Friday, August 18, 2006


Chilul Hashem does not mean we have to live up to whatever the Goyim think is good, but rather we have to live up, publicly, to what we know is good.

Chilul Hashem is when the Jews are seen as doing something wrong, such as immorality or another kind of sin, c"v. It is not our job to know secular studies and therefore it is no chilul Hashem if the goyim see we do not know them.


To know what’s going on the world, you do not need a college education. The idea that people who don't go to college are somehow "cavemen" (a quote from Norman Lamm about Yeshiva people) is naive and ignorant, and it makes it difficult, if not humorous, to listen to instructions on how to understand world events from people who make that comment, which shows they have no idea what’s going on even in their own community, never mind the world. Naivete has nothing to do with a degree.

And in business, too, those without college education do well enough for themselves, as is seen in the Chasidic communities, as well as the secular ones themselves.

Chaim Dovid Zwiebel is a nice guy and a lay leader of a large Orthodox organization, but he is not a Torah authority in anybody's book, and as such his actions do not constitute "maaseh rav". His going to college is subject to the same commentary as anyone else's.

The proof for the area of a circle comes from Tosfos, not the Gemora, and it is a display of ingenious logic rather than secular knowledge. It is clear that different sages had different levels of mathematical knowledge, and Rashi, to name just two, clearly was not mathematically educated secularly, but used logic and application of first principles to formulate mathematical conclusions.

Much of the seeming secular knowledge of our sages was acquired by them through the Torah, not secular sources. The Chazon Ish, for instance, had zero secular education even as a small child, yet his Seforim show a thorough knowledge of math and astronomy - especially in his treatise on the international date line.

If a sage who lived in our parents' lifetime (some of us, anyway) could acquire such vast worldly knowledge through Torah, our Chazal and Rishonim could surely learn much more.


The battle against YU by the Yeshiva world is not, nor was it, a simple issue of Halachic or Hashkafic disagreement which can be dismissed as routine if accompanied with the obligatory respect for the opposing view, as per ailu v'alu etc.

Not so. Rather, YU was viewed as a deviant, dangerous, and anti-Torah entity that doesn’t deserve the respect of a legitimate Torah position, even a mistaken one.

Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL, and Rav Schneur ZTL after him, would under no circumstances even walk into YU. Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZTL also, when he came to America in the '30s, was invited to speak in YU, and he refused to even walk in to the place.

Rav Soloveichik, although a very great Gaon in Torah, lost the status in the Torah world that a Gaon of such caliber would normally merit, due to his Hashkofos that were deemed anti-Torah. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL once commented about Rav Soloveitchik, "He is responsible for the majority of Tumah in America." Also from the same Rav Aharon, "He destroyed an entire generation of Jews." His son, grandchildren, and numerous Talmidim would attest to this.

He was often referred to, even by Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva, with the derogatory "J.B.".

Rav Soloveichik's funeral was almost totally ignored by the Yeshiva world, as was the Azkara. He was treated as tragic "could have been", who unfortunately wasn't.

Of course, this is all very offensive to the students of YU, and I understand that. But if we're going to understand what the issues are, then, we need to be honest and put the positions on the table, whether we like them or not. And here are the issues:

The difference between the inadequacies at YU versus the inadequacies in Yeshivos is that YU made their inadequacies into philosophical positions thereby not merely doing wrong, but changing the definition of wrong. To do wrong is a violation of the Torah, and yes, many types of Jews do that. But to make wrong into right is to change the Torah, either explicitly or implicitly. YU has done. That amounts to a new, deviant movement within Judaism, and that is the problem with YU. The good, the bad, the gray areas - are all considered part and parcel of the official YU position.

Please understand, YU is a business, not a Yeshiva, and it is run by the Board of Directors, not the Roshei Yeshiva (except to the extent that the leaders - the board - can be pressured by its constituency - the Roshei Yeshiva and students).

That's fine, except when business decisions are understood to be philosophical positions you have big problems. And although many Boards of many institutions wield influence, please note that YU has and never had any Rosh Yeshiva who was the official leader and policy maker for the institution. The Board has always been the official "Rosh". Even Rav Soloveichik was merely an employee, and, although he was called Rosh Yeshiva (and even went raising money like a Rosh Yeshiva), his power was still that of an employee, much less than a real Rosh Yeshiva should have.

Nowhere else will you find the "President" of a Bais HaMedrash constantly representing (and creating) the Torah positions of the institution without reviewing every single word of his speeches with the official Rosh Yeshiva. In YU, Dr. Lamm, though he was merely President, and not Rosh Yeshiva, had full right to get up and speak to the world about the official policies and positions of YU, even though the Roshei Yeshiva may not have agreed with him. Nowhere does a lay leader become a setter of policy for a Yeshiva.

Add to that the wrongheaded Hashkofos being taught even by some of the Roshei Yeshiva there, and you have a formula for disaster.

Example: Originally, RIETS did not even allow English studies. The Rabbonim in charge would not allow it. They were instituted when a group of students went on strike demanding the school toss its standards of right and wrong and teach secular studies. The rabbis were against, the Board was for.

And so were secular studies introduced into RIETS.

Now, as Dr. Lamm pointed out in his farewell speech, MO (and YU) consider secular studies in and unto themselves, intrinsically valuable, not merely as a utilitarian tool for Parnasa or Kiruv etc. But the fact that all knowledge "comes from G-d" gives all knowledge "value" that demands we spend time pursuing it, instead of spending that time on Torah and Mitzvos.

This goes beyond the idea that secular studies can - and should - be used as a tool to attain and support Torah and Mitzvos. And it underscores the difference between the secular studies taught in the Yeshiva high schools versus that of YU. YU has made a value out of secular studies in itself. "Torah umadah" is a totally non-Jewish concept, assimilated into the official philosophy of YU, at least as espoused by their President. To teach secular studies as a concession or an unfortunately necessity, which in the Yeshivos it clearly is, is not changing the values of the Torah. But to espouse that taking people out of the Bais HaMedrash for second Seder and to earn a degree in Law is a step up, is an unacceptable attack on Hashem and His Torah (and no, it is not nearly the same as Rav SR Hirsch, which has been discussed in several places on these boards).

The Netziv of Volozhen closed his entire Yeshiva rather than institute secular studies, and the reason he gave is, there needs to be a "Havdolah" - separation - between Kodesh and Chol. We sometimes need Chol, but we dare not blur the edge between it and Kodesh. YU has not only blurred the edge between them, but has actually claimed that Chol is in the category of Kodesh. That is its biggest problem.

Nothing has intrinsic value except Torah. Everything else is Hevel Hevolim.

But this is only part of the assimilation into non-Jewish culture and values that YU represents.

The unacceptable socializing that goes on between the YU boys and Stern girls, the partying, the inter-collegiate and spectator sports, the bales of Apikorsus to be found in their library, ideas espoused even in the Limudei Kodesh courses that are against the Torah, never mind secular courses where clear anti-Torah ideas and ideals are taught by teachers who have all but carte blanche to say whatever they want, the teaching of Gemorah to girls, and worse yet, the excuse given for it, that "If we teach them medicine and law, they can learn Gemora too", the Zionism, the allowance of gay clubs (money is no excuse; if they were Neo-Nazi clubs, they would not be tolerated - the issue is the lack of understanding that gay clubs are just as repulsive to G-d).

YU's goal is to create a "synthesis" between secular learning and torah learning. That synthesis would be bad enough in and of itself - there must be a separation, not a synthesis between the two - but what has happened is not merely a synthesis between the Torah and secular studies, but a synthesis between a Torah and a secular lifestyle, between Torah values and secular ones. And it's often hard to tell which is which.

The Board of Directors didn't even want Rav Soloveichik to be the Rosh Yeshiva. When Rav Lazer Silver wrote a letter importuning them to accept him as rosh, they responded with a scathing answer refusing to do so. Only when the students themselves got involved and protested on his behalf did the Board reluctantly give in.

Harris L. Selig, an administrator and fund raiser for YU, wrote ("Standardizing the Hebrew Schools of America"):

"Practically every great college and university was founded originally as a religious seminary. Harvard as a Congregationalist, and Brown as a Baptist seminary. Our Yeshiva College, too, springs from what was originally a Rabbinical seminary, and is it too much to expect that in time, it too, like other great American institutions, will be one of the foremost colleges in this country...."

That YU should become another totally secular college, like Yale or Harvard, that was his vision of success for YU.

Rav Soloveichik's position in all of this is less clear. What is clear is that he definitely believed that secular studies are not only OK, but an advantage for a Ben Torah. Rabbi Moshe Zvi Brodsky, son-in-law of Rav Nochum Pertrovich ZTL of Mir, once approached Rav Soloveichik with comments on a Yohrtzeit Shiur he just attended. Rav Soloveichik liked the comments. He asked Rabbi Brodsky, "Did you go to college"?

"No," Brodsky said.

"Tsk. That's a pity," answered Rav Soloveichik.

He espoused Zionism, stating that even if Jews have to die in order to have a Jewish (religious) State, their deaths are "worthwhile".

He declared that the reason the gedolim do not agree with him about secular studies is because they "lack the courage" to admit their mistake, even though they know they are wrong (!). For anyone familiar with the courageousness of people like Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL and his peers, such statements merely cause the listener to raise an eyebrow, shrug his shoulders and wonder.

There are people in YU - and Stern - that have no idea what among their education and environment is Jewish, what is secular, what is Torah, what is not. And the answer will depend on who you ask. There is a girl on these boards, a Russian immigrant, who wrote how after she graduated from a BY school in Brooklyn she decided to go to college at Stern because "at least it's Jewish". What she found, she says, is the same non-Jewishness as the secular colleges, but under the guise of a "Jewish place". It is so confusing to her, she says, because now she has no idea what in Stern in "Jewish" and what is "secular".

That is exactly the type of misrepresentation that YU and Stern cause, which is due to the Taaruvos - synthesis - of Kodesh and Chol, where there is supposed to be a Havdalah bein Kodesh L'chol.

Of course it is possible for a person to be in YU and be a Ben Torah. And of course it is possible for a Rebbi in YU to have proper Hashkofos (it’s only a job), but the risk is great. And what YU stands for, and what it has come to represent to the masses, is something that our Gedolim wanted to make sure nobody accepts as legitimate.


Rav Aharon said many times that he will not enter YU because it is bad. His son, Rav Schneur, followed suit. The fact that Rav Moshe went into YU does not show he was not opposed to it, but rather that even if he is opposed to it, that doesn’t mean he may not enter it. Different Gedolim had different ways of expressing themselves in these issues. Even among those who actually taught in YU, there were those who were opposed to the whole place and would have been very happy if it would have never been in existence (I am referring to Rav Gorelick). Rav Aharon wanted to make a statement in that way - it does not mean anyone who does not make that type of statement disagrees with him (PS I have been in YU myself numerous times, in the Bais Medrash, in the dorms, in the classrooms and mostly in the library, but obviously I am opposed) Rav Moshe in fact held Halachicly - and this is in writing - that it is assur to go to college, and that the "college Yeshivos" are doing terrible damage to Klall Yisroel.

It makes no difference whether there are some Rebbeim in YU who are not messed up. The fact that the President of a "Yeshiva" can get up and refer to Bnei Torah as "cavemen" because they do not go to college, and the fact that anti-Torah activities do take place there regardless of whether you "talmidim" go against your Rebbeim or not (I happen to own a copy of the "Guide to the Perplexed"), means that the institute as a whole must be opposed. The fact that in Rabbi Aharon Kahn's classroom you will not hear and heresy of chutzpah against the Torah does not negate the corruption of the institution as a whole. Because it is a business - as opposed to other Yeshivas who have a business element which does not set policy for the Yeshiva but merely the administrative offices - you can have people like Lamm, or Rackman, or even worse spouting all kinds of drivel in the name of Torah. And you can have an Avi Weiss and others like him teaching under its auspices. Its nice that you and your friends can (supposedly) decide on your own what is real Judaism and what is not, but not everybody is on your level. Here is a post of a few days ago:

The issue of tsniut is also a question of social norms. At YU in the 50's through 60's or 70's, they had mixed dances as official events. If the roshei yeshiva believed that such were assur, they would have banned the dances.

Obviously, this is not so, but can you blame this person for thinking this way?

Secular studies are not considered Limudei Kodesh, but to many people in YU - including some "Roshei Yeshivos" - they are necessary not merely for Parnasa but for becoming a Ben Torah, and that is not acceptable.

Rav Soloveichik himself is a different issue, though related.

Whatever Torah there is in YU, it is mixed with values of non-Jewish society, behaviors and messages that are repulsive to Hashem and His Torah, and therefore, the institution as a whole is opposed by Torah leaders and Bnei Torah. If someone can survive all the confusion and fusion and misguidance, fine, Hashem helps many. But the fact that those things are there puts YU in a category well below what we may accept in an institution that claims to be a Yeshiva.


Plenty of great Rabbonim were Roshei Yeshiva in YU, but they made it clear that they did not hold for what was going on there. Some even told their good students to leave if they want to be Bnei Torah. It was a job - a Kiruv job partly, but something they reluctantly accepted because of their own reasons, but NONE of them ever said that they agree with YU's philosophy at all. Plenty of Chareidi Rebbeim teach nowadays in Hebrew Academies and even coed schools but that doesn’t mean they think its right.

The fact that someone taught there does not mean he agrees with what they do there.

But the fact that there were Rabbonim who disagreed SO MUCH that they even refused to walk in there, is telling.


It's not a question of "wrong". It's a question of how we want to spend our time and our life. Years in college could be spent acquiring eternities in Gan Eden.

Also, separate classes in Touro college still leave a lot of room for the Yetzer Horah to maneuver. It's better than secular colleges where classes are mixed, but the proximity and intermingling of boys and girls even in such a setting is less than what we would want if we had our own choice.


Even though it is definitely important to utilize your time properly, it is also true that the more you learn the more Mitzvah you get - each and every additional word of Torah you learn makes a substantial change in your Neshoma's madreigah - and that there is a big difference between learning Torah, and becoming a Godol BaTorah or a Talmid Chacham, which you cannot do by learning daf yomi only.

We cannot compare ourselves to the shevatim. Them going to work and us going to work are two different things. Each of the shavatim were great Neviim, able to resurrect the dead in an instant. They learned more torah in their minds during every moment that their arms and legs were working, than a great Torah scholar can today, during his entire lifetime in the Bais HaMedrash.

The Belzer Rebbe ZT"L explained that when the Gemorah describes the merit of earning a living it uses the phrase "haneheneh m'yegias kapoh" - someone who makes a living form the work of "his hands". Meaning, said the Sar Sholom of Belz ZT"L, while his hands are working, he has his mind free for learning.

For us to take direction, we must look into the Halachah, which was written for us, rather than apply to us principles that applied to great prophets. And in the Halacha - Shulchan Aruch Hilchos Talmud Torah, and Shach ad loc - it is clear that it is a great Mitzvah to learn all day even if you have to be supported by the community.

The reason is because even though you are able to learn some Torah and work also, to become a Godol BaTorah or a Talmid Chacham - in other words, to reach your potential in learning, you must learn more than Daf Yomi.

The Rambam writes that each and every Jew who wants to join the "tribe of Levi" today - or adapt their lifestyle at least - and learn all day and do nothing else, gets a tremendous merit.

It's a simple idea. Look at it this way:

Let's imagine Klall Yisroel needed doctors. Without the doctors, people would die. But the problem is, medical school is unaffordable and time consuming, which makes producing doctors prohibitive. Also, being a doctor does not bring in any money (in our imaginary world). So Klall Yisroel sets up people who will donate money to support people going through medical school and while they act as doctors, so that our sick can be cured.

Now imagine someone objecting to this system. "Hey!" they will say. "Let these doctors go out and make a living! All the shevatim made a living! Why should the community support these people? Why should they live off Tzadakah?"

Of course, you would say such protesters are nuts. These people are (1) vital to our community, and (2) earning their pay as much as anyone else due to their service that they provide, and (3) it should be an honor to support the existence of such people.

Well, the existence of Gedolei Torah are more vital to our people than doctors and it should be the responsibility of every Jew to provide the means for them to exist. And whereas a certain amount of doctors are sufficient, the more Gedolei Torah we have, the better it is for Klall Yisroel.

So, as the Rambam says, anyone can volunteer for the privilege of being a savior of Klall Yisroel.


It is possible today to make a living without going to college. There are those who go to college, too, and end up not finding jobs in their fields, and then end up going into business or trade school. The trade schools are full of middle aged college graduates who are replacing their years of college with a 6 month course on networking, for instance, because they'll make a better living that way. In my neighborhood alone, there is a PhD in archaeology who makes a living programming, computers and a PhD in nuclear physics (!) who is a caterer.

For those that "aren't interested", it's their choice. Some people aren't interested in bothering to go to work altogether. It’s not interesting to wake up early and work a whole day. But if you want to make a living, you have to do it anyway. So, too, if someone wants to learn as much as he can and acquire as much Olam Habbah as he can, he has to decide if that is worth sacrificing his career in anthropology.

It's harder to make a living, usually, without a college degree, but fine, that's the choice. It used to be harder to make a living if you kept Shabbos, or if you kept Kosher.

To go to college just for parnasa purposes, assuming there is no prohibited studies or environment is permitted. But it is much better to live life not merely according to the rules Hashem gave us but according to the opportunities He gave us. And if we are willing to forgo a college degree, there is much Olam Habbah to be gained.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L once gave a marvelous speech about this to his students. It was printed in english in "Light" magazine about 25 years ago. It's called "Counsel of the Wicked." It is still available as a pamphlet. Check it out. It's worth reading.


College is prohibited or discouraged according to a number of poskim, including Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L.

Between YU or secular college, I would say secular college. Two reasons: (1) They don't claim that what they teach or do is under the auspices of an orthodox institution. In YU, you don't know what's right, what's wrong, what has the "haskama" of the Rebbeim, what doesn't. It's a place where a lot of unacceptable things happen -- like all colleges -- except it confuses you because you think you're in a Yeshiva. (2) Secular college does not preach modern orthodoxy, YU does.

You should join a yeshiva part time if you are going to college. There are a number of Yeshivos that accommodate such a schedule.

There are plenty of guys in many Yeshivos who do that. It is commonplace. The advantage is that they will still be under the influence of their own variety of Rebbeim and environment. As opposed to going to YU where they will have a completely different version of frumkeit.

This has been an old question -- the YU or yeshiva + college. And the mainstream answer of all non-modern Orthodox institutions across the board has been Yeshiva + college rather than YU. And of course, there's always Touro, which is not a non-Jewish atmosphere but without teaching the shitos of modern orthodoxy. There and a yeshiva would be the best choice.


The Rama 246:4 rules explicitly that it is absolutely prohibited according to Halachah to engage in a curriculum of secular studies. To read secular studies now and then, is permitted, he says.

The source of the Rama is the Yerushalmi Sanhedrin.

It has been suggested the difference between a curriculum and just a glance, is that this prohibition is not due to Bitul Torah but rather a Bizayon HaTorah, by establishing studies in areas other than Torah, it shows that you believe they have some value that would justify learning them when you could have been learning Torah.

Rav Shimon Schwab ZT"L sought the Torah opinions of two great authorities, Rav Boruch Ber Liebowitz ZTL and Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZTL, regarding college education. Their responded as follows:

Conclusion of Birkas Shmuel (Kiddushin #27 p.42):

"What emerges is (a) that according to the Torah the obligation of Banim Ubeni Banim means you must make your children into Geonei and Chachmei Torah - and not merely to prepare them for life as a Jew. But rather, you must teach them and get them to learn the entire Torah, and if chas v'sholom you do not, you violate the entire Mitzvah of learning Torah as per Banim Ubnei Banim.

(b) Universities and gymnasiums (i.e. secondary schools - MOD) are prohibited because of Apikursus [that they teach]. My Rebbi (i.e. R. Chaim Soloveichik ZTL) prohibited them even in war time, and even to save a life, for to avoid violating this, even a Jewish life is to be spent.

(c) To learn secular studies on a regular basis is prohibited, as per the Rama 246:4

"Brothers, please do Teshuva while there is still time, for the enlightenment (Haskalah) has blinded our eyes and weakened us. For we have no benefit in this world at all - both spiritually and physically - except from Torah. All the strength of Klall Yisroel is from the Torah ... we should do Teshuva and repair the Batei Medrashos that have been broken by the Enlightenment."

Kovetz Shiurim II:47:

Question: Under what circumstances is it permitted to learn secular studies?


(a) If you must learn books that contain apikursus, it is prohibited ... needless to say even to make money or to prevent a loss thereof.

(b) If you must sit in school with Goyim, and it causes someone to befirend the Goyim and their ways, it is prohibited as per the Lo Saseh of Hishomer Lecha etc. for the Torah commanded us to distance ourselves from the Goyim in every way...

(c) 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. However, this is only in general. But if a person sees that his son wants to learn Torah and he is prepared to be a Gadol B'Torah, in such a case R. Nehuray said: "I will forgo all skills in the world and teach my son only Torah."...

(d) If you don't need the studies for Parnasa, and you just want to be involved in them, there is reason to prohibit because of Bitul Torah, as per the Rama in YD 246, who writes that it is forbidden to learn secular studies on a regular basis....perhaps it is not due to Bitul Torah but rather it is an affront to the honor of the Torah ... someone who set out to learn secular subjects indicates that he believes that they have a purpose in and of themselves [besides for parnasa], and that is against the Torah's opinion. [see above]..."

Reb Elchonon continues, saying that the confusion in Germany happened when people thought, mistakenly, that by Jews possessing secular knowledge the Goyim will hate them less. This caused a "negiyos" - a vested interest - that caused the German Jews to desire that their rabbis be secularly educated as well.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L also denounced college in a Teshuva, and in a famous speech delivered to his students, published under the title "The Counsel of the Wicked."

There he reiterates that everyone has an obligation to become great in Torah, we should not care so much about Cadillacs (yes, this was said in the "olden days"), and that learning Torah is what we should be pursuing, not secular stuff.

He says in America you do not need college to make a Parnassa, and we should be willing to live on little, not a lot, for the sake of Torah, and that R. Nehuray's statement of abandoning all skills in favor of Torah applies all that more today that we live in a country where you can make a parnassa without college, with no miracles needed.

There is a tape available in many Seforim stores called "The prohibition to learn in Colleges" (Yiddish), which contains addresses by Rav Moshe Feinstein ZTL and Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL condemning college.


Rav Hirsch only allowed the amount of secular studies necessary for Jews to be able to understand and influence their neighbors.

Plus, he did not allow any secular studies that taught anything against the Torah or that disagreed with the Torahs values. He also insisted that his students who learn secular studies be very careful and learned in recognizing and rejecting anti-Torah values they may encounter (austritt). This was a condition for secular learning.

He also did not allow any integration (assimilation) into the non-Jewish culture. He only wanted his students to be knowledgeable.

There are those who also maintain that Rav Hirsch's policies were "horaas shaah", meaning that they were an emergency measure needed for the Jews at that place in that time only, kind of like Pikuach Nefesh, and his intent was not to imply any value at all to secular studies in and of themselves.

Others, such as Reb Elchonon Wasserman ZTL say that Rav Hirsch's original intent was due to the desire to reduce or end anti-semitism in his country, but the idea later got out of control and people came to value secular knowledge.


Learning secular studies is permitted if you need it for Parnassa, as proven by Reb Elchonon in his Teshuva in Kovetz Shiurim. Rav Moshe is saying that it is not needed n America for parnassa at all, so this heter does not apply. Also, it would only be permitted if you do not have to learn material that the Torah disagrees with, or sit in an unacceptable atmosphere. That, too, was an issue to Rav Moshe.

It's not either-or.


That college seems like "the natural thing to do" is due to our lifestyle where we have integrated (another word for "assimilated") into non-Jewish culture. It feels natural, but our feelings are not the word of Hashem.


There are those who have claimed on these boards that the Torah allows or even encourages college. They made an official mode of Orthodoxy to include this idea.

The other option is not to go to college, like thousands upon thousands of Orthodox Jews and others.


The Aruch HaShulchan is talking about studies that are intrinsically assur, even b'akraei, and even for parnassa. He says that non-heretical studies are not intrinsically assur. But the issue of learning even intrinsically kosher secular studies b'keviyus is dealt with, and prohibited, by the Rama.


The issue is, how much secular studies is sufficient to accomplish what Rav Hirsch said you need secular studies for? In his days, the non-secular studies Jews did not even learn the German language. Today, all Yeshiva students speak English, go to HS (99%), and can function in the world perfectly. There is no need for BA's or PHD's to accomplish what was necessary to accomplish in Germany in the days of RSRH. (Even much of the information we learn today in HS is useless both in the real world, (even for Parnassa) as well as the spiritual accomplishments Rav Hirsch was talking about.) This does not make it a Horaas Shah but rather a goal-oriented pursuit, the amount of time, effort, and knowledge needed to fulfill it depending on the time, place, and person in question.

Horaas Shah or not, it is not coincidence that Rav SRH's shitah emerged specifically in the exact time and place where Haskalah was ravaging our community and that secular studies was the weapon of the Apikorsim to seduce the majority of young Jews away from their religion.

Yofeh Talmud Torah im Derech Eretz refers not to secular studies but to making a living, and, according to Rav Elchonon, to Middos.

The list of German Rabbonim cited elsewhere does not constitute a "tradition". And none of the proponents of secular studies have anything to do with our discussion. Today, when we all speak English, know how to use computers, interact seamlessly in society, are fully aware of current events and politics, are fully considered "cultured" (nebach for today's culture), are already sufficiently saturated with enough secular studies to fulfill all the goal of what those Rabbonim wanted then.

Knowledge of Schiller, for instance was necessary in Germany to be considered "civilized" according to German culture. Today, if there is such a cultural benchmark, it will be more in the direction of Jennifer Lopez than Friedrich Schiller.

So the question is: Would Rav Hirsch tell us to read Shciller today? I mean, who in the world cares about Schiller today, the way they did then? Knowledge of Schiller today does not constitute what it did then.

And more importantly, Rav Hirsch and all the others only considered secular studies valuable to the point that it assisted us in our Avodas Hashem or for other utilitarian purposes. The idea espoused by some of today's MO spokesmen, that secular studies has an "intrinsic value" (NOT for parnassah, NOT for helping you understand Torah, NOT for anything except its value in and of itself) is a totally assimilated idea that no Torah authority in the world - including Rav Hirsch - ever believed. And yes, this idea did begin in assimilated, Haskalah ravaged Germany (see Rav Elchonon's responsum).

We Jews do not believe in any intrinsic value except the Torah. Everything else is "hevel hevolim." To attribute "value" to anything besides Torah is simple heresy.


You should bear in mind that you need to pass your courses to get your diploma, but the grades themselves that you get in high school probably never count for anything, since nobody will look at them. If you get into a college, your college grades will count, and if you don’t go to college, all your employer will want to know is that you finished HS - what you got on your finals will not interest him.

But in Limudei Kodesh, not only does it count that you passed your courses, but every single little extra word that you learned gets you unimaginable reward. A 97% is not nearly as valuable as a 98% in Limudei Kodesh. Therefore, if you study for your secular exams remember that you don’t need to get hundreds and studying those extra hours to get the hundreds could be better spent by studying for the Aleph in Limudei Kodesh.

So study secular studies until you know you will get a satisfactory grade. More than that is a waste, compared to what you could be doing. In Limudei Kodesh, satisfactory is nothing compared to what you can get with those extra few hours that you would have spent trying for the A instead of a B.

As for Lishmah, tests are necessary for those who would not learn much without them, plus they help your Rebbeim understand how much you know.

You should not worry about learning Lishmah at your age - now is the time to focus on skills and hasmodah. However, if you want to learn lishmah, the tests will not be an obstacle. Lishmah means that you learn for the sake of learning and you do not care about the tests. If you are on the level to learn Lishmah, you will learn according to what is best for you, and ignore the fact that you are getting tested.


It happens all the time, some examples are mentioned on the site, where someone has a low GPA in high school, but does well in even one year of college and gets tons of scholarships, better than what people who did really well in high school got.

Even if you only have a GED and can’t get into a "real" college, you can go to Community College for a semester or two and then transfer wherever you want almost.

For some it is indeed hard.

And there’s no Mitzvah to do extra work if you don’t have to.

In addition, it may be more "tov" in this case to spend the least amount of time in college as possible, for even if you will say college-wise its better to start in the beginning in a regular college, spiritually it's best to get it over with as quickly as possible, with the least amount time and effort spent.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever you are, you clearly are a brainwashed Yid. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous taon said...

the Moderator is a Rav who clearly does know what he is talking about. And even i, unfortunately, know all too well some of this.

What makes us (meaning, everyone who says this) brainwashed? Because we say something you don't like? If you were to try actually discussing perhaps we could each come to a better understanding.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to suggest that the Rambam would disagree with everything you said...

8:59 AM  
Anonymous ephraim said...

you statements about rav soloveitchik and his relationship with rav ahron kotler are misguided. if you remember, rav soloveitchik was the guest speaker at the chinuch atzmai dinner (january 1956) in honour of rav kotler, there is a famous photo of rav soloveitchik, rav kotler and Mr Irving bunim. secondly, rav shneur kotler learned by rav soloveitchik in YU. this may come as a shock to you but my rav was in rav soloveitchik's shiur with him :) you seem to have great misconceptions, few actual sources and an immature understanding of the world and history. The TOrah world does not disregard Rav solovetichik, i refer you to a teshuva (which currently eludes me, somewhere in yoreh deaih) were rav moshe feinstein refers to Rav soloveitchik as הרב הגאון מרביץ תורה בדורינו, the אגרות הגרי"ד of rav soloveitchik have responsa between him and Rav Chaim soloveitchik, the Griz, rav chaim ozer grodzinski amongst others. You also forget that for brief period Rav Shimon Shkop was rosh yeshiva of YU, you should be careful of your scathing attacks on the institution. You also have a simplistic understanding of torah umadda and your general comments that it is a non jewish concept are unfounded. i refer you to the Leaves of faith by Rav A lichtenstien who deals with it extensively.
there is no issur for girls to learn gemara, it is not anti torah, when teh rambam says they are patur its not hilchos shabbos its not פטור אבל אסור.
furthermore if you are such a frum yid holding in torah hashkofos surely you are aware of the gedolim's position of the internet and your blog struggles to fall within the ambit of acceptable internet surfing.
this a brief few hearos on your blog, the issues are much more extensive and i hope you wont ignore what i have written despite the facts. bracha vehatzlacha! kol tuv.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what makes this rav come off as "brainwashed" (not my words) is the refusal to acknowledge subtlety and the complicated nature of things. We live in a complicated world, and that is one which does not lend itself to black and white characterizations easily. Rav Soloveitchik, though controversial, need not be branded as a kofer deserving of no respect. YU, and college in general, need not be the worst thing in the world simply because we can point to things we (and halacha) don't like. I'm not saying I agree or disagree, I'm just saying, things discussed on this forum are a lot more complicated than anyone here seems to be willing to acknowledge. An acknowledgement once in awhile that the author doesn't and can't know all the facts on the ground would certainly be appreciated.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous taon said...

Rav Moderator never said kofer deserving no respect or worst thing.
but wrong is wrong, no matter what is worse.

7:57 PM  

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