Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post: What are the Challenges of a Kosher Parnassa?


A guest post by Marty Bluke of The Jewish Worker

The English edition of Mishpacha Magazine this past week had an article saying that people who earn a living need to make sure that they put fear of heaven before parnassa. While the overall message is a good one, I believe that the examples used were very poor and showed a complete lack of understanding of the real challenges a frum person has when working.

The two examples given of challenges were davening mincha with a minyan and not shaking women's hands. IMHO the author completely missed the point with these examples.

There is no doubt in my mind that the biggest challenge when working is the issue of stealing. I don't necessarily mean directly stealing money (although unfortunately that happens a lot as well, see for example Ocean County attorney admits role in Facebook scheme), what I do mean is stealing indirectly. For example, not working the amount of hours that you are being paid for, taking long lunch or Mincha breaks, wasting time at work, misusing company resources, etc. Chazal were very concerned abut this issue, so much so that they said (Berachos 14a, Shulchan Aruch Siman 90) that workers who worked high up in trees should daven mincha up in the tree so as not to waste their employers time by climbing down and then climbing back up.

If I had to suggest something related to arayos, it would not be shaking women's hands. I follow the psak of my Rabbeim that if a woman extends her hand you shake it as quickly as possible. I have found that in these situations, I am so nervous about this (thinking whether she will extend her hand or not) that this totally occupies my mind and I have no pleasure at all from the handshake, in fact it is almost painful. If there was an issur related to arayos that I would bring up it would be the issur of yichud. So many of the sexual abuse scandals that have come up in recent years would have been prevented if people simply kept hilchos yichud.

As with many things, it seems that the Charedi mindset is that a chumra is always better especially if it is Bein Adam LaMakom. However, the fact is that many chumras are kulas in a different area. The 2 mentioned in the article are good examples.

While davening mincha with a minyan is an important thing, it is at best a chiyuv midrabbanan while stealing from your employer however, is an issur d'oraysa. If it takes you 10 minutes to walk to Mincha 25 minutes to daven (because after all you need to daven slowly with kavana etc.) and 10 minutes to walk back (45 minutes) you are probably stealing from your employer, as he may be willing to give you 10-15 minutes for mincha but not 45. We see this message clearly from Chazal as they permitted workers to daven mincha up in the tree so as not to cheat the employer and allowed workers to skip parts of bentching for the same reason. You see clearly from the Gemara in Berachos (14a) that Chazal were much more concerned about not cheating your employer which is a sin of bein adam lchaveiro and therefore has no kapara until you pay the person back then mitzvos bein adam lamakom like davening and bentching where they instituted leniencies for workers.

Regarding not shaking hands with a women, again the issue is not as clear cut as the author makes it out to be. While the Chazon Ish is machmir other poskim are lenient and they are lenient in part because of the concern for embarrassing the woman. If a woman sticks out her hand and you refuse to shake it, it can be very embarrassing especially in a public setting. Embarrassing someone is a very serious aveira, Chazal equate it to killing someone. In Parshas Vayeishev, Tamar is willing to be killed in order not to embarrass Yehuda and Rashi quotes Chazal who praise her for this. So in fact, you can say that someone who shakes a woman's hand is machmir in bein adam l'chaveiro.

Finally, I would like to take issue with the first story that the author wrote. He wrote that he was in a shul in Yersushalayim for Rosh Chodesh bentching, davening next to a kollel avreich, and while the avreich had kavana when he said חיים של פרנסה he had much more kavana when he said חיים שיש בהם יראת שמים. The point being that יראת שמים is much more important then פרנסה.

IMHO, you see from Chazal that they thought פרנסה was very important and in fact a prerequisite for יראת שמים.  The Gemara in Kiddushin (29b) states explicitly that a father who does not teach a son a trade is teaching him to become a thief. Unfortunately, today we see this too often where people have no way of making a living end up resorting to less then honest means to make money.

There is an obvious question that we can ask about davening for חיים שיש בהם יראת שמים. The Gemara states that הכל ביד שמים חוץ מיראת שמים, that יראת שמים is the one thing that is for sure in our hands and not in Hashem's hands. If so, how can we daven for יראת שמים?

The Maharsha asks this question on the Gemara in Berachos (10a). The Gemara tells a story about a group of thugs who were bothering R' Meir. R' Meir was going to daven that they should die, however his wife, Beruria, told him that instead he should daven that they do teshuva which he did, and they did teshuva. The Maharsha asks our question from above, how could R' Meir daven that the thugs should do teshuva, isn't that under the rubric of יראת שמים?

The Maharsha asks this question on a Gemara at the end of Moed Katan(28a) (that was just learned in Daf Yomi) as well. The Gemara states that Rava davened that he should become an ענו like Rabba Bar Rav Huna (his prayer was not answered). The Maharsha points out that ענוה should fall under the rubric of יראת שמים and therefore how could Rava daven for it?

R' Moshe Feinstein in Iggros Moshe (as well as others) answers that you cannot daven directly for יראת שמים, that is only in your hands. However, you can daven that Hashem should remove any obstacles that you have that may prevent you from achieving יראת שמים. Interestingly enough the example R' Moshe gives is parnassa, he says that the thugs were thugs because they had no parnassa, once R' Meir davened for them and they received parnassa they did teshuva. We see that parnassa is a key blocker in achieving יראת שמים.

In fact, based on the above, it makes more sense to daven for parnassa than יראת שמים because יראת שמים can only come from you, while parnassa comes from Hashem and is a prerequisite to יראת שמים and therefore it makes sense to daven for it.

89 comments:

  1. Life is full of challenges as is work and I think each of us in the working world would likely prioritize the challenges differently. Certainly the nasata vnatata bemunah (yes I know there are torah only folks who interpret this as did you deal honestly in learning) and the arayot (working on a daily basis with folks can breed familiarity at work or in the world) are issues to be sure you are thinking clearly about. I'd like to add one. R' Willig in a recent shiur on divorce mentioned the material success of the orthodox community as a driver in the increased rate of divorce and agunot. One challenge you don't often hear spoken about in "working boys" shiurim is keeping a balance in your life between work, family, learning, minyan....... IMHO this is worth including in the mix (and even moreso in choosing a career)
    KVCT
    Joel RIch

    ReplyDelete
  2. i worked at a certain company that provided a beit knesset. however, next to the beit knesset was a sign stating before praying, a worker must check out. there was time close provided just for that purpose. not so many people were careful about checking out before mincha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry that should be "there was a time clock close to the shul provided . . "

      Delete
  3. Cute article. However the main challenge of the 'frum' parnosah is making enough money to support a large family that has 'frum' expenses. You need at least $200,000 just to make it. Few are willing to talk about it openly. The stealing comes from the financial pressure and it's not davening long Mincha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suggest you make aliyah to Israel. Tuition is much cheaper and Torah education is of immensely higher quality. In addition, I have discovered that one can not really study Torah unless one speaks Hebrew fluently....at least this is true for most people who are not Talmidei Hachamim.

      Delete
    2. While I don't currently live in Israel I agree with YBD to a point. If one is so caught up with trying to just live a "frum" life due to crazy costs of tuition, camp, and kosher food, those things are cheaper in Israel. However, life in Israel is by no means cheap (especially if you are used to American comforts like having a car, a private house, air conditioning and electronic gadgets) and making a living can be extremely challenging, not to mention all the other difficulties in uprooting and replanting a family into a foreign culture.

      Bottom line, you can't have everything. If you want to live an American middle class life PLUS a quality, big city frum life , you need to shell out 200K a year. If not, then either send your kids to public school or move to a smaller community outside of NY, NJ, Miami, Chicago, Toronto or Los Angeles. There are midway options like Baltimore, Atlanta, or Houston, which have nicer suburbs and more creature comforts, and cheaper options like Cleveland, Denver or Milwaukee, where the frummer areas are lower class and cheaper to live in.

      Delete
    3. Somehow all Israelis have A/C and electronic gadgets. Yes, aliya has many challenges, but at least don't make it sound like you'd be living in the 1950s.

      Delete
    4. Thank you for your advice people, but I was talking about the problem of the society in general. And incidentally, I'm an Israeli citizen.

      Delete
  4. I don't know what it's like in Israel, but in many offices, if you take 45 minutes for mincha with a minyan, you can just stay late working 45 minutes extra (or come in early 45 minutes). If your job is customer-facing or meeting-oriented, this might not be feasible, but it's a major stretch to say that going to daven mincha with a minyan is stealing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While you may be able to make up the time, the point is that you need to realize that you need to make up the time otherwise you are stealing.

      Delete
    2. I can't imagine why that wouldn't be obvious.

      Delete
  5. If I had to suggest something related to arayos, it would not be shaking women's hands

    If I had to suggest something related to arayos, it would be arayos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to the Chazon Ish, Handshakes actually are arayos and YEHAREG V'Al YA'AVOR! While Gil's point was pithy and cute, it ignores the fact that affairs are very, very rare while hands are shaken on a daily basis. In fact, I would make the point that every affair began with a handshake....

      Delete
    2. I think Rav Student's point was that if you make everything "yehareg v'al ya'avor" then the term loses any meaning. If, no matter what, I'm going to hell anyway because along the line I did something innocuous that a gadol somewhere labelled as a horrible, horrible sin, then why should I bother caring about avoiding the really big ones?

      Delete
    3. No, my point is that arayos actually happens. Not as rare as Chareidi4 makes it seem. (And this is nothing new, not to America or to the modern era)

      Delete
    4. Chareidi is that how your affairs started? Because I've managed to avoid any affairs in my time at work, despite a few unavoidable hands here and there. I always try to avoid hands by waving hi while a safe distance away. But if you don't follow the Chazon Ish on everything, why this?

      Delete
  6. This article is unfortunately completely in sync with modern day Chareidism - all Ben Adam L'Makom, no Bein Adam L'Chaveiro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back at you with cheap generalizationsSeptember 16, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      Funny, not that I'm so impressed with Chareidim, but the modern day alternative to Chareidim seems to be all Ben Adam Lachaveiro, and pretty skechy Ben Adam Lamakom (of the pick and choose variety, mostly)

      Delete
    2. Back at you with cheap generalizationsSeptember 16, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      Funny, not that I'm a huge Chareidi fan, but it seems that the modern day alternative to Chareidism favors all bein adam lachaveiro, and pick and choose ben adam lamakom. just sayin.

      Delete
    3. The latter choice makes a lot more sense because HKB"H is much more forgiving than mankind.

      Delete
    4. I acknowledge you're admitting these are mearly "cheap generalization", but speaking in theory...

      Arguably the central theme of Sefer Yeshaiah (and if not, it's a major theme) is that G-d is disgusted by the worship and "piety" of people who are skipping on the bein adam lachaveiro. It would seem that the proper translation of "derekh eretz qodmah laTorah" is "ethical behavior is a prerequisite for Torah", and without the prerequisite, you can't get credit for the course.

      When communal Orthodoxy stopped speaking about being "ehrlicher Yidn" and shifted to talk of "being frum", the language itself was a consequence of a shift in self-image from focusing on honesty and integrity to focusing on ritual and on narcissistic spirituality. It didn't "just happen" that the words changed; different words came to mind. It reflects a gap opening up between what it means to be Orthodox, and what it means to follow the Torah. The gap grows, and I fear that consequently so will our communal dilemmas.

      If forced to choose, which in the real world outside of "cheap generalizations" we don't, really, pick the community that is "all bein adam lachaveiro, and pick and choose ben adam laMakom". At least you will have an environment in which some of your mitzvos have real value.

      Delete
    5. You see Micha, that's why we don't learn navi...

      Delete
  7. The picture you have posted is an ad for the "kinnus" which took place at my shul yesterday. The event did not address any of the pathetic issues the Mishpacha magazine addressed. The event focused solely on stealing, directly, and indirectly. The event brought a tremendous awareness of common mistakes which can be very severe legally. The Rabonim and Lawyers spoke strongly against people taking advantage of HUD etc. This issue in our community of stealing money, intentionally or mistakenly has been a heavy passion of my Rav for some time now, and he had finally spent thousands and thousands of dollars to put this all together. He created a 15 minute movie which was shown at the end of the event, which I happen to think you and your readers may find very interesting. I think many will benefit from it if you would be so kind to post it. The event was free of charge and the videos of the event and the actual movie are all free. To me, this was a big step in the yeshivish/chasidish community. Recognizing issues, and addressing them. Moving in the right direction BH!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, perhaps it would be worth considering if there are any root causes that are driving this to be a major community issue?
      KVCT
      Joel RIch

      Delete
    2. Joel, the two root causes, which are both related, are, of course:

      1) The glorification of Kollel, and the concomitant need to find money, by hook or by crook, to support it; and
      2) the extreme difficulty of simply being orthodox and working. If you're not an entrepreneur with your own business, there are less than a dozen types of jobs that are compatible with orthodox requirements. (And even less that are compatible with the costs of contemporary frum lifestyle.)

      Delete
    3. "The Rabonim and Lawyers spoke strongly against people taking advantage of HUD etc."

      I used to eat at a kosher restaurant whose Rav Hamachshir pled guilty in federal court to lying on a HUD application as part of a much larger housing fraud scam. My rav forbade me from eating at that restaurant until there is a new Rav Hamachshir.

      Delete
    4. I heard directly from R' Henoch Leibowitz z"l that he had been told by a "gadol in Lakewood" when asked about lying on HUD etc. (they were seated at the same table at a wedding or something) that the tora says midvar sheker tirkhak--nothing about k'tiva (okay, so he said kesiva :) ).

      Delete
  8. Thanks for an informative, well written, and refreshingly unbiased post. Much appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  9. First, glad to see a post by Marty Bluke. His blog is a good one, it deserves more attention.

    As for this post, Bluke is dead on. Mincha and handshakes are, in the language of chazal, דברים קטנים. Kleinekeits. No one even thinks twice about shaking hands, and davening mincha beyechidus - come on, even roshei yeshivahs do this all the time. These are, literally, nothing to be concerned about.

    No, as Gil Student commented, the real concern is of real affairs. It can very easily happen. There is a mindset among orthodox Jews that affairs with non-Jews "don't count." (This is not new, even the midrashim speak of men who had no compunctions about having relations with their non-Jewish maids.) Orthodox Jews, who grow up in the freewheeling culture of yeshiva, can be charming and fun and even exotic, and are suddenly exposed to more women, in more provocative dress, than many have ever seen before. THAT is a serious potential problem. There are ways to combat this problem, but suffice it for now to pinpoint the real issue. Hand shakes? Gimme a break.

    Stealing is also a very big pitfall, don't get me wrong. (How many frum lawyers pad their time to meet their billable requirements?) I'm only addressing the real arayos concern here, which is decidedly NOT "hand shakes."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Rabbi - Most Poskim are not lenient regarding shaking hands. The Machmirim are the Hazon Ish and Igros Moshe, the Makilim are Reb Chaim Berlin and Rabbi Herzl Henkin.

    The reason for being matir is NOT in order not embarrass a woman. We would never be matir an issur chamur like Avizrahu D'gilui Arayas in order to spare someone's feelings. Reb Chaim Berlin was making the point that since you are not doing to derive pleasure but rather so not to embarrass the woman, its not derech hanaah v'chiba and is muter. The reason the Mishpacha stressed it is because it has unfortunately become widespread even among those who understand that Reb Moshe and the Hazon Ish are not so easily contravened by lesser poskim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chareidi4, granting arguendo Posek count/evaluation is correct (and I think that you are leaving out many poskim), your description of how halachic decision-making works is incorrect. When you are faced with a situation with poskim on both sides of an issue, in Sha'as HaDechak, one can be lenient, sometimes even according a single opinion. In addition, none of the poskim that I know of think that handshaking is preferred; among those who are not expecting it, of course, it should not be done. Thus one of the keys to the heter is the fact that not doing so is insulting/embarrasing; the other of course being that this is not considered Derech Chiba.

      The reason the Mishpacha stressed it is because it has unfortunately become widespread even among those who understand that Reb Moshe and the Hazon Ish are not so easily contravened by lesser poskim.

      This makes no sense. If it is reasonable for some, it is reasonable for all. What that really means is that they think that no-one should be lenient.

      Delete
    2. The intention was not to say that they were matir based on that, they are matir based on the fact that shaking hands is not at all derech chiba, they use the embarrassment aspect as an additional reason to be lenient.

      Delete
    3. -David Ohsie

      I don't know from you take your halachic decision making system, but I'm sure that you would agree that not all poskim are created equal. You cant say reasonable that your neighborhood Rabbi is cholek on the Chazon Ish and therefore bish'as hadchak you can be somech. I would argue that in the CHareidi community Reb Moshe and the Chazon Ish carry significantly more weight than Reb Chaim Berlin who was a minor posek even in his own time, and Rabbi Henkin is considered a MO posek whose decisions are certainly not relied on. However, many businessmen in the Chareidi community do shake hands because they do not want to offend the woman or they don't want to be seen as weird, etc. That is the reason the Mishpacha targeted that issue specifically, because it is being disregarded by our own community.

      BTW I am not addressing whether there is an issur of shaking hands. The simple reading of the Shulchan Aruch would indicate that in business situations it should be permitted. Neverthless, Rabbis Karelitz and Feinstein were certainly more learned than me or you so...

      Delete
    4. Mr. Bluke- I'm sorry I misunderstood your meaning.

      Delete
    5. David Ohsie's brotherSeptember 15, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      I will add an anecdotal name to the "its OK to shake hands with a woman" side. I was in R. Aharon Soleveitchik Z'TL apt about 1 year before he was niftar. He was going over a rishon (I dont remember the cite at all anymore) that talked about sitting in a crowded public carriage were one would be forced to be pressed against a woman and said it was mutar. He said that in his opinion this was halacha and would allow someone to rely on this in a crowded bus or subway. He also mentioned in that talk that he holds that shaking a woman's hand in business when proffered is mutar.

      It was somewhat amusing because one of the talmidim there challenged him from previous statements that he had heard in R' Aharon's name. R' Aharon said "I am telling you in my name that it is mutar!"

      Of course I can only tell you this as a first hand witness. I can't prove it.

      Delete
    6. >That is the reason the Mishpacha targeted that issue specifically, because it is being disregarded by our own community.

      Shaking hands has support from basic nosei keilim on the SA who explain that the issur is intentional touching that is derech chiba. Those that are in the business world recognize that it is not generally derech chiba to shake hands and act accordingly. This seems like a case where puk chazi would apply.

      (Personally, I try to avoid it but if it is offered take the hand for as short as possible without seeming insulting.)

      Regarding first names, in the modern business world where everyone calls everyone else by their first names (even bosses) it would be virtually impossible to function in the workplace to do otherwise.

      However, it is not crazy to say that people should try to keep relationships in the workplace business-like and not personal with members of the opposite sex and in some cases with the same sex (e.g., not socializing after work, etc.)

      Delete
    7. Actually, according to Rav Chaim Berlin it is a chillul Hashem and therefore assur to refrain from shaking a hand that was offered. As for Rav Moshe, very reliable people have reported that he gave them personal heterim for their situations despite what he wrote in Igros Moshe.

      Shmooli

      Delete
    8. Charedi4: The fact remains the offense and embarrassment are important parts of the P'sak and so we may practice a certain way because of the embarrassment. And if it was in any other situation, it would not be appropriate.

      As far as who is greater than whom: you used some weasel words here: "Rabbi Henkin is considered a MO posek whose decisions are certainly not relied on." So then what this amounts to is "why are people not following our preferred Posek?", not why aren't people following an unqualified Posek.

      Finally, yes, it is completely sensible for a local Rabbi not to follow the Chazon Ish here. The Chazon Ish was paskening a community of Talmidei Chachamim, not for a group of laypeople in his neighborhood. If a local Rav simply disregards Rav Moshe or Chazon Ish, then this might be an issue (or he might not be from their community, e.g. he is Sefardi or not Charedi). But if he takes it into account, and decides that this pesak is not appropriate for this situation, then it makes perfect sense. Chazon Ish undoubtedly had an approach that led to Chumra in a way that a community or Shul Rav could not do, and those over whom he did not have authority like Rav Ovadia said as much. A local Rav would not necessarily argue with Chazon Ish, but he might decide that the Pesak is not appropriate to the situation in front of him.

      Delete
    9. I heard an anecdote where a woman donor was present at a fundraising banquet for Ponevezh Yeshiva. The woman extended her hand to Rav Kahaneman zt"l. Rav Kahaneman, being a quick thinker, took a bread roll from the table and handed it to the woman!

      Delete
    10. Just a note for the Israelis among us: Most non-Orthodox Israelis have at least heard of this and in general will be understanding if a religious-looking individual of the opposite gender politely refuses to shake hands. (If you're at a ceremony or something, it helps to notify the MC in advance.) So don't be too quick to assume that it will embarrass the other person.

      Delete
    11. Rav Avigdor Miller told a friend of mine to shake women's hands in the workplace

      Delete
    12. Gil- I am not disputing anyone's psak here. I agree that there is a real makom to be meikel here.

      David- I'm sorry but I'm not really understanding you. My point is that in the CHareidi community it is certainly not accepted that any shul rav can just decide one day to be cholek on major poskim and be meikil. I assume that it works that way in every community. Therefore, in order for some Rav to be meikil in handshaking they would need some backup. In the "Mishpacha" community Rav Henkin and Rav Berlin are simply not on the same level as the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe, and cannot be used to contravene their ultimate authority. The Mishpacha writer sees handshaking as a real sin (which it is according to the CHazon Ish and Reb Moshe), without sufficient authority to be meikil. That's why he used the handshaking example.

      BTW How do you know that the Chazon Ish was speaking to Talmidei Chachamim and not laypeople? And since when can an aveira which is Ye'hareg V'al Ya'avor become permissible for different people? Doesn't sound plausible to me...

      Delete
    13. "I heard an anecdote where a woman donor was present at a fundraising banquet for Ponevezh Yeshiva. The woman extended her hand to Rav Kahaneman zt"l. Rav Kahaneman, being a quick thinker, took a bread roll from the table and handed it to the woman!

      I would be much more impressed with the story if instead of it being about giving R. Kahneman giving a roll to a rich woman at a banquet, it was about him giving a roll to a poor person on the street.

      MO

      Delete
    14. David- I'm sorry but I'm not really understanding you. My point is that in the CHareidi community it is certainly not accepted that any shul rav can just decide one day to be cholek on major poskim and be meikil. I assume that it works that way in every community.

      1. Rav Moshe disagrees. He invites others to examine his reasoning and decide for themeselves:

      ולכו מצאתי גם לנכון להדפיסם מאחר שאיני בוה אלא כמברר ההלכה שכל ת׳׳ח ומורה הוראה
      יעיין בהדברים ויבחון בעצטו אם להורות כן וכאשר יראה שאני לא םטכתי כסומא בארובה
      אף על חבורי רבותינו אלא בדקתי בכל כחי להבין שהם נכונים כאשר צוה רעק״א שם וכן
      אני טבקש לכל טעיין בספרי שיבדוק אחרי דברי ואו יורה לטעשה

      2. If the person coming to a posek with a question, he is a new case. The Posek is not arguing if he feels that the situation is not the same, or that this is Shaas Had'chak.

      3. I think that many reliable poskim don't agree with the Chazon Ish.

      Therefore, in order for some Rav to be meikil in handshaking they would need some backup. In the "Mishpacha" community Rav Henkin and Rav Berlin are simply not on the same level as the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe, and cannot be used to contravene their ultimate authority. The Mishpacha writer sees handshaking as a real sin (which it is according to the CHazon Ish and Reb Moshe), without sufficient authority to be meikil.

      OK, so if the Mishpacha writer is your posek, then listen to him. He is entitled to his opinion. Otherwise listen to your own posek and ignore Rav Mishpachah.

      BTW How do you know that the Chazon Ish was speaking to Talmidei Chachamim and not laypeople?

      My understanding is that the Chazon Ish was not the Rav of any community; he sat and learned and wrote answers to other scholars who asked him questions. Someone here will correct me if I am wrong. As I mentioned, I believe that Rav Ovadiah thought that was too machmir in general.

      And since when can an aveira which is Ye'hareg V'al Ya'avor become permissible for different people?

      I hope that you understand that there are two types of Yehareg Val Yaavor.

      1) Murder, etc. You can't kill someone to save your life.

      2) If we start down this road, the end result for the community will be very bad, so we need to stop this in its tracks with the most extreme possible language. In other words, polemic.

      For example, if a person was going to meet some female authority over some important life-or-death community issue where the disrespect implied by not shaking hands would scuttle the mission, I have little doubt the handshake would be permitted by all or almost all poskim in a private question.

      Delete
    15. The story sounds great but doesn't sound accurate. What kind of Ponovizh fundraising dinner would have MIXED SEATING?!???!!!

      Delete
    16. The Mishpacha writer is not a posek but he is following the mainstream Chareidi Poskim which the commentators here ridiculed. They are wrong as I explained.

      The Chazon Ish was not a Rabbi of a community as Reb Moshe wasn't either (in NY). His Pesakim were meant for all of Klal Yisroel.

      Delete
    17. My understanding is that the Chazon Ish was not the Rav of any community; he sat and learned and wrote answers to other scholars who asked him questions.
      ...

      according to this link it seems he meant it for every one

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/chazon-ish-die-rather-than-transgress.html



      Delete
    18. The Mishpacha writer is not a posek

      Everyone can have have an opinion on which Posek he wants to follow. I'm not sure why the fact that someone writes for Mishpacha give the opinion more weight.

      My understanding is that the Chazon Ish was not the Rav of any community; he sat and learned and wrote answers to other scholars who asked him questions.
      ...

      according to this link it seems he meant it for every one

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/chazon-ish-die-rather-than-transgress.html


      I'm not saying that Chazon Ish limited his P'sak to some people. But he was not a community Rav or a Rosh Yeshiva.

      The source you give, if accurate, indicates three things that support my thesis:

      1) One of the people with this problem asked to have someone else go to the Chazon Ish, not himself.

      2) Then he himself went to Rav Moshe (AFAIK whose number was listed and would take phone calls).

      3) Rav Moshe said it was OK to have physical contact with his stepmother (again, if the report is accurate).

      Delete
    19. I'm not saying that Chazon Ish limited his P'sak to some people.

      .....................

      I thought you said twice he issued pesakim for talmid chachamim

      '''''''Finally, yes, it is completely sensible for a local Rabbi not to follow the Chazon Ish here. The Chazon Ish was paskening a community of Talmidei Chachamim, not for a group of laypeople in his neighborhood. ''


      BTW How do you know that the Chazon Ish was speaking to Talmidei Chachamim and not laypeople?

      your answer

      ''''My understanding is that the Chazon Ish was not the Rav of any community; he sat and learned and wrote answers to other scholars who asked him questions. ''''''''''

      Delete
    20. I'm not saying that Chazon Ish limited his P'sak to some people.

      .....................

      I thought you said twice he issued pesakim for talmid chachamim

      The two statements are not contradictory.

      Delete
    21. The two statements are not contradictory.

      ...

      do you mean that some of his pesokim were for everyone and some were for a limited elite group. ie talmid chachamim

      Delete
    22. I mean that the people who asked him questions and to whom he gave answers were Talmidei Chachamim. He did not run his own shul or community consisting of laypeople.

      Delete
    23. so if you are not saying that Chazon Ish limited his P'sak to some people even though the people to whom he gave answers were Talmidei Chachamim, why would you say it is completely sensible for a local Rabbi not to follow the Chazon Ish here.

      Delete
    24. When you give a p'sak you are answering a question for someone who asks. The local Rabbi is answering a question for a different person. The p'sak may be different.

      To give one simple example, the ability for an individual or a community to abide by a p'sak economically is a factor in answering. So the p'sak would differ depending on who asked. I'm sure, for example, that numerous Rabbis that allowed the Heter Mechira would not have done so if it was economically practical to avoid it (see some discussion of that here: http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/hetermechira1.htm).

      In addition, the P'sak given in writing is going to have different principles than a P'sak given privately to a single individually orally.

      Delete
  11. A few years back I came across a book called "9 to 5" which supposedly was about halakhot of workplace. I picked it up, thinking it would be about work, honesty, how to treat employees, etc. Every single paragraph was about sex. It even had that new one- never call members of the opposite sex by their first name. (Try it and see how long you last before someone catches on and takes offense.)

    Honestly, it's like these people can't stop thinking about it. And that's not tzenuah.

    Samuel Heilman did once write a very good piece on the place of Mincha during the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, not calling someone else's spouse by their first name is nothing new- what mo rock have you been hiding under? Its scary how little people realize that being overly familiar and comfortable with someone's else's spouse is extremely inappropriate. This is not a "small" thing and can lead to all kinds of problems - just ask anyone who's been to the Catskills in the summer lately.

      Delete
    2. The MO, who do call people by their first names, largely don't go to the Catskills, so they are immune from this pernicious cause of extramarital affair. Thank goodness.

      And I thought in the Catskills, the husbands aren't around during the week? Are the couples swapping on Shabbos?

      Delete
    3. Yes, no doubt calling someone else's spouse by their first name is also "yehareg v'al ya'avor" by now.

      Delete
    4. > Its scary how little people realize that being overly familiar and comfortable with someone's else's spouse is extremely inappropriate.

      It's scary how some people consider treating members of the opposite sex as people instead of potential pitfalls inappropriate.

      Delete
    5. Back at you with cheap generalizationsSeptember 16, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      tesyaa, obviously you haven't been around the catskills for he last few years. and G*3, don't know quite how to respond to such a ridiculous comeback, but obviously your tznius sensitivities are not very finely tuned. a shame, i guess representative of the times. hamavin yavin, hope your supreme confidence in yourself never gets put to the test.

      Delete
    6. @Finally: I might agree with you in personal relations, but Nachum's point was (or should have been) that such "advice" is ludicrous in the American workplace. But back to the merits in an ideal society, the first name thing comes from Europe where you barely called your wife by her first name. Calling someone by their first name was REALLY intimate. That is absolutely not true in modern America. It's meaningless--you can hate your boss, and often do, and are still expected to call him or her by first name or be fired.

      I would argue the same thing in personal relations, but I understand if people want to retain this geder. I can't even get in the mindset of people who would commit adultery, much less with people in their community, so maybe I don't understand how this is even a geder. I would recommend avoiding speaking to opposite sex "friends" (i.e. spouse's friends) when you're spouse isn't there, but that's about all I can see. POn the other hand I did have one friend tell me to call his wife "Mrs.", which I did, and then later tell me he can't invite me over any more because his wife likes talking to me too much. I think there's a lot more to that relationship, but I didn't go back there obviously. ::) I also know about another married lady who fantasized about married frum men. Why have I never met a frum guy like that? Maybe they just don't talk as much?

      Delete
  12. Rav Hershel Schachter is lenient regarding shaking hands.
    RM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If R' Henkin is "MO", R' Shechter (not Schachter--that's JJ) must be Conservative to these people.

      Delete
  13. Good article, but I'm not sure we need to take "everything in in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven" too literally. We have no obligation to take literally every hashkafic statement in the Gemara (see R' Hirsch on this issue.)

    The passuk can be understood as offering novel explanation for the problem of "everything is foreseen yet free will is granted." But clearly Hashem can do anything, so certainly in response to our prayers he could give us more yirat shamayim.

    If we need to work on yirat shamayim, and we all do, then praying for it is one of the best things we can do, and the first thing we should do. Of course, we should also daven for parnassah.

    Anyway, in our daily prayers we pray for yirat shamayim anyway (right before yehi ratzon in uva l'tzion).

    ReplyDelete
  14. I didn't read the Mishpacha article.
    As one who ihas a Yadin Yadin, and a salesman in a company, I can say that most Halachic issues in my field are questions of ona'ah, mekach taus. Serious halachic questions come up every day. I also see other businessman ask rabbis who are incompetent in these areas of Torah, and they often receive incorrect answers, both lechumra and lekulla. Usually lekulla.
    It is upsetting that yeshivas can educate for years, yet not give basic Halachic instruction in CM. I can't think of a single job that doesn't have some area of CM that pertains to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As one who ihas a Yadin Yadin, and a salesman in a company, I can say that most Halachic issues in my field are questions of ona'ah, mekach taus. Serious halachic questions come up every day. I also see other businessman ask rabbis who are incompetent in these areas of Torah, and they often receive incorrect answers, both lechumra and lekulla. Usually lekulla.

      Koillel Nick, I have a question for you here. Suppose that are working for a business in the USA and the law and usual practice in the US contradict what the halacha would say "in a vacuum". Is it considered appropriate for a worker to simply ask and follow the halacha at the expense of his employer? Does the employers assumption that local laws and customs are to be followed play a role? I would have thought this a classic case of Dina D'Malchusa, but I don't really know any Choshen Mishpat.

      Delete
    2. Your question seems to be about employer worker relations. Many nosei keilim mainitain that , DDM applies to gvt individual relations not individual to individual relations. (ketzos 104) So DDMD would not apply to workers comp and labor issues. Minhag hashuk would definitely apply. Unless specified otherwise, an employee can can expect the norm, and secular law can create those conditions. (Difference may be in a case where the law is not a common issue or if the two specified a stipulation that would be invalid for example my understanding is that a stipulation absolving an employer from paying overtime is invalid in Israel, yet in halacha it may be valid).
      Another example is a contractual agreement that would be acceptable according to the law but not acceptable according to halacha. For example, asmachta (roughly translated as speculation, usually a fine for not completing the agreement as stipulated). Even if legally binding, halacha maintains that it has no validity (Chazon Ish). There are ways to frame these contracts to make them binding.
      Minhag hashuk plays many roles in kinyanim - hence "situmta," which "minhag hasocharim." It also has it's limitations. Even if the minhag is to use a situmta to buy something that doesn't exist yet, or to acquire money, according to many Poskim it may not be valid (siman 201, ketzos, nesivos, patash). They maintain that minhag cannot create a kinyan that is stronger than the traditional kinyan. Others disagree.

      There is a balance. The general rule is that while halacha doesn't often shift, much of business relationships are based on unstated understandings and assumptions of the legal industry norms. These are called "minhag hashuk" and are binding.

      Delete
    3. Actually, my questions was more about your sales situation. Say the business norm and legal requirement is to withhold a certain amount of information about the product/merchandise/service or competitive pricing unless the customer asks. Say that the halacha indicates a higher level of disclosure is required or preferred. But this will cost your employer sales and/or favorable pricing. Are you always Machmir at your employer's cost? Or do you say that law and custom prevail.

      Here is perhaps a more common and concrete version of the question. Say that you would not normally shave during Sefira even though you could by black letter halacha (according to your posek), but by refraining from shaving, you are not doing your best for your employer. Can you be "machmir" at his expense?

      Delete
  15. I was also very offended by this editorial but had to double check it was the same one as I was bothered from another angle.... It seemed that the these people are keeping Yiras Shamayim with the loss of higher parnasa. That is OKAY by me unless they expect me to cover the gap by my working 50+ hours a week to pay my tuition bills and shul dues.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Chareidi4,
    R Yaakov Kaminetzky in Emes Leyakov is noteh lekulla.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From Wikipedia: Emes L'Yaakov on Tur and Shulchan Aruch, p. 405 n.4 (translated from the original Hebrew: "Regarding returning a handshake to women when they extend their hand first in greeting, not in an affectionate manner, this is a very serious question and it is difficult to be lenient. However, in circumstances where the woman may come to be embarrassed, perhaps one could consider being lenient. This requires further study").

      Being a little misleading, aren't we?....

      Delete
    2. i wrote noteh lekullah bec he ends off vetzarich iyun. he is referring to a case that the person may be insulted.

      Delete
  17. Gil Student wrote:

    "If I had to suggest something related to arayos, it would be arayos."

    This comment shows a serious misunderstanding of the Charedi worldview.

    The Charedi worldview is predicated on a complete rejection of everything in the secular world. If one must work one should minimize contact with the secular world. If one must have contact with the secular one should clearly set oneself apart.

    In that context it makes sense why saying mincha betzibur and not shaking hands would be the central issues. One must make a great show that one is going to say prayers int he middle of the day. (That is also why davening betzibur on an airplane in the most disruptive way possible is so important).

    One must show that one does not shake a woman's hand because it announces to the world how holy and different one is.

    In this sense, shaking a woman's hand *publiclly* is much worse than having relations with a goya betzina.

    MO

    ReplyDelete
  18. Does anyone know if the author ever spent time in a workplace? He may be projecting from the list of often-discussed issues onto the workplace rather than knowing what it's really like in an office atmosphere and raising the issues actually found.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am pretty sure he hasn't. The author is Rabbi Henoch Plotnik, here is a short bio (source: http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Henoch-Plotnik/220991090).

      Rabbi Plotnik was born in Boston, Massachusetts.He learned in the famed Ponovezh Yeshiva in B'nei Brak, Israel, and the yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey.He and his wife, Elisheva, moved to Chicago in 1986, where he served as a fellow of the Lakewood Kollel.In 1993, he entered the rabbinate and also became a classroom teacher of eighth grade boys and high school girls.
      Rabbi Plotnik is currently serving as rabbi of Congregation Beis Tefilah and directs the Beis Medrash of Peterson Park, an adult education program.He is also a part time teacher in a girls' high school.

      Delete
    2. Still learning g'mara and poskim should lety hi know these aren;t the main concerns of thre workplace or that he is paskening wrong if they are.

      Delete
  19. In light of some recent issues with znius. I propose a kennes to discuss the challenges of arayos in the workplace of the rabbinate and seminaries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about seminary girls falling in love with their teachers? I knew so many in Israel.

      Delete
  20. What does prison life have to do with business ethics? Does Lakewood hold from business ethics because gentiles made some laws against it, or because HKB"H made laws against it (and even called it a "toyeyva")?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The orthodox crime is growing and I think that they are trying to use what works למען יראו וייראו.

      Delete
    2. There are no arayot issues in prison (at least white collar federal prison), so a baal nefesh would choose prison over the workplace.

      Delete
  21. Rav Shimon Shkop famously shook the hand of his granddaughter's friend. When his granddaughter later apologized to him, he said, "Your friend doesn't know how severe the issur of inter-gender contact is, but I know how severe the issur of embarassing someone is. That's why I shook her hand."


    koillel nick,

    Rav S.R. Hirsch complains in the 19 Letters that "religion" has been relegated to ritual law. He writes that the greatest tragedy is that the Shulchan Aruch is published as four separate volumes. Incidentally, I think you will like a new book that just came out by Rav Dov Katz, a close student of the Alter of Slabodka (it's a repint of an older work). He makes some of the same points that you do about what yeshivahs do and don't teach:
    http://www.amazon.com/Perfection-Torah-Rav-Dov-Katz/dp/0988676834

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where did you see the R' Shkop story? My zeidy was in his shiur when he was young. Seem remarkable for his granddaughter to have a friend like that--were they maskilim?

      Delete
  22. This is why the gemara says that serving chachamim is greater than learning from them. Not everything is in books. R' Moshe wrote clearly many things, and yet when you speak to talmidim of his, they will yell you stories of times he did the exact opposite. You cannot write a teshuva that covers every issue. This is case in point.

    R' Moshe wrote that you cannot shake hand bc it may be derech chiba. Yet, there are reputable stories where HE HIMSELF shook a womans hand! How? Simple. He made an assessment, realized that it was not derech chiba for him, and acted accordingly. Why the Teshuva then prohibiting? Because since every case is different, he has to give a response that is generally suitable, and broad enough.

    Anyone who has a true Rebbi as a spiritual guide will realize this. Different life situations call for varying responses. The biggest limmud to learn is that someone who lives fully by halacha, is constantly gauging what is the right response to any given situation. Anytime you see someone who is robotic and basically mimicking their previous self, beware.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "davening next to a kollel avreich, and while the avreich had kavana when he said חיים של פרנסה he had much more kavana when he said חיים שיש בהם יראת שמים."

    So I guess that explains why the avreich is still unemployed and living on the public dole?

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.