Every year the Israeli media in this season is full of self-
congratulatory, heartwarming articles about the opening of
the new secular school year. Education is certainly a good
thing, isn't it?
Education is certainly a good thing — at least compared
to the alternatives.
However any chareidi observer's heart will ache at the
thought of a million-and-a-half pure Jewish children who are
going to receive their education under Jewish auspices but
will not even receive a positive exposure to our Torah
tradition or the basics of emunoh.
The real aims of education can be stated quite simply: to
give children the skills that they need to function properly
in their lives, and to develop their character — to
make them mentschen.
The secular Israeli education does not look to Jewish sources
to fulfill either of these tasks, even though they are
demonstrably excellent at accomplishing the second and quite
good at much of the first. But the self-described
"enlightened elite" of Israeli society limits itself in
In its press release marking the opening of the school year,
the Ministry of Education wrote, "School year 5766 will
stress the enhancement of students' life skills. This year
special attention will be given to preparing students to use
computers and the Internet, to meet the challenges of the
21st century." This hardly seems like the main problem of a
system that in the next section of the press release has to
explain that the Ministry will make a special effort to
reduce violence and will authorize the educational staff to
make "unannounced inspections of the bags of the students, in
cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Security . . . "
The Ministry of Education is proud of its creative enrichment
programs, but to us they are more evidence of its cultural
poverty. In Ramat Hasharon, for example, fifth graders will
have two weekly hours of folk dancing. The first half will
concentrate on dances based on Israeli songs, and the second
half of the year will focus on songs from the non-Jewish
Israeli youngsters learn how to think and feel and relate to
the world from the models of Western civilization, and then
they behave like the products of that civilization around the
Is it any wonder? One of the greatest modern Hebrew poets,
Dalia Rabikovitch, committed suicide last week. It turns out
that for a long time before her final act she was not happy
about living. She was a gloomy and depressed person who had a
hard life. She had writing talent, according to the critics,
but what kind of message can someone who is truly suicidal be
expected to convey? Does it make sense to us poetry written
by such a mind to educate children to become
Many of the other "people of the spirit" honored by what
Chief Justice Barak has called "the enlightened camp" were no
better, or even worse. In the context of a eulogy for
Rabikovitch, one critic wrote: "Are suffering poets good
people? Often their sensitivity to suffering does not express
itself in their relationship to those around them. Alterman
was truly evil. Ratosh was a malicious man. Avidan did not
care about anyone. Rabikovitch felt the pain of all the weak
and persecuted, but more than anything else she wallowed in
her own pain."
It is truly tragic that the largest Jewish educational system
in the world has such magnificent resources that it ignores.
The kisvei kodesh are literally the words of Hashem,
and they certainly contain all that anyone needs to develop
culturally and intellectually.
Torah education has areas that could use improvement, but a
good many of the problems come from leaks of outside
influences. If anyone has any doubt about an education based
on Torah Shebichsav and Torah Shebe'al Peh we
suggest a surprise inspection of the bags of the
talmidim of a typical Torah school.
One day they will all return, and the entire earth will be
filled with knowledge of Hashem, like water covers the