37 Are Our Children Too Worldly?
By: AHARON HERSH FRIED
A number of years ago at a convention1 I was asked to be part of a panel that addressed the question, "Are our children too worldly?" My colleagues on the panel saw things differently than I did, and, after the panel discussion a lively debate ensued. I felt that in some significant ways "our children were not worldly enough." I felt this to be the case then, and I feel it is so today, though to a greater degree. And I feel that the trend has not reached Its end. I sense that we are on a path that is at an increasingly faster pace narrowing the world of our youth. Allow me to share my sentiments and rationale with the reader. This paper represents mostly what I said then, hopefully improved with some additional insights.
First we must define what, exactly, is meant by "too worldly." I think the question speaks of that which in Yiddish used to be described as "er hot tzu offene oigem" (i.e., his eyes are too open), implying that somebody was too involved with, and too knowledgeable about, the world outside the parameters of the bais hamidrash or of the Jewish community.
This was usually seen as a negative thing, and did, in fact, on numerous occasions, entice young people away from Torah and from Yiddishkeit. The community of Jews who remained true to Torah had to respond to it. More often than not, that response involved some attempt to close those tzu offene oigen, to build protective walls and to decrease involvement with the outside world. In this way, it was hoped, one could protect oneself and one's children from being
- West Coast Conference of Agudath Israel of America, Palm Springs
University and works as a psychologist and educational consultant. He is most widely known for his work in Special Education.