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Letter to the editor: Mishpacha Magazine
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 57 users   |   Viewed 42075 times since 4/19/07   |   116 Comments
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4/19/07

This ‘Letter to the Editor’ was published in last week’s Mishpacha issue in response to the overriding theme of my entire Mishpacha series and in particular to the column in issue #151.

The editors of Mishpacha magazine offered to publish several to-the-point responses to this letter in an upcoming issue. Please take the time to respond with your opinion, should you be inclined to do so. Please include your name and the city where you live.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Editor:

I’m surprised and upset that Mishpacha printed a column which, reading between the lines, recommends going back to the “old school,” where subjects were taught which opened up “more careers” for the students — computers, math, science, etc.

I understand the logic: If the “best schools” would teach subjects which were interesting to children on the brink, these children might remain. Now these schools teach only Gemara, so these children are bored and fall even faster.

If we teach many secular subjects in our school, will Torah giants emerge? Or does that not make a difference? How does Rabbi Horowitz know that it’s more important to save the falling children? Maybe it’s more important to save the ones with true potential to reach the greatest heights?

Rabbi Horowitz is worried that within a few years many children will fall off the derech. I’m afraid that if his plan for the yeshivos is accepted then the children will fall off the derech — if not this generation, perhaps the next. The responsibility of changing the schools based on a doubtful theory is very scary. (Is the dropouts percentage smaller in girls’ schools which teach secular subjects? I don’t think so.)

Here in Eretz Yisrael, we often have bulletin board messages by the gedolim, warning that if the government forces more secular subjects on our schools, then we will have to abandon governmental aid, to continue the yeshivah studies al taharas hakodesh, without secular studies.

It was revealed to the Taz, who lived during the years of the Decrees of Tach v’Tat, that if he would die, the terrible massacres would be averted. His death would atone for the entire nation. But he said, “I can’t die before I finish writing my commentary on the Shulchan Aruch,” so the troubles began.

We see from this story (in Kisvei Mahari Shub) that we don’t have the correct perspective about what Torah is and what is important.

The Likutei Moharan (64) explains in depth that secular subjects cause heresy. So I don’t comprehend how this topic can be taken so lightly, in newspapers written for ordinary readers, that they should pressure yeshivos to teach more science, more language, less Gemara, and then klal Yisrael will be saved. Please address important questions to the gedolim. Let them decide, and then readers will follow.

Don’t give readers false hopes, based on imagined theories which every true Torah scholar will repulse.

Name Withheld



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Related Articles:
Issue 139 - Proactively Addressing the Chinuch Challenges of Our Generation
Issue 141 - Exit Interviews
Issue 143- It Doesn’t Start in Tenth Grade
Issue 145 - Training Wheels
Issue 147 - Pulling in the Gangplank
Issue 149- Rolling out the Welcome Mat
Issue 151 - Seven, Eight, Nine …
Issue 153 - Kiruv for Our Children


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1. I don't buy it!     4/19/07 - 4:55 PM
Anonymous

Nice mayseh, but please... THAT'S why we should watch families fall apart and go under, because of a mayseh from the Taz that has little bearing on current events???

Did the author of that article ever sit in on a class of kids that had a handful of students who were not ready to tackle chumash rashi and yet they were now being asked to mve on with gemara? It's not a pretty sight! Are you really saying that we are obligated to watch these kids go under(as many cities di in gezeiros tach v'tat) so that the brighter kids can thrive (= the Taz completing his peirush on shulchan aruch)???!!!

Perhaps the author of this article never had a child in that situation?

Just hearing that response makes me ill from anger!


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2.     4/19/07 - 4:55 PM
Steve Brizel - Zeliglaw@aol.com

WADR, tbe author of the letter is wrong with respect to the issue of secular studies. Many Masectos ranging from Brachos to Eruvin to Sukkah as well as Nidah require that the student or any would be Talmid Chacham at least be familiar with the scientific, medical and mathematical issues set forth therein. Many Gdolim were either fluent in these areas or appreciated the fact that all technological and scientific developments also brought considerations as to any halachic ramifications.


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3. Torah True scholars will repulse...     4/19/07 - 5:00 PM
Anonymous

I wish I knew who wrote the words of the above article. I would make sure that he or she never educates my children!

"Torah True scholars will repulse..."

Are YOU one of the Gedolei HaDor? Are YOU ready to take the achrayus of so many lost neshamos because we didn't make the adjustments we could have?

"Torah True scholars will repulse..." Very arrogant words!!!


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4. Im Ein Kemach Ein Torah     4/19/07 - 5:07 PM
Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids Count Foundation - Lawrence, NY - Aries2756@optonline.net

I don't know about this "Name Witheld" commentor who is so afraid to stand up and not only face reality but put his name to his comments, but I am not. I work with the off-the-derech and At-Risk population and I can tell you first hand that people such as this one who are one dimensional and have blinders on will continue pushing young adults off the derech.

His logic comes from an attitude and a misguided understanding that all children are the same and they should all be "forced" into the same mold, thereby taught the same way. However, the Torah does not tell us so. The Torah tells us that Hashem created each one of us as individuals and gifted each one of us with different and unique talents. The Torah also taught us that we much teach every child "al pi darko", each child in his own way, in the way that each individual child needs to be taught. That means according to the gifts and talents that Hashem gave him.

If one child has the talent and the capacity to learn Gemarah all day long, then Kol Hakovod teach him Gemarah all day long. But if Hashem gave another child the talent of Science, then maybe that child was meant to be the Doctor that will cure and heal the greatest Rosh Yeshiva of a terrible machlah in the future. Should you deny that Rosh Yeshiva that Sheliach that would heal him? Who are you to say that the child Hashem gifted with a talent for science should not pursue that talent? Should he then not be a talented and successful doctor rather than a mediocre, unhappy talmid?

Who said that everyone has to ONLY learn for the rest of their lives? How many Roshei Yeshivas and Rebbeim can there be? Who will support them and pay the schar limud? How will they earn that kind of money and parnassah to support the other needs of one's family? Furthermore, doesn't it clearly state in the Torah that some Bnei Yisroel were meant to be Yissacher and some were meant to be Zevulun. Does this writer wish to change the Torah or argue with Hashem? Who is he to say that EVERYONE must be doing the same thing?

No he is absolutely wrong, not everyone is cut out for learning all the time. Hashem gave each child different gifts and different talents. That of course doesn't mean that those talents take away from his or her frumkeit or Yiddishkeit. These talents if they are addressed and nurtured properly and appropriately will enhance their yiddishkeit and bitachon, because the child will learn to recognize that it is only because Hashem has bestowed on them this amazing talent that they are capable of accessing and retaining the amazing knowledge that their teachers are delivering to them.

The children who are offered different sujbects to access their own individual abilities will learn to understand appreciate that they are privileged by the opportunities available to them and by the amazing mechanchim the Yeshivas have found for them to encourage and enhance their own individuality and abilities while at the same time strengthen their connection to Hahsem and show them how they can live an amazingly happy and fulfilled lifestyle as thouroughly, sincerely and serious religious Jews while practicing their chosen profession and still make time for learning and loving to learn.

Our community is filled with Doctors,Lawyers & other professionals, B"H, who are busy both in their chosen professions as well as in learning and tremendous involvment with gemilos chessed. I couldn't possibly give you a better example of what I am talking about than looking at some of my professional neighbors going to work in their white shirts, with long peios neatly tucked behind their ears, taking a Gemara on the Daf Yomi train in the mornings.

Maybe their mechanchim and Roshei Yeshivas were a lot smarter and had more heart and soul than those who are kicking so many children out to the streets today. Or those who are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to those children in trouble. But I can tell you this, the kids who are going off the derech and/or are in the at-risk population have reached epidemic proportions. Alcohol and drug use has skyrocketed and the age of substance abuse and sexual consent has dropped to 12. I hope I have changed the mind of the previous commentor and he now understands why offering more secular subjects to address the needs of "all" children is so very important. And I hope I made an impression on others as well, because this subject is very important for the very simple reason that ALL the children are very, very important. YES ALL of THEM, NOT JUST THE BEST ONES, OR THE METZUYANIM. Each and every child is a GEM, their outcomes depend on how WE the adults and the mechanchim, polish them, care for them and make them shine.

Sherree Belsky Director Kids Count Foundation


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5.     4/19/07 - 5:12 PM
Anonymous

I believe that a range of views on this topic is healthy, just as there needs to be a range of yeshivas catering to various levels and outlooks.

If schools aimed to reach only the metsuyanim (a modern day Taz), we would lose even more talmidim. Some talmidim need a focused Torah-only approach, and some need a broader approached that includes more secular subjects.

My own children range over a fairly broad spectrum, and what works for one child would fail for another. I hope that the schools cater to at least the breadth that I see in my own family.


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6. format of comments     4/19/07 - 5:18 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

May I please ask those who are posting comments to kindly consider formatting them as letters to the editor, and address the mishpacha readers with your thoughts?

I will then be able to forward your comments to mishpacha for publication. (And please include your names/cities)

Thanks

YH


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7. There's more than one approach to Chinuch     4/19/07 - 5:19 PM
Eli Singer - Brookyn NY - elisinger@juno.com

Those individuals who have written in opposition to Rabbi Horowitz's views on chinuch are certainly entitled to their opinions. However, to a large extent, I believe they have their heads buried in the ground and are out of touch with much of today’s youth. Now I don’t agree with everything Rabbi Horowitz writes. But, it is clear that there needs to be alternative methods and approaches for those children who have not been matzliach within the main stream. If the old system works well for the majority of our talmidum, then leave it as it is - for them. Anyone who is worried about the next generation of Gedolim, can be assured that they will arise from that group. But for a large and growing minority of children who need a somewhat different approach in order to be matzliach in Torah and Yiddishkeit, we must rise to the challenge. Rabbi Horowitz has offered many creative solutions to which we should pay closer attention.


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8. Plain Nasty     4/19/07 - 6:11 PM
SM - UK

Dear Editor,

What a depressing anonymous letter. A different view to R Horowitz is fine but the implied suggestion that he is in some way presumptuous to offer an opinion about how to educate children is a step too far.

One can only do one's best. I don't believe one can sensibly read the original article and conclude that R Horowitz is laying down rules. He is grappling with a problem everyone knows exists and attempting to reach a solution. He has the background and the history to do so and his words are clearly informed by study, thought and prayer.

I'm not a true Torah scholar and I certainly wouldn't claim to be. But I have children of my own and I know what I want for them. And I know that this article will help me and those who educate them.

Moreover, if one believes that Torah can stand the tests that modernity throws at it then there is nothing to fear. It is at least possible that children will see the depth of limmudei kodesh compared to secular subjects and be enthused anew to learn Torah. That would be quality time and I suspect that little actual learning would in fact be lost.

Finally, it should be possible to disagree whilst still acknowledging the genuine ahavat yisrael and sincerity of the other party. Your unknown letter writer could perhaps take a course in the Use of English in order to ensure that his words convey his real meaning - he surely cannot have meant to be as unpleasant as his letter suggests.

Yours sincerely,


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9. Paralysis or Analysis?     4/19/07 - 6:35 PM
Leah Zagelbaum - Brooklyn - zagel463@yahoo.com

To the editor,

Yasher koach for featuring Rabbi Horowitz in Mishpacha. As the parent of four teenagers, I am an avid reader and loyal fan. I am informed and encouraged by what he writes.

Pretending problems don't exist won't make them go away, and a strategy of paralysis sis no strategy at all. It is imperative that each generation take a good hard look at the challenges that face us, develop reasonable responses to the threats that appear, and under the guidance of Gedolei Yisroel implement solutions, each generation according to its need.

I am deeply grateful to Rabbi Horowitz for providing a wake up call as to the reality in which our children live and perspective on the challenges our families must confront. I find him to be on the mark and practical. He writes from a wealth of experience and knowledge and suggests a variety of reasonable responses and possible soutions. While one may certainly disagree with one point or another that Rabbi Horowitz raises, he does provide a cogent, reasonable, realistic, timely approach towards protecting our children, recognizing the distractions and difficulties that face them and us. Every parent that I know is grateful for direction. Burying one’s head under the covers and citing as precedent a story (not maaseh avos, not a medrash, not chazal, a story), is not direction, is not wise, and is not responsible.

When I read your recent letter to the editor from anonymous, I found myself wondering if he was currently parenting any children, was at the Zaidy stage shaking his head at ‘today’s generation’ or a younger fellow who is an expert on raising other people’s children. We all wish things were different, but wishing does not make it so. He also seems to be confusing a communal response to government edict, and a communal response to societal impact. They are two very different things with two very different imperatives.

As one parent currently in the trenches, I feel confident in saying that we all struggle to raise our children to ‘Stay on the D” and Rabbi Horowitz’ assistance is invaluable. We as individual parents and a community have much to contend with, and he goes a long way in providing answers. May he have koach to continue to impart his wisdom and instruction and may we all be zoche to have children who are a source of nachas to their parents, klal Yisroel and Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

Please keep those articles coming!

Leah Zagelbaum Brooklyn, NY


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10. We Need More Secular Studies, Not Less     4/19/07 - 6:45 PM
Yos - jadler@hofferadler.com

The letter writer states that "if we teach many secular subjects in our school, will Torah giants emerge?"

Yes. We lack Torah giants today precisely because secular subjects are no longer valued as they were in the past.


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11. Gedolim     4/19/07 - 7:13 PM
Moshe Yehuda Gluck - Lakewood, NJ - mgluck@gmail.com

Dear Editor: The person who anonymously critiqued Rabbi Horowitz's series of articles (as well as his general outlook on Limudei Kodesh, Chinuch and related issues), strongly implied that Rabbi Horowitz is not a "true Torah scholar." I will not stoop to the level of the writer, but I would appreciate if you could share with your readers that Rabbi Horowitz has the trust and encouragement of Agudas Yisroel of America, headed by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

Moshe Yehuda Gluck Lakewood, NJ


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12. secular studies isn't the battle     4/19/07 - 7:32 PM
Ellen - Israel

I believe the letter-writer is slightly incorrect in his understanding of Rav Horowitz's recommendations. The main complaint Rav Horowitz raises is that the schools are ALL competing to accept the best kids, the most likely to be gadol hador.

When all "good" schools set their sights on being the top academically, which generally means gemara studies, all kids below the 90th percentile feel the pressure. And the lower in the ranking they are, the more out of it the student feels altogether ch"v.

But Rav Horowitz hasn't necessarily answered the problem, only raised a criticism. And it's nearly impossible to avoid the pitfall: schools, which are by nature academic, are going to strive for academic excellence.

If schools additionally contain a value judgement regarding one's ruchnius being correlated to how well he does in gemara, then that is a poison.

Perhaps one approach is to advocate Torah learning for everyone, with pride. If we're talking about schools within communities where a lifestyle of learning is advocated, then we don't care where the avreich rates relative to his peers. Isn't the point that each bit of learning - at every level - is an achievement?

If the boys are proud to be in yeshiva and learning, and they have the opportunity to absorb those values, even the top kids should prosper more.

Better to be inspired and motivated, than pressured to be the best. Especially in the teenage years, when they're just building their foundation of learning - and midot.


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13.     4/19/07 - 7:41 PM
SephardiLady - orthonomics@gmail.com

Dear Editor,

The letter writer asks, "if we teach many secular subjects in our school, will Torah giants emerge? Or does that not make a difference?"

I do not believe that Torah scholarship, academic scholarship, or the professions/vocations are mutually exclusive, nor do I believe that a “Torah only” education is necessary to produce giants in Torah. One only needs to look around at the Torah Giants of yesterday and today to see that this is so.

Sincerely, [Contact me should you choose to print this]


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14. Taz Story     4/19/07 - 8:44 PM
Anonymous

The point the story makes fits the author's point, but a story like this really makes me wonder if this is the perspective that we want to teach to the children. Do we really think that those horrific pogroms were worth it because the Taz was able to write a commentary? I don't think that is the Jewish perspective at all. In fact there is a story about R' Chaim of Brisk. He was in a beis medrash studying during a period of terrible persecution. His Chavrusa said, "If only this was the birthpangs of Mashiach it would all be worth it." R' Chaim said, "No, only three things are Y'harag v'Al Ya'avor and the coming of the Mashiach is not one of them."


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15. Sherree Belsky:     4/19/07 - 9:04 PM
Anonymous

about a point in your comment:

Surely you know that in order to become a doctor, a child must graduate college and then go on to medical school, an internship and a residency, a process of 10+ years of grueling study and fierce competition. Why do you think a child has the ability to sweat it out for years in school to become a doctor but can't put in that same effort to sit and learn Torah?


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16. where are the gedolim     4/19/07 - 9:09 PM
Shuli

How many gedolim (at the level ov Rav Mosher, Rav Aurbach or Rav Eliyashev) did the current system produce?

In addition, consider the fact that many more Jewish boys are learning now (as apposed to pre- and post- war times). However, we do not see a propotionate increase in "gedolim" turn out. Opposite, we see decrease.

The system isn't doing the job you think it does.

In addition, it says in Mishna that Talmid Chaham cannot live on public assistance. How do you expect all the Talmidei Chahamim the system is producing to support themselves, if they can't add 2 & 2 or express themselves clearly in the language of the host country?


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17.     4/19/07 - 9:24 PM
yoni

anon, the difference is that those who go to medical school have an aptitude and will eventualy accomplish something. not everyone who we sent to learn torah will.

and yes, there has been a general paucity in the products of the current yeshiva system.


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18. What would R. Nachman Say?     4/19/07 - 10:07 PM
Eli Wurtzel - Rochester NY

Dear Editor I am writing in reply to “Name Withheld” who was upset by the columns written by R Horowitz. If I understood him correctly, Mr. Withheld feels R. Horowitzi’s suggestion of relieving the pressure on Limudei Kodesh, and adding more and diverse (read: interesting) limude Chol will be a tragedy to Am Yisrael. I couldn’t disagree more with his opinion, But there is something that I’d like to point out as factualy wrong. Mr. Withheld misquotes the Likutei Mohoran saying “(Torha 64) explains in depth that secular subjects cause heresy.” This is a tragic lack of understanding at best, and a gross misquoting at worst. For anyone who learnes the “Torah” in depth ( and in context) will understand that R. Nachaman is referring to “external wisdoms” such as philosophy or sociology – impractical and useless wisdoms. I dont think R.Nachman is reffering to simple math, science and music(if nothing more, these subjects would only enhance a persons Avodah). Further, in my humble opinion, R. Horwoitz’s proposed “derech” truly follows the spirit and the teachings of R. Nachaman. A main teaching of R. Nachaman is that it is impossible for a Jew to serve Hashem in sadness and depression, it is a core Avodah to serve hashem through happiness. If 30 to 60 percent of the children sitting in yeshivos are miserable, bored and discouraged by the current methods of teaching, what hope is there that they will grow up to be good Jews and true ovdei hashem? At best they will grow up to become drones, keeping the mitzvos, but with no real simchas hachaim, no joy in learning, davening or mitzvos. At worst, they will be driven away, with the false notion that judiasim is boring, oppressive and dull, - all because they simply weren’t “Learners”. Which brings me to my second point: Mr. Witheld asks rhetorically: “If we teach many secular subjects in our school, will Torah giants emerge? …Maybe it’s more important to save the ones with true potential to reach the greatest heights?” I ask in return: Is it our goal to raise Torah Giants? To focus only on “the ones with true potential to reach the greatest heights”? Does that mean that anyone who is not a “Torah Giant” is a failure? Teaching Children that it's all about the learning, that they must become a Lamdan to be worth anything, has destroyed the spirits of thousands of Jewish children. I, for one, do not want to raise “Torah Giants”. I want to raise children wo are true Ovdei Hashem, who find learining Torah interesting, who take joy in davening and keeping mitzvos. If we raise a generation of children who are happy and well adjusted, Gedolim will surely emerge. If we sacrifice the “Simchas Hachayim” of %30 – %60 of our children to produce Gedolim, who will those Gedolim lead? Sincerly Eli Wurtzel Rochester NY


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19. What would R. Nachman Say?     4/19/07 - 10:07 PM
Eli Wurtzel - Rochester NY

Dear Editor I am writing in reply to “Name Withheld” who was upset by the columns written by R Horowitz. If I understood him correctly, Mr. Withheld feels R. Horowitzi’s suggestion of relieving the pressure on Limudei Kodesh, and adding more and diverse (read: interesting) limude Chol will be a tragedy to Am Yisrael. I couldn’t disagree more with his opinion, But there is something that I’d like to point out as factualy wrong. Mr. Withheld misquotes the Likutei Mohoran saying “(Torha 64) explains in depth that secular subjects cause heresy.” This is a tragic lack of understanding at best, and a gross misquoting at worst. For anyone who learnes the “Torah” in depth ( and in context) will understand that R. Nachaman is referring to “external wisdoms” such as philosophy or sociology – impractical and useless wisdoms. I dont think R.Nachman is reffering to simple math, science and music(if nothing more, these subjects would only enhance a persons Avodah). Further, in my humble opinion, R. Horwoitz’s proposed “derech” truly follows the spirit and the teachings of R. Nachaman. A main teaching of R. Nachaman is that it is impossible for a Jew to serve Hashem in sadness and depression, it is a core Avodah to serve hashem through happiness. If 30 to 60 percent of the children sitting in yeshivos are miserable, bored and discouraged by the current methods of teaching, what hope is there that they will grow up to be good Jews and true ovdei hashem? At best they will grow up to become drones, keeping the mitzvos, but with no real simchas hachaim, no joy in learning, davening or mitzvos. At worst, they will be driven away, with the false notion that judiasim is boring, oppressive and dull, - all because they simply weren’t “Learners”. Which brings me to my second point: Mr. Witheld asks rhetorically: “If we teach many secular subjects in our school, will Torah giants emerge? …Maybe it’s more important to save the ones with true potential to reach the greatest heights?” I ask in return: Is it our goal to raise Torah Giants? To focus only on “the ones with true potential to reach the greatest heights”? Does that mean that anyone who is not a “Torah Giant” is a failure? Teaching Children that it's all about the learning, that they must become a Lamdan to be worth anything, has destroyed the spirits of thousands of Jewish children. I, for one, do not want to raise “Torah Giants”. I want to raise children wo are true Ovdei Hashem, who find learining Torah interesting, who take joy in davening and keeping mitzvos. If we raise a generation of children who are happy and well adjusted, Gedolim will surely emerge. If we sacrifice the “Simchas Hachayim” of %30 – %60 of our children to produce Gedolim, who will those Gedolim lead? Sincerly Eli Wurtzel Rochester NY


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20. Torah Giants     4/19/07 - 10:46 PM
David Levine

If learning Gemara all day is supposed to allow torah giants to emerge, why has there not been a huge insurgence of gedolei hador over the past few generations? Also, torah and secular subjects are not mutually exclusivel; a school can teach both. and jw: wasnt Rambam a doctor? Didnt the sanhedrin need to know 70 languages (not just hebrew and gemara)? There are countless other examples that I could think of if need be. (or you can search google yourself)


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21. Torah Giants     4/19/07 - 10:46 PM
David Levine

If learning Gemara all day is supposed to allow torah giants to emerge, why has there not been a huge insurgence of gedolei hador over the past few generations? Also, torah and secular subjects are not mutually exclusivel; a school can teach both. and jw: wasnt Rambam a doctor? Didnt the sanhedrin need to know 70 languages (not just hebrew and gemara)? There are countless other examples that I could think of if need be. (or you can search google yourself)


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22. E"Y vs US     4/20/07 - 12:59 AM
C Solomon - NY

To address a small point first:

"(Is the dropouts percentage smaller in girls’ schools which teach secular subjects? I don’t think so.)"

Yes, I believe the dropout rate in girls' schools is lower.

"Here in Eretz Yisrael, we often have bulletin board messages by the gedolim, warning that if the government forces more secular subjects on our schools, then we will have to abandon governmental aid, to continue the yeshivah studies al taharas hakodesh, without secular studies. "

Here, I think you have hit on one of the biggest sources of issues in the US community, including the dropout/kids at risk problem.

Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael live in and know their communities and set guidelines for it. However, they have always left it up to edolim in America to set guidelines appropriate for US communities. We cannot simply blindly impose guidelines for Eretz Yisrael on American communities and schools, when we live in different circumstances and face different pressures - and when we do so, we create problems. There are many things appropriate in E"Y that are unsuited to the US. American yeshivas have always had secular education through high school with the approval of the American roshei yeshivas. Similarly, playing sports was accepted here, though it was not accepted for bnei torah in E"Y. R Yaakov Kaminetsky zt"l is quoted as saying regarding secular education "In Eretz Yisrael, they must not (have secular education). In America, they must (have secular education)."

This basic wisdom - that we cannot simply transplant norms from one country to another without deep knowledge of local conditions - is missing of late, with people advocating blindly reproducing the E"Y model without consideration of what, bottom line, works in the US and what doesn't. Even if one spends one's entire life in yeshiva circles in the US, simply to function in the US requires education that may be unnecessary elsewhere. Rabbi Horowitz is someone with deep knowledge of the community in the US. The gedolim in E"Y surely understand that those who are oskim btzarchei tzibur beemuna like R Horowitz must speak up about what is appropriate here, and that at times what is necessary in the US will differ from what is adviseable in E"Y.

As another analogy, The Chazon Ish was once asked about teaching in Yiddish vs teaching in Ivrit. He said that the battle against accepting Ivrit was very necessary when Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld waged it, but that he lives in a different generation, and he must allow ivrit and choose to fight different battles. In the same way, the battles in the US are not precisely the same as those in Eretz Yisrael, and we cannot act as though all generations, all countries and all circumstances are the same.


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23. E"Y vs USA     4/20/07 - 1:23 AM
C Soloman - NY

"Here in Eretz Yisrael, we often have bulletin board messages by the gedolim, warning that if the government forces more secular subjects on our schools, then we will have to abandon governmental aid, to continue the yeshivah studies al taharas hakodesh, without secular studies. "

Also please note that the signs speak of government pressure. Here in the US, we are not up against hostile, antireligious elements in the government who aim to change religious life and education, and as such, the issue of secular education is entirely different in the US.


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24. Chachamim Hizaharu B'divreichem     4/20/07 - 1:46 AM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

Dear Editor,

I would like to wish Rabbi Horowitz continued hatzlacha in the writing of his important Mishpacha columns, while also sharing with his critic my thoughts, which I hope will be understood in the spirit of devorim hayotzim min h'aleiv.

It should be obvious that Rabbi Horowitz is working within the charedi system. On the weighty issue of balancing the sometimes conflicting goals of satisfying the individual and unique needs of our children ---chanoch l'naar al pi darko--against the imperative to nurture the next generation's gedolie Torah b'derch Yisroel Saba, Rabbi Horowitz undoubtedly benefits from the guidance of his own rebbeim, and from that of today's einei heidah. However, while a consensus may be reached amongst gedolie yisrael on basic topics, there certainly may be disagreement on specific issues, particularly since circumstances and communities vary.

On a more general note, I think that any reader writing to Mishpacha or to other publications should, like any speaker or writer, take into consideration the needs and backgrounds of his or her audience, as well as the fact that today, a letter may travel electronically beyond its original boundaries. As someone familiar with various media forums that operate outside the boundaries of the more insular parts of the yeshivah and chassidic worlds, it is obvious to me that the beauty of Mishpacha is precisely that it appeals to a diverse audience. In a certain sense, then, the varied readership need to make certain reasonable allowances for each other, for the media version of hinei mah tov u'mah naim sheves achim gam yachad to be able to work.

If I could say something to the letter-writer and to the authors of similar letters, it would be: chachamim hezahuru b'divreichem. Sadly, you are not bringing kavod to either the ideals or to the rebbeim whom you are seen as representing, if you are perceived as overreacting, or unable to show understanding to those who may follow, perhaps a slightly different derech in Yiddishkeit. There are many people who share important Torah values with even the more insular parts of the charedi world, but who feel pushed away and alienated for various reasons, hameivin yavin(already, one writer has said that the attitudes in the letter in question justify the blogosphere).

While you are entitled to feel "surprised and upset that Mishpacha printed [Rabbi Horowitz's ] column", had you shown appropriate understanding for another point of view, and also used more nuanced and balanced language when expressing your ideas, I think that your valid concerns might have been taken seriously by even those having different backgrounds and opinions than your own.

Baruch Horowitz,

Brooklyn, NY


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25. Just Gimme the Address !!!     4/20/07 - 2:46 AM
Pesach - pk@konstam.net

Please tell us where to e-mail our responses to the Mishpocha writer.


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26. Yasher Koach, Rabbi Horowitz     4/20/07 - 8:11 AM
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer - Monsey, NY - ygb@aishdas.org

Chazak v'Ematz.


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27. To answer the question historically....     4/20/07 - 10:14 AM
micha - micha@aishdas.org

Kelm had a full gymnasia, and yet also managed to produce the Alters of Slabodka and Novardok.

Volozhin reluctantly had secular classes in its final years, and still managed to produce a large number of gedolim.

YU produced its second and third generation of rashei yeshiva, poseqim whose opinions are respected even to the right of the Modern Orthodox world. Rav Herschel Schachter being the best known example.

It would seem that the answer to your question is a resounding "yes". If schools were to include secular studies, they would still produce gedolim. And better prepare those who are unable to become gedolim to pay their tuitions for the next generation of chinukh.

-mi


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28. Eli Wurtzel - the Chazon Ish says otherwise     4/20/07 - 10:14 AM
M

The Chazon Ish is quoted by Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz as saying, "It is our duty to transform every single student into a godol beTorah. We must provide every one with that chance of becoming a Torah giant. According to your theory, we are assuming that one who is not particularly gifted can become a good baalebos. But we are not allowed to assume that. We are commanded to aspire to transform everyone into a godol — or at least give him the chance of becoming one." [end of Chazon Ish's quote]

Fact is, Eretz Yisrael has a far higher number of ourstanding talmidei chachamim than anywhere else in the world including Lakewood. The vast majority of sefarim being published today, come from Eretz Yisrael.

The Chazon Ish is not the final word for all of Jewry, but be aware that this view, that our yeshivos are for producing gedolim, is one that was said (reputedly) by a gadol that the chareidi world respects.

see R' Lorincz's complete dialogue with the Chazon Ish here: http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5765/voero/VRH65features.htm


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29. M     4/20/07 - 10:53 AM
yoni

such a possition m is highly dubious. Torah tradition rooted out everyone who proved themselves to worthy and relegated them to study "of a thousand who enter the study hall, one leaves capable of giving the psak"

I would like to see the source for the chazon ish's assertion that we are commanded to try and make everyone a gadol b'torah. (that that our schools are making anyone a gadol b'torah but i've ranted enough about that before. suffice it to say that i havent seen a real gadol since rav moshe feinstien)


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30.     4/20/07 - 10:54 AM
yoni

correction: "Not that our schools are making anyone..."


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31. Not an Either-Or Question     4/20/07 - 11:20 AM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"The Chazon Ish is not the final word for all of Jewry, but be aware that this view, that our yeshivos are for producing gedolim, is one that was said (reputedly) by a gadol that the chareidi world respects. "

I would add to this question the point of R. Dessler regarding why some gedolim rejected TIDE college- type of yeshivos, if the assumption in a particular city was that such schools could help some, but not allow for the realization of future gedolim.

R. Dessler(MM Vol. III) writes that Gedolim were aware that a pure Litvshe Torah-Only model, whose purpose is to produce gedolim, often carries with it the very heavy price of negatively affecting average students, although obviously one tries to minimize such casualties(“lo nachshov she-lo yodu me-rosh, ki be-derech zeh chas ve-shalom yekulkelu kamah”).

R. Shimon Schwab makes a difference between countries and communities in "These and Those", as well in an article in the 1966 Hamayan, translated in Spring 1997 Tradition article by R. S.Z Leiman.

However, I believe that that both the Chazon Ish and R. Dessler's writings today are important for theoretical discussion, but must be adopted to the current situation. There was a recent article in the JO stating that we can and need to try to satisfy everyone in education; we therefore don't have to view the question as gedolim vs. average students.

Also, my sense is that R. Horowitz writes his suggestions in general terms, so I think that they can therefore be adopted with some flexibility by different communities.


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32. credentials/Kelm     4/20/07 - 12:53 PM
M

What are your credentials yoni, for saying the Chazon Ish's position is dubious?

Micha - are you saying that the Talmud Torah in Kelm provided secular studies? got a source for that?

What I found by googling is:

"Most of the students who came to study at the Talmud Torah were married. Entry to the Talmud Torah was difficult and restricted to select students from other yeshivas, who had to bring letters of recommendation from their Rosh Yeshiva. Students were chosen after they passed rigorous examinations on Mussar. At its peak, the Talmud Torah had a student body of between 30 and 35 members."


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33. i don't buy it either     4/20/07 - 12:59 PM
Anonymous - toronto

iam in total agreement with don't buy it's response. If our educators true intrest and hearts lie in the formation and devolpment of all yiddish children's neshoma's yeshvias and bais yaakov's should begin to prioritize instead of label and seperate. In chinuch the key ingredient is love, patience, and more love Baruch Bashem are family has had the Siyata D'shmaya to have our child learning in Yeshiva Darchei Torah Far Rockaway, NewYork. Those of us who know the true meaning of chinuch with love al pe darcho know that Rabbi Yaakov Bender is synoums with this. Rabbi Bender's Havas Yisroel and Mesiras Nefesh on the part of all jewish boys is well known. Let us work on making our precious children love learning and living a torah life through appreciating there unique qaulity's and there strengths.


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34. Drop out rate - boys vs. girls     4/20/07 - 1:00 PM
Anonymous

Does the author of that letter have any statistics to back up his statement that the drop-out rate is not greater for boys than girls? I don't have any statistics to back up the following statements, but speaking to people in the shidduchim scene about its "crisis", one endlessly hears of there being more "good" girls than "good" boys. Wouldn't that be a result of the better, well-rounded chinuch being given to the girls as compared to a more restrictive, super-conforming, "chinuch" for boys?


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35. i dont by it either     4/20/07 - 1:03 PM
Anonymous - toronto

we mean't yiddeshe neshmoas


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36. Torah Attitude Towards Secular Subjects     4/20/07 - 1:14 PM
Dr. Yitzchok Levine - Brooklyn, NY - llevine@stevens.edu

Secular subjects should be integrate into the yeshiva curriculum so that they compliment Limudei Chol. This cannot be done by simply tacking on what is taught in public school in the afternoon. Limudei Chol and secular subjects should form a seamless entity.

Make no mistake! Secular knowledge is crucial for the proper understanding of Torah, as the following quotes clearly show.

The following opinion of the GRA that is given by R. Barukh Schick of Shklov in the introduction to his Hebrew translation of Euclid’s book on geometry, Sefer Uklidos (The Hague, 1780). There he writes "When I was in the illustrious city of Vilna in the presence of the Rav, the light, the great Gaon, my master and teacher, the light of the eyes of the exile, the renowned pious one [may HaShem protect and save him] Rav Eliyahu, in the month of Teves 5538 [January 1778], I heard from his holy mouth that according to what a person is lacking in knowledge of the “other wisdoms”, correspondingly he will be lacking one hundred portions in the wisdom of the Torah, because the Torah and the “other wisdoms” are inextricably linked together …"

From Judaism’s Encounter with Other Cultures, Rejection or Integration? “Rabbinic Openness to General Culture in the Early Modern Period” by Rabbi Dr. Shnayer Z. Leiman, pages 148 – 149. "R. Israel of Shklov (d. 1839) [wrote]: I cannot refrain from repeating a true and astonishing story that I heard from the Gaon’s disciple R. Menachem Mendel. . . .[10] It took place when the Gaon of Vilna celebrated the completion of his commentary on Song of Songs. . . He raised his eyes toward heaven and with great devotion began blessing and thanking God for endowing him with the ability to comprehend the light of the entire Torah. This included its inner and outer manifestations. He explained: All secular wisdom is essential for our holy Torah and is included in it. He indicated that he had mastered all the branches of secular wisdom, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and music. He especially praised music, explaining that most of the Torah accents, the secrets of the Levitical songs, and the secrets of the Tikkunei Zohar could not be comprehended without mastering it. . . . He explained the significance of the various secular disciplines, and noted that he had mastered them all. Regarding the discipline of medicine, he stated that he had mastered anatomy, but not pharmacology. Indeed, he had wanted to study pharmacology with practicing physicians, but his father prevented him from undertaking its study, fearing that upon mastering it he would be forced to curtail his Torah study whenever it would become necessary for him to save a life. . . . He also stated that he had mastered all of philosophy, but that he had derived only two matters of significance from his study of it. . . . The rest of it, he said, should be discarded.”[11]

[10] R. Menachem Mendel of Shklov (d. 1827) was instrumental in the renewal of the Ashkenazic community of Jerusalem during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. [11] Pe’at ha-Shulchan, ed. Abraham M. Luncz (Jerusalem, 1911), 5a."

R. Yhonason Eybeschutz wrote in Yaaros Devash 2:7 (as translated by L. Levi in Torah and Science pages 24-25):

"For all the sciences are “condiments” and are necessary for our Torah, such as the science of mathematics, which is the science of measurements and includes the science of numbers, geometry, and algebra and is very essential for the measurements required in connection with the Eglah Arufah and the cities of the Levites and the cities of refuge as well as the Sabbath boundaries of our cities. The science of weights [i.e., mechanics] is necessary for the judiciary, to scrutinize in detail whether scales are used honestly or fraudulently. The science of vision [optics] is necessary for the Sanhedrin to clarify the deceits perpetrated by idolatrous priests; furthermore, the need for this science is great in connection with examining witnesses, who claim they stood at a distance and saw the scene, to determine whether the arc of vision extends so far straight or bent. The science of astronomy is a science of the Jews, the secret of leap years to know the paths of the constellations and to sanctify the new moon. The science of nature which includes the science of medicine in general is very important for distinguishing the blood of the Niddah whether it is pure or impure … and how much more is it necessary when one strikes his fellow man in order to ascertain whether the blow was mortal, and if he died whether he died because of it, and for what disease one may desecrate the Sabbath. Regarding botany, how great is the power of the Sages in connection with kilayim [mixed crops]! Here too we may mention zoology, to know which animals may be hybridized; and chemistry, which is important in connection with the metals used in the tabernacle, etc."


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37. m     4/20/07 - 1:35 PM
yoni

i have been very eclectic in my studies and have never come across anything that would lend support for his statement, but i have seem much that unrefutably demostrates the oposite.


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38. Going Back to the Sources     4/20/07 - 2:13 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

Dr. Levine,

Thank you for the references. I believe I originally downloaded R. Schwab's Hamaayan/Tradition article from your website, and I also read your JP article on the subject. I am certainly sympathetic towards a "seamless" curriculum based on TIDE. I think others in the Torah world would agree with that idea as well.

Just to interject a note of practicality, quoting sources on this matter are like quoting sh't in halachic discussions; poskim or gedolim will make decisons on how to apply the shittos. This is also similar to discussing the Rambam regarding kollel; such discussions will not affect current practice pro or con.

Similarly, R. Barukh of Shklov may be understood in today's yeshivah world as merely a theoretical source(there is an interesting disagreement between R. JJ Shacter and one of the biographers of the Gra, whether the statement is accurate).

I neverethless believe that the sources have value because it is important to know what the shittos are, as in any area of Torah. What will be "l'maseh", is another story, and contrary to the view of Rabbi Horowitz's critic, is subject to some degree of difference between communities even within the yeshiva world (eg, America vs. Israel).


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39. Seamless Curriculum     4/20/07 - 2:36 PM
Avrohom Meir Gluck - Spring Valley, NY - amg@pyes.org

Dr. Levine & Boruch Horowitz:

In fact, Rabbi Heshy Grossman has launched a new high school called Yeshiva Ohr Yosef (201) 921-4921, which he advertises as just this. I attended the open house for this new yeshiva, when Rabbi Grossman's uncle, Horav Aaron Feldman Rosh HaYeshiva of Baltimore Yeshiva (who acts as Ohr Yosef's Nasi) described this very idea as the yeshiva's goal for their secular education program. A challenge indeed, but one that these Rebbeim are eminently suited to.


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40. thank you all for your comments     4/20/07 - 2:51 PM
Anonymous

i was very disturbed, by that very disturbed gentleman who wrote the comment about secular studies being heresy. it bothered me so. how far away from the whole point of it all have some of us gone? how can a jew, be willing to just thoughtlessly toss away jewish children, because he sees them as inferior. it sounds like a selection process by someone we all know looking for a master race. the good news is seeing that there are others out there just as upset as me. what is the answer?


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41. Charedi World Consists of Groups with Different Needs     4/20/07 - 3:52 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

As a teenager, I remember one of my rebbeim, who is a respected talmid chacham in the yeshivah world, also advocating a seamless curriculum(I think that the JO has also discussed the issue of developing writing skills in high school for Torah purposes).

As support for another of R. Horowitz's points, one of todays marbitzie torah on the global level, has stated that he would be unable to get into yeshivos based on today's standards!

I am aware of certain talmidie chachamim who have interests in the "outside world", although this may not be stressed publicly. Personally, this type of personality has attracted me, and probably someone can write a book on the subject(eg., R. SZ Aeurbach had such interests, or a chashuve rav who plays an instrument, or was a camp counselor).

Nevertheless, like any group, the yeshiva world is made up of sub-groups that have conflicting interests. While the letter-writer expressed himself poorly, there are certainly bnei torah as well as gedolim that might not be as open as others to even "non-core" innovations(fortunately, as somoene mentioned on the Nachal Charedi thread, there are gedolim even in EY who do advise those who have different needs).

Thus, Mishpocha readers may recall a (respectful) letter, in which a woman from Eretz Yisroel criticized a veteran American charedi mechanech and marbitz torah for suggesting that learning an instrument or allowing more atheletic activities should be introduced in yeshivos. She was expressing the needs of another, more insular group(I would answer her, that yeshivos do not "produce" gedolim like in a factory, but rather nuture complete personalities, and that her approach is not for many in America).

Also, even American gedolim supporting alternative approaches, still advocate the kollel system, and certainly agree that the Eretz Yisrael system should not be changed.

Therefore, unless there is more I don't know, I think it would be appropriate to say that parts of the yehivah world are "cautiously supportive" of certain chinuch innovations in the US, rather than "the Gedolim advocate hobbies and increasing secular studies"(not that R. Horowitz wrote that), so as not to cause a backfiring among some the more insular parts of the charedi world which could be harmful to "the cause"(or causes). Perhaps some might feel that I'm a bit paranoid(and I haven't spoken to Gedolim who give advice to mechanchim), but I think that there might be basis for avoiding a backfiring.


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42. what are we talking about?     4/20/07 - 4:47 PM
Anonymous

mishkebable

what are we talking about:

1) having a broader curriculum in limudei kodesh for boys so it's not primarily or exclusively Gemara? (that's what's I thought R' Horowitz advocated)

2) having more secular studies than we already have in yeshivos, bearing in mind that other than Satmar and the like, all yeshivos have a full secular studies program and the students take midterms, finals, and Regents (in N.Y.)

3) having extra-curricular activities in and out of school (as R' Horowitz advocates)?

4)girls drop-out rates vs. boys drop out rates?

5) integrating non-Torah subjects such as math and science within the limudei kodesh program (don't recall R' Horowitz discussing this at all)

6) whether those who support keeping the curriculum as is are crazy, cruel, or in agreement with the view of the Chazon Ish

7) how about the issue of bittul Torah - boys over 13 (as all men) are required to study Torah constantly - on what basis are decisions going to be made to introduce non-Torah activities/subjects and for how much of the day?

8) are we interested in producing gedolim, are we succeeding in doing so?

9) how is it that boys can't stand sitting and learning Gemara but they can sit in college and graduate school and then in the office? (What if they were paid to learn Gemara .... just kidding)

too many topics, all mixed up, this problem has cropped time and again, who and what are we talking about?


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43. Letter to the Editor of Mishpacha     4/20/07 - 5:02 PM
Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

To the Editor:

My back goes up when I read anonymous letters to the editor, and the latest such letter in your publication gives me good reason. People who lack the simple courage to put their names behind their ideas make me immediately suspect of the content.

Taking a swipe at Rabbi Yakov Horowitz's latest column on the subject, an anonymous writer is worried that teaching secular subjects such as science and math will not produce gedolei Torah. He makes it plain that he is not only of the Torah-only school, he is of the gemara-only school.

I'll let others in the two machenes continue to spill much ink on the subject, but I will weigh in with this thought. In a manner of speaking, Torah is not a moloch religion. We are not a baby-sacrifice religion - and there have been such religions in the past. We do not sacrifice other people's children for the ostensible goal of producing rabbinic leaders. Every child is entitled to a sound Torah education, al pi darko, according to his abilities.


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44. What We Are Talking About     4/20/07 - 5:34 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

Anonymous,

On blogs sometimes conversations meander in different direction. If Rabbi Horowitz wants to set a more specific focus, I'm sure people will respect that.

The core question is how one adopts to changing circumsances in a changing world(the issue of mesorah vs. adaptation), and how one balances the needs of different children(I added the needs of different groups in the yeshiva world).

These are the principles behind questions like extra-cirricular activities, amount of gemera, emphasis on secular studies and innovative gemera learning methods. After all, we are not discussing studying kefirah, and historically, boys *did* prepare for a parnassa without worrying about bittul Torah. I also doubt that all gedolim consider exercise bittul torah, or that it is forbidden for everyone to develop an interest outside limud hatorah-- so I see the issues as ones of balance and amount of time, rather than of absolutes.

In my letter, I also focused on the lack of nuance and tolerance in some people's communication(eg, the letter writer), which I think is part of what is bothering people here, and is also an important subject in of itself in our world of varied groups(if Mishpocha feels that this latter issue should be dealt with separately, they are welcome to use my letter and to edit it as they see fit).


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45. Kelm chinuch     4/20/07 - 5:41 PM
G

You can find out all about Kelm's curriculum which included secular subjects by reading it in tnuas hamussar. It's all there in black & white! chelek beis page 197.

Every evening they had the following:

3 straight hours learning russian language, math, current events & history.

Sounds like Rav Simcha Ziesel was quite a modernisher or perhaps some would rather explain it away as a hora'as sho'o as has been said about RSRH.


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46. Kelm and secular studies     4/21/07 - 2:41 PM
Marty Bluke - Israel

In its 24 Teves 5754 issue, the English edition of the Yated Ne’eman published a brief biography of Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler by one of his most devoted disciples

During his childhood years, Rabbi Dessler was taught at home and, wrote the author of this article, “true to the principles of his rebbe, R’ Simcha Zissel, the boy’s father included general studies in the curriculum. Among these were some classics of world literature in Russian translation. One of them (so Rabbi Dessler told me) was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The reason for this choice is not far to seek.”


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47. a sparkle in his eyes     4/21/07 - 4:09 PM
N. Geller - Ramat Bet Shemesh

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing Rabbi Horowitz's articles, since they are extremely thought provoking. He advocates us all doing some pre-emptive thinking since it used to be that one could try to protect one's children by ensuring that they don't go to certain areas like Ocean Parkway. Nowadays, we cannot stop older children from getting hold of handheld devices, Internet Cafes and the like, which satisfy their cravings for power, for approval, and for getting a 'high' all without having to be decent human beings, without needing to connect, to be kind, understanding or responsible. Thus there is an easy option for unfulfilled children to fall off the Derech. Unfortunately it is often the *nicest* and most sensitive children who leave in this way, because they are more sensitive to hurts as they grow up, they are more in need of emotional fulfillment, and they have many questions in emuna without having reliable people to turn to who can help them.

Name Withheld replied that reading between the lines, Rabbi Horowitz shlita is recommending that schools should teach more secular subjects, and he is very upset since he thinks this will stunt the growth of potential Tzadikim who could guide all of us.

I think that a healthy compromise is that teachers and parents should recognize that love, enthusiasm, intelligence, and prizes are not enough nowadays. We parents have to read and learn and be inspired in practical ways to reach and impact these children.

We are very careful to tell children what the rules are. We need to also encourage them to *recognize* how they feel about these rules. Too many of our children bury their thoughts and this is most unhealthy. Then they should be allowed to express these feelings - in the right environment of course. Other children talk too much - but usually not about the real problem, which they consider unsolveable.

It is our job to show children how both the rule and their attitude to it are very important, and a solution must be found to enable the person and the rule to both exist. This can be done by explaining the value of the rule, or by showing them how it is really not as hard as they imagine, or by bending backwards to help the child. We might introduce other pleasures to their lives, or give them more hugging or positive one-to-one attention, or power, all of which increase a child's ability to do things they find difficult. We might try to work out "What's stopping them?" and we might find out that there is a bully in the class or another fear that robs them of the ability to be responsible. They may not have a creative, pleasant outlet, nothing to look forward to. We might find that they have ADD, or have sensory integration disorder, two silent disorders that make life very hard for sufferers.

This is where secular education comes in - it is a shame that every parent and educator should try to re-invent the wheel or depend on their own experiences. You can teach children any syllabus you like if you have a loud clear voice, you can have them sitting in their seats if you are a firm disciplinarian. But if you want to teach them to make healthy, thought out decisions of their own, throughout their lives, you need to get down there with them and understand them, and show them how to integrate Torah to their lives.

And in order to do this effectively, you need to learn how to. We as a group of caring Jewish singles, parents and teachers need to set up an accessible and well-stocked resource room with this type of helpful information.

A principal who understands his students, a teacher who sees where they are holding, a parent who cares to find the sparkle in their child's eyes, day after day. Who knows? Perhaps such children will be thirsting for the genuine and empowering sweetness of learning Torah.


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48. And what is with the children in Aretz?     4/21/07 - 4:25 PM
Anonymous - Aretz Israel

People always look at me as an "apikores" when I (rarely) dare open my mouth and say that not children are geared for gemorah, even here in Aretz. Here (for boys) there are schools that are entirely run "al tahores hakodesh", and schools for troubled teens with a few fun activities.Even they have no secular atudies. My son felt that he was not cut out to "learn" all day as an adult, and wanted to study some things that would help him with a career after high school. We could find no chareidi program for him, for "good" boys, but with some secular studies. As a result he dropped out and is working, and his yiddishkeit is slowly eroding. He feels very "out of place". I know I should trust the rabonnim, but it is so hard for me to accept that there is no curriculum for boys like him, and that if he wants to go and work (and learn the needed skills beforehand), he will only find this by the "national-religious". Yes, so we will have more gedolim? But what about the ones we are losing?


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49.     4/21/07 - 11:34 PM
Anonymous

"But what about the ones we are losing?"

We're very sorry about that... hope you understand that the ones who buy in to the higher "become a godol" plans came first...


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50. Its a mitzva on YOU to deal with it     4/22/07 - 2:22 AM
stan - israel

This response advocates shirking responsibility. Should we not care for our children? what is implied here is that the entire generation's needs should be ignored to produce gedolim. Do you really believe there will be no more gedolim? We have had the greatest gedolim in generations of shmad - when did Rabbi Akiva live? There was a time that Girls did not learn Torah - Bet Yaakov was a modern innovation (way after the TAZ) yet who would argue its importance today? Rabbi Horowitz is one of a small number of individuals in chinuch who have the experience and vision to see the bigger picture. In this respect they are the eyes of the generation. If we do not let them tell what they see and tragedy occurs, what will we say before Hashem - we did not know??


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51. Wheres Daas Torah?     4/22/07 - 3:26 PM
Y Gross - jackggg@juno.com

To The Editor, In regard to Rabbi Horowitz's thought provoking column on secular studies which has elicited many responses on his website, I noticed that most begin with the words I believe... This is obviosly a delicate question which affects the future of the child and the future of Klal Yisroel and needs input from Mechanchim and the gedolim who are usually the heads of the yeshivos and is certainly an issue for Daa's Torah. Surprisingly I have yet to see someone write in that I discussed this with my Rov and he said ... My personal rosh Yeshiva felt very strongly that the most important Chinuch is to use time properly and most boys that don't do secular studies end up wasting their time, which after 20 years in high school chinuch I would say applies to 90% of boys. Where is the silent majority that asks and follows, is it only people who want to push their personal views that write in?


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52. How Should a Charedi Letter to Editor Column Function ?     4/22/07 - 6:48 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"Surprisingly I have yet to see someone write in that I discussed this with my Rov and he said "

To expand on this, what makes readers' opinion columns unique in the charedi press, is that on the one hand, people are expressing their personal opinions, like on any other non-halachic issue, but on the other hand, most(if not all) Mishpacha readers believe that certain decisions should be decided by gedolim. The question becomes, where do you draw the line? What is an "important" decision, which readers should not be discussing? Also, Mishpacha includes different groups in the charedi world; how do you satisfy everyone on these types of issues?

If only readers who have spoken to gedolim may write in to the magazine, that can be problematic as well. Some rabbonim may not want to be quoted publicly. If, on the other hand, someone writes I discussed xyz with a "prominent rosh yeshiva", then that it of limited value--how do we know his rosh yeshiva is prominent? :)

A year or two ago, Mispacha interviewed a rosh yeshiva in Israel, who gave some advice to the magazine. One point I remember was "once an item hits the agenda of gedolie yisrael, then it is out bounds for Mishpocha to write on".

If we would apply this rule to letters to the editor, it would mean that ordinary laypeople can be free to write their opinions, even if they have not spoken to any gedolim, since American gedolim have not formed a single, public, consensus on the issues which Rabbi Horowitz is discussing. It is no different than readers' discussions in the American Yated, where the letters to the editor don't quote gedolim on issues there(eg., "should girls study in Israeli post HS seminaries"). We should also bear in mind, that on many issues, there is no single daas torah.

Alternatively, Mishpocha can simply interview some gedolim on the American Moetzes to get a public and clear position on these issues. Then, if anyone is unsatisfied with their positions, they are free to follow their own rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel or elsewhere(or not to read Mishpacha).

Personally, I would like R. Horowitz to continue his columns, and I am also open to a very free exchange of opinions, even in the charedi world, as long as it is clear that a layperson is expressing his own view, and not challenging the authority of any gedolim. I also note that in R. Horowitz's first Mishpacha column, he invited readers to write columns, which I think is an excellent idea. I am just pointing out some of the inherent challenges and possible conflicts involved in having a letter to the editor column work successfully in a charedi magazine.


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53. Let's go back to basic halachah.     4/23/07 - 4:25 AM
ec - Israel

Dear Editor,

The Talmud is very clear that Jewish fathers need to make sure their sons learn a vocation. Also, halachah is very clear that the responsibility of parnasa lies on the husband. Secular studies are necessary to fulfill both these dictates. Today's store owner needs to know basic math and computers. An accountant needs math, computers, and a couple of years of higher learning to get a working degree. A doctor needs even more. Maybe a boy doesn't need to be a doctor, but the point is, he needs to have the tools to learn some kind of vocation.

Halachah is also very clear that men need to set aside fixed times for learning. I know of a top oncologist who keeps Gemaras in his office and he is very knowledgable, so he obviously uses them. I know of an appliance store owner who hired a non-Jew to run the store while the frum owner learns in his office all day. The frum owner only stops his learning when a situation arises that his employee can't handle himself. The business runs well and the owner is a talmid chacham.

Nearly all the examples given in many of the letters are of Litvish rabbonim whose psaks only go back about 110 years, maximum. This implies that there are only one or two panim l'Torah instead of 70, as is written. What about Sephardi or Chassidish gedolim and their opinions? What about our masoret regarding this issue prior to the past 110 years? Reading the background of any of our gedolim for the past couple of thousands of years, one finds that the majority earned a parnasa (and even if they didn't work their whole lives, they did work at some point) and most of them were knowledgable in "secular" subjects such as astronomy, medicine, math, music, and more. (And, really, these subjects aren't even so secular as they astonish and inspire one by showing Hashem's infinite wisdom and power in running the world.) The "Torah and only Torah" method worked beautifully for the Chazon Ish and a few others, and it will continue to work beautifully for certain types of boys. But with all due respect, that method has historically been a minority method for gedolim. It ignores the halachahs mentioned at the beginning of this letter, and this minority position has been forced on the majority, apparently to their detriment.

Thank you very much to Rabbi Horowitz and Mishpacha for addressing this urgent issue.

E.C. Israel


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54. How to get Information     4/23/07 - 5:06 AM
N. Geller - Ramat Bet Shemesh

Dear Editor, (and Rabbi Horowitz)

I hope you do not publish my previous letter, because I retract from some of the points implied within. I still wish every parent would try their hardest to understand their child and his perspectives. Yet for many parents this is easier said than done.

If you are prepared to spend a lot of money you might get to the right remedial/tutoring/guidance that could make the difference to your child's whole life. On the other hand there is so much time and money and efforts being wasted as people go in the wrong direction. Often the child's "problem" or need, is very, very specific, and paid professionals may need to spend a long time uncovering the source or sources. By that time the child has grown up or the money and energy has dried up.

I retract from the opinion that people should do secular research. This is assuming they have other valid options for solving the problem. It is just important to remember that even in the most factual of non-Jewish self-help works will be queries in Emuna that amount to heresy. Subtly, subtly, these can affect a person's consciousness and deprive him of a deep connection with Hashem. For the few glimmerings of human observations found in these books, people should spend time considering if it is worth it.

The right person, the right information at the right time - is this a matter of luck, or perseverance, or the Hand of Hashem? He created each child and each problem, and He also created solutions. Tefillah is therefore the best way to gain access to solutions, and then one of course must make reasonable effort.

I appeal to excellent Jewish educators with experience and knowledge, to pool ideas and information to guide us. In this way, 'reasonable effort' does not need to include non-Jewish publications.

I appeal to Mishpacha to publish a monthly parenting and teaching journal, featuring articles from different Mechanchim and parents to bring the light to Jewish teaching and child-rearing to all of us. These would describe specific problems and solutions, giving opinions, observations and examples. Back-issues published in indexed book form would be of tremendous value. I would be happy to participate in this venture.


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55. Update and tefila request     4/23/07 - 7:04 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Dear Readers (and Writers):

Thank you all for the varied, articulate and thought-provoking letters. They have all been forwarded to Mishpacha and as per my discussions with the editor yesterday, I was informed that quite a few of them will be published in this week’s issue or the following one.

It was precisely this type of dialogue that I had in mind when I took the (risky) step of opening my articles to allow for unscreened comments. At that time, many of my friends warned me that allowing unscreened comments was a recipe for disaster, as they feared the dialogue would erode into negative comments and the like.

I have, however, always had faith in “We the People.” This was always my approach when teaching my talmidim as an 8th grade rebbi, now as a Menahel of a growing Yeshiva, and in my overall interactions with people. I am pleased to see that, once again, my trust has not been misplaced.

I write these lines in the hospital as my father (stepfather) awaits surgery. If you are headed out to shul, please include him in your tefilos.

Shlome Zev ben Chantza.

Thank you.

Yakov


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56. response to ec - israel     4/23/07 - 2:04 PM
Anonymous

The basic math and computers that a store owner needs, does not necessitate a secular studies program for several hours for 12 years!

You use the phrase "70 panim to Torah" ((Bamidbar Rabbah 13, Zohar, Bereishis 36), to refer to views on learning and work. Is that how the Chazal is applied?

You refer to gedolim of the past who earned a parnasa and knew secular knowledge. What do gedolim of the past have to do with the average kid of today?


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57. seems unfair     4/23/07 - 2:12 PM
Getzel/Shprintze

I am uncomfortable with this discussion. What if YOU (those of you who are irate about the contents of the Mishpacha letter) wrote a letter about something you felt strongly about which was printed in a magazine, and someone with a blog (whether Rabbi Horowitz or someone else) asked readers to respond and many of those letters were subsequently reprinted to rebut your letter. Seems unfair to me to generate responses in this way.

If you (Rabbi Horowitz) thought the writer's letter was unreasonable, why not respond to it yourself or if people read it in the magazine, they can respond to it that way?

As for it being anonymous, so what? Mishpacha did not have a problem with it. Apparently, they do not have a policy that unsigned letters will not be published. Who cares if it's written by Getzel Goldberg or Shprintze Schwartz? How does knowing the name make any difference?


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58. last anon     4/23/07 - 5:42 PM
yoni

anon, while it may not take 12 years to get proficient at addition and subtraction, often times algebra or geometry can be usefull in running a buisiness, and certainly learning those will take up that long, also it is studying both history and english which will take up that time, both beiing complicated and extremely involved. It is crucial that we be able to write intellegently and elegantly in order to make a good impression.

and talmud requires the study of history, although I have forgotten the cite. (mostly for the sake of knowing where you have been and learning from past actions.)


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59. response to Getzel/Shprintze     4/24/07 - 1:20 AM
not Getzel/eShprintz

Your complaint is way off base. The internet is a fast an efficient way to see what people out there have to say. Rabbi Horowitz asked people for their responses. He never led anyone in any direction. The responses would have gone in the opposite direction if the oilem agreed with the original author. As is quite evident almost every comment here feels that the author is out of touch with reality. Why does the way in which this important fact on the ground was arrived at, upset you so?


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60. Trusting the Experts     4/24/07 - 1:30 AM
Shmuel Black

Name Witheld points out that the Gedolim are the only ones qualified to give appropriate direction, which necessarily means that they actually know the situation in our schools and in the society in which our children are growing up. If they know all this, presumably they also know about Rabbi Horowitz's article, and in their wisdom they decided not to write a response. It therefore seems presumptuous of Name Withheld to write a response when the Gedolim determined that none should be written.

I would also like to point out that his assessment that those with a secular education are less qualified to be Torah scholars is quite an indictment of several of our Gedolim who possess college degrees, in the arts no less, such as Rav Yitzchok Shiner and the Novominsker Rebbe.


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61. and the truth is ...     4/24/07 - 9:43 AM
Anonymous

I wonder how many people, deep down, want their sons to get an excellent secular education, with or without college, because they truly believe that without it, their sons will not understand Torah.

I suspect that the vast majority of them believe that 1) their sons need it so they can eventually have a decent parnasa 2) without it, their sons will be uncultured boors.

And what about girls? Do all those who believe that it's the boys halachic obligation to support their families, think that girls do not need an excellent education? Or do they think 1) families these days need two incomes 2) without it, their daughters will be uncultured boors?

I tend to think that those who refer to the Rambam and others like him, who knew astronomy and other secular wisdom, in their desire to prove that yeshiva boys need a secular education to understand Torah, are fooling themselves and others. The Rambam was a Rishon. We believe that as a Rishon, his Torah works were composed with Ruach Ha'Kodesh. Whatever he did, whatever he studied, was done l'sheim shomayim. How dare anybody compare talmidim nowadays to him?!

If you're promoting secular education for boys (and girls), be honest about it. Simply say that you believe that in order to make money nowadays, a person needs a good secular education (and if you are horrified by the thought of children not being exposed to the world's literature, the Pythagorian Theorem, and in-depth knowledge of the 13 colonies, say so). Don't refer to Rishonim.


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62. Thanks for Discussion     4/24/07 - 11:43 AM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"At that time, many of my friends warned me that allowing unscreened comments was a recipe for disaster, as they feared the dialogue would erode into negative comments and the like"

I appreciate your allowing an open forum on these important topics, and hope that your friends are proven wrong :)

I try to keep the nature of the forum in mind when I comment, although especially on passionate topics like these, after I've finished posting, I've realized that some of what I've written could have benefited from my own editing.

I hope that your father is doing well.


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63. Thanks all for your tefilos and well-wishes     4/24/07 - 1:32 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Baruch, all:

My father is doing wonderfully well, b'eh, all things considered. With the chesed of Hashem, we expect a fully recovery.

Thanks for all your tefilos.

Yakov


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64. An alternate view     4/24/07 - 7:42 PM
Jay

S. Belsky said:

If one child has the talent and the capacity to learn Gemarah all day long, then Kol Hakovod teach him Gemarah all day long. But if Hashem gave another child the talent of Science, then maybe that child was meant to be the Doctor that will cure and heal the greatest Rosh Yeshiva of a terrible machlah in the future. Should you deny that Rosh Yeshiva that Sheliach that would heal him? Who are you to say that the child Hashem gifted with a talent for science should not pursue that talent? Should he then not be a talented and successful doctor rather than a mediocre, unhappy talmid?

end quote

Who are we to decide which child isn't "cut out for it"? At what age should we decide that he won't be "a happy talmid"? Are we Neviim?

Take it from me. I was VERY bored in Yeshiva during Limudei Kodesh, but I was the valedictorian in both Elementary school and High School (in a Yeshiva with a rigorous secular studies department). Had my Rebbeiim taken your advice, I'd be an am-haaretz today.

Baruch Hashem I took their advice seriously and remained in yeshiva for many more years. I started being successful in my limudim in my Beis-medrash years. Had I left the Yeshiva after High School (because I was an "unhappy talmid"), I would probably be writing along the lines of the other commenters above (written by laymen who have very little experience in chinuch and lack the vision of our Torah leaders)...that our system is lacking.

Think back - even as few as twenty five years ago - the average working man was not as learned then as he is today. He was not as careful about halachah as he is today. He did not spend as many hours learning as he does today. Why the change? Think about it. Perhaps it is because there is (b'lee ayin horah) a Torah revolution going on today. The average teenager who used to spend time dreaming about the "millions" he would one day earn is now thinking about the masectos he will b'ezras Hashem complete.

This heavy push into serious learning for the masses may have saved Yiddishkeit. Of course there are problems and they must be dealt with, but to change the entire system needs careful guidance from experts who have siyata dishmaya. Who are we to mix into this?


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65. Healthy Discussion     4/24/07 - 9:32 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"I would probably be writing along the lines of the other commenters above (written by laymen who have very little experience in chinuch and lack the vision of our Torah leaders)...that our system is lacking."

My comments were not to judge the system, but to say that there are always strengths and weaknesses in every system. Rav Dessler writes that there is a heavy "price" paid for Gedolim in certain circumstances(which one tries to minimize); there are problems which come with growth, and we need not say that our system is perfect(as you agree below).

"Of course there are problems and they must be dealt with, but to change the entire system needs careful guidance from experts who have siyata dishmaya. Who are we to mix into this?"

Following daas Torah does not mean that one can not have an opinion on these topics. People are merely debating the pros and cons of various aspects of the system; you do not have to be a gadol to do so.

Yeshivos will continue to be advised by gedolim; making necessary changes in the system is not a contradiction to respect for mesorah.


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66. Baruch - this is what irked me     4/24/07 - 9:58 PM
Jay

From S. Belsky:

Maybe their mechanchim and Roshei Yeshivas were a lot smarter and had more heart and soul than those who are kicking so many children out to the streets today.


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67. Jay, don't assume as much as you do     4/25/07 - 1:14 AM
G - yenemikville

"other commenters above (written by laymen who have very little experience in chinuch and lack the vision of our Torah leaders)"

I have been in Chinuch for over 15 years and agree wholeheartedly with Rabbi Horowitz. I know of many others just like me.

I've heard Rabbi Horowitz say in public on a number of occasions that our Gedolim when asked why our yeshiva system pushes the Talmidim so hard, so young, have responded that it's the Tzibbur who have demanded this.

Sounds to me like they are hoping for this grass roots revolution to allow them to do what many of them want to do.


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68. a suggestion     4/26/07 - 3:58 AM
tb

No one listens to Mechanchim. And, to be fair, mechanchim do not speak out as much as they should. The grassroots revolution should probably begin and be led by them straight to the doors of the Rashei Yeshiva who set the tone, dispense the advice, indirectly or directly affect where and how money is used in our system. Why not organize a task force of mechanchim to address the issues with those at the top both in the world of Baalei Bayit and Rashei Yeshiva? Fear of retribution could be calmed by the notion that if you stand together, and speak quietly in private forums with powerbrokers, you will not be the subject of retaliation.


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69. A Bit Tunnel Visioned     4/26/07 - 1:21 PM
Binyamin Klempner, LMSW - Brooklyn - binyamin.klempner@pyes.org

Dear Anonymous,

Firstly, I am a bit disappoited in your letter to the editor in that you chose not to include your name. After all, if Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz wasn't afraid to associate his name with his ideas, why should you be afraid to associate your name with your ideas?

Secondly, let me tell you a story. In Boston during the time of the first Admor m'Boston, Rav Pinchas Dovid haLevi Horowitz, there were no Torah day schools in the city of Boston. The Bostoner Rebbe proposed a Talmud Torah that should teach Limudi Kodesh in the morning and Limudi Chol in the afternoon, thus preparing the talmidim for a proper life in both this world and the next. Furthermore, the Bostoner Rebbe was well aware that at that time in Boston the only way people would send their children to a Talmud Torah would be if there was a strong secular studies component. Saddly to say, at that time, the other rabbaim in Boston did not have the clearity of vision that the Bostoner Rebbe had, and they would not agree to having a Talmud Torah in their city that did not exclusively focus on Limudi Kodesh. As a result of the uncompromising stance of the other rabbaim, a generation of potential Torah observant Jews and there progeny was lost from Klal Yisrael.

So please think about the potential great loss to Klal Yisrael which your views - although well intentioned - espouse.

Sincerely, Binyamin Klempner, LMSW


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70. Gedolim - leadership     4/26/07 - 2:06 PM
Yehoshua

I am very disheartened by the remark above where the gedolim say the yeshivos have this curriculum because the people demand it. If the gedolim know the curriculum is wrong, where is their leadereship (speeches, articles) saying this? Are they afraid of the public reaction? If they know the curriculum is a problem and at least somewhat responspible for the disaffection of many children from Torah Judaism, then why are they quiet? "Lo saamod al dam re'acha" says the Torah.

Are the gedolim leaders or followers?

So either the gedolim are followers of the masses, or they completely disagree that a problem exists. Which is it?


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71. Gedolim Leadership     4/26/07 - 2:36 PM
Avrohom - Monsey, NY

Gedolei Torah follow the dictum of our Chazal, Kshem shemitzvah lomar dovor hanishma, Kach Mitzvah sheloh lomer dovor sh'eino nishma. This means that one should not voice opinions that will not be heard by the listener. Therefore, when individuals seek guidance from Gedolim, they usually say it like it is - in the hope that the questioner may listen. When they speak publically and believe that a certain message will not be "heard" by the majority of the public, they remain silent on the topic.

This is certainly something we, the listening public, can appreciate. You may recall a recent occasion, when a Torah leader spoke out about the painful subject of abusers. He was derided by many for a long time after his speech - not to mention the bloggers!. Perhaps we would have been better off, had he assessed us, the public, as non-listeners.


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72. tzibur     4/26/07 - 5:12 PM
Anonymous

Rabbi Horowitz uses his name because he chooses to be a public figure. That doesn't mean everybody needs to make that same choice.

As for the story about Boston, I don't see the comparison between chinuch in Boston in the first half of the 20th century (the first Bostoner Rebbe passed away in 1941!) and the curriculum for yeshivos today. Back then, parents had to be convinced to send their children to yeshiva. R' Horowitz's articles are geared to those who consider a Jewish chinuch a given.

As for the reason for gedolim not speaking up regarding chinuch -this is your pshat (that people won't listen). I want to know whether the gedolim agree with it and if they do, on what basis they decide that the tzibbur won't listen.

Some gedolim are roshei yeshiva or manhigim of particular groups of people. They can set the curriculum and if parents don't like it, they can try another yeshiva. Do you see that those gedolim in a position to set the curriculum are doing any different than anybody else?


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73. Including the Man on the Street     4/26/07 - 5:16 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

Avram,

Good point about kshem shemitzvah lomar dovor etc.

I would like to expand on your comments, but if R. Horowitz does not want to discuss this on the current thread, I will take up the issue elsewhere, or at another time, here.

My question is what is the role for man on the street("we the people", or I think "am s'hbigno nivra haaretz" in the words of chazal) especially in charedi society, where there is a well-defined structure in terms of leadership and submission to Torah authority?

We have askonim and organizations which interact with gedolim and are dedicated in their work. Beyond the happening which you are refer to(which is really not a burning issue for me, personally), let's say someone has suggestions or "taynos", which may be legitimate(I am thinking of any number of incidents in the past thirty years), or strongly disagrees with perhaps sharp statements made, or any hanhaga/response of the charedi world. What should a person do in such case?

Usually, it would seem that the proper response would to speak to one's personal rav. Sometimes, the real answer(in my opinion) is that the charedi world( even it's leaders, as dedicated as they are), are human and not perfect, and there is nothing that can be done by an individual to idealistically change the world overnight.

But all of that has changed with blogs. Today, anyhow, people will be saying what they want, and it seems that there should be some type of positive structure to include people in the community, and at least let people be heard, even if the answer is, "your right, but not much can be done right now".

There is a gap in the community consciousnesses, based on the media, and other public communications. For example, regarding the riots(burning garbage etc.) in Yerushalayim regarding the gay parade, there was silence in the charedi press, perhaps because of understandable reasons. But it *is* on intelligent people's minds, so there is a gap between reality and what is being discussed(the issue was touched in the JO and Hamishpocha, but not enough, in my opinion).

Another example is abuse. I'm talking about in general terms, and not about specific incidents. It's on many people's minds, yet there is a gap in the public consciousness of the community. Theoretically, a pull-out section in the Yated, like in the Jewish Press, need not be a tzniyus concern. Other issues which Dr. AJ Twerski has raised, such as domestic abuse, have also been resisted to be discussed publicly, even though there was no concern of tzniyus(the truth is that I've read about charedi videos about smoking and sexual abuse being developed for children, besides R Horowitz's project, which are a positive sign).

There is therefore a void which blogs will fulfill. As far as blogs like Cross Currents, they fulfill an important role regarding discussing many issues, but officially they don't exist in the charedi world!

I think that to avoid negative outlets like blogs, there needs to evolve a way to include the man on the street(or on the blogs) in the community organizational structure so that they are at least given a voice. There was a recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine regarding Mishpacha Magazine which relates, in part, to what I'm discussing.

There was a positive and unique gathering about a year ago when three charedi gedolim visited Teaneck. While it did nor bridge gaps, it certainly was a gesture of reaching out across ideological lines. Questions were screened(as I recall reading), and I agree that such a gathering was not the time and place for heated debate. But perhaps such ideas can be picked up upon, so that the "man on the street" feels that they are can ask good, hard questions(respectfully), which are addressed and acknowledged, presumably sometimes, with "your right, but this is the best that can be done at the time".

In my opinion, if we more inclusive, and also would be more open publicly about admitting our weaknesses and acknowledging others' points, it would take a lot away from the need for blogs.


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74. to: Yehoshua, Avrohom and Baruch     4/26/07 - 5:26 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

You all raise important points re: the gedolim, their talmidim and 'the man on the street.'

I cannot respond now due to the demands on my time at present.

I will try my best to do so late tonight.

Yakov


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75. a response to Baruch Horowitz and a practical suggestion     4/26/07 - 6:20 PM
tb

Baruch Horowitz, I am confused. Why is it so foreign a concept that we laypeople, common men/women have the option to approach our Gedolim directly on these matters of concern? I have done so on more than one occasion regarding things that concern me personally. When it comes to concerns of the Tzibur, we should feel empowered to join together in some form of task force as I mentioned before and approach our Gedolim as such. A Rav like Rabbi Horowitz could coordinate this in the following manner: Reach out, asking for volunteer Mechanchim, both men and women, parents, and yeshiva alumni. Interview them to determine who would best articulate the concerns respectfully and clearly and move forward making appointment after appointment with each Godol/Rosh Yeshiva. There could be separate delegations of men and women who have back to back appointments. Why is this so foreign a concept? Rabbi Horowitz, when you have time, could you respond to this particular suggestion?


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76. Two Different Issues     4/26/07 - 8:44 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

tb,

I wasn't responding at all to your comment, but to Avrum(2:36 PM), and I think that we are talking about different things.

As far as your idea, you didn't ask me, but I'm certainly not against it. Obviously, there is a question of gedolim's time(as in Yisro's advice), but maybe something can be done. There already are vaadim in Eretz Yisrael and America on many issues, which lead to kol korehs being issued and/or action taken, and you seem to be advocating a vaad for the specific purpose of allowing gedolim, who would like to see ideas similar to R. Horowitz's educational ideas being implemented, to be enabled to overcome public resistance to the ideas.

I was referring to more general issues than can't be handled by a task force, and also to a broader spectrum of people, where it's really harder to line them all up to get identical advice from gedolim.

Avrum correctly pointed out that gedolim will not publicly take a stance if people will ignore it(a RY of mine has said the same about himself, as a general rule). I took Avrum's specific example a step further, and addresed the situation of what a person should do if they aren't satsified with a public response. True, the whole point of leaders , is that one needs to follow, but what if one feels that an issue wasn't addressed completely, or has a valid taynah; after all, people and communities are human, and therefore the "system" on a whole is imperfect?

I don't have any fleshed-out ideas, but there are three psossibilities:

A)Following Yisro's advice, people should individually consult with second or third-tier gedolim, as the the top level may be too busy.

For example, regarding a certain vexing issue, I(as well as others) was unsatisfied with public responses which were issued, which by defintion, are limited in their individuality. I wanted to discuss it with someone, but my rav or rosh yeshivah wasn't the right person. It took time until I found someone, and I didn't know at the time if it would be helpful, but I gave it a try.

The person's message was definitely charedi, that one has to understand the gedolim's position etc., but since it wasn't a public column or speech, he was able to be a little more open on three or four issues, more so than is often the case in a public forum(I think his personality and personal hashkafos helped as well).

If I correctly recall for example(it was a while ago), he was able to joke about yeshivah XYZ, where bachurim take the concept of daas Torah a little to seriously even by charedi standards, so I felt satisfied in that he acknowledged my points, even though he really didn't solve anything, as the issues discussed were really difficult ones. I still had questions, but it was enriching to meet him and to hear his take on things.

To relate the idea to the public, at least those interested in doing something constructive, can seek out rabbonim, rather than being cynical, or overly-critical on the blogs. But a semi-public structure would seemingly, be able to take care of a number of people's needs at once, so this idea is not the only solution.

B)There can be semi-public "think-tanks" which are moderated by rabbonim, but would allow a certain openess and tolerance. This gives people the feeling of being included, a modern concept perhaps (although someone just mentioned to me the example of Bnos Tzlefchad advocating, in a sense, their needs), but a response to the reality of blogs. The goals can either be concrete and practical, or just cathartic--daagah blev ish etc.

I know that at Agudah conventions, there are action-oriented symposiums that often lead to concrete action(eg, Shuvu, Project Yes) but I'm thinking about something broader, both in terms of topics discussed, ideas allowed, and the scope of laypeople included. I'm thinking of creating a positive outlet instead of blogging, and the needs of such people are typically not conventional(pun intended) at our typical gatherings.

From my perspective on blogs, an important factor in whatever idea would work is to tailor the situation to different types of people, but at the very least, there needs to be some openness, and people have to be able to feel free to ask good, hard questions, albeit, respectfully.

C)On the most public level, there can be more openess in the media. I referred above to a Foreign Policy article discussing Mispacha's role in this, and for those who have access to blogs, Cross Current(besides this forum), for example, brings an additional degree of openess to public debate, although it's limited in affecting community consciousness because it doesn't offially exist.

There can be print magazines like Mishpacha which, while responsible and being advised by rabbonim, can be even more open and inclusive than is done currently in the press. I hope that a certain openness may eventually evolve on the public level, and perhaps for now, blogging needs to be made into an as positive medium as possible, to fulfill current voids.


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77. role     4/27/07 - 11:27 AM
Anonymous

About laypeople approaching various rabbis, is the point to INFORM them of their opinions and STATE their intentions and get it RUBBERSTAMPED by these rabbis?

Or, to ASK for GUIDANCE.

Did laypeople approach the Chofetz Chaim, R' Chaim Ozer, R' Aharon Kotler, R' Moshe Feinstein, R' Yaakov Kamenetzky, any of the rabbis in Israel over the years, and TELL them the current state of affairs, say THEIR DEI'AH, and CONVINCE these rabbis that they assessed things right?


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78. maybe     4/27/07 - 12:15 PM
Anonymous

Dear "role",

Surely you would agree that the people's voice has always had an influence. Isn't that exactly what happened when the Chachomim would revoke a gezeira she'ein hatzibbur yocho laamod bo?


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79. Asking Versus Informing     4/27/07 - 12:38 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"About laypeople approaching various rabbis, is the point to INFORM them of their opinions and STATE their intentions and get it RUBBERSTAMPED by these rabbis? "

Most definitely not :) Rabbi Horowitz wrote a column about asking sheilos, and he distinquished between getting a beracha versus a pesak or an eitzah. There is no point in "informing" rabbonim about one's decisions, unless one is merely seeeking a beracha.

For example, when it came up in a conversation with a certain rebbe of mine that I was planning on leaving yeshiva and looking for a job, he tried to discourage me. I had previously spoken to a second rebbe who knew me better, so I wasn't asking this person advice, and I was non-committal in my response.

When I actually left yeshiva, I indeed "informed" this rebbe of my decison, and he wished me well, which is the "beracha" aspect. Whenever he sees me from time to time, he asks about my life, and has no taynos on me for not following his advice(which I never went to him for, in the first place).


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80.     4/27/07 - 1:25 PM
Yehoshua

Boruch Horowitz and others addressed my issue about whether Gdolim are leaders or followers. I think the basic concensus is Gdolim are leaders, in the sense we must respect and obey, but they only leader the Tzibur where it will go.

I understand perfectly well that leaders must temper their opinions to the followers. That is basic diplomacy/politics and it enables the leader to lead on more important matters. But is there no place for "proposals" or "suggestions" ? In other words, if the Chinuch curricula are so wrong and so many Gdolim agree they are wrong, let them issue their opinion in a non-binding way. It can easily be done in a scholarly article written in Hebrew in a torah journal, no?

Where are these articles??? Why are they silent?

Either they don't think there is a problem with the curricula; they think their is a problem but it is not serious enough; they don't have time to adress this issue, although every serious; etc. You see where I am going with this? There is a basic leadership void here or the Gdolim disagree.

Personally I think it is the former. They are not leading us enough! Please encourage the American Gdolim to speak out and let us hear their true opinions in some forum!


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81. How Quick, and How Prominent Should Change Be ?     4/27/07 - 2:12 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"Where are these articles??? Why are they silent?"

Maybe the nature of communities, particularly the charedi one, is that change is slow and evolutionary. For one thing, there are different groups which need to be satisfied(just think of the letter-writer sparking this thread-- although I don't think he represents everyone who is possibly in the opposition--who was "suprised and upset" to hear another legitimate shittah!); also, in general, experimental change is risky, and gedolim can't make a "revolution". The question is, is it possible to speed things up, like stepping up the accelarator by 5 MPH.

As an analogy, compare the following from an article by Jonathan Rosenblum(Jewish Action, Summer 2004) regarding a possible transition in the Israeli charedi community, under the subtitle, the "Challange of Transition":

"Anyone looking for a rapid transformation of the Israeli Chareidi community towards something more akin to the American model will be disappointed. The Chareidi community is by nature an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, one. What changes take place will come in an incremental fashion, primarily generated by pressures from below. Meanwhile, the gedolei Torah who lead the community— albeit with none of the absolute control that is often attributed to them—will continue to focus on preserving the ideal of Torah learning and the goal of producing talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars)...

...In their insistence on incremental change, the gedolei Torah are on solid ground. An entire body of social science literature documents the disastrous consequences of many efforts at social and ecological engineering, and the frequency with which those efforts generate consequences far more grievous than the problems they are designed to cure."


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82. Gemora studies     4/28/07 - 6:20 PM
Nechama

Rabbi Horowitz shlit"a wrote that Gemora learning is beginning younger than ever before.

Yoni n"y writes that it is important to learn subjects like history and algebra for most of a student's school career to get to a level that enables them to be a responsible person and wage earner.

How do we measure how much Gemora should be learnt? Do we rely on the Mishna in Avos, which nobody follows for age of marrying nowadays? Do we go by feedback, and how the kids feel about it? We don't use feedback as a guidebook for other Mitzvos, like Shabbos - we keep it non-apologetically, whether a kid prefers to go to the ball game or not.

There is no proscribed syllabus for Gemora learning in school, there is no maximum with which you can say "I really did it all", and there is no minimum, and there is no definable mid-point either. Of course, there's a Geshmack in learning well. So we need to define why it is that we learn Gemora in school: Is it -

a) because it is a Mitzvah - vehigisen bo yomom valayla.

b) because this Mitzvah in a) above, particularly applies to boys who have no financial responsibilities, or children or wives they have to care for. School laws effectively give them a good few gap years, when they are theoretically (based on history) able to be independent but they are given very little responsibility. At the very least, they should try to do this Mitzvah properly.

c) to teach them the lessons of the Torah, so that they will know the Mitzvos. Incidentally, I think that this reason causes some school-age boys to be disappointed, because very little Gemora learning can be taken 'lemaysa' - you don't learn how to pasken from the gemora you learn in school, nor is it about daily activities. You can't even say it over at the Shabbos table, it is too complicated. I think Rebbeim or parents should proactively address this point, since most school learning is for the direct usage of the information. Boys get upset because they can't use what they learn for another purpose.

d) To provide the boys with the skills with which to be an independent learner after they leave school. In order for this to be effective, syllabus-setters would study the different types of Kollelim. They will recognize that some focus on Be'kius - learning a lot, fast, while some work be'iyun - in depth, on a particular sugya - subject, for a very long time. Some are Shiur based, and some are Be'chavrusa, independent study, with someone available to ask questions to. Some focus only on the Gemora, Rashi and Tosfes, and some do Shuchan Aruch as well - either instead of the Gemora, or one following the other.

A boy who leaves school will head for Yeshiva Gedola and Kolel, and he will hopefully choose an institution that suits his learning style. It makes sense to expose growing boys to the various different styles, for example by providing different learning style for each year of high school. In this way, boys can find their niche in Gemora, and will see that different boys are able to do well in different Gemora settings.

e) to understand what it is that has kept us for 3300 years. It is a gift from G-d, and can be appreciated, if only we package it nicely, approach it with respect and love, and believe it is worth sweating over, crying over, trying over, and Be'ezrat Hashem, getting great pleasure from.

f) to give the boys a taste of Torah study, while ensuring that they do not get burnt out.

g) to give boys a base of Gemora knowledge and study skills.

Now for feedback from school styles, and this is purely my own experience of two schools in the same neighborhood -

From the 'frumer', more intense schools, I see some of the 'best' boys coming out, and the 'worst' boys. You get the ones who are geniuses, or masmidim, who love learning and have a solid base of knowledge and learning skills; yet there are also emerging a higher than usual percentage of boys who have gone off the Derech, Rachmana Litzlon. There are also many 'middle of the road' boys who work and learn in combination and affiliate themselves strongly with the Frum community.

From the more open minded school in which Gemora is just a subject like any other, and nobody gets overly pressured, and there are plenty of extra-curricular activities, etc. - there are a suprisingly high number of boys who leave and go to Kollel and find that they love learning, and want to devote their lives to it, and make up for the learning years they essentially missed in high school. But from this school you also get boys who are very permissive, who don't bother getting married until 30 something, who waste a great deal of money, and aren't so Makpid on many Mitzvos. Many go to worse things including relationships and drugs. For some reason, many still wear Kippot and consider themselves religious - they just don't think about the practicalities of it. The 'middle of the road' boys from this school, who marry, work, and also learn, are few in number.

Which model is better? It's hard to say. One thing is for sure: Hashem has recently opened many gates of wisdom in learning how to understand and reach children. Therefore, what applies to one generation does not necessarly apply to the next - for example, if with hindsight we can see that today's kids would have done better with a different model, that doesn't mean that this other model will suit tomorrow's kids.

Also, as B Horowitz noted, change is going to be incremental and slow, so we need to determine what are the most important and most likely things that can actually be changed. In my opinion, what can and should be changed is that parents should learn to make peace with the fact that schools are going to stay basically as they are! But at the same time, we should change what we can for the child. We should take walks with each child individually and regularly (about once per two weeks) and learn to understand them. Let them learn to express what is in their hearts, and not bottle it up. Let them know someone cares, even if we can't solve everything for them. Let them know that we are prepared to embarrass ourselves or pay what's needed for their needs. Let them never find out that WE never even knew what was in their hearts.

Because from exit interviews it seems it is individual problems that were never addressed and fixed that are the deciding factor in why Frum kids leave the Derech. It's an individual problem when a parent sends their child to a school that chokes the boys. It's an individual problem when a parent does not learn how to help the child with a social problem. It is an individual problem when a parent does not form relationships with at least some of the members on staff who can help a child to get through a period of time with a difficult other staff member. Asking for schools to provide more extra-curricular may be just used as an excuse by the schools to raise tuition even further. And then the parents will have even less time available to solve the individual problems. Apologies to all readers for the length of this submission. A gut voch.


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83. 18?     4/29/07 - 10:11 AM
Anonymous

Previous comment referred to the Mishna about what age to do what. This triggered the thought - do all those who quote the Mishna regarding the ages for Mikra, Mishna, and Gemara (to support their view that the yeshivos are doing it all wrong), also maintain that boys should marry at 18?


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84. 25 years     4/29/07 - 10:22 AM
Anonymous

When the Chachamim revoked a gezeira, was it because committees of laypeople made an appointment to see them, to inform the Chachamim that their latest gezeira was just not working? Or did the Chachamim consult with no one, but revoked their gezeiros based on their observations?

As for slow change in the chareidi world, how slow is it? Seems quick to me in a few key areas:

1) girls going to Israel for seminary - how many went in the 60's? the 70's? how many go today?

p.s. girls in chasidishe schools (Bobov, Ger, Tomer Devorah, Satmar etc.) do not go off to seminary in Israel, so this is not a "chareidi" issue but one specific to a subset of the chareidi world

2) How many newlywedded husbands sat and learned for more than 10 years in the 60's? the 70's? now?

3) how many Bais Yaakov girls went on to college and to develop careers aside from teaching in the 60's? 70's? now?

I can't give you precise figures (though the research can be done) but we all know that few girls went to Israel for seminary in the 60's and 70's, few husbands learned longterm in that same period of time, and few B.Y. girls attained professional degrees.

The change took place from the 70's into the 80's, over the past 25 years, more or less.


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85.     4/29/07 - 2:08 PM
Yehoshua

Anon 10:22

Excellent point! There have been many changes in a few decades. And who was the driving force for these changes in the face of an American (and often Jewish) society opposed to these changes? The Gdolim.

Gdolim have been willing to speak up to encourage kollel, lkeeping TV's (and Internet) out of the home, Tznius issues, Loshon Hara etc. And this has had a profound effect. People did listen.

So why are they not speaking, or at least writing, on these issues to effect change over time? If American Gdolim would just write a few articles advocating for this type of curriculum change, or to at least promote the opening of new schools, this would provide the opening askonim need to get support from baalei batim. This is important because people will not throw their support, financial or even their name, behind something perceived as anti-Torah or in the disfavor of Gdolim, no matter how clear it is that we need it.

This is what we need leaders for. To lead!


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86. practical suggestions     4/29/07 - 3:53 PM
tb

Thank you, Baruch Horowitz, for addressing the notion of a proactive line of action for implementing change. I have felt since I stumbled upon these blogs over the past few months that not much positive, proactive brainstorming is being done. I appreciate your suggestions. I would love to hear those of others as well. How do we channel the large amount of emotional energy on these blogs into action? As to your suggestions: I am interested in B) as it seems the most doable and constructive. As for C) the Chareidi Jewish media like Mishpacha (which I enjoy reading sometimes) is not going to become more open any time soon. Anonymous 11:27, I have always acted with respect toward our Rashei Yeshiva. You underestimate them when you think you cannot approach them with large-scale issues and trends that they may not exactly know about because the Klal that sees them regularly will not notice it or bring it up themselves. You underestimate them when you think that if you respectfully express your hopes for our frum children, for our wonderful single older girls, for our overburdened and stressed Kollel wives (those that are, not those that aren't) that they will be offended, that their Kovod will be somehow impugned. I am not suggesting coming in enmasse with "suggestions" and directives for them. Chas V'Shalom. I am suggesting coming in respectfully with wonderful hopes and dreams for our kids and others in our frum community (one issue at a time, forgive me). And to then ask their opinion and Aitzah. A dialogue could take place and a Haskama could be issued hopefully if they deem it appropriate, a Haskama for proactive change, well-thought out ideas. With respect always. Why do we underestimate our Gedolim and our relationship with them? I have never done that in my private life and have never been disappointed. Nu, more constructive suggestions? P.S. Yehoshua is right. Change does happen. I've seen a lot of changes in the last 25 years.


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87. re change     4/30/07 - 2:01 PM
Anonymous

Yehoshua asks: "So why are they not speaking, or at least writing, on these issues to effect change over time?"

Uh, maybe because they disagree with the opinions stated here about currriculum changes? That would be an obvious answer, wouldn't it now? (not meaning to be sarcastic at your expense, just sitting here and wondering at the kind of talk I'm "hearing" on this forum about gedolim and how change is brought about).

I don't think it's a situation in which gedolim need people to tell them about overworked kollel wives. Nothing to do with kavod or underestimation. I don't think the gedolim (if we can talk of them as a group when they disagree on many issues) need suggestions about curriculum.

If a mechanech(es) or morah has a chinuch question, by all means, he/she should ask her rav or make an appointment to see a gadol.

When do rabbonim ask for input - for example, R' Moshe Feinstein would get medical information in order to understand the metzius so he could pasken a shaila. Same with electricity - rabbonim had to find out how it worked before they could pasken about light switches, microphones, etc. So too with Internet, they need to be shown or told about it by reputable people who can given them the facts. The information they get is only as good as the people supplying it.


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88.     4/30/07 - 4:05 PM
yoni

Better yet that they should understand it themeselves and therefore be able to stand by their psak dinim


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89. Changes by Gedolim     5/1/07 - 2:52 PM
Avrohom - Monsey, NY

Yehoshua: I hate to burst your bubble, but big societal changes are rarely made by the gedolim.

The Gedolim are against girls going to Israel to seminary (just ask them, as I have). This was instituted by individuals who saw a financial opportunity in Israel.

The Gedolim are against the slow-paced derech halimud in most of our yeshivos. So who instituted that?

The Gedolim are against our newest habit of partying (and partying again) at each engagement. An attempt to lead us back from this was made a number of years ago with a sad result: more l'chaim's and vorts than before!

The Gedolim are against boys marrying for money (even for the purpose of learning Torah). Seems very popular today!

People have a expanded view of what our Gedolim can and can't do. Gedolim only influence those who query them and follow up by listening to them. It is sad that the Gedolim are quoted, held responsible and even villified for things that are clearly out of their control. Perhaps those who blame, should look more towards "middle-management" in klal yisroel, who too often have much more influence than our Gedolim and don't seek their counsel.


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90. which gedolim?     5/1/07 - 3:16 PM
Anonymous

Seems unproductive to refer to "gedolim" as though they have one opinion. Some gedolim's own daughters have gone to seminary in Israel. Some gedolim, aka roshei yeshiva, supposedly (I haven't heard it firsthand) tell the bachurim to make sure they are supported for years to come so they can learn. Some gedolim, aka roshei yeshiva, have slow-paced learning in their own yeshivos and start Gemara earlier than many here would like. Some gedolim/roshei yeshiva are mesader kidushin at weddings even though the families went against the Simcha Guidelines, even though the gedolim who signed said they wouldn't.


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91. Which Gedolim - I'll tell you     5/1/07 - 4:09 PM
Avrohom - Monsey, NY

The Gedolim in their late 70's and 80's. Ask them!


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92. Better to Talk of "Consensus Among Gedolim"     5/1/07 - 4:45 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

I basically agree with Avrum's 2:52 PM comments regarding the specific examples mentioned(eg, I've seen at least one EY gadol on record that yeshivos should cover more ground in the mesechta being studied), but I also agree with the following comment that in general, it "seems unproductive to refer to "gedolim" as though they have one opinion".

I feel that we shouldn't make daas Torah/charedi hashkafa more monolithic and difficult for people to accept than it actually is. There is no single body called "The Gedolim", but rather gedolie Torah come to a consensus on certain, important, basic issues, but do not on others. There was a recent article in the Jewish Observer, where the author quoted his (unnamed) rosh yeshivah that did not like speaking of "what is THE daas Torah" on the issue, because there can be more than one single opinion following the thought process call "daas Torah".


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93. interesting responses, answer me these     5/1/07 - 8:22 PM
tb

"When do rabbonim ask for input - for example, R' Moshe Feinstein would get medical information in order to understand the metzius so he could pasken a shaila. Same with electricity - rabbonim had to find out how it worked before they could pasken about light switches, microphones, etc. So too with Internet, they need to be shown or told about it by reputable people who can given them the facts. The information they get is only as good as the people supplying it. "

Please show me evidence that there are reputable Mechanchim speaking to our Gedolim (and there are a well-known group of them who repeatedly sit on the dais at the Agudah Convention and other events) about these troubling matters with the intention of bringing about positive change.

"People have a expanded view of what our Gedolim can and can't do. Gedolim only influence those who query them and follow up by listening to them. It is sad that the Gedolim are quoted, held responsible and even villified for things that are clearly out of their control. Perhaps those who blame, should look more towards "middle-management" in klal yisroel, who too often have much more influence than our Gedolim and don't seek their counsel. "

I was not taught as a Bais Yaakov girl and seminary graduate to go to middle-level Rabanim because they have more influence than our Gedolim. I am merely trying to follow the path set before me by my teachers. And if the middle level managers are not seeking their counsel and possibly making errors or not acting where necessary, then what help would it be to approach them. We must be practical Jews. Nachshon did not hesitate where necessary action was needed. Why the hesitancy to generate proactive paths to change?

Why are my posts almost unilaterally ignored? Because I do not refer to specific Gemara guidelines? Because I ask more of all of you, my fellow frum Yidden, than just conversation and opinion? I believe that change is needed and I am not alone and I trust that the well-intentioned among you, Rabbi Horowitz included, can come up with some practical solutions if asked. Am I wrong?


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94. start one's own school     5/1/07 - 10:33 PM
Anonymous

"with the intention of bringing about positive change. "

How about "with the intention of hearing what the rabbis(s) has to say about the matter(s)," being open to the possibility that some rabbis, on some issues, might think that no change is necessary. You are coming with the premise that change is a must and that we must, respectfully, make it happen. As said earlier, if the leaders are truly leaders, let's see what changes, if any, they want to make. On the other hand, maybe our view of our leaders is all wrong, and they're not all-knowing and wiser than the rest of us and they need to hear what the tzibbur wants and doesn't want, and plan their moves accordingly.

Nachshon did not consult with anyone, not even Moshe... Anybody is free to start their own yeshiva or girls school, using a curriculum of their choice and promoting hashkafos as they please. In the past, those who have felt strongly about a certain type of chinuch, did just that.

Disagreement or the lack of enthusiastic agreement, is not synonymous with being ignored. I am sure Rabbi Horowitz reads all the comments so you have his listening ear.


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95.     5/2/07 - 12:52 AM
Yehoshua

I recognize there is no Gdolim who speak with one voice on most matters, because they disagree. What I am looking for is several Gdolim to take philosophical lead on this issue. It's very nice for Rabbi Horowitz and others to claim support, but much more powerful and earth moving to actually hear that support from a few Gdolim in the form of a speech, letter, article, something.

TB: I think Nachshon was a Nasi in his own right, and not so young, and acted as a leader should. We can't just jump without considerable forethought and guidance.

Avroham: people don't always listen in every case; some takonos (even those in the Gm') don't stick. But people always take notice and often change happens over time. Example: TV, Loshon Hara etc. The people tend to go overboard sometimes: example - dress codes. But we American RW respect and revere our leaders and want positive change.

I really hope Rabbi Horowitz or others will take this discussion thread, summarize it into bullet points and put it in front of our leaders. Let them see people's genuine concern for these issues and willingness to listen.


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96. Potential Chilul Hashem     5/4/07 - 9:48 AM
Sara

Why are we raising a generation of brilliant able bodied people who need welfare, food stamps,tuition help, medicaid,and Tzedakah?Why should goyim finance people who have unique personal goals?


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97. Torah?     5/7/07 - 1:32 PM
Anonymous

sara - why do you omit Talmud Torah from your comment, as though studying Torah is as personal a goal as studying Sanskrit (l'havdil)? As though you never heard of Jews studying Torah their entire lives, in our history?


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98.     5/7/07 - 2:58 PM
yoni

anon, by far the overwhelming rule was that all (maybe 99%) of the past sages combined work with study. Spending one's life only studying is the exception to the rule of our tradition. (although this became more popular in the past 200 years, it still had nowhere near the popularity that it has now. As a rule, people went out and worked. The only people who did not, where those who where compelled by the community to sit, study and to render psak dinnim. They did not do this of their own accord, they did this when they where identified and forced in to the job, hence the torahs discussions about compelling people in to the rabinate)


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99.     5/8/07 - 11:32 AM
Anonymous

By far, the overwhelming rule was that most Jews, maybe 99% did not sit and learn.

Of those who did learn, my impression from all that I've read is that most did not combine work with learning, but were supported by the community. Some of them had wives who had stores or concessions. Some married into wealthy families who supported them. Some took positions as rabbonim, some willingly and some unwillingly.


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100.     5/8/07 - 12:12 PM
yoni

No. Not untill the last 200 hundred years did such things reall begin to happen at all.

Rashi, who owned on a vinyard, was the rule rather than the exception. Virtualy noone sat and learned all day untill then.

No one. Of those who have sat and learned all day I would say over 90% came after that date, exclusively in lithuania, and now here and in isreal. Even then only the cream of the crop did so, which was a miniscule porportion of the number of students, who was already tiny. Of them, most of them where trained in the family business and it was handed to them after a number of years, or to them and their other son's in law.


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101. Chilul Hashem for quietly doing a Mitzvah?     5/8/07 - 3:16 PM
Nechama

Suppose that the expense involved in keeping Shabbos, or sending children to Jewish schools, or Kashrus, was theoretically so great that it pushed people below the poverty line, would Sara also think that Jews who chose to nevertheless observe these commandments are causing "Chilul Hashem"?

Even if Goyim can never understand the value of Torah learning, we Yidden can at least look up the sources, speak to Tzaddikim and try to find out why it may be worth devoting work and pleasure time to.


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102.     5/8/07 - 7:32 PM
yoni

Because nechama, spending your life learning torah, is not learning or living torah.

The same torah they are studying requires that they go out and earn a living, the same torah says that the kesuba must be written with a clause that says that the husband is required to support his wife.

Its evident just how much of torah they are actualy internalizing when they do this.


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103. response     5/8/07 - 9:22 PM
tb

"Anybody is free to start their own yeshiva or girls school, using a curriculum of their choice and promoting hashkafos as they please."

Anonymous, anyone who knows anything about Yeshivos knows that you cannot start a yeshiva with a Kayama without money and community backing. Money. I am a teacher, for goodness sakes! Do you think I have money?!!!!!

Yehoshua, thanks for your input and suggestion. I do hope somebody takes all of these comments and summarizes them, presents them. The lay leaders can do much as middlemen to our Gedolim to get things done. If I am wrong, then I suppose all is lost. I make my own decisions for my children that are working out well; I do worry about all the other children. My students are my children too.


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104. it is optional     5/9/07 - 5:05 AM
Nechama

If anybody thinks that Torah learning absolves them of their Kesuba responsibilities towards their wife, they are, as you say, not living their life according to Torah values, and it is dubious how much value their learning has.

Yet I don't see a marriage as a one-sided matter, in which the husband is responsible for everything, and the wife is just taken care of, and does housework if she feels like it. A marriage is an agreement, and people can work out the logistics according to their own natures, given a few overriding principles, for example that the husband must ensure that the wife is getting her needs.

So if in one marriage the husband is the babysitter and the wife the wage earner, perhaps because she is the better money maker and hates being with kids all day, well, they are allowed to do that. And if the wife stays home all day, helps the children feel creative and understood, while leaving a huge mess for the husband to tidy at the end of his heavy day at work, plus the cooking - but the couple are happy with this, well, that's their right too. And if the husband and wife together agree that they want their house to be filled with Torah learning, and as a result, they will be as creative as possible in handling the finances, the housework, the childcare, to enable the husband to sit and learn, well that is their right too, and, according to Torah sources, enviable is their lot.


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105. we need to reassess how we view the care of our young children     5/9/07 - 6:55 AM
tb

"And if the husband and wife together agree that they want their house to be filled with Torah learning, and as a result, they will be as creative as possible in handling the finances, the housework, the childcare, to enable the husband to sit and learn, well that is their right too, and, according to Torah sources, enviable is their lot."

As long as a non-Jewish person or drop-off daycare in a room full of children/infants for hours is not their solution. I think we have discussed this here somewhere. Torah Learning should not stop parents from parenting. One parent should be home or young children/under 3 should be given the opportunity of a one on one Jewish caregiver and that caregiver time should be limited, not full-time. We have the right to make choices with regards to our children; we do not have the right to make choices that are detrimental to their emotional development in the name of Torah learning.


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106. of course     5/9/07 - 11:49 PM
tb

Silence. Of course.


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107. silence only because you said it so wisely     5/10/07 - 3:21 AM
Nechama

Tb

It's only silence because there's nothing more to say. You're absolutely right. Children should be mothered, they should not be thrust into alien environments. Unfortunately, many mothers do not know how to reach to understand their small children, so they think it makes no difference what happens to the child as long as they are physically safe and fed. However, a small child who is regularly sent to an environment that makes them feel insecure and abandoned - from the child's point of view - can often grow up with less warmth, reduced understanding of themselves and others, internal anger and an inability to express their thoughts and wishes in a helpful fashion.

Tb you are an inspiration to me and others, as you have been in the past. You'll be happy to hear that this past year I kept my three year old home to try to be'ezrat Hashem undo the damage possibly caused by having sent him out in the mornings when he was 9-18 months. Boruch Hashem he has grown from a very difficult, stubborn little boy with limited language skills, to a happy, sweet, expressive child. I didn't just give him my time, I used Dr Stanley Greenspan and Dr Serena Wieder's methods (Floortime) to encourage him to draw himself out. I cannot thank them enough. And I thank you Tb for saying it time after time, for validating those mothers who keep their children home, and for encouraging others to do likewise.

People should know when their kids are still small that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that we can help these kids grow straight and tall. If we also invest in increasing our knowledge of how to parent, we are adding fertilizers and supports to help our saplings grow strong, be'ezrat Hashem giving them the skills they will need to negociate life's challenges as they grow older. Hashem Yatzliach Darki.


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108. thanks     5/10/07 - 9:01 AM
tb

Thank you so much again, Nechama, for your support. You said it better than I could. Women whose husbands learn in Kollel as do all women--non-Jewish too-need to recognize the importance of being there physically as much as possible those first few years and of arranging appropriate, attentive child care if that is not possible. The reason this is relevant to our topic here is that the choices frum Jews make--the societal norms that they align themselves with-- have ripple effects for years to come. What are current societal norms within Frum society in their style of education? In their parenting?


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109. in the family     5/10/07 - 9:41 AM
Anonymous

tb - "anyone who knows anything about Yeshivos knows ..." -

since my great-grandfather started Torah Umesorah, and my grandfather founded Boystown in Yerushalayim, I know something about starting yeshivos. What does it take to start yeshivos? Mesirus nefesh. Mesirus nefesh is what gets you the community backing and money. If starting a yeshiva or girls school is treated as anything but a G-dly mission, it's likely to fail.

Lubavitch has started countless schools in the US since the 1940's, often without backing or money. If you have a passion for your cause, you forge ahead. The underground Chabad yeshivos in Russia required more than money. They required the willingness to endanger one's life for the sake of Klal Yisrael, and many, many died for the cause.

Boruch Hashem, the willingness to face interrogators and the the firing squad are no longer necessary to ensure a Jewish education. Mesirus nefesh though, is still required.

p.s. As a teacher and parent you know the importance of being a role model. If you could eliminate the sarcasm, put-downs and bitterness from your comments ... as well as the expectation that other people applaud your comments, it would make posting comments on this blog a more pleasant experience.


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110. let's be polite     5/10/07 - 2:59 PM
Nechama

A common occurrence When blogging our dreams That we write fast And our message seems

Not exactly as we intended, Stronger, wordier, or blendered.

A common occurance When writing with a bren Is that we need to express yourself In the mode we feel then.

And sometimes we say things in a way that offends Even though we feel we are amongst friends.

Some of it is only because of different styles Or we didn't think for very long whiles. But if we'd pause to please everybody, Then this website would still remain empty!

Since our goal is to help people live, Although we are hurt, let us forgive, Ignoring rudeness, and tempers that fray Noticing only the positive in what others say.


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111.     5/11/07 - 11:56 AM
Anonymous

that's wonderful Nechama, in rhyme too! thank you

previous poster


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112. Writing at the Moment     5/13/07 - 3:50 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"A common occurance When writing with a bren Is that we need to express yourself In the mode we feel then."

Quite true. I probably would edit some of what I've written above. Mishpacha Magazine copied and pasted two of my responses to people's comments and printed it, instead of what I submitted to them as a letter, which I put more care into writing. I suppose it's for the best.


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113. A reply, but no applause necessary     5/13/07 - 8:32 PM
tb

Anonymous, I never wanted to be applauded, just to be addressed. You see, very few in the Chareidi camp are addressing the issues I am bringing up. I am not bitter. I am just overwhelmed with disappointment and despair at what I am seeing. Most who feel as I do both from the MO and UO camps don't even bother to engage in conversation with those who disagree. They just moan about the present state of affairs. Concerning the Mesiras Nefesh. I agree with you there, except if that were true then why have I seen two educational institutions that were needed and valued fail recently due to lack of funding. I know I may not know the whole story, but I know a lot about it. Also, when one of your goals in starting a Yeshiva is to have a really good secular studies department, money is a big factor. I don't apologize for my passion about what I see. The truth is not always pleasant.

I've said this numerous times, I don't have a personal stake in this. And if nothing positive is going to come of these conversations, then I should bow out. You guys can continue to discuss how Gemara is taught and not address the big issues. I will continue to be Mikarev the kids that have left the Derech and set up the wonderful 3O odd year old frum girls who can't get a Shidduch to save their lives. Oh and I'll continue to teach your kids. Many of whom need their mommies.


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114. mistake in Mishpacha mag.     5/25/07 - 5:46 PM
M

My comment about what the Chazon Ish said, posted earlier on this page, was attributed to someone else when printed in Mishpacha magazine (the error was made because I used the other person's name in the Title of the Comment). Poor Eli ...


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115. clarification     5/31/07 - 7:35 AM
Nechama

Earlier in this thread, I wrote that one of the reasons we teach boys Gemora in school is to teach them the content of the Gemora. I wrote:

" c) to teach them the lessons of the Torah, so that they will know the Mitzvos. Incidentally, I think that this reason causes some school-age boys to be disappointed, because very little Gemora learning can be taken 'lemaysa' - you don't learn how to pasken from the gemora you learn in school, nor is it about daily activities. You can't even say it over at the Shabbos table, it is too complicated. I think Rebbeim or parents should proactively address this point, since most school learning is for the direct usage of the information. Boys get upset because they can't use what they learn for another purpose."

When I said that Rebbeim or parents should proactively address this point, I did not intend to imply that boys should learn instead practical things. I meant rather just that parents should know that their kids may have expectations different from what they are being offered.

If expectations are discussed, children are less likely to suffer from resentment and/or disappointment, and the educator is given an opportunity to explain why what he is teaching is important. Discussions are preferably one-on-one. Of course, if the child manages to convince you of THEIR point of view, you have to give in; or learn more, to deepen your intuitive understanding into something you can pass on to others.


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116. Torah im Derech Eretz ,importance of "secular"studies     12/5/07 - 3:31 PM
Rephoel(TIDE of KAJ) - WASHINGTON HEIGHTS - dagim413@gmail.com

+Learnig Torah is a great and important mitzvoh. It is also necessary to know about the world around us that H'K'B"H put is in. In order to understand Torah,to support Torah schools,to help Torah scholars live and survive,other knowledge is critically important. Learning Torah 24/7 is something very few people can relly do. Those who can,should. Those who cannot,should not,and should not be pressured. B'nei Torah must learn middos tovos and mussar and lead decent lives as role model for others to follow. They must not look down on those who speak English well,who are up-to-date with current events and politics,who know how to repair or manufacture things we all use. Many people "sit and learn" today because they don't know how tomdeal with real life . In the next generation,the 'learners'will find themselves in situations that will be very unpleasant. No income,little food,bad health,no money to bring up their children,depenping on welfare,food stamps,Mediciad,and others (non-Jews) to things to help them cope,but whom they cannot trust.Torah-only is for those who can and enjoy it. What's bad about being a shomer Torah and mitzvohs,and a good surgeon,doctor,accountant,lawyer,plumber,tailor,shop owner,landlord,etc.? We NEED these kind of people. Life IS made up of diverse things with Torah as the guide. Live a life of Torah,but not everyone has to know or study everything. Do the best you can,be all that you can be. A ben-Torah knows how to behave,too,unlike many of our yehiva-types today.


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117.     12/5/07 - 3:40 PM
Anonymous

TRYING TO E MAIL THIS BUT IT DOES NOT WORK


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118. chanie     2/3/09 - 10:37 AM
Anonymous

It's interesting that L"M says that secular subjects are heresy- that's the Chabad shita as well, I think based on the Tanya.


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119.     12/5/12 - 8:06 PM
Aaron

To Chanie,

The Baal HaTanya expresses (sof perek arbaa or chamisha) in Tanya that secular studies may be harmful UNLESS (i) learnt to make a living or (ii) as a toll to comprehend better the creation, etc. As the Rambam and his students used such chochmot. I doubt of our full capability to study chol for the latter reason, but we got a good reasoning for the first taam-i.e., nowadays most decently paid jobs demand some degree of secular education.

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