Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Tale of Two Communities

It was the best of places, it was the worst of places. Community A provides for the needs of every child, preparing them for a life of Torah and a life of Parnasah. B focuses on the Torah, claiming the preparation for Parnasah is bitul zeman.

Both A and B encourage their students to study for some years in Yeshiva Gedola, but those in A who are not going to stay in full time learning, becoming Rebbes, Rabbonim, Roshey Yeshiva and Talmidey Chachamim, have no doors closed to them when it comes to making a parnasah. They can become doctors, lawyers, accountants and do so with alarming regularity. But they are professionals who not only attend daf yomi and have chavrutas, they are often more than capable of giving the shiur itself.

Many of those in B who are not going to become Talmidey Chachamim stay in learning, some by default, others by inertia, a few do it to get a "good" shidduch. A lot of people in B have decided to have large families, yet lacking the wherewithal to provide for their needs, becoming reliant on charity. Some do go out to work, though they are often limited in their choice and range of profession due to their lacking the requisite background.

The religious knowledgeable professionals in A use their wealth to support those in the community who have continued in learning, to enable and allow them to grow into the talmidey chachamim they have the potential to be, unfettered by the millstone of providing their families with daily bread. This symbiotic relationship accurately reflects the age-old Yissachar Zevulun arrangement. There is no supercilious snobbery on the behalf of those who have stayed in learning, they have done so because they are to become the religious leaders of the community and they fully appreciate their partners and supporters in this system.

Those in B who for whatever reason have decided to work are considered dhimmi, second-class citizens, bedieved Jews, less worthy or accomplished than those who sit in learning all day. Even the ones who are only still in learning due to the lack of any reasonable alternative and don't even spend most of the day sitting and learning, still consider themselves and their families superior and more exalted than the worker drones.

Community A has organized its affairs to be self-sufficient, self-supporting, solely reliant on its own members to contribute back to the community to support those in education or studying to become leaders. B depends on outside funding and contributions to support its institutions and families, even those who are in the system by default or inertia, who do not contribute to the workforce and who actually syphon off funds that would be better spent supporting those are will succeed in full-time long-term learning.

Being a product of community A, does it make sense that I feel I should contribute back to A rather than B?


(p.s. I know these are archetypal communities, not real ones, so don't get into that. Also, please try and keep away from the UO/MO debate for now. Furthermore, please just assume that A also produces talmidey chachamim. Thank you)


At 9/01/2005 1:05 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

You forgot an important point;

While community B considers their own non-learners to be dhimmi, second class, less worthy Jews, they consider ALL of community A to be even worse. In their warped way of thinking, even a learner from community A is lower down on the worthiness scale than anyone from community B.

Should you contribute to them? Yes...even if they are pathetic, and even though they don't contribute to you, and even though they consider you to be a 3rd class Jew. Ahavat Chinam will bring Mashiach.

At 9/01/2005 1:27 AM, Blogger Karl said...

If you are able to, you should contribute to all, but especially to the community you are a product of, but also to the community you are now in.

At 9/01/2005 6:57 AM, Blogger Lo said...

Where I come from, it's a rule that Talmidei Chachomim (actually, everyone) from B are usually involved with one or more young women on the side of their marriage with nine kids.

At 9/01/2005 8:54 AM, Blogger Elster said...

This is a tough one. I'd say give to A but don't forget B. Not everyone is a money succubus.

At 9/01/2005 7:40 PM, Blogger ClooJew said...

"In their warped way...even if they are pathetic..."

Whew, Jameel! Sounds to me, lulei demistafina, like quite a bit of Sinat Chinam right there.

Obviously, TRK, you are painting two extremes--which is fine, in order to make your point.

Fact is: Not everyone from A becomes a successful baalabus. And not everyone from B becomes a sponge. (I have a client who is an attorney. His brother is a kollel guy in Lakewood--a real learner--but following the herd, put his chasunah money into some property and continued to reinvest the profits. Wouldn't you know it! He's doing better than his brother the lawyer!)

Also: Many in Community B look farther down at the kollel bum than the successful Community A guy. No, not all. But many.

Also: There is no community B in America. While Lakewood claims to have a little over 5000 men (the majority married) learning full time, the town of Lakewood has TENS of thousands of baalei batim.

Also: Klal Yisrael needs community B. Sheivet Levi was the prototype. But that model is still needed today. To argue that no one should be in full-time learning is no less ludicrous than arguing that everyone should be.

Also: One must wonder, lulei demistafina, if it indeed requires an entire community B--with its perfect ideal, and imperfect execution--just to produce the few outstanding Talmidei Chachamim and leaders who will rise to the top.

Also: One must wonder, lulei demistafina, if it indeed requires an entire community B--with its level of learning and sacrifice--just to set a standard and act as a "mechayav" for those in community A to learn and grow in ruchnius.

At the same time, perhaps it requires a community B to be "mechayav" community A to take its learning seriously and recognize that "kama Yosi ika beshuka." It is only their learning that sets them apart; simply being part of "the chevra" of community B is meaningless.

It's an eilu ve'eilu equation, and therefore I think, yes, you should be supporting both.

At 9/01/2005 7:41 PM, Blogger ClooJew said...

PS: I think this is a great post, and, lulei demistafina, I'm going to abscond with the idea for a post of my own!

At 9/03/2005 5:38 PM, Blogger The real me said...

I would agree with CJ on most points and just add a bit.
Most people dont look out of their own group to give money, so if you are looking at the whole picture and you do see the other group as people who need money, by all means give them.

At 9/04/2005 5:18 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ClooJew: My comment about "pathetic" was in a minute of weakness. We have people coming to the Muqata daily collecting money. Unfortunately, even the Muqata has its own share of mega-problems. What specifically bothers me is "hachnasat kalla" collections. When I got married, I found a very modest hall so as not to burden my parents (or my kalla's parents) since they didn't have the money. If money was more of an issue, I would have personally raised money and not sent out people (or G-d forbid, my parents or in-laws) to raise money. Why is this only from community A?

In the end, I give anyway, but don't think for a second that Community B gives to Community A. And the last month in Israel proved that community A couldn't care less about the Jews in Gaza (who are big supporters of community B)

At 9/05/2005 7:22 PM, Blogger EN said...

I disagree on the stereotypes you create between community A and B and your dilema. You have painted a picture where two communities with different philosophies create parasites which one siphons money off the other. The answer to your question, should you contribute and feel a responsibility to the community you were brought up in, is unequivocally, yes. If you have one dollar you give it to your relative, the community you were raised. The other community, if you wish to make such a distinction, has its own ways of raising funds. You are not obligated to give money to a community that does not respect your Hashkafic views to support their views. However, to an individual person of community B who reqires your help financially, and you have the means to assist him, and your belief is that you get reward to help him financially, give the poor man a dollar. Now if you are in doubt as to whether a person is worthy of your money, check him out to see he is doing what he should be doing. If his Hashkafic view is not in accordance to what you know to be true then he is not doing what he should be doing and you have no responsibility to support a slacker. Furthermore, IMHO there is no such thing as a questionable slacker, and an extra dollar.

At 9/07/2005 4:30 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

en: Do you see a problem giving a dime to a questionable slacker? According to hilchot tzedaka - if a person refuses a pruta (and definitly a dime), then they aren't really poor to begin with.

At 9/17/2005 11:06 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...


you missed the point. the other community is set up meikara (initially) to rely on outside funds from people like me, yet my community is not set up to be reliant and sponging off others per se.

u see?

At 9/25/2005 6:55 PM, Blogger Littleredridinghoodie said...

Give what you can afford to the poor and needy of both. If they are not worthy the money won't get to them, Hashem is the one who decides that. I still believe in him.

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