Jan 29, 2013

Lilmod U'l'lamed

In an article by R' Mordechai Kamenetzky about R' Aharon Kotler, he states that it was R' Aharon's trailblazing commitment to the ideal of instilling Torah lishma that completely changed the face of Jewish life in America.   

He defines this as learning Torah without any aspirations to be a rabbi or even a teacher, but only for the sake of learning.  This is despite the fact that in Europe, the talmidim of the Lithuanian yeshivos invariably went on to take rabbinic positions.  There was one famous contemporary of R' Aharon who never took a position and that was the Chazon Ish, but who else did the same? The rest became rabbonim, magidei shiur or roshei yeshiva.   R' Aharon invented something new which hadn't been the goal of the roshei yeshiva back in Europe.

In fact, in bulletins published by Beth Medrash Govoha in the 1970's it states, "The perpetuation of Jewish peoplehood depends on the development and growth of authentic Torah scholars ... In the absence of Torah scholars, Jewry lacks the great teachers who are the links in the great chain of tradition spanning the ages.  It lacks the educators to instruct the coming generations  ..."

So apparently, according to the Lakewood yeshiva manifesto, the goal is to produce Torah teachers! In fact, aren't there hundreds (thousands?) of men in Lakewood who would be thrilled to get a shteller?  Does that mean they have dropped the "lishma" goal in which someone continues to sit and learn for himself without teaching others? And is that what learning Torah lishma actually means?

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