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22 Kislev 5764 - December 17, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Call to Stand Firm Against "Chareidi Yeshiva High Schools"
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Rabbonim and educations have been speaking out on the need to stand firm against renewed attempts by figures at "yeshiva high schools" to persuade parents of talmidim studying at talmudei Torah and other chareidi institutions to send their children to institutions that offer a mixture of limudei kodesh and limudei chol.

The battle against initiatives to set up chareidi yeshiva high schools, and various institutions disguised as Torah institutions that combine secular studies, has been waged on the pages of Yated Ne'eman in recent months under the direction of maranan verabonon headed by Maran HaRav Eliashiv.

Several months ago Yated Ne'eman warned against plans to add other institutions of this type that are not conducive to the transmission of the Torah in purity and that tempt boys from chareidi homes to pursue this path rather than dedicating themselves entirely to toil in Torah.

At the end of Tammuz 5763 HaRav Eliashiv instructed Yated Ne'eman to publish letters of opposition against such initiatives written by gedolei Yisroel from the past and present generation ylct"a. Meanwhile rabbonim, chareidi public figures, educators and principals across the country alerted parents and their sons to the threat of being lured by these institutions. Staunch calls were also issued to the promoters of these new institutions telling them to abandon their plans.

Gedolei Yisroel are deeply concern over attempts by various institutions to attract talmidim from chareidi talmudei Torah as well. Beginning with Hayishuv Hachadash in Tel Aviv, the breach was followed by Maarava, Nehora, Lev Daniel and a new institution at Yad Binyamin called Neharde'a.

Some openly call themselves "chareidi yeshiva high schools," while others present themselves as "Torani" and "chareidi" and claim they are built on a yeshiva framework. Warning against such institutions posing as chareidi yeshivas Maran HaRav Shach zt"l wrote, "All of the talmid's time should be used exclusively for studying the holy Torah and the talmid should not be given any opportunity to study secular studies. And furthermore it is forbidden to found a yeshiva or Torah-based institution by another name and make changes in the study arrangements we have received from our rabbonim, zt"l."

As early as 5721 (1961) the Tchebiner Rov, HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky, HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, HaRav Yechezkel Sarna and HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky issued a statement of protest against "people who have gone forth to breach the walls [established by] geonim, tzaddikim and yesodei olom from previous generations by bringing secular studies into the holy yeshivas." The letter explains that this stands in contradiction to the goal of the yeshivas to raise gedolei Torah imbued with yiras Shomayim adorned with good middos and upright conduct "and without any mixing of secular studies, chas vesholom."

They also wrote, "It would be superfluous to relate the gravity of [this development] when the opinion of gedolei hador in Eretz Yisroel and abroad has always been well known through their fiery warnings not to bring foreign elements into the vineyards of the holy yeshivas and not to be snared in the net of the Haskoloh, which eats body and soul . . . This harbors a danger of ruin and destruction for the remnants of our Torah in Eretz Hakodesh!"

The letter ends with an impassioned call to parents: "Send your sons to the yeshivas that continue, with bands of love, the tradition of yeshivas in Am Yisroel without extraneous adornments. Do not choose the luster of temporal life over the everlasting light of eternal life."

In the last twenty years when new attempts were made to set up institutions posing as "chareidi" or "Torani," HaRav Shach came out against them full force in several letters, arousing readers to take whatever measures possible against these initiatives. In a letter dated 5748 (1988) he wrote, "I was very shocked to hear the walls have been breached by opening an institution for young men called Maarava, which has altered many practices that lend the yeshiva its form, as they were established by [our rabbonim] and they have exacerbated the situation by allowing the talmidim to engage in secular studies and occupy themselves with emptiness. Therefore I hereby state my opinion that chas vesholom should one be among the talmidim there for it is forbidden to make any slight changes in the form of the holy yeshivas as they were founded by our rabbonim from previous generations. A yeshiva is holy throughout, without any mixing of other studies. `One thousand go into Mikro and one comes out for horo'oh.' Anyone who makes changes will not gain and will have to give an account."

Another letter written in 5755 (1995) read, "I was very shocked upon hearing the bad news we heard that a wall is about to be breached by opening an institute for young men called Nehora that has altered the form of the holy yeshivas by adding and mixing holy and secular [studies], studying and engaging in secular studies and emptiness, Rachmono litzlan, and misguiding the parents of the talmidim by telling them this will make their lives (parnossoh) more solid by studying these subjects, and of course this will continue and later they will [pursue] more and more secular studies. It must be clear that being solid and successful in life comes only from HaKodosh Boruch Hu, for He is the source of blessing and success-- not through secular studies, chas vesholom . . . I hereby declare that one must not, choliloh vecholiloh, be among the talmidim at this place, which alters what we received from rabboseinu metzukei oretz, zechusom yogein oleinu, the conveyors of knowledge from generation to generation, according to the formulation practiced in the holy yeshivas, which is our legacy, and chas vesholom should other studies be mixed into the holy yeshivas . . . And all who change and ruin and all who help them will not gain and will be judged, and their judgment is stated explicitly in Parshas Re'eih."

During those years a holy call was issued by the leading roshei yeshivos along with gedolei Yisroel including HaRav Eliashiv, shlita. The call read, in part, "This is the Torah passed down to us from generation to generation and stringent measures were always taken to [ensure] the Torah was studied in yeshivas without mixing in other studies. And our rabbonim were completely dedicated throughout the generations to preventing any foreign elements from [mixing] in with the Torah. In our generation too, be'ezras Hashem, this has been carried on in the holy yeshivas, whose only yearning is for Torah and who perpetuate the transmission of the Torah in the hands of our rabbonim from generation to generation. Therefore parents and teachers are charged with the holy task of directing their sons and talmidim to the holy yeshivas, for the study of Torah must be their only occupation, and not to send them to places that have added outside studies beyond the holy Torah.

"And we are turning to you, our dear boys: do all you can to earn the crown of Torah of Torah and stir yourselves to toil in it. Know that the holy yeshivas are beis chayeinu and in them alone will the embers of the holy Torah [remain burning], providing you strength and light."


Several months ago one of the initiators of these new institutions was sent a letter containing Maran HaRav Eliashiv's opinion that he must stop his plans immediately. The recipient honored the demand, abandoning his plan to open an institution in the Tel Aviv area.

Later plans to open a similar institution in the Yad Binyomin Institutions building were reported. Last summer Rav Refoel Frank, who was slated to head the institution, worked to recruit students from chareidi schools around the country. At the beginning of Av he received a letter from HaRav Boruch Shmuel Hacohen Deutsch, HaRav Nosson Zochovsky, HaRav Tzvi Friedman and HaRav Y. Efrati, who had been asked by HaRav Eliashiv to direct HaRav Frank to cease his initiative immediately.

"We have been told by Maran Ateres Rosheinu HaGaon Rav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, shlita, to write you as follows:

"Among the most famous campaigns [waged by] gedolei Yisroel zechusom yogein oleinu and lehavdil bein hachaim lechaim, was to prevent integrating secular and sacred [studies] and to preserve the purity of the holy yeshivas, raising generation after generation for Torah and yiras Shomayim. And in each and every case in which a breach formed, gedolei Yisroel set out with sword and spear in hand against the breach. On the other hand, in the case of an institution that was clearly not intended to be a yeshiva but was engaging in kiruv rechokim while being certain not to use the appellation `yeshiva' and never contemplating enrolling even a single alumnus from Chinuch Atzmai or similar [institutions]--in certain specific cases rabboseinu chose to remain silent.

"And it is known how Maran HaRav Shach zt'l wrote that those who alter and ruin the order of the holy yeshivas have a difficult lot and are destined to give a reckoning, etc.

"In the present case we are referring to the institution you will be heading, which is planned [to include] secular studies with sacred studies. [The situation] has reached a point where graduates of Chinuch Atzmai institutions who should be studying at yeshivos ketanos have enrolled with you because of their inability to distinguish between [a genuine yeshiva and an imitation].

"Therefore Maran HaRav Eliashiv, shlita, has instructed [us] to notify you that you must cease this initiative to set up this institution immediately.

"And just as you will receive reward for desisting, may you merit increasing the strength of Torah study in purity."

The chareidi public expressed was unhappy the founders of the institution who persisted in their rebelliousness, particularly after the institution, known as the Neharde'a Institute, sent out letters last month to Chinuch Atzmai schools and directed to the parents of talmidim in eighth grade to inform them that enrollment has opened for 5765. The letter states that the institute is for outstanding students "whose parents want to educate them in Torah and yiras Shomayim." In addition to studying gemora, both iyun and bekius, and growing in yiras Shomayim, "emphasis will also be placed on bringing the talmid to achievements in secular studies," so that in the future "he will be able to integrate into academic learning frameworks." Toward this end a schedule of secular studies and an enrichment program were arranged in coordination with the administration of the preparatory program at Machon Lev.

Another sheet explains that as a supplement to the required courses in civics, math, English, computers, chemistry, biology and history are enrichment studies intended "to provide students with general knowledge on subjects in various fields of science" such as natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and humanities.

The repeated attempt to contact talmidim from the chareidi education system shocked rabbonim and educators. Chareidi principals and educators everywhere were called on to stand guard to keep their students from being tempted to pursue such avenues.

Concerns were also raised at a national conference of Chinuch Atzmai principals held recently at Nir Etzion. During the closing session Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, warned against attempts at outside intervention as well as temptations from within threatening the spiritual independence of Chinuch Atzmai. He also alerted conference participants to the trend of enrolling students at "compromising institutions" she'ein ruach chachomim nochoh meihem and said, "We have been placed in charge of guarding the holy deposit of the greats of the previous generations, the founders of Chinuch Atzmai. We must stand watch to ensure their vision is realized--to educate youth and guide them only to the holy yeshivas of holy purity, without any mixture and modern innovation, in the oil vessel sealed with the seal of the kohanim gedolim."

He issued a call to directors to reject all outside attempts to persuade parents and talmidim to veer from the path paved for us by rabboseinu.


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