Monday, November 20, 2006

Gedolim Who Went to College on College I

Rav Wolbe: (Daas Shlomo - Maamarei Z'man Matan Toraseinu 5717 Behaaloscha):

Once a yungerman, a Charedi Jew, asked me what to do, since he had lost the clear feeling of the presence of a Creator that he had always had during his years of learning in the Yeshiva. I asked him, whether he has an academic degree, and he responded in the affirmative. When I told him, that his dealing with the sciences caused this - he was very surprised, and did not accept this from me.


What, in truth, is the reason, that through dealing with the wisdoms of the world one loses the sublime sense of the presence of the Shechinah which accompanies the Yeshiva man during his years of learning the holy Torah?

And we should ask, in addition: We find Gedolei Olam who did not negate these wisdoms. The Maharal in Netiv HaTorah Perek 14 relates to them positively, and from the GRA a statement has been handed down that what a person lacks in Chochmah he later lacks in Torah. On the other hand,we find that the Gedolei HaDoros definitively negate dealing with these Chochmos in the places of Torah...

...The purpose of the entire Torah is fear of sin. The Torah deals with all matters of the world so that we should know, in regards to all of them, what the will of Hashem is. The center of our lives is the Creator, and when we approach the world - then as well, the Creator remains in the center, and all of our business in this world is to be in tune with His Will...

The foundation of the Torah is Emunah, and its goal - fear of sin, and at its center - the Creator, and it perceives the world only out of the Will of G-d and closeness to Him.
...Now we can understand the danger of attraction to the sciences. The Torah - its foundation and purpose: Emunah and fear of sin. Science - it foundation and purpose: this world and this cosmos. Science is full of biases of the "world", biases of prestige and wealth, social status, livelihood, and the like. And especially for a Yeshiva man, for whom other mundane desires cannot attract his soul, since he is above them, too spiritual for them - a Yeshiva man may be drawn after "Mada", because it, in his mind, guarantees him a respectable place, and "Kavod" is the one thing, of all the promises of the Yetzer, that draws his heart. And this is the danger, that the "Mada" is not needed for him to complement his knowledge in Torah and Mitzvos, rather to gain status in the "world". It is true, that exalted holy people like the Maharal and the GRA, whose entire essence was Torah, and they did not see in the "world" any desire or anything of substance - when they dealt with the sciences their intent was solely "Torah". But us, orphans of orphans, when we deal with them we must suspect that we are not seeking knowledge of Hashem, rather we seek the world, since the world does have a place of honor with us, and we very much aspire to the admiration and the respect of the world. "Better he be considered a fool all of his life in the eyes of people, and he will not be a Rasha for even one hour in the eyes of Hashem." - to that extent we must have the center of our lives focus exclusively on Hashem, and to utterly negate the whole world. This is a difficult task, and it is difficult for us to convince ourselves of this. And therefore, when we can grab hold on to "Madda" - it is a test for us.
The test is twofold: From the perspective of the foundation of "Mada" being in the scientific intellect. The intellect of the Torah is, as Chazal define it... to "look upward", and the intellect of Madda looks at the phenomena of nature and arranges them. Indeed, in a fabulous arrangement, but without leaving the framework of "the world". About this Rabbi Eliezer admonishes, before his death "Withhold your sons from Higgayon" meaning from the scientific method of thought, which is saturated with "Teva". And certainly, not the heart of every man is capable of containing two methods of thought which are different from one another, as a rule. (Besides giants of spirit like the Ramban. And it is known that about the Rambam, the holy one of G-d, the GRA expressed himself that philosophy misled him... But his Torah is Torah. The last section of the Moreh is Torah...)
And the second test is from the perspective of the purpose of "Mada", where today the dealing with Mada, and the certificate, and the degree, are the entrance tickets into the world. One who has obtained them is eligible for the prestige of the world and the appreciation of human society, he is counted, he is "civilized".
And who promises us that when we deal with Mada, we are doing so "L'Shem Shamayim"? Perhaps - it is the hand of the Yetzer in the midst, perhaps there is still an intent to merit "two tables", the table of Torah and the table of "humanity", of the world?
There were people who championed Torah with Derech Eretz, and their goal was to delve into Mada L'Sheim Shamayim, to fulfill "In all of your ways you shall know him" - the greats of Germany z"l. But they could not stop the forgetting of Torah in Germany, the forgetting of Torah in its fullest sense, and it does not seem that they merited high levels in service of Hashem because of their dealing with Mada.
It is not our purpose in this clarification to decide Halachah, for this one should look at the Shiur of Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz (Bircas Shmuel Kiddushin 27) and Reb Elchonon Wasserman. Our intent is to clarify the influence of dealing with Mada.
It is true that the GRA and the Maharal, holy saints who clung to Hashem, and the "world" presented no test for them, for them there really was great benefit from the sciences. Mada helped them understand Mitzvos and deep Sugyos. But for us, moss on the wall, there are many Massechtos, Sedarim and Sefarim to learn, until we reach the point that scientific knowledge becomes needed for us. And, on the other hand, there is the danger that we will be drawn to the "world".
The trajectory of our life is clear: Its foundation is Emunah, the learning of Torah is the learning of the Emunah of the Torah, and the top of the structure is Yir'as Cheit, and all surrounds Him, His Divinity, around which we build our lives.


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