Monday, 10 December 2012

Hanukkah, and The Closing of Wolozin by the Netziv

I'm aware of at least three versions as to how and why the Netziv closed the Woloziner [Volozhiner] Yeshiva in the face of a Russian Government edict [ucase?]
From Right to Left

1. The Netziv would simply not permit ANY secular studies at all in Wolozin. When the Czarist regime imposed them, they shut down instead.

2. The Netziv would simply not permit any secular studies at Wolozin, without having a say as to WHICH subjects were taught and HOW they were taught. Since, the Autocrat of all the Russias allowed him no such input, and so he refused to risk exposing his talmiddim to "Treif" Secular Studies.

3. The Netziv had no problem with the quality of the proposed secular courses. However, the sheer quantity made serious Torah learning difficult to impossible to manage. Thus, continuing the Yeshivah was futile.


Using the above as a "mashal", let's look at Hanukkah. For simplicity, let's omit #3 for now and stick to numbers 1 and 2.

1. The Hashmona'im rebelled against ALL Hellenistic culture. There was nothing of value in Greek Culture and so they rose up against Antiochus IV who imposed Hellenistic Culture.

2. The problem wasn't ALL Greek Culture. The issue was, who would have a say as to which parts of Greek Culture were Kosher and which ones were not? So long as Antiochus did not allow the Jews a say in filtering the Greek Culture from its objectionable aspects, revolution ensued.


Number 1 in each case may be seen as coming from a Torah-Only agenda. Anything aside from Torah MUST be resisted.

Number 2 is more of a Torah im Derech Eretz [TiDE] agenda. TiDE embraces the Kosher aspect of non-Jewish culture while eschewing the non-Kosher.

Note, history is often colored by the school of thought that retells it.

Shalom and Best Regards,

1 comment:

micha berger said...

#1 was historically inaccurate, since there were secular studies in Volozhin under the Netziv for 5 years before the closing.

#3 was certainly possible. In 1981, the gov't required that classes only be during daylight hours, and that 9 to 3 would be secular studies.

With the fall of the soviets, some documents of that era were finally unsealed after over a century of being considered top secret. The gov't itself claims the reason was

4- The gov't closed the school when the fighting between those who supported R' Chaim Brisker to succeed the Netzviv and those who supported R' Chaim Berlin got to the point where they were afraid it was descending into Anarchism (with a capital A). Dr Stampfer rewrote that section of his book in light of this data.