Challenges and Issues in Modern Orthodox Education:
An On-Line Library of R. Shalom Carmy's Essays

Click on individual titles for an introduction to each essay...
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EDUCATION
On the Subversion of Yeshiva Values
How should we teach about the Holocaust? Is it educationally helpful or problematic to compare our suffering with that of other peoples? What is the attitude of the Jewish tradition to the suffering of gentiles?
Polyphonic Diversity and Military Music:
The Brisker Derekh and the Broader World of Jewish Thought
For more than a century, the Brisker mode of Talmudic analysis has dominated the world of traditional learning. What impact does this kind of learning have on our study of Tanakh and Jewish Thought?
Who Speaks for Torah--And How?
When should a rabbi or teacher speak out about non-halakhic issues? How can all Jews, not just rabbis, most effectively influence their brethren towards religious growth?
The Manufacture of Sulphurous Acid:
On Wisdom as a Catalyst in Torah Study
How does the employment of secular material enhance an educator's ability to teach Torah? Can a teacher do so by simply cramming in this material the night before the class? Is there a defined methodology for doing do?

MODERN ORTHODOXY
Synthesis and the Unification of Human Existence
Life should strive to tell a "unified story," in which the various parts of a personís life cohere with his or her principles and ideals. This means that the desire to serve God should extend beyond the fulfillment of rigidly defined halakhic duties. If so, how do we view the use of leisure time?
On Eagle's Flight and Snail's Pace:
Rabbi Soloveitchik and the Problems of Modernity
How does the thought of Rabbi Soloveitchik speak to the problems of modern Jews? This essay surveys various intersections between the Ravís thought and modernity.
Why I Read Philosophy, History, Literature, etc.
What does the religious Jew gain from exposure to the humanities? Is it better to focus oneís energies on the objective and seemingly value-neutral fields of the hard sciences, or is there something especially significant about the humanities?

PRAYER
Destiny, Freedom and the Logic of Petition
What is the purpose of petitionary prayer? Is it coherent to pray for that which God has already promised? How do we deal with the thorny issue of prayers which seem to go un-answered?
Without Intelligence, Whence Prayer?
What is the role of intellectual analysis in the world of prayer? Is petition for basic human needs central to the act of prayer? What is the balance between the communal and the individual in prayer?

SUFFERING AND EVIL
Tell Them I've Had a Good Enough Life:
A Religious Response to Suffering
The problem of evil has long been the greatest philosophical challenge to traditional religion, leading people to either adopt a rationalistic theodicy that too easily assumes it can explain everything, or assume an agnostic position that denies Divine involvement in human affairs. Can there be a third position?
Profiling a Person Who Dealt With Difficulty:
Rabbi Joseph Wanefsky z"l
How does a person lead a productive life even when blindness overtakes him in his early years? This portrait of a remarkable individual offers insight into this question, with an important lesson for how we view the "disabled."

ACADEMIC JEWISH STUDIES & THE BEIT MIDRASH
To Get the Better of Words:
An Apology for Yir'at Shamayim in Academic Jewish Studies
How can secular studies contribute to a Jewish education? What role should academic Jewish studies have within that broader education? How do we generate, and need we justify, a study that emphasizes religious and theological issues of existential importance to our students?
A Room with a View, But a Room of Our Own:
On Academic Jewish Studies
What is the relationship between the Jewish studies taught at universities and the traditional learning done in the beit midrash? Should we encourage our students to take academic Jewish studies courses or to become academics in these fields? How can we best respond to the challenge of Bible criticism?
Camino Real (Derekh HaMelekh) and Modern Talmud Study
What role should academic and literary aspects of Talmud study have on our learning? Can they be interwoven with the traditional conceptual analysis practiced in yeshivot?
The Avot, Classic Commentaries and Us:
On Contemporary Parshanut
How should we relate to opinions in Hazal that apparently whitewash the actions of biblical characters, even though these actions are clearly sinful according to the simple reading of Tanakh? Should we encounter the biblical text independently without the aid of the traditional commentators, or is learning primarily about absorbing their interpretations?

MISC.
A View from The Fleshpots:
Exploratory Remarks on Gilded Galut Exile
How should the religious Jew, and particularly the religious Zionist, think about his existence in the Diaspora when the opportunity exists to move to Israel? This essay outlines and critiques different religious models for the Jew living in the Diaspora.
Murderers, Nazis, Traitors, Wise Men and Noise:
Reflections on the Rabin Assassination
This essay analyzes the loud rhetoric following the Rabin assassination, analyzes the need for self-examination and points to ways of understanding those we disagree with.
Abraham's Way: On Relating to Non-Jewish Society
How should we approach individual non-Jews and the broader non-Jewish contemporary culture? What can we do to counter racist trends in our Orthodox community?
Natural Selection: Science or More Than Science?
What challenges does the idea of natural selection pose for religious believers? Why is it such a controversial matter for so many? Hard line evolutionists tend to be hard line secularists. They believe that, in principle, they hold in their hands the keys to the mysteries of the universe. Need this be so? What might Darwinism contribute to our religious journey?

Last updated October 25, 2006--additional essays may be added in the future.

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