[Avodah] Torah and Secular Knowledge before Ghettoization

Zev Sero zev at sero.name
Fri Jul 2 08:50:17 PDT 2021

On 2/7/21 10:34 am, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 11:58:13PM -0400, Zev Sero via Areivim wrote:
>> On 29/6/21 9:08 am, Prof. Levine via Areivim wrote:

>>> Torah knowledge combined with secular knowledge was the standard until
>>> Jews were locked in ghettos and hence had little or no contact with the
>>> outside world.

>> That is not true at all.

> The Gra disagrees. See R Barukh miShklov (Schick)'s intro to Ayal
> Meshulash. He presumes that success in learning requires a strong
> background in other knowledge, and thus people were expect to learn
> both. The whole reason for his writing a Hebrew introduction to Euclidian
> Geometry.

That has nothing to do with what the standard of education was for 
children, whether before Jews were "locked in ghettos" or after.

For that matter, I don't believe Jews were ever "locked in ghettos and 
hence had little or no contact with the outside world".   Jews generally 
lived in the same area even when they weren't forced to, for the same 
reasons we generally do so now; but even where they were forced to those 
areas were not prisons.  There were places where the Jews locked 
themselves in at night, for safety, just as many non-Jewish compounds 
did.  But they had all the contact with the outside world they needed. 
They had to, since most Jews made their livings by trade of some sort, 
which required such contact.

So as far as I know there was no change in Jewish education in response 
to such a supposed locking-in.  Those who felt the need for outside 
knowledge were able to learn it, but they were generally not children. 
Those who thought their children needed such knowledge, and had the 
necessary resources, were generally able to provide it, but most people 
felt no such need, just as now.

As for the Rambam, the plain meaning of his words is that all 
"parpera'os lachochma" come after one has filled up on "bread and meat". 
  As the mishna says, "tekufos ugimatriaos", which I take to mean 
astronomy and geometry, are things that someone who is already a torah 
scholar will eventually feel the need for, to supplement what he already 
knows, and that's when he should learn them.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a healthy summer
zev at sero.name

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