Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Bothering Modern Orthoprax?

This is the post I want to discuss

Now, what is bothering XGH? He wants to know what can be known for certain morally.

Now, there is a question: what if in the Torah, the most influential book of all time, it has said, "Go ahead and kill anyone you want, G-d doesn't care. In fact, he likes it."

Now indulge me further. Pretend G-d exists. Could you have a world with the same physical laws, but have that deity create an alternate morality? Like one where murder is okay? Is the concept of murder being good or bad meaningless?

Well, no. I think we can all agree that societies with murder are less stable, and prosper less, than societies without murder. Hunter-gatherers are very likely to die at the hands of another human, while we, living with modern humanistic/Judaic values, are probably going to die of something boring, like a heart attack. Or cancer.

I think it can be argued that based on the fundamental laws of nature, and the way human societies organize themselves, that murder is objectively bad. It is a fact that a society without murder will advance farther than one with, to the point that the society without murder will probably murder the barbarians, or crush their culture and replace it with their civilized system of ethics.

Right ought to make might.

Now, from a religious point of view, the same G-d who made the fundamental rules by which the universe work, upon which, layer by layer, recognizable human existence comes into being, also told us murder was wrong.

What does this mean? It means that G-d saved us alot of time and effort, and did us a favor by telling us the policy that will benefit us: don't murder.

And if you don't believe in G-d, you believe in those fundamental rules, and you know that societies that do not have better do better without murder.

And so: murder being wrong follows naturally from the fundamental nature of the way the universe is set up. Whether that is by chance or by divine providence is irrelevant. However, I think that for murder to be good, the world would need to be different. Gravity fall off at the cube of the distance, or something like that. It would be unrecognizably different rules for interaction. We can't imagine such a situation, it would be so qualitatively different.

Remember: societies are stronger than individuals. Individuals that take advantage of a societies benefits without playing by their rules tend to get executed.

Does might make right? Or can there be a "right" that causes a person or group to be weaker than a group that does "wrong"?

Monday, September 28, 2009


I had alot of anger towards heretics.

I felt like there was too much intellectual conceit.

Well, now I just don't care anymore about what they think.

I'll do my thing, they'll do there's.

But I remain curious about the emotional pain someone who leave Judaism feels.

Existentially, it must be very intense and very unique.

And so I continue to read kofer blogs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You know

If you are a doubter, a skeptic, or just plain curious, I would really like a chance to answer you.

I love debate.

Friday, June 26, 2009

When the Stars Go Blue

Where do you go when you're lonely?
Where do you go when you're blue?
Where do you go when the stars go blue?

I'm sitting here in the Pacific timezone, and the jBlogosphere has gone quiet. This is because, let us face it, they are all New Yorkers, if not New York City-ers, and I live in a desert of Judaism and Torah.

But it is so different. The time right now is 7:56. Shabbas comes at 8:16. I'll probably get off at 8:05. But the deathly stillness of the jBlogosphere is haunting. Is this the austere beauty Shabbas has for someone who simply watches others do it?

Soon I will "sleep with my fathers" and join them in yom menucha of Shabbas. Yom ze mechubad, m'kol yomim. I read on Da'as Hedyot that one of the only things a kofer (Shana?) missed (she stated this repeatedly) was Shabbas. Shabbas, we are familiar with the Gemara that says Shabbas is like a sign. A person who keeps Shabbas is like someone who puts a sign on their store "Reopening Soon". Giving up shabbas is like taking the sign down, and indicating that the dilapidated store will not be returned to its former glory.

It's so quiet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free Will

It is this God that we are
to love
with a complete
and all encompassing love. This love is so great
that other loves
such as the love of self,
one’s wife,
sons and daughters,
and the love of money
will be as naught
in comparison to one's love for
And this is what is meant by the verse
“And you will love the Lord your God with all your heart
all your soul
and all your possessions (meodecha)” (Dt. 6:5).
The language of all (meod) is used to say
that all that is dear
to your will
be totally cancelled
in relationship to your love of God.
“All your heart” was interpreted by the Rabbis
by both of your inclinations (Yezer) - the good and the bad.
That is to say, you should not say
that since the evil inclination
tempts you to go against the will of the Blessed,
how did He really create it? For
in truth
it is not the intent of the evil inclination
to tempt a person
so that he will not yearn towards God
and not listen to Him.
But rather
the Blessed Creator
decreed upon the evil inclination that it is his task to tempt you
to transgress the will of the Blessed One
so that you will serve God through free will
and not as one
who has no choice.
This is the essence of the purpose of the creation of mankind
and this attribute (of free will)
makes the human greater
than an angel

as it is stated inparagraph I.1 [And so it is expounded in the Zohar].

- Aruch HaShulchan, I.6

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


What are the ikkarim?

1. G-d's power cannot be meaningfully measured by the metrics of this universe, as G-d and the nature of G-d's power is and are outside of the universe, transcending any limits we might place upon them by way of description, but let us simply say that nothing is beyond It.
2. G-d created the universe so that humans should excercie their free will to do mitzvot and be holy.
3. Nevua existed, and is how G-d communicated to us.
4. Rabbis had the authority to create new Rabbinic mitzvot.
5. Rabbis have the ability to create whatever takkanot they deem necceesary.
6. Every Jew has a mandate to learn the laws, use their mind to seek the truth, and act accordingly.