trying to think

Benevolent Universe premise

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The argument from here

"As the simplest empirical refutation of that metaphysics—as evidence of the fact that the material universe is not inimical to man and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule of his existence—observe the fortunes made by insurance companies." 

seems to me a very bad one, frankly.  All it means that the universe is less malevolent than is commonly believed by humans living in the 20-21 centuries. That's all.

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2 hours ago, trying to think said:

Where can I find the Objectivist arguments that we do not live in a malevolent universe?

TTT,

A few from Rand herself (and I only checked the Q&A book):

Quote

What do you mean in calling yourself a Romantic Realist? Which of the writers that you like are also Romantic Realists?

My school of writing is romantic realism: “romantic” in that I present man as he ought to be; “realistic” in that I place men here and now on this earth, in terms applicable to every rational reader who shares these values and wants to apply them to himself. It’s realistic in that it’s possible to man and applies to this earth; it’s romantic in that it projects man and values as they ought to be, not as statistical averages.

The writer I consider my closest ancestor literarily is Victor Hugo. He is a romantic writer who presented values as they apply to human life. He’s one of the few who attempted—“attempted” hell, I apologize—who wrote a great novel in contemporary terms, Les Misérables. Offhand I can’t think of another romantic novel presented in realistic terms. His other novels take place in earlier periods, but Les Misérables is a novel of Hugo’s own time and society.

O. Henry is a romantic writer with a strong sense of values translated into concrete action in the modern period, in almost journalistic terms. Yet he never presents a “realistic” study of the characters he creates; he presents essences. He presents wealthy men, working girls, and con men tremendously idealized or stylized. They are not statistical copies of the people he saw. They are creations out of his own abstraction of what human beings could be and ought to be. The overall moral message of O. Henry is: “Isn’t life interesting?” That’s the benevolent universe element in him. He presents not what people do statistically but what people could make of life if they were imaginative. [FW 58]

And:

Quote

Throughout her life, AR maintained what she called the “Benevolent Universe Premise”—the conviction that we live in a world in which man can succeed and achieve his values, and where evil is ultimately impotent.

If the universe is benevolent, why does Kira die at the end of We the Living, just as she’s about to escape?
 
This is concrete-bound. [In “Let Us Alone” (in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal), AR describes the concrete-bound mentality as the “inability to grasp principles, to distinguish the essential from the nonessential.”] I did not sit there and decide arbitrarily to let Kira die. A novel isn’t written that way. If you want to know about anything in a novel, ask what its theme is. The theme of We the Living is the individual against the state. I present the evil of dictatorship, and what it does to its best individuals. If I let Kira escape, I leave the reader with the conclusion that statism is bad, but there’s hope because you can always escape. But that isn’t the theme of We the Living. In Russia, a citizen cannot count on leaving or escaping. Someone who does escape is an exception, because no borders can be totally closed. People do escape, but we’ll never know the number of people who died trying. To let Kira escape would have been pointless. Given the theme of We the Living, she had to die. [PO8 76]

And:

Quote

In view of the demands of a writing career, could you give any advice to the spouse of a writer, to show how harmony is possible? How did you and your husband enjoy such a wonderful life together, in light of your writing priorities?

I can only refer you to Frank O’Connor, who unfortunately died recently. That was his accomplishment, not mine. He was overly conscientious in not disturbing me—letting me work late and keep odd hours—because he had such an interest in my writing. We were spiritual collaborators. I always told him I could not have written without him. He denied it; he thought I would have broken through. Perhaps the only tribute I can pay him with my readers is to say that I know it is impossible to hold a benevolent universe view consistently, as I had to hold it to write what I’ve written, when the world around us was getting worse and going in the direction of Ellsworth Toohey. I could not have written about John Galt if it weren’t for the fact that I knew one person who did live up to my heroes and my view of life. He gave me the benevolent universe I wrote about. We were married over fifty years. [OC 80]

There has to be a ton of other stuff out there. It just takes some digging.

Michael

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Hi @Michael Stuart Kelly, thank you for the answer!

Nevertheless, I cannot find a single argument in the quotes you gave.

The first quote describes literary tastes of Ayn Rand, the second describes the theme of We the Living. The third quote mentions that Frank O'Connor had a benevolent universe premise; good for him, but why is  the premise true?

I want to know why the malevolent universe premise is false.

Where do you think would be a good place to start digging? I thought that the forums would be a good one... 

 

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47 minutes ago, trying to think said:

Hi @Michael Stuart Kelly, thank you for the answer!

Nevertheless, I cannot find a single argument in the quotes you gave.

The first quote describes literary tastes of Ayn Rand, the second describes the theme of We the Living. The third quote mentions that Frank O'Connor had a benevolent universe premise; good for him, but why is  the premise true?

I want to know why the malevolent universe premise is false.

Where do you think would be a good place to start digging? I thought that the forums would be a good one... 

 

Here, try this. It's Peikoff's explanation of the Objectivist position:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/benevolent_universe_premise.html
 

Quote:
Although accidents and failures are possible, they are not, according to Objectivism, the essence of human life. On the contrary, the achievement of values is the norm—speaking now for the moral man, moral by the Objectivist definition. Success and happiness are the metaphysically to-be-expected. In other words, Objectivism rejects the view that human fulfillment is impossible, that man is doomed to misery, that the universe is malevolent. We advocate the “benevolent universe” premise.

The “benevolent universe” does not mean that the universe feels kindly to man or that it is out to help him achieve his goals. No, the universe is neutral; it simply is; it is indifferent to you. You must care about and adapt to it, not the other way around. But reality is “benevolent” in the sense that if you do adapt to it—i.e., if you do think, value, and act rationally, then you can (and barring accidents you will) achieve your values. You will, because those values are based on reality.

Pain, suffering, failure do not have metaphysical significance—they do not reveal the nature of reality. Ayn Rand’s heroes, accordingly, refuse to take pain seriously, i.e., metaphysically. You remember when Dagny asks Ragnar in the valley how his wife can live through the months he is away at sea, and he answers (I quote just part of this passage):

“We do not think that tragedy is our natural state. We do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it, and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering, that we consider unnatural. It is not success but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life.”

This is why Ayn Rand’s heroes respond to disaster, when it does strike, with a single instantaneous response: action—what can they do? If there’s any chance at all, they refuse to accept defeat. They do what they can to counter the danger, because they are on the premise that success, not failure, is the to-be-expected.

Leonard Peikoff, The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 8
 

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(And, for a chuckle, here's Rand's humorous take:)

The altruist ethics is based on a “malevolent universe” metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them.

As the simplest empirical refutation of that metaphysics—as evidence of the fact that the material universe is not inimical to man and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule of his existence—observe the fortunes made by insurance companies.

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2 hours ago, trying to think said:

I want to know why the malevolent universe premise is false.

TTT,

It seems like you are looking for a metaphysical answer.

There isn't one.

But we can give it a kind of a shot. By the very fact that the human race exists at all, this is proof that the universe is benevolent enough to allow humans to exist. After all, there is plenty of fire and cold and crushing forces in the universe to make short work of humans.

If the universe were malevolent, the human race would disappear or mutate from excessive suffering. Take a look at any life form that gets abused to near extinction. It dies off or mutates and becomes immune to the attack. That ability to mutate and become immune is a sign of benevolence in the universe. Why? Because once mutated, the life form goes back to normal life cycles. So the universe provides species with the ability to survive brutal attacks (unless they are too overwhelming).

I use Rand's idea of benevolent universe in the same way people describe growth within the life cycle. No growth would be possible in a malevolent universe, only stagnation, decay and suffering.

That is why the idea of a benevolent universe shows up more around art and attitudes than science in her thinking. If you believe the universe is a horrible place, you will not have the strength of spirit to grow into your potential. That is metaphysical if you consider the human spirit to be an existent (or a bunch of existents), but most people would call this inspiration or something like that.

When you want to prove this or that metaphysically with Rand, be aware that her metaphysics is very, very scant in philosophical identifications and principles. She has the axiomatic concepts, the assertion that the universe is finite, but always was and always will be. That kind of thing. She tended to dismiss laws of transformation like Hegel's idea of dialectics, Schopenhauer's will, etc. She made fun of them and did not even try to understand them on their own terms. She dismissed the existence of God on moral terms even though morality only applies to humans. (She objected to only God being morally perfect, especially in the view of Christianity.) That means she did not dismiss God on metaphysical terms at root.

God knows what she would have thought about holons and the like. :) 

btw - As gravy on this meatloaf, you cannot prove or disprove the fundamental axioms, either. The closest Rand ever came was with her "ostensive definition" of existence by swinging her arms all around and saying, "I mean this.") In other words, she pointed.

:) 

Michael

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"benevolent" and "malevolent" should only be applied to entities capable of  intentions.   The better words to  use  are   "beneficial"  and "harmful" (resp.)  which can be applied to any entities  capable of producing  beneficial (harmful)  results or effects.    "volent"  indicates will or intent.  
 

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23 hours ago, trying to think said:

Where can I find the Objectivist arguments that we do not live in a malevolent universe?

Definition of "malevolent"   is  having or showing a wish to do evil to others. 

The universe does not intend or wish anything. The universe is not an entity that intends or wishes so the term "malevolent"  does not apply to it.  Better to use the term "harmful". 

If the universe were totally harmful then we would not be here  to ponder  whether to use the term  "malevolent". If the universe were totally harmful  then living things could not evolve and survive.

 

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

"benevolent" and "malevolent" should only be applied to entities capable of  intentions.   The better words to  use  are   "beneficial"  and "harmful" (resp.)  which can be applied to any entities  capable of producing  beneficial (harmful)  results or effects.    "volent"  indicates will or intent.  
 

I agree, those terms were badly chosen. Further, the idea of a beneficial (let alone "benevolent") universe is a bit of a tautology: man evolved in such a way that he could survive in his environment. It's the anthropic principle again: we shouldn't be surprised that the universe makes intelligent life possible, we wouldn't be there to be surprised if that had not been the case.  

Bacteria in those hot springs could also wonder that their local universe is so beneficial to them. while they of course evolved in such a way that they could survive in that environment (which would be lethal for humans).

But beneficial or not, it won't continue endlessly, one day, when that big asteroid comes, we're finished, probably long before the sun finally kills us. Even the dinosaurs (OK, with exception of the birds) were wiped out, while they had existed for some 100 million years, so they were exceptionally well adapted to their environment, and yet the universe decided one day to be no longer benevolent to them, to borrow for a moment the anthropic view of the universe. 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Max said:

I agree, those terms were badly chosen. Further, the idea of a beneficial (let alone "benevolent") universe is a bit of a tautology: man evolved in such a way that he could survive in his environment. It's the anthropic principle again: we shouldn't be surprised that the universe makes intelligent life possible, we wouldn't be there to be surprised if that had not been the case.  

Bacteria in those hot springs could also wonder that their local universe is so beneficial to them. while they of course evolved in such a way that they could survive in that environment (which would be lethal for humans).

But beneficial or not, it won't continue endlessly, one day, when that big asteroid comes, we're finished, probably long before the sun finally kills us. Even the dinosaurs (OK, with exception of the birds) were wiped out, while they had existed for some 100 million years, so they were exceptionally well adapted to their environment, and yet the universe decided one day to be no longer benevolent to them, to borrow for a moment the anthropic view of the universe. 

 

 

I think we can agree that the cosmos (during some of its evolution) operates in such a way the living things such as we are  and such as exist on earth  can and did evolved and can maintain their existence for extended periods of time.  Nature  does not love or favor us (in a manner of speaking).  We and living things like us are here and flourish and also die and are destroyed.  The Earth went through at least five major intervals of extinction during which life was vastly reduced and could have been destroyed. 

A day will come (not soon) that the earth will become hot and dry  so that the seas dry up and life perishes.  Then the hydrogen in the sun is all fused the Suns gravitation will fuse helium into carbon. This is a hotter process than fusion of hydrogen into helium.  The Sun will be 40 percent hotter (higher temperature) than it is now.  The seas will evaporate and life will perish (first on the surface, then deeper down). This should be about a billion and a half years in the future.  Eventually enough of the "fuel"  of the sun will be fused and mass will be lost so the the outer layer of the Sun's plasma will be blown away and the sun will swell up, most likely consume the 4 rocky inner planets   Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.  Only the outer gas giants will remain. 

Nature does not favor the living in the very long run.  The cosmos  is expanding and cooling down. Eventually all activity in the cosmos will reach a very cold equilibrium.  The cosmos as a domain of life will cease to be.  Entropy is increasing, the Cosmos is "dying"  (i.e. heading to a cold equilibrium state where nothing much happens).  

Live long and well while you can.

 

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Sometimes the universe is 'benevolent', sometimes 'malevolent', sometimes something between, using those words metaphorically, not literally. For example if you are a zebra being eaten alive by a pack of lions, you might have difficulty at that moment believing the universe is benevolent. Bad things can happen to humans too -- earthquakes, tornadoes, giant ocean waves, hereditary disease or disability. You can avoid most of these things by rational and intelligent thinking but I suspect that even the greatest Objectivist super heroes (with cape and the sign of the dollar on their chest) are not always in complete control of reality. For example even the greatest Objectivist super hero would get old and die.

 

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9 hours ago, jts said:

Sometimes the universe is 'benevolent', sometimes 'malevolent', sometimes something between, using those words metaphorically, not literally. For example if you are a zebra being eaten alive by a pack of lions, you might have difficulty at that moment believing the universe is benevolent. Bad things can happen to humans too -- earthquakes, tornadoes, giant ocean waves, hereditary disease or disability. You can avoid most of these things by rational and intelligent thinking but I suspect that even the greatest Objectivist super heroes (with cape and the sign of the dollar on their chest) are not always in complete control of reality. For example even the greatest Objectivist super hero would get old and die.

 

The universe has no intentions nor does it "will" any actions.  The universe is not a conscious entity.  However conscious entities inhabit parts of the universe.

 

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On 1/2/2019 at 8:44 PM, BaalChatzaf said:

The universe has no intentions nor does it "will" any actions.  The universe is not a conscious entity.  However conscious entities inhabit parts of the universe.

 

I agree. The universe can't even be uncaring. We choose where we inhabit through reason and a bit of inertia, but eventually humans go where the living is easier, foraging at the Food Lion as they go. If I did not have central air conditioning I might live in a southern state in the winter. Crowded and expensive Florida might not be my first pick. Georgia? Southern Texas? They are cheaper. In summer I would get in my horse and buggy and head for a cooler, less humid state.

Right now at the end of January, even with my central air conditioning set on 74 degrees my bare feet are a bit cold and I also run a Walmart humidifier with a tiny amount of bleach (a drop). Ah, that feels better. Where are my socks?   

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The human race is made for this planet, now pushing eight billion people. It took the planet over 4 billion years to make it to the rendezvous.

--Brant

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10 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

The human race is made for this planet, now pushing eight billion people. It took the planet over 4 billion years to make it to the rendezvous.

--Brant

But it won't last.  Mammalian species have a relatively short shelf life compared to insects and single cell organisms.

 

 

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Brant wrote: The human race is made for this planet, now pushing eight billion people. It took the planet over 4 billion years to make it to the rendezvous.

And Baal replied: But it won't last.  Mammalian species have a relatively short shelf life compared to insects and single cell organisms. end quotes

I disagree with Baal. And I agree with Brant. Eight billion acts of procreation. Wow. Evolution occurs when a species must change some essential characteristic to reproduce . . . or die out. So what could possibly make humans WANT to stop reproducing OR keep them from doing the most desirable thing in the universe? We passed the dreaded year of 1984 and even China could not insist that its citizens stop reproducing. Forbidding teenagers doesn’t work. Separate beds for married adults? Nah, doesn’t work even within the English aristocracy.

I have heard the cockroach theory of survivability before but I think that intelligence and reason will keep humans going for millions of years if not billions. We have learned so much in a thousand years and the pace of learning continues to accelerate. So after a million years of learning will humans grow blasé and stop searching for the secrets of the universe? The next child borne after that philosophical but not anatomical or mental, giant “ho hum” will want to know the ultimate truths of the universe too. I guarantee it. Peter     

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Modern man has been around and about for 40,000 years. Agriculture societies for 10,000. A drop in geological time, if even that. Now we are living in a gross acceleration of time represented by electronic technology and the smart phone. What we are on the cusp of is self-caused human evolution through biological manipulation. Unlike the beings of a thousand years ago the beings of a thousand years from now would be  hardly recognizable and completely unimaginable to us. And the diversity will break the species barrier. In a billion years "humanity" will have touched every corner of this galaxy with Earth just a dead ball of rock.

--Brant

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Consider this: evolution can explain all life except DNA itself. Was DNA created on this planet or was it seeded? This is not the "God" argument (what created God?), but a simple observation of the to us the unknowable. The unknowable is our epistemological grace that makes life worth living. It's the wonder of it all coupled with the quest for knowledge.

For Ayn Rand (Branden) evolution itself was an open question. As strange as it sounds she could be modest about her knowledge.

---Brant

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We are only one planet that has had our self generated DNA thrust into space for a billion years through winds, traveling, and asteroid strikes. Multiply that by the planets in our galaxy. However DNA arose here, it has "prospered" and spread. I remember a recent web article that talked about the "odd or alien DNA" constantly raining down on Earth, so it is a two edged . . . spoon? I am sure, that it the next 100 years we will know more, simply because we always know more the year after today. We reached the nuclear age without destroying civilization and that too is a milestone that may have been repeated throughout the universe.

Our "Goldilocks Zone" of place and time, may and should, go on until we don't even need "The Zone" to survive as a species. There is little evidence to suggest that we will become extinct. 

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I was just thinking about arguments Baal may consider, that we are heading (or herding) towards the last roundup. Past wars. Current animosities. An unseen object heading for us in space. Disease. Bad science.

But even the largest, morally ambiguous to bad nations, like Russia and China are becoming more civilized. Just look at any recent interviews of their citizens and they are very much like the citizens of America, India, and the rest of Western Civilization. I remember one Russian woman who said she liked Putin, because he made them feel "great again" about being a Russian. And Russia has less than 14 percent of America's or China's GNP.     

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Ah ha. Now I see where the name Baal comes from. It’s not a “false god.” I wonder if Bob C. has a beard? Excerpts about Hasidism from the WWW. As the character Raymond Babbitt played by Dustin Hoffman, said to his brother Charlie played by Tom Cruise in the movie “Rain Man,” “They make excellent ambulance drivers.” Who knew? Peter

Born circa 1700, the founder of Hasidism was Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, better known as the Baal Shem Tov (literally “master of the good name”) and sometimes referred to by the Hebrew acronym the Besht. Little of the Baal Shem Tov’s biography has been firmly established by historians, but stories of his charismatic leadership and skills as a miracle worker became entrenched in Hasidic lore. In the early 1700s, in the area today known as the Ukraine, a young orphan boy named Israel ben Eleazar loved to wander into the forest, even sleeping there overnight. His father’s last words echoed in his mind, “Fear nothing, fear no one, but G‑d Himself, and love every Jew as you love yourself.”

4. Hasidic Jews Use Technology Hasidim use mobile phones, drive cars and use other forms of technology. Why not? After all, the sages taught that “All that G‑d created in His world, He only created for His honor.” (Avot 6:11) Chabad Hasidim in particular say that this applies especially to the scientific discoveries of recent years—their purpose is to add honor to G‑d by using them for holiness, Torah and mitzvot, and bring the world to its ultimate, messianic state. At the same time, Hasidim are very wary of Internet use, as should be anyone concerned about their moral and psychological well-being. Television is also considered off limits. In virtually all Hasidic communities, minors are allowed zero or very limited access to the Internet. Those who use Internet for business are advised to employ filters and other safeguards. The principle concerns are exposure to pornography, FOMO addiction and other forms of compulsive behavior associated with unguided Internet use.

8. Hasidim Are Generous Hasidim are disproportionately represented in volunteer ambulance corps and other communal organs of kindness. The bikur cholim (hospital visitation) of the Hasidic community is legendary, as are the gemachim, free loan organizations for everything from porta-cribs to to wedding gowns. The early Chabad Hasidim would say, “this piece of bread is yours like mine,” placing the “yours” before the “mine, since the focus was on the other.

11. Hasidic Jews Don't Identify as “Ultra-Orthodox” As far as Hasidic Jews are concerned, they're just Jewish people trying to do things right and keep Jewish tradition in the best way possible. Many find the term "ultra-Orthodox" to have a pejorative connotation. So what is a better term? Hasidic (or Chasidic) Jews. Or the Hasidic communities can be included within the larger umbrella of “Hareidim,” a term referring to all who are truly concerned about keeping G‑d’s Torah to their utmost capability. Or just call them Jews.

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12 hours ago, Peter said:

Ah ha. Now I see where the name Baal comes from. It’s not a “false god.” I wonder if Bob C. has a beard? Excerpts about Hasidism from the WWW. As the character Raymond Babbitt played by Dustin Hoffman, said to his brother Charlie played by Tom Cruise in the movie “Rain Man,” “They make excellent ambulance drivers.” Who knew? Peter

 

Born circa 1700, the founder of Hasidism was Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, better known as the Baal Shem Tov (literally “master of the good name”) and sometimes referred to by the Hebrew acronym the Besht. Little of the Baal Shem Tov’s biography has been firmly established by historians, but stories of his charismatic leadership and skills as a miracle worker became entrenched in Hasidic lore. In the early 1700s, in the area today known as the Ukraine, a young orphan boy named Israel ben Eleazar loved to wander into the forest, even sleeping there overnight. His father’s last words echoed in his mind, “Fear nothing, fear no one, but G‑d Himself, and love every Jew as you love yourself.”

 

4. Hasidic Jews Use Technology Hasidim use mobile phones, drive cars and use other forms of technology. Why not? After all, the sages taught that “All that G‑d created in His world, He only created for His honor.” (Avot 6:11) Chabad Hasidim in particular say that this applies especially to the scientific discoveries of recent years—their purpose is to add honor to G‑d by using them for holiness, Torah and mitzvot, and bring the world to its ultimate, messianic state. At the same time, Hasidim are very wary of Internet use, as should be anyone concerned about their moral and psychological well-being. Television is also considered off limits. In virtually all Hasidic communities, minors are allowed zero or very limited access to the Internet. Those who use Internet for business are advised to employ filters and other safeguards. The principle concerns are exposure to pornography, FOMO addiction and other forms of compulsive behavior associated with unguided Internet use.

 

8. Hasidim Are Generous Hasidim are disproportionately represented in volunteer ambulance corps and other communal organs of kindness. The bikur cholim (hospital visitation) of the Hasidic community is legendary, as are the gemachim, free loan organizations for everything from porta-cribs to to wedding gowns. The early Chabad Hasidim would say, “this piece of bread is yours like mine,” placing the “yours” before the “mine, since the focus was on the other.

 

11. Hasidic Jews Don't Identify as “Ultra-Orthodox” As far as Hasidic Jews are concerned, they're just Jewish people trying to do things right and keep Jewish tradition in the best way possible. Many find the term "ultra-Orthodox" to have a pejorative connotation. So what is a better term? Hasidic (or Chasidic) Jews. Or the Hasidic communities can be included within the larger umbrella of “Hareidim,” a term referring to all who are truly concerned about keeping G‑d’s Torah to their utmost capability. Or just call them Jews.

 

Yes. I have a beard.  My youngest son has never seen me bare-faced and he will be 47 this March.  Ba'al  (transliteration of the hebrew word)  means "lord of"   or "master of".   Ba'al  Chatzaf  is Hebrew for "master of chutzpah".  "lord  or cheekiness"

 

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On 2/13/2019 at 1:54 PM, BaalChatzaf said:

Yes. I have a beard.  My youngest son has never seen me bare-faced and he will be 47 this March.  Ba'al  (transliteration of the hebrew word)  means "lord of"   or "master of".   Ba'al  Chatzaf  is Hebrew for "master of chutzpah".  "lord  or cheekiness" 

 

Wow. That's cool, Master of Chutzpah! I have the old and new testaments  in my full name which I will not broadcast. I grew a beard when I got out of the army but it itched and had dandruff so after shampooing it a few times when I did my top hair . . .  I cut it off.   edit. My cat Sparks, named after the Jodie Foster character in that movie Contact? who is my, icon had to have an ear cut off because of cancer, but she is still going strong. She is now a renowned thousand dollar cat.   

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I just had a crossword puzzle clue that spoke of shaving with a razor as "taboo" in Jewish law. I find the idea of cultural no no's kind of weird, especially if a forbidden but scrumptious animal like a pig is off the table.  The Russians won't eat crabs. Me and Doctor Seuss would not eat a mouse. We would not eat a rat, or a cat or a dog either. And please don't eat eel in front of me. Not even with sauerkraut on it. 

Hey? What's in that submarine? Some people are adverse to cured mixed meats like hard salami but I love it on French bread. On the few occasions I fry Spam my wife opens a window so I only do it once or twice a year.  I remember getting Spam in my Mom's care package when I was stationed in South Korea and they love spam there.     

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