6

The biographical sketch of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that appears in Igrot Moshe volume 8 describes the following (my translation):

The Communist takeover meant the schools taught against religion. Some of the older Jewish students would argue back, citing teachings of their rabbi [Moshe Feinstein]. One infuriated teacher (herself Jewish) finally replied, "What does that rabbi of yours know, if he can't solve this calculus problem?!"

Eventually the problem was brought to Rabbi Feinstein; who requested a calculus textbook, read it, and then solved it.

Have any details about this story (other than the ones printed there) survived to this day?

  • 2
    Well, the original you paraphrased does imply it's differential calculus. – msh210 Jun 13 '11 at 19:01
  • 2
    I suggest you ask him: daattorah.blogspot.com – simchashatorah Jun 14 '11 at 3:04
  • Perhaps this should be asked on Math.SE ;) – AviD Jun 14 '11 at 7:10
  • the same story has one version with dozen of Gedolim, rav Aharon Kotler, Chafets Chayim. etc. – kouty Jan 3 '17 at 12:52
  • @Kouty the story is printed by Rabbi Feinstein's family, which gives it some decent heft. R' Aharon Kotler very nearly got on a train to leave yeshiva and study mathematics in Moscow, and his sister spent the rest of her life regretting that he didn't do so; I thus find it unlikely that he would solve a Communist's challenge to solve a calculus problem. The Chofetz Chaim? He was rosh yeshiva, not town rabbi, when the communists ruled Radin. So I'd find it unlikely. – Shalom Jan 4 '17 at 0:43
4

There is a very slightly different account here, which places the story in the context of religious persecution and Rav Moshe's ostensible motivations for leaving Russia.

But something tells me by "details about this story" you mean "specific contents of the calculus problem", in which case this is no help. . .

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .