Sunday, November 27, 2011

R' Shteinman - Life insurance is not worth it, it is better to rely on tzedaka

Shas has been working on a plan to provide life insurance for all kollel students. The plan is to take 30 shekels from their stipend each month and use it to buy life insurance at a discounted group rate.

The Mishpacha newspaper has an article this week that R' Shteinman is against the plan. He is reported saying, life insurance is not worth it, as the merit of giving tzedaka to the widows and orphans is what is saving this generation from destruction. Here is the article in full:

I find this very hard to understand for a number of reasons:

1. Is there no shortage of tzedaka that needs to be given? Even if every person had life insurance there would still be plenty of poor people who needed tzedaka. As I pointed out in this post, Kupat Hair - Marrying off your children puts you on the tzedaka rolls , according to Kupat Hair the profile of the recipient of Tzedaka has changed dramatically in recent years. Most of the people who now get money from Kupat Hair are regular people who are poor because they married off their children. To marry off their children they had to buy them apartments and that put them under water. They borrowed money that they could not repay and now they need tzedaka. Unfortunately, these people are poor because of their lifestyle and will not be helped by life insurance. In fact, if everyone had life insurance, maybe there would be more money to help these kinds of people. In addition, let's not forget that the Mir yeshiva has a $10 million debt. In short, מרובים צרכי עמך and even if everyone had life insurance there would still be plenty of opportunities to give tzedaka.
2. If we really think about it, what this is saying is let the widows and orphans suffer so that we can have a chance to do a mitzva by giving them tzedaka. There is no question, that without life insurance these people suffer. They have no money and have to worry if the tzedaka campaigns will bring in enough money for them to live on. In addition, tzedaka campaigns are done right after the person dies, what happens a year 2 years down the line when there a whole bunch of new widows/orphans that get the tzedaka campaigns and the widow of 2 years has no money to feed her kids. Is it fair for us to tell widows/orphans to suffer so we can do a mitzva? Would it not be a bigger זכות for us to set up a system where everyone is provided for if someone dies? Wouldn't that be the highest form of tzedaka?


Moshe said...

As you point out, the highest form of Tzedaka is to give one the tools to no longer need charity.

It is worthwhile to note that Rav Steinman is the only Rav to publicly disapprove of this project. Let us hope that he is overruled.

Orthonomics said...

Working on a post with a link right now.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

It's hard to figure Rav Shteinman out some times. On one hand he'll come out and say stuff which is almost - gasp! - progressive. Then he comes out with statements like this. He's done it before, choosing poverty with 100% for his followers over a decent standard of living and 95% Torah