I have a friend who is an ex-KGB agent.

He has told me that though the original Russian forces that took over the Crimea were masked and the ones doing the agitation in the east Ukraine also are masked still sometime on live TV the mask get twisted or removed and you can see it is the same person. That means in plain English that Putin is in fact attempting to do in eastern Ukraine what he did in the Crimea.

It is my feeling therefore at this point at the Ukraine ought to stop it. Further more it looks like NATO will in fact become more significant in this region. I once thought after the cold war ended that NATO was not needed. Now it seems I was wrong.

I think it is important for people to know that the Ukraine has been very hospitable towards Jewish people.

It is simply not accurate to accuse Ukraine of being anti Semitic --as if Russian rule would be somehow better.

This is simply not true. I happen to have spent a good amount of time in the Ukraine and I can say with conviction that comes from experience that there is little or no antisemitism in the Ukraine today. And the little that there is has no expression in ways that Muslims  act towards Jews.

My recommendation also is that the Ukraine be accepted into NATO immediately.

The argument between R Isaac, the grandson of Rashi, and the Aruch about work done on Shabat that is not intended.

We know that when the work is done automatically that rabbi Shimon agrees it is obligated in a sin offering.
The question is when even if it is done automatically if it is against the person will that it should be done.

The Aruch brings a proof that it is permitted from this gemara: Shabat 133.
there was a point in time that Abyee thought that r Shimon allowed work that was not intended even if it would be done automatically. So the Gemara asks the logical question what would r Shimon do with the extra word basar that allows mila to be done where there is a beheret? It answer it comes for a case when the father says he intends the forbidden action. The gemara asks "Then let's find someone else to do it as Reiish Lakish says when there is an positive commandment and a negative commandment then if you can accomplish both you do so?"
 The Gemara answers. "There is no one else available."

Now the Aruch takes note that this other person is doing a work that is going to be done automatically and even so it is allowed.

R Isaac asks the obvious question that this entire gemara is going only according to ten  opinion of abyee that rabbi Shimon does not care about automatic work It cant be used to support a conclusion about automatic work after Abyee changed his mind. I wanted to inject here that the question of r. Isaac is more powerful than it looks on the surface. -Because the Gemara going to the other to find someone who is not intending the work. That is all the Gemara wants at this point. It does not care at all about automatic work.

I should mention that Rabbi Akiva Eigger actually does decide the Halachah like the Aruch and attempts to destroy all of the questions of Tosphot on the Aruch. I am at this point not very sure what he could possible do with this particular question. It seems to me to be unbreakable.

[for those of you wondering: Yom Tov Sheni does not exist. There is no such gezera. It is a minhag based on how far the witnesses could come. I admit there is an argument in Betzah 4 if it is a law. And if that would be the case then there would be yom Tov Sheni. But in fact it is not  law. It is a custom based on a certain kind of empirical fact. This is the reason has the Rambam explains that a there are places in Egypt and Syria where there is no Yom Tov Sheni. The custom depends on the question if we would have to revert to witnesses where could they get to before yom tov? Today they could reach the USA and the Ukraine before Yom Tov.]


On Passover I thought it is a good idea to explain a little what Jewish faith is about.

[1] God made the world. He is not the world.
[2] He is one; not two or more. And He has no moving parts, nor ingredients. He is not a composite.
[3] He has not removed his supervision of the world after he made it. It is possible to pray to him and get answered. according to Rebbi Nachman this prayer is best done in a forest or while hiking alone in the mountains. It is not a group activity.
[4] The Ten Commandments are the center piece and ultimate prescription of the Torah for human beings on how God wants us to act in this world. But alone with these there are many other mitzvot in the Torah which also contain Gods will.


Different areas of debate came up recently concerning Rebbi Nachman of Breslov.
One thing is the area of interest that Rebbi Nachman's advice seems to be universal. On this last Shabat a fellow from Nigeria came to pray at the ziun [grave] of Rebbi Nachman in Uman. I think his name was Otudeko or something like that. After he prayed there for a while some Hasidim struck up a conversation with him but I was  involved in my own things at the time. Then I caught a few words with him before he returned to Kiev.
It turns out this fellow has a lot of faith. He is the a scion of one of African's richest family.
One interesting part of his story was that his son played football for the Ukrainian national team in Kiev and some time ago hurt his knee--very badly.  The operation in Kiev would have cost a fortune and when he inquired about doing an operation in Germany, it turned out the price was two fortunes. So he said to his wife, "We need to pray." So they simply prayed to G-d and  they did the operation in Kiev and the son is now better and back to playing football.

At any rate, he got the idea at some point about private conversation with God and decided to come to pray to God by the ziun of Rebbi Nachman.

So I think we can see the ideas and advice of Rebbi Nachman do have universal appeal and relevance.
[This is in opposition to people that think he is just  relevant to Hasidim or just to Jewish people..]

Another area of debate is exactly what is the path of Rebbi Nachman? My learning partner in Talmud thinks that it is Prayer and learning Torah. Many people on the other hand think it is prayer. Torah they think is not a essentially important part of his path. I do admit the weight of the evidence seems to go with the people that think prayer alone is the main theme of and path of Rebbi Nachman. My own approach to Rebbi Nachman was based on the Rav Shick approach which in fact is Prayer and Torah. But this is at odds with most of Breslov.

Maybe it would be helpful for people if they understood a little of why this is an important issue. when i got involved in learning Torah at the age of 17 i was in a Lithuanian yeshiva in New York In That yeshiva i found a small book called binyan olam which mentioned the famous gemara in the Jerusalem Talmud ll the mitzvot together do not equal the value of one single word of learning Torah. That one small statement lite fire under me and from then on i was hooked on learning Torah.when about 5 years later i started learning the teachings of rebbi nachman i admit it was my impression that he was emphasizing prayer more than Torah.


Child bride forced into marriage poisons groom and three of his friends in Nigeria - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/04/child-bride-forced-marriage-poisons-groom-three-friends-nigeria.html/#sthash.pvQXXjyo.dpuf

my comment--self defense


article about running

6 Ways Running is Actually Good for You

By The Editors of Runner's World | Healthy Living – 21 hours ago

Running is not only great for the soul but good for your health.
By Jennifer Van Allen, Runner's World

You've probably heard it said that exercise is medicine. You might've also heard recently, that running may not be so good for you after all. Despite recent reports that too much or too little running can drastically shorten life spans, there's a raft of scientific evidence proving that regular exercise (150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes five times per week)--and running in particular--has health benefits that extend well beyond any pill a doctor could prescribe. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What's more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life, and even helps you live longer. Here's how:

PLUS: The 5 Health Tests You Need to Ace This Year

1. Running makes you happier.
If you've been working out regularly, you've already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given moment, exercise will make you feel better. And it goes beyond just the "runner's high"--that rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids. In a 2006 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that even a single bout of exercise--30 minutes of walking on a treadmill--could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. In a May 2013 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in which rats and mice got antidepressant-like effects from running on a wheel, researchers concluded that physical activity was an effective alternative to treating depression.

And even on those days when you have to force yourself out the door, exercise still protects you against anxiety and depression, studies have shown. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress even after they're done working out, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise. A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.

Ever heard someone call running their "drug"? Well, apparently, it actually is pretty similar. A 2007 study in Physiological Behavior showed that running causes the same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways that also are shared by addictive drugs.

RELATED: The 5 Lamest Excuses for Not Working Out

2. Running helps you get skinnier.
You know that exercises burns calories while you're working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you stop. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts "afterburn"--that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post oxygen consumption.) That's kind of like getting a paycheck even after you retire. (Still not convinced? Learn exactly why running workouts help you slim down, in 4 Ways Running is Best for Weight Loss That Lasts.)

And you don't have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you're exercising at an intensity that's about 70 percent of VO2 max. (That's a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than marathon pace.)

BEWARE: Top 6 Weight Loss Lies You Keep Falling For

3.Running strengthens your knees (and your other joints and bones, too).
It's long been known that running increases bone mass, and even helps stem age-related bone loss. But chances are, you've had family, friends, and strangers warn you that "running is bad for your knees." Well, science has proven that it's not. In fact, studies show that running improves knee health, according to Boston University researcher David Felson in an interview with National Public Radio.

"We know from many long-term studies that running doesn't appear to cause much damage to the knees," Felson said. "When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don't find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don't find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected."

PLUS: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Knees

4. Running will keep you sharper, even as you age.
Worried about "losing it" as you get older? Working out regularly will help you stay "with it." A December 2012 study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review concluded that the evidence is insurmountable that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.

Studies consistently found that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. What's more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50%. The research team found "significant improvements" in overall brain function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning, and organizing.

PLUS: 5 Surprising Ways Running Makes You Smarter

5. Running reduces your risk of cancer.
Maybe running doesn't cure cancer, but there's plenty of proof that it helps prevent it. A vast review of 170 epidemiological studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. What's more, if you already have cancer, running can improve your quality of life while you're undergoing chemotherapy. (Want to know more about this? Read first-hand accounts of this in our special issue on cancer prevention.)

6. Running adds years to your life.
Even if you meet just the minimum amount of physical activity--(30 minutes, 5 times per week), you'll live longer. Studies show that when different types of people started exercising, they lived longer. Smokers added 4.1 years to their lives; nonsmokers gained 3 years. Even if you're still smoking, you'll get 2.6 more years. Cancer survivors extended their lives by 5.3 years. Those with heart disease gained 4.3 years


The subject of idolatry of human beings came up. I was looking  at the Book of Daniel and the explanation of the Malbim on chapter 2.
He says that when Nebuchadnezzar wanted to worship Daniel. it was because of the divinity he saw in him. And yet we find that Daniel refused to be worshiped because even the worship of divinity inside a human is idolatry.
This also comes up in the Nefesh HaChaim from Chaim from Voloshin.
So the question comes up concerning the ongoing debate between Breslov and Rebbi Nachman. The differences between what Rebbi Nachman says in the Lekutai Moharan and what Breslov does  are too many to go into here.
But on this particular subject we find Rebbi Nachman referring to tying oneself to a tzadik in the way that King David and Jonathan loved.  That means tying oneself to a tzadik is supposed to refer to a kind of love that one feels for his close family.

But in fact even the actual way that Breslov does do this still has to be considered a  bit different from how the Rambam defines idolatry as accepting a different god as ones god. Though sometimes it does look that some Brelsov fanatics come close to this, but still there is a conceptual difference between accepting a being as ones god, and tying oneself in prayer so that ones prayer goes up to the One  in connection with the prayer of that tzadik.

This brings to light why to learn Musar. It is because people's opinions are fluid. Though I certainly like to think of my opinions as rock solid and based on concrete evidence but I know my opinions have varied widely in the course of time. Because of this it is wise for me  I think for others also to learn Musar to  get a reasonable and well thought approach to morality and human issues and religious issues


I am pretty happy with the proof of the Existence of God of Kurt Godel.

I even in the distant past had a way of shoring up the argument based on a limit theorem I read in a book on mathematical logic. [I have not revised this idea for along time because my studies have taken me into other areas. But if someone wants to spend the time I can tell you that there is a way of shoring up the proof. In fact if you want to do this you and succeed you will cover yourself with glory until the end of time]

But I am also aware that because this is an a priori area of knowledge that people can still try to pick out flaws in the argument.
I am thinking that perhaps the reason boils down to an idea of Kant that a completely self consistent theory of transcendental objects is impossible--based on his discovery of the famous Kantian Antimonies. And this does I fact seem to be consistent with Godel own theorem that a mathematical system needs to refer to a meat system in order for it to be consistent.

Frankly in my own mind I tend to conceive of God more as the first cause of Maimonides and Aristotle. But as for a proof i think Godel;s idea is better

I have written about this before but here I just want to write in short the argument I had with my learning partner concerning the Topshot in Yoma page 34.
Work not intended is "A." Work done automatically is "B."
Circumcision where there is a beheret [leprosy] is L. Putting hot metal slabs into the Mikvah on Yom Kipur for the high priest to dip into is MS.

Rabbi Yehuda said MS is permitted  and he said L is permitted only because of a verse. Otherwise it would be forbidden. This is a direct contradiction concerning A. This is extremely simple.
The Gemara answer this question in some way not relevant here [It makes a difference between probibitions of shabat and not shabat]. Tosphot says MS is not B. My mistake was that I though this way: If MS is not B then L cant be B either. Otherwise there could not be a question even to start with. But then I asked myself what could R Yehuda do with the verse that allows L. so we know other is it is forbidden? I said to myself he explains it like rabbi Shimon that it means when  it is not A--the father says openly he intends to remove the beheret. and I thought this is what Tosphot means.
But this sorry to say is all wrong.

This you can see from the Gemara in Shabat page 133 where Abyee has not considered B yet . There Rava tells him you could say L is B and there it could come like Rabbi Shimon also --and Abyee changes his mind and agrees with Rava.The point is that Abyye asks his question based on the idea that Rabbi Yehuda does not make any distinction between B or not B. And in  fact the Gemara could have answered its question  in Yoma making this exact distinction. But it did not because it found a better answer. And the reason the Gemara answers is better is that with the distinction between B and not B is that with making B and not B different means the opinion of R Yehuda and R Shimon comes out identical.

From all this you can learn a valuable lesson about the importance of learning with a learning partner.


There is an interesting question about  Rav Isaac Hutner and the daughter of Bava Sali.
They apparently listened to classical music. I remember hearing Handel's Messiah in the home of the daughter of Bava Sali.
The question is do Bach, Mozart, Beethoven have numinous value.

My basic approach to this is based on the Friesan school of thought of Kelly Ross in California.

It is that I consider that there are different realms of value. But I also think adjacent realms are related and connected. That is that Music and Gemara [Talmud] are connected--and contribute to each other.

I should mention that value starts with all form and no content--logic in which the propositions are empty up until all content and no form [Holiness and power]. But to get an idea of what i mean you have to go to the web site of Kelley Ross concerning the Kant Fries school.. I have to get going and i also don't think i could put it better than he does