Have Seminaries outlived their purpose?

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    If we ask the following questions, might we conclude that parents should no longer be put in a position where they need to spend exorbitant amounts of money adding pressure to families already feeling enough pressure?

    Can we accomplish, providing our girls with all of the inspiration Kedushas Eretz Yisrael has to offer and a very well structured two month summer program post high school?
    Is it possible that girls spending an extra year before entering shidduchim is a large part of the cause for the litvish shidduch crisis?
    Can’t girls gain much more by spending that year training for better paying jobs or even a career before they get married?
    Using that year for girls to attend structured programs to prepare them properly to be good wives, and mothers?
    Is it possible that the credibility of those still insisting on seminary being so important for girls development is tainted by the income they produce for the owners of them & their influence on the girls schools leadership?


    Actually it would cause a bigger shidduch issue as girls would start dating younger


    The answer to your questions is yes.
    Now how do you propose to change it?
    Give practical solutions, not a kvetch. We have heard many of those before.
    Then after you give a practical solution, be part of the movement to actively make a difference.


    It’s not the seminaries fault. Their purpose is good and needed. It fills a void that no program in America fills. We need a way to continue the ideals they learn in seminary in a balanced way once they get home. In an Israel Seminary, they have a chance to grow in a more spiritual environment. They aren’t constantly bombarded with goyish advertisements and ideals when they go out into the street. The Avir in EY is irreplaceable (Regardless of what a Lakewood PR spokesman would say). The American Beis Yaakov system may have outlived their purpose. These girls come out of it as confused as anything.


    One of the most learned and G*D-fearing Jews I ever knew in my entire life refused to send his daughters to seminary, which he believed to be a waste of time and money.

    Instead, they got married, and gave him numerous grandchildren.
    They seem to have not suffered from not attending seminary.


    If girls came out of high school with a sound hashkofa and a commitment to being tznius, maintaining gender separation and keeping away from unfiltered technology, we can say that the high school essentially did its job.

    The reality, however, is that largely that isn’t the case. The girls as it is are thrown into the jaws of the yatzer hora after seminary, with the expectation of entering college and a workplace, often with standards that make them feel that “seminary is over, now it’s the real world, and in the real world, you can do X and wear Y and it’s totally normal”

    If anything, they should make seminary far longer, and get rid of the mystique of having to go to eretz yisroel. It costs a ton, because parents pay far more than tuition and flights; seminar girls always need money for things.

    Seminaries should be like part time yeshivos; first 2 years are a full day schedule, with no college. After that, they can have college courses in the seminary, or go to work, but there needs to be a commitment to spending 3 hours a day in a structured torah study framework. And not every girl can handle limud hatorah, so seminaries should offer spiritually inspirational activities and speeches, stories, mussar groups, etc… there’s literally no mitzvah for girls to learn, it’s a tool to get them to be strong in their frumkeit – but if the tool doesn’t work, then scrap it.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Avirah, there is a mitzvah, just not a chiyuv (except for learning practical halacha).


    Also, even in learning practical halacha, there’s no chiyuv of limud in the sense of vehegisa bo, or veshinantam, to sit with a sefer – if they learn it from watching others or by asking shailos, it’s perfectly fine.


    Daas, that’s only chumash, and it’s bedieved; the rambam says it’s better not to do it, but if she does, she gets schar. For anything else, the rambam doesn’t say that she gets schar at all in the context of limud hatorah, and it’s in fact assur to teach Torah shrle baal peh. Other things, like hashkofa and mussar, are encouraged by the Gaon to be learned.

    Bais yaakov and seminary weren’t started to fulfill a mitzvah of talmud Torah: they were started to teach and strengthen yiddishkeit. Some girls aren’t strengthened by studying; some are so turned off by it that they resort to television, movies and goyishe music to relax from the stress of academics in high school… In such cases, they are doing far more harm than good. If instead of academics, they were offered chesed projects, mussar groups, domestic skills like sewing, music, acting, etc… Lots of things can be made to strengthen yiddishkeit for women besides pushing rambans.


    The main purpose is to bring diaspora money into Eretz Yisrael.

    Shimon Nodel

    Many girls can have a tremendous yeridah from going to seminary and develop destructive midos

    Zaphod Beeblebrox

    My sister is reading this over my shoulder, and would like you all to know that she is insulted and vehemently disagrees with all of you.

    As a former seminary graduate myself, I would like to make it known that I agree with her.

    Also, she told all her friends about this thread, and they too would like to make their disagreement known.


    Zaph, can you be specific about what you and her disagree with?


    Girls seem to generally like the experience, recommend it to each other, and this might be the first question they ask each other when introduced. That is seminaries achieved the goal of making themselves the default option.

    there are multiple questions here, not just one:

    1) what are they to do anyway after HS? Unless you follow gemora that presumes girls mostly married after bas mitzva, you have an answer. Otherwise, she would be learning, working, or going to college.

    a) Learning – in this case, doing it in Israel is a reasonable choice, especially for those who are going in into chinuch later. In Bava Basra discussion of schools (for sons), going to Yerushalaim is a second choice that was made after being taught at home: enthusiastic teachers in holy environment

    b) Working – post-HS jobs are not always attractive. To work in a school, having 1-2 years of seminary would be helpful, although not recoup the pay, of course.

    c) College – for those who send kids to a college away from home, a year of seminary might help to strengthen them spiritually. Also, many provide college credits that are at least acceptable by a couple of Jewish colleges that provide safe spiritual environment at a price (price of a college with better academics).

    d) Safe college – a commuter or online college, and there is parental supervision and local learning and socializing options. [There is a 20-yo old article in some OU magazine by a campus Rabbi (sic!) telling people to send kids to local colleges, instead of “American tradition” of sending them away].

    In this case, the seminary is not so useful and may be also not conducive to the girl’s development (exposing to additional teachers with some ideology) and possibly not able to use those credits when used in local/online colleges.


    2. Seminary v. HS
    Why are we in the position that kids who spent 12-14 years in Jewish places of learning, require additional 1-2 years in an exciting environment to strengthen their neshomos?

    A) One answer: simply passing time in a dangerous moment when parental control is off, and a future husband is still learning Baba Kama. Seems like any other productive occupation – working, safe college, helping run the home – would also work. Maybe, after communities and schools help strengthen authority of parents so that girls at 18 accept their advice.

    B) Seminaries actually teach something at higher level. Then, maybe need to ask a question – was it possible to teach THAT earlier? Possibly, the school system reflects the idea that kids will have more years to learn. What if HS is aware that girls not going to seminary and need to learn the “adult” things now – at 16 or 17? Maybe, different high schools are required who are capable to do that.

    I’ve seen baalos teshuva learning during college and getting to a marriageable state in 2-3 years, without having much hesoron of missing on 12 years of pre-learning.

    This affliction is not unique to Jewish school. Public schools similarly have “pre-pre-algebra”, algebra 1,2,3 .. for years. Kids are capable of learnings xs and ys without drawing the stress for years.


    3. Social pressure
    Girls are absolutely for seminaries, and schools are telling them that their life will not be a life without it. Absolute madness. The patients taking charge of the asylum. This is deplorable and annoying and destructive to the yiddishkeit that we are trying to teach.

    anonymous Jew

    How many families can afford the $25,000 cost , on top of the other children’s tuition? Remember, no discount on airfare , other expenses or the tuition. What is deficient in the prior 12 years of education that makes ay seminary year necessary? If anything, the girls in seminary are living in a bubble that won’t be there when they come home


    I feel that the main issue is the money. Seminaries cost as much as a car these days and people are put into serious debt to make sure their daughter has “the best” because chas v’shalom what would the shadchan say? Not only that, it’s starting to make a rift between those who can afford 45k for each one of their daughters and those who simply cannot.

    Instead of doing away with seminaries, we should encourage graduating girls to attend local seminaries, and short summer or Yom Tov programs in Eretz Yisroel for the “Israel experience”.


    YS, (putting on a teacher’s hat):
    would you really say that $45K is too much to ensure your daughter’s neshoma, continuous (for the year) happiness, and secure future shidduch that comes with a haskoma of the line on the resume?
    Eibishte sent you these $45K (even more pre-tax if you happen to have a W2) – how else would you spend it? Now an actual quote from a teacher: and if money is an issue for you, I can help you find a seminary that will take her for free.


    Zaph BeebleShmeeble is a woman?


    American yeshivish cares about gender?


    @Always_Ask_Questions It is too much money.

    1. The price has gone up far more than inflation can count for.
    2. The neshomah and happiness can be achieved by going to local seminaries
    3. If spending a year in Israel is the price for a shidduch, the problem is on the Shadchanim and parents of boys who prioritize this narischkeit and they should all be given a stern talking to by that Rebbetzin my sisters were always so petrified of
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Daas, that’s only chumash, and it’s bedieved; the rambam says it’s better not to do it, but if she does, she gets schar. For anything else, the rambam doesn’t say that she gets schar at all in the context of limud hatorah, and it’s in fact assur to teach Torah shrle baal peh.

    If she gets schar, it’s obviously a mitzvah. She’s eina metzuvah v’osah, but regardless, it’s a mitzvah (like mitzvah aseh shehazman grama). The Ranbam is not mechalel between Torah shvaal peh and Torah shebichsav in this regard.

    The fact that we shouldn’t be teaching them is a separate point which doesn’t negate the first point. The chiluk between Torah shebichsav and Torah shbaal peh is said regarding this din of teaching her.


    YS, so for $15k, you’ll send the kid?


    @always_ask_questions Now you’re getting to a different matter. What price do we put on our children’s chinuch? If the local Yeshivish place charges $20k tuition, but there’s another place whose tuition is only $13k but the Rebbeim are B-class, what is one supposed to do?

    But to get back to seminaries, $15k is still a large amount of money, but over a year (and with loans, scholarships, FAFSA, etc.) it won’t bankrupt an average frum family.


    YS, I see your position: there is a ridiculous price and then there is a price where you can consider trade-offs :). I am with you here.

    This still leaves unanswered the question – what are they learning there that cannot be achieved by earlier learning and local learning and a family vacation in EY.

    Also, to $40K – maybe they justify it by the full price of having their credits transferred to colleges?
    I see these transfers working for several “Jewish colleges” but then one of the two:
    1) you are getting FAFSA and lower tuition in college, so seminary still “stands out”
    2) you are not getting FAFSA and then you might know of better options, such as higher-quality local colleges, and an idea of transferring credits to a lesser-quality high-price college is not appealing either.
    So, not sure who the market is for this.


    Daas, it says it’s like teaching her tiflus – you don’t get schar on teaching her tiflus…, But the words of the rambam are very clear:

    A woman who learns torah gets schar, but not like a man, and even though she has schar, chazal commanded us not to teach them, because most of them make Torah into stupidity

    Then the rambam quotes a chazal, that teaching torah to girls is like teaching them tiflus, and then adds bameh davarim amurim – qualifying it as going on torah shebichsav, – you’re assuming that this phrase is only going on the last thing he aaid, which is not true – if something is tiflus, theres certainly no schar! Torah shebichsav doesn’t become tiflus; it’s a lot harder to make stupidity out of chumash than it is gemara

    An exceptional woman who learns both torah shebaal peh and bechsav does have schar, since she’s not learning tiflus.

    But most of our girls are not, and likely no one alive today is, if most women in the rambam and chazals time were not on the level to learn torah properly, when they grew up in houses full of lomdei torah.

    So for almost or all girls learning today, they do not get schar if they learn gemara.


    Many of these discussions omit any reference to cost. Seminary is expensive for most frum Jews. Any meaningful evaluation must address the question of whether it is worth it, or whether there is a less costly way to achieve the benefits of seminary.


    What if they want to become a Yoetzet?


    Avira, it is R Eliezer who mentions tiflus, not everyone agrees…

    more importantly – how do we define capability? Definition of “gemora” is learning underlying reasons v. Mishna just halochos, not necessarily mastering tosfos. I am sure there are lots of ladies who are capable of learning and reasoning at that level at some topics. In my household, ladies are happy to discuss at that level agadot and issues that relate to interpersonal and practical application, with less interest in mahlokets Abaye and Rava.

    Note that at Rambam times, women might have better emuna, etc, but they were way less educated both in Jewish and secular matters. So, if they are doing graduate work in secular subjects (legit, not gender studies), they need to understand Jewish subjects at the same level, otherwise, they’ll see it as tiflus.


    Here we go with equating Torah ability with secular studies…

    They work differently.

    And if the rambam brings rebbe Eliezer, it IS halacha unless there are other rishonim abd achronim who don’t…and nobody does.


    I am not equating abilities. I am saying that people who have intellectual capabilities should not use them just for non-Torah subjects, leading to undervaluing of Torah by them – and, if R Eliezer and you do not care about their own views – transmitting it to their sons.

    Middos are transmittable, not just intellect, even strength – as R Yohanan sand to Resh Lakish.

    As to tiflus, it seems to be something we can reasonably analyze: schools & seminaries that end up producing tiflus outlived their purpose (circling to the topic), the ones that do not – do not, and I would be presumptuous enough to think that Rambam will agree with the observations.

    R Steinsaltz in his short book Essential Talmud (that, unfortunately, has almost as many references as Rambam’s Mishne Torah) brings several observations that girls were learned in families of Talmidei Chachamim, bringing examples, but also a notion that it is a good idea to marry a daughter of T’Ch because if something happens w/ the husband, she will be able to educate the children in Torah. Anyone knows what is his source?


    Asking what steinsaltz’s sources are is like asking the fat content of tap water

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Avirah, you are conflating teaching a woman Torah shebaal peh with her learning it on her own.

    Bottom line is that if she’s learning it properly, it’s a mitzvah, but not a chiyuv.


    In Lita it wasn’t uncommon for a woman to know gemaras due to the learning they were accustomed to hearing from their fathers at home.
    When I was single I didn’t really understand the issue of with it; once I got married I understood pretty quickly why women should not to learn gemara, Hameivin Yavin.


    pesachim 49a


    Daas, some differentiate between the two, and others don’t, but everyone agrees that most women(if not all in our time) do not get schar for torshb”p because they’re learning or being taught tiflus. The only difference is if a woman can trust her own assessment and learn on her own or not


    Avira, you need to step this annoying habit of disparaging people who are not in your derech. You are preventing me from using proper references to the ideas, as I don’t want to have their names dirtied (Chofetz Chaim suggests not to praise people because of that, but just quote …).
    Often, if I presume an argument without a name, it goes well through. In this case, Rav simply wrote a book in an easy style, summarizing Gemora in hundred small pages, not an easy feat.

    As to Rav’s sources, I know from personal experiences that his knowledge was vast, both in Jewish and non-Jewish sources. Besides asking him my own stupid questions on obscure topics, both in torah and otherwise, and getting sourced answers, I saw a professional historian confronting him about a detail in understanding of a modern philosopher after Rav mentioned him in passing, and Rav responded by a quote from his personal discussion with that philosopher and a reference to his own book where he discusses this particular issue. So, in this case, I can personally vouch for total emptiness of our criticism. This makes me discount your opinions where you might have more first or second-hand knowledge. So, I would suggest if you want to have your opinions respected, cut down on such knee-jerk reactions.


    lakewhut, indeed. When my daughters here about “learning Gemora” – they are against it. When I simply teach them what I learn from Gemora, they are pretty sharp and often mention ideas that both magid shiur and I missed, especially when the issue relates to interpersonal relationships. Remember (and many people write about it), that every gadol was early on taught by his mother, while the father was away learning or working.


    Dear Avira,

    If the girls don’t go to seminary, who will indoctrinate them into being yeshivish? And then our families may commit the three cardinal sins of being aware of Modernity, Chabad, or Zionism.

    השם ירחם


    AAQ, steinsaltz was called an apikores by the steipler and rav shach. He’s nothing. A gornisht. Chabad likes him because he liked the rebbe.

    Also, if the girls are making points you and the maggid shiur missed…probably time for a new maggid shiur. Or go to an iyun shiur where they don’t fly through a blatt in 30 minutes while drinking coffee.

    Nom – cute; I actually think I’m going to use that as a joke from now on. The gimmel chamuros are MO, Zionism, and Chabad, I like it.


    who do I believe – you or my lying eyes? I saw a number of mainstream yeshivish and chasidic (non-chabad) Rabonim sitting at the same table with the Rav, teaching with and under him, showing full respect. Why do you feel a need to insult other people’s teachers, I am not sure.

    Most magidim shiur that I know are excited when a student asks a question. And so am I when the kids do. You got me with the 30 (well, 90) minutes. It is the first time I got involved into Daf Yomi, as my previous maggid shiur used unprintable jokes about this approach, his question was – what page are we on this month?


    I need to bring my apology for putting a stumbling block l’fnei as poster here:

    I was kinda putoff by the baseless attack above alleging my maggid shiur is drinking coffee during the class and does not know what he is teaching … but then I realized from a post in another thread, that the poster probably presumed that the maggid is “MO” and, given poster’s opinion of “MO”, he sees it as a mitzva to say something bad about that “MO”.

    I am usually sensitive not to mislead people into learning something their Rebbe told them not to, so I usually preface the Torah I learned from someone non-charedi by saying who, or what derech, he is. So, here, I unfortunately mislead the poster into thinking that we are talking about an MO person, and so he committed his verbal aveiros against a pure charedi Talmid Chochom…

    I am not sure I need to apologize as he is not aware of the insult (Rav, if you are reading this, please accept my apology), and if the poster decides to ask the mehilah – I am not sure I should pass it for the same reason. So, maybe the kaporah is to go to all OOT Dapei Yom and buy them coffee.

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