18.9.14

Kollel: That means sitting and learning Torah {and Talmud} and being paid by the State to do so.

Kollel: That means sitting and learning Torah {and Talmud} and being paid by the State to do so.

I have heard this justified as paid for off time from ones work ("sachar batalah"). However that is only mentioned in terms of a judge. And what it means is this: if you want a judge to judge your case, he can't be paid for it. But if he has work that he is anyway doing, you can pay him for the time away from his job. And it has to be an actual job. It can't be work that he "might" have gotten.

On the other hand, the Gra (Eliyahu from Villnius) was asked about receiving money in order to learn by Reb Chaim from Voloshin and his answer was it is allowed.  And the context was a "Issachar Zevulun"  arrangement.(One worked, the other learned, and they divide the reward in heaven.)

But if we are talking about Issachar and Zevulun then the Rambam himself benefited from such an arrangement. So that brings us to the original question what exactly is forbidden, and what is permitted?

Curiously enough this seems to be a difference between Mishna Torah by the Rambam and the commentary on the Mishna of the Rambam.

In Mishna Torah the idea is: one can't  learn Torah intending to depend on charity. Anyone in kollel will tell you, "I am learning Torah to learn Torah, and I accept charity. I don't learn in order to get charity."

So they are in the clear as far as Mishna Torah goes. But as for the commentary on the Mishna, there the Rambam takes a stricter view and simply holds that receiving money in any shape or form because one is learning Torah is forbidden. There he ignores intention.

I am ignoring the Kesef Mishna [Yoseph Karo on the Mishna Torah] here because to me it is more important that this question seems to be dependent on an argument between the Rambam and the Gra.--two rishonim.

Appendix

The Gra saw learning Torah as being a  Divine service in itself and not just a way to come to do miztvot. You can see the idea in the book the Nefesh Hachaim by his disciple. And though Rebbi Nachman does seem to emphasize prayer and private conversation with God, but I think Rebbi Nachman's idea was that there are certain conditions one needs to fulfill in order that ones learning should be acceptable {like learning Torah for its own sake and not in order to gain benefits from it}. And I think he saw prayer as the only way to fulfill these conditions.





Also, we need to change the terms from "sitting and learning Torah," to "standing and learning Torah." The best exercise is to stand and be learning Gemara. It might be better than jogging

17.9.14

Because of Rosh hashanah coming up I would like to suggest to people to go out and buy the basic set of Musar books and learn them every day.
{That is to learn about a page or two per day.}


They used to be printed in a small set. That is in the old days you could buy the Chovot Levavaot, Sharei Teshuva, Mesilat Yesharim,  Orchot Tzadikim and Sefer haYashar of Rabbanu Tam all in one set.

The reason I say this to people is because of the world view issues that these books address. They help to understand the world view of the Torah in a way that is hard to get in any other way.

Now in the Jewish world people understand Musar to be related to Fear of God and for that reason also i think these books are important. Fear of God and length of days are two things that rebbi nacman thought were highly correlated. That is if you need you days to be long and to stop having people waste your time the best thing in the opinion of rebbi nachman would be to learn Musar.

The best thing is to close the borders-- because where Muslims go--jihad follows.


I could have told you years ago that the kind or rhetoric that Muslims were hearing from the president of the USA would give them motivation to recreate a Muslim empire. It was like giving them a green light. And I had some idea of how Muslims would interpret these signals being that I knew a few Muslims in Israel.
It was pretty clear to me that Islam was a highly motivating source of identity for them. And that religion provided for Muslims a basic center of their identity. And just by the general fact of being in Jerusalem I had many occasions to interact with Muslims. So I knew that this religious aspect was for them the core of their values.
So the types of remarks they were hearing from the president seemed me to be like poring gasoline on a fire.
It was clear that it would not end well. The IS is not something the USA can stamp out with guns. The best thing I would suggest is to close the borders because where Muslims go--jihad follows.

16.9.14

My idea of a yeshiva is a combination of the Lithuanian approach that I received while in the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn and also in Shar Yashuv in far Rockaway along with a fast learning approach in the afternoon.
That is the morning hours should be spent getting ready for the Shiur of the Rosh Yeshiva. and then learning the shiur of the rosh yeshiva well.

[A rosh yeshiva in this context means someone who has been through that particular tractate many time with all the Topshot and the Maharsha and Maharam. He is not just doing a laining {reading}two hours before the shiur.]

Then the afternoon i think should be devoted to fast learning. That is to say the words and go on. In that way after a few years one will have gone through all of Shas [Talmud] with all the Tosphot and also the other major areas of learning--the Tur with the Beit Joseph and the shulchan aruch by rabbanu Joseph Karo with all it commentaries, and all the writing of Isaac Luria.This only sounds like a lot of learning because people don't learn in the right way. Either they only do fast reading like in Breslov so they have no idea of how to learn a single Halach properly even if they have lots of horizontal learning. Or they only do in depth learning so they have no idea of simple ideas contained in other areas of learning that they have not covered.

If people do Collage in the morning or afternoon then i would simply divide the learning Torah time that is available to them into two equal parts;:a fast part and a in depth part.


15.9.14

Faith in the wise and "divided advice"

In the Lekutai Moharan (the magnum opus) of Rebbi Nachman there is often brought up some specific human problem. And as the chapter goes on some solution of sets of solution arise.
Some people read this as just being a modified form of Musar. But I have usually taken the approach that if i have some problem that is mentioned in some chapter of the Lekutai Moharan, then I should concentrate on the solutions mentioned there.

Just to give one example. A few years ago I found myself in Uman after Rosh Hashana and I was not sure of the next step after that.  That is I was not sure if to stay or to go to NY. At that time I read the Lekutai Moharan, volume one, chapter 61 about "divided advice,"(the exact problem I had then) and I noticed his solution of faith in the wise. Emunat Chachamim. This is a bit hard to translate into English because it does not mean the things that you would think it means in English. It does not means faith in people with high IQs. Nor does it means faith in tzadikim (saints). Rather it is a combination of both. At that time I decided I should pay much more attention to the Rambam since it was clear that "faith in the wise" would include the Rambam and the Gra and Rebbi Nachman and other sages of Israel even in areas in which all three differ in their approach.

This may seem trivial to some people but my point is that in Breslov it is customary not to pay much attention to the world view of the Rambam. [Rebbi Nachman said some harsh things about the Guide for the Perplexed.] Yet at that point I decided that I needed to develop an approach that would encompass rebi Nachman and Maimonides and the Gra also because of this issue about my being "divided in my advice"--that is I was unsure of what steps to take.

This is very characteristic of Rebbi Nachman to find in what seems to be ordinary human problem some deeper spiritual root that needs to be corrected.

since that time i have tried to combine different elements of the Gra and rebbi nachman and the Rambam in my personal life with an emphasis on private  prayer (derived from from R. Nachman) and an equal emphasis on learning Torah (derived from the Gra) and learning Physics and Metaphysics from the Rambam. Also I have taken my concept of Monotheism from the Rambam: That God made the world. He is not the world. and the world is not His substance because he has no substance. He is totally "other".





Reform movement of Judaism

While I was growing up in Beverly Hills my family went to Temple Israel in Hollywood.

That is where I had my bar mitzvah. This was basically a very positive experience. But I have two areas of criticism that I would like to address to the Reform movement of Judaism. One area is the area of bein adam lechavero between man and his fellow man. The other is between man and God [bein Adam Lemakom].
It is known that Reform has issues with many mitzvot. I am not sure how to deal with that here. But it does seem to me they went a little bit too much in the direction of making things permitted that the Torah forbids.  While I can imagine they would say that the Orthodox have gone too far in making things forbidden that the Torah allows. But here I want to give a critique of the Reform not the Orthodox.

But there is another area that I think most Reform shuls synagogues would agree that we should improve on: that is Musar. [Musar meaning classical Musar the books of Jewish ethics written during the Middle ages an Renaissance.]

The advantage that Musar has for all Jews including Reform Jews is not just in character improvement but in the area of world view. without Musar it is very difficult to come up with a consistent world view that corresponds to the world view of the Torah. That is you can read the Star of Redemption of Rosenzweig and the Guide for the perplexed of Maimonides and still the world view of the Torah can be far off. Because world view is not the same as philosophy. It is the exact opposite of philosophy. It philosophy examines ones beliefs. world view is the glasses one wears to see the world .
 Perhaps Reform were too optimist they they would find and understand the basic approach of the Torah without use of dusty Medieval books.  And to some degree you can understand why. Reform is based in the USA and Americans  are by nature optimistic and the 1950s were unique in the history of the USA as being the ear people thought everything was possible. To eradicate all disease and racism and better the lot of all mankind. And when you had  the great Sartre and Freud to understand the nature of Human life who needed medical moralists? Nowadays all that seem incredibly naive but then it was common place



14.9.14

I have been wondering if the compactness theorem could be used to shore up the Godel proof of the existence of God.
My original thought was that it could because in the Godel proof we find the idea of having all positive traits.

 This has been criticized.  But I thought perhaps the compactness theorem could be used in this case.
This is just a suggestion but I myself am not convinced because it might be simply like a case of saying that you can add a pie in front of a whole family of manifolds X sub i for all i is an element of I. Adding the pie in front means to make a  Cartesian product of the whole family. I am not sure if this helps Godel





I have not in general made this a preoccupation since in my math studies I was more interested in getting a general idea of math than concentrating on any one area. But on Sabbath I stumbled across Mathematical Logic again and thought to take a look. I was looking  at Godel's completeness theorem and seeing how it relates to the compactness theorem.



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

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

12.9.14

  I talked to some people about starting a yeshiva in Uman but it seems like the major difficulty is that people have very little idea of what a yeshiva is.

  Nowadays the idea of a yeshiva has become highly perverted. Some examples include most chairdei yeshiva Israel which were made for the sole purpose of getting an exemption from serving in the Israeli Defense Force. Other yeshivas are made for the purpose of making Baali Teshuva --that is to make people into Orthodox Jews.

  The first reaction to the idea of a yeshiva in Uman was to make it for Tikun Chaztot i.e. for saying the midnight prayer about the Beit HaMikdash-- and of course to get paid for that.
 
Most people in Israel are familiar with the idea of a Kollel kind of yeshiva where people get paid for learning Torah which almost never means learning Gemara, Rashi, Tosphot. It is always some variation of some cultist practice or some cultist group.

The idea of a yeshiva is in essence one room where people get together to learn Gemara, Rashi, and Tosphot. And that is still the major idea. But one step towards the subversion of the idea was that people started making a living off of Torah. This caused the whole concept of a legitimate yeshiva to get perverted to anything but learning Torah.


10.9.14

On the subject of idolatry I am having difficulty understanding the argument in Sanhedrin between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda.

Just for a bit of context let me say over the gemara.one mishna implies words matter and the other says words don't mater. Rav Hamenuna says one is where he says he is not accepting the god as his god until he serves it. Rav Joseph asks on this from the Braita: A person says, "Serve me"; R Meir says he is liable for idolatry (he gets stoned). R Yehuda says he is not stoned until he is served. This seems like an argument if words matter. But rav joseph decides that in fact that is not the argument and to everyone words matter.just says serve me ought to be liable. But the difference is that to rabbi yehuda even if people say yes they really me yes as a question (because they are thinking what is the difference between him and us?)

My difficulty here is don't we find people that are served? From the most ancient Gilgamesh legend  until   Adi Da [and many other Hindu Gurus] we find people worshiped as gods and that claim super natural powers. 

2.9.14

I thought to put a few thoughts of Mathematics or Physics on occasion on the Internet. So today I wanted to start out with the Grothentieck group.
I think the major thing about the the Grothendieck group is that when you map from your original commutative monoid to your abelian group you are not making your monoid into a group. All you are doing is making a map. For all you we know, you might be mapping everything in your monoid to the identity element. The important thing is that then when you in fact do want to make your monoid into a a group by some other map, that map has to be able to be put together with another map that will map to your abelain group.
For people that are knowledgeable in Math, I am sure this is no surprise, but to me it seems like something that is important to emphasize in order to understand the Grothentieck group at all.


Maybe in I put it into symbols it will be simpler. You have a map from your commutative Monoid M [which is not a group] to some commutative group A. Lets call that map f. Now you want to make your Monoid into a group. So you make a map that does that. Let's call it g. Now you already have a group from your monoid. But if you want it to be a Grothendieck group then you have to make sure that f=gi.

What you get out of this is a lot of interesting things but here this is just a brief attempt to make the idea clear.

[For people interested  in Kabalah there might be some ramifications here also in terms of mappings from different dimensional spheres. But for that we would need to look into the Eitz Chaim of Isaac Luria.]


[I happen to have a lot of respect for Issac Luria but if my mention of this kabalah connection bothers anyone out there you could comment on it i will will leave out kabalistic considerations in my math essays ]