web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Torah and the Secular Jew

As a youth, MK Dr. Ruth Calderon was not satisfied with the secular treatment of Judaism she got in Israeli schools. So eventually she founded a secular yeshiva.
MK Dr. Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) speaking to the Knesset, February 12, 2013.

MK Dr. Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) speaking to the Knesset, February 12, 2013.
Photo Credit: Screenshot/Knesset Channel

The question of the study of Torah by women was resolved long ago in stages. First by the Gerrer Rebbe and the Chafetz Chaim in the 1930s. They were convinced by women’s education pioneer, Sarah Schenirer to open up the first Beis Ya’akov – allowing for mass Jewish education for women outside the home. And later expanded by Rav Soloveitchik who gave the first Gemarah Shiur in YU’s Stern College for Women.

There are those who have a religious issue listening to women speak in public – basing it on modesty concerns. That is their right. But there is no Halacha that I am aware of that forbids it. Nor is there any Halacha that precludes a woman from saying divrei Torah to men. The current over-emphasis by the right is based on a misunderstanding of what tznius really is. And it has resulted in actions that in my view are anything but Jewish and have nothing to do with tznius. Like photo-shopping women’s shoes out of a photograph published by a Charedi newspaper.

For me Dr. Calderon’s speech was a most inspiring one. There are more than a few men in Yeshivos that are not even capable of doing that – who are nevertheless exempt from military service. Because they are in Yeshivos.

Another problem some might have is that a woman who is unabashedly secular (with no intention of becoming observant ) should not be promoting Talmud study. The argument might be that the purposeful secular lifestyle she leads is a contradiction to the Torah she is learning. That by studying the oral law and rejecting it in practice – she is making a mockery of it. And treating the Talmud no differently than the secular founders of Zionism treat Tanach.

For the same reasons they may also object to her founding of a secular Yeshiva. That too makes a mockery of observance by focusing only on the culture and ethics. Much like the Reform Movement did when it was founded. They rejected ritual observance replacing it with the ethics they thought the Mitzvos in the Torah and Talmud stood for.

I understand their point of view. But I am in profound disagreement with them.

To me this is the classic Mitoch SheLo Lishmah, Bah Lishmah. Once one begins to study Torah (or do Mitzvos) for ulterior motives one will eventually come to study it for the right reasons. Those reasons being to do God’s will. So let secular Israelis study Talmud. There is nothing wrong with a Jew learning Torah. Even if it is only at first to study it for cultural or ethical reasons. As long as it is treated with the respect and reverence it deserves and the knowledge not misused in some way – it can only improve one’s understanding of his heritage and perhaps even lead to observance of Mitzvos.

As things stand now, there is quite a bit of ignorance among secular Israelis about the truth and beauty of the Torah – even as they study Tanach in their schools. At the same time there is also the fact that many Israelis are traditional in many ways – if not fully observant. Furthermore there seems to be a new respect for the Kipah wearing Jew – as was evidenced by the record number of such Jews just elected to the Knesset. There is no better time than now for a person like Ruth Calderon to be in the in the public eye. She may not be aware of it (although I’m sure she would not object) but her attitude may prove to be the best Kiruv tool yet for the secular Israeli Jew.

Here’s is Dr. Calderon’s Knesset speech (in Hebrew) in its entirety:

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Torah and the Secular Jew”

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
George Soros: No friend of Israel
Hillary: George Soros is NO Friend of Israel
Latest Blogs Stories
U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama is not anti Israel. He’s just misguided, perhaps blinded by his desire to force a peace treaty

Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism, and his famous quote

Herzl told the Zionist delegates,”If you will it, it is no dream.”

Doug Goldstein

Breakthrough adapts insulin to be taken as a pill instead of shot. Can it be applied to other meds?

Arabs turn their back on the Dome of the Rock to pray towards Mecca, Ramadan 2009

Ramadan is SUPPOSEDLY a month of introspection & repentance; yet attacks on “Infidels” skyrocket

Israel wins the wars but LOSES the battles!

Moving to Israel seems crazy but this week’s my first “aliyaversary,” my Aliyah anniversary! WOW!

Israel & world Jewry are under attack and in grave danger but UN’s focus is denouncing Israel

What is human chess? How easy is it to predict the actions of others?

It’s time to stand up against the bias & no longer accept the constant UN prejudice against Israel.

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, injured in a terror attack in Samaria, has died (HYD)

Allah is NOT merciful: Stabbing, beheading, shooting innocents is barbaric & cowardly acts of terror

How could the Jerusalem Post think the attack could have been other than a terrorist act?

Going to Mt of Olives cemetery was like visiting Jurassic Park in a jeep with dinosaurs rampaging

Hanan Porat z”l, teary-eyed said ” We returned to the Gush(Etzion)we shall return to the Gush(Katif)

“Mispachology”: Theory you share a common link with someone you’ve never met or been in contact with

It seems that Pres. Rivlin has joined all other so-called Right politicians and now is trending Left

More Articles from Harry Maryles
U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama is not anti Israel. He’s just misguided, perhaps blinded by his desire to force a peace treaty

YeshivatMaharatLogo_square

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah} The inevitable finally happened. Rabbi Avi Weiss has dispensed with his prior refusal to call his female ordainees ‘rabbis’.  I challenged him to stop dancing around that title with made up titles  (like Raba and Maharat) and he finally rose to the challenge. His motivation in not […]

Existence requires meaning. Believing all random and without meaning is a horrible fate for mankind

People see a healthy parochial school system vs an anemic public school system and draw conclusions

Anyone not fighting this extremism is at best misguided; at worst tacitly approving/aiding extremism

When a young man gets a job he’s broken from the mainstream Chareidi world, complicating his dating

World Jewry, regardless of haskafa, united in solidarity with the parents of the 3 teenagers: Achdus

HaModia’s list of the new government’s ministers omitted the women ministers’ first names: WHY?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/torah-and-the-secular-jew/2013/02/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: