Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 45

Wed, 18 Apr 2018

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 23:35:36 +1000
[Avodah] Non Torah Studies

I enjoy reading smatterings from the philosophical musings of the great
scientists. But I suspect, that is the very reason they are banned. It is
because they are NOT boring. And I suspect that unless it may assist me in
my Parnassah even reading about new tech developments etc, is likely to be
prohibited, not as a corrosive Hashkafa but simply as a time waster. But as
the saying goes, Nobody's Perfect [which is sometimes followed by - I am a

Furthermore, the loud protests that I can already hear, are voiced by those
who live in this world which is influenced by non-Torah energies. If we
experience boredom when learning Torah - then is it not true that we are
still far from the truth of Torah?

Reb Avigdor M said - ever noticed how people yawn during Bentching? And
would then wryly observe, They were not yawning a minute earlier during the
ice cream.

I have a friend, a Sefaradi Satmar Chossid, V Frum V Ehrlich, who asked R A
Miller if he should learn ShaAr HaBechicnah in the ChHalevovos, R A asked
him if he reads the newspapers, to which he replied, No - to which Reb
Avigdor responded You need to learn it anyway because the streets are
infiltrated with the HashpaAh of the newspapers.

I apologise if I seemed to be dismissive of the scientists and their
philosophical musings - and the truths that they may discuss
Sure, I agree, truth is truth no matter the source.

I was merely reflecting upon the reason for the ban on Alternative Wisdoms
A] they are unnecessary - they are not required for Parnassah
B] they waste time from Torah
C] they may well harbour and cultivate life-concepts that are alien and
contrary to Torah, amongst the granules of truth


Meir G. Rabi

0423 207 837
+61 423 207 837
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20180416/4d28f005/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: hankman
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 08:51:02 -0500
[Avodah] Non Torah Studies

R' Meir G. Rabi wrote:
> Also many of those exciting developing sciences were closely tied to
> various philosophies. Pythagoras was a cult/religious/philosophical leader.
> Even today and certainly Einstien and his group discussed and wrote
> extensively about esoteric life values in connection with their work and
> research.

Do not ignore the truth of the message because you (and we all) do not
like the like the lifestyle of the messenger. Pythagoras' theorem is
a central truth to much of mathematics and science, and the truth of
Einstein's science has withstood the test of time and been subject to
much experimental verification. So what exactly is your point -- ignore
the truth because you do not like its source?

Kol tuv,
Chaim Manaster

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 20:33:13 +0200
Re: [Avodah] When Bittul Chometz precedes Mechiras Chometz

Last year I read the document that one signs with the Rabbinate about 
the mechira. It was quite clear - you sell everything.? Everything 
includes things that you may have forgotten about? and even things that 
you have no idea if you own, like stocks in some company that deals in 
chameitz (even if your ownership is via your pension fund). Everything? 
means everything.

I asked around with several rabbanim and they told that "Truth of the 
matter is, once you sell your chameitz there is no real need to do a 
bedika. Anything in your house, whether you know about or not, is owned 
by the non-Jew."

The question that came up for me later was "OK, so we do a bedika anyway 
because that is the custom. But why say a bracha?".

On 4/16/2018 3:06 AM, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> .
> On Erev Pesach morning, we explicitly divest ourselves of ALL the
> chometz we own, whether we know about it or not, with no exceptions.
> So... anyone know if any poskim write about this?
> Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:07:05 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tazria

On Sun, Apr 15, 2018 at 08:48:58AM -0400, Cantor Wolberg via Avodah wrote:
: The etiology of leprosy in the Torah was not a physical 
: but rather a spiritual disease. 

I like calling it spirito-somatic, coining a term to parallel
"psychosomatic". Just as it stress can turn the presence of Helicobacter
pulori in the stomach into having an ulcer.

: The Rabbis comment: b'sorah tovah hee l'Yisroel --
: "It is good news for the Jews if a house is stricken with leprosy."
: Ramban remarks that it is odd for a house made of bricks and
: mortar to act as if it were alive...

But they also say it's purely theoretical (Sanhedrin 71a). Although that's
tied to R' Elazar b"R Shimon's side of a machloqes in the mishnah (Nega'im
12:3). R' Yishmael and R' Aqiva (the other two opinions in the mishnah)
would apparently disagree. In any case, as with the rest of the cases
in the gemara of laws that exist only for learning (ben soreir umoreh
and ir hanidachas) it continues with tannaim saying they saw something
local tradition said was evidence of one.

Nowadays, house mold is known to be all too common. The actual physical
side of tzara'as habayis needn't be miraculous.

However, unlike tzara'as of the body, one can't invoke a soul - mind -
brain causality. It would be pretty direct evidence of Divine Providence
if tzra'as of the sort that would cause tum'ah struck only appropriate

Which is how I saw the quote. It requires people living on a level where
blatant hashgachah peratis is approrpriate.

As opposed to an era where even tzara'as of the body requires far more
spirituality than people achieve.

: Since in today's world we don't have the warning of leprosy attached to our
: houses, let us hope we can pick up other signs and warnings in order to be 
: able to remedy whatever difficulties caused by our own sinfulness. 

There is a discussion of the role of learning Torah, and whether studying
Torah that is non-applicabile is of value. Because of ideas like this one,
it is hard to believe there can be Torah that is non-applicable. Even if
the case isn't, "derosh vekabel sekhar" could refer to taking home lessons
for the general principle.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 16th day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        2 weeks and 2 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Gevurah sheb'Tifferes: What type of discipline
Fax: (270) 514-1507                             does harmony promote?

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:55:47 -0400
[Avodah] Metzorah

The second verse of this portion (14:2) states: "This shall be the law of
the metzora on the day of his purification..." Since the Torah mentions
that his purification takes place during the day, the Sages expound that
the Kohen's declaration, which alone permits the metzora to begin his
purification ritual, may be made only during the day (Rashi; Sifra).

The observance of Taharat Hamishpacha has been a central feature of
Jewish life for millennia. One finds Mikvehs in medieval Spain, in ancient
Italy and in the famed desert outpost of Masada. This is consonant with
Halacha which mandates that even before the town synagogue is built,
a Mikveh must first be established.

The source of the laws of Mikveh and family purity is found in this week's
Torah portion. The Torah commands that when a woman has a menstrual flow,
she and her husband must stay apart from one another. During this period
she is "tameh," a Hebrew term that has been incorrectly translated as
"unclean." In point of fact, the word tameh has nothing to do with
uncleanness. When one is tameh it means that a person has had some
contact with death. In the instance of a menstruating woman, it is the
death of the ovum. Similarly, when a man has had physical relations
(which inevitably involve the death of millions of sperm), he too is
tameh. Implicit in this Biblical tradition is a great sensitivity and
awareness of the natural life cycle.

After a week has passed since the cessation of the woman's menstrual flow,
the woman goes to the Mikveh where she undergoes a "spiritual rebirth."
Various aspects of the Mikveh experience reinforce this notion of
rebirth. The Mikveh itself must have 40 seah of water, the number 40
alluding to the 40th day after conception when the soul of a child
enters the embryo. The woman must have no ornaments or barriers between
herself and the water, for her emerging from the Mikveh is like that of
the newborn leaving the waters of the womb with no ornaments or barriers.

A child is the mirror of the family, he reflects the moral purity of
his parents.

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:34:33 +0000
[Avodah] Kriyas HaTorah, Aseres Ha'dibros

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. The Rambam (Teshuvos HaRambam 60) writes that one who is seated
should not stand up for the reading of the Aseres Ha'dibros (Ten
Commandments). However, the general custom today is that the entire
congregation does stand during this reading. Why is it that this ruling
of the Rambam is not followed?

A. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l pointed out that there are two
versions of cantillation for the Aseres Ha'dibros. The first is called
ta'am ha'tachton (lower cantillation) which punctuates the Aseres
Ha'dibros into sentences in the same manner as the rest of the Torah. The
second is called ta'am ha'elyon (higher cantillation), which punctuates
following the order of the commandments, reconstructing the manner in
which the Ten Commandments were received during matan Torah.

There are two reasons why someone would wish to stand for the Aseres
Ha'dibros. If one's intent is to show extra honor to this portion of
the Torah, this is inappropriate. The entire Torah was given to Moshe on
Har Sinai, and therefore all of Torah is equally precious. Standing for
the Aseres Ha'dibros might lead some to the erroneous conclusion that
only the Ten Commandments were received directly from Hashem. However,
there is a second reason why one would stand during the Aseres Ha'dibros
and that is to recreate the assembly at Har Sinai. We stand for the
Aseres Ha'dibros in the same fashion that all of Israel stood during
the original acceptance of the Torah.

Today, the general custom is to always read the portion of the Aseres
Ha'dibros with the ta'am ha'elyon. This indicates that this is not merely
a reading of the Torah, but a recreation of matan Torah. Therefore, it
is appropriate to stand. Rav Soloveitchik posits that the Rambam read
the Aseres Ha'dibros with the ta'am ha'tachton, equating it to every
other Torah reading, in which case, it would indeed be inappropriate
to stand. The custom of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, zt"l was to read the
Aseres Ha'dibros both on Shavuos and during the weekly portion with
ta'am ha'tachton, following the practice of the Rambam.

Some, however, have the custom to read the Aseres Ha'dibros on Shavuos
with ta'am ha'elyon, since this reading is a recreation of Sinai, but
when parshas Yisro and parshas Va'eschanan are read on a regular Shabbos,
the Aseres Ha'dibros are read with ta'am ha'tachton. In such a shul it
would be best to stand from the beginning of the aliyah so as not to
show more honor to one part of the Torah than another.

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: hankman
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:58:57 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Vilna Gaon and Secular Studies

In my previous post responding R? Marty Bluke I wrote:
?in our time the level of yira and emuna they might achieve may be more
readily attained through a more readily available scientific study of the
wonders of the very small and the vastness of the very large and the highly
 intricate and awe inspiring workings of the biological world at all scales
and the beauty in how it all fits together so perfectly and so beautifully
described by mathematics.?

Upon reflection I wish to add to my previous thought about ?the highly 
intricate and awe inspiring workings of the biological world at all scales
and the beauty in how it all fits together so perfectly? can lead to great
awe and yiras harommeimus and emuna. I have no doubt that the pasuk jn Iyov
(19:26) ?umibesori echezeh eloka? is a direct expression in Nach of this
idea that my very tissues (biological systems) are great evidence and
testimony to the the existence of the Borei Olam and His careful and
intricate design and continuing hashgacha of the very smallest and finest,
myriad intricate details of every living thing. It basically is the old
argument that the existence of a complex system such as a clock implies
that there must be a clock maker ? but ever so much in spades.

Kol tuv,
Chaim Manaster

This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20180416/85256a7c/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 13:59:10 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Vilna Gaon and Secular Studies

On Sun, Apr 15, 2018 at 08:14:25PM +0300, Marty Bluke via Avodah wrote:
: Secular studies were not instituted in the US as a lechatchila but as a
: bdieved.

Historically this was true, but maybe because of timing. The wave of
rabbis coming in when the big drive for day school education started
were predominantly a particular kind of Litvak. Look who the big
voices were in the Agudas haRabbanim of the first half of the 20th

RARakeffetR makes a strong case that one of the differences between
RSRH and RYBS was just how lekhat-chilah secular studies are.

RSRH held that our insulation from general culture and general knowledge
was a tragic consequence of ghettoization. And that we never chose that
life, it was forced upon us. The Emancipation was seen as a boon, allow
the full expression of Judaism again.

RYBS, in RARR's opionion (and of course, others vehemently disagree)
only saw secular studies as the ideal way to live in a suboptimal
situation. Secular knowledge in-and-of-itself as well as its ability to
help one live in dignity is lekhat-chilah only within this bedi'eved
world. But had we all been able to move back to Brisk, it would be all
the better.

Which gets us to the eis la'asos discussion. Shas too is lekhat-chilah
and a great thing. What is bedi'eved is the reality that forced Rebbe,
Rav Ashi, Ravinah to canonize official texts and (according to Tosafos)
the geonim to write it down. But since we are still in that reality,
we still publish TSBP -- lekhat-chilah.

On Sun, Apr 15, 2018 at 04:08:16PM -0400, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: Do you really think that the Torah community is much stronger?
: Externally it appears so, but, as R. A. Miller once said to me,
: "There is a thin layer of frumkeit and underneath it is all rotten."

So the problem is "frumkeit" rather than ehrlachkeit, not a lack of
secular studies.

Speaking of which... what would R' Avigdor Miller have thought of
secular studies if the government wasn't forcing it on our teens?

: How much Chillul HaShem do we see?  How much sexual abuse do we hear about?

Sexual abuse is as big of a problem in the worlds of the OU and Yeshivat
haKotel as in places where secular education is eschewed.

I would stick to discussing financial crimes:
    Yafeh Talmud Torah im Derekh Eretz
    sheyegi'as sheneihem mishkachas avon.
    VeKhol Torah she'ein imahh melakhah,
    sofahh beteilah vegoreres avon.
    - R' Gamliel beno shel R' Yehudah haNasi (Avos 2:2)

But there too, I think the main cause is frumkeit. And a misunderstanding
of what someone else or their institution (bank, gov't) not being of the
am hanivchar means.

I've been in academia, but not nearly as long as you, Prof Levine,
have. I'm sure your experience would agree that secular knowledge does
not produce people less prone to these things.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 17th day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        2 weeks and 3 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Tifferes sheb'Tifferes: What is the ultimate
Fax: (270) 514-1507                              state of harmony?

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:25:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Eating before Biur Chometz

I had asked:
> On Erev Pesach morning, why is it that we are allowed to eat
> before Biur Chametz?

I thank those who responded. I still haven't found any poskim who deal
with this exact question, but the Magen Avraham does mention something
very close:

"All melachos are assur once the time for burning has come, until he
burns the chometz, just like above in Siman 431." - Magen Avraham
445:2, at the very end

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2018 07:27:14 +0200
[Avodah] The Omer and Koolulam

A Post by Rabbi Alex Israel.

In this essay (originally posted on Facebook for public consumption), 
Rav Israel talks about his feelings about participating in a Koolulam 
sing along. If you don't know, Koolulam is an organization which gets 
hundreds, even thousands of people together to teach to sing one song in 
unison. They took this idea from the US with the twist of having regular 
folks and not just stars singing. For an example of what Koolulam does, 
here is their Yom Atzmaut video (described by many as a tefilla 
b'tzibbur): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxzR9Z-kG6Q (Al Kol Aleh by 
Naomi Shemer).

Rav Israel's post is an excellent example about how people are dealing 
with inner conflicts of the Omer (and Three Weeks) mourning period and 
living in modern Israel.

Note: There are rabbanim who wouldn't have allowed participation, during 
the Omer time or any other time.

You can read the comments and discussion here: 

If you have been following me on FB, you will know my obsession with 
Koolulam, especially their ??70th Yom Haatzmaut event. Prior to the 
event I was asked by 7 or 8 people, friends or talmidot/im, ?whether 
they could attend during the Omer. (If you watched the video, about half 
the participants ?were religious-looking.) ?

I am generally halakhically conservative (small "c"!) and I try to keep 
halakha even if it disrupts my lifestyle. I ?am committed to halakhic 
practice and I don't knowingly contravene the law. So was it forbidden??

On the one hand this was a live event. So is it a problem? The Shulchan 
Arukh restricts weddings ?and haircuts as modes of marking the death of 
Rabbi Akiva?s 24,000 talmidim. Magen Avraham ?adds dancing and revelry 
to the list and I grew up not even going to movies in the Omer. Koolulam 
?isn?t a wedding and did not include dancing, but was very much a public 
celebratory event. Could I ?go and allow others to go? I went to 
consult. One authoritative Posek said to me "It's not really assur (not 
dancing); it's not really muttar (public mass event). Go if it is 
?important to you." ... But is that satisfactory??

The fundamental issue is deeper than the technical definition of 
?music?, dancing? etc. In truth, ?I was going as part of my Yom 
Haatzmaut experience, as a celebration of life in Israel, of a people 
?revived. This was not simple entertainment. Having participated in 
Koolulam, it was incredibly ?uplifting. My wife has described the 
evening as ?tefilla betzibur,? as the song?s words are essentially ?a 
prayer! - Just watch the "kavanna" in the video of the event! This was 
not merely a fun night out, although it was great fun. It was for us a 
Zionist ?expression, it touched a far deeper chord; it reflected faith, 
national unity, pride, hope, and so much ?more.?

On the one hand, I see Halakha as embodying values which we aspire to 
imbibe. As such, I fully identify with the mourning of the ?Omer. It 
recalls Rabbi Akiva?s students who did not regard or interact with one 
another respectfully. In Israel ?today, we desperately need to be 
reminded annually about the need for a sensitive and respectful ?social 
environment and public discourse. The Omer contains a critical message. 
We wouldn't want to be without it. The mourning of the Omer, especially 
for Askenazi kehillot, also marks ?massacres and Crusades throughout the 
ages; another important feature, (although they may have tragically been 
eclipsed by the Shoah.?)

But here is the problem. These practices totally fail to absorb the huge 
historic shift that is Medinat ?Yisrael. There is a gaping dissonance 
between the traditional Omer rhythm and our Israel lives. The 
?traditional Omer rubric doesn't match the modern days of commemoration. 
For example, one ?does not recite Tachanun on Yom Hashoah because it 
falls in Nissan. If there is one day to say ?Tachanun, it is Yom Hashoah 
(I wrote about my struggle with this here 
?http://thinkingtorah.blogspot.co.il/?/davening-on-yom-hasho?). And is 
Yom ?Haatzmaut merely a hiatus in a wider period of mourning?
Moreover, in general, on a daily basis, ?as I read the Siddur, I wonder 
how we can ignore the huge chessed of HKBH in our generation of ?Jewish 
independence and the restoration of land and nationhood. How can my 
Siddur be the same ??(excluding the prayer for the State) as my 
great-grandfather? ?

In this period of the year, we should be thanking God, celebrating our 
good fortune, revelling in ?the gifts that we feel as we move from Yom 
Haatzmaut to Yom Yerushalayim. Fundamentally, the ?Omer is a happy time; 
Ramban perceives it as a ?chol hamoed? of sorts between Pesach and 
?Shavuot where we mark ?the love of our youth, our marriage with God, 
how we followed God ?through the wilderness? (Jeremiah 2) as we followed 
God from Egypt to Matan Torah at Mount ?Sinai. Where is the joy? ?

So, I felt that this was a sort of Yom Haatzmaut event which yes, 
contravened the traditional Omer, ?but in some way lived up to our new 
reality. I keep the Omer - not shaving; watching how I speak ?to others 
and how I interact in a positive and respectful way - but we are not in 
the terrible era of ?Bar Kochba when the Romans massacred Rabbi Akiva's 
talmidim, and we are not in the period of ?the Crusades. We are in 
Medinat Yisrael, our thriving sovereign State, and I want to praise 
Hashem and celebrate my people for ?the ?????? ??????? ???? ??? ????, ?? 
???????? ????? ?????? ??????? - and so I went to Kululam. ?

I don't know how to square the two systems.?

Later I saw a post by an amazing Rav, Rabbi David Menachem, whose post 
reflected similar sentiments, going even further than my thoughts. See 
his post here: 
?(h/t Yael Unterman)

I?m sharing these thoughts without the ability to articulate a solution. 
Maybe time will change ?things. Maybe we need to push these questions to 
halakhic authorities and thinkers greater than ?myself.?

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: Jay F. Shachter
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 19:56:42 +0000 (WET DST)
[Avodah] Need For Secular Knowledge

There have been many many posting recently about the desirability of
secular education, but no one has, so far, mentioned an exceedingly
important point.  Bammaqom sh'eyn anashim hishtaddel lihyoth ish, so I
have to step in and point it out.

We need to have a secular education in order to come to a correct
judgement about the credibility of the sages who preceded us.

Two examples will suffice.  Rambam in his commentary to `Eruvin 1:5
says that pi is irrational (I am not able to read his commentary in
the original Arabic, I am saying this based on my reading of a Hebrew
translation).  This is the Mishna that says that pi is 3.  Rambam
defends the Mishna by saying that pi is of course, not 3, but any
value we give would have to be an approximation, because pi is
irrational (he does not use that word, or more precisely the Hebrew
translator does not, but from his circumlocutions that is clearly what
he means), so the only question is how accurate an approximation we
need, and 3 is good enough for the halakha, since the exact value
cannot be calculated anyway.

A reader without a secular education would think that Rambam knew what
he was talking about.  He did not; he was guessing (as it happens,
correctly).  Rambam did not know that pi was irrational.  The
irrationality of pi was not proved until 1761, and the proof (and all
subsequent proofs) required mathematics that Rambam did not have.

`Ovadia MiBertinoro comments on the word "epitropos" on Bikkurim 1:5.
He says that it is someone who acts as someone else's father although
he is not the real father, and he derives it from "pater".  This is
preposterous; someone who knows xokhma yvanith knows that "epi" means
"above" and "tropos" means to move, or to act.  An epitropos is
someone who acts above someone else, i.e., a guardian, who acts above,
and on behalf of, his ward.  `Ovadia MiBertinoro got it wrong.

Posqim, especially, need to have a correct judgement of the
credibility of our sages.  Any poseq who is not willing to be `oqer a
din in the Shulxan `Arukh is no poseq (you may attribute this quote to
me).  But ordinary Jews also need to know this.  It is always
dangerous to believe things that are untrue.

                Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
                6424 N Whipple St
                Chicago IL  60645-4111
                        (1-773)7613784   landline
                        (1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice

                "The umbrella of the gardener's aunt is in the house"

Go to top.

Message: 12
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 18:00:38 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Vilna Gaon and Secular Studies

At 01:59 PM 4/17/2018, Micha Berger wrote:
>On Sun, Apr 15, 2018 at 08:14:25PM +0300, Marty Bluke via Avodah wrote:
>: Secular studies were not instituted in the US as a lechatchila but as a
>: bdieved.
>Historically this was true, but maybe because of timing.

This was not historically true at all.  The 
Talmud torah set up by Shearith Israel in the 
18th century taught secular as well as Torah 
subjects.  The day school set up by Rabbi Avraham 
Rice did the same. While it is true that the 
level of Torah subjects taught was low,  still 
there were secular subjects almost from the beginning.

Etz Chaim in the late 19th century taught secular 
subjects and so did RJJ that was founded 
around1902.  The high school that Rabbi Dr. 
Bernard Revel started in the second decade of the 
20th century taught secular subjects as well as Torah subjects.

The day school established in Baltimore in 1917 taught secular subjects.

Please see my articles
"The Early Day School Movement in America" Glimpses Into American Jewish
History Part 145 The Jewish Press, May 5, 2017.

"The Early Day School Movement in America (1786 - 1879)" Glimpses Into
American Jewish History Part 146 The Jewish Press, May 30, 2017.

"History of the Day School Movement in America (1880 1916)" Glimpses
Into American Jewish History Part 147

"Bringing Torah Education to Baltimore" The Jewish Press, October 3,
2008, pages 57 & 75.

>On Sun, Apr 15, 2018 at 04:08:16PM -0400, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
>: Do you really think that the Torah community is much stronger?
>: Externally it appears so, but, as R. A. Miller once said to me,
>: "There is a thin layer of frumkeit and underneath it is all rotten."
>So the problem is "frumkeit" rather than ehrlachkeit, not a lack of
>secular studies.

The strength of an Orthodox community is measured by how its member
behave, i.e. to want extent they live by true Torah values..

>Speaking of which... what would R' Avigdor Miller have thought of
>secular studies if the government wasn't forcing it on our teens?

I knew him well for over 30 years. He spent much time speaking about how
science can make us aware of the wonders of HaShem. He knew in detail
how bodily functions worked. He himself knew how to write well. It is
true that he had little use for literature, philosophy, etc. However,
he did value mathematics.

Once he moved to NY he enrolled his children in yeshivas that gave
its students a secular education. He received special permission not
to send his eldest son to public school in Chelsea, MA, since there
was no other alternative at the time. (His eldest daughter did attend
public school in Chelsea, MA.) Lazar Miller, his eldest son, told me
when he was sitting shiva for his mother that his mother used to help
him with his math. However, she used Hebrew terminology for fraction,
numerator, and denominator, since she had studied at two Yavneh schools
in Lithuania where everything was learned in Ivrit.

>: How much Chillul HaShem do we see?  How much sexual abuse do we hear about?
>Sexual abuse is as big of a problem in the worlds of the OU and Yeshivat
>haKotel as in places where secular education is eschewed.
>I would stick to discussing financial crimes:
>But there too, I think the main cause is frumkeit. And a misunderstanding
>of what someone else or their institution (bank, gov't) not being of the
>am hanivchar means.

What is frumkeit? Can one define it? Frumkeit tends to focus on
externalities, whereas Ehrlichkeit is something internal. I will take
Erlichkeit with aberrance to mitzva practice over Frumkeit any time.

>I've been in academia, but not nearly as long as you, Prof Levine,
>have. I'm sure your experience would agree that secular knowledge does
>not produce people less prone to these things.

I never meant to imply that having secular knowledge imparts morality to
those who possess it. Originally, higher education in America was tied
to religious education, and there was an attempt to instill morality in
the students. Today, there is no such attempt. Indeed, if anything,
higher education is in many cases anti-morality from a Torah standpoint.
Parents contemplating sending their children to a secular collage should
keep this in mind.



Avodah mailing list



Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >