Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Son’s Perspective

Guest Post by Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski

Last week I wrote a post about how Torah and Mada is viewed by three different Hashkafos within Orthodoxy. I used the words of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski to show how a Charedi professional whose knowledge of Mada in his field has few peers nevertheless sees such knowledge as undermining the ability to make a decision based solely on Daas Torah.

Although I greatly admire Rabbi Dr. Twesky and his work, I profoundly disagreed with him about this and explained why I believe the opposite is true. That generated a heated debate on this issue in the comments section. Debating an issue like this is one of the benefits I see to this blog as it helps to find Emes.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s son, Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski has been gracious enough to share his perspective with us. Rather than being buried in a long list of comments in a post that is several days old, I have decided to turn it into a guest post. His words follow:

As the son who went into psychology, I will take the liberty of sharing my perspective. It will change the debate a bit.

From our midteens, I and my siblings were often asked, though without pressure, to contemplate the issue of career. I do not recall specific discussions, but the seed was planted and replanted many times. Years later, when I was in Eretz Yisroel, I went to several people to discuss the ideas I had.

I spoke at great length with the Amshinover Rebbe (Reb Meir'l ZT"L), the Machnovke Rebbe (R' AJH ZT"L), and they independently told me that my interest in psychology should be pursued. I was cautioned to stay away from college campuses until after marriage. I feel their brachos empowered me. Without hesitation, I can say that my father shlit"a was as supportive to my brothers and sister who entered other fields.

I had no favoritism by choosing mental health. Nor was there the slightest caring whether the career direction we sought involved college or not. The focus was on making a living with honesty. I recall having the all too common fantasy that I would go into chinuch. My father neither supported nor challenged the idea. All we discussed was the importance of being honest.

My belief is that career learning should be for those who will excel and become the beacons of Torah, in whatever capacity. Ongoing learning is the obligation of everyone else, each according to their capacity and potential.

As our years move on, I see my father shlit"a from time to time, and our conversations tend to concentrate on divrei Torah more often than mental health. I do not see the discussion of his position, as referenced by commenters here reflected as such in how we entered our careers.