Sunday, March 13, 2005

Yeshivos and College and Professionals

One thing that has always struck me is the insistence of our Roshei Yeshivos (in the Yeshivish world) that boys don't go to college, but remain learning. While, in theory, it's an admirable goal, in practice there are severe problems that come from such a policy - problems which, I'm sure, the Roshei Yeshivos must be aware of - and yet, I don't see how they can follow such policies.

When asked what such young men will do for a living, inevitably, the answers go to Chinuch or private enterprise. But what about professionals? Surely no one can argue that the Jewish community is only richer for having doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors and other professionals in our midst. Not only do these professionals provide Torah-based insight into thier areas of expertise (it's a lot easier to discuss halachic ramifications of medical procedures with a frum doctor than with a non-Jewish one), but such professionals also provide needed funds for our Torah-organizations to continue.

But the question that arises is, how can one become a doctor, a lawyer, etc. without going to college. The answer, of course, is that you cannot. These professions are licensed by the states (here in the U.S.) and it is 100% impossible to go to medical school without having attended college. No law school in the U.S. will accept a person who does not have a Bachelor's degree.

So, then, what do these Roshei Yeshiva propose? That there be no frum doctors? Somehow, I don't think that that's really the aim that they going for. I'm fairly certain that if you asked any of them if we should ban frum doctors and lawyers, you'd not get a single yes from the lot.

So, how do they face this contradiction? How do they reconcile their wish that no one goes to college with the wish to have frum professionals?

The Wolf

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

they get the yeshiva to provide a b.a. equivalent, and go to law school. there are a few graduates of yeshiva, no college, with law degrees, and successful careers.

But in general, the policy exists to be played with as I presume you know from the numbers who do go to college, even in yeshivas with officially anti college policies

BrooklynWolf said...

I'm not aware of any such graduates, so I'll have to take your word that they exist. I suppose that if there's one type of professional-studies career that yeshivos are suited for, it's law.

However, there are still some issues involved. Firstly, while some yeshivos may be accredited to issue B.A. degrees, I'm willing to bet that the vast majority are not. Secondly, how well does the average yeshiva prepare the prospective student for law school. Just because one knows how to prepare a daf gemara doesn't mean that one can speak the English language well or compose a coherent paragraph, both of which are absolutely necessary to succeed in any professional setting. And, lastly, that only applies to law school. I don't think a Bachelor of Arts in Talmudic Studies from any yeshiva will allow a person to be admitted to medical school.

With regard to your last comment, it is true that many allow their students to go to college. I personally had to put off going to college for six months, since I was afraid that if my RY found out that I wanted my school records to apply to college, I would be thrown out before I finished High School. But your comment misses the point of my statement. The point was, do these Roshei Yeshiva think that there shouldn't be any frum doctors, or lawyers, or other professionals? Sure they may, in the end, allow it out of necessity, but I'm sure that they would rather the bochrim don't go at all.

The Wolf

Ben Sorer Moreh said...

I recall a story in yeshiva that a frum doctor arrived in [the town of a famous historic rav, the Hafetz Hayyim, perhaps] and [famous historic Rav] asked him to leave town or pretend he was not frum, so as not to serve as a misleading role model. Growing up, I recall hearing that it is better to attend a Catholic college, where you know "you're not like them" than to attend a heavily Jewish college, like Brooklyn or Yeshiva and get lulled into dangerous situations and philosophies.

I also heard that it's possible to study law and medicine privately and take the exams.

What's the ultimate aim of Roshei Yeshiva? Convince a few students students to forego college and the rest to approach the experience with trepidation. If yeshiva A has a "no college" policy, they understand that those who want to combine yeshiva and college will go to yeshiva B, which allows it, subject to its restrictions.

Shabbat shalom.

Enish said...

It's simple. really. Underneath it all, they are afraid. Scared stupid that their precious Torah, and Yiddishkeit will fall before stronger, more attractive, and more valid ideas. And they are correct.

But it doesn't speak well for them, for their confidence in what they profess to believe,or for their way of life.

BrooklynWolf said...

Thank you for the reply Enish. I believe that you are correct, to some extent, but it need really not be that way.

I went to college, got a Bachelor's degree and am currently a professional (although, oddly enough, not in the field I got my degree in). I don't think going to college has "ruined" Torah for me; on the contrary, it made me realize how wonderful Creation really is. Understand the vast majesty of the universe, the intracacies of biological life here on earth, the geologic structure of the planet and how it was formed -- all these things reinforce Judaism for me and make me realize all the more that there is a Creator (even if He didn't use six twenty-four periods to create everything) and the majesty of His creation.

When you start banning ideas as heretical and stifle independent thought, then all that does is reveal how *insecure* you are in your own beliefs. Someone can tell me that our current understanding of cosmology shows that the universe came into being without a Creator. I may disagree with it, but I'm not going to stifle the idea entirely either (inasmuch as I don't believe that God's existence [or lack thereof] can be proven without a direct Divine revelation), because I am confident in my belief in the Creator - and even if I can't *prove* it, I'm certainly willing to put it to the test. It's a shame that others think that by closing off thoughts you are "protecting" people from heresy. In truth, all you are doing is exposing how little you can actually defend your position.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

To the poster a few above that stated you might be able to take the medical doctor certification examination without having gone to medical school, you are mistaken. Medical school is a must to practice as a physician. And, nobody will hire you without residency either. Obviously, you need med school to get residency.

And, who will insure a doctor without med school?????

BrooklynWolf said...

Thanks, anonymous. That's what I figured.

The Wolf

Mis-nagid said...

What does a Creator have to do with Orthodox Judaism? You have to swallow a much larger set of faith-beliefs to call yourself Orthodox, none of which are "supported" by Argument from Incredulity.