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Friday, April 09, 2010

In Other Words. . . It's the Man's Fault

Note: There is another posting made today also. Shabbat Shalom to all my readers.

Hat Tip: The Wolf who has just about covered the economic aspects of the post.

News Flash: Israeli Chareidi leadership believes in the economic fallacy of a limited pie, whereas high income earners and the wealthy are keeping the poor poor. There is no recognition of lack of *marketable skills* or putting the cart before the horse as families try to play catchup they first have a (large) family and last plant a vineyard. Chazal were observers of the human condition. These leaders, not particularly.

In other words, the state of poverty in the Chareidi community can all be blamed on "the man." So it appears we have our own [insert name of self-proclaimed or elected leader]s who are completely unwilling to take a good look in the mirror and who, worse yet, have NO trust in the people they claim to represent. I'd go so far as to say that they believe those they represent are incapable.

It is very painful to watch this community being led off an economic cliff. It is even harder to see that their own are leading them to the precipitous. Here are the money quotes:

"The country is lying to its citizens. Once again it has been shown that leaving the ranks of welfare recipients and joining the job market does not change the situation and people who work very hard for their living are unable to make ends meet."
"The problem is especially acute in the chareidi public. The state does not recognize the years of yeshiva and seminary study as it recognizes the years of study of its secular citizens. As a result both husband and wife who work earn paltry salaries, and are unable to extract the family from the cycle of poverty. On the other hand there are people earning as much as an entire neighborhood."
"We need a far-reaching change and a totally new attitude. There are enormous class gaps in this country that will turn into an existential social problem."
"Going to work solves nothing; that's all nonsense. In the State of Israel, today someone who wants to get out of the cycle of poverty has to network with the elites and the power centers just to get a decent salary that will really enable him to make a respectable living."
[So start by earning an "unrespectable" living as our sages did].
"His dismissed out of hand claims that the chareidi public is to blame for a state of poverty rooted in a failure to enter the job market."

The one this that Gafni has right is this:

"These class disparities have led to very difficult situations throughout history in all places. . . . . " But I imagine what he has in mind isn't at all what I have in mind.


Anonymous said...

I am angry at Gafni's comment and at his attitude.

We have lived in Israel for nearly 25 years raising a family and working. We have done manual labor, shift work, and unpleasant temporary jobs (cleaning other peoples' toilets, not typing), going without a lot of essentials during "summer vacations" when we had to pay for childcare. IDF reserve duty was always a hell of a blow, especially since I was working full time by necessity and we have no family here to turn to.

Now, with no more small children and two kids out of the house, we are managing stably, although we are both working hard full-time, including night shifts.

Why are Gafni's patrons so much more deserving than we? When they talk about needing to buy apartments for their children, we feel like the grasshopper next to the ant. These grasshoppers never networked with the elites and power centers, and even now many would say we don't meet Gafni's categry of a "decent salary".

This is besides years of my husband doing guard duty in dangerous places and a son who served over 3 years in combat units.

ProfK said...

How does Rabbi Gafni reconcile his statements with what is written in Chumash and the Talmud? For instance "Talmud Berakhot 8a
Rabbi Hiyya bar Ami said in the name of Ulla: One who earns by the efforts of his own hands stands even higher than one who is completely God-fearing. For of the God-fearer, it is written, “Happy (Ashrei) is the one who fears the Lord”, and of the one who earns by his own efforts, it is written, “You shall enjoy the fruits of your labors, you shall be happy (Ashrekha) and you shall prosper.” That is, you shall be happy in this world, and you shall prosper in the future world. And notice that of the God-fearer it does not say “you shall prosper.” Sure sounds like work is encouraged here.

And what about the pasuk in Bereishit that says "By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread"? I didn't think we were allowed to pick and choose which parts of chumash we wanted to follow as "true"--it's all true and we are required to follow all of it.

Anonymous said...

I am MO in my religious orientation. I have worked since I was 16, I'm 52 now and still working. I have never knocked at a door asking for money to pay for a daughter's chasuna. Unless the "yungerleit" come from wealthy families it is a falacy to convince them that they'll be permanent learners. I have a chasidic cousin in Boro Park (she works as a social worker) who told me that "half of Boro Park would starve if it wasn't for welfare." I responded with, whose fault is that? I told my children that there will be no seminary, trips to Israel, etc. If you want those things plan on working. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Believe it.

Ariella said...

Yet another symptom of this generation's sense of entitlement. If they actually deign to take a job, it must be a high-paid one that befits their own sense of status. There is no understanding of entry level to work one's way up and even taking a pay cut to keep a job in a down economy.

dvorak613 said...

This is just so frustrating. As someone who graduated college in 2009, which was probably the worst year in a long time to be graduating, I can't let the fallacious "see, I went to work and it did bupkis for me" argument. In my case, I was heading to grad school to a program which would have a heavy internship component so I was not looking for a job. I have more than enough friends though, who, entering into a crummy job market with limited experience, have been spending the last year working at minimum wage jobs that have nothing to do with what they were planning on doing (and these are the lucky ones, by which I mean they actually have jobs).

Does this prove that college doesn't help that much? That college is a bucket load of debt and hard work with nothing to show for it? NO! Now, more than ever, you need that degree. A friend of mine, currently working as a secretary and not using very much of what she learned in college said that her current job had actually listed BA as a requirements, because it was the only way to cut down on the volume of resumes. It goes for just about anything these days, other than maybe waiting tables.

As for those at minimum wage jobs, had they graduated during better times, they may have found jobs in relevant fields, but probably for not much more than what they're making now. Why not? A kid out of college, believe it or not, has a lot to learn that no amount of school can teach. The company is taking a huge risk, and frankly, $9 an hour is benevolent. If you want to get a cushy corner office and a six-figure paycheck, you first have to prove that you are worth $9 an hour; and then $15 an hour; and then higher five-figures, etc.

If you start a family at or before the beginning (my husband and I did just that), don't expect easy street! You can make it work, but there will be struggle. Your boss doesn't care that you just had your 1st, 2nd, or even 18th baby! He will give you a raise based on your work, NOT your family situation (although a truly benevolent person may take it into account). Do I wish I could get a higher stipend because I just gave birth? Of course. But it's not going to happen. All I can do is do well enough to pave the way to a good position that will be helpful by the time #2 comes around IY'H, while being frugal on the home front for the time being. Also, when I do get to that point, I will have much more child-friendly hours, which is, for me, more important than the salary.

Internships are annoying. You get paid nothing, or maybe a stipend if you're lucky, and you spend a lot of time pushing paper and making coffee runs. But it opens important doors. In fact, it is (at least in my case) a crucial step that you can't just skip. Yeah, if you were an alien, and you didn't understand the process, and you saw how hard I was working for nothing, you might conclude that you would be better off doing nothing and getting a welfare check. But if you understood that this is a stepping stone, an opening, a way of making those connections with the 'power-elite', you would grit your teeth, get the coffee, and claw your way up the ladder.

Zach Kessin said...

Yea I dropped out of college in '93 with 1/2 of a degree, in the midst of a downturn (though not as bad as this one). I spent a year depressed and out of work before landing a job doing phone support that paid $7/hour . After a year there I left and found a job as a programmer, I have been moving up ever since but it take a *LOT* of work. And you have to be willing to pay dues to move up.

Oh and I sort of had to start again at the bottom when I made aliyah.

Anonymous said...

Brother-in-law recently told me, "If not for Section 8 there would be no kollel in Lakewood." Sister told me this is a "rachamnusdik medina", a merciful country, which makes it possible for ten thousand families to live in poverty in Lakewood by paying their rent regardless of whether the husbands go to work. These benefits are kept in place by instructed bloc voting as my sister tells me - "the gedolim tell us who to vote for in Lakewood". The situation in Israel is being replicated in Torah centers in this country. Why should only minorities enjoy welfare and Section 8? Why not the frum oylam? This is the current matzav. Why not?

Anonymous said...

Torah study is vital to the life of the community. If our young men work instead, this is a great loss that cannot be made up. My son 28 year old son studies full time at a local Kollel, his wife works to support the family, and her father gives them a small stipend. They are happy and productive.

Anonymous said...

Work instead? Since when is earning a living mutually exclusive from learning Torah? I grew up in a home where my father worked full-time, and every minute he was not working he was either learning from a sefer, listening to a shiur on his headphones, or at an actual shiur. By the time I matured and met some "full time learners," I realized that my father actually clocked more hours of learning each day then those who were learning "full-time." I chose a husband accordingly. My husband is a professional, works full-time, belongs to a night kollel, and stays up every night past midnight on his way to completing shas. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:44.

While I admire your husband and father's learning you can't compare that to anon 5:53's son. Having been in kollel learning and now in work force, unfortunately there is about 1 in 1000000 learner in work force that can make a real kinyan on torah. Most people who learn and work are not going to be the scholars that lead the next generation (proof being that your father was going/listening to shiurs, not giving them). As reb moshe feinstein writes (I forget teshuva number but it is one about kollel) it is almost impossible to be a true torah scholar and work, and therefore he says it is ok to learn in kollel and be supported.

While it is nice that your fam is learning, I doubt that they are the true scholars that will lead our next generation and don't compare their learning to previous mother who has full time son

Anonymous said...

Those who make negative comments about the Kollel lifestyle don't realize how much time and energy these young men put into not just their studies but also teaching. My son is lucky to have a supportive wife who works and takes pleasure in looking after my 4 grandsons. She is very content and so is my son. He is a professional just like the doctor or lawyer but is sacrificing the money he could make for Hashem and the community. I give them money when I can but am on my husband's social security. There is no shame in using the local Kosher food pantry or being supported by those who have more than they need.

JLan said...

"Most people who learn and work are not going to be the scholars that lead the next generation "

Anonymous 8:51-

Most people who stay in kollel aren't going to be the scholars who lead the next generation, either. Most of the people around here have no real problem with geniuses in torah receiving stipends and studying (though truthfully, if they're that good, they should ultimately be leading such things, not studying in them). The problem is that plenty of people who are not the leaders of this next generation doing such things, as well.

Lion of Zion said...

"Most people who learn and work are not going to be the scholars that lead the next generation"

neither are most people who sit in kollel

"He is a professional"

define professional

"There is no shame in . . . being supported by those who have more than they need."


Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:15 responds:

"There is no shame in . . . being supported by those who have more than they need."

And who are you to determine that we "have more than [we] need"?

Gafni and his arrogant cohorts, too good to work at a job that is not "worthy" of them, basically took our money by force, through political means. They are a big reason why, until recently, so many hard-working Israelis have been forced to live hand to mouth, while carrying an overgrown yeshivish population on their backs.

This money was taken from us by force, just as surely as if they had used a gun. Then these "frum" people turn around and tell us that the government money came from the hand of G-d himself, daring to tell those of us who are barely scraping by that they can be supported without employment because "This is the current matzav. Why not?"

And then you wonder why most Israelis resent you, especially when our sons and husbands put their lives and livelihoods on the line for you.

"Chutzpa" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Anonymous said...

Unlike some of my peers, I do not believe that the government should support us in our studies. However, I do believe that our parents and wealthy members of our community should shoulder this responsibility. If not, where will the next generation of Torah scholars come from. Too many people now days waste their money on foolish things like the latest I-Phone without considering the future of our community,

Anonymous said...

Lion, by professional I mean someone who went to college and then graduate school to get a degree in a field such as law, medicine, accounting, et al. In my case, my husband is an attorney. Why the query?

Lion of Zion said...

"husband is an attorney. Why the query?"

i can't keep track of the anons (just pick a pseudonym), but my querry was directed toward the anon who wrote, "he is a professional just like the doctor or lawyer." i don't see how a kollel student can be considered a professional (unless of course we're talking about the non-complimentary "professional student")

gavra@work said...

Anon 7:11:

I agree. But then you have to have the "publish or perish" work ethic that comes along with being supported in your field (and not sitting, drinking coffee & smoking in the back).

The only way to show Torah is special is to treat it as such, with competition to get in (In Europe you had to know Mesechtos Ba'al Peh to get in!) not as something that is done as an afterthought, because "why go to work".

P.S. The Kollel I support has exams, with pay based on the results.

Bob Miller said...

If we adopt the "Welfare Rights" mode of thinking and speaking, taxpayers outside our group will be even more predisposed to reject us. The "Welfare Rights" model helped destroy initiative in the African-American communities while bloating the government bureaucracy.

Offwinger said...

For Anon @ 7:11 -

"However, I do believe that our parents and wealthy members of our community should shoulder this responsibility. If not, where will the next generation of Torah scholars come from."

If *this* generation of young Torah scholars is being supported by their parents (and other wealthy members of the community), where exactly is the NEXT generation of Torah scholars going to come from?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say this but I have to agree with Gafni on one major point.Unlike the rest of the civilized world, the Israeli government does not recognize Yeshiva study as being equivalent to non specialized college education.Since they do not allow the passage of (e.g.) the GMAT for a former Yeshiva student to gain acceptance into university (as is the case in the USA, Australia, etc.) and rejected requests of Chareidi politicians that they do so they do carry some responsibility for the situation. And the above example is far from the only case of the Israeli government's department of Education ruining Chareidi initiatives to gain education

Lion of Zion said...


"Unlike the rest of the civilized world, the Israeli government does not recognize Yeshiva study as being equivalent to non specialized college education."


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what you don't understand, but to clarify:In America someone leaving Yeshiva can use his years of Yeshiva education a Bachelors degree and go to law school or any masters program that doesn't require specific course knowledge(even high school education wouldn't be needed if he gets a GED)Israel refuses to allow the situation above, despite it's relative success in the rest of the civilized world.

Anonymous said...

I am the mother who said that her Kollel student is a professional. He works hard but his work is not appreciated by those who lack a firm commitment to a Torah true lifestyle. It is easy for those with a successful business to put him down, but he and his family are successful in a way that matters. I have no problems helping them when I can and am proud to do so.

Lion of Zion said...

ANON (12:09):

a) i asked about your reference to the "the rest of the civilized world" and you respond about america (but then you again refer
to "it's relative success in the rest of the civilized world")

even in america, how common do you think it really is for kollel guys to go on to law school? yeah, we all know the same 2 really bright lakewood guys who got into columbia law this year and the 5 NI guys in georgetown. but what about the other 99.9%? what are they all doing? what are the other "masters program that doesn't require specific course knowledge" that they apply to?

Lion of Zion said...


a) you still haven't defined "professional" and how it applies to kollel students

b) it's great that you're helping out your son. however, i don't think this describes the situation of many kollel students, who are dependent not on generous parents but on the community at large (orthodox, non-orthodox and non-jewish). also, please note that the resentment expressed by some of the comments takes on an added measure of umbrage with your claim above of a monopoly on torah-true judaism. (i.e., telling us we're not really frum because we don't support kollel doesn't help your cause)

Chana said...

Ruthie, the mother of the kollel student, said:

"It is easy for those with a successful business to put him down,"

Don't you mean it's easy for them to prop him up? As in- support him?

I suppose your husband, the one who supports him, must "lack a firm commitment to a true Torah lifestyle," as you so nicely referred to those people (like your husband) who actually work for a living- the people who make it possible for your son and countless others opt out of the job market.

"There is no shame in using the local Kosher food pantry or being supported by those who have more than they need."

Wow. Your sense of entitlement is astounding. There is definitely shame in being supported by others when you are fully capable of going to work and supporting yourself and your family.

The kosher food pantry and communal support should be seen as emergency measures for people who have fallen on hard times- not used as an income by those who don't want to work.

I'm sure that many other Jews think the way that you do- and that scares the hell out of me.

Anonymous said...

i asked about your reference to the "the rest of the civilized world" and you respond about america

Based on what I'm told, most countries that have Yeshivos (e.g. Canada,England, Australia, and of course the US) accept Yeshiva learning in the place of some college credits.

what are the other "masters program that doesn't require specific course knowledge" that they apply to

To name the most successful one: Hundreds of people leave Kollel each year, get about 30 credits in accounting and are then given Masters degrees in accounting.And before you knock that program, let me add, the pass rate on the CPA exam by former kollel yungerleit by far exceeds the CPA pass rate in general society.

Other examples include but aren't limited to. nursing home administrators, insurance adjusters(working for the insurance company),paralegals,special ed, civil service etc.

I will not post further on this issue.

Orthonomics said...

I am under the impression that receiving undergrad credit for Yeshiva Study anywhere outside of YU/Stern, Toro, and some correspondence type schools (Thomas Edison) is very difficult. Top schools like U of Chicago, MITs, and the Ivies insist that students start with Calc 101 and Chem 101 even if they received a score worthy of credit at a State College or University.

As for pass rates on the CPA, having worked in the field, a CPA is very valuable, but it isn't the be all and end all. There are other skills that are treasured by employers (communication, strong written communication) and in my workplace, these skills turned out to be the ones that separated well liked workers, from not so well liked workers, not the CPA. I've spent plenty of time cleaning up reports written by CPAs. All I am saying is that passing exams is important, but it isn't an automatic ticket.

I have some other comments, but have to run.

Anonymous said...

If you must know, my husband died when my son was a boy, and I pay for Kollel out of his social security and life insurance. This is as his father would have wanted it. My son is a professional becasue he is educated and teaches boys at the local Yeshiva in addition to Kollel studies. We are not ashamed of our life, but I feel that we do not have a place in our community because we are poor Jews and only the rich seem to matter.

gavra@work said...

Mrs. Ruthie:

As an Almana, you should be supported by the community (if you needed it, which it seems you B'H don't). I don't agree that your (grown) son should be supported by others, but as long as he can pay his bills and doesn't ask for anyone's help (including his school) and you have and can offer help, Kol HaKavod.

May you only have simchos in Klal Yisroel.

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you but your son needs to grow up before he becomes a loser.

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