Monday, July 17, 2006

The open world or the closed world?

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, said that the choice between alignment with the United States or with the late unlamented Soviet Union was a simple choice between the open world and the closed world. Like any sane leader, he chose the open world. Such a choice confronts Jewry today.

This Tuesday evening there will be a meeting near my home in Brooklyn to raise money for Shuvu, a network of haredi religious schools in Israel. Rabbis Shmuel Berenbaum of Mir and Matisyahu Salomon of Lakewood are scheduled to speak. Those names should be familiar; they are on the rogues' gallery of signatories to the fatwa against Rabbi Natan Slifkin's books on Torah and science. At the same time, Rabbi Slifkin will be launching his new book in Queens. So, is the purpose of education to open minds or to close them, to broaden horizons or to narrow them, to show students how to think or to tell them what to think? The battle lines are drawn; let the games begin. It is tragic that we have reached this pass precisely when we are under attack from an outside enemy, but it's the same struggle. Are we to live in freedom, or under the dead hand of a medieval theocracy? The open world or the closed world? To this educator, the choice is clear.