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Vizhnitz for Yaffed and Lapid!
Yaffed is an American organization which seeks to address the problem of charedi yeshivos failing to teach secular education to their students and leaving them woefully unprepared to be able to support their families. In Israel, such campaigns are fought by politicians such as Yair Lapid. Despite the fact that this is in line with Chazal's dictum that a person is obligated to teach his son how to make a living, the official representatives of the charedi community are staunchly opposed to such efforts. In public statements, they argue that yeshivos give a much better education than is popularly claimed.
But now, something incredible has happened. A strong message in support of the message of Yaffed and Lapid has emerged from none other than the Vizhnitz community!
As discussed in the previous post, one of the Vizhnitz sects has been rallying around Chaim Stern, a pillar of their community who was convicted of all kinds of fraud. Despite his criminal conviction, his rebbe and his community maintain that he is a tzaddik. As for the crimes for which Stern was convicted, they explain that he was a victim of circumstance - the circumstance of a woefully inadequate secular education. A memorandum submitted to the court detailed this as follows:
"Mr. Stern was not a good businessman. He had no business experience, no secular education, limited ability to read, write (in English), or do math... and he has no business schooling or training. As a result of these limitations, Mr. Stern has no appreciation for the niceties of bookkeeping or proper business management... Even though Mr. Stern had barely any secular education, having only attended a religious school up through approximately 8th grade, had never run even a small business himself and certainly did not have any experience running a complex and highly-regulated company like a nursing home, nonetheless, with “the blessing of the Rebbe,” Mr. Stern decided to enter the nursing home industry. This naïve optimism in his ability to carry the day through nothing but hard work would lead to financial disaster and, eventually, to the crimes to which Mr. Stern has pleaded guilty..."
There you have it. Running a business requires various skills and education, which are not taught in yeshivos. Failing to possess such skills and education can lead to financial disaster, crime, and imprisonment. As Chazal said: "Whoever does not teach his son a trade, has taught him robbery."
Yaffed and Lapid should plaster the Vizhnitz statement on billboards. It makes their case perfectly.
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