College, Secular Studies & Judaism
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- This topic has 294 replies, 56 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 7 months ago by Joseph.
October 12, 2009 5:49 pm at 5:49 pm #1169499
So I guess it comes down to this: It is assur to go through college or any secular training except when I need something from them… I need my child to see a doctor at odd hours, I need money, I need someone to know the halachos of when it might be a shaila of breaking halacha (shabbos) for pikuach nefesh… [rabanim dont always know how serious something might be. I know someone who was very sick for a while (machla) and was at home. It was shabbos or yom tov and they were at home not feeling so well. A man came by to do bikur cholim and said that he was calling the ambulance over NOW. Rabbanim were over and didnt see what was wrong. He ended up having pneumonia on top of it and it was pikuach nefesh. Only a doctor would be able to tell the difference between a cold, the flue and pneumonia. It saved his life and was able to live a lot longer because of it. (in the end he was niftar from the machla but it was not because of pneumonia…)]
Secular knowledge is wrong except when I need them, and then I am glad they are there.
Stop being so hypocritical- either dont partake of their services and benefiting from their “malacho deissure” or stop complaining and ranting that it is assur! Not everything is so black and white, there are kosher ways of doing things. If you dont agree- get off the computer because all computers are treif, all internet is assur, technology is the work of the sattan….October 12, 2009 6:25 pm at 6:25 pm #1169500ronrsrMember
Money, by itself, is not such a great motivator, though we are quick to think that it is the sole motivator of others. People who do things ONLY for money, tend not to do them so well.
Other motivators are: prestige, power, satisfaction, love, approval, romance, food, etc.
The absolute best motivations are usually combinations of those motivators.
My dear grandfathers knew this, and would frequently reward my good behaviors and learning successes with a small cash gift PLUS a kiss and a pat on the head, a few kind words of approval, acceptance and loving, and a small gift of sweet food.
That combination created a motivator for learning far more powerful than money alone. That continues to this day. I learn new things because I wish to, and get satisfaction from just knowing things, and I subconsciously recall the love, acceptance and gifts from my grandfathers.October 12, 2009 6:26 pm at 6:26 pm #1169501
No, Joseph, I am most definitely not incorrect. There is a special kind of irony that comes with the image of a man hurling stones at cars on Shabbos while he munches on a BLT (that’s a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich for those who may not know).October 12, 2009 6:44 pm at 6:44 pm #1169502
Joseph, my point is that kara veshana velo shimeish talmidei chachamim, etc. There is a chiyuv to make parnassah so that one doesn’t go into banditry. If one has a father-in-law doing it for him, kol hakavod. The Rema is lechora referring to someone who is doing it instead of learning. I doubt the Moetzes views Project COPE as achilas chazer.October 12, 2009 6:57 pm at 6:57 pm #1169503
So its assur to have a secular education, except when we need them! Stop being hypocritical about taking “money deissure” (dont collect tzeddaka from them) and receiving help from those with the education. Medical professionals are needed in the frum community. So are lawyers and other professionals. I know lawyers who take pro-bono work for frum institutions. There are doctors who are willing to give free services on shabbos and yom tov if they are necessary. They know the halacha and the medical field- they know if its pikuach nefesh and can break shabbos for them. A doctor I know who was doing bikur cholim on shabbos and noticed that the person had to go via ambulance to the hospital. Rabbanim who were over didnt notice- they didnt know the medical signs! Someone was in a car accident right before shabbos and was in need of a once-over to make sure nothing was broken and didnt need the hospital. (B”H that time they were ok but the doctor came over quickly and was willing to give services free of charge)
If C”V someone needed a psychologist or therapist or marriage counselor, wouldnt it be better to talk to a frum person? They understand you better than goyim can and thus can help you better. How can you explain the importance of halacha and not violating it to a goy?
Please dont make it into a thing of money. Many are not in it for the paycheck but to help others.October 12, 2009 7:18 pm at 7:18 pm #1169504
Jothar: For the umpteenth time, Parnasa is the exclusion to allow secular studies. COPE is SPECIFICALLY designed for Parnasa purposes.
squeak: You most certainly are incorrect, and I’m sure many can see that besides myself, though that is irrelevant as I don’t much care for the pulse of “popular opinion” as I do for holy words of our Rabbonim ZT’L.October 12, 2009 7:31 pm at 7:31 pm #1169505
I think squeak is still jaded and seething that I brought a Rama (and Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L and Rav Boruch Ber Liebowitz ZT’L and Chasam Sofer and Rashba and Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L and Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L) that puts his academic love in a halachicly untenable position.October 12, 2009 7:33 pm at 7:33 pm #1169506
Joseph – When someone starts yelling and making a fuss over Shabbos or Tsnius, the attention of their target audience is immediately drawn to the bacon sandwich in their hand. Hiding the sandwich behind their back doesn’t fool them, either.
P.S. your penchant for laundering my comments with find/replace and using them as a response is far from cute. It only makes you seem incapable of expressing yourself.October 12, 2009 7:35 pm at 7:35 pm #1169507
Getting back to the original topic, I personally don’t think that every 14 year old can sit and learn all day. Secular studies is a change for them. I don’t think I would have been able to sit and learn all day in 9th grade. even now, 4 years I have a hard time sitting through all 3 sedorim. I would find it easier to leave 2nd seder early and skip night seder and instead go to college.
Now, I just feel bad for those kids who aren’t cut out for learning all day, but are sent to a mesivta where there is no secular studies, and are essentially on a B”M schedule at age 14.October 12, 2009 7:39 pm at 7:39 pm #1169508
I think squeak is still jaded and seething that I brought a Rama (and Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L and Rav Boruch Ber Liebowitz ZT’L and Chasam Sofer and Rashba and Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L and Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L) that puts his academic love in a halachicly untenable position.
Good to see you thinking independently for once. You brought a smile to my face with this comment. However, in truth I am not bothered in any way, since I have (and always have had) every form of Halachic authority to validate my academic pursuits. My Rebbeim, Roshei Yeshiva, and other mentors all favored and blessed my secular pursuits (in conjunction with my Kodesh pursuits).
P.S. Homework for you: Look up the word “jaded” and explain why your usage does not make sense in this context.October 12, 2009 7:39 pm at 7:39 pm #1169509
Joseph, aren’t “jaded” and “seething” opposites of a sort?
Joseph, how do you understand the gemara of “parpao’s hachamah”? And how did Shmuel get to say that he knows the shvilei rakia like the Shvilei Nehardea?October 12, 2009 7:43 pm at 7:43 pm #1169510
Joseph, the frum newspapers have columns all the time showing “wonders of the world”, scientific discoveries, etc. The Shvus Yaakov rules that reading a newspaper on Shabbos is allowed. clearly there are non-parnassah exceptions as well. Do you have a rav to whom you ask shailos?October 12, 2009 8:00 pm at 8:00 pm #1169511
Joseph- you still have not answered my questions…. please explain your love to bash those not like you while accepting from them. Just like there are two sides to a coin, there are many sides to an issue. Many of those you have quoted were not around in the last century. Some times, circumstances bring out different aspects to light. If you would have asked the Rashba and the Rama about using computers for gaining academic degrees, you would have been sent to a mental institution as they didnt exist and could not be comprehended. Times have changed and that is why we have poskim in every dor to explain it to us.October 12, 2009 8:03 pm at 8:03 pm #1169512
squeak – So the internet is akin to a bacon sandwhich… you oughta make a thread about that! 🙂 And in over a year I only once (twice?) made a play on your laundered comments. So now you are reaaaly stooping there…October 12, 2009 8:06 pm at 8:06 pm #1169513
Joseph, I quoted earlier a list of Roshei Yeshiva who allowed their talmidim to go to college. What was their view of the Rema? Furthermore, many litvishe roshe Yeshiva were known to have read the paper. The Gr”a wrote math and science works in the bathroom (although I have seen some who say that his Eil Meshulah was written as a real sefer, not as bathroom learning.) What did they do with that Rema?
As an aside, I do think you owe an apology to Squeak for your uncharacteristic ad hominem attack on him, which was uncalled for.October 12, 2009 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm #1169514
Jothar: Parnasa.October 12, 2009 9:02 pm at 9:02 pm #1169515ThinkingMember
If it is truly assur to go to college could someone explain how “gedolim” such as
the lubavitcher rebbe,
r’ avigdor miller,
r’ yb solovetchik,
r’ zelig epstein,
and r’ herschel schachter all go to college?October 12, 2009 9:08 pm at 9:08 pm #1169516
Did the Gra write the Eil Meshulash for panassah purposes?October 12, 2009 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm #1169517
Good point “Thinking”. I am sure they have heard of this Rama…October 12, 2009 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #1169518
Add Rav Mordechai Gifter ZT”L and Rav Nosson Wachtfogel ZT”L.October 12, 2009 9:48 pm at 9:48 pm #1169519
I apologize to squeak for being overly harsh on him. After he accused me of being a stone-throwing bacon-eating fellow who makes stuff up, things spiraled out of control. I’m also glad he had removed the incorrect reference to a certain institution allowing women dancing.
I hope this brings another smile to his face. (Hey, I love you man. You’re usually even on the right side of things!)October 12, 2009 9:49 pm at 9:49 pm #1169520
The GRA held that objective knowledge (i.e. mathematics and certain sciences) could be studied for the purposes of enhancing one’s Torah understanding. He most certainly did not allow studying secular subjects “for its own sake.”
In fact, in the aforementioned Shulchan Aruch/Rama I quoted, it is the GRA himself who approvingly comments that the source of the prohibition of studying secular knowledge for non-parnasa type reasons, is from the Yerushalmi!!October 12, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #1169521Pashuteh YidMember
Joseph, the GRA was entitled to his opinion on philosophy just as was the Rambam entitled to his.October 12, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm #1169522
Thinking- there used to be a law that everyone had to go to college. i heard Rav Yisroel Belsky Shlita was the first not to listen to this law and b/c of him its now optional.October 13, 2009 12:52 am at 12:52 am #1169523
goody613, what law? Was this a law in the United States, or in another country? Please give a source for this.October 13, 2009 1:18 am at 1:18 am #1169524
There is a law that states that every child must attend school. school must be accredited and meet certain standards. No English, math, history or science doesnt exactly fall under that. So if you live in America, you need to send your kids to a SCHOOL.October 13, 2009 1:49 am at 1:49 am #1169525
anon for this:
College Act of 1897, P.L. 58-253, 78 Stat. 241 (1897).
Good v. Board of Education, 429 U.S. 247, 290 (1954).
(I know squeak will accuse me of making this all up otherwise.)October 13, 2009 2:18 am at 2:18 am #1169526
Joseph, I can’t find more information about this online. Would you be able to tell us more about this? Copying & pasting is fine.October 13, 2009 2:24 am at 2:24 am #1169527
anon: I was kidding. 🙂
Thanks for the copy and paste permission though.October 13, 2009 2:49 am at 2:49 am #1169528
I went to a top MESIVTA in brooklyn, which also happens to have a top secular studies program. I don’t find the time i spent on secular studies “Bitul Z’man” although some of it may have been. i hope to pursue a college degree soon. i know many boys who go to lakewood yeshivos which DONT have secular studies and MOST of them aren’t cut out to learn a whole day. When these boys get older and have iy’h a couple babies and there wife can no longer work and their father-in-law can no longer support, where will they get the money to support their family? What many are doing today UNFORTUNATLY is when challenged by this situation they open up a yeshiva with around ten bochurim and then they go fundraising to support it and they pull off a living from that. Is that right to all the ballei batim who then get the fundraising letters in the mail? there are enough worthy mosdos out there which ballei batim have on their lists? why do ballei batim have to get so many fundraising letters because every day a new yeshiva is opening up with five bochurim? The economy is bad enough?? TAKE THE LESSON AND GET AN NORMAL EDUCATION ATLEAST IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!October 13, 2009 2:53 am at 2:53 am #1169529
Thanks Joseph. Goody613, what is your source for the claim that there used to be a law requiring people to go to college?
havesomeseichel, I’m sure you are aware that most states also allow parents to educate their children at home. Curriculum and testing requirements vary from state to state.October 13, 2009 2:47 pm at 2:47 pm #1169530starwolfMember
“If it is truly assur to go to college could someone explain how “gedolim” such as
the lubavitcher rebbe,
r’ avigdor miller,
r’ yb solovetchik,
r’ zelig epstein,
and r’ herschel schachter all go to college?”
As far as I know, all of the Rabbanim listed made (make) their living as Rabbanim.
This of course, leaves 2 possibilities:
1) That they studied in college to acquire knowledge, as they did not derive the paranssa form their college studies.
2) That they saw college as being necessary for their parnasa–even though their parnasa was via the Rabbanut. Therefore, they saw that secular studies would increase their Torah learning and service to their people–not decrease it.
Either way, this argues for secular studies being more than simply permitted; rather, it seems a strong recommendation.October 13, 2009 3:51 pm at 3:51 pm #1169531
Starwolf, it’s tough to judge people by what they did before they became gedolim. The most accurate guage is what they said after they became gedolim. Rav yaakov Kaminetzky ZT”L encouraged education for parnassah purposes and allowed college. He was upset with a frummie parent who refused to let his son go to secular high school classes in yeshiva. That son didn’t stay in learning, and had a lot of tzaros in his life. Rav Hutner ZT”L allowed college for parnassah. I am not familiar with Rav Avigdor Miller ZT”L views on it. Rav Zelig Epstein’s yeshiva did not allow college. I had a friend in college who was in Shaar Hatorah, and wasn’t allowed to attend shiur because he attended college. My Rosh Hayeshiva ZT”L allowed college for parnassah purposes, used to read newspapers to know what’s going on, and actually was familiar with certain secular poets, but did not view secular studies as an ideal. It’s like going to the bathroom- necessary (for some) but nothing to glorify.
The big question is the grey areas. Let’s say someone loves math and wants to be a math teacher. He takes lots of math courses in college above and beyond what he needs to be a successful math teacher. Is that allowed or not? The world was created “bereishis”, meaning beshvil yisroel ( the raishis, or “chosen portion”, of nations), shyisasku beoraysa (the raishis, or “chosen portion”, of wisdom). The world was not created so that we could go to college and make money. The question is, what leisure activities are we allowed? Saying “college is assur” but hanging around the streets all day because you hate learning is not what Hashem wants either. This is why someone needs a rav. Someone who neeeds secular studies to be happy may be allowed dispensations not allowed to others. This is why someone needs a rav or rebbe, and can’t make decisions based on pashkevilin.October 13, 2009 4:37 pm at 4:37 pm #1169532starwolfMember
I do not judge people at all; I believe that there are many Torah paths.
And I certainly agree with the idea of asei l’cha Rav.
I do not think that college is necessarily for everyone. I do feel, in general, that education (including secular education) is a positive thing, and enhances our appreciation of the world. Ignorance (in any subject) cannot good. So, for example, as my Rav, I chose a man who excels in Torah and has a well-rounded secular education.
Personally, I do not believe that the primary purpose of college is to make money. I believe in education for its own sake. However, being able to support one’s family is important, especially in times like these. There are so many truly needy people in our community, and those who could support themselves should–so that the families who are at true risk can benefit to the maximum.
As far as undesirable social influences in college, I would be a fool to deny that they exist. However, I do believe that a good Jewish education should be able to serve as a defense against this. Does it always work? Unfortunately not.
I am not defending college as a party experience. In many cases, tuition costs the parents dearly, and the efforts of one’s parents should not be wasted. The parents do not work hard so the children can party (whatever your definition of party is). Kibud Av vEm requires that the college attendee repay the parents by accomplishing the purpose that the parents work for, whether that is getting an education for general purposes, or a way to earn a parnasa. In any event, I believe that education is a serious thing, which does not leave time for much of a party life.
As has been discussed, there are many ways to attend a college–single sex, Jewish oriented, living off-campus, etc. All of these may prove more easy environments to live a Jewish life. I regularly ask the MO high-school kids that I meet what their criteria are for their college choices. All reply that one of their criteria is “a Jewish environment”. Will that be a Lakewood environment? Hardly. But then, I do not believe that Lakewood is the only possible Jewish environment.
I do not believe that one could take math classes above and beyond what one needs to be a successful teacher. More knowledge of the subject matter is better–how could it be otherwise. Could one learn more blat Gemara than is necessary to be a successful Rav? Hardly.
Of course, all of the above are my personal opinions. As I posted, I do recognize that others may not agree.October 13, 2009 4:51 pm at 4:51 pm #1169533David Bar-MagenMember
There seems to be a bit of a misconception here.
Most posters on this thread seem to agree that college is permissible for the sake of making a living.
Now, I don’t know what sort of early Athenian democracy some of you think we live in, but here’s a news flash: MOST students in college right this minute are in college to gain the tools to make a living; they are not seated together with hundreds of Greek elders, trying to uncover the secrets of the universe. What, then, is the big issue here? If a person wishes to be a working professional with an on-the-books means of employment, that person will have to go to college. End of discussion.
It is also, quite frankly, absurd to believe that someone would dedicate years of his life to a profession and be in it “just for the money and prestige.” Do not pretend that Jewish doctors don’t care about medicine or that Jewish lawyers don’t care about law. Perhaps, in a worst-case scenario, they started out for the prestige. Guess what? They will probably not survive the grueling years of academic labor necessary to gain any prestige. It isn’t the same thing as clipping a cherry light to the roof of your car.
All I’m saying is that college appears to be permitted by all opinions for the sake of earning a living, and that secular studies in general appear to be permitted as a way to pass spare time. That pretty much covers the needs of most adult members of the human race.
Now, what’s the argument again?October 13, 2009 5:03 pm at 5:03 pm #1169534gavra_at_workParticipant
I imagine (and have gotten this answer from most of my colleagues) most of us work to pay tuition. Prestige is only in our own hearts, with the knowledge that we try to act like the Bracha “V’Lo Lidai Matnas Basar V’dam” (in the most case) in the Pashut (non-literal) sense. (not to say there is anything wrong with not doing so, ask your LOR 🙂October 13, 2009 5:12 pm at 5:12 pm #1169535
David Bar-Magen, the sticking point is the “spare time” part. One should learn in his spare time. We were created for Olam Haba, not olam Hazeh. We are allowed some downtime for our sanity’s sake. Exactly where the boundaries are drawn is the debate.October 13, 2009 5:23 pm at 5:23 pm #1169536David Bar-MagenMember
If that is the case, then there shouldn’t be any argument; no more than there should be an argument over which Yeshiva someone goes to or which town has the best pizza places.
Everyone is different, and it is not the task of the YWN Coffee Room to set up a timetable to delineate how long each of its members spends away from Limud Torah–especially since the fact that there IS a Coffee Room means that all of us are currently not learning.
The boundaries are drawn wherever each person, in his unique set of circumstances, draws them.
If the question was whether college is permitted for the sake of its most basic function–earning a living–then that question has been dealt with sufficiently.October 13, 2009 6:53 pm at 6:53 pm #1169537
David, this, of course, is my own understanding of the Rema. the Rema is in YD 246. Secular studies (assuming not sifrei minus) are only assur due to the opportunity cost of torah, not intrinsically assur. It sounds like Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L and Rav Aharon Kotler ZT”L viewed secular studies as intrinsically assur. The question is, is “parnassah” a hutra or hudcha?October 13, 2009 7:18 pm at 7:18 pm #1169538
According to the Kovetz Shiurim, the problem with secular studies includes Bizayon HaTorah, and is not necessarily limited to Bitul Torah.October 13, 2009 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #1169539
Joseph, vos meint dos “bizayon haTorah”? Can you please post the Hebrew? He did allow parnassah, but I guess according to him it’s a hudcha.October 13, 2009 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm #1169540
And if obtaining an advanced degree is not a Mitzvah, why are the MO rabbis encouraging it instead of encouraging more learning, which is a Mitzvah? If people who only have HS education are also correct then why would rabbis recommend forgoing Torah learning for more advanced degrees if I am already doing correctly?October 13, 2009 8:22 pm at 8:22 pm #1169541Josh31Participant
“Bizayon haTorah” is a community relying upon MOFES (an acrynoum for various government support programs).October 13, 2009 8:46 pm at 8:46 pm #1169542Pashuteh YidMember
Joseph, MO doesn’t say it is a mitzva to get a secular degree for the sake of the degree. It is a mitzva to make a parnasa. Whatever a person feels comfortable with, and whatever his talents are, he should use them to the fullest. If he feels he needs a BA to become an accountant, then fine. If he wants to become a scientist or academic, then he will usually need a Ph.D. If he wants to be a dentist, he will need to go to dental school. It depends on what he feels he will be the best at, and what his circumstances will allow. The gemara says that just as everybody looks different, they all think differently. So everybody chooses a profession and level of education that suits them the best. It really is very simple.
The only difference between the American Chareidi outlook is that nobody thinks it is assur to go to college and makes you feel guilty about your choice of a path. You know yourself the best and you decide. You don’t go around beating yourself over the head and saying I am a terrible person because I had to go to college and I only did it bdieved and I am so sorry for having to do it, and my Rebbeim will all hate me now.
In MO you do what is the best for your talents and try to make a Kiddush Hashem while you are at it, and nobody criticizes you for it or makes flaming speeches against college as they do in the Chareidi world. Parnasa is not Bitul Torah in any way, so there is nothing to feel guilty about.October 13, 2009 9:30 pm at 9:30 pm #1169543
Nobody disagrees that it is an advantage to know everything about everything. The issue is that there is a bigger advantage to knowing Torah than there is anthropology, for instance, and most of everything as well. And therefore we have to prioritize our life and learn Torah.
It is a mistake to think that traditional Orthodoxy is “afraid” of knowledge. Although this is the MO party-line, and is taught in many MO schools, it is simply a misrepresentation of the facts. The issue isn’t that anyone is scared. The issue is we have only a certain amount of time on this world and learning Torah is the biggest Mitzvah there is, more valuable than physics, the “advantages” of knowing about quantum non-locality notwithstanding. And there is always the fact that the Halachah prefers those who do nothing but learn all day, which sets a goal for all those who are capable of doing it.October 13, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm #1169544
i can’t find a source. its just what i remember hearingOctober 14, 2009 1:30 am at 1:30 am #1169545
goody, yeh, i can also make up things
talk about stating the obvious… YW Moderator-72October 14, 2009 2:10 am at 2:10 am #1169546
you can!?!? wow. 😉October 14, 2009 2:23 am at 2:23 am #1169547SJSinNYCMember
“Although this is the MO party-line, and is taught in many MO schools, it is simply a misrepresentation of the facts.”
Joseph, I went to a more charedi elementary school and my sisters went to a charedi high school. It was taught on both the elementary level and high school level. I’m not saying all schools do, but it was taught in the ones I had contact with. Although, to be fair, I think the fear factor is more towards women than men.October 14, 2009 2:53 am at 2:53 am #1169548
anon- I know about homeschooling. I have known people who have gone through it themselves and have told me about it. You must take secular studies. You go through some sort of institution, whether it be the local public school office (you dont step in a classroom) or another. They went to an office. The assign you work and you must bring it in and show that it was completed. Yes, you have a little more liberty as to what is covered, like choosing from a list of books what your child will read. No, artscroll biographies or works of fiction most likely wont make the cut. These are books that the government says are grade appropriate. You take a standardized test at the end of the year to see that you actually did the work and learned the basic skills and knowledge that was supposed to be covered. you cant just not do the work.
SO homeschooling doesnt mean that you can not learn secular studies. get the facts before making assumptions. And based on other posts in other topics, people do not want to homeschool…even though it is cheaper and your kids can learn more and waste less time (why should there be homework to color in pages in 7th grade?)
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