Monday, January 14, 2019

Is Kollel a Levite Lifestyle?

It's hard for someone in kollel to make the transition to working to support his family. Especially if it's been drilled in to him for many years that he's failing his purpose in life by doing so. And thus Jonathan Rosenblum's article in last week's Mishpacha magazine, "Life After Kollel," was a very important piece. While lamentably (but understandably) quoting R. Chaim Volozhiner's novel mystical views about the impact of Torah learning on the cosmos, Rosenblum also stresses how the workplace, no less than the yeshivah, is a place where one grows in Avodas Hashem. He even writes that "sustaining and advancing the physical world, yishuvo shel olam, is itself a mitzvah."

It's fabulous that such an article is published in a charedi magazine. But I do have to nitpick on one small but significant matter.

Rosenblum refers to the time in kollel as "the years spent as a member of Shevet Levi." This is following Rambam's famous declaration, at the end of Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel, about how anyone who chooses to devote himself to the service of God becomes like a Levite.

But this is intellectually dishonest in the extreme. Because if you're following Rambam, then you have to acknowledge that Rambam was of the view that somebody in kollel is in no way an honorary Levite.

I'm not even talking about the fact that, as is well known, Rambam was of the view that it is absolutely forbidden for someone to take money for learning Torah (and he held that the financial support of honorary Levites was not financial grants, but rather involved the investment of funds, and assistance in business). Nor am I talking about how, according to Rambam, such a person is not exempt from military service.

Rather, I'm talking about the fact that according to Rambam, someone learning in kollel is simply in no way doing what Levites did. Because according to Rambam, the Levites' special mission was not learning Torah. It was teaching Torah:
Why did the tribe of Levi not acquire a share in the Land of Israel and in its spoils together with their brothers? Because this tribe was set apart to serve God and to minister to Him, to teach His straight ways and righteous ordinances to the multitudes, as it is written: “They shall teach Jacob Your ordinances and Israel Your Law” (Deut. 33,10).(Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Shemittah VeYovel 13:12)
I've lost count of the number of times that I have seen charedi policymakers and ambassadors blur the difference between learning Torah and teaching Torah. It's a very serious distortion, one which makes all the difference in the world. Levites serve God by serving the Jewish people. People in kollel do not.

74 comments:

  1. For a full discussion of the Rambam at the end of shmita veyovel, see https://www.mhcny.org/pdf/Enigmatic%20Passage%20in%20The%20Mishneh%20Torah.pdf

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  2. In order to argue that Kollel is no longer the correct approach, you first need to prove that the concept of "Ace laasos L'Hashem" no longer applies. Until then, you can bring all the arguments in the world....

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    1. I'd think that *any* time "eit laasot" is invoked, the onus is on the one invoking it to prove it.

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    2. I'm not taking sides, just pointing out the viewpoint of those who subscribe to Kollel.
      I would also add, as long as chareidim perceive that the secular world is out to shadow torah learning - nothing and no one will ever change the Kollel choice. As I've been saying for a while - the dati and secular approach of trying to fight the chareidim head on will never prove fruitful. Natan needs to lower his rhetoric for the chareidim to even consider taking him seriously. The same applies to all others who want to effect change in the chareidi world.

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    3. The well-prepared Gadol always has an ace laasos up his sleeve.

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    4. "eit laasot" L' ASHEM
      yep that was exactly what i was told

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    5. "eit laasot" L' ASHEM
      yep that was exactly what i was told

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    6. Dynamic:

      You were told it twice?

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    7. וַיֹּ֛אמֶר משֶׁ֥ה משֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי:

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    8. Who decides when it's an et la'asot LASHEM? The Conservative Movement can use it to justify driving to Schul on Shabbat in the USA.

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    9. " As I've been saying for a while - the dati and secular approach of trying to fight the chareidim head on will never prove fruitful. Natan needs to lower his rhetoric for the chareidim to even consider taking him seriously."

      This is an extremely sensible and accurate comment. Yasher Koach.

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  3. I wonder how can one teach Torah without first learning it (of course, beyond the high school)?

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    1. Your patients don't call you doctor until you've actually finished your education and started practicing. When (if) a kollel groupie starts teaching, then maybe he can be considered an honorary member of Shevet Levi.

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  4. The obvious point is Lazar's. In fact, I can't imagine it didn't cross your intelligent (albeit grossly biased) mind. Aside from the fact that many Kollel yungeleit do indeed aspire to a position of "chinuch", which they rightly believe requires years of attaining Torah knowledge and prowess, there is also the requirement of "v'shinantam livanecha"- again, very difficult to truly attain without intense, and yes, undisturbed involvement in Torah. And any statistics you may conjure to prove how small a percentage of Kollel yungeleit actually end up teaching is meaningless- they are merely doing everything they can to even HOPE to join the ranks of shevet Levi. They are all commendable in that respect- both those who are more serious and "lishma", and those who are less.

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    1. Yid, I want to do the mitzvah of giving tzedakah by supporting Torah study, and I'm going to support your kollel. The way that I'm going to do the mitzvah is by going to work to make a lot of money. After all, I can't give tzedakah until I've got money, right? And although I might not end up making a lot of money, I'm going to do everything I can to even HOPE to make money. What a great mitzvah of tzedaka!

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    2. I absolutely agree! And I applaud your recognition of the importance of Torah study that you have such lofty motives behind your desire to make money. It seems we are in full agreement that even for the purpose of perpetuating Torah study itself, the existence of both the learning folk and the working folk is indispensable. May your altruistic endeavors be successful. (There's no reason to for me to assume any lack of sincerity in your comment, right?)

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    3. So they AREN'T learning "Lishma"-its professional training.

      Got it.

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    4. So they AREN'T learning "Lishma"-its professional training.

      In my opinion, the concept of Lishma has been corrupted anyway. Consider the concept of "Aveira Lishma". The idea is that a transgression done with the intent of fulfilling a commandment (either directly or as a consequence) is given special consideration. The point, though, is that "Lishma" does not mean "for the sake of the Aveira"! Similarly, "Torah Lishma" should be considered the same as "Lilmod Al Minas La'asos", that is, the learning is for the sake of consequently performing a commandment. Learning for the sake of learning is not what is meant by Torah Lishma!

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  5. All this in addition to the fact that for the Rambam, (even more than) basic science is an absolute prerequisite for true Divine service...

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  6. "lamentably."

    Does it bother you that people cite sources that conflict with your viewpoint? I would imagine you would have thicker skin that that.

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    1. It bothers me that people cite as normative a radical innovation with disastrous consequences.

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  7. Shemittah V’yovel 13:12 describes what the Levites did, which does, indeed, include teaching Hashem’s upright ways and righteous ordinances. When, in Halacha 13, Rambam broadens the concept to describe how any person can remove the yoke of those things pursued by the multitudes and instead dedicate their life to serving Hashem and sanctifying themself and have their necessities provided by Hashem like the Levites and Kohanim, he doesn’t mention a requirement to teach others.

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    1. I think it takes a "special" kind of person to deliberately disconnect the two. Serving Bnei Yisroel was the service to Hashem performed by Shevet Levi. This is clear from Chumash, as well as the Rambam.

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    2. Lew made an elementary diyuk in the Rambam that any decent yeshiva bochur would make. You can't reply to that with a nasty comment. That's not serious discussion. If you have a serious answer to his diyuk then share it.

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    3. You are only showing that decent yeshiva bochurim are not logical beings. There's no way to read the two Halachos one after the other and come up with the concept that isolationism is somehow emulating Shevet Levi. You can have that conclusion and then read it into the Rambam, but it's not at all what the Rambam wrote.

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  8. If Levi isn't the right tribe than is Issachar?

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  9. "Lamentably... quoting R. Chaim Volozhiner's novel mystical views about the impact of Torah learning"

    I can't believe you write lamentably about something that R' Chaim Volozhiner says is האמת בלתי שום ספק כלל. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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    1. Huh? You think that every time that a great scholar insists that something is unquestionably true, then this negates the possibility that many other great scholars disagree with him?

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    2. Reading the linked article by Rosenblum, he himself is indeed stating that "the average ben Torah will have learned Rav Chaim of Volozhin's classic work..." and then follows this with "But he'll be less likely to have heard shmuessen on the final paragraphs of Mesilas Yesharim, in which the Ramchal writes that the highest level of Divine service is as accessible to 'the one who plies a humble trade' "

      Reading his words in context, the "lament" here is that these kollel members focus their attention on this one teaching of R' Chaim of Volozhin while remaining ignorant of the other.

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    3. No. I don't think that. I think it negates the possibility that it can be described as lamentable for someone to quote him.

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    4. I meant that it's lamentable that it's presented as the normative, classical position, rather than the unique chiddush that it really is.

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    5. "unique chiddush"? Are you really going to pretend that the Nefesh Hachaim's approach is not firmly supported by countless passages from Zohar? Unless it is to be understood that on a rationalist forum such as this one, every one of the many achronim and rishonim who espouse a mystical approach are considered non-existent entirely. Pretty dismissive, Rabbi Slifkin.

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    6. Where does the Zohar speak about the cosmic significance of learning Nigleh?

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  10. Please provide evidence that other great scholars disagree with this teaching of Rav Chaim Volozhin.

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    1. The Rishonim do not mention such a thing. They describe the importance of learning Torah in very different terms.

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    2. And that is supposed to be evidence of disagreement with Rav Chaim Volozhin?

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    3. Can you explain, please? You claim that Rav Cha Volozhin is a lamentable, unique opinion, though no one of similar staure has evere disputed these teachings of the nature of Torah since the publication of Nefesh HHachaim.Stating that other Rishonim did not openly express this issue in the same manner does not indicate any dispute. Can you please provide specific evidence for your claim?

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    4. 1. I said it's lamentable that it's presented as normative.
      2. The complete lack of any mention of anything of the sort in the Rishonim is certainly clear indication that they didn't hold of it. If they held of such a fundamental concept, they would have mentioned it.

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    5. Funny - you apparently haven't learned Nefesh HaChaim. He cites Rambam and other of your favored Rishonim at least 25 times.

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    6. Not on this point he doesn't. There is nothing in Rambam about learning Torah metaphysically sustaining the universe.

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    7. Sorry, but you have misunderstood apparently the entire Nefesh HaChaim, which is one unit from start to finish. The first Shaar is one long explanation of what a human being is as a Tzelem Elokim, and the fourth and concluding Shaar describes ultimately how the man who is learning Torah embodies that ideal. The Rambam is cited as concurring with this perspective on creation. Perhaps if you will study once again (with an honest look - 'לשמה' )- you might reconsider your position.

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    8. There is nothing in Rambam about learning Torah metaphysically sustaining the universe. Feel free to cite anything in Rambam that demonstrates otherwise.

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    9. Nefesh HaChaim states clearly that his view of creation is based upon the Rambam. Menachem Kellner and Natan Slifkin are the first Jews in history to claim that Nefesh HaChaim is arguing with the Rambam. You have no explicit source, but only a theory - which has somehow never been noticed before by thousands of Torah scholars - that the Rambam is arguing because he does not state explicitly state the words that you believe should have been said. Sorry, the more likely possibility here is that you, rather than Nefesh HaChaim, have simply misunderstood the Rambam, and created an imaginary dispute that suits your own agenda.

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    10. For your readers' sake, the relevant passage in Nefesh HaChaim that cites the Rambam as authority in this context is at the beginning of Shaar 3. The 'will of G-d' referenced there - without which the world would cease to exist - is the Torah, of course, as explained throughout the Sefer, and at length in Shaar 4, the section you consistently mock and ridicule.

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    11. Good grief. The Rambam cited there - the beginning of Yesoday HaTorah- says nothing of the sort and was never interpreted that way.

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    12. Rav Chaim Volozhin is explaining the Rambam. He says that he is basing his position on the Rambam, but you disagree and claim that he is actually disputing the Rambam - a novel position, for which you have no source.

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    13. Perhaps I should have worded my last statement more carefully. Nefesh HaChaim is not BASING his position the Rambam, but citing him as a corroborating authority. He expands upon the Rambam's description of the first principle, which is the fundmental basis of everything - in the Rambam's own words 'עיקר כל העיקרים'

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    14. There seems to be an argument here but no one is actually bringing sources to the table. I think it would benefit everyone to quote (not just cite) the sources they are referring to. This way it can be expanded upon and analyzed appropriately.

      As an aside, RNS seems be describing "learning Torah" to maintain the cosmos, while Afrum thus far has only stated that "Torah", not kollel members learning it, is the "'will of G-d' referenced there - without which the world would cease to exist"
      I am not sure if this is what is at the heart of your (RNS and Afrum) debate. But it always drives me mad that people quote the world standing on "Torah, Avodah, Gemilut chasadim" and conclude from their that "talmud Torah" is one of those 3 pillars. There is a major difference between "Torah" and "learning Torah" throughout pirkei avot.

      Would love to hear both of your thoughts on this, and if it would indeed get to the heart of what you're debating

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    15. My argument here is not about Kollel or learning. I am claiming that Rabbi Slifkin's portrayal of Rav Chaim Volozhin as a novelty opposed by the Rambam and other Rishonim is false. In no way does Nefesh HaChaim's position veer from the classic positions of the Riahonim (regardless of his explicit reliance on Kabbalistic literature).
      On the broader issues, I don't believe there is any benefit in debating Rabbi Slifkin on this forum. He has manufactured an entire new form of Orthodoxy, and is basing his new worldview on the dichotomy he has imagi Ed into being that splits the Rishonim from the later generations of Rabbinic thought.

      The questions that you raise are interesting, and I would be willing to respond in greater depth if you care to email me at: afrumrabbi@gmail.com

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    16. stop the ignoranceJanuary 17, 2019 at 9:30 PM

      There was definitely a split between the rationalist and Kabbalist Rishonim. But the Shulchan Aruch killed the anti-Kabbalists, the Rama put them in a coffin, and the Vilna Gaon gave them a right proper burial. The English language lacks the superlatives needed to express what kind of gigantic Torah scholar it would take the resurrect them - and Rabbi Slifkin, notwithstanding his never-ceases-to-astound, indeed historically (not a misspell) laughable, appraisal of his own scholarship, ain't the man for the job. "Rationalist Judaism" is nothing more than a smoky phantom, a hot air balloon kept afloat primarily by outright heretics and viscerally anti-Charedi sycophants who are of no consequence at all.

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    17. Rav Chaim was an innovator in at least two ways. First, in his description of Torah study as metaphysically sustaining the cosmos. Second, in his definition of Torah L'Shmah.

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    18. I don't think R Slifkin's focus is that the Rambam's view "opposes" the view of R Chaim. RNS said that the "rishonim" did not express the approach of R Chaim. I believe it was you, Afrum, who brought the Rambam into the mix by stating that "Funny - you apparently haven't learned Nefesh HaChaim. He cites Rambam and other of your favored Rishonim at least 25 times".

      "Citing the Rambam" is not enough to say that the Rambam would espouse the same view on this exact matter: that learning Torah affects the cosmos. Can you please quote where in Nefesh Hachayim this is implied. I am not trying to challenge you here, rather I am genuinely intrigued in the conversation and would like to see if the points that people are bringing up are factually true.

      You said "...how the man who is learning Torah embodies that ideal. The Rambam is cited as concurring with this perspective on creation"
      Again, I am not trying to say who's right and who's wrong. I just wanna see where this is said. The topic fascinates me. Where does he say this?

      Lastly, you said "the relevant passage in Nefesh HaChaim that cites the Rambam as authority in this context is at the beginning of Shaar 3"
      Are you referring to 3:1 where R Chaim says:
      וכמ''ש ואתה מחיה את כולם. והוא פנת יסוד אמונת ישראל כמ''ש הרמב''ם ז''ל בריש ספרו

      If that's what you were referencing, that part of the Nefesh Hachayim is not discussing Torah at all yet, but the nature of God Himself being described as Makom. Were you referring to another part of Shaar 3? If so, please inform us where.


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    19. I just saw something N8Light said in a previous comment, and I must respond. He said it drives him mad when people conclude that "al hatorah v'al etc." refers to talmud torah itself. Well, that is exactly how the Tosfos Yomtov (among others) understands it! And his reason is convincing- because it is likely that it refers to something that people actually are supposed to do, just like avoda and gemilas chasadim. The Rambam in Pirush Hamishnayos implies it as well, to my understanding. In any event, I am sure all of these above meforshim would be simply devastated to know that they drive "N8Light" mad...

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    20. @stop the ignorance

      You can't "kill" the rishonim who are already dead. And what's this talk bout resurrecting them? Sounds pretty esoteric to me. That type of comment never gets off the ground according to a rational approach to Judaism. Sorry.

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    21. I appreciate the sincere tone of your query N8LIGHT, but as I mentioned, I don't believe this is the right forum to study Nefesh HaChaim.

      In general, the Sifrei Acharonim expound in great detail what appears in the Rishonim only as a terse comment, so Rabbi Slifkin's assumptions here have no basis.

      Nefesh HaChaim, like the books of most good authors, is a uunified whole, and needs to be understood as one unit. If one studies well the entire Sefer, he will realize that the Talmid Chacham of Shaar 4 is a full expression of the Tzelem Elokim in Shaar 1. The nature of G-d's creation mentioned in Shaar 3 (which cites the Rambam)is also elucidated in the context of the Creator of Shaar 1 (where man is compared to his Creator - again citing the Rambam in the Moreh), so none of this is a diversion from the Rambam in Yesodei HaTorah, contrary to R. R.Slifkin new theology.

      If you would like to continue the discussion privately, please write to: afrumrabbi@gmail.com

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    22. @A Yid

      Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Please allow me to clarify. What drives me mad is that people insist that "al ha'torah" has no other explanation than that of "limud Torah", and use it as a basis to establish it as normative and "ideal" Judaism (I was hoping my choice of word "conclude" conveyed that, sorry it didn't). It's very similar to R Slifkin's issues with the normalization of R Chaim's comments, not the statement itself.

      Now, onto more exciting and important things. Let's talk about that Tosfos Yomtov! Isn't that what this blog should be about! An opportunity to learn Torah and pummel its depths!

      Indeed, the Tosfos Yomtov explained the mishnah in that fashion. A closer look at his statement shows that he first respectfully references R' Ovadiah Bartenura, who does not interpret the mishnah in that manner. Both of their statements have tremendous depth to them.
      The term "Torah" on its own (as opposed to "divrei Torah", "talmud Torah", etc.) comes up multiple times throughout pirkei avos, one such example is in the mishnah just preceding the "al shlosha devarim" where the terms comes up twice ("moshe kibel torah", "seyag la'torah"). There in that first mishna of pirkei avos, the simple pshat is that "torah" does not refer to "limud Torah", for it would be difficult to say that moshe received "limud torah" from Sinai or that we need to make a fence for "limud Torah". Therefore, the Bartenura's comment would tend to be more in line with that pshat.
      You can make a case, however, for moshe getting "limud torah" from Sinai, because what exactly does it means that moshe "got the torah" from sinai and transmitted it to only Yehoshua, the Zekeinim, etc. What about us? Did the Jewish people not get the Torah from Sinai? Therefore, when it says Moshe "got the torah" it may refer to "the ability to transmit the Torah in an authoritative manner", and that's something he passed along only to Yehoshua who succeeded him, and eventually to the zekeinim, etc. You would still face the issue of making a "fence for limud Torah" and that Moshe didn't really get "limud" of the Torah from Sinai, but the ability to "teach and transmit it" (which relate to R Slifkin's article)
      (the other way to interpret it, which is more simplistic, is that indeed whatever form of the physical written torah moshe received from Sinai was only available to the authoritative figures, and not to the masses. The lack of availability of the Torah sits well with the story of King Yoshiyahu's discovery of the Torah scroll that hadn't been seen for centuries, but that's an entire different discussion and would open a major can of worms here!)
      The Tosfos Yomtov does do something genius in that he connects the "yomam va'laylah" that the Bartenura referenced to a verse in Yehoshua that also uses "yomam va'laylah" in reference to what appears to be learning and meditation of Torah. Although the term "yomam va'laylah" appears many times throughout Tanach, I really like his ingenuity and brilliance in his pshat of the mishnah. In the end, both pshatim are tremendously beautiful and contain levels and levels of understanding that any of us should be lucky to acquire a fraction of. May we recognize that gadlus of both, and not fall prey to believing that only one has superiority over the other and be chosen as a basis to narrow Judaism down to one mode of thought and lifestyle.

      Would love to hear your thoughts!

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    23. @Afrum

      I recognize that you believe that this isn't the right forum, but this is where we are engaging. If all you can share is that The Nefesh ha'Chayim loosely references the Rambam in a few places, and then say that the Rambam would concur with the overarching idea that spans the entire sefer, then I remain unconvinced of your approach. Indeed, R Chaim is building on the Rambam, but I still don't see any concrete evidence that the Rambam himself would adopt such an approach. I would love to hear more if you are able. Shkoyach!

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  11. stop the ignoranceJanuary 15, 2019 at 1:41 PM

    ספר החינוך פרשת ראה מצוה תנ
    ...שלא לעזוב את הלוים מלתת להם מתנותיהם ומלשמחם ברגלים

    ובמצוה הזאת יש ללמוד לכל מבין לסעוד ולהטיב אל כל המשתדלים תמיד בחכמת התורה כי הם המעמידים דת האמת ומחזקים האמונה, מרבים שלום בעולם, ואוהבים הבריות ושמחים בישוב המדינה. בצדק יחזו פנימו כל הצריך חנינה, ואין להם פנאי לשוטט בחוצות אחר מחיתם הנה והנה, על כן המרחמם ומבקש תועלתם ירוחם מן השמים וחלק כחלק יאכל עמהם לעולם הבא.

    We see that you are, once again, simply wrong. The Leviim = those who constantly put forth effort in gaining knowledge of Torah. Period. And "Lew" above is absolutely right that Rambam does NOT equate Leviim with Torah teachers.

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    1. And "Lew" above is absolutely right that Rambam does NOT equate Leviim with Torah teachers.

      How do you read the following?

      מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֻבְדַּל לַעֲבֹד אֶת ה' לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְהוֹרוֹת דְּרָכָיו הַיְשָׁרִים וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו הַצַּדִּיקִים לָרַבִּים

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    2. stop the ignoranceJanuary 16, 2019 at 4:38 PM

      They serve as the nation's paragons, beacons, and guides, including but limited to actual teaching and rulings, as seen from Rambam's own words. This stems from their immersion in full-time Torah study.

      בכור שור דברים פרק לג
      והלוים - נמי שאין להם נחלה לא היו טרודין כי אם ללמוד, ולכך יורו משפטיך ליעקב ותורתך לישראל.

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    3. So they were teachers. There's still no evidence that the Rambam would have considered a person sitting in an ivory tower to be a(n honorary) member of Shevet Levi.

      It's said that actions speak louder than words, and we are well aware of what the Rambam did when his investment income was no longer available upon the death of his brother.

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    4. stop the ignoranceJanuary 17, 2019 at 8:47 PM

      No - they were, among other things, teachers. And they lived in their very own cities, all by their very own selves.

      I note the lack of response regarding Sefer HaChinuch.

      What Rambam did is relevant to his attitude toward getting paid for learning, and has no bearing on who he defines as Shevet Levi which, as is crystal clear from halachah 13 - does not mean Torah teachers. There's no use discussing this any further.

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  12. Nosson,
    Just curious - you clearly subscribe to Kellner's interpretation that the Rambam meant to include even non-Jews in halacha 13, as you yourself wrote in this post:
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/04/the-truth-about-much-abused-rambam.html

    "Incidentally, Rambam in Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel is not even only talking about Jews; he speaks about "anyone in the world." He is actually referring to anyone, Jew or non-Jew, seeking an ascetic lifestyle of the pursuit of knowledge."

    Ascetic lifestyle and pursuit of knowledge don't sound like "Teaching torah" to me. But anyway, what exactly do you think the non-Jews are doing in the Rambam's halacha 13? Are they teaching torah? That seems to be an absurd proposition. It is most likely that Lew is right - the Rambam, in halacha 13 about "kol baei olam" does not require Teaching Torah.

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  13. Once you understand that halacha 13 isn’t limited to Jews, it’s neither surprising nor illogical that there’s no requirement to teach Torah. Halacha 13 presents an option available “l’chol ish va-ish mikol ba-ei haolam.” See comment by Cold Stone below.

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  14. The Rambam writes 'and removes from himself the chashbonos of the world' or words to that effect. I'm quoting from memory.

    Find me a kolel person who doesn't make noises when his stipend does not turn up. Or happily runs around to find the highest paying kolel. And moves regularly for that purpose. There are a few. I suppose.

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    1. I know very many of those "kolel people", Mr. ******* (or is that your first name? pardon me). I'm curious how many YOU actually know who do not fit that bill... or is it just hateful prejudice at work? (I'm addressing the first part- as for finding the best-paying kollelim or "moving regularly"- i'm not sure what on earth could bother you about that.)

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    2. What about the kollelnik who's RY sends him out fundraising? Isn't that "le'shotet beChutzot"?

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    3. Ok. So you are saying if the kolel stipend or the stipend from family or whoever doesn't turn up, they carry on if nothing has happened?

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  15. So Nosson, I see you're no longer letting my comments through about the interpretation of Rambam's halacha 13...

    What are you afraid of?

    Oh right, this: ""Incidentally, Rambam in Hilchos Shemittah Ve'Yovel is not even only talking about Jews; he speaks about "anyone in the world." He is actually referring to anyone, Jew or non-Jew, seeking an ascetic lifestyle of the pursuit of knowledge.""

    Hahahahahaha

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    Replies
    1. OK let me explain a few things to you about how I run this blog.
      First, you seem to think that I have an obligation to answer your questions. I don't look at it that way. It takes a lot of time to run this blog and I don't see any obligation to answer everyone who poses challenges.
      Second, I am always less inclined to respond to people who refuse to post under their real name.
      Third, to repeatedly post the same comment is bad manners, so I don't let them through.

      I'll respond to your question tomorrow, b"n.

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  16. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I tend to agree with the overall message of your article. I am not debating the blurred lines of Shevet Levi vs. learning in kollel. Thank you for pointing it out.

    I may have misunderstood some of your previous articles, or perhaps I'm getting confused with other articles from outside authors, but it seems that "kollel life" and learning full time was not the norm and not part of traditional Judaism. And that makes sense to me. But I took the liberty to reread Rambam's opening remarks to Mishneh Torah. What are your thoughts about this:

    וְאַחַר בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁלְּרָב אַשֵׁי, שֶׁחִבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד בִּימֵי בְּנוֹ וּגְמָרוֹ, נִתְפַּזְּרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל הָאֲרָצוֹת פִּזּוּר יָתֵר, וְהִגִּיעוּ לַקְּצָווֹת וְלָאִיִּים הָרְחוֹקִים; וְרָבְתָה קְטָטָה בָּעוֹלָם, וְנִשְׁתַּבְּשׁוּ הַדְּרָכִים בִּגְיָסוֹת. וְנִתְמַעַט תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, וְלֹא נִתְכַּנְּסוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִלְמֹד בִּישִׁיבוֹתֵיהֶם אֲלָפִים וּרְבָבוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ מִקֹּדֶם.

    Does this statement imply that learning in yeshivos by the thousands was indeed the normal practice back then? I imagine there are a number of ways to interpret this. To me, the most logical approach is that this was indeed the traditional practice once upon a time, but it ended and hasn't been that case for thousands of years. But what's stopping people from saying that the kollel lifestyle is aimed at recreating that idyllic lifestyle that the Rambam put forth in his introduction to yesodei haTorah?
    This wouldn't in any way convince me that I am not living the ideal Jewish life by not being in kollel, but perhaps it may be enough to convince me that there is enough support for the other side to keep following their own path without me seeing it as ignorant or uneducated.

    Looking forward!

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