The Threat of Euclid
Here in Israel, United Torah Judaism is circulating the following campaign ad:
For those who can't make out the Hebrew words in the poster, the ad says "EUCLID - Not, it's not the name of a medicine. It's the Greek mathematics mathematician that (the Zionists want) your son to learn about instead of learning Mishnayos." It proceeds to detail how it is important for your children to learn good character, yiras Shamayim and Torah, rather than the foreign wisdom that the government wants them to study, etc.
Now, one question that immediately springs to mind is why Mishnayos and mathematics are presented as an either/or. Nobody is saying that charedim should not learn Mishnayos at all; rather, they are saying that charedim should learn mathematics as well as Mishnayos. Which many Orthodox Jews, in Israel and abroad, manage perfectly well. And they seem to do pretty well at achieving good character and yiras Shamayim, too.
But my colleague Leor Jacobi pointed out something else:
It's a Hebrew translation of Euclid, by Rav Baruch of Shklov. He was encouraged to publish it by his rebbe, the Vilna Gaon. He writes in the introduction that the Gra told him that “according to the measure of what a person lacks in general wisdom, he will lack a hundredfold when it comes to Torah wisdom, because the Torah and general wisdom are closely linked together.”
It looks like United Torah Judaism has set itself up against the Zionists and the Vilna Gaon. Strange, no?