Friday, June 15, 2007

The Netziv Story

I think this is a negative story.

Its disastrous implication is that "not gifted students" should never opt for a career track, because perhaps they can be Gedolim, just like the Netziv.

It is the most anti-TIDE story I know, but even more so, enough to impose an eternal guilt trip on so many people who would actually do well to seek a profession and be neheneh me'yegi'a kapeihem.


From: Boruch Horowitz
Quoting Dr. Levine,

"He came out of his room and said to me, "Abba. Finally someone who is
human." I asked him what he meant. He replied, "In this book it says that
the Netziv was not a gifted student, and, when he was a teenager, his
parents considered taking him out of yeshiva and having him taught a trade.
All of the other books talk about people who are geniuses and perfect. Here
is someone who is real!"

That was my reaction to "My Uncle the Netziv" as well. I think the
informal, first person, style also contributes to the sense of reality. R.
Baruch Epstein certainly comes across as human, himself, in his memoirs.


  1. What is your solution to get the wider Ultra-Orthodox community to a)to go and work and get an honest job b) gain sufficient skills to earn a decent living? Any chance of an Ultra Orthodox Landers/YU institution?

  2. On the other hand, R' Epstein notes the Netziv's habit of sticking his feet in cold water at night to stay alert while learning, and the Netziv's endless concern for students who tried too hard - hopefully people understand that the capability to continue learning without sleep is just as mishamayim as intelligence and will not expect to become the Netziv.

  3. I thought the implication was that being a gadol was more connected to hard work than to genius.

    That isn't necessarily negative, is it? (The only problem is that people may not realize that one needs to put in the work.)

  4. I posted some thoughts on my blog:

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