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1.8.15

Growing up in the USA I identified strongly with American values--family values, truth, Justice and  and Freedom. This might seem quaint and odd, but true nonetheless. And there never was anything to suggest that this interfered or disagreed with Torah values in any way. Today it seems to me that Torah does not have the same kind of intense interest in freedom as the founding fathers of the USA had.   Torah and the ideal of freedom are complementary values.
Since American values today are in opposition to American values as understood in the USA Constitution, I think to get a good grasp of the type of American values I appreciate one would have to learn  John Locke's Two Treaties. But I should mention that people like John Locke are assuming a kind of Judaic-Christian society in which the type of government they foresaw could work. If you take away that background of society then the government--no matter how well structured--has to fail as we can see in Baltimore and South Africa.

That is not my own original idea incidentally. I saw it from someone who said it as a critique on Utilitarian Philosophy. That is the whole thing is predicated on the idea that people  are living in a kind of Judaeo-Christian  England.  Without that background, anything might be considered the higher benefit of the majority. The greater good of the many might be to slaughter the few.
q18

q20  edited
Catch 22.  There is an absurdity in the frum (orthodox) world. One needs Torah, but as soon as one enters the frum world, the basic insanity of that world becomes apparent. And that insanity is catching--it is infectious. And you can't find a nice balance because that "balance" means, in practical terms, to be incompetent in both Torah and in secular things.[I can only write decent ideas in Torah though because I am writing down conversations between my learning partner and myself in Torah. And he is totally involved in Torah]

The Talmud mentions this concept as the idea of pulling the donkey from both ends. But the modern way of putting it is catch 22.

It is not just the frum world. Dostoevsky wrote, "If the world would be rational, then nothing would happen." And according to Schopenhauer the "Will" the true reality of this world is essentially irrational--or insane.

The only solution is to learn Torah and keep it the best you can. Joining any organization, not only will not help but will hurt. Not only that but support of organizations that are claiming to be learning Torah is just throwing away money to support private county clubs.


Learning Torah in this context means the written and oral law. But if that is too much you can read Samson Refael Hisch's Horev. In my parent's home there was a book, This is my God which is good but short. 

31.7.15

The idea of a yeshiva is closely linked with that important word "shiduch."

And I mean this in only the most positive context. these two things are so closely related that it is neigh impossible to separate them.  But every family is different and every situation is different. But the general approach is the good students get the good shiduchs.

And I should make it clear what is the idea of  a shiduch. Literally it means nothing more or less than a marriage proposition.  And officially it has no binding aspect to it. It is not an arranged marriage. But in the world of yeshivas it carries weight. Maybe too much weight. But in effect it means that you sit in a good yeshiva and obey the rules for a few years you are ultimately guaranteed to come out with  a marriage partner. And that is not a bad deal.

But there are endless variations on this theme. And it rarely works the way people would like it to. But that is the operational theme of every yeshiva --good and bad ones.

30.7.15

Kant held that Reason applied to unconditioned realities would produce contradictions..
But that it is valid in the realm of a priori synthetic knowledge.The question is if these are really all that different?
 Rav Elazar Menachem Shach heard an idea from Isaac Zev that I wanted to present here



The preliminaries are these: A mishna  says land conquered by Jews coming out of Egypt  but not settled by Jews returning to Israel from Babylonia is נאכל ואינו נעבד eaten but not worked on the seventh year. Another Mishna says עבר הירדן is obligated in ביעור. Fruits from lands beyond the Jordan river is not allowed to be eaten if there is nothing left of it in the fields. The Gemara in Yevamot 16b says אמון ומואב מעשרין מעשר עני בשביעית. Amon and Moav give tithes to the poor in the seventh year.
A few lines later the Talmud explains the reason: דאמר מר הרבה כרכים כבשו עולי מצרים והינחום עולי בבל שקדושה ראשונה קדשה לשעתה ולא קדשה לעתיד לבא כדי שיסמכו עליהם עניים בשביעית



Those are three facts from the Talmud.





The next three facts you need are these. Three Rambams. הלכות שביעית ויובל ד:כו. Land up until Kaziv is עולי בבל. After Kaziv is עולי מצרים. And is נאכל ואינו נעבד eaten but not worked on the seventh year.
The Rambam models his law here on the Mishna but adds ספיחים are eaten. [Not like ר' שמשון].
In the first chapter of Trumah the Rambam decides the law קדושה ראשונה the first sanctification did not sanctify the land permanently. Only the second sanctification did that.
In הלכות ביכורים ו:ה The Rambam says Amon and Moav and Egypt give tithes to the poor in the seventh year and Babylon gives the second tithe.

These are the six facts you need. Three from the Rambam and three from the Talmud.

Zev Soloveitchik told Rav Shach that land conquered by Jews coming from Egypt is obligated in all obligations that the land of Israel is obligated in.
One idea explains and clarifies everything in one simple sentence. I do have I think a very good question on this idea but I will save that for desert.

The shock value here lies starts when you notice the Gemara in Yevamot never said anything about land conquered by Jews returning from Egypt as being obligated in tithes to the poor. All it says is so that the poor will depend on them in the seventh year. That means it has all the obligations of the land of Israel. Seventh year, Truma, the forgotten sheaf etc., and etc.

The question I have is the fact that the Talmud says "they left them so the poor can depend on them in the seventh year." But all the more so if they had not left them then the land would have the holiness of the land of Israel and the poor would depend on them in the seventh year. My learning partner answered it is referring to ספיחים. But I think that is not a good answer because they left those lands before there was an decree against  ספיחים

 Clearly עולי מצרים is considered the land of Israel to the Rambam. And just like  Isaac Soloveitchik suggested it is obligated in all obligated of the land of Israel

A key fact here is הלכות תרומות א:כו that even the second sanctification did not sanctify any part of Israel until all Israel returns. Until then all obligations are by rabbinical decree.



 This explains the Rambam in laws of Trumot ch. 1 halacha 5, ולא פטרום כדי שיסמו כו עליהם עניים בשביעית. Logically that means if they had not left them poor people could not depend on them. At first glance this sounds senseless. But what I suggest it means is this : if they had not left them they would be obligated in the seventh year laws.













I think I can say with confidence the problem in yeshivas is flattery.
Though I never saw this in NY yeshivas but i saw it all the time in almost every Israeli yeshiva I ever saw. Since the heads of yeshiva in Israel are in general people that were owners of fruits and vegetables stores before they found an easier way of making money by becoming a Rosh Yeshiva so people in their yeshiva know they are not Torah scholars. In Israel all you needed to do was to go to the ministry of religion with three different ID cards and you got an automatic stipend for a yeshiva. Once these used fruit salesmen have the money every month from the Ministry of Religion, then the people in their yeshiva feel enormous pressure to speak nicely  and treat him with the respect due to real Torah scholars. But it is all one big scam. And what aggravates it is that any Rosh Yeshiva that does not get the right amount of flattery he thinks he deserves, he withholds the month salary.


Answer: In the 1930s, B.F. Skinner and others developed the theory of operant conditioning; they showed that there is a predictable pattern to behavior in organisms from flatworms to people: behavior that is rewarded is reinforced; behavior that is not reinforced tends to disappear.
Operant conditioning was controversial in theoretical psychology, linguistics, and as Skinner developed his ideas further into radical behaviorism, politically. In the meantime, however, animal trainers quickly started using operant conditioning to great effect. Pretty quickly, they learned that you had to be careful about what you are reinforcing, because what seems to be scolding a puppy for chewing a sock may seem to the puppy like “Oh cool! I can grab one of these things and Daddy will always play tug of war with me!”

Don't give money to any yeshiva. Period.

If I could I would learn the writings of Isaac Luria and the Remak.

I learn zero kabalah. Part of the reason is because of limited time in each day. Another reason is I am not thrilled with the Zohar. Still I realize that kabalah did not start nor end with the Zohar and the Zohar itself is jut a compilation of the basic approach that you find anyway in Sefer Yetzira and the the other kabalistic books that were around during the Middle Ages.

If I could I would learn the writings of Isaac Luria and the Remak.


The reason I bring this up is because I was thinking about the Lekutai Moharan of Nachman from Uman. They way I understand him is he is suggesting to learn some kabalah.

The idea is this. In Vol I chapter 56 he divides Torah, and the hidden-ness, and ruler-ship into two parts each.

Rulership he divides into two. One is open rulership. The other is hidden. Open is the head of a family or a company or a nation. But there is a person that has hidden ruler-ship. There is even a person that visibly has no authority but in a hidden way he rules over all the tzadikim of the generation.
 But any kind of rulership is a responsibility that is dangerous.  המלכות מקברת את בעליה. So you have to draw life into it. That is by Torah. And this happens in a few ways. One is  by Torah people learn themselves what they are doing wrong and correct themselves. So you don't have to rebuke anyone. You just teach Torah and the Torah itself corrects everyone. The other way is the Torah is the representative of God. It is his name. And with God is life. So by Torah you are calling to God and that brings life into the rulership.

The hidden-ness is this. There are people that know God is hidden from them and they can search for him. But there are other people that don't know God is hidden. The hidden-ness is hidden. They think they are already close to God. Or they think everything is allowed. They don't recognize that some things are forbidden.  But when one know that without God nothing can exist and that he is even in the darkest of places that one has fallen to, bu that the hiddeness is revealed.

And God made sure that only the highest level of Torah was contained in the hidden-ness in the hidden-ness. Because if open Torah was contained there, the kelipot would be able to receive nourishment from it.

So what I am suggesting is that this Torah lesson is connected in this way, that the Torah one needs to draw into the hidden rulership is the hidden Torah. That means in English to learn the writings of Isaac Luria.








29.7.15