Friday, March 31, 2006

Reflections on yeshivish education

David G. of Yediah made an offhand remark that
They live in fear that people who question too much will come to conclusions that might translate in losing their commitment to Torah and Mitzvos. They have been shell shocked by Haskallah. They don't realize that they are in a different era.
Doesn't matter who "they" is. You can check this for context.

On the one hand, the maskilim were the personification of evil, or so I was inculcated to think. On the other hand, we'd spend afternoons reading Shakespeare and dissecting frogs. On the one hand, Graetz was krum she-be-krum. On the other hand, we'd have a Jewish history class (I'm talking elementary school here, ch"v to learn history in a mesivta). On the one hand, madda is krum, on the other hand, there were ten Jastrow dictionaries floating around the Beis Medrash.

And on and on and on it goes. The point: it is disingenuous to castigate and fear that which has actually penetrated already and proven useful. Why should one pay allegiance to a failed strategy of 150 years ago? Should one pretend that we pasken chaddash assur min ha-torah when the reality is that every yeshiva is permeated with that which was assur, assur, assur then? Everything from the vernacular to graduation ceremonies to who knows what.

Yeshiva Orthodoxy has in many ways de facto made its peace with modernity. It needs to do so de jure, or else a certain amount of its product will always look back and see hypocrisy.

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