The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Thursday, April 07, 2005

MO High Schools: Some Thoughts.

One of the comments to this post, which itself was about a comment to another post, ostensibly about Jewish Scholastic Sports, veered, like many of the comments, to the issue of the effectiveness of the MO Yeshiva High Schools themselves.

"Anony" wrote:

Since the comments have veered off into the topic of MO yeshiva high schools, I'd like to comment on that. I think I have a pretty good perspective, having graduated from such a high school 4 years ago, followed by a year in Israel in a Yeshivat Hesder. I don't claim to have all the answers for the problems plaguing our High Schools, but I think a very important component that is missing from most of them is a solid background in hashkafa. I know in my high school, there was basically one Rebbe (who could easily be a Ra"m at any yeshiva) who would give genuine hashkafa in the form of weekly parsha shiurim (which were amazing), shiurim about moadim, and in general his tanach class. He also taught an elective in Jewish Philosophy. I could see the thirst in myself and in others who flocked to his shiurim and drank in every word of Torah he would say. It was a living Torah, distinct, unfortunately, from what we were getting in other classes. Two caveats:

1) This addresses only one specific problem which affects only a certain cross section of students. Nevertheless, I think it is a very important one, and I know many many students whose dedication for and love of Torah comes directly from their exposure to that teacher.

2) I realize it is a somewhat unique case in that the Rebbe I am referring to is unique, but the model can still be followed in other schools. Teach about the ideals of Judaism. Show the beauty of the Torah, and how it weaves together a beautiful web. Teach Jewish Philosophy in depth, and in warmth.

This won't solve all of our problems, but this is definitely something I have observed that needs to be taken care of, and that I think will have a huge impact, if done in the right way.

I don't have time right now to address these thoughtful comments in depth except to say that I agree that there is way too little by way of hashkafic thought (both in the high schools and, as importantly, in the lower schools). And let me be clear. I am not talking about Chassidic thought. While I think there is a role for Chassidic thought I believe that the students would be very well served by exposure to many different kinds of hashkafic thought. I agree that this is sorely needed.


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