I’m often asked here in Monsey and especially
regarding girls, “How much should we or can we shut
them off to protect them from the culture at large?” I
always tell them, “You can’t! Unless, that is, you live in
Squaretown.” Now especially; I understand they have their
own hospital and their own cemetery, one can be born
there, live ones life there, and be buried there. To those
who can do that, ‘Tavo aleihem brachah’ (may they be
blessed). Most of us, however, do not live in Squaretown
and cannot live in Squaretown. So what will you do? Not
tell a young boy about evolution and then wait until at age
16 or 17 he reads in the New York Times, which he ‘knows’
prints only ‘verified facts,’ that the bones of a person 2 or
3 million years old were found!?? And the Times will print
this without any mention of detracting opinions or
controversy. What will this young man do? He’ll be
completely lost! This would not happen if he had been
taught at an earlier time in school by his rabbei’im and
teachers that there are people who believe such and such,
what their mistaken beliefs are based on, where their error
is, what it is we believe about such events, and how we
believers deal with these issues.
You know, when I was a boy growing up, I had a friend.Ah, I did not know that great Rabbis were aware of what was going on far beneath them!
He was always a little more than I was, and did more than
I did. He was a year older: I was 10 and he was 11. He
wore long payos, I didn’t. He wore a gartel, and I didn’t. Last
summer when I was in Eretz Yisrael, I met him again. He
was living in K’far Saba and I paid him a visit. While
talking to him I found out that things had changed and
that, unfortunately, he was now turning on the lights on
Shabbos. He turned to me and he asked, ‘Yankel, what’s
happened to us? “Ich bin doch altz geven frummer” (Wasn’t I
always frumer than you??!!), to which I replied [and here Reb
Yaakov smiled and there was a glint in his eyes], “Ye, ye du
bist takke allz geven frummer, ich bin obber alz geven kluger.”
“Yes, yes you were always frummer but I was always kluger
What is the good Rabbi's meaning here? That it is not right for us to ignore our ideological foes. Because doing so leaves our flank unguarded so that our yungerkiet (I'm just making words up here, honest, I don't know a word of Yiddish) will (Chas v'shalom!) get intellectually blind-sided.
And you know, reading the kofer blogs, talking to the real-life koferim around me (Yes, I do not live in New Skver) there is some element of them being unprepared for the truth, and having their life turn fliped turned upside down.
Of course, now is as good a time as ever to talk about evolution.
Is evolution the best scientific theory right now? Absolutely.
Does it conflict with my religious views? Not if "Maaseh Bereshit" and "Maaseh Merkavah" are both mystical texts beyond our comprehension that we would be fools to take literally.
More importantly, as a scientific theory, evolution lets us predict things, like whether squirrel fossils will be found in Cretaceous rock layers. (Answer: no squirrel fossils in Cretaceous rock laters, so evolution stays safe.)