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One Reason Why I Didn't Attend Harvard

Within Contemporary Orthodoxy there are many different groups. These groups differ on a host of issues and it would be enriching if each group learned and gained from the others.

However there are a number of principles which are not subject to dispute. If one does not except these principles he or she is beyond the pale. One of these principles is the Divinity of the Torah and the acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai by the entire Jewish people. As none other than Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, if the Torah is not Divine then our whole religion is meaningless. Another uncontested belief is that pre-marital relations is absolutely prohibited. Even the most liberal and modern sleep-away camps frown upon such behavior.

Which brings me to my question. How is it that so many children from Orthodox homes attend secular colleges. On the college campus it is axiomatic that the Torah is not Divine and that there is nothing wrong with pre-marital relations [and a lot right with it...]. I just received an email from a friend that he forwarded to me from N.Y.U. They are now offering housing where men and woman will live together in the same apartments!!! Until now if one lived in the dorm they would at least have to visit the next room over but now the sin lives in the very same room!!! As my friend [a Penn graduate] wrote "Hashem Yerachem".

I know, I know. Our young people should be strong enough to withstand the tests of faith and sexual temptations. But the reality is that they are not doing so. [Even Abaye in the Gemara said about himself that he would not be able to withstand the temptation of being alone with a woman.] Yes, there are a number of exceptions to the rule - I am friendly with many of them. But one doesn't serve food to a child if it might very well kill him because there have been those who ate and survived.

Gadol hamachtio yoser min hahorgo - causing one to sin is worse than killing them. Physical death is only in this temporal world. Spiritual death - sin - is for eternity.

I am aware that problems also exist at religious institutions but they cannot be compared to those that exist at secular institutions.

Yes indeed. In a previous post I claimed to be open-minded. So if someone shows me that FROM A TORAH PERSPECTIVE that one should attend an institution where there are rampant breaches in sexual purity and a completely materialistic lifestyle and outlook - please do so. But please keep in mind the Rambam in hilchos deos [6\1]. And if someone is concerned that one cannot make a living if they attend a Jewish College - well, I have never met a starving Y.U. or Touro [or Johns Hopkins for that matter] graduate!

Note: This is not a personal attack against any individual chas v'shalom. I love individuals!! My intent is to point out a phenomenom that I believe to be scandalous.

With Love and Friendship

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

how can we be a light unto the nations without going to secular college

What about Rav Soloveitchik and the lubavitcher Rebbe? Didn't they attend secular colleges?

It seems to me that everyone automatically goes to Secular or Jewish colleges even when it doesn't seem neccessary for many professions.

In regard to S.F.K. I believe that Rav Soloveitchik and the lubavicher Rebbe did indeed attended college but it was a completly differant era and I am confident that men and women did not live in the same apartments.

While a tirade could be launched in favor of not attending secular college, your examples do not even warrant counterexamples. Rav Yoseif Dov Soloveitchik זצ"ל and Rav Menaheim Mendel Schneerson זצ"ל were יחידי סגולה; they cannot be used as paradigms for people like us. Using Rav Soloveitchik as a posterchild for going to secular college or learning secular philosophy, as many are wont to do (at least more so than the Lubavitcher Rebbe in my circles), is simply fallacious. Barring the fact that he was one of the greatest תלמידי חכמים of his generation (his קונטרוס בארונעוייטש was written at age 13) and was well beyond grounded in תורה before beginning his university education, even by secular standards he was a man of impeccable moral integrity and ramrod rigor. I would not dare impose our modern standards of morality upon him as it would not due him justice, nor would I attempt to abstract from his unique persona to ours and to our current situation.

And that would be assuming the situation then was as bad as it is now. But, as Hillel graciously noted, it is not.

Anon, if you want to be "a light unto the nations" attend a kosher college and do post-collegiate or co-collegiate campus work at a secular campus. There are plenty of קירוב opportunities. And if you meant in a more passive way, such as being in a field that requires one to work with non-Jews where the course of a day's work done by a Jew can cause a קידוש ה, I have yet to see friends rejected from graduate schools because they went to Yeshiva University. They may not all be in Harvard Medical School and the like, though some indeed are, but if one's concern is being a "light unto the nations" in the workplace then one does not have to be a Harvard graduate.

Rabbi Soloveitchik did goto secular college. He also studied beforehand the entire Rambam, Shas (notice the order) and Shulchan Aruch. I would also consider going to a secular colllege after 'majoring' in the aforementioned fields. But untill then perhaps we shouldnt use him as an example and a rule of thumb rather as an exception.

I am sorely disappointed.

Isn't someone going to tell me that I am a closeminded fanatic living in the ghetto and that Netiv Aryeh should be boycotted since I espouse such views. I am a caveman living in the Dark Ages and am sorely in need of enlightenment.

Maybe a post expressing my thoghts on the popular media will do the trick.

Ill admit u can get just as good a job out of YU as u can by going to Harvard but isn't there an advantage of going to Harvard in that ull get a better education which will make u more of a complete person?

Anon, for some reason you have equated having a "better education" with being a "more complete person". Assuming everyone comes out with a "better education" and sside from the fact that 'complete' is always a vague term and especially so when applied to human beings, you are assuming that other things to which one is exposed at secular college will not make one a "less complete person".

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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