The Invention of a Gemara
Recently, a chassidishe tzedakah-collector came to my door, collecting for a young man getting married. I asked him what the young man does, and the meshulach looked a little surprised at my question; the young man is in yeshivah, of course, a fine ben Torah. So I asked how he can possibly spend all his time in yeshivah, when he cannot afford to get married and has to send people to collect money for him? Does it not say in the kesubah that the husband has an obligation to support his wife? Is it not his duty to at least attempt to earn some money himself?
The collector was taken aback at my audacity, or at my novel suggestion, I'm not sure which. But he sagely told me that the Gemara says that if a person devotes himself to learning Torah, it is the obligation of the community to support him.
"Really?" I said. "I have a Shas right here. Can you show me where the Gemara says that?"
He started to splutter that he didn't remember exactly which Daf it was on.
"There's no such Gemara!" I said. I really don't know if he was aware that he was entirely fabricating a Gemara or not. But I find it amazing that people are so entirely out of touch with what Chazal really said about this sort of thing, and with what Jews traditionally did, until just a few decades ago.