Monday, May 05, 2008

The Changing Times?

A pair of excellent posts worthy of your time out there, if you're a religious Jew of the 21st century; excerpts on expand.
  • The Apple on how women are taught Halacha in the frum world and
    girls are often taught halacha in a very simple, non-source-based way. For example, where I went to high school, we learned halacha like this: the teacher (who was a noted posek who definitely knew what he was talking about, no question - I just take issue with the method) would hand out a sheet of questions on a particular topic, and then would go through the questions and give us the answers. There was no source sheet, we never had to look into a sefer - we were literally spoon-fed the answers.

    What did this mean? Well, it meant that we knew an awful lot of information without a) knowing the sources b) knowing how to look at sources. Which is problematic. Why? Because there was an implicit statement of, "No need to teach you this, because you can rely on your father/brother/husband to tell you the answer when you have a question." It was practically a given that people would have someone like that to turn to for the answers.

    But guess what. Not everyone has that. Not everyone has a father who spent many years in yeshiva learning gemara, or a brother who is currently in yeshiva, or a husband. And there comes a point where you want to look something up because you are tired of always relying on other people for what to do, but you know what? You can't. Because you've never been taught how, or where, to look. You haven't the faintest idea of the structure of the Mishna Berura, or the Kaf HaChaim. Shulchan Aruch? Forget it. You haven't a clue as to where a halacha originated in the gemara or the mishnah. Whenever a teacher referenced those sefarim, it was a passing mention and you only have a vague idea as to what the sefer actually contains and accomplishes.
  • R' Aviner on evolution at R' Gil's [emphasis mine].
    Regarding the essential question of whether Hashem created man directly from the earth or whether Hashem created man in a slow process from the earth in stages, we do not know factually, since we were not there. It is possible to explain the verses of the Torah either way. ...

    In sum: We are involved with Torah; we are not involved with science. We love science, we respect science and we respect scientists. There is even a blessing upon seeing a great scientist: Blessed is Hashem…who gave of His wisdom to flesh and blood (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 224:7). The Torah, however, is not a science book. Whether man was created directly from the ground or from a long process is not the subject of the Torah. Our subject is how man needs to act...