When believing and practicing Jews decide who will teach what to whom, they take for granted that some things are more important than others. They affirm the cogency of the subject and know how things fit together. The Judaic system governs the things that are learned. To teachers and students, the classical texts convey truth. What follows? The Talmud is more important than a cookbook. The Jewish sponsors of Jewish learning derive the scale of values from the received canon and tradition.
Universities, by contrast, have no stake in according to Scripture or Midrash and Talmud a superior position in the curriculum. Learning in every topic and discipline defines its own priorities, and reason is not governed by revelation. So the curriculum is a mishmash of this and that -- discrete details of a main point that does not register. Anything that is Jewish is as worthy of study as anything else that is Jewish. At my own college, the history of the bagel and the status of women in Jewish law have served equally well as topics of graduation essays.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Neusner on The Costs of Jewish Studies Endowments
JACOB NEUSNER writes in the Huffington Post blog about The Costs of Jewish Studies Endowments. Excerpt: