Monday, November 25, 2013

Not Another Science and The Implications of That

"The study of the Torah shall be our main intellectual pursuit... We are not to study Torah from the standpoint of another science or for the sake of that science. So, too, we are to be careful not to introduce into the sphere of the Torah foreign ideas... Rather, we should always be mindful of the superiority of the Torah, which differs from all other scientific knowledge through its Divine origin... [Our Sages] do not demand of us to completely ignore all the scientific knowledge... [but rather] that a person [be] familiar with these other realms of knowledge, but ... only from the Torah's perspective ... and they warn us that neglecting this perspective will jeopardize our intellectual life."

Commentary on  Deuteronomy 6:7 in Wikipedia

This might be where TIDE departs from Torah u'maddah. Now, Rabbi Soloveitchik isn't going to tell you that science is the equal of Torah. But on a practical level he believed you should study science and secular subjects without diluting them. This approach might have been crafted to our era. He worried if you restrict people intellectually that the Torah will lose credibility for them. I know people for whom this is very true. So YU has a full blown yeshiva and a full blown university. The latter is not filtered or controlled like a Catholic university as Aaron Rakeffet explains. Thus you can read any poet. In TIDE, you read Schiller or other idealistic wholesome poets. You restrict the material. The Rav didn't restrict the material even though he didn't consider them equal.

Now there are others in the Modern camp who in my view approach the sciences as if they are equal to Torah. Many in the feminist camp are like this. They really don't understand marriage and/or the gender roles from a Torah perspective and impose secular philosophies on the Torah as if the two are equal. That's how I see the institution of pre-nups. They can't deal with the Torah rule of get. But the Torah must have it it's reasons for not imposing a divorce on a man. Women's emotionalism perhaps? Whatever the reason, the agunah people are trying to rewrite the Torah as they have been influenced by feminism. They view the Torah and feminism as equal so the latter can change the former. Many in the natural science camp are like this as they desperately try to find room in the Torah for the theory of evolution. Same with the Zionist camp in my view. They are too caught up with secular notions of earth bound nationalism and try to change the Torah to suit it. You can argue that this is the problematic offshoot of Torah u'Maddah that the students in studying both subjects on their own terms come to see both as being equal even though the Rav did not.

However, the argument for keeping TuM is a good one, that without it, the Torah will lose credibility, that it can't stand up to rigorous vetting, that it needs silencing and repression to keep people. In an open society like the USA, you will lose people like that. Lots of them.

I find it useful personally to have TuM out there to know that we aren't repressive even though I naturally limit myself to the kosher poets.

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