Friday, August 10, 2012

The Importance of Providing for One's Family, By Moshe Teitelbaum

This essay was taken from a book my uncle, Moshe Teitelbaum, published for the family. Here is the intro by Rabbi Nosson Scherman The Teitelbaums – Indomitable and Triumphant By Rabbi Nosson Scherman
Menachem Av, 5769

Choosing a Way of Life Part 2. The importance of providing for ones family, By Moshe Teitelbaum.

As stated clearly in the K’subah that each husband gives his wife, it is the obligation of the husband to provide for his wife and family, not the opposite.  While we know from exceptional cases, such as is written about the Chazon Ish, Rav Meir Simcha Hacohen, and as the Chofetz Chaim’s son writes in the beginning of the biography in Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, where their wives ran a store while they learned, we are now making a trend out of what was the rare exception.

“Kol kevudah bas melech penima”.  Ideally, women at least in their childbearing years, when they have children at home, should stay at home.  The effect on children brought up by babysitters is hard to determine.  However, there are all too many cases of ladies being ragged out, trying to be a mother, wife, and provider all at the same time.  We cannot expect everyone to be a superwoman.  Note that the Gemora Baba Metzia 59a states, “A man must be careful to always have food in the house, as strife at home comes only because of the lack of sustenance”.

Today there are possibilities of women working at home, which often eliminates this problem.  It is also true that there is a proliferation of girl’s schools, which need lots of talented women teachers, and in other cases, there is simply no choice.  However, for the good of the family, it is something to make every effort to avoid.  Our mother, who was an outstanding teacher in Vienna, gave it all up when she had to raise her children.  Our father, all the years when he was Manhig Ruchni in Camp Agudah, refused to let our mother accept an official position, and she became the Camp Mother only after he was niftar.

Eretz Yisroel has different circumstances in which career opportunities are far more limited, and parnasa is far more problematic than in America.  In America, far more than in Eretz Yisroel, secular subjects are taught, and high schools are pretty much the accepted mode.  Not everyone in America attends secular subjects, and some schools have better English departments than others.  It is important that those who attend secular subjects should make the effort to excel in them, learning the necessary skills, for if someone does not wish to take English seriously, and that goes for schools as well, it is best not to spend the time in school, rather than wasting one’s time.  A number of my friends in Beth Medrosh Elyon, Monsey, who are now renowned talmidei chachomim, won New York State scholarships that they did not utilize.  Some others have a vastly superior mastery of the English language than almost all college graduates.  On the other hand, there are those who choose to spend all day learning Limudei Kodesh, as they expect never to need to know English subjects, or suffice with private tutoring.  

It is highly necessary to have comprehensive career guidance, but schools are usually in over their heads, and there are really no comprehensive programs in place to help their youths plan for a livelihood.  Torah Umesorah does some basic training for teaching, which seems to be quite limited, but is far better than doing nothing, but on the business side, there is nothing comparable.  

It is interesting that in America at least, the concept of high school within the Yeshiva structure is accepted in the Torah world, while the concept of college level within the yeshiva structure is not, although there is no conceptual difference between them.  It is not just a matter of American law requiring secular training, as many successfully avoid this without seemingly any problems.  It is, of course, much more difficult to provide college level training than high school, but not impossibly so.

I believe the reason is really due to the experience at Yeshiva University (YU).  YU is basically shunned by the Yeshiva world, due to their hashkafah, including their modern orthodox approach to Yiddishkeit.  While they always tried to obtain the biggest names for their Yeshiva department to compete with other Torah institutions, which initially was primarily Mesifta Torah Vodaath, this is to display simanim of kashrus, as their main focus was always on the university.  It is the experience of YU, I believe, that has soured the whole outlook of Yeshivos supporting college level training.  Also, it being an expensive proposition, Yeshivos would have to get together to support such a college entity in unison, and independent competitive institutions, of course, have a hard time working together.

There are some examples of training programs.  COPE, under the auspices of Agudas Yisroel, tried somewhat, but met only limited success, and now hardly exists anymore.  Perhaps some Chassidic groups such as Bobov, made some limited attempts in this area for vocational training.  The late Klausenburger Rebbi, exerted great effort in nursing training for ladies in Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Eretz Yisroel.  IDT has some training in the Computer Technology field, combined with providing work experience and a yeshiva, on a small scale.

The most comprehensive training is done by Lander-Touro College, which has separate training schools for men and women, focusing on successful training for careers.  I really don’t know the details.  Dr. Lander, will perhaps, be richly rewarded for what he does.  While the concept is great, I’m not familiar whether Gedolei Yisroel, either publicly or privately, support this institution, so I cannot give any opinion.

As mentioned, there is little guidance or guidelines in yeshivos, who are primarily geared to teaching Torah.  Only piecemeal scotch-tape solutions exists, but comprehensive programs are not in place to help people set goals, help them in attaining those goals with training programs, and therefore, basically each one is on his own.  At my former company, Chase Manhattan Bank, there was a company outsourcing training area, solely devoted to helping people, who were let go, find other opportunities.  Tremendous effort was exerted into setting up a whole department for training, counseling, and helping people find opportunities.  If something similar were to exist for frum Yidden, the benefit would be immense.

In the Chofetz Chaim Pirush Al Hachumesh with the comments of the Maasei L’melech, on Parashas Mishpatim, he brings a quote from the Chofetz Chaim, the source of which is actually in the Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, Dugmaos Misichos Avi, written by his son, Harav Arye Leib, item 7, as follows.

The Chofetz Chaim notes that we plead to Hashem in Birchas Hamozon, “V’no al tazricheinu Hashem Elokeinu, lo lidei matnas bosor vodom v’lo lidei halvosom, ki im l’yodcho hamleio, etc., Sh’lo naivosh v’lo nikoleim l’olom vo’ed”, (“Please, Hashem, make us not dependent upon gifts from people, nor reliant upon their loans, rather, may we be dependent only upon your generosity, in order that we should not feel ashamed or humiliated for all time”.  It is understandable, that one who is dependent upon others feels ashamed in this world, but why would he be ashamed forever, which denotes, even in Olom Habo?”  

He explains, “This refers to one who is contemplating entering into a Yissacher-Zevulun deal, and the potential Yissacher is mispallel, do not make me dependent upon a Zevulun for my support, rather I wish to be dependent solely upon Hashem for my support.  For when it will come to Olom Habo, my partner, Zevulun, will claim his portion in Olom Habo, as he is entitled to his share as a result of my learning Torah, based upon our agreement.  My earthly record will be looked up in heaven, to check out my accomplishments, to determine, if indeed, I fulfilled my full requirements.  If upon checking out my record, it is found wanting, in that I did not fully maintain my end of the agreement, not only will I have to suffer the consequences in my own portion of Olom Habo, I will have to bear the shame of my Zevulun partner as well.  For he will rightfully complain to me, that I am the cause of the loss of his Olom Habo, as although he faithfully kept his part of the bargain, being partners, if one fails, they both suffer, as he will be told, “Sorry, since your partner did not fulfill his part, we cannot give you a portion of his share’”.

This message of the Chofetz Chaim has always had a profound influence on me, as I never ever wanted to possibly be in the position of this Yissacher, having to face a potential Zevulun in Olom Habo.  While I am aware that there are other opinions that claim that Zevulun does not lose his portion because of Yissachor’s failing, as I am not privy to what takes place in Shomayim, I was unwilling to take the potential risk.  It is enough to have to bear your own burden, without having to be responsible for all time for possibly causing someone else to lose his just reward.  Better for one to be his own Yissacher and his own Zevulun.  While this is my personal view, it is up to each individual to come to his own conclusion as to what is best for him in his circumstances.

Circumstances differ, as in Vienna, where our parents grew up prior to World War II, you could not get married if you did not have a parnasa.  As we know today, parnasos can come and go, but hopefully marriages don’t.  Thus, even having a parnasa when getting married, is no guarantee of a lifetime parnasa.  One needs Siyata D’Shmaya.  People who grew up in that environment, had a difficult time in changing their outlook due to changing circumstances, but in time, many of them did.

What is unacceptable is to have no plan at all, unless perhaps when one is at the level of Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai, and is at an extraordinary level of bitochon.  Even when one does properly plan, due to circumstances beyond their control, they may fall victim, as was the case in Poland and Germany, when Jewish people were suddenly severely prohibited in what they were able to do.  Rampant poverty was the rule in some countries heavily populated by Yidden, both among Jew and non-Jews, and there simply were no options.  

Such things cannot be helped, as there are no guarantees.  An example of this is in Ireland, where the Irish used to rely largely on potatoes.  About a million people, more than ten percent of the population, died of starvation in the Potato Famine of 1846-7, when the potato crop was destroyed by disease.  Similarly today, some people have lost their jobs, some their investments, and the ripple effect has left few people that are not adversely impacted by the current world-wide economic downturn.

While the Gemora Moad Katan (28a) states, “Chaya, Bono, U’Mezona”, “Life expectancy, children, and one’s livelihood are dependent upon mazel”, yet this does not free the individual from doing what he has to do bederech hateva.  In fact, the Me’iri states, “Do not be concerned with this Gemora, as it is only an individual opinion, and is not the accepted view”.

In summary, we see from all this that there are various approaches, each one being correct.  The Targum translates the pasuk in Bereishis (2,9), “V’eitz HaChaim Besoch Hagan”, that “Besoch” means in the center, (similarly in 3,3, whereas usually the Targum translates “besoch” as “within”, as in 3,8), which the meforshim (see for example, Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, letter 41 “Unity Among Chareidim”) explain, that the significance of the Tree of Life being in the center, is that each person is equidistant from the center, like people in a circle.  All ways can lead one equally to Gan Eden.

All the approaches have in common, first, what the Gemora Shabbos 31a states, the first question asked of a person when he faces his day of judgment is, “Did you deal honestly with people?”  There is therefore the need for honesty and being truthful, common decency, the ability to get along with people, and not to lose sight of the tachlis (the purpose) of life.  As my mother’s father used to say, “L’olom yehei adom”, “Always be a mench”.

Never get the impression that ‘Kochi v’ozem yodi’, it is your own ability that makes you succeed.  Yes, one must utilize his abilities and then, and only then, rely on Siyata Dishmaya.  I’m not sure to what extent Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai relied on hishtadlus, but surely he would agree to the concept of ‘ein somchin al haneis’ (do not rely on nisim.)  I don’t fully understand the ramifications of his approach, but in any case, it is not pertinent to us, as his approach is for the select few.

As for government programs, the reliance of government funding whether in America or in Eretz Yisroel, that is not something I wish to get into.  The government giveth, the government taketh, and anyone who relies on the government is “Hiniach mo’osov al keren hatzvi”.  Rav Meir Stern of Passaic, has the approach of not taking government funds for his yeshiva, but does not wish to divulge his reasons.  I can see two problems with relying on the government, which he acknowledged to me, to be at least part of his reasoning.  One, is that once you tend to get to rely on government funds, you are stuck when they take it away, as does happen.  Secondly, it tends to breed dishonesty, as it is hard to do everything properly and legally within the letter of the law, and one tends to be Moreh Heter.  

Our father liked a somewhat socialist approach, such as universal health coverage in England.  (This is also now in place in most of Europe, and is now under discussion in the United States, at least to some degree.)  Myself, I find that relying on the government tends to come out more expensive in the end, and many government programs are hampered by wastage and fraud.  But this is a whole topic in of itself, as today there are various programs, such as food stamps, Section 8, Head Start, Vouchers, etc..  In the past, programs such as relying on welfare, was looked down upon, and was used only as a last resort, as of course, there needs to be a safety net.  But this is a b’dieved, not a l’chatchila.  

I’m not referring to a complete socialist approach, such at that advocated in practice in the extreme sense by life on a kibbutz.  That type of an approach seems to be inconsistent with the Torah approach of “Ish tachas gafno, v’ish tachas tainoso”, the concept of private ownership.  However, as there are frum kibbutzim, they surely justify their approach.  I won’t get into this, as none of our children are contemplating kibbutz life.

Our father advocated that a boy not marry young, rather spend more time learning as a bachor in yeshiva.  None of us siblings (at the least the boys) married young.  Personally, for better or for worse, I spent my years of kollel learning as a bachor, more by circumstance than by choice.  While in retrospect, “All’s well that ends well”, that is not an approach that I necessarily care to recommend.

Each field has it owns set of challenges.  In the field of chinuch, one kind word can have a lifetime positive impact upon a child, while a negative remark can have an everlasting opposite effect.  It is most difficult to be rav of a community or a town.  A rav’s responsibility encompasses, addressing people’s shaalos, giving shiurim, lecturing, and conducting rabbinical functions as required, and most of all, to serve as advisor and spiritual guide to people.  It is no wonder that some great talmidei chachomim in the past, shied away from accepting upon themselves the yoke of rabbonus, doing so only under duress, when they had no other option.  True Meleches Shomayim is a most difficult undertaking, yet spiritually rewarding for those talented enough and feel they are truly up to it.

Rabbi Dov (Beryl) Merling a”h showed me at one time an article he wrote defending rabbonim, essentially explaining just as anyone can find himself a suitable occupation from which to make a livelihood, so is it with rabbonus.  I pointed out to him, that with some rabbonim, such as is the case with our father, that is not true at all.  He did not enter the field of rabbonus as a livelihood.  Rather, he wanted to be a rav, as that’s what he felt he wanted to do, to best serve the Ribono Shel Olom.  He would have been happy to do so for no remuneration at all, and he would certainly have done so, had he been independently wealthy.  However, he was not, and he did have to feed his family.

Interestingly, when we first moved to America, and our father was looking in ’49 for a location where to open a Beth Medrosh, a property was shown to him in Spring Valley, which was then a desolate area.  The property he was offered, the Herschel Halberg estate, was too expensive for him by $500.  It would later become a very valuable property.  Instead, we moved to Kew Gardens, where we had a hard time financially, and our parents scraped to get by, yet we never felt deprived.  I am forever grateful that we did move to Kew Gardens.

Some rebbaim do have it easier today, than the stories we hear of the past.  People in chinuch should not have to live at the poverty level, and in fact, it is a community responsibility and also that of those in charge of institutions to adequately support a rebbi or a rav, so that they can live at an appropriate level.  We find that when a Kohen is elevated to the rank of Kohen Gadol, the other Kohanim are responsible to provide for him to insure that he is wealthy, ”Gadleihu mishel echov” (Yuma 18a, Rambam Hilchos Klei Hamikdash 5,1), and so it should be for all of our spiritual leaders (even if not to that degree).  

When our father once heard the amount of wages that a famous rav received from his kehilla, he felt it a disgrace.  Our father did not get a regular wage, as whatever came in, came in.  He preferred the independence rather than to be a hired rav, much as the dove expressed when leaving Noach’s teivah, ”I’d rather have just a bitter olive and be dependent only upon Hashem, than have sweet honey but be dependent upon a human being.” (Rashi Parashas Noach 8,11, quoting the Gemora Eruvin 18b).

In any event, the key is tzimzum.  There is an esoteric kabala concept dealing with Hashem’s heavenly mida (characteristic) of tzimzum.  However, I’m referring to the earthly concept of tzimzum, i.e. living within your means.  Our mother before she had a checkbook, said that she made do with two pockets.  Only when money came into one pocket, then can you spend it from the other pocket.  There is much to be said for living within your means, the lack of which, likely has a great deal to do with causing the economic crisis we are currently suffering from.  

We understand this well.  If not that unexpectedly, just prior to our entering into the parasha of “Ki yikach ish isha”, we received a sum of money that helped us marry off a number of our children, we would have been in great difficulty, as even with a good job, we were just managing to keep our heads above water.  Many people are in the same boat.  Do not look at others, do what you have to do, and what is right.  If you know how to stretch, a little goes a long way.  Husband and wife, have to act in consort, and educate their children to cooperate.  This approach is very necessary and useful, for it will open up options and opportunities one never believed possible.  Entering the field of chinuch does not necessarily subject one to a life of abject poverty that we hear so much about, as many can manage quite well on a chinuch salary, if they understand and master the concept of tzimzum.

I personally detest the concept of marrying for the sake of money, and lose respect for a person who does.  In our family no one ever did.  Our father often mentioned this as well.  Money as an entity for itself never meant much to our parents, and was not an influence or driving force in their lives.  While I do not know the hanhaga (conduct) of our father’s father from personal observation, being only six years old when he passed away, all the stories that were passed down indicate, that whatever little money he had, was mostly shared with others.  As was common among those who lived in Galicia, our father’s parents made do with just the bare minimum.  On our mother’s side, her father was a hard-working businessman who ran a grocery store with the highest exacting standards in kashrus, and honesty in financial dealings being key.

The concept of living one’s life based on the adage in Pirkei Avos 4,1, “Eizeihu Ashir, Hasomeiach Bechelcho”, has ever so much to do with one’s attitude in making a living.  This statement by Ben Zoma is based on the pasuk in Tehillim, psalm 128, “Yagia kapecho ki sochal, ashrecho v’tov loch”, which he interprets as, “Ashrecho b’olom hazeh, v’tov loch b’olom habo.”  It is this pasuk that, as mentioned above, the Gemora Brachos 8a, “Gadol haneneh myegio”, brings as a source, as does the Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah 3,11, and the Remo in Shulchan Aruch Yorah Daya 246, 21.  

If anyone should as much as have a remote imagination that the way of Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai is to combine Torah learning with the collection of tzedaka, he should learn this Remo.  This lengthiest Remo in all of Shulchan Aruch is too lengthy to quote here, but it is truly a lesson on how to conduct one’s life.  

There is a most beautiful meaningful custom among the Yotzei Ashkenaz, to sing Psalm 128, Shir Hamaalos Ashrei Kol Yerei Hashem, under the chupa, which contains the verse quoted above.  The psalm ends with, “Urei b’tuv Yerushalayim kol yemei chayecho, Urei bonim l’vonechu, Sholom al Yisroel”.  What meaningful messages for a young couple just starting out in married life.

It is not the responsibility of one who wants to work, to wish to become wealthy in order to be a philanthropist and to support others.  Hashem has plenty of money.  Nowhere is it written that one should strive to attain wealth even for the most noble reasons.  Rather, if one is blessed with attaining wealth, he then has the responsibility to hopefully understand that he was chosen by Hashem to be the guardian of His money, and properly utilize this wealth.  There are not many who really understand this and live their life accordingly, to fully put their money to appropriate use.  One must always remember that you can’t take it with you, at least not in the physical sense, and only if you put your money to good use, can you truly take it with you.

There are many interwoven thoughts mentioned here, but the common thread is “Bchol d’rochecho do’eihu”, whichever path one uses, and there are no two of us the same, our highest goal is to be an Eved Hashem, and in the end, that’s what it comes down to.  It’s that simple.  Search for the Emes, the truth, and find a parnasa in which you can live a life of Emes, (in the sense of the Mishne Meseches Kidushin 82a, Umnus Nekia V’kalah), as one can even be a Klei Kodesh all one’s life, and be a complete Sheker.  You can fool everyone, even yourself, as only Hashem cannot be fooled, although people have certainly tried to.

I have some questions as to the clear difference between Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai and Rebbi Yishmael, as what does Rebbi Shimon really mean with relying upon others.  Certainly, he does not mean a Yissacher-Zevulun deal, nor does he mean for one to rely upon tzedaka.  Also, it is not exactly clear to me why the Yissacher-Zevulun concept is not mentioned at all in rishonim prior to the Tur and the Tashbatz (Tshuvos 144,148), and other than a couple of examples in Gemora Sotah 21a, we do not find any tannaim who utilized the Yissacher-Zevulun approach.  Another question, is Rebbi Nahorai’s view of teaching his son only Torah (as quoted in Gemora Kidushin 82a, and mentioned in Mishne Berura 306,6), in accordance only with the view of Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai, or can it fit as well with the concept of Rebbi Yishmael, as noted earlier based on the Marasha?  However, all this uncertainly does not affect the practical solutions for any individual.

In the aforementioned Mishne Berura, Biur Halacha 231,1, he addresses the person who has the opportunity to study Torah and teach students Torah all his life, even though he has to rely upon others for support.  It should be pointed out that the Biur Halacha in this response is only addressing two extremes, but he does not address the middle way, the one that the Rambam and the Remo promote, that of making Torah paramount, and yet be self-supporting, as that wasn’t the issue.

The aforementioned Mishne Berura, Biur Halacha 156,1, in which he feels that the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Shmita V’Yovel, is in accordance with the view of Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai, seems at variance with the Radbaz at the end of Hilchos Shmita V’Yovel, which implies otherwise.

From that same Rambam that states, “V’yiske lo B’olom Hazeh davor hamaspik lo”, Radbaz infers, “That Hashem will enable him to earn a sufficient amount, so that he will not need to come on to the public for support”.  The Radbaz adds as well, “See also, the comments of the Rambam on the Mishne in Avos 4,5, V’lo kardom lachpor bohem”.  The Radbaz mentions the concept of earning a living, which is clearly not the approach of Rebbi Shimon Ben Yochai.

The above Rambam at the end of Hilchos Shmita V’Yovel, does not suggest there, nor does he suggest anywhere else, the idea of a Yissacher-Zevulun deal.  Certainly, if some of the great tannaim, who lived in abject poverty, had wished to find a Zevulun sponsor, they could likely have easily done so.  Obviously, they felt that this was not the recommended approach for whatever reason.

It could well be that the Rambam does indeed agree to the permissibility of a Yissacher-Zevulun arrangement.  After all, if it was good enough for Yissacher-Zevulun, then why would it not be good enough for someone else.  If fact, it is believed that the Rambam himself was supported in some manner by his younger brother, Harav Dovid, until he tragically drowned, when his ship sank with their combined fortune, in a storm at sea on the Indian Ocean.  However, the approach of the Rambam is often to base his Halacha only on direct statements in the Gemora, and reliance on a Yissacher-Zevulun deal is not explicitly mentioned in the Gemora.  The tannaim, as well, may have felt as in the Chofetz Chaim quoted earlier, not to rely upon other people as mentioned, “Lo lidei matnas bosor vodom”.  

By the same token, the concept of Hachzokas HaTorah could well be a form of Yissacher-Zevulun, although the Rambam per se, never directly mentions Hachzokas HaTorah.  He only states in Hilchos Matnos Aniim 10,16, “That one who supports his grown sons so that they can learn Torah is a form of tzedaka, in fact, a great tzedaka, that takes precedence over other tzedakos”.  Building a Beth Medrosh is also a mitzvah, as mentioned in Hilchos Tefilla, Perek 11.  However, a separate mitzvah of Hachzokas HaTorah, is never directly mentioned.

Not covered here is the somewhat related topic of where to live, as this is a subject that requires a write-up all its own.  There is a quote at the end of Pirkei Avos 6,9, that Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma when offered a fortune in gold and precious stones to live in a city devoid of Torah, refused the offer, stating that no amount of financial inducement would sway him to live anywhere besides in a place of Torah.  This strongly emphasizes the need to live in a place of Torah.  Yet our father, when seeking out a place to live, chose Kew Gardens, then a midbar sh’mama, a spiritual desert.  Part of the reason for Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma’s statement may be that he was offered a fortune in gold and silver as an inducement.  That is not a reason to move to an area devoid of Torah.  This is, however, a topic of discussion, that is not for here.

Before closing, let me address some related relevant questions.  First, is it a proper approach for a person to allow himself to be placed into a situation where, under normal conditions he can make it and keep his head above water?  Yet, when the time comes to marry off his children, there is no conceivable way that he can put together the necessary funds with all the related necessary expenses.  Second, is it proper for a person in order to make a shidduch, to make commitments that he cannot reasonably expect to be able to see himself meeting?  

While these questions have more to do with the subject of shidduchim, and the topic of “Choosing a Spouse” is one that I am not ready to address at this time, nonetheless, as they relate to the above, I will briefly touch upon these items.

Let me first address the second item.  While a person often needs to make commitments in order to make a shidduch, and at times has to stretch himself to almost impossible limits, these commitments have to be within the realm of reasonable possibility.  A person who makes commitments that he cannot see himself meeting is guilty of “Gonev daas habrios”, and this borders on “Midvar sheker tirchak”.

I mentioned that our father was $500 short for a needed down payment on a house in Spring Valley, and therefore he turned down the house.  Mr. Herschel Halberg asked him, “The Rav has so many friends, can you not borrow the money?”  The answer was, “I do not borrow money, that I cannot see myself being able to repay.”

Our father told us the following story about his father, our grandfather.  He once made a commitment of Nadan for his daughter, which consisted of a sum of money that he needed to come up with before his daughter’s wedding.  This daughter saw the planned wedding date coming closer, and as she knew that her father simply did not have the money, she worried that her shidduch would be broken off.  He father told her not to worry.  He then went out and purchased a lottery ticket with the amount of potential winnings to be just enough to cover the cost of what he had pledged.  When it came to the time of the chasuna, he cashed in on the winning lottery ticket.

While this story is true about an exalted individual, one who lived in a different sphere, it is not the way for the ordinary person to follow.

As to the first question, where a person is a Klei Kodesh and it is not within his means to come up with the funds to make a wedding, the subject of the public’s obligation to support talmidei chachomim and supply their needs is discussed in the Tashbatz tshuvos 142, 147, 148, and in the Shach and Taz on the Remo in Shulchan Aruch Yorah Daya 246, 21.  They explain that at times, payments for Tzorchei Hatzibur were made out of Trumos Halishka (public funds), and there is also a concept of “Gadleihu mishel echov”.  

However, there is an even more basic obligation, one of Hakoras Hatov.  There is an inherent obligation to help a person such as a Yeshiva Rebbi, a Rosh Yeshiva, a Rav in a community, a Rebbe of Chassidim, a person who devotes his time to Inyonei Klal and to Tzorchei Tzibur, people who keep their door open at all times, who give of their time, money and energy to help others, all of which has nothing at all to do with the taking of tzedaka.  It is simply a sense of appreciation for what this person is doing for others.  

There is no way these people can meet the vast expenditures of a chasuna when they are focused on helping others, rather than on their own personal needs.  Certainly, the obligation falls upon their circle of talmidim, Chassidim, etc., to help them.  This is more than obvious, as the Gemara Brachos 17b states, “Kol haolom kulo nizonin bishvil Chanina bni, V’Chanina bni, die lo b’kav charuvin m’Erev Shabbos l’Erev Shabbos”.  We all benefit from these people.  Should the people who benefit not return the favor?

This should certainly be done Bederech Kavod, without the person having to ask for any help, as it is self-evident.  If sometimes this responsibility is not recognized, and the person is in the position where he does have to ask others for help, this is still not b’geder tzedaka, but b’geder Hakoras Hatov.  What would Yiddishkeit look like today if people would not dedicate themselves to the Klal just because of a lack of proper Hakoros Hatov?

This write-up is dedicated to the memory of our brother, Harav Chaim Eliyahu Teitelbaum ben Harav Avrohom Yaakov z’l, niftar in 5768 (2008), whose Yartzeit is on 16 Adar II, a person who had in abundance, all the qualities noted above, and that was how he lived his life, based on the options that he chose.  T’N’TZ’B’H’


  1. "While they always tried to obtain the biggest names for their Yeshiva department to compete with other Torah institutions, which initially was primarily Mesifta Torah Vodaath, this is to display simanim of kashrus, as their main focus was always on the university."

    I didn't appreciate the dig on YU while saying nice stuff about Landers/Touro. I never went to either school (except some summer classes at Touro), but i know there are good jews at both places (students, teachers and administrators), who want to grow in torah and also make sure they fulfill their hishtadlus in providing for their families bekavod, so that they are not forced to steal (from the govt or otherwise) as warned by Chazal. Unfortunately, the stealing does occasionally happen with people who refuse to enter into such an "unkosher" program as YU/touro and prefer to pretend to follow in R' Shimon Bar Yochai's footsteps, while stealing to stay afloat. As an aside, i know of several gedolim who also don't like Lander/Touro, and of course there is the famous letter signed by R' Shach, R' Moshe and i think even R' Kaminetzky (if i remember correctly) which forbade sending any girls to the Touro girls division. of course today in olam hafuch that is encouraged, as long as the men can learn comfortably.

  2. Dr. Yitzchok LevineAugust 15, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    Please correct the title. It should be One's Family. You need an apostrophe between the e and s!

  3. Can you sight some documentation to the letter you speak about?

  4. unfortunately, that is the best cite i got, i read it inside a compilation of letters from gedolim in my beis medrash in yeshiva way back when, and it looks like a R Shubert uploaded them online for a matzav article attacking R Lander on his death, but that article was then removed and scrubbed off the internet. looking around the internet, i still see several independent references to the letter (or 2 letters), though some say that they were only addressed to the opening of Touro in Israel, with only R Svei protesting the Touro in America, which is a significant distinction. see e.g. ;

  5. see R Shach's wiki, seems the sefer i read in yeshiva was Michtavim Umamarim (a letter against Touro is in Vol. 4 No. 319) where R Shach allegedly calls Touro a 'churban ha-das'. Unfortunately this website only has the index for volumes 1-2: ).

  6. This week’s parasha (15:14), the mitzvah of ha’anaka to a freed eved ivri.

  7. R Dovid, I tried to post a couple replies to this which appear to have been moderated/denied. is this intentional?

  8. Sorry. Because they had links It needed moderation. I approved them now. Thanks for the sources.


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