- Via Life In Israel, how Rav Kanievsky analyzes a kosher grasshopper. More on this topic later, bli neder, in a separate post, in terms of whether we really have Rav Kanievsky on video confirming the famous grasshopper story.
- A fossil find sparks a debate on primate origins:
Pieces of ancient primates can still pack a surprising punch. Consider a 37-million-year-old lower jaw that still sports many of its teeth and was found in Africa by paleontologist Erik Seiffert of Stony Brook University in New York and his colleagues. This newly unearthed creature had skeletal features that resembled those of higher primates, but it didn’t belong to the lineage that led to higher primates, Seiffert’s team reports in the Oct. 22 Nature.
- Mark Steyn takes note of the following paragraph from a news report:
People with outstanding warrants will be denied income assistance in British Columbia as soon as next year if legislation introduced yesterday is passed into law, said Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development. "People who have outstanding warrants shouldn't be getting welfare until they clean up the problem," said Mr. Coleman, adding that to qualify, warrants must be for indictable offences such as murder, sexual assault and drug trafficking. But Mr. Coleman said the government will not run criminal background checks on welfare applicants to enforce the policy. Instead, it will rely on criminals to disclose their outstanding legal issues when they make an application.
- An opinion piece in the Jewish Star, by Rabbi Reuven Spolter, about the dangers of sending one's children to secular college:
Your son is ecstatic. He just received a letter granting him admission to the summer program of his dreams; five weeks at the highly prestigious summer science learning program in Maine where he’ll study with noted experts in physics and chemistry; areas of particular interest to him. You’ve been encouraging him to expand his horizons; taking him to scientific competitions and lectures for years, so you find his enthusiasm encouraging.This sparks several responses in the Letters to the Editor section, including the following from Rabbi David Willig:
But then your rabbi confronts you with a troubling statistic: 25 percent of all Orthodox attendees to the summer program drop their Orthodoxy. Despite your skepticism, the rabbi shows you the surveys and it’s true: one-quarter of all Orthodox camp participants abandon Orthodox practice.
If you haven’t realized it by now, I’m not writing about a summer program. No, I’m writing about attending secular college.
Divrei Chaim critiques several of the responses, in a post, writing in part:
Would you play a game of Russian roulette with a gun that has four chambers, one of which is loaded? What if we agreed that if you survive, you get a million dollars -- would you now be willing to play? 75% chance of a million bucks vs. 25% chance of certain death... I know what you're thinking: "Do I feel lucky?"
I think most people would agree that relative to the potential fatal consequences of losing, 25% is a pretty high risk to take, no matter what the potential rewards.
"Then there were some famous rabbis who studied before the war at the University of Berlin — RabbiSoloveitchik, Rav Hutner and others."
And your child is the next R' Soloveitchik? And U. of Penn is just like Berlin before the war?
Does the letter writer really think R' Hutner would condone dorming at a secular college? And might it not be a good idea to first emulate the learning of R' Soloveitchik and R' Hutner and then have a debate about secular college?
"Finally, there is a growing fundamentalism and conformity in the Jewish colleges, which does not encourage intellectual growth."
Indeed, your child may go to yeshiva and be brainwashed to learn Torah, be more shomeir mitzvos, and have lots of yiras shamayim. Better to take that 25% chance of his/her becoming an apikores than chas v'shalomrisk him/her becoming a chareidi.
As I note in the college section, he didn't address Rabbi Willig's main point, which is that the 25% figure is misleading, for the reasons given. As I wrote in my first comment there,
i think that the broader point Rabbi Willig made, unaddressed here, is spot-on; and it is the same point Barzilai mentions and dismisses.
and it is a point which Rabbi Bleich mentioned in terms of halachic issues of risk of surgery to save someone else, in terms of general anesthesia:
if statistics show that overall, people don't wake up from general anesthesia at high rate X, does that mean that it poses a serious risk? no, because that is the rate including many elderly people and people with underlying health problems. and that skews the statistics in one direction. but an individual not in that demographic should look at the statistics for his particular demographic.
similarly, if even for elderly people, the reason for the much higher rate of cognitive problems is that they had underlying problems beforehand, then the statistics are not really so meaningful for someone who does *NOT* have those underlying problems. rather, there are better statistics, for that particular person's demographic.
and that is what Barzilai's doctor friend, who seems to know a lot about statistics, was saying. and it is true.
the 25% was from attendees of Orthodox camps. what percentage of attendees are really committed? how many are already MO-lite, if not less? what are their homes like? what about their schools? i once saw an attendee at a MO school talk about how he purchased a non-kosher ice cream, and was "caught" by his rebbe. yet he attended a religious school. he would likely become non-religious if allowed to in that secular college environment. but that is not the same as the "frummest" kids.
what are the demographics for left-wing yeshivish or right-wing modern orthodox? i don't know, but that would be much more informative.
And as Rabbi Willig wrote:
" Figures don’t lie but liars figure. The drop out rate may be higher for reasons of self-selection. Some of the students who attend secular colleges may be looking for an opportunity to drop out; some may find their way back, stronger than before. Should parents be aware of potential problems? Yes, of course. But each child is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution."
now, the editorial may have been geared to the general public, and it is absolutely true that in general, when addressing the community in general, these statistics would likely be born out.
personally, i think that YU and Touro offer advantages that secular colleges do not.
but there *are* strong possibilities of being "brainwashed", as you put it, in certain religious institutions which are also colleges. but it is not "Indeed, your child may go to yeshiva and be brainwashed to learn Torah, be more shomeir mitzvos, and have lots of yiras shamayim." rather, the fear is that the brainwashing in hashkafah would lead to a *poorer* Judaism, in which one's limud haTorah and theology is stilted (from the MO/Centrist perspective).
in summation, i think there are merits to both sides. secular college can be a spiritual *disaster* for some. but i don't think that the 25% figure is really true. rather, for people from particular demographics, it is probably closer to 75%; but for other demographics, not so much. one needs to know one's child -- and this is true for much of chinuch.
- E-man discusses what other sources discuss a Tower of Bavel.
- Remember the big outcry when Archie married Veronica? Well, here is a summary of the plot of part three of this hypothetical. And the follow-up is going to be a short series exploring the hypothetical in which Archie marries Betty.
- Here at parshablog, Rabban Gamliel and confirmation by experimentation. And whether there is a ketz for life on earth.