breslov whose Torah lessons I believe are authentic Torah from the Realm of Holiness.]

[The major issue here seems to be that the Dark Side has completely taken over the Torah world- so to find the real thing is more or less impossible.]


המעפילים לעלות Those that dared to defy the Divine decree not to come up to the Land of Israel.

המעפילים לעלות Those that dared to  defy the Divine decree not to come up to Israel.

There is no question that when the children of Israel listened to the spies and did not come to Israel , they did a sin. But then, the time passed, and there was a Divine decree not to come to the Land, and rather to spend 40 years in the wilderness.
There is a deep lesson for me in this. Once, I walked out of the world of the straight Litvak Torah, there is no way to get back in;-- and even the attempt to try to get back is accounted as a sin.

This seems to be a deep lesson for others as well. You can not force your way in. Everyone has a place and a specific task in this world. As the Bahavagad Gita says it so eloquently, "You have got to do what you have got to do."

[The basic story there was there was a warrior who right before battle was worried that he would have to kill people. Krishna appeared to him and told him, "A man has got to do what he has got to do." But it is important to note that in that battle, Krishna was telling this to the fellow on the side of right and justice. He was fighting those that had usurped the crown. It is important to note that Krishna did not appear to the opposite side and tell them to fight. In fact, if Arjuna [that warrior] had in fact been on the wrong side, then it is likely that Krishna would have told him his obligation was to run away, and not fight.


Uman is no longer safe. There is no question in my mind that it is forbidden to go there nowadays since it is a place of danger.

  My impression is that it is worthwhile warning people that Uman is no longer safe. It took some time for the terror instilled by the USSR wear off. But since the thaw, the real traits of the local population have been rising to the surface.  There are still people around with Russian ancestry, but the basic population has some really evil, violent traits embedded in their DNA. [You could tell a long time ago that it was the Russians that made things stable.]

  A better way to say this is  ונשמרתם לנפשותיכם "guard your souls" which is a verse in Deuteronomy that refers to the idea that one is supposed to guard one's own life and health and not do things which put himself or herself in danger.

[The Na Nach group has been saying this for a long time.]

There is no question in my mind that it is forbidden to go there nowadays since it is a place of danger.