Larry Yudelson lays the blame for the deaths of several Israeli yeshiva students over past years during hikes at the doorstep of their religious authorities (“Rescuing a generation,” September 5).
That he ignores those very authorities’ repeated warnings about undertaking such hikes without adequate supplies, support and precautions is unfortunate and misleading. As is his dismissive, cynical assertion that Torah students are taught that “in studying the Talmud they are learning all they need to know.” In a real sense, that is indeed true. Torah encompasses everything. But the Talmud teaches that we are to take all necessary precautions to protect our lives. And that teaching is part and parcel of what every yeshiva student learns.
Mr. Yudelson may find it more gratifying and self-validating to assign guilt to charedi leaders who forbid their students to buy cellphones with Internet access, but self-gratification and objectivity (not to mention good will) often clash loudly.
Larry Yudelson responds:
Sadly, Rabbi Shafran does not go far enough in his Talmud lesson.
Indeed, the Talmud does command us to take all necessary precautions to protect our lives, but it specifically recommends that we teach our sons how to swim (Kiddushin 29a). Yet such lessons are not a universal part of the charedi yeshiva education system. Why is that?
The Talmud is even more clear of the obligation to teach one’s sons a trade – but as I wrote, the efforts by the Orthodox rabbi who heads Israel’s education ministry to enforce that Jewish ideal by requiring minimal educational standards in charedi yeshivot are being mightily resisted.