Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Torah UMadda: Really

Bar Ilan University just finished celebrating its Jubilee anniversary. In that connection a lot was said about how important it is to foster Torah UMadda. I was, however, disappointed to see that the regnant conception of Torah UMadda is caught in something of a time-warp. People still think, mirabile dictu, that one this is confined to Physics/Biology/Chemistry. One ostensibly learned person told me that the Rambam only considered the so-called exact sciences to be part of his religious program. I don't know why I bothered, but I tried to show him that the opposite is true. The Rambam viewed these disciplines as propaedeutic to philosophy (which at Bar Ilan is in the Faculty of Humanities). Of course, he remained unconvinced. Neve try to confuse a scientist with a theory with the facts.

However, there is real danger with this kind of limited mindset. The real challenge to religious life is specfically in the area of the humanities and the social sciences. The Slifkin Controversy may be shaking up the Haredi world, but our community is reeeling from its inability to deal with the results of post-modern anarchism in all of its manifestations. Unless we develop tools to tame and/or address the questions Hokhma (instead of just Madda), Modern Orthodoxy in Israel will not rise. (The kippot, however, will continue to fall.]


Out of Step in Kfar Saba said...

Maybe Bar-Ilan can start us off with somewhat of a liberal arts program. This is a problem in Israel generally. We (I first and foremost) condemn the rabbis for their lack of education, how much more so the engineers, scientists and businessmen, who stop reading right after the literature bagrut.

Jeffrey said...

Halevai. The problem is that the neglect of the Humanities and most of the Social Sciences is now policy at Bar Ilan. said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't see how literature will save the kippot. Warping the kippot (a la is not the same as saving them. Better for the kippah to fall off than to misrepresent and twist its message like this is a product of Literature and the Humanities - not the hard sciences