Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Finally! A Source for "Blei Gissen!" (Unfortunately, not Jewish...)

Bleigiessen - Vorgang
Zentralbild Quaschinsky 18.12.1957 Sylvester bei Werner Lierck. In der Küche! Unser Reporter traf Werner Lierck und seine Tochter gerade beim Bleigiessen an. Da dies eine besondere Handlung ist, wollte er nicht gestört werden.

The voodoo-like ritual of "Blei gissen, the technique of pouring lead to nullify ayin ha’ra" has been puzzling me for years, where did it come from? See a (laudatory) report on it at: Pouring Away Ayin Ha’ra: The Work Of Rebbetzin Aidel Miller | The 5 Towns Jewish Times Well, a Facebook comment I saw this evening reveals its pagan origin! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molybdomancy 

 Thus, the line in the 5TJT article has a typo: "[Blei Gissen] has its source in the Gemara and been practiced for many years," should really read: "[Blei Gissen] has its source in Germany and been practiced for many years!"

144 comments:

  1. What were they referring to in the article when they said that there is a source for this in the gemara?

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  2. Most probably the reference is to Ben Sattida in Shabbos 104b.

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  3. :-)

    But he brought his sorcery from Egypt, not Germany (or according to one of my German talmidim who researched it a bit, a yet earlier source in Roman divination practices). ;-)

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  4. I was just trying to reply as the Rogotchover would.

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  5. When I first heard of this practice I thought it was mamash avoda zara. If they are using Ben Sattida as a source, that would strengthen my thoughts on that. The Rbtz may have a few big names to back her up, but even if this practice has any validity in Judaism, I think the Orthodox community would be much better served by getting over this obsession with segulas and child-like concepts of emuna, and instead focus on hishtadlus and creating a personal connection with Hashem through Torah and tefilla rather than questionable rituals.

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  6. It's one thing to pour lead, but don't pour sodium or potassium, because they will explode, chas vshalom. Don't even put them in water. Don't pour mercury either, these days, because it is considered toxic, and has some very toxic compounds. Even lead is known to cause lead-poisoning. You'd probably be best off pouring water, and it may even work better than lead. Ushavtem mayim bsason. Even better is the ice-bucket challenge. But don't pour it where somebody can slip. Segula Safety 101.

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  7. "Klal Yisroel has gone from being the Am Segula to the Am Segulos" - RavAharon Feldman, RY NIRC, as cited by Reb Eli Neuberger. Gevaldig!

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  8. Evidently the "source" in the Gemara is BM 107b, which states that 99 out of 100 people die on account of AhR. See http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/the-lakewood-shopper/issue35onlinea/2011110401/81.html

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    1. That is not a source for this procedure, just for the danger of ayin hara.

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    2. dlz -

      That's why "source" is in quotations marks!

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    3. The article doesn't give it as a source for the practice. It gave it as a source that Ayin Harah is bad for you.

      It's OK to be skeptical. However, not only didn't anyone bring any proof against it. Or any credentials that they would be in the know whether this works or not. (Not too many Mekubalim are on Blogger)

      I don't think there is anybody who doesn't believe that there is a concept of Segulos. The question is who's reliable and who's not. (Like doctors there are good ones and there are quacks. The same applies to all professions. How should a layman know who is for real and who's a faker.)

      Though one may be a skeptic and not necessary have to go to her. But calling it a scam, as if you have the expertise to know, is also not honest.

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    4. I personally do not believe in any segulos. At best they can be understood as a form of tefillah. Davening is a better form of tefillah. That is not to say that I have necessarily succeeded in eradicating the natural human tendency to superstition, just that I believe an adam ha'shalem has no use for them and does not attribute any significance to them. Were I RAEK or RYS, I would have eradicated that tendency.

      OTOH, I do not necessarily believe Avodah Zarah is a scam. I am not a Maimonidean. Bleigissen may be real, but assur nonetheless.

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    5. Well, I am a proud Maimonidean, at least until someone demonstrates conclusively that any kabbalistic practices work. Of course, when I was a kid, I was fascinated by tales of the Golem, as all kids were. But then I started to wonder why no kabbalists ever built a golem to defeat the Nazis.

      At any rate, I have a nice defense for the Rambam. The Gra attacks him saying that his study of secular philosophy led him astray, and therefore he doesn't accept keshafim, sheidim, gilgulim, etc. I say, that adraba all this stuff may have come from other religions. Catholics believe in exorcism, Hindus believe in reincarnation, Africans believe in demons and spells. But for the Rambam, Ein od milvado. Who is to say the Rambam's position is not the frummer one? The mishna in Chulin already tells us that tying a red string around a tree to heal it is darchei emori.

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    6. You got to be Kidding, Barry. So if Islamics believe in God, we got that from another religion too? What the Rambam denied was things that are written countless times in this obscure book called the Gemara. NOt to mention, creating a Golem with the Sefer Yetzira is also in the Gemara. SO that Rambam still remains a Shvera Rambam. I can't fathom how you think that you can answer the Goan's questions with some simplistic ideas.

      Secondly, the Gemara talks about amulets that are proved to work, not in the Agadita. but in Halacha (brought in Shulchon Orech.) How about Even Tekuma? that doesn't work either. I think we should all Chazar Perek B'Ma Isha

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    7. Dear Anonymous, regarding the agadetas of the gemara, there are plenty of opinions who hold not to take them literally. I can't remember offhand, but there is a discussion of keshafim perhaps in the 7th perek of Bava Metzia where a gentile could change a field from one type to another. Obviously none of us ever observed this in our time. The Rambam was probably equally bothered that he never observed it in his time, either. Now, if it only occurred in the time of chazal but not for us, then it weakens the relevance of the gemara to us. The era of chazal was magical, so how should their teachings apply in our genaration where the briya is totally different. Ella it is mistaver to the Rambam that there was no magic in chazal's time either, except for specific nisim which we are told of in tanach. Even a navi in tanach had to prove himself by making osos umofsim, or we need not believe a word he says. So the Rambam probably felt that unless we see actual magic with our own eyes, there is no chiyuv to believe it actually existed, ever. For this reason, the Rambam holds that stam magic shows (sleight of hand) are problematic, because they were used to fool people into thinking avoda zara had actual power, and convince them to join their cults. There never was a "koach hatumah", or "sitra achara", or whatever you want to call it. It was an illusion or trick, that's all.

      As far as your kashya from the halachic parts of shas, perhaps anything which could give yishuv hadaas to a choleh, even if it is only his belief that it works, we allow him to carry it shelo titraf daato. We don't upset a very sick person. I don't have time to review all cases to see if this holds across the board. Furthermore, kemeiyos may be nothing other than specific types of tefilos which are written, rather than spoken.

      Think about it. The gemara was finished about 500 CE. The Rambam lived in 1200 CE. So you hold that the world was magical for 4,000+ years. Suddenly, in the 700 years between the gemara and the Rambam, the whole briya changed? If the Rambam ever saw any magical sheidim or keshafim in all his travels, would he have lied to us? He never saw any, and he was as holy and worthy of anybody in his generation, yet he saw no evidence of supernatural occurrences. The Rambam is therefore not shver. He was just calling them as he sees them. Ein lo ldayan ella mah sh'einav ro'os. The gemaras which tell of magical keshafim are shver. We don't know what they mean, but are probably a mashal for something or other.

      Hope this helps.

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    8. Just because you never experienced them does not make them not exist. If Chazal said they exist, then we can believe them. Believe it or not, many things change in 700 years. I think it's impossible to extrapolate how things where in the Rambam's time to how things where in the times of Chazal. That is pure speculation on your part.

      This is why the Goan called him on it. There is no reason not to believe what Chazal says and for no other reason to say it's a Mashal just to fit into your philosophy. I have never seen magic, but I have no qualms to accepting it as Chazal says so. They are my eyes. Similar to the fact that I personally never seen Maamud Har Sini, yet my Mesorah is my eyes that seen it. The Goan was not the only one that was critical with the Rambam's trying to fit TYorah and philosophy. THe Darchai Moshe in Hichos Talmud Torah quotes a Rashba that says so. THe Bais Yosef quotes his Magid that the Rambam was spared punishment in Shamayim for what he wrote because he was great in Torah. This is why I think in our days you have this resurgence of people taking up the Rambam's cause. Not that they intellectually actually think that it's the true meaning of the Gemara, but just trying to reconcile the Torah with their Western ideology. Since those in your secular circles view these things as superstitious, so you too have to reject it. But the secular world gets there view of these things not from Chazal, but from phony places, so of course they scoff at it. However, we have Chazal that there are good reason why we trust them (And why we trust our Mesorah and not the other religions) there is no reason why we must compare their trust in superstitions as they see it and our Chazal. Yes, we believe that Chazal knew more than us and was more in touch spiritually than we are. So though we don't experiance it, I still see that logic dictates that we can take Chazal's word for it. Those that doubt are coming from an outside influence and not from pure logic.

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    9. Dear Reb Anonymous (and I don't know why you won't state your name), I understand what troubles you, and your viewpoint is certainly standard yeshivish. I tried to find the gemara I mentioned, where I believe this heathen woman could put a spell on a field, and wipe out a full field of crops and make them disappear or something. To assume magic like that actually happened in the time of the gemara is not only difficult because it disagrees with Western philosophy, it would create a new class of nezek which I don't think we find in halacha. If I can put a spell on your field and damage $1,000 worth of crops, then shouldn't I have to pay? But as far as I know, we don't find any cases like this in halacha. Yet if I slip and fall down on your box of tomatoes even by accident, I do have to pay. So perhaps the Rambam felt this was a raya that keshafim don't exist or don't have any koach to create physical effects on the world.

      But also, you make it seem that Western philosophy is a terrible thing whose purpose is to uproot the Torah. This is also fairly common in the yeshivishe world. But lmayseh, it is not. By accepting the principle that there are fixed scientific rules that explain how the world works, we have had tremendous success in harnessing and building all kinds of things. For example, Newton said if I throw a ball with X speed at Y angle, it will land at such and such distance. Maxwell and Faraday found that if you put an electric current thru a wire near a magnet, the magnet will move. Now if sheidim were operating, Newton could not have found his laws. Some days the sheid is in the mood to move the ball such an amount, and other days a different amount or in a diffferent direction. Maxwell and Faraday instead of being able to figure out how to make motors with electric current, could have run out of the room screaming with fright that a sheid was mystically moving magnets around.

      Today we have cars, radios, TVs, computers, airplanes, rockets, GPS, phones, etc., that all work because of the Western principle that there are scientific rules that explain the natural world, and no need to invoke supernatural effects. Those societies that do believe in supernatural things like demons and spells are completely backwards and have never been able to invent anything, and suffer from all kinds of poverty and diseases, etc.

      So rather than looking at Western thinking as an enemy of the Torah, it should be viewed as showing the gadlus haborei in allowing us to see the tremendous chochma He put into the briya. Most yeshivishe people are only nispael when they hear of some change in the briya. But the briya itself is the biggest neis of all. By forbidding yeshivishe students to get a secular education, they will never have the tools to see or understand the greatness and depth of the briya, or to develop new cures or devices for those suffering from diseases. Instead, a superstitious, simplistic view is taught, which is nebech very similar to the views of the most primitive societies that exist.

      Yes, the RBSH runs the world and controls all events, but he generally does so using the laws of nature, not undermining them. However, the world is so complex, that humans can only predict a limited amount, even with the laws we know. and quite possibly, we will find new laws, or need to improve our understanding of old laws, before we can really do things like cure all diseases, wipe out poverty, etc.

      That is why many frum people, especially in scientific fields, find the Rambam to be far more compatible with their thinking.

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    10. I also want to add that there is an amazing Rambam in Hilchos kiddush hachodesh (17:24) which says that anything which can be proven scientifically or mathematically, even by a Gentile, has the status of divrei neviim. Because emes is emes, no matter who says it. He goes on to say that we don't pay attention to who said something, rather we judge the thing itself on its own merits. This is also very much against the current dogmatic methodolgy prevalent in the yeshivishe world, where you alwys hear, what gives you the right to say XYZ. You are a nothing. You have no daas Torah. But the Rambam says that we don't look at who says it. We look at the statement itself. Even a gentile can have daas Torah, if he proves that his statement is emes.

      The Torah is all about looking for the emes. Not about accepting statements that seem to contradict emes, because we feel that we will be called apikursim if we don't believe in literal meaning of things like sheidim. And furthermore, the entire purpose of the Torah is to do chesed to people. It is not to do G-d any favors. He will not be insulted or cry if I need to interpret keshafim nonliterally. If by doing that I can understand the briya better, and develop a cure for someone who is suffering from a terrible illness or condition, there is no higher level of shleimus haadam that can be achieved. But on the other hand, without Torah, if I only focus on science, then I may come to use it to invent weapons that hurt or kill, or wipe out innocent people like the Nazis. So Torah is about chesed and morality and ethics and kindness. And we need both Torah and science to fulfill our purpose in this world, which is to do chesed for all.

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    11. So Torah sets the goals for us, which is to do chessed. And science gives us the tools and physical capabilities to carry out those goals.

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    12. To answer the first question, does the Gemara give all possible cases of damage to conclude that they don't exist. That's a far out piece of logic. Secondly, there would be a problem of Kim Ley Midaraba Minei to exempt him. Thirdly, it may be a Grama. The Steipler at the end of BK has a whole piece if someone is Chayiv for a Hezek done Derech Segula.

      The second thing, you got to realize what science proves and what it doesn't. Science has never had a proof that they don't exist. Think of it, what possible experiment can you make to prove it. Even if we say that the Shaidim didn't interrupt Newton's experiment doesn't prove they don't exist. It's just their philosophy that they say, if I can't see them then they don't exist, or that I have no reason to say that they are nothing more than superstition. However, we have Eidai Neman that say they do exist. We then should believe it, especially since science had never proved it or can ever prove it otherwise.

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    13. Your debate reminded me of this:

      R. Yosef Leib Bloch of Telshe made significant use of the Tanya in his system of thought. My grandfather, R. Dov Yehuda Schochet, was a close student of R.Yosef Leib and Telshe Yeshiva who later became a Chassid Chabad. In a 1941 letter to R. Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson of Lubavitch, my grandfather proposed an objective perspective from which our generation might consider the disputes between the disciples of the Gr"a and the disciples of the Ba'al Shem Tov. This approach is based on an insight my grandfather had heard from R.Yosef Leib that to the best of my knowledge is not to be found elsewhere.The Gemara in Berachos 28b recounts that R. Gamliel was removed from the leadership of the Yeshiva in Yavne and R. Elazar ben Azarya took his place. R. Gamliel had placed a guard at the gate of the Beis Medrash in order to bar students who were not already of the highest ethical caliber from the Yeshiva. After R. Gamliel was deposed, the guard was removed, and it became necessary to add four hundred benches to the Beis Medrash. Seeing this, R. Gamliel worried lest he be held accountable for having prevented so many from Torah. He was then shown a bucket full of ashes in a dream (a sign that the new students were essentially worthless). The Gemara concludes, however, that this was not really the case,but the Heavens showed him this to appease him. R.Yosef Leib asked: How can it be permissible to utilize untruth just to appease R. Gamliel? Furthermore, why didn't R. Gamliel himself realize that the consolation was false? R.Yosef Leib offered a wonderfully profound explanation: There is a question as to which is the proper pathway through which to attain both ultimate shleymus as the nation of Hashem and ultimate success in bringing the world closer to Malchus Shomayim (the reign of Heaven on Earth). Are these to be achieved by devoting one's influence toward the broadest possible cross-section of the nation in order to uplift it to a loftier plane - even if as a result some outstanding unique individuals will be impeded from achieving their respective capacities? Or are these best achieved by devotion with all might and strength to the nurturing of those of the highest caliber until they become the luminaries of the Jewish people? It is impossible for any person to resolve this issue. To do so entails taking into account ultimate ramifications for eternity, until the end of days. G-d deliberately placed the issue beyond resolution. Each great Torah sage has no choice, therefore, but to follow his particular inclination and perception that in this or that specific manner he will fulfill his obligation to improve the world. R. Gamliel, according to his characteristics, perceived his responsibility as one of educating the giants of the nation, its leaders and trailblazers. That is why he barred those who were, in his opinion, not candidates for greatness, from the Beis Medrash. When R. Gamliel later beheld the splendid sight of a multitude studying Torah, doubt entered his heart. The dream was meant to assuage his worries. The Gemara's subsequent conclusion is not that the dream was untruthful, rather, that we should not draw from here a conclusion as to how all generations should conduct themselves. R. Gamliel had to conduct himself according to his understanding - and so do we. There can be no one decisive, conclusive Halachic ruling in such areas. My grandfather theorized that the debate between Chassidus and Misnagdus must be viewed - by us - in a similar vein.

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    14. To make my next point. There is a tremendous difference between the leaders of Yiddishkeit and the leaders of other religions. The leaders of Yiddishkeit were not only holy men who were always praying/fasting and other things that all holy men do. They were the geniuses of the people. Not Chas V'Sholem to say they weren't holy. But there were always holy people besides the leader. The leaders were picked (so to say) for there intelligence. What made Rav Moshe a leader , or the Rugetchava or the Vilna gaon is because of their pure genius. (Not like today's non orthodox rabbis that are no more than a glorified social worker.)

      Yiddishkeit always put the focus on the intellectual (Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam) unlike other religions that not only demands it of their clergy, but they try to keep their followers not so informed. because In order to keep the integrity of the Torah for all the generations, that we have to look back at the great intellectuals that stretch all the way to Matan Torah. That's on of the reason that our Mesorah has lasted, because of this integrity.

      Even to people who have little but scratched the surface of the Talmud and don't have first hand knowledge of the great genius behind the Talmud, can still appreciate it with the following piece of logic. If we can observe how the geniuses among us appreciate it and revere it, we can deduce that it must be of great genius.

      For example, the Rogetchava Goan (who lived quite recently, so we can know a lot about him fro people who actually knew him) that was known to be a tremendous genius. Even in the non Frum world, as example by this famous story, which is well documented (as one place I found it is in is here http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Daugavpils/dau10.html

      After an hour-long meeting with the amazing Gaon, our national poet, H.N. Bialik expressed his feelings thus: “From the brain of the Rogachover it would be possible to create two Einsteins; a dear man whose reality is unlike any other, who is an enormous spiritual asset to the nation. If it were possible to scientifically utilize all of his brilliant knowledge, it would be possible to enrich our culture with dozens of valuable books. If it were possible to draw his Talmudic knowledge from the wellspring of his mind, it would be possible to create a comprehensive culture.”

      Rabbi Berl Wein in his history tape on him said "that professors would come to speak with him about physics theories, though he never learned anything but Gemara."

      Yet, this genius of genius spent his whole life learning only Gemara Rashi, Tosfos and Rambam where he was so affixed to the endless wisdom in it, he couldn't tear himself away from it, to the point that he called himself an Onnes for learning on Tisha B'av.

      If such a genius saw such wisdom in the Talmud, how can anyone assume that Chazal were naive or superstitious. So, as I wrote in an earlier post, B'Shloima the outside western world that has the handicap of not being able to appreciate what Chazal was, so therefore they make the mistake of comparing them to their early church leaders that were full of superstition. However, we that are exposed to Chazal, and to our genius Gedolim and to see their reverence to Chazal's wisdom, there is no reason why we should draw the same conclusion when we are privy to extra facts.

      BTW why do I post anonymous? Because I don't want to get an Eyin Harah ;)

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    15. IIRC, it was learning when he was in aveilus, not on 9 b'Av.

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    16. Thanks, RYGB, for your thoughts. Dear Reb Anonymous, you couldn't have said it better, what is the yeshivishe hashkafa of learning, and I was going to address it, and show what the root of our machlokes is, but you already did half the work for me. Clearly you are a high-level talmid chacham, and also enamored of the Torah's wisdom, which is good.

      But this crucial point is the terrible mistake that the Chareidi world makes. The purpose of the Torah is not the intellectual pursuit, or even the holiness. All the beautiful things you read in the poem Akdamus, are nice icing on the cake, but not the ikar. I can certainly understand why people think it is the ikar, as I made that mistake myself, when I was younger, because it is so entrancing and powerful.

      But the ikar is what countless Chazals stress over and over again, but get swept under the rug. Hillel said kol hatorah kula is mai dsani lach lchavrech lo saavid. Rebbe Akiva said vahavta lreacha komocha is klal gadol batorah. But it goes back to Avraham Avinu who interrupted his learning and holy session directly with the RBSH to serve a bunch of idol worshippers. And the Rosh in very beginning of Peah says the RBSH gets more nachas from ben adam lachaveiro.

      The one and only purpose of the Torah is a book of ethics and kindness, without which the world would devolve into the most primitive barbarian chaos. People would live in fear of their lives every second, and nothing could be built or accomplished. Everything else is tafel to this central purpose. Torah is about building a gan eden in this world where everybody has enough to eat, people look after each other, and nobody suffers from illness, hopefully because we know how to cure them, but at least we take care of them. When it says Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam, it means the Torah trains us to do all the other things listed in the braisa, like hachnasas orchim, bikur cholim, hachnasas kallah, etc. The raya is very simple. One of the things listed is hashkamas beis hamedrash shacharis v'arvis. Does it make sense to conclude braisa with Talmud Torah is better than hashkamas beis hamedrash shacharis v'arvis? What is he doing in the beis medrash shacharis v'arvis? Obviously he is learning. Ella, it means Talmud Torah will inspire or train one to do all the other things, including coming early and staying late to learn even more.

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    17. So the Torah is a heichi timtza for chesed, period. The akdamus poem is inspiring imagery, like a silver atara for a talis, but is not the mitzva of talis, which is to affix tzitzis.

      This is also what Rebbe said eizohi derech shivor haadam, kol shetiferes loseha, vtiferes lo min haadam. He didn't say the heck with what the world thinks, I am doing an exalted thing by serving G-d. Rather, the whole purpose is to make shalom and darchei noam among people.

      With this background, one can see that many things people worry about are foolish. When people start to debate is the 6 days of creation literal or not. "It is not literal because it doesn't agree with science." "No, it is literal, and you are an apikorus." "No, you are unenlightened." "No you are a rasha." It is all nonsense. Who cares? Mai dhava hava. The purpose of the Torah is to do chesed, not to teach us how the RBSH made the world. As long as one accepts that there is a borei, it doesn't matter how long it took him.

      You are disturbed that I say sheidim may be a mashal. But the same Chazal that you are so concerned that all their words must be taken literally, they themselves have said that the entire Sefer Iyov may be a mashal. Why are you more concerned about Chazal's words than chazal were concerned about a book of Tanach?

      Even is areas of halacha, Chazal went against the literal meaning of psukim. A clear example is in makos, where the tzedukim said ein haedim zommin neheragim ad sheyehareg hanidon. Chazal said no, it's kaasher zamam vlo kaasher asah. Clearly not the pashut pshat of straightforward pesukim, and the halacha itself is almost impossible to understand. So the tzedukim were the ones who insisted on literal readings of pesukim, yet all the Chareidim shrei gevalt if one says sheshes yemei breishis are not literal.

      There is much, much more to discuss about sheidim, and also about chareidi hashkafa and practices, but I can't spend so much time in one sitting. I will BEH write more over next few days or weeks.

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    18. There are many things you wrote, I have time to anser a few of them.

      Let's start with the Gemara in Shabbos, which is one of your proofs that the Ikkur is Chessed (trust me, I think Chessed is important, and you find it has a prominent place in the Chareidi world.) Hillel says ,as you put it "kol hatorah kula is mai dsani lach lchavrech lo saavid." The obvious question is: how about the Ben Adam L'Makom Mitzvos? which you are offering the answer to be that Ben Adam L'makom is the Tafel part and the Ben Adam L'Cahveiro is the Ikkur.

      However, look at the side of the page to Rashi. He seems to disagree with your explanation. He feels that it's obvious that he couldn't really mean that the Ben Adam L'makom is not counted. Therefore,if you look in the Gemara you hadn't quoted it exact, it doesn't say Chaver but rather Reicha. Rashi brings a Pasuk that Hashem is called Reicha (your friend and the friend of your father you shall not leave him.) So explains Rashi, just as you don't want to be ignored when you ask for something, don't ignore Hasem when he commands you to do thing.

      The second explanation Rashi says that he was summing up Ben Adam L'Chaveiros, since there are many Mitzvos that can be summed up that way,(since he needs to sum it up on one foot) but he definitely is not excluding that the Ben Adam L'Makom.

      You also must realize, in the context of that Gemara, Hillel may be saying this just to satisfy the Goy's demand and to get him a foot into learning Torah to eventually to join the Jews. This seems his response to the other Goy who wanted to be a Kohain Gadol, that he told him that he must study before becoming one. Though it was obvious to Hillel that he would never become the KG, yet it was a ploy to get him to study.

      The second proof from R' Akiva is also no proof at all. He never said that it's the main Mitzva, he says that it's the largest rule found in Mitzvos. Check out the other places where Chazal use the term Klal Gadol (see the beginning of the 7th Perek of Shabbos for a slew of them.) for instance the Klal Gadol of Shabbos is how many Chatos are brought by what type of forgetting. Does that make them the most important Halacha of HSabbos. Or is it one Halacha that can sum up many instances with one rule. Same to the R' Akiva' rule. You can't make a rule summing up Lulav Basra V'Chalav and Korbonos. However, you can sum up Mitzvos Ben Adam Chavieero with V'ahavta.

      A final thought for this posting: if Ben Adam L'chaveiro is the Ikkur, how come there is only one Mitzva of it that is Chayiv Misah,(murder), while there is many many Ben Adam L'Makom that are Chayiv Misah.

      Not only that, but Retzicha is only Sayif while Mechalel Shabbos is Skilla. Beis Din do not bury them in the same graveyard. It's not right to the Rotziach to have to be buried next to a Mechalel Shabbos, because he was not as bad of a Rasha.

      Just parting: Barry, I chas V'shalom don't think that you're a Rasha. I just think you are misinformed.

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    19. Dear Reb Anonymous,

      Time is short, and I will get to your pshatim on Hillel and Rebbe Akiva, at some point, but I do believe they are dachuk. Nobody learns them that way. Klal gadol omru bshabbos is not the same loshon as zeh klal gadol batorah. Also, even the gemara gittin had a tayna on R. Akiva lgabey his psak that a man can divorce his wife afilu matza acheres naeh heimenah. Gemara said shavak R. Akiva lchasiduseih. Meaning he was going against his own key prinicple.

      As far as onshin, I don't think you can bring a raya for the chomer of an issur. A boel arusa gets skila while nesuah gets chenek. Many times the punishment is in an iyum according to the yetzer hara or circumstances. By retzicha, possibly the man was so full of hatred for the victim that it was yitzro tokfo so he is treated lighter. By chilul shabbos there is no innate yetzer hara to do it befarhesya in front of eidim who warned him. It is more like an open rebellion against the RBSH and the Torah. Sort of like the difference between ochel neveilos lhachis vs. ochel neveilos lteavon. Furthermore, the case of kasher zamam velo kasher asah shows a worse act can get a lesser punishment. Furthermore, hizaher bmitzva kala kvchamura, she'iy ata yodea matan scharan shel mitzvos.

      But I want to make a new point about the gadlus of the Rambam in another area, which is why I say I am a proud Maimonidean. The yeshivishe understanding of maaseh breishis and maaseh merkava are both kabbalistic. Mayseh breishis are the tzerufei osios shebahen nivreu shamayim vaaretz, while maaseh merkava refers to the RBSH's chain of command in higher worlds or perhaps other kabbalistic concepts I know nothing about. But the Rambam says that maaseh breishis refers to physics. He tells us his estimates of the sizes of the moon and sun and what matter is made of, and how the planets are held up in orbits by hard glassine spheres (which is incorrect, but was the science of his time). He concludes the topic by saying that all this is what Chazal called maaseh breishis. The gemara calls maaseh breishis and maaseh merkava a davar gadol, and they certainly would not be considered bitul torah. Perhaps, they are even a kiyum in talmud torah. So this is completely different than the chareidi view which refuses to teach kids science or math. Kol Tuv.

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    20. I also wanted to mention another chazal about the supremacy of bein adam lachaveiro in the parsha of sotah where Chazal explained yimacheh shmo al hamayim kdei laasos shalom bein ish l'ishto. The RBSH puts aside his own kovod for the sake of making shalom between man and wife.

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    21. As regards to the Pshat on Hillel as Being Docheck. Again, it's not my P'shat, but it's Rashi's. Rashi did not learn the Gemara like you. Who is everyone who learns it your way. Tosfos doesn't argue with Rashi. So which Rishon does? Rashba? Ritva? Or is "everyone" that learns that way people you heard speaking at a Sheva Brachos or something? Besides, you admit that the Chareid world doesn't accept that explanation. Think of what you're trying to argue. If the Chareidi world would understand the Ikkur is Chessed because if you see what Hillel said and if you ignore Rashi, then you can have a proof. Not too convincing.

      About R' Akiba, the expression is Shavek is not in gitten, it's in Sanhedrin 110b and see Rashi there and it has nothing to do with this conversation. I'm also not sure why you think there is a big difference between "this is a Klal Gadol" and "they say a Klal Gadol." Those connecting words seem immaterial to the simple translation of Klal Gadol, which there is no reason to assume they're different.

      Also the severity of the Onshim is a borameter of how Chamer the Issur is. That is why we gauge by a Sakana, if have a choice to feed which Issur, we feed the one with the lighter Onesh (Kal Kal T'chila.)

      But you didn't even deal with my first proof of Onshim. If everything but Chessed is, to quote you directly, "The one and only purpose of the Torah is a book of ethics and kindness" it seems a very hefty punishment for things that are just "to help someone along to being a nice guy.

      You don't need to prove that Chessed is important. Nobody ever denies that. I'm no Satmar Chassid (I'm as big of a Litvak as anybody) but who can compare with the Chessed they do. Satmar's Biker Cholim is amazing. How many Chessed organizations do the Charedisha world have? How many Gemachs? There is countless Chessed that Chareidis do. After all, it's one of the three pillars that the world stand on. However, why ignore the other two pillars. You need balance in your life. You need to keep all pillars strong to get the balance for the world.

      Though the Rambam does say that P'shat. It's not only the Yeshivesha world, look at Tosfos in the beginning of the 2nd Perek of Chagiga . The whole Gemara there seems that they are Pirushim for the Psukim in Beraishes and Yechezkal.

      But even in Shitas Harambam see Yoreh Da'ah 246:4 the Rama says that you must learn only Mikrah Mishna Gemara and the Poskim and not in other Chachmos. Then he brings the Rambam, after you're satiated with the knowledge of all the Halachos , then it's permitted to once in a while (Akrai) learn other Chachmos as long as there is no Apikorsus (Sifrei Minim.) So even your system would not fit how the Rama explains the Rambam.

      Besides that see Gra there 18 that rejects this whole explanation, and holds that this explanation of Maaseh Breishes is not correct.

      So, why should someone take spend so much energy on something that to some may have some value to learn it on the side at the expense of something which all hold have supreme value.

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    22. Just a very brief comment. Yes, the gemara about Shavak Rebbe Akiva is discussing something else, but I have absolutely no problem making up new gemaras which support my point. It's called chidushei torah.

      But on a more serious point, all the misos beis din for the arayos are actually bein adam lachaveiro. Lo sinaf is in the bein adam lachaveiro side of the luchos. Second, you have for kidnapping, hitting or cursing parents, etc. So it is not true that there is only horeg es hanefesh.

      More later.

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    23. At first, I wanted to concede your point. However, I was thinking about Lo Sinof. Is it true that it's a Bein Odom L'chaveiro. What is the Geder to make something a Bein Adaom L'Chaveiro.

      I think the litmus test is if it's Nitna L'michila. Can the person that the act is going against allowed to say go ahead anyhow and do it. I can give someone my i-pad and tell him to break it, and he's allowed to. Therefore it's Bein Odom L'chavero. Now, if someone says (to quote Henny Youngman) take my wife.....please, can the second person have relations with her. After all, her husband doesn't mind. Obviously not. Therefore I would conclude that it's a Mitvah mainly Bein Odom L'Makom.

      It made me reconsider murder as Bein Odom L'chaveiro. The person cannot be Moichel and he has no right doing it to himself either (see BK 91b that suicide is part of the Issur of murder.) So if a DR. Kevorkian gets begged by someone for a physician assisted suicide, if he kills the patient he is Chayiv Missah. So is murder a true Ben Adam L'chaveiro?

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    24. I don't know what Barry would answer, but I would say that BALC is not determined by the subjective agendas of the two individuals in question, but by absolute and objective standards for humanity.

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    25. I know it's a big Chidush and in a way counter intuitive. However, the more I think about it, the more true it is. However I'll be Modeh B'Miktzas. I would say that it's a combination of a Bein Odom L'Makom and L'Chaveiro. Of course it must be Chaveiro, after all it's no worse than insulting someone. However, I think we can conclude that there is another aspect, that you shouldn't kill because Hashem wants us alive. This is proved from the fact that even if the victim allows himself to be killed, one still may not kill him. Rabbi Bechhofer, do you disagree to this proof?

      So we can say that there are two Dinim in Killing, Ben Odom L'Makom and Ben Odom L'Chaveiro. This now is the crux of the question is for which aspect is there Chiyuv Missah, the Ben Odom L'Chaveiro part or the Ben Odom L'makom?

      So my proof would be that someone is Chayiv Missah for killing someone even with the permission of the victim. This would prove that for only the Ben Odom L'Makom aspect is around there is a Chiyuv Missah. So is there also Chiyuv Missah for the Ben Odom L'Chaveiro aspect too? I don't think there is any proof for that.

      Interesting thought thou.

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    26. Along Anon's line of thinking, there is still no raya. A person who consents to be killed is obviously deepy distressed and depressed. Therefore it is incumbent on us to heal him and cheer him up by solving the problem or curing the disease that afflicts him. Killing him is a copout, as he really wants to live, but can't take his difficult circumstances.

      As far as arayos, even if the individual is not married, it could affect relationships with a future spouse, or with children, if they don't know who their parents really are.

      And getting back to Hillel, even the mitzvos bein adam lamakon, may ultimately to teach us midos tovos bein adam lachaveiro, like hakaras hatov. My Rav (who is totally Chareidi) once said that we fast on YK not to be holy like malachim, but to know what hunger is, in order to help the poor. Brought proof from haftara of YK, halachof k'agmon rosho? Halo zeh tzom evchareihu, paros laraev lachmecha, vaniyim merudim tavi bayis... Navi tells us that bowing the head in service to RBSH is not the point. Rather feeding the hungry and inviting the poor and clothing the needy.

      If this is the case, one can extrapolate that shatnez is to appreciate clothing and make us aware that not everybody has, taharas hamishpacha is to remember those without shidduchim, etc., etc., etc.

      More later.

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    27. I think legally he's capable to make decisions. We see that he can divorce his wife after he decides to commit suicide if he goes afterwards to the roof and jumps (as we see that is the reason it could be given though he didn't say T'nu.) So as far as all his decisions it is binding, so too his decision to die.

      But even more than that, since suicide is also included in killing, can someone transgress a Mitzvah Ben Adom L'Chaveiro against himself?

      About what you wrote about Arayos, that it might have some affect on future relations is a far reach on saying the Chamor of the Issur is for the chance somewhere in the future it might affect someone in a remote way. There are many other things that could affect future relationship with many people that are not Ussar and definitely no Chiyuv Missah.

      About giving Taame Hamitzvos, it's very difficult to make any definitive reasons for any Mitzvah. At best it's a theory of maybe part of the reason could be like this. As far as your Rebbe's Drasha, no pun intended, is Divrei Nevious. It's a nice though, but far from being Muchrach. The Chinuch in Mitzvah 313 gives a diffent reason. So we should curb our Taavah, which is the source of our Aveiras. Since we are judged for what we are at that moment. If we are curbing our Taavos and concentrating on our intellect, this should be a Z'chus to come out judged favorably on this day. Not taking anything away from your Rebbi, but he ain't no Chinuch.

      Talking about Taamei HaMitzvos, the CHinuch takes the exact opposite approach then you do. In Mitzvah 33 on Kivud Av V'Aim, he talks about the rerason is to instill Hakaras Hatov in you in order to have Hakaras Hatov to Hashem who does us all our good.

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    28. Barry, just curious. I see that some of your posts are posted at a time that is legally considered "an unearthly hour." Can I deduce that you don't live in America?

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    29. I do live in America, but I try to follow the shita of Rav Binyamin Franklin who said early to bed and early to rise.... I find at that hour when it is peaceful and quiet, my mind is clear, and it is the best time to make up new gemaras.

      I wanted to bring some more rayas from the gemara kiddushin 40. Gemara concludes gadol talmud shemevi liyedai mayseh. We see that Torah is only a heichi timtza for chesed. (Mayseh refers to chesed min hastam. Also see Tosfos that if a person asks whether he should learn or do mayseh, when he's young he should learn, in order to know the importance of mayseh, but when older, he should do mayseh. If mayseh referred to a mitzva like tefilin, does he have a choice? Ella it must be maasim tovim, i.e., chesed.

      Now you raised a point earlier that Chareidim do a lot of chesed. But here is the problem. Their worldview is not that chesed is the ikar, and that learning is only to teach one midos tovos. They believe that learning is the ikar, and chesed is bdieved. The proof is that they push everybody to only learn, and asur all other chochmos. (Even according to Rama you brought, in no way does that apply to learning a trade, or necessary skills.) Thousands of families are destroyed because of the poverty and shalom bayis problems and depression when one can't pay bills. So then they think they are doing great chesed by making a gemach, when it is too late. And how will he pay the gemach? If the leaders had compassion and genuine ahavas habriyos, they would say, if even a single family was ruined, then all the learning in all the yeshivos is not kdai. Change the system, and train them to make a parnasa with some limudei chol. Who can take it on his shoulders to destroy even a single yid? But it is thousands of broken families, based on the volume of collectors who come to my shul and home. And they bring letters from their rabbonim who say Rachmanim bnei Rachmanim, please give to so and so. And I ask, I will try to give what I can, but why didn't you rabbonim have an ounce of rachmanus when you set up this system years ago, and tortured this poor fellow and his family? A million dapim of gemara do not make up for a single broken soul. The gemara was only to teach midos, and that includes enabling a person to live like a human and support his family. Gadol haneheneh miyegio yoser miyerai shamayim. The highest level of tzedaka is to help one get a job, not to write a letter so he can go door to door.

      This is called making an avoda zara out of the Torah, and thinking it has any intrinsic value, other than kindness and tzedek. It is not a holy book about mystical things like sheidim. It is about how to live life. Sorry for my harsh language, but I have seen the mass destruction that resulted from this utterly false hashkafa. I am sure these people are asidin litein es hadin.

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    30. It is also superfluous to add that the recent wonderful news about the arrests in a major Chareidi yeshiva of large numbers of bachurim for fighting, disrupting davening, throwing yogurt on rebbeim and trashing the library due to a ten-year old leadership dispute all stem from the same complete misunderstanding about what the Torah is. They somehow got the impression that the Torah is a holy book, and that my rebbe is holier than yours, so you are worthless, and I must fight you.

      Had they any clue that the Torah is a book of kindness, maybe they would have realized that what they are doing doesn't make any sense, and in fact is a huge chilul hashem. Unfortunately, one can't blame the bachurim, really, because they learned this hashkafa from previous hanhala of this yeshiva.

      This is a total churban of yahadus. It is unfortunate that kannaus has taken hold of the chareidi world, and other movements of yiddishkeit have been marginalized. The reason is that it is very easy to scare simple, balabatish people that they have no kovod hatorah, and are bad people or reforming the mesorah when they don't go along with extreme positions. So the emes must be stated over and over again that this entire hashkafa is a total perversion of yiddishkeit. Torah is only about shalom and darchei noam, period. I am not afraid to be a kannai for the emes of Torah, and disprove the false kannaus of the chareidi hashkafa. More people need to stand up for the truth and not be bullied by extremists who threaten them and make them feel inferior or guilty if they don't adopt extremist positions.

      I am not accusing you, Reb Anonymous, on a personal level, as I think you are a mensch. But I do think you are susceptible to this harmful way of thinking, and don't realize how destructive and false it is.

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    31. Really, I would be a Zombie the rest of the day if I got up that early.

      Regarding the Gemara in Kiddushin, I have no problem including Tefilin in Maaasim. Tosfos does. See the beginning of Tosfos that quotes the Gemara in BK that T'filin is Maaseh. That's how Tosfos gets into his whole give and take.

      I once saw this Peanuts comic. Linus goes over to Lucy and asks her if she prays before she goes to sleep. She screams at him "Shut up you Blockhead." The next panel he's approaching Charlie Brown. "Your right" he said " religion is a touchy subject."

      I see by your tone that it's already personal, and I did some research and it confirmed my assessment. However, my challenge to you, what makes something an extremist position? If someone has standards in his religion, does this make him an extremist? Do you have standards in religion? Do you consider Conservative, Reform, Reconstruction and Humanist Judaism as below yours? Do they consider you an extremist? Do they consider you divisive? On the other hand, even they have their standard in religion. I once read an article trying to explain why "Yidden for Yushka" is not Judaism. That although you cannot say definitively what Judaism is, but it does mean that you don't believe in Yushka.

      Also, if your definition is "and thinking it has any intrinsic value, other than kindness and tzedek," what's wrong with becoming reform or even Yidden for Yushka? As long as your a kind person, which all religions teach. One shouldn't be different than the other. I'm just asking this for you to be able to reassess your own position. If it's true X then why not Y.

      Another point: you also have to get in touch with what is bothering you. I think it might be something that I struggled for years. Even among the Chareidim there are those that seem always superior to you. I know I said to myself about people "who does he think he is that he thinks he's a bigger Tzadik, or bigger Talmid Chahcham then me." This hurt especially when it is true. The way I eventually dealt with it was to admit to myself what was bothering me, that I flt inferior. So afterwards, I still feel anger when I meet them, but I tell myself that this is coming from me, and not the fault of the other person. With this realization I'm able to control my feelings.

      I'll tell you a true story that happened to me in a Chasunna around 20 years ago. It was in the El Carribe . I was in Shana Rishona. I was passing a pay phone (remember those?) and nobody was on line, so I used this opportunity to call my wife. It was within the first five minutes, since it was still on my original quarter, and I didn't even get the warning to add a nickel, when all of a sudden I got wammed on my back. I did not know what hit me. This guy said I was on too long . I told my wife I need to go and you wouldn't believed what just happened. Then this guy was going on this is why the world hate you Chareidim (or Yeshivish, i don't remember exactly what term he used.) Well at that point I just lost it and started explaining pretty forcefully how he was such a jerk for what he did. The truth is: when he saw me he saw red. I don't believe now that he was necessary a bad person, but it bothered him so much seeing someone he perceives to be frummer than him that he did a very irrational thing. He realized what a mistake he did, since he allowed me rambling off a while without answering.

      So don't make this mistake, especially if your mission is about Shalom, take the initiative to be Rodef Shalom.

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    32. Dear Reb Anonymous, I don't know why you think anything I said was personal. I am upset at the system because I think many who adhere to the system are getting hurt. What did I say directly to you that might have made you feel that way? As a matter of fact, I was probably a bigger kannai than you when I was younger, so I know the other side of the coin very well. But I realized how so much machlokes is caused by that attitude, so I changed my hashkafos, completely.

      I am not in any way threatened by anybody who is more to the right. I just feel bad that they often behave like programmed robots, and have given over their thinking to others. As a result, they let those others torture and brainwash them. There is one leader who now tells people with certain names that they must change them. If these followers believe that has any validity, or will in any way enhance their lives, let them go ahead and get a different name. I feel bad for them and their parents, that's all.

      Regarding reform and conservative, I don't judge anybody, and just try to be pleasant to all, including chareidim. I may disagree with their viewpoint, but it never affects my friendships. The chareidim themselves are often like shepseleh, very nice, humble, refined people. It is the leaders that bother me, who instigate against the medinah, or secular studies, etc.

      Regarding Jews for Yushka, or the Reform and Conservative, it is true that the ikar is to be a mensch. But the mistake they make, is that it requires discipline to understand how important chesed is. And one can only get that discipline from shmiras hamitzvos. In other words, if a poor man comes to my house, and my family is about to head to Sunday morning tennis lessons, one without training in mitzvos and menschlachkeit will probably not treat the poor man with the urgency he requires. But one who forces himself to do bedikas chametz, which is unpleasant, will have experience in taking care of the poor man, which may also be unpleasant. One needs sheviras hayetzer, and not only a good heart, or he will likely not do chesed properly. This relates to what I wrote in an earlier post, that the bein adam lamakom may itself be in order to understand bein adam lachaveiro.

      But again, if I said anything forceful, it has nothing whatsoever to do with you personally. I am arguing only in the abstract. Kol Tuv.

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    33. Just to clarify. Suppose a Rav got up in shul and said, you know why so many people lost their homes or had to endure hardships during Hurricane Sandy? It's because they were not nizhar enough in the minhag of lead-pouring. It is incumbent upon all of us that we undertake to do it at least once a week. And if you have a neighbor who doesn't do it, you are obligated to do it for him, by standing over him on a tall chair. This will be a zchus for him.

      Now, if I or somebody were to object to what this Rav said, would you then say, it is because I feel inferior that I am not as religious as him? You can't reduce serious questions to some psychological projections onto what you believe is the motivation of the person. Must deal with the issues at face value. There are many people who view certain Chareidi conduct exactly as they would view such a Rav, that he is distorting and making a mockery of Yiddishkeit, and hurting people in the process.

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    34. So basically, G-d torturers us in order that we have a little more empathy when a poor person comes to the door. I find that very hard to believe. Forget about any Taamei Hamitzvos. It all is a mindless exercise in order to be used to unpleasant situation. It's like boot camp, doing extreme useless exercise. There are no Chukim (like Rashi brings that we have no right to Meharer against) everything are just useless exercise to give an extra dollar to a poor person. The Chamor of Avadah Zara is that of course you'll be charitable, but you won't give that extra dollar. That's why you must be put to death, because you won't give an extra dollar to the poor. Why doesn't the Torah just give useful exercise, like command to work in a soup kitchen once a week if that's the only objective? Volunteer twice a week minimum. Why all these useless exercise that depletes your energy and resources to help others. How much money would you able to afford to give to a poor person if you let your house burn down on Shabbos? There must be a better way to train people to do good onto others. I really do not get it.

      You should also not confuse your own personal philosophy with Torah. I understand why you'll like to believe the way you do, but you shouldn't pin it on the Torah if the Torah doesn't say it. Even the few Mekoros that were brought were not anything close to proofs, as I explained. But if this would be the whole meaning of Yiddishkeit, then this theme would be streaming across the whole Gemara. After all, it is the main idea of the religion. How can the most important Yesod in Yiddishkeit be so greatly masked? Ikkur Chasar Min Hasefer.

      I know Rabbi Bechhofer reads these posts. I would like to ask the Rabbi if he agrees to Barry's theory that Mitzvos Ben Odom L'Makom's whole purpose is to build someone's character to be nicer to people?

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    35. My position is somewhere in the middle. I believe that the purpose of Torah is to create an ideal society - the Mamleches Kohani v'Goy Kadosh. All the mitzvos of the Torah are crafted to that end. BALM is an integral component of such a society. But as we see in Dor Haflaga and Doro shel Achav, even if the society does not attain sheleymus, achdus is a very high value in society - perhaps even higher than some - if not all - BALM values. But it would still not be perfect, and ultimately would be unsustainable, without BALM.

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    36. Thank you very much for responding. However, how to you understand that BALM makes that society ideal?

      Also, yes the Achdus made both their Olom Hazah better, but both are listed in Chelek as not having any Olom Habah, which is our ultimate goal.

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    37. 1. The first sha'ar of NhC: The tools to bring kedushah into the world, which is necessary precondition for a MK vGK, are mitzvos which connect Shoayim and Aretz.

      2. A society without an absolute source of truth, object of veneration and a divine mission and purpose cannot be the MK vGK.

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    38. Dear Reb Anonymous, while we await Rabbi Bechhofer's response, I'll just add two more chazals. Derech eretz kadmah latorah, and Torah techilasa chesed vsofa chesed. in the beginning the RBSH clothed Adam and Chava, and in the end he buried Moshe Rabbeinu.

      I think there are plenty more proofs, as well, such as the well-known Rambam who says if one makes a beautiful yontof meal and doesn't invite the ani, the ger, the yasom and the almana, it is only a simcha of the belly, and not the fulfillment of any mitzva.

      Nevertheless, if you follow my approach, you will never go wrong and get into the fights that are so popular these days within and among sects. You will fly above them. Another example of a fight is the meshichist issue. There is nobody who respected and loved the Rebbe more than me. Certainly he was rauy to be mashiach, but lmayseh the RBSH didn't tell us yet who he is. Now, when you see people fighting that he is mashiach, no he isn't, yes he can be, no, a dead person cannot, etc. etc. etc. When you adapt my approach, you ask only one question. Will the Rebbe's being or not being mashiach have any impact on my obligation to do chesed? Clearly, it will make no difference. Therefore it is irrelevant to yiddishkeit. Those who insist he is, are no more or less authentic than those who insist he isn't. They are both getting dragged into a sideshow. As I have told Rabbi Bechhofer, as far as I'm concerned, Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny could be mashiach. My job is to help my fellow humans, and that's all the RBSH cares about.

      The problem with avoda zara, since you brought it up, is that it is a lack of appreciation for the Borei who did us much kindness.

      I once read a story about the Eish Kodesh during WW2. A talmid who was very young was once asked to say over something from his Rebbe. He said, I was only a little kid, what do you expect from me. But then he thought and said, the one thing I remember my Rebbe saying was that the holiest thing in the world is to help another person.

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    39. First the Tana Dbei Eliyahu is very misunderstood. See there (and Vayikra Rabbah that said it precedes Torah 26 generations) that Derech Eretz happened right away on the first day while Matan Torah happened much later.

      Also, you don't have to bring proofs that Chesed is great. All believe in that. You need to prove that everything else is nothing more than just a Heicha Timtza to do Chesed. If it would be true then we should be able to be Mechalel Shabbos to help someone out. Someone's flame went out and you won't have hot Cholent, no problem. A neighbor should be able to help you by putting the flame back on. After all the whole reason to keep Shabbos is to do Chessed, so you should stop doing Chessed for Shabbos.

      This cannot be true. The Gemara in BBM 2nd Perek says that a Kohain cannot go into a beis Kvaros to return a lost object, and we do not say Aseh of returning a lost object supersedes the Lo Saseh of Kohain becoming Tamai, because someone else's money cannot supersede an Issur. Period.

      However, you wrote something that I agree whole heardily which will make my point. And I quote "The problem with avoda zara, since you brought it up, is that it is a lack of appreciation for the Borei who did us much kindness." 100% correct. This is too the simple reason for doing the Mitzvos Ben Adom L'Makom. So if Hashem gives us life and all our needs and gives us the opportunity to be Konah Olam Habah, we would be totally slap in the face not to do his will, which he writes in the Torah. For whatever reason he wants us to take a Luluv, that's the least we can do for him, and if we don't we are miserable Kofei Tov. Therefore, how can we help someone else to turn on his flame, if by doing so is simultaneously slapping Hashem's face (Kaviyuchol.)

      We can make an argument that even Mitzvos Ben Adom L'chaveiro, the main idea is that we are doing Ratzon Hashem . I actually gleaned this from the Rosh in Peah you sent me to in the beginning of your posts. A careful reading of it would produce such a thought. It would be a misquote to say that he says "Hashem likes Mitzvos Ben Odam L'Chaveiro more than L'Makom because it helps someone else." The real reading is"because it ALSO helps someone else." The word "Gam" is there. This connotes that besides the actual Mitzvah (which is Osseh R'tzon Hashem, which is equal to Ben Odom L'Makom) it has the added benefit of helping others. SO BEn Adom L'Mokom is X and L'Chaveiro is X=Y. However, the word "also" connotes a Taful, as Tosfos explains in Megila. (Therefore woman are a Tufal in the Mitzvah of Megilah, because it was said on them "they were ALSO in the miracle.")

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    40. I am tired now, and going back to sleep, but just a few points. I will have to check loshon of Rosh in Peah. I actually looked there because I saw Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman once quoted it in some news article I was reading. Second point is that your kashya about chilul shabbos, or about the kohain in the beis hakevaros are very strong. As far as shabbos goes, perhaps the most important lesson is that no matter how much we want to make more money, even to give to tzedaka, or pay our kids' tuition, the second shkiah comes close, we must drop everything. The purpose is to acknowledge that as humans, as much as we want to do chesed or good things, we ultimately don't have enough koach without the RBSH. Once a week, we need to leave things up to him, and trust that whatever happens that day, he will make sure we are ok. We can't do everything on our own. The reason is what I wrote in an earlier post that if people had to do everything on their own, and couldn't rely on the RBSH, then there would be total chaos and barbarianism in the world. I say this pshat in the medrash that tells us the RBSH went to all the nations to offer the Torah. The first said what does it say? It says don't kill. they said, well, that's our lifestyle, no thanks. The second was told it says don't steal, etc. The question is what kind of a lifestyle is killing? It's pretty dangerous. Were they total fools? Same with stealing. The answer is, I believe, that they figured if I try to kill, I have a 50% chance that I'll win, and 50% chance that I'll lose. But if I don't try to kill, I have no chance at all, I'll definitely be killed. Same with stealing. If I steal, maybe I'll have enough to eat, but if I don't, they'll all take my food. But klal yisrael said, look, he is the RBSH, he can make enough food for eveybody. If we trust him, and refrain from killing or stealing, we can build a cooperative society, where everybody has plenty. So if we deny the RBSH's running the world, then al korchach, I must look out for myself, according to the law of the jungle, that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I must do whatever it takes to survive. Total chaos and barbarianism would ensue. So the only way civilized society can be created or maintained is if we surrender ultimate control to the RBSH. This is the lesson of shabbos. Nevertheless, you can still do chesed on Shabbos, and always prepare a double sized chulent in advance, just in case your neighbor has an emergency and his food is ruined, you'll invite him over. Perhaps this lesson can be learned from gemara beitzah, hoil v'i mikl'ai orchim. People prepare extra to have on hand in case guests come unexpectedly.

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    41. By the way, regarding your pointing out about the word gam and ikar vs. tafel, it is not well known, but there is a similar issue with the word im. When it says yafeh talmud torah im derech eretz, there are actually rishonim who say from here that derech eretz (making a living) is the ikar, and it is good to do some talmud torah on the side. Don't try to say this in any yeshiva, or you'll be thrown right out. But if you look at the Rishonim, you will see this discussion. I find it interesting, because they prove their points pro or con by looking for similar phrases in shas, Yafeh A im B, and try to see whether the ikar is always listed first or second. In other words, we look for the emes in an intellectual and unemotional way, being honest to the sources. Today, you would decide such an issue by screaming, talmud torah is secondary? What are you, an apikorus? How can you say such a thing? It's a bizayon hatorah. Get out of here. (And that is considered a proof by today's standards.)

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    42. Then you can say all Ben Odom Lmakom is only a reminder there is a G-d. However, it seems to me a lot for just a reminder. Why do we need 39 Malachos with all the Toldos? Wouldn't 15 do? How about the Avos and no Toldos. Hilchos Shabbos is one of the longest out there. For just a quaint reminder there is a lot of detail.

      In your posts you said at first you were a Kanai, but then you realized that al Hashem wants from us is to help our fellow human. What happened that caused this realization. What was the catalyst that caused you to take this 180 degree turn in Hashkafa? Was it a mentor? What was the cause?

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    43. I would also like to pose another philosophical question. The rational given usually for your position is that G-d doesn't really care for the ceremonial because it doesn't affect him at all. He's above it all anyhow. What matters what happen to human because they actually feel the hurt.

      The question is: If that would be true that G-d's whole concern is that others don't get hurt, why didn't he create a world that one person cannot hurt another. or that people cannot get hurt period. If the only objective for Mitzvos is because Hashem is is concerned for human feeling, then why did Hashem allow someone else the ability to hurt somebody, Or that people should feel any pain.

      It would seem that there is something bigger going on here. Something that the RBSH feels in His infinite wisdom that ends is worth all of this human suffering. That it's worth putting another's feeling in someone else's hands. It can't be that humn feelings can be the main concern.

      (On the lighter side. What you wrote " As I have told Rabbi Bechhofer, as far as I'm concerned, Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny could be mashiach" this may depend if it's rabbit season or duck season. ;))

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    44. After giving time to allow the above philosophical question to sink in, I would like to give an answer that I feel is correct. We're put in this world in order to making are selves into better people. People that Hashem can be proud of, people that are worthy of receiving Olam Habah.

      So it's always on the Gavra, improving ourselves. We must improve ourselves in all areas, both Ben Odom L'Makom ad L'Chaveiro. Pain was given in this world in rder to test our resolves how to deal with it, with our pain and others. So it was worth to create a world of pain to challenge us to be able to eventually earn Olam Habbah than the pain that is caused on earth.

      This seems to be the meaning of the Gemara BB 10a that Torpunis asked Rabbi Akiva, if G-d likes the pour (and therefore supposedly he commands you to feed them) so why didn't he feed them himself. R' Akiva ansers, he allows us the opportunity to save us from the judgement of gehennim. Therefore it seems that others are in pain for us to help, the purpose of us helping is to improve ourselves and make ourselves worthy, or else Hashem would help those in pain by himself.

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    45. Dear Reb Anonymous, to respond to all you said would take me all night. Just few brief comments. Your question of why according to me do we need 39 avos melachos, instead of just 15. Lshitascha, there is the same question. Why do I need 39 to get into olam haba, why not 15? So first, the more things that are forbidden on shabbos, the more we must do erev shabbos, and the less we have to do on shabbos, giving us more time to relax, enjoy and learn. But more than that, at this point I must break ranks with the commonly held view in yeshivas, that we are supposed to torture ourselves in this world, and hopefully we'll get rewarded in the next world. I suppose that this would explain why we need 39 according to you, since it's more torture. Also, chazal say ratza hkbh lzakos es yisroel lfichach hirbeh lahem torah umitzvos. You would of course say that it's more opportunity for schar. The flip side, though, is that it's more opportunity to botch up and get punished. There are so many avos, and each has toldos, and each todah has pratim and pirtei pratim. I would venture that very few people even know all the halachos, let alone manage to keep them. You see from this that the mitzvos are opportunities, and that the RBSH's main focus is not on torturing or punishing, or we'd be better with less mitzvos, not more.

      But here is the main point. I assert that the purpose of a yid is not to do mitzvos for gan eden in the next world. His purpose is to transform this world into a gan eden. The constant hammering home during mussar seder that eveything we do is for olam haba is wrong for at least 2 reasons. First, it makes everything al mnas lkabel pras, which chazal tell us not to do. Second, you asked me if chesed is the ikar, why no mention? Ikar chaser min hasefer. But I answer that adraba, chesed is mentioned all over the place. I gave quite a few sources, and will give more, shortly. But in fact, the olam haba viewpoint is ikar chaser min hasefer. You will not find any explicit mention of it in chumash, and I believe practically in all of tanach, except for some remazim. It says the schar of mitzvos is etz hasadeh yitain piryo, etc, but not a word about olam haba.Why? Well, if you look at the Beis Yechezkel by Reb Moshe Tzuriel Weiss, he wants to say for one answer that it is such an ikar, it can't or doesn't need to be mentioned. But I respectfully disagree. It is not mentioned, because that is not our purpose. Hanistaros lashem elokeinu. Our purpose is tikun haolam right here. Therefore all mitzvos are designed to improve this world. we don't believe for one second that Hashem is torturing us, so we can try to stick it out, and get olam haba. We don't believe in putting people down because they are not frum enough or that our avodas hashem is doing G-d any big favors. He is doing us the favor by telling us how to run the ideal society.

      Why do people feel pain? Good question, I spoke in Shaarei Tefila in Lawrence, NY a while back, and offered the pshat that Chava was lshem shamayim. She said, if we are in Gan Eden, we can't do any chesed. Everything is taken care of. we have food and health, etc. Nothing needs to be done. We would rather supply our own needs, so we can help each other. So the RBSH said kotz vdardar tatzmiach, bzeas apecha, betzev teildi banim, etc. And people would not live forever. He expects us to develop agricultural techniques on our own, and to develop medicines, and hopefully, we will eventually be able to cure all diseases. The world is incomplete. We are shutfim with the RBSH to create a more perfect world. Then people won't die, because we will understand science so well, we will figure out how to fix all problems. This may be pshat in Rebbe Hillel in Chelek, that ein moshiach lyisroel, meaning don't expect supernatural salvation. You must work at it yourselves.

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    46. Finally, a few more proofs of the primacy of chesed from end of 4th perek of Sukkah. Toras chesed al leshonah, vchi yesh Torah shel chesed, vtorah sheinah shel chesed? According to you, what is the question? Fully half the Torah is BALM, which has nothing to do with chesed. But according to me, even the BALM is to teach concepts that improve chesed.

      Also over there, it quotes Micha mah Hashem doresh mimecha ki im asaos mishpat, vahavas chesed, vhatznea leches im hashem elokecha. Fine, the first two are related to BALC, but certainly hatzneah leches im hashem elokecha must be something BALM. Yet chazal say even that phrase refers to hachnasas kalla and levayas hameis. So Micha tells us all Hashem wants of us is to be menschen to each other.

      We see this further from pirkei avos, kol sheruach habriyos nocheh heymenu, ruach hamakom nocheh heymenu. So I rest my case that the purpose of a yid is to do chesed, and the Torah is merely the vehicle how to achieve it. The RBSH in his humility puts people ahead of himself. Those movements in Judaism that have not absorbed this crucial concept are self-destructing in front of our own eyes. Hopefully they will wake up before it is too late. Olam chesed yibaneh.

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    47. First to explain what I meant about torture. Doing something for a good cause, though it might be hard, is not torture. A wise man once told m (when I was telling him about a difficulty in dating) that anything worthwhile in life has its difficulty. No pain no gain. Taking care of a family or working is no piece of cake either. But for the sense of accomplishment we can do it and feel accomplished not torture. However, doing something for naught is torture. We are commanded not to give our Eved Ivri a torturous job, which one of the ways is defined in Chazal to do meaningless work.

      If Shabbos has its intrinsic value, then it's not torture to keep it. It's very satiafying to keep it. Since with the understanding I'm ding a great thing by refraining from each one of the 39 Melachos. However, if alll efforts to anything Ben Odom L'makom is nothing but a quaint reminder that there is G-d, then that is torturous adding all these needless restrictions.

      Your P'shat in Chava is very wrong. You have to put pain and destruction on people so that you can do Chesed on them. How can you do that? Could you break someone's bones so you can heal them? It's like the boy scout that forces the old lady across the street to the side she doesn't want to be on in order to do his good deed. If the main part of Chesed is to be good to people, the good Chava would have done would prevent that anything bad should happen to anyone.

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    48. Yes, the pshat in Chava has to be developed more, but here is a question. The pasuk says Lo yumsu avos al banim, uvanim lo yumsu al avon avosam, ish bcheto yumas. So, if all those things were punishments, how could every generation be punished with misa because of the cheit of Adam and Chava. Therefore I am trying to say they were not punishments. They asked the RBSH to give over the keys. I used a mashal of the 2 year old who never wants to be pushed in the stroller. They always insist on getting out and pushing the stroller themselves. Adam and Chava may not have realized how complex the world was. They weren't asking for people to have pain. They thought if they ran the show, they could do just as good a job as the RBSH. But they learned the hard way, that it would take humankind many years of cooperation and learning, before they could come close to solving all their problems. And we still have much more to do. Nevertheless, it was a major growing and learning experience.

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    49. In fact, the view that we torture ourselves in this world to attain bliss in the next world is dangerously close to Islamic extremism. They slit throats of each other and unbelievers, and destroy everything in sight, because G-d hates everybody who is not Islamic, and one should kill all non-Islamic people, and blow up their buildings because Islam is greater than the other religions, and G-d is offended by all the other religions (not offended by throat-slitting, just offended at other religions). This is a sick, twisted, ideology, and is the inevitable result when the next world becomes the focus, not this world. Unfortunately, many chareidim have an almost identical worldview, except they substitute our rituals for the Islamic rituals. They pray to Mecca, we pray to Jerusalem. Is that any different? But I contend the difference between us and Islamic extremism is min hakatzeh el hakatzeh. We hold "people first". Making this world a beautiful place is the ikar. The RBSH wants us to treat all people kindly. Religion is not a tool to beat people over the head with, but is a civilizing force.

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    50. The Pasuk you bring is that no one is chayiv Misah for the parents Aveiros, however people get affected by other's Aveiros, as I'll write in a future posts why it's inhumane to do Aveiros. (I really have it titled as "Why learning Torah is humane and Bittul Torah is inhumane.)

      About the main purpose of Olam Habah is not only a Yeshivishe concept, but it's really a concept that any proud Maimonidist should believe in. This is because this was the position of the Rambam. See the last chapter of Hilchos Malochim Halacha 4. The Chachmim and Neveim desired Mashiach's day, not to rule the world, but rather to free his time in order to learn Torah and its wisdom in order to achieve Olom Habbah. He said he explains this in Hilchos T'shuva. See there in Perek 9 where he spells it out in no uncertain terms. So every proud Maimonidist must hold that to be the Torah's view.

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    51. I would like to write a piece entitled "Why learning Torah is humane and Bittul Torah is inhumane." Besides it being our chief obligation, it's also the most humane thing to do too. As Rabbi Bechhofer brought the Nefesh Hachayim (I hadn't seen it in a while, so R. Bechhofer, tell me if I'm getting it right.) Every action cases a reaction. Someone does a Mitzvah it channels good to the world. AN Aveira channels bad to the world.

      However, we see this straight from Chazal See Sanhedrin 71b-72a that a Rasha's life is bad for him and bad for the whole world. A Tzadik's life is good for him and for the whole world. See Rashi that its' because of his learning.

      This is similar to Kiddushin 41b that someone that does a Mitzvah it could put him and the whole world for merit. The opposite by Aveiros.

      Also, see BB 8a that Rebbi says that Paranious only come to this world because of Am Haaratzim.

      Not to mention the Gemara that the Bas Kol said that the whole world gets their sustenance from the Zchus of R' Chanina. If I remember correctly (so Rabbi B, help me out on this one) the Nefesh Hachaim explains "B'Shvil Chanina" as a Shvil, through the channeling of R' Chanina's Z'chus.

      There are so many things that affect people that's beyond our control. We can put all our efforts into making a business yet it can fail. You can try to stay healthy, but no guaranties. There are so much variables to go wrong in life. Torah (and other Mitzvos) is what helps us get the true Siaata Dishmaya to see us through. it protects us. Bittul Torah(and other Aveiros) is what puts people in jeopardy.

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    52. I largely agree. But it must be Torah Lishmah. Otherwise it can be a true sam ha'maves as manifest in this post: http://rygb.blogspot.in/2015/02/there-is-something-very-wrong-in-torah.html.

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    53. I would like to offer an interesting definition of Torah lishma based on the gemara in Sukkah I quoted earlier. The gemara asks on the pasuk, vtoras chesed al lshona, vchi yesh Torah shel chesed, vtorah sheina shel chesed? Ella torah lishma zu hi torah shel chesed, shelo lishma zu hi torah sheina shel chesed. I define Torah lishma as Torah al mnas to do chesed. That is the lishma, the entire purpose of Torah. Torah shelo lishma is when one learns for the intellectual exercise. This fits with a gemara elsewhere (Chagiga?) that Torah shelo lishma is when one learns kdei lhiharei Rav (that people should call him a Rabbi) i.e., a learned person.

      As a youth, I always thought lishma was for the mitzva of learning, and shelo lishma was for kavod and prestige. That is probably the standard yeshivishe interpretation. But now, to fit with the gemara Sukkah, it reads much better with the new definition, above.

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    54. It is universally accepted that one can learn Torah and do mitzvos b'chaderi chadarim as an act of chesed in an of itself, without reference to some external "al mnas to do chesed." That is what is meant by the "L'shem yichud.. b'shem kol Yisroel" of the Chassidim and by the "L'hachria es atzmi v'kol Yisroel v'kol ha'olam kulo l'kaf zechus" of the Rambam's school.

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    55. To reply to Anonymous, I would say, that ein hachi nami, bitul torah is bad for the world, because without Torah we would act cruel, and destroy the world. I fully agree with all the Chazals you quoted. The difference is that you feel that Torah helps because of supernatural forces in the world that are generated from limud hatorah, while I feel that it is as a result of people acting better, based on the midos they learn from the Torah, and that this enables progress in the world, which benefits society and mankind. Your approach is a mystical one, while mine is a rational one, as Rabbi Slifkin likes to categorize.

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    56. First I must say your P'shat in Sukka cannot be true. If it would, the Gemara wouldn't have to ask what is Torah Shel Chessed. It would be obvious. Besides, Torah L'shma is never defined as L'shem Chessed. I t doesn't fit into Lolom Yasek Odom Torah Shlo L'shma. Secondly, the Gemara gives a second teretz, that it's teaching others. I don't think it's a truthful reading of the Gemara.

      Secondly, you can't really explain those Chazal like you. Rashi in Sanhedrin specifically says that the Zchus of their Torah protects the world. The Gemara in Kiddushin is referring to Din. That one good deed would tip the scale. the Gemara with R' Chanina definitely spells out it's from his Zchus. And the Gemara by Rebbi says Paaroniyos come to the world from Am Haaratzim. See the Gemara there that when they isolated the Chachamim from the Am Haratzim, the decree stopped.

      I don't know what can be more rational. Once you believe that Hahem created the world and runs it (each one is part of the thirteen principles of the Rambam) so that he runs the world according to ZMitzvos and Aveiros, as he clearly states in the Torah (look in Krias Shma. Look in the Tochacha) then it's a very logical conclusion

      Given: Hashem created and runs the world
      The next step: He rewards those that follow his path and punishes those that don't.

      See that Rambam Perek 9 in T'shuva that also writes this out in no uncertain terms. I don't see why after believing in a Hashem that runs the world that taking the above conclusions is mystical. It follows every rigorous form of rationality. I don't know why you can't go from step 1, that I suppose you believe in, and lead you to step 2.

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    57. And , according to this, if the truth is as the straight reading of these Gemaras and others (and also the straight reading of Shulchon Orech and the Rishonim and Achronim) then we can understand the passion of the Chareidim to denounce these Haskafos that are contrary to them. They feel that it's detrimental to people's Gashmious and Ruchnious. All Hashkafos are not created equal. There is truth in Judaism. Granted, there is room for Machlokes and Eilu V'eilu Divrai Elokim Chaim. However, there is a point where it goes beyond the fray of an honest reading into Chazal. I'm not trying to rebuke you personally, since I don't think that you were the one that came up with all this. I think you yourself would describe yourself as a layman rather than a Rabbi fit to reshaping the Torah Hashkafa. It just was a Mehalech that you felt appealing, so you're following it. I can even be Don L'Kaf Z'chus to those rabbis.

      However, it doesn't mean that if someone that is half-learned comes up with a philosophy that it's automatically receives legitimacy. It will need to undergo a lot of scrutiny, and you need to prove your case to others (and not only to yourself, who is already emotionally inclined to accept this position.) Especially a position that is very counter intuitive, basically marginalizing a good deal of the Torah, it's not enough to just propose a philosophy, but prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's true.

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    58. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    59. Dear Reb Anonymous, I am not marginalizing any part of the Torah. I am saying Torah is to do us a favor, and that each part has a toeles for us, not just do arbitrary and incomprehensible things for 120 years, because that is the entrance ticket for olam haba after 120.

      You quoted the Rambam in Perek 9 of Teshuvah. But why didn't you quote from Perek 10, where he begins (10:1) that one who does the mitzvos because of reward in this world, or in order to gain entrance to the next world is doing al pi derech yirah, which is only for beginners. In halacha 10:2 he says that the proper way is derech ahava, which he defines as doing the emes because it is emes. Meaning there is intrinsic value to the mitzvos, not just as random procedures just to give us nisyonos to overcome that will eventually give us a reward. That is the wrong way to think about mitzvos, but the one commonly taught in the Chareidi world. Finally in 10:6 he says that the way to achieve ahavas hashem is to study chochmos and tevunos which make one appreciate the greatness of the RBSH, like he explained in Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, which I believe clearly refers to science (else he would have said like he explained in Hilchos Talmud Torah). So again he says it is a mitzva to study science.

      The upshot is that the Torah is supposed to be a pleasant way of life, not a tool to bash people over the head with, because you don't agree with their hashkafa. As a matter of fact, the maasim tovim that one does are far more significant than his hashkafa. We are a religion of doers. And elsewhere the Rambam says, I think in Hilchos Deos, the part about loshon hara, that the purpose of that mitzva is so that people will get along and build a productive society.

      You are entitled to believe in the mystical approach, and certainly you can find sources which seem to support it. But don't deny the validity of my approach, which is equally valid. And it has the advantage that in today's scientific age, most people don't want to hear about mysticism, but want an approach that they can relate to with their 5 senses, and which is intellectually sound. The Rambam was way ahead of his time, in developing all this. I am totally nispael every time I learn more Rambam. He also says what I said earlier about mashiach in Hilchos Melachim, that the details are not worth quibbling about since they do nothing for a person's avodas hashem, and are irrelevant to his mission.

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    60. Full disclosure: RYGB and I have been friends and chavrusas going back to high school.

      RYGB, you had to bring in Lshem Yichud? We do mitzvos to reattach the two halves of the RBSH's name together??? Oy vey, these are hi-falutin concepts that I haven't the most remote clue as to what they are supposed to mean. And I doubt you would have much success in trying to explain it to me, as I would get lost in the first minute. Kol Tuv.

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    61. Since we have indeed been friends since HS, let me note that Barry is truly brilliant, and that his not having "the most remote clue" as to what there "hi-falutin concepts" mean is deliberate and willful on his part!!! ;-)

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    62. First about what I wrote about marginalizing a good part of the Torah, I don't see anyway else to define it. Your making a claim that a good part of the Torah has no intrinsic value to them. Is that not marginalizing them? You may try to claim you are right for marginalizing them, but none the less you are.

      Even the Ramabam in Perek 10 would agree that all Mitzvos have intrinsic value, whether we recognize them or not. By the virtue of being the D'var Hashem it is true and therefore is the right thing to be done. You don't have to personally know how it works or why it is true for you to know that it is true. Still more, he definitly doesn't say the main thing in life is only to do Chessed, so I don't even see from your claim that it's helping your approach at all.

      What you say that" Maasim Tovim are far more significant than his hashkafa" But aren't the Rambam's 13 principles that one must believe is all Hashkafa. If one doesn't believe the Rambam holds he's doing so wrong that he doesn't have a Chelek in Olom Habah. Hashkafa is very important.

      "But don't deny the validity of my approach, which is equally valid"
      What makes an approach valid? You'll agree that there are approaches that are not valid. (Reform, conservative, reconstruction, Yidden for Yushka.) How would you define an approach to be valid? I think this to be a fair and valid question.

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    63. RYGB is prone to exaggeration. But his hasmada for the past 35 years is not an exaggeration, as is his breadth of knowledge on all topics.

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    64. Dear Reb Anonymous, I am running out of steam here, but I don't understand your tayna. You have not supplied reasons for the BALM, other than nisyonos to get schar. I am the one who says they DO have intrinsic value in refining character, like the navi says explicitly that the ideal tzom is to invite the poor and feed and clothe them in the haftara of YK.

      I maintain the highest madreiga a person can achieve is to be kind. The whole Torah is to help him get to that stage. The 13 ikarei emunah of the Rambam are similarly prerequisites to proper shmiras hamitzvos and midos tovos, and not ends in themselves. The litmus test is how you act. The Reform and Conservative movements and J for J fall short in their shmiras hamitzvos.

      I would go further, and say that contrary to popular belief, an apikorus is not one who believes the wrong thing, but one who preaches a belief as a basis for undermining shemiras hamitzvos. This is the simple reading of the Rambam, which I don't have in front of me, but something like byad rama, bshat nefesh laavor al din torah (I forgot where, please provide source, if you find, possibly in yesodei hatorah). It is very possible that a person who keeps all the mitzvos cannot be an apikorus, no matter what his hashkafos are. The Chazon Ish discusses this in hilchos shechita. If I recall correctly, he brings a fascinating raya for this idea from fact that a tzeduki who doesn't believe in Torah sheb'al peh his shechita is kosher (Rambam hilchos shechita 4:16) if there was a yisroel omeid al gabo, but an apikorus's shechita is not kosher (4:14). Imagine that, the Rambam actually says a person who doesn't believe in Torah shebal peh is not an apikorus. They have two different halachos. The average person on street would say there is no bigger apikursis in the world than not believing in Chazal, mishna, or gemara. But seems that is not the case.

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    65. I don't need to supply any reason for the Mitzvos. They were never revealed to us. This is an explicit Gemara in Sanhedrin 21b. I'm bringing down the way Daf Yomi Advancement Forum wrote the Gemara's summary (I got permission many years ago to copy and paste as long as I quote them.)

      (f) Question (R. Yitzchak): Why weren't the reasons for Mitzvos revealed?
      (g) Answer (R. Yitzchak): The reasons for two Mitzvos were revealed, and the greatest Chacham stumbled in them.
      1. It says "Lo Yarbeh Lo Nashim" - Shlomo thought 'I will take many, they will not veer my heart';
      i. Ultimately, they did "Hitu Es Levavo."
      2. It says "Lo Yarbeh Lo Susim" - Shlomo thought 'I will acquire many, and we will not return to Mitzrayim;
      i. Ultimately, they did - "va'Tetzei Merkavah mi'Mitzrayim."

      So first, this Gemara is a proof against you, that we do not know the reasons of Mitzvos. Hashem didn't reveal it so people who think they're so smart shouldn't say when they apply and when they don't. That's was part of my critique before, according what you decided is the reason someone can just do all the Malachos on Shabbos for a Chessed, since, according to you that's the whole purpose. That's why making up reasons are vey dangerous, as the Gemara spells out without any uncertain terms.

      Secondly, you have a theory why Hashem gave these Mitzvos. How can you verify that is the true reason? Because that's the best answer you can come up with? Besides limiting Hashem's power of reason to yours, it seems very unscientific. How can you test that this is the reason? So far you can't produce any real proof more than this is what you believe. It's better not to have a reason then to get the wrong reason.

      What you wrote about the Rambam, doesn't make a difference, it still says that Hashkafos are very important. (Although it behooves me how knowing that Hashem doesn't have a body makes you a kinder person.) If someone has the wrong Hashkafos he'll focus on the wrong things and not be doing what he should do. Therefore if someone is trying to corrupt the right Hashkafos people are obligated to curb it, since wrong Hashkafos, at the least, leads to wrong actions. Therefore I say the litmus test of a valid approach is not how you act, but what is the truth. Therefore it's upon the person who's trying to propose a new Hashkafa to prove it.

      Even to your definition that the reason that your approach "The Reform and Conservative movements and J for J fall short in their shmiras hamitzvos," and I'm not going to say the next thing as a Shtuch, but I don't have any other way to make the point and bring out the Emes. Mordern Orthodox, although much better than the aforementioned, are not too known for their Dikdukei Hamitzvos. Again, I don't mean this as an afront, but what can I do? It's the truth.

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    66. They didn't let me make a big posting, so I need to split this into a second post
      About the definition of Apikores, Although I'm not familiar to as the case you're referring to however II'll refer direct to the Gemara. Sanhedrin 99b-100 of certain definitions that I find relevant in today's society.

      Also from Daf Yomi Advancement forum

      5) WHAT IS AN APIKORUS
      (a) Version #1 (Rav and R. Chanina): An Apikorus is one who disgraces a Chacham

      How does he explain Apikorus?
      (i) Answer #1 (Rav Yosef): It is one who says 'Chachamim do not benefit others. They learn only for themselves.'
      (j) Objection (Abaye): That is also Megaleh Panim ba'Torah - "Im Lo Brisi Yomam va'Laylah Chukos Shamayim va'Aretz Lo Samti" (the world exists only because people are learning).
      1. (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): Also "v'Nosasi l'Chol ha'Makom Ba'avuram" teaches that Chachamim benefit others.

      b) Answer #4 (Rav Papa): It is one who says 'Hani (those) Rabanan.' (He should refer to them more honorably.)
      1. Once, Rav Papa said 'Hani Rabanan.' He fasted to atone for this.

      The following is Apikorsus:
      1. (R. Yochanan): "U'She'arayich l'Avnei Ekdach" - Hash-m will bring gems and pearls 30 Amos by 30 Amos, and carve out a hole 10 Amos by 20 Amos, and erect them at the gates of Yerushalayim.
      2. A Talmid: Today we don't find gems the size of a small egg. Will such giant gems be found?!
      3. Shortly after this, he was on a boat (Ya'avetz - used names of Hash-m,) and saw angels sawing holes in gems, exactly like the dimensions that R. Yochanan taught. He asked what they are for. They answered that Hash-m will put them by the gates of Yerushalayim in the future. He told R. Yochanan that his teaching was correct.
      4. R. Yochanan: Had you not seen it, you would not believe it?! You mock the words of Chachamim!
      i. R. Yochanan put his eyes on the Talmid, and he became a mound of bones.

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    67. Very briefly:

      1) Giving a general goal for mitzvos is not the same as saying I know a specific reason. I couldn't tell you why linen and wool, as opposed to cotton and silk.

      2) The chinuch I believe, does give reasons.

      3) If you look at the yehi ratzon after counting the omer it says the purpose is kdei sheyitaharu amcha yisroel mizehumasan, that the Jews could purify themselves from their uncleanliness. How did the author of the tefila know this? In chumash it just says to count.

      4) Taamei hamitzvos may also refer to a taste, to make the mitzva palatable, but not an absolute reason.

      5) True, we can't know Hashem's thought process, but he gave the mitzvos to humans with human thought processes, and he likely expects us to use our own abilities, as best as we can.

      6) I believe a number of places the gemara is doresh taama dekra in order to actually determine halachos.

      7) The reasons I gave do not exempt one from mitzvos. They only demand that one use one's sechel, such that if he thinks the Torah wants him to do XYZ which is cruel, he is probably misunderstanding things. Even by misas beis din, which is necessary, chazal said once in 7 or 70 years, and another tanna said I would get him off the hook, every time, period. They answered him, that this would increase the murder rate in Israel. You see that the entire consideration was to maximize kindness, and an increased murder rate would defeat the tanna's purpose.

      As far as apikursis goes, mocking the chachamim is not the same as the types of things I was referring to. One who mocks the chachamim is trying to exempt himself from their authority, and free himself from mitzvos. But one who has trouble grasping that Hashem has no body, may simply have a mental block that he can't process. In theory, having a body weakens one's auhtority, as it means one is constrained in space, as opposed to being infinite. Yet, I do not subscribe to the yeshivishe adage, a nebechdigeh apikorus is oich an apikorus. (An unfortunate or accidental apikorus is also an apikorus.) It is only a deliberate preaching of hefekerus that is the problem.

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    68. Additional points: First, some observations. Venasasi lchol hamakom was when Avraham said maybe there were 50 tzadikim in the town. All we see is that the zchus of being a tzadik saves, not how big masmidim they were. In Sdom they would torture people, as many midrashim tell us, and the psukim imply. Therefore, it is likely that tzadik refers to one who would not torture people, and might even help people. The fact that the gemara uses this interchanngeably with talmid chacham, is actually a proof for everything I have been saying all along. That learning is supposed to make one a mensch. Second, the pasuk Im lo brisi yomam valayla, chukos shamayim vaaretz lo samti, may refer to the result of learning, which is harmony and shalom among people, not to the mayseh of learning.

      As far as your question about the modern orthodox not being medakdek in mitzvos: You have not given a specific example. But let's assume it is true. Also assume that, say, going to any movie is 100% asur. Imagine a chareidi rav telling an MO person the following: "You are not allowed to sing Hatikva. You are not allowed to study math in high school. And you are not allowed to go to any movie." What goes through the MO's mind? "Obviously Hatikva is that rabbi's personal political opinion. Similarly, what on earth is wrong with studying math? That is also his personal tradition based on the fact that 300 years ago in the shtetl, they had no math books. It must be that going to movies is similarly his movement's particular custom. None of these things are binding on me, because I am not Chareidi. I live in 21st century America."

      So, in effect, every chumra that the Chareidim have added onto Judaism has weakened halacha observance for everybody else, since everybody assumes everything they say is just extra chumras or political stuff. There is now no uniform standard for halacha observance. Perhaps this is what chazal meant when they said kol hamosif gorea. If you want the MO to listen to your halachic pronouncements, then don't add nonhalachic stuff into the mix, or you will confuse him.

      The larger issue is that nobody has really explained how halacha should be kept in our rapidly changing times.

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    69. First of all, to you, nothing could ever be a proof . If learning only means Chessed and Mitzvos only means Chessed, so wherever you look it only means Cheesed. So why doesn't it cut to the chase and write "Gomlei Chasadim, good question, but all is anyhow means Cheessed, so it doesn't make a difference what it writes.

      About MO, like come on . This is the Metzious. Just as an example, something that your friend, Rabbi Bechhofer was dealing with on Linkedin was the Shabbos app (which he was very critical of,) which claimed it got their inspiration from the following article.

      http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/national-news/many-orthodox-teens-half-shabbos-way-life

      need to say more?

      And honestly, you think there is any real heter for movies? Especially anything not with a G rating? Or maybe if you bring someone to a movie, your doing Chessed, so Adarabah, you're doing the Tachlis of the world. I don't understand See Eiruvin 18b (from DYAF summary)

      2. If he encounters a woman in front of him on a bridge, he should go to her side until he passes her. (The Poskim do not limit the Isur to a married woman. Perhaps Rashi agrees, and he says 'married woman' merely to exclude one's wife.)
      3. Anyone who (Tosfos Berachos 61a - regularly) goes behind a woman in a river has no share in the world to come. (When she lifts up her clothing to keep it dry, he will see.)
      (c) (Beraisa): If one counts out coins to a woman in order to look at her [hand ], even if he has Torah and Mitzvos like Moshe, he will not be spared from Gehinom - "Yad l'Yad Lo Yinakeh Ra".

      In the movies you have it any better? You first ask me of examples and here further in your post you are giving us examples.

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    70. Sorry, I reread your post. you weren't promoting Movie watching, I'm sorry I took it that way. But regardless, it is still an example of MO not being Midakdeik in Mitzvos. I don't think their rationale is as you say. They don't do things as Chareidi Rabbis are saying. They don't have rabbis of themselves to listen to. What do the MO's rabbis say about movies?

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    71. I don't know what the MO rabbis say about movies, but they probably expect their congregants to use their own judgment as to which ones to stay away from. Same for a TV. Certainly, there are things that are useful, like news, state of the union address, weather info, history or science programs. So no MO rabbi will say like the chareidim do that if one has a TV at home, his kids won't be accepted in a school. The MO interprets Chareidi bans as not being because of halacha, but because the Chareidi hates all Anerican or Westerm culture, and wants to live like the shtetl, totally cut off from the world at large, because the world is totally treif. The MO finds this repulsive, because he may love America or Israel, or wherever he lives, and finds much good in the culture.

      This is why I say nobody has come up with an approach of how to live in the modern world. The chareidi may ban everything, including even teaching necessary job skills in school, while the modern, in turn, reject all bans. Do you see that this is a big problem? For example in Germany, there were probably baalei batim who were embarrassed if their rabbi spoke only yiddish, and wanted him to give drasha in German. Some rabbanim may have gotten angry at this proposal, and refused to consider it. So these baalei batim then were forced out of Orthodoxy, and went on to start Reform, which ended up taking a big majority of Jews away. Someone remarked that had there been a Young Israel movement in Germany, maybe there would have been no reform movement.

      By the way, if you use Jacobson's chesed test, would it make one hoot of difference whether the drasha was in German or Yiddish, as far as the main purpose of a yid? It is irrelevant. Speak in whichever language you prefer that allows you to best accomplish your tafkid in life, which is to do chesed. So focusing on minutia, instead of the big picture may have caused huge numbers of people to go OTD.

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    72. As far as proofs, I never agreed with your claims that the obvious proofs from Hillel and Rebbe Akiva were not valid. But if you want more, then, as I mentioned, the mishna says Kol sheruach habrios nocheh heymenu, ruach hamakom nocheh heymenu. Anybody who people find to be pleasant, the RBSH finds to be pleasant.

      And additionally, when discussing the hallmark traits that define a Jew for the purpose of yichus, Chazal state the 3 determining characteristics are Rachmanim, Bayshanim, and Gomlei Chassadim. They did not state Shomrei Mitzvos or Lomdei Torah in that list.

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    73. All I can say about your explanation on MO and movies, it reminds me of Bill Clinton and smoking weed. "I didn't inhale."

      About the proof from Kol sheruach habrios nocheh heymenu, ruach hamakom nocheh heymenu is really no proof at all. Do you think it refers to nice Chazar fressers? It's referring to Talmidai chachamim, as explained by R' Yona on the page. That which TC is Hashem Nicha Lei, if he also is fine to the Briyos (and brings a Gemara in Yuma that parallels it. See, you would have many proofs if it wasn't for "them Darn Rishonim" getting in the way.

      About the three determining characteristics, again you need to look at context. See the gemara in Yevamos taht it refers to allowing Geirim in. We don't expect Goyim to be TC before allowing them into the folds. Also, this was referring to the Nesinim that was not appeased until the killing of Shaul's descendants. So he says that that cruelty cannot be allowed to join Yisrael. So you need to learn it in context.

      I think we hit a wall in our argument if you're going back to Hillel as a major proof if Rashi clearly rejects your explanation. Seriously, do you expect Chareidim to reject Rashi explanation to adopt yours? We must ask: why are you so insisted on it despite Rashi arguing with you? I must conclude we're not arguing for the same thing.

      I would like to explain the argument between the way your explaining things and the Chareidim. Either we have two separate objectives. the Chareidim are looking for an honest reading of the Gemara. Not what they would want it to say , but what it really does say. Your looking at "how to reconcile the Torah with my way of life." Therefore you need to reject any explanation that does no favor that reconciliation. You need to cling to any ambiguous Chazal, even if the Rishonim learn other ways, even if the Torah as a whole seem to point that way, because of the necessity to reconcile your two systems.

      Or, you really believe what your saying is what Chazal meant. However, since you have a need to reconcile the two worlds, you lost your objectivity to see it any other way that would not reconcile your two worlds. Ay, Rashi learns differently. But someone in a state of denial must ignore these facts and say it can't be. I don't know hat Rashi wants, but he cannot be saying against me.

      So we're not having an intellectual debate what is the meaning of the Torah. It's more an emotional thing, psychologically you need a way to reconcile your two world.

      I glean this from your posting, that your main motivation is to give legitimacy to your worldview. I quote "The MO finds this repulsive, because he may love America or Israel, or wherever he lives, and finds much good in the culture." Another quote "And it has the advantage that in today's scientific age, most people don't want to hear about mysticism, but want an approach that they can relate to with their 5 senses, and which is intellectually sound."

      I can argue with intellectual questions and answers. There are no answers for questions coming from a psychological need.

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    74. Dear Reb Anonymous, First, the Tosfos Yontof in Avos explains kol sheruach habriyos exactly as I did. Second, the words of R. Akiva are pshutam kemashmaam. In Klal gadol amru bshabbos, chazal were trying to tell us a new klal we had never heard of, before. However, Rebbe Akiva was simply quoting a pasuk that we all already knew. His chiddush was that this is the most important principle in the Torah.

      As far as Hillel, The words of the gemara are simple and like me. Rashi has a kashya, as to why he left out BALM. In his first answer, he says that rov of the mitzvos are BALC. But the interesting thing is that Hillel said idach peirusha hu. The BALM are simply explanations or lessons for how to do BALC. This is 100% what I was saying. The second pshat in Rashi is that menschlachkeit refers also to BALM, but does not negate the fundamental importance of menschlachkeit. So when yeshiva bachurim throw shtenders to decide who will daven maariv, even though it is for BALM, it is still the wrong behavior.

      But here is another proof of that Torah is only the prerequisite for midos tovos, and not the end in and of itself. Shlosha kesarim nichteru yisroel, keser kehuna, keser malchus, vkeser torah, vkeser shem tov oleh al kulan.

      As far as your contention that I look to make my hashkafos match my preferences, I am not in any way ashamed to admit that I look at the outside world when forming my hashkafos. The Torah was not given to be in a vacuum. It is a chachmas hachaim, that relates to our world. The pasuk says mikol melamdai hiskalti, I learn from everybody. Just in case you may object that this refers to frummer yidden and talmidei chachamim, not to the non-Jewish world, I will show you that this is not the case. In gemara berachos, Rebbe said, bshlosha devarim ani ohev es ha medayim, kesheyoatzin, ein yoatzin ella basadeh, keshenoshkin, ein noshkin ella al gav hayad, keshechoschin basar, etc. It also says bshlosha devarim ani ohev es haparsiim, tznuin bveis hakisei, etc. In kiddushin, the gemara says ad heichan kibud av vaem, and they learn the details of one of the most important mitzvos from the gentile, Dama ben Nesina.

      But more than that, they would even learn behavior from an animal. Lech el hanemala. And Chazal say, if we were never given the Torah, we would have learned zerizus (zeal) from the ant, tznius (privacy) from the cat, cleanliness from another animal, etc., I don't remember the whole thing, exactly.

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    75. (Continued)

      So the RBSH gave us our seichel, and although I can't prove it, there is at least some possibility that he may want us to use it in making religious decisions. As a matter of fact, there is a saying that seichel is the 5th cheilek of shulchan aruch. Therefore, I am allowed to look around the world and at history, and when I do so, I see that Western culture is the most advanced, and has led to the best quality of life for people in general. And American and Israeli culture have allowed the Jews to thrive as never before in history, not only materially, but also in terms of religious freedom to open as many shuls and yeshivos as they please, and to keep their religion with absolutely no interference, compared to most other times and places in their painful history. Therefore, there is something excellent about Western culture.

      So, for example, we started this discussion about sheidim and keshafim. Now, when I look at the outside world, I see that those places and cultures that believe in demons and spells are third world societies, faced with strife, hunger, and terrible plagues. But in regions which have adopted the scientific, rational way of thinking, they have advanced societies with all kinds of modern technologies and conveniences, like running water and sewers, and electricity, etc. Health care is better, and societies are more stable, without new rulers taking over by force all the time, etc.

      So, when it comes to inyanei d'alma, clearly, I should choose the rational, scientific approach, and not the superstitious approach of demons and spells. That is what my seichel tells me is correct, and I think you would agree. Therefore, I believe that religiously, I should do the same thing and follow my seichel, as well. But you, on the other hand, hold that religiously, one should do it the other way. He should believe in demons and spells, but should not learn other areas of wisdom like scientific studies, which you interpreted the Rama as saying. So here is a major point of disagreement. I will not disconnect my religious world from what my seichel tells me about the material world. But you, on the other hand hold that they are two completely separate entities, with one having zero to do with the other. The rules in one can be completely the opposite of the rules in the other.

      I cannot live that way, and don't believe the RBSH wants me to, as I showed from examples in the gemara. If it works for you, that is your choice.

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    76. I think we're now making progress in our discussion. Although the Tosfos Yom Tov is the last thing to agree to your Hashkafa (the R' Yona although against you, is closer to your Haskafa then the TYT.) Rashi is still exceedingly against you, but arguing these points are moot. That's not our question anymore which way is the Torah sanctioning. The question is really to understand if you are giving the Torah view or not. the answer is that you are not and finally you admit it. You don't want what the Torah writes but a compromise between Torah and Western culture. Let me explain this logically.

      In mathematic terms, let's call Torah "X" and Western culture "Y." MY formula is to figure out X. Your formula is to figure out What is X+Y. However that's not true, because you're not just adding Y to X, but you need to compromise X to fit into Y. The correct formula would be (X+Y)/2. Therefore we are coming out with separate conclusions. Because X does not equal (X+Y)/2. Now we can understand why the Chareidim was upset with this. Your trying to present that X=(X+Y)/2 which it doesn't. You have to be honest with yourself, that you're deviating from the religion and you were Koneh it B'Shinoy.

      Therefore, your honest answer for why Rashi disagrees with you is because he was never in Western culture. Never had the advantage to hear the wisdom of Andy Rooney and Jane (Hanoi) Fonda. Therefore he writes what he does. He only knows X. However, you who have the advantage of it, and therefore is a (X+Y)/2 person, has a different P'shat. Thus, what the Rishonim, or even Chazal say should have no bearing on your final answer. You don't need a plunger to try to fit them into your position.

      Now we can argue if Western culture has some values, does that mean you automatically accept all their values. Although you shouldn't through the baby out with the bath water, but you should horde the bath water either (especially with all the Shmutz in it)

      Even further, I see a lack of logic why you're connecting the technical advantages to the culture. What does Bill Gates achievements tell you that you should accept Modana's culture? On the contrary, they seem to be the opposites. The one's who improve the technology are usually Capitalist and the one's who set the tone for the culture are Anti-Capitalist. So there is no correlation between them.

      but most of all, I'm still convinced that it's not your Seichel that is leading you in this direction, but rather it's psychological. You rather be an intellectual than to be intelligent. There are a lot of people with more Seichel than you that believe what I do (including myself, but I don't consider myself close to the geniuses that there are in the Chareidi world..) You can have Seichel and believe in it, or through your Seichel you can extrapolate to their existence. However, since you have a psychological need to attach yourself for what goes as intellect in your culture, you are prejudice against this position.

      You say that the supernatural is superstitious and you don't believe in it. That is not true, you do believe in the supernatural. One believes in the supernatural unless he agrees to a tee with Richard Dawkins. G-d is supernatural. Beleif in G-d is a belief in the supernatural. You could chose to believe instead to the theory of multiverse, that there are infinite amounts of undetected parallel worlds that contain every possibility possible for each universe, but you instead believe in G-d. You believe you have a soul. You don't believe that you are just a hunk of meat and someday computers will be so advance that they'll be conscious of their own self and make conscious decisions, but you don't. So you believe in the supernatural. It's logical to believe in the supernatural. Now, it doesn't mean you need to believe every charlatan who claims he knows about the supernatural. However, you definitely believe in it.

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    77. Dear Reb Anonymous, not much to respond to this time around. You are talking vague generalities, with very little substance. You have not given a single proof that anything I said was kneged the Torah. Yet, I have given chavilos of rayos for my point that the ikar is menschlachkeit and kindness. You constantly sidestep, or give dochak peshatim way off the simple meaning of the words, or ignore altogether. Every child knows that Hillel (at least Rashi's first pshat) and Rebbe Akiva are exactly in line with my view.

      Looking at the outside world gives us more insights into emes. Seeing what works and what doesn't. Emes and Torah are synonymous.

      Nowhere did I say that we accept all elements of Western culture. We take the good and try to improve the bad. This is tikun haolam. If you see workers building a house and there is no roof, you don't say these workers are morons because they don't know there is supposed to be a roof on the house. They simply haven''t gotten around to putting it on, yet. The world is a work in progress.

      In addition, there is no one absolute view called "the Torah". Chazal say kulam mechayvin, zakai. If the judges were unanimously agreed that the man is guilty, he goes free, because they didn't examine all angles of the case, sufficiently. For this reason, they would never appoint a dayan unless he could come up with 50 reasons to be metaher a sheretz min hatorah. Torah is a process of shikul hadaas, weighing all factors, and using one's judgment to arrive at the final conclusion. The root of all machloksin in chazal is how to weigh the various factors. There is no objective mathematical scale. It is up to each person to assign the appropriate weights to each factor. Darshening a word one way in pasuk A may make a lot of sense, but that same drasha may be a dochak in pasuk B. Yet if I use an alternate drasha that works better in B, I may run up against a kal vachomer from halacha C. If these are the only two conceivable drashos for the word in question, I will have to make a shikul hadaas as to whether I can live with the dochak in B, or the seeming halachic contradiction in C. Different Tannaim may weigh it differently, leading to a machlokes. And certainly if the physical metzius D seems to contradict one of those views in certain circumstances, that needs to be taken into account as well, in the weighting process.

      As far as supernatural, yes, I believe in it as an extension of the ratzon hashem. Simply as a sheliach, not as an independent autonomous entity. As a moshol, suppose one was suspected of committing a capital crime and had been found guilty by the jury, and lost all his appeals. He wants to save himself. The way to do it, is to write a letter to the governor requesting clemency. But this fellow thinks that he will check the schedule, find out who the executioner is, and write a letter to the executioner describing the details of his case, and asking him not to go through with it. Will that work? No, because even if he manages to convince the executioner (who may lose his job), they will simply get another one in his place, that day. You have to go to the governor.

      Same with sheidim. If they exist they are merely an extension of yad hashem, so you still need to daven and go about your life exactly the same way. They do not concern you in any way. The RBSH may have a big hierarchy of malachim and tzva hashamayim, but all we need to know is that the RBSH runs the show however he sees fit, and the details are incomprehensible and irrelevant to us. Therefore treat the system as a black box. Nothing is lost if I say sheidim are a moshol for some aspect of hashem's providence over the world. And as far as we are concerned, almost never does hashem work in ways that are against the physical laws of nature; he works with those laws. You have a better chance of improving your life by studying science and curing a disease than by potchkying with sheidim.

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    78. My post yesterday was not to prove that what you're doing is against the Torah, but explaining why it's improbable you'll reach the truth in Torah. Since your main objective is not to find the truth in Torah, but how to reconcile your Western beliefs with the Torah. If you limit your explaining the Torah based on someone elses system, so you're blocking out many truths that are there if you would approach it with an open mind. For example if someone would say I'm a big Rush Limbough fan and I won't accept any P'shat in the Torah if it's not according to his Shitos. Or if you're on the other side, that it must be in agreement with Ed Shultz or Karl Marx or even Groucho Marx. What chance there is to get to the truth for what the Torah saying? An honest answer is :not much. Therefore my claim is: that you're not even heading in the directions to find the truth in Torah, therefore we should expect your conclusions to be faulty.

      This is why I can't include it into the regular Ailu V'ailu. Not every view anyone dreams of comes into this rule. The Reform and Conservatives also believe that there explanations are as valid. What makes something go into as a valid Ailu V'ailu. It's the fact that you're trying to get to X, what the Torah really means, not to fit the Torah into other agendas. Once you are veering from that, you can no longer be considered into the intellectually honest debate to what is the real meaning of the Torah.

      As to my so-call Dechukim, I don't think so. I gave a real intellectual logical explanation for everything. I'm convinced that the only reason you're not accepting it is because you're in a state of denial. The way you can't even admit that Rashi is coming to explain to us that you're not correct. Even in his second explanation, he is very different from you. He says since there are many BALC. He DOESN'T say because even the BALM are only for BALC. This is simple.

      As an honest assessment, I would say that the overwhelming majority of serious Torah scholars are Chareidim. Rav Elyashiv, who spent 90 years of his life totally engrossed in Torah and he knew every inch of Torah like the back of his hand, and yet he disagreed with your conclusion. What you write that every child knows that P'shat is like you. That is the problem. You're getting your explanations from children. We get are explanations from great Torah scholars, who understand that your position is ridiculous. How can someone without an axe to grind think that the Torah puts the death penalty on so many things that are only a boot camp for something that has no death penalty. You won't even consider this to be a question. That's why I don't think you're being intellectually honest in your position.

      In your explanation, of how the supernatural works, I don't get it. Of course Hashem runs everything, both natural and supernatural. Hashem runs animals, but don't walk into the lion cage just yet. What's your proof that protecting yourself from Sheidim is any less logical than protecting yourself from a lion?

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    79. I did some research on R' Akiva's words. I found that it was brought down in Toras Kohanim (Kedoshim Perek 4) and in Yerushalmi (Nedarim 9:4)

      The Pirushim in the Toras Kohanim, the Rash MiShantz, the Raavad and Gra explicitly say that its' a rule for many or most Mitzvos. The yrushlmi, no matter if you look at the right or to the left, both the P'nai Moshe and Korban Ha'Edah say that it helps for either many or most Mitzvos. Clearly ALL the Mefarshim hold not like you.

      However, I have no doubt in my mind that you'll drop this as a proof. (Although the Rishonim and Achronim says on thing, but that's not the way we took it sitting around a campfire with our arms around each other while the guitar was strumming, singing Amar R' Akiva.)

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    80. Dear Reb Anonymous, Al rishon rishon. First bringing in specific names of Torah scholars from one end of the spectrum makes things difficult, because clearly there are things I don't agree with about the underlying hashkafa of the chareidi world, or we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place. Should I cite names from the extreme left and say that they are the most knowledgeable Torah scholars? Whenever one starts matching up scholars head to head and rating them, it usually ends badly. So we will have to stick to the classic sources.

      As far as your question about sheidim, there is a mjor diffference about possible damage from a lion, than from a sheid, but it is subtle. When one puts himself into a makom sakana, then bderech hateva it may take a neis to save him. But we know that lo israchish nisa kol yoma. And furthermore, when a neis does happen, it costs gelt (zchusin), and he may not have enough. This we learn from Yaakov Avinu who said katonti mikol hachasadim, kol haoseh lo neis menachin lo mezechuyosav. So even if a person did no aveiros, he may end up putting his life in danger or even losing his life, G-d forbid. But by a sheid, however, it is merely an extension of the RBSH's hand. Now if the person did nothing wrong, are you telling me the RBSH will make a supernatural neis via a sheid to kill him for no reason? Mi chashid kudsha brich hu d'avid dina blo dina? So unless he had done some punishable aveiros, he has nothing to fear. And if he did some, let him do tshuva and daven, not worry about sheidim.

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    81. Al acharon acharon. Reb Anonymous, you made my shabbos. I looked up the Toras Kohanim and peirush Rabbeinu Hillel at the following link:

      http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40721&st=&pgnum=85

      I will write it out: Zeh klal gadol batorah. Klomar keivan dichsiv vahavta lreacha kamocha klal gadol hu, demashma d'at sani lchavrech lo saavid, vhaynu KOL HATORAH KULA kedegarsinan bperek dvameh madlikin bemaseches shabbos d'amar leih Hillel lehahu goy kol hatorah kula d'at sani lchavrech lo saavid, v'idach peirusha, zil gmor.

      So he is saying that the source for Hillel is Rebbe Akiva. And in the process, he doesn't say that klal gadol means many mitzvos, or most mitzvos. He says it is the ENTIRE Torah, period. All the rest, including the BALM are peirusha. Are you going to try to say here, also, that vahavta lreacha means the RBSH? Sorry, it ain't gonna work. Else, Rebbe Akiva should have said V'ahavta eis Hashem Elokecha is klal gadol batorah. And the pasuk says Lo sikom vlo sitor es bnei amecha, vahavta lreacha kamocha. Clearly, the context is about BALC. So while the other meforshim you quoted are probably saying the same thing as Rabbeinu Hillel, as I have no reason to believe there is a major machlokes here, but they did leave you some wiggle room, which you aptly took advantage of. Nevertheless, here it is iron clad, it means peshuto kmashmao like we learned sitting around the campfire singing amar rebbe akiva. I would give anything to go back to those days. As you know, the greatest Torah scholar in history played a guitar. My chaveirim, including RYGB know how to make a kumsitz the likes you have never seen, and we have been doing so for 40 years. You are invited.

      But what is also interesting is that Ben Azai says Zeh sefer toldos adam zeh klal gadol mizeh. And the meforshim seem to agree that this is because vahavta lreacha might be interpreted as referring only to members of the Jewish people, but zeh sefer toldos adam is talking about all mankind. This is the yiddishe goal of tikun haolam.

      Finally, as you were kind enough to bring up the Marx brothers, for whom I have a soft place in my heart (are you a baal ruach hakodesh?), I will address the question of Why a duck, vya no chicken? While we have been quibling as to the extent of klal gadol batorah, some, many, most or all mitzvos, and I have conclusively proved it means all, now I ask you a question: According to the Chareidi viewpoint, why takeh didn't Rebbe Akiva say Vhagisa bo yomam valayla or vshenantam lvanecha about Talmud Torah is klal gadol batorah? Or why not vyareisa meielokecha or es hashem elokecha tira, or v'ahavta es hashem elokecha? How about Breishis bara elokim? Or Anochi Hashem elokecha asher hotzeisicha meretz mitrayim? There are a ton of psukim that could have been a majestic klal gadol batorah.

      But the lesson is that the gadlus of the RBSH is that he doesn't care about his own kavod like we see from sota and Avraham Avinu, but the entire purpose of the Torah is to teach us how to get along. The Es hashem elokecha tira is only to enforce good behavior among mankind, not for the RBSH to glorify himself. People first.

      You made my shabbos, and I was dancing on the rooftops all night singing Amar Rebbe Akiva. Kol Tuv and Good Shabbos.

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    82. Sorry, but you misunderstood the point I was making. My point was not that my rabbis are better than your rabbis , therefore concede the point. I was responding to your line of reasoning "Every child knows that Hillel and Rebbe Akiva are exactly in line with my view." which my response is: that's a lousy way to decide of the truth of the explanation of a passage of the Gemara. My point is, and I think you can agree to that, it's not logical that these many major Torah scholars would miss something that is obvious to every kid. Therefore it would be logical to say that there must be good reason why this is not the obvious explanation.

      I think you can agree to this in your own professional life. my research leads me to conclude that you're a medical researcher. Don't you find that there are many misconception what the layman thinks and it is the word in the street and what the reality that is known by the professionals that are in the field? So it may not be wise to accept the opinion of the layman.

      Regarding Sheidim, your argument is only good with your idea that a Sheid is only an extension of Hashem's hand. But my point is: why must you compare it to an extension to Hashem's hand more than a lion. Hashem made a lion as an independent being and walking in its way is a Sakana. So why can't you extrapolate the same to a Sheid? True, that saving yourself from a lion may be more a Neis Niglah and from a Sheid a Nes Nistar. However, this also may be compared to walking into a place where certain diseases are common. Since we don't see the germs ,and we may be Tolah that the reason he came out unharmed because he didn't cross paths with the germ. However, it may be a Neis Nistar that protected him. This would seem to be Chazal's view of Sheidim, that it's similar to a lion. This seems to be the Gemara in Berachos 3a and codified in Shulchon Orech O.C. 90:6. One shouldn't go into a Churba (fallen house) to protect yourself from them.

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    83. I just saw your "Achron".

      " So while the other meforshim you quoted are probably saying the same thing as Rabbeinu Hillel, as I have no reason to believe there is a major machlokes here, but they did leave you some wiggle room, which you aptly took advantage of."

      Lets take this logically. At first why are you so sure that the other Mifarshim say like R' Hillel. Maybe it's the opposite. If needed to put them together and say there is no Mochlokes, I would say to fit the one Pirush into the five Pirushim rather to change the five Pirushim to fit into the one.

      Secondly, it is more logical to say that when someone refers to a whole entity he may be referring to most of the entity. There is a Gemara in Kiddushin 12a like that. It's the way people speak. When someone says "everyone does something" it Lav Davka that everyone does it, but rather many or most people do it. Nobody says that "most people do something" and mean really everyone does it. So logically you can only say that R' Hillel can be Lav Davka and not the other Mefarshim.

      So let say each one means Davka what they wrote, I still believe that the true way is the way I learn. Besides the number f Mefarshim going in my way, but also the prominence of them. The Rash M'shantz is from the major Baalei Tosfos. The Raavad, the Gra and the two major Pirushim of the Yerushalmi. Each one was known and used for many generations. Did you ever heard of R' Hillel? So besides not being as prominent as the others, he wasn't even heard of before 1961 when this Sefer was printed from G'niza (which works into the other question do we accept Sefarim in Geniza or do we think there may be a reason why they were in G'niza.)

      So in conclusion, the only logical conclusion is: that either probably R' Hillel agrees with the other Mefarshim that it only refers to Rov or this manuscript may not be reliable. At best, it's a Machlokes and my side have Rov Minyan and Rov Binyan.

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    84. Without getting into the actual issues between Anonymous and Barry:

      1. IIRC, the R' Hillel was edited by Rav Hutner. Not a minor haskomo.
      2. In Agada, rov minyan/binyan is not machri'a.

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    85. point 1. very well be, but he could have held that it's a good idea. If I'm not mistaken, the Chazon Ish held that they were better off left in G"niza and wouldn't consider them.

      point 2: besides this point is not L'Kula Alma. However, this is really not in agadita but rather in sense of L'Maaseh, what to focus on. Is the Chareidi focus on Torah and Mitzvos of all kind, or the MO position that all that really matters is the Chessed. Therefore it's no worse than the Gemara in Eiruvin Nimnu V'Gamru. Over there there is a Nafka Minah as the Gemara concludes that one now needs constant self inspection. Here too, there is a major difference in action between us. After 120 years either the Chareidim or the MO are in for a big suprise for neglecting the major focus.

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    86. I will get to your questions about sheidim in the next day or so. Although I must say that this written dialogue is quite a tircha, and would be much easier if you would actually identify yourself and email me to set up an actual face to face meeting. I promise I don't bite. But perhaps it is better that these arguments are recorded for future reference.

      At any rate, with respect to whether the other meforshim agree with R. Hillel or not, you still haven't answered my major question from yesterday. You contend that zeh klal gadol batorah means it is the rule which includes or ties together the maximum number of mitzvos, although not necessarily all. But my question is that Es hashem elokecha tira definitely includes all (both BALM and BALC), as does vhagisa bo yomam valayla or anochi hashem elokecha. Why on earth did R. Akiva not say those were klal gadol batorah? Why settle for 51%, when you have quite a few options to get 100%, and those options all fit perfectly with Chareidi priorities?

      I also want to address a point you made way in the beginning that deserves a strong machaa, but I let it go at the time. You said that the manhigim of klal yisrael were chosen because of their superior intellectual capabilities. I don't know where you got that from. Moshe Rabbeinu was chosen because of his menschlachkeit of Vayar bsivlosam, and a medrash that he rescued a lost sheep. The gemara also says that Beis Shammai were mechudadin tfei (sharper), but Beis Hillel were anavim (more humble) and shonim divreihem vdivrei Beis Shammai, so halacha is like Beis Hillel. Also har sinai was the smallest mountain, and Torah is nimshela kmayim, which flows to the lowest point. Humility and kindness were the primary qualities of a Jewish leader, not IQ.

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    87. 1. He did not hold they were better off in a geniza. He held that they could not necessarily be used to overturn established mesorah in Halachah.

      2. I assume that you have not read my article: http://rygb.blogspot.in/2014/04/does-psak-apply-to-matters-of-hashkafa.html.

      2b. Barry is not really MO and MO do not really hold like Barry. This is not a Charedi vs. MO debate.

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    88. I also want to object to your characterization that the Chareidi focus on Torah and Mitzvos of all kinds, while MO say only thing that matters is chesed. That is quite a biased formulation. The question is whether the purpose of Torah is an end in itself, or as a stepping stone for chesed, which is the highest value. And lichorah, the Chareidim are on the side of Shammai, who yelled at the prospective ger because of a perceived slight to kovod hatorah, thus demonstrating that he thought kovod hatorah was more important than the feelings of the ger.

      As far as RYGB's comment about MO, I am really stateless at this point, because I always identified as Chareidi, and sent my kids to Chareidi schools, but when I see the shenanigans going on with Chareidi leadership, I get rather ill. The average Chareidi is a mensch, and my kids have had wonderful rebbeim, and the heads of their schools are big tzaddikim. But the people calling the shots in the Chareidi world are not people I would ever follow. Their worldviews are as different ffrom mine as east from west.

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    89. Barry-

      First of all I'm not a telephone guy (I make my wife make all my phone calls for me. I just hate the medium. Also typing gives me time to think and reflect (think twice and type once.) thirdly I think there are others who monitor our discussion who it will help.

      The Pashut Teretz to that is: let say if someone has a Taaveh to eat ham and for Znus, overcoming one of them would not necessary help overcome the second. However, if someone aces V'Ahavta, then there are no challenges. Rav Pam always use to say that his mother never needed a Machsim L'Peh day, since her love for all Jews were so strong, why would someone want to say Lashon Harah on someone they love. So all Taavos for all the BALC fall to the wayside once you have a great love for all.

      Your next point, there are many holy people in Klal Yisrael. Many fine people that do the best they can in Torah and Tefila and in Chessed and Midos. However,they are not the leaders. Though a leader needs to have fine Midos, but a prerequisite is that he's brilliant. R' Moshe was not chosed to be Posek Hadar because his Midos were more exemplary of everyone in Klal Yisroel (although he did have exemplary Midos. He was chosen because of his sheer brilliance in P'sak. Look at any list of gedoilei Yisael from any generation and you won't find any dummies. Bais Hillel were mental giants, and Beis SHammi were also leaders of Klal Yisrael (although we don't Paskin like them.)

      My point that it's not like other religions, that the leaders were the holy people and not necessarily the brightest bulb, our leaders were the most brilliant among us. So though the world is skeptical of their leaders in being backwards, then we should be skeptical of ours. The Arizal couldn't fool the Beis Yosef and the other great scholars of TZfas if he wasn't 100% legit.

      RYGB- 1 however, he said it, it would be applicable in our case, since the other Pirushim were with us for the durance of time, while this was just undug in '61.

      2 I didn't and still didn't. All I got was a note "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist"

      2b the reason why I assumed it was that he brought it up MO. Also, I never heard anyone that was more than MO that held many of his positions ( for ex. the bitterness towards Chareidim, I 've never experienced it from a regular Bh"B although I know quite a few of them. The Bitlus to Western culture) And though I heard his position regarding that the Torah is only for Chessed, but truth is, I never heard it from someone Frum (I heard it around 20 years ago from Dennis Praeger when he had a talk show on WABC in NY. He brought the two same proofs, from Hillel and R' Akiva) After hearing it from him I assume that is what MO held. SO if this is correct, correct me How would you describe Barry and how MO differs from him.

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    90. Barry, I don't think it's quite biased formulation. if learning and other Mitzvos don't have any intrinsic value, but only as a stepping stone for Chessed, so then the main focus is on Chessed. If someone would be able to get to Chessed without them, they would have no purpose whatsoever. According to you, people that dedicate their life to learning Torah is on the wrong track. People should dedicate their life for medical research and only learn enough to remind you how important medical research is. The focus is always on the true goal and all else should be kept to a minimum to what is necessary. So learning is like eating or sleeping, which you cannot do medical research without it, but needs not to be done more than necessary. Therefore I say this is a major difference between the two. Is learning a goal into itself that deserves major focus on it, or is it just a means to another end, and focus on it should only be as minimal as necessarily to reach that goal.

      RYGB- I found your article in another place. Is your main proof from the Rambam?

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    91. Reb Anonymous, you ask some good questions which I have thought about in depth. First, the Tosfos in Kiddushin I mentioned I think around daf 40 says in one's youth he should focus on learning, and in later life on maasim. Second, as you know, a mitzva which can not be done by others takes priority over learning, Third, there is an opinion (which I am not sure that we pasken like) that holds by saying shema morning and night, you have fulfilled the mitzva of Talmud Torah. It is a davar sh'ein lo shiur.

      But getting to the crux of the issue, if chas vshalom somebody close to you were in the hospital with some illness and given a year to live, and there was a researcher who thought he may be on track for a cure in a bit over a year, but maybe if he worked overtime, he could get it finished in a year, would you have any problem telling him to only do research and not attend shiurim in order to rush it? Would you consider telling him he should not daven or do any mitzvos the entire year, but focus solely on research. Would you have a problem with telling him to work in his lab on shabbos doing as many deoraisas as he needs to get it done? Even if he can't guarantee that this treatment will work, but if there is a chance, would you consider it a safek pikuach nefesh which is also docheh shabbos?

      Now let me say something else, in order to cure many diseases, we need to know how proteins work and interact, which is determined in good part by their unique structures. They fold into specific shapes governed by their amino acid sequence. But right now, we are very bad at predicting these shapes and the resulting chemistry. There are complex computer programs which try to compute the correct configurations and interactions. They work by trying to find the lowest-energy configuration. Just like if you lost a baseball, you generally look at places close to the ground, and do not assume the ball is resting on the side of a tree trunk or wall, because those places have higher energy than the ground, and the ball would fall into a lower energy state. Same with proteins, all the atoms and particles push and pull on each other, and it is assumed that the final state will be the one which minimizes all these forces. But there are so many particles, it takes current computers eons of time to consider every possible configuration and compute an energy value for each. Many approximations are used instead, which are not always accurate. But if a researcher could prove a mathematical theorem that showed that a large number of possible configurations are mathematically impossible, then the computer programs could avoid a lot of trial and error, and go much faster. Therefore, it is very likely that the cure for many diseases will come from studying math (and of course chemistry and physics), not just biology or medicine. For that very reason, I have no qualms in studying math on shabbos. And I find the fastest minyan, so I have the most time. My kids have asked me about this, and I have told them, if they have no problem with hatzala ambulances running on shabbos, who take people to a hospital, but in many cases, the hospital really doesn't know how to cure the disease, then why is math any different, when it could lead to a cure? Now, in halacha, probably it is common to hear we can only violate shabbos for a choleh lefaneinu. Same for autopsies, etc. But what if we know that in every hospital there are patients with disease X who are dying every day, and if a cure is found, they will all be saved, even if they are not lefanenu? So these are difficult questions.

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    92. (Continued)

      Imagine if you asked a posek, Rebbe, am I allowed to study math for work on shabbos, instead of going to daven? He would probably call the Humane Society to cart him away.

      But what is very disturbing is that in chareidi schools, even if they offer secular studies, they are considered a joke. The kids believe the only use math has is to pass the regents. My son and his classmates spend far more time in and out of school preparing for the Purim shpiel all year. When I asked him why is it necessary to do filming in September, when Purim is 6 months away, I was told the weather will get bad, and the scene won't come out right. I can't stand the total ignorance and dismissive attitude of the chareidi way of doing things, and people are suffering and dying as a result.

      While the chareidim pat themselves on the back and say look how much chesed we do for hospital patients, we bring them meals and toys. But the bottom line is that what patients want most of all is to survive, and not to be left incapacitated. I know the intense fear, as I have been there, and when one is in that position, one sees the entire world completely differently.

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    93. Just to clarify, I don't want to in any way minimize the chesed that Chareidim do, and when my father was rushed to emergency surgery for a brain tumor, Achiezer supplied our entire family with food for shabbos in the hospital for which we were extremely grateful. My point is that, unfortunately, he passed away 16 months later, because the doctors didn't know how to treat him properly (bderech hateva). The biggest chesed for us would have been for someone to cure him.

      Lest one think that Chareidim do not believe in functioning bderech hateva, they may actually investigate doctors more than anyone else, and will chase to the ends of the earth for a novel treatment. So it is a bit incongruous that they value medical treatment so much, but disdain the training necessary to do it.

      Similarly in Eretz Yisroel, they pride themselves on Yad Sarah, etc., which is wonderful, but when it comes to thanking the Medinah for setting up the hospitals, training the doctors, operating research universities, providing the medicines, the power, the water, the roads, the security, that goes completely unnoticed.

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    94. On the study of math and science on Shabbos, what's wrong with it in the first place?

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    95. Also a point, if Chareidim would have made their system to produce medical researcher, honestly, would you think your father would have been able to be treated properly and survived?

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    96. Dear Anonymous, my point is not whether he would have survived, that is up to the RBSH. But I feel that the Chareidi chinuch does not provide the sense of urgency and the opportunity to achieve that the kids deserve. Look, in a modern school, they don't only teach limudei chol. They teach both chol and kodesh, and each are taken seriously. There are plenty of fine rebbeim in modern schools, many of whom may even have chareidi backgrounds. But the afternoon is also serious, and the kids aren't fooling around and roaming the halls and playing basketball. In science they will have labs, and hopefully are taught by people who love their subject, whatever the subject is.

      But in Chareidi schools, everybody knows the chol is treated as a bdieved, and is often taught by rebbeim who couldn't care less about their subject, but is a chesed to them so they will have parnasa. The kids barely learn the subject, behavior is out of control, as the kids know nobody really cares about chol. There is no effort made to seriously motivate the kids, and to stress that somebody's life may be in the balance depending on how well they can master this material, and hopefully add new chiddushim that nobody ever knew before.

      And that is in the schools that offer chol at all. The latest trend in the USA is to copy the EY system and to eliminate chol altogether. So then the kids are forced into a system where they have literally no choice in later life what to become. The only skill they have is learning. And they are totally at the mercy of the leadership about getting a position or a shidduch. G-d forbid they should say one wrong thing and their families will be blacklisted from everything including schools. There is no free choice. You can't even decide who to vote for. If you vote for the wrong party, they may not even touch your wine.

      I am not objecting to learning. I have a son in the Mir who only wants to learn. But that is his own voluntary choice. Nobody forced him.

      When I sent my kids to Chareidi schools, it is because I, like RYGB, enjoyed learning when I was a kid, and wanted a frum atmosphere without nisyonos from the streets, and where they would get good kodesh and chol. My high school had gedolei hador and mechabrei sefarim for rebbeim, and also a 1,000% top notch English program which routinely got kids into Ivy League schools. Kids were given the best of all worlds and had free choice to excel in anything. The only disadvantage was it was coed. Nevertheless, many kids shteiged in learning, and my classmate, the son of the menahel, is the RY of Yeshivat Hesder Sderot, which he founded, and is now the biggest Hesder yeshiva in EY. He was a masmid and visionary from the time he was a child.

      I sent my kids to Chareidi schools because I thought the atmosphere would be better, as we are in a different generation with more nisyonos. But it is nothing like the education I had. It is one-sided and not balanced. If a kid doesn't want to learn, often he will get into far more trouble than what goes on at coed schools, because there is nothing else for him to put his energies into. The job of a school is not to stifle kids, but to give them excellence in all areas and allow them to make their own choice.

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    97. I'm not sure of the balance of Kodesh to Chol in MO schools. A Rebbi in the MO school from here tells me that they star Gemara around high school, and only a forty minute subject. He had to lobby to get it to be the first thing in the morning where the children have more concentration.

      Regarding your friend that Shteiged. He first of all came as the son of the Mehahel, who he himself was probably more dedicated to Yidishkeit, so it's not a proof to the rest of the population. In other words, those that have a predisposition to learning and spirituality would Shteig any place. Those that have a predisposition to "bumming out" will bum out either place. The question is the large population in between. This is where Chinuch comes in to show what is really important in life. This is where this middle ground would be inspire to Torah in Chariedi Yeshivos, but not necessarily in a MO Yeshiva.

      Now if they need to make a Parnassah (when they become more serious in life), having the skill of learning is very helpful. We cannot consider it like an inner-city kid that dropped out of school. Since they mastered learning Gemara (which doctors told me was a harder discipline then med school), with a very analytical mind and an idea for the abstract, they pick up on things very fast. I have brother-in-laws in Lakewood, learned about how a certain business works and became wealthy people, more than my brothers that went to collage. especially, even with all the complaints about the Limudai Chol in Yeshivas, the children do have a nice idea of what is flying in those subjects, as I remember from my day and I see this in my children.

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    98. "What we know may be just the tip of the iceberg"

      A critique of rational philosophy.

      The idea of rational philosophy, that we should only accept the validity of things that we can sense with our five senses. All else are considered as for the most part doesn't exist.

      However, if we would go back to the Rambam's time, there are many things that they couldn't sense that we know exists. What they were able to sense was only the tip of the iceberg of what exists. So it would seem that it's not a good indicator to say if I cannot sense it, it doesn't exist.

      But lets go a little further down the history line. Take Ignaz Semmelweis for instance. From Wikipedia

      Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist's research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 after being beaten by the guards, only 14 days after he was committed.

      Poor guy. However, if the medical community would have listen to him, instead of rejecting it because "we don't sense it" would have saved many of lives.

      Another example: Rabbi Bechhoffer wrote a Blog (which I have seem other places too)

      http://rygb.blogspot.com/2014/12/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes.html

      It brings Carl Sagan that believed that there must be billions of billions planets that were fit for life based on what was accepted that there were only 2 things a planet needs to support life. Today we know it's over two hundred and therefore it should be considered impossible that any planet, including ours, should support life. Now Carl through this made some wrong conclusions based on his calculation from relatively primitive science with less than 1% of the info in front of us. In other words, according what he could sense at the time he made a very wrong conclusion based on the idea that what he sensed was the most something can be. He didn't put into the calculation the possibility/probability that what he knows is only the tip of the iceberg. Now he might have not changed his mind. People with predisposition would probably believe in Multiverse to get out of this. However, it's not true that all you see is all you get.

      Even our science probably one day would be considered primitive and faulty. The world is a very complex place. Especially after we agree that there is a concept of the supernatural, how can one think that all there exist is what he can personally sense. maybe his tools to sense is too primitive to sense other things that exist. Although it doesn't mean that one should accept everything anyone theorize even with the idea that you cannot know the whole picture or just the tip of the iceberg. However, to reject ideas out of hand because you can't sense them personally is a bad idea.

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    99. 1. The CI only rejected ms. from the chain of halacha - not from lomdus and not from agada.

      2. The main proof is logic. The Rambam is a snif. ;-)

      2b. MO by and large is non-philosophical (as are "Charedim" - in a different way). Barry is far too philosophical to fall into either category!

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    100. Dear Reb Anonymous, True, the son of the menahel had an advantage. The menahel was an Amud Hachesed of the generation, Rabbi Meyer Fendel (a chavrusa of Rav Altusky, the Chidushei Basra) together with his wife ybd"l, and the brother of Reb Zechariah Fendel z"l. But this school produced lamdanim from all parts of the spectrum, including a rosh chaburah and mashgiach in Lakewood, mechanchim in Torah Ore, by Rav Scheinberg, ZL, and many others.

      Ideally, all the teachers of a school should be competing with each other to convince kids that theirs is the most important subject, and that they do it lchatchilah because of love and expertise of their material. The kid gets a chance to develop all his talents.

      Yes, there are some rich gvirim who succeeded without any formal education, but for each who succceeded, there are perhaps a hundred or more who are destitute and broke, and living from gemach to gemach, perhaps going door to door, and chayeihem einam chayim. In my opinion, even if there was one korban, it is too many, and the entire system should be shut down shelo levayaish es mi sh'ein lo. Just like Rabban Gamliel changed his own burial to the simplest possible in order not to embarrass poor families who could not afford a lavish funeral. That became the norm for all Jews.

      Your point about handwashing is important, and I was going to mention it regarding netilas yadayim, that may have saved Jews from many plagues due to following chazal. I will get to sheidim soon, IYH.

      RYGB, MO at its core does have philosphical underpinnings, but they are buried so deeply, because they are mostly ashamed from the constant attacks of Chareidim, that they feel guilty, and never defend themselves. This gives the impression that they are just pragmatic, or bdieved. I am in this long discussion trying to put it on a firm ideological basis, and showing that they have just as much legitimacy, if not more, and need not be ashamed of Torah Umada, etc. The history of our people is that (pseudo)kannaim always frighten the cooler heads by all kinds of insults and threats of gehenom, and the cooler heads panic and give in, and extremism wins the day. That is why we are moving farther and farther to the right. Poor ehrliche yidden who don't know better are being trampled upon by the extremists. Therefore, there must be one person in the generation who is not afraid to put the extremists on the defensive, and stand up for these fine people, which is my purpose here. A good part of the wishy washy commitment of the modern is that they have been made to feel like sinners and garbage by the chareidim, so if I am totally just a second rate Jew because I can't match up to the chareidim, I might as well just do only as much as I want or can handle. In other words, they feel that the Chareidim are more religious, and I am less religious, so I don't do more. But then their kids might have a rebbe who makes them feel like their parents are no good, and the kid flips out and rejects everything. The extremists always win

      Another thing the Chareidim do, which I find less than ethical, is that they find baalei teshuva who have gone to top-notch colleges, who become their spokesmen, becaue they write well or know some science. They point to these people with pride saying all kinds of educated people agree with chareidi philosophy. The fallacy is that they would never give their kids any secular education to be like those same writers or doctors. So in other words they don't approve of him being a doctor, but still have no problem putting this doctor as their poster boy to lure others, as if the two are compatible. Quite dishonest, I must say.

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    101. RYGB- first of all, I think this is not just an Aggadah argument. That would be only if the argument is: was Paroh was the same Paroh of Yosef or not. There is no Nafka Minah in any action whether or not Paroh was the real Paroh. (just to get a little Daf Yomidik, there is a Maclokes whether there was one Yetzirah or two. Although it' an Aggadah, yet there is a Nafka Minah how many Brachos to make at Sheva Brachos. So do you say we Don't Paskin by Aggadah so make as many Brachos you l8ike. Or because it's Nogeah to Halacha we need to Paskin one way or another.)

      S too here. There is a tremendous Nafka Minah here. It's not just a philosophical question, but in practice Barry is identical to Chareidim.
      There is a very basic Halacha question, which I'll propose to you: what is the most important thing a person can do in this world, being a medical researcher or being a Talmud researcher? This is a major Nafka Minah. So what would you say the answer is?

      2. I'm not sure that's Pshat in Rambam. I don't think he's saying, since there is no Halacha by Aggadah therefore every Tom, Dick and Barry (sorry for the pun) can indiscriminately decide to reject any Taanaic or Amorayic opinion. If there would only be one opinion it would be Lohaig B'divrei Chachumim to reject it, like the Maaseh of R' Yochanan is Bava Basra 75a (summary by Kollel Iyun Hadaf)

      (b) (R. Yochanan): "U'Sh'arayich l'Avnei Ekdach" teaches that Hash-m will bring gems and pearls 30 Amos by 30 Amos, and carve out a hole 10 Amos by 20 Amos, and erect them at the gates of Yerushalayim.
      1. A Talmid scoffed. Today we don't find gems the size of a small egg. Will such giant gems be found?!
      2. Shortly after this, he was on a boat (Ya'avetz - used names of Hash-m,) and saw angels sawing holes in gems, exactly like the dimensions that R. Yochanan taught. He asked what they are for. They answered that Hash-m will put them by the gates of Yerushalayim in the future. He told R. Yochanan that his teaching was correct.
      3. R. Yochanan: Had you not seen it, you would not believe it?! You mock the words of Chachamim!
      i. R. Yochanan put his eyes on the Talmid, and he became a mound of bones.

      This would be the first recorded "rationalist" Jew. However, if Reish Lakish had a different Drasha, then this Talmid would have a right to indiscriminately scoff at it for no other reason because it doesn't fit into his rationalistic ideas? I don't think so.

      All the Rambam is saying, that unlike Halacha where we must pick a way so we can do the way we Paskin like without having to be Machmer like every opinion possible, however, by Aggadah, there is no reason to Machriah between the different views and we can accept all of them as possibilities.

      2b. My impression of Barry, which I can only get by what he wrote on the Blog, that he's a MO trapped in a Chareidi society. Therefore this is causing much conflict between him and his children and between him and the society he's surrounded with. I agree that he must have more feeling for Yidishkeit for entering a society that he's at odds with in order that his children should be sheltered what developed to the Modern MO Matziv.

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    102. Regarding the story about the large gems, while I haven't time to look at it now, but if the Talmid was saying the RBSH couldn't make them, that is melagleg. But if the talmid was saying that it is unlikely the RBSH would want to make them, very hard to understand what was wrong. Especially in light of the opinion that Ein bein olam hazeh liyemos hamashiach ella shibud malchiyos bilvad.

      As far as whether every person is expected to learn all day: Often the nosie keilim on the Rambam will seek a source for how the Rambam knew which opinion to pasken, and say that the Rambam was following stama degemara. If in a different place, the gemara asks a question or makes a statement that is based on the opinion of one, it is likely the halacha is like that opinion.

      Now look in Berachos 4, where the gemara discusses eating before davening maariv. The gemara says the wrong way is shelo yehei adam ba min hasadeh baerev vomer ochel kima vishan kimah, vnimtza yeshein kol halayalya. The right way is aval adam ba min hasadeh baerev im ragil likros korei, im ragil lishnos shoneh, vkorei krias shema umispalel. But note that in either case, stama degemara was that a person would be in the field all day working. The only shayla was what to so when he comes home. If there was something wrong with working, the gemara should have said, aval adam ba min beis hamedrash baerev. Gemara took for granted that the average person would be working.

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    103. The question then is: if he didn't get a memo from Hashem what he particularly want to make happen, why would a Talmid doubt his Rebbe giving over the tradition that he received from when Hashem did send the last memo on the subject.

      The Gemara in Brachos is referring to the Hamon Am. It seems that they were not very learned group, where the Gemara assumes a good many didn't go further in their Torah education more than reading P'sukim. Some advanced to Mishna but not further. Even the third group that learned Gemara, perhaps only on a superficial level.

      But that's not the question I asked. Not what most people do (and I do think this is still the Metzios today, even among the American Chareidim) but given the choice to be a Talmudic researcher or medical researcher, which does Halacha sanction more? This I think is the logical Halachic question that I think is the Nafka Minah between our two views. (In other words, it's not just Hashkafa in a vacuum.)

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    104. I want to point out that I am not in any way denigrating learning. I am saying that if a person is learning, he should at least know what the book is about. It is not about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It is about ethics and kindness which is the core of our mission and success.

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    105. To Barry: MO originated as Americanism, and whatever philosophy it possesses was grafted on later. We grew up not even knowing that we were MO! And don't blame the C's for the MO's shortcomings - the MO were dominant for many years.

      To Anon: The question of the most important thing a person can do is probably not even a valid question. It is certainly not Halachic.

      2. You are conflating Emunas Chachamim with psak in Agada.

      2b. Barry is complicated...

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    106. Actually, Barry, the above gemara was not addressed to you as a question, but to RYGB (as I labeled it. My 6 year old passed it and asked me if it was a spelling mistake.) It was part of my buildup of explaining why I don't think that the Rambam means someone can reject any Pirush for whatever reason as long as he has one Pirush, (even a Das Yachid), that doesn't disagree with him.

      Barry, I would like to bring up just an issue that I think you should reconsider. What I gather that yo're very vocal publicly about your views. What I want you to consider: is it really worth it. Let's just go over the facts. Are you making progress? Are you convincing anyone of your views?

      As you mentioned before, rocking the boat does have consequences for your family, and I can't say they're unjustified either. Nobody wants to associate with a rebel-rouser. Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Let say you have a Chareidi guy living among Tzionim. Forget about the argument who is correct and who's wrong. Would it be wise for him to publicly protest about the "Treifa Medinah?" Would he and his family be Pariahs? Would people care to do Shidduchim with him? There is a point to the old saying, when in Rome do like the Romans. Or at least, don't make it too obvious that your going against the society.

      For whatever reason, your stuck in a Chareidi society. Your children are part of the society. As part of Chessed, you shouldn't be a burden on your children, both socially and with Shidduchim. They're not going to be able to marry a Modern girl, since that is not who they are.

      I read an article a few months ago from this MO rabbi that his son (who seems Chareidi) is a Magid Shiur of a program. He complains that his son is the only one in the program that really speaks a real English. Everyone else speaks too Yeshivish and goes on to criticize it. Whatever your thoughts on the subject is, I thought this guy to be thoughtless to his son's life. Here he is publicly criticizing the organization that his son is employed in. Criticize his colleagues. This guy is known as a loose cannon, but don't do this to your child. This guy is a burden to his children, don't become a burden to yours. (I'll assume that people didn't blame him for his father, similar to nobody blamed President Carter when Billy opened his big mouth. However, it was probably not too comfortable to him.)

      Therefore, even coming from your perception, you may have a need to let out steam, but it may not be the wisest idea. Calculate how much you're really accomplishing with it against how much you may be burdening your family with it, it may not be wise to continue.

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    107. Dear Anonymous, yes, it is a great risk to speak out publicly. I was and am well aware of the risks, and I could have chosen to write anonymously or under a pseudonym. But to really make a difference, you need to stand behind your views. If even a single family was ruined because of the chareidi hashkafa it would be too much. But there are a steady stream at my house and shul. I have told people I can barely afford to go to shul, because of the number of checks I have to write every day. And aside from the active collectors, there are many others who barely eke out a living from part-time chinuch which is all they can find. I mean, if you tell people to sit and learn, shouldn't you make a cheshbon how many chinuch and rabbanus positions will likely be open when it's time to leave yeshiva? If you have 1,000 avreichim competing for 100 positions, what will be with the rest? Hondeling or finagling does not constitute job training.

      As far as shidduchim, the Aiberhster zol helfen. Funny thing is there is another fellow in my town who has written controversial stuff, and a Rosh Yeshiva called him up and said, I agree with everything you have ever written, but your kids are in shidduchim, so you must stop. He didn't, but Lmayseh, he has made shidduchim for his kids.

      I try to write to the issues, while at the same time constantly emphasizing that there are very kind people in the Chareidi world who mean well, and especially in my kids' schools, they have been very good to us. People in my neighborhood are more open-minded type of Chareidim, in general.

      I will also say that when we were in Boston, I had sedarim at the Lakewood Kollel and was very close with many of the avreichim who were my chavrusas and were so eidel and sincere, and also with the Roshei Kollel, all of whom were major menschen. They also ran a wonderful father-son program motzaei shabbos, and would regularly come to all simchas at the Young Israel. There was much achdus. These were such different types than the types I read about in the chareidi papers.

      But when I started to read those papers, and I read crazy stories like the one about the mother who was starving her baby, and the Eidah put out a 36 page full-color publication claiming that Hadassa hospital was out to get Chareidim. This despite that they probably treated over 100,000 chareidim with warmth, a smile and expertise before that time, and nbody ever had a problem. It became clear that there is something really wrong with their thinking. They will attack the Medinah at every opportunity. And what bothers me is that because they have no secular education, they don't process a mashehu of how complex it is to run a modern society and all the benefit they get. Who checks that the drinking water is clean and healthy? Who studied chemistry and microbiology to learn about germs and how to monitor them? Who developed those chachmos to begin with? And that is only one tiny prat of what they do. They live in blissful ignorance, and knock those who do such excellent work to keep everything functioning. Yes, they should learn, but at least appreciate what their secular brethren do for them.

      I have received tons of email about my articles, and probably 85-90% were positive, and said things like, you said what we were all thinking, but afraid to speak out. I mean, I shouldn't protest when chareidim are beating up frum soldiers in shul? Did you know that Reb Aryeh Levine was once pushed down into the mud by a kannai? One shouldn't speak up? Whether a nobody like myself can have any influence remains to be seen, but at least I must try.

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    108. I want to address the question you raised earlier about becoming a Talmudic researcher vs. a medical researcher. In my opinion, in the time of Chazal, it was not a choice. It was expected you would excel in both. They lived Torah Umada. Chazal were expert in the science of their times. There are numerous cases where they recommend XYZ remedy. They knew astronomy and math. They lived up to Ki hi chochmaschem uvinaschem leinei haamim. They said Kol hayodea lachshov btekufos umazalos veino choshev, al zeh neemar El poel hashem lo yabit, v'es maaseh hashem lo raah. One couldn't be a talmid chacham in learning, and a total ignoramus in secular studies. It would have been a total busha and bizayon. I think it is a new thing to denigrate secular studies. Whatever the term chochmas yevanis meant, it did not refer to math, science or medicine.

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    109. RYGB- 1 don't we have Halacha regarding what are the best way of doing things, like Tzidaka, and if a Mitzvah comes your way by learning?

      However, I'll re-frame the question. We know one is Michuyiv in Limud Hatorah constantly. Only for a good reason may you leave it, like a Mitzvah that can't be done by anyone else or necessary Tzorchai Haguf. The Meforshim give the reason for the former because Torah needs to be Al M'nas Laasos. So it Felt in Torah without doing the Mitzvah. The question: is someone Michuyov to leave the Beis Medrish to learn how to and research medical diseases or is he Mechuyov to remain in the Beis Medrish. If you hold that the only purpose of learning is to do acts like medical research, then not leaving the Beis Medrish to become a medical research is learning Al Minus shlo Likayim, since you're not doing your Tachlis of the learning. However, if you hold that is not the whole purpose, so you should learn and remain in Beis Medrish since it's not necessary to become a medical researcher.

      2. my train of thought from that Gemara, that one is not allowed to reject a Memra of an Amorah through rationalist thought. Therefore, even if there is another Amorayic approach for a different reason (there is a different Drasha) to me it seems Dochek to say now you have a right to reject indiscriminately one of the opinions for any reason you want to.

      2b. He maybe complicated... but who isn't? :)

      Barry- If you feel that there will be no repercussions, I wish you well.



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    110. One is not mechuyav in Limud HaTorah constantly. This is a common misconception. See the Ohr Somayach, beginning of Hil. Talmud Torah.

      2. I do not understand what you are saying - or, at least, how it is relevant.

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    111. I sent a post at 11:52 pm, which was close to one of yours, so make sure you check whether you read it.

      I also wanted to say that as before, without Torah, we would not have the midos and sense of urgency to want to help other humans, and would instead resort to barbarian behavior, and never have a developed society. So Torah can be viewed as hatzalas nefashos in that sense, as it enables all the other professions. It is essential for the functioning of society. But still, a person needs to know why he is studying it, which is talmidei chachamim marbim shalom baolam. If he thinks he is doing G-d a favor, and by that attitude, snubs everybody else, or disallows any other options, causing everybody to have to enter only a single profession (chinuch) that they may not enjoy or may not be cut out for, then this is wrong.

      Like the Tanna in Berachos, kshem shehu eino misgader bimelachti, kach ani eini misgader bimelachto. Each needs to appreciate the other and how he contributes to yishuv haolam.

      As far as repercussions, should I not put on tefilin, if others don't like it? The system is faulty, and the siman muvhak is what happened at Ponovezh. Aside from the issues we discussed over and over again, about menshlachkeit, there is also the issue that people bteva have a desire for action and to build. The system does not allow this entire side of human behavior, and in EY they won't even allow any sports. So they will get their action by clobbering each other. But if other options were available, they might invent robots, and have a race to see which robot is faster or can climb more stairs. Robots could eventually replace soldiers on battlefield, saving many lives.

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    112. RYGB-
      1. a) the Ohr Sameach may not be L'halacha, since he is admittingly arguing with the Ran band Rama.

      b) Even his Shita doesn't argue with the Geder I wrote. The whole question is how to frame that Geder. The more traditional approach takes on that the Chiyuv is like the Gemara in menachos, always, except you are exemt when the situation falls out that you can't. THe OS saying, that the TOrah only obligated in the first place each person according to his ability. However, both explanations obligates someone to learn as much as he's able.

      c) whatever Geder you would like to say in the OS, the question still can be asked. Someone is learning in Beis Medrish because it's within his ability to do so, should he close the Gemara in order to get a degree in medical science so he can do research or should he remain in the Beis Medrish learning.

      2. maybe we should take this a piece at a time so we can see if we're on the same page. My understanding of what people mean that there is no P'sak in Agadah, that you may reject any opinion (in gemara or any place else) as being false for any reason (for ex. because it doesn't fit into the NRA philosophy which he's a card carrying member), as long as there is one Shia, even aminor one, that you say "I can hold like him."

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    113. 1a-b. Frankly, the OS is the only logical way of looking at things. Otherwise most Jewish men are going to roast in Hell for a long and very hot time. Lo nicha l'mareihu. Historically and de facto, the OS's approach (which, BTW, Reb Elchonon in Kovetz Shiurim 2:46 in his response to Rav Schwab comes very close to saying, although it is not such a pleasing prospect to him) is the approach taken by rov minyan and binyan of Am Yisroel.

      c) This is a question of techunas ha'nefesh, not of halacha.

      2. I think we are in agreement.

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    114. 1a-b even R' Elchonon only allows for learning a trade, not just if it's not your forte'. For a trade and to make a Parnasa (when necessary ) is included with the exemptions of Tzorech Haguf. Im Ein Kemach etc. However, each person has an ability to learn, but not everyone has the same abilities, so not everyone's Chiyuv is the same. But no one says that people may underachieve their personal potential. Nobody holds someone is obligated to do more than their potential.

      C. lets say for argument sakes, he can do either one. Has no problem learning for 14 hr straight. His old man left him 5 Billion dollars and money is not an issue. He also has an interest in Science. What should he do?

      2 However, if there was no Riesh Lakish, then he would be a scoffer for rejecting R' Yochanan as false, as in the above Gemara. So I find it hard to believe that without R' Lakish he's a scoffer in the Rabanan's words. However, with Reish Lakish, now he's L'chatchila allowed to scoff at R' Yochanan's words, even though the reason he's doing so has nothing to do with Reish Lakish's Shita. It's like after the fact, oh, there is someone I can hold of. He would have disagreed whether or not Reish Lakish said his Shita.

      That is why I feel my alternative explanation is Rambam is better

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    115. Dear Anonymous and RYGB, while I have yet to see RYGB's article and the Ohr Sameach inside, I just want to ask the following: As we discussed earlier, the Rambam says Maaseh Breishis is physics. So my question is whether there is a kiyum in Talmud Torah from science. Now, if you say not, then is science considered bitul torah? We know that Chazal devoted half an amud in Kesuvos to discussing brain surgery. Would there be bitul torah right in the middle of a gemara?

      I also want to raise one other interesting issue. Many halachos in the gemara came from actual business cases where the baalei din were not learning at the time. They got into a situation, had an argument, made there taynas, and these became halacha. For example there are cases where one of the baalei din got a strong 3rd party involved in some way, and the other baal din says harishon noach li, hasheini kasheh heimenu. Or in many other types of cases after stating their taynas the gemara or mishna says dina kaamar leih. Meaning that his tayna was a valid concern and is the actual halacha. So we sometimes learn halacha from the business world. In fact, the lines between learning and other subjects may not be at all as clear as the yeshivah world would lead you to believe. But if you go with my idea that Torah's purpose is for yishuv haolam in this world, not primarily for schar in the next world, it makes perfect sense that we derive halacha from discussions of baalei batim, and that the gemara would discuss brain surgery in the middle of a masechta. What sayest thou?

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    116. 1a-b. Here is where it gets interesting. For those of us who do not accept Reb Elchonon's disparagement of TIDE (and, since this is a machlokes in Hashkafa, anyone can choose TIDE over Torah-Only - and, IMHO, should), the same dispensation that applies for umanus can apply for reading good literature - or any other positive, constructive pursuit.

      c. It is still a shikul ha'da'as. Chashka nafshi b'Torah is a personal issue, not a halachic issue.

      2. I'm back to not understanding what you are saying!

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    117. RYGB-
      How would you describe the difference between Hashkafa and Halacha? To me, regardless of what you hold, the Machlokas between TIDE ond TO should fall undr the realm of Hilchos Talmud Torah. What is the Chiyuv to learn. That sounds like Halacha to me. (Actually, I think anything that has a Naka Mina L'Maseh should be classified under Halacha and not under Hashkafa.)

      2 I guess we're not understanding each other in this one. Since this is really an Agav Sugya from this thread, therefore I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

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    118. Dear Reb Anonymous, I just looked at Bava Basra 75 inside, and a few observations. First, the gemara says straight off that the Talmid was melagleg when he asked the question. The purpose of aggedata is to inspire. So whether or not R. Yochanan was intending to be taken literally or not, he must have had a message, but the Talmid denigrated it. Second, as before, it seems the Talmid was questioning whether it was possible for the RBSH to make such large jewels. Even if he held ein bein olam hazeh liyemos hamshiach ella shibud malchios, he could have asked that question in a nice way, Rebbe, will the world really be that different than nowadays? His tone of voice was completely chutzpadik and inappropriate. Third, the Maharsha quotes from a Yalkut which I have not seen, that the talmid was an apikorus, mashma, before this mayseh, and according to the way we defined it, was preaching hefkerus, much worse than an interpretation of a particular aggadeta. Fourth, this gemara is gufa an aggadeta, and Reb Shmuel Hanagid at end of Brachos defines aggadeta as those nonhalachic parts of the gemara, and that one can interpret in any way that makes sense to him. So we started this discussion about whether one is mechuyav to believe in the literal meaning of sheidim, or are they a mashal. How could this gemara support the literal meaning? The same way the Rambam interprets the aggadetas of sheidim nonliterally, he would do the same for this aggadeta, as neither are binding in any halachic way. You also have never answered my question how one opinion in Chazal could say the entire Sefer Iyov is a mashal. The bottom line is that Bava Basra 75 is a lesson in midos tovos how to treat a rebbe properly.

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    119. Most of Hil. TT is Hashkafa, not Halacha. The "Hilchos" is misleading. But just like OC 240 or Rambam Hil. Dei'os is considered Hashkafa, so too Hil. TT. Otherwise, we would all have to send our kids to Zilberman schools, etc.

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    120. R YGB- Although Hilchos Dayos maybe not true Halachos. However, Torah is a Mitzvah Chiyuvis, and must have Halachos when there is a Chiyuv and when there isn't. Similar to Lulov and Shofar and all other Mitzvos. There must be Halachos when someone is Michuyov and one is not.

      Barry- As far as R' Yochanan was aware of , was only the reaction of the Talmid. He told him, I beleive you because I saw it. Therefore R' Yochanan deduced he wouldn't beleiev it if he didn't see it. From that he said he was Melagleig. On the fact that there are Shitos of Ain Bein really proves my point more. The Talmid could not excuse himself that he has a right to reject R' Yochanan because Shmuel disagrees with him, since there is no Halacha an Agada, thus I'll say like Shmuel and disregard you're supernatural explanation. So that can't be P'shat in Rambam that there is no Halacha in Agaada. He doesn't mean that you can reject anyone at will, rather there is no reason not to accept all positions as a viable and possible P'shat.

      Regarding Iyov , I don't think the Man Damar that holds it's a Mashal held that way randomly. Rather he had a Kaballah or some other Hechruch for the Torah. Those who argue with him brings a proof from the Pasuk that said there was once a man. If he didn't exist the Torah couldn't write that. Hence, we must go with what seems to be the original intent of the author.

      Further, as I brought earlier, that Sheidim are part of the Halachic literature and is codified in Shulchon Orech.

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    121. Barry- although i enjoy this give and take, however, I do need to devote my energies to other projects. I think that I have a Shtlickle Torah to explain the difference between your Mehalech and the Chareidim.

      I just need one more piece. Lets start with the following philosophical questions about Hakaras Hatov.

      If Reuvein does something good for Shimon and Levi receives some good Agav that good that was done to Shimon. Does Levi need to have Hakaras Hatov to Reuvein for that good he received? Or does he not need to have Hakaras Hatov, since he was not the targeted recipient.

      Question two: if the answer of question one he still needs to have Hakaros Hatov, then let us say (as an extreme example. Like the Gemara gives extreme examples in order to find a correct Geder how it works) I'm sure there were Nazi doctors and scientist that helped in research that had made a difference in the advancement of technology and medicine, do we need to show them Hakaros Hatov for the good we received from it or not. If not, why exactly are we not obligated?

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    122. Not sure where you're going with this but I think The Chovos Halevovos says one needs to show Hakaras Hatov, even if the doer did not intend to benefit the recipient. But in the case of Nazi doctors, when the intention was not for tov, but for sadism, I doubt we owe them any hakaras hatov, and may not even be allowed to benefit from their research. I think the ethicists deal with this. But if they discovered a new phenomenon, would be hard to ignore it. However, I don't know offhand whether anything useful ever did arise from their work.

      Now let me ask you one. If medical research and saving lives is not a worthy goal for a Jew, then why the huge emphasis on Hatzala? What is wrong with the regular 911 system that the rest of the country uses? How much bitul torah does that huge organization entail for the EMTs, and the administrators, etc.?

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    123. I'm not a Baki in Chovos Hal'vovo, howevre I heard it as the opposite, but it may be wrong.

      (Over Shabbos I asked someone who's more into Mussur and he directed me to

      http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=45434&st=&pgnum=57&hilite=

      first column 14 rows down. There it says that you don't)

      However, my thoughts were from the Gema Shabbos 33b (Kollel Iyun Hadaf summarry)

      R. Yehudah, R. Yosi, R. Shimon and Yehudah ben Gerim were sitting together;
      1. R. Yehudah: This kingdom (Romi) has done great deeds. They established markets, bridges and bathhouses!
      2. R. Yosi was silent.
      3. R. Shimon: Everything they did was for themselves! They established markets to seat harlots [to take revenue from them]. They established bathhouses for their pleasure. They established bridges to collect taxes! (Avodah Zarah 2b - this is Hash-m's rebuttal of Nochrim who will request reward in the future. Maharsha - R. Yehudah agrees with R. Shimon, just he was careful not to say so lest the kingdom find out.)

      This (and that gemara in AZ) would seem to show, if it was done for their own purpose, they cannot take credit for the good they did and they don't have to have Hakaras Hatov.

      In the case of the Nazi, even if they were not experimenting on Jews (let say a scientist in Berlin that was a card carrying Nazi member, but didn't do the experiment on human victims and his intention is to help humanity, although Aryans.) I agree with you that it's not ethical to put wicked people on some type of pedestal.

      Regarding your question, first, how many members of Hatzolah are learning all the time. Even if they are, there was a need that there wasn't a proper respond time from 911, so they organized their own. However, it's difficult to say that the lack of Chareidi medical researchers would lead to Jews dying because of a lack of researchers out there.

      B'Emes as a job per se,medical researcher is one that probably helps humanity more than most. I'm sure you took a good pay cut by being a researcher than opening your own private practice.

      Hopefully for tomorrow I'll get to the SHtikel Torah

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    124. I think , from what I gather from our conversations over the last few weeks, I think the everything boils down to whether Yiddishkeit is B'Ikker only about BALC or is it a combination between BALM and BALC.

      If you hold the Ikker is only BALC, of course the most that you need to do is to help humanity, and therefore dedicating your life to learning Torah is missing the point, since Torah learning is only there to lead to doing chessed.

      However, if you hold that the BALM is as much as an Ikker and is their own purpose, so then it make sense to dedicate one's life to learning Torah, because that in itself is one of the purposes of creation and why he was created for. Thus the Torah places a Talmid Chahcum above the rest of the populace and not a doctor. (One must stand up for a TC and not a Dr.)

      If Torah is only about Chessed, then there is no reason to be loyal to it, thus you may be loyal more to Western philosophy. AS long as you are loyal to the final idea of Torah i.e. Chessed, so, even if there is no logical reason to reject Shaidim, however, since Western philosophy rejects them, you will too.

      However, if you feel that Torah is what is the Ikker, then one feels more loyal to the Gemara and Chazal. If Chazal's original intent by talking about Sheidim is that they exist, one doesn't feel arbitrarily necessary to throw it off. I think what someone holds in this regard is more of a Siman where his loyalty lies rather than there is a Siba for them believing that way.

      The attitude towards Zionism and the Medinah. Although the founders of the state were not only secular, but pretty anti-religious. In Wikipedea I found the following quote "Modern Orthodox philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz considered Ben-Gurion "to have hated Judaism more than any other man he had met"."

      So, when we discussed Hakaras Hatov, we both agree that we cannot give credence to the wicked. So the Chareidim, besides the obvious comparison to the case in AZ and Shabbos of the host nations taking credit for what the society they built helped the Jews, they feel since these people are Rashayim, you cannot give them credit or put them on any pedestal.

      However, if you hold that the Ikker is only Chessed, we can only apply that idea to Nazis who were Rashayim in BALC. However, the Medinah that is made and run by those that are only don't keep BALM. However since that is not the Ikker, and although they don't keep the letter of the law, they keep the spirit of the law of doing Chessed. SO since they did a fig favor for everyone to make them their homeland, we can somewhat excuse their lack of BALM and still put them up onto a pedestal.

      The last part that it bothers you that there is poverty by people who dedicate their lives to Torah. If the Ikker is only CHessed, then someone's goal should be making a nice Parnasah for his wife and kids. However, if the Ikker is Torah, we only have this life to do it. AS the Gemara says "how can you forsake gaining for the next word to work in this world." SO even if it has some difficulties, however, what is difficulties when you're doing your life's mission.

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    125. The mitzvah chiyuvis of TT is a perek in the morning and a perek in the evening. The rest of the time is a mitzvah kiyumis.

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    126. RYGB- so the Chiyuv is governed by Halacha and not Haskkafa

      Barry n conclusion, not getting into the argument of who's correct, if you want to get into a dialogue with Chareidim, you need to understand from where they are coming from. You cannot come to them with Taynos on the assumption that all the Torah is is to teach Chessed. This will never fly, since it's rejected completely by them. Let say with the Parnasah issue. If you would come with a total rejection of the Chareidi Hashkafa and say "these people are wasting their lives at the expense of society," of course it would be met with total opposition. However, if you understand their view, and in reality they're doing the most important job in the world, but how can we help their poverty? Yes,work is a necessary evil, however, how can we address that need without underscoring the value of what they're doing. In that case maybe there are solutions available that may come back to making Malachta Arai and Torah Kavuah. But if you approach it that they must accept your outlook of Judaism then all is loss, since it's totally rejected among the Chareidim, so it would be talking to the walls or like talking a different language. You need to work within the system to get real results.

      It's been a pleasure writing with you. I'll stick around for any Ha'aros. May you only have good health and Nachas from your kids.

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  9. There are, in fact two sources for this custom:
    "There's a sucker born every minute" (David Hannum)
    "A food and his money are soon parted" (Thomas Tusser)

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  10. Heard at a Sheva Berachos last night: A yungerman in Lakewood calls his posek: He knows it is a segulah for wealth to read parashas ha'mon this week (B'Shalach) on Tuesday, but he is wondering if he should, since if it is matzli'ach he will have to get off the government programs? The posek answers: Either say it for someone else, or say it be'al peh, so it will be off the books...

    Not on-topic, but from the same speaker: Another yungerman asks the posek, when he is at a simcha on Shabbos and beckons to his wife behind the mechitza, who is in a group of other women, is there a chashash of borer? The posek answers: It depends if it is ochel me'toch pesoles or pesoles me'toch ochel...

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    1. P.S. I said parashas ha'mon today. Certainly when prefaced and followed by a Yehi Ratzon it is more of a tefillah and less of a "segulah."

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  11. My rebbeim have taught me that ayin hara means when one hurts someone, or acts ostentatiously in front of them, making them feel bad or jealous, or flaunts their wealth, etc., then the RBSH is tovea the elbon of these people. Obviously, this requires teshuva bein adam lachaveiro, and pouring lead will accomplish absolutely nothing. How on earth a practice that is clearly asur can be invested with any holiness is beyond me. I will now read the 5TJT piece to see if it sheds any light.

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  12. The German roots of this practice have been known for years! Someone ought to look rigorously at the true sources of our customary practices when these look like avoda zara.

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