Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why the right wing Chinuch system is the best option

Every once in a while, when R' Gil has some gripe about the Charedi state of affairs vis-a-vis Chinuch, (for him, that's once every short while) a few commenters start sounding off like yentas, albeit without all of the inflection: "Nuuuuu, Gil, so ven are you going to send your kids to the MO school?"
Occasionally he responds. Usually he ignores the rant. Like he says, he doesn't feel the need to always have the last word. Good on ya, R' Gil.
Here's why the school system that I send my kids to, is the Charedi one.
Surprisingly, perhaps, I'm going to quote from Memories of a Giant - Eulogies in Memory of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveichik zt"l.
In the introduction to that book, Rabbi Reuven Ziegler is quoted as follows:
"I believe that the Rav's primary reason for not writing about these subjects (i.e. intellectual challenges to Judaism, such as Biblical criticism, evolution, etc.) was that he simply did not regard them as the most important issues or the main problems facing Judaism in the modern world. The main arena of combat, in his opinion, was the soul, not the mind. We saw that the Rav believed that the G-d-experience lies at the core of faith, and the role of the intellect is only a posteriori - it is both ancillary and subsequent to the faith-experience. Therefore, there is no point in addressing questions of the intellect before one establishes within himself an experiential basis of faith."
I accept his viewpoint unreservedly. There are indeed questions that may niggle at our minds and challenge our belief system. What I need for my kids at their developmental stages, far more than their ability to tackle thse questions (which even people who have ostensibly learned the tools of the "Da Mah SheTashiv" trade have a hard time doing), is to develop a sense of conviction that there are answers.
When I called Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky Shlit"a regarding what he thought I should tell my students regarding Torah and Science issues, the first words out of his mouth were "Mir hobben nisht kein kashyes" ("We don't have any questions"). Cynics may say that this means that questions are off limits. They'd be wrong. What it means is that the resevoirs of Emunah in the veracity of the Torah are so deep, as a result of decades of sensing the harmony between the body and soul, the mundane and Divine, the congruence of a Torah lifestyle with our cognizance of our core being, that they drown the potential destruction of Emunah any particular question may bring to bear.
There really is no point in discussing how Judaism responds to these challenges, without developing an emotional bond with Hashem and His Torah. Because the answers to these questions will, at most, be satisfactory. Not uber-inspiring illuminating flashes of truth. So, "fun der Kashya shtarbt men nisht, obber fun der Teirutz lebt men nisht!" ("From the question one won't die, but from the answer one won't live!")
That elusive eureka will, far more likely, come from the soul, not the mind. There will be, every so often, a skipped heartbeat of ecstatic revelation, of sublime bliss, of sense of mission, when the soul's thirst for a particular hue of spiritual accomplishment has been slaked.
I do not mean to suggest that this sense of spiritual thrill is the be-all and end-all of one's Ruchniyus quest. If to the best of one's intellectual capacity, after painstakingly exploring a particular question, alone and with others who command expertise in that area of concern, the questioner is left with answers that are not merely implausible, but factually impossible, he must live his life assuming that the impossible is indeed impossible. But I know of no such question. I have never heard or seen a question which falsifies Yahadus to the point of impossibilty.
What I have seen are questions for which the answers which we can provide are, perhaps, less plausible than the alternative, in the absence of other evidence. Reading, for example, The Camel, the Hare and the Hyrax, leaves one with the sense that there is some need for reinterpretation of certain sources to arrive at an intellectually satisfying solution. My willingness to accept this, and not even consider 'chucking' Yahadus, will be determined primarily by the depth of Emunah I possess. If I had none, I would opt for what may seem, prima facie, the most plausible suggestion. Maybe the Torah is deficient, G-d forbid. But the level of my experiential conviction in the veracity of G-d existence and the truth of His Torah, due to years of study of Gemara, Mussar, meaningful davening, a sense of becoming a more complete, high-caliber, individual is high enough, Baruch Hashem, that the seemingly, perhaps, less plausible becomes the truth.
So when choosing a school to send my children too, the absolutely critically important issue to ascertain is: "Where will my child be best instilled with the 'Lev HaTorah', with wellsprings of faith that will not dry up in the face of surmountable challenges?" And not only that, these wellsprings will propel him to better meet his spiritual potential. After all, Rachmana Libba Ba'i.
My answer is the Charedi school system. With all of its problems, the Mesorah of the Hergeshim of Yiddishkeit, the holiness of a young Tinok Shel Beis Rabban, the instilling of the sense of invincibility of the truth of Torah and her Chachamim, dwells in the Charedi school system.
I do not know of the Modern Orthodox equivalent of "Zogt der heilige Rashi".


Anonymous yehuda said...

Great post!I would love to add more to it but don't want to see another debate on this issue.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

Thanks, Yehuda.

Has there been *unhealthy* debate on this issue?

Not all debate is bad.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

The post is good mussar.

On the other hand, it only highlights the good points without really trying to tackle some of the very real negative ones. I'd like to see more of that, because that's important in weighing educational options for our children.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Bari said...


I agree that there are negatives.

(When the Derech Eretz program ran through the school where I send my kids, I can tell you I was a bit disappointed at what was considered a "Madregah" in certain areas of Middos.)

It's hard to find a school that is going to fit your Hashkafos perfectly. The question is what you want to instill, as the core Chinuch in which you and the school, both officially and in terms of the ambience created by those who attend, are in sync, and what you'll take upon yourself to supplement.

Good Middos are easily recognizable and if they are modeled in the home, are gravitated to by the kids, at least as an ideal. You can talk to your kid about being tolerant, where proper. (In America, sometimes we're too tolerant, and often we're too intolerant. It's an Avodah Kashah SheBaMikdash to strike the right balance in that field.)

There are other gripes, I'm sure.

But the resevoirs of Emunah that I'm talking about is one area, I feel,that a kid needs to be immersed in 24/7, school and home and everywhere else, to have him or her fortified for the challenges he/she will face.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

Excellent post.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

Thanks, Jak.

A little encouragement can go a long way. ;)

2:53 PM  
Anonymous yehuda said...

Any debate on issues which effect yesoday emunah such as brios haolam and which will inevadbly invite letzonim is inheretly unhealthy.Moreover I don't see how such a debate is feasible with the two sides being so totaly not on the same wave length in relation to thier respective acceptence of chazel and the mesorah or l'havdil view of the majority of contemparay sceintists.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

I hear you, Yehuda.

The point of the post was that all the issues that you raised are secondary from a Chinuch perspective. I thought there was some debate on whether that is true.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

I agree with you. We are proudly RWMO, but we send our child to the charedi school for exactly this reason. We don't see the love of yiddishkeit being instilled at the MO school. At least not in the same way.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Bari said...


Thanks for the support! It seems we see eye to eye on a lot of core issues.

11:38 AM  

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