The basic critique I have on Christianity is mainly based on the idea that Paul changed the basic message. From the very beginning of my looking at the New Testament I did not see much different than the basic message of learning and keeping Torah except with and emphasis on kindness.  The ideas of belief did not seem any different that what the sages of the Talmud say about the importance of belief in the wise. I had before that learned a small amount of the writings of Isaac Luria and Reb Nachman and that helped to see that the statements of Jesus  could all be understood and were probably meant in the usual mystic way that most Jewish tzadikim have been expressing themselves  for long time.

So on one hand I think it is great that Christians have faith in a true tzadik. On the other hand I think they have gotten the whole thing mixed up with lots of incoherent ideas. So which is more important? To believe in a true tzadik even if you do not understand what he said and even make great errors about what he meant; or not to believe in the tzadik at all, and to attribute bad motives to him? It seems to me belief in a true tzadik outweighs the negative aspects of misinterpreting what he said.

This basic approach was based on my own reading and later I saw the writings of the direct disciple of Peter confirmed this impression. See the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions. 

Ayn Rand thought everything is downstream from thought. That is one you have the Enlightenment philosophers things just went on their natural course. I have heard the opposite opinion that everything starts at the bottom. It is hard to know. My impression is that both are right. I do not have such a bad opinion of the Enlightenment philosophers as Brett Stevens. The extent of my own thinking mainly got me up until Allen Bloom that there a basic contradiction that exists in the USA between Enlightenment thought and anti Enlightenment thought that pays itself out in every day practices. I think that Allen Bloom must have been thinking of Hegel as the kind of solution to this dilemma that he saw. Why he did not pursue that path in his book I am not sure of.


Bava Metzia page 100 A

The ר''י holds  we have חזקה מעיקרא that pushes the time forwards along with חזקת רשות thus it belongs to the buyer. What works against this is חזקת השתא since the cow gave birth, we push that back in time and that helps חזקת מרא קמא.
ר''י מחזיק יש לנו חזקה מעיקרא שדוחפת את הזמן קדימה יחד עם חזקת רשות ובכך הולד שייך לקונה. מה שעובד נגד זה חזקת השתא מאז שפרה ילדה, אנחנו דוחפים בחזרה הזמן וזה עוזר חזקת מרא קמא

Naphtali Yegear in Shar Yashuv, the yeshiva of Rav Freifeld when I was there did a lot of work on Ketuboth page 9 where this all comes up in Tosphot. The basic issue there is the fact that a Cohen finds his bride not to be a virgin, she is forbidden to him. The reason is we do not know if the act of sex happened before the kidushin or afterwards [in those days there was a long wait between kidushin and  Hupa]. If it was after Kidushin then she is forbidden even if it was rape. Tosphot asks why not go with חזקת כשרות? Answer: On the contrary חזקת הגוף
The truth is I am not sure what Tosphot means here. I think he means חזקת הגוף is what we normally call חזקא מעיקרא and that just like the mikve in Nida page 2 we would put חזקה דהשתא together with and another חזקה and together they have the power to defeat a חזקה מעיקרא. Thus she would be permitted to her husband. 

But if so what is Tosphot answering? That חזקה מעיקרא can defeat both חזקה דהשתא along with חזקת כשרות? That is I think not what Tosphot means. Rather I think he means that those two חזקות can not defeat חזקה מעיקרא but they can make the whole situation into a doubt. And after all that is all we are looking for in Ketubot.
I noticed Rav Shach says when there is a doubt the חזקת השתא and חזקה מעיקרא cancel each other, and if you combine some other חזקה  with חזקת השתא then you get  a וודאי. But when there is no reason to start doubting anything in the first place, then you only look at חזקה מעיקרא and not at חזקת השתא at all. He also ties this with an argument between Rav and Shmuel. 

I am not sure if this change anything in our case here in Bava Metzia.

What I mean is that Rav Shach and R.Akiva Eigger disagree about the reason the wife of the cohen is forbidden to him. Tosphot brings two contrary חזקות and R Akiva Eiger asks why not add חזקה דהשתא to the חזקת כשרות to allow her? He answers צירוף חזקות only works if they both indicate the same thing. Rav Shach answers a different answer as I mentioned up above. You need to start with a doubt when the crucial event took place. How doe this relate to the way I look at Bava Metzia page 100? There we have 4 חזקות, two against two.
The way I think we can look at this is this. The Gemara puts the calf into an alley. Then the חזקה that determines ownership should be מרא קמא. And to the Gemara that would work except for the fact that the mishna is Sumchos. So I wonder why not bring in חזקה מעיקרא here to tell us the birth came later and to make ownership a doubt so the mishna could be the sages also? The way I have been thinking for about 24 hours is that this is the argument between the Ri and the Rashbam. The Ri holds we  have a doubt about when the calf was born and so חזקה דהשתא וחזקה מעיקרא mutually cancel. The Rashba holds until the animal was born there was no reason to doubt when it will be born. It is not like the mikve that is constantly getting less over a period of time and thus we have a doubt when it go to be less that 40 seah.



I don't know if this is what Rav Shach means. But after reading him in the morning I went out and did some errands. On the way back it occurs to me that this is possibly what he means. But I am not sure. So for now I wish to write this the way I see it

The issue comes up in the end of chapter 9 in Bava Metzia. R. Yehuda holds we are not (going by the reason for a law) דורשים טעמא דקרא. R. Shimon ben Yochai hold we go bu the reason for the law דורשים טעמא דקרא. The general rule of how to decide halacha when there is an argument between tenaim is given in Eruvin. When there is an argument between R Yehuda and R Shimon the halacha is like R Yehuda.
In a verse in the Torah it says not to marry any of the seven nations. Or more exactly do not give your children in marriage to them so they will not turn the heart of your children towards idolatry.
R. Yehuda who does not look at the reason for a verse says we go by the literal meaning. It forbids only the seven nations. R Shimon says it forbids all nations that do idolatry because we go by at the reason for the verse, not by its literal meaning. So why does the Rambam decide marriage with all nations that do idolatry is forbidden? Tons of ink and megabytes have been spilled on this problem.
If i understand Rav Shach proper;y he has an amazing answer for this question but he does not seem to spell it out in the same way as I wish to put it.

The key factor to notice is the case of a king. The verse says he should not have many wives. The first opinion, the sages, says that means not to have more than 18 wives. R. Yehuda says he can have as many as he  wants as long as they do not tilt his heart.R Shimon says even one that tilts his heart he must not marry. So when it says not to ave many it means even like Abigail.
Rav Shach points out that here the first opinion and R Shimon agree. That is the key. But what Rav means I am not sure of. So I wish to write the way I see this. The  sages obviously agree with R, Yehuda that we do not go by the reason for the law.  But here we see R, Yehuda does go by the reason for the law because the reason is written explicitly. So what does R Shimon do when the reason is given openly? He  learns from both the regular verse and he learns something extra from the reason. So even though in general the sages go with R yehuda but in  a case when the reason for the law is given openly then they go like R Shimon.  This now gives us enough information to explain the Rambam. That is this. When the reason for the law is given openly in the verse the sages agree with R Shimon. And that is exactly the case with intermarriage. So in that case the sages will agree with R Shimon that all nations that serves idols are forbidden, not just the seven nations. And that is ho the Rambam decides. He decides this not because it is the opinion of R Shim but because it is the reason of the sages.


The greatest threat to Western Civilization I fear are the journalists who seem incapable of reporting any single fact accurately about anything, to stupid to even realize how stupid they are and weave their imaginary worlds that people believe as if written on Two Tablets.

Wilders in Europe and Trump in the USA shows to me that Western Civilization is just getting started. These two men combine three traits–vision, detail and the warrior. Truly remarkable people.
I wanted to introduce a famous subject that comes up in the beginning of Yevamot [which is one of the major yeshivish mashechot]. This will help to answer a question I asked in the beginning of Yevamot that i wrote in my little booklet חידושי הש''ס

It is the question of אשת אחיו מאמו the wife of a brother from the mother, not from the father. The Rambam says simply that אשת אחיו the wife of a brother is required to bring a sin offering. [I mean if one slept with her.]  he does not make any distinction between the wife of a brother from the father or mother. That means both are in כרת [being cut off from one's people if done on purpose and required a sin offering if done by accident.] This is clearly not like the Torah Kohanim that Tosphot brings in the beginning of Yevamot. That statement from the book reads thus, The the verse about not to marry one's brother's wife says "נדה היא"[she is a  woman that has seen blood.] Torah Kohanim asks why compare her to a נדה?  Because just like a נדה  has a time of permission so does she--that is if the  brother dies without children. So the verse can not be talking about a brother from the mother.
So the Rambam obviously rejects this braita/teaching.

Rav Shach suggests the reason is that it is going like an opinion in the Gemara that was rejected. [Yevamot 41]
הותרה ונאסרה וחזרה והותרה אסורה (like Shmuel and Rav Assi) The reason for this the Rashba says is that opinion holds the יבמה is an איסור כרת  but the עשה of יבום pushes it off. But the Halacha in the Gemara itself is הותרה ונאסרה והותרה מותרת (Rav and R. Chanina) and that opinion holds the איסור of אשת אח has a time limit and after she falls to Yibum there no longer is any כרת involved.  Thus the same goes for the wife of the brother from the mother that also has a time limit. But the actual prohibition never falls off because the mitzvah of yibum never arrives. But since it could arrive in theory so the prohibition has a time limit.   Therefore the Braita of Torat Kohanim that takes the wife of the brother from the mother out of כרת because she has no permission does not apply. Thus we see that braita is going like a rejected opinion in the Gemara.

Thus my question in the beginning of yevamot also has an answer.
That is that original braita there that would be holding עשה דוחה לא תעשה שיש בו כרת  would also be going like this rejected opinion in the Gemara of Shmuel and Rav Assi 


I think the USA could manage with a certain amount of immigration from Europe. The vision of the founding fathers was definitely a kind of Wasp nation. The influence of John Locke was an important factor and to him religious conflict was a really bad thing so they wanted the USA to be open to all Christian denominations including Jews as per John Locke. But for some reason unknown to me, John Locke saw something about Muslims that he thought was particularity dangerous and he excluded them all in his Two Treaties. I was pretty shocked when I saw this. He id not go into detail so it still is not clear exactly what he saw to be the problem except that Muslims tend to try to destroy their host society. That is all he really said about it. I mean it seems to me that John Locke was looking at Islam as kind of   threat that was political but with religious fervor behind it.


I wanted to share some thoughts about a law in the Rambam. (הלכות איסורי ביאה א:כ''ב) Sleeping with a woman who has seen blood and not waited seven days and gone down to to the river gets lashes. Even though it is ערווה it is still is only lashes. If she is known to her neighbors as being a nida (seeing blood) he also gets lashes. The reason: the Rambam uses the words הוחזקה נדה בשכינותיה.
In the same Halacha the Rambam goes on  to say this hard thing to understand: She is a Sota (There was קינוי וסתירה [warning (קינוי) and she was alone with the guy her husband told her not to be alone with] and then one witness comes and says he saw the actual deed (she slept with another man -not her husband) and then her husband who is a Kohen sleeps with her, he gets lashes for sleeping with a זונה.

The Raavad says for טומאה not זונה.
A "Zona" זונה is generally translated prostitute  but that does not convey the actual meaning.
A זונה is a woman who has slept with a person that she is forbidden to sleep with  from either a לאו negative commandment or an איסור עשה and thus forbidden to a kohen from the Torah itself,

Now in any case once there is a warning (קינוי) and she was alone with the guy her husband told her not to be alone with she is in any case a סוטה  and he can not sleep with her and if a witness comes ad says he say her sleep together with that guy, then she can not drink the מי סוטה waters of the Sota. So she is anyway forbidden to her husband but from where does this idea of the Rambam come from that she is a זונה?  --as the Raavad so rightly asks.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik answers she becomes a זונה by her husband sleeping with her. This answer is obviously unsatisfactory and goes against a few Gemaras. Rav Shach answers an answer that is much better. That is one witness is usually believed in איסורים. That is the famous statement עד אחד נאמן באיסורים. So we would usually believe one witness in a case like this except that here the woman is married which is the one exception when we do not believe a single witness. But here Rav Shach suggest the combination of קינוי וסתירה ועד אחד  makes a חזקה and that would fit perfectly  with the beginning of the halacah in which case the Rambam is talking about establishing a presumed state חזקה.
What I think is that here we have a case similar to the beginning of Nida with the famous case of the Mikve there that lacks the volume 40 Seah. Here we have two חזקות to start with. חזקת כשרות and חזקת הגוף and we have a חזקה  with a witness. What is the normal law of one witness and  a חזקה? Is this the reason the Rambam gives her a חזקת זונה? Or what else might be going on here? I really do not know.

What seems right to me is this. That normally we always believe one witness in איסורים. It is just in the particular case of a woman living with her husband we do not believe one witness to forbid her to her husband.  But here after there has already been קינוי וסתירה we no longer want to make an exception and we return to the original rule of עד אחד נאמן באיסורים.
I also think you have to say this because the idea of one witness and קיניו וסתירה  to make a חזקה  does not seem to work here because even if it would work it would be going against two other חזקות חזקת כשרות וחזקת הגןף.  But also there does not seem to be any reason to say there is a חזקה now of זונה. That is חזקת השתא usually means we know the state of affairs now and we work למפרע to establish a previous state.
What I am getting at is that in Nida the Gemara only uses חזקת השת to go against  חזקה מעיקרא if the חזקה דהשתא  has another חזקה working with it. But here on the contrary we have two previous חזקות going against a חזקה דהשתא. Now in Nida page 2 Tosphot says that חזקה דהשתא can also work against חזקה מעיקרא by itself to make a doubt. But here with the סוטה we consider it definite so as to give lashes to her husband.

I noticed that sometimes when anti-Semitism comes up, it seems to be when Jewish people are advocating the wrong types of things. It is not always like that but it seems to be at least one aggravating cause. The first time I noticed this was in the Ukraine when Jewish people were the tax collectors for the Polish overlords. That could not have added any degree of popularity of Jews by the local population. There was a time in the Persian Empire I think Jews were supporting the rebellion against the King and that rebellion failed.  That is sometimes I think Anti Semitism is tie to support for bad causes.  The Expulsion from Spain was I also think linked Jewish sympathy towards Muslims. This could not have garnered any sympathy for Jewish people by Isabella or Ferdinand.  To some degree in modern times I also have noted Jewish support for really bad causes and it evokes a kind of panic and anguish  in me to see that.
The actual closing of the yeshivas in Persia I should mention was not due to that original cause of siding with the wrong side, but rather later when the monarch wanted to enforce the kind of scheme sharing  of wives and no private property. At that point quite rightly Jewish people said "NO."