Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The art of adaptation
As Torah jews we are careful about what we bring inside ourselves both physically and spiritually. We are careful about how we behave and what we will and won't look at or listen to. Hashem wants us to live our lives with tmimus and yashrus - simple, pure and straight. It's good for children to learn this from a young age, that not everything is appropriate. That a jewish person has certain sensibilities that are just not present in the secular world. They have to learn that when there is a conflict between secular knowledge and Torah Law, that Torah law comes first. Hashem knows what's best for us and what we need to stay spiritually healthy. He gave us the Torah so we would know what choices to make and how to act when we are confronted with different scenarios. It is the parents' responsibility to determine which materials are suitable for their children to learn. Being that most of the resources used for secular studies are not created specifically for religious jews, short of writing everything oneself, the materials will have to be adapted. Therefore I would recommend that the parents read and look through anything they plan to give to their children before actually presenting it for their children's use. Often even the most innocent books could have illustrations that are not appropriate for a jewish child. Sometimes it is the content itself that needs to be adapted. With little children the parent might need to alter or skip over certain parts of a book. There is a lot of wisdom out there in the world but it should never come before morality. As our sages say chachma b'goim taamin, torah b'goim al taamin - if you hear there is wisdom among the nations believe it but if you hear there is torah among the nations don't believe it. There is a temendous amount of information and wisdom and ways to learn things out there but one just has to keep in mind that all of it has to be filtered through the prism of Torah.