Saturday, January 29, 2011

The genius of Rav Moshe Feinstein

Rav Moshe Feinstein

Rav Moshe Feinstein, the great gaon and posek of the 20th Century, was the decider of many sheilos (questions regarding Jewish law), many being questions warranted by the new technology as it emerged in modern times, and others relating to modern issues in American life. On one occasion, a not-too-religious father approached him at home regarding his son's possible college education. The story goes as follows:

The man and his wife dragged their son to the home of Rav Moshe so that he would convince their son that college was the next logical step in his life. The boy had attended yeshiva up until the end of high school, and now wished nothing more than to continue on with his yeshiva education. The father sat down at the table, leaned in to Rav Moshe, and said in a hard voice, "my son wants to go to yeshiva, but my wife and I want him to go to college. Now, I'm going to prove to You Rabbi from YOUR Torah that he goes to college. First of all, it says in YOUR Torah that majority rules, correct?" "Correct," said Rav Moshe. "Second, it says that each person has three partners in life: His mother, his father, and G-d. Correct?" "Yes." "Well let us make you G-d, Rabbi Feinstein, in this little arrangement. Taking my son's three partners into account, I say he goes to college, my wife says he goes to college, and you obviously say that he goes to yeshiva. That's two against one! We win. He goes to college!"

Rav Moshe thought for a second, and said, "you are absolutely right. Each person is made up of three partners, his mother, his father, and G-d. That means that I have three partners, you have three partners and your wife has three partners. Your mother and father say he goes to college, and G-d says he goes to yeshiva. That's two against one. Your wife's parents say that he goes to college, and G-d says that he goes to yeshiva. That's four against two. Now, my mother, my father and G-d all say that he goes to yeshiva. That's five against four in our favor. We win. He goes to yeshiva." The man looked at Rav Moshe squarely in the face, and said emphatically, "If THAT is what he is going to learn in yeshiva, then he is going to yeshiva."

And the matter was cleared up in just under ten minutes.


BlackBeltStep said...

But if you add the parents of the boy to the college side, and Rav Moshe to the yeshiva side, that's 6 against 6!

Chazzan805 said...

Actually, no. The four parents of the boy's parents say college. College remains at four. G-d of the two parents and Rav Moshe's three partners say yeshiva, and they add up to five. That's five against four.

Chazzan805 said...

Ah, I see your point. But Rav Moshe was going a step beyond those sitting in the room, and that's how he came up with the 5-4.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, but if you're OSS (Old School Sephardic) the boy goes to Yeshiva (throughly schooled in Talmud) AND goes to college to get a real profession (law, medicine , investment banking etc).