Monday, April 04, 2005

Todays daf (Brachos 35) the famous dispute between R' Yishmael and רשב"י

Todays daf has the famous dispute between R' Yishmael and R' Shimon Ben Yochai about whether a person should work (and learn Torah in their non-work time) or just learn Torah. The Gemara states that הרבה עשו כרשב"י ולא עלתה בידם הרבה עשו כר ישמעל ועלתה בידם (many did like R' Shimon ben Yochai and it didn't work out for them many did like R' Yishmael and it did work out for them).

Based on this gemara the Brisker Rav (in the beginning of חיי שרה) says the following. R' Meir in Kiddushin states that חייב אדם ללמד את בנו אומנות, a person is obligated to teach his son a trade so that he will be able to make a living. Yet, the last mishna of Kiddushin quotes ר נהוראי as saying that he would only teach his son Torah. The Brisker Rav asks that the Gemara in Eruvin states that ר נהוראי and R' Meir are the same person so he is contradicting himself? He answers based on the gemara in berachos. The masses need to learn a trade and make a living like R' Yishmael however certain individuals can act like רשב"י, that is why the gemara says many, implying that for some רשב"י is the right path. R' Meir was saying the halacha for the masses when he said that a person is obligated to teach his son a trade, while in the last mishna he was talking about his son who he recognized could be part of the few who do like רשב"י.

This gemara in berachos is quoted in שו"ע in סימן קנ"ו where the שו"ע says that after davening and learning a person should go to work and in his work be honest etc. I remember when R' Willig spoke about YU and Torah Umadda in one of the early Torah Umadda lectures he said that we at YU follow the שו"ע (and the gemara) that the masses need to learn a trade and work and therefore we teach secular studies so that people will be able to get a job.

In the charedi world in Israel they seem to follow ר נהוראי and R' Shimon ben Yochai, there are no secular studies after elementary school and people are expected to sit and learn in kollel. What about the gemara and the שו"ע? The answer usually given is that after the holocaust there was a הוראת שעה that everyone needed to dedicate himself to Torah so that we could rebuild Torah. The problem with this is twofold.

1. The gemara states that the masses who did like R' Shimon Ben Yochai were not successful. Why do we think that the masses today will be more successful? The gemara is clearly stating that Torah study alone is not for the masses, the masses should go out to work and learn Torah in their free time. Anyone who looks at the Charedi world in Israel sees this, there are (large) numbers of people who are not successful in learning sitting in Yeshivas/Kollels because they have no other option, they have no education (they also have a problem with the army) and therefore they can't leave.
2. 60 years after the holocaust we need to reevaluate this הוראת שעה and see if it still should apply. The torah world has been reestablished there are more people learning now then ever before. Maybe it is time to say that we need to get back to normal life where a small minority learns full time and the rest of the people work and learn Torah when they can.

In Israel this is the major issue between the Haredi population and the secular population. The secular population is not interested and is not willing to finance people who are just sitting and learning. I am amazed that they haven't shut the money off yet, but there is no doubt in my mind that in the next few years the funding for Yeshivos and Kollelim will be cut and the Haredi world will have to deal with it.


Anonymous said...

"(they also have a problem with the army)"

this is the real reason...

the charedi world in the US is also movingto mass kollel (although most are still out of kollel by age 30) and I think they also should reevaluate the hora'as shoah. I doubt RAKotler had present day lakewood in mind - when he pushed for kollel, he at most expected success with a small group.
I think people are afraid to mess with the system, because it keeps identification strong. But I'm not sure it's a great idea to keep identification strong by ensuring that people have limited skills and that they have a few kids in the school system before venturing to any kind of job.

Uri Cohen said...

Hi Bluke! Just found your blog today.

Rav Willig's shiur was published in the Torah UMadda Journal and is online here:

As he shows there, the idea that the masses should follow Rabbi Yishmael is befeirush in the Nefesh HaChaim and Biur Halakhah.

Keep up the good work!