Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Place of Torah

The baraisa of Kinyan Torah (AKA Avos ch. 6) quotes the following: "If you were to give me all the silver, gold, precious stones and pearls in the world, I would not live anywhere except in a place of Torah."

R. Nosson Kamenetsky has an interesting observation on this based on the current state of technology in a letter of his published in My Yeshiva College: 75 Years of Memories, p. 373:

Now, with globalization, I daresay that the term "Torah center" has taken on another meaning than in the time of R. Hayim of Volozhin, and the words of the Tanna R. Yossi ben Kisma in Pirkei Avot concerning the invaluable merit of "residing in a makom Torah have become, by and large, anachronistic. With a computer in hand, the limiting power of geography has been vanquished: one "resides" no longer where his body is, but anywhere his mind takes him. Thus, the "Torah Center" is now determined only by the "Centrality of Torah" within one's heart.
I would humbly suggest that R. Kamenetsky is only speaking with rhetorical exaggeration or, if not, he underestimates the sociological value of living among Torah-knowledgable neighbors both for one's own growth and for one's children's. That notwithstanding, his insight bears consideration on the radical sociological changes due to technology that we are witnessing.

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