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29.8.17

Can virtue be taught?

The thing is that traditional American values were a delicate balance of values.  It was known to be hard to keep stable. I believe high school education was actually geared towards instilling those values. This all goes back to the conclusion of Socrates at the very end of Protagoras where  he decided that virtue can be taught.
Probably a lot of people in programs that are directly towards special ends [goal directed programs] do not see this. But when I was in high school I definitely got this impression.
 That was before the Frankfurt school [that came to the USA and changed education in the USA to become socialist] changed the very essence of USA education.

To me it seems that there is a lot of value in what could be called classical education.

 There also were Bible based organizations in the USA that explicitly had this as their goal [but combined these goals along with outdoor skills--being aware that virtue is best achieved in an indirect fashion.]


Can virtue be taught? Apparently not so easily. There is no question that the traditional Litvak yeshiva with its balance between Gemara Rashi and Tosphot with Musar/Ethics strove to achieve exactly that purpose. To me it seems clear that the gedolai Litva [sages of Torah in Lithuania] thought this balance was the best way to achieve this. Heads of the yeshivas in Lithuania  definitely did not think hours of Musar {books of Ethics} would bring to virtue. But neither did they think ignoring Musar was right. So they also sought this balance.

The Silverman yeshivas I think do the best job since their approach is modeled on the path of the  Gra which has in it an implicit balance of values.[I do not mean just Silverman. There are other yeshivas which have adopted the Silverman approach]
 I think it is clear that wickedness can be taught. I can see lots of systems out there that definitely instill evil in people. Does it makes sense to say the virtue can be instilled? Maybe. In any case my impression is that the general Litvak yeshiva approach ought to be modified into the Silverman approach which goes with the Gra and a great deal of Tenach [Old Testament] and Mishna. This is based on the Gra and from what I can see, the results are excellent.

[I might mention that I did try to do Mishna on my own time in yeshiva--mainly Taharot with the commentaries.]



So it seems the general conclusion is that virtue can be taught but not directly but as a by product of some other process. Why should this be so?