Sunday, December 11, 2005

Charedim can't believe science

About a week ago Ahron Schechter and Shmuel Kamenetsky just jumped on to the Slifkin ban wagon. They are about as mainstream and accepted as it gets in the charedi community. So what is going on now that book bannings against people who express positive positions about science are becoming officially charedi policy? Now to be charedi you are really barred from believing much of science.

But what is really going on? I suspect that there is something in Jewish history that requires that every time fundamentalist Christians do something that even hints of "piety" (false or otherwise) Jews have a need to emulate it. Somehow Jews are not comfortable in their own theology and see themselves as not being as frum as Christians.

I do not have too many examples off the top of my head, but fundamentalist Christians outlawed polygamy, so fundamentalist Jews outlawed polygamy. Christians wore stupid clothing, so the ultra Orthodox wore stupid clothing, fundamentalist Christians are anti-abortion and birth control, Charedi Jews are anti-abortion and birth control. Fundamentalist Christians are anti-science and now so are Orthodox Jews. Jewish notions of modesty, acceptable sexual practice, and now common sense itself are all just things that Charedim are taking from Christians.

(Mind you this does not only apply to Christians. I once heard a hassidic rabbi say that the reason that Moslems were blessed with oil is because their women were so modest.)

An anecdote: When I was in 9th grade in Torah Temimiah (this is way back in the 80’s, mind you) the principal, Rabbi H, was lying in wait. The young new teacher, Mr. D, started his class by saying, and writing on the board, that there were “two fundamental concepts in the study of biology: genetics and evolution”. Rabbi H called him out and had a two minute chat. When they returned, Mr. D erased the board and said that there is one fundamental concept we need to know about in Biology: genetics. And that was it for the rest of the class. I suspect that no single event in my life made me suspicious of Yeshiva more than that. Subsequent to that, I always wondered what else they were hiding from me. (I later found out that there was almost nothing else they were hiding except for girls, but that is another story).

I am scared to think what they’ll think of next.


Shosh said...

What a great (if unfortunate) story about your school years. That had to have been formative. It's like a comedy sketch only it's reality. Yikes.

bec said...

"I later found out that there was almost nothing else they were hiding except for girls, but that is another story."

that just explains so much!