25.11.14

I wanted to continue to explain the problem that I am having in this Gemara on page 61b in Sanhedrin. I mentioned yesterday that the idea of Abyee seems hard to understand. He says bowing to a statue that one does not know was ever served and then someone tells him it was served, it is nothing. The problem from this is from the idea of a תינוק שמשבה a child who was captured a raised among non Jews and never knew he was Jewish. Then he finds out. He has to bring a sin offering for any one of the 43 types of sin. Why is our case of idolatry any different? He knows he is bowing to a statue. He just did not know it was ever served. Why should he not be considered also liable a sin offering?


Just a short bit of back ground. abyee hold that one who serves an idol from fear of people or love of a person but not because he accepts the idol as divine is liable to the normal punishment of the Torah for idolatry. that is stoning if done on purpose and brining a sin offering if done accidentally.

In the Torah there are 43 kinds of sin for which it says the penalty of being "cut off from ones people" and for all of them one brings a sin offering if it is done accidentally. If done on purpose, it depends. If done in front of two witnesses, the the penalty for some of them is death, but not all. Cursing G-d, or doing one of 39 types of work on Shabat are among those that get the death penalty. But in any case, if the act is not done in front of two kosher witnesses, then there is nothing to do about it. There is no death penalty, and he can't bring a sacrifice. He just has to repent. "Repentance" means to accept on oneself not to do it again.

24.11.14

Sanhedrin page 61 side A question on Abyee

Introduction: For serving an idol on purpose there is a death penalty if done in front of two witnesses that give warning. If one serves an idol by accident they he brings a sin offering. The sin offering comes for 43 kinds of sin. It is not the same as a guilt offering which is when does not know if he sinned. It is for six kinds of sin plus any of the 42 types that are in a similar situation that one does not know if he did it.
All the 43 types of sin here are things it says one will be "cut off from his people." Some examples: sleeping with one's sister, or mother, or any close relative, or a male, or an animal, or doing work on Shabat, or serving idols, etc. If the Sanhedrin says one can do idolatry and the whole congregation or the majority depends on them the the Sanhedrin brings twenty four animals. If you lack the majority, then the individual bring their own sin offering. And that is why as we will see that Abyee needed to go to Rabbi Yehuda to get a proof for his idea of what accidental idolatry could be.

The argument between Abyee and Rava is for the case where  one serves an idol from fear or love and does not accept it as his god is he liable? Abyee: No. Rava: Yes.

[How this applies to Christians is not clear. Here I deal only with Torah law and the question when is one obligated to bring a sacrifice for sin. All of the sins refereed to here are directed to Jews. The Torah does not say openly what gentiles are obligated in, even gentiles that believe in the Old Testament. The question for gentiles then is what are they obligated in? Aquinas dealt with this question in a very impressive way. But when Martin Luther said people should understand the Bible according to how the spirit moves them then all bets are off. I am not saying he is wrong or the idea is bad. Simply that at that point people can say it means what ever they want it to mean. If they think playing cards is sinful then fine. Let them bring a she goat to the temple in Jerusalem for doing sin. Make up anything you want to be a sin, and ignore what the Torah says, and say it your idea is by Divine revelation to you personally. Don't worry about the remote possibility of self deception]






Sanhedrin page 61 side b We have got Abyee trying to prove his point that serving idols from love or fear is liable.
He brings a proof from a teaching that tells us that R. Yehuda the Prince said one who does idolatry by accident must bring a sin offering {a she goat or sheep}. [To the Sages an individual brings a sin offering for idolatry even if he depended on the opinion of the Sanhedrin]שגגת מעשה עם העלם דבר.
So Abyee wants to show that R. Yehuda talking about the case that Abyee wants to prove. Abyee thus has to eliminate all the other possibilities of what R Yehuda might be talking about.
So he starts out: Did he bow to a house of idols thinking it is a synagogue? Then his heart is to Heaven. Did he bow to a statute אנדרטא [that was once served]? If he accepted it as his god, then he is liable; and if not, it is nothing.
What I am stuck on is this idea, "it is nothing." I mean he knows statutes are sometimes worshiped. He did not know this statute was worshiped. So it seems like a שוגג accident. And and accident is something. It is not nothing.
Let me try to explain what is hard to understand here
We have  a few kinds of accidents in the Torah-- shabat accidents which are unique because on shabat we need "intended work" מלאכת מחשבת.
If his sister and wife are in the house and came on one, and did not know which, then he had pleasure and that takes the place of accidental intension. [See Reb Chaim Soloveitchik's great book the Chidushei HaRambam on this subject.]
If there are two pieces of fat in front of him and he thinks both are permitted fat and then someone tells him one was forbidden then that is a guilt offering. I could go on and on. But you get the idea that something hard to understand  is going on here.  This seems to be most like a case of Shabat. He did work on Shabat. He knows work is forbidden on Shabat. But he did not know today is Shabat. It seems parallel. He knows this is a statute. He knows it is forbidden to worship statues. He does not know this particular statue was once worshiped.  So it seems like a normal case where the guy does have to bring a sin offering. And you can't answer this with the fact that shabat needs ''intended work'' because that just makes my point stronger. There is more of  a reason to make him not liable on shabat than for idolatry.

23.11.14

What the Torah means when it refers to not doing sin.

The main reason to learn the Talmud and Mishna is to get a decent idea of what the Torah means when it refers to not doing sin. That is to say that one can read the Torah were it says, "Don't do such and such a  thing" as meaning, "It is not advisable to do such and such." But this is not what it means. It means, "Don't do it," and it gives lists of penalties if one does do it. In fact, it is not all that different from the New York code of  civil and criminal law. It says, "Don't steal, and if you do you will be put into prison." (I am paraphrasing.) You could I imagine interpret that also as saying it is not advisable to steal. But in fact it is a command. "Don't steal" means one must not. This is the meaning of everyplace in the Torah where it says God spoke to Moses saying command the children of Israel to do thus and thus. If someone would interpret such a thing as option if written in a novel and they had to hand in a an assignment analyzing the novel they would get a failing mark

22.11.14

People tend to associate a better state of affairs in the future with a person. I do this myself all the time. I think to myself--if only bava sali would be here, or some other tzadik. This type of thinking is probably wrong. The Or Sameach [ Meir Simcha Hacohen] said the reason the children of Israel had to wander in the desert 40 years was because the spies knew moses was not destined to bring them into Israel and so they said without him they would nor succeed.that is one should know that if God decides to help a person, he will help one way or another. it does not depend on the presence of a righteous saint. we can understand from this also that the actual redemption that people need does mot depend on any particular individual but rather on God. and God can bring about each persons salvation in what ever way he likes without the help of any saint. so if one sees that God is not helping the best idea is to learn books of ethics/muar and find out what you are doing wrong and correct it. The Torah certainly considers the commandments of God as the light and the truth and the good. And not doing the commandments as the opposite of all the above. And that certainly does not depend on any particular individual except you yourself.
There are however people that keep the ritual aspects of Torah  in such a way as to advertise themselves as kosher Jews. They are like pigs that spread their hoofs showing people that they split the hoof as if saying "See. We are kosher." But inside they are filled with evil and filth
I have mentioned a few times Kelly Ross and the Kant-Friesian school of thought.
The Kant Friesian school however is a modification of  views of Kant and Fries.
Dr Ross added one important new idea instead of the Logical Square diagrams of Leonard Nelson, he showed a different paradigm of a logical cube. I suggest to continue this process  to I^n as n approaches infinity [the infinite cube]. Also the transfinite cube.
See: the blog of Dr Ross for details in his proceedings of Friesian school.
See: http://www.friesian.com/universl.htm#note-3
See: http://www.friesian.com/foundatn.htm

And Critique of Practical Reason [Kritik der praktishen Vernunft, 1917] by Leonard Nelson.

In my opinion the importance of this Kelly Ross school of thought can't be over emphasized. But for some reason Christian thinkers run to Edward Feser, and Jewish people to Hegel  and Marx. and a few people to the different branches of the libertarians school which is practically identical to the intuitionists [Michael Huemer, and Brian Caplan]. I find this confusing.

21.11.14

Sanhedrin 61b. Abyee

I just wanted to share my ideas about idolatry in Hebrew in case is anyone looking at this blog from Israel.
א) סנהדרין סא: מחלוקת אביי ורבא לגבי העובד עבודה זרה מאהבה ומיראה. אביי אוחז בשיטה שהעובד עבודה זרה מאהבה ומיראה חייב.(להרמב''ם זאת אומרת יראה שמא תריעה לו, ואהבה מאהבת היופי. לרש''י זאת אומרת מאהבת ומיראת אדם.) אביי הולך ישיר לדיון שכהן הגדול מביא שעירה אם עבד בשוגג. לרבי יהודה הנשיא זאת אומרת אפילו אם עבד בשוגג בלי העלם דבר. (היינו בלי לסמוך על פסק מוטעה.) אביי שואל איזו מין טעות היא זאת? אם השתחווה לבית עבודה זרה וחשב שהוא בית הכנסת, ליבו לשמיים.אם השתחחווה לאנדרטה, אז עם קבל אותה לאלוה הוא חייב, ואם לא לא כלום הוא. אלא מאהבה ומיראה. למה אביי הלך ישיר לרבי יהודה ולא לחכמים שצריכים גם שוגג וגם העלם דבר? בגלל שהם יכולים לומר שאין שום דבר כמו שגגת עבודה זרה בלי העלם דבר. הם אומרים שגם הכהן הגדול וגם היחיד מביאים חטאת בשגגת מעשה עם העלם דבר. רואים את זה בהוראיות ב:. שם יש מחלוקת אם היחיד שסמך על הוראת בית דין מביא חטאת. החכמים אומרים שהוא חייב, ורבי יהודה אומר שהוא פטור. וזאת הסיבה שאביי אינו יכול ללכת אל החכמים, בגלל שים יכולים לומר שאין שום שגגת עבודה זרה חוץ מן המצב שיש העלם דבר.

But for English speaking people I did want to bring out an interesting point that we see in Abyee on that page in Sanhedrin 61b. Abyee thinks if one bows to a house of idols and is thinking it is a synagogue then he is not liable because his heart is towards Heaven. And Rashi says the reason is even one who bows to a synagogue is not bowing to the synagogue but to he who has placed his name on it. Does not this say something about Christianity?  I asked on this from the beginning of the page that the Gemara thinks one would never serve a person because people would say, "What is the difference between him and us?" But as my learning partner pointed out that is when the person is making himself into an idol. Christian beliefs are not like that case. Though their beliefs and arguments are extremely complicated and it would take a lifetime to figure it all out but one thing seems sure, that they are worshiping the God of Israel who so to speak has placed His Name on a person.
According to what we have seen in Abyee that is not idolatry. [nor to rave either who agree with abyees arguments so far.] That is it would not be liable. But it still would not be desirable. It would be a בחינה of idolatry - a smidgen, in the same way that desire for money, or he who gets angry is considered to be worshiping idols. It is not something you consider a person be liable for, but it still has some undesirable aspect




20.11.14

But since when is the word of God suppose to be politically correct?

So it looks to me that a lot of Christians look at Jews trying to defend their lives as aggression.
The essay on a Bible Institute Site was saying we ought to let ourselves be slaughtered because anything we do is aggression. A nice comment on that site was this:


"So modern Israel is not supposed to defend itself against those whose serious, deadly, stated goal is to destroy them corporately and individually? Then why were they commanded to fight for it under Joshua?
Why did God help them in the seven wars since their founding to survive? Why shouldn't they use all the land they liberated in these wars they did not start or provoke? Beautiful thoughts about Christ's eventual reign over ALL does nothing to answer today's dilemmas. HE will prevail, and perhaps we in the West should attend to our own house rather than attempt to direct Israel. Certainly we need to make a lot of changes!"

The  blog itself  said  this: It is for this reason that Paul would have scratched his head over the current Evangelical fascination with the modern secular state of Israel and its supposedly Bible-mandated right to do what it pleases with Palestine and its inhabitants. This way of reading the Bible misses the whole point of the story; it robs the biblical narrative of its climax.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/11/what-would-the-apostle-paul-think-about-evangelicals-and-the-conflict-in-palestine/



In other words when Christians talk about learning the Bible they usually mean not the Old Testament, but the New Testament. And when they talk about the NT they mean Paul. And when they talk about Paul they mean the Book of Hebrews (not by Paul and highly anti-Torah. And being anti-Torah makes it anti-Jew because all we Jews have is Torah. Torah is not a burden to us. It is the greatest gift we have from God). On one hand it is nice they accept the Old Testament, but they get into theological difficulties trying to get Paul and the Torah to correspond. Some people however did a fairly decent job putting it all together like Aquinas and Anselm and a few writers  from the end of the Roman Empire.]
Sometimes I get the impression that Christians would be happier if Jews all would just disappear. And then they would Gan Eden right here on Earth. And of course with no Palestinian problem then they Muslims would be their best friends.

But this should not be understood to mean they have nothing. They have  a lot. And the way I see it what they have that is good comes from the Torah.  For I think all good comes from the Torah. So when they learn Torah and take to heart the commandments of God they do well. There are no favorites in this respect.
But it is not just reading the Torah. Rather I think the Torah is contained in everything. It is the hidden light of God. This is an idea I got from Nachman from Uman and it makes sense to me from my neo Platonic point of view. That is the real reality is up there. Here is just some imperfect reflection.

And now that I am on a role about the Torah I would like to quote an important subject--the land of Israel.

We all know the disagreement between the Ramban and the Rambam if living in Israel is counted as one of the  613 commandments. But I wanted to point out that in the verse that the Rambam is bring as proof that it is it says, "If you get rid of the inhabitants, then you will be able to be  in the Land of Canaan. And if you don't get rid of them, you will not be able to stay. I am just paraphrasing it. But the idea is fairly simple even though it must offend some people. But since when is the word of God suppose to be politically correct?
_____________________________________________

I am thinking of deleting this essay because I think some people might see it as an attack on Christianity. I might have meant it more as a critique on the Book of Hebrews and to some degree on Paul also. To some people Paul is the very essence of Christianity. So they might be offended.  Now sometimes it is good to criticize people and sometimes not. Sometimes it is effective. I have seen rabbis yell at people in situation that i thought they were going overboard. Sometime I have been criticized also in such a way.  It seems to me it all depends on  a guess if the person one is talking to can accept it.  Since here I think  there are a significant number of Christians who are sincerely trying to be good people as the Torah defines good I might think twice about criticizing them 














19.11.14

It is known that there seems to be a difference in approach between classical Musar concerning pleasure and Reb Nachman. Some people know this as a difference between the Mesilat Yeshiarim and Shimshon Refael Hirsh. In any case it is an old argument going back to the ancient Greeks.
So just for information's\ sake let me bring the basic details and I hope someday to give a kind of conclusion.
Reb Nachman said it is possible to serve God through anything. He repeated this about three time in the Lekutai Moharan. He is thinking that there is no excuse for doing anything except the service of God. But he has a wider idea of what constitutes the service of God that is usually understood.
Reb Chaim from Voloshin mentions this kind of thinking in the Nesfesh HaChaim and he does not seem pleased.
And why be surprised?  From the verse in Misheli (Proverbs)  and on we get a fairly decent picture that please if bad and the Torah wants us to minimize it as much as possible. That is in fact one of the prime principle of the Torah according to the Rambam.


After I discovered Reb Nachman I basically went with his approach. And I have grown a little skeptical of people that espouse the anti pleasure approach. That is in fact the reason for the name of this blog.

The most rigorous account of this dilemma is in fact in the Mesilat Yesharim, Moshe Chaim Luttzao's Musar Book.

But I am not trying to get a intellectual resolution of this. I am trying to get a working model that works for me. I suspect this is one of those areas of ontological undecidability between areas of value










Rabbi Israel Salanter originally did not want the Musar movement to be part of the yeshiva movement.
The yeshivas as independent entities had existed since the time of Chaim from Voloshin so he had ample opportunity to express the idea of combining them--but he did not.
 So his idea of a House of Ethics {בית מוסר} was clearly meant to be independent.

And also he was not considering a kind of boy scouts movement. Even though the Boy scouts were intend in England and  in the USA to build character still that was not the idea of Israel Salanter. He thought of a movement that would not be coupled with outdoor survival skill.

He intended there to be House of Ethics that would have books of ethics only and that people could go into when ever they felt the need for character improvement.

I want to suggest that this is good for Jews and gentiles. But to explain this to gentiles might be too difficult unless the particular gentiles happen to have a Lithuanian yeshiva in their area. If they do, it is easier to explain. A House of Ethics is the exact same thing as a yeshiva or a Beit Midrash except that people learn the basic set of ethical books instead of Talmud. A beit midrash is were everyone is learning by saying the words and going on. But instead of it being at odds with each other there is kind of spirit of unity in that everyone is doing it together. Actually it is very hard to describe even to Jews.
But the books we are talking about here are not Meta Ethics--philosophical ideas about ethics. It is a very specific set of books. It is a two part cannon. Books from the Middle Ages which provide the backbone and intellectual framework. The next part of the set are the books from the direct disciples of Israel Salanter.
[OK, I skipped something. The middle period of books that put Kabalah together with Musar. There are a lot of those and they also were in fact accepted into the regular Musar Movement].

The focus of the movement was originally character improvement along with fear of God. [Or perhaps that is just my own interpretation of this movement based on one of the disciples of Rav Israel, Isaac Blazer]. Clearly Navardok thought the main thing is trust in God--along with learning Torah. Slabodka was the greatness of Man. Simcha Zissel had his own take which I never could figure out. [I tried to read his book  Chachma and Musar and could never make out a word.] Ponovicth in Bnei Brak, (considered by many to be the greatest yeshiva in the world) can be considered to some degree to be an offshoot of Navardok in so far that Rav Kinyevsky was a disciple in the Navardok yeshiva).

The nice thing for me about Musar was in terms of world view issues. My first yeshiva was not a Musar yeshiva and I think today I needed Musar.  At least you might say that when I got to the Mir yeshiva which and two tiny sessions of Musar I relished every second. [There was a 20 minute session before the afternoon prayer and a 15 minute session before the evening prayers. And I was like a fish in water.]

What I am suggesting here is The Musar Movement Act II. Or the Neo Musar Movement. And the idea would in fact be like the original idea of houses of Ethics that would be open for everyone.
 Now The only time I ever saw an actual House of Ethics was in Netivot in Israel. That was in fact a separate room where people went to learn Musar and I think in fact it did help people be better that they would otherwise have been.
Another nice thing about a House of Ethics is it is non denominational. It is not Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. It is just plain traditional Jewish ethics. [I would recommend this to Christians also except that traditional Christian ethics is different. I  do not know if this idea of Israel Salanter is even possible to transfer to Christians. Christians certainly do need something like this house of ethics but I really don't know how they could set it up. They don't even have one established accepted set of books of ethics. Actually I think the Catholics do with that Spanish guy--I forget his name. Anyway I don't want to be giving advice to Christians. As far as I can tell they are busy shooting\ themselves in the feet letting Muslims take over and destroy their civilization! Making civil war on on the other [Germany versus Russia]. They need a lot more than Musar to get them to wake up.

































18.11.14

Idolatry. Tractate Sanhedrin page 61 side

Introduction: Abyee says serving an idol from love or fear is liable.
Proof: Yehuda the Prince says if a high priest serves an idol by accident he must bring a sin offering for idolatry without a faulty legal decision.
שגגת מעשה בלי העלם דבר
Abyee asks what is this accident? Did did he bow down to a house of idols thinking it is a synagogue? Then his heart is towards Heaven. Did he bow to a statue that is worshiped?Then if he accepted it as his god then he is liable, If not it is nothing. Rashi makes point to show that the statue was worshiped at least once. But he does not know that and that could be the accident. But then Abyee says that if he did not accept it as his god it is nothing.  So what is left? He did know  and yet it is considered by accident. Why? It must be because of fear and love. and it by accident because he thought from fear and love are allowed. That shows that if he did it from fear of love on purpose--knowing it is forbidden then he is liable!





Why does Abyee come on to these examples of a statue and a synagogue to give us examples of accidental idolatry?
My learning partner suggests that Abyee is going through a rigorous process of elimination in order to prove his opinion that serving an idol from love of fear is also liable.
That is he brings the Braita/teaching [ברייתא] dealing with idolatry to show there is such a thing as idolatry by accident that does not involve someone making a legal decision that such a thing is allowed. Then he brings the idea of bowing down to the house of idols thinking it is a synagogue. This is what struck my partner as strange. Who bows to a house? Every time we looked at this subject he was puzzled. Finally he figured out that that Abyee was going logically through the whole list of possibilities checking them off one by one, until he reached the statue that in fact is an idol, but he does not know it is an idol. So again we have two options. He accepts it. That is clearly liable whether he knows it is an idol or not. So he gets to the idea that he does know, and yet he is not accepting it as his god. So what is he doing. This to me seems like a very powerful proof.
I figure this must have been Abyee in his prime--like around his middle twenties or so. This is not usually the case. It usually looks like Rava wins the arguments against Abyee. Here it does look like Abyee wins the case. Yet this is in fact one of the places we go by Rava. The Talmud itself says we only go by Abyee in six cases and this is not one of them