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Question
I am 15 years old. I’m going to the R. Lauder’s Foundation in Berlin. There I shomer Shabbes and pray but I’ve one question: Yesterday I spoke with my father about my future. I told him I want to go the yeshive and that I want to learn Gemore through my whole life. My father told me to be good at school and so on. He said I learn too much Mishne Berure and Talmud. I should be good at school. I think young Baalei Teschuves, like me, should make preorities in life. I don’t want to go to the university I want to become be’esrat hashem a rabbi. But what should I do? My grandfather asks me the whole time how I’m going to get my money and to pay for my family. What should I answer?
Answer
It is wonderful that you want to devote your life to the study of Torah and become a rav who will teach Torah to others. I am sure that you are not learning "too much" talmud or Mishna Berura- as long as you are getting enough sleep and have time for other educational and social activities (athletics, friends etc.) that allow you to develop properly. To manage in today's world it is important that you know basic mathematics, computers, English (for computers and other technical functions). To make a contribution to the larger Jewish community, a rav should be aware of the basic trends in modern science and culture so that he can have a "common language" with the members of his community. Also modern scientific thought is abstract and anti-materialistic and therefore helps the study of Torah by helping you to think about complex issues abstractly. I think therefore that you should do as well as you can in school because a high-school education is no more than just basic knowledge. Study as many hours of Torah as possible and don't worry about studying "too much". If your marks in other subjects are good, your family will probably accept your Torah study. Don't get into fights about university study now. By the time you're old enough to study in university, your family's attitudes may have changed. At that point you should consider coming to Israel- where as you know the sanctity of the Land (as opposed to the Tuma of Eretz Haamim in Germany)strengthens the study of Torah and the study itself becomes part of a national effort. Here there are many options available to you- studying in a yeshiva gedola, studying in a yeshivat hesder that combines study with service in the Israeli army, and other programs where if you so choose, you can also get a secular higher education. Whatever you do, you will be contributing to the Jewish People. May you have the blessing of Hashem on your Torah studies and may you succeed in them and grow to be a talmid chacham in the Land of Israel bringing your family pride and satisfaction.
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