[Avodah] Petach Tikva, Secular Studies, and Ivrit

Prof. L. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Wed Jul 14 07:48:04 PDT 2021

I was sent the following interesting piece this morning.

I want to relate to you a very important piece of history. In the autobiography of Rav Moshe Blau, who was a very important Agudah person in Israel. He relates the following story. As we all know Pesach Tikvah was founded by a Talmud of Rav Yeshuah Leib Diskind, namely, Horav Zorach Braverman. In those days, a farming community could not exist without the financial support of Baron Rothschild. Unfortunately, the representatives of the Baron were violently anti-religious and did everything in their power not to support the community, but to hamper them. As a result, most of the people moved back to Yerushalayim. But a few people stayed. However, there was no frum Cheder left there. So, 2 young men went to Horav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and told him they wanted to start a frum Cheder, but they must learn in Ivrit and have a full program of secular studies, or they cannot get students. He told them "When we came to Israel, we made a mistake in that we did not start speaking Hebrew," He said there was nothing wrong with teaching in Ivrit. As far as secular studies, he said, "I was one of the signers of the ban on secular studies. We only made the ban, because parents were sending their sons to the ALIANCE school to get an education, and this school was making them not religious. We never meant a complete ban on teaching secular studies. Any way the ban was only in Yerushalayim. Please go and open your cheder. It's a great mitzvah."

All of this can be found in the autobiography.

For information of R. Moshe Blau,  please see


Blau, Moshe | Encyclopedia.com<https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blau-moshe>
BLAU, MOSHE. BLAU, MOSHE (1885–1946), *Agudat Israel leader; brother of Amram *Blau.Blau, who was born in Jerusalem, directed the Agudat Israel office there from 1924 until his death. He served as a member of the movement's world executive and edited its weekly Kol Yisrael ("Voice of Israel"). From 1933 to 1945 he headed the independent, ultra-Orthodox Edah Ḥaredit (Orthodox community).

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