Why Do People Knock Agudath Israel?

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    I have no strong bias for or against YU so let me try:

    Torah uMada refers to Yeshiva University’s motto. Mada in Ivrit translates to science or scientific knowledge.

    And I am just pre-empting anyone who wants to post out of line stuff maliciously by posting it in good fun: every Purim presentation at or regarding YU used to refer to Torah Doesn’t Madda. One of the machers on their board of trustees thought he would change the motto to Torah uMadoff but that one cost them $115 million or so.

    Honestly, I see YU moving ‘rightward’ where secular knowledge is not studied for anything but parnosso, and the Litvish yeshiva world (and less isolationist Chassidim, if not a particular Chassidus then a growing number of individuals across the Chassidishe velt) realizing that professional training is a must for parnosso in the modern world.

    Therefore, the two supposed opposites will converge at some point if they have not already.

    AS for increased materialism in Lakewood (or Bnei Brak or Chabad or Satmar or YU or Chaim Berlin etc etc) what happened is very simple. The first generation expected little gashmius. Many were survivors who were happy and thankful just to be alive. Others were survivors of the ‘no work Saturday, you’re fired Monday’ days and always lived with real mesirus nefesh.

    Most importantly, the US economy was just not as developed and there were fewer wealthy people in general.

    Now, it is possible to succeed far more easily than it was then, and people’s expectations are higher. So, people see their wealthy neighbors in business and think of ways to have their cake and eat it too by finding the means to live well while learning full time.

    For some, that means the rich father in law or parents. Sadly for others, it can mean deep debt or falling victim to the yetzer and getting involved in that which is not permissible by halacha or civil law.

    Bekitzur, at one time the yetzer challenged us with poverty and persecution. Now, even with the bad economy, the challenge is staying who we are amidst the potential for great wealth.

    The kollel system will probably have to be revamped; universal kollel does not work and neither does kollel only because of peer pressure. Still, I think we will rise to the challenge over the next 10-15 years and we will see more kosher ways of obtaining professional training and more opportunities to learn and earn.

    And of course Moshiach is more than welcome long before 10-15 years from now!


    Let’s just remember that the YU motto is “Torah U’Madda” rather than “Madda U’Torah”.


    Every few months this discussion is rehashed. Let’s drop it, and accept upon ourselves not to bring it up again. Neither side is making or has ever made any progress here or on any blog.

    Neither the YU side nor the Yeshivish side is going to accept the criticism of their respective institutions. This is also not the venue for initiating neutral parties, which is the main reason, I think, why we defend our positions here.

    Can we agree?


    Squeak, I have no problem with criticism about YU. What you wrote is NOT criticism.

    But I agree, this conversation should probably end.


    Squeak, the same “Neither side will give in” argument could be made for every thread in the Coffee Room that doesn’t involve soup or funny stories. The Coffee Room IS the Argument Room.

    “This isn’t an argument!”

    “Yes it is!”

    “No it isn’t!”

    Pashuteh Yid

    Jfem, welcome back.

    Squeak, notice that I did not mention the motto isssue at all in my previous posts. That is because it is so silly. Five reasons:

    1) Torah Umada means simply Torah in the morning and Mada in the afternoon. Period. Just like all Chareidi mesivtas have.

    2) Mottos are irrelevant. If I want to open a shul and call it Bnei Bozo Ohavei Yayin, does that mean one can’t daven there? If it is run according to halacha, the name is irrelevant.

    3) Do you also favor eradicating the motzaei Shabbos shemoneh esrei? It says Atah Chonantanu l’MADA TORASECHA? Notice those two poisonous words. If it was good enough for chazal, it is good enough for YU.

    4) The bogus claim that they put mada before torah in importance is historically incorrect. For many years YU was only a Yeshiva. It was only later they added a college. So how can you claim that they hold secular studies are the ikar?

    5) You will say that some interpret Torah Umada as meaning they are equal. Well every year some of the Ivy league schools have a debate on Latkes vs. Hamantashen. They darshen all kinds of deep meanings into each one. It is all silly.

    Your point that at the Mir they will not give college credits to be used at Touro is a mayseh listor, and proves my point. The gedolim were against ALL secular studies which is why in EY chareidim do not even learn them in high school. Even in a kosher place like Touro they don’t like them. The hate for YU is simply an extension of this dislike of secular studies in general.

    Your claim that the required Bible (Biblical Exegesis) courses contain apikursis is not believeable unless you provide a clear example. Neither you nor I ever took one of these courses, so you would need to provide written source material of something which was taught that is kefirah.

    Finally, if you believe they hold secular are equal, provide a clear example of something which differs from the Chareidi viewpoint to secular studies. I.e., do Chareidim allow secular studies for parnasah? What about to study science to see the gadlus haborei? What about someone who loves American History as a hobby? What about someone who believes that if you don’t speak English well or are unfamiliar with classic authors like Mark Twain, you make a bad impression on the world at large in America. Feel free to provide your own scenario or use one of my list of one who studies secular studies for supposedly forbidden reasons, and how they differ between the Yeshivishe view and the YU view.


    I have resolved not to continue the argument, but let me clarify what I said about the Mir credits, since you misunderstood. What he said was no for Touro, yes for other colleges.


    Norman Lamm felt that one should make a bracha of birchas hatorah before entering a chemistry lab. His writings espose the idea that Madda is an essential part of Torah. Not a yeshivish shita. Learning for parnassah is permitted, but it’s like going to the bathroom- permitted but not something on the same level as Torah. Torah V’Daas was originally Torah and secular studies, but the meaning got lost over the years as they embraced the idea of Yeshiva talmidim learning full time. I once heard a tape from Rabbi Rakefet-Rothkof (Nachum Siegal show during the 9 days) where he claimed that torah umadda was as opposed to Torah im Derech Eretz, and it meant madda on a lower level. however, the writings of Norman Lamm and other clearly contraindicate this.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Squeak, I understood. It is because they don’t want any Jewish institution being associated with secular knowledge. BTW, what do they feel about Machon Lev (Jerusalem College of Technology) in Israel?


    PY: squeak said the Yeshiva was against Touro (and obviously YU) but NOT against a secular (non-“Jewish”) college.


    Being “run” is a loaded term. On “big deal” issues tha agudah still represents daas torah from gedolei yisroel.

    Reb Eliezer

    When it comes to a vaccine mandate, one’s reason not to vaccinate must be truly fully evaluated as it affects not only them but also everyone else they come in contact with becoming a question of לא תעמוד על דם רעך, cause no harm to others. The mandate is a last resort to encourage people to vaccinate.


    RebE > The mandate is a last resort to encourage people to vaccinate.

    There may be smarter ways. Seems that making some requirements pushes the group that is on the fence, but not those who are totally obstinate. So, a hard mandate creates a conflict. Maybe, softer mandates would work better – charge people more, make them test weekly and pay in part. Also, there are lots of government programs that could be used as leverage – why not pay extra welfare or free food to those who vaccinate.

    R Twersky reports that he had a group of CEOs that were routinely late (because they were busy people). They all agreed that a late comer should throw $20 for tzedokah – and this small change worked. Today’s Daf talks about a teacher of little children who would give kids a little piece of fish to interest them in learning. Being nice might work.

    Reb Eliezer

    I got a Pfizer booster shot after 7 months of getting a J&J shot and a flu shot.


    RE: Now that you got both Pfizer and J&J, please let us all know which of the two is the better shot.

    Reb Eliezer

    ujm, how do I know that as long they protect me from COVID.


    > which of the two is the better shot.

    Diversify! by the data reviewed by FDA advisors, J&J and then mRNA produces as much antibodies as third mRNA booster. Does not seem to work this way in opposite direction though.


    Py – there is a difference between tora umadda and tora and parnossa.

    There is an issur in shulchan aruch quite clearly stated against secular studies for their own sake. Torah uMadda flies in the face of this.

    Tora uParnossa – I e. The chiyyuv to teach your children a trade is a different matter altogether.

    The issues of apikursus and licentiousness that are rampant in any college atmosphere need to be dealt with even vis a vis parnosso. But for instance in ey one goes to college and just learns his trade. My son for example, recieved an excellent education in a high tech field wo having waste his time studying narishkeit. Unfortunately in America that is not an option for many fields.

    Also, why are we only open to college. Their are plenty of decent careers in fields that one can go to vocational school for.


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