Monday, April 08, 2013

Should Kollel families have a family budget? השתדלות vs בטחון

With all of the talk about budget cuts and how the Charedi world is going to suffer and lose a lot of government money, this post (Should Kollel families have a family budget?) from 6 years ago seems even more relevant today then it was then. A letter writer to Hamodia wrote:

Kollel families receive a certain siyata dishmaya that helps them to make ends meet in a near miraculous manner. If they were to begin to keep track of their income and expenditures, they would realize that their finances just do not add up, and the husband might feel pressured to leave kollel.
Instead, they should have bitachon that Hashem will provide for them and not look too closely at their finances.

Lately, the Charedi press has been whining about how much money the government is going to take away from the Charedi world etc. (see for example 3064 shekel - This is how much the average Charedi family will lose under the new government) and how bad this is going to be for the average Charedi.

Let's apply the logic from the above letter to the current situation. Where is everyone's bitachon? If as the letter writer states above, kollel families receive siyata dishmaya then it shouldn't matter how much money the government cuts, they should have bitachon that Hashem will provide for them and not look too closely at how much the government is cutting.

The truth is that this really leads to a much bigger question of how does Hashem run the world? The prevalent (only?) Charedi hashkafa today is that not even a leaf falls without it being a גזירה מן שמים and that השתדלות has no effect, it is just an illusion. השתדלות is just so that we avoid ניסים גלוים (see מכתב מאליהו, חזון איש אמונה ובטחון and others). If so why be upset with Bennet and Lapid? In fact, the Chinuch states exactly this when explaining the mitzva of לא תקם. He says why take revenge on the person who wronged you, it wasn't really him anyway, it was Hashem. The same should apply to Bennet and Lapid. It is not them cutting the Charedi budget it is a גזירה/punishment  from Hashem. If anything the leadership should be doing a חשבון הנפש asking why is Hashem suddenly cutting their monetary support?

What we see is that many in the Charedi world have bitachon up to a point but when the going gets tough many suddenly do a lot of השתדלות. I pointed out a few years ago (Should we go to the best doctor?) that when R' Elyashiv needed complicated heart surgery they flew in the top cardiac/blood vessel surgeon from Cleveland (a religious Catholic) to do the surgery. I questioned this based on the above Charedi hashkafa. If  Hashem is doing the healing not the surgeon then once we have done our השתדלות, going to the doctor and having the surgery, why should it matter whether the surgeon is the best in the world or simply Joe surgeon who is competent? As long as we do our השתדלות to avoid requiring a נס, the rest is a גזירה מן השמים. If the גזירה is that the surgery will be successful, then it will be successful even if done by the average surgeon, and if the גזירה is that it won't be successful then it won't help that you have the best surgeon.

Of course there is another hashkafa, (which the average Charedi will call Kefira) that while Hashem does intervene, it is rare and therefore השתדלות not only works but is what Hashem wants. Please read the following 2 articles carefully which articulate this position very well.

האם כל אירוע מכוון משמים? בירור בסוגיית ההשגחה
משמעויות אמוניות ומעשיות בסוגיית ההשגחה

In my mind, in the modern world this opinion (which may even be the majority opinion certainly among the Rishonim) fits the world today much better.

1 comment:

Chana said...

Voodoo economics indeed! Hearing this kind of stuff always gave me the feeling that the Haredi community was careening downhill with no brakes.