Thursday, December 4, 2008

No ma'am, I don't support banditry

This week there was something very interesting at Daf Yomi.  Too bad all those rabbis who are telling their students that all of them must go to kollel and working is evil never learned this.
This is from Kiddushin, page lamed (30) side beis (2).

The father is obligated to teach his son a craft.  From where do we know this?  Chizkiya said: "For the verse states: See life with the woman whom you love."  Life connotes craft (for a livelihood) and is here next to woman.  If "woman" is to be understood literally, then just as the father is obligated to find his son a wife, he is obligated to teach him a craft.  If, on the other hand, "woman" is to be understood allegorically to mean Torah, then just as the father is obligated to teach his son Torah, he's obligated to teach him a craft.

Rabbi Yehuda says that anyone who does not teach his son a craft, teaches him banditry.

Gemara asks if this is what he really meant and answers that what he meant was that it's as if he teaches him banditry.  Since his son doesn't know how to do anything, his only means for supporting himself is by stealing.

Gemara places Torah, wife and a job on the same level and obligates the father in all three equally.  No one comes to defend the father and say that he should get his son a rich father in law or that the son should steal money from the government or go collecting charity or sitting and praying onto G-d to fedex him money every month.  Just as you're supposed to teach your son Torah and to get him a wife, you're supposed to teach how to go out and earn an honest living.  The response of today's yeshiva rabbis is a two prong attack on this "fallacy".  One, condemn secular education, the one needed for getting a job, as evil and not part of Torah leaving.  Two, condemn working people as criminals who are wasting their time working instead of learning Torah.

My cousin works as prison guard in Colorado.  I was talking to him on the phone and he asked me "Did you know how many Jew are in prison?!", "Yeah, wanna know why?"


  1. Brilliant, true, and sad at the same time.

  2. Moshe,

    Not too burst your bubble or anything but there is a well known statement by Rabbi Nehorai (who some think was Rabbi Meir and there is whole discussion on how to reconcile this statement with his other ones) who said that he will forgo teaching his son any other craft in this world and will teach him only Torah since the reward for Torah is in both this world and the next. Maybe people rely on that statement - I don't know.

    While kollel system is broken, it is unfair to put the blame solely there. Don't you think there are Jews who went to college and are now in prison for committing fraud? I actually would argue that most Jewish people in prison are not kollel people but are the ones who got their degrees and then got caught up with trying live it up and started to cut corners.

    I do think that secular education should definitely not be slammed and looked down upon but let's not blame Rabbis for all the evils of this world.

  3. Insurance fraud and embezzlement is usually not from college people. The story of the month about the woman who was getting stuff from companies for cheap for "charities" and then reselling it. Smuggling, not college people. Yeshiva kid in, Monsey was it, running a Nigerian scam. Yeshiva doing money laundering. Our yeshiva setting up a fake "after school program" to get money from the government.

    Did Rabbi Nehorai tell all people to do that or was that only for his son because he knew his son could do it and because he knew that he could teach his son properly?

  4. This is actually part of Machlokes between 2 rishonim which can be seen throughout Gemara, I think between R. Yishmael (who spent like 10 years in a cave, and didn't work) and someone else. THere's a comment afterwards - "many have tried according to R. Yishmael's way and have failed, and many tried to go like the other guy and were successfull".

    This piece of gemara is according to the rishon that held not like R. Yishmael

    What I'm saying is, BOTH people who say u shouldn't work are right, and peole who say u should work are right. It depends what rishon u go by.

  5. Except that, as you yourself quoted, "many have tried according to R. Yishmael's way and have failed, and many tried to go like the other guy and were successful".

    And this was said at the time of the Gemara. What's there to say now when we're not even supposed to learn while standing.

  6. Sorry, it was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, not R. Yishmael.

  7. You're right, I think that's the key - "many tried". Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's way is valid, but not for everyone - only for people who can pull that off.

  8. Moshe: First off cute timer.

    I remember learning all this in seminary, my teacher brought it up with something having to do with Shir Hashirim.

  9. MOSHE:

    see sforno on last week's parhsa:

  10. Moshe,

    Insurance fraud and embezzlement is very common in a number of ethnic communities (including Russian) since people tend to justify that insurance companies have a lot of money and won't notice. It has nothing to do with having college degree and everything with simply being dishonest. I'm not sure what that lady story is but she didn't steal that money and give it to tzedokah. She stole it so should could live a life of her dreams - even a college degree probably would not satisfy the demands of her lifestyle.

    As a matter of fact, I can give you a number of cases of frum people with good education who got busted for securities and wire fraud so I think it has little to do with education and a lot to do with people simply feeling they can get away with things.

    R' Schwab, zt"l discusses the issue of learning full time vs working and learning in his sefer (I believe it's in "Selected Writings") and I believe he provides solid evidence for both approaches. There are definitely people who should be sitting and learning full time since we do need the next generation of leaders. But I do agree that number of people in kollel today have no business being there and should be given tools to join the workforce.

  11. So those rabbis are still to blame since they're enforcing the system.

  12. Dear Moshe,

    It would be great to see you by our Daf Yomi shiur morew often, since I see you are learning a great deal from it.
    First off the gemora does NOT equate the father's obligation to teach his sons Torah with any others mentioned there. The obligation to teach his sons torah is the only one actually written in the posuk,(you should know you say it twice daily).
    Torah establishes the idea of a partnership known as Yissachar/Zevulun. In this relationship Yissachar works and supports Zevulun's full time dedication to the Torah. Although we see that some people need to work(and Torah recognizes this need)note that the only valid reason to go to work is to support Torah and not personal gratification which is so popular today. Torah which is our lifeforce and the foundation of the entire universe NEVER takes second place to anything.
    They just asked me to leave Touro, apparently its women's night. For a full discussion of these matters please visit our daf lecture tonight at 7:00pm.

  13. Dude, you weren't in Brooklyn yeshivos and you never had a talk with an American shadchan.

    There's a yeshiva in Lakewood, Beis Feiga, that closed down due to teachers leaving because they weren't getting paid. The yeshiva turned down working people and only accepted kollel parents and rabbis. Guess what happened? And the yeshiva still owes those teachers money.

    This is what happens when someone decides to be holier than though. Karma.

  14. And dude, dunno how you passed your regents considering your spelling and grammar. So :-P

  15. MOSHE:




    "Torah establishes the idea of a partnership known as Yissachar/Zevulun."


  16. Moshe,

    Beis Feiga closure is totally politics and has nothing to do with tuition. They do accept working families and do have a number of them in a parent body. People seem to blame everything in Lakewood on the number of people who are sitting and learning but this is not the case here.

  17. Closure was because teachers walked out because of not being paid. Though politics was a part of it.

    People commenting said they were turned down because they were working. The ones that weren't turned down were probably the ones who could be pumped for money.