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HASHKOFO-----asking questions

You have to understand that, unfortunately, teaching hashkafa in this sense, that is, proofs to the torah and understanding of G-d etc., to frum people was until recently not normative practice, particularly in girl’s schools.

It was thought to be important to Baalei Teshuva becoming frum, but not for FFB's. This was a terrible error - and it was NOT made by the great Tzadikim, but by the hamon am - the masses - themselves.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTL was the first person to spread such teachings among frum people, and his books had an awesome impact on both the non-religious, and the very religious alike. Rav Avrohom Chaim Levine, Rosh Yeshiva of Telz in Chicago, said at an Agudah convention that he came from a royally rabbinic family, had the best Torah education, but yet the books of Rav Miller ZTL influenced him so much when he was younger.

Now listen: I once asked Rav Miller ZTL why he doesn’t put out any books in Hebrew. His answer was, because he "doesn’t want the letzonei hador to get a hold of them and mock them."

In other words, the Hebrew-speaking American crowd, namely, the Yeshiva-BY crowd, would not accept it. This was a terrible, terrible, error on their part.

At Rav Miller's levaya, the Novominsker Rebbe was one of the speakers. He knew Rav Miller because he (the Novominsker) was a student in Chaim Berlin when Rav Miller was Mashgiach there. At the levaya he said "who would have known that Rabbi Miller's books would be so popular, spread so far and wide..."

The Novominsker Rebbe meant it only as a praise for Rabbi Miller, but it is also an indictment of the hamon am - the public - in those days, because - Hello! - The value of such teachings even to the biggest Bnei Torah, should be obvious.

Yet to many it wasn’t. It was (a) considered "below" the needs of Bnei Torah to deal with "proofs" to the Torah and things like that - only non-religious people "needed it", and (b) there was some kind of paranoia which, try as I might, I still cant make sense of, that by teaching people answers to questions about Yidishkeit, somehow they will have within them questions awakened that they never would have previously thought of, and, even though the answers are there in front of them, they will get messed up because of the questions.

This is sad. I have been accosted by several people (all women mechanchos) claiming that this website is bad for people, and in fact we should not teach people this material about Judaism because of the looming spiritual dangers of educating and strengthening Emunah.

I was speaking in Jerusalem once, and said that we have to teach our children about Hashem, the torah, the basic hashkofos that we are discussing here.
After the speech, a menaheles in some school came over to me and said, in a very cynical tone of voice, "Reb Yisroel Salanter said that if you learn Chumash and Rashi it makes you more frum, are you saying that doesn’t apply nowadays?"

In other words, their curriculum of Chumash and Rashi - sefer Vayikra to be specific, where they learn about being makrev korbonos - is sufficient to address the hashkafic issues in question.

I answered her. "What Rav Yisroel Salanter meant was that by learning Hilchos Esrog before Pesach, you will keep Pesach better. But can you compare someone who prepares for Pesach by learning Hilchos Esrog to someone who prepares for Pesach by learning Hilchos Pesach?"

There are issues that anybody with the intelligence of a child can think of. Were not talking about major philosophical dilemmas - and there is TORAH out there that addresses them. If you’re in business you need to learn Choshen Mishpat, even though Chumash and Rashi makes you more religious; if you’re getting married you learn Even Haezer, even though CHumash/Rashi makes you a better husband.

And when you are in the field - as we all are - of Emunah, then you learn about emunah!

I wonder if this person would, instead of Kallah classes, teach soon-to-be brides chumash and rashi and then say that according to rav yisroel salanter you don’t need more!

The Roshei Yeshiva back Rabbi Mechanic's project - Rav Matisyahu Solomon was the first to write him a haskama. Many others followed. Rabbi Levine - the one I mentioned above - writes that he himself sat in one of Rabbi Mechanic’s sessions and it was marvelous, and he highly recommends it.

If Roshei Yeshiva recommend it - and I know of not a single Torah authority that disagrees - and if such Torahs are good enough to make a lasting impact on a future Rosh Yeshiva, then it is certainly good enough for BY girls.

In any case, you should please please educate yourself if you can’t get it from others. You know what I’m going to recommend - Rejoice O Youth, Sing You Righteous, Awake My Glory.

That’s the beginning.

Sadly, even today, there are precious little sources of this material. The fact that schools all over America need a Rabbi Mechanic, or the fact that thousands of teenagers every single day need to go to Frumteens for their daily does of Chizuk and Emunah, is sad. But at least we have what we have.

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