Thursday, June 29, 2006

education and learning - the Telzer derech

Just want to direct your attention to a true story posted by my wife on the attitude in the Telzer yeshiva (the Lithuanian one of old, not the Riverdale or Cleveland present day incarnations) toward secular education. This is not a second hand gadol story – the protagonist is my wife’s grandfather who learned in Telz and went on to be a Rav in Switzerland and Canada. My wife has done a string of postings on college education worth reading - she can share the perspective of having taught college and grad level courses as well as having been a student – I can’t. Should bnei Torah aspire to become ‘educated’ (however you define that), or just get a degree for better ‘parnasa’? Should we sanction cutting every corner possible to get that degree, or do we have a responsibility to ensure young men/women are educated human beings as well as talmidei chachamim or bnos torah? Check her blog for more thoughts. Maybe I’ll write about it another time.


  1. I posted this already on your wife's blogs and enjoyed your comments there too, but it seems to me that when you cut corners you cut economic opportunities too.

    I believe that Ariella is in the liberal arts field, which is foreign territory to me. I am in a more technical field and I cannot believe that an accounting degree from a Ma'alot, Bellvue, or Thomas Edison will take you as far as a degree from the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, or Penn.

    While I harbor no illusions, and know that students can (and often do) cut corners even in some of the most renowned Univerisites, going to these Universities will open up doors to parnasah that just won't open as easily where one to "hold the education."

    Also, there is making a parnasah, and finding a place in a company where there is potential for advancement.

    I wrote at KallahMag about the advantages of an active career center that gets the big name public and private firms and agencies on campus recruiting for new talent. The career centers provide extensive services (often even past graduation, I believe, for a fee) that are hard to match elsewhere.

    I know that my career center also provided seminars and services for writing resumes and interviewing, including coaching and taped mock interviews.

  2. Anonymous12:13 PM

    I am currently enrolled in a 10 month course to get a masters in accounting given by Farliegh Dickinson University in Lakewood under the auspices of Agudas Yisroel.I don't have time to argue the point with you but will note that our nonjewish professers CONSTANLY tell us that we BMG alumni are far better then thier full time full length on campus students.

  3. Anonymous12:32 PM

    That;s because you're taking the course at a school that native NJ people refer to as "Fairly Ridiculous" I have no doubt that you are more capable than the students I've taught remedial and even standard English comp. to ad community colleges. But that doesn't mean that you are getting the most you can out of your education.

  4. Just to add to my wife's comment - when all is said and done, are you an educated person, or do you even have the kelim to participate in reasoned debate with your background? In the little pond of FDU, yeshivish smarts probably go a long way, but try swimming with the bigger fish and you will discover the difference. I work in a place that recruits from MIT, Harvard, Wharton, eyt. and having been in yeshiva myself I can tell you if you think the average yeshiva guy who has read a handful of secular books in his life and paid for a degree with minimal time and effort can compare, you are only deluding yourself. Not that every person who went through the Ivy leagues is an iluy, but every person who makes it and has the desire to do so can grow intellectually in ways a 10 month FDU degree will never afford you the chance to experience. Fundementally, education is not just for parnasa, but there is a sense of intellectual fulfillment that comes with being well read, knowing how to reason, and being able to communicate your ideas to other intelligent people that a yeshiva education with a smattering of a b'dieved degree cannot provide. In Telz of old they understood that; I doubt in Telz of today they share such a perspective.

  5. Anonymous2:55 PM

    (1)I think the RY of Telz are lot better of a source on the telzer mesorah then some isolated story about your wifes grandfather(2)I am in the second cohort of this FDU accounting program.The Lakewood talmidim from the first one landed jobs in top accounting firms and the firms were very impressed with them.The marks on the CPA exam from that group far surpassed the NJ state average.In general various law schools such as Penn State at first didn't want to accept lakewood degrees but after they made one exeption were so impressed that they changed thier policy.(3)I won't argue with you about the point of an education but will say that if not for parnossah I wouldn't dream of getting an education.I only learn torah l'smoh.Let us agree to disagree on this one.

  6. On (1), I can assure you my wife's uncles (who I won't name here, other than to say they are pretty big talmidei chachamim in their own right) would vehemently disagree; on (3) we disagree, with one correction - the concept of Torah lishma is irrelevant, because one can pursue secular studies and devote oneself to learning for its own sake. Aderaba, the concept of lishma is more of a challenge to one who dedicates himself to kollel and receives payment for learning, not to one who earns his bread elsewhere and learns for learning's sake.
    A final question: if one's only 'heter' for advanced education is for the sake of parnasa, then what is the matir for 3 years of law school when one can make a parnasa as a mechanic, a welder, a shoemaker, or lots of other vocations with only a few months of training? Shouldn't one be mevateil one's 'ta'avah' for a career like law, with its years of training and long hours as an associate, in favor of a more mundane career that will require less sacrifice of learning time?

  7. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I don't speak for anyone elses chesbon but I will say for myself a major reason I didn't go to law school was because doing so would cause me to leave kollel 2 1/2 years earliar.Unfortuntly one can not really support a family in todays times as a shoemaker and I'm not cut out for being a mechanic.Actually I would consider getting a CDL licsence and becoming a commercial truck driver which in my view has the advantages of (1)no incentive to be dishonest(2)the abilty to listen to torah tapes as you drive/work(3)you don't take the office home with you.However due to unfortunate fact that menial work is so looked dowm at in frum society for my families sake I feel I can't do it.

  8. Curious Couple12:53 AM

    Excuse me, but the link to your wife's blog didn't work. What is the direct url? My wife and I are very interested to learn about her perspective!