Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Jewish community watch

We are being sued for warning the community that a convicted sex offender, with a history of grooming children in shuls and offering children rides, had anonymously moved into their area.
This sex offender was also armed with a letter (below) from Rabbi Asher Weiss, a respected Rav, in Israel stating that he is a “wonderful and precious Jew” and should be accepted into all shuls and communities.
Because Knopfler’s Beis Din is considered so fringe that many Lakewood Rabbanim signed a letter denying him any legitimacy, we offered to go to another Bais Din, but Sunray refused.
A convicted offender has every right to return to the community upon his release, but the community also has every right to be warned of the potential danger.
The brazen and shameless behavior of Sunray, who has refused to accept any responsibility for his crimes or to register with the local sex offender registry as required, (along with his efforts to silence anyone who makes his past known) gives us even more reason to be concerned about the danger he may present.
We are therefore once again warning the community that Sunray is currently living in Harrison, NY and spends many Shabbosim in Standford, CT.
Here is the translation of a letter from Rabbi Asher Weiss concerning Daniel Sunray to the OU – (R. Weiss’s hand writing is not legible at times so some of the translation may not be word-for-word)
To my brothers and the rabbis of the OU
I know Rabbi Danial Sunray as a wonderful and precious Jew who is G-d fearing and loves Torah. He was tried and convicted for hurting kids in the years 98-99. He was convicted and sat in jail for six years. Those years were hard and heart breaking.
I personally believe that he was innocent, and even if was not, he paid a bitter price, and repented for his sins.
He is able to fulfil any role, being a kashrus supervisor etc.… you should bring him close and encourage him you must not shy him away or hurt him.
It is simple and clear to me that you must except him as a member of the community, and shuls. I stand before God in heaven begging for him to redeem us, and thus it is costumery to behave with those who repent our brothers in Israel.
Asher Zalig Wiess.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A science without time


From past to present, into the future: the flow of time is central to human experience. Why isn’t it central to physics?

Gene Tracy is director of the Center for the Liberal Arts at William & Mary in Virginia. His latest book is Ray Tracing and Beyond: Phase Space Methods in Plasma Wave Theory (2014).

Edited by Corey S Powell

What is your most memorable experience of the subjectivity of time?

​​​​‘What then is time? Provided that no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to an inquirer, I do not know.’ Saint Augustine, Confessions (397-400 AD)

​‘Out of fear of dying, the art of storytelling was born.’ Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009)

I have a memory, a vivid one, of watching my elderly grandfather wave goodbye to me from the steps of a hospital. This is almost certainly the memory of a dream. In my parent’s photo album of the time, we have snapshots of the extended family – aunts, uncles, and cousins who had all travelled to our upstate New York farm to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I am in some of the photos along with my brother, a pair of small faces mingled with smiling giants. I remember the excitement of the evening, being sent off to bed but then staying up late at the top of the stairs, listening to the pleasant babble of adult voices. I have no memory of what happened later, but it did not involve a timely visit to the hospital. My father told me many years afterward that my grandfather took ill that night and was rushed to the emergency room, where he died on the operating table.

My memory of my grandfather’s farewell still provokes in me a longing for a world where a more lawful order holds, where connections with those we love are not bound by time and space. A central purpose of early science and philosophy was to satisfy such longings: to get off the wheel of time and life to which we are bound and to glimpse what the French-born writer George Steiner has called a ‘neighbouring eternity’. Our human sense of time is that we are bound by it, carried along by a flow from past to future that we cannot stop or slow.

The flow of time is certainly one of the most immediate aspects of our waking experience. It is essential to how we see ourselves and to how we think we should live our lives. Our memories help fix who we are; other thoughts reach forward to what we might become. Surely our modern scientific sense of time, as it grows ever more sophisticated, should provide meaningful insights here.

Yet today’s physicists rarely debate what time is and why we experience it the way we do, remembering the past but never the future. Instead, researchers build ever-more accurate clocks. The current record-holder, at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Colorado, measures the vibration of strontium atoms; it is accurate to 1 second in 15 billion years, roughly the entire age of the known universe. Impressive, but it does not answer ‘What is time?’

To declare that question outside the pale of physical theory doesn’t make it meaningless. The flow of time could still be real as part of our internal experience, just real in a different way from a proton or a galaxy. Is our experience of time’s flow akin to watching a live play, where things occur in the moment but not before or after, a flickering in and out of existence around the ‘now’? Or, is it like watching a movie, where all eternity is already in the can, and we are watching a discrete sequence of static images, fooled by our limited perceptual apparatus into thinking the action flows smoothly?

The Newtonian and Einsteinian world theories offer little guidance. They are both eternalised ‘block’ universes, in which time is a dimension not unlike space, so everything exists all at once. Einstein’s equations allow different observers to disagree about the duration of time intervals, but the spacetime continuum itself, so beloved of Star Trek’s Mr Spock, is an invariant stage upon which the drama of the world takes place. In quantum mechanics, as in Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s relativistic theories, the laws of physics that govern the microscopic world look the same going forward or backward in time. Even the innovative speculations of theorists such as Sean Carroll at Caltech in Pasadena – who conceives of time as an emergent phenomenon that arises out of a more primordial, timeless state – concern themselves more with what time does than what time feels like. Time’s flow appears nowhere in current theories of physics.

For most of the past few centuries, conscious awareness has been considered beyond the pale for physics, a problem too hard to tackle, postponed while we dealt with other urgent business. As scientists drove ever deeper into the nucleus and out to the stars, the conscious mind itself, and the glaring contrast between our experience of time’s flow and our eternalised mathematical theories, was left hanging. How did that come to pass? Isn’t science supposed to test itself against the ground of experience? This disconnect might help to explain why so many students not only don’t ‘get’ physics, but are positively repulsed by it. Where are they in the world picture drawn by physicists? Where is life, and where is death? Where is the flow of time?

The Atomist Greek philosopher Democritus had already pointed out the conundrum here back in the 4th century BCE. By careful observation and reasoning, he argued, we come to the conclusion that the senses can fool us, but it is through evidence from the senses that we have come to that conclusion. This realisation lead to a sophisticated philosophical understanding of how we come to know things about the world: not by trusting our senses naively, but by testing our thoughts of how the world works empirically. It is an insight that has borne tremendous fruit, yet one that counsels perennial humility.

The phenomenology of experience, such as our internal perception of the passage of time, is an area owned by cognitive science and philosophy. The exterior world is traditionally the playground of physics. Yet to separate the inner and outer realms in this naive way is misleading. It is our brain that does physics, after all. In the end, the two sides strive to find bridges between them, if only through metaphor, to find connections between the myriad ways in which humans experience themselves in the world.

One useful connective metaphor is to think of the brain as a storytelling engine. In Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958), the German physicist Werner Heisenberg reflects upon the fact that language and our sense of the world are interwoven. Pulling on those threads: our sensory organs and the brain are products of long millennia of evolution. Our DNA is a kind of memory carried down through aeons of deep time by direct lineage, parent to child, all living and dying on the same planet, all learning to survive within a narrow range of space, time and energy scales. Our genes, our personal memories and the very structure of our languages – these are all encoded forms of knowledge about the world. But this knowledge is based upon an extremely restricted range of physical experience.

Language is infinitely variable, and comes in a wide variety of forms, from the metaphorical, evocative, dreamlike and magical, to the logical and direct, highly formalised and tightly organised. What form of language is most useful for talking about the world beyond our everyday experience? What language can take us into the heart of the atom and beyond the edge of the galaxy, and describe the passage of time that pulls the world inexorably forward on these scales? Heisenberg argued it is the logical and mathematical language used in modern physics, precisely because that language is so rigid and formalised. When building a bridge into the dark, build using careful, sure steps. But we want to understand our own place in the world, not just how the world is out there; we also want to understand how we come to experience the world as we do. That calls for the more fluid and evocative language of poetry and storytelling.

‘Now’ is a local theory of what’s happening, cobbled together using bits of news from the sensory hinterlands

Current cognitive science says that our memories are a kind of story that our brain creates, formed from the clay of sensory input, sorted into patterns based upon our past life experience, guided by predilections we have inherited in our DNA. Some of the intuitions that infuse those memories are basic to our sense of the world: the smooth geometry of three spatial dimensions, the clear and obvious distinction between before and after, and the flow of time. Current physics calls into question the smoothness of space and time, the psychological flow of time, and even asks: why do we remember the past but not the future?

The question might seem nonsensical, but pulling on that thread leads to the heart of the matter.

Consider our experience of ‘now’. This seems at first to be a simple thing, a well-defined point in time. We certainly seem to anticipate a particular now coming at us from the future, and then receding from us into the past. Our experience of the ‘now’ is built out of a mix of recent memories and our current sense perceptions, what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Those sensory perceptions are not instantaneous, but signals from stimulated nerve endings. Those signals are sent to the brain, a dynamic network that itself has no global clock. The brain is like the Palace of Dreams in Ismail Kadare’s 1981 novel of the same name: a massive bureaucracy, full of intrigues, gathering intelligence from the restive provinces about the Sultan’s dreaming subjects in hopes of divining their intent. ‘Now’ is a construct of the angst-ridden Sultan-brain, a local theory of what’s happening, cobbled together using bits of news from the sensory hinterlands.

We usually don’t sense this mingling of near past and near future because our brain works quickly enough to obscure the process, but there are moments when it struggles to keep up. This is why baseball pitchers can throw exploding fastballs, where the ball seems to suddenly leap across the space between the pitcher and the batter, and why batters can hit frozen rope, where the ball seems to stretch out into a line: if the ball moves too rapidly for the brain to track, the brain makes up a different story about the motion.

Sitting in the right field bleachers at Camden Yards in Baltimore, more than 400 feet from home plate, Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins once hit a line drive right at me. Before I could move, before I could consciously perceive the ball crossing the intervening space, it was in front of me, dropping into the crowd a few rows away. As a physicist, I know the ball followed a smooth parabolic trajectory from start to finish. But that day, the ball seemed to leap from the bat, arriving before the sound of the hit, arriving before the thought of it in my mind could catch up.

It’s possible that our experience of the flow of time is like our experience of colour. A physicist would say that colour does not exist as an inherent property of the world. Light has a variety of wavelengths, but they have no inherent property of ‘colour’. The things in the world absorb and emit and scatter photons, granules of light, of various wavelengths. It is only when our eyes intersect a tiny part of that sea of radiation, and our brain gets to work on it, that ‘colour’ emerges. It is an internal experience, a naming process, an activity of our brain trying to puzzle things out.

So the flow of time might be a story our brain creates, trying to make sense of chaos. In a 2013 paper, the physicists Leonard Mlodinow of Caltech and Todd Brun of the University of Southern California go even further and argue that any physical thing that has the characteristics of a memory will tend to align itself with the thermodynamic arrow of time, which in turn is defined by the behaviour of extremely large numbers of particles. According to this theory, it is no puzzle that we remember the past but not the future, even though the microscopic laws of nature are the same going forward or backward in time, and the past and future both exist. The nature of large systems is to progress toward increasing entropy – a measure of disorder, commonly experienced as the tendency of hot or cold objects to come into equilibrium with their surroundings. Increasing entropy means that a memory of the past is dynamically stable, whereas a memory of the future is unstable.

In this interpretation, we are unable to see the future not because it is impossible to do so, but because it is as unlikely as seeing a broken window heal itself, or as a tepid cup of tea taking energy from the atoms of the surrounding room and spontaneously beginning to boil. It is statistically extremely, extremely unlikely.

We can also think of the self as emerging from chaos visually, as a story told with light. The massive sculpture Quantum Cloud (1999-2009) by the British sculptor Antony Gormley stands on a pier next to the Millennium Dome in London. It consists of a dense, three-dimensional pattern of steel rods, arranged in a semi-random pattern, that appear to converge on a central, ghostly human figure. It is natural for the viewer to identify with that figure, but the self one sees in Gormley’s sculpture varies from different perspectives, so who is the ‘I’ in the cloud?

Similarly, our sense of self derives substantially from our memories, which seem continuous and durable. Yet those memories must emerge as a story that the brain develops from something less structured, a chaos where before, now and after have no rigid moorings.

The use of the term ‘quantum’ in Gormley’s artwork points to physics. As the American physicist Richard Feynman noted in his 1942 PhD thesis, the time evolution rules of quantum mechanics can be reinterpreted as saying that particles such as electrons travel along all possible paths from beginning to ending points, with the quantum transition rules emerging through a kind of averaging over that microscopic chaos. In this view, the world has a profligate richness of histories, each eternally present even if not perceptible to us. Feynman’s ‘sum over histories’ interpretation is now a standard tool in fundamental physical theory, and is even used in fields far removed from theoretical physics. A recent Google search on the related term ‘path integral’ returned almost half a million hits.

If the Feynman approach gives good experimental results – and it does – by implication do all those histories truly exist? Most physicists believe they are struggling to understand the Universe as it is, not simply developing computational tricks that reveal nothing beyond our own cleverness, and yet few of them regard every possible quantum path to be its own, genuine reality. Somehow, only certain potentialities become realities, and somehow large systems such as human observers are swept along from past to future.

The Universe consists of a collection of static moments, like a pile of unsorted photographs tossed into a shoebox

So why do we remember the past but not the future? Perhaps the answer lies in the very unpredictability and inconstancy of reality at the smallest scale. In the mind’s eye of the modern physicist, even the vacuum seethes. Having spent my professional life peering at nature through the lens of theoretical physics, I no longer recoil from the thought that nature might be chaotic at heart. It now seems to me that it opens within us a glimmer of freedom, not by equating mere randomness with an ersatz free will, but by reminding us that the question of our freedom is not yet settled.

Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute in Ontario argues that scientists must change tack, accepting the flow of time as real and building the church of a new physics upon that rock. The British physicist Julian Barbour takes an opposite stance; going beyond Newton and Einstein, in The End of Time (1999) he proposes that time itself is an illusion. Instead, the Universe consists of a collection of static moments, like a pile of unsorted photographs tossed into a shoebox. Each photo contains a snapshot of the world entire, a unique configuration of all things: planets, galaxies, bumblebees, people. Barbour gives the collection of all possible moments an evocative name: The Heap.

Because each instant in The Heap is a moment of the entire world, it contains references to all other moments, so the shoebox also contains an implied web of connections, branching threads of mutual association. Following a single thread, one would experience an apparent flow of time. Most threads would follow isolated paths that are without sense or meaning, but a very few threads and their neighbours follow paths that are mutually coherent. We might say that such paths tell a story, or that they include a sensible memory of the past at each step. The family of threads that are mutually coherent is robust, whereas the isolated and incoherent threads are fragile, with brittle associations providing no neighbouring reinforcement.

This idea is interpreted in two time-lapse videos created by Ti Tracy. Both shot over a minute just before midnight on 3 June 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip, the videos contain the same set of a few thousand images. In the first, the time ordering has been scrambled; the second gives the images in the original time order:

Version A is hard to follow, because there is nothing to hang on to. Attentive viewing of Version B, in contrast, reveals a multithreaded story from the 35-second mark to the 45-second. Someone is surrounded by police. An ambulance arrives on the scene. We make a U-turn and another policeman arrives on the 45-second mark. Given the date, the location and the approximate time, it would be straightforward, in principle, to find out more details from police reports. The time-ordered images in Version B allow us to follow a coherent narrative thread through the collection of images – Barbour’s Heap – and to make deeper inferences about their meaning. There is a narrative coherence in Version B that’s absent from Version A.

We lose sight of the fact that scientific theorising and storytelling are both, at heart, driven by a fear of dying and by an itch for the eternal

Barbour’s Heap reminds me of a photo I found among my parent’s things when they were old. Luckily, my mother was still alive to talk about it at the time. In the photo, my parents are both in their 20s, not yet married, at a nightclub in New York City. It is during the Second World War and they are with friends in uniform, all merchant seamen like my father. That night, he was dressed like a gigolo, clearly off-duty and having fun. My mother is shockingly young, smoking a cigarette, looking like an ingénue. The other men around the table are about to ship out for convoy duty in the North Atlantic. Within a week, all those men in uniform at the table would be dead.

For me, that photo carries layers of memory and meaning. There is the grief my parents must have felt for their friends, people I never met, carried away by time’s flow long before I was born. The direct experience of mass death during the war helps to explain the silences I experienced in our home growing up, silences I now know were full of memories. Looking at the photo today, I know who my mother and father would become, how my father would leave the merchant service and buy a farm. A city boy, gone to sea, then settled far away from the water. In that photo I think I see a glimpse of why: the memory of friends lost in the North Atlantic, drowning. I can understand my father’s anxiety, his need to stand on firm ground in a dangerous world. All his life he told us stories so that he would not be forgotten.

He acted out same eternalising impulse as the ancient Pythagoreans, just differently expressed. He told stories out of fear of dying, like Galeano says. We tend to fence off science from other areas, imagining that a quantum wave function or a set of relativistic field equations express a fundamentally different aspect of time than the kind of time that is embodied in old family tales. In the process, we lose sight of the fact that scientific theorising and storytelling are both, at heart, driven by a fear of dying and by an itch for the eternal.

Before I am carried away by time’s flow, I want to share one last memory, again as a small child. I am sitting in a warm sunbeam on the living room floor of our farmhouse, watching the gentle chaos of drifting dust motes, small worlds entire, next to my sleeping dog, King. We were – are – will be – best friends forever. Always at peace.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Focus turns to culture of abuse after Larry Nassar sentencing


"It is my honor and privilege to sentence you," Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told former USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar on Wednesday in Lansing, Michigan.
With that, the 54-year-old was ordered to serve up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young female athletes.
Following days of searing testimony, the judge told Nassar he doesn't deserve to walk outside a prison ever again.
"I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina said. After 156 victims had addressed their abuser, Aquilina got her turn.
"Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative," she said.

Monday, January 22, 2018

corruption is ruining yeshivos



שיטות ה'רשמים' • מודרני מול פרומער, 'החדשה' וטשולנט

שלל השיטות בהן פועלים עסקני הרישום לישיבות הגדולות בארץ, נחשפות מפיהם בשורת ראיונות ל'כיכר השבת'. למקרא הדברים, מובנת התעקשותם להישאר מאחורי הצללים ובעילום שם (חרדים)

ה' בשבט תשעח   17:10  21.01.18 

מיליונים ושיווק סמוי: תעשיית ה'רשמים' של עולם הישיבות

המפץ הגדול של עולם הישיבות מתחיל עכשיו: ישיבה אחת החליטה לפתוח ברישום מוקדם מהרגיל, ועולם הישיבות נכנס לסחרור • "כיכר השבת" עם פרויקט מיוחד: איך עובד תהליך הרישום? (חדשות)

כ"ז בטבת תשעח   20:40  14.01.18 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rav Eiyashiv's psak regarding parenting


מרן הגרי"ש אלישיב הורה - תפזרי את הילדים אצל קרובי המשפחה ותשאירי את הבת הנושרת בבית: בעקבות הפולמוס על היחס לילדים הנושרים, וכיצד יש לנהוג עמם, 'בחדרי' מביא תיעוד מדברי הרב אורי זוהר, מגדולי העוסקים בקירוב, בו הוא מספר על הוראה של מרן הגרי"ש אלישיב לאמא לתשעה ילדים שבתה נשרה מן הדרך. 

הרב אורי זוהר פעיל בשנים האחרונות במסגרת אירגון "מענה" שמסייע בייעוץ ובהכוונה להורים שלהם ילדים נושרים. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

an incredible stupid comment from someone I never met


I read your article it reminded me of what you did to me while wearing your Chareidi style oversized crown black hat jacket white shirt and  tzitsis flowing .[sic]

I came to you as per advise of a Rav in Har Nof for help and comfort.

Instead you turned on me, tried everything in your self-serving megalomaniac ways to wreck my life.

I and my family got crippled by you 

after many years we recovered from your blows I would say at 95% .

The Chareidy Lady pushing the carriage into you on your way to Shachris is a temporary pain 
a temporary inconvenience.

8 year old who spent all of mincha staring at You standing unsteadily AT THE BACK OF THE SHUL BECAUSE NONE OF THE AVREICHIM WANTED TO GIVE UP THEIR SEATS.
a temporary chutzpah. You can always find another Shul to daven in. 

but your underhanded actions will stain me and my family forever.

this person never met me as is clear from his description of me and his false claims about what i did to him and his family

rav gifter's letters vol 3


light to the goyim the gra's Torah learning resulted im Kant's philosophy

ז] רעיון ״אור הגויים״ אינו מחייב כלל להתענין בכל בעיות העולם,
ושלמותו של בן ישראל לפי מסגרת התורה משמשת מגדל אור לעמים,

אור התורה שבישראל שופע דרך התורה ומשפיע על העמים, ויפה העיר
הגאון הצדיק ר׳ דניאל מובשוביץ ז״ל הי״ד, ראש התלמוד תורה דקלם,

מיסודו של ר׳ שמחה זיסל ז״ל, שבאותו זמן שישב הגר״א זצוק״ל בווילנא

שקוע בעיון התורה, בה בשעה עמד החכם קאנט בברלין וחידש הרעיון
של טוהר השכל, אבל חייב הוא בן ישראל לדעת מהמתהוה בעולם מצד

תכליתו בתכלית העולם, אבל תרומתו בפתרון הבעיות הכלליות באופן זה
של תכלית באה מתוך עלייתו ושלימותו כבן תורה, בן עם ה

Sunday, January 14, 2018

derch Eretz thoughts about chareidim--- after being deliberately rammed by a baby carriage

I am learning to see things differently since I had a stroke and I realize R kAMINETSKY IS NOT THE Biggest problem in the world rather it is a widespread self absorption at the cost of great insensitivity to others

today on the way to shacharis with the aid of my walker I was deliberately rammed by a baby carriage  by a young woman who was late for her baby sitter and she uttered not a word saying she was sorry. after all her husband,s learning is the most important thing and I was simply an obstacle that needed to be pushed aside. of course it is not just her or chareidim. what about the cute
8 year old who spent all of mincha staring at me standing unsteadily AT THE BACK OF THE SHUL BECAUSE NONE OF THE AVREICHIM WANTED TO GIVE UP THEIR SEATS

IS THIS WORSE THAN THE MODERN ORTHODOX JEW WALKING HIS ROTTWeILER WHO GOT INTO An INVOLVED DISuCSSION  with his friends on a street corner and was very annoyed when i asked him to move.   because after all i just needed to push the dog aside to get by

or the healthy 60 year old secular men and women who refuse to give up their first row seats on the bus. even if it is obvious i need a seat to avoid falling. because they are entitled

now i understand why abuse issues though well known were deliberately ignored for so many years

i have been told it is an inherent problem with Israelis- i refuse to accept that answer. because i do see kind thoughtful israelis both chareim and chilonim of all ages  every day

Monday, January 8, 2018

is r Ahron Scheter an apikorus for belittling the influence of r shteinman?

kikar hashabat

מנמיכים את הלהבות: "הגר"א שכטר אינו אפיקורס חלילה"

לאחר מלחמת ההספדים בלייקווד, ראשי הישיבות מנסים להנמיך את הלהבות: ר"י ליקווד הגר"י אולשין הבהיר כי לא התכוון חלילה לכנות את הגר"א שכטר כ'אפיקורס'. שני הרבנים ייפגשו בברוקלין? (עולם)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Trump, Defending His Mental Fitness, Says He’s a ‘Very Stable Genius

ny times

WASHINGTON — President Trump, whose sometimes erratic behavior in office has generated an unprecedented debate about his mental health, declared on Saturday that he was perfectly sane and accused his critics of raising questions to score political points.

In a series of Twitter posts that were extraordinary even by the standards of his norm-shattering presidency, Mr. Trump insisted that his opponents and the news media were attacking his capacity because they had failed to prove his campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence,” he wrote on Twitter even as a special counsel continues to investigate the Russia matter.

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” he added. He said he was a “VERY successful businessman” and television star who won the presidency on his first try. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!”

Elaborating during a meeting with reporters at Camp David later in the day, Mr. Trump again ticked off what he called a high-achieving academic and career record. He raised the matter “only because I went to the best colleges, or college,” he said. Referring to a new book citing concerns about his fitness, he said, “I consider it a work of fiction and I consider it a disgrace.”

The president’s engagement on the issue is likely to fuel the long-simmering argument about his state of mind that has roiled the political and psychiatric worlds and thrust the country into uncharted territory. Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to force the president to submit to psychological evaluation. Mental health professionals have signed a petition calling for his removal from office. Others call armchair diagnoses a dangerous precedent or even a cover for partisan attacks.

In the past week alone, a new book resurfaced previously reported concerns among the president’s own advisers about his fitness for office, the question of his mental state came up at two White House briefings and the secretary of state was asked if Mr. Trump was mentally fit. After the president boasted that his “nuclear button” was bigger than Kim Jong-un’s in North Korea, Richard W. Painter, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, described the claim as proof that Mr. Trump is “psychologically unfit” and should have his powers transferred to Vice President Mike Pence under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.

Mr. Trump’s self-absorption, impulsiveness, lack of empathy, obsessive focus on slights, tenuous grasp of facts and penchant for sometimes far-fetched conspiracy theories have generated endless op-ed columns, magazine articles, books, professional panel discussions and cable television speculation.

“The level of concern by the public is now enormous,” said Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine and editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” a book released last fall. “They’re telling us to speak more loudly and clearly and not to stop until something is done because they are terrified.”

As Politico reported, Dr. Lee was invited to Capitol Hill last month to meet with about a dozen members of Congress to discuss the matter. But all but one of the lawmakers she briefed are Democrats. While some Republicans have raised concerns, they do so mostly in private. Others scoff at the question, dismissing it as outrageous character assassination.

Few questions irritate White House aides more than inquiries about the president’s mental well-being, and they argue that Mr. Trump’s opponents are trying to use those questions to achieve what they could not at the ballot box.

“This shouldn’t be dignified with a response,” said Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor.

“The partisans on Capitol Hill consulting with psychologists should reorient their spare time: support the president’s positive agenda of middle class tax cuts, rebuilding infrastructure and the military, investing in our work force,” Ms. Conway said later in an email. “The never-ending attempt to nullify an election is tiresome; if they were truly ‘worried about the country,’ they’d get to work to help it.”

Thomas J. Barrack, a friend of Mr. Trump’s, was quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” as telling a friend that the president was “not only crazy but stupid.” In interviews, Mr. Barrack denied that and insisted that many people miss Mr. Trump’s actual brilliance.

“Potus has learned over time that Socratic testing and a lack of predictability is a worthy weapon in both negotiations and in keeping his team well honed, unentitled and on alert,” he said, using the initials for president of the United States. “He has no truck with political correctness, self-promotion or personal hubris of his team. This may cause him to appear at times to be overly realistic, blunt or to be politically insensitive even to his own subordinates. However, that is not the case.”

Still, in private, advisers to the president have at times expressed concerns. In private conversations over the last year, people who were new to Mr. Trump in the White House, which was most of the West Wing staff, have tried to process the president’s speaking style, his temper, his disinterest in formal briefings, his obsession with physical appearances and his concern about the theatrics and excitement of his job.

In conversations with friends, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has said Mr. Trump is “crazy but he’s a genius.” Other advisers speak about the president as a volatile personality who has to be managed carefully. While Mr. Wolff’s book generated enormous attention, news accounts over the past year have reported the president’s mood swings and unpredictable behavior.....\

Some psychiatrists have said it is irresponsible to throw around medical terms without an examination.
“These amateurs shouldn’t be diagnosing at a distance, and they don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Allen Frances, a former psychiatry department chairman at Duke University School of Medicine who helped develop the profession’s diagnostic standards for mental disorders.
Dr. Frances, author of “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump,” said the president’s bad behavior should not be blamed on mental illness. “He is definitely unstable,” Dr. Frances said. “He is definitely impulsive. He is world-class narcissistic not just for our day but for the ages. You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified he is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make him mentally ill.”
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Wolff says understanding the "emperor has no clothes" will end Trump's presidency

Wolff says understanding the "emperor has no clothes" will end Trump's presidency

Last Updated Jan 6, 2018 12:52 PM EST
Michael Wolff, author of the new bombshell book "Fire and Fury: Inside Trump's White House," told the BBC in an interview broadcast Saturday that he believes understanding revelations resulting from his book about President Trump will "finally end this presidency."
"You know I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear, 'emperor has no clothes' effect — that the story that I've told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can't do this job, the emperor has no clothes, and suddenly everywhere people are going, 'Oh my God it's true, he has no clothes.' That's the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this presidency," Wolff told the BBC.
"Fire and Fury," released Friday, describes Mr. Trump in an unflattering light, as someone prone to fits of frustration who eats cheeseburgers and watches TV in bed at 6:30 p.m., and whose capabilities are questioned by his entire senior staff. 
"He doesn't read, he doesn't listen, he's profoundly uncurious. He's just interested in what he's interested in and isn't interested in the larger problems of the world, almost any of them," Wolff told the BBC.
"That's on the one hand, so the other side is he's experiencing now issues, fundamentally physical, mental issues..." Wolff continued. 
Wolff, who says he conducted more than 200 interviews for his book and took up a semi-permanent seat in the West Wing for months, was asked if he sees Mr. Trump as someone who is mentally incapable of being president of the United States. 
"Well, I think he's intellectually incapable of being president of the United States," Wolff told the BBC. 
Mr. Trump took to Twitter early Saturday to defend himself, calling himself " a very stable genius" and slamming Wolff, saying he made up stories to sell his book.