Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Yeshiva Education was not meant for the welfare of Everybody

 Michtav M’Eliyahu (03 page 356) The main problem is the difference between the education system of Frankfurt and the education system of the Yeshiva World . Frankfurt - allowed science and included studying at the university as being acceptable as being their guiding principle in education. The price they paid for this was that the number of Torah greats that they produced was even of those who studied Torah in the Yeshivas of Lithuania and Poilin and science in Ashkenaz, only a very few of them became great scholars. While it is true Frankfurt had very few who left religion, the purity of their views regarding the absolute truth of the Torah system. instead of being contradicted by science, their view of Torah became subtlely  distorted by belng a strange partnership with it as if it were possible to combine inherently contradictory ideas in one heart. Nevertheless almost all remained mitzvos observers with great devotion while some achieved the highest level of observance.   In contrast the goal of the yeshiva was not quantitative but focused on quality by producing  a few gedolim and comsequently they prohibited  their students from attending universities since this was viewed as undermining the possibility of becoming a godol.  Don’t think that they were not fully aware that this elitist goal would not destroy the religious observance of many of the students of the yeshivos who would not survive this extreme environment. But they were willing to pay the price to obtain gedolim. Obviously they tried hard to prevent the damage to those who would not become gedolim as long as it did not impact the others. For those who had to leave the yeshivas, it was conditional on getting only menial low status jobs such as being clerks in stores that don’t require special training or degrees and thus they would not be devoted to these occupations. Anyone wanting a good job or academic training was rejected so as to not harm the other students.I heard that they found support for such an approach by the statement found in Vayikra Rabba (2:10), One thousand students enter to study Bible and only one comes out as a posek and G-d says “that is the one I desire.” They also mentioned the words of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim, “It is better that 1000 fools die in order to obtain one Torah scholar.”

[Rav Sternbuch told me to append a note to this letter of Rav Dessler’s letter. He said that the halacha is clear that it is not allowed to produce gedolim if it causes others to stop being observant. He said that Rav Dessler doesn’t mean that it is certain that people will go off the derech because of this approach – but only that it can happen. In addition that going off the derech here refers to a possiblity of losing the yeshiva standard of observance  - not giving up religious observance entirely.]


  1. Rav Dessler was a product of the "Let 999 go off the derech as long as we produce 1 Gadol". The result was that the Haskalah tore through Eastern Europe while it was mitigated in Germany.
    Now, if your goal is to produce "Gedolim" and nothing else, great. If it's to ensure the maximum number of Jews are observant, then it sucks.

    1. The problem today is that even that 1 Gadol is no longer being produced, but if any of 999 remain, they are prevented from gaining a worldly trade or knowledge.

  2. This is one of those perennial posts that keeps coming up every year or 2. Each time gives a new insight into the moral depravity of the "Litivsh" system in particular. What he says is that those E. European yeshivos were just a private club where elite scholars were able to succeed, but that these scholars (gedolim) had no moral qualifications with regard to leading Klal Yisrael. Furthermore, the author of "Strive for Falsehood" is simply asserting that by cutting themselves off from the outside world , they attain the true version of the Torah, when actually by having a group think environment, they can falsify the Torah to their delight, and get away with it because of the lack of any critical thought.


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