What’s the difference between Torah uMaadah and Torah im Derech Eretz

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    I know there’s a difference but I’m not sure what it is.


    The difference seems to be the level of chashivus given to the non-Torah portion of the equation. Torah im derech eretz has Torah – along with derech eretz (secular studies). Torah u’mada has Torah and science – both of them equal or near-equal.

    This is not the way all followers of YU view it, and there is definite overlap between the two philosophies – but that’s a simplified description of the differences.

    an Israeli Yid


    I think this question is best answered by the Rov who led the Kehila of Torah Im Derech Eretz in America. Who can be a better authority than he. That, of course, is HaGaon HaRav Shimon Schwab ZT”L, Rav of the Torah Im Derech Eretz Congregation Adas Jeshurun in Washington Heights, the congregation started by TIDE founder HaGaon HaRav Samson Raphael Hirsch ZT’L:

    “However, in addition to the legitimate shitos we have discussed, there is yet another, more modern version in vogue called “Torah Umaada”. Apparently this is identical with Torah Im Derech Eretz, especially since both claim a belief in the priority of Torah over maada. Both seems exactly alike, but like two left gloves which cannot be worn together, they don’t fit! . . .

    “Rav Hirsch ZT’L has inscribed two emblems on his banner. One is Torah Im Derech Eretz and the other is the so-called “Austritt”, which means severance, or total and non-recognition of any type of institutionalized heresy, “minus” or apikursus. This is also a resolution not to contribute, participate in, or support any cause which accords validity to the disbelief in Hashem or to the denial of the authenticity of Torah shebiksav or Torah shebaal peh. In other words, “Austritt” states that the Torah is our sovereign ruler, and it makes us independent of all those who deny its Divine origin…
    “To summarize, Torah im derech eretz without Austritt is considered treif l’chol hadeios! Even if you call it Torah Umaada.”

    (Selected Essays pp.160-162)


    The Hirshian philosophy of Torah Im derech eretz, as far I understand it, is that secular knowledge is valuable and should be learned as it ultimately derives from Torah and can be used to enhance one’s Torah learning and relationship with Hashem. There is a debate about whether R Hirsch intended this approach as a means to deal with the situation facing his kehilla at the time, or whether it was a l’chatchila for all times and places.
    I am less familiar with YU thinkers, but I believe that the YU philosophy of Torah Umada sees Mada as a value in itself, separate from Torah, that should be mastered in order for a person to be complete.


    Torah I’m Derech Eretz was an ehrliche shitoh that was imbued with Yiraas Shamayim. Everything is subject to the authority of Torah values and Torah is the ikar.
    “Torah Umada” is an excuse to do whatever you want.


    Winnie, I was always taught that the Mada portion has value by itself because EVERYTHING is in the Torah – we just don’t always recognize it as such. However, we still recognize that Hashem and the Torah are the supreme authority.
    I guess TIDE would allow the secular learning only as far as it’s needed for a specific purpose – for parnassah, or to help understand the sugyah you are learning at the time.
    Torah U’Madah, as I understand, says to learn all you can, because it’s all part of the Torah, whether you can see where it is or not. Just remember that it’s all part of the Torah, and remember that we must always follow the Torah.


    More from Rav Schwab:

    “And now we address ourselves to our chaveirim bedeah, our achim bemitzvos of the Rabbinical Council of America. Ad masai? How long do you want to remain a branch, without becoming part of the tree? . . . We say to our achim b’mitzvos, “have Rachmonus with yourselves, and lemaan Hashem, part company with those who have given obscene semichah to to’evah clergymen” . . . Have rachmonus with yourselves, and break off your professional relationship with those who, for instance, consider Yishu HaNotzri merely a failed moshiach . . .We implore you . . . to part company with those gravediggers of Torah. I know it is a painful subject but it is unavoidable . . . We call on you to join us, the true Modern Orthodoxy [Rav Schwab is referring to previous statements of his that MO is today outdated and “anything but modern”], which is a generation of sincere mevakshei Hashem”.

    (Selected Essays, pp. 90-91)


    Torah u’Mada is in the mind.

    Torah im derech eretz is in reality.

    It is equally compatible and incompatible.

    It’s up to you.

    My apologies to Rav Schwab.

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