Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nothing Wrong With...As Long As...

In my August 23 post on Classes of Dependency I discussed how my definition of Chareidi as one who "does mitzvos with ameilus b'Torah" remains an accurate definition even though there may be a sizable segment of Jews who lay claim to "ameilus b'Torah" and do not consider themselves, nor would I consider them, chareidi.

I alluded to two reasons why the definition doesn't really fit but I only discussed one. The one I discussed can be summarized as follows:

Any person who speaks out against wholesale Torah study cannot be considered an "ameil b'Torah" no matter how much Torah he knows. In other words, suppose there are 60,000 Kollel students in Eretz Yisroel (out of 1,750,000 adult male Jews) - if one says this number is too big, he is no proponent of אם בחקתי תלכו . If one says this number is too small, he is one of "us".

Thus I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (I did both) when I read the master of Emes Ve-Emunah challenge me in a comment that:

What makes you think I don't support learning in Kolel?

And later in the very same comment pronounce:

You sir hvae been brainwahsed right along with the 60 thousand Avrreichim in Israel most of whom should be getting jobs.

Um. Could you run that one by me again?

But, now I need to discuss the second area in which these well-intentioned non-Chareidi Orthodox Jews fall short of the definition of chareidi despite what looks like compliance to my refined definition of "doing mitzvos with ameilus b'Torah". But this is not a shortcoming in the "ameilus b'Torah" department, it is a shortcoming in the "mitzvos" department. And it falls back to my original, unrefined definition:

A non-chareidi knows the Chumash. A chareidi knows the chumash with Rashi.

Now, in chapter 1 of my book, I applied this principle to a general lack of "ameilus b'Torah" mandated in Vayikra 26:3 for those who learn Rashi. But at the end of chapter 3 (pp. 95-6), I noted that it applies to numerous other Torah mitzvos. The prime example is that non-Chareidim don't seem to read Rashi - and the Ramban - on Vayikra 19:2, and because of that, they do not implement Kedoshim Tihiyu.

What is Kedoshim Tihiyu?

Rashi explains based on Midrash Rabba (Vayikra 24:6) that it means "distancing oneself from promiscuity for wherever we find a constraint against promiscuity, there we find kedusha".

It follows that where there is no constraint against promiscuity, there is no kedusha.

The Ramban goes a bit further to explain even within the framework of what is not Halachically prohibited, one can live a totally secular lifestyle. He terms this - נבל ברשות התורה - a vulgar person within the boundaries of Torah. This is because he is not using the mitzvos as guidelines to live a G-dly lifestyle, but rather to fulfill his obligation and maintain his Jewish identity while pursuing a lifestyle as close to the secular world as the Torah "permits". Kedoshim Tihiyu is saying that the Torah does not truly permit it.

This is the common refrain of "There's nothing wrong long as...". Such as "There is nothing wrong with going on a vacation to Las Vegas as long as you don't do this or that." "There is nothing wrong with going to this event or watching movies as long as..." "There is nothing wrong with eating this as long as it doesn't contain..." "Everything is 100% muttar as long as it's not 100% assur."

In most cases, it may not be "100% assur" but kedusha it isn't. There is no kedusha in going to a goyisha opera even if no women sing. It's not for us. We must be kedoshim. If not, we are a "naval b'rshus haTorah".

This comes from the Ramban in Vayikra 19:2. But let's not forget Rashi. Rashi presents a variation of this concept in Devarim 14:21 when he quotes a gemara in Yevamos 20 that we must "sanctify ourselves with [abstention from] what is permissible to us".

But, let's return to the Rashi in Kedoshim Tihiyu - "You must distance yourself from promiscuity (i.e., irreverant migling of the sexes)." What does this mean in real terms?

It means we are to do everything we can to put a distance between men and women who are not married to each other. Wherever we can. Wherever it is possible to do so. This seems to be indicated in Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 21.

All observant Jews should be in favor of segregating men from women any place where they may come to unruly mingling. This is called "kedusha" and it is mandated in the Torah not only in Vayikra 19:2 but in numerous other places (e.g., Devarim 23:10-15). The only possible question should be: To what lengths should we go to impose upon people who are not prepared to accept upon themselves the disciplines of kedusha? But this question comes after advocating the "concept".

So let's talk about buses in Eretz Yisrael. There is no question that segregation on buses is a manifestation of kedusha just like anywhere else - a shul, a wedding hall, a funeral. Lack of segregation is a lack of kedusha (a davar rah). Since the Torah commands us to pursue kedusha, it is obvious that any Jew who observes mitzvos ought to support the concept of segregation on buses.

Now I can understand one who thinks that we should not actively fight for this concept in the face of resistance from less observant Jews. But to oppose the entire concept and actively and vocally fight against the kedusha of gender separation? Such a person is at worst a transgressor of Kedoshim Tihiyu and V'Nishmartem mikol davar rah, and at best - a naval birshus HaTorah.

And, as such, I was totally appalled to see a recent post written by an "observant" blogger who calls his forum "Emes Ve-Emunah" decrying a pro-segregation article that appeared in, of all places, a secular medium, and in the process, decrying all attempts to implement this kedusha. This is part of what he writes:

What he fails to understand is that sex segregated buses are not a Halachic requirement despite his claim to the contrary. If it were you would never see any Charedi Rabbanim on non segregated buses. Nor would you see Teshuvos by such eminent Poskim as Rav Moshe Feinstein who do not insist that segregation is mandatory.

Not a Halachic requirement? Well, hey! Neither is a mechitza in a shul. The Torah says nothing about mechitzas in shuls, the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch say nothing about a mechitza in a shul. Ergo, there is no Halachic requirement to have a mechitza in a shul.

Of course the gemara in Sukka talks about mechitzas, not at shuls, but at any mixed gathering, even solemn ones like funerals. And based on only this, Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that mechitzos are min haTorah (IgM OC-A 39) and the only question is, how high? Of course RMF doesn't have a teshuva about segregating Jewish buses because nobody asked him about segregating Jewish buses. He only ruled about whether we are required to avoid non-Jewish buses that are beyond our power to segregate. Nevertheless, he does say (ibid.) that "it is most logical to say that the [requirement] is from the Torah at any place of gathering".

Now I know that this blogger does not daven in a shul that does not have a mechitza. But I truly wonder why not? There is no Halachic requirement. And evidently, he is not concerned about "havu perushim min ha-arayos" of Kedoshim Tihiyu.

In any case, perhaps segregated buses in the Holy Land is too sensitive an issue to campaign for. But to campaign against it? Anybody who fights for mingling of the sexes where it can be avoided - and rationalizes that it "is not a Halachic requirement" - is a naval b'rshus haTorah. Nobody who understands all the allusions to kedusha throughout the Torah would do such a thing. And nobody who does so can be a chareidi.

Now, while we are on the topic of kedusha, I must comment that I was equally appalled by the very next post that appeared in this "Forum for Orthodox Jewish thought on Halacha, Hashkafa, and sociological issues of our time" that calls itself Emes Ve-Emunah. The post opens as follows:

Is it halachicly permissible for homosexual couples to have and raise children? Is it a good idea?

The answer to both those questions is probably yes - under certain conditions.

This post is based on an article that appeared in another free-thinking Jewish online medium.

Now, the article itself is a bit confusing. Let's analyze it a bit.

The headline of the article is: Israeli Rabbis Back Gay Parenting

Now, what does "gay parenting" mean to you? To me it means two people of the same gender who are living together and, against all odds, find a way to procure a child which they raise together in their humble abode as if each one is the natural parent. Thus the child grows in a house with two "parents" of the same gender.

Indeed, the glossy photo prominently displayed underneath the headline depicts just that. Two "intimate" men and their "son".

Alas, the article itself makes no mention of such a scenario. Here's what the article says:

The ruling currently being discussed in the institute envisages a homosexual marrying a woman who is fully aware that her prospective husband is not physically attracted to women and retains a relationship with another man.

Okay. So we are discussing a homosexual man marrying a woman even though he is not sexually attracted and he will impregnate her by hook or by crook. Simultaneously, he is having a "relationship" with another man.

What kind of relationship?

Here's what the article says:

“There is nothing wrong with two men having a close relationship without intimate relations and we should not penalise people who are not attracted to members of the other sex,” says Rabbi Burstein. “Having homosexual tendencies is in itself not a sin. Giving in to them is.”

So evidently it is a "kosher" platonic relationship. No intimate relations. This obviously can only mean that he primarily resides with his wife, even if they barely touch, and the offspring are brought up by the mother and father in this wonderful mixed-gender Jewish house. As for him and the "other guy", they will have long phone conversations, perhaps go for a stroll in the park once in a while and wink at each other from the same side of the mechitza. Of course, as far as intimacy or parenting is concerned, the "other guy" is left out at the gym. Well, I suppose he could be the kvaater at the bris!

Now, I am very confused because, even though some she'er, ksus, and onah issues may need to be addressed, I fail to see what innovative Halachic ruling is required for this, nor how this is called "homosexual parenting". This is what I would advise any sincere SSA afflicted individual to do.

Now, if the "relationship" with the other man means that they live together, then it is certainly not without intimacy. No two people who are sexually attracted to each other can live together and not be intimate. And, as some commenters at Emes Ve-Emunah rightfully pointed out, it is forbidden by the laws of yichud. Even Rabbi Burstein agrees that this is forbidden. And, on top of all that, if this is the case, what is the "innovative Halachic ruling" that is being "envisaged"? The article doesn't give us a clue. Nor does Rabbi Burstein.

Incidentally, the article makes it appear that some sort of authorization has already been obtained from some respected Gedolim. But a more careful reading tells us merely that Rabbi Burstein "consulted with both on the homosexual issue". The next line in the article uses a grammatical trick where the second half of the sentence is future-present and the first half is made to look like it is past-present but is deceivingly ambiguous. I am sure there has been no authorization obtained from these Gedolim (except perhaps for the lame scenario presented which does not really need Halachic approval) because, if there were, the article would say it in BIG BOLD LETTERS.

So, the article itself is a red herring which hasn't really revealed anything innovative and the story doesn't fit the title. What is clear is that the Halachic ruling is not about raisng children in a homosexual home. Halacha will not sanction a homosexual home. It merely determines a way for a frum SSA to maintain a heterosexual family structure even in the face of his homosexual tendencies.

Now, apparently Mr. Emes Ve-Emunah saw this article a bit differently. Although I think he may be as confused about it as I am, it is evident from his review that he bit at the title and the picture and that he thinks there is actually a serious gesture from Gedolei Yisrael to sanction a homosexual household. And, of course, he is all for it. He writes:

On a halachic level though - I do not believe there is any real problem.

There's nothing wrong long as...

And I don’t think the major Poskim have one either.

I think it depends who you call a major posek. Now, I am nobody's posek but I will posken anyway. There is no hetter for a homosexual household and there never will be. Even if the parties swear not even to hold hands, there is no hetter. For one thing, the laws of Yichud certainly apply. Even a brother and sister are not allowed to live alone together in the same house for more than 30 days מפני החשד . Secondly, אין אפוטרופוס לעריות .

But, besides all this, a Jewish home is not a love nest. It is a mikdash me'at. A place of kedusha.

Kedusha - remember that?

איש ואשה, זכו - שכינה ביניהם . A man and woman, if they are worthy - the Shechina is with them. This is because a man - איש - has a "yud" and a woman - אשה - has a "heh". The "yud" and the "heh" join to form an abbreviation of the Name of G-d. But two "yuds" or two "hehs" just won't cut it.

Thus, even if by some strange quirk, there can be a way to make a homosexual home that doesn't violate Halacha - there is no kedusha. It would be a "nevala b'rshus haTorah". But in truth, it's worse than a "nevala". It is a hashchasa - כי השחית כל בשר דרכו . Because homosexual marriages are what brought the Great Flood to the world as the Midrash says (Midrash Rabba Breishis 26:5):

 רבי הונא בשם רבי אמר דור המבול לא נימוחו מן העולם עד שכתבו גמומסיות לזכר ולבהמה

Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rebbi: The generation of the flood were not wiped out from the world until [men] were writing marriage contracts to males and to beasts.
Believe it or not, I deeply sympathize with the pains and frustrations of the SSA and I truly wish I could propose better solutions for them. I thank G-d every day that He didn't make me one (when I say shelo assani isha, I have in mind shelo assani k'isha, which would be much worse). I am sure that the G-d that created SSA will have compassion for those that He inflicted it upon. But on one condition - that they keep this affliction to themselves. Whether or not they succumb to the drives, in terms of the general public, it must stay "in the closet". An SSA is most "kosher" when nobody who doesn't have to know that he is SSA knows about it. G-d did not destroy the world because people were driven to engage in homosexual behavior. He destroyed it because they went so far as to "normalize" it publicly as an "alternative lifestyle".

By the tenets of Kedoshim Tihiyu, it is clear that the answer to both of Emes Ve-Emunah's initial questions is: No, not under any conditions. Or, perhaps I am wrong. Maybe it is permissible under one condition.

On condition that one dispenses with the mitzva of Kedoshim Tihiyu.

Getting back to the definition of "chareidi", a chareidi is one who knows the Chumash with Rashi. Rashi on Vayikra 26:3 and Rashi on Vayikra 19:2 and Rashi on Devarim 14:21. Rashi did not make up any of these commentaries. He quoted Chazal.

But this is beyond the comprehension of the subscribers to "Emes Ve-Emunah" who think the definition of "chareidi" is: Kanoim from Meah Shearim who get irrationally upset when the government of Yerushalyim Ir HaKodesh brazenly promotes chillul Shabbos or when the authorities insist on cutting up dead Jews for no earthly purpose.

But at least now I can understand why Mr. Emes Ve-Emunah fights so hard against Mehadrin buses. It's because where would all those poor SSAs sit? At least, as long as there are no Mehadrin buses, they can sit together with the ladies so they don't get sexually aroused.

And to think I questioned his adherence to Kedoshim Tihiyu!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Critics Rave!

So far, my recent post about Classes of Dependency has brought in 7 comments. That happens to be about 6.5 comments above my average. Some of them are quite passionate, deep-seated thoughts and are clearly worthy of a response. As such, I will print excerpts from a number of them and insert my responses.

Here goes:


Not Brisk said...

>>I think the people mentioned in your article are well intended and it is not fair to label them.

The only labels I use in my post are: Chareidi and non-Chareidi. I applied the “non-chareidi” label to Rabbi Maryles as he himself considers himself non-chareidi. I did not apply any label to Rabbi Wein. In fact, I am generally a “chossid” of Rabbi Wein (as I wrote in the Acknowledgements in my book). In this particular issue, I think he slipped up. That’s my opinion and I am entitled to it.

>>Rabbi Marlyes is not against yegiyah, rather is pro having a side alternative. He is trying to emulate his great Rebbi in being miyeageyah in in learning while having other interests.

Believe it or not, I am also pro having a side alternative. On this we concur. What Rabbi Maryles goes on to do is to rile against other folks those who do not pursue “side alternatives” and he claims that they are out of line. Rabbi Maryles is not against yegiyah per se, but he is against yegiyah if it involves “dependency”. On this we differ. My position is that this is mandated in our tradition and he has no place bashing it.


Dov said...

>>You're unable to consider that the poverty that's being created might not be ratzon Hashem?

We are not discussing poverty, we are discussing “dependency”.

>>The real simple question is: Is this poverty truly ratzon Hashem? Does Hashem want us to be mesader the world with such a high number of ani'im?

Of course not. Hashem wants us to make the Kollel checks bigger!

>>Does Hashem truly want so many people to be demeaning themselves by collecting door to door? Or might it be that we're supposed to realize that this is something that needs to be fixed?

You need to read the post again.


Anonymous said...

>>The current kolel/yeshiva phenomenon is a new one that hasn't existed ever (to compare it to the kohanim, which is a birthright, is comparing apples and oranges).

My comparison was more to the Leviim and it comes from the Rambam. Did you look it up?

>>Traditionally the top learners would learn for as long as was sustainable with everyone else going to work.

That’s pretty much what happens today.

>>This makes sense as torah scholarship is part and parcel to our existence. But nowadays every joe-shmo bochur is being encouraged to learn in kolel regardless of his aptitude, skill, and motivation. This is where the problem really lies, and considering that the entrance exams to most yeshivas are fairly easy and the accountability (at least in the larger yeshivas) is fairly low makes for a wasteful inefficient kollel system.

I disagree. The joe-shmos usually move on to something else (business, chinuch, kiruv…) within 5-10 years (relative to their aptitude) and only the creme de la creme stays longer.

>>That being said up until 300-400 years ago (even more recently) most jews worked and not just b'dieved.

Just like now.

>>The taanaim and amoraim had professions and so did great rabbinic figures such as the rambam, and the ramban, and rashi and pretty much every one else.

I have heard this ad nauseum. It is essentially untrue. Most Tannaim and Amoraim and the great Rabbinical figures plus almost any Gadol you can think of over the previous 20 generations were all Torasam Umnasam. The difference is that in previous generations the concept of Torasam Umnasam could be had at a lesser scale of “dependency” than today because of social economic conditions (one example – until the last 50 years there was no such thing as day schools so there was no such thing as day school tuitions crippling families).

I dealt with this about a year ago in this post:


Harry Maryles said...

>>This most insulting post is benath both you ....and contempt.

Now, let me get this straight. You attack the “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai” oriented community. I defend it. And my post is beneath contempt?? Can you explain why?

>>And it is proof postive thta youb have no clue about me

I wouldn’t be so quick to say that. Though I have seen you many times, I don’t think I ever spoke with you. I am much better acquainted with Jack and Barry and their kids. Incidentally, I have Brenda’s name (Breindel bas Miriam) on my Refaenu list.

>>and even less about Rabbi Wein.

Him I have spoken with.

>>What makes you think I don't support learning in Kolel?

I am sure you support learning in Kollel, but it is learning in Kollel by your standards and stipulations. What we call here: b’eravon mugbal.

>>Because I don't think it is ethical to abuse a gov't program?! ...even if it is technically legal?

No. It is because you think that the remedy for it needs to be undertaken by the Kollelniks in the form of advanced secular education that compromises the learning as opposed to campaigning for more Torah support (that people like you and me would have to undertake) to ensure that a young Kollel guy can subsist on a Kollel wage and not need government assistance. It’s what I wrote in my post but you haven’t addressed anything besides that it’s beneath contempt.

>>My son nort onlhy learns all day buirt riuns a night kollel with my full support!

I am sure you are very proud of him. I am also sure that this is not what you directed him to do when he was growing up.

>>NOr is my admontion that the kollel system has turned into a depenmdancy a rayah that I am opposed to kollel.

It hasn’t turned into a dependency. It has always been one. It is meant to be one. That’s the idea. The guy sits and learns and the community supports him. If you are against that, then you are against Kollel.

>>What I am opposed to is the brianwashing that gies on that indoctrinates every human Jewish male that he must strive to learn in Kollel no matter what and that if he doesn't he is a sub human being.

That’s not what you wrote about in your post.

>>It was not the entirelty of the Beni Yisroel that was made into a dependancy class. it was Shevet Levi. q1/12th of its population. If we get back to those numbers I would have no problem supportin g it.

Let’s see now. There are about 12M Jews in the world. About 5.5M live in EY. Of those, 2.75M are men. Let us assume that 1.75M of them are adults. So we have 1.75M adult Jewish men living in EY and each and every one of them is obligated in Ameilus B’Torah like you and me.

Now you mentioned 60,000 Kollel students. That comes to 0.034 or 1/30 of the population. Doesn't seem to be 1/12 . The proportion is even lower in Chu"l. It also means that 1.69M male Jewish adult householders are not learning full time (mostly not at all). S-o-o, if they give 10% of their income to the community there is 169K full incomes to cover all 60000 Kollel guys with 109K change for mosdos.

>>In fact if we conmtinued to rasie the same number of dollars - or even half that number to support yungelite, they would have more tghan enough to live a quite normal middle class lifestytle.

>>One of your problems is that you think your occasional sense of humor substitues for rational responses. I fully expect one here. But I will not be fooled by it.You sir hvae been brainwahsed right along with the 60 thousand Avrreichim in Israel most of whom should be getting jobs.

I thought you said you are not against Kollel?!?

>> I wonder what percntage of all Charedim - ( know - Charedim - the only real Jews) - that is?

>>If I ever had any respect for you - it is now gone.

Did you?


Anonymous said...

>>I think the problem is that nowadays in Israel the only acceptable option for a "serious" bochur getting married is to learn in kollel "indefinitely" - otherwise he will never find a decent girl from a good haredi family. And the only option for a "serious" haredi girl out of beis yakov is to want a boy who is planning to learn in kollel indefinitely. HOWEVER...

You are bringing up some valid points about who should or shouldn't be in Kollel. I also believe that if a person is not l'shma, he should not be in Kollel. Nevertheless, this is a different discussion than the issue of a "dependancy class" and, though worth discussing, it is for another occasion.


Ahavah Gayle said...

>>The Cohanim in Biblical times had towns where they ran shops and businesses and the fields around those towns where they farmed. They only performed two weeks of regular service a year, plus mandatory service for all at the time of the festivals, if I recall correctly. That means they only served at the Temple about 6 weeks out of the year and spent the rest of the year, that would be 46 weeks, working in their businesses and farms. That's not hardly the same as the kollelniks, who do nothing at all to support their families, ever.

It looks like you are taking what can be considered facts and mixing them with what cannot be considered facts.

These parts are facts:

The Leviim (not Kohanim though they may be included) received 48 towns from the other Shvattim. There was a certain amount of land surrounding the towns that could be used for farming (sadot v’kramim). The Kohanim and leviim were only on duty for 2-4 weeks over the year.

This much, and only this much of what you wrote is fact. Everything after this amounts to logical assumptions (conjecture) which, though undoubtedly logical, have no basis as facts. Yes, towns do require shops and businesses. Yes, farming land can produce income. Yes, the kohanim and leviim only served for 2-4 weks per year so there was ample time to engage in other endeavors. And from here, you go on to assert as fact that, as a rule, they engaged in enterprise.

Is this so? Perhaps, but:

1) There is nothing written in Torah literature to substantiate this assertion.

2) The Kohanim and Leviim had a second calling: To study and teach Torah as I mentioned in my post from Devarim 33:10. Add to this Malachai 2:6-8. This is confirmed in Rambam Shmitta V’Yovel 13:12. This side job goes for 365 days/year.

3) The Matanos of Kehuna and Leviiah in effect 365 days/ year and every single Kohen and Levi was entitled to it all 365 days, even those permanently disqualified from Temple service.

4) The pasuk in Devarim 14:27 and 14:29 (and other sources that I will not hunt down) clearly implies that, as a rule, the Levi is expected to be needy.

As such, the conclusion that I reach is that for many Leviim there were indeed opportunities for local business and farming and some did indeed capitalize on it as do many chareidim today. But many more chose to devote their lives totally to Avodas Hashem and did not compromise it with personal labor as many chareidim do today. This procedure seems to have full sanction from the Torah and Halacha and is fully justified.

Bottom line is that what goes on now is a lot like what went on 2000 years ago. And, amazingly, just as in our generation stuck up non-chareidim fight against the system, don’t buy into it and complain that it “isn’t fair”, that’s just what the non-Leviim did 2000 years ago. And that's why the Blogger Malachai (my previous gilgul) spends 3 chapters trying to set them straight.


My friend Sruly just sent this to me in an email. It is one of the most important safety messages I have ever seen.


Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20 % of all fatal accidents.

Do not stay at home because 17 percent of all accidents occur in the home. (that's 37 % already)

Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14 percent of all accidents occur to pedestrians.(now that's 51%)

Avoid traveling by air, trains or buses, 16 percent of accidents involve these forms of transportation. (that's 67%)

Of the remaining 33 percent, 32 percent of all deaths occur in hospitals. Above all else avoid hospitals.

You will be pleased to learn that only 0.01 % of all deaths occur in a synagogue, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is in Synagogue.

Torah Study is even safer. The number of deaths during Torah Study is too small to register.

For safety's sake, go to Shul as often as possible, and attend Torah Study.

It could save your life!

Author Unknown

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Classes of Dependency

If any of you folks have read my book, you are aware that a good portion of it is focused on presenting a comprehensive definition of what is a "chareidi". You may have noticed that at first I present a rather obscure definition:

A NCOJ (non-chareidi Orthodox Jew) is one who knows the Chumash. A chareidi is one who knows the Chumash with Rashi.
(For details, see this post.)

I continue fine-tuning the definition until I arrive at the theme of the book:

A chareidi is one who upholds אם בחקתי תלכו and a non-chareidi is one who meets any level of ואם בחקתי תמאסו .
People have challenged my definition by claiming that there are many folks who call themselves Modern Orthodox who would meet my definintion of "chareidi" even though they definitely aren't. My response is that those who are very learned and sincere about living according to Halacha and promoting Torah study actually are. I would still call them "chareidi" even if they wear large knitted or small leather yarmulkas and don't wear hats when they daven. As I wrote in my book: if that's the only difference it ain't much of a difference.

But then they ask that still there are throngs of people who still seem to meet the qualifications of "doing mitzvos with toil in Torah" who I certainly will not consider to be chareidi. Such as people who write blogs and call them deceiving names like "Emes Ve-Emunah". Where have they "gone wrong?"

The answer is that they have gone wrong in two areas. In this post, I will only suffice to talk about one of them* and that is that even though they incorporate into their lives some level of "ameilus b'Torah", it is not the "ameilus b'Torah" that is mandated in Parshas Bechukosai. The "ameilus b"Torah" of Parshas Bechukosai has to meet the standards of "Torascha k'va u'melachtecha arai". The "melacha" that one does is only to sustain ones own Torah and the Torah of others. The goal is to generate as much Torah learning as possible with only the minimum "melacha". Torascha k'va means that one only does "melacha" to sustain himself in Torah and mitzvos. And he does everything in his power to assist others who can study even more intensely than himself. I wrote about this on page 78 of my book.

Unfortunately, most of these "non-chareidim" who may "toil in Torah" only do so to feel that they are worthy of being successful in "melacha".

How do I know?

Because I see them fighting against Torah L'Shma and Torascha K'va tooth and nail. Thus when people like Mr. "Emes Ve-Emunah" go out of their way to decry a "Dependency Class", a term he borrowed from Rabbi Berel Wein, by the way, to outline the "sins" of the kollel community and conclude that "the dependency class is doomed to failure" we see that he has lost sight of "Emes" and is bankrupt in "Emunah".

What is the deception?

The deception is twofold: Firstly, the fallacy that there should not be a "dependency class" and secondly, the fallacy that "ills" of the "dependency class" are due to their own sins and not due to the sins of the "working" or, better put, the "self-serving" class.

As for the first fallacy, Klal Yisroel has always had a dependency class and it always will. This is because it is an intregal part of Klal Yisroel and we need to have it. In Biblical times the "dependency class" was the entire tribe of Levi. Their job was to do the Avodas Hakodesh in the Bais HaMikdash - for no salary - and to sing praises to Hashem for all of Klal Yisroel. And they had a second job. That was to study Torah day and night and to teach it to the "working class". Thus, the pasuk says:  י יוֹרוּ מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ לְיַעֲקֹב וְתוֹרָתְךָ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל יָשִׂימוּ קְטוֹרָה בְּאַפֶּךָ וְכָלִיל עַל מִזְבְּחֶךָ:
And for this, they received no steady compensation. And they received no portion of farmland in an agricultural economy. They were totally dependent. And the Torah says: כט וּבָא הַלֵּוִי כִּי אֵין - לוֹ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה עִמָּךְ ...וְאָכְלוּ וְשָׂבֵעוּ .
"And the Levi shall come, for he has no portion or inheritance with you and he shall eat and be satisfied..."


למען יברכך ה' אלקיך בכל מעשה ידך אשר תעשה

So that Hashem your G-d should bless you in all of your handiwork that you do.

Did you get that? You know why we give to these freeloaders? So that we will be successful. We are doing it for us!!! You know what this means?

That's right...

...we are dependent on them!!!

In those days, anybody from the tribe of Levi qualified by birthright even if he did not live up to his job of Avodas Hashem or studying or teaching. He was a Levi. He is entitled.

Today we do not recognize the tribe of Levi. But we maintain that those who devote their lives to Avodas Hashem and studying and teaching Torah are still entitled to our full support. The Rambam - who so many Modern Orthodox scholars maintain was not a "chareidi" - tells us this in Hilchos Shmitta V'Yovel (13:12-13).

We will always have a dependency class, and we need a dependency class - because we depend on them!!

The second fallacy is that the financial problems of the "dependency class" is due to their looking for a "free lunch" as Rabbi Wein writes. THEY are creating in THEMSELVES a "dependency mentality" that will cause them to engage in the shadier side of livelihood.

This is false!! They are not creating a "dependency mentality".


Mr. Emes Ve-Emunah begins his post by writing:

The world of Charedi Avreichim – married students who spend many years in Kollel - has evolved into a dependency class. They survive almost entirely on government handouts. This is true for both Israel and the United States.

As an aside, this is a false statement. Government assistance is the smallest portion of family income for Kollel families. Some families do get some relief from WIC, Food Stamps and HUD but that is about all. Believe it or not, there are plenty working families in America who take WIC, Food Stamps and HUD. For Kollel families, the largest source of income is usually the working income of the wife. Is that called being dependent? In Eretz Yisroel there is no HUD, no food stamps and no WIC. Child allowances are equal benefits for rich and poor, religious and secular. It is not a handout, it is bought by Bituach Leumi payments. (I wrote about it at length HERE). Some avreichim recieve a paltry sum from Misrad Hadasos which is merely symbolic. A non-Israeli avreich is not even entitled to that!

But - let's take it all at face value. Why should a Kollel avreich need to rely on government handouts? Why can't he live off of his Kollel check? He does his time. He earns it. Why can't he just take a Kollel check and finished?

Because the amount on his Kollel check is laughable, thats why. And whose fault is that?

It isn't his. He'll be happy to take a check that provides even a most rudimentary living wage and not bother with government handouts.

So whose fault is it? Who creates this "dependency mentality" that pushes people into shady ventures to stay afloat?

We do!!

We make Roshei Kollel scrounge and beg and preach to them how they are ruining Jewish society by keeping good learning minds in learning while we write out our $18 checks. Many Roshei Yeshivos who have had to travel the world to meet their payroll have declared that if Klal Yisroel would only give an honest maaser to proper Tzedakkos and mosdos, no Jew would go hungry and no Yeshiva?Kollel would go bankrupt.

The money is there! Or, at least it was. And instead of giving it with a smile we belittle the Kollel community that they have to rely on "government handouts" like they should be ashamed of it.

They should be ashamed?? And not us?? Why are the baalei batim of the world - the chassidim of Emes Ve-Emunah - not ashamed that the "dependency class" that we depend upon has to fall back on "government handouts" because an avreich can't get a Kollel check of more than $150 a week?

This point was brought home to me when I saw YU announce that even though they lost $110M courtesy of Uncle Bernie, their $1.2B endowment fund is still intact. I wrote a lengthy post about this entitled: The Richest Man in the Cemetery. I made a suggestion that YU should perhaps take a fraction of the interest of that fund and use it to support Torah institutions in Eretz Yisroel. Of course, people will respond that who says they have the authority to do that? The people who donated the money donated it to YU and not to chareidi institutions. I concede that (except that in truth, YU can do whatever they want with the interest income) but I still note that if this money has to sit dormant and can't go toward outside Torah interests (even if not "chareidi") then it is misspent Jewish money. And how much other money is sitting around in endowments and trusts in the hands of devoted Jews that will never benefit the bodies or souls of their possessors nor of the Jewish people in toto?

So, both to Rabbi Wein and to Rabbi Maryles I say that if you have any Emunah you should know that the Emes is as follows: If the "depencency class" is doomed , then so are we.

Because we depend on them.

And we baalei-batim should change our own "dependency mentality", because Rabbi Wein is right about one thing:

There is no free lunch.

But it is our lunch that he is talking about.

*Stay tuned for the second area where our well-meaning "non-Chareidim" have "gone wrong".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time for "Resettlement"?

If anybody thinks that martial law in the US and the FEMA concentration camps (just Google it!) are pink elephants and dream stuff, please check out this link:

WND -Internment/Resettlement

and think 1938.

Look at the Go Army link - that's a real army web site, folks, and watch the embedded video on the WND site (the one that ends "G-d help us all!"). Now, you may think, "No reason to get alarmed. National security normally calls for internment of 'enemy' entities." Perhaps so, but why should anybody ever need to be "resettled" - in the good old U.S. of A.??

My advice is to think about doing your own "resettlement" before it does you. Start packing your bags and click here:

Nefesh B'Nefesh - (the Resettlement Specialists you can trust!)

See you soon - and G-d help us all!