from Klal Perspectives NEW ISSUE: Summer 2014
Rabbi Simcha Cook
My Rebbe, Moreinu Rav Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l, said many times that the methods of teaching Torah are unique and do not follow the guidelines of secular education. Teaching Torah is based on a core mesorah from which we dare not diverge. Nevertheless, what we teach, to whom we teach and how we set up our curricula has always been subject to change when necessary.
For example, incorporating secular subjects in an inappropriate manner was not acceptable in the Yeshiva of Volozhin,¹ even at the expense of closing it down. Yet here in the U.S., secular studies in yeshiva high schools were sanctioned by the gedolim of the previous generation. Much debate has swirled around the Torah Im Derech Eretz philosophy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, but even those who did not accept it as a universally valid approach to avodas Hashem, nevertheless agreed that it was entirely appropriate for his time and place.