Religion Magazine

Rav Kesslers Causes Brouhaha with Letter Against Secular Studies

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Behadrei reported yesterday about Rav Meir Kessler, Chief Rabbi of Modiin Ilit, stating his opinion, published in a letter to city residents, that opposes courses in secular studies for children int he Haredi school system.
Since the "cheiders" in Modiin Ilit do not teach secular studies, he is referring to private classes taken after school hours, chugim, that are meant to give the children some basic tools for the future and possible future work skills. Rav Kessler wrote very harshly against it and encourages parents to only raise interest and encouragement for more Torah studies in their children, and not secular studies, so that in the future they will grow to be God-fearing Torah scholars.
This letter from Rav Kessler caused a bit of a stir. Many are criticizing him for opposing secular studies and concerned parents giving the kids a chance in the future, and even MK Yair Lapid (Kachol Lavan) commented on what Rav Kessler said.
In my opinion, Rav Kessler has done nothing wrong beyond stating his opinion. He is a rabbi in the extreme mainstream Litvishe community, and he is a rabbi of an extreme Litvish city. What do people expect him to say or his opinion to be? The mainstream Litvishe (and maybe others as well) believes children should only be learning Torah with no secular studies, so Rav Kessler has not said or supported anything he, along with hundreds of other rabbis, does not already support. I am not sure what people expected his opinion to be that this shocked and upset them
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