A Torah Rationalist’s Manifesto

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6 Responses

  1. anon says:

    This explains why Telshe in Europe was considered a “progressive yeshiva”. Somehow somewhere things have certainly changed!

  2. Micha says:

    I’m not sure you can generalize from Kelm. Perhaps the Alter would only permit secular studies in an environment where people invest time each day to explore the effects various influences have had upon them. Or perhaps not.

    Second, the Mussar Movement was in general staunchly rationalist. Rav Yisrael took the notion of perfection of the soul and defined it in terms of one’s personality and decisions. Staunchly rationalist terms, in contrast to the Vilna Gaon’s focus on both those improvements and more mystical ones, and R’ Chaim Vilozhiner’s focus on learning as the means to improve the self through mystical connections. (Despite the number of counterexamples any of us have unfortunately encountered.)

    -mi

  3. Leapa says:

    We know Rishonim and many Acharonim advocated secular knowledge.
    But what can we do with this awareness when there is such a strong movement to rewrite and even fabricate history?

  4. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    Unfortunately, over ninety five percent of the Lithuanian Jews were killed in the holocaust. Only three or four of the people in the Slabodker beis medrash at the time of the air raid lived, and almost nobody from Kelm. The loss of the gedolim of our Lithuanian tradition resulted in the supplanting of that great tradition with the mean rejectionism and willful intellectual contraction that we suffer from today. Even R’ Mottel Pargemansky, who survived the war, died soon afterwards in Paris. It is a curse that keeps on cursing.

  5. Anon says:

    A much-needed viewpoint, in contrast with today’s pervasive anti-rationalist attitude! How can we expect to win the battle for our childrens’ minds and souls, if we don’t challenge and fortify them with DA’AS Torah, as opposed to a rationalist-rejecting emphasis on emunah peshuta alone?! Why else do we see 3x daily “VIYADATA hayom va-hashevosa el livavecha, ki Hashem hu ha-Elokim…”?!

  6. Victor says:

    This entry gives me hope and for the same reason concerns me. There are clearly Torah luminaries that are rationalists and are able to give us insight that satisfies the “modern” mind. My concern is that they are not only in the minority but that the rise of a less worldy majority threatens their ability to continue to deseminate their Torah. I remember seeing the contents of Rav Bulman zt’l s bathroom reading pile. It was an incredible depth and breadth. He could discuss anything with you and tell you what was emes and what was sheker. But I wouldn’t think of telling you what the contents were for fear of what some close minded person with too much time on his hands would do with it.

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