Some secular books have a hefty amount of wisdom that we find in our Torah sources. For example, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has a lot of almost verbatim lessons from Pirkei Avos, although the author is not basing himself on Torah sources.

I imagine that one would not make a birkas haTorah before learning these sources, whereas one would make a birkas haTorah before learning the same thing in Pirkei Avos. Similarly, I imagine that reading a book like this would be allowed in the bathroom, whereas learning Pirkei Avos in the bathroom is not allowed.

Are these assumptions false? And if not, what is the reason for the difference between learning these two sources?

  • chachma bagoyim taamim. torah bagoyim al taamin. although it may look the same, but it contains other stuff mixed in such as wrong hashkafas and thoughts which render it pigul. – ray Mar 19 '14 at 20:53
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    @ray Do a brief google search for "Judaism 7 habits" and see how many authentic Torah institutions think it is pigul. – Y     e     z Mar 19 '14 at 21:03
  • so how do you explain the above maamar of chazal? – ray Mar 19 '14 at 21:10
  • @ray I asked that as another related question. But I would explain it the way R' Yaakov Weinberg did - Torah knowledge is not learned or assimilated in the same way as secular knowledge. – Y     e     z Mar 19 '14 at 21:12
  • @YEZ source for R' Weinberg please? Sounds interesting; related to a nice Pachad Yitzchak (R. Hutner), Chanukah Maamar 6. (These sources can help answer this question I think) – הנער הזה Mar 19 '14 at 21:26

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