Monday, August 11, 2008

Tznius and the Age of the Universe

Since "outside influences" are a challenge to tznius, Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk writes in his sefer Oz veHadar Levushah (pg 132) that one should not bring in secular newspapers, or chas veshalom a television. But this also means having plenty of "kosher" reading material available. This means "kashering" the material as needed. Thus, he suggests that in the case of a children's encyclopedia, a Jewish parent should take a black marker and black out any text which reveals that scientists believe the earth to be greater than 6000 years old.

This makes me sad.

And it is not just that I disagree that claiming the universe is older than 6000 years is kefirah. (I know they have resolutions, convincing or not-so-convincing.) Rather, it is the idea that one must be protected from the knowledge that scientists maintain something different from Chazal. And that censoring such information reinforces a closed-minded and ignorant mindset, in both those doing the censoring and those from whom this information is concealed.


Anonymous said...


Did you read the next page? I burst out laughing. He warns of the dangers of a newfangled contraption that combines a telephone with a screen, allowing teleconferencing.

His third reason for not allowing it is the funniest (not that the first two aren't ridiculous):
"Vulnerable to misuse by engaged couples"

That is probably the most original chiddush that I have heard in a very long time.

Anonymous said...

What I think is really sad is that of the many, many competent rabbis that we are blessed with, there are dozens to ban things and people for the smallest insidious kefira, but none to have the guts to call this behavior "over the line".

Yossi Ginzberg

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a good idea to censor any mention of the anatomy of the human body. Children should also wear locked nonremovable undergarments at all times so that they do not become aware of their own anatomy.

BrooklynWolf said...

Interesting item. I began to wonder what else has to be taken out of the encyclopedia. I blogged about it over at my blog.

The Wolf

ProfK said...

Gee, why stop with the encyclopedia? The dictionary is a far more insiduous collection of dangerous items, and in mostly plain English too.

And if we are banning cereal boxes why stop there? There's Aunt Jemima on pancake mixes and--gasp--Betty Crocker on a whole load of products. Can you get more untsniusdik? And no anthropomorphic animals allowed either, since this is surely against daas Torah, so Tony the Tiger is out and Mickey Mouse and company are now in cherem.

The children coming out of the homes more to the right are already only semi-literate; R. Falk seems to want to finish the job.

Where is the Rav who will stand up bravely, point his finger and announce "The Emperor is naked!"?

Anonymous said...

My favorite part was "This is essential as girls, and to a degree also boys, spend much time reading books.

The "doctor" part was also precious - it's about as close as women shuold get being real doctors as R. Falk could stand!

Lion of Zion said...

a professor of mine was visiting her relatives in washington heights. she noticed a 3 foot gap on the shelf and asked what happened. her cousing told her that the rav (i forget who) had been the EJ. and out it went.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I've seen the EJ in many yeshivish shul libraries, and every time I see it I think "Good grief, no one has ever opened it up!"


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