At a recent meeting of the Organization of Principals of Haredi Seminaries, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe expressed his strong opposition to haredi girls learning in university, likening advanced academic studies to the “Greek wisdom” that Torah sages have been traditionally opposed to throughout Jewish history, and asserting that the underlying purpose of introducing haredim to advanced university studies is to “implant ideas of heresy” into their minds.
“We are now approaching the festival of Hanukkah, and as is known, one explanation for the Torah verse describing how the ‘earth was empty and formless and darkness was upon the face of the deep’ is that it refers to the rule of the Greek Empire, and the attempts of the Greeks to cloud the vision of the Jewish People via their decrees,” the Rebbe said. “Their sole desire was to teach the Jewish People their Greek wisdom and to separate them, G-d forbid, from the Torah of G-d. Therefore, we use a specific term that hints at this ‘darkness’ when we refer to their attempts to make us forget our connection to Torah, because being connected to G-d and His Torah comes from a place of light, whereas the opposite comes from darkness.”
The Rebbe then linked his words to the current trend of university learning, saying, “I came here in order to arouse the listeners to the urgency of this matter of advanced academic studies which are forbidden, and indeed it should be obvious that such studies are in opposition to the wisdom of the holy Torah which enlightens mankind – they achieve the opposite effect and bring about only darkness.
“Such is the situation today as well,” the Rebbe continued, “in their attempts to convince us with nice-sounding phrases and persuade us that this will enable us to earn a respectable income, and from there things just deteriorate.”
Referring to the commonly made claim that having a degree enables a person to earn a higher income, the Rebbe said that given that this is accompanied by a decline in a person’s spiritual level, it should not be a matter for serious consideration, as “no G-d-fearing person wants his spiritual state to decline, regardless of possible material gains.
“To our great distress,” he continued, “this is what we are seeing happen today, and I speak from personal experience from the many stories I have been told of the devastation wrought by advanced academic studies. A haredi Jew must know that he should not allow himself to be blinded by all these suggestions and vain promises whose underlying intent is to destroy him, G-d forbid.”
The Rebbe furthermore stated that his opinion is that advanced academic studies are tangentially linked to the sin of idol worship, “because at first, they promise that the studies will be gender-segregated, but after completing a course, they suggest that in order to obtain a degree and advance still further, one must study in a mixed course, and from there things get worse and worse…”