College, Secular Studies & Judaism

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  • #1169549

    Thinking
    Member

    joseph

    rybs, who is looked at (for the most part) as being the “shitah maker” for MO wrote that orthodox jews must excell

    “in demonstrating to the world that the torah jew need not cower in a corner and gaze with sadness and resignation as life and the world pass him by.

    The orthodox jew must demonstrate that he navigates with pride the floW and currents of the modern world and participates in a life that is racing ever more rapidly towards new horizons and great accomplishments in the domains of science and technology.

    We must demonstrate that in all cultural, social and scientific situations a jew can study Torah and live as a faithful torah jew.

    We must show the world that not only does halakha not restrain the intellectual and emotional capacities and worldly knowledge of the jew, on the contrary, it deepens them greatly.”

    source: “Community, covenant, and commitment” by R yosef dov halevi soloveitchik

    #1169550

    Jothar
    Member

    PY:

    Joseph, MO doesn’t say it is a mitzva to get a secular degree for the sake of the degree.

    PY, it depends who’s defining Modern Orthodoxy. Wikipedia lists multiple definitions, and it also lists Norman Lamms:

    As articulated by Rabbi Norman Lamm, in a widely quoted paragraph:

    Torah, faith, religious learning on one side and Madda, science, worldly knowledge on the other, together offer us a more over-arching and truer vision than either one set alone. Each set gives one view of the Creator as well as of His creation, and the other a different perspective that may not agree at all with the first … Each alone is true, but only partially true; both together present the possibility of a larger truth. (ibid, p. 236)

    ___________________________________________________

    In other words, according to Norman Lamm, a degree for the sake of a degree is a great thing, as it gives us a vision into a larger truth.

    #1169551

    anon for this
    Participant

    havesomeseichel, thank you for your post. As I noted, laws regulating homeschooling vary from state to state. Most states do require parents to file a curriculum. However, many states do not require homeschooled students to file homework or take any type of test, and in many states parents do not need any certification or training to homeschool. Many states also don’t require homeschoolers to work with a public school or any other institution. Some states specifically exempt parents from teaching material which goes against their religious beliefs, which might indeed be construed to allow parents to use only “artscroll biographies and works of fiction”.

    I am not trying to denigrate the education of your homeschooled acquaintances. But you should be aware that not all states regulate homeschooling so rigorously, and their experience is not universal. You can google “homeschooling laws” for more information.

    I do agree that homeschooling does not seem to be popular in the general frum population.

    #1169552

    anon for this
    Participant

    goody613, thanks for your reply.

    #1169553

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Jothar, doesn’t the Rambam say in beginning of Mishneh Torah that by pondering the greatness of the briya one will come to Ahavas Hashem? I don’t think Rabbi Lamm is saying any different.

    #1169554

    Jothar
    Member

    PY, the idea of niflaos haborei is said in multiple places, including the chovos halevavos. Noman Lamm’s words, however, are NOT saying that. Nobody says that a lack of knowing niflaos haborei means your knowledge is incomplete. Norman Lamm is clearly saying you need secular knowledge because otherwise you’re incomplete, which is consistent with some of the broader interpretations of TIDE. He posited that perhaps one should make a bracha before entering the chemistry lab. Where did the Rambam ever suggest that? Norman Lamm is quite clear on what he meant.

    #1169555

    HIE
    Participant

    “TALK about stating the obvious”

    Mod 72 what in the universe does that statement mean???

    it means that it is apparent that you have a tendency to post on the fly and rarely do you let trivial little things like facts get in the way of you making your point… YW Moderator-72

    #1169556

    HIE
    Participant

    mod72? what does that mean “Talk about stating the obvious” HUH?

    see answer above… any more questions? YW Moderator-72

    #1169557

    Thinking
    Member

    if one were to read the rambam’s hakdamah to moreh nevuchim he would come Across where the rambam says something like studying “maaseh merkava” is done by studying physics and “maaseh bereishis” is accomplished by syudying the briah therefore acc. to this perhaps one should in fact make a brachah…

    #1169558

    Jothar
    Member

    Moreh nevuchim is aggada, not halacha.

    #1169559

    What would happen if your child’s place is NOT in bais medresh? what if they are not going to be the next rav, posek or kollel guy? Are you going to force them to fit a mold that you know is not appropriate for them? or will you allow them to channel their kochos into becoming a better yid and helping others? Do you seek outright a doctor that is frum? Many people I know are more comfortable with Jewish professionals. You know they wont (or at least are more likely wont) cheat you. They will be better able to understand your concerns and problems (especially psychologists) being from the same background. Then what is so wrong about your son or daughter becoming one?!?!?! I will say it again, if they are not cut out for learning would you stuff a square peg into a round hole because your child must be “like everyone elses”- even when it is bad for the child?

    #1169560

    Jothar
    Member

    Havesomeseichel, agreed 100%.

    There are 3 questions being debated:

    1. Is college a chiyuv to become a better Jew?

    2. Is it muttar to go to college for to learn secular studies for the sake of secular studies?

    3. Is it muttar to go for parnassah?

    Even Joseph is modeh to #3, so the only debate is 1 & 2.

    #1169561

    anon for this
    Participant

    Jothar, Joesph is modeh to #3, but believes that anyone who works for a parnassah, even in a frum workplace, becomes insane.

    #1169562

    Joseph
    Participant

    “anyone who works for a parnassah, even in a frum workplace, is insane.”

    anon: Please do not continue to mischaracterize my stated position.

    #1169563

    zman7777
    Participant

    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?

    Obtaining an advanced degree may not be a mitzvah in itself. But if it allows you to keep kosher, send your kids to yeshiva and perform other costly religious rituals then it might be just the thing jewish communities need more of. Then ofcourse you have to look at the makeup of society and the fact that we all possess needs from others whether it be medical services, groceries, a teacher for your children etc. Its really that simple, you perform something for others and get a monetary return determined by a free market allowing you to buy other goods and services with that money. College educated people tend to earn more money on average than non college educated people, certainly more than those who never completed high school. Notwithstanding all the rabbinical quotes you have gathered and quoted quite accurately, my question to you an individual capable of thinking for himself is, how does one go about making a decent living without attaining any particular skill through formal or informal training? If eating bread and salt water is your answer, ask yourself how many of your friends and neighbors live like that? Also explain to me why you expect me to fix your pipes (for example) when you performed nothing for society and have no claims to goods and services? Seems selfish to me, even if all you do is learn day and night.

    #1169564

    Joseph
    Participant

    zman7777: You may have overlooked it, but I did quote the following from the Kovetz Shiurim II:47 which answers your question:

    “If the studies do not cause you to learn Apikursus or to befriend Goyim, and you learn secular studies in order to know a skill to make a living, it is permitted, and it is a Mitzvah.”

    #1169565

    anon for this
    Participant

    Joseph, so exactly what is the meaning of the moshol? And exactly how does working in a frum workplace negatively affect someone?

    #1169566

    zman- you see, according to some on this thread, you need to fix their pipes even when they cant pay and have no hopes of paying. They wont get a degree, go to any sort of technical training, acquire any paying skills, or even get a job. So they can’t afford to pay their bills, tuition, necessities and those who are trying to earn a job. So you need to work double the hours (helping them for free or reduced costs and then doing full-cost jobs so you cant spend your extra time learning. Learning Torah is important but not at the expense of others. I mean, one should not be makpid on a mitzvah if it will harm another person.

    #1169567

    haifagirl
    Participant

    According to an article in Ha’aretz (mods, am I allowed to say that? If not, just edit it out) they number of “ultra-Orthodox” university students is on the rise.

    These are students at Bnei Brak Haredi College and the Haredi College of Jerusalem, as well as the Safed branch of the Jerusalem College of Technology.

    To quote the article: [Adina] Bar-Shalom said ultra-Orthodox society is undergoing significant changes: “People want to earn their daily bread with dignity. They want to be in places where they have strength and influence.

    “We also need doctors, psychologists, nurses,” she added, “so that we have our own people who are familiar with our problems.”

    Adina Bar-Shalom is the daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the founder of the Hareidi College of Jerusalem.

    So, it is possible to get a secular education and still not lose your Torah values.

    #1169568

    Joseph
    Participant

    anon: It is from the Mussar Seforim.

    The nimshol is there’s nothing wrong with going to work, but to spend the gift of life that Hashem gives us for such a short time in this world selling cars or programming computers or whatever we need to do to make a living, is insane. It may be necessary, but it’s still insane. We have so little to live in this world (we should all live to 120 years, but compared to eternity in the afterlife, 120 years is nothing), and its our only chance to collect Torah and Mitzvos — how crazy is it to busy ourselves with other things?? But we have to? OK, we have to. At the very least, let us realize that we do so out of necessity and that making a living necessitates our leading a life which, when you consider what we’re on this world for and the opportunities that exist ONLY while we are here, is insane. Let’s at least realize that.

    IOW it isn’t the person who is insane, but rather the fact that is is unfortunately necessary to spend so much time on work rather than Torah that is nuts. The biggest negative effect is the amount of time it takes one away from the real things in life (Torah.) At least recognize this fact, even if you cannot help it.

    #1169569

    starwolf
    Member

    The world was created in a certain way. If you want medical doctors, if you want engineers to build bridges and sewer systems, if you want computer scientists (to create computerized responsa projects among others), if you want soldiers to defend you from those who would kill you, if you want HVAC people to kewep thoses Yeshivas warm throughout the New York winter, if you want qualified people to take care of our invalids—etc etc–

    then you need professionals who must train for their jobs, keep up with the current knowledge, and then be available when you need them. This was the case since Eden, and certainly has been so as long as there was a Jewish people. The interdependence of society is simply the way that the world was made.

    One can wish that things were otherwise–but consider it insane?

    These are as much the “real things” in life as Torah–Torah does not exist in a vacuum. This is the way that the world was created.

    #1169570

    israelbochur
    Member

    and when moshiach comes … the engineers, scientists, doctors etc will be who Joseph?

    #1169571

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Mod72, I think you were a bit too hard on HIE, above.

    Do we need poll #3 of the day? If you would like to discuss this further, I can be reached at Moderator72@theyeshivaworld.com – thank you.

    EDITED for additional comment: was the following a tad bit too hard also: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/eruv-in-brooklyn/page/3?view=all#post-105279

    #1169572

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Jothar, I am not clear on what bracha you believe Rabbi Lamm thinks we should make upon entering a chem lab. If you have a verbatim source, I would like to see it.

    I am wondering what the harm is in expanding the definition of Torah to include science, as well. Before everyone calls me an apikorus, please recall, didn’t we recently have a long thread where there were many who claimed that science is in Torah and that Chazal knew modern science? If one can learn science from Torah, why is it different than learning the chochma of the RBSH’s briya from a lab? Also, in Sanhedrin, we find that Rav spent 18 months on a farm to learn the difference between Mum Over and Mum Kavua. Isn’t that type of science considered limud hatorah?

    Note that today we have a far more advanced framework of science than they did even 300 years ago. If the Rambam and Reb Saadiah Gaon and other Rishonim studied science and philosophy not for parnasa and it wasn’t bitul torah, then why is it a problem for us, especially if one wants to know Hashem’s briyah, and especially if he wants to cure an illness, thereby?

    #1169573

    Jothar
    Member

    PY, there was a discussion in the Jewish Observer a while back. Norman Lamm wrote in to defend himself. In regard to the question of making the bracha (or birchas haTorah) on the chemistry lab (as Torah and Madda are both 2 parts of the same whole in his philosophy), he said that he never actually said halacha lemaasaeh that that’s what one should do. Rather, it was a hypothetical, based on his line of reasoning. The JO responded that if that was the logical conclusion of his philosophy, then whether or not he goes so far as to say it is irrelevant, as it shows the whole shtus of his philosophy. You can agree or disagree with the JO as you choose. However, his essay did propose making a bracha on the chemistry lab, as Torah and Madda were 2 halves of a whole.

    As much as my rabbonim hold college for parnassah is muttar, they never said that when you die, Hashem will ask you “kavata itim lemadda?” They will ask you asakta bene’emanus,

    I saw somthing interesting in the Sukkos issue of mishpacha, which I confirmed after Sukkos via googling it. Sir Isaac Newton was a Hebraist, and studied the Rambam in depth. There are pictures of his notes on his Hebrew studies. We run to madda for wisom, and he’s running to Torah for wisdom. Hebrew University had a display of his documents showing his studies.

    #1169574

    Jothar
    Member

    Apparently, the source is in Norman Lamm’s book. I found a blog discussing an audio clip on YU’s website called “Concise Methodological Manifesto ” or rabbi Jeremy Wieder of YU. He addresses that quote in this audio. If he says it exists, then it exists. From the blog:

    [Someone asks <Rabbi Jeremy Wieder>, “there’s actually a deah that Rabbi Lamm brings in his book Torah U-Madda that you would make a bracha on machshirim.”]

    You know, I happen to have a nice relationship with Dr. Lamm, and I won’t want to do what one of my no-longer-present colleagues did who got up, and, you know, made fun of the book and something like that, I think it was one of the things he picked on–I don’t know what deah that is, I think its a silly deah [student tries to interject] I understand that, I understand that. I think that part of the problem that disturbs me about that point of view is that it makes the assumption that if it weren’t talmud Torah then maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. That may not be what the deah says, but I don’t think you make a bracha on your calculus or your physics–even though I think they are magnificent subjects, I don’t mean to exclude history either, it’s of a different nature–I’m belying my science and math roots here–I like things that tend more towards absolute truth then not, postmodernists aside, but the fact is that I think they’re incredibly valuable, I think the study of–particularly the natural sciences–for many people, maybe the humanities for others–can be incredibly religiously inspiring, spiritually inspiring, morally furthering and they’re wonderful enterprises. They’re just not talmud Torah. For me, personally, what I’ve chosen as my life’s enterprise is talmud Torah. But I think that there are many different darkhei ha-chayim, and even for the person whose primary occupation is talmud Torah there are other valuable subjects to study, but you don’t have to call them talmud Torah for them to be valuable.

    #1169575

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Mod72, Sorry. Didn’t realize there was a whole complex history here.

    #1169576

    Jothar
    Member

    israelbochur, the scientists will be gentiles helping out the Jews so the Jews will be free to study Torah. It’s in the Rambam, and was popularized by a Miami Boys song back in 1993..

    “ela kedei sheyihyu pneuyim baTorah, ubechochmasah, ukedei shyizku lechayey haolam haba”

    #1169577

    starwolf
    Member

    I do think, that for some, studying the natural sciences is a way of studying the work of HKB”H. Certainly for myself, this is the case.

    However, this does not mean that a study of the natural or any other sciences is itself enough.

    I feel that learning (Torah) is too important to be left to those in Kollel. It is something required of everyone–but even without the requirement, it is the essential component of understanding the purpose of our existence, and what is required of us.

    Learning any subject alone, with no context, no relations to any other subject, give a view of the subject akin to tunnel vision. While tunnel vision excludes anything outside the tunnel, it does not increase the clarity of view inside the tunnel. It only subtracts, it does not add.

    #1169578

    israelbochur
    Member

    HaRav yosef Dov Soloveitchik would disagree with you Jothar

    #1169579

    Jothar
    Member

    israelbochur, this comes from the Rambam and the Orchos Tzaddikim, who bases it on the possuk of ki malah Aretz Deah es Hashem (Yeshayahu 11 or haftarah of 8th day Pesach for those of a yeshivish bent), that we will be free to study Torah and gain knowledge of Hashem. I am not familiar with his writings, but he can’t be arguing on the Rambam and the Orchos Tzaddikim, so I will assume that he isn’t until I see proof that he is.

    #1169580

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Jothar, thanks for the info on Newton. I have written in the past here that he was a truly great man. It is hard to believe what he accomplished in every area of physics and math. He probably was the one who ended the dark ages, and began the scientific revolution (although he acknowledges that everything he accomplished was due to the efforts of those who preceded him). He was a fine baal midos, from what I can determine.

    The thing we need to be aware of is that Torah represents menschlachkeit, and that is its whole purpose. Science does not guarantee menschlachkeit. The Nazis were advanced in science and technology. Some scientists are also atheists. This is why science in and of itself is not a worthy goal. Only when one realizes through Torah that there is a Borei and he values chesed and helping others, then one’s study of science can be elevated to a sublime purpose. I find no more worthy purpose than working in a lab trying to ease the suffering of those who are afflicted with certain terrible diseases. Each person needs to find a derech which makes him feel that he is doing the most with his life.

    If Torah is studied with the purpose of elevating the world and making shalom among all people, then that is a sublime purpose. However, when it is studied for the purpose of becoming arrogant and putting others down, it is probably better that it had never been studied, as the Mishnah says in Chagiga.

    #1169581

    Jothar
    Member

    PY, “arrogance” and “putting down others” are shnei dinim. The Nefesh Hachaim (the hosafos between shaar 3 and 4) allow learning for kavod at times, but not for kintur (ie, putting down others). But all agree that Torah is the most important thing. Torah to pu down others is a form of mitzvah haba’ah be’aveira.

    the Torah is a version of Hashem’s name. furthermore, every letter corresponds to the shoresh neshama of someone, which is why it’s a mitzvah to see the writing by hagbah.

    #1169582

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Jothar, regarding your earlier post that everybody is modeh to number 3 that college is mutar for parnasa, this is adamantly not the Chareidi viewpoint. You can Google Rav Svei and Touro and see he was against it for parnasa. I showed that Reb Moshe felt the same way, and Reb Aharon for sure felt that way. Reb Shmuel Berenbaum did not allow college at the Mir, and ended second seder at 8 pm to make sure nobody could go at night. The Chareidi yeshivos in EY do not even allow high school. Do you think that if a Chareidi parent would ask his yeshiva ketana to give him some secular classes in HS so he can make a parnasa later on, they would comply? The mainstream Chareidi world was against college for any and all reasons, and they felt that using it for parnasa was a lack of bitachon. The main proponent of college for parnasa was Rabbi Soloveitchik who wrote that we need a generation of frum, learned doctors and lawyers and professionals.

    Because the yeshivishe world has now come to the realization that college may be absolutely necessary for many, they have reinvented the machlokes. They now claim that they always held that way, and the opposition was to those people who go to college lishma and not for parnasa. They therefore reinvent Rabbi Soloveitchik’s shita, as well (otherwise, what are they arguing about, as everybody would agree), and claim he said one should go to college even not for parnasa, just lishma. I am not sure he ever said such a thing.

    #1169583

    Joseph
    Participant

    Rav Elya Svei:

    It says further, in Targum Yonoson, that one should not be a false witness. I want to stop here. In public life here in Brooklyn, there is false testimony. We have merited, through blood and sweat and with the Almighty’s help, to establish large Yeshivos for the boys and Bais Yaakova for the girls. And these schools produced students of whom all can be proud. But then someone comes and says that they are still incomplete. When the boys go out of the Yeshiva, they are still not finished — they still need more studies: they still have to go to “Touro College” to be well-rounded. That is the biggest false testimony against the Torah. The boys do not need such “completeness”.

    One is not allowed to be friends with them! One is not allowed to be partners with them! What will be with our children? From where will our great Torah leaders come? From Touro College they will not come! And mothers of Gedolei Torah will also not come from Touro College, because the Gemorrah says that to merit children who will become Gedolei Yisroel, one has to have modesty. And modesty cannot be acquired in Touro College!

    #1169584

    Josh31
    Participant

    Joseph, in another post you stated that YWN CR was not the proper place to post negative comments about Tzedakah institutions.

    Now you are taking what has become a mainstay institution performing the highest level of Tzedakah for hundreds Charedim by teaching them specific skills to make a living, and throwing a statement made decades ago in the face of the institution.

    i do not know the history.

    Best analogy is recording the harshest mussar a boy heard in his youth and playing it back to him 20 years later in front of his wife and children.

    #1169585

    Joseph
    Participant

    Josh, I’m pretty sure Rav Svei’s opposition, quoted above, never waned. It is a legitimate shitta of a Godol Hador to be mentioned.

    #1169586

    Jothar
    Member

    His opposition never waned.The support of the previously mentioned gedolim (Rav Yaakov aminetzky ZT”L et al) never waned either. The fact that Project COPE was established with the help of the gedolim of the Moetzes shows that Rav Elya Svei ZT”L’s shita is a daas yachid neged harabbim.

    #1169587

    Joseph
    Participant

    Jothar – Looking through this thread, you’ve claimed about various Gedolim that they’re opposition to College was a Daas “Yochid”. The Rabbim were certainly not in support of it. And COPE is no college (not even comparable to Touro.) It is pure training for a trade.

    #1169588

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Joseph, so you now have come around to the fact that many in the Chareidi world rely on Reb Yosef Dov Soloveitchik for a heter to go to college, while simultaneously denigrating him. Support for college in the Chareidi world is extremely thin, at best.

    #1169589

    Joseph
    Participant

    Pashuteh: When have I ever denigrated Rav Soloveitchik? I have not. Additionally, I have repeatedly quoted Gedolim that you are allowed to learn secular studies for the purposes of acquiring a trade.

    #1169590

    Jothar
    Member

    By “support”, I mean no opposition. How is Touro any different from Project COPE? Touro doesn’t claim to have any shitos of being well-rounded. It is strictly for parnassah. Either nishtaneh hateva or someone gave Rav Elya Svei ZT”L misinformation. YU or YCT it’s not. It’s project COPE witjh a 4 year degree instead of 2.

    Rav elya svei ZT”L is correct that it’s hard to be a Ben Torah when you’re dancing at 2 chasunahs. The best learning is when you finish college and cna learn without distraction. I have plenty of friends who are Rabbeim, shul rabbis, etc who went to college for parnassah and didn’t need it. I also have friends who are using their college degree and are glad they are. I also have a friend who was told NOT to attend college while in yeshiva, and now his family is seriously struggling with trying to earn a living a getting a degree to make enough to support said family without so much tzimtzum.

    But as always, ask your LOR. I’m not anyone’s LOR and neither is Joseph.

    #1169591

    Joseph
    Participant

    For one thing (and there are others) COPE doesn’t have all the unnecessary mandatory courses to graduate, that are unrelated to the trade one is seeking to learn.

    #1169592

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    Joseph- why do you think those courses are unnecessary and unrelated to trades?

    Trades do not exist in a vacuum. Professionals help people with real world problems, and therefore need to know about that world. If you own a widget factory and need an accountant, lawyer, etc., and find a frum accountant who says, I’d love to be your accountant and I’m a great accountant, but I don’t know what a widget is, are you going to hire him?

    #1169593

    Joseph
    Participant

    COPE doesn’t offer a Political Science course as either an elective or requirement for Accounting. Do you need additional examples?

    #1169594

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    I would need to know what you think is unnecessary.

    #1169595

    Joseph
    Participant

    Political Science for an Accounting major, is one example.

    #1169596

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    I disagree. Accountants deal with tax laws and advise people with tax problems. Tax laws are made by politicians. I’d prefer an accountant with a little understanding about how laws are made and how the tax laws come about.

    Much as Yidden must remain a nation apart, the world is inter-connected, and a professional, to remain competitive, must be well-educated.

    #1169597

    Joseph
    Participant

    Political Science 101 doesn’t deal with taxes in any meaningful manner.

    I can cite more obvious examples if you wish, but I cannot believe you are oblivious to them.

    #1169598

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    I am not oblivious to them because I am a well educated professional and draw on the totality of my education to creatively solve my clients problems every day, without compartmentalizing, oh, this question comes from my torts class, this one from 3rd grade math. I draw on a lot of sources in helping my clients and it gives me an advantage over those with a narrow world view.

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