Monday, July 28, 2014

Idolatry:It is a surprise to me that this subject is not pursued more rigorously. It is highly relevant today. And yet almost no one has a clear idea of what is involves.

Idolatry is a really involved subject. [Two major places to look are Talmud Sanhedrin 60b and the third and forth chapter of tracate Avoda Zara]
It is a surprise to me that this subject is not pursued more rigorously. It is highly relevant today. And yet almost no one has a clear idea of what is involves.



My basic impression is that the term is used sometimes to disparage something people do not like. But in fact I think it has to do with Numinous reality. And I do not think that any manifestation of Numinous reality besides just the One and only creator is idolatry. I mean we do have the idea of holiness in a sefer Torah and the like.
But i am only at the beginning of this subject so i cant say a lot. My impression is that we can understand what idolatry is when we look at the Rambam's approach to a mediator. A mediator is something one worships in order to come closer to God or to receive something from God. So now we can understand what a god is even when they are not mediators. They are beings that one worships in order to get closer to in spirit [numinous reality] or to receive something from.

When i was discussing this with a hasid at the tziun of rebbi nachman he asked about Zionism. I explained that Zionism is not idolatry because it lacks this numinous aspect. nor are people worshiping it.In other words idolatry does seem to have definite parameters and it is not a term that can be thrown around at will. But it does seem to be something that is very easy to transgress and get involved in.
The Satmer Rav thought Zionism is idolatry but his view is hard to defend. It seems like he was using the word idolatry a rhetorical device,




Thursday, July 24, 2014


My impression is that Putin wants all of the Ukraine. I do not think this massive military effort is all just to get hold of two eastern provinces. My suggestion is for people to do teshuva.[repent of their sins]. But since repenting of sins can be a little tricky because of the problem of identifying what is a sin I suggest that people learn Musar. Musar is a set of books on Ethics written during the Middle ages and Renaissance.

Also i should mention that we find that Rebbi Nachman thought fear of God is connected with length of days. People will do a lot to lengthen their days. learning Musar seems a lot less effort a that what people usually spend on this kind of effort.

Also I recommend opening up yeshivas of Musar. that means yeshiva that learn Gemara rashi Tosphot and also Musar. And especially for people that have sinned i think this is important. Because we find that one who has sinned and caused others to sin can’t repent. The only solution to this problem is to bring many people to be better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Is the worship of a mediator idolatry?
This came up in my learning the Talmud Avoda Zara.

From what I can tell the Talmud simply does not deal with this issue at all. It seems to only occur in Maimonides. About then years ago I decided the view of Maimonides on this issue was based on Aristotle.

At any rate the only source I could find for the rambam was Saadia Geon. and i do not know if he deals with this issue at all. From what I remember he deals with the many versions of the trinity but i don't remember about the issue of a mediator.
 But i cant go into Saadia Goeon because my learning partner is  kind of a chasid of rebbi nachman who forbid looking at philosophical books --even those of the great sages of Israel. this includes the emunot VeDeot of Saadia Geon. So we went back to learning the Gemara and dropped the whole issue.





Friday, July 11, 2014

For my opinion concerning Israel and the situation today concerning the war between the Palestinians and Israel I would suggest to people to read the essay of Michael Huemer on why people are irrational about politics and also the essay of Kelly Ross considering fundamentalist Islam on his site on the Kant-Fries school of thought.

But just for the record let me say that I think Israel has a right to protect herself. further in  sate of war i don't think they need to bring individual combatants to trial. If fact i think the best think would be to drop the semantics and call it what it is war and then let the rules of war apply. Obviously the Palestinians have no problem with targeting civilian populations. So this is war therefor Israel should do what one does in war. --take out its enemies. Period.



In the Gemara in Bava Kama we find a section that deals with a chicken that has a pail that was tied to its foot and it damages vessels as it is walking in the domain of the person that had his property damaged.

The Rosh here looks to be just what the gemara says about it. But the Rambam here looks difficult.

The geon from Villna leaves the rambam with two words"aino Muvan" "It is not understandable."

I have not looked at the Gra for awhile but I assume he probably explains the whole thing like the Rosh and Tosphot.
But not only is the rambam hard to understand. If you go to the next halacha [nizkei mamon chapter 2] you will see the Rambam holds in our case that if the string or pail was owned that the owner of the chicken is not obligated in any damages. This is not only hard to understand but it seems to goes directly against the Gemara.


you see this when the rambam writes if the owner of the pail hide it he is also not obligated.  the also is the key word.







Monday, July 7, 2014

Is there a prohibition of learning outside wisdoms? This is assumed so in Breslov

This is assumed so in Breslov

The Mishna in Sanhedrin says three cases for which one loses his portion in the next world. Rabbi Akiva adds also one who reads outside books.
In the world of Orthodox Judaism this is taken very seriously. But is it the Halacha?

To make this as quick as possible I want to bring the Rif and Rosh and then the Rambam.

Our Gemara says this: "What  are outside books? Books of Minim [heretics]"
The Rif and Rosh have a different version that says:  Outside books are books that explain the written law in ways other than the tradition we have from the Oral Law.
  To be clear this can't refer to Euclid or books of natural science. It is a specific category of books that people wrote about the Torah but were not based on the sages.


Now so far we do not even know of anyone here is posek [decides] like Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva in this Mishna is the minority opinion and and all similar case we never go by an minority opinion.
 But even if we say that Rabbi Akiva is the halacha still it is a very limited kind of category and has nothing to do with science.

 the rambam at first glance ignores this statement of rabbi akiva. He does not bring it in hilchot teshuva where he brings down the rest of that mishna. but one type of minim -[-those that worship any being in the hope that that being will be a mediator between one and God] is  a kind of idolatry and the ramabm does bring down the prohibition to read books of idolatry.

at any rate we still do not get anywhere near science books.

i only mention this because in the world of Orthodox Judaism it has becomes common to associate the idea of outside books [chachmot chizoniot] with science books. this is clearly a mistake according to what we have seen in the rif rambam and rosh and what we know about all the rishonim. Further more we find the rambam thinking that the learning of physics and Meta physics are the proper ways to come to fear and love of God.
















Thursday, July 3, 2014

Up until now California has been the King of philosophy.There is the Kant-Fries school of Kelley Ross and Fesser in Pasadena. [Plus John Searle has some don some really good work]
But now Colorado seems to be getting into the act with Michell Huemer and also with other people doing some serious work in Kant.