Sunday, May 11, 2014

A letter to Mishpacha in response to their dramatic headline about financial collapse in the Charedi world

The following letter was printed in this week's Mishpacha in response to their dramatic cover story last week about the financial collapse of the Charedi Torah world.

As the wife of an Avrech in Kollel whose stipend has been almost completely cut, I would like to respond to the news that was reported about the poor status of Avreichim. I am writing with tears because I look around and I see that people have no idea. They don't know what we are dealing with every day. I am certain that it has been many years since Jews have been required to show this much dedication to Torah and supporting a house of Torah.
My Husband is an Avrech who is a Tzadik, he learns all day and excels, yet, in spite of all this, he has no stipend except the bare minimum - and people around don't know. Everyone is enjoying life and we are living in real poverty. 
I don't want to be poor, to have to ask for money, to become someone who needs help, but this is what is happening because we want to preserve a house of Torah and only Torah. 
If people now know what the families of the Avreichim were going through, it is a little bit better.

I have to say I don't understand what this woman wants. She can't have it both ways, she says that she doesn't want to be poor, yet she wants her husband to sit and learn all day. Well guess what, money doesn't grow on trees. She and her husband have made a choice and now need to live with it. Learning torah was never meant to be an occupation and a way to make a living. She is poor by choice and should not be blaming other people. Her comment that everyone else is living it up and enjoying life while she and her family suffer in poverty is particularly galling. People who work, work hard for their money and sacrifice a lot to do it. No one owes her or her husband anything.


Anonymous said...

Ain Kemach, Ain Torah.

Perhaps her husband hasn't learned that Sugya yet?

JBHoren said...

To use an older Israeli expression, היא בלעת ת'לוקש... hook, line, and sinker. (apologies on the mixed metaphors)

I believe that she is as naive a person as her words portray, but it's a naivety which was planted early, nurtured and cultivated throughout a lifetime... cynically, by others.

"The Truman Show", on steroids... en masse.

שיר המעלות, ממעמקים קראתיך...

evanstonjew said...

What is clear is that the families of the avreichim are hurting, they are the 'victim'. Who is at fault, whether the gedolim who preached learning forever, the governments that over a period of many years extended the welfare net to bnei torah or the avreichim themselves is really secondary. A humanist sympathy for the poor and certainly those who chose poverty for the sake of an ideal goal like advancing in torah deserve some interim relief , even if the long term goal is to wean them off welfare. Sometime tough love is just plain cruelty and sadism, and this is such a case.

Anonymous said...


If one accepts poverty for an ideal, they have no business writing a letter to a magazine to complain when Hashem diminishes a source of support. Perhaps she should be taking the hint.

Every Jew is responsible for themselves first, before anyone else is. Look at the Mitzvohs about dealing with an Ani. It's all about non-predatory lending and paying your workers in a timely fashion. It's not about giving a few shekel to every shnorrer who shows up at your door. The Torah's concept of an Ani is someone who is poor despite their efforts, not because they don't bother!

Chana said...

Would she be likely to use financial assistance to alleviate their situation while changing their approach, or would it just be another stop-gap in maintaining their current unsustainable lifestyle? That's the question. And their rabbinic leaders have not served them well in רואה את הנולד to say the least.

bluke said...


It is clear from her letter that she has no intention of changing her lifestyle. She simply wants someone to give her money to continue her Torah only approach.

bluke said...


While you definitely have a point, what is your solution? It is clear from her letter (and I believe that she represents many) that without these kinds of drastic steps nothing would change. The situation today is simply unsustainable and was not changing.

bluke said...


Excellent point.

One thing that has always bothered me is that if you truly believe parnassa is from Hashem and hishtadlus is a sham (which is the current Charedi hashkafa), then why get so upset about the government cuts and why make such a big fuss. To my mind they seem to be actually putting real stock in their hishtadlus. See my post Should we go to the best doctor? for another example of this.

evanstonjew said...

Whart evidence is there that the same cuts in welfare phased in over 5-7 years would be ineffective? Give the poor guy with 10 kids at home, and his wife besides herself asking "Whaty will be?", sometime to figure out what he wants to do, and what's available. How would you feel if your income were cut in half suddenly with little warning, no savings and few job opportunities?

These guys are not criminals. They were told learn torah and the state will provide. The concept of severance pay is relevant.

Yechiel said...

Unless you've been living on a desert island for the last 10-15 years, surely you know that severance pay goes out the window when companies collapse.
Follow the metaphor to its logical conclusion.