Monday, May 10, 2010

Charedim work and education

For the past week this has been a major topic of discussion in Israel. IMHO the Charedi responses have been disingenuous at best. Eli Yishai (Head of Shas) was interviewed a umber of times about this, his answer was come visit our Shas school in Ramat Gan where we had the highest test scores in the country. That answer, while true, is very misleading and not indicative of the state of Charedi education. That Shas school teaches secular studies at a high level because the clientele demands it. Ideally, all Shas schools would be Torah only like the Ashkenazi schools. However, since Shas appeals to a much wider audience they have schools which have a high level of secular studies. Other Charedi spokesman have made similar comments. The bottom line is that the Charedi ideal is Torah only and anyone who says anything else is lying.

When it comes to working and jobs, again the Charedi spokesmen want to have their cake and eat it too. You can't provide no secular education and then complain you are shut out of jobs because they require a degree.

There is no question that a lot of what is learned in secular studies in high school is a waste and can be skipped. However, there are core subjects that are very important. The Charedi world thinks that in a few months people can learn what is needed to get a job. That is true for some things but not for many and certainly not for the jobs of the future. They seem to believe that secular knowledge is easy to acquire and there isn't much of it. As R' Aryeh Kaplan described Another approach is that which many Chassidim have. They say, “What do scientists know? Do they know what’s happening? Do they know what’s going on? They’re a bunch of phonies, a bunch of bluffers, a bunch of stupidniks! Do they really have a way of finding out the truth? They find a bone and they think it’s from a monkey.” But, I think to somebody who knows what science is, this is a very unsatisfactory approach. much of the Charedi world has no clue about how much knowledge there is out there.

There is a very elitist attitude that if someone can learn a sugya in Bava Kama he can surely learn x (x being any secular discipline). This is simply not true. Learning Torah definitely is helpful in teaching certain modes of thinking but is certainly not the be all and end all of knowledge.

1 comment:

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

First of all, welcome back.
Second of all, if science, math and other disciplines are so useless, why did Chazal all train in them in addition to their Torah learning?
If working is such bitul z'man, why did Chazal almost all have jobs?