How can we use what the Rav referred to as the Torah of Common Sense, if our minds are so influenced by the wrong ideas of the outside world?
There was a lecture given here called “The Torah of Common Sense.” Now, really it’s a Gemara – “lamah lee krah, svarah hee.” We have to learn to follow our “svarah” which is common sense. So this man is asking – How can we follow common sense if our mind is full of wrong ideas that we have absorbed? And the answer is that you can’t. You can’t.
Once upon a time when the world didn’t have any newspapers – when there was no literature – so it was possible for a person to think on his own and to have common sense. But today if you read junk and all of this trash fills your mind, it’s very hard to have common sense. Unless you try very hard to wash out your mind – and you brainwash your mind from all the dirt by putting in Torah thoughts and by thinking pure and noble ideas, then maybe after a while, you’ll be able to get some common sense. But till you do that – absolutely you’ll be lacking common sense. Today, when somebody says that he’s using his common sense, all it means is that he’s using the sense of the New York Times or the stupidity he heard on the radio. That’s not common sense.
If you walk in the street and you hear people talking, you have to know that your mind is being poisoned. All the foolishness of people is going straight into your head. I was once sitting on a park bench and behind me there was a man who was talking to another man. I heard such filthy terrible things and he poisoned my mind. I got up and walked away but I couldn’t forget it. That dirt is in my mind. And once it’s in your mind it’s terrible. It’s a poison.
And therefore it is very hard to have common sense. You have to avoid TV and radio and you can’t read the newspapers. You can read the headlines as you pass by but that’s enough. Don’t waste any money by buying it. Just the headlines is enough. All the garbage inside the newspapers should stay there instead of poisoning your mind. Read the headlines as you pass by and don’t read any more than the headlines.
And don’t talk to fools. If you see a fool, keep away from him. It says in Mishlei that if you see a fool coming towards you, you have to know that it’s worse than a she-bear approaching you. An enraged she-bear is less dangerous than a fool. “P’gosh dov shakul ba’derech” – it’s better to encounter an angry she-bear who just had her cubs taken away from her and is looking to lash out, “v’al ki’sil bi’ivalto” – better that than to encounter a fool with his foolishness. An angry she-bear is less harmful than a fool. Because when a fool talks to you, his foolishness goes into your mind – and it stays there forever.
So if you have to go to college, you must be aware that you have a big job ahead of you. The job of cleaning your mind of all the garbage that fell into it – a tremendous amount of garbage. Of course, there is useful information as well, but there is so much garbage, so many lies and so much wickedness that we have a very big job ahead of us. If you went to school – even to Yeshiva – the English Department can fill your mind with so much foolishness and so much garbage. I’m sorry to tell you that if the teachers would utilize the time to show the yad Hashem in nature, they could convince you of Hakodosh Boruch Hu just from the studies. But they don’t do it. Instead you learn garbage in the Yeshivas too. So we have a big job ahead of us.
Once upon a time, in Europe, there were no English studies. They learned Torah all day long. No newspapers. No literature to fill your mind with foolishness. And therefore, their minds were capable of having some common sense.