[Avodah] Torah and Secular Knowledge before Ghettoization

Simon Montagu simon.montagu at gmail.com
Thu Jul 8 11:13:19 PDT 2021

On Thu, Jul 8, 2021 at 8:28 PM Zev Sero via Avodah <avodah at lists.aishdas.org>

> On 7/7/21 12:46 pm, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> > And your assertion that secular education was never a part of the
> > elementary education given Jews is historically incorrect. (and please
> > do not tell me that this is an essay and hence is not to be relied upon.)
> I will tell you *exactly* that.  This is the opinion of some secular
> professor, not of a Torah scholar.  And even if it's true, it's about
> one period in the history of one community, which was criticised at the
> time, ended in the disaster of mass conversion and assimilation, and is
> not part of our mesorah at all.

Since this is a historical question, surely the opinion of a professor of
Jewish history (ignoring the ad hominem "some secular") is *more* to be
relied on than that of a Torah scholar, who by your own argument should be
studying al taharat hakodesh and is not expected to have historical

I don't know who the "we" in "our mesorah" are, but for myself I am proud
to say that the Torah of al-Andalus and the Muslim countries, which derives
directly from the mesorah of the Geonim of Bavel, is very much my mesorah
also. Furthermore, this is not just "one community": the author of the
linked article makes an understatement when he says that "the majority" of
Jews in the medieval period lived in Muslim countries. In the 12th century
over 90% of the Jews in the world were Sepharadim (at this period about
half of Spain was a Muslim country)
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