27.3.15

Rav Kook is very much connected with the idea of the return of Jewish people to Israel.
And he was in support of the creation of the State of Israel. This really should not be subject to a debate. But there were and still are people that were  against this. Rav Kook was defending this idea from the Torah but Dr Kelly Ross of the Friesian school of thought defends this idea from the standpoint of Kant and Fries which in political terms ends up being a libertarian stance. I myself have had good reason to take this Kant -Fries -Ross approach mainly because I think it is the most rigorous philosophical approach available.
It is nice that it comes out to support a position that I anyway feel is correct. But it is also helpful in that it traces a line of thought up until the conflicts between the rationalists and the empiricists and comes up with a good solution.

If I could I would shout out on the roof tops to people to read his blog  the Friesian school it is called.
http://www.friesian.com/school.htm

And I think he is the most rigorous philosopher of the twentieth and twenty first century. No take out the "I think." He is the most rigorous.

After him I count Michael Huemer (Colorado), Searle (Berkeley), Feser (Pasadena). and Habermas (Germany).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3427&v=_CMnh7nYOrM

I nice film that my learning partner suggested that I look at

26.3.15

How to understand the Torah. Most people reading the Torah are not Jewish.
So how does one with limited background understand Torah? Simple. Sefer Hachinuch, and the Horev from Shimshon Refael Hirsh. Also Rav Kook, if you can find his books.
These three people give a good idea of what the Old Testament is about in an accurate way that is not watered down, and yet understandable. And they deal directly with the question of "How to live according to the Torah?" and show this from the Torah itself.
They also are far from cultist doctrines that are so much a part of the world of Orthodox Judaism today.

The first step towards understanding Torah is to run away from anything that smells like a cult where people are long practiced at falsifying Torah. Things that smell like cults as a rule are cults.

"Scripture alone" and or individual interpretation is not  a principle in understanding Torah.  
In the Christian world this in fact was a principle. The only authority for the radical reformers was scripture, sola scriptura, scripture only. Then they start realizing that different people can interpret scripture differently. They're very familiar with medieval Christian ways of interpreting scripture to have several different meanings and layers of meanings. And so they say, well the predominant guide of scripture isn't going to be just scripture; it's going to be one particular meaning of scripture. And that's sensus literalis.

Now it's rather debatable what they meant by "the literal sense" because some of these reformers said that the literal sense of scripture could even be a prophetic sense, so they still said that the literal sense of scripture could be in a Psalm when the Psalm says, "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand.'" Well they knew that the text if you're interested in an ancient text would be referring to the Davidic King, but they also said that Psalm also could refer to Jesus, even in its literal sense. The literal sense that they were talking about in the Reformation was not necessarily what we would call the historical critical sense. It was what they took it to be the most fundamental plain sense meaning of the text. So that was the literal sense. Then again they realized the more they did this that Protestant churches started splitting all over the place. Presbyterians and Calvinists split off from the Lutherans, the Anabaptists split off from the Reformation. And then you have a rise of so many Protestant movements that the idea that scripture alone could settle debates and give you a foundation started becoming questionable.


There is a lot to talk about here but the advantage of Rav Kook and Rav Shimshon Hirsh is there is a basic idea that the laws of the Torah were meant to be obeyed. That is a good step in understanding Torah. And they don't read into it what they want. No eisegesis.


If there is  a kind of hatred towards Wasps, is it justified? In any case in America there seems to be a  visceral bias against White Anglo Saxon Protestants.
Is this justified? To me it seems not. While I can hope that everyone would just keep the written and Oral Law I don't think harboring  a grudge against people that are at least trying to keep Torah to the  best of their understanding is very good. I could go into this more but the whole discussion seems to me to be along the lines of an argument between tzadikim that Reb Nachman warned against going into. So lets just say I think Jews and wasps both have some good points that complement each other.

I find an attitude towards Wasps that is hostile and toward Muslims as friendly to be strange. The way I see it Muslims are sweet and wonderful until that second that they decide to lock out the captain and crash the airplane, with all passengers on board. Muslims are ticking time bombs.

Sanhedrin 63a

The verse in the Ten Commandments says not to worship any gods besides God and not to bow down to them. (Exodus 20) It separates worship and bowing. And there is another verse which gives the death penalty for worship or bowing to an idol. And he will go and  worship or bow then you shall stone them etc.
Deuteronomy 13
Rabbi Ami says one who sacrifices, burns, or pours something to an idol during one period of forgetting is liable one sin offering only. Not more than one

Rashi says we do not have bowing השתחוויה in the statement of Rabbi Ami.
Because if we did then what would it be coming for? Obviously not to divide. So it could only be to tell us as prohibition. But then one would be liable twice for bowing.

Tosphot seems to disagree with this. He seems to be saying that even Rabbi Natan would have to agree here that bowing comes to tell us a prohibition.

There is a whole storm of thoughts that come at me when I think about this. I can't even guess where to begin.

The simplest place to begin I think is with Rashi. He seems to be addressing two separate issues.
One is the question if "bowing" was in the category of "service." If it was, then it has to be coming out to tell us something about the whole category.  [Anything that was in a category and then is mentioned specifically tells us about the whole category, not just about itself.] So it can't be coming to teach on itself alone.
Now we have two versions of Rashi. One is that in our Rashi on the page who says "bowing" is not in the category of the three inner services. So it is a service. So it has to teach something about the whole category, and it does not, so we certainly don't have it in the statement of Rabbis Ami  but furthermore it can then only tell us a prohibition.
Then we have the version of Rashi that is contained in Tosphot. There Rashi says "bowing" is not a "service." So it was not in the category of "service" so it can come to teach about itself alone. So it would not be coming to divide, nor to tell us it is only a לאו a regular prohibition, not cutting off כרת. This seems worse to what Rashi wants to say. After all it might then be in the category of if one forgets all the services then he is still liable only one sin offering. In any case, if this is what Tosphot had in front of them, this might explain why they are unhappy with Rashi.

In any case what can we see in Tosphot? That Rabbi Ami is thinking as Abyee explains him. That is he is thinking "לא תעבדם" "Don't serve them" put them all together and therefore "bowing" can't divide them. So it does tell us it is a prohibition. Tosphot here seems to be putting this with the Braita two pages back in which "bowing" came to teach about itself. He certainly can't be saying it is for a prohibition alone

. Here is the same idea written in Hebrew
 סנהדרין סג: הפסוק אומר לא תשתחווה להם ולא תעבדם. הוא מחלק בין השתטחות ועבודה. ויש פסוק אחר שאומר וילך ויעבוד וישתחווה... וסקלתם באבנים... רבי אמי אומר הזובח, והמקטר, והמנסך בהעלם אחד חייב רק חטאת אחת. רש''י אומר שאין השתטחות במשפט של רבי אמי שאם היתה שם למה היתה באה? ברור לא לחלק. אלא ללאו לצאת ואם כן המשתחווה היה חייב שתים. תוספות חולק ואומר שאפילו רבי נתן היה מוכרח לומר שהשתחחוויה ללאו יצאת. זה סוף ההקדמה. כנראה שרש''י מתייחס לשתי שאלות. אחת היא שאם השתטחות היתה בכלל עבודה,אז חייב להיות שהיא באה ללמד מהשהוא על הכלל כולו. עכשיו יש שתי גירסאות ברש''י. אחת על הדף שאומרת שהשתטחות אינה מוכללת בכלל השלש עבודות פמימיות. אם כן היא עבודה וחייבת ללמד על הכלל כולו ואינה עושה את זאת. ולכן היא אינה במשפטו של רבי אמי.נוסחה שנייה של רש''י המופיעה בתוספות אומרת שהשתטחות אינה עבודה. ולכן אפשר שהיא באה ללמד על עצמה. ואפשר שהיא ללמד על עצמה אבל אם כן יש הבעייה שהיה חייב שתיים. תוספות רוצים לומר שרבי אמי חושב כמו שאביי פירשו שלא תעבדם באה להכליל כל העבודות ביחד. ולכן לא תשתחחוה להם אינה יכולה לחלק ביניהם. ולכן ללאו יצאת. ותוספות מקשרים את זה למה שהברייתא אמרה לעיל שהשתטחות באה ללמד על עצמה.[דרך אגב,כאן כשאומרים ללאו יצאת הכוונה אינה ללאו גרידה שזה כנגד הפסוק אלא לומר שהיא באזהרה





25.3.15

Trust in God as it was translated at the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn meant to learn Torah and not to worry about what will come in the future.
Or to be more explicate it meant as a unmarried student just to learn Torah according to the regular four year program at the yeshiva.

The idea was that after one would be married somehow things would work out if one trusts in God.
[The concept of God here is more than the First Cause. It is the First cause that made Nature, but sometimes interacts with  the world in a way above Nature. Also there are intermediate realms, like a moral plane that interacts with the world.]


Now according to the view of the Torah, we have two kinds of trust: One of the Duties of the Heart חובות לבבות that is trust with effort. That is to do what is necessary but also to trust that God will make things work out in the way that he wants.

The other kind is of the Gra that one needs no effort and in fact it is better not to do any effort to get things, but to put everything into God's hands. [This idea is attributed to the Ramban also by Israel Salanter.]

The Mir was a kind of ambiguous grey area between these two extremes.

[In any case when I saw modern kollels and saw the Torah being used a   means to make money I got turned off. And I have never been able to get over this. But I might be wrong because you have places like Ponovitch that the students married or not get a stipend. Maybe I should just get over the fact that Israel is different and to have a yeshiva the students need  a stipend period.]

But that is just abuse of a high ideal--and a good ideal. People should learn Torah and trust in God. Abusus non tollit usum. Abuse does not cancel use.

Steven Dutch:
Whether religion or unbelief have been sources of good or evil are absolutely irrelevant to anything. The only issue of any significance is whether a position is trueIf it's also good, that's a side benefit. I would like nothing better than to find ways around the speed of light and the laws of thermodynamics, but they are still true even if I don't like how they affect things I'd like to do. If something is true but evil, then that's something we have to deal with. Is it at all possible that the Universe was not designed by Walt Disney? Is it possible that our current prejudices  ... may be more based on sentimentality than reason?

And another idea from Steven Dutch which I think applies to Judaism: A lot of people will misunderstand the religion and stress trivial issues, ignore or downplay significant ones, or garble concepts. In extreme cases people who disagree with the established religion will attempt to redirect it into a form very different from the original, or take it over entirely. The Gnostics of the early Christian era who cast Persian mystery religions in Christian terms are a good example. Many people will use the religion to rationalize other motives; they will use it as a pretext for prejudice, or dominating others, or lashing out at authority.
Some will adhere to the established religion out of inertia. They feel a need for some kind of spiritual activity, and the established religion is the best (or only) game in town. Some will adhere to the established religion out of fear. They may not really believe in the established religion, but are afraid of misfortune or damnation if they abandon it. Some will adhere to the established religion primarily as a means of securing good fortune, as a security blanket, or as a means of easing guilt feelings. Often they will select elements of the religion for emphasis and ignore other elements.
 Many will adhere to the established religion for social acceptance. They may like participating in special occasions, or may value the religion as a symbol of national or group identity. Some will adhere to the established religion for cynical reasons. They may secretly disbelieve everything about the religion but go through the motions for personal advantage, reputation, or social standing or, in really intolerant societies, merely to stay out of trouble.
Once a religion becomes really established, the religion itself can be a route to power, prestige, and privilege. Not only will some people adhere to the religion for cynical reasons, they will become entrenched at its very center.

   All the above Professor Dutch says is dishonest. The only honest approaches are these: Some will sincerely believe in the established religion, will critically evaluate its teachings, and will attempt seriously to model their lives on its tenets. Some will decide they do not believe in the religion at all. If the society is reasonably open, they may either become nonreligious or convert to something else. In intolerant societies, they may go through the motions of belief merely to stay out of trouble. Some will reject the religion to the point of revolt and active opposition. Some will adhere to the established religion out of sincere conviction but will disagree with important tenets. They will attempt to recast the religion in more personally palatable terms, or possibly work to redirect the religion itself into more agreeable lines. The changes may be real reforms or merely redefinition into something more palatable.
There is an obligation to finish all the Torah. This you can see in a few statements from the Talmud and the Gra brings them down. You might have noticed them all brought in books of Musar. The idea is when a person gets to the next world, God asks him, "Did you you learn The Old Testament? Did you learn Mishna?" If he says "Yes" he is then asked, "Why did you not learn the Gemara also?"
"Did you learn Gemara?" And it gets up to the "Work of the Chariot."
It is not a hard statement of the Talmud to find because it is brought in lots of books of Musar. But the implications are almost universally ignored. It means you really have to have gone through the entire Old TestamentTalmud Yerushalimi,  and the Halachic and Agadic Midrashim. [SifraSifriMechiltaMidrash Raba.]
I heard Rav Shick from Yavniel say once that without the path of learning of Sichot Haran 76 it is impossible to do this. [Lithuanians Jews in fact do this. Rav Kinyevski from Ponovitch finishes this material every year.]
He said he has students learning by him that have learned and finished rishonim that most people have never even heard of like Sefer Haegoz. He had one student I remember that used to finish the Talmud every month.
[Lithuanians Jews in fact do this. Rav Kinyevski from Ponovitch finishes this material every year.]



Since according to this statement of the Sages the obligation includes the work of Creation which to the Rambam means Physics  I decided to do the same with Physics. That is to go through the basic material. Even though there are great books out there I took Joos's Theoretical Physics and then Quantum Theory,  Quantum Field Theory, and a couple of  books on String Theory. And I tried the same with Math.That was a little harder. But I tried to at least go through Algebraic Topology by Allen Hatcher.

Idolatry.

One is liable for idolatry for sacrifice, pouring, burning, bowing, or a service that is its was or accepting it as ones god.



I want to ask, why are the three services of the temple considered service towards idolatry?
That is sacrifice, burning, pouring. Why just these three? Why does bowing need an extra verse? And why are not anything you do in the Temple also considered a service?

I suggested to my learning partner that other services are leading up to the main service.
E.g. putting ones hands on the sacrifice leads up to sacrifice. Walking towards the altar also does not count because it is leading up to burning.
This is similar to the idea of Maimonides that mitzvot that are preparation for another mitzvah don't count as one of the 613. This is an incomplete answer but at least it is the beginning of an approach.
My suggestion about universities is to close down the social studies departments.
Or at least don't pay for them. Don't pay or give credit to things that don't pay and have no value.

Leave only the Natural Sciences and Engineering.  If not, then at least fire the worthless professors.

As for problems with true and false rape accusations, my suggestion is to have one adult or a couple in every dorm.

My learning partner made some suggestions about health. He thinks that alcohol is unhealthy. He was in driver's ed class in New Mexico in which they took the healthy brain of a human that had been donated to science and showed it whole and then took a knife and cut it open. He could see the texture was strong and healthy. They then took the brain of an alcoholic and showed it. as soon as they simply touched it with the knife it fell apart full of blood and gore.
He also suggested R Lipoic Acid (an anti oxidant), Bacopa, Acetyl L Carnitine,

He also suggested if you have trouble controlling your appetite to eat a raw yoke of an egg.


Appendix:
I am not totally against one area of the Humanities departments in universities. and that is philosophy. Philosophy was actually doing fairly well up until [but not including] the 20th century.
Yeshiva was frustrating in many ways for me. But while there I found a some ideas about learning that I applied later to Physics.
One was that I took a short piece like a Tosphot or a Pnei Yehushua and read it ten or more time over and over again. And in some ways this helped. But times change. Today I recommend having a  learning partner . But without a learning partner what I would do would be to take one whole page of Gemara with the Maharsha and learn it every day. That I is I would just read it through once and the  next day come back to it.
Some of these ideas helped for Physics and some not. It seems like every kind of learning has its own rules for what works and what does not. And times is also a factor.
For Physics and Math courses at the Polytechnic Institute in NY and also at Hebrew University I used to say every page forwards and backwards. And when I was struggling with time and all kinds of problems in NY this idea definitely helped me. But it is a slow kind of learning, but useful when you have to pass exams.