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Speaker Rivlin: Gemara Must be Studied in Public Schools Too

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has called on bringing limudei gemara to the state’s public schools. His comments were part of his bracha to those completing the 12th cycle of limud Shas Bavli.

Rivlin stated “Last week we marked the siyum of shas in many Jewish communities around the world, those studying daf yomi, a 7.5 year cycle.

“Back in תרל”ז my great grandfather R’ Yoshiya Rivlin began learning daf yomi in Yerushalayim. The initiative of the rav from Lublin has resulted in a major enterprise throughout the Jewish world that numbers hundreds of thousands of participants in a consistent process of learning from the greatest spiritual treasures of our culture. Jews in every continent, country and major city sit and study daily, sharing the spiritual experience of the Talmud.”

The speaker added “in my youth we also studied the Talmud in state schools. Former MK Yosef Burg z”l was a Gemara teacher in the Herzliya Gymnasia School. Today, to my sorrow, the non-religious young all but have lost any contact with Gemara. I hope that the impressive event, the completion of the Talmud will serve to reintroduce its study to the next generation, the future of the State of Israel.”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

25 Responses

  1. Ruby Rivlin is a helige yid who wants to see the spiritual, physical and security growth of Am Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel.

    The kiddush hashem of the Siyumim Hashas in Eretz Yisroel was unreal, even the non predictible medias of Haaretz, Maariv and other papers all gave a positive spin to Limud Hatorah. We are on the way to a Geula Shelayma, for sure!

  2. Without Emunah from the parents, how can we explain to child why we don’t return an Aveida to Johnny next door, or why we don’t return his financial error, or why we don’t pay him when we are Maazik his belongings.

    How does a Fraya child look at a Gemoroh that holds, that at night, the sun goes from west to east over a non-transparent blanket called Sky, and the moon is underneath that blanket shining onto us with its own light?

    Before learning, we need a strong Emunah.

  3. In this case, Rivlin is correct. All students in EY, whether in public schools or yeshivot, should be taught some talmud and other limudei torah. Its part of our culture even for those who claim to be secular and not shomrei torah umitzvot. I’m ordinarily opposed to mixing religion in public schools here in the U.S. but EY is a totally different situation.

  4. if gemora is introduced as part of a core curriculum it would inevitably be taught by non-religious teachers who will have no sense of the kedusha of torah and it could even be detrimental to the future teshuva prospects for these kids. they need to learn about basic jewish history and become literate before delving into the ‘yam shel talmud’.

  5. well Mr Yira, I assume you think that Ohr Somayach has it all wrong then?
    first learn torah for an hour, then ask any question you want.

    I assume you know what chazal said about the posuk in Novi “אותי עוזבו”
    …”הלואי אותי עוזבו ותורתי שמרו”

  6. to Yira – there are multiple explanations to Gemaras that are not in accord with modern scientific knowledge that a good teacher can bring in, even to a non-frum audience. The emunah can come in after – it’s good to have some familiarity even without such emunah.

    an Israeli Yid

  7. To number 2 They will discuss it the same way Modern Orthodox like me discuss it. Chazal was wrong about science, and the halachas you mention have loop holes that override them. This question could be the same for any person studying Gemara, I have begun to learn it, and these type of statements are very difficult to deal with.

  8. Yira (#2) writes: ” … why we don’t return his financial error …”

    This is correct mi’ykar hadin, but the Beer HaGolah writes that one should return taus akum in order to marbe k’vod shomayim. He further writes that those who practiced his eitza saw much brocha in their lives because of it.

  9. #2: Specifically, we need Emunas Chachamim. All of the words of the Gemara are Emes. On the other hand, there are many levels of understanding of the gemara, so that which might appear, in a “pashut peshat” understanding to be counterintuitive, is explained clearly on a deeper level.

    In Torah, keeping an “open mind” goes well beyond the secular definition.

    “Ki lo Machsevosai machsevoseichem.”

  10. Yira, I don’t understand what you are saying. First, there is a big kiddush Hashem to be made by returning Johnny’s aveidah. And yes, you do have to pay if you are mazik his belongings, at minimum because dina d’malchusa dina.
    But what I really don’t understand is the part you wrote about where the sun goes at night. You are not really serious, are you? We know exactly where the sun goes at night, and it is not above a non-transparent shell!

  11. Shazam, it is absolutely untrue that in the scientific sense, “all of the words of the Gemara are emes.”
    There are clear errors in science, leading to clear ramifications for halachah. I have no doubt that had the chachamim been paskening today, in light of modern science, many halachos would have been decided differently.

  12. To AviGold

    See the Gemoroh Psochim 94B, and Rashi on Rosh Hashanah Daf 24A, Line 13. Also see Gilyon Hashaas on Pesochim 94B, that the Chachomim persisted in our belief that at night the sun travels from west to east above the sky. Thats why we dont accept the idea of differing time zones.

    The gemoroh holds that when it becomes night in one part of the world it is night in the entire universe.

    Regarding Kiddush Hashem, Imagine if I save your child from drowning, and I tell everybody that i am so happy that I was successful, because I made a Kiddush Hashem. Doesn’t that show that I don’t really care about the welfare of your child?

  13. Easy part first: I have no idea what you are talking about regarding Kiddush Hashem.
    Now, the Gemara in Pesachim says that “nir’in divreihem mi’dvareinu,” that is, the Gemara admits that the chachmei umos ha’olam were correct.
    But admission or no admission, the fact is that the Gemara is totally wrong on the science.
    Again, I am speechless regarding what you say. West to East? Are you serious?
    And while you are correct that the Gemara thought there are no time zones, because it held the world to be flat, do YOU believe that? I don’t know where you live, but say you live in New York: do you end Shabbos at the same time that they do in Israel, when it is dark there and afternoon here? I must assume you are joking, but this matter is too serious to joke about, since critical halachos are involved.

  14. Yira,
    In a nutshell, here is what the chachmei haTalmud believed, at least most of them.
    They believed that the earth had a flat surface and was surrounded by a hard shell top that was a semi-circle, at some point actually touching, or almost touching, the earth. They believed that the sun entered this shell during the daytime and exited at night, traveling back over the shell to its starting point, that is, from west to east. In other words, the earth was stationary and the sun moved.
    Here is what we know: The earth is a sphere. The sun continues in its path without stop and without turning back (actually, it is the earth that moves, but for simplicity’s sake we will use the perceived motion of the sun relative to the earth). There is no hard shell over the earth’s surface. Yira, any school child knows this, and all yeshivos that have science classes, even the most right-wing, teach this!

  15. Avi, To say that chazal wuld have paskened differently in light of science seems to me to be borderline kefira in torah shel baal peh. It is also laughable to make such a statement as if we come up to Chazals toenails to know what they would have done.
    For those who say flat out that Chazal were wrong about science, I think we went through this a few years ago and R’ Elyashiv paskened that books making that argument should be banned. That being the case I’m not sure how the moderator allowed the comment through in the first place.

  16. The argument among the Jewish chachomim and the chachmei umos haolam was not an argument among the talmudic sages. Rebbi who recorded the mishna 200 years before the talmud was recorded, is quoted by that gemara as saying that the opinion of the chachmei umos haolam seems correct. And that is how the gemara concludes. Rav Hai Gaon, Rav Shereira Gaon, and the Rambam among others say that Rebbi was conceding to the opinion of chachmei umos haolam. Although there is an opinion quoted in Gilyon Hashas that says that Rebbi just meant to say that the chachmei umos haolam have a more reasonable opinion however the chachomim knew their opinion to be true and did not concede. It is shocking to me, how so many of you were so quick to judge the wisdom of our chachomim whose intelligence and genius far outways that of those who posted their opinions without first verifying the sources.

  17. This topic is science?, these are basic facts of life. The Chazal even know exactly what Hashem is constantly doing, and what goes on with a person after 120, or exactly whats going to be in Yimos Hamoshiach. How could they not know that when it became Yom Kippur in Bavel, it was still Erev Yom Kippur in E”Y, because it is a later time-zone?
    Which time-zone does Hashem keep? When do Malochim say Shira during the “night?”
    When Hashem was at Har Sinai, which time-zone did He keep then?, Or a time-zone for Makas Bchoros?.
    Did the Chazal hold that the moon was only a reflection of tha sun? How did they Teitch “V’es Hamo’or Hakoton”?

  18. Avi Gold – you claim you know what most chachmei hatalmud believe, when in truth, most chachmei hatalmud did not express their opinion on this matter. Quite the contrary, the gemara pesachim that does discuss this, concludes that evidence supports the chachmei umos haolam that the sun travels beneath the earth. You are also wrong when you say that they believed the earth was flat. Then you say your opinion that they were wrong on science and you call it a fact?!

  19. I will answer each comment separately.
    To Sam:
    Among those who say that Chazal would have/should have paskened differently in light of different scientific knowledge is the Pachad Yitzchak (not Rav Hutner, the other one, from several hundred years ago). He writes that he would not kill a kinnah on Shabbos, EVEN THOUGH THE GEMARA SAYS YOU CAN, because today (in his time) we know that lice to not reproduce spontaneously. Unless you are prepared to ban the Pachad Yitzchak from battei midrash as a kofer…
    Nonetheless, I did not mean to be so declarative; I really don’t know how Chazal would have paskened the difficult issues that arise from possessing different scientific knowledge. But it makes sense that if something is a halachah l’Moshe miSinai, that is, it was given in definitive form to Moshe, that would not change. But if a halachah was decided based on the 13 middos, the Rambam states clearly that these can change.
    As for Rav Elyashiv, I don’t know how the question was presented to him, but the list of those who say there are mistakes by Chazal in science is a long one. On that list are the Rambam, Rav Avraham ben HaRambam, Rav Hirsch, and many others. Should they be banned?

  20. Ricky,
    I don’t understand what you are trying to say. No one believes that the sun turns back at night and goes above the earth! No one: not a single gadol alive today would say this. At most, those who believe that the Gemara was incapable of scientific error will say that the Gemara was not speaking literally. While I believe they are wrong — I think it is clear the Gemara means what it says — at least this group concedes the scientific truths that we know today.

  21. Yira, you are asking good questions.
    So you tell us: Did Chazal know that when it was Yom Kippur in Bavel, one could still eat in Eretz Yisrael? Yes or no?
    If yes, then why did you say there are no time zones? If no, then I ask you again, when Shabbos ends in Israel, are you, living in New York, prepared to do melachah in broad daylight?

  22. Ricky,
    The sun does not actually travel “beneath the earth” at night, and the reason given in Pesachim why Chazal conceded to the chachmei umos ha’olam (that water cools more slowly than land at night) has nothing to do with where the sun is!
    As for the shape of the earth, I challenge you to find even one place where the Gemara declares the earth to be a sphere. In fact, if you do, Yira will be quite upset, since Yira is of the opinion that there are no time zones!
    Keep in mind that the Shevus Yaakov, a major posek of 300 years ago, held that it was kefirah to hold that the world is round!
    Finally, I don’t know the moderator’s rules; I would hope that as long as the discourse is civil and as long as one can defend himself within the confines of Torah, the comments will be permitted.

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