My dear readers- Shavuah Tov! 
A quick thought for you that expands on one of the halachic issues I noted two posts ago while discussing Jews who are halachic and Modern-bittul torah. 

While sone people may argue that there is enough independent value in studying secular knowledge "lishmah," I do not think that I agree. The only yardstick in my mind is whether or not it fulfills a mitzva. That is, the Baal Hatanya writes that secular knowledge is only worthwhile if it aids our Torah knowledge, or can be 'elevated'- ie used for a mitzva. This is of course an extremely broad category, ranging from making a living to helping another Jew, etc. 

While a lot of baalei teshuva who become Chassidishe find ways to 'elevate' their secular education b'dievad, this is not necessarily the way to go L' chatchila. Can I honestly tell myself that I can use my limited intellectual "steam" to study anthropology? (Given that I am not an anthropologist, and studying this subject would be enjoyable, but not necessarily readily used in the service of holiness. For me, although I am nowhere close to realizing this ideal, I feel as though this could easily veer towards bittul torah Chasv' shalom. 

I have certainly heard some alternative ways of looking at this, where one could study secular information without contradicting the Baal ha Tanya'a viewpoint. How about studying science in order to reach a greater level of awHow does one decide whether a given piece of info can be readily 'elevated'? Anyone have a different view on this?? 
Have a great week!!!

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    Yaakov Grossman is a Jewish educator, author, private tutor/child care professional, and student in the Metro New York area. Professional inquiries should be addressed to

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    Modern Orthodoxy