Welcome…

I am Rabbi Kaba, aka Red Pill Rabbi, studying the Bible and Jewish wisdom and sharing how modern men can use it to improve their lives.  This site is for adults who are not bothered by adult content.

While I intend to teach other Jews, You don’t have to be Jewish to benefit from our wisdom.  You don’t even have to believe in God.  Most of my work is about self improvement, relationships, and masculinity.

I try, with God’s help, to share brief insights from our daily Talmud study, the “Daf Yomi“, as well as longer essays on the Bible and Jewish holidays.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 25: you are your tribe

The Gemara discussed what level of testimony or evidence is required to prove that a man is a Cohen, a priest descended from Aaron. Our sages cite a teaching and a father can testify to the status of son, proving he is a Cohen, and a man can testify that his brother is a Levi.

This father is confident not only that this boy is truly his own biological son, but that there was not a problem with the genealogy of his mother, which could render the children ineligible for priesthood. One Cohen with multiple wives could have sons who were full fledged Cohanim, and others from another mother that were not.

In Jewish tradition, it still matters who your parents are. In modern mainstream society, people usually follow the unspoken assumption is that it doesn’t make such a big difference. This assumption is usually wrong.

People do tend to be a lot like their parents and other family members that they grew up with. Even people who spend years overcoming the influence of their family of origin still tend, in times of stress, to revert to behaviors that their own parents displayed when they were young. You can tell a lot about people based on their kin.

It is interesting that in modern times men call their close friends brother or bro. This is in part due to the reality that the vast majority of men today don’t have a lot of biological brothers, so they must build their own little tribe or like minded men. In ancient times a man could easily have 10 or a dozen brothers, as in the 12 sons of Jacob.

The lesson in today’s Daf also applies to these friends. People judge your status based on the men you choose to spend your time with. It is said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, or show me his friends and I can tell you about the man. These words of wisdom reflect a valid concept.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 24: act the part

The Talmud debates if we can assume a man who is eating Terumot (the tithes given to priests) or blessing the people with the priestly blessing is actually a real priest (Cohen).

This has ramifications for who this man can marry, Cohanim have a more exclusive selection of potential mates.

We see from here that when you act in a dignified manner, people tend to assume you are worthy of respect. Behaving like nobility leads people to associate you with nobility.

We all look up to a man who is confident and calm under pressure.

Now, acting like a Cohen doesn’t make someone an actual Cohen. However, holding yourself to a higher standard does eventually raise your actual personal standards.

It might feel at first like you are going through the motions, but keep trying to improve yourself. It is easiest to begin with external factors, like a nice, well fitting wardrobe, pursuing physical fitness, and keeping up with your personal hygiene and grooming.

Changing such extrinsic factors helps a man to it feel more in internal dignity as well.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 23: fix it now

The Talmud, continuing the topic of “haPeh sheAsar”, discusses when we believe a woman who admits she was captured by idolaters but was not violated by them. If there are witnesses that a woman was captured, then there was a presumption that they had been violated, since it was quite common for pagan bandits to abuse captive women.

Some captive Jewish women were brought to Nehardea (in Bavel) by their captors so that the local Jews would ransom them. Shmuel’s father sent guards to watch them to ensure that they would not be violated.

Shmuel said to him: Until now who guarded them?
He said to Shmuel: If they were your daughters, would you treat them with such contempt?

This is an amazing exchange. Shmuel was speaking on a strictly legal level: since these women had been brought to town by the pagans, everyone knew they had been captured and there was presumption that they had already been molested. This status would prevent them from marrying certain people.

However, on a practical level, his father was right. Just because something went wrong before, why allow it to happen again?

This is incredible wisdom. If some aspect of your life was ruined, why not do something to protect it and prevent further damage? Jewish wisdom teaches that you can turn your life around with one moment of sincere repentance and commitment to change.

Just because your life was going in the wrong direction before does not mean you cannot alter your course now and start improving. At least stop the damage so you can reassess your path and goals.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 22: let them talk

The Talmud brings a Mishnah illustrating the vital legal concept of “haPeh shAsar”. This means the mouth that said something was forbidden is believed to say it is permitted.

For example, a woman comes to town, and says that she had been married before but got divorced. She is effectively stating that she is back on the market.

If she had said nothing about her personal past, we wouldn’t have known about her prior marriage. Since we rely purely on her mouth for that fact, we also believe her that she is now divorced. She can get married again even without bringing any other proof that she is now single.

When you talk with people, give them the space to admit their issues or failings. Then, without judgment or criticism, allow them the opportunity to explain themselves. People naturally tend to explain or justify their own decisions. The way they do so gives you even more insight into their personalities than the admission itself. By holding back your own judgment, you can learn a lot about other people through regular conversation.

When someone doesn’t feel any need to explain a choice he or she made that you think does need justification, this gives you fantastic insight. He made a decision that you would find difficult or unacceptable, and now doesn’t even feel the impulse to clarify that you would after such a choice. It shows you that this person has very different values than you do.

The Talmud mentions that if a woman claims her ketuvah is lost, we assume she may have hidden it, hoping to collect the money in one court, and then bring the ketuvah to a different court and collect again.

When you realize that the information someone is telling you about their past has gaps, be cognizant that they are probably hiding something. A lack of data about the past stands out, particularly if this is someone who normally posts details of their life on social media.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 21: don’t write a blank check

We are learning about how the court would validate a contract or loan document by having the witnesses to the document certify that their signature was correct and not forged, or other witnesses who could recognize their signatures testify that they were correct.

The Gemara asks what would happen if one of the signing witnesses had died, and only the cosigner one other man recognize the signature of the deceased. The solution is for the cosigner to provide a sample of his signature for the court to validate without his testimony that it is his, so he is free to testify about the validity of the deceased’s signature.

However, our sages caution him to sign on a shard of pottery or the like, not a piece of paper. If he signs on paper, a dishonest man could write an IOU by the signature and use this forged IOU note to collect illegally.

The lesson here is simply do not write a blank check. But this concept is not limited to money. Many times men promise things like “I’ll be there for whatever you need”. Typically this doesn’t get you into trouble, but there are some people out there who take advantage of your giving nature, and ask for a lot of favors without giving back anything in return.

Sometimes men are eager to please and promise to give their time, money, and energy without thinking about the consequences to their own success. Typically, you should investing the majority of your resources in yourself. This is not selfish advice, as you invest in yourself and develop into a greater man, then you have more to give to others as well.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 20: is he out of his mind?

The Talmud is discussing contradictory testimony, and brings the case of Bar Shatya, a man who was sometimes sane and sometimes out of his mind. A man who lacks sound mind cannot make a legally binding transaction.

This particular man made a sale to someone, then later contested the sale in court. Two witnesses testify that he was out of his mind when he sold the property, but two other witnesses say he was of sound mind.

It appears both sets of witnesses saw the same thing, but came to opposite conclusions. This is a general concept in life. Two people can see the same event and have completely different interpretations.

Keep this in mind when you assume certain facts to be true. Other people may be following their own interests and emotions. It’s not that they simply disagree or that they are crazy, they just cannot see it your way due to their own perspective.

Don’t waste time arguing with their interpretation of reality, or accusing them of being out of their mind, stick to the facts as you see them and remain calm.

The daf also discusses a witness who forgot what happened. If he can remember himself or use his own notes or diary, it is still valid testimony. If someone else reminds him then his testimony is invalid.

People can remember the same event in divergent ways. This can lead to the same issue we discussed above, when people fight you over what happened or what you actually said.

Human beings form memories with emotional content, so someone may be unable to remember what actually happened to protect their own ego. They are not crazy, they are trying to preserve their sense of self which is being challenged.

Don’t get stuck trying to reconcile divergent memories, move forward and resolve the issue.

Jewish law rules that in cases like Bar Shatya, the property stays with the last certain owner. We can’t make a decision based on possible insanity.

Don’t make decisions while you are depressed, anxious, under the influence of substances or other people.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 19: don’t keep flawed wisdom

The Talmud, riffing in the topic of forged Ketuvot, is discussing loan documents with forged signatures. We require a lender to validate the signatures of the witnesses to the loan before collecting the loan.

The Gemara mentions that it is forbidden to keep a Torah scroll that was not proofed. A man had 30 days to check and correct it, based on “let not injustice dwell in your tents” (Job 11:14).

The logic here is that if you have a source of wisdom but it is flawed, your mind will also be one corrupted. Our sages were wary of this danger even from a holy Torah scroll.

How much more should we be careful not to consume information that is not in our best interests. If you are reading books, watching videos or listening to podcasts, evaluate if this content is really helpful for your own life. We understand that all the gurus, teachers, and experts are trying to make a living, and may be producing content that is designed to be popular more than useful.

However, they are also sharing what worked for them personally. The same information may not be valuable for your own life. If it isn’t truly serving your purpose, discard it from your life. Our minds are limited , and if you we fill them with harmful or even neutral information then we don’t have the space for what we really need.

Once something is in your mind, and you realize it doesn’t work for you, try to find new mental models and methods that do help you accomplish your goals.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 18: gratitude vs entitlement

Our sages are comparing the burden of proof for a woman claiming her Ketuvah to other cases, including one where someone admits to borrowing money from a man who has passed away, but tells the heir of the deceased that he had already paid the father back half.

In this case, the borrower only owes half to the heir. There is a debate if the borrower should make an oath that he does not owe more. Most sages rule that he does not, as he is considered to be returning a lost object to the heir.

We want to make it easy for someone to return a lost object, which is a Biblical commandment (Deut 22). If someone returns a lost wallet with $50 cash in it, and the owner says “wait, when I lost it there was $150 inside”, then we don’t make the finder swear that he didn’t take anything.

The lesson here is that when someone is doing you a favor, don’t criticize them or ask for more. Quite the opposite, praise people whenever they show you respect or perform any act of service for you. This encourages others to treat you well. Make people feel good for respecting you and you get more respect.

The situation of admitting to taking a loan out from a deceased man and paying part to his heir is not identical to a man who faces his actual lender. In that case we assume that someone might deny owing part of the loan, so he has more time to pay the rest. Therefore,  when a borrower claims to his lender that he repaid part already, the court makes the him make an oath that he only owes part, to encourage him to come clean if he in fact owes all of it.

However, he will not be so brazen (chutzpah) to lie outright by claiming he owes nothing. When someone does you a favor, even lending you money, you won’t deny that he did you any favors.

Later authorities in Jewish law note that in subsequent generations we can no longer assume that debtors will not be so brazen. Nowadays, people do lie to the face of the person they owe money to. If the court has them make an oath, then they will simply make a false oath.

This reflects a feeling of entitlement. When someone feels they are owed favors from others, then they can deny that other people are going out of their way to help out (cafui tovah).

Since this is unfortunately a common trait in modern society, a man should be on the lookout for signs of gratitude. People who are especially thankful and gracious when other help them are more likely to be honest and to appreciate what you do for them as well.

Someone who is rude to the waiter who is serving them will also be rude to you, even if you provide them with your time and resources.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 17: dancing before the bride

The Talmud brings a famous argument about how we dance before the bride at a wedding:

The academy of Shammai says one praises the bride as she is, the academy of Hillel says one praises the bride as being beautiful and attractive (even if she is not). Beit Shammai said to Beit Hillel: if the bride was lame or blind, can one say she is beautiful and attractive?  But the Torah states: “Keep away from a false matter” (Exodus 23:7). Beit Hillel said to Beit Shammai: According to your statement, if a man acquired an inferior item from the market, should another praise it to him or disparage it to him? You must say that he should praise it to him. From here the Sages said: A person’s mind should always be sensitive to how others perceive things.

This is an amazing lesson. You may not think the bride is good looking at all, but the groom did, so much that he chose to marry her (Jewish law encourages a man to see the woman he will marry first and make sure he finds her attractive).

Since the groom found her attractive, it is appropriate and not considered lying to praise her in front of him, so he will come to love her more.

This concept is not limited to physical looks. A man may choose a certain profession, or car, or guitar that you would never consider for yourself. Your feelings on the matter don’t make his preferences invalid. Don’t judge other people’s choices by your own personal standards.

Another man may choose to build a life for himself that is totally different to what you would choose, and that is fine. Part of being mature is to understand that other people can have different values, and this does not undermine your own.

However, don’t take this idea too far. Hillel and his students chose their words carefully: you should praise an acquisition that a man made in the public market. In the public market (more like a bazaar then) there were no returns. Even if there is some flaw he cannot exchange this purchase, so you may as well praise it so he will enjoy the item he got.

However, in a situation where he can return a flawed item, it would be proper to inform the purchaser so he can resolve the situation with the seller. We don’t let our friends get ripped off.

Similarly, after a man is already married there is no benefit in telling him the flaws of his wife. However, before they are married it may be proper to inform a man that you see specific red flags in this woman. A man can become enthralled and obsessed with a woman and ignore or repress issues she has that will undermine their relationship later on.

Of course this must be done with sensitivity and only when your goal is to protect the people involved.

Daily dose of wisdom, Ketuvot 16: claiming virginity

The Talmud begins the second chapter with a case in which a woman’s status at the time of marriage is disputed, since the Ketuvah document itself is missing. She claims that she was a virgin when she married, so she is entitled to 200 coins as settlement when she is divorced or widowed. The husband (or his heirs) claim that she was already a widow when she married the man she is claiming the Ketuvah money from.

The Gemara notes that we rely on certain signs as evidence that the woman was in fact a virgin, such as having a special veil worn by virgins, or her hair uncovered, or throwing grain at the wedding. These signs are effective evidence because there is a presumption that most women do get married when they are virgins.

That was the reality of the time, it was common for the newlyweds to be without any prior intimate experience. This was was still the case up to just a few generations ago. The past 60 odd years have seen rapid social changes in modern societies. Nowadays, in mainstream society, as far as the statistics show, the opposite is the case.

This is in part due to a much later age of first marriages, now around age 30 on average in America. Within religious groups today, men and women do marry at a younger age, pulling the national averages down. In ancient times and even a century ago people got married much earlier in their life, even in their teens.

In ancient times the amount a woman received for her Ketuvah depending on her status at the time of marriage. Even in this era, the premarital experiences of the bride do have an impact on married life.

Modern research, based on data compiled by the CDC National Survey of Family Growth, shows that woman who had more partners prior to settling down and marrying are less likely to be satisfied in their marriages and more likely to divorce.

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It is noteworthy that in the time of the Gemara, the society had various rituals associated with the marriage of a virgin. The first Mishnah we learned in Ketuvot was that virgins marry on Wednesday night, to give the groom the chance to go to court right away if he finds that she misled him and may have been unfaithful during the engagement.

Today the Talmud cites a custom to bring an open barrel of wine to the table at the wedding feast for a virgin, and a closed barrel for a non-virgin. The Gemara asks why they did not simply omit the barrel for a non-virgin bride, and answers that in the future this woman may falsely claim she was a virgin and they simply did not have a barrel around at her wedding feast.

Today the status of a woman is not something that is made public knowledge, and this is for good reason. If you are a religious person, then depending on the subculture you are in, it may still be quite common for brides to be virgins. Customs that would reveal those women who are not would be embarrassing.

If you are a young man in a religious culture, you should be aware that you cannot rely on statistics. You may assume that someone you are considering marrying has a certain status, but religious observance is no guarantee, especially in today’s world.

However, it may be wiser to avoid asking directly. This implies a judgment, and women are naturally very sensitive to judgment. Being too direct can make people hide the truth. Instead, discretely find out about her past, and discuss her personal status without any judgment, so she can open up.