Wednesday, June 24, 2015


People don't associate Rabbi Avigdor Miller with Torah Im Derech Eretz. Nevertheless, I often see an overlap between TIDE and his outlook along with other Litvish rabbanim such as R' Yaakov Kamenetsky. Their teachings can be useful in working with TIDE in our times.
Rabbi Miller said the following, "Everything that non-Jews say must be taken with utmost caution, because the sheker (falsehood) is much more than the emes (truth)." — The Refutation is at Hand (#2) . So I get two things from this, one is that not everything from the non-Jews is sheker. That point is obvious to some but one often hears talk of the gentile world as if "it's all narishkite" or "it's all emptiness and lies". Of course Chazal tell us that if somebody tells you that gentiles have chochmah believe them. The second point is, as he says, that we need to approach gentile information with caution, with a critical mind. As R' Joseph Soloveitchik observed, Americans are naïve. His statement is as follows: 
 [Many religious people today]"...act like children and experience religion like children. This is why they accept all types of fanaticism and superstition. Sometimes they are even ready to do things that border on the immoral. They lack the experiential component of religion, and simply substitute obscurantism for it....After all, I come from the ghetto. Yet I have never seen so much naïve and uncritical commitment to people and to ideas as I see in America....All extremism, fanaticism and obscurantism come from a lack of security. A person who is secure cannot be an extremist." From a talk given to social workers, in A Reader's Companion to Ish Ha-Halakhah: Introductory Section, David Shatz, Yeshiva University, Joseph B. Soloveitchik Institute in From a talk to social workers.

So we, who are raised to sit in our little chairs at school and believe everything our teachers tell us, or our doctors, or anybody who assumes authority roles similar to our teachers, must remember to use the mind to size up what we are hearing. This is true especially in these days before Moshiach where the sheker is so thick. This takes mental discipline and we have such a mentally lazy society. So a little German Jewish style self-discipline can go a long way in this effort.  


  1. This post is a pleasant, almost Hirschian style smack in the face to Chareidim. I enjoy that.

    1. That wasn't the intention, but it also addresses those who engage in TIDE without good filters.

    2. Whether it was the intention or not, Rav Soloveitchik's quote definitely applies to people in my community.