Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Are we better off today? Or were we better off yesterday? (II)

Continued from previous post

Another claim, advanced by some of my wise and beloved commenters is that "Jews" were better educated in days of yore. Here is Chaim G:
I grew up with them as the old and middle aged men in my shul. Trust me. The scholarship of many of them was amazing. They new [sic] chamishei Chumshei Torah with all or most of the Rashis verbatim. They had learned several mesechtas cover to cover before their bar-mitzvahs. One fellow that I recall was even a Ibn Ezra scholar.
Even if we presume, that Chaim's observations were accurate and are correctly remembered he still hasn't proven his point. Perhaps the men at Chaim's shul were the elite. Perhaps they were exceptions. Perhaps the ordinary guy, the man who had no special talents, and needed to work on his father's farm because otherwise the family would starve, was not quite as learned?

And, anyway, what about the women? Woman are Jews, too, right Chaim? And if we remember the ladies, and how most of them were once kept illiterate and ignorant, can anyone really argue that Jews today know more Torah than our ancestors did?

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