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24.3.17

The Self that is not a soul is a secular thing.

With Kant all you really have is knowledge based on observation or not based on observation. [a posteriori or a priori].
This comes from Hume. But this to a large degree accepts a very secular idea of the ''self''. The Self that is not a soul is a secular thing. It has no spiritual intuitions, spiritual connections.
This creates a very false self image of what a person is or ought to be for every single individual. It does not automatically deny knowledge based on spiritual intuition but it does so by implication.

This means that people looking into their own lives and trying figure out things tend to miss a significant aspect of their own self being that they can not take into account because they believe it has no relevance nor even reality. Even when they are interested in Torah this makes them incapable of accounting for what they might be doing right or wrong. They also will tend to look at others as selves, but not souls. [Allen Bloom went into this in great depth in his book The Closing Of The American Mind].

In my own case there were spiritual connections that I had with my parents and Israel and Torah and the Infinite Light  of the Divine Presence, that I ignored because of not being able to take them into account in my mental processing. That led me to ignore the most significant aspects of Torah.  

This is not to minimize the danger of the fact that all intuitions are subject to error. The Sitra Achra [the realm of Evil] we already know has great power to make itself seems sweet and lovely for the moment, though in the end it is bitterness and gall.








22.3.17

It is possible for teachers of Torah to be satanic

It is possible for teachers of Torah to be satanic as we can can see in the religious community in Los Angeles. But there are different levels of evil as brought in the Zohar
The place this really come up in detail is in the writings of Reb Nachman, but it is also mentioned in the Talmud and even the Rambam brings it up.
The mystery is that you would expect them to be better--not worse.
So it is on purpose that I mention the few good and authentic yeshivas in NY and Israel, like Ponovitch, Mir Chaim Berlin, Torah VeDaat, in order to focus on the good and hope that people will understand what is bad. I also should mention the religious Zionist yeshivas which I generally have a good impression of.

21.3.17

A legal measure adopted by a later Beit Din when the reason for the law is gone is well known to be the subject of a debate between the Rambam and Raavad. It stems from the Gemara in Betza page 5.

The interesting thing about it is the Rambam in the introduction to the Mishne Torah where he deals with a different issue about a local beit din. There he brings down that no one has the authority to nullify a law of the gemara [Talmud]. [And we have in the Gemara a set of rules how to decide any halacha. In any case the Rambam had no doubt about that. But among rishonim there are different opinions on which of those rules takes precedence]. The odd thing he does not seem to refer to a beit din without the authentic semicha from Sinai {which no longer exists} except in the Mishne Torah itself. In the introduction he seems to refer to the kind of Beit din of three that can judge a very limited  set of things. So in Mishna Torah why does he not go into the subject of a beit din with no true semicha. Obviously because  as we can see he felt they had no authority to make  decrees.

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A legal measure adopted by a later בית דין when the reason for the law is gone is well known to be the subject of a debate between the רמב''ם and ראב''ד. It stems from the כמרא in ביצה דף ה' ע''א.

The interesting thing about it is the רמב''ם in the introduction to the משנה תורה where he deals with a different issue about a local בית דין. There he brings down that no one has the authority to nullify a law of the גמרא. And we have in the  גמרא a set of rules how to decide any הלכה. In any case the רמב''ם had no doubt about that. But among ראשונים there are different opinions on which of those rules takes precedence. The odd thing בהלכות ממרים ב' הלכה ב' does not seem to refer to a בית דין  without the authentic סמיכה from Sinai which no longer exists . In the introduction he seems to refer to the kind of בית דין of three that can judge a very limited  set of things. So in משנה תורה why does he not go into the subject of a בית דין with no true סמיכה. Obviously because  as we can see he felt they had no authority to make  decrees.

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I see things in the last century worth preserving. There is a lot of good work in Math and Physics and Engineering. [Frankly the progress in these fields is astounding] Some good work has been done in philosophy by Kelley Ross and Michael Huemer and Jerold Katz and John Searle. Some of the best work Maimonides also has been done in the 2Oth century. Plus there are plenty of good Thomas Aquinas people out there. And what about Godel? Only time will tell about other areas, but after about 200 years of socialisms the fact of Trump shows the people of this century has discovered what many others did not discover--that Socialism is a bust.

Review. That is saying the words of each section forwards and backwards

There is an idea of learning that helped me get through very hard courses in Physics and Math in NYU. That is saying the words of each section forwards and backwards. I picked up this idea from Isaac Luria in שער רוח הקודש but it came up also in the Middle Ages with mystics in Germany. 

I confess I would not have been able to get through my courses without this idea. But it should not be considered opposed to the idea of learning fast. Learning fast is more for the first few times you go through a book or some set of let's say a hundred pages. But then the process of review begins.

20.3.17

Ari is the ten sepherot. But Rav Shalom Sharabi [from Yemen and then Jerusalem] showed how that boils down to five Partzufim [פרצופים]

I had a few thoughts--but nothing really worked out.
Hegel's triadic (three fold) structure which he acknowledged came from Plato and obviously Kant. To me it is seems certain that to some degree he was inspired by Isaac Luria. The basic structure of reality as we know from the Ari is the ten sepherot. But Rav Shalom Sharabi [from Yemen and then Jerusalem] showed how that boils down to five Partzufim [פרצופים] and from there down to three. That is right at the beginning of the book Nahar Shalom.
To some degree it is possible to see the importance of the triads of Hegel by means of the Cantor set. In the Cantor set you keep taking out the middle third and if you go to infinity it turns out that the Lebesque measure intersection of all the subsets is zero. 

Which simply means if you take out the middle term you get no connection between the first and third.


I should mention there is a somewhat different approach to the Ari, the פשוט פשט the simple explanation which you see in Rav Yaakov Abuchatzaira and the Ramchal.



18.3.17

legitimacy of authority

The whole issue of legitimacy of authority got mixed up. In the Christian world they have ordination as an attempt to decipher. But in the Jewish world the stringent indication of counterfeit authority is ordination. This is because true ordination stopped during the Talmud period. And that kind of ordination is the only kind the Torah recognizes as valid. So what you have today is anyone claiming ordination is by definition a fraud.
To some degree this was recognized in authentic yeshivas where true Torah was learned like the Mir in NY. But even there a kind of blind eye was turned to people that went to get the false kind of ordination you have nowadays. 
There is a such a thing as a true Torah scholar but that is more or less an unofficial position. That is a person that is recognized as knowing the Torah well and usually there is no doubt to who this applies.
The best thing is to refuse to ask questions or go to these false prophets of the Baal and to do with them like Elisha the true prophet of God did with the false prophets. 

The problem with authority in the Jewish world goes back a long way. The simple way to avoid the problem is simply to take note that religious clothing usually means someone is trying to get money out of real Jews, by pretending to know and teach Torah. The best approach with these people is to shoot them on sight  so as not to let them into your communities where they do infinite damage to your children.
The most explicit explanation of this problem come from Reb Nachman who thought most people play the role of teachers of Torah are actually demons. That is messengers sent on earth from Satan to trick people and give them a false counterfeit teachings.
This really began in the days of the prophets but is also mentioned in the Talmud and Rishonim. In short there have always been scammers from the Sitra Achra [realm of evil].  






 

17.3.17

Montesquieu: I think said to refute the “noble savage” illusion the missionary gives them an ox and wagon and they tear apart the wagon to roast the ox. De Maistre said what savages want from Western Civilization is guns to kill others with and alcohol and drugs to kill themselves with.

16.3.17

Hegel was I think the equivalent of Aquinas and Maimonides in looking for a balanced approach between Revelation and Reason (R&R).

Hamann (Johann Georg Hamann) and Joseph de Maistre were pretty much counter Enlightenment with the later emphasizing the Catholic Church.
Allen Bloom seems to have taken the question of Enlightenment Counter Enlightenment as not being settled.
Isaiah Berlin and Walter Kaufman seem to have taken the exact middle approach. That is they saw the Enlightenment had some things right and some things wrong. That is they saw the Counter Enlightenment had some things right and some things wrong. So they saw the middle approach not as a compromise but as a solution.

I wanted to add that Kant and Hegel were also in the middle. 

Hegel was I think the equivalent of Aquinas and Maimonides in looking for a balanced approach between Revelation and Reason (R&R). So in that sense he predated the thinkers that thought a middle path between Enlightenment and counter enlightenment was proper. And he definition had the larger "nation" in mind-but not any nation but one founded on principle of Justice and freedom. Not as Popper thought the Prussian state but rather in an explicit quote he was thinking of the USA. See  Kaufmann on Hegel

It is not the case that the USA is solely John Locke or Enlightenment. It has had and still has a strong religious foundation base on the best of the Judaic-Christian civilization of Europe and the best of Athens and Rome. There is no need to disparage it.The election of Trump I thinks shows this very well.

Karl Popper was unfair to Hegel and this led to Dr. Kelly Ross, the Californian, also being unfavorable to him.  Popper thought Hegel was responsible for the totalitarian regimes his saw in his days. But he was right to the degree that Marx did borrow from Hegel. In university courses that were preparation for work in the KGB Hegel was taught and was considered an important step before Marx [along with Feuerbach]. In USSR universities they credited Hegel with the "moment in time" idea but clearly Marx borrowed a lot more than that from him. So the Left using [or misusing] Hegel is not new and it continues. But the reason is because the right simply ignores Hegel.


13.3.17

full Soviet

The Soviets themselves never claimed to go full Soviet either. They were saying the ideal is Socialism and that Communism was just a step that direction. It gained ground I believe because of WWI. Russians and Ukrainians I think just got fed up being used for cannon fodder for German artillery, Jews got upset about the pogroms, and Socialism as an ideal had been making its way around "Enlightened Europe"--at least that is the way Russians saw it. I heard this once before and I think that it is true that the whole problem was with the "General Will" and socialism based on Rousseau instead of Democracy based on John Locke. But in any case I do not see how that was any possibility for Russia in 1917--or even today for that matter.