Monday, May 21, 2012

Rav Steinman's Speech

Last week, Rav Aharon Leib Steinman visited Ramat Bet Shemesh for a public address, amidst much hoopla and honor. Rafi Goldmeir, at Life in Israel, has provided a translation of most of his address. Many people are making a big fuss over Rav Shteinman's account of how the eight billion people in the world "are all murderers and thieves, people without seichel" - except, of course, for Torah Jews. But I'd like to discuss a different point.

The focus of Rav Steinman's talk was to set up two polar opposites: learning Torah versus educating oneself to earn a living. There is no nuance to his words; he sets them up as two opposites. In other words, yeshivah ketanah versus high school; yeshivah gedolah versus yeshivah+college; kollel versus working for a living. In this model, Rav Steinman correlates the following with the yeshivah/ kollel/ not-working model:
  • Being a talmid chacham;
  • Doing mitzvos;
  • Gaining nachas from one's children;
  • Fulfilling the purpose of creation;
  • Gaining everlasting life.

Those who gain a secular education and work for a living are deprived of these; their lot is apparently with the eight billion murderers and thieves and people without seichel. (I don't know if Rav Steinman himself actually believes that. But there are certainly those in his audience who do, and with the complete absence of nuance in his talk, he strengthens that view.)

What about all the Rishonim in Sepharad who studied secular subjects, and saw it as part of their avodas Hashem? Even Chasam Sofer, grandfather of charedi Judaism, studied secular subjects extensively. And certainly there was no mass kollel until a few decades ago! What about all Chazal's teachings on the importance of teaching one's children to earn a trade, and on the value of being self-sufficient?

Rav Steinman also claims that most rich people do not have a strong secular education, which, he says, is because parnassah is all up to Hashem. Actually, most rich people have a lot more education, marketable skills, and/or desire to actually work, than the poor. Furthermore, the point is not whether most rich people do not have a secular education; it's whether most people without a secular education get rich. And clearly, they don't.

In any case, there certainly is a distinct general correlation between education and income, and especially between employment and income. If it's all up to Hashem and has nothing to do with hishtadlus, then it's interesting that Hashem has decided to generally reward those who go to college and engage in hishtadlus with parnassah, while those who learn in kollel tend to struggle with poverty.

The greatest irony is in the following quote from Rav Steinman:
"The Chayei Adam writes in one of his books that when he was young the parents did not think about what the child would be later, from what he would earn his living. They only thought about the Torah."

There is no doubt that everyone in attendance understood that by taking the path of yeshivah and kollel, they are following in the holy path of the Chayei Adam. But in fact, the Chayei Adam - Rabbi Avraham Danzig - refused employment as Rabbi of Vilna and instead earned his livelihood as a merchant! (Later in life, when he lost his money, he was forced to take employment as a rabbi. But at no time did he learn in kollel!)

To be sure, Rav Steinman is extraordinary in many ways. But I don't see anything profound in his lecture. Worse, there seems to be much that is untrue and inconsistent with Jewish tradition. Chazal and the Rishonim did not believe that Jews should not learn a trade, engage only in Torah and be supported by others. Chazal and the Rishonim said precisely the opposite.

78 comments:

  1. just to be clear, I translated about 95% of the speech. I only left out a few sentences that were getting tedious and repetitive about the importance of torah throughout the early generations.
    As well, I left out his concluding bracha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rav Shteinman probably does not know that the Chayei Adam ever worked, just as those who read the sanitzed biographies of the Netziv don't know he read the newspaper.

    > What about all the Rishonim in Sepharad who studied secular subjects, and saw it as part of their avodas Hashem?

    To paraphrase a famous statement: They could learn it, we can't.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Surprising to hear this from the Rabbi who was the "Rav HaMachshir" of the Nachal chareidi.
    Nachal Chareidi paves the way for young men to enter the work force after serving in a special IDF unit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wish you'd provide a source for the claim that Chasam Sofer 'studied secular subjects extensively.'

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. See Meir Hildesheimer, “The German Language and Secular Studies. Attitudes towards Them in the Thought of the Hatam Sofer and His Disciples,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 62 (1996), pp. 129-163; Aaron Schreiber, “The Hatam Sofer’s Nuanced Attitude towards Secular Learning, Maskilim and Reformers,” The Torah u-Madda Journal 11 (2002), pp. 123-173

    ReplyDelete
  6. Actually, the speech made sense, once you accept the Rav's assumptions.

    He was saying that if there is a hierarchy of activities such that under all circumstances X is more valuable than Y, then at any given time, one should engage in X and not in Y.

    X is Torah and Y is anything but Torah.

    How does one refute it? Either by denying that X is greater than Y, or by admitting that X is greater, but claiming that some combination of X and Y is greater than pure X, either because of some concept of "balance" or because of synergies that are created.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Despite the fact that there are many problems with the standard Haredi view (which R. Steinman is expressing), you can't say it is entirely inconsistent with the Jewish tradition. It does have certain precedents, such as the opinion of Rashbi in Brachos 35b.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And standard Jewish tradition is that Rashbi's position is not suitable as a general policy. Plus, how did Rashbi eat? He wasn't knocking on doors and collecting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Rav Steinman also claims that most rich people do not have a strong secular education,"
    It is somewhat true though I don't think it is most, that there are many wealthy people that do not have a strong secular education. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard. Those people that have made it rich without education, are entrepreneurs and salesman, etc. Those fields are generally hit or miss. Some make it big, the rest are broke.
    And that shows the worst part of his comment. Haredim are open to people working, provided that they become filthy rich. The tzibbur loves nagidim, askanim and whatnot, and all the gedolim go attend their simchos, but chas veshalom to become an accountant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. How did Rashbi eat?
    Well if you know anyone willing to live on carobs for 12 years, I guess we can support his kollel lifestyle.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "koillel nick said...
    How did Rashbi eat?
    Well if you know anyone willing to live on carobs for 12 years, I guess we can support his kollel lifestyle."

    He could live on carobs; we can't.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rav Steinman said that most rich people do not have a strong secular education. You respond by pointing to a correlation between education and income. There is such a correlation but less than you might think because the income stream is deferred until after the education. The point is however that R. Steinman's claim still remains valid even today, and even with so many internet millionaires. CEOs, real estate moguls,athletes,movie stars and trust fund beneficiaries are not particularly well educated. You are the one exhibiting the biases of your situation in life...doomed to make a living by selling books, teaching and lecturing. Your life is tough, and only gets tougher with age.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There are only 7 billion people on earth.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hard to know what to make of this. One senses the speaker feels there is a life and death struggle between Torah only and anything else.

    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  15. EJ - first of all, most internet millionaires, CEOs, real estate moguls, athletes, movie stars and trust fund beneficiaries have a lot more education/ marketable skills/ desire to actually work, than those who attend yeshivah ketanah/ yeshivah gedolah/ kollel.

    Second, the point is not whether most rich people do not have a secular education; it's whether most people without a secular education get rich. And clearly, they don't.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kollel Nick,

    The fact that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard does not mean that they do not have strong secular educations. They both have excellent educations. Check out their wikipedia pages.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This must be silly season. First, we had an elaborate show for Hareidim (predominantly Hasidim) in a baseball stadium which lambasted the internet but also sold internet filters and provided internet streaming for home viewing. Then we hear of an address by an aged Hareidi leader lambasting the rest of the world and advocating a "torah-only" lifestyle. He is cited as stating that if, heaven forbid, one were required to leave full-time torah study for a livlihood, then lack of a secular education is not a hindrance. Now we have a well educated blog commenter appearing to second that remark.

    While it is true that some very rich people had a mediocre education. Their material success, however, was due to innate talent, a very focused attention to exploiting their talent, and good connections or fortune. This is not a combination to which someone without special talents or connections, or unable or unwilling to devote themselves to becoming wealthy can or should aspire. Taking the offered advice is tantamount to resigning one's family to a life of hardship and poverty. Not to mention, that full-time torah study for a family man comes at the expense of an undue burden on his wife and/or parents/in-laws.

    I can't speak for R' Natan, but from what he has revealed, his advanced secular education has come but in recent years. Had he followed a different path of starting college after several years of bet midrash studies, his talents are such that he would likely have become a university professor as well as author. That avenue is open to him, even now. I fail to see how his life reinforces the position and attitude of the Hareidi elder in question.

    ReplyDelete
  18. R'YA,
    IMHO there's a parallel to ghetto kids thinking they'll all be the next M Jordan.
    KT
    Joel RIch

    ReplyDelete
  19. "Rav Steinman said that most rich people do not have a strong secular education. You respond by pointing to a correlation between education and income. There is such a correlation but less than you might think because the income stream is deferred until after the education. The point is however that R. Steinman's claim still remains valid even today, and even with so many internet millionaires. CEOs, real estate moguls,athletes,movie stars and trust fund beneficiaries are not particularly well educated. You are the one exhibiting the biases of your situation in life...doomed to make a living by selling books, teaching and lecturing. Your life is tough, and only gets tougher with age."

    1) The existance of uneducated rich people proves extraordinarily little about haschgachah and bitachon.

    2) More important in my mind is not who is a millionaire but who is a begger, and there's an extremely high correlation between his preferred lifestyle and begging.

    3) I don't know terribly much about it, but I'm not sure R' Natan's situation is entirely dissimilar to your favored trust fund beneficiary.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rav Steinman also claims that most rich people do not have a strong secular education

    Let's take the top 10 richest Americans and see. Granted, this list is overly weighted with Waltons. Only two do not have at least a first degree. None have kollel educations.

    College drop outs - Bill Gates, Larry Ellison

    1st degree - Jim Walton, Alice Walton

    law degree - Robson Walton

    ? Christy Walton

    MBA - Bloomberg

    Masters engineering - Charles Koch

    ReplyDelete
  21. WADR, the rav is clearly going against CHAZA"L who speak about the obligations of the father to educate his son so he has a means of earning a parnassah.

    Believing that you do not need a secular education in order to make it in this world is tantamount to being somayach al ha'ness.

    This too, goes directly against our CHAZAL's teachings.

    The question is, do CHAZA'L's teachings even have any relevance for the chareidi mindset??

    ReplyDelete
  22. (I updated the post with some of the points that I added in the comments)

    ReplyDelete
  23. (I updated the post with some of the points that I added in the comments)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Warren Buffet has a masters degree in economics.

    I can speak personally regarding Bill Gates as he was an acquaintance at Harvard. (He probably would not remember me.) He didn't complete his undergraduate degree, but he really did know a lot about computers even back then.

    ReplyDelete
  25. True, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard.

    However, it is true as well that they had enough of a secular education (reading, writing, etc) and were good enough at it they were able to get into Harvard in the first place.

    (This aside from the fact that their Harvard experience was what gave them the ideas as to what gaps they could exploit so as to make themselves fabulously wealthy.)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am saddened yet again by the lack of leadeship and vision among the big haredi rabbis. When I read this I could not help but think: We need rabbis like Machon Shilo's Rav David Bar-Hayim. He is grounded in the past,whilst well aware of that which is necessary for the future.

    ReplyDelete
  27. It has been said that to make a living,you need an education; to be rich,you don`t. But,as one poster here said,you need certain skills,among them tremendous focus and drive,which not everybody has.

    What the charedi (near) ban on secular education has done is to eliminate the middle class,and return us all to a feudal system-a bunch of serfs,living off a baron. Even the chazal asked what did Moshe Rabeinu do for a living. Must have been a slow day at the yeshiva,back then.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The more comments I hear from supposed gedolim like Shteinman and Wachsman the more skeptical I am of the supposed intellectual rigor of the yeshiva world. Of course when the paradigm for scholarship is regurgitation, not innovation, one shouldn't expect intellectual rigor. I guess if you get used to saying "Listen to me, I know more than you", you don't really have to know much.

    They've invented a new religion that has little to do with that of the Vilna Gaon and Rav Hirsch. They're terrified of free will, so they insist on their followers wearing blinders.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Here is a taste of R' Bar-Hayim's wonderfully progressive views:

    "What arises from all the aforementioned is that in the words of the Prophets, and also in the words of our Sages OBM, the Gentiles are thought of as animals. Even so, it clearly does not mean that they are actually treated as animals, and there are distinctions between Gentiles and animals, for we have already seen that the Halacha deems stealing from a Gentile to be forbidden by the Torah's law, while it is clear that stealing from a beast is not considered stealing. Likewise the Mechilta says that judgement of one who intentionally kills a Gentile is given to Heaven and, of course, this is not the case regarding an animal. Also, the Gentiles were commanded to fulfill the Seven Commandments of the sons of Noah -- in contrast, of course, to animals. Nevertheless, we have seen that the status of the Gentiles in Halacha is similar to that of animals in many respects, and generally speaking, there is no real distinctions made between them (further on we will expand slightly this on deep concept)."

    But he must be such a wonderful person for being matir kitniyos on pesach! Of course, we don't have to wait for the future to see Jewish racism being played out, it's all around us today.

    ReplyDelete
  30. maybe the goal is to create a life of such lachatz that so many go off the derech that mashiach has to come before none are left...

    remember , in terms off economic reality, that rav steinman shlita is like a malach . 2 stories brought down---due to safek bracha achrona on a whole grape , he ate therefore only a half [a smaller meal presumably than rashbi's miraculouusly delivered carobs]
    2nd, as revealed in a pamphlet from one of those tzedaka kupot , the sainted rov didnt know what a credit card was. [while this cost pres bush senior re-election, it only accentuates the austerity ruchni cred of the undeniable leader of the generation---> the question is , does he speak to you??

    ReplyDelete
  31. Since no one mentioned it, many successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic -- a correlation much written about -- leading some to drop out of formal education.

    I suspect that R. Steinman made some assumptions on the basis of this research, leading to his erroneous statement.

    Of course, dyslexia would make a kollel education even more difficult than a seculary university.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Why did everyone commenting this blog miss the statement that parnassah is bashert, as is everything. Sounds like a lot of individual doers with false senses of authorship roaming this blog. Heshy

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm a little upset about Rav Shteinman's exclusion of women. Being a woman, the last time I tried they didn't allow me to attend Kollel. Am I simply to be condemned to a lifetime of being a murderer, thief, and a person without sechel?

    In all seriousness, one would think that each generation of gedolim would see, when they are younger, how the elderly gedolim are manipulated, and enforce a mandatory retirement age, so as to SAVE the kavod of the future elderly gedolim, which could include themselves. I am sure that if some of these Gedolim had an ability to hear themselves as if they were middle aged, with their full mental capacities, they would be mortified.

    Promoting the illusion that men in their 90's are ALL absolved from the mental deteriorational effects of advanced age, simply because they studied lots of Torah in their lifetimes, is an illusion that causes shame and humiliation for those rabbanim. You would think that those who truly honor them, would know better and do better by them.

    ReplyDelete
  34. > Many people are making a big fuss over Rav Shteinman's account of how the eight billion people in the world

    Wikipedia says that, “The USCB estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012.”

    koillel nick said...
    > Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard.

    Yes, they dropped out of Harvard, one of the best schools in the world, came from wealthy families, and dropped out of school because they were busy running businesses. They’re extreme outliers. You can’t compare them to the average person, let alone to one who has no secular education at all.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have met Rav Shteinman. I made a trip to Bnei Brak to seem him and consider it the highlight of that trip to Israel. Nonetheless, when I read things like this I cant help but wonder how a statement so overwhelmingly contrary to so many statement of Chazal can be differentiated from Reform Judaism. Is that term limited to changing Orach chaim?

    ReplyDelete
  36. R Shteiman's comments demonstrate how truly small today's supposed gedolim are. Of course, it helps to remember that Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out of HARVARD (not grade school) and Larry Ellison dropped out of UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO.

    Charedi judaism in its Ichud Kehilos form is in the beginning of its death throes - I just hope it doesn't drag us all down with it.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Rav Steinman also claims that most rich people do not have a strong secular education

    Aside from being factually incorrect, what really bothers me about this statement is the utter irrelevancy. Accumulating wealth is universally acknowledged as being not important (מרבה נכסים מרבה דאגה etc.) by all Jewish sources that I am aware of, so who the devil cares? Rav Steinmen and many other (not all) haredi sages are living paradigms of getting by with very little.

    On the other hand, having enough income from month to month to pay for basic necessities is very important for מנוחת דעת.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Just looking at ads in the haredi newspapers (in Israel), it seems there are quite a few institutions for haredim to get a secular degree.

    In response to Abe's comment on R. Bar-Hayyim's statement: No one can deny that such statements about gentiles exist in the Prophets and in Chazal. Why is he being assailed for it being "his" view? And if we are more "enlightened", that means that marriage of a gentile and a Jew is binding, and requires a get?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Abe's citation of Rav David Bar-Hayim is tendentious, extremely selective, and as such conveys a warped view of Rav Bar-Hayim who is extremely broad-minded, sophisticated and regarding gentiles is far more nuanced than this selected quotation conveys.

    ReplyDelete
  40. How disappointing. R. Steinman is known as one of the more moderate Charedi Gedolim. Imagine what the extreme ones are saying.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 22, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Wow Natan,
    I am usually defending your views to my yeshivish friends, and I often relate very much to ideas you present and the mehalech you put forth.
    But I am so disappointed and upset after reading this post.
    To start with, I am very sorry to say this, I really am, but have you no humility?
    You are certainly not obligated to agree with everything R' ALS says, but to say so brazenly that you are pointing out "problems" with what he said is shocking. Can't you at least entertain the possibility that in his 100 or so years of living he has gained some insights that you don't have and perhaps he knows something you don't?
    Secondly, I believe you and almost everyone else commenting here are missing his main point. You are projecting your own interpretation of what he's saying and then attacking that interpretation.

    Read the speech again carefully and you will see he is making one very important point.
    He is saying that when we worry for our children's future, our main concern should be that he will be learning torah and doing mitzvos. Everything else is secondary.
    He didn't say don't work. He didn't say don't teach your children a livelyhood.
    He is saying don't be so pre-occupied with parnassah that you lose sight of the true purpose of creation.
    That's exactly the point from the chayei adam. They weren't overly concerned about parnassah, their focus was producing b'nei torah.
    It's a profound message that should hit home for everyone whether you plan to learn full time or work a full time job and learn on the side.
    Too often we fall into the trap of making the tafel the ikkur and vice versa.
    Once you realize what the ikkur is, then you can make the appropriate decisions in terms of how much time and resources you want to allocate towards each.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm sure he has lots of insights that I don't have and I'm sure that he knows lots of things that I don't.

    I'm also sure that promoting the idea that secular education is wrong and unnecessary, is wrong and unnecessary.

    There can be no denying that many great Torah scholars through the ages had a very different approach than that of Rav Steinman. Is there anything wrong in agreeing with them?

    As to your interpretation of what he was saying - it's nice that this is what you took from it. I don't think that anyone else understood it that way. Especially since the point of his visit was to show support for yeshivah ketanos in the face of the new schools that offer secular education.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 22, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    "(A)I'm sure he has lots of insights that I don't have and I'm sure that he knows lots of things that I don't.

    (B)I'm also sure that promoting the idea that secular education is wrong and unnecessary, is wrong and unnecessary."

    that sounds contradictory to me. If you really believe statement (A), then you shouldn't be so sure about statement (B). And if you are absolutely sure about statement (B), then perhaps consider that R' Shteinman didn't say secular education is wrong and unnecessary.

    Also, I didn't notice where he said he came to discourage people from going to high school. Again, you are interpreting something then disagreeing with the interpretation.

    At the end of the day, I think you can agree that if you take his message at face value (without all the diyukim and guessing), every Jew can benefit from what he said and should incorporate it into their life. How one incorporates it is their challenge.

    Why not focus on that as a starting point, and then you could give your angle of what you feel is an appropriate path for focusing on "chayei netzach".

    k'ish echad b'lev echad

    ReplyDelete
  44. They are not contradictory in the least.

    Have you ever strongly disagreed with Obama, or Peres, or someone like that? Or how about the Pope and the Dalai Lama? Do you not think that they have lots of insights that you lack, and know lots of things that you don't?

    And why would I think that Rav Steinman was not protesting secular education, when (a) that is the standard charedi line in Israel, and (b) his words are understood that way by pretty much everyone?

    Frankly, I think that you (like many others) are simply deeply uncomfortable with the fact that the Gedolims' worldview is so different from your own, and so you convince yourself that they are really saying something quite different. I sympathize; I used to be that way myself. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that they really do have a very different worldview.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Not to belabor the point, but reference to Wikipedia (I know, the internet is evil and untrustworthy, however the readers of this blog appear to disagree) articles on Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg consider both of them to be highly gifted programmers who had a sound secular education prior to their abbreviated stay at Harvard. After all, you don't normally get into Harvard without having demonstrated superior academic skills. While the young Bill Gates was closer to the stereotypical notion of a computer nerd, his near perfect SAT score got him into Harvard. Zuckerberg, in contrast to his depiction in the film "Social Network", was not a stereotypical computer nerd. He excelled in his studies, both in math and science, and in the humanities. In applying to an elite prep school, he listed reading and writing abilities in 5 or 6 foreign languages, including Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. At Harvard, he entertained classmates by citing passages from the Greek and Latin classics in the original. He was also the captain of the fencing team in prep school. The achievements of these men was no accident, or due simply to providence, it arose from their talent, dreams, dedication, and driving ambition. You can't use them, or those like them, as models for achieving wealth without much effort.

    While the rav in question may not have explicitly decried the 'adulteration' of torah studies with secular ones according to the partial translation provided by Rafi, that was the general tenor of the cited remarks. While one can admire the ability of a man of his age to give a coherent talk, it was, nonetheless, of a superficial nature. Perhaps, he felt the need to conform better to the prevalent Hareidi opinion on the subject after having been severly criticized in the past for his more moderate stance on employment for Hareidim.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Not to belabor the point, but reference to Wikipedia (I know, the internet is evil and untrustworthy, however the readers of this blog appear to disagree) articles on Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg consider both of them to be highly gifted programmers who had a sound secular education prior to their abbreviated stay at Harvard. After all, you don't normally get into Harvard without having demonstrated superior academic skills. While the young Bill Gates was closer to the stereotypical notion of a computer nerd, his near perfect SAT score got him into Harvard. Zuckerberg, in contrast to his depiction in the film "Social Network", was not a stereotypical computer nerd. He excelled in his studies, both in math and science, and in the humanities. In applying to an elite prep school, he listed reading and writing abilities in 5 or 6 foreign languages, including Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. At Harvard, he entertained classmates by citing passages from the Greek and Latin classics in the original. He was also the captain of the fencing team in prep school. The achievements of these men was no accident, or due simply to providence, it arose from their talent, dreams, dedication, and driving ambition. You can't use them, or those like them, as models for achieving wealth without much effort.

    While the rav in question may not have explicitly decried the 'adulteration' of torah studies with secular ones according to the partial translation provided by Rafi, that was the general tenor of the cited remarks. While one can admire the ability of a man of his age to give a coherent talk, it was, nonetheless, of a superficial nature. Perhaps, he felt the need to conform better to the prevalent Hareidi opinion on the subject after having been severly criticized in the past for his more moderate stance on employment for Hareidim.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 22, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    My final point is that Rav Shteinman gave a speech last week that at it's core, face value had an important message from which everyone can relate to and benefit from.

    Instead of supposing what he "really" meant based on outside information, then pointing out all the "problems" with such a message, which then leads to 30+ comments of people degrading a gadol b'torah, why not take a more positive route.

    Why not start with his message acknowledging it is an important one, maybe point out that you think R'S means it in a certain way, and give your own take on how to live this ideal.
    Why does it seem to always be so negative?

    What did you gain from the way you did it?

    ReplyDelete
  48. I thought that I was addressing its core, face value - its plain, straightforward, meaning. I only brought in the additional info to refute your re-interpretation.

    What I gained was to be honest about what he said, about what he represents, and about his effect on society.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I thought that I was addressing its core, face value - its plain, straightforward, meaning. I only brought in the additional info to refute your re-interpretation.

    What I gained was to be honest about what he said, about what he represents, and about his effect on society.

    ReplyDelete
  50. This quote from the speach, seems to suggest that this post did not understand the plain meaning of he speach:

    "I saw in the name of the Chafetz Chaim that he says, a person invests many years of his life to acquire a trade or position. Why does he do it for so many years? Because he wants to be able to support himself for his entire life. "

    Lastly, his ending statement said:

    "And with parnassa Hashem helps. Most of the time the richest people specifically are not people of such great education. Why? because that is not the main thing."

    Which is also true. You can not predict how wealthy a person will be based on which school they went to. They just aren't direct factors.

    It seems many here are trying to argue against a strawman. At no point did the Rabbi say to avoid getting a job, or to avoid getting an education. Anyone who is reading that into what he said is projecting their own insecurities about Haredim.

    I think there are plenty of bad Charedi rabbis, and plenty of bad charedi speaches... This wasn't one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Sad Yeshivish Guy - which school do your kids go to? Which schools do the kids of most (or probably all) of the attendees of Rav Steinman's speech go to?

    Not to Rapaport or Harel. They go to Magen Avos, Avi Ezri, etc. Which means that they are in educational streams in which they will not do bagrut, not go to college, and will be taught that if they work for a living, they have failed in life.

    Do these people need to be told that they need to focus LESS on preparing their kids for a parnassah, or MORE?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 24, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    My kids are in those schools, correct.

    To answer your second question, even people who have kids in these schools worry about their children's future parnassah.

    It is good for us to be reminded every now and then that while parnassah is important, it's not the ultimate goal. And as much as we worry about parnassah for our kids, we should worry more that they will be proper b'nei torah.

    ReplyDelete
  53. C'mon, you must be kidding me! Your kids are getting absolutely zero preparation for parnassah. And they are being indoctrinated to believe that it is wrong to work for a living. And this is the education that you have chosen to give them. You need to worry MORE about their parnassah, not less! How on earth are they going to provide for their families, when they will have neither the skills nor the inclination to work?

    ReplyDelete
  54. Saying that bill gates and mark zuckerberg don't have good secular educations because they dropped out of harvard to start businesses is like saying carmelo anthony didn't gain any basketball skills from 1 year at syracuse because he dropped out to join the nba. Its only because he progressed so quickly at syracuse (I think that's where he played) that he could skip 3 years and get drafted in the nba lottery.

    First off, the only way gates or zuck get into harvard in the first place is by having a good secular education at the high school level. Both were computer geniuses, not something they picked up at random as a chiddush with a chevrusa. Something they worked on feverishly throughout early adulthood. Secondly, they took high level computer science courses in college and close interaction w the professor and domination of that coursework gave them the skills and helped catapult their already existing skills to the next level, to start a business.

    You know, a course that teaches you a marketable skill that can be used in business, a trade, or some place of employment? That's what education is, and what yeshiva does not offer.

    Their strong secular educations enabled them to leave college early and get a headstart on their careers. They worked extremely hard at computer programming and both have a certain genius at that skill. They don't just magically create microsoft or facebook without having those skills and secular education! Their money didn't just fall out of a tree upon their heads. The list of "billionaires who didn't get degrees" or whatever junk these kollel sitters are posting here are a joke and show just how much the kollel folks misunderstand life and the path to success in business. We all pray for hashgacha but God doesn't come down and hand you the ability overnight to defeat michael jordanat basketball as a 5 foot white guy or to instantly design the first personal computer.
    These guys sitting and learning have no appreciation for what it actually means to work for a living. They think its the equivalent of what they do only nonHoly. And that's why they view us as lower lifeforms. We are choosing to do non holy handout-taking. They do the holy kind. Lol what a comedy.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Sad yeshivish guy claims that he usually supports your views to his friends but this post set him off and he's so disappointed in you. I've seen that type of statement preceding an attack on Rabbi Slifkin here so many times it's become a "how to attack Slifkin" meme or something. Anyway, I don't get why this guy is so riled up that you dare state your disagreement with something Rabbi Steinman said. Since he's really old and really smart and really learned at Talmud, he can't be wrong about anything and can't be questioned by us unwashed masses? Who taugh you this, sad yeshivish guy? I guess a very sad yeshiva did.

    ReplyDelete
  56. None of the comments here seem to relate to the fact that this speech was addressed to yeshiva ketanah bochurim. Perhaps at this point in their lives they can take the liberty of learning exclusively limudei kodesh, and then take some courses later when they're closer to having to work for a parnassah?

    I once heard a rosh kollel say that they wouldn't allow yeshiva bochurim to hear inspirational speeches addressed to ba'alei batim. The ba'alei batim would be told how great it is that they work a full day, and then attend a shiur at night. A yeshiva bochur hearing that would have the impression, "Why should I study so hard? These ba'alei batim get by with a daf yomi, why can't I just be satisfied with that?"
    During the period in their lives that they learn in yeshiva, perhaps it should be pure Torah. Later, they'll learn to integrate work with learning.
    Another point: it is possible to translate a s'michah into a Bachelor's degree in Jewish studies.

    ReplyDelete
  57. You've got it backwards. They are never going to be told that they should get a parnassah. Nor are they given the training for it.

    By the way, the speech was not addressed TO yeshivah ketanah bochrim. It was for the general charedi public.

    Also, I don't know about the US, but in Israel, learning in yeshivah is largely useless as far as getting a degree is concerned.

    ReplyDelete
  58. My apologies--I stand corrected as to the audience of the address.

    I think the s'michah that is considered equal to a B.A. is a s'michah from the Chief Rabbinate(Yoreh Yoreh is around 4 years of learning.)

    ReplyDelete
  59. "C'mon, you must be kidding me! Your kids are getting absolutely zero preparation for parnassah. And they are being indoctrinated to believe that it is wrong to work for a living. And this is the education that you have chosen to give them. You need to worry MORE about their parnassah, not less! How on earth are they going to provide for their families, when they will have neither the skills nor the inclination to work?"

    Probably the same way that every student who has graduated with a bachelors in Philosophy will find a job.

    There are plenty of well educated kids with no skills or inclination to get a job.

    How do all those Charedi women get jobs working for Intel and other high tech companies that want to take advantage of their maternity leave?

    I think you need to read the speech again, and read it more closely. Without your biases.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 24, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Student V,
    I never said RNS can't disagree, please don't twist my words. I took issue with the way he presented his disagreement, i.e. by stating absolutely that R' Shteinman is wrong and only he (RNS) is correct in this matter.
    I think that is disrespectful and foolish in light of their respective levels.

    ReplyDelete
  61. And yet you yourself would state absolutely that certain people who are much older and more intelligent and more knowledgeable than you are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 24, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    I disagree. I would not absolutely assume they are wrong if the thing they are talking about is specifically in their area of expertise. Particularly when we are dealing with something that is not a black and white issue. I would consider myself naive and immature to presume that he is objectively wrong on such a matter.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Yehuda P. is correct that the speech was directed to yeshiva ketana boys. As far as I could tell, and I live in Beit Shemesh and attended the speech, the Rav was invited by, the event was organized by, and originally all publicity was sponsored by yeshiva ketanot. It's true that eventually ads were made to attract the general public, and that due to the resulting overflow crowd the children were even asked to give up their seats (which was a shame and many left) and children were a minority, however, the Rav's remarks were most likely prepared with the original intended audience of children in mind, and in that context, the Exclusive Torah approach isn't so off the wall, as Yehuda P. explained.

    By the way, a further proof to me that the remarks were directed to children was that the level and style of the speech, at least in it's first half was what you would expect in a lower grade elementary school class (you would need to have heard the original to judge this, and it's admittedly subjective). Personally, I was getting a bit bored with the whole review of Bereshis, etc., but assuming that kids were the intended audience for whom the Rav prepared his remarks, I understood the use of this style.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Sad Yeshivish Guy - So you wouldn't dispute the Pope or Louis Jacobs about theology? You wouldn't dispute Peres about his plans for peace?

    ReplyDelete
  65. Herb- if he was speaking to yeshivah ketanah boys, then all the more reason to tell them that while they should apply themselves to their learning, one day they will have to support their families. They are not going to be educated that way.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sad Yeshivish GuyMay 24, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    I would heavily disagree with them, but I don't claim to be certain that I am correct. How could I? Can you yourself say you are absolutely correct and Louis Jacobs is wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  67. OK, so in general you are a person who is never sure of anything. That's fine. Realize, however, that I am no different from most other people in the world. I'm pretty sure that Rav Steinman himself is absolutely sure that, e.g., Peres is wrong about his political views.

    What is more important, however, is for you to realize that you need to ignore what Rav Steinman said, and instead follow Chazal and teach your sons that they need to support their families, and give them the ability to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Rav Shteinman is following the path most clearly explained by Rav Dessler (Michtav M'Eliyahu vol. 3 pg. 355) in describing the different educational approaches of Frankfurt vs. the Yeshivot.

    The first time I read that essay it upset me as being unfair to those not able to work within the Yeshiva system, but also provided some glimmer of understanding as to why the yeshiva system continues to this day the way it does despite the obvious failings. It's a system focused on how the masses should act, while many complaints against this system are justifiably focused on the individuals who don't fit within the yeshiva system.

    ReplyDelete
  69. It doesn't work for the masses, either. And it's against Chazal, Rishonim and tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Sad Yeshivish Guy,

    RNS is entirely correct when he says:

    "[I]t's against Chazal, Rishonim and tradition."

    I grew up listening to haredi Rabbanim speak (wrongly) about the "Reform" rabbis of Europe and how the entire movement started with small deviations from mesora. Well, RALS position on working for a living is so overwhelmingly against millenia of Jewish tradition and classical Jewish sources that it can not be called anything other than Reform Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
  71. @james, when you call anti-work judaism 'reform judaism', just be clear that the results of it will be much different than the results of what usually goes by the name 'reform judaism'. the usual kind results in the abandonment of religious practice... belief... assimilation....

    -while this kind will either end up being saved by fund raisers or will sink so deeply into poverty that its members will either starve or be forced to go to work....

    there's a big difference here.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Its amazing, slifkin!! You only post the KEFIRA on your website!! But if someone sends a comment in that DOESNT make YOU look good, you CONVENIENTLY decide not to allow that comment to be posted! Yes, I posted a comment a few weeks ago. Although no other visitors to this website of yours will see it, Im happy if only you saw it! (It was the one where I called you a baal gayveh!)

    Just do me one favour: think about this: Are you not scared about what will happen to you when you reach 120 and you have to explain to the Beis Din shel mala how you could live your life saying that that gedolim - who have been learning Torah and Judaism for at least 80 years each longer than you - are wrong!!??? I personally pity you!

    Now: one of two things will happen: either you will completely ignore this (and pretend you never saw anything)

    OR you will answer some stupid remark about how YOU are correct in life (YOU as a twenty something year old punk) in comparison to the Gedolim of our generation! And that you never posted my comment because it was anonymous and so on!!

    But one thing I can guarantee: YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE!!! YOU ARE NOW COMPLETELY SHEKER!!

    ReplyDelete
  73. 37, actually. And, correct, I didn't post your comment because it was anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Where is the rest of your response?
    I am challenging you WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE UP AGAINST THE GEDOLIM, WHO ARE WAY MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE THAN YOURSELF!? And what makes you think youre so RIGHT!?

    ReplyDelete
  75. from what I'm reading here, the opinions expressed by rav steinaman are literal heresy, and we need to call it what it is.

    Learning torah, as torah teaches us, is IMPOSSIBLE without a means of living, and as raishis chachma, chayyei adam, and hundreds of other rabbanim have stated, meaningless without actualizing it.

    the obligation to teach (even a young talmid chacham) a trade are mandated in the talmud. Disagreeing with that mandate places you in the exact same place as keraim, conservatives, tzedukim and all the other "anti torah sh'baal peh" groups.

    That is the difference between talmud and shulchan aruch, denial of the halachic section of the talmud is heresy.

    We need to stop beating around the bush and respecting people who unabashedly espouse things which are not in keeping with any of the traditional streams of judaism, even if they wear a black hat.

    (sorry for not posting in years, or really commenting. I kinda got married and have been, well, preocupied.)

    ReplyDelete
  76. Why are all of you wasting time with this nonsense, it's not worthy of discussion. This as in so many other instances is a desperate attempt at power and control and even,yes, MONEY. There's a simple solution to this, stop donating to something that you don't believe in. Whining won't solve this, action or in this case inaction might.
    Supposed gedolim who are constantly involved in nasty arguments with other supposed gedolim and hurl invective and insults at every opportunity are anything but. It seems curious that those who so frequently speak of "sinas chinom" are the ones who practice it the most, those who decry "loshon horah" indulge in it on a regular basis. The hypocrisy of belittling "baal batim" while taking their money is no different than the hypocrisy of the politicians who lambaste the "rich" and Wall Street while constantly begging for their contributions and accepting them.
    At some point the so called "chareidi" leadership decided that thinking and knowledge (other than what they permit) are forbidden. Had this always been true then the incredible trove of s'forim and voluminous works that Jews are so proud of wouldn't exist. This is a classic case of the blind leading the blind and it will destroy that which they supposedly treasure most.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Being old doesn't make one right or smart, it just makes them old.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.