Saturday, November 19, 2005

Would the World be a better Place if Einstein had been a Rosh Yeshiva Instead?

This post flows from a discussion I had with a much frummer guy than I over Shabbos. The topic was learning- how much I don't like it, but how we both acknowledge that it is a fundamental element of those who "stay Jewish" and whose descendents do as well.

I said to him, "Ok, I can see how important learning is to keeping traditions alive, but it sure seems like a waste of brainpower to have all these smart folks learning talmud all day when they could be finding the cure for cancer."

To that he said, "We should leave all the secular learning to the goyim. Our job is to learn Torah. Einstein could have been a Rosh Yeshiva and a non-Jew would have come along with relativity eventually. Why is it so important for him to do it, to show the world how smart Jews are?!"

I flatly responded that it would have been a tremendous waste for Einstein to have been a Rosh Yeshiva. I asked him, "what's so great about the Chazon Ish or Moshe Feinstein, any 'giant' rabbi of modern times? Of course they were very accomplished and raised frum families of note [Feinstein, not Chazon who apparently had a miserable marriage and no kids]. Their halachic opinions aren't binding per se, and if learning is what keeps Jews "Jewish," there's plenty to study rather than Igros Moshe or Igros Chazon Ish."

So, I put it to you in the olam ha blog- while it clearly depends on your perspective; what's your opinion? And don't use the cop out that studying science, etc is "all Torah."

Would it really be better if all the Jews in universities studying Science, Math, Medicine and the like were instead studying in yeshivas?