Sunday, October 6, 2019

Rationalist Tzedakah

You'd think that a mitzvah as basic as tzedakah, charity, would not have anything to do with the primary topics of this forum - rationalism vs. mysticism. But it certainly can!

There are a number of different communal charity organizations in Ramat Bet Shemesh. Some organizations give hand-outs to the many local desperate kollel families which, while alleviating their current hardship, does nothing to change their long-term situation. This is presumably based on the mystical idea that such kollel study is valuable; perhaps even more so than financial self-sufficiency.

But one of them, Lemaan Achai, is the most extraordinary charity organization that I've seen, and has a different approach. Their motto is "smart chessed." When taking on a family, they first have a case worker assess every aspect of the family's situation. Then their goal is to practice charity according to Rambam's principles, whereby the highest level of charity is to rehabilitate the family such that they are independent.

If you're looking for a good, smart cause for your charity shekels/dollars, please consider Lemaan Achai. You can find out more, and donate, via their website at www.lemaanachai.org.

19 comments:

  1. Apples and pineapples. People who learn need assistance to continue learning. People who work, but dont earn enough to support themselves, need help to learn how to earn more. Some people have an irrational belief that there rationalism excludes all other approaches. In every religion there are people, who dedicate themselves to the spiritual at the expense of the worldly. In my yoga studio someone recently was making fun of the yogies believing that the whole world exists because of their worship. Wrong! This is a fundamental human need present in all religions. Now, you don't have to put rice into a monks bowl if it's not your thing, but plenty of people, myself included, are fine with some, not everyone and not the low IQ demographic, learning Torah for it's own sake. The Jewish tradition from the times immemorial had both approaches. The emphasis fluctuated through the ages, but it was never one or the other and it will never be due to the fundamental human nature. Some people due to their genetic characteristics are going to do it in whatever religion they find themselves.




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    1. Some people have the utterly rational belief that people who don't want to work shouldn't be rewarded.

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    2. learning Torah for it's own sake.

      Learning Torah for its own sake means learning in order to fulfill its precepts and commandments. Torah is not meant to be an abstract subject, studied in ivory towers.

      There has never been a time when most Jews did nothing but learn. It has ever been the domain of a tiny percentage.

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    3. your point is well taken , but the current haredi model , and especially in israel , points to mandatory open ended extended torah lishma -- almost universally at someone else's expense. it is good to see that the haredi community now realizes that only a certain segment of the populace wishes to support this endeavor , and has created e. g. 'adopt a kollel' as a model for those who feel this is a priority for their limited tzedaka dollars....

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    4. If learning for its own sake means learning to fufill the commandments then what does it mean that women are exempt from the Mitzvah of learning Torah? They are obligated to learn for the sake of doing.
      The usual YA

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  2. You state: "In every religion there are people, who dedicate themselves to the spiritual at the expense of the worldly." The problem with this approach is that it does not connect with adult RESPONSIBILITY. When you are a child, you tend to be selfish and don't think (as much) about responsibility to others. However, adult Haredim want large families but the men who have the responsibility for raising that family ask others to take on the responsibility of providing for the physical needs of that family (usually some combination of the wife and the state). Do Haredi men ever consider the fact that their children and even wife may not want to make that sacrifice? Do they ever consider that in Israel, where we are forced to spend huge amounts of money on defense, there is less money for social programs to support those who are in worse financial condition than Haredi men who voluntarily live in poverty (while forcing their wives and children to live in poverty)? It's great to go off and do just what you want and not worry about your responsibility to your family and society but that is what a child does; it isn't the response of a grown adult who knows that society depends on the fact that we all pitch in. And before you say that the Haredim provide for the spiritual needs for society, there are plenty of Dati-leumi and yes some Haredim who work and learn. That is true responsibility to both spheres of life.

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    1. Enough is enough! it has become disgusting that the anti-working segment of the ultra-orthodox and their rabbis absolutely spit on the simple, working class Jew (regardless of his religious observance). It is downright selfish that the poor working stiff is stuck subsidizing this. It is a complete bastardization of the Holy Torah.

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  3. How well do you know the Rambam? The RAMBAM writes (Yad, Hilchot Shmitah v'Yovel 13:13):

    Not only the tribve of Levi, but any man from all the people of the world whose spirit voluteers him and he understands it from his own knowledge to withdraw, to stand before HaShem to serve him and "ul'ovdo" to know HaShem and goes strightly as G-d made him, and (he) casts fro upon his neck the yoke of the many calulations that men have sought, behold he becomes sanctified, holy of holies, and HaShem will be his lot and heritage forever, and (he) will merit for himself in this world what is enough for him as (G-d) credited Kohanim and the Levi'im. Behold (King) David, may peace be upon him, says (Tehillim 16:5), "G-d is the portion of my inheritance and (of) my cup, You are my support, my destiny."

    What he says is a chilul HaShem is when such a person asks or expects others to support him in his spiritual endeavors. Because the Gemara itself says (Brachot 10b):

    One who wants to benefit (from others), should benefit like Elisha (did). Whoever does not want to benefit (from others) should not benefit like Shmuel (did not).

    I think the Rambam would not agree with your putting down people who want to support other people's Torah learning with no strings attached.

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    1. Unfortunately you have misunderstood Rambam. See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/04/the-truth-about-much-abused-rambam.html

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    2. Waterman 613,

      "and (he) casts fro upon his neck the yoke of the many calulations that men have sought"

      Emm, how many kollel people do that? How many carry on like nothinh has happened when they don't receive their check? How many never look for ways to increase their household income? Most of them run around, mentally if not physically to see if another kollel pays more.

      It's nonsense to suggest all but a fraction of a percent reach anywhere near the level that the Rambam is talking about.

      Plus of course you have ignored the Rambam about the foolishness of marrying without parnasaah and many on similar themes.

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    3. It should be an OPTION for people to support the kollel life - not FORCED, as is the current state of the Israeli tax situation. The corruption of taking part in the Knesset has put a black eye on the orthodox parties. Schach knew how to play the system well and created a nightmarish corrupt situation that has placed an enormous stain on the heredi in Israel.

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  4. It is extremely dishonest (or ignorant) of you to say that all chareidi tzedaka funds just give hand outs to kollel families. I recommend that people check of the RBS tzedaka funds website https://www.rbstzedaka.com and see for themselves that they do much much more including helping find employment and achiving financial independence (https://www.rbstzedaka.com/employment/).
    Please stop promoting this streotype of chareidi society. Its simply not true. The vast majority of mainstream chareidim understand that learning in kollel should not be done if it leads to taking charity (balabatim or family willingly supporting you because of the perceived benefits is a different story entirely whether you agree with it or not).
    an RBS resident

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    1. "It is extremely dishonest (or ignorant) of you to say that all chareidi tzedaka funds just give hand outs to kollel families." It would indeed be extremely dishonest or ignorant of me to say that. Fortunately, I didn't.

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    2. Correct you did not say it explicitly but it is very much implied by the way you wrote this post. saying that unlike the other RBS charities Lemaan achai has an "extraordinary" and "different" approach certainly gives that impression. In truth, many charities assist the poor in achieving financial independence and follow them as cases throughout the process. I gave an example of one of the largest. I am also a big fan of lemaan achai and have donated to them in the past, but there is no need to make it seem like no one else does what they do.
      an RBS resident

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  5. I know this will offend some but so be it. It is the truth.

    Most, not all, who spend their time 'learning' would be better served earning their own keep. If they get a great deal of personal satisfaction from sitting in a bet medrash and learning it is wonderful. If they sacrifice for it that is their prerogative. If their children suffer for it, that is what the Division of Child Services is for and they are unfit parents. We should all have satisfying hobbies. Why should I or others be called upon to subsidize their hobby.

    G'mar tov.

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  6. In and of itself Daat Leumi isn't incompatible with full time Kollel advocacy. It's blocked in practice by the draft with their acceptance of the military as it is in Israel as being compatible with Halachic requirements and a lack of Litvish Charedi ideology advocating it as the ideal, an ideology lacking among the Chassidim as well.
    https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/featured/1293229/dati-leumi-rabbonim-concerned-may-not-gedolei-torah.html

    The usual YA

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    1. 'The rav envisions a vaad would comb the yeshivot of the dati leumi tzibur and compile a list of the 500 candidates. They will receive financial support monthly and remain in the tent of torah instead of entering the academic world or seek employment. The payment would continue for five years after which time these lomdim would find Torah employment to continue earning a living.'


      5 years to become a godol? Don't make me laugh now.

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    2. Everyone is a gadol in the yeshivish world.
      Of course, only from my yeshiva, not the other yeshiva. My relatives, not others.

      2. DL RZ yeshivot have kollelim too. Not lifetime kollels

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  7. I have stated numerous times both privately, and yes, publically. All the Streams and Sects of Judaism need to on the open market like any capitalist country trying to put products to the consumer. CATCH IS - ZERO public funding. I assure you, no one will want to be Ultra-Orthodox when the state and public funding isn't an option. WHO WINS? CHABAD, MIZRAHI, DL . Who Loses? the anti working Rabbis and their sects, REFORM and CONSERVATIVE are TOAST - dead on arrival. LEt the FREE MARKET determine what is JUDAISM and what isn't. This would be a huge win for Chabad - as they've been the ONLY ultra-orthodox sect to show that Judaism can be pro army, pro WORK (what a concept!), and you can learn etc. The insanity must come to an end AND SOON!

    ReplyDelete

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