Friday, February 17, 2012

Rav Shwadron: Yeshivos are hashchasa!- the problem of institutional learning


A number of years ago, Rav Shwadron visited Monsey. My brother came to him with a problem. A video store had just opened in Monsey and it obviously was a serious threat to the spirituality of the community. When my brother told him the problem he didn't seem to be upset. My brother thought perhaps he didn't understand what a video store was - so he explained it to him. "Video stores are hashchasa - they cause spiritual destruction." Rav Shwadron replied, "Video stores are hashchasa? - yeshivos are hashchasa!"

Obviously Rav Shwadron who was a product and supporter of yeshivos didn't mean that a yeshiva is no different than a video store. However he obviously was bothered by a negative aspect of yeshivos. In this he was not alone.

Rav Hutner  seemed to have a similar concern. In a drasha in the back of the Pachad Yitzchok for Shavuos is the presentation he gave at a conference on education. To paraphrase:

 We Jews are very proud of our educational institutions. We take pride that when the European were primitive barbarians we were a cultured and educated people. However we should realize that the institutional education of yeshivos was only plan B. It was instituted by Chazal at a time when plan A wasn't working. Plan A was that fathers and the home were to provide the Jewish education. When the home environment became corrupt by secular culture and values - the children were taken from the home and educated in an isolated environment. However that doesn't change the fact that the yeshiva is plan B - and that ideally the home should do the education.

I was also told that Rav Hutner said - in Sedom there was bed that guests were invited to use. However if the guest was too short he was stretched to fit the bed and if he was too long is feet were chopped off. We have a similar process called yeshiva education - but if the child doesn't fit we don't chop off the feet - we chop off the head.

17 comments :

  1. Cute..Rav Hutner was always known for his biting statements!!??!!

    So now that we know that Yeshivos are PLAN B..what is the next move? Yeshivos have monopolized all the waking hours of a Yeshiva bochur and parents/homebase has become a relic of the past.

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  2. A translation of Rav Kook's Oros Hatorah (9:6) by blogger Dixie Yid, relevant to this yeshiva "chopping the head off" issue:

    "Some have gone off the derech of Yiddishkeit because in their learning and in their path to spiritual perfection, they betrayed their own personal, unique nature. Some are more fit for Agada, and halacha (modern pilpul/lomdus) is not in their nature as a *primary* way of learning. Because such people [have not been taught to] value and recognize their unique talents in Agada, they immerse themselves in Halacha as is customary [in yeshivos today].

    But such a person feels an inner opposition to what he is learning because that which he is investing himself in is not in accordance with his essential nature. If, however, he would find the area where his talent and interests lie, and he would fulfill that by making that area of Torah which fits with the nature of his soul his primary area of learning, he would immediately recognize that the inner opposition he used to feel was not due to any deficiency in the holy and essential Halacha area of Torah learning.
    Rather, he would know that his soul simply required a different area of learning as his primary study. Such a person would remain faithful in a beautiful way to the holiness of Torah. He would become great and strong in the area of Torah which speaks to him. In addition, he will assist those whose primary learning is in Halacha to also taste the sweetness of Agada.

    But when a person does not [or is not given the option to] recognize the true reason for his inner opposition to what he is learning, and he attempts to overpower his own nature [because he is taught that there is only *one* correct way to learn Torah], then the moment some options for a non-Torah way to live are opened up for him, he will break out and then hate and become any enemy of Torah and emunah. He will go from one sin to another, and we know what such people have wrought. They attempt to create that which they envision as the ideal way of the world and they attempt to blind "the eye of the world."

    There is a great variety of areas of Torah learning which are fitting to the great variety of individual souls' natures. Some people are even drawn to specific areas of secular wisdom. Even such people should go according to their inner nature and they must set aside specific times for learning Torah. If they do this, they will succeed at both because "Torah together with the way of the world is beautiful." And the gemara at the end of Yuma discusses how to establish the right balance of primary and secondary for such people. In general, this whole subject is dependent on the character and nature of each individual person's soul. (Emphasis and explanatory parentheticals added.)"

    http://dixieyid.blogspot.com/2011/11/rav-kook-oros-hatorah-why-people.html

    Also, something similar by Breslov Rosh Yeshivah R' Shalom Arush:

    "So many Yeshiva kids and Kollel young men are bored and unproductive in their Torah because they lack aspirations. Create challenges for yourself! Pick a subject, like “joy” or “charity” and learn everything that the Gemara, Midrash, Zohar, and Shulchan Aruch say about it. Become an expert in your field of interest. Decide to write a book, too. Wait and see how these aspirations will fuel your learning, your praying, your hitbodedut, and your entire service of Hashem. You’ll be so much more energized and happy, and you’ll achieve so much more."

    http://www.breslev.co.il/articles/spirituality_and_faith/personal_growth/aspirations__spice_of_life.aspx?id=19938&language=english

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  3. Wow!, wow!, and Wow! Respectively.

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  4. Reb Chaim HaQoton said...
    Meaning what? context?

    R Eidehnsohn provided that. What more are you looking for?

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  5. Sorry, when I saw this post on Erev Shabbos is was just a picture of Rav Sholom and it said "Yeshivas are hashchasa" now I see that he added a whole explanation.

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  6. I already took three of my sons out of yeshiva in high school. One married without going back to yeshiva, one went to the mirrer after high school and one is out of yeshiva and doesn't plan to go back to yeshiva. They are all outstanding boys, but I will admit when it came time to shidduchim, some people didn't want to go near him.
    But without question, they are much happier and learn much more not in yeshiva.

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  7. The yeshivas in the States exist in its current from because of massive Pell Grant fraud. The yeshivas were able to certify themselves as academic institutes via the phony Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS). So aside from able to received Pell grants and other government help, graduates of those yeshivas have the same status of students who went to a real college and took real classes and real labs.

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  8. I heard said over in the name of R. Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l, that "yeshivos were the hatzala of klal Yisrael, and the churban of gedolim".

    This alleged statement, combined with the other alleged statements from gedolim, suggest that we are in Plan B mode, but we need to know that currently we don't have anything better, and as such yeshivos serve as the shelter for the preservation of the Torah. That being said, those yeshiva students that are "gadol" material, need to be aware how to get around the system, and not allow the framework of the yeshiva to stifle their growth (eg. finishing shas on the side, during night seder and Friday-Shabbos), or to find an alternative framework where their learning will be enhanced.

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  9. IsraelReader said...

    I heard said over in the name of R. Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l, that "yeshivos were the hatzala of klal Yisrael, and the churban of gedolim".
    ================
    Interesting considering Rav Dessler said just the opposite.

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/11/rav-dessler-yeshiva-should-deny-self.html

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  10. IsraelReader said...

    I heard said over in the name of R. Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l, that "yeshivos were the hatzala of klal Yisrael, and the churban of gedolim".

    This alleged statement, combined with the other alleged statements from gedolim, suggest that we are in Plan B mode, but we need to know that currently we don't have anything better, and as such yeshivos serve as the shelter for the preservation of the Torah.
    ==============
    The point is that Yeshivos are not the best we have or the only thing we have. In other words if your child is being destroyed by a particular yeshiva - you shouldn't say that it is a shame but this is the Jewish way - but rather either switch him to another yeshiva or find some other solution.

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  11. I once had a client who was one of the top students in his yeshiva. His problem? "I want to know whether I am going crazy or I am becoming an apikorus." Seems that his interest in learning had disappeared that year. I tested him and told him that his new rebbe's style of learning was incompatible with his interests and that his new chavrusa was too smart and domineering for him to be able to focus.

    He acknowledged that but said when he mentioned this to the mashgiach - the mashgiach simply dismissed these concerns and said it was his yetzer harah and that the only solution was to try harder.

    Bottom line - he switched yeshivos and the problem was solved.

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  12. I wrote in the name of R. Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l, that "yeshivos were the hatzala of klal Yisrael, and the churban of gedolim".
    If my memory serves me correctly (having heard this some 30 years ago) my recollection of the quote, is from a friend of mine who is a brilliant rosh yeshiva today, but was “chafing at the bit” and he felt stifled by having to conform to the framework he was in. R. Yaakov was explaining to him, that overall, the system was necessary, and he would have to compensate for it on his own. This person worked it out for himself, and baruch Hashem he is where he is today.

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  13. You contrast what I wrote in the name of R. Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l, that "yeshivos were the hatzala of klal Yisrael, and the churban of gedolim", and you note that this is interesting, considering that Rav Dessler said just the opposite.

    I find R. Dessler's observation on the contrast between the “Frankfurt School” and that of the Lithuanian yeshivos very insightful.

    However, I would suggest that that R. Yaakov Kaminetzky's comment was said in the context of American yeshivos, which by and large, are sort of a blend between the old “Frankfurt School” and that of the Lithuanian yeshivos of old.

    I say this, because I don’t think that any yeshiva realistically thinks that that all their students are up and coming “gedolai Torah”, as in Lithuanian yeshivos of old. But they also are not steering their students to university, like the “Frankfurt School”. We therefore have sort of a cross, where yeshivos aim to teach the highest level Torah that the students can handle, reminiscent of the Lithuanian yeshivos of old, but are cognizant of the fact that the individual student will decide where he wants to go from there, and possibly opting for the “Frankfurt style” Judaism.

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  14. Daas Torah said:
    “The point is that Yeshivos are not the best we have or the only thing we have. In other words if your child is being destroyed by a particular yeshiva - you shouldn't say that it is a shame but this is the Jewish way - but rather either switch him to another yeshiva or find some other solution”.

    I respectfully disagree with the first part of the comment. As per Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky (above), yeshivos *ARE* the best thing we currently have to perpetuate high level Torah study amongst the masses.

    As for the latter part of the comment, where a child is being destroyed by a particular yeshiva, I think that R. Yaakov Kaminetzky would fully agree with you, to either switch him to another yeshiva or find some other solution, which is exactly what my friend who told me the story did.

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  15. Daas Torah said...
    Interesting considering Rav Dessler said just the opposite.

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/11/rav-dessler-yeshiva-should-deny-self.html


    Rabbi E, I don't want to sound like a hard to please ingrate, but is there anyway to arrange your links in the comments section so that we can just click on them without having to type? I'm slighly dyslexic in cyberspace.
    Thanx much.

    ReplyDelete
  16. shaul shapira said...

    Daas Torah said...
    Interesting considering Rav Dessler said just the opposite.

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/11/rav-dessler-yeshiva-should-deny-self.html


    Rabbi E, I don't want to sound like a hard to please ingrate, but is there anyway to arrange your links in the comments section so that we can just click on them without having to type? I'm slighly dyslexic in cyberspace.
    Thanx much.
    ================
    Be happy to accommodate you but I don't know of an easy way to insert html tags in comments. Simple solution is to copy link and paste it into your browser - no need to retype. Even simpler is to right click the text and select option of "open link in new tab"

    ReplyDelete

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