Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mishpacha Magazine on the Collapse of Charedi Society


Guest Post by Marty Bluke of The Jewish Worker

The Hebrew edition of Mishpacha magazine ran an article this past week about the hidden cause of Charedi poverty. The article detailed how parents are going into debt and collapsing in order to support their married children. Because I think this article is so important and powerful I am going to quote highlights from it. I will sprinkle in my commentary, but truthfully, the article really speaks for itself.

  הוא הבטיח לי סידור מלא, התובע גאה ונחוש עמד מול הרכב בית דין. אשתו לצידו כרעייה נאמנה מוכנה להעיד. אבא שלה הבטיח דירה בירושלים ובסוף נתן דירה בפרוייקט
...
כך היה המעשה: אב ירושלמי הוזמן להגיע לבית הדין כנתבע על יד חתנו ובתו. הזוג הצעיר דרש את כל מה שמגיע להם לדעתם תחת הכותרת סידור מלא
...
הסיפור הזה מפורסם ...אבל הדיינים בבית הדין מכירים סיפורים כאלו שזורמים אל שולחנם על בסיס קבוע. גם אליהם מגיעים להתדיין בנים נשואים שתבעו את הוריהם

He promised me a complete arrangement the plaintiff proud and determined stood in front of the Beit Din his wife at his side as a loyal wife ready to testify. Her father promised an apartment in Jerusalem and in the end bought them an apartment in the periphery. 
...
This is the story: A Yerushalmi father was taken to Beis Din as a defendant by his son in law and daughter. The young couple was demanding everything that was coming to to them under a "full arrangement". This story is famous ... but the judges of the Beis Din see stories like this that come to their desks on a regular basis. Also to them come the cases of married children suing their parents

After I read this I was blown away. Married children suing their parents for support? What have we come to? What has the kollel system wrought?

Not everyone takes their parent to Beis Din, some simply come to their parents and take stuff.

להרבה זוגות נשואים יש שוק קטן ופרטי שמכיל הכל: המטבח של אבא ואמא. כמה פשוט קופצים לשבת או לערב, פותחים ארונות נזכרים ששכחו לקנות פסטה או שמן. לוקחים
...
לפעמים ההורים מזמינים משלוח של קפואים הרבה מגשי עופות והודו, שיספיקו עד ט"ו בשבט. ככה לפחות הם חשבו. אבל הילד שלהם, אבא לשלוש בעצמו רואה שיש להם בפרוזר המון עופות ולוקח כמה מגשי פולקוס. מי ירגיש שהיו כאן עשרה מגשים ועכשיו יש רק שבעה?
...
סיפרה על יהודי מכובד מאשדוד שבכל פעם לפני שנשואיו היקרים מגיעים, הוא עורם קופסאות שימורים ומעביר אותן לארון העליונה ... מסלקים הכל

Many young couples have they own private little store, their parents kitchen. How simple is it to just come over for a night or Shabbos open the cabinets and remember that you forgot to buy pasta or oil and simply take it. 
...
Sometime the parents order a large delivery of trays of chicken and turkey that will last until Tu Bishvat, at least that is what they thought. But their child, a father of 3 himself, sees the freezer full of chicken trays and takes a few. Who will notice if before there were 10 and now there are only 7?
...
Someone told about a respected Jew in Ashdod who, every time his married children come for a visit, moves all of the cans to a higher closet, they hide everything.

This is simply mind boggling. The article mentions as well that this practice in many cases is simply stealing al pi halacha. The question is where does this attitude come from? The article answers this as well:

להבחורי הישיבות של ימינו נותנים הכל מסביר למשפחה הרב צבי טברסקי, מחנך ותיק ומדריך חתנים. וזה טוב ונכון, כי הם לומדים תורה והם חוד החנית של העם היהודי. מפנקים אותם מכבדים אותם על בסיס קבוע: הם צעירים בני שמונה עשרה-תשע עשרה שמקבלים חינם מגורים וריהוט, חשמל ומים ושלש ארוחות ביום. כך צריך להיות ... אבל לפעמים במקביל לכל השפע הזה, קורה שהבחורים מתרגלים שהכל מגיע להם. מתרגלים לקבק. אולי לא מספיק חינכו אותם להכיר טובה אולי לא הבהירו להם שיש מי שעובד קשה כדי שהם ייהנו מכל הטוב הזה

The yeshiva students of today get everything explains Rav Tzvi Twersky, a veteran educator and marriage counsellor, to Mishpacha. This is good and correct because they are learning Torah and they are the tip of the spear of the Jewish people. We pamper them and give them honour regularly: They are 18-19 year olds who get for free a furnished place to live, electricity, water, and 3 meals a day. This is how it should be. ... However, sometimes, with all of this abundance, it happens that the boys get used to the fact that they should just get everything. Maybe we don't educate them enough to have gratitude, maybe no one explained to them that there is someone who works very hard so that they can enjoy all of this abundance.

I would say not maybe but definitely. IMHO this is the root of the problem. The Yeshiva boys just get and get and get and really feel that everything is simply coming to them. Yonasan Rosenblum wrote a good column about this a few years ago:

The second major reason not to grant draft exemptions from Pesach cleaning is that it fosters a sense of entitlement that can work against true striving in Torah. Contrary to the common impression among yeshiva bochurim, limud Torah is not a general exemption from all responsibilities in life. As one who was zocheh to learn in kollel for nearly 15 years, I view the expansion of kollel learning as the glory of our generation. But nothing will ever come from one who views yeshivah or kollel as life with an E-Z Pass.
...
But acceptance of the yoke of Torah must come first. One does not demand that one be freed from responsibilities in order that one can learn. Nor does the yoke of Torah provide one with a right to demand from others that they take on one's responsibilities.
...
More and more, especially in shidduchim, we hear the attitude expressed that a ben Torah is entitled to be spared all life's worries and to be able to live in comfort in order that he can learn in peace. Such an expectation is both unrealistic and dangerous. It is impossible to protect oneself from all worries: illness strikes, fathers-in-laws' businesses go bankrupt, wives who undertook the burden of parnassah find that they are no longer physically or emotionally capable of doing so six children later, or that the children are suffering from having a permanently drained and part-time mother.

The quest for comfort can be inimical to spiritual growth in general and to growth in Torah learning in particular. When the Mishnah in Avos (6:4) describes the way of Torah – "bread with salt shall you eat, water by measure shall you drink, on the earth shall you sleep" – it is hardly describing a life of comfort.
...
An acquaintance told me recently that her brother had been advised against a certain shidduch by his friends. They had pointed out that the girl's parents were already in late middle-age, and that she had only one sister, so she might end up having to take care of her parents one day. At least her brother was embarrassed when she pointed out: "Oh, so you expect your in-laws to support you for twenty years, but, chas v'Shalom, you should ever have to do anything for them." No doubt such bald-faced selfishness is rare, but the extreme examples often reveal more than we care to admit.


It seems that we are raising a generation of children who feel entitled to everything. It seems that today's Yeshiva Bachrim never heard of the famous idea of נהמא דכיסופא, that Hashem put us here on Earth so that we wouldn't feel shame getting a free ride in Heaven, that rather we should earn it. Today's children have no problem whatsoever with נהמא דכיסופא - in fact not only aren't they embarrassed but they want it.

Why is this coming to a head now? Why now can't the parents afford this now? The answer is what I have been saying, there are 2 major reasons:
1. Generational money is gone
2. Large families

פעם היה לנו יותר אפשריות אומרים לי אבות ואמהות לנשואים. מדובר בכאלה שחתנו את בנם הבכור לפני עשור ושניים, והרגישו את עצמם עשירים גדולים: היו להם כך וכך מאות אלפי שקלים בתכנית חסכון, עשרים אלף דולר מהסבא ניצול השואה ודירה קטנה בעפולה להשקעאה. 
את הזוג הראשון חתנו בלארגיות נתנו קנו תמכו. ... היום אם חתונת הילד השישי, הבסיס הכלכלי נשמט מתחת לרגליהם. מאות האלפים נמוגו עם החתונות, הסבה הקשיש נפטר, והדירה בעפולה ממושכנת ולא מכסה אפילו שליש. אבל הילדים הנשואים מסרבים להבין את המצב.

הבת החמישית רוצה לתינוק שלה אותה עגלג כמו שקבלה אחותה הגדולה. 

Parents of married children told us that in the past they had more options. We are talking about people who married off their oldest child 10-20 years ago , at the time they felt rich. They had a few hundred thousand shekels saved up, twenty thousand dollars from their grandfather, a holocaust survivor, and a small apartment in Afula for investment purposes. The first child they married off in grand fashion. and they gave them everything and supported them. Today however, with the marriage of their sixth child, the rug has been pulled from under their financial feet. The savings are gone, spent on the weddings. The grandfather is dead, and the apartment in Afula is mortgaged and the rent does not even cover 1/3 of the mortgage. But the married children refuse to understand the situation. The fifth daughter wants the same (expensive) carriage as her older sister got.

This article paints a very bleak picture of the future of Charedi society in Israel. As I said in my previous posts, the money is simply running out, and the second and third generation kollel parents have nothing to fall back to. There is simply no way that they can support the next generation in the kollel lifestyle when they can't even support themselves. What is the father of 3 who takes (steals) chickens from his parents going to do when his parents are dead and he needs to marry off his fifth child while supporting the first four? Where is the money going to come from? 

See too this post: The Biggest Problem Threatening The Jewish People Today

96 comments:

  1. True, the parents will collapse from heart attacks.

    But just think how great their portion will be in Olam HaBa!

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  2. At the same time, the criminal political parties like Shas are also falling apart, and Bibi may form a coalition with Herzog jr rather than with a Haredi party. Hence, the situation may actually be worse than this article is suggesting.

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  3. Raising a generation of young people into a sense of entitlement or teaching them they are an "elite" is a SURE prescription for degeneration. The socialist Kibbutz movement is a perfect example. Yes, the first couple of generations accepted that they were expected to becomes leaders in the IDF and then return home and work home to build up their kibbutz, and thus, Zionism and Israel. This is finished. Many Kibbutznikim still serve and work hard but many others of their young people got sick of it and left, leading to the break-up of the movement.
    The DL world has a potential problem with the Hesder Yeshivot, some of which also teach their students that they are an elite. People I know who support these yeshivot are working to prevent their students from falling into this trap.
    To be frank. I don't believe there is anything we who are not part of the Haredi community can do to awaken them to these dangers. It seem all outside criticism is dismissed on the basis that these criticis supposedly don't really understand or appreciate the Haredi community. They will have to do the work for themselves. Perhaps if they see large numbers of their young people either dropping out completely or becoming those who only conform outwardly this will awaken them to the problem, but I would not be too sure about that. I have noted that the mass flight from Jewish observance during the 19th century up until the first decades after the Holocaust is usually dismissed as being the work of reshaim like the "Maskilim", "Zionists" or the "Reform" who somehow magically appeared after a few generations of Jewish mothers amazingly started giving birth to these previously unknown types. Only a few brilliant minds of those like Rav Kook were willing to look objectively at the causes for this mass abandonment of Torah as coming from problems WITHIN in the religious community. Thus, I can see current leaders being in a state of denial about these problems and being satisfied as long as they have a minyan and nothing more.
    Perhaps the only thing the non-Haredi Orthodox/religous can do is hope for some sort of day-to-day modus vivendi which is best achieved by some sort of political and physicial separation of the two religious groups, granting the Haredim full, permanent exemption from IDF service and encouraging to build their own communties and not to have communities that are mixed and full of friction like Ramat Beit Shemesh. Then, at least some of their leaders may feel less defensive and will be willing to confront the problems mentioned here and the DL's can serve as a safety net to keep at least some of the Haredi drop-outs within the world of Torah and mitzvot. I don't think it is realistic to hope for anything more.

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    1. "I have noted that the mass flight from Jewish observance during the 19th century up until the first decades after the Holocaust is usually dismissed as being the work of reshaim like the "Maskilim", "Zionists" or the "Reform" who somehow magically appeared after a few generations of Jewish mothers amazingly started giving birth to these previously unknown types. Only a few brilliant minds of those like Rav Kook were willing to look objectively at the causes for this mass abandonment of Torah as coming from problems WITHIN in the religious community."

      I am very intrigued by this statement, and I wondered if you could elaborate on it and/or provide some sources where I could read more. I have read other posts on this blog that hint at the same point, but I don't see precise answers.

      I would describe myself as a ba'al t'shuva living a traditional/Modern Orthodox lifestyle. I have benefited greatly from kiruv organizations like Chabad and Aish HaTorah, and have no personal complaints. I hold a Ph.D. in a scientific field, and have no interest in living frum, but I believe we are shomer mitz'voth.

      For purely economic reasons, I cannot believe that the Jewish community was 100% frum and kollel-attendant until Moses Mendelssohn. Nevertheless, Reform was an innovation. What do you claim was the dominant lifestyle among Jews prior to Reform and prior to the Chasidic movement? I cannot find objective historical descriptions. Thank you for your help.

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  4. This and the draft dodging exemption has given these young people an entitlement mentality. They think that money, homes, food, etc are owed them(of course their respective "Rabbi's" had a hand in this). So want happens when the money is short and or not available? Crime. Starting from raiding the fridge to money laundering, charity scams, drugs, human organ harvesting, slavery of various sorts. If one can do a small crime, one can do more and larger crimes, the sky is the limit. Of course when the issue is confronted, ah you speak Lashon Hara,etc and if you confront the people...ah there are righteous people and you are just jealous. Mark my words, Charedi Judaism will become more fanatic and dangerous.

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  5. how is he going to support the first four?

    as working parents, not on kollel stipends, I cannot imagine how we would be able to support kid in kollel. how do families in kollel support kids in kolel?

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  6. > An acquaintance told me recently that her brother had been advised against a certain shidduch by his friends. They had pointed out that the girl's parents were already in late middle-age, and that she had only one sister, so she might end up having to take care of her parents one day.

    What a fantastic opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of kibud av v'em!

    Why will the Chareidi community go out of its way to artificially perform one mitzvah that promises arichas yamim, shiluach hakan (as here: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2013/05/guest-rant.html), yet actively avoid the opportunity to genuinely perform another, kibud av v'em? (I realize it's different individuals, but it makes a great rhetorical point, no?)

    > … But the married children refuse to understand the situation.

    That is a double failing on the parents' part. The failed first to teach their children to appreciate what they are given, and are failing now to stand up to their children's expectations and tell them, "No."

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  7. The other problem is maximized fertility. Most other people recognize a responsibility for balancing financial capacity with family size. the obligation of pru urevu does not require oversized families. But again, there is an entitlement, an expectation that someone else will bail them out.

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  8. You realize, the Mishpacha cover is from May.

    And the parents didn't think to do the basic math when supporting the first few kids, to realize that there wouldn't be anything left for #6? I guess that generation didn't do bagrut math either.

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  9. Yet the Chareidi schools still push for Kollel...I remember my schools "Lakewood Shabbaton," whose purpose was basically to show how beautiful the Kollel lifestyle is...I remember being completely uninspired.
    BTW, on an unrelated note,here's an interesting article about the Pope's attitude towards evolution, the Big Bang, and climate change: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-proscience-pontiff-pope-francis-on-climate-change-evolution-and-the-big-bang-20150104-12hu26.html

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    1. One of these things is not like the others.

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    2. we already have haredi popes, dont need moreJanuary 9, 2015 at 5:22 PM

      I'm so tired of hearing about this "Rockstar Pope" just another Liberal Deity who ingratiates himself to the public taking some popular stances but is a vaccuous pompous individual. Remind you of anyone? Maybe they should give this pope a nobel peace prize too. Check out what the sexy pope said about the holocaust and the former pope's behavior at that time. "Everyone else was doing it". What a paragon of morality indeed! And what's he doing for the victims of his church? *Crickets

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  10. Wow. What a terrible situation. I wish some of these yeshiva boys would read about their forbears in Europe. I'm against army exemptions for yeshiva students. But I'm willing to compromise. Anyone who "truly sacrifices for Torah," anyone who lives like a yeshiva bachur did in Europe -- sleeping on benches, often studying on an empty stomach -- gets my support to continue studying. But none of these bachurim/young men living in these grand houses with every amenity under the sun. Maybe I'm only describing American bachurim, but the phrase "sacrificing for Torah" is starting to irk me.

    This article describes matters at their worst -- young men who study Torah all day and have not the faintest concept what the Torah stands for. I wish their parents had more self-confdence in the values they were brought up with and stopped giving their children money unless they worked.

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    1. ...anyone who lives like a yeshiva bachur did in Europe -- sleeping on benches, often studying on an empty stomach...

      The yeshiva bochurs who had a sheltered bench to sleep on and a modest meal plan were the fortunate ones, though, Yehudah. The horrors of the Holocaust have obscured the horrors of massive Jewish poverty in the inter-War years when tens of thousands of Jews in North-Eastern Europe perished from malnutrition and exposure. Entire families and neighbourhoods were wiped out, unnoticed and unlamented by historians. In its "functional phase" the yeshiva provided a social safety net, an emergency welfare distribution system for surplus males with no chance of work of any kind. It was easier to obtain money and food donations, even from poor families, in support of study for the honour of the Torah than for food kitchens and handouts. The system "parked" young males in controlled environments rather than letting them loiter and wander around, joining the gangs of beggars and highway men. Conditions in the yeshivas were not equal either. Those from wealthier or better connected families received supplementary allowances from home and boarded with wealthier families. Yes, there was real suffering, but it was also relative; to the destitute, the yeshivas were islands of plenty. Their inmates were better taken care of and had a better chance of surviving the Holocaust, as was the case with the Mir Yeshiva in Shanghai which fared better than the ordinary refugees who depended on their dwindling savings and secular Jewish agencies.

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    2. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzJanuary 5, 2015 at 5:40 PM

      Indeed
      http://history.emory.edu/home/documents/endeavors/volume2/EricSchaffer.pdf

      You can draw a straight line between the behavior outline in this article and the current state of Haredi yeshiva society.

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    3. Thanks for the Schaffer PDF, Brooklyn Refugee Sheygitz! The Tokayers in their Fugu Plan were the first to bust the miracle anecdotes behind the survival and the privileges of the Mir Yeshiva, albeit it gently, but not being able to leaf through their book now, Temujin is not sure whether they had access to the primary material Eric Schaffer did. One much enjoyed your "Cadillac son" quip below as well.

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    4. Temujin makes a good point in the first reply that is not noticed enough. That is, that the sacrifice of yeshivahs in Europe was not altogether different than the sacrifice made by most average families, and often the former were better off. Everyone was poor, not just yeshiva bachurim.

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    5. I'm sorry, but I just read the Eric Shaffer article you referenced ...the guy is an absolute looney tune...

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    6. I, too, read the Shaffer piece, and was disappointed. Don't know who this guy is or his credentials, but after lamenting the lack of scholarly work on the subject, he goes ahead and writes an unscholarly piece himself.

      As one example, he quotes a "German Rabbi" as saying something rather outlandish and gives you the impression that he was promoting the Hareidi party line, but when you look up the quotes through a link in his notes, the quote comes from "Dr. Julius Seligsohn, a member of the governing body of the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Representation of Jews in Germany)." He was a lawyer, not a rabbi, and was not Orthodox as far as I can tell.

      The overall tone of the piece does a lousy job of masking the author's clear agenda.

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    7. Ben: I'm sorry, but I just read the Eric Shaffer article you referenced ...the guy is an absolute looney tune...

      Srully: "I, too, read the Shaffer piece, and was disappointed....The overall tone of the piece does a lousy job of masking the author's clear agenda.

      Such substantial critiques articulated so eloquently deserve the honour of a Temujin comment.

      Shaffer, a biased loony academic slacker who appears to have somehow hoodwinked Emory College's Department of History into publishing his paper, merely cites Tokayer and Swartz, Zuroff, Lewis, Altman and Eber, Henry, Melamed, Levine, Irwy, Shlensky, Swislocki, Hepner and Lerner. He points to documentary and archival sources such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, the Touro Synagogue and the authors listed above provide numerous source references such as American and Shanghai-based Jewish organizations and Japanese archival material.

      Now, Temujin has only read Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz's The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War II (New York: Paddington, 1979), where the Mir Yeshiva "miracle" is covered in substantial, fairly detailed bits and pieces between pages 96 and 274 and recalls that the meat of Shaffer's thesis... that the Mir Yeshiva boys and their keepers received substantially bigger aid sums, exemptions and all sorts of favours, did little to nothing for their non-Orthodox coreligionists and were, as a result of this, resented by many...is amply substantiated, with names and references, there as well.

      Perhaps you two evidently sharp savants can put your noggins together in a joint act, call it The Ben and Srully Show maybe, and enlighten that terrible Shaffer fellow and all the inquiring minds here with just a teensy-bitsy more evidence than you have already generously disclosed as to where and how that thesis flops? Muchly obliged.

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  11. It is clear that Chazal, Rishonim, and Acharonim have warned us that these things might occur as a result of such behavior (not working for a living).

    כל המשים על לבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה ויתפרנס מן הצדקה הרי זה חלל את השם ובזה את התורה וכבה מאור הדת וגרם רעה לעצמו ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא. לפי שאסור ליהנות מדברי תורה בעולם הזה. אמרו חכמים כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נטל חייו מן העולם. ועוד צוו ואמרו אל תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהן ולא קרדום לחפור בהן. ועוד צוו ואמרו אהוב את המלאכה ושנא את הרבנות וכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטילה וגוררת עון. וסוף אדם זה שיהא מלסטם את הבריות

    -- Rambam, Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10

    "חייב אדם ללמד את בנו אומנות" TB Kiddushin 29

    "אח"כ (אחרי התפילה) ילך לעסקיו שכל תורה שאין עימה מלאכה סופה בטלה וגוררת עוון..." - S"A O"C 156:1

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    1. 1) See Shach on the S'A about that Rambam.
      2) See last mishnah in Kiddushin "Rebbi Nehorai..."
      3)Gemorah Brachos regarding rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai
      4)See in that very same Perek how much one is supposed to learn and work again (9 hours of learning 3 of working). Does anyone who works do that?


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    2. Re. Rebbi Nehorai - since when does one person's personal practice override an absolute ruling in the Gemara, and countless other statements in a similar vein? Plus, see Maharsha there.
      Re. Rambam on 9 hours learning and 3 hours working - this is his ideal. But suppose someone cannot do that. What is the next option? Rambam certainly did not believe that the next resort is to learn all the time and not work at all!

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    3. 1) I will look at Marhasha. But I do not think Rebbi Nehorai would have a "personal practice" that is against Halacha. At least it is a machlokes.
      2) If you cannot learn that much if you work so better not to work.
      What about the Shach?

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    4. 1) Rebbi Nehorai was entitled to argue with his colleagues. That does not mean that we are entitled to dispute a halachah.
      2) Absolutely not what Rambam meant! He held that it is absolutely and utterly forbidden to receive money for learning! If you can't live off three hours of work, then you have to work more!

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    5. Dave- Yorei Deah 246:21
      R' Slifkin- Look at the Rambam in Hilchos Shemita about anyone being able to join Shevet Levi in this regard and learn all day and it is a kiddush hashem to do that. Also, The rambam you are discussing is talking about taking tzedakah. In a case where the wife works, there is no tzedakah involved. Also, we dont pasken automatically like the Rambam. Its clear from that shach that we dont pasken like that rambam.

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    6. Sorry to be blunt, but you really have no idea what you are talking about. See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/04/the-truth-about-much-abused-rambam.html

      And in most cases where the wife works, the family is still receiving some sort of stipend/ tzedakah to make ends meet.

      With regard to "not paskening like Rambam" - indeed, Rambam's view is somewhat of an aberration. However, you were the one who brought up Rambam, claiming him as support for your view. He isn't! And while most Rishonim were not as extreme as Rambam, they certainly would not have supported the mass kollel system. See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/06/economics-of-torah-scholarship-in.html

      Delete
    7. Sorry to be so blunt, but you have no middos. Also, sorry, but reading one rambam (I.e this one in talmud torah) as halacha, and another rambam (the one in Shmittah v'yovel) as mussar is a little ridiculous. Is there a stirah here? Yes. But there are stiras in many rambams so you have to work it out. Why not work it out that the rambam about taking tzedakah is mussar and the one about shevet levi is halacha? (I do not think that is pshat, but i am only saying that it makes just as much sense as what your saying).
      "however you were the one who brought up the Rambam"-- no i was not. It was mark who brought up the rambam above I didnt even respond to that rambam in my first post.

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  12. To quote someone from your facebook link: How come the Beisdin did not rebuke the young couple for suing their parents? or even just throw the case out entirely?

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    1. who said they didn't (on the 1st, the 2nd is not legal)?

      anti-Chareidi bias...

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  13. To be fair, this entitlement attitude is not unique to the Chareidi population. (But it is certainly prevalent)
    IMHO, the US will suffer tremendously from its excessive entitlement programs. A country can't either survive without any money...It is not uncommon for people to request lower wages so they will still be eligible for Medicaid and such...

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    Replies
    1. Entitlement programs in the United States are quite modest in comparison to those of most other developed countries, including Israel.

      Delete
    2. http://www.oecd.org/social/expenditure.htm

      Not entirely true... welfare spending in israel is relatively low.. see here

      Delete
  14. It's unfair to only blame the children. It's the parents who endorse the gedolim who promote these values, as well as the gedolim themselves, who are primarily responsible. And everybody knows it, including Mishpacha. Mishpacha have to couch all this as a 'selfish kids' issue in order not to be linched, and that's not right.

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    1. Well said. The leaders who propagate this system and the sheep who follow along and raise their children to do the same deserve the lion's share of the blame.

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    2. What happened to no anonomous comments?

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  15. Furthering the idea I have that this crisis will not really affect the leadership, and that even a mass defection that may have in the future will not cause a reevaluation by them, I am reminded of a statement that has been made in the Lita'i yeshiva commuinity that "the yeshiva and our education system is designed to create the next 'gadol hador'". Thus, it is designed to create an elite, not an educated lay society.
    This mentality that 'we are only interested in preserving our elitist society" is not confined to Orthodox Jews. Several political parties in Israel, such as Poalei Agudat Israel, and MAPAM, a polar opposite imploded because they failed to bring in new young people. Look at MERETZ, they are keeping Zehava Gal-on who has been in the Knesset for decades as leaders even though they are always stuck at 5-6 seats. There is little turn over in their Knesset list. Compare this to European political parties which are constantly brining in new blood and how they will cashier a leader who fails to win after just one try (for comparison look how many times Peres and Begin lost and yet were kept around).
    Daniel Gordi, a C rabbi who was born into the C movement's aristocracy, wrote a fairly recent article excoriating the Conservative movement for its stagnation and ideological bankruptcy leading to its disentegration. Elliott Dorff, one of their Los Angeles leaders wrote a reply saying something to the effect that it didn't bother him that most people were leaving, so long as there was a "faithful remnant" that is willing to follow him and his ideology.There is a Yiddish expression which translates to "it may be small, but it is OURS!". "Just so long as have a small following of loyal disciples, I am happy". But do they ask themselves "is this the message of the Torah"? NO!. The Jews are a people and the Torah is our Constitution and if Jews are leaving it has to be of concern to all of us!
    So we see that this is not an "Orthodox" phenomenon only , but we might say it is a "Jewish one" and we need winds of change in order to shake people up who might otherwise might be indifferent to an accelerating crisis of loss of faith and corrupted midot.

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  16. I'm aware that this might sound like crass politics, but...

    To all your readers in Israel, there is something concrete you can do to stop this situation from worsening and that is vote accordingly.

    Why do I say this? Bibi has made it very very clear that he wants a coalition with Haredim and that is prepared to send many many millions of tax payers money to supporting Haredi institutions and ultimately to Haredi families. He will buy a quiet coalition and he will NOT encourage any change in Haredi society. He will not encourage them to go out to work. He is all for capitalism - for the rest of us - but not for Haredim.

    In recent weeks we have seen how he intends to govern if re-elected... by giving away money to Haredim.

    This post fundamentally talks about the need for Jewish families to act in a way that is financially responsible and sustainable. That is also true for the government of Israel.

    I've never been politically active before but I believe that this time we have to stop the rot. We have to stop people voting for Bibi, stop people voting for money to slush out to fund Haredi welfare payments and we have to vote for a party that will get both the country and Haredi society back on a sustainable path. I think that party is Yesh Atid. So I started a pro Yesh Atid blog - yeshatidunofficialblog.blogspot.com - to try to show how their platform is one of financial responsibility, equality and is both Jewish and democratic.

    Bibi and Bennett will team up with the Haredim in an 'if you scratch my back then I'll scratch yours' deal.

    We do have the power to do more than just complain about the problematic elements of Haredi society. We can vote. We can change the future. We don't have to vote for Bibi because that's what good frum Jews do. And it's not either Bibi or the Left. There is a sensible moderate alternative.

    We can vote for a better future for the country. We can vote Yesh Atid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. During the Oslo period, the Left (i.e. Labor and MERETZ) also made coalitions with the Haredi parties and gave them money as well, using the excuse "we need their support for the (so-called) 'peace process'". This is how they justified it to their constituents who up until then were less supportive of the religious groups in Israel. Thus, it is not just Bibi who is responsible. It is conceivable that the Leftist parties. plus Lieberman plus Kahalon plus Lapid plus the Haredim could get a majority, and if this sounds implausible, just keep in mind that the campaign of the Left so far is "anybody except Bibi". If they really mean that, then they will need the Haredim as well.
      However, I don't think the Haredim will get what they got in the past. There is just too much opposition among the public for going back to what existed before, even if the Haredim are in the coalition.

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    2. Have you ever heard of the term "hijacking a thread"?

      By the way, while your concerns are real, if you think supporting Yesh Atid is the solution, you must have been asleep for the last two years. If they didn't do it with 19 seats, they're not going to do it with 8 or 9.

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    3. Y Ben David Yes, I remember the shameful way that Labor absented themselves from the vote on Yesh Atid's law to bring equality to the draft into the IDF. Herzog clearly sided with the Haredim to ensure their participation in a future coalition that he might make. What a shameful abandonment of principles!! How could Labor vote against that? They will do exactly the same as Bibi will do. Don't vote for them either.

      Nachum, I wasn't trying to hi-jack, but since you ask the question - read my latest blogpost to see all that Yesh Atid has done in the last 18 months. Imagine what they could do with 4 more years. They have acheived an impressive amount. And Bibi - with all his many years as PM did nothing - NOTHING - to get Haredim back into the workforce. Now we are back to the topic of this blog's post.

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    4. we already have haredi popes, dont need moreJanuary 9, 2015 at 5:37 PM

      Having haredim in a coalition, not having them in a coalition, who cares? You think these kollel payments do anything to make the problem worse? It's a massive financial catastrophe much bigger than that and these funds are not going to keep the charedi population in their shackles of poverty so just spare us this dumb yesh atid rhetoric. Haredi parties have always been involved with the govt and society didn't crumble. Had they been in the latest coalition the changes probably would have been blocked or they would've left the coalition in protest. It's purely practicial considerations as to who gets included or excluded in coalitions. Stop taking it personally or as some kind of ideology (one of the many mistakes of yesh atid to present it as such)

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  17. Or to put it in stark anthropological terms, the kollel system served, for a relatively brief period of time and during an unusual glut, as a facet of a sub-culture's competition and status-driven strategy of conspicuous consumption. And akin to the status-seeking or defending chiefs of the West Coast, who gave away and on occasion publicly burned stupendous amounts of food and goods, "for the glory of the spirits and the clan totems," modern day chiefs and chief wanna-bes burned vast sums of money on wedding caterers and banquet halls before hundreds of duly impressed guests "for the kids' happiness" and endowed academies and showered newly-wed young men with life-long scholarships "for the glory of the Torah." But then, too many blessed children appeared, too many shamans demanded a place and a share in the the pots of the long houses, too many totems required their share of honour....while the salmon runs up the Fraser River leaned out. It's an old, old human tale.

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    1. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzJanuary 5, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      Indeed.
      More often than not (and not to his face) I refer to my close relative's new kollel son-in-law as "his Cadillac"

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    2. Brooklyn,

      I refer to my kids' day school tuitions as my annual Porsche. Because with what I pay, I could buy a brand new 911 Carrera every year, drive it off a pier at the end of the year, NOT collect insurance, and go back to the dealer and buy a new one with cash.

      On the flip side, I earn the money to do that; I'm not asking for handouts. And part of the reason to pay for this level of education is so that they'll be able to earn enough to do it themselves down the road.

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    3. "And part of the reason to pay for this level of education is so that they'll be able to earn enough to do it themselves down the road."

      Avi, I say something similar. But in all seriousness, what if only 2 or 3 out of 5 kids have the ability to earn enough to do it themselves when they have their own families?

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  18. This was a most distressing article. I think it's harder to dismiss a story in Mishpacha magazine- which is to some of us is authentically Haredi, compared to say, Yediot, Haaretz, or even the Times of Israel. I lived in Passaic, NJ for over 20 years, and as someone who identified with the Haredi community that developed there over time, I was frequently shocked at the level of materialism endowed from parents (or grandparents) to children who who basically were given everything on a silver platter (real silver, that is, not silver plate) from the time they were born until their marriage. To be fair, most of these young couples were not kollel families; the husband frequently had a profession that he was embarking upon, and the same was often true for the wife. But there was something really wierd about a 23 year old couple buying a $500,000 house, gutting it from top to bottom followed by a total renovation and/or addition to the structure, with two brand new (leased) cars- one being the obligatory minivan- in the driveway. And the girl was pregnant on a regular basis thereafter. Sadly, to me, the entitlement mentality that was and IS so extant among these types was not only exemplified by their possessions and materialistic adornments- it was also very noticeable in their attitude and personalities. Yes, in short, many of them (but not all) were downright snobs, snot noses, and baale geivois all wrapped into one. And these traits were definately perpetuated by their kids, who knew even less about personal responsibility and related middos than their parents.

    My point: the entitilement attitude that has overtaken Haredi society with respect to learning and living in Kollel in Israel is reflected and amplified by a similar malady endemic to Haredi society in America - at least in large communities. Its not limited to Haredi communities only, however- places like Teaneck and Englewood and the Five Towns are equally as materialistic in many respects, except they stand and repeat the prayer for the Medinah, so it's ultimately a different story for them.

    I do not see any solution to the problem. While it's true that more and more Haredim in Israel are breaking with the "culture" and getting hard core job skills - men and women inclusive- I serioulsy wonder if this trend will make a substantial difference in the level of haredi poverty at any point in the near future. And this trend probably will not affect kollel communities since the husband is by definition, inimical to working, and there is only so much the wife can earn while tending to the family, having kid after kid, and holding down the job she is expected to maintain as the bread winner. Once the current generation of philanthropic parents, grandparents, and other familiy members who are now footing the bill for the kollel lifestyle either pass on, or simple begin to pass out over the responsibilities they have assumed, the entire system is going to hit the fan, and it will be a major financial catastrophe for this growing part of orthodoxy. There will be no more closets and refridgerators to raid by the kids when they come to visit, and the apartment will be in danger of forclosure when the third mortgage on the property has not been paid in 6 months. What a nightmare it will be.

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    1. Fred-
      (1) Thank you for reminding me of one of the primary reasons I made aliyah from the US, besides wanting to fulfill the mitzvah of living in Eretz Israel. I became observant while a student in University in Southern California and I never felt "at home" either in secular American society before I became observant, nor among the comfortable religious Jews you described once I moved into the circle of the religiously observant. Here in Israel, I have something of a reputation of being a "self-hating American", for example, my town has two American/Anglo shuls and I won't daven in either of them. The religious Jews of America have really absorbed American materialism and excessive professional ambition. One thing I find about religous Israelis is that they generally do not judge a person by his or her professional accomplishment, which among American Jews seems to a primary qualification for entrance into "polite society". Actually, there is nothing new, or even really "American" about having a caste system based on one's livlihood, even in Europe there was shoemaker's synagogue, the porter's synagogue, the grain merchant's synagogue. Its just in Ameria they took these even further. As much as I disdain socialism, I do have to admit that, at least to a certain extent, the egalitarianism of the original socialist civil society the New Yishuv had became rooted in people's mentalities.

      (2) If there is so much money in the religious community in the US, isn't it about time they chip in to cover the cuts in subsidies the Kollel community in Israel has suffered?

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    2. Regarding point (2), I personally think that Israelis chipping in to cover day school costs in the United States. In Israel, the government (mostly meaning non-Orthodox Jews) pays most of the costs, while in the US the government (mostly meaning non-Jews) pays very little if anything. The fact is that there ISN'T any money left for most families after paying the high tuition costs, the high housing costs, and the high property taxes in the NY suburbs.

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    3. Y. Ben David-

      I'm not very good at being a socialist- I believe the money you earn is yours and you can do whatever you want, or dont want to do with it. This includes which charities you decide to support, and those you want to avoid like the plague. The Agudah of the USA, along with some other Haredi organizations recently began an "Adot A Kollel" program; perhaps you did not hear of it (a good thing). The title speaks for itself, and it is designed to help cover the deficits that Kollel people are experiencing as a result of the evil Zionists cutting funding to them, not subsidizing double digit size families, and encouraging Haredim to learn how to work for a living (and maybe join the army). Imagine the horror! You know what? It's a big crock of you know what...any family in Passaic, LA, Teaneck with only 4 kids can count on paying almost full tuition. After the mortagage, taxes, tuition, food, designer clothes, bugaboo strollers and organic diapers are all paid for, a salary of $250,000 leaves a family in one of these neighborhoods, and many others, with disposable income of about $0.00. So except for the elite, whose doors have permanent indentations from multitudes of schorreres banging on them looking for weekly handouts, whose mailboxes overflow with letters and related tchotkes from frum organizations vying for contributions, there really is no money from the average working schnook who only makes a six figure income and has almost nothing to show for it on their personal balance sheet. Please note that I do not mean to minimize the sacrifices that are made to raise a familiy in the religious framework defined by the Torah- this is laudatory and commendable, and the aggregate level of personal generosity among religious Jews is unmatched by any other group. But there is something very very wrong with a system that virtually guarantees financial insecurity both during the years these families are working for a living, and all the more so when they are of "retirement age" with little or no savings on their personal balance sheet- having expended all of their income - often substantial income at that- just to maintain a lifestyle that meets minimum criteria as one which is supportive of raising an Orthodox Jewish family.

      Disclosure- I left Passaic/Clifton almost 3 years ago and settled in a small community in Pennsylvania. NO, it sure ain't Israel, but many of the maladies, attitudes and overal BS that is de rigur in any of the so called "frum communities" that we've referred to is either non existent or at an absolute minimum. And the cost of living is dramatically lower, aside from and in addition to the fact that my kids are older and I no longer pay yeshivah tuition.

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    4. Why the resentment, as you are a non-socialist, towards wealthy parents and grandparents sharing the wealth and building suburban homes for their progeny?

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    5. Fred:
      I don't think it is fair you to write of Passaic residents that 'these traits were definately perpetuated by their kids, who knew even less about personal responsibility and related middos than their parents'.
      Perhaps it would be best for you to have focused more onyour own boys, who - as we know - were not exactly paragons of 'personal responsibility and related middos'. And, just as you hold Passaic parents responsible for their part in their children's development, perhaps it would be best to look in the mirror long and hard, and not blame others for your own shortcomings -

      Delete
    6. You are a moron and a fool, and a person unable to cope with certain realities that affect people other than yourself. You completely misread my post-read the last few sentences, where I purposely commended the effort so many people expend to the best job possible at living a religious life. I was referring to people in Passiac and elsewhere, in glowing terms if I may say so. You should have easily realized I was not speaking of all Passaic residents, as you imply, but some of whom have come to display personal characteristics that mirror the attitude that Marty Bluke wrote about, and which was the subject of Rabbi Slifkin's post.

      I experienced these attitudes and mannerisms first hand from people who knew little of personal responsibility were quite simply in love wth themselves. And my comments are representative of many friends of mine who who have made identical observations and experienced similar situations. Wanna know how many people have told me no one said "Good Shabbos" to them when passing on the street- unless they were wearing a black hat? Answer- loads of them. Ever invite a family to your house for a Shabbos meal -perhaps twice- and have them pass you on the street a week later and they won't even look at you? Well, I have...and it went way beyond that in multifarious incarnations, many times over for me, and all members of my family. When I moved to Passiac 20 + years ago these things NEVER happended, but over time, the materialistic seige mentality slowly began to take over a large swath of the community- things morped into something unexpected and ugly. It was not pleasant, but it did exist. If you don't like that fact, it's too bad.

      Also: you know nothing of the effort we expended on my kids, who I am proud to say are extremely responsible, polite, and mentchlich. It took a lot of work, but they arrived at this level in large part because expectations were made of them in terms manners, middos, and the like. I take responsibilty for this, and I also take some, but not complete responsibility for their present status as being un-religious, which is deeply disappointing but something I accept and hope will someday change. I blame no one for my shortcomings
      and there was nothing I wrote which remotely indicated this. But for you to single out my kids, and me as well,on an individual basis on a very public blog (under the cover of anonymity no less, since you apparently know who I am) is really disrespectful and quite frankly based on a deliberate misreading of everything I wrote. Shame on you for being so immature to use personal insults against me and my family instead of responding to my comments with a substantive and alternative point of view.

      Delete
  19. Where are all the rationalists?!?!

    You CANNOT extrapolate scope from a sensationalist magazine.

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    1. No, you cannot and no one is doing this here. The scope is slowly and patchily resolving from aggregate data, much of it anecdotal due to the paucity of studies and reluctance to disclose. The article unwittingly reflects symptoms and cultural responses to a problem that is being felt by many in different ways.

      Delete
  20. There is a story, apocryphal or not, about the TaZ suing his father-in-law the Bach for not giving him good meat for lunch.

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    1. First time hearing that story, so I looked it up.
      http://matzav.com/parshas-devorim-rav-chaim-kanievsky-taking-your-shver-to-court-2

      "Rav Shmuel Berenbaum was fond of telling of the story how the Taz took his shver, the Bach, to a Din Torah. The Bach had promised had promised the Taz as part of his Nidunya that he would provide him with meat every day. When the Bach lost his money, instead of providing the Taz with a quality piece of meat which he could no longer afford, he provided him with the lung, which was far more inexpensive. The Taz demanded a good piece of meat claiming that lung was not called “meat”.

      To help you understand who the Taz was, after fleeing the Cossack onslaught in which two of his sons were murdered, he lived in anonymity and poverty, earning a wage cleaning the Shul rather than revealing his identity although he was of advanced age and recognized throughout the Jewish world as a Gadol HaDor.

      But he sued his own father-in-law for a good meat? Mi’ut Ta’anug, a bit of pleasure, says the Mishna. How much? As much as will help your body respond to your wishes to serve Hashem with every ounce of energy. The Taz was not willing to forego the minimal amount of extra learning he would lose by giving up his meat for lung, even if it meant suing his own father-in-law. And you could be sure the Bach was the proudest defendant to ever stand trial!"

      Am I the only one confused about this.....?

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    2. ...and I saw this in the comments under the article (it does actually clarify the story a little...)

      "The ending of that story goes , that the taz told his father-in-law that he saw that there might be a din v’cheshbon in shomayim if chas v’sholom his learning should be effected by not having the meat, so he went to the din torah hoping that beis din shel matah would pasken like his father in law and thereby having beis din shel mailoh recognizing the din as well."

      But if his father-in-law couldn't afford it, then why would anyone think he would get judged for it...??

      But this is all from Matzav, does anyone know where the source for this is?

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    3. Hindy - I saw that story said over by the Chazon Ish.

      Delete
  21. Y. Ben-David:

    Raising a generation of young people into a sense of entitlement or teaching them they are an "elite" is a SURE prescription for degeneration. The socialist Kibbutz movement is a perfect example. Yes, the first couple of generations accepted that they were expected to becomes leaders in the IDF and then return home and work home to build up their kibbutz, and thus, Zionism and Israel. This is finished. Many Kibbutznikim still serve and work hard but many others of their young people got sick of it and left, leading to the break-up of the movement.

    I'll quibble here on two points:

    1) The dissolution of the kibbutz movement was predictable for other reasons. People want to be able to go on to do their own thing: why would you expect the children to desire to stay in one place? This is besides their dependence on socialist ideals which fell out of fashion (for good reason, IMO :). To wildly overgeneralize from my own experience, one of my former bosses grew up on a Kibbutz as the son of one of the "directors" (or whatever they were called) and his family was disappointed when he left. But he left to go to the Technion and became a successful Telecom executive; he was not looking to avoid hard work, but he wanted something different.

    2) There is nothing wrong IMO with having an "elite" class as long as there is a true competition to join and maintain their status in the top "n" percent. Such competition can produce sacrifice for greatness. The problem is with having a mass of people all treated as "elite" regardless of either natural aptitude or high achievement. You can't make an elite out of the masses or without constantly eliminating the bottom "n" percent.

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    1. All societies have an "elite". The problem is if they just get a feeling of entitlement without having to do anything to earn it. For example, in the British Royal Family, the men are expected to become military officers and to serve their country on the battlefield. The Queen's son Prince Andrew was a helicopter pilot in the Falklands War.
      The other factor is that which you mentioned in that this elite is open to people from outside it to join who are willing to pay the price and make the sacrifices necessary. Simply being born to the "right family" is not enough to avoid the degeneration I mentioned.

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    2. Agreed. Although I think we can agree that the British royalty example is more a matter of face-saving and embarrassment than an example of a meritocratic elite.

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    3. I should add that a true, earned elite teaches its members to be courteous to ALL people, including people who are serving them. I have seen the Chief Rabbi of my town, who is a well known talmid hacham greet ALL people he sees on the street, including non-religious people and women with a smile and a kind word.

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    4. David: I don't know. After all, go back far enough, and the whole reason they're royalty in the first place is because of what they did on the battlefield. :-)

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  22. There are some in the addiction therapy field who say change does not come until the individual has hit rock bottom. Some disagree:
    MYTH #8: Nobody will voluntarily seek treatment until they hit ‘rock bottom.’
    FACT: There are many things that can motivate a person to enter and complete substance abuse treatment before they hit "rock bottom." Pressure from family members and employers, as well as personal recognition that they have a problem, can be powerful motivating factors for individuals to seek treatment. For teens, parents and school administrators are often driving forces in getting them into treatment once problems at home or in school develop but before situations become dire.

    It seems to me that this can be extrapolated to a community. IMHO bderech hateva the change will come, the only question is how many karbanot there will be?
    KT
    Joel RIch

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    1. Actually what you write is consistent with what is found in Alcoholics Anonymous' own literature. Here is an example:

      http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step1.pdf

      What you are talking about is "raising the bottom".

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    2. A cynic might note that the notion of hitting rock bottom has nothing to do with psychology, but is actually just an implication of Rolle's theorem. If you have a continuous curve with a downward slope which then continues on an upward slope, there's got to be a minimum in there somewhere. Wherever it is, in retrospect, it's rock bottom. Joel Rich: In your example, if my employer pressured me to go to some kind of rehab, and then I did, I'm pretty sure I would have considered that embarrassment to be rock bottom.

      Similarly, the market always peaks before a crash: the problem is that there is no way to recognize the peak in advance.

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  23. "This is good and correct...This is how it should be."

    And there's the problem in a nutshell. Even the critics don't see any need for change.

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    1. They do see the need, but they feel they must give a disclaimer before every criticism. Of course, that absolutely kills the point of any criticism. That's an underlying problem that must be resolved; that if we are going to try to change, we have to learn how to give a proper hard hitting critique without equivocating, hedging, or disclaiming. I have a comment over at cross currents on this point, but it might not get through moderation. That's what happens on censored sites when you say the truth. We'll see.

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  24. The only thing even slightly remarkable about this is that it is in Mishpacha.

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  25. The key phrase is מלאכתם נעשית על ידי אחרים. R. Shimon says, if you do the work of God, other people will do your work for you. The Yeshivah community, believing themselves to be doing the work of God, is built on this point of view.

    Nor is this just a philosophical opinion. The Gemara says many times that a talmid chacham is exempt from this tax, from that payment, etc. That mitzvos - communal responsibilities - should be done by other people, if possible. These were the tax breaks and "programs" of the time. Now the Gemara was written by the beneficiaries of such a viewpoint. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the populace at large didn't take too kindly to such sentiments. Today, for sure, when everybody is a talmid chacham, that sense of entitlement is looked upon with disgust.

    Fred's comment above, too, is right on the money. People might, perhaps, view kollel families with a more generous spirit if the lived the lifestyle that is supposed to accompany the exemptions. Good old fashioned פת במלח תאכל. But they don't, not nearly. They have the same strong materialism as is found among balle battim. [ I actually think its worse in the yeshivahs, possibly as a coping mechanism, possibly because of the "shtoltz" בשבילי נברא העולם idea taken literally, but that could be just my impression.] The only diff is that someone working has the right to do what he wants with his money, whatever we may think of it. A guy in kollel, or on any form of public assistance, has no such right.

    Its all a microcosm of what's become of America, of course. But we can't fix everything. There are ways to fix the problem here. I personally would start with the gvirim, the successful men who are propping up the kollel system. Its easier to get to them than to change the view of the guys in kolle, who are just taking advantage of what's being given to them. Most of these gvirim are pretty smart, but sharp business instincts in no way translates to a broad understanding of society. They must be made to see that the "good" they think they are doing isn't, in fact, so good after all.

    There's other solutions too, but baby steps, baby steps.

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    1. > Now the Gemara was written by the beneficiaries of such a viewpoint.

      This needs to be emphasized more, and repeated more often. When "traditional sources" tell us that talmedie chachamim are to be revered and accorded respect, we shouldn't forget that these sources were written by talmedie chachamim.

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    2. I once heard a Rav in Israel give a shiur on this matter of the various exemptions for the talmid hacham. He said it applies, if at all today, to someone like the Chief Rabbi, NOT for everyone who is studying in Kollel.
      SImilarly, Haredim claim that Kollel people should be entitled to subsidies just as college and university students in Israel. However, colleges and universities have selective admissions, not just anyone can claim government support because he claims he wants to be such a student. Thus, it would be reasonable to argue this for Kollel people if there was some sort of entrance requirements and maintainance standards for the kollel students.

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    3. Brooklyn refugee sheygitzJanuary 6, 2015 at 12:14 AM

      Why would the gvirim stop? If we take the conspicuous consumption society to its extreme , and having a son in law in koilel is the equivalent of a Cadillac, then propping up an entire koilel is like the rap producer or NBA stars luxury car collection....

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  26. The thing that bothers me the most about this story is that it highlights the results of a complete disregard for Chazal. The Chazal clearly expected and preferred that all people work and support themselves. And while most Rishonim and Achronim (vs. Rambam) understood that there needs to be a system where elite students have the necessary support to continue learning without work , the current system where no one enters the workforce is definitely against Chazal's outlook, and the results are terrible. Anyone who has lived in the Israeli Charedi community, especially the Yeshivish community, can testify to the unsustainability of the current model.

    However, I would point out that the main PRACTICAL reason for this systemic problem is the military draft. The fact that no one can leave Yeshiva at age 20 and start working legally without serving in the Armed Forces basically ensures that no one works until they reach exemption age and status, which is usually too late to start. And as the Chareidi world is vehemently opposed to serving in the Army, we have a Catch-22, which will only get worse as the Chareidi community continues to grow. While I understand that abolishing the draft is not viable, IMHO there is no other way of getting the Chareidim to work. The fact is that in the US, UK, Canada, Belgium etc. the majority of Chareidim start working at age 21-24, and I believe that Israel would be the same if not for compulsory Army service.

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    1. You should read the details of the new law on the draft... as well as making sure that 1,800 elite bochrim do stay in yeshiva ( the first time that a State of Israel Law has recognized the value of Torah study) it also provides for Haredim to go into the workplace and exempts thousands of Haredim from army service

      As the Jerusalem Post noted :"The law has been criticized for giving all haredi men over the age of 18 on the day it was passed, Wednesday, exemptions from military service, either immediately (for those over 22) or in the coming years (for those now aged between 18 and 22)." http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Haredi-conscription-bill-passes-67-1-345110

      Its important to note that this Yesh Atid law was not based on hatred of Haredim or of the Torah lifestyle - rather a recognition that the current system doesn't work for Haredim and isn't fair to the rest of us... Getting Haredim into the workplace and into the IDF means bringing them closer to the rest of Am Yisrael. This is an important goal that we should all talk more about and it often gets overlooked in the vitriol of the debate.

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    2. Nobody cares what Yesh Atid's agenda was, although I think the goal of the law was to forcibly integrate the Chareidim (which is not entirely a bad thing). The fact is that the law mandates Army service for all future Yeshiva students (except the elite). The Chareidi community will not accept mandatory Army service, and will continue on this self-destructive cycle. by taking away the current impediment to work, Israel will allow the thousands of Charedim who want to work, to actually do so. I understand that this option is repugnant to most non-Hareidim, and wont be seriously considered. it is however the only viable option.

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    3. There's no reason that the rest of Israeli society should 'accept' the Haredi's stance. That's what the social protests were all about and that's why people vote for Yesh Atid. Finally a party is standing up to the Haredi demands to be treated preferentially and saying 'No'. (Unlike Likud or Labor - who chicken out of the confrontation.)

      And so there is no reason to accept the Haredi "we'll work, but not serve" stance at all. Morally it is, as you say, repugnant.

      Having said all that, as I noted before, the new law did exempt thousands of Haredi males who are over the age of army service from serving and allowed them to go and work. Haredi families everywhere should write a thank you letter to Yair Lapid and then go and vote for him as a basic level of hakaras hatov.

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    4. In the US the majority of chareidim do NOT start working at ages 21 - 24 unless they are chassidish.

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    5. Israel Future-
      I have reluctatnly come to the conclusion that there is no point in trying to force the Haredim to serve in the IDF. I believe and informal political and possibly geographic separation of the Haredim from the rest of society is the only solution. In any event, if you have read Parshat Shoftim in the book of Devarim, it says who should and should not serve in the military and it makes clear that people of very low motivation should not be there. Thus, I would grant the Haredim a complete exemption from IDF service and allow them to work without having to serve, In return, they should agree to give up control of the Chief Rabbinate and municipal Rabbinates in towns in which Haredim are a minority, and that their Knesset representatives should agree to remain neutral on questions of relations between religion and state and should also agree not to take the role of swing vote in the Knesset on questions of national policy such as giving up territory and the such. Finally, I would encourage them to populate separate towns like Beitar Ili and Kiryat Sefer and not built up large populations in mixed towns like Beit Shemesh which could lead to the friction like we have seen. I believe such a package deal would lead to a lessening of tension and a real modus-vivendi in which each side doesn't fear the encroachments of the other. The
      only problem is that I was talking to a Rav who is familiar with religious public policy and he told me that MERETZ did actually offer such a package in the 1992 Rabin-SHAS coalition gov't and the Haredim turned it down. Where do we go from here?

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    6. @IsraelFuture

      I agree that it may be morally repugnant to the average Israeli, but I believe that its the only way forward, whether we like it or not.

      @Topshot

      You are right. Chassidish people marry at age 18-20 and start working at 21-14. Yeshivish people marry at age 22-25 and start working 3-4 years later. Point is, 85% of Hareidim in the US work, and Israel can definitely be the same.

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    7. Y Ben David and Chareidi4:

      There is no reason that we should have to just accept Haredi recalcitrance. They don't like army service? They have no motivation? How much do you think I want my son to go risk his life in the IDF?

      Just because they don't want to is no reason not to demand that they do their fair share. Everyone else has to. They shouldn't get to receive preferential treatment just because they can pout better than the rest of us.

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    8. Israel Future. Firstly, and I say this as someone who served and continues to do more reserve duty then most, the Israeli obsession with getting the chareidim to serve is not only futile but also self destructive. It is futile because you won't convince them to serve and they will be happily marched of to prison before being drafted forcibly. And then what have you achieved. In fact, as generous as the draft law was it only succeeded in slowing down chareidi voluntary draft Shattuck had seen exponential growth. But your insistence that the exemption is morally repugnant, whilst arguably true, accomplished nothing. I'd you exempt them they work, increase tax revenue, increase GDP and decrease welfare. It's a win all round. If you continue to stuck to your moral high ground, even if you draft them, you force another few 10s of thousands (more expensive) soldiers into an already bloated army increasing taxpayer costs and everyone loses. A months before the draft law passed the army deceased service of noon combat personnel by 3 months because there were to many of them. The draft law serves only politicians looking to profit of chareidi hatred and Israelis who would rather suffer than be a friar (granted a fair number, but not a rational bunch).

      On a separate note, seeing that you insist in hijacking that's forum to campaign for YA, I will inform you that the reason most people I know won't consider voting for them for anything other than cheirem is that they advocate giving up Eretz Yisroel to the Arabs. And from what I have seen on this forum you won't find any sympathizers for that. So save your breath.

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  27. A thank you to Marty Bluke who always does a fantastic job reporting. What more is there to say? You can't change the laws of physics and you can't change the laws of economic behavior. So it appears that a single generation is gobbling up multiple generations of money and has created some highly entitled behavior. I hope there will be follow up on all the letters to the editor that are surely being written now. None of us can do the introspection that needs to be done. But we can stop propping it up and start offering real tzedakah at the highest level instead of band-aids that allow patting ourselves on the back.

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    1. "...band-aids that allow patting ourselves on the back."

      You mean like Adopt-A-Kollel?

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    2. I disagree. Band aids never allow self back patting.

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  28. Whatever happened to 'do not make the torah a spade' ?

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    1. you mean, like a spade with which to dig your (or your community's) own grave! :)

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  29. At least suing your parents in beit din is better than what his son is alleged to have done after his father cut his support:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nyc-hedge-fund-founder-killed-son-allowance-source-article-1.2066224

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  30. @Charlie "At least suing your parents in beit din is better than what his son is alleged to have done after his father cut his support"

    See! We're better than they are ... ohr lagoyim.

    #sarcasm

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  31. We sit here arguing about a real and fundamental problem in Charedi society but the people who should be listening, who should be able to see that there is a problem, and could provide a solution seem to be all too mute. Perhaps they are too preoccupied with finding yet another problem to make our complicated and over-burdened religious lives even more difficult. Those leaders of frum society seem to be more interested in distracting us and spinning us around (again) by (this time) finding bugs in our orange juice rather than struggling with the problems that will really destroy us. If I were a dictator and I wanted to rally the troops to my cause and maintain my position of power, I'd work hard to find ways to distract the herd from focusing on my shortcomings as a leader, the bankruptcy of my ideas, and the problems I have thus caused, and instead find an issue to redirect the anger, criticism, and energy away from me. Thus, we now have bugs in our orange juice rather than any solution to this problem.

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  32. After reading this "conversation" I feel like I have read the rantings of some of the inmates of an insane asylum. You can read jihadi posts that read and sound remarkably similar to the insanity I've just read. Once you believe that you are doing G-d's work, everything is permissible.
    One need only look into Tanach and early Jewish history to realize that the entire discussion and debate is based on a false premise and perpetuated by those fanatical practitioners that have benefited therefrom. It is crumbling of it's own weight and the sooner the better. When I was in yeshiva there was a sense of pride and even arrogance in the fact that so many of our antecedents were Gedolim well versed in secular knowledge that chareidim today disdain. The self destructive impulses that drive the system are certainly interesting, the contempt that they hold their benefactors in, the arrogance in the taking, the total lack of hakoras hatov, the distortion of reality are fascinating as well as baffling. It's as if they are living in an alternate universe and the only response to criticism of any kind are insults.The bottom line is that the entire so called "Torah structure" exists only because of the kindness and generosity of others without whom it collapses.
    The absurdity of arguments as to who gives more or enough,the American or Israeli government when neither owes you anything is beyond ludicrous. To feel that you are somehow entitled to a handout, I'll say it again, handout is a sure sign of immaturity and emotional distress.You'll notice that I'm not indulging in the exercise of bringing "marei m'komos" to bolster my position for the simple reason that the entire way of life is based on false premises.
    Friends of mine who helped create and perpetuate this system are now quietly complaining that they can no longer afford to support children and grandchildren as well as mosdos who have come to take it for granted. They realize that they have created a monster and are clueless as to what to do about since they are terrified of the names they will be called and the shunning that will ensue.
    This way of life is a post war phenomenon and the reasons are at this point immaterial, what happens now. To me the answer is simple, it has to be permitted to crash start anew. When people are delusional enough to actually mock the soldiers that protect them and call themselves "the tip of the spear", there is nothing left to say.

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  33. I'm thinking that the system has reaped what it has sown.

    Learning the Talmud + commentaries is valued over all else. This value system is hammered into the child from cradle until marriage. By the time the young man is placed under the chuppah, he has graduated from talmud torah, yeshivah ketana, then yeshivah gedola and now is placed into kollel. He cannot choose any other path without severe consequences in terms of shame, and withdraw of economic support. He works very hard to fulfill what is expected of him, receives promises of long term economic support, then is left without a back up plan when his father-in-law can't support him as promised.

    Sure, if the kid had better integrity then he wouldn't be nicking chickens from his shver. But integrity was never valued by his family and society. Rather, in Haredi society, conformity is king. The pressure for conformity brings certain benefits such as continuity. There is also a price to be paid.

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  34. Mr. Waxman, Beautiful article! If we don't teach our children, when they are young, the basic values of sacrificing, working for what you want, appreciation and being thankful when parents help us, then we would have failed them. Which reminds me in the book of proverbs 22:6 states, "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it!!! This is the responsibility of both parents, not just the father but also the mother! We are living in a world now where some men are not there for their children and the mothers are expected to fill the role of both parents! In Jewish culture the men are supposed to learn Torah and be the spiritual leaders in their homes! What if the men are not doing their part and failing their families? Isn't, it time that women should also be exposed to Torah learning from young, as children spend a lot of time with their mothers, especially when they are young. I believe that Hashem will be very pleased to see women just as versed in Torah, as the men, because, let's face it, a lot of men are not living up to their responsibilities!!! That' my take on it!

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  35. My solution to this dilemma is to start exposing both boys and girls to secular education in addition to Torah learning! In this way, both of them, ie both husband and wife can be in a position to obtain a decent job and take care of their children and their homes, without having to be dependent on parents or in-Laws, as the case may be. This is how we in the Indian culture do it, And it works beautifully!!!

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