Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

That's An Old Story

Great post by R' Harry Maryles on the yeshivas' focus on churning out gedolim, and saying to hell with everyone else.

I just wanted to add that, in this case, Shlomo HaMelech's credo of "ain kol chadash tachas hashamesh" rings true once again. In my first go-round on the blogosphere, I wrote a piece on how the yeshivos glorify the frumkeit in Europe as if it were Bnei Brak. People were moser nefesh, and they had no TV's, internet, newspapers, etc. so they much shtarker than we could ever be. I said that what they don't tell you in yeshiva is that in Europe, the majority of Jews went off the derech. Maybe they mention the famous Meshech Chochma from last week's parsha about the people who treated Berlin like Jerusalem, but it gets merely a cursory mention.

And perhaps Rav Dessler's description of the yeshivos' "mission statement" was true long before his time. In fact,as I said in my post from '04, my Uncle Harvey said something similar (in the name of someone else, whose name slips my mind.) In Europe too, the goal of the yeshivos was to produce gedolim. And that's why they were super-intense there, because many of the medicore kids couldn't hack it. And once the haskalah came to town, many of their religious lives were toast.

- I once asked a mashgiach, "I don't understand. When you talk one-on-one to a bochur, you'll tell some guys to go to college. But when you give a shmuz, you say that everyone has to sit and learn. What's the deal?"

The mashgiach responded with a statement similar to Rav Dessler. Basically, he said that on a public level, the bar has to be set very high so that the future gedolim don't underacheive. If they hear that college is okay, they might want to go there rather than learn their whole lives. So because the goal of a yeshiva is to produce gedolim, on a public level the bar has to be set so high that they'll be inspired to learn for life.

But the problem with that is, the mediocre guys listening to the shmuz don't know this! So they'll hear about how they have to learn all day, will try it, get burnt out, and lose interest. Or, like me, they'll have a guilty conscience for life: why are you not in yeshiva? And of course, you have many people who will simply go off the derech. To me, it also seems like there's a strong element of sheker involved here (if not everyone is supposed to learn super-intensely, why are you saying just that), which is very troubling.

And as R' Harry said, if we're not producing any gedolim this way, then maybe it's time to change the system.


Anonymous Steve Cohen's brother said...

I remember a coversation we had where you said that the mashgiach was very logical for saying what he said.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Isaac Kaplan said...

WIth apologies to Randi Rhodes, if John Kerry can change his mind, so can I.

Besides, it's not fair to remind a baal tshuva that he used to go to Jamba Juice.

10:05 PM  
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