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Secular Talmud

 

I. Secular Study

Dr. Ruth Calderon’s celebrated inaugural speech in Knesset last week was an impressive and emotional display of secular attachment to the Talmud (link). As such, it raises significant religious issues. The question we have to ask is whether secular study of the Talmud is itself contrary to the Talmud. Our democratic attitude toward knowledge might cheer this spreading of ancient texts but we must remember the larger context.

Non-observant Jews study Talmud for two main reasons–either devotional or intellectual. While these need not be mutually exclusive, the first attitude represents study as a religious act, a form of worship even if denying the Talmud’s full religious authority. The second considers Talmud study an intellectual exercise, a broadening of cultural awareness. Both are potentially problematic from a Talmudic perspective.

II. Intent

The proper intent for studying Torah is called learning “li-shmah.” R. Norman Lamm, in his important work Torah Lishmah: Torah for Torah’s Sake in the Works of Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin and His Contemporaries (ch. 6), broadly divides the interpretation of the term li-shmah into three categories: functional (in order to know how to act), devotional and cognitive. We will return to these definitions shortly but first let us discuss someone who learns for an unapproved reason, she-lo li-shmah.

The Gemara (Berakhos 17a) quotes Rava as saying that one who “does” (i.e. studies Torah) for the wrong reason (not li-shmah) “it were better had he not been created.” Similarly, the Gemara (Ta’anis 7a) quotes R. Benayah as saying that whoever studies Torah she-lo li-shmah, “his Torah becomes for him a lethal poison.” The commentaries point out that these statements contradict Rav Yehudah’s saying in the name of Rav (Pesachim 50b) that you should study Torah even she-lo li-shmah because “from [doing it] without proper intent one comes to [do it] with proper intent.” Is Torah study with improper intent acceptable or not?

Rashi (Berakhos 17a sv. ha-oseh) and Tosafos (ibid. and elsewhere) differentiate between types of improper intent. When you study Torah as a means to argue with religious authority, you are sinning. When you study for personal honor or gain, you are doing something proper for the wrong reasons and may eventually do it for the right reasons. However, Tosafos (Sotah 22b sv. le-olam) defines the improper she-lo li-shmah as studying without intent to fulfill the laws you learn.

According to the second explanation, secular Talmud study falls under the improper she-lo li-shmah because secular students do not intend to put their study into practice. Torah study without intent to practice is a profanation of the sacred literature. According to the first explanation, perhaps secular study does not qualify as she-lo li-shmah because it is not necessarily intended to challenge authority. However, this argument fails when we consider Talmudic statements about the importance of connecting Torah study with practice.

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Berakhos 1:5) quotes R. Yochanan as saying that someone who studies Torah with the intent not to practice it, “it would have been better for him had the afterbirth in which he lay been turned over his face and he not come into the world.” Rashi, in his commentary cited above, refers to this passage, implying that he also considers study without intent to practice as a negative type of she-lo li-shmah (R. Lamm, p. 221 n. 10).

III. Improper Students

Additionally, we are warned against teaching improper students. R. Gamliel and R. Elazar Ben Azariah disagreed on the level of moral perfection demanded from students (Berakhos 28a). R. Gamliel required that their external actions match their internal traits, i.e. complete moral perfection. R. Elazar Ben Azariah was less exacting and, when he rose to leadership, allowed many more students to enter the study hall. But we have no indication that R. Elazar Ben Azariah allowed in everyone, without any entrance requirements at all.

The Gemara (Chullin 133a) quotes R. Yehudah in the name of Rav that someone who teaches an improper student (talmid she-eino hagun) falls to hell and is as if he inadvertently worshiped an idol. Elsewhere (Ta’anis 7a), R. Chanina ben Dama says that one may not teach a talmid she-eino hagun.

Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Talmud Torah 4:1) codifies these judgments as follows: You may only teach Torah to someone with proper or average behavior but not to someone whose religious behavior is wanting. You must first help him return, verify his behavior, and only then let him into the study hall. This is quoted verbatim in Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh De’ah 246:7).

All agree that someone who does not intend to practice Torah should not be taught it. R. Lamm, after dividing interpretations of proper intent into the three general categories mentioned above (functional, devotional & cognitive), adds (p. 192):

It will be seen that those who espouse either of the two latter definitions accept the functional definition as a secondary element, or at least negatively as the insistence that the study of Torah never be pursued with the conscious preclusion of the resulting implementation of the precepts studied: lilmod al menat she’lo laasot.

Particularly to the point, R. Lamm writes about R. Chaim Volozhiner’s approach (p. 242):

The transformation of the study of Torah from a religio-intellectual to a cultural exercise is sinful. A secularist, detached, uncommitted study of Torah is considered by R. Hayyim a subversion of his definition of lishmah and his understanding of the purpose of the study of Torah.

R. David Tzvi Hoffmann (Melamed Le-Ho’il, Yoreh De’ah 77), in a very different context, explains that we may not teach Torah to a gentile son of a Jew because “the Torah of Israel is not a song or poem that you study in order to understand Jewish religion but its purpose is learning in order to practice.” While we cannot compare secular Jews to gentiles, the message about the religious act of Torah study remains relevant.

IV. Outreach

However, this raises a fundamental question on the contemporary yeshiva system. While many schools accept only observant students, many others have broader admission requirements. On what basis do they admit students who will not practice the Torah they learn, talmidim she-einam hagunim? I have not seen a systematic treatment of this subject but I believe the answer to this question lies in the discussion of the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav.

In his Hilkhos Talmud Torah (4:3), the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav states that the Rambam’s prescription for an improper student only applies if it will work. Ideally, we must bring a student back to observance before allowing him into yeshiva. However, if that is not possible, we are better served by allowing him to study than not. (Quoted by R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yechaveh Da’as 3:74:6.)

Similarly, secular students of Talmud will likely have no other access to Torah if not in a secular setting. Perhaps this might be considered outreach and justify an otherwise forbidden study. On one hand, you would be hard pressed to classify as outreach one secular Jew teaching another. However, developing a connection to Judaism, adding even minimal entry of Judaism into the void of modern Israeli life, is a massive step in the right direction. How can we object when secular Israelis add a touch of Torah, in any form, to their lives?

But we also cannot ignore the reasons for the above rules. Restricting access to Torah is not intended to punish the non-observant or retain power for the rabbis. Maharal (Chiddushei Aggados, Chullin 133b) offers two explanations for the statement that teaching Torah to an improper student is like inadvertently committing idolatry. First, Torah study is an act of religious devotion. Teaching a sacred text to someone who rejects its authority is an act of sacrilege. You are secularizing the holy text.

Additionally, you are empowering your student to mislead others. When the improper student becomes a teacher, he will teach his wrong ideas and attitudes to others in the guise of Torah scholarship. By teaching to an improper student, you are spreading his improprieties, leading others astray. An improper student will become a subversive influence who will cause religious damage with his scholarly accomplishments. This last point deserves expansion. When people with very different ideas about a text approach it, they each see it very differently. A traditional student of the Talmud treats it as a sacred text, interpreting it as a chain in an ancient transmission. When a secular student approaches the Talmud, he reads it with a different critical attitude. We are, to a degree, reading different books.

Does a secular yeshiva teach the same Talmud that religious yeshivas teach? In one sense, no. If the secular approach to the Talmud spreads, we will find our sacred text profaned widely in society. Abayei and Rava will be two ancient debaters whose words are twisted beyond recognition in the public arena. We will also see religion challenged by a foreign textual sensibility that is difficult for the uninitiated to identify and reject. This is not a matter of protecting rabbis from challenge but protecting the Talmud’s sanctity, open to all students who accept it as a sacred text.

In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing. But I see the dilemma.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

368 Responses

  1. Sampson says:

    “because Israeli society is so shallow”

    Oy. Is that really constructive? What would Moshe Rabbeinu say?

  2. lamedzayin says:

    No wonder Orthodoxy is on an intellectual decline. An erudite Jewish woman calls for more people to learn Torah, and the Gils of the world nitpick the idea to death. At a moment in Israeli and Jewish culture where you have secular Jews actually applauding the idea of more Torah study, surely you can do better.

    In this, she is right and you are wrong. The Torah belongs to all Jews, those of us who are frum, and those who are not. Thankfully, she and others who you don’t approve of don’t need your approval to go learn it, so don’t worry to much about whether you’d grant it if for some reason anyone asked.

  3. Ruvie says:

    “Restricting access to Torah is not intended to punish the non-observant or retain power for the rabbis”
    Ah, the hubris of it all as well as the shallowness of the thinking. I assume this applies to academic study of talmud in the universities as well. Too late to close the barn after the cows have left.

  4. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Dr. Calderone’s approach is that of a non-observant Jew. But for life of me, I do not see how you can say she is secular. Didn’t you hear her prayer at the end of her speech? And listen to some of the interviews with her.

  5. chakira says:

    The Palestinian Talmud in Hagigah tells us that God wishes that the Jews would abandon him and just keep the Torah because of its restorative powers. Clearly, this Talmudic statement sees the intrinsic power of Torah as great enough to overcome non-observance, or even atheism. Contra-Hazal, your post, disparages the power of Torah as a therapeutic activity and suggests that there are religious prerequisites to Torah study that make it worthwhile or not. Certainly, this view has its proponents. For example, Zohar Hai states in his introduction that all Torah study is worthless unless preceded by ritual immersion to attenuate the sin of keri. Similarly, the Satmar Rav felt that Torah study in a state of sin is completely worthless and lends strength to the Sitra Achra, glossing the idea of “shelo-Lishma ba Lishma” as something like “once you’ve started doing things Lishma on your own, then your previous mistakes are seen as Lishma.” (Vayoel Moshe Maamar Yishuv AY 47)

    That having been said, this view of Kedusha/Taharah as a prerequisite to Torah is not broadly accepted. More mainstream is the view propagated by the Avnei Nezer in his introduction to Eglei Tal. There, Torah itself constitutes the prerequisite Kedusha (since both logic and keri emanate from the brain, bypassing the religious emotions of the heart) and the locus is to raise one’s Torah from lo-Lishma to Lishma through the pleasure of Torah study. This sentiment echoes that of the Zohar, which says that without the evil inclination, the pleasure of the topic (שמעתתא) would be lost. In other words, that Torah serves an intrinsically therapeutic function and that the Torah has intrinsic power to raise one’s thoughts or activity from the mundane to the holy. More radically, that some things we might assume are inimical to Torah serve paradoxically to foster it. For instance, the libidinal drive seems to be opposed to Torah study, but is actually the motor behind the pleasure which is associated with Torah study.

  6. “In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing.”

    For years I’ve felt that participation in English-language Torah forums, even if they no longer had any practical relevance to the world I now live in, still kept me in touch with the world I that came from. And that has been very important to me.

    A comment like this, however, shows just how vastly removed your world is from the real life Israeli society that I exist within. It is a rich and beautiful world with endless supplies of talent, love and commitment to both Judaism and humanity at large. And it has become visibly ever more so since we made aliyah.

    Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya removed the guard from the entrance to the Beit ha-Midrash, which strongly implies that anyone was allowed to enter and participate from then on, and the aggadah further suggests that it was precisely this openness which let the Torah flower. If the charedi world believed in God’s Torah rather than in conformity (its true God), then it world beg Ruth Calderon to teach in its yeshivot. Even if it disagreed with her.

  7. Please remove the patronizing insult to Israeli society at the end of this piece.

  8. Yehuda says:

    Gil – I thought the article was well-written and thoughtful. Nevermind the naysayers.

  9. moshe shoshan says:

    Gil,
    Let me remind you that no less than R. Yisroel Salnter advocated teacing Talmud in the European Univeristies in order to raise respect for Torah in the larger world.

    You just dont get it. its very simple, Jews learn Torah- Good. Jews dont learn Torah-bad. We live in an olam hafuch where frum Jews cant even recognize a kiddush hashem when they see it.

  10. Sheryl Abbey says:

    What an insulting comment: “Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing.” It represents a lack of familiarity and/or a total misreading of contemporary Israeli society, in which, thankfully, Jewish identity is full of nuance and complexity.

  11. AZ says:

    “because Israeli society is so shallow”

    As opposed to Flatbush? Boro Park?

    Cheap shot that is way beneath you.

    This “so shallow” society has even secular people quoting from and discussing a sugya in shas, reciting a tefillah to HKBH in the Knesset, and making a tremendous Kiddush Hashem as an elected representative of Klal Yisroel.

    May you, Gil, be zoche to be part of such a society.

  12. zalman says:

    How can we object when secular Israelis add a touch of Torah, in any form, to their lives? Here in Israel we cannot.
    It’s different here.
    Jews living in Israel are (forced to be) more concerned with the welfare of their brethren and have a greater responsibility for the society at large.
    When secular Israelis add a touch of Torah to their lives, we rejoice in the common language of Torah we share in that moment and the society we might build together.
    When Rebbi Zeira went up to Israel from Bavel, he fasted for 100 days in order to forget the Torah he had learned in Bavel so that he would be able to learn anew in Israel (Bava Metzia 85a). Maybe you have to be here.

  13. Deep guy says:

    Ironic. Orthodoxy has Israeli society beat in shallowness. What could be shallower than zooming through daf yomi or mumbling and skipping through daily davening?

  14. william gewirtz says:

    I wonder if one could not make a stronger case to prohibit teaching torah to women. Changing circumstance brought a different halakhic response. There were gedolai olam who studied/taught Torah in various settings, under various circumstances. Discussing sources without their context and their relevance to the current context is not useful.

  15. Miriam says:

    This may be the time to reconsider our use of “non-religious” in referring to other Jews. Is a Jew who believes in HaShem, trys to be honest, non-gossiping, respectful of others, who strives for justice in his/her personal interactions in society, doesn’t steal, is modest in behaviour, etc. etc. not keeping commandments? One could try to say that this person is simply doing what feels right, is not relgiously motivated, but one doesn’t know others’ motivations and people who believe in HaShem often do not follow all the ritual commandments but do follow the societal ones.
    And, why do we commonly refer to people who are known to transgress critical laws regarding honesty, lawfulness, courtesy and respect for others but keep ritual commandments and wear the “right” “religious” garments as “religious”? Even those that are known to commit fraud, molest children, abuse their spouses…these people are referred to as “religious”.
    It is time we recognized that no one keeps all the mitzvoth and reminded ourselves that we are not to be the judges of other peoples’ relationships to HaShem. It is time we found a way to expect and accept people’s own definitions regarding religious outlooks and observance of mitzvot and stop claiming we know what is in other people’s hearts. Given the facts that noone observes all the mitzvot and that all of us pick and choose what and how to observe, we have no right to judge or choose descriptions for others regarding their observance.

  16. DH says:

    Gil, this post bespeaks an embarrassing state of affairs within contemporary Orthodoxy. I found this video moving and emotional, and you have to reject it be-shtei yadaim? What, exactly, do you want from the non-Orthodox Jews in Israel? Have you ever heard of Alma or Ruth Calderon and her work before this?

  17. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Kaplan: Dr. Calderone’s approach is that of a non-observant Jew. But for life of me, I do not see how you can say she is secular. Didn’t you hear her prayer at the end of her speech? And listen to some of the interviews with her.

    Secular is the term used in Israel and correct, even if we prefer something else. Your argument is not with me but with Israeli society for choosing that term. Although, throughout this post I generally use “non-observant”.

    Chakira: The Palestinian Talmud in Hagigah tells us that God wishes that the Jews would abandon him and just keep the Torah because of its restorative powers

    “Keep” means observe the commandments!

    Seth Kadish: A comment like this, however, shows just how vastly removed your world is from the real life Israeli society that I exist within. It is a rich and beautiful world with endless supplies of talent, love and commitment to both Judaism and humanity at large

    I guess my exposure here to Israeli pop culture and in North Tel Aviv where my parents have an apartment does not represent all of secular Israeli culture. Fair enough. Then maybe this development of secular Talmud is less necessary and more objectionable than I had thought.

    Moshe: Let me remind you that no less than R. Yisroel Salnter advocated teacing Talmud in the European Univeristies in order to raise respect for Torah in the larger world

    My understanding is that he advocated it for kiruv purposes, to reach the Jewish children in public schools.

    Miriam: This may be the time to reconsider our use of “non-religious” in referring to other Jews

    I strongly agree. This post focuses on observance, not religiosity.

  18. Reuvan says:

    Your disparagement of Israel is wrong at so many levels it is hard even to know where to begin. You want shallow? Take a look at your children in the Five Towns and fix that problem before you start slamming Israel. The speech you disparage was a kiddush ha’shem in all respects.

    Let’s be crystal clear, shall we? The day to day life of the average Israeli – “secular” or dati, in the Army or on the beach – is more “religious” and more infused with G-dliness than the lives of all of the “Orthodox” hedge fund managers, professors, bankers, merchants, lawyers and medicare fraudsters of your blessed New York/Boston area put together. Pick your sorry self up and move to Sderot or Yeruham or Bat Yam or Tzfat and then you’ll have a some moral standing (and some facts) to judge the Jews of Eretz Yisrael and look down your nose at the incredible miracle of a land they have created. Or is it you just have a problem with educated women?

  19. Hirhurim says:

    DH: Gil, this post bespeaks an embarrassing state of affairs within contemporary Orthodoxy. I found this video moving and emotional, and you have to reject it be-shtei yadaim?

    Your characterization of this post as rejecting it be-shtei yadayim is an offensive misrepresentation. Did you even bother reading it??? I will not unthinkingly jump onto the bandwagon of every liberal cause that hits the media. In this case, I hesitatingly approved without endorsing. I mourn over a religious group that fails to consult its tradition and judges new developments from the gut.

  20. chakira says:

    “Keep” means observe the commandments!

    –Learning Torah is a commandment! *facepalm*

  21. lamedzayin says:

    But we have no indication that R. Elazar Ben Azariah allowed in everyone, without any entrance requirements at all.

    Actually we do, because that is the entire point of the story. You can read in “new lower requirements” if you like, but you are inventing that idea out of whole cloth; the text itself is very clear that he opened the doors to all, and that he was 100% right to do so.

  22. DH says:

    You really think that non-religious daf yomi and talmud torah is the “bandwagon of every liberal cause”?

  23. Hirhurim says:

    Chakira: You are misrepresenting that statement of Chazal.

    Lamedzayin: So you’re saying all those Amoraim, the Rambam and the Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azariah regarding a talmid she-eino hagun? I find that unlikely.

  24. Hirhurim says:

    DH: You really think that non-religious daf yomi and talmud torah is the “bandwagon of every liberal cause”?

    It is *a* liberal cause, yes.

  25. DH says:

    Your categorization is too simplistic to understand the world around you.

  26. Hirhurim says:

    Reuvan: Get over it. Since I have close non-religious family in Israel, I know that your portrayal of their lives as infused with Godliness and religion is delusional. I love them and they are wonderful people. But religious in any sense of the term, they are not.

  27. tzvee says:

    Gil said:
    Lamedzayin: So you’re saying all those Amoraim, the Rambam and the Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azariah regarding a talmid she-eino hagun? I find that unlikely.

    Gil, the Eleazar precedent is in an aggadic source. You seem to be mixing the materials up. See my book – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007GQ0YZ2

  28. chakira says:

    Chakira: You are misrepresenting that statement of Chazal.
    Here are some people who read the Yerushalmi like me.

    1) “because in the Torah in *explains* providence and reward and punishment so that it will return him to good” (Bnai Yissaschar Maamar Chodesh Nissan 4:10)
    2) “since the moment one does teshuvah all their Torah and Mitzvoth from the time they were a Rasha are turned to good, one shouldn’t avoid teaching Torah to them” (Admor Hazaken Hilchos TT 4)
    3) “See how great is the power of Torah that even someone who worships idols is cleansed as it says “I will pour pure water on them etc” and “would that they’d forsake me and keep my Torah”” (Keter Torah Pinchas of Plotzk 7)

  29. lamedzayin says:

    So you’re saying all those Amoraim, the Rambam and the Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azariah regarding a talmid she-eino hagun? I find that unlikely.

    1, there is a distinction between a talmud who has evil ulterior motives or who is a naval birshus hatorah and not a mensch, and someone who is not observant. It makes perfect sense not to teach Torah to a menuval. It makes no sense not to teach Torah to a sincere person who doesn’t keep Shabbat.

    2, to paraphrase the Rav, history paskens. Look at the Beis Yaakov movement. The arguments there are far stronger… were all of the poskim who said that teaching Torah to women was wrong were all incorrect? Yes, they were – maybe not in their time, but incorrect to apply it to all future generations. So whether or not the Shulchan Aruch would have approved of secular daf yomi, 450 years later, post enlightenment, posk haskalah, post the Shoah, post 6 decades of an independent Jewish state, yes, it’s quite possible that all of these opinions are simply wrong.

    But none of that matters. You can’t see it, even though 20+ commenters here are gently (and not so gently) trying to tell you, but this post was breathtakingly condescending. Even if you have the urge to legalistically analyze the idea of non-Orthodox learning, even if you are uncomfortable with it, you betrayed in a dozen ways your distaste for anyone whose approach to Judaic spirituality doesn’t match yours.

  30. chardal says:

    >Since I have close non-religious family in Israel, I know that your portrayal of their lives as infused with Godliness and religion is delusional. I love them and they are wonderful people

    It may be that your particular family members are shallow people, most “secular” Israelis I know are not. They have a variety of strengths and flaws as do people in the religious communities.

    In any case, I don’t think Torah is a cure for shallowness and immaturity, as the yeshiva world proves, years of Torah are no guarantee against a shallow and superficial life.

    I also have secular famility here in Israel. Some are even atheistic anarchists – but they are not shallow people. In any case, I think it is absurd to apply this post to secular Israelies. THE major failure of the orthodox community in the past 100 years has been the failure to build an approach to Torah study that works on a national level. Some fresh ideas and interpertations from the secular community can only help in identifying those parts of Torah that can serve as a basis for unity among Jews. Certainly, the limiting neo-chareidi approach you advocate will not do the trick and only leads to intense fragmentation (there was pretty much one RZ party running this election (if you exclude ben Ari – who himself had major chareidi support) as opposed to 4-5 chareidi ones) Which approach to Torah leads to common langauge? time will tell, but I think we can already say that the narrow approach you are advocating has failed our nation.

  31. STBO says:

    How can someone familiar with Israeli secular culture deny its basic shallowness?

  32. Aaron says:

    Somebody commented, above, “Orthodoxy has Israeli society beat in shallowness. What could be shallower than zooming through daf yomi or mumbling and skipping through daily davening?” I’ll tell you what can be shallower: Lumping together all Orthodox Jews as shallow instead of recognizing that not all Orthodox Jews are perfect but that the many who strive to observe all the mitzvot adequately and with an open, objective, and inquiring mind are not shallow.

  33. RJM says:

    I’d love to see more focus on the supposedly “religious” scholars, rabbis and laypersons whom you seem to venerate and who study Talmud “lishmah” while simultaneously involving themselves in every manner of lashon hara, motzi shem ra, sinat hinam, backstabbing, lying, cheating and stealing, rather than a critique of secular people who are probably ethical and moral individuals with a serious interest in Torah study and who might, as a result of such study, come closer to Judaism and outshine some of the corrupt rabbinic leaders who exert so much influence over our communities.

  34. steve mcqueen says:

    When you see someone like Ms Calderon, you can think “there are lots of areas where we dont agree, but I wonder what we have in common” and build from there. The possibilities would be very exciting.

    The other interesting thing is that Ms Calderon has acheived her knowledge/ set up her institution etc with no help from the O religious establishment. If they choose not to work with her on anything that is of course their prerogative. But having come so far without them, what if in the future her movement starting from way outside the mainstream from nothing became a mainstream? What a shame to have ignored it from the beginning. This is not an impossible outcome, in the UK the “non-denominational” Limmud was ignored/ opposed by the O establishment and now has the hearts and minds of the most committed from LWMO and leftwards, a pretty substantial prize if you are looking to influence future trends.

  35. Arnie Lustiger says:

    The research that went into this post is a tribute to Gil. It is interesting that virtually all the sources that he cites indicate a negative view towards “secular” study of Talmud. Yet his final sentence, written almost on a visceral level, suggests that the phenomenon of Ruth Calderon is a positive development. I have to agree. Sitting here in Galut, I literally devour Israeli newspapers. The shallowness of Yediot Acharonot and the intense hatred of Orthodoxy in Haaretz is powerfully countered by the sensitivity of Dr. Calderon. Although I suspect that Gil regrets not including a little nuance in his sweeping statement about Israeli society, significant swaths of that society will indeed be positively affected by Dr. Calderon’s approach.

  36. chardal says:

    >Lumping together all Orthodox Jews as shallow instead of recognizing that not all Orthodox Jews are perfect

    I see … but it is of course ok to lump all secular Israelis together. After all … some of us have family in north tel aviv.

  37. Tal Benschar says:

    I see … but it is of course ok to lump all secular Israelis together. After all … some of us have family in north tel aviv.

    So two wrongs make a right? Where exactly is that in our masorah?

  38. chardal says:

    >The research that went into this post is a tribute to Gil.

    Except that it is wrong. traditional yeshivot to not learn Torah al-menat leAsot. In fact, learning aliba deHilchasa is considered in many traditional yeshivot to be lo-lishma. I remember a few years ago when Israeli tv crews did an piece on ponovitch. They interviewed the students and asked if their studying was primarily a religious or intellectual experience. The vast majority said intellectual. Of course, I doubt we will see a post of the appropriateness of studying Torah in ponovitch. LeMaaseh, the yeshiva world has one address for halacha, the mishna berurah, what they do in the beis midrash has nothing to do with kium hamitzvos.

  39. chardal says:

    >So two wrongs make a right? Where exactly is that in our masorah?

    עם נבר תתברר ועם עקש תתפתל

  40. S. says:

    I’m more interested in the question of what is the meaning of approving or disapproving of something that is entirely beyond our control? Secular Jews do not need or ask for the permission or approval of Orthodox Jews to claim, reclaim, or study Jewish texts. As someone said, the cows have long left the barn. The whole question seems like a reaction to some perceived loss of control.

  41. kotlerism says:

    “Keep” means observe the commandments!”

    No it doesn’t. It means talmud torah. (shmaru is often interpreted by chazal to mean learn) It’s a Kotlerist drasha – “teyre,teyre,teyre” Being Osek in talmud torah is all-important.

  42. chardal says:

    >I’m more interested in the question of what is the meaning of approving or disapproving of something that is entirely beyond our control?

    Self righteous indignation is its own reward.

  43. Anonymous says:

    ” Additionally, we are warned against teaching improper students. R. Gamliel and R. Elazar Ben Azariah disagreed on the level of moral perfection demanded from students (Berakhos 28a). …But we have no indication that R. Elazar Ben Azariah allowed in everyone, without any entrance requirements at all.”

    We are not warned of any such thing. he removed the guards from the entrance hence it would seem he allowed in everyone (unless you have proof otherwise).
    also guards would not allow in those who may be perfect like hillel who nearly froze to death sitting on the roof after not having the money to pay for entrance –yoma 35b. stories of guards at the entrance only appears in the bavli(not yerushalmi). and yoma 35b is the only other story.
    this is an agaaditta of the removal of r’ gamliel from office and changes that were done to make the beit midrash more open.

  44. S. says:

    >Self righteous indignation is its own reward.

    It’s so strange though. Wouldn’t you think the reaction would be “About time! we were saying this about Talmud and tradition all along.” Not that self-righteous triumphalism is much better, but at least it has the virtue of not seeming to freak out about a loss of control.

  45. Dr. Lustiger:

    “Although I suspect that Gil regrets not including a little nuance in his sweeping statement about Israeli society”

    why do you suspect that he regrets it? he hasn’t indicated such in various comments here responding to critiques. and if he regrets it, all he has to do is edit his post to include some nuance.

    ftr, my first inclination was actually to agree with gil re. israeli shallowness (of course recognizing that like every generalization, there are plenty of exceptions). then i remembered that so many of those shallow jews (and some non-jews of course) readily put themselves in a position to lay down their lives on gil’s behalf. that certainly isn’t so shallow. i guess it doesn’t count if the imperative is not a religiou one? i would also greatly encourage to gil to look more closely at his own immediate neighborhood before commenting the the shallowness of an entire country.

  46. Inspired says:

    I am proud that there are people like Ruth Calderon who love Judaism in spite of all the stumbling blocks put in front of her by so called religious Jews. Such small bore objections should be dismissed out of hand as a case of permanent indigestion. Ms. Calderon demonstrates a deeper knowledge of Talmud than many who claim to be its exclusive heirs.

  47. Tal Benschar says:

    So two wrongs make a right? Where exactly is that in our masorah?

    עם נבר תתברר ועם עקש תתפתל

    Yes, that is a hetter to besmirch whole communities of God-fearing Jews. Talk about lack of bein adom le chaveiro.

  48. Steve says:

    Gil obviously touched a nerve with his final comment, that I think he does regret. Lumping an entire society into the “shallow” pool is probably going too far. Having said that, the substance of the post bears serious thought and response, not simplistic and diversionary statements that does the same thing of which Gil is accused. The reference to “the supposedly “religious” scholars, rabbis and laypersons whom you seem to venerate and who study Talmud “lishmah” while simultaneously involving themselves in every manner of lashon hara, motzi shem ra, sinat hinam, backstabbing, lying, cheating and stealing, rather than a critique of secular people who are probably ethical and moral individuals with a serious interest in Torah study” is an obvious example of trying to divert attention from the substance of the post. The reference to the Five Towns, Boro Park and Flatbush was a cheap generalization and again does nothing to advance the argument.

    If one disagrees with the mamarei chazal, as the Rishonim interpret them and as Gil sets forth, have at it. But please do it with intellectual rigor the topic requires.

  49. Ruvie says:

    Anon at 11:26am was ruvie:

  50. Chardal says:

    >Yes, that is a hetter to besmirch whole communities of God-fearing Jews. Talk about lack of bein adom le chaveiro.

    No, the bigger lack of bein Adam lechaveiro is calling 4 million Jews who, on the whole, show a willingness to lay down their lives for the Jewish people shallow while relaxing in the fleshpots of Brooklyn. My family was not religious. After the war they were able to procure a Canadian Visa but CHOSE to make Aliya instead. Such people were not shallow. Neither are their grandchildren – even the ones who didn’t move towards tradition like myself.

  51. Holy Hyrax says:

    >No wonder Orthodoxy is on an intellectual decline. An erudite Jewish woman calls for more people to learn Torah, and the Gils of the world nitpick the idea to death.

    BINGO!

  52. Tal Benschar says:

    Chardal:

    It seems like my point went right over your head. I have no problem with your criticism of Gil, even harsh criticism. Problem is in the process you are doing the very thing you criticize him about — overgeneralizing and besmirching whole groups of people, and in your case you are directing it to God-fearing Jews. Note that quite a few of the posters here managed to make the same harsh criticism without doing the same thing.

    And your defense seems to be that his aveirah is bigger than yours. That’s debatable, but in any case not very impressive, and not likely to be considered much of a defense in either beis din shel mallah or beis din shel mattah.

  53. Hirhurim says:

    Lamedzayin: 1, there is a distinction between a talmud who has evil ulterior motives or who is a naval birshus hatorah and not a mensch, and someone who is not observant. It makes perfect sense not to teach Torah to a menuval. It makes no sense not to teach Torah to a sincere person who doesn’t keep Shabbat.

    It depends WHY. If it is out of a sense of kiruv, then I agree. If not, then I disagree.

    2, to paraphrase the Rav, history paskens. Look at the Beis Yaakov movement. The arguments there are far stronger… were all of the poskim who said that teaching Torah to women was wrong were all incorrect? Yes, they were – maybe not in their time, but incorrect to apply it to all future generations. So whether or not the Shulchan Aruch would have approved of secular daf yomi, 450 years later, post enlightenment, posk haskalah, post the Shoah, post 6 decades of an independent Jewish state, yes, it’s quite possible that all of these opinions are simply wrong.

    Irrelevant gibberish

    But none of that matters. You can’t see it, even though 20+ commenters here are gently (and not so gently) trying to tell you, but this post was breathtakingly condescending. Even if you have the urge to legalistically analyze the idea of non-Orthodox learning, even if you are uncomfortable with it, you betrayed in a dozen ways your distaste for anyone whose approach to Judaic spirituality doesn’t match yours.

    Here we get to the real issue. Non-observance of mitzvos is not a legitimate religious option. I absolutely do not automatically dislike someone who is not observant. Their observance is irrelevant to my personal feelings about them. But that does not mean that I see non-observant Judaism as a different flavor of Judaism. I see it as illegitimate except as a means toward traditional observance and belief.

    Chardal: It may be that your particular family members are shallow people, most “secular” Israelis I know are not

    Fine. Maybe shallow is the wrong word. Maybe I am wrong about secular Israeli culture overall. That doesn’t really effect the main thrust of the post.

  54. Hirhurim says:

    Thank you, Arnie. You get it and said it better than I did.

  55. S. says:

    >No, the bigger lack of bein Adam lechaveiro is calling 4 million Jews who, on the whole, show a willingness to lay down their lives for the Jewish people shallow while relaxing in the fleshpots of Brooklyn.

    In fairness to the fleshpots, most of the people objecting to the post (and most of the thoughtful commenters here generally) live in the fleshpots and identify as Orthodox. There are plenty of Orthodox Jews who are not shallow. In a way, one of the great things that the internet has shown is not only that many many people are indeed very shallow, but that many many are quite thoughtful and deep.

  56. Shlomo says:

    Additionally, we are warned against teaching improper students.

    It’s strange that the author of a Torah WEB SITE complains about this.

    Restricting access to Torah is not intended to punish the non-observant or retain power for the rabbis. … Additionally, you are empowering your student to mislead others.

    So it IS about retaining power… among the religious and well-intentioned people, of whom “the rabbis” are simply the most capable and prominent examples. And there is nothing wrong with this. Centralized power is bad if used selfishly, but the whole point of Judaism is that people should be altruistic, so if Jews practice what they preach there is no problem with an unequal distribution of power. For various reasons, this idea is not practically relevant in many modern situations (including the issue of access to Torah study). But IMHO, it is still very important when it comes to many issues regarding the role of women.

    When a secular student approaches the Talmud, he reads it with a different critical attitude.

    It’s not all or nothing. Few people are motivated to learn anything difficult just for the purpose of coming up with critical insights about it. If you are willing to invest the effort in studying Talmud, it is usually because you have a deep respect for at least part of its message. That is certain the case with Prof. Calderon, and I would expect also with her students.

    Gil:
    Since I have close non-religious family in Israel, I know that your portrayal of their lives as infused with Godliness and religion is delusional. I love them and they are wonderful people. But religious in any sense of the term, they are not.
    Seth Kadish:
    A comment like this, however, shows just how vastly removed your world is from the real life Israeli society that I exist within. It is a rich and beautiful world with endless supplies of talent, love and commitment to both Judaism and humanity at large

    You are both right. Both types, the shallow and the deep, exist in large numbers in Israel.

    How can someone familiar with Israeli secular culture deny its basic shallowness?

    That too is an over-generalization. Have you heard Sarit Hadad’s song “Shma Yisrael”? Not all secular Israelis are in the mold of A.B. Yehoshua or Aviv Geffen.

  57. Hirhurim says:

    S: I’m more interested in the question of what is the meaning of approving or disapproving of something that is entirely beyond our control? Secular Jews do not need or ask for the permission or approval of Orthodox Jews to claim, reclaim, or study Jewish texts. As someone said, the cows have long left the barn. The whole question seems like a reaction to some perceived loss of control.

    Evaluating trends in society. That’s what we do on blogs. No one cares much what we think but intelligent members of society look around and develop opinions about what is good and bad, what we want to grow and what shrink. Sometimes we might have a smidgen of influence. But even if not, we can at least observe intelligently.

    Although the basis of your question seems to be incorrect. Apparently, R. David Hartman had a big impact on Dr. Calderon and perhaps on this entire phenomenon.

  58. Mark says:

    מסכתות קטנות מסכת אבות דרבי נתן נוסחא ב פרק לב

    בן מאירה, כלי אין בידך, ואתה מבקש ליטול יין ושמן!? כך הקדוש ברוך הוא אומר לרשעים: מעשים טובים אין בידכם, ואתם מבקשים ללמוד תורה!? שנאמר ולרשע אמר אלהים מה לך לספר חקי (תהלים נ’ ט”ז). חוקי אין את משמר, היאך את מספר בהם! ו

  59. Ruvie says:

    “A traditional student of the Talmud treats it as a sacred text, interpreting it as a chain in an ancient transmission. When a secular student approaches the Talmud, he reads it with a different critical attitude. We are, to a degree, reading different books.”

    Therein lies the fallacy of the post. condescending to others intent. You could have written a more uplifting post with the same sources with less negativity read into those sources. Just slightly better than the hareidei view but similar disdain.

  60. Hirhurim says:

    And for the record, I never said my family in Israel is shallow. I said they aren’t religious.

  61. Chardal says:

    >In fairness to the fleshpots, most of the people objecting to the post (and most of the thoughtful commenters here generally) live in the fleshpots and identify as Orthodox. There are plenty of Orthodox Jews who are not shallow. In a way, one of the great things that the internet has shown is not only that many many people are indeed very shallow, but that many many are quite thoughtful and deep.

    I know. I was just venting. I apologize if my vent offended any Brooklynites.

  62. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: There is definitely condescension in this post but the item you highlighted is not condescending. It is pointing out a significant hermeneutical difference with vast implications. (Yes, I read the first article in the most recent Tradition)

  63. lamedzayin says:

    You are right Gil. It’s “irrelevant” that the same arguments could be (and were) advanced against Bais Yaakov – teaching women Torah is bad, all the poskim said so – and yet that position has nevertheless been completely rejected by Orthodox Judaism. Parallels that disprove your argument (that psak of the past about who can learn Torah can be deemed invalid by Orthodoxy) are by definition “gibberish”.

  64. lamedzayin says:

    Or better, are you saying that all the amoraim and rishonim who said (very clearly) that women shouldn’t be taught Torah are wrong?

  65. Hirhurim says:

    Perhaps you didn’t get to THE END of the post!

  66. someone above mentioned sarit hadad (and her rendition of shema yisrael). it should be noted that a few years ago she turned down a million shekel for a festigal gig on shabbat

    http://www.mako.co.il/music-news/local-taverna/Article-abff3aefc061921006.htm

  67. lamedzayin says:

    You mean the part at the end where you gave your grudging permission for them to continue? Or the very last sentence where you still see the idea of non-Orthodox Torah study as a “dilemma”?

    Step back from the analysis just for a moment and realize that you are arguing that it is somehow problematic for approximately 90% of the Jewish nation to learn more Torah. However you couch it, even if you at the end can’t come to outright objection, that is the position that you are defending.

    No one is saying that there aren’t going to be individuals that aren’t good people who should be shunned by Torah teachers. No one is saying that all approaches to halacha are equal or that by applauding secular limud Torah you are somehow condoning violations of halacha. But from sources that caution against teaching evil students, and completely ignoring the opposite precedents, you have come to the odious position that it is a “dilemma” if non-Orthodox Jews want to learn Torah.

    Moshe didn’t have this dilemma teaching the often idolatrous Jews in the midbar. The neviim didn’t have this dilemma. Gil Student however is unsure that God’s Torah is suitable for the 9 in 10 Jews who (at the very least since the Chazon Ish) we pasken halachically have “tinok shenishba” status and are not to be blamed for their ignorance of even apathy to halachic Judaism.

    If I sound heated it’s because I am heated. This post is a massive chillul hashem – a naval b’rishus hatorah on its own. You are being m’taher a sheretz – using halachic and aggadic sources to come to a conclusion that on its face is anti-Torah. (And your rejection of the lesson of R’ Elazar and R’ Gamliel is terrible scholarship; you invented a new element in the story in order to dismiss its lesson.) At a moment of potential massive kiddush hashem, where Orthodox writers and leaders should be embracing the idea of a resurgence of Torah scholarship across the nation, you instead pronounce that it is a “dilemma” and “potentially problematic” for your brethren to learn Torah (and then add the snide shallow line just for fun). This post reflects incredibly poorly on you as a frum Jew; you should be ashamed of it entirely.

  68. Haim says:

    Just wanted to say how much I’ve missed Lamedzayin’s comments. I don’t know who you are, but I hope you are in some leadership role, because I like what you have to say

  69. Ari K. says:

    Haim:

    and i’ve missed your comments! ;)

  70. avi says:

    “Rashi (Berakhos 17a sv. ha-oseh) and Tosafos (ibid. and elsewhere) differentiate between types of improper intent. When you study Torah as a means to argue with religious authority, you are sinning. When you study for personal honor or gain, you are doing something proper for the wrong reasons and may eventually do it for the right reasons.”

    This sounds so backwards and self defeating to me.
    A person who is learning Torah for the sake of honor, will in the end destroy the Torah. (See Askanim)
    A person who is learning Torah to argue with authority figures, will in the end, follow the Torah. (See independent thinking teenagers in a Yeshiva Highschool with good teachers)

    I have seen a lot of harm come from people who just want honor and power abusing their learning. I really hope you read the context of these sources wrong.

  71. Holy Hyrax says:

    I too have missed LamedZayin. He is sort of like Zorro I guess. Comes and goes as he pleases.

  72. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: I just saw this in R. Hayyim Angel’s article in the latest issue of Tradition:

    “A believer in revelation necessarily reads the Torah differently from a nonbeliever, even in the instances when both can agree on the interpretation of a text”

  73. Reuvan says:

    Steve, this is not hard. The substance of the post is precisely encapsulated in the dismissive, self-rightous (and empirically wrong) final comment. Let’s all be clear: There is more holiness in the sweat of an Israeli secular kid (boy OR girl) in a flack jacket and helmet sitting in his or her tank than there is in all the mumbled “devotions” and daf yomi shows at a baseball park put together by the so very frum peoples of Five Towns/Boro Park/Flatbush put together. Honestly, do your yeshivas skip the lessons on gratitude and ahavat Yisrael?

    And just between us, I’d be very hesitant to call for “intellectual rigor” if I were you. Otherwise, someone might apply “intellectual rigor” to the “mamarei chazal” that the “gedolim” use to justify photoshoping women out of Israeli and US cabinet meeting pictures or taking welfare from the shallow “seculars” and then where would you all be?

  74. substance monitor says:

    Gil says, “the substance of the post bears serious thought and response”. What “substance”? Substance like this warning by Gil is devoid of meaning: “If the secular approach to the Talmud spreads, we will find our sacred text profaned widely in society.” The Talmud is not sacred, the “secular approach” is a vague and meaningless phrase and how that vague approach will “profane” it, and “widely” yet, is not at all coherent. Sounds impressive, means nothing.

  75. IH says:

    Periodically, an event occurs that people recognize as a mirror being held up to see a given society. Many of us see that MK Calderon’s speech – especially with the spontaneous interaction with Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin – as such an event.

    As with other such historical events, it does not stand on its own – but, rather is a milestone in a much longer process.

    The point of inflection, in my view, is the successful demonstration of an indigenous Israeli form of Jewish pluralism neither informed nor burdened by the Jewish pluralism of galus. In my view, both the American Progressive Jews and those like Gil profoundly miss the point: by seeking to define what occurred within their subgroup-centric worldview.

  76. IH says:

    At Limmud NY, I attended a session on Rav Kook’s שיר מרובע. For those who forget, Rav Kook was instrumental in what became a defining part of the 20th century American denominational cultural war by Orthodoxy – the innovative use of Tinnok Shenishba.

    He too was faced with the reality that the traditional galus conception of Yahdus was no longer sufficient and I encourage everyone who is not familiar, to look up this poem. But, as I was reading the second half of the poem, it really struck me within the context of MK Calderon’s extraordinary speech.

    ויש אשר עולה עם כל השירים הללו ביחד באגודה אחת, וכולם נותנים את קולותיהם, כולם יחד מנעימים את זמריהם, וזה לתוך זה נותן לשד וחיים, קול ששון וקול שמחה, קול צהלה וקול רנה, קול חדוה וקול קדושה.

    שירת הנפש, שירת האומה, שירת האדם, שירת העולם, כולן יחד מתמזגות בקרבו בכל עת ובכל שעה.

    והתממימות הזאת במילואה עולה היא להיות שירת קודש, שירת אל, שירת ישראל, בעוצם עזה ותפארתה, בעוצם אמתה וגדלה, ישראל שיר אל, שיר פשוט שיר כפול, שיר משולש, שיר מרובע, שיר השירים אשר לשלמה, למלך שהשלום שלו.

  77. Steve says:

    Reuvan, thank you for responding. I was focusing on the substance of the post, not the rhetoric. To me, the substance of the post was raising the issue of non-observant Jews learning Torah. Gil provided sources in the Gemara and Rishonim that seem to say that it is not right to do so under certain circumstances. Whether or not Jews in Brooklyn or Nassau County sleep during Daf Yomi (many don’t, I assume some do) is irrelevant to the substance of the post. Whether or not Israeli society is shallow is also irrelevant (and gratuitous). I also have nothing but admiration for chayalim and chayalot who are moser nefesh (literally) for clal yisrael. But I absolutely believe that those who disagree with the basic premise of the post should do so with an intellectual, text and reasoned-based approach, as opposed to emotional or sociological reactions.

  78. Steve says:

    And, between us, I also firmly believe, and publicly advocate, that all innovations, be they photoshopping women out of pictures or having women lead services, be subject to the same intellectual rigor.

  79. groinem says:

    lamedzayin – Your argument that because 90% of Jews act in a certain way grants their lifestyle some kind of legitimacy is erroneous to the extreme. The lifestyle of the non-orthodox is wrong and even if they are spiritual/meaningful, they are still not doing what their G-d commanded them to do.
    The difference between observant learning of Torah and non-observant learning of Torah is not the person behind the Gemoro. It is the reason for his learning and his attitude to the Torah he is learning. Any Jew can learn Torah the way it is supposed to be learnt; as G-d’s commandment to His people. If the ‘non-observant’ wish to learn like that, they are welcome. If an observant Jew learns Torah as a historic artifact or as an intellectual exercise, his learning is as illegitimate as the one Gil is talking about.
    Gil – I wish to add to your point.”Non-observance of mitzvos is not a legitimate religious option.” Someone who observes Mitzvos, but sees non-observance as a legitimate religious position is just as bad. A person who raises his hand to scratch his nose on Sukkos and lifts an esrog on the way has not fulfilled the Mitzva. He is a mis’asek. Likewise, someone who fulfills the external commandments without the acceptance of the belief that he is commanded to do so by G-d, he just does it to feel ethnically Jewish etc. is a mis’asek on the Mitzva and if he does Teshuva, he must lay Tefillin and say Shema again for that day.
    And, to all you commenters, Gil did not say that Israeli people are shallow. He said that Israeli society is shallow. This is a generality about what is acceptable in the public square, and what is expected from the average Joe in the street. That society, as evinced in their newspapers, magazines, entertainment options and public adulation. Read Orthodox entertainment and you will see meaning and a tachlis to life. Not everybody lives up to that ideal but a society based on the timeless wisdom of G-d’s Torah does offer meaning and fulfillment to those who adopt it with truth and sincerity.
    BTW, how is Rabbi Student, living in the US, being protected by those who put their lives on the line in the IDF? If a terrorist were to threaten NYC, do you think the IDF will save them?

  80. Shlomo says:

    The point of inflection, in my view, is the successful demonstration of an indigenous Israeli form of Jewish pluralism neither informed nor burdened by the Jewish pluralism of galus.

    I’m not sure the concept of “pluralism” really applies to societies outside the US. In the countries Israelis come from (both Middle East and eastern Europe), your birth determines your community, and your community has its standard for behavior, and you might ignore that standard in your personal life, but you wouldn’t invent a new community with a different standard. In contrast, in the US there were no preexisting communities (everyone was an immigrant) and no government religion, so all religious communities had to be created from the ground up, and creating a reform community was no more unusual than creating an orthodox one.

    To test this: Do Dr. Calderon’s students see themselves as individuals with similar goals, or do they attempt to organize under the banner of a movement?

  81. Yossi Davis says:

    Read the daf letarbut in haaretz and then read the jewish press. Who is shallow, exactly?

  82. Anonymous says:

    Te issue is whether someone non-observant has a right to study a text containing many requirements and prohibitions, which says of itself that someone non-observant of the requirements and prohibitions is prohibited from studying it. Wouldn’t this self referential feature of the text be just one more prohibition to study, since clearly the non observant reader does not accept the syllogism 1)the text says X is required (prohibited),therefore 2) X is required (prohibited.)

  83. Yossi Davis says:

    Israelis produce more books per capita than any society in the world. The fact that you dismisx them all may be a reflection on groinem’s small-mindednesx rather than on the richness of that culture itself.

  84. groinem:

    “how is Rabbi Student, living in the US, being protected by those who put their lives on the line in the IDF? If a terrorist were to threaten NYC, do you think the IDF will save them?”

    for starters, the ability of any jew any time to get on airplane and go to israel, whether to visit the kotel, learn torah, hike through midbar yehuda or relax at the beach, comes at a price.

    i’m always amazed at the legions of 18-year-olds who spend a year (or longer) doing all this in israel, completely oblivious to the sacrifices that other 18-year-old make to ensure they can do this in peace and security.

  85. groinem,

    and even if americans never step foot in israel, are the sacrifices of those 18-year-olds any less significant because it is israelis rather than americans they are protecting?

  86. IH says:

    Groinem — If 90% of Jews in galus do not conform to your particular view of what God wants, you can ignore them and/or fight them with no existential consequences. But, that doesn’t work in Medinat Yisrael.

    Shlomo — Interesting you raise that question. I do not know about MK Calderon’s, but one of the founders of Bina — a Tel-Aviv “Secular Yeshiva” spoke at Limmud today and my sense is they are definitely trying to build a movement. [She, btw, grew up Charedi in Bnei Brak].

  87. lamedzayin says:

    The greatest irony, of course, is that if Dr. Calderon did become Orthodox observant through the texts she was learning, the first thing some Orthodox rabbis would tell her is “stop learning, you are a woman.”

  88. Richard says:

    lamedzayin: I was once talking to a (American) haredi friend who lives in Israel about Christine Hayes, a Yale professor of Talmud, and he remarked that it was lucky that she wasn’t Jewish or it would be a problem that she was a women studying gemara.

  89. groinem says:

    Yossi – What do books have to do with depth or shallowness? What amount of books with meaning and depth are released from the secular Israeli culture?
    The Jewish Press is just one part of Orthodox Judaism. The cross-culture of Orthodox Judaism include such newspapers whose literary quality and intellectual standards may be low, but they are not treating life or Judaism with a shallow perspective.
    Abba – I meant those that demand that Rabbi Student display gratitude to the secular person who is protecting him. He is not being protected by the IDF and if he could not visit Israel and hike in the Midbar Yehuda his life would not be missing that much. He can hike in the Appalachians or the Himalayas. Midbar Yehuda and its scenic trails are not an integral part of Judaism or an essential part of life. The learning in Yeshiva there, or at least the Yeshiva to which I went, predates the State of Israel and the IDF by some years, and if the Zionists want to make a state and start wars, they are welcome to take care of it on their own. Those who never wanted a state should not have to pay the price of the dangerous attitudes of those who did.

  90. IH says:

    The learning in Yeshiva there, or at least the Yeshiva to which I went, predates the State of Israel and the IDF by some years, and if the Zionists want to make a state and start wars, they are welcome to take care of it on their own. Those who never wanted a state should not have to pay the price of the dangerous attitudes of those who did.

    Gil has previously stated he is a Zionist, so I gather he wouldn’t agree with your form of defense, Groinem.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Gil – your section on INTENT is not surprisingly deficient by leaving out sources that promote lo-lishma learning.
    you forgot to quote the gemera in sotah 22a and pesachim 50a – which find merit in lo-lishma. tosofot in sota 22a tries to harmonize the difference in the gemeras that show merit and those that are negative.
    Tosfot Sotah 22a -Pesachim lo -lishma is one who fears punishment or wants reward;Berachot and Taanit -lo lishma are one who do not fulfill mitzvoot
    however; Tosfos Ta’anis 7a DH v’Chol and Berachos 17a DH ha’Oseh – Pesachim it refers to one who learns in order to be called Rebbi, or to be honored. In Ta’anit and Berachot it discusses one who learns in order to quarrel. selected quoting on the same issue?

    Rambam codifies: Talmud Torah 3:5
    אמרו חכמים לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה בין לשמה בין שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה:

    i expected a more non-bias quoting of the sources. add to that the earlier comment – 11:26am- on the incorrect or misreading of the raban gamliel story (opposite of what the gemera said) – you have poor scholarship here. perhaps the hashkafa lead the conclusion regardless of the sources.

    One more item: Nefesh ha’Chayim (Perakim 2,3 (after Sha’ar 3)): The Zohar teaches that one who engages in Torah, even Lo Lishmah, is rewarded with wealth, honor and serenity in this world, and will not be judged in Olam ha’Emes – “Orech Yomim bi’Minah bi’Smolah Osher v’Chavod”. This is as long as he does not learn in order to quarrel.

  92. ruvie says:

    8:22 – ruvie

  93. Joe Q. says:

    Two things come to mind:

    1. If it is (possibly) assur to teach Talmud to a non-Orthodox / non-observant / secular Jew, let alone to a Gentile, what is the halachic status of explanatory translations of the Talmud and of those who write and publish them? They are facilitating the study of Gemara by people outside of a Yeshiva context where no gate-keeping is possible. Any Jew, observant or non, man or woman, even a Gentile or c”v the vilest sonei Yisrael can go on Amazon and buy volumes of the Gemara that have an English translation and a set of explanatory notes whose instructional power far exceeds what is available in-person in the vast majority of the English-speaking world. One might even think that any innovation that makes the Gemara more accessible outside of the Yeshiva world could be assur.

    2. I too (like a few more eloquent commenters have noted) wonder where one draws the line in allowing access to Gemara study, and how one assesses his potential students for the right mindframe. Seems like it is easy to mistake frumkeit for ehrlichkeit.

  94. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: No survey can quote every source. I made it clear that there are texts on both sides and Rishonim who reconcile them. Nothing you wrote changes the conclusion. See the summary by R. Lamm. He wrote a whole book on the subject!

  95. Steve Brizel says:

    Having been one of the reasons why R Gil authored this superb post, the following comments are in order:

    1) see also the drashos of R Lamm that I posted yesterday;

    2) see also Minchas Asher Talmud Torah Shelo Bircho BaTorah Techilah in which R Asher Weiss mentions the very similar views of the Nefesh HaChaim Shaar Daled Perek Gimmel, Chasam Sofer in his Chidushim to Nedrarim and Chasam Sofer Al HaTorah Parshas Bchukosai, and a very important footnote which mentions the views of a number of Rishonim amd Acharonim in defining Torah Lishmah ( Rambam Teshuvah 10:5 and Perush HaMishnayos to Sanhedrin Perek 10; Bach OC 47, Rash Nedarim 50a, Rashi to Brachos 17a D.H Haoseh, Tosfos D.h Icaan to Pesachim 50b, Tosfos D.H Lolam to Sotah 22b, as well as many of the Baalei Chasidus who emphasize the purposes of Dveikus with the Torah ( Baal Shem Tov), Horaah ( The Rebbe R Baruch ZL from Mezerich ZL ZYA) and many other paths in the writings of the Baal Shem Tov. Of course, while the often quoted views of Ran, Bach and Beis HaLevi re Nedarim 81a are critical in having a proper attitude to Talmud Torah, the view of the Avnei Nezer in the Hakfamah to Iglei Tal of the Simcha of Limud HaTorah being the key to growing in Torah knowledge is equally important.

    All of the above considerations are very valid criteria in evaluating whether the secular study of Talmud deserves to be praised , condemned or ignored. FWiW, RYBS used to mention that there were maskilim in Brisk who knew how to learn but who were
    utterly unabashed of learning on Shabbos with a lit pipe.

    I seem to recall that Shulami Aloni once also mentioned that she was at Har Sinai, albeit without holding a Gemara in her hand, thus entitling her to be able to bash RZ and Charedim equally.

    “Understanding” the study of Talmud so that one understands “the Jewish narrative” as if the same is a fossilized subject in a museum ala other cultural and intellectual phenomena, as opposed to being a subject of great importance because the Helegeh Tanaim and Amoraim are great people in our time strikes me as a problematic POV, especially today there are more full time students of Talmud both in Israel and N America than at any other time in Jewish history.

  96. Hirhurim says:

    Joe: 1. The poskim take that issue seriously but there is certainly a difference between making Torah available to Jews, with Gentiles taking advantage if they wish, and targeting gentiles directly. See the Seridei Esh’s two responsa on teaching Jewish studies in college.

    2. Presumably, you assume the best about people unless proven otherwise,

  97. IH says:

    Regarding teaching Torah to non-Jews, Gil, what is your view of שו”ת הרמב”ם סימן קמט?

    E.g. http://yediah.blogspot.com/2007/01/muslims-and-christians-may-one-teach.html

  98. Steve Brizel says:

    As far as R Gil’s comments re Israeli secular culture, it can be safely stated that many parts of secular Israeli cultural and intellectual life mimics the worst parts of American and European culture, with especially strong doses of post Zionism and post modernism

  99. Steve Brizel says:

    Anonymous-see the sources that we both cited-If one sees the sources in the Talmud and Rishonim, I think that there is a definite hierarchy in preference:

    1) Lishmah
    2) Shlelo Lishmah that will lead to Lishmah
    3) Shelo Lishmah that leads one to LKanter ( apikorsus, kefirah, etc)of without an appreciation of the importance of Torah

    That being said, why shouldn’t we all strive to learn Lishmah?

  100. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I’m not sure i understand your question but the Rambam allow teaching Tanakh to Christians for outreach purposes, as Dr. David Berger made clear in his recent response to R. Shlomo Riskin. http://torahmusings.com/2012/11/interfaith-dialogue-again/

    If you want a full review of the halakhic literature, see R. David Yosef’s edition of Pe’er Ha-Dor. I seem to recall that the Seridei Esh discusses it at length. Maharatz Chajes and the Netziv permit teaching Tanakh to gentiles for other reasons.

  101. IH says:

    Gil — on what basis do you limit Rambam’s Tshuva to teaching Tanach and not the more encompassing definition of תלמוד תורה?

  102. Hirhurim says:

    There are multiple ways to read the teshuvah, as R. David Yosef shows. I read it this way because of the ending, where the Rambam gives the reason as Christian’s acceptance of the biblical text. It seems to me that Rambam allows teaching Tanakh with rabbinic commentary of its meaning.

  103. IH says:

    How postmodern, to borrow one of your expressions :-)

  104. lamedzayin says:

    As far as R Gil’s comments re Israeli secular culture, it can be safely stated that many parts of secular Israeli cultural and intellectual life mimics the worst parts of American and European culture, with especially strong doses of post Zionism and post modernism

    Also, kids these days play their music way too loud and don’t respect their elders.

    Seriously, Israeli culture is not inherently more shallow or deep than any other culture. Every culture has highbrow and lowbrow aspects, deep ideas and shallow ones. Israeli culture is definitely somewhat Westernized, in both highbrow and lowbrow ways, but all that means is that they have both pop music and symphony orchestras.

  105. IH says:

    In one respect it is also different. Unlike the armchair generals that sit among US Jewry, most 18 year old Israeli Jews suspend their personal ambitions — religious, capitalist or other — for 3 years to serve their nation in the army, sometimes putting their young lives on the line. Steve Brizel is all talk and no trousers.

    —–

    Steve — you like to raise the accusation of reading text “with an agenda-based POV”. Can you recognize it on the right, or only on the left?

  106. Nachum says:

    I think there’s a little blink-and-you-miss it factor here that may be one reason people are reacting so strongly: The interaction with Vaknin. On the one hand, here’s a black-kippa’d, bearded representative of a charedi party who is genuinely drawn in and, without having a week to toss and turn and worry, tries to become part of the conversation. Perhaps we should learn a lesson from that; perhaps that lesson is frightening to some.

    On the other hand, Vaknin’s party and its Ashkenazic allies are right now trying to make a case that the Torah they learn, to the exclusion of secular studies, military service, and work, is one of the most vital aspects of Israeli culture. And yet look at what the two speakers here are saying: Calderon is taking an aggadita, analyzing it seriously, presenting it well, and learning a good lesson from it. Vaknin contributes…a cute and pretty meaningless gematria. Now, granted, he’s speaking a bit off the cuff. But that can’t look good. Calderon is, unwittingly of course, showing him up. Of course, Shai Piron could give a solid shiur too, and Ben-Dahan made the point that he’s learned more than all the Shas leaders combined, but it’s not as if charedim love Religious Zionists either. The nerve of these people, with their general education and military service and earned money *and* Torah learning! :-)

    Of course, charedim have a bit of a PR issue right now, as every day’s news shows every Israeli their true colors: Netanyahu desperately wants them in his government, and for one reason only. (He calls them his “natural partners,” but that’s nonsense.) He wants a stable government, for whatever reason, and nothing’s more stable than a charedi party, because they have no principals apart from getting money (and, in Shas’ case, a bit of power) with no obligations in return. Who knows, maybe they’ll “win” here. But it’s going to be the Bennets and Lapids- and Calderons- who come out smelling a lot better than the Bibis and the gematria-spouters.

    I realize that to some, this may be too Israeli and thus “shallow.” Following is an interesting point:

    Perhaps uniquely among the world’s nations, Israel’s nominee for foreign Oscar is picked not by some government committee but is almost automatically whichever won the Ophir (the Israeli Academy Award) that year. Last year, it was a dramatic and sometimes funny thoughtful family drama set in the same Talmud department from which Calderon got her degree. This year, it was a well-made, serious and respectful look at an unusual and tragic and yet surprisingly common event in a charedi family. Neither of these was a case of critics picking a film no one had seen- they were both very popular with Israeli audiences, with many non-religious Jews paying good money to see religion-centered films which were anything but shallow. Both, by the way, were made by religious people. I really think it’s time for the snide remarks about Israeli culture and, yes, religious life to stop. Sure, there’s shallowness and lack of religious knowledge. But a wise man once said something about casting stones…

  107. Nachum says:

    Principles, not principals. The charedi parties have many principals, the least of which, ironically, are their purported “gedolim.”

  108. ZPinchas says:

    Nachum – While your suggestion that snide comments about Israeli culture cease is most commendable, would it not behoove you to extend the selfsame *principle* to chareidim as well?

  109. Carl says:

    I’d love to see an article about whether it is permissible for people who refuse to serve in the army and defend the Jewish state should be allowed to study Talmud?

  110. Nachum says:

    ZPinchas: I am, of course, speaking of the Charedi parties, who need no help making themselves (as James Cardinal Gibbons put it) odious as well as ridiculous. For the “ridiculous,” see above. For the “odious,” see these tactics UTJ is trying with the “peace process.” Ordinary Charedim run the gamut the same as anyone else, although to be sure a lack of modern culture, for good or bad, is kind of their thing. :-)

  111. Eliyahu Konn says:

    It certainly is circular to not teach something to someone that will not keep it’s precepts. Is there something in there that will used against those who are keeping it and if there is an error should we follow the error?

  112. Baruch Friedman says:

    Kudos to Gil for a refreshingly objective, well thought-out analysis that examines the issue from multiple perspectives, arriving at a nuanced rather than smug,black or white conclusion. The Mantra of “Torah belongs to all Jews, not just one stream” is true but totally irrelevant. Torah belongs to all Jews who believe that it is Torah and treat it as such.

  113. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Yes, I absolutely disagree with the criticism of Israeli soldiers. Kol ha-kavod to them and I pray for their safety and success.

    Nachum: Vaknin was acting pleasant on a personal level, as I hope we all would do. That is irrelevant to the larger issue.

  114. TXJew says:

    “Restricting access to Torah is not intended to punish the non-observant or retain power for the rabbis.” So it is asserted, but he has to look 1000 years past the Talmudic prohibition, to the Maharal, to find a rationale other than these two obvious ones.

  115. Nachum says:

    Gil, Vaknin was drawn in, inadvertently or not. He could have kept his mouth shut and no one would have said anything.

  116. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Gil: As Nachum correctly noted, Vaknin became part of, was drawn into, a public conversation about Talmud with a very Jewish learned secular–your term–Israeli woman. That you can describe his interaction as simply “acting pleasantly on a persoanl level” indicates, to me at least and I suspect to others as well, that you are truly tone deaf and have understood nothing at all. No wonder, as you stated in your very first comment about Calderone’s speech, that you “failed to be impressed.”

  117. lamedzayin says:

    Give credit to Ziknin where credit is due. Right in the moment, before the Chareidin seemed to collectively decide that the response to this was going to be negative, he recognized a good dvar Torah when he saw one.

    Something like he’s making me laugh, reading responses to this around the net, is the people who are attacking her for a shallower or out of context reading of a Gemara. I guess these people never attended a yeshivish “shaleshudis”.

  118. lamedzayin says:

    By Ziknin I mean Vaknin. Voice dictation is awesome, until it isn’t.

  119. william gewirtz says:

    Prof. Kaplan,

    when i heard the interaction, i thought about her approach (aggadic/ethical/literary) versus the likely traditional approach (halakhic/legal). they are clearly complementary and each informs the other. a gematriah pales in comparison to either.

  120. lamedzayin says:

    I also find it amusing that Gil has admitted that the post is condescending, and that the shallow line was uncalled for, but still hasn’t even removed that one line. I guess he ascribes to the papal infallibility school of blogging.

  121. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Actually, to elaborate on Nachum, as the protests from the Knesset floor to Vaknin’s interuption indicated, protocol demanded that Vaknin NOT interrupt Calderone’s speech. He broke with the protocol and did so because he could not resist adding his own– to be sure rather trivial– “vort” to her explanation of the Gemara. Calderone’s response to the protests “I am happy to participate in an exchange of divrei Torah” was breathtaking. Gil: I really do not understand that you do not get it.

  122. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    I just listened again to the exchange between Calderone and Vaknin to make sure my inmpression was correct. What again took my breath away was how parenthetically, how naturally and genuinely Calderone said “ani semeihah al ha-hishtatfut be-divrei torah.” And you were not moved by this Gil? Listen again with open ears and an open heart.

  123. ruvie says:

    As reported in Israel:

    “MK Rabbi Shai Peron (Yesh Atid) and MK Dr. Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), along with MKs Yoni Chetboun (HaBayit HaYehudi) and MK Elazar Stern (HaTnua), are planning on establishing a Beit Medrash program in the Knesset.

    The purpose of the program will be for MKs and Knesset employees to learn some Torah once a week, on Tuesdays, and to have discussions about Judaism.

    Every week a different MK will take a turn leading the discussion, teaching a talmudic topic.

    According to Kipa, the haredi parties have not yet decided whether to participate or not.”

  124. Hirhurim says:

    I would have done the same thing as Vaknin, as I’m sure would most Charedi rabbis. He was just being pleasant, as anyone who is not tone deaf can see. Denying that is making a mountain out of a molehill. Although it does bolster the argument against appearing on an inter-denominational panel, unless you add a condition of being unpleasant.

    I’m not sure why some readers are mistaking the hesitant “Yes” in this post with a “No”. I know my writing lacks that nuance of a great thinker but sometimes something other than a binary response is called for.

  125. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: I’m all for kiruv to MKs

  126. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Kaplan: And you were not moved by this Gil?

    I don’t understand how that is relevant? I’ve been moved by anti-religious speeches also. While this speech certainly wasn’t anti-religious, being moved–mainly because she was so emotional in her demeanor–is irrelevant.

  127. Hirhurim says:

    Lamedzayin: I almost never change posts because people complain. Ein la-davar sof. Your use of the term “admits” misrepresents the actual dialogue.

  128. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Kaplan: And again, I repeat, secular is the term used in Israel for the non-observant. Don’t blame me if it is inaccurate. The name of the yeshiva Dr. Calderon started is the Secular Yeshiva: http://www.bina.org.il/english

  129. lamedzayin says:

    Gil, it’s not “some readers”, it’s basically everyone who responded to you with about 3 exceptions (one of who appears to be so far to your right that his agreement almost hurts your point.) Perhaps the post is flawed if basically everyone who reads it comes out thinking you are saying something offensive? I guess what is surprising to you is that a “hesitant yes” to more Torah is still seen as a poor response by (so many) of your readers.

    Also, let’s hope you wouldn’t have responded like Vaknin did. His interjection was out of place (there are rules… he’s the chairman! he’s supposed to be enforcing them!) and also irrelevant (his gematriah did not even relate to the point she was making). I hope you have a greater sense of decorum than that (would you interrupt a university lecture to make a random tangential point? How about a speaker in shul?)

  130. Hirhurim says:

    No, I received supportive e-mails from people who did not want to get involved with the angry commenters.

  131. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Gil: We obviously do not agree on questions of tone, on whether I and others am making a mountain out of a molehill or you are making a molehill out of a mountain. Again, on the factual issue, I would point out yet again that Vaknin as Chair BROKE with protocol in interupting the speech to insert his “vort.” Pleasantness would have dictated that he smile and say nothing. And as I stated, I was moved precisely by Calderone’s non-scripted, spontaneous, NON-EMOTIONAL comment “Ani semeihah al ha-hishtatfut be-divrei Torah.”

  132. lamedzayin says:

    Your use of the term “admits” misrepresents the actual dialogue.

    Previously on Gil:

    Fine. Maybe shallow is the wrong word. Maybe I am wrong about secular Israeli culture overall.

    There is definitely condescension in this post

    In any case, that is what I meant about papal infallibility. You said something that is a lashon hara about a lot of people with no to’elet and not even a real point, aside from snideness. You “admitted” (apparently that’s the wrong word, but you can choose a better one) that you were condescending and that the word “shallow” was uncalled for. But you can’t bring yourself to delete a sentence of lashon hara because admitting you were wrong on even a tiny point leads to “ein l’davar sof.”

  133. lamedzayin says:

    Ah, yes, the famous response of the journalist under fire: “it’s true that no one seems to agree with me, but I have secret supporters who are too above the fray to speak publicly.”

    Does it seem likely that, by chance, all of the people who support you happen not to like to comment, and all of the people who disagree with you happen to like to do it?

  134. Hirhurim says:

    Read through the comments more carefully. You’ll see support but not by people who are so angry that they have to comment again and again.

  135. emma says:

    “Calderon is taking an aggadita, analyzing it seriously, presenting it well, and learning a good lesson from it. Vaknin contributes…a cute and pretty meaningless gematria. ”

    Agree. The focus on “secular talmud” in general helps obscure, or helps avoid, the uncomfortable fact that what she was saying sure sounds meaningful, even to a religious person – in fact more so than a lot of what one might here from the traditional corner.

    I found Vankin’s interruption to be rude and condescending (unwilling to concede that he, as a religious man, does not have some special exprtise to contribute whenever someone mentions talmud). Certainly not “pleasant.” She responded graciously.

  136. lamedzayin says:

    I see groinem saying that Zionists are apikorsim anyways, Steve Brizel saying that maybe you shouldn’t have said shallow (but also “man those Israeli’s are shallow aren’t they”) and Arnie saying that he likes your point but you need more nuance (aka be less obnoxious). Yes, an outpouring of support. Contra that, I see intelligent folks like Lawrence Kaplan and Nachum repeatedly trying to explain something to you. (Are they also “angry” because they keep posting or was that just meant for me?)

    But you are right, I’m done commenting on this thread. It’s talking to a wall. You are tone deaf both to what happened and to why your response could be offensive, and you are committed to the idea that once you post something your opinion is not allowed to change. I can take solace in the fact that neither your hesitant yes nor my disapproval of it matter a whit; Dr. Calderon doesn’t need or want anyone’s permission to learn Torah, and you can hesitate all you want from the sidelines while she attempts to do good for Am Yisrael.

  137. ruvie says:

    I guess many here expected an intelligent and cogent post/analysis – whether they agreed or not – instead of a condescending and dismissive polemic

  138. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: I agree that this post presents nothing to people uninterested in texts and traditions.

  139. lamedzayin says:

    Actually, I will add a comment; you deleted part of my last one (apparently because you disliked that I compared your revision policy to the one the Megillah attributes to Achashveirosh) without comment or marking it “edited by Gil.” The height of intellectual dishonesty is editing someone else’s remarks and pretending not to; I’d be upset at you if I thought you had the grace to care.

  140. ruvie says:

    Gil – just the opposite. To those that care about texts and tradition this post represents the problems with certain elements of orthodoxy -usually hareidim or those close to that segment that can’t acknowledge a major positive in front of their eyes.

  141. Hirhurim says:

    Lamedzayin: Every time I add the “edited”, I get hit over the head by people for implying that the comment was profane or otherwise inciting imagination. The decision was that it is better not to mark than to make such implications.

  142. IH says:

    Gil — But, that is the point isn’t it. MK Calderon’s speech (and the life she has led) is all about the same text and tradition as everyone here. The difference is that she thinks one can be true to the text and the tradition without being observant — and that is the where the disagreement lies.

  143. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: Any calculation that does not include Gemara, Rishonim and Poskim when they speak about the issue is, in my opinion, using a faulty methodology. You can include more but you have to begin with the texts.

  144. lamedzayin says:

    Simple rule then: if it isn’t profane or inciting imagination, don’t edit it.

  145. Hirhurim says:

    Insults aren’t allowed

  146. lamedzayin says:

    Ah yes, unless they are in the body of your post. Because *those* can’t be edited; it’s a slippery slope.

    It wasn’t an insult; it was a comparison. Chazal don’t react kindly to the idea that once something is said it can’t be unsaid because that would be a slippery slope. It’s seen as a criticism of Achashveirosh (obviously) and if you find the comparison insulting, well you are the one who set the policy.

    Regardless, this is where I end my participation in this thread for real. There’s really no point in me typing up sentences for you to delete.

  147. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Ruvie: In fairness to Cross-Currents there is a post on Dr. Calderone’s speech by R. Adlerstein that while displaying an understandable ambivalence is, in my view, more sensitive and nuanced than Gil’s post.

  148. Hirhurim says:

    Totally different genre. This was a halakhah post.

  149. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Gil: Fair enough. I hope the readers of hirhurim will read R. Adlerstein’s post and decide for themselves. Perhaps R. Adlerstein would not appreciate my “haskamah.”

  150. ruvie says:

    LK – There is a reason i left his name out of the cabal i mentioned but they are more the ilk of the website.

  151. emma says:

    “Totally different genre. This was a halakhah post.”

    except that your conclusion reads much less like halacha than like a policy statement based on empirical observations and predictions:
    “Does a secular yeshiva teach the same Talmud that religious yeshivas teach? In one sense, no. If the secular approach to the Talmud spreads, we will find our sacred text profaned widely in society. Abayei and Rava will be two ancient debaters whose words are twisted beyond recognition in the public arena. We will also see religion challenged by a foreign textual sensibility that is difficult for the uninitiated to identify and reject. This is not a matter of protecting rabbis from challenge but protecting the Talmud’s sanctity, open to all students who accept it as a sacred text.

    In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing. But I see the dilemma.”

  152. Hirhurim says:

    See my comment at 9:50am

  153. emma says:

    “Hirhurim on February 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Ruvie: Any calculation that does not include Gemara, Rishonim and Poskim when they speak about the issue is, in my opinion, using a faulty methodology. You can include more but you have to begin with the texts.”

    How is that responsive? You _did_ include more (selectively), and now you are being asked to defend what you did and didn’t include.

    You raised “this was a halacha post” as a defense as to why you are not as “sensitive and nuanced” as R Alderstein (not taking ap osition on either post, just reporting what has happened in these comments). But I am pointing out that it was not _just_ a halacha post. You went beyond the abstract halachic underpinning into various assessments – what some might call application of the law to the facts at hand – that are most of what you are being asked to defend.

    I find this to be a common problem on this blog, actually, that an author (not always you) uses the fact that they are writing in the halachic genre to evade responsibility for the empirical and value-based (ie, non-halachic) observations and assessments on which their halachic analysis is based.

    (also, bringing up your response to ruvie in response to a question re: comparison to r alderstein sounds like you think RA’s post is “methodologically flawed” – is that what you mean to say?)

  154. IH says:

    Any calculation that does not include Gemara, Rishonim and Poskim when they speak about the issue is, in my opinion, using a faulty methodology. You can include more but you have to begin with the texts.

    While I don’t disagree — and I doubt the learned people leading these “Secular Yeshivot” do either — this just feels like ensconcing yourself within your own cocoon. How is it relevant to what has occurred, or inform how Observant Jews should deal with the pheomenon that has now emerged as a butterfly?

  155. Hirhurim says:

    emma: I agree that I went into application of the issues to the case at hand, and I still believe I was correct even if people wish to argue about how exactly to describe secular Israeli culture.

    Had I seen R. Adlerstein’s post, I probably would have modified my words somewhat. I’m sure he cares about the texts but did not consider his medium the proper place for a discussion of them.

    IH: How is it relevant to what has occurred, or inform how Observant Jews should deal with the pheomenon that has now emerged as a butterfly?

    The halakhic conclusion was that this phenomenon deserves a mixed reaction, i.e. cautious acceptance. You may not find that relevant but I do.

  156. I thought about this again today, primarily because in my original comment I phrased one point rather harshly, and would like to express my regret for doing that.

    On a more substantive level, I also think I realized what the real problem here is in my eyes. Rav Gil did a nice writeup based on his research of the concept of “talmid hagun”, and he deserves credit for that. But when reading it, I had absolutely zero intuitive sense that what Hazal and the Rambam meant by the terms “hagun” or “eino hagun” had any realistic relationship whatsoever to the myriad sociological and ideological labels we like to use far too often, such as: Religious, Secular, Observant, non-Observant, Orthodox, Dati, Charedi, etc.

    I highly doubt that any of these labels is a valid reason to let a person into the beit ha-midrash or to keep him out. What do any of these labels have to do with being a person whose behavior is decent, who honestly seeks the truth, and who truly wants to do what God expects of him or her? There are plenty of such people, both teachers and students, davka in the “secular” batei midrash, and there are plenty of people who are not like this in the “Orthodox” batei midrash.

    [To give an extreme ideological example: Is someone who thinks that he can and should shirk army duty just because he was born into a certain segment of society (whether charedi or certain high school classes in Gush Dan), and that he may thereby force even true Torah scholars to serve longer instead of learning Torah (that is the reality), a “talmid hagun”? Should he even be allowed into the beit ha-midrash? I doubt Rabban Gamliel would have let him in!]

    In other words, if someone wants to act upon the halakhot discussed in Rav Gil’s post, then there is no reason to focus on Ruth Calderon and the kind of programs that she runs. There is no reason for her speech specifically to prompt an essay on “talmid hagun”, unless it is that we really believe in these labels. I don’t.

  157. IH says:

    this phenomenon deserves a mixed reaction

    Feels more like socio-political apologetics (a la kiruv and tinok shenishba) to me, and I suspect others.

  158. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Feels more like socio-political apologetics (a la kiruv and tinok shenishba) to me, and I suspect others.

    I agree, except without the term “socio-political apologetics”.

  159. Chardal says:

    It seems to me, that all great moments of progress in orthodoxy came in spite of textual sophistry from the right. From leaders not allowing what r Berkovitz called the karaitization of the oral law. This is just another such moment. This piece is of the same Genre as vaYoel Moshe. A selective set of sources behind which hides fear of change and a intractable conservatism that can not hear the change blowing in the wind. It is not halachic. (Where the heck do we get Halacha of what our attitudes should be?). It is conservative polemic.

  160. Michael Ben Av says:

    Torah is an entrance to Jewish life. Authentic Torah has a great power to speak to a Jewish neshama. And the Torah itself is not complete until it finds its place in each Jewish soul.

    Except in clear cases where the learner is seeking knowledge in order to denigrate Torah, we should lean stringly toward facilitating Jewish Torah learning, and apply the authorities to our orphaned generation with this in mind.

    Let my Gehinnom be with those who made the shidduchim between each Jew and his Torah, and left the gate-keeping to HaShem.

  161. tzvee says:

    I tried to make sense of why Calderone chose this strange story for her Talmud text. The outcome of my analysis of the underlying (perhaps subconscious) impetus for her text selection is not a positive one. The interpretation we come up with is that Calderone thinks she is right in crying about how she is neglected by the men in the Yeshivas, and… that (as in the Talmud story) God will enable her tears to kill the men in the Yeshivas who neglect her.

    See http://tzvee.blogspot.com/2013/02/video-ruth-calderon-talks-talmud-to.html

  162. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I must have read hundreds of comments over the years in this blog and elsewhere decrying the ignorance about Judaism/Torah that is so rampant by Jews in both Israeli and diaspora society. And now someone who is not observant is, to a certain extent, agreeing and suggesting something that can be done to help mitigate that problem. And once again, some can simply not take yes — not exactly the yes we would have hoped for, but a type of yes nonetheless — for an answer.

    But let me make this modest proposal for those who feel that way: at least have the graciousness to mute your comments in the future about those who are ignorant of Torah since — and I find this difficult to write or truly comprehend — you want to bar them from learning it.

  163. Superintendant Chalmers says:

    Since commentors here are trying to point at a dearth of comments supporting Gil, I will no longer remain silent.

    I see nothing wrong with this post. It is a halachic analysis of a legitimate question. Anyone who can’t accept it as such, because it clashes with your liberal/egalitarian mindset, I suspect that your issues lie with the Halachic Process itself and the texts upon which it is based, rather than with Gil.

  164. Superintendant Chalmers says:

    I hasten to add that very few of the commenters (if any) posed any substantive challenges to the actual content of Gil’s post; rather, they just attacked him based on their visceral/emotional reactions, and their apparent discomfort that anyone would even raise such a question.

  165. tzvee says:

    If one small treif ingredient falls into a larger mixture, it can be nullified by the majority of the mixture or by sixty times the bulk of the treif material. One exception to this rule of mixtures is if the treif ingredient is a leavening agent. See Abayye in Hullin 99b: “Perhaps leaven has a different status [as to the law of mixtures]. For its leavening power intensifies it.” In my view, the last comment in Gil’s post is a leavening ingredient which renders the whole mixture treif.

  166. shmuel says:

    I think the post takes the wrong approach. It only dealt with the theoretical issue, almost as though the author were trying to be a posek faced with an imaginary question from a non-observant person who wanted to set up a Torah study program along the lines of MK Caleron’s. But that is a question that will never be asked for obvious reasons.

    Once the author reached his conclusion that secular talmud study isn’t ideal (was there any doubt about that?), he should have continued to examine it in the context in which it is actually happening today –that is, since these are people who for whatever reason aren’t observant and haven’t been brought closer to Torah by anyone’s efforts, is it better that they create and maintain a connection to Torah the non-ideal way they are doing, or would it be better if they because totally uninterested in Torah or hostile to it?

    This second part was condensed into “In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing,” which isn’t a very thoughtful way to deal with it. A thoughtful discussion of how to view the phenomenon once the abstract conclusion was reached would have made it a much better post.

  167. Yoel B says:

    The way I heard her speech, she was saying that her Torah study and ahavat Torah has positively influenced her ahavat Yisrael, and her thinking and behavior towards other people.

    Are you saying that the only thing that would make it lishmah would be if she increased her observance bein adam l’makom?

  168. ses says:

    1. the chas chairman didn’t only interject a vort. After others complained that he was interrupting her, he said “I think she is saying something wonderful.” He was obviously reacting spontaneously to the phenomenon of a “secular” woman getting up in the knesset and speaking about the spiritual importance of the rabbinic literature to her and to Israeli society in general before analyzing an agada with warmth and sensitivity.

    2. The point in the speech in which he interrupted Dr. Calderone, her analysis of the name rav rechumei, was a point on which her analysis was downright haredi. Maybe she meant to say something a bit different than what she actually expressed – and I’m deliberately nitpicking here – but the fact that the aramaic word “Rechumei” means love is not actually a “feminist choice” of chazal. It’s a feminist choice of the aramaic language, which chazal happened to speak. She may have meant to say that the environment and language they spoke had this particular pro-woman conception, but does she not sound like an ahistoric haredi there for a minute? Here she is saying that chazal had this positive association between women and love as though they created the aramaic language or as though they chose to speak aramaic because of these positive elements rather than because it was the language of their time and place or as though the aramaic language was created with their use of it in mind. The outlook she expressed in making her point about rav rechumei’s name was mystical and a-rational, and she adopts this attitude for its pedagogical value, not its technical, academic one. A “secular” woman who sounds haredi to a fault is a wonderful phenomenon and it was to this haredi-sounding secular woman that Vanikin was responding so spontaneously.

  169. IH says:

    The outlook she expressed in making her point about rav rechumei’s name was mystical and a-rational

    Or, perhaps, just literary.

  170. Shlomo says:

    It depends WHY. If it is out of a sense of kiruv, then I agree. If not, then I disagree.

    Of course, if someone, let’s call him David Hartman, decides to teach gemara to secular people out of a sense of kiruv, he can’t be too disappointed if those secular people then decide to discuss it among themselves…

    The outcome of my analysis of the underlying (perhaps subconscious) impetus for her text selection is not a positive one. The interpretation we come up with is that Calderone thinks she is right in crying about how she is neglected by the men in the Yeshivas, and… that (as in the Talmud story) God will enable her tears to kill the men in the Yeshivas who neglect her.

    And presumably she also has issues with her father?

    Seriously, you are reading way too much into this. If anything she is taking a passage which is unsympathetic to kollel members, and trying to justify their behavior. Which is a rather clever way to extend an olive branch to the charedi community, to get them not to see Yesh Atid as an enemy.

  171. Sholom says:

    Thanks for the article R’ Student. I wish more of your commentators had the intellectual integrity to honestly contend with the primary sources. It’s not a question of trying to malign Ms. Calderon, but whether or not what she is advocating enjoys any support from the text she purports to revere, and the poskim that follow. You don’t like what Gil is saying, then offer a legitimate counteranalysis, and pony up sources.

  172. Chardal says:

    Another shallow secular Israeli quoting scripture and advocating achdut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Eck67hoPH8&sns=em

  173. ses says:

    “Or, perhaps, just literary.”

    fine, my point is that she wasn’t making a scholarly point or one that makes rational/logical sense. There are lots of aramaic names in gemara that are translations of the equivalent hebrew names. The name ahava doesn’t reflect a feminist sensibility and has no connection with women. In fact, the gemara has just mentioned rav ada bar ahava, and the story of rav rechumei comes up in the context of r’ ada bar ahava’s ruling. The name ahava is translated into aramaic as rechumei, and there’s nothing feminist about it, It’s just an aramaic translation of the non-feminist ahava. If it were a haredi MK who’d made this point, everyone would chuckle as it’s a sholosh seudos derasha to say otherwise.
    Of course, when she makes this drasha, she is interjecting something positive about the culture of chazal, but it’s quite striking that her approach is not scholarly here, but rather warm, pedagogical, not technical and a-rational. There were a lot of comments about secular people learning torah as a dry, academic exercise and approaching torah as a cultural artifact. That’s not how she’s reading this agada. She’s reading the agada with so much warmth that she is reading in positive meaning that isn’t there and that probably she, and certainly her audience here, is intelligent enough to know isn’t really there. The name rechumei has as much to do with feminism as it has to do with ramach. If you are going to darshen the name rechumei you can do so any way you wish. The difference between what he said and what she said is that she leaves the audience with the understanding that chazal’s attitude to women was nuanced, whereas he appears to have no larger agenda. From a scholarly perspective, neither of them are saying anything relevant and we should understand that the context of his interjection is how charmed he obviously was by the phenomenon of a “secular” woman getting up in knesset, speaking so warmly about the importance of safrut chazal, and then beginning her analysis of an aggada with a non-scholary, but warm digression.

  174. HAGTBG says:

    The Simple One—what does he say? “What is this celebration about?” You shall say to him: “We are commemorating the fact that with a strong hand G‑d took us out of Egypt, from the house of slaves”

    As for The One Who Knows Not How To Ask—you must open up [the conversation] for him. As it is written: You shall tell your child on that day: “It is because of this that G‑d acted for me when I left Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).

    I do not quite see that Gil’s halachic analysis actually is connected to the fact pattern. In fact, it explicitly is not.

    This secular yeshiva, as I understand it already exists. Academic analysis of Talmud already exists.

    If so, this is not a question of (i) the proper standards for Torah learning (“Intent”), or (ii) teaching only those with the proper attitude (“Improper Students”). In fact, Gil’s analysis notes that it best applies to the intent of students attending a traditional yeshiva (and applies in far more broader circumstances then whether someone is “secular”).

    Is that the case here?

    So how is Gil’s analysis connected to whether Ms. Calderon’s endeavor is good or bad? It is simply not on point.

    Gil’s attempt to bridge the gap is extrapolation. Since the issue applies in circumstance X (standard yeshiva’s)it also ought apply in circumstance Y (whether to oppose Ms. Calderon’s efforts). Extrapolation on an issue where there is strong social policy issue without describing a phenomena different then traditional yeshiva (without factoring in the policy considerations) is simply inappropriate.

    I believe the reason people have had the reaction they have is because the last sentence simply is merely Gil’s opinion, lacking any basis in the analysis he provides. It could have as easily been said without the analysis.

    So Option A here is mandate that the secular become increasingly estranged from or ignorant of Torah if they don’t want to hear it from an Orthodox source. Option B is … well, what is this precisely?

  175. HAGTBG says:

    Let me amend. Gil’s indeed lists policy considerations against allowing secular yeshivot. He provides little of the “pro” arguments though.

  176. ses says:

    Compare Dr Calderone’s speech to the introductory speech of MK Aliza Lavie, who is described in news reports as orthodox. Lavie’s speech is much less warm and IMO the points she makes about tradition, and megilas esther, are at least borderline offensive.

  177. minyan lover says:

    Ses, I don’t understand your drash on the matter. The text in question- ketubot 62b, appears to be focused on a marriage. I don’t understand the details(tears/roof/etc) but it appears to attempt to articulate a husband’s obligation to (an apparently sad) wife he left at home. The questions that require answers are as follows ; Why did Rechumei leave his wife for an entire year ? What kind of marriage was that ? If the intellectual context of yeshiva was so perfect why wasn’t his wife with him in yeshiva ? Did the wife want to attend yeshiva as well ? If she did then why did the husband rechumei not make sure to accommodate her in that intellectual loving manner ? Wives should always attend yeshiva learning with their husbands this should preferably be done after work at night . Alternatively If the wife was upset that he left her all year why did he leave her ? No matter how much he loved the intellectual inspiration/context. I’m not sure how this marriage metaphor was extended on a global level and who is considered the husband or wife. Or how one would apply the laws of nature and halacha that exist in a marriage to other relationships. I’m sure it makes sense I just don’t understand it. I also don’t understand how “talmud torah” is defined in this post and how the intellectual objective of this concept is understood in 2013.

  178. Nachum says:

    “Secular” in Israel can mean a lot of things, including semi-observant Ashkenazim.

    Vaknin, by the way, has been in the Knesset for almost twenty years. He knows the rules. Had he sat there and done nothing, no one would have thought twice. Had he nodded and smiled, it would have been considered super polite. He jumped in, I think not rudely even if against the rules. (I like how Yachimovich is ignoring Calderon- I don’t really blame her, that’s what parliamentarians do- but is able to jump in to argue for the rules.) I don’t see how anyone can see it differently.

    I’m glad to see you think that one can only appear on an inter-denominational panel if one is unpleasant. Those much greater than you would disagree.

  179. ruvie says:

    minyan lover – see The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud
    By Jeffrey L. Rubenstein
    chapter 6 – Wives

    It seems it was more of a bavli issue than a yesrushalmi one. the chapter above discusses the same mishna and gemera as MK Cailderon with some additional insights:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=GAjISHxGjmgC&q=wives#v=onepage&q=chapter%206%2Cwives&f=false

  180. IH says:

    Alan Kay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay) once remarked that innovation is easy – you just rub smart people and money together; the trick is recognizing the innovation when it occurs.

    Generally, the failure occurs due to an inability to imagine an alternative outside of established thinking or perceived constraints.

  181. Yoel B says:

    Nachum, I’d make your point even stronger: Vaknin jumping in may have been against the Knesset rules, but it was in keeping with Torah study “rules,” (he was treating her like a peer, which in the Knesset context she is) and which is how she took it. I thought it was a lovely moment, and showed an admirable degree of flexible intelligence on both of their parts.

  182. Hirhurim says:

    I understand why some readers are frustrated with this post. Do those readers understand why I (and others) are frustrated with their alternatives?

    The breezy dismissal of codified halakhos is troubling. They might not apply but you have to work a little harder to dismiss them than simply saying “she isn’t really secular” or “what else is she supposed to do” or whatever it is IH seems to be doing. A rejection of pan-halakhism should not become a rejection of explicit halakhos.

  183. IH says:

    Gil — There’s no rejection of halacha here, that I see. There is a rejection of trying to fit what occurred into a halachic discussion. If you had detached the event from the tangential halachic analysis, we would be having a different discussion.

  184. IH says:

    Tachlis, Gil: Let’s say that under the sponsorship of MK Calderon, the government decides to introduce Talmud classes into its Mamlachti Schools. The materials will be developed by a pluralistic committee and will focus on aggadic texts.

    Per your analysis, is it halachically acceptable: a) for Orthodox educators to participate in developing the materials; and b) for the government schools to deliver such a program?

  185. ruvie says:

    Gil – “The breezy dismissal of codified halakhos is troubling. They might not apply but you have to work a little harder to dismiss them.”

    Dismissal of codified halachot? which you admit they may not apply? I do not think many here thought you made such a good case that it does apply – your analysis. the only real halacha of import is the question of teaching someone who has no desire to do mitzvot – even that is questionable. your analysis did not in fact reflect the reality of today’s situation – no one is asking your permission or entry into your yeshivah.
    do religious jews – who a certain mastery of rabbinic text – want to be involved – can they- is only part that needs to be answered. the whole idea of learning lo-lishmah (i actually think they are learning more lishmah than most orthodox) is an agreed issue by all poskim.

    I think you have misinterpreted the commentators reaction and thought process. your last 4 paragraphs says it all – mere polemics and not halachik analysis.

  186. Hirhurim says:

    Tachlis is that the issue is not clear cut and depends on the specific details of the circumstances. Perhaps we can compare to Rav Soloveitchik’s opposition to Orthodox involvement with the New JPS translation.

  187. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: Exactly my point. You don’t even try to incorporate halakhah into your thought process.

  188. Hirhurim says:

    To be clear: the question is whether we should enable or support in any way non-observant Jews to teach Talmud to other non-observant Jews.

  189. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with all of R Gil’s posts, but I would add the following point-The emphasis on Tanach at the expense of Talmud as being an obsolete relic of the Diaspora was a major ideological element of all aspects of Zionism. Dr Calderon should be applauded solely for admitting that such a POV was wrong-even if her approach was couched in viewing the study of Talmud as merely, and inappropriately, an important part of the “Jewish narrative.”

  190. IH says:

    To be clear: the question is whether we should enable or support in any way non-observant Jews to teach Talmud to other non-observant Jews.

    Bravo, for finally getting to the real point. So develop that post properly and then let’s have the discussion about the obvious new scenario that is coming. As I just said:

    Let’s say that under the sponsorship of MK Calderon, the government decides to introduce Talmud classes into its Mamlachti Schools. The materials will be developed by a pluralistic committee and will focus on aggadic texts. How does halacha inform Orthodox participation?

    Let’s be clear, though, that such a curriculum is not dependent on Orthodox involvement beyond any bureucratic/legislative power games that may or may not be relevant depending on the coalition.

  191. Hirhurim says:

    That’s more complicated. Let’s do it more simply. The administration of a secular yeshiva asks an Orthodox Jew to help raise funds for the institution. Should he? Should he even lend moral support by publicly declaring his support?

  192. emma says:

    “I understand why some readers are frustrated with this post. Do those readers understand why I (and others) are frustrated with their alternatives?”
    To some degree, yes. I can imagine a post that really looked at both ides, both in terms of the rabbinic material on both sides and the practical consequences, and that such a post would help people on both sides understand each other. But this is not that post.
    BTW, does this halachic discussion apply to discussions of curricula in mamlachti schools, where most teachers of even jewish subject could be secular?

    “The breezy dismissal of codified halakhos is troubling. They might not apply but you have to work a little harder…”

    I don’t think you have made a compelling case that they do apply, actually. First, your assertion that R. Elazar b. Azaryah had some entry criteria is tenuous at best and has no basis in the aggadah. After that I started reading this piece with extreme skepticism, and you did not demonstrate enough thoroughness to allay my concerns.

    As Seth Kadish points out, you seem to assume “hagun” means “orthodox,” which is completely anachronistic. This assumption allows you to totally ignore that the “torah world” has apparently ceased to concern itself with actual criteria for the moral fitness, broadly conceived, of yeshiva students, and even rabbinical students.

    (The issue of nonobservant children in a dayschool is a side show when torah institutions for adults have no apparent entry criteria regarding a whole range of mitzvot, other than those that serve to define the “orthodoxy” of the student.)

    You then set out various options for what lishmah/not means. Acc to Rashi and Tos. in berachos, “shelo lishma” could be “you study Torah as a means to argue with religious authority” or “for personal honor or gain.” Neither is self-evidently applicable here. So you move on to “Tosafos (Sotah 22b sv. le-olam) defines the improper she-lo li-shmah as studying without intent to fulfill the laws you learn.” This is, you claim, the problem for non-orthodox talmud students, because they do not intend to practice what they learn.

    True, they do not intend to become orthodox. But it is not clear that they do not intend to allow what they learn to influence their practice – either interpersonal or ritual- at all. Nor is it clear that, whatever their intent, they will not make even subtle changes in practice. So I don’t think you have shown that whatever “shelo lishmah” means applies here.

    Basically, as I and others have said, what you write could be true re: halacha in the abstract, but it does not really help one analyze the phenomenon at hand.

    Let’s do a thought experiment: Imagine Dr Calderon had begun her speech with “I would like to teach an aggadah that i learned from rabbi [insert name of unquestionably orthodox person here],” and proceeded to say the same thing. I suspect, though of course can’t know, that it would be greeted with considerably less unease. But all of the halachic issues you point out would be the same.

  193. Mair Zvi says:

    A great deal of verbiage has been written on this topic as of 5:30pm Feb.19, 2013. I intend to add only two words to the discussion of “Secular Talmud”: NAASEH V’NISHMA!
    Further comments are superfluous.

  194. HAGTBG says:

    Let’s do it more simply. The administration of a secular yeshiva asks an Orthodox Jew to help raise funds for the institution. Should he? Should he even lend moral support by publicly declaring his support?

    Arguably, the question is not much different then: The administration of a modern orthodox yeshiva asks a chasidic Jew to help raise funds for the institution. Should he? Should he even lend moral support by publicly declaring his support?

    Of course, you have to assume that modern Orthodoxy is not appropriate functionally. But I’m sure there are some who do, in fact, have the problem with modern Orthodoxy as Torah Judaism. But I could see someone using these sources to arrive at the conclusion that they could not.

    These discussions are meaningless absent putting the values and guessed impact on each side. You did not do that (but instead stacked the deck with negatives of doing so).

  195. IH says:

    Neither interesting nor compelling. They exist and are not soliciting funds from Orthodox individuals as far as I am aware.

    If you start the discussion, then have the discussion about the tachlis issue.

  196. emma says:

    IH:
    #

    Let’s say that under the sponsorship of MK Calderon, the government decides to introduce Talmud classes into its Mamlachti Schools. The materials will be developed by a pluralistic committee and will focus on aggadic texts. How does halacha inform Orthodox participation?

    Let’s be clear, though, that such a curriculum is not dependent on Orthodox involvement beyond any bureucratic/legislative power games that may or may not be relevant depending on the coalition.
    #
    Hirhurim on February 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    That’s more complicated. Let’s do it more simply. The administration of a secular yeshiva asks an Orthodox Jew to help raise funds for the institution. Should he? Should he even lend moral support by publicly declaring his support?

    (BTW, I was writing my comment trying to raise the same mamlachti-schools hypotehtical as IH while he was posting.)

    I think the point of the question about mamlachti schools is that it has been the understood position, and widespread feeling, of religious zionists that there should be more torah in mamlachti schools, not less; that it is tragic that you have jewish israelis graduating high school who know nothing of judaism. That position has not been bothered by all the halachot that you cite, for some reason. We can all speculate as to why, but I think it comes down to the fact that the halachot here are not exactly on point. they need to be extrapolated, based on policy analyses, and the policy anal;ysis that says “better they know nothing than they learn torah from someone other than us” is just not tenable. Yes, there are problems, but not enough to sanction the alternative.

  197. HAGTBG says:

    The breezy dismissal of codified halakhos is troubling.

    If it’ll make you feel any better, I personally think its more like dismissal of a position paper.

  198. IH says:

    Part of what I sense playing out here is a desire to apply the (failed) 20th century American MO approach to American non-Orthodox movements to the situation in Israel: ignore them and let them do their own thing.

    But, that simply doesn’t work in Medinat Yisrael where civil society and religious society are so intertwined and interdependent.

  199. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote in part:

    “Let’s say that under the sponsorship of MK Calderon, the government decides to introduce Talmud classes into its Mamlachti Schools. The materials will be developed by a pluralistic committee and will focus on aggadic texts. How does halacha inform Orthodox participation”

    There is already a situation, which is both different and comparable-look at the Orthodox Forum volume where the principal of the Heschel School discusses the school, the curriculum, together with comments of some of the Orthodox faculty members. I think that the question posed assumes a dividing line between Halacha and Aggadah that can be drawn in the sand, yet many Yesodei Emunah in the Talmud are not just Aggados, thus rendering both R T H Chayes ZL obvious distinction sbetween Halacha ,RAYHK’s views re Aggadah and Halacha or even the views of the CI and RYS re Halacha being the source of Jewish values as approaches that IMO would have to be considered in formulating an approach to the above issue.

  200. IH says:

    Steve’s comment reminds me: has anyone looked up any of the Daf Yomi MP3s or online shiurim on Ketubot 62b, to hear an explanation of this aggadita from a classic Orthodox perspective? Anything interesting out there for comparison to MK Calderon?

  201. Hirhurim says:

    emma: Thank you for taking my words seriously. I will try to do the same in return.

    First, your assertion that R. Elazar b. Azaryah had some entry criteria is tenuous at best and has no basis in the aggadah

    That is irrelevant to the issue of codified halakhah. Either the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azaryah or interpreted his position in a way similar to my explanation. Either way, their ruling is pretty clear.

    As Seth Kadish points out, you seem to assume “hagun” means “orthodox,” which is completely anachronistic

    No, I do not. I assume “hagun” means intending to keep the mitzvos. And that is an extremely minimalist assumption because it probably requires more. We are talking about someone who freely admits to sinning and intends to continue sinning. (The army issue is a red herring because there are serious poskim, such as the Tzitz Eliezer, who exempt yeshiva students from serving in the army.)

    This is, you claim, the problem for non-orthodox talmud students, because they do not intend to practice what they learn

    Precisely. And I quote later scholars who say that everyone agrees with this criterion.

    But it is not clear that they do not intend to allow what they learn to influence their practice – either interpersonal or ritual- at all

    You have made a big jump here. We are talking about people who are not mitzvah observant. Everyone is different but some do not keep kosher, some smoke on Shabbos, some eat on Yom Kippur. Again, everyone is different. But the issue is whether they intend to observe what they learn and the answer–in general–is unquestionably no. You are suggesting that being open to the possibility of being influenced by the learning is the same as committing to observing mitzvos. I find that untenable.

    Basically, as I and others have said, what you write could be true re: halacha in the abstract, but it does not really help one analyze the phenomenon at hand

    I believe that the only possible heter is kiruv. That demolishes just about all other arguments to the contrary but we have to be careful that kiruv actually applies.

    I think the point of the question about mamlachti schools is that it has been the understood position, and widespread feeling, of religious zionists that there should be more torah in mamlachti schools, not less; that it is tragic that you have jewish israelis graduating high school who know nothing of judaism

    Yes, for kiruv purposes

  202. Hirhurim says:

    HAGTBG: The administration of a modern orthodox yeshiva asks a chasidic Jew to help raise funds for the institution. Should he? Should he even lend moral support by publicly declaring his support?

    That is actually a very good question. And in reverse, if a chasidic, anti-Zionist institution asks a MO Jew to help raise funds. Should he?

    Not a simple question.

  203. IH says:

    Gil — I don’t understand why you think I have not been taking you seriously. We agreed on the bottom line for people that need to reconcile the positions you articulated:

    Hirhurim on February 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    IH: Feels more like socio-political apologetics (a la kiruv and tinok shenishba) to me, and I suspect others.

    I agree, except without the term “socio-political apologetics”.

    You just responded to Emma with the same. So, what’s the issue that continues this discussion beyond that?

  204. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gil-it is well known that RYBS wrote checks and raised $ for Charedi Mosdos ( Chinuch Aztmai, Lakewood, etc).

  205. ruvie says:

    Gil – “ruvie: Exactly my point. You don’t even try to incorporate halakhah into your thought process”

    how is that responsive or true to my previous posts that criticized your analysis of the aggadita on beracot 28a – r’ gamliel is shown to be incorrect by he conclusion of the gemera. also, the lo-lishmah argument. it seems you do not take criticism well – just silence.

  206. Jerry Blaz says:

    As a non-observant Jew I suppose the conclusion of this lesson on who is proper and who is improper to learn Talmud, etc., I should not even express my view. However, I am a adherent of the view that nothing Jewish should be foreign to me. I did not become non-observant because I didn’t start out from Orthodoxy, but because the views of my teacher had nothing to do with the world I found myself in and around me. However, I wonder if the author or this article or any talmudist would screen those people participating in the Daf Yomi. I think the answer is negative.

    Daf Yomi is a project to which people are encouraged to participate, and nobody is examining their tzitziyot. I find the Talmud an interesting collection of rabbinical thought, and I understand the emphasis of the chain of tradition that claims the connection between the tanaim and the amoraim to the Biblical fathers. So if a person who doesn’t accept any particular statement in the Talmud as particularly binding on him or her still wants to study Talmud, I stand and approve. Were I to agree to this virtual prohibition of a non-observant Jew to study Talmud, I would rank myself alongside every religious dogmatist in history, and we Jews have continually lived in history.

  207. IH says:

    LDH – Many thanks for the link. Worth listening from 31:50 to 38:48 to contrast with MK Calderon’s reading.

  208. ruvie says:

    Gil – to one of your earlier comments you quoted t’ angel in a recent article in tradition as a backup to one of your assertion in this post:

    “A believer in revelation
    necessarily reads the Torah differently from a nonbeliever, even in instances when both can agree on the interpretation of a text. ”

    you neglected to quoted the next sentence: do you believe both sentences are correct ?

    “However, the nonbeliever or agnostic who takes the text and its ideas seriously may
    have much to teach the believer who then can translate those readings
    into his or her own language and religious experience.”

  209. minyan lover says:

    IH, I understood the focus of ketubot 62b to be the legal/intellectual obligations of a husband to his wife, that exist in a marriage based relationship. I don’t understand the philosophical/hasidic extension to obligations/relationship principles in other contexts. Or why anyone would be applying some sort of “nimshal” in other contexts/relationships/friendships etc. Is it wrong to understand any law of nature or understanding of life derived from this passage as only relevant to marital relationships.

    Why would the principles in this passage ketubot 62b be relevant to a relationship outside of a marriage.

    What am I missing other than a flair for innovative philsophical/ hasidic story telling metaphors.

  210. IH says:

    minyan lover — you may want to ask the Magid Shiur in the Daf Yomi link LDH provided. He broadens the lesson learned from that aggadita beyond even MK Calderon.

  211. Steve Brizel says:

    HAGTBG wrote:

    “So Option A here is mandate that the secular become increasingly estranged from or ignorant of Torah if they don’t want to hear it from an Orthodox source. Option B is … well, what is this precisely”

    Look at it this way-if a local Y or JCC offered a weekly intro level shiur in Talmud given by a local talmid chacham or community kollel member or a kollel member gave a lunch and learn-a very often phenomenon-that critique would not be very valid.

  212. IH says:

    Gil — this really is a problem. Do you have a response?

    ruvie on February 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Gil – to one of your earlier comments you quoted t’ angel in a recent article in tradition as a backup to one of your assertion in this post:

    “A believer in revelation necessarily reads the Torah differently from a nonbeliever, even in instances when both can agree on the interpretation of a text. ”

    you neglected to quoted the next sentence: do you believe both sentences are correct?

    “However, the nonbeliever or agnostic who takes the text and its ideas seriously may have much to teach the believer who then can translate those readings into his or her own language and religious experience.”

  213. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie & IH: How is that relevant? I’ve quoted from non-Orthodox and even Christian scholars. Just because something is done be-issur doesn’t mean the product is assur be-hana’ah.

  214. IH says:

    And even more germane to this discussion is R. Hayyim Angel’s conclusion, which includes the following:

    “Kass provides an illuminating model of how to present the Torah to contemporary Westerners of all backgrounds to seek a meaningful relationship with the eternal messages of the Torah and its Author.”

  215. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: Because I also responded to look at the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh. We don’t pasken directly from Gemara!

  216. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Not germane at all

  217. Steve Brizel says:

    After all the rhetoric, I think that we can all agree that while it is wonderful that a secular Israeli woman told the Knesset that the neglect of Talmud left her with a void in what in her view constituted “the Jewish narrative.” That’s all fine and good-but how does that compare in seriousness with the lives and Sidrei HaLimud of our greatest Talmidei Chachamim and even those of us of both genders who place a high value on Kvias Itim BaTorah and Torah Lishmah, and view the Tanaim , Amoraim and Rishonim as great personae who have a great deal to say today, and not just when they uttered their words in their society? The appreciation to understand that difference is what marks the difference between secular Talmud and Talmud Torah Lishmah. R Frand in his Shmooze on Parshas Mishpatim two weeks ago documents the same quite well in a story regarding a famous Israeli secular writer to Ponevezh and his realizing that he had arrived in a different universe with an emphasis on conduct that he could not imagine seeing in a secular university ( Hashavas Aveda and Gmachim announcements, etc).

  218. IH says:

    Gil — I don’t understand. Do you really think there is no difference between what you wrote:

    Hirhurim on February 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Ruvie: I just saw this in R. Hayyim Angel’s article in the latest issue of Tradition:

    “A believer in revelation necessarily reads the Torah differently from a nonbeliever, even in the instances when both can agree on the interpretation of a text”

    And putting the quotation into its context, which would have been:

    Hirhurim on February 18, 2013 at x:xx pm

    Ruvie: I just saw this in R. Hayyim Angel’s article in the latest issue of Tradition:

    “A believer in revelation necessarily reads the Torah differently from a nonbeliever, even in the instances when both can agree on the interpretation of a text. However, the nonbeliever or agnostic who takes the text and its ideas seriously may have much to teach the believer who then can translate those readings into his or her own language and religious experience.”

  219. Hirhurim says:

    The fact that it is useful is certainly not relevant to the point we were discussing–that believers and non-believers read the same text differently. You could argue that it is relevant to a different point in this post but, as stated, I disagree.

    If you think my quoting only one sentence somehow distorted R. Angel’s intent, then you would be correct. I don’t think it did.

  220. ses says:

    “Ruvie: Because I also responded to look at the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh. We don’t pasken directly from Gemara!”

    you’re pointing to sources that discuss talmid she’eyno hagun, but that is not the issue at hand. If one were to insist that only those who commit to orthodoxy and observance show up at torah lectures, there’d be little chance to be mekarev, as very few people commit to observance as a blank slate. They come and study and some decide based on the study that they are interested. It simply doesn’t work to make torah inaccessible to the nonobservant except if they commit to what they haven’t yet learned, and we all accept this and know it and countless torah lectures welcome all and sundry. Has anyone seen a nonobservant person kicked out of a shiur because he didn’t agree in advance to observance?

    So your issue here is not the talmidim, but rather the teachers who you are not sure are hagunim in that they don’t accept the authority of the talmud. This is not what your sources are discussing. You possibly mean to be discussing rav sheyno hagun.

    But that is also not really analogous as what’s really happening is equivalent to a nonobservant person deciding to learn on his own and see if he finds value in chazal’s teachings and whether and what to apply to his life, only a lot of people are doing this together with some a bit more conversant with the language and text than others.

  221. minyan lover says:

    IH, I only listen to shuirim that incorporate the gra’s opinion on the matter. As he is the only rishon or acharon I love intellectually. As an aside I think yeshivas that only accept men are absolutely not fair. But the focus of the story cited from ketubot 62b is the husband who loves his yeshiva more than his wife and his legal/ intellectual obligation to the wife he left at home. (I think the wife should be able to attend yeshiva as well at the very least, if she wants to). As for any other rishon’s opinion on the matter, the only intellectual understanding of ketubot 62b that I would seriously analyzing would be gra’s.

    Steve Brizel, please list all of the yeshivas that both feature the talmidei chachomim you describe and accept both men and women as students. Is there a Brisk or Ponovezh with coed classes. If there isn’t why are these yeshivas relevant.

  222. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: Kiruv is a separate heter. According to the Rambam’s explicit words–you have to be mekarev him first. Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav allows it come later.

  223. Steve Brizel says:

    Ses wrote:

    “But that is also not really analogous as what’s really happening is equivalent to a nonobservant person deciding to learn on his own and see if he finds value in chazal’s teachings and whether and what to apply to his life, only a lot of people are doing this together with some a bit more conversant with the language and text than others”

    I think that in the above context that there is probably not much difference between Kiruv and Chizuk. Yet, as R Gil wrote, the following remains as a guiding rule:

    “III. Improper Students

    Additionally, we are warned against teaching improper students. R. Gamliel and R. Elazar Ben Azariah disagreed on the level of moral perfection demanded from students (Berakhos 28a). R. Gamliel required that their external actions match their internal traits, i.e. complete moral perfection. R. Elazar Ben Azariah was less exacting and, when he rose to leadership, allowed many more students to enter the study hall. But we have no indication that R. Elazar Ben Azariah allowed in everyone, without any entrance requirements at all.

    The Gemara (Chullin 133a) quotes R. Yehudah in the name of Rav that someone who teaches an improper student (talmid she-eino hagun) falls to hell and is as if he inadvertently worshiped an idol. Elsewhere (Ta’anis 7a), R. Chanina ben Dama says that one may not teach a talmid she-eino hagun.

    Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Talmud Torah 4:1) codifies these judgments as follows: You may only teach Torah to someone with proper or average behavior but not to someone whose religious behavior is wanting. You must first help him return, verify his behavior, and only then let him into the study hall. This is quoted verbatim in Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh De’ah 246:7).

    All agree that someone who does not intend to practice Torah should not be taught it. R. Lamm, after dividing interpretations of proper intent into the three general categories mentioned above (functional, devotional & cognitive), adds (p. 192):

    It will be seen that those who espouse either of the two latter definitions accept the functional definition as a secondary element, or at least negatively as the insistence that the study of Torah never be pursued with the conscious preclusion of the resulting implementation of the precepts studied: lilmod al menat she’lo laasot.

    Particularly to the point, R. Lamm writes about R. Chaim Volozhiner’s approach (p. 242):

    The transformation of the study of Torah from a religio-intellectual to a cultural exercise is sinful. A secularist, detached, uncommitted study of Torah is considered by R. Hayyim a subversion of his definition of lishmah and his understanding of the purpose of the study of Torah.

    R. David Tzvi Hoffmann (Melamed Le-Ho’il, Yoreh De’ah 77), in a very different context, explains that we may not teach Torah to a gentile son of a Jew because “the Torah of Israel is not a song or poem that you study in order to understand Jewish religion but its purpose is learning in order to practice.” While we cannot compare secular Jews to gentiles, the message about the religious act of Torah study remains relevant.

    IV. Outreach

    However, this raises a fundamental question on the contemporary yeshiva system. While many schools accept only observant students, many others have broader admission requirements. On what basis do they admit students who will not practice the Torah they learn, talmidim she-einam hagunim? I have not seen a systematic treatment of this subject but I believe the answer to this question lies in the discussion of the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav.

    In his Hilkhos Talmud Torah (4:3), the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav states that the Rambam’s prescription for an improper student only applies if it will work. Ideally, we must bring a student back to observance before allowing him into yeshiva. However, if that is not possible, we are better served by allowing him to study than not. (Quoted by R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yechaveh Da’as 3:74:6.)

    Similarly, secular students of Talmud will likely have no other access to Torah if not in a secular setting. Perhaps this might be considered outreach and justify an otherwise forbidden study. On one hand, you would be hard pressed to classify as outreach one secular Jew teaching another. However, developing a connection to Judaism, adding even minimal entry of Judaism into the void of modern Israeli life, is a massive step in the right direction. How can we object when secular Israelis add a touch of Torah, in any form, to their lives?

    But we also cannot ignore the reasons for the above rules. Restricting access to Torah is not intended to punish the non-observant or retain power for the rabbis. Maharal (Chiddushei Aggados, Chullin 133b) offers two explanations for the statement that teaching Torah to an improper student is like inadvertently committing idolatry. First, Torah study is an act of religious devotion. Teaching a sacred text to someone who rejects its authority is an act of sacrilege. You are secularizing the holy text.

    Additionally, you are empowering your student to mislead others. When the improper student becomes a teacher, he will teach his wrong ideas and attitudes to others in the guise of Torah scholarship. By teaching to an improper student, you are spreading his improprieties, leading others astray. An improper student will become a subversive influence who will cause religious damage with his scholarly accomplishments. This last point deserves expansion. When people with very different ideas about a text approach it, they each see it very differently. A traditional student of the Talmud treats it as a sacred text, interpreting it as a chain in an ancient transmission. When a secular student approaches the Talmud, he reads it with a different critical attitude. We are, to a degree, reading different books.

    Does a secular yeshiva teach the same Talmud that religious yeshivas teach? In one sense, no. If the secular approach to the Talmud spreads, we will find our sacred text profaned widely in society. Abayei and Rava will be two ancient debaters whose words are twisted beyond recognition in the public arena. We will also see religion challenged by a foreign textual sensibility that is difficult for the uninitiated to identify and reject. This is not a matter of protecting rabbis from challenge but protecting the Talmud’s sanctity, open to all students who accept it as a sacred text”

  224. Steve Brizel says:

    Ses-Look at it this way-First, through NCSY I became a Shomer Mitzvos-then I realized that being merely observant without being able to learn Torah required me to attend YU’s then vaunted JSS program. Without a committment to Torah observance, I would never even thought of applying to YU.

  225. Steve Brizel says:

    Minyan lover wrote:

    “Steve Brizel, please list all of the yeshivas that both feature the talmidei chachomim you describe and accept both men and women as students. Is there a Brisk or Ponovezh with coed classes. If there isn’t why are these yeshivas relevant”

    Look at any yeshiva worthy of the name from RIETS to the highest level Hesder Yeshivos to Lakewood to Ponevezh and the Mir. Women, like it or not, do not have the same obligation to learn the ins and outs of TSBP as men. No amount of feminist rhetoric and apologetics can obliterate or rewrite this Torah obligation. The relevant fact is that the Gdolei Talmidei Chachamim and the Nashim Tzidkaniyos u Tznuos who facilitate their learning and are great spiritual figures in their own right serve as role models for all of us in their Hasmadah Mrubah in Limud HaTorah and Harbatzas Torah.

  226. Steve Brizel says:

    Once again, I recall R Steinzalz’s attempt to teach Talmud to a group of the NY literati ( the late Joseph Papp, Alfred Kazin and Betty Friedan, etc). The inability of a group of such brilliant people to park their secular views on all things Jewish at the door tragically doomed their attempt to discuss what every male Orthodox Jew has encountered and struggled with since at least his Bar Mitzvah.

  227. HAGTBG says:

    That is actually a very good question. And in reverse, if a chasidic, anti-Zionist institution asks a MO Jew to help raise funds. Should he?

    Not a simple question.

    And how can a decision on that be made without applying the impact of that sentiment. For example, what would the fractionalization imply?

    And, frankly, I am unsure how the situation here – if an orthodox rabbi would teach at the “secular” yeshiva – would be meaningfully different then all the Orthodox rabbis and other Orthodox persons who have taught at Jewish day schools over the years.

    What’s the distinction there in your eyes?

  228. Hirhurim says:

    What’s the heter to teach in a non-Orthodox school? Kiruv

  229. emma says:

    OK, you have two points. One is “lishmah.” There, you focus on one set of sources that condemns shelo lishma and ignore the idea of shelo lishmah ba lishmah. I agree that shelo lishmah a lishmah is not a panacea but not even to rate a mention? Further, the issue of shelo lishma seems to focus on the virtues of or benefits to the learners. by contrast, the issue with chilonim learning, from an observant perspective, is at least as much if not more about the social ramifications rather than about the souls of individual chilonim. but in any case, these ideas are not matters of codified “halacha,” which you seem to see as your focus.

    The “halachic” issue is the talmid she-eino hagun. I assume that the category of eino hagun includes, but is much larger than, people who are not interested in doing mitzvos. But the “much broader than” is the issue. I just don’t see that this halacha is actually followed. Where is the yeshiva that refuses to allow students in if they have bad middos bein adam lechaveiro, or speak lashon hara? (and even if you can find one, don’t kid us that it is representantive) You may argue that talmid she-eino hagun is relatively limited, such that the real shailas only arise with the nonobservant. Then we would have a disagreement in meaning of the term. I don’t believe the narrow interpretation can be correct because it basically limits this halachic category to a reality that didn’t really exist at the time the category was first used.

    Further, there is distinction to be drawn between teaching a talmid vs. giving a public drasha. I say that because, for all the talk of not teaching talkmidim she-einam hagunim, there is no indication that the public drashot of scholars, from tannaim until today, have ever had entrance criteria. if anything, i would think ammei haaretz (in the tannaitic sense) would have been welcomed and encouraged to attend.

    Further, the extent of access to the torah is completely, radically different than it was when these ideas were formulated and codified. That, plus the fact that the real question is not “can you take on a nonobservant person as your talmid muvhak,” but “how should we feel about and interact with nonobservant people who are interested in becoming better people and jews by learning torah,” means, to me, that the codified halacha is not directly relevant. I.e., even if it is assur to take on a talmid muvhak who is not observant, does that mean that it is assur to encourage people who don’t want to be observant to learn torah at any level? “Kiruv” here is the operative principle, as you say, but i think it has to have a broader meaning than you seem to imply. in the national context of israel, it’s not just about whether this individual will start keeping shabbos, its about whether she will vote for or against opening movie theaters on shabbos, or whether her children will know what shabbat is such that they, or any sizeable number of their cohorts, might even get interested in doing mitzvot (either systematically or one-off) in the future.

    Basically, it’s complicated.

  230. HAGTBG says:

    What’s the heter to teach in a non-Orthodox school? Kiruv

    And the distinction here would be…

  231. emma says:

    basically, i believe that there are sources on both sides as to whether it is to the benefit of the nonobservant students to study torah. as to the participation of the observant in that endeavor, i basically agree with you that it boils down to “kiruv,” but i would define kiruv much more broadly.

    you write “We have to be careful that kiruv actually applies.” i don’t know what that means, really. certainly, i see no benefit in reducing “kiruv” to a narrow, almost-technical concept in the face of the israeli reality.

  232. IH says:

    Is it complicated? We all know there are about half a dozen meta-halachic Rabbinic wildcards that can also be used to reconcile engagement with the majority of Jews both in Medinat Yisrael and in 21st century galus.

    If you are spoiling for schism, you think about it one way; and if you are interested in keeping Am Yisrael together, you think about it another way.

    And if you’re paralyzed in the middle, there’s “kiruv” and “tinok shenishba” (since those wildcards are not used by non-Orthodox, else you could add in a few other Rabbinic wildcards that the non-Orthodox also use).

    At the end of the day, though, this is American RW Orthodoxy’s problem. MK Calderon has demonstrated they no longer need the Orthodox establishment to accomplish what they want to achieve; and, in any case, the students of R. Hartman and other Dati’im will work with them regardless of whether American RW Orthodoxy (and its Israeli outposts) accept it or not.

    —–

    The real test will come, as I hypothesized earlier, when under the sponsorship of MK Calderon, the government decides to introduce Talmud classes into its Mamlachti Schools. The materials will be developed by a pluralistic committee and will focus on aggadic texts.

    The RW Orthodox and Shas will then be in the position of either cooperating, or boycotting together with the Litvish Charedim.

  233. emma says:

    IH, I do think it’s complicated in the sense that there is a real issur, potentially, as well as real (potential)pragmatic/policy downsides. But I agree that it’s not even a question that, despite these complications, one side is obviously prefered, and supportable by sources. I don’t think the language of “kiruv” should be dismissed. What are you talking about if not bringing jews closer to the torah and each other?

  234. IH says:

    Emma — Because it is self-delusionary to define Kiruv differently from those who depend on it as their halachic workaround. If/when Gil defines it as you suggest, I will be more than happy to use it as you suggest (the concept with which I, of course, agree).

  235. ses says:

    “Ses: Kiruv is a separate heter. According to the Rambam’s explicit words–you have to be mekarev him first. Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav allows it come later.”

    This is not at all responsive to what I wrote. My point is that the issue here isn’t frum teachers teaching nonobservant students, which is the topic of talmid she’eyno hagun. The issue with secular yeshivos is that the teachers are not observant, not that the students haven’t committed to observance, which is true in many kiruv settings also. The sources you keep discussing are about talmid sheeyno hagun, but that’s not the relevant issue here, because you are concerned with the teachers or the secular approach, not with the students per se.

  236. Ruvie says:

    הלכות תלמוד תורה פרק רביעי. Rambam Gil-
    א. אין מלמדין תורה אלא לתלמיד הגון נאה במעשיו או לתם אבל אם היה הולך בדרך לא טובה מחזירין אותו למוטב ומנהיגין אותו בדרך ישרה ובודקין אותו ואח”כ מכניסין אותו לבית המדרש ומלמדין אותו אמרו חכמים כל השונה לתלמיד שאינו הגון כאילו זרק אבן למרקוליס שנאמר

    Berachot 28a
    תנא אותו היום סלקוהו לשומר הפתח ונתנה להם רשות לתלמידים ליכנס שהיה ר”ג מכריז ואומר כל תלמיד שאין תוכו כברו לא יכנס לבית המדרש

    I fail to see the similarities to talmid shlo hagon to berachot 28a and whether that applies to our situation today. You fail to make the case. The reality of today needs to be compared to the past and whether the categories are the same.

    The only question that remains is that secular yeshivish are a reality… Do orthodox rabbis and teachers want to be involved …should they be involved ….it will happen with or without them…is it good for the jews? Everything else is nonsense and narrow mindness.

    An example would be at Limud – are there orthodox rabbis ? Including yu rabbis? I think the answer is yes – if kiruv makes ok for you – then ok it’s a matir. This thread is becoming stale.

  237. Ruvie says:

    Think about how often that talmud appears in general,in the Israeli newspapers – usually as a hammer complaining about the Israeli public or women as pigs ( see ROY) …how nice to see it used differently and lovingly as a positive. This is missed in the discussion here.

  238. minyan lover says:

    IH, good points about meta halachik rabbinic wildcards. That’s precisely why I think it makes sense to focus exclusively on the gra and the way he understood the underlying premises when trying to understand complicated concepts. “There is nothing new under the sun”. Gra is always consistent,brilliant, precise and correct. And unpredictable, which is always intellectually exciting. Once I understand the underlying premises he is working with, he never fails to astound both halachically and intellectually.

  239. chardal says:

    Here are two passages from Gershom Scholem’s autobiography which I think are relevant to this “discussion”. The attitude in this post is largely a chillul Hashem in our circumstances.

    From Berlin To Jeruslem (p.46)

    … This teacher, to whom I for one owe infinitely much, was Dr. Isaak Bleichrode (1867-1954), a great-grandson of Rabbi Akiba Eger, who was probably the greatest Talmudic scholar in Germany at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Bleichrode, whose father was the author of a Hebrew-language biography of Akiba Eger, was a quiet and very pious man with an uncommonly relaxed and friendly manner … He was a wonderful teacher, one who was able to elucidate a page of the Talmud. Some of us came from quite irreligious homes, and yet he welcomed us with all his heart and without any reservations. Nor did he ever make any attempt to influence our outlook on life; instead, he relied on the “light of the Torah” which he kindled for us. We were his best pupils, and perhaps his pedagogical genius caught fire precisely from us who were alienated from Judaism. He died at a ripe old age in Jerusalem, and I spoke at his grave.
    It sounds incredible when I say that before WWI the large and prosperous Jewish community of Berlin faltly refused to permit the establishment of a class in which Talmud and cognate studies would be taught, not even in one of the religious schools it maintained. When a proposal of this kind had been rejected yet again, a small number of teachers with a traditional orientation decided to start such a class without any remuneration at the religious school on Annenstrasse, less than ten minutes from our home. If I ask myself whether I ever had what one might call an Erlebnis [a living experience] in my relationship to things Jewish, I can give only one answer: it was the thrill I experienced on a Sunday in April 1913 when Bleichrode taught me to read the first page of the Talmud in the original, and later that same day the exegesis by Rashi, the greatest of all Jewish commentators, of the first verses of Genesis. It was my first traditional and direct encounter, not with the Bible, but with Jewish substance in tradition. In any case, this encounter shaped my admiration and affection for Judaica more than any other subsequent experience in this field
    … I need not dwell on the fact that I never paid as much as a penny for this instruction either then or later. None of my pious teachers would have accepted any payment for teaching a young person to “learn.”

    p. 120

    In Munich, however, there was an excellent Talmudist with whom we studies the tractate on marriage contracts for an hour a day … The subject may sound strange, but the tractate is actually one of the most interesting and most varied. It was popularly known as “the little Talmud,” because it contained, so to speak, everything. It is 112 leaves in length, and in those Munich years I “learned” it from the beginning to end. Dr. Heinrich Ehrentreu who, like many rabbis in Germany, had come from Hungary, was the rabbi of the small Orthodox synagogue association that rejected the organ in the large synagogue situated not far from the Stachus square. He was a first rate scholar, looked the way one imagines a Talmudic sage would look, and was an even-tempered and peaceable person. In this he was quite different from the younger generation of Orthodox Jews, who ere very aggressive in nature. These Jews began to go to the severely anti-Zionist yeshivas of Hungary and Lithuania for their Talmudic studies, and often came back greatly changed after a year or two. Ehrentreu, who liked me, knew that I was not Orthodox. But one of his sones who came from Galanta during his vacation refused to shake hands with me and reproachfully asked his father how he could tolerate a heretic like me in his Talmud course. “The light in the Torah will lead him to what is good,” said his father, quoting from the Talmud. Bleichrede and Ehrentreu were the two teachers of my youth whom I remember with the greatest gratitude.

  240. zalman says:

    Rav Lau apparently spoke kindly on the issue.
    הרב לאו שיבח את נאום קלדרון: “התורה אינה שייכת לאיש
    http://www.kipa.co.il/jew/50973.html

  241. ruvie says:

    Gil – “That is irrelevant to the issue of codified halakhah. Either the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azaryah or interpreted his position in a way similar to my explanation”

    or berachot 28a – where r’ elaza ben azaryah story appears- is not the source for the halacha. your explanation is simply incorrect of that gemera. zoo torah?

    the qualification in berachot 28a is כל תלמיד שאין תוכו כברו – perfection inside and out. something that is not likely achievable for 98% of jews.
    It could be that there are 2 extremes here: sheino hagun and perfection inside and out: do you want to be expansive and inclusionary or narrow and exclusionary to klal yisrael?

  242. ruvie says:

    “אין לאיש מונופול על התורה”, קבע הרב לאו וטען כי יש לכל אחד ואחד אפשרות ללמוד תורה וליטול בה את חלקו.

  243. IH says:

    “He was a first rate scholar, looked the way one imagines a Talmudic sage would look, and was an even-tempered and peaceable person. In this he was quite different from the younger generation of Orthodox Jews, who were very aggressive in nature. These Jews began to go to the severely anti-Zionist yeshivas of Hungary and Lithuania for their Talmudic studies, and often came back greatly changed after a year or two.”

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Yehudah Mirsky has written beautifully about the Rabbi of the shtiebel in which I grew up:

    “At one point he began, ‘I once heard a thought (a vort, literally, a word) from Rabbi Aharon of Karlin:’ He stopped, and looked off into the middle distance, into some vanished place, his face a shade of love and awe and sorrow. ‘Ach, Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, a holy Jew, a heilige yid’: I was somehow captured by that moment; years later I came to understand that it was then that I first sensed that neither I now any of my contemporaries would ever be a heilige yid, not that kind of heilige yid. With luck and work and mercy, we could learn to be some kind, maybe, but it would have to be another.”

    ——

    What I do know, with every bone in my body, is that RWMO aggression is not the way I was brought up not at home, not in shul nor or at Yeshiva Day School. It is a dead end, like this absurd post. This post is a perversion of Torah, not a defense of it.

  244. Superintendant Chalmers says:

    I just want to reiterate my earlier point, that people like IH keep attacking this post as a perversion of Torah, with nary a word of substance that is actually directed at the content of the post.

    You can talk about your mamlachti schools and the kiruv in non-orthodox schools and selective quotations from different aggadata as long as you would like. No one has even come close to challenging the actual CONTENT of Gil’s post, yet you’re all insistent on attacking him because the halacha that he cites does not fit with your liberal agenda. Pathetic.

  245. ruvie says:

    Gil – “That is irrelevant to the issue of codified halakhah. Either the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh paskened against R. Elazar Ben Azaryah or interpreted his position in a way similar to my explanation”

    actually it is important. i come back to the rambam: talmud torah chapter 4:1
    אֵין מְלַמְּדִין דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה אֵלָא לְתַלְמִיד הָגוּן נָאֶה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו, אוֹ לְתָם.

    is proof that the rambam ruled against r’ gamliel (only those who are perfect inside and out:
    ר”ג מכריז ואומר כל תלמיד שאין תוכו כברו לא יכנס לבית המדרש

    see kesef misnah who states – ad loc in rambam- the conclusion of the gemra is against r’ gamliel. your statement is problematic.

  246. IH says:

    Actually, Superintendant Chalmers, there has been substantive pushback since the very beginning. What has your contribution been besides a few “me too” comments defending Gil? And why do you keep bringing up “liberal agenda” — how is that relevant to — your words — “the actual CONTENT of Gil’s post”?

    How about addressing the issues instead of these ad hominem contributions. What do *you* — Superintendant Chalmers — think about the “whether secular study of the Talmud is itself contrary to the Talmud”?

  247. ruvie says:

    “Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Talmud Torah 4:1) codifies these judgments as follows: You may only teach Torah to someone with proper or average behavior but not to someone whose religious behavior is wanting.”

    also problematic- it does not say this. you are reading into it. it says:
    אֵין מְלַמְּדִין דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה אֵלָא לְתַלְמִיד הָגוּן נָאֶה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו, אוֹ לְתָם. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ לֹא טוֹבָה, מַחְזִירִין אוֹתוֹ לַמּוּטָב, וּמַנְהִיגִין אוֹתוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה, וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ; וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתוֹ לְבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ, וּמְלַמְּדִין אוֹתוֹ.

    average behavior ? religious behavior is wanting?

    as it says ib tehilim 119- שָׁלוֹם רָב, לְאֹהֲבֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ;
    shouldn’t everyone have a chance for peace including all those that love (learn) torah.

  248. ruvie says:

    “This is quoted verbatim in Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh De’ah 246:7).”

    actually, the rambam talmud torah 4:1 is not quoted verbatim by shulchan arukh. please correct me if I am wrong.

  249. Superintendant Chalmers says:

    IH,
    I readily admit that I don’t have much to contribute to the topic. But I’m not the one who claims authority to judge this post as a perversion of Torah, am I? I would think that an accusation like that would have some more backup. I’m merely pointing out that for all the attacks on Gil, there has been very little discussion of the actual halachic content of the post. The most anyone can marshal seems to be the gemara in Brachos 28a, which seems to me to be slim pickings on which to base an accusation that this post is a “perversion of Torah.” Is there any way to explain that, other than that it conflicts with your liberal agenda?

  250. Hirhurim says:

    emma: I agree that shelo lishmah a lishmah is not a panacea but not even to rate a mention?

    Because I mentioned it (Pesachim 50b)!

    I just don’t see that this halacha is actually followed. Where is the yeshiva that refuses to allow students in if they have bad middos bein adam lechaveiro, or speak lashon hara?

    That is precisely the issue I discuss in section IV, which begins “However, this raises a fundamental question on the contemporary yeshiva system”

    HAGTBG: And the distinction here would be…

    Whether kiruv is really applicable when secular Jews teach other secular Jews.

    IH: If you are spoiling for schism, you think about it one way; and if you are interested in keeping Am Yisrael together, you think about it another way

    And if you care about Shas and poskim, you think about it another way.

    ses: My point is that the issue here isn’t frum teachers teaching nonobservant students, which is the topic of talmid she’eyno hagun

    Yes, it is relevant because there are ways in which you can cause a talmid she-eino hagun to study Torah even without being his teacher. Can you pay for his tuition to a secular yeshiva (if it required tuition)?

  251. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: You keep commenting but your comments seems to contradict each other. Does the Rambam have nothing to do with the debate between R. Gamliel and R. Elazar ben Azariah or does the Rambam pasken on the issue? Is an exemplary or average student allowed to learn but not someone who follows the wrong path, or is everyone allowed in?

    I’m just confused about what you think, how you square that with the sources and how you consider that a critique of what I wrote.

  252. emma says:

    “I just don’t see that this halacha is actually followed. Where is the yeshiva that refuses to allow students in if they have bad middos bein adam lechaveiro, or speak lashon hara?

    That is precisely the issue I discuss in section IV, which begins “However, this raises a fundamental question on the contemporary yeshiva system””

    You wrote: “However, this raises a fundamental question on the contemporary yeshiva system. While many schools accept only observant students, many others have broader admission requirements. On what basis do they admit students who will not practice the Torah they learn, talmidim she-einam hagunim? ”

    I understood you to be speaking about observant/nonobservant students in the popular sense of the terms (basically shomer shabbos and kashrus). You gave no indication that by “observant” you meant “hagun even in the details of observance and personal character,” and frankly that’s not what “observant” means. So again, we are left with a situation in which yeshivot are _not_ doing character (or , often, intellectual) tests for hagun-ness in general. That is, they are not following the halacha of not taeching a talmid she-eino hagun.

    To take the idea of talmid she-eino hagun seriously would require much more restrictive access to torah in general. If we lived in such an elitist world it would make perfect sense to also exclude non-orthodox. But we live in a world of unprecedented, and essentially unguarded, access to torah for anyone who wants it, and don’t hear anything negative from you or others as long as those masses are “orthodox.”

    Resurrecting that sort of elitism would be textually defensible and coherent, at least. And there are, in fact, negative consequences to the mass-dissemination of torah knowledge, in addition to many positive ones. I can’t imagine you calling for a return to the tightly guarded transmission of torah, though. (where would that leave blogs, for one? and also it goes against the intuition of basically everyone.)

  253. Hirhurim says:

    emma: To take the idea of talmid she-eino hagun seriously would require much more restrictive access to torah in general

    I take the Rambam’s allowance of a “tam” to mean that we don’t check too much into character. That seems to be the way the Lechem Mishneh explains the Rambam’s interpretation of R. Elazar Ben Azariah’s removing the guards — don’t check too much.

    But certainly yeshivas today expel kids for behavior such as bullying and extreme chutzpah.

  254. ruvie says:

    I was just reading the gemera and then the poskim you cited and commenting on how you read them – one by one. i thought it would be black and white as you stated but it seems to be more complicated and nuance and thought much of it read in and some incorrect.
    . it would seem the rambam doesn’t pasken like r’ gamliel who restricted entrance or to the full extent like r’ azaryah who believed in open admissions – what else does no guards at the door mean?
    is the formulation about religious observance only or deeds like stealing cheating or lying count?
    is tam an average person? or (according to some) a person that you do not if he is good or bad?

  255. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: It’s a machlokes among commentators whether Rambam paskened like R. Gamliel or R. Elazar Ben Azariah but most hold he paskened like R. Elazar Ben Azariah (see Kessef Mishneh, Lechem Mishneh, Ma’aseh Roke’ach). But if he ruled like R. Elazar Ben Azariah, he must have held that even he would not allow in someone who follows a bad path. (See the Lechem Mishneh)

  256. ruvie says:

    what is the wrong path? does it include someone who is not shomer on ritual observance but has excellent middot and deeds. would chazal not think that learning torah be a good thing – spiritual if not effect ones love of hashem and torah- is that not a benefit worth pursuing?

    i really don’t know. are the circumstances the same -do they mean the same as in the rambam’s time like non shomer shabbat denies g-d and the creation of the world?
    is your focus on the issue from a too narrow perch?

  257. IH says:

    IH: If you are spoiling for schism, you think about it one way; and if you are interested in keeping Am Yisrael together, you think about it another way

    And if you care about Shas and poskim, you think about it another way.

    So, Gil, why havn’t all the Rabbanim in Israel lept up? In fact, there seems to be the opposite reaction — same as most of the people commenting here:

    ישראל מאיר לאו, התייחס בחיוב לרעיון הבסיסי עליו דיברה קלדרון – ונאם בעד ”תורה לכל“.

    Does Rav Lau care less about Shas and poskim than you? Or, maybe, you think he just hasn’t caught the halachic problem you have identified?

    The turning point for me in this discussion — when I realized the danger of the agitprop this post is — was this comment from last night: “I do think it’s complicated in the sense that there is a real issur, potentially”. [Despite that the author goes on to say “But I agree that it’s not even a question that, despite these complications, one side is obviously prefered, and supportable by sources”.]

    This post is, to borrow Steve’s phraseology, driven by an agenda-based POV (which thankfully has no corresponding analogue among modern Orthodoxy in Israel thus far).

  258. ruvie says:

    Gil – “But if he ruled like R. Elazar Ben Azariah, he must have held that even he would not allow in someone who follows a bad path”

    i understand the approach. but its not in the gemera. i never liked “he must have held..” answers because here is no proof of that. also, there is no other gemera-yerushalmi too – that has guards checking students tzizit (to draw a conclusion from).

  259. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: what is the wrong path? does it include someone who is not shomer on ritual observance but has excellent middot and deeds

    I don’t hesitate to suggest that someone who is chayav misah for violating Shabbos is considered following the wrong path.

    i understand the approach. but its not in the gemera

    Not in *this* Gemara but there are other statements that demand reconciliation. That’s how the Rishonim learned Gemara.

    IH: Does Rav Lau care less about Shas and poskim than you?

    Did he write a halakhic analysis or the subject or give a sermon intended for the general public?

  260. emma says:

    “I take the Rambam’s allowance of a “tam” to mean that we don’t check too much into character.”

    I thought about “tam.” I don’t think it means you don’t check too much, just that the criteria themselves, after you do check, are not so exacting.
    Arguably, though here i am speculating (have not checked commentators) rambam’s “hagun” refers to intellect, and “naeh bemaasav” to character, though that is not clear. If so, “tam” would most plausibly refer to intellectually simple, to the exclusion of intellectually capable but perversely motivated. Certainly, “tam” excludes people who are affirmatively bad in some way.

    “But certainly yeshivas today expel kids for behavior such as bullying and extreme chutzpah.”

    I have no reason to believe this is because of halachic objections to teaching such children torah, as opposed to pedagogical difficulties with keeping them around.

    Further, though i can’t marshal sources for this baseline assumption, i think the issue of talmid hagun is more one of adults than children. The guard was in front of the beit midrash, not beit rabban, for starters, and there is some indication of relatively universal childhood education as a desideratum, but not so for later in life. So I was speaking mostly about adult yeshivot, and there i still maintain that the near-universal practice is to have no or almost no character-related criteria.

    It seems your real claim is that halachot of talmid she-eino hagun lives on as a halacha in attenuated form – i.e., “don’t check too much, but don’t teach someone who does nothing to hide their unfitness.” I still think that would require more selectivenes than we see, though one could make a limmud zechus for the yeshivos that do not do so. It’s still hard for me to accept, though, that the only people we really need to exclude based on this codified halacha are people of a sort who did not exist at the time the halacha was codified.

    Anyway, you make a halachic argument that, based on shulchan aruch harav, one can/should teach anyone something rather than nothing. That is, you yourself admit that the halachic issue can be dealt with. But then you move into several paragraphs of analysis of “reasons,” ie policy. That’s where the real pushback here is coming from. Where, in that discussion, is your consideration of the “Reasons” for the rule not to check too much? It seems that the policy consideration of access to torah as an inherent positive has been underemphasized, as has any consideration of the larger effects on israeli sopciety of discouraging access by the nonobservant to torah texts.

  261. ruvie says:

    The formulation by the SA in yoreh de’ah 246:7 is only on not teaching a talmid sheino hagun until he turns around. your conclusions will be based on how you want to define that.
    is it right to say that the poskim and halacha point in only one way? does current situation not mitigate even the most negative reading possible? would it not be more of a kiddush hashem to teach torah to anyone and everyone? do we not teach torah to prisoners- otisville i hear has daf yomi?

  262. emma says:

    “The turning point for me in this discussion — when I realized the danger of the agitprop this post is — was this comment from last night: “I do think it’s complicated in the sense that there is a real issur, potentially”. [Despite that the author goes on to say “But I agree that it’s not even a question that, despite these complications, one side is obviously prefered, and supportable by sources”.]”

    IH, I am not sure what you are trying to say. My concern with the “real issur” is also informed by very mixed experiences re: the sort of open access under discussion. Well, I will modify that. I have very mixed experiences with ignorant torah “teachers” in america. I still believe all jews should have access to torah, but the risk of them turning around and spreading half-baked and false ideas is very real. In israel the risk of total ignorance is potentially less because of the language issue (but, aramaic…), but do you not see any potential downside to completely open access, to both students _and teachers_, for people who do not have the architecture of observance through which to understand the texts?

  263. emma says:

    also, i think there is an unspoken distinction here re: what it means to “teach torah.” n one objects to sharing a cute meimra or inspirational one-liner with a chiloni taxi river. just as no one objects to a sabbath desecrator or crook coming to shul for shabbos hagadol (or any other week with a sermon). there is some notion operating here of “real” or “complex” torah study, but it is not clearly defined.

  264. shachar haamim says:

    “Abayei and Rava will be two ancient debaters whose words are twisted beyond recognition in the public arena. We will also see religion challenged by a foreign textual sensibility that is difficult for the uninitiated to identify and reject.”

    Is this haredi orthdooxy has done?

    “Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing”

    This is dibat haaretz. you owe every jew in israel – and essential khal yisrael – an apology. It’s not as if the USA – or even the orthodox Jewish component of the USA – represents a paragon of intellectuality. You can start with the Hebrew analphbetism of most of the orthodox jewish community and the undending english translations of just about everything to see just how shallow american society is…

  265. ruvie says:

    Like emma i think the halachik analysis does not lead to your last 4 paragraphs in any conclusive way. Some may conclude that he last 4 paragraphs drove the analysis to some degree. Thank you for causing me to explore the gemeras and poskim. I also would agree that I and others would approach it differently because of our own point of view and emphasize different things.

  266. Hirhurim says:

    The last five paragraphs are about whether kiruv really applies.

  267. IH says:

    Emma — the risk you describe: a) has nothing to do with halacha, per se; and, b) is true across the board including in Charedi and Chassidish schools.

    In any rollout of something new, there is always risk of execution, but it is mitigated by good planning. Those who chose not to participate in good faith in the as yet hypothetical (but, I think probable) pluralistic planning and development process will have no one to blame but themselves.

    Further, the Secular Yeshivot in Israel already have curricula and OTJ experience, as does Pardes, Mechon Hartman, etc.

  268. emma says:

    “The last five paragraphs are about whether kiruv really applies.”

    That is not at all how they read. They read as you have established that kiruv applies, but there may be these other issues that make such kiruv unwise. Once you veer into the territory of wisdom is where your post enters the realm of sociology, policy, etc, and where many here felt it was one-sided and thin at best.

  269. emma says:

    IH, put it another way, is there no one out there who now touts their yeshiva pr rabbinical school credentials as a way of getting respect and authority, whom you wish had been recognized for a charlatan or bad person and kicked out of yeshiva before getting that credential? If you can think of any such people, you understand the “risk” in open access to high-level torah.

    the “risk” does have to do with halacha in that the halacha (as gil presents it) of not teaching just anyone is formulated explicitly with such risks in mind. Agree it is true across the spectrum. Though, and perhaps this is my biases, i experience it more often, as a percentage of interactions, when listening to people outside the realm of shabbos observers. (I would consider pardes and hartman within that realm, btw, even if some individuals there are not.)

  270. Chardal says:

    >I just want to reiterate my earlier point, that people like IH keep attacking this post as a perversion of Torah, with nary a word of substance that is actually directed at the content of the post.

    It is our mimetic tradition, and that trumps texts every time. It is not the kind of Torah attitude that most of the RZ can even recognize. Ours is the Torah of דרכיה דרכי נעם, not the selectively hateful and divisive source fishing of this post. We don’t need to quote sources for this any more than if Gil would argue that pork is kosher or that stealing from a goy is ok. It is in the souls of all who love the Torah that it is a GOOD thing if more estranged Jews study it. Anything else is not what we bought into when we decided to dedicate our lives to traditional (not necessarily textual) Jewish values.

  271. Chardal says:

    Also, this post fails the basic litmus test of דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה

  272. IH says:

    Emma — I don’t recall any of these alleged halachic issues being raised around the YU scandal that finally became fully public recently (after years and years of rumors). Or the ongoing controversy over Rav Bina. Or to the convicted R. Balkany who ran Bais Yaakov of Midwood.

    I am really struggling to understand your point (which is exceedingly rare, I might add).

  273. emma says:

    “I don’t recall any of these alleged halachic issues being raised around the YU scandal that finally became fully public recently (after years and years of rumors). Or the ongoing controversy over Rav Bina. Or to the convicted R. Balkany who ran Bais Yaakov of Midwood. ”

    Yes. I agree that such selectivity is not _actually_ enforced. And I think I was trying to make that point w R Gil – that the near-universal practice seems to be to care not at all, or hardly at all, about the fitness of one’s students in terms of moral character. If so, pulling out these halachot when it’s a secular person at issue rings hollow.

    That said, there are two paths to take from there. One is (caricatured) “therefore there is no problem with anyone learning torah ever” and the other is “therefore we should be more selective across the board and apply these halachot, which have good policy rationales behind them, more evenly.” I agree w chardal that the near-universal intuition among religious zionists is the former. Still, I think it is worth at least stopping to notice the alternative and notice the risks we run.

  274. IH says:

    Hearsay that is not confirmed, not even by Rav Schachter. Read the article you cite. [And, again, why the mantra of “your liberal agenda”?]

  275. IH says:

    Still, I think it is worth at least stopping to notice the alternative and notice the risks we run.

    [Take 2] It is always worth having an honest and objective conversation about such matters. In that vein: were the YU Rabbis ignoring Gil’s reading of Shas and Poskim when they did not prevent (and perhaps even assisted) those whom YU dismissed in obtaining other positions in Chinuch? Does the “kiruv” workaround fit those cases as well?

  276. emma says:

    is that directed at me?

  277. emma says:

    (that was re: IH’s question.)

  278. Hirhurim says:

    Superintendent: Thank you for your support and your recent comments. However, for obvious reasons I have deleted them all and the comments to which you are responding. I share your outrage.

  279. IH says:

    12:43 is more directed to Gil than to you, Emma.

  280. Hirhurim says:

    IH: In that vein: were the YU Rabbis ignoring Gil’s reading of Shas and Poskim when they did not prevent (and perhaps even assisted) those whom YU dismissed in obtaining other positions in Chinuch?

    They were, quite possibly, in violation of halakhah but not in any way related to this post.

  281. sass says:

    I anyone aware of any Poskim/Tshuvos or the like that address the issue of academic talmud study?

  282. ruvie says:

    Gil – “I’m just confused about what you think, how you square that with the sources and how you consider that a critique of what I wrote.”

    Must we always square the sources into one neat bundle? must we all play tosafot and be an harmonizer?
    IMHO berachot 28a does not need to be squared with any other gemera- the conclusion is simple everyone willing to enter the beit midrash is permitted to do without any guards- or requirements – open admissions. there are no other gemeras that conflict.

    there is a mitzva that all that know torah must teach torah as well – Rambam Talmud Torah 1:2. I would look at the other gemeras as when can i not be obligated to teach a talmid? it doesn’t say it assur – just ain milamdim – you don’t teach until…he enters the beit midrash but gets turned out for arguing or disrupting (see below) – the eino hagun gemeras- are those students that are disruptive and argumentative like the lo lishmah neg. gemeras

    the lo lishmah gemerahs that are negative can follow the Tosfos Ta’anis 7a DH v’Chol and Berachos 17a DH ha’Oseh – that learning to quarrel is the reason for lo lishmah with negative consequences. all poskim hold “lo lishmah ba lishmah” (Rambam TT 3:5) (btw, Rambam didn’t distinguish between the lo lishmahs

    this all speculative on my part and needs some more thought but i think squares all the gemeras. i think the way you learn it is more forced (but that is just mho). i stil feel the categories may not apply at all today. also, all are silent of a case when the student does not become hagun or naeh afterwards- what then – “no torah for you ever”? does that match other gemeras? it seems not teaching is only a temporary thing – discipline for yuongerleit perhaps or shabbatkins.

  283. ses says:

    “ses: My point is that the issue here isn’t frum teachers teaching nonobservant students, which is the topic of talmid she’eyno hagun

    Yes, it is relevant because there are ways in which you can cause a talmid she-eino hagun to study Torah even without being his teacher. Can you pay for his tuition to a secular yeshiva (if it required tuition)?”

    This is frustrating, as you are still being non-responsive and pulling a quote out of context to answer it. I didn’t say that talmid she’eyno hagun isn’t relevant because YOU are not his teacher. Sure you can pay for his tuition in a secular yeshiva, *and also for his education in an orthodox setting* I’m making the very obvious point that the topic of talmid she’eyno hagun is a complete distraction, as your issue here is NOT the student, it is with the secular teacher and secular environment. I’ve now written this several times, and please don’t respond without troubling yourself to read what I’ve written here and in previous comments.

  284. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: I don’t understand. You are assuming the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav’s position and then saying that everything discussed prior to that is irrelevant. Yes, if you skip to the end, then the beginning and middle are irrelevant. But if you progress in order then the beginning and middle are relevant until you get to the end.

  285. Steve Brizel says:

    So far, I see in all too many of the comments a sense of outrage that IMO is just over the top to R Gil’s discussion of the halachic and hashkafic pitfalls of a secular approach to teaching Talmud. Far too many of the posts at issue exhibit a messianist “we much do something” POV or ignore the fact that in order to learn Talmud, one has to realize that the Tanaim, Amoraim and Rishonim, are not just great heroes of our people whose lives were great in their time, but whose teachings are relevant in our time -in the present tense. Asking why a talmid chacham didn’t see his wife while he was busy learning is IMO would never be a question that any of us would ask a busy professional or businessperson developing expertise-one does not become a Ben Torah or Talmid Chacham by a exhibiting a dilletant’s interest in Talmud.

  286. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Steve B: Except that in the story Rav Rehumei dies as a result of his wife’s suffering. So much for developing his expertise. What is interesting and completely undermines your carping is that while the Gemara seems to clearly condemn Rav Rehumei, Dr. Calderone tried to be melamed zekhut on him.

  287. Steve Brizel says:

    FWIW, almost none of the comments today, except for Ruvie’s, remotely address and/or deal with the applicability of the Mareh Mkomos cited by R Gil.I don’t think that panaceas like secular Talmud or secular yeshivos have much promise in the absence of a concomitant committment to the basics of Jewish observance. That IMO, is the proof from the encounter of the New York Jewish literati with R Steinzalz. It would be nice to think otherwise, but then one can look back in Jewish history and think about how different the Jewish People would have been but for their wrong decisions from the time of the Exodus until the present, but such retrospective thinking should never be a substitute for telling the truth-learning without even thinking about an committment( Mitoch Lishmah) is probably a highly problematic proposoition. FWIW, I think that a community kollel member teaching a class in Talmud at a Y or JCC with individual follow up would probably have a far greater deal of positive impact on the teacher and the student. ( Readers of Mishpacha should know that such classes exist on the campus of TAU and other Israeli campuses).

  288. Steve Brizel says:

    Larry Kaplan-what about R Akiva’s life-his wife encouraged him to go back to yeshiva.

  289. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gil responded to this exchange:

    “HAGTBG: And the distinction here would be…

    Whether kiruv is really applicable when secular Jews teach other secular Jews.

    IH: If you are spoiling for schism, you think about it one way; and if you are interested in keeping Am Yisrael together, you think about it another way

    And if you care about Shas and poskim, you think about it another way”
    By definition, if one is discussing pluralism over a latte, anyone can teach Talmud to anyone. However, if one is engaged in kiruv/chizuk, how can anyone seriously maintain that one should learn from someone who does not epitomize the values that he is teaching?

  290. Superintendant Chalmers says:

    It’s worth noting that Rav Soloveitchik himself held that “secular” Torah study, iow study that is not accompanied by any desire to be mekayem the halacha, is devoid of meaning and value and is not even a kiyum of mitzvas talmud torah. So too, those who teach Torah to those who are not interested in keeping the halacha are not mekayem the mitzva of talmud torah in their teaching. (See Beis Yosef Shaul 4 p82.)

  291. IH says:

    Steve — FTR, I prefer a double-short cappuccino (or equivalent). Taka, the only complaint I have about Limmud NY was the coffee. The pluralism rocked though. Ask R. Yona Reiss whom I spotted there on Monday…

  292. IH says:

    Superintendant Chalmers — Given your comment of 6:17pm, I am wondering if you agree with Steve that “Women, like it or not, do not have the same obligation to learn the ins and outs of TSBP as men.”

    And, if you do, then can a woman teach TSBP and get “kiyum of mitzvas talmud torah”?

  293. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Steve B.: I note you did not reply to my point. But re R. Akiva: Ein hakhi nami, the Gemara in Ketuvot there has a whole series of disiaster stories about rabbis who leave their wives for a long time. The whole point of the R. Akiva story is that it is the exception to the rule. Also note the quite different version of the R. Akiva story in Nedarim. I once gave a lecture at LSS, arguing that one should understand the differences between the two versions in light of the broader thematic contexts in which they are found.

    Re the Rav:: He often referred to Professor Yaakov Groner, a well known mathematiciam who had learned with Rav Hayyim in his youth. The Rav said that though he had abandoned observance of rthe mitzvot, he could often be found studying a blatt Gemara. This was NOT said dismissively, but to his credit.

  294. emma says:

    “Once again, I recall R Steinzalz’s attempt to teach Talmud to a group of the NY literati ”

    the question in this article is whether it is (1) muttar and (2) advisable to facilitate teaching of torah to nonobservant jews. that r steinsalz tried it strongly suggests that the answer to (1) is yes, it’s muttar. the outcome of the attempt is relevant to (@), but your characteristically circumlocutious references don’t give me any clue what actually happened…

  295. Steve Brizel says:

    Larry Kaplan wrote in part:

    “Steve B.: I note you did not reply to my point. But re R. Akiva: Ein hakhi nami, the Gemara in Ketuvot there has a whole series of disiaster stories about rabbis who leave their wives for a long time. The whole point of the R. Akiva story is that it is the exception to the rule. Also note the quite different version of the R. Akiva story in Nedarim”

    Perhaps, the sugya in Ksubos is merely discussing personal disasters-yet R Akiva, whose own wife encouraged him to learn for long periods of time, is viewed by the Talmud in Yevamos for having saved TSBP with his five talmidim. Yet, the Talmud does not sayv with respect to R Akiva as it does with respect to R Shimon Bar Yochai “Harbeh Asu…”

  296. IH says:

    Regarding Steve’s comment about R. Steinsaltz, here’s evidence to the contrary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxUR5f6vcgk (the video with R. Steinsaltz produced to introduce the first Day of Jewish Learning which was designed as a pluarist event.

    It’s a moving and lovely 9 minute film. The first teacher, at 0:23, just after R. Steinsaltz, is a female Reform Rabbi in Paris.

  297. Steve Brizel says:

    Larry Kaplan-R Rakkafet’s “The World of the Rav” ( Vol.1 at pages 202-203 does indeed mention Dr Gromer as someone “who later left Brisk and entered an entirely different world” and as “irrelegious” who RYBS would “on occasion observe him studying Talmud.”

  298. IH says:

    Prof. Kaplan — If you haven’t read it, you may find Azzan Yadin’s JQR article Rabbi Akiva’s Youth thought provoking.

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jewish_quarterly_review/summary/v100/100.4.yadin.html

  299. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-for those of us who don’t waste their time looking at academic revisionism of one of the Helegei Tanaim, we will stick with the Masorah of how R Akiva found his way to the Beis Medrash and then wound being one of the greatest Tanaim.

  300. IH says:

    Steve — Which mesorah?

    The main thrust of this paper has been to recover a tannaitic tradition that characterizes R. Akiva as a student of Torah even in his youth, pointing to a diachronic break in R. Akiva’s rabbinic biography. The now-familiar cluster of youthful ignorance and/or poverty motifs appear only in post-tannaitic sources, and, no less significant, are discontinuous with these earlier traditions. The question that now presents itself, is why post-tannaitic sources would choose to portray the man generally viewed as the rabbinic midrashist par excellence as having been a young ignoramus.

  301. minyan lover says:

    Whether or not he was an am haaretz,or a hidden iluiy, I think its pretty clear that R Akivah was wrong for leaving his wife, as was his colleague in the same passage R Rechumi.There is no exception to the rule and I still don’t understand any “limuud zechut” anyone is trying to read into the cited story from ketubot 62b.

  302. Ruvie says:

    Steve b. – read the paper on r’ Akiva..is a food read with many insights. Read before critiquing.

    “Perhaps, the sugya in Ksubos is merely discussing personal disasters-yet R Akiva, whose own wife encouraged him to learn for long periods of time”

    Perhaps you reread ketubot 62a,b for a better understanding – the Mishnah and following gemera deal with the tensions ( halachik too) between Torah study and obligations to family/wives – including mandatory conjugal visits.the aggadatahs show the different tensions. There a real consequences at times for perfecting Torah study – you can die, wife can be barren…trade offs cannot be avoided except in the r’ Akiva story – since he was not married first and the lack of tensions.there is more – see LK above but you need to look at all 7 stories I the sugya.

  303. HAGTBG says:

    Whether kiruv is really applicable when secular Jews teach other secular Jews.

    So it would be okay to teach at the secular yeshiva (or college) but not okay to fund raise for it (or a Talmudic college program). Am I understanding this right?

  304. minyan lover says:

    Ruvie, I understood the entire R Akivah series/Rechumia anecdote(s) to be demonstrating why it makes sense logically for wives to go along with their husbands to learn (if the wives love learning which I’m sure they did, who wouldn’t want to go traveling to intellectual yeshivot to learn with authentic serious scholars and get caught up in scholarly discussions and perfect their love for intellectualism). R Meir almost got it right with Bruria who seemed to be pretty involved in the intellectual scholar scene. Not sure what happened. According to (iirc)yevomot 62b , there’s an indirect directive/suggestion for a husband to love his wife as much as himself but honor her more. I think there’s an R Akivah reference there as well. This indirect suggestion does not mean one should love his yeshiva more than his wife. And it certainly does not mean one shld honor his yeshiva more than his wife. So I have no idea what exception to the rule ure comment is describing. They got married before he left to become an iliuy didn’t they ?

  305. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to read all the comments to see if this was mentioned before.

    You stated at the very end, “In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing.”

    Frankly, I’m surprised that you would make such a sweeping and inaccurate generalization. I think of you as more rational and educated than that. Unfortunately, orthodox Jews in the states have trouble wrapping their heads around religious life here. Once you take off your galus blinders (which admittedly many so-called frum Jews here also don’t do) you see an incredible continuum of religious observance and feeling. Those who are truly and completely secular are a very small minority. And even among them you sometimes see and hear things that would blow your mind.

    One small example. My wife’s Ulpan teacher was an avowed secularist. She would often goad the mostly religious students by saying things like the “men who wrote the Torah”. Yet, her knowledge of tanach and teffilah would blow the socks off of any typical Yeshivah guy. And every once in a while when she would need to quote something, she’d reach into her purse and pull out a well-worn Siddur.

    Does “shallowness” exist here. Yes, of course it does. (Among the fervently “orthodox” as well.) Is the society shallow, no. Not close… not religiously and not philosophically. Life is too “raw” here to be as shallow as it can be there.

    So I’m sure your analysis above is quite learned and erudite. However, if it’s based on what you said at the end, then it’s completely meaningless. And it’s also quite moot, as it’s totally irrelevant whether we, as “orthodox” Jews, approve or not. But just for the record, this Yesh Atid voter couldn’t more thrilled with Dr. Calderon and her efforts.

  306. Nachum says:

    I fail to see how a story about how R’ Akiva was an am ha’aretz who spat at chachamim in his youth is somehow more respectful than others. Of course, it’s admirable to go from ignorant to learned, and inspirational. But spitting?

    For comparison, the Yerushalmi (that is, the Talmud written where he actually lived) knows nothing about R’ Shimon b. Lakish’s supposed (by the Bavli, where, of course, he’s “Reish Lakish”) past as a highwayman and/or gladiator. Again, becoming a ba’al teshuva is a fine and inspirational thing. But it’s not disrespectful to point out that there are other versions, and willful blindness to pretend they don’t exist.

  307. Ruvie says:

    Minyan Lover- R’ Akiva was not married yet just engaged hence the lack of halachik tension and consequences in his case. The stories have nothing to do with honor and love of ones’s wife. Rather the talmud grasps with the issue of extended absence for devotion to Torah study and the consequences of that choice. The dangers include: divine punishment for not coming home at set times for violating conjugal duties, wives become barren and uneducated sons. There are trade offs and costs for years of study versus other mitzvot. The sugya vents the frustration against the institution of marriage – to gripe about it for the intended readers are other students of Torah reading this in a beit midrash.

  308. minyan lover says:

    Ruvie, please explain the “living widowhood” reference in yevomot 62b and whose honor skills were clearly lacking from distant lands. Specifically
    when R Akibah’s kids I mean students (insert case law for students that are like kids or teachers that r more important than fathers as we see with returning lost objects laws) were not doing so well (I have never analyzed the story but seems pretty serendipitious for the students having issues /lack of honor reference to have been cited in the same passage as the affirmative obligation based on indirect suggestion directive for the man to love his (what’s the hebrew word used for wife here does that include betrothed women or women one is engaged to with the intention of marrying) as much as himself and honor her more so that there is peace in the home or where the husband goes and relocates as if it were his home. I will verify questions and facts later I have to run to work or I won’t be able to save up for my secular summer bais medrash vacation.

  309. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Ruvie and minyan lover: But note that only in the Ketuvot version was R. Akiva not married, for his future wife had made it a condition for their bethrothal that he immediately afterward go off to study. In Nedarim version they were married and living in the barn etc.

  310. Hirhurim says:

    HAGTBG: So it would be okay to teach at the secular yeshiva (or college) but not okay to fund raise for it (or a Talmudic college program).

    If you taught there, it would be an institution with a frum teacher. If no one frum teaches there, it would a different institution. If some teachers are frum and some aren’t, then you have a complicated situation.

  311. IH says:

    And how does the Masorah of which Steve speaks resolve this difference?

  312. ruvie says:

    LK- Yes. but he could not be married in this story or the whole sugya wouldn’t make sense. it would refute the halacha in the gemera as well.

  313. ruvie says:

    Minyan Lover – don’t understand your question. there is no issue of love and honor for the women in the stories. its male centered – so its loss of intimacy for the husbad and not seeing his children grow up. all the women are portrayed as neutral to positive in all the stories in the sugya.

  314. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    minyan lover: But he is married in the Nedarim version.

  315. IH says:

    its male centered

    As the filmmaker quotes Rav Shagar in his film, just after the story of how women were first allowed into his shiur:

    אבקש להראות שהלמדנות הישיבתית משקפת שיח גברי מובהק. את השיח המקורי של התלמוד ניתן להגדיר כשיח נשי. מכאן תיגזר המסקנה שדווקא החזרה לשיח המקורי של התלמוד היא חזרה לשיח נשי.

    There-in lies an interesting contrast between the Maggid Shiur in http://www.yutorah.org/daf.cfm/6017/Ketuvot/62/b (31:50 to 38:48) and MK Calderon’s telling of the story.

  316. IH says:

    The clip from the film to which I refer is from 00:56 to 03:53 in http://vimeo.com/45277267

  317. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-Ruvie-thanks but no thanks. The Mesorah that I received , was that before Akiva ben Yosef became R Akiva , he was not only an Am HaAretz, but also an Am HaAretz who was decidedly hostile to Limud HaTorah and Talmidei Chachamim. R Akiva’s change in his POV plays R Akiva as a role model, together with Resh Lakish,who the Bavli sometimes call Resh Lakish or R Shimon Ben Lakish, as a role model for would be BTs, as to what they can accomplish in Limud HaTorah in the sense that all of us, notwithstanding our limitations, can choose to emulate either Moshe Rabbeinu or Yeravam Ben Navat. The Talmud goes out of its way to tell us that Rachel, played a large role in Akiva Ben Yosef becoming R Akiva-despite and over the objections of Rachel’s father.

    Unlike R Shimon Bar Yochai,the Talmud does not caution against emulating R Akiva’s path.

    I think that Dr Calderone’s reference to Ksuvos 62b without discussing R Akiva was a not so veiled critique of what she perceives as a life focused and centered around intense Limud HaTorah despite the fact that R Akiva was one of the greatest Tanaim and noone ever accused R Akiva of neglecting his spouse. IOW, R Akiva is the obvious refutation of one amud of such instances, for reasons that none of us can speculate as to the causes thereof, except to claim without a shred of evidence that the kollel life invariably tends to cause R”L marital stress, etc.

  318. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-I have the article re R Steinzalz and the NY literati at home-I don’t think that in 1990 the now defunct journal ( Seven Days IIRC) had a web presence. When I read the article, I understood the same as proof of how difficult it is to teach Torah and Torah based values to an audience whose primary sense of Jewish values was the liberal agenda.

  319. IH says:

    Steve — Nu, but look at the 2010 film that R. Steinsaltz created for his Global Day of Jewish Learning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxUR5f6vcgk) and MK Calderon’s speech as well as the just announced weekly shiur in the Knesset. Many things have changed in the 20 years since 1990. Take off your dark glasses and see the beauty of Torah spreading.

  320. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-R Steinzalz is a wonderful thinker and Marbitz Torah, whose pioneering translations are very important works, but as R A Feldman pointed out in an article in Tradition, don’t always follow the view of Rov Rishonim. If the Knesset had invited a Gadol BaTorah of either the Charedi or RZ worlds to give a shiur in a sugya in Chezkas HaBatim, Shnatim Ochzin , Elu Metzios or Hamafkid, the assembled members might just have learned something about how the Torah views man as being a person who is held responsible for his actions or lack thereof. Cherry picking Aggadic discussions for an ideologicaly tinged presentation strikes me as not really engaging in a discussion or having respect for a community that lives , thinks and breathes about the importance of Limud HaTorah.

  321. Steve Brizel says:

    Minyan Lover ( and Ruvie)-actually, the Talmud in Brachos 17 states that women are rewarded for encouraging their husbands to go and learn, as opposed to allowing them to waste their time in other far less spiritual and other pursuits.

  322. HAGTBG says:

    If you taught there, it would be an institution with a frum teacher. If no one frum teaches there, it would a different institution. If some teachers are frum and some aren’t, then you have a complicated situation.

    So, in short, the closest current situations allow for great leniency. Irrespective of the ideology of the institution, an Orthodox Jew can find a job as a teacher (and, possibly administrator) there under the argument it is kiruv (even if kiruv, at best is really a secondary concern). There are some questions of supporting it if is specifically excluding Orthodox men and women as teachers. In fact, the coursework might not be all that different then college type analysis of Talmud which many Orthodox Jews already attend, such as in law school.

  323. Shlomo says:

    demonstrating why it makes sense logically for wives to go along with their husbands to learn (if the wives love learning which I’m sure they did,

    Trust me, pushing women into intensive Torah study does not work. Yes there are exceptions, but on the balance, they are much less likely than young men to want to spend vast amounts of time on esoteric dry fields of knowledge that their society says is important.

  324. IH says:

    Steve — all your pseudo-yeshivish phraseology doesn’t mask that you are unable to get past what you were once taught, ai pa’am. The only innovation you seem to have been able to muster is selectively adapting it to your political worldview (and then, without a trace of self-awareness, accusing everyone else of reading to an “agenda-based POV”). No wonder pluralism is so threatening to you — you may actually have to think for yourself.

  325. Steve Brizel says:

    Nachum wrote:

    “I fail to see how a story about how R’ Akiva was an am ha’aretz who spat at chachamim in his youth is somehow more respectful than others. Of course, it’s admirable to go from ignorant to learned, and inspirational. But spitting?”

    Nachum-if you ever met a BT who went from hostility based ignorance or worse who became a Ben Torah and Yodea Sefer, you would not have made such a statement.

  326. ruvie says:

    steve b. – ” women are rewarded for encouraging their husbands ..” and how is this relevant to our discussion?

  327. stamazoi says:

    Steve, what does your repeated reference to “the Mesorah I received” mean to you in light of the fact that Lawrence Kaplan has repeatedly pointed out that there are conflicting reports in the Gemara? Does your Mesorah not include that part of Shas?

  328. Steve Brizel says:

    Stamazoi-the Mesorah that I received always accepted the view that Akiva Ben Yosef was an Am HaAretz with hostility to Limud HaTorah and Talmidei Chachamim, who, by virtue of his learning became R Akiva, thegreat Tanna.

  329. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-while women by no means are assumed to have anywhere the same level of obligation of men in Limud HaTorah ( TSBP), women have a unique responsibility of ensuring that their husbands are learning in their spare time, as oppoosed to wasting their time.

  330. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-I stand by my comment of 12:25 PM today.

  331. ses says:

    “Ses: I don’t understand. You are assuming the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav’s position and then saying that everything discussed prior to that is irrelevant. Yes, if you skip to the end, then the beginning and middle are irrelevant. But if you progress in order then the beginning and middle are relevant until you get to the end.”

    The beginning and middle are a distraction from the real issue that bothers you. You bring no sources regarding secular teachers or secular people learning on their own and that’s the real issue here. (The only source mentioned in that regard was mentioned by commenters: halevei osi ozvu vetorasi shamuru etc and you were mistaken when you wrote that this source is about mitzvah observance and orthopraxy. It is not about mitzvah observance. It’s about being osek in talmud torah and therefore highly relevant to the topic here.)
    You can write posts about teaching the non-observant for kiruv, even if the students have made no commitment to become observant, but such posts are not relevant to the real issue here. It’s fine to write a post about how the SAHarav is a source for this type of teaching for kiruv, but this post, i.e. the beginning and middle of your post, is not relevant to our topic. If a frum person had gotten up to teach torah in knesset, then maybe the beginning and middle of your post would be relevant. But it’s not relevant, because your real issue is not the students, but the teachers or lack thereof. You were bewailing and in one comment “mourning” that others don’t approach the sources before deciding. Before deciding WHAT. That kiruv for the nonobservant is OK? We all know that such teaching for kiruv is permitted, not really from the SAHarav, but because of the example of rabbis of our generation and the past generation who engaged in such teaching and encouraged it. Teaching for kiruv is the consensus position, and you’re not disputing that. If the issue to be decided is not teaching for kiruv, but rather how to react to secular yeshivot and secular teachers, then you have brought no sources and are also relying on your instincts and your gut. So your complaints that people are not checking the sources amount to a complaint that they didn’t check the sources on a topic that is not relevant, kiruv by the religious. You chose to write a post to answer a question for which you can bring no sources, namely the question of secular yeshivot. You instead wrote about a different topic, the religious teaching talmidim she’eynom hagunim, and brought sources up to the SAHarav. And then you turned to the real question and you brought no sources to resolve it. You are complaining that others didn’t check the sources on an issue that is functioning in your post as a distraction. Have you not noticed that for the real issue, secular yeshivot, you brought no sources??? That the sources you do bring are all about the students, not the teachers, and that those sources speak to a topic about which we all know that the mainstream and consensus is to accept such kiruv? So what exactly are you complaining about when on the real issue here, secular yeshivot, you decided from your gut same as everyone else did.

    Another point is that I think you are conflating positive reaction to Dr Calderone’s speech with unequivocal support or even any type of support for secular yeshivot. One can react very positively to her speech without thinking that one should support and fund secular yeshivot. When the Shas Chairman said that he thinks what she is saying is wonderful, he was reacting after she’d spoken about filling a spiritual void in herself and in her education with study of gemara and had just began to analyze an aggada. His spontaneous reaction to her speech does not mean that he necessarily wants to fund secular yeshivot. You’re overreading the positive reaction and then complaining that people who reacted positively didnt check shas and poskim, and then top it off by deciding the issue without engaging a single source (because you engage only sources that don’t speak to the relevant topic, but to an irrelevant one). And then you wonder why people don’t see your point???

  332. lawrence kaplan says:

    StveB.: To read into Dr. Calderone’s NOT discussing the R. Akiva story some veiled critique of a life centered around intense limmud torah is really a stretch and an ungenerous one at that. When it comes to people outside your mahaneh, you are really an expert at being dan le-kaf hovah. Remember, Dr. Calderone only had some 15 minutes for her talk.

  333. ses says:

    steve brizel: She didn’t mention reb akiva, but r akiva was different than the others because he left brshus and they left shelo brshus. Much worse than her failure to mention reb akiva was her complete failure to mention reb yoshe ber soloveitchik even once in her speech. From this we can see her true colors. I don’t know what the world is coming to that you didn’t even note her failure to mention RYBS. and a freilichin purim to you also.

  334. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: You continue to not get it and I am beyond frustrated.

    This post was not about Dr. Calderon’s speech but used it as a launching point. That is very clear in the title and first paragraph.

    The beginning and middle are not a distraction but essential to the post. The question is what does the Taldmu, really halakhah, think about a secular yeshiva. It is not a halakhah le-ma’aseh question although it could be formulated as one. The chiddush here is that there is good reason to be hesitant about a secular yeshiva. If your starting point is that it’s great if anyone learns Torah, then clearly the Talmud would unequivocally support a secular yeshiva. This post was intended to show that this attitude is not a given and the only heter is kiruv. That may have been obvious to you but I’m pretty sure it was not to most readers. Most would have taken the attitude that it’s good any time anyone learns Torah.

    You are correct that I did not quote the Midrash/Yerushalmi about “halevai” and when it was quoted I was mistaken about it. The Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav quotes it as the basis for his leniency although others point out that the Bavli seems to disagree with it.

  335. IH says:

    Strange how none of the DL/RZ (or even Shas) Rabbanim in Israel seem bothered. This whole discussion thread was a wild goose chase, but it exposed some interesting sociological issues along the way.

  336. IH says:

    Any thoughts, Gil, on Rav Shagar’s observation and how it relates to MK Calderon’s reading of the text?

    אבקש להראות שהלמדנות הישיבתית משקפת שיח גברי מובהק. את השיח המקורי של התלמוד ניתן להגדיר כשיח נשי. מכאן תיגזר המסקנה שדווקא החזרה לשיח המקורי של התלמוד היא חזרה לשיח נשי

  337. ses says:

    “If your starting point is that it’s great if anyone learns Torah, then clearly the Talmud would unequivocally support a secular yeshiva. This post was intended to show that this attitude is not a given and the only heter is kiruv. That may have been obvious to you but I’m pretty sure it was not to most readers. Most would have taken the attitude that it’s good any time anyone learns Torah.”

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that a secular yeshiva is good, and you don’t identify the issue you have with secular yeshivas by focusing on talmid sheyno hagun. That’s why when you are done with the section of the post re talmid she’eyno hagun, you still have an issue that you can only solve via intuition, because your real issue is with the secular setting and the teachers, not the students.
    People would take as a given that teaching the nonobservant in orthodox settings for kiruv is permissible because they know it’s done all the time. That doesn’t mean that they take as a given that secular yeshivos are desirable or an ideal.

    “You are correct that I did not quote the Midrash/Yerushalmi about “halevai” and when it was quoted I was mistaken about it. The Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav quotes it as the basis for his leniency although others point out that the Bavli seems to disagree with it.”

    how does the bavli disagree with it – with the discussion of talmid sheeyno hagun or in some other way?

  338. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I have no idea what he means by feminine and masculine conversation. The entire concept sounds suspicious to me.

  339. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: It doesn’t necessarily follow that a secular yeshiva is good

    Agreed. But since this post was intended to emphasize the other view, irrelevant until the end.

    and you don’t identify the issue you have with secular yeshivas by focusing on talmid sheyno hagun

    Of course I do. We are discussing talmidim she-einam hagunim, as the Rambam makes clear. Does the Talmud/halakhah think that a talmid she-eino hagun is a good thing or a bad thing? Clearly, bad.

    how does the bavli disagree with it – with the discussion of talmid sheeyno hagun or in some other way

    They quote the different derashah on those words in Nedarim, about not reciting birkhos ha-Torah, and the passages about she-lo li-shmah. I believe I’ve seen R. Ya’akov Ruderman and the Az Nidberu make these points. I’m sure others.

  340. […] so remarkable. When I ponder that, I come to very different conclusions than those expressed in Gil’s post earlier this week. I am not going to argue with Gil’s impressive analysis of the Talmudic sources […]

  341. ses says:

    “Of course I do. We are discussing talmidim she-einam hagunim, as the Rambam makes clear. Does the Talmud/halakhah think that a talmid she-eino hagun is a good thing or a bad thing? Clearly, bad.”

    but the problem with secular yeshivos is not the talmidim, and we see this because despite the issue of talmid she’eyno hagun, nonobservant students are taught by the orthodox. The issue here is the teachers or the setting and the absence of an orthodox teacher. You could have begun the post by saying that despite the fact that it’s quite mainstream nowadays to teach the nonobservant even without any prior committment from them to observance, and this is generally viewed as positive even if ideally everyone would commit to observance before learning, here the situation is different because of the setting and teachers. But then you’d have had a very short post and no sources, just a gut feeling. Also, you could not have complained that others are also not bringing sources:)

    “They quote the different derashah on those words in Nedarim, about not reciting birkhos ha-Torah, and the passages about she-lo li-shmah. I believe I’ve seen R. Ya’akov Ruderman and the Az Nidberu make these points. I’m sure others.”

    in midrash shelo lishma doesn’t seem to be seen in conflict, but a continuation. pschita to eicha rabasi os 2

    ר’ הונא ור’ ירמיה בשם ר’ חייא בר אבא אמרי כתיב (ירמיה ט”ז)ואותי עזבו ואת תורתי לא שמרו הלואי אותי עזבו ותורתי שמרו מתוך שהיו מתעסקין בה המאור שבה היה מחזירן למוטב רב הונא אמר למוד תורה אע”פ שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה

    here the two sound complementary

  342. Steve Brizel says:

    Larry Kaplan wrote in part:

    “StveB.: To read into Dr. Calderone’s NOT discussing the R. Akiva story some veiled critique of a life centered around intense limmud torah is really a stretch and an ungenerous one at that”

    Why? R Akiva has been the model of anyone attracted to Torah observance and study who was not a FFB. The sugya in Ksuvos 62b is hardly a kashe on R Akiva.

  343. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: but the problem with secular yeshivos is not the talmidim, and we see this because despite the issue of talmid she’eyno hagun, nonobservant students are taught by the orthodox

    I disagree. The problem is the talmidim but that problem is overridden by kiruv.

    in midrash shelo lishma doesn’t seem to be seen in conflict, but a continuation

    Precisely why there is a conflict with the Bavli

  344. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gil wrote in response to this post:

    “how does the bavli disagree with it – with the discussion of talmid sheeyno hagun or in some other way

    They quote the different derashah on those words in Nedarim, about not reciting birkhos ha-Torah, and the passages about she-lo li-shmah. I believe I’ve seen R. Ya’akov Ruderman and the Az Nidberu make these points. I’m sure others.”

    For those interested see the RaN,BaCh and Beis HaLevi and the Mareh Mkomos that I quoted from R Asher Weiss.

  345. Hirhurim says:

    See the footnote here by R. Binyamin Yehoshua Zilber http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40990&st=&pgnum=8

  346. Steve Brizel says:

    IH quoted the following from R Shamgar:

    “אבקש להראות שהלמדנות הישיבתית משקפת שיח גברי מובהק. את השיח המקורי של התלמוד ניתן להגדיר כשיח נשי. מכאן תיגזר המסקנה שדווקא החזרה לשיח המקורי של התלמוד היא חזרה לשיח נשי

    This is what happens when gender theory invades the Beis Medrash.

  347. Steve Brizel says:

    larry Kaplan-ask yourself a simple question-who had more impact on the development of TSBP-R Akiva or the talmidim mentioned in the stories in Ksuvos 62b.

  348. ses says:

    “I disagree. The problem is the talmidim but that problem is overridden by kiruv.”

    really, so rav she’eyno hagun is not a bigger problem? the shulchan aruch harav says that a talmid she’eyno hagun should learn because of hamaor sheba yachzirenu lamutav. he doesn’t say “overriden by kiruv”, he says that the torah itself is mekarev him. your issue is therefore not the student but the setting or the teachers who you think may teach in such a way that the torah is distorted enough not to do its own. the students themselves are a distraction here.

  349. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Steve B: I am not sure what is the point of your last comment. A person surely has the right to choose his or her topic or text, particularly in a Knesset Inaugural Speech. You did not show that she distorted the text in any way. If anything she skewed it to be MORE favorable, to Rav Rehumei.

  350. IH says:

    I have no idea what he means by feminine and masculine conversation. The entire concept sounds suspicious to me.

    Gil — the article from which the quotation seems to be excerpted is available at: http://upload.kipa.co.il/media-upload/matan/matan8057-8302009.PDF. I have not read the article(just found it), but see bottom of p. 15 continuing into p.16 for an additional level of context into what Rav Shagar meant.

  351. Hirhurim says:

    Ses: really, so rav she’eyno hagun is not a bigger problem?

    I could have raised it but that doesn’t apply to self-study.

    he doesn’t say “overriden by kiruv”, he says that the torah itself is mekarev him

    You may be correct but that is not how I presented the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav in this post. Within the framework of this post, my progress and point make perfect sense. You are adding in another layer by suggesting that it only makes sense within a misinterpretation. Be that as it may, it addresses a different issue.

    However, I think I interpreted the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav correctly. As I explain in the post, he says that we should ideally be mekarev someone before teaching them Torah but if that is not possible then we can teach him any way and let the Torah he learns be mekarev him. That sounds to me like a two-layered lechatchilah/bedieved. It’s assur lechatchilah because of talmid she-eino hagun but bedieved kiruv overrides the issur.

  352. ses says:

    the SAHarav also conceptualizes the issue of talmid she’eyno hagun as a safek if the learning will return the student to practice and posits that this is a risk that the student should take, and the question is whether the rav should take it. He says that lechatchila the rav shouldn’t take the risk, but if he cant return students to observance before teaching, he should teach anyway (at the end he says that this is smol doche and yemin mekarev). he distinguishes between the student studying, something the student should try to do,and the teacher’s right/obligation to teach. in secular yeshivos, there’s only the former, students learning on their own, which he encourages and to which he says that talmid she’eyno hagun doesn’t apply as a barrier as that is only a barrier for the rav. (funding may be different, but the situation as it now exists is students coming together to try to learn with no decision made by a religious rav to teach them)

  353. ses says:

    “I could have raised it but that doesn’t apply to self-study.”

    well it either does or doesn’t apply to secular yeshivos. I also think that here the secular teachers are just presenting themselves as more knowledgeable in aramaic, acquainted with the texts etc and that this is basically secular students engaging in self-study, but this is still not an issue of talmid she’eyno hagun, but rather of a secular setting. Your question of whether the torah they are studying is what we mean when we speak of torah study or they are doing something else and essentially reading a different text is not really about talmid she’eyno hagun who isn’t observant. It’s a question about the setting and atmosphere in which the student is learning and the fact that the learning proceeds on different assumptions than in religious settings. That’s why i wrote initially that your problem is either rav she’eyno hagun or more likely the setting. But it’s not that the student himself is not observant, because if the setting and the teacher were orthodox, youd have no issue here.
    In any case, as stated, the SAHarav says that the student himself is obligated to learn regardless and the issue is whether the teacher should teach, so his conceptualization of the problem makes self-study something that the talmid she’eyno hagun should be doing.

    “As I explain in the post, he says that we should ideally be mekarev someone before teaching them Torah but if that is not possible then we can teach him any way and let the Torah he learns be mekarev him. That sounds to me like a two-layered lechatchilah/bedieved. It’s assur lechatchilah because of talmid she-eino hagun but bedieved kiruv overrides the issur.”

    as i wrote above before i saw this, he conceptualizes it as a safek whether the torah will be mekarev him. Therefore lechatchila the teacher shouldn’t teach unless he returns the student to observance first. Maybe learning on its own wont be machzir the student lamutav. But if this can’t be done, the teacher should teach, and hope the learning will work on its own to return the student to observance. But regarding self-study, he thinks the student should learn regardless. If you see secular yeshivos as self-study, the SAHarav says the student should be engaging in self-study regardless of whether the teacher should teach.

  354. Anonymous says:

    Steve demonstrates the problem with modern day haredi study: not only is it true for them that “Rav x could say it but we (ie, you) cannot”, but furthermore – the very sugyot which one chooses to quote are limited by their (the haredi) world-view. This is why Steve takes issue with the R Rechumei narrative being quoted rather than that of R Akiva. The fact that both passed muster with the editorship of the Bavli is meaningless to him. Unfortunately, only the Torah that fits well with his outlook should be quoted by anyone, unless the difficult sugyot are being quoted simply to harmonize them with his viewpoint.

  355. minyan lover says:

    Dr Kaplan,Steve Brizel, Ruvie and Shlomo ;

    Yevomot 62b – was akibah engaged or married when his thousands of students were not getting along.
    Since he was already a teacher he must have been one or the other.

    Did his relationship (or non relationship) with his wife/wife to be have anything to do with the unpeaceful house or tent of learning he relocated to as if it were his permanent dwelling. (I don’t understand how the supposed lack of intra-student? respect caused thousands of students to get the croup?)
    Are affirmative obligations such as a husband’s ; love wife as much as ones self but honor her more for peace in the tent indirect suggestion based directive binding on an engaged relationship. If intentions are what matter in a contract why wouldn’t they be.
    Where would I find a copy of this marriage contract so I can better understand what akibah’s wife’s purported conditions were. I must be reading akibahs draft or missing an addendum .

    If a husband loves learning torah shouldn’t he learn with his wife as well. If he honors the concept of learning shouldn’t he honor his wife with this concept even more. Assuming she loves learning (I think this is a very fair assumption because why would a wife love a learning husband if she didn’t love learning).and assuming they both want a happy peaceful tent.

    Where did akibah teach the four successful students (R Meir etc ) and was he living with his wife at that time.

    Ketubot 62b iirc has the “living widowhood” reference if so it would imply that he was married to her unless this is a euphemism for marrying a second wife in a distant land.

    I have to go look up the nedarim reference.

  356. minyan lover says:

    Anonymous @1:47am , not sure what ure point is. why would anyone quote either of them ? Do u also think there’s two sides to the hillel on the roof story? someone had to sit on the roof and support the icicles, maybe there were no more seats left ?. maybe only women showed up to the bais medrash and hillel was the kind of misguided lofty hasid the gra lectured about ? Sometimes at the end of the day, there’s just one side to the roof and its not always a story sometimes its just a principle to analyze .

  357. minyan lover says:

    Anonymous @1:47am, I forgot one quick additional question, why was Rechumia on the roof? Was he bitten by the lofty soaring hasid fly. What did he think he was supporting under the sky, the stars, the moon or the sun? Or was he studying hilchos construction for the bayis neeman he abandoned in the name of rechum based love. Neither rechumia nor akibah make very good stories too many variables.

  358. Steve Brizel says:

    Larry Kaplan-My question last night was simple but fundamental-who had more influence on the development of TSBP. Ignoring the critical role of R Akiva while underscoring an Aggadic passage is more tha just picking the passage that you wish to use and begs for an explanation other than the passage in Ksuubos was used to make a not so thinly veiled anti Charedi point.

  359. Steve Brizel says:

    Someone wrote:

    “Steve demonstrates the problem with modern day haredi study: not only is it true for them that “Rav x could say it but we (ie, you) cannot”, but furthermore – the very sugyot which one chooses to quote are limited by their (the haredi) world-view. This is why Steve takes issue with the R Rechumei narrative being quoted rather than that of R Akiva. The fact that both passed muster with the editorship of the Bavli is meaningless to him. Unfortunately, only the Torah that fits well with his outlook should be quoted by anyone, unless the difficult sugyot are being quoted simply to harmonize them with his viewpoint”

    That’s nice spin but nowhere what I said or meant. When Dr Calderone can say a shiur in the any of the Perakim in Shas that I listed, which are not AFAIK, nowhere limited in their application, then perhaps a claim that she has a great deal of love for the study of Talmud would be taken more seriously.

  360. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Of course R. Akiva had more influence on the developent of TSBP than R. Rehumei. So? I fail to see the relevance of your question. I must say your reading of her talk stikes me as both forced and exceptionally ungenerous. Speak of a POV!

  361. IH says:

    When Dr Calderone can say a shiur in the any of the Perakim in Shas that I listed, which are not AFAIK, nowhere limited in their application, then perhaps a claim that she has a great deal of love for the study of Talmud would be taken more seriously.

    Not so fast, Steve. From a pre-election article about her:

    Going by Calderon’s curriculum vitae alone, a skeptic might connect the dots and end up with a picture of a populist or flatterer – a Talmudic scholar who endeavors to make Jewish religious texts accessible to all, a television host who quotes from the user-friendly “Pirkei Avot.”

    Her association with Lapid, a handsome and slightly obsequious former journalist, does nothing to dispel that impression. But Calderon is different. She does not restrict herself to the exposition of “easy” texts: She recently took on a Talmud tractate that addresses the technical details of the Temple animal sacrifices and the duties of the priests. Not the usual fare of a newly minted politician.

    Ref: http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/she-brought-israelis-to-the-talmud-can-she-bring-its-wisdom-to-the-knesset.premium-1.496087

    From reporting since, we also know she has done Daf Yomi for years.

  362. biggest tanna says:

    Steve Brizel forget about r akiva. she didn’t mention the biggest tanna

    http://www.bhol.co.il/forum/topic.asp?cat_id=19&topic_id=2999191&forum_id=14617

  363. substance monitor says:

    Minyan lover asked: why was Rechumia on the roof?

    He was up there to make the story interesting. He was up there so that his wife could blow up the Yeshiva and kill him. It is a soap opera story. It is made up aggadita. It is not a news report.

    Likely that there was no Rechumia on any roof, likely that no Rechumia that ever lived. Surely none that ever was killed by a jilted wife’s tears.

    There also is no hidden message in Calderon using this singular odd story to send a message to the “husband” at the “Yeshiva”.

    She says as clear as day: Ignore me at your own peril.

  364. biggest tanna says:

    In shmuel 1 9 why is shmuel talking to shaul on the roof? Hopefully you aren’t going to inform us that in your opinion that also didn’t happen

  365. […] symbol of a secular women teaching Talmud (as Calderon did during her speech) at the Kneesset.  This article is quite critical, citing various halakhic sources to show that only the traditionally observant […]

  366. […] the symbol of a secular women teaching Talmud (as Calderon did during her speech) at the Kneesset. This article is quite critical, citing various halakhic sources to show that only the traditionally observant […]

 
 

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