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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Please Quit Your Job

Whenever I hear about an Yeshiva employee who has not been paid, it upsets me greatly and breaks my heart. But, I also wish that Yeshiva teachers would stop allowing themselves to be abused. I don't think that they are doing anyone a favor by sticking around and allowing something so anti-Torah to perpetuate itself. They certainly aren't doing themselves a favor by staying in a position that doesn't pay while other opportunities are not pursued. They certainly aren't doing their families a favor as they fall behind financially. And I'm going to even insist that they aren't doing the schools and those that they serve a favor by allowing an unjust system to continue to prevail. Please, when you aren't being paid and it becomes quite obvious it is a lost cause. . . . quit and seek work elsewhere. Perhaps only at that point will the community be forced to come together and actually solve this problem by creating a "system" that actually functions. From this week's Yated:



Haven't Been Paid in Months

Dear Editor,

I read the letter regarding the tuition crisis [I believe this is the letter] and let out a very big sigh. As a parent, you may feel that the bill is huge, but please see the other side of the coin. I am a wife of a very hardworking rebbi who is owed $17,350 in salary. If parents don't pay their bills, their children will suffer. Rabbeim who don't get paid become stressed out. Streed rabbeim don't have savlanus to deal with tough kids. So please pay your bill.



Sincerely,
A Rebbi's wife


It is time to do what needs to be done.

91 comments:

Rebbe said...

"quit and seek work elsewhere."

And do what exactly?

Orthonomics said...

Anything. Anything that pays more than zero would be a start in this situation. They are $17,350 behind. Opportunity awaits.

tesyaa said...

It's irrational but understandable for a person with few other job prospects to stay in a job in the hope, however unrealistic, of being paid their back wages. But there's a special place in hell for the employers who don't pay.

Loz said...

One thing parents and teachera have in common is that both get screwed by the schools, and for the same reason, i.e., schools know that both parents and teachers have no where else to go

Ultimately I think it is in teachers' best interests to have financially healthy schools and they should be agitating together with parents to affect this

Anonymous said...

Knowing what the Rebbi is owed only tells part of the story with respect to whether or not he should quit. If he got paid 100K for the year and is owed 17K, that's far different from getting paid 30K for the year and being owed 17K.

ProfK said...

It certainly makes sense on paper that if one isn't getting paid, one should quit and look for other work. However, a whole lot of those teaching lemudei kodesh, and even some of those teaching limudei chol don't have an awful lot of options about where to look for other jobs. Having only high school and a seminary certificate doesn't provide you with the type of credentials necessary for other employment. And having high school and many years of talmudic learning and/or semicha doesn't do so either.

What is more, the yeshivas where these people teach know that this is the case. People with college degrees and real business skills have options. Those with only yeshiva training do not. And were these people to quit there are likely many others who would come forward to take their places.

David said...

@ProfK:

I do not agree. Home Depot is hiring, as are lots of other retailers. Retail can be tough, and the pay isn't great, but it beats the living daylights out of working for free. I know of few retail positions which require degrees, and after working there for a while, it's possible to earn more money as a manager.

tdr said...

I can't imagine what it's like to be owed so much money. How do they even survive month to month.

I think it is very cynical to assume that the reason a Rebbe doesn't quit his job is that he isn't qualified for or unwilling to do anything else.

I really enjoy this blog, but sometimes the level of cynicism is kind of depressing. Whatever happened to being dan l'chaf z'chut?

Many Rebbes are committed to their belief that every Jewish child deserves a Jewish education. They feel that the schools are in a bad spot and are willing to stick it out for the sake of their students and hope that things will get better.

I personally think the whole system is seriously messed up and if market forces could just be allowed to take hold (ie people live within their means, teachers quit their jobs when they don't get paid) the schools would be forced to change, the community would be way better off.

rosie said...

http://www.thejewishpress.com/pageroute.do/44731
Please read this Jewish Press article by Marvin Schick called "We Should Not be Surprised."
The article speaks of the decline in community day school enrollment, the closure of schools, the increase in MO public school attendance and the reason that haredi schools still exist. One of those reasons is low or no pay of teachers. Another reason is fewer services and lower quality of education which the letter writer refers to when she says that starving teachers have no savlanut.
What Marv would like to see happening is more day schools with a kiruv spirit that would get enough Jews excited as to want to donate money. He also states that public school with afternoon Talmud Torah usually fails to inspire kids to want to observe Torah. He feels that the only hope for the day school movement is lots of fund raising and an awareness of the need to make education our top tzedukah priority. Read it for yourself. This was in the Aug 6 JP as well as a long article by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky called "Needed: A Jewish Tea Party" about the proper feeling of Jewish brotherhood towards the convicted. I would guess that the bigger donation should go to the day school and the smaller to criminal defense but according to Rabbi Pruzanksy, we should still support that. Basically, go to thejewishpress.com (Aug 6), read the articles and see for yourself.

JS said...

It's not just an issue of a complete lack of job skills, the issue is also the complete unacceptability and undesirability of working in a "non-frum environment."

I wish I could say this is a problem unique to the Chareidi or RW world, but I know many Modern Orthdox and Yeshivish people who simply refuse to look for work in non-frum companies. They tell me it's just uncomfortable - I hear everything from it's too hard to get home in time for shabbos or yom tov to not wanting to see women dressed provocatively. When I tell these people I have never once had a problem leaving work early or taking off days for Jewish holidays, that people dress professionally in the workplace, that kosher food is provided for me at work events, etc it just falls on deaf ears. It's simply too hard to be Orthodox in a non-frum environment.

So while Home Depot may offer a great salary and benefits (and after all, anything is better than not getting paid) it's still unacceptable because of the environment.

We're creating a generation of Orthodoxy which is so militant in its viewpoint and so unwilling to compromise on even the smallest minutiae that we're forcing people to live to self-created shtetls.

It's not just in the workplace. Again, I know many Modern Orthodox and Yeshivish people who, for example, have refused to go to Yeshiva University or have dropped out because they had to take coursework with which they disagreed (literature classes discussing inappropriate books or a bible criticism class). Some I know have done so at significant financial loss (lost scholarships and grants). I heard yesterday from a friend about his friend's wife. She was studying physical therapy at a state school and had to take a single class in literature. The curriculum included books she thought were questionable. She went to her rabbi and he told her there was "no heter to read these books or even be in a class which discusses such books." So, she dropped out of school, lost all the tuition money, and set her education back 2 years because she had to reapply to a school that wouldn't make her take such a class which entailed losing transfer credits. And yes, this is someone Modern Orthodox/Yeshivish.

What a great religious society we're creating.

JS said...

Another article recommendation:

Can Day Schools Survive?
http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/can_day_schools_survive

Very good article.

ProfK said...

JS,
Sorry, but the way the labels are used there is a huge difference between MO and Yeshivish. I've taught in schools that are one or the other of those labels and the allowed curriculum is totally different. Yes, I would be surprised if someone who is MO and consulted an MO rabbi got the answer that this woman had no business in the literature class. No, if the woman was yeshivish and consulted a yeshivish rabbi, I would not be completely surprised.

Apropos of what is not appropriate for literature, keep in mind that many of the yeshivish schools and rabbanim consider that Jane Austen is not acceptable nor any writer who wrote works containing any type of romance, even of the Regency and Victorian kind. Many of them ban Shakespeare--a few might allow Julius Caesar and perhaps Macbeth but not any of the other of his works.

What this woman needed to do was to consult a university advisor, not her local rabbi. There are any number of things which might have been able to have been worked out for her apropos the work she found objectionable. Sorry, but something else was going on here that we aren't privy to.

JS said...

ProfK,

I find labels ridiculous and I'm certainly not going to argue with someone when they tell me they're modern orthodox, for example, and then do something I would associate with those on the most extreme right.

The story I was told yesterday is from someone who is very good friends with the husband and knows the wife for a long time. In other words, I don't doubt the veracity of the story and I don't believe there was anything else going on. The fact that she self-identifies as modern orthodox and then does this is irrelevant other than to note that definitions are changing and that those who grew up in one environment are emulating behaviors from another environment (the "shift to the right").

Yes, she could have gone to academic affairs and spoken to some advisor or whatever, but such an approach isn't in these people's vocabulary. They are militant, hard-line, and uncompromising in their approach. There really is nothing else to it. There's no hidden backstory or whatever. You can claim the girl is unstable or unbalanced, but then there are an awful lot of such people in our communities.

Another story: My parents have friends from college - they were all traditional in college and all have become more observant over the years. All self-identify as modern orthodox. The friends have a son who is really brilliant - straight A student, 800's on all SAT-type tests, 5's on AP's, a published author at 15, you get the picture. He gets a full-ride to Columbia, but takes the year in Israel. One year turns into two and he's forced to drop Columbia as they only hold your place for one year. He promises his parents he'll reapply. Of course, he doesn't, but decides to go to YU as a compromise. Again, full-ride to YU. He's forced to take a bible criticism class (apparently this is standard) and refuses on principle. He speaks to the dean and cites his rebbeim in Israel who refuse to let him take the class. The dean offers him to just write a paper on the subject and he'll get him out of the class. He refuses. The dean offers that the paper can even be about why bible criticism is wrong. Again, he refuses, decides YU is not a frum enough environment and drops out of college and joins a kollel.

This isn't unique.

tesyaa said...

I know a personal example very similar to the one JS describes as 12:00 - it's not an isolated example. In fact, it's been caricatured: see Tova Mirvis' novel "The Outside World" for uncanny similarities.

How can 19 and 20 year old kids have their entire worldview changed in one or two years in Israel? I'll tell you - brainwashing.

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

"He's forced to take a bible criticism class (apparently this is standard)"

i assume that by bib crit you are referring to higher criticism (aka documentary hypothesis). first of all, YU does *not* require a class in bib crit. they *do* require an intro to bible survey class that covers many subjects, one of which may be bib crit. however, i highly doubt there is even one bible professor that teachers bib crit as truth rather than within the context of how believers respond to bib crit. (this is how i was taught bib crit in 12th grade.) also, as with core classes in many colleges, the tone and content differs from section to section depending on the teacher, and my understading is that in YU too some students choose the intro to bible section with great care so their sensibilities are not offended.

generally i hear people objecting (because of hashkafa) to the art, lit and philosphy classes rather than intro to bible

"YU is not a frum enough environment and drops out of college and joins a kollel."

sounds like his problem isn't YU but rather college altogether. otherwise he could have gone to touro instead of YU

and what in the hell are parents (MO or RW) who want their kids to go to college thinking when they send their kids to schools (high school or in israel) that don't strongly encourage college (YU or otherwise)? in most cases these parents get exactly what they deserve.

Orthonomics said...

However, a whole lot of those teaching lemudei kodesh, and even some of those teaching limudei chol don't have an awful lot of options about where to look for other jobs. Having only high school and a seminary certificate doesn't provide you with the type of credentials necessary for other employment.


I do *not* share the opinion that Rebbis are unskilled and have no other options. Sure, they might have to start at the bottom. (You know what, a lot of professionals start on the bottom too when they move from one line of work within industry to another). But, stocking shelves in a grocery store or clerking, working as a bank teller, or getting out on the floor at Home Depot, Rite Aid, or CVS is an opportunity. Perhaps there is opportunity within that job. Perhaps the opportunity is just to get some income, talk with people, and find out what types of opportunities are out there.

I'm sorry, but plenty of high school students in America graduate without strong skills and manage to create opportunity for themselves.

I think a lot of Rebbi's stick in there because they feel a great level of responsibility, not because they have no opportunity. We live in the US of A for crying out loud! I think that if they let market forces take hold of this crazy industry, that all will be better off. There is simply no way you can build a Torah education on deception.

Dave said...

I think a lot of Rebbi's stick in there because they feel a great level of responsibility, not because they have no opportunity.

Some, certainly.

But given the "that is beneath a ben/bas torah" attitude towards some jobs, how much of it is that a Rebbe shouldn't have to do unskilled labor?

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ROSIE:

"Marv would like to see happening is more day schools with a kiruv spirit that would get enough Jews excited as to want to donate money."

i think you might be misunderstanding him here.

"He also states that public school with afternoon Talmud Torah usually fails to inspire kids to want to observe Torah."

how large of a sample size do you think there is of kids from committed homes in neighborhoods with strong jewish infrastructure who in the last twenty years have attended public school with quality supplementary jewish education?

just because he has a phd doesn't mean we don't have to distinguish which of his opinions are based on fact and are based on nothing but his opinions.

tesyaa said...

I think a lot of Rebbi's stick in there because they feel a great level of responsibility, not because they have no opportunity.

Possibly, but there is an oversupply of rebbes, and ex-kollel boys are looking for jobs. More likely, he knows that if he leaves, he knows his job is gone and there's no chance to get his back pay.

Rebbes are very replaceable.

ProfK said...

Let's come down to brass tacks. Even if a yeshiva does not pay all of a year's salary, that salary that is paid is far more than that person could earn as a clerk at CVS--those aren't high paying jobs and they don't come with big benefits either.

And then there is this. Those working for faith-based non-profits in NY, such as most yeshivas, and particularly the rebbeim, can deduct the cost of their housing and peripheral housing costs as parsonage. Move them to a store clerk position and they not only aren't going to be making anywhere near what they make from the yeshivas but they will lose some hefty tax deductions as well.

And then, of course, there is that many of those teachers look at teaching as a "calling" rather than a profession. It's how they justify working when many are so anti-work, because they don't see teaching in a yeshiva as a job but as a necessary mitzvah.

And let's not mention those free or greatly reduced yeshiva tuitions for their own children that are perks of the yeshiva jobs--not going to happen if you're working in a drugstore.

rosie said...

Loz, what I took from Marv's article is that he is turning 80 and has been in chinuch for many years. Every five years, he surveys the Jewish education scene. He seems to feel that the lack of kiruv in children's education has lead to a decline in the inspirational value of chinuch. I guess that my take on this is that people will be happier to give money if they feel that happily committed Jews will be the result and that most Jews with money don't want to fund schools that turn out brainwashed Jews.
He clearly states that Orthodox parents who feel that public school with a meaningful alternative education is wrong. Who is he to make that claim? Just a guy who is old enough to be my father with many years of experience under his belt. He does say that many MO make aliyah to keep their kids in a Jewish setting but this makes the enrollment in MO schools go down.

rosie said...

Oy, my sentence does not make sense. He does develop the subject in his article of attempts to give alternative education together with public school. He specifies that the students are from modern homes and that it is a trend that is gathering steam and legitimacy. He states that they are wrong in their view that the after school education will be viewed as meaningful to the students.
He feels that heredim will send to schools come what may and those schools will continue to pay late and be mediocre but generations will continue to put up with it.
He also states that the number of young families settling in NY is increasing.

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

PROFK:

"that salary that is paid is far more than that person could earn as a clerk at CVS . . ."

i though yeshivah teachers are grossly underpaid and don't get any benefits?

"Those working for faith-based non-profits in NY, such as most yeshivas, and particularly the rebbeim, can deduct the cost of their housing and peripheral housing costs as parsonage."

is this the proper place to import the discussion from the comments from Wolf's blog about rebbeim that aren't really rabbis?

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ROSIE:

"Who is he to make that claim? Just a guy who is old enough to be my father with many years of experience under his belt."

i don't care how old he is. sometimes age acrues with wisdom. somtimes age causes a person to become more set in outmoded ideas. in this case he might just be making an observation based on what he remembers from the 1950s, because there is no contemporary sample size from which he can offer an up-to-date opinion.

"He does say that many MO make aliyah to keep their kids in a Jewish setting but this makes the enrollment in MO schools go down."

this doesn't make sense (imho)

Ari said...

What no one is factoring in is the hours worked in a yeshiva vs. the hours worked in the kinds of jobs Orthonomics mentioned--clerks of all kinds. Yeshiva rebbes don't usually work 40 hour weeks and the rare ones who do, get paid much more than those who work the regular hours. Same goes for the other hebrew teachers.

Clerks at CVS are getting $8.83 an hour before taxes, a few only get minimum wage and some with a lot of experience can make a little more. A forty hour week would give them 353.20 before taxes a week. Working those clerk jobs a teacher or rebbe would have to work 2-3 times as many hours as they do now and for about 18K a year. Know many frum parents with 2+ kids who could make it on that kind of money?

tesyaa said...

Cause and effect: probably simplistic, but logical nonetheless:

1) more and more people only feel comfortable working "in the community"

2) more and more people only prepare for "frum community" jobs

3) so there is a glut

4) schools employ more people since there are more people clamoring for "community" jobs (makes no sense economically, but they justify it one way or another)

5) schools raise tuition

6) people can't pay the amount they agreed to pay

7) the schools have a shortfall

8) the schools don't pay the rebbes on time or at all (although the owners and administrators don't seem to have a problem taking their own salaries)

Fed Up said...

Working "in" the community would be less of a problem if the community allowed (and even encouraged) pursuit of different professions. Each community needs its doctors, lawyers, accountants, restaurateurs, store owners, barbers, electricians, librarians, pet groomers, plumbers, engineers, sanitation engineers, chauffeurs, and clergy.

The problem is that how many of the above list are people within the community willing to consider as a profession? Many require schooling outside of the usual frum choices; many require internet access; many require a knowledge of the "outside" world. Almost all require a comprehensive education and appropriate sophisticated language, grammar, and appropriate technical skills.

When we embrace education--broad based secular education--for all of our children, we can argue that these services should be turned in-house. Until we do that....

tesyaa said...

I don't agree with Fed Up past a certain point. Why do we need frum sanitation engineers and librarians? Generally these are civil service jobs that don't necessarily allow you to work in "the neighborhood". As for doctors, all poskim say to choose the best doctor, not the best frum doctor. There may be a specific need for a frum psychologist or even a frum lawyer, but a frum caseload alone might not pay the mortgage+tuition. As for chauffeurs/taxi drivers, I want a safe driver, not necessarily the same thing as a frum driver.

Working outside the community makes more jobs available and brings in money from outside the community. Until we all grow our own food and weave our own fabrics and sew our own clothes, we will be sending money out of the community, so we might as well bring some in.

Orthonomics said...

ProfK-Even if the work is more valuable than any other alternative, it is not at all excusable that new contracts are not written to reflect the actual pay and benefits that will be received, rather than some deceptive number.

FedUp-Many professionals do work within the community and many have receivables like you wouldn't believe. Personally, I will be encouraging my kids to be bringing "new" money in, not chasing a small, existing pot of money.

ProfK said...

SL,
I'm in agreement that both the people being hired and those who send their children to the school should know the exact amount of remuneration being given, including any and all benefits. But you are assuming that every school gives out a contract to its teachers to begin with--a whole lot do not. Salary and any side benefits are discussed at hiring and no written contract is given out. It's all on the "honor" system.

Over the years I've worked for a number of yeshivas, left, center and to the right, and in exactly one of them was I given a contract to sign, and that contract arrived at the end of January, halfway through the school year. On the other hand, during the time that I worked in the yeshiva system not one of my schools did not pay on time or fully. Even though there was a rumor that went around occasionally that a few of the very right wing Williamsburg yeshivas did not pay on time, it pretty much stayed a rumor and wasn't substantiated in any of the Jewish papers, and of course there was no Internet nor blogs to say yea or nay.

JS said...

"i assume that by bib crit you are referring to higher criticism (aka documentary hypothesis). first of all, YU does *not* require a class in bib crit. they *do* require an intro to bible survey class that covers many subjects, one of which may be bib crit. however, i highly doubt there is even one bible professor that teachers bib crit as truth rather than within the context of how believers respond to bib crit."

I'm not exactly sure what the course was called. I didn't attend YU and didn't have any close friends who went there. I just know what my parents told me after getting off the phone with their understandably upset friends. Likely it was the class you're talking about. I believe other classes were "problematic" as well, but I distinctly remember the bible crit being a huge issue.

Again, it's not an issue of whether it is presented as true or false. It's the fact that it's presented at all and the fact that they even have to HEAR it. Just exposed to such things is totally treif. It's a form of extremism I just don't understand, but it's becoming more and more popular - refuse to compromise on anything.

"and what in the hell are parents (MO or RW) who want their kids to go to college thinking when they send their kids to schools (high school or in israel) that don't strongly encourage college (YU or otherwise)? in most cases these parents get exactly what they deserve."

No idea. The parents get what they deserve in my opinion. The more interesting question is why modern orthodox institutions are pushing this approach.

JS said...

"How can 19 and 20 year old kids have their entire worldview changed in one or two years in Israel? I'll tell you - brainwashing."

Yes. I just wish people would call a spade a spade already. You want to say it's justifiable for whatever reason, fine, whatever. But, at least admit what you're doing: preying on young, impressionable children when they're far away from their parents and, in particular, singling out the ones with a poor sense of self-worth and identity issues.

Good friend of mine is a guy who was my next door neighbor. Jewish, but didn't keep anything and didn't even know what they weren't keeping - completely ignorant, a real tinok sh'nishba. Anyways, his younger brother was always picked on, was always looking to fit in, never felt he belonged. Went to college across country, was doing really poorly academically which made him feel even worse. Gets caught up with a kiruv group and now I get emails and Facebook messages from him all the time saying "I love Hashem!!!"

Tell me that's not brainwashing.

Another aspect of this which gets little attention is that even in modern orthodox institutions it's VERY common for rabbis and other authority figures to tell kids to literally FIGHT their parents about going to Israel. Also common is telling kids that the rabbi has a special scholarship or grant for situations like this and the child should just tell the parents it's not up to them anymore since they have the money to go.

And people pay $22k/child for high school to send their kids to a place where the kids are taught to disrespect them and be insubordinate (not to mention toss honor your father and mother out the window).

JS said...

"Let's come down to brass tacks. Even if a yeshiva does not pay all of a year's salary, that salary that is paid is far more than that person could earn as a clerk at CVS--those aren't high paying jobs and they don't come with big benefits either."

I don't get it. Are they not paid well or are they paid well? Half the people say rabbis get paid bubkis - low salary, no benefits - and then I hear something like - much better salary and benefits than other types of jobs they could get at their skill level.

Which is it?

I'd note that a place like Costco, for example, pays incredibly well and has a generous benefits and 401(k) plan for all employees. I've heard Starbucks is the same.

See this article:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FNP/is_23_44/ai_n15969653/

"And then there is this. Those working for faith-based non-profits in NY, such as most yeshivas, and particularly the rebbeim, can deduct the cost of their housing and peripheral housing costs as parsonage."

Not a tax expert, but I keep hearing on blogs that this is an illegal deduction and that it's only intended for a shul rabbi, for example. Not sure which is true.

rosie said...

Loz,
the article was explaining reasons for the decline in enrollment in MO yeshivas. Marv said that one reason for the decline was the high rate of aliyah in the MO community. MO have figured out that the Israeli public schools are frum enough for them and that they prefer that to US public schools. He said that the decline was not necessarily due only to the decision to send kids to public school.
BTW, how has afternoon Talmud Torah changed since the 50's? Do kids today actually look forward to another 2 hours of sitting while their friends are having fun?
Do they really want more homework? Do they love missing out on after school sports and boy/girl scouts? Are parents today that confident in their ability to transmit enthusiasm for Jewish traditions?

rosie said...

I wonder if places like Starbucks, Costco, and Home Depot give people Shabbos off without a hassle. Does someone have to be a construction maven to work at Home Depot? Every now and then you see a frum Jew working for a chain store. I think that most frum Jews feel very uncomfortable selling non-kosher food
and other things that are foreign to our way of life as well as spending many hours of the day that have nothing to do with Torah. I think that some would rather be owed $17K rather than wait on people who need a can of paint.

JS said...

"I think that most frum Jews feel very uncomfortable selling non-kosher food
and other things that are foreign to our way of life as well as spending many hours of the day that have nothing to do with Torah. I think that some would rather be owed $17K rather than wait on people who need a can of paint."

I simply marvel at the thought process that produces such a way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

There is a frum lady who works in ShopRite as well as the local kosher store. I'm sure there are times she has to help a customer with nonkosher foods. I have a lot of respect for her that she's willing to go where she needs to go to earn a living.

Personally, I'd draw the line at flipping burgers in McDonalds.

Miami Al said...

JS,

Rabbis will make, on paper, around 80k-85k/year at a CAJE associated school, which is most of them. They pay roughly the same regardless of regions, skillset, quality of semicha, etc. The "bad pay" on the RW schools is everyone ELSE on staff, that are poorly paid because the schools mostly hire uncertified teachers (unless required by the state you are in).

So being 17,500 behind, the Rabbi collected about $68k/year. Also, that $17,500 may not be from one year, it might be built up over a few years. The "not paid in months" is coming up in August, he also hasn't been working in months. Generally, the salaries, earning in 9 months, are paid in 12, and the summer pay comes in as prepays for the next year + camp income comes in, and the order that they are paid out is chosen by administration.

So is this Rabbi well paid? It depends on your point of view. Given that the alternatives mentioned are < $12/hr jobs, this is for a 25 hour/week job, and his qualifications are unclear, I would suggest that he is VERY well paid.

OTOH, the wife of a doctor or law partner, sitting on the board at a school, would like at this and say, "he is so poor, how can he take care of 7 children on $68k, we struggle to support our 3 on $500k - $750k/year."

So he's well paid compared to his value OUTSIDE of the Yeshiva, but poorly paid from people at least paying lip service to the idea that the Rabbi should be a very well paid profession.

rosie said...

JS, you mean that you would do ANYTHING to make a living? There are guys in India that clean sewers. They always smell like sewers, even after they bathe. I guess it beats starving to death. If you had a choice between being a trash collector, (remember that conversation?) and lifting heavy waste baskets in all weather, or being owed $17K by the yeshiva but go to work in coat and tie, would you really go to work for the department of sanitation? How about the job of deputy coroner? Grave digger? You could be a school crossing guard! Toll booth clerk! There are lots of choices out there for would be yeshiva rebbeim. That's what it all boils down to: choice.

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ROSIE:

i read the article so you don't have to keep on summarizing it.

i said that the aliyah reason doesn't make sense to me because the number of young MO families that makes aliyah is inconsequential.

it's funny you mention costco because i did look into getting a job there last year but i didn't pursue it because the manager i spoke to said that for the job i want i would have to start part time on saturdays. but costco only hired a tiny amount of people for my position and i assume that for cashiers, stock, etc. there is more flexibility in the schedule.

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ROSIE:

all those jobs you just listed are honest ways to earn a living, so i'm not sure what your point is

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

JS:

"The more interesting question is why modern orthodox institutions are pushing this approach."

because they are constantly looking over their right shoulder. or they are already actually staffed by what's over the right shoulder.

"Are they not paid well or are they paid well?"

i didn't understand this either.

regarding your comment about rabbis and authority figures throwing their weight around in MO schools: just this past shabbat i was talking with parents of my son's fried over lunch and we were complaining about the fact that there is a rebbe for an hour a day in first grede. we each complained for different reasons, but the wife said a) she doesn't like the implication that a morah is incapable of teaching chumash to a 6-year-old; b) someone told her that it's important to have a rebbe already in first grade because the kids need a male role model (or authority figure in your language), to which she responded, "what happened to the father being the male role model?"

rosie said...

Loz,
My point is that JS marvels at a way of thinking that keeps a person in a job that continually pays him late rather than take a low level secular job.
The yeshiva rebbe is not unemployed; his employer simply owes him money. If he was self employed and his clients were slow-pay, it would be the same result.
My point was that most people have a bottom line that they would not quit a comfortable job to cross. The Gemorrah says that when a man teaches his son a trade, it is preferable to teach him a clean trade (perfumer vs tanner). The wood chopper and water carrier of old were not exactly looked up to but they did make their living honestly. The whole discussion is about quitting the job of rebbe to do something else and that something else appears to be making coffee at Starbucks. I am trying to point out that to someone who was looked up to, that is a very demeaning position. Why is that so hard to understand? When the Russians came to the US, their medical degrees meant nothing here and doctors became orderlies here. They had no choice but it was very degrading to them.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

No, JS's question is "are these people paid well."

The answer is, "yes, even if they are never paid that $17,500, they are paid much better than they would be paid elsewhere."

Apparently, people think that the next best alternative for these people to teaching in a Yeshiva isn't even "teach in another Yeshiva" or "teach Hebrew School in a Conservative Synagogue" but it's rather "make coffee at Starbucks."

Why on earth you would send your child to a school where the teachers are no more qualified than a Barrista is another issue (qualification, family member moved up the Starbucks track into management -- so other than the wrong body parts, people apparently consider her more impressive than their child's Rebbe).

JS said...

"If you had a choice between being a trash collector, (remember that conversation?) and lifting heavy waste baskets in all weather, or being owed $17K by the yeshiva but go to work in coat and tie, would you really go to work for the department of sanitation?"

I just have a different value system than you, I suppose. I would do whatever is necessary to put food on my table, pay my mortgage and other bills, and live a decent, honest life.

I want my kids to be better off than I am, just like my grandparents who lost everything wanted my parents to be better off and my parents wanted me and my siblings to be better off. You don't become better off by chance. It requires hard work and discipline. You take the best paying job you can get with your skill set and you work at it as hard as you can.

It's funny you use garbage man as something I would apparently agree with you is "beneath me." Growing up, my dad had a saying he inculcated in me and my siblings. It went something like this:

"Whatever profession you go into, you make sure that you are the best at it. If you decide to be a garbage man, you make sure you are the best garbage man there is."

The point is, every job has dignity and no job is beneath someone. What makes a person lose his dignity is doing something half-assed and not taking pride in himself and his work.

My grandparents came from wealthy, respectable families and lost everything. They ended up washing floors, tailoring clothing, and working in assembly lines. They didn't sit around waiting for someone for return their former lives to them. Instead, they worked they butts off to give their children and grandchildren the opportunity to regain what they had lost.

It's really sad that this attitude has passed away with the members of that generation.

Anonymous said...

"I've heard Starbucks is the same."

My son has worked for Starbucks for awhile and is a shift manager. He lives in another state, works far more hours a year than do Rebbeim do. He can only pay for a barebones existence-sharing a place in a majority "minority" neighborhood etc-because I assist him. They do have a medical plan but the vast majority of workers in the stores can't afford it-the salaries are competitive with CVS. There is delusion in the Rebbe world about what most people earn. They are misled by the income of the machers

rosie said...

Miami,
The yeshiva rebbe is apparently knowledgeable in what he teaches so therefore he is "qualified". What he may not be qualified to do is inspire kids which may also be true of the math teacher in public school.
JS, if the alternates were trash collecting or begging, I would say be a trash collector and where the uniform with pride but how many yeshiva rebbe's would be proud of that job? Yeshivas have always paid lousy and paid late. That goes with the territory and goes with the job. A person who wants regular, reliable pay should choose another profession.

rosie said...

I meant "wear" the uniform with pride. There are frum people in our community who do blue color work and EVERYONE respects them because they are making a living and not begging. There is one guy who raises money for a living and everyone pities him and his family. The fund raiser had at one time taught in a yeshiva but could not find another yeshiva job and could not really support his family on service jobs. At least he makes his own hours and is home to help his wife rather than trying to raise a large family on $9/hour.
While garbage collecting is respectable in that it is an honest job, can you imagine a former brain surgeon taking the job? Wasn't that one of the forms of torture in the Chinese revolution?

Dave said...

Yeshivas have always paid lousy and paid late.

Isn't paying late against Halacha?

rosie said...

I think that paying late is against the halacha if the employer has the money to pay and decides to withhold it. If the employer has nothing with which to pay, how has he broken halacha by waiting to pay when he has the money? If the employee knows in advance that the payment is dependent on the people who pay the employer, then late payment is part of the condition of the job.
What I also wonder in this whole discussion is; why is there no respect for a person whose job is to teach Torah? We have decided to take this poorly paid rebbe and give him a job as a janitor so that he can make a "respectable" living. Is the Torah so disrespected that we take those who teach it and employ them to clean toilets? Why is the answer to his late pay to give him a job that most people try to rise up from rather than to do what his wife suggests and come up with the money to pay him? If we view those who teach our children as people who should be serving coffee, then we have ourselves to blame when they decide that the Torah was not given to them.

Dave said...

Do you really think the Rebbeim are the first in line to get paid? Do you think that the owners of the Yeshiva pay their staff before they pay themselves?

If not, isn't that therefore contrary to Halacha under any cirmcunstances?

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

Because there isn't money to pay them, period. We've created inflated pay scales to pay them with "the dignity of their Torah" that we cannot afford. There is no "coming up with the money to pay them," the money isn't there.

It's not a value judgment, it's an economic one.

Anonymous said...

What is all this talk about "owners" of the yeshivas? I thought the yeshivas were non-profit organizations. If so, there should be no profit and no owners, only salaried staff and administration who answer to a Board of Directors.

Miami Al said...

Anon 9:45,

In a non-profit, the owner is the person/people with control of the non-profit and therefore discretion to send the profits over to their for profit entity OR taken out from the non-profit as their W-2 salary.

It's not a owner-shareholder, but it's the owner in that they keep the profits.

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ANON:

"What is all this talk about "owners" of the yeshivas? I thought the yeshivas were non-profit organizations."

they may be set up as non-profits, but the degree to which they are responsible to a truly independent board of directors varies from school to school.

DAG said...

Rosie,

Look at Vayikra 19:13 and Rashi on the first part of the pasuk.

Even if a late paying Yeshivas excuses itself about with-holding wages when they don't have money (a concept that would preclude them from hiring ANY new employees when they have a problem paying, btw and arguably only an excuse when it happens rarely, but not as the standard operating procedure), they are STILL violating Lo Sashock.

We know what the Torah value is here. People can excuse anything they want, but there is NO question the Torah views this behavior as abhorant.

Anonymous said...

The Administration and Board of this school are doing the wrong thing. As soon as there is even the threat of not making payroll, even if it's off by merely a few dollars, there should be a community wide notice that the school will not open its doors come payday because the employees cannot be paid. And, they need to follow through. You may go a day with no school, but believe me, it will not happen again soon thereafter. Now, I can't say whether the money will come entirely from a single macher or from the community and parent body at large, but it will come in.

Orthonomics said...

I think that paying late is against the halacha if the employer has the money to pay and decides to withhold it. If the employer has nothing with which to pay, how has he broken halacha by waiting to pay when he has the money? If the employee knows in advance that the payment is dependent on the people who pay the employer, then late payment is part of the condition of the job.

Rosie, I appreciate your participation, but please untwist yourself out of this pretzel. It is 100% deceptive to promise a salary that you can't pay. It is 100% deceptive to continue to promise a salary when the money will materialize when we all know that would take a serioius miracle.

If a school wants to make pay dependent on the money being there, then let the administration enter into an agreement with the teachers that states that will be divided as much. Anything else is 100% deceptive.

What I also wonder in this whole discussion is; why is there no respect for a person whose job is to teach Torah? We have decided to take this poorly paid rebbe and give him a job as a janitor so that he can make a "respectable" living. Is the Torah so disrespected that we take those who teach it and employ them to clean toilets?

The only disrespect I see here comes from parents who outsource their children's chinuch and fail to pay as promised and administrators who continue to promise what they can't deliver.

There is nothing disrespectful when you tell someone, you and your family shouldn't have to put up with the disrespect of an employer who doesn't meet his obligations. You have an obligation to your family first.

Secondly, cleaning toilets isn't the only option, nor is retail, etc. The most logical option would be for a Rebbe to start his own one "one room school" and ensure that he can be paid for his skill, rather than relying on promises that don't materialize.

Why is the answer to his late pay to give him a job that most people try to rise up from rather than to do what his wife suggests and come up with the money to pay him?

I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the schools have done their darndest to try and fundraise and collect tuition. The schools might be highly inefficient and they might be running on a bad business model, but until that changes, coming up with more money (multiple that $17,350 by the number of staff owed back pay) might be as much of a pipe dream as school vouchers materializing tomorrow. Wishful thinking won't solve the problem.

If we view those who teach our children as people who should be serving coffee, then we have ourselves to blame when they decide that the Torah was not given to them.

Serving coffee is but one suggestion to get the money flowing in in the short term. Don't get caught up in coffee server vs. garbage man. The bottom line is that some of us believe that the only lack of dignity here is the deceptive employment practices witnessed by far too many teachers in "frum" schools. We also believe that community employees are not shmattas that should be guilted into continuing to work for promises.

Dave said...

I find it interesting that Orthodox parents would send their children to a Yeshiva that violates Halacha by not paying its staff, because I have grave doubts that they would send their children to the same Yeshiva if it paid on time, but the Rosh Yeshiva was found to eat a Bacon Cheeseburger in his office each lunchtime.

rosie said...

according to that pasuk, if you only read it in the simple pshat, paychecks would have to be issued every evening. I do agree that yeshiva administrators should not take a salary if rebbeim are not paid. Also, there are some jobs that are completed in a day and are therefore paid that same day. If the job takes 3 days to finish, does the halacha state that the worker must be paid before he finishes the job? What if the worker agrees to finance the job? Is that agreement not halachically permissible? Would a rebbe be a day worker or one who must finish or finance a job?
Miami, if the public schools completely ran out of money and could not pay teachers, what would happen to society? The public already screams about overcrowded classrooms and the cutting of art and music classes. Imagine every American child out running the streets, selling newspapers and delivering groceries like children did during the depression. If we as Jews cannot keep up with teachers salaries, should we give up on Judaism? Hard working parents who have non-Jewish babysitters are not as likely to pass the torch of our tradition as the yeshiva rebbe is. We parents are busy trying to keep afloat. Are we really going to sit down with kids and teach them our sacred history? Face it, most of us sleep on Shabbos, so when exactly do we give that over in the absence of teachers?

rosie said...

Orthonomics, do you really value the participation of those who hold different views or do you see me as a troll? If you do, I will gladly stop posting on your blog. Since day schools opened in the 50's many of them have paid low and late. If you would ask my almost 21yr old son if he would go into chinuch, he would answer "chas v'sholem". He knows, at his young age that it does not really pay. Everyone knows that so to say that the school obligated themselves and then broke their agreement, is also a bit misleading because there is already a long history of non-payment. When a person takes a yeshiva job, it is best to research the payment history before signing on the dotted line. If a person takes the job when he knows that the yeshiva still owes money to the teacher who left, then what exactly does he expect?

Miami Al said...

Rosie asks, "If we as Jews cannot keep up with teachers salaries, should we give up on Judaism?"

Nope, we should try to find a Judaism that we can afford. Otherwise, we'll have to give up on Judaism when people stop extending us credit.

Might mean fewer teachers, fewer subjects, or alternative schooling.

But borrowing money to cover day to day bills just makes next year harder.

There is a reason the Torah says not to lend or borrow at interest, it's a trap...

Even if Halacha permits it. Perhaps we should pay some Heed to Hashem's advice/instruction.

Ariella said...

Some schools have a reputation for paying late. But I would think that the economic situation has made parents late in their own payments to schools, which results in a problem of cash flow. The school I send my daughters to never had a reputation of paying teachers late, but twice this year, they urged parents to pay what was owed or even suggested paying early because they found a substantial shortfall in funds needed to pay the teachers.

tesyaa said...

If a person takes the job when he knows that the yeshiva still owes money to the teacher who left, then what exactly does he expect?

Well, if he really reseached it and was OK with it, why the heck is his wife complaining in a letter to the Yated? You don't complain about a situation that you know about and accept. Obviously the nonpayment is viewed as a problem, not a standard state of affairs.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

You read all the sames blogs as I do.

"You don't complain about a situation that you know about and accept."

You KNOW that that isn't true.

Apparently, in the Jewish world, you don't "do anything about a situation you know about," but you DO complain about it AND accept it. :)

Orthonomics said...

rosie-I value your participation and find it valuable. I just think you are severely mistaken on the halacha and the ethics of the situation.

Ariella-Do you know that the plan is for next year? Many economists are predicting a double-dip recession due to many factors including the tax increases coming in 2011. One has to wonder what the situation will be when withholdings increase.

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ARIELLA:

"or even suggested paying early"

how does this help? all it does is push off the probelm until next month or the month after.

i was actually looking at a school last night and they require that payments begin in april the year before (with the final payment in january).

LoZ (Resurrected) said...

ARIELLA:

"But I would think that the economic situation has made parents late in their own payments to schools"

are the same parents late in mortgage payments? car payments? camp payments? do parents who pay late incur any penalties or are they compeleld to pay ahead in the future?

"because they found a substantial shortfall"

does the school elaborate why there is such a shortfall or who screwed up in the budgeting?

rosie said...

Orthonomics, one of the limitations of this blog and others such as imamother, is the lack of qualified poskim on the forum. Everyone has their own take on halacha. There is apparently another halacha that a person is not allowed to charge money to teach another Jew, Torah. The loophole is that he may be given money in compensation for the time he devoted that might otherwise be used to earn a living. Before we pasken that late payment to yeshiva rebbes is a violation of halalcha and ethics, why don't we involve an expert rav? Maybe someone can invite their LOR to log on and clarify the halacha. I would imagine that if it were a serious breech in halacha, yeshivas would have closed down centuries ago since I think that low and late payments for Torah teachers may have been the norm throughout the ages. I think that schools who pay reliably are the exception and not the rule. I think that in some places, jobs like that were relegated to the elderly, and that is why we have always lost Jews to assimilation. Bad chinuch as well as no chinuch loses Jews. I guess that if our religion really matters to us, we have to put money into it.

Dave said...

Is it really your contention that failure to pay the trash man for hauling away waste is against Halacha, but failing to pay the Rebbe for teaching your children is not?

rosie said...

Dave, any Jew who feels cheated can go to a Beit Din, just as the trash man can take people to small claims court for not paying him. There is redress, so why don't more people use that route?

Dave said...

And if someone is peddling treif, I can go to the Bais Din.

Tell me, why is it that that offense gets people run out of town, but not paying Rebbeim is just the way things are done?

DAG said...

Amazing Rosie,

You look at a broken anti-halachik system and assume it has always been broken. The Yeshiva system NEVER existed like it does today.

Yeshiva violate the Halacha because many have convinced themselves that they are doing G-d's will. People have justified the worst evils based on that assumption.

As an aside, contractual work is halachikly fine, WHEN you keep the payment on the agreed schedule.

You didn't read the Rashi on Vayikra 19:13 did you?

DAG said...

Rosie,

Try taking a Yeshiva to Beis Din for not paying and then keeping your job (or finding any other one in the Yeshiva world)

Orthonomics said...

Rosie-I'm really floored. This isn't a complicated issue (and incidently I've addressed the issue of non-payment and bounced checks with my own LOR who found the entire thing beyond distastful as in, how could someone write you a bad check?). This is a simple issue of paying according to an agreement and NOT deceiving people.

We heard stories of righteous businessmen who practically try to convince their patrons that a product is flawed lest they sell a patron something they view as deceptive.

I don't know how many of us are on that level. But a basic level is just to be a simple person and mean what you say. If the Rebbe was told he would be paid X amount and it is obvious that this is not going to materialize, you call that employee into the office asap, tell him the bottom line, and renegotiate something real going forward if he is interested. The last thing you do is make promises while his obligations go unmet. You don't justify the lack of payment by saying he should have known better.

rosie said...

Orthonomics,
If you are self-employed and you know that certain clients are slow payers, can't you decide not to do business with them?
DAG, even when yeshiva rebbes taught from their homes and collected the tuition themselves, did everyone pay them on time? I think that people do take yeshivas to din Torahs for many things. That is our system for dealing with unfair business practices.
Ortho, I do know that in some yeshivas, the day you get your check you race to the bank to cash it or it WILL bounce. If that happens a person can go to a din Torah. If they can't uphold the agreement, I am sure that they tell the employee that they will when they can. We know that yeshivas do not have a reliable way to gather money. We know that children come from homes that do not have a penny to pay and the community still feels obligated to educate them. We know that we cannot know from year to year who will pledge and donate. So how can a rebbe expect to get paid reliably if he knows that the money that comes in is iffy? Its like making money in the stock market. If person X agrees to pay a certain amount in tuition or donations and then dies or loses his job chas v'sholem, the money will not happen.
Our city employees were just given pay cuts. The city does not have the money to pay the former salaries. The city workers cannot rely on the salary to increase.
If a person has been treated unfairly, they can go to a bais din or civil court so that the halacha can be upheld. Obviously if a person decides to be a yeshiva rebbe, he knows that a bais din is his only option in a labor dispute. If that is no good, then he should choose another profession before becoming a rebbe because it is unrealistic to think that this will change, any more that it is realistic to think that frum boys will stop demanding thin girls for shidduchim.

Dave said...

The schools can save a bunch of money by buying treif!

I mean, if you're going to discard Halacha for financial reasons, why not?

rosie said...

dave, have you asked a rabbi if the majority of the yeshiva system is in violation of halacha? Actually, they are in ways that beat eating treif. Often, yeshivas give safe harbor to pedophiles, launder money, or refuse entrance to kids for flimsy reasons. If yeshivas are in violation of halacha for late pay of teachers there are actually bigger fish to fry but without actually asking a rav for each situation where schools pay late, it might not be correct to say that the entire yeshiva system for generations is in violation of halacha. We are mostly amateur halachic authorities on this blog.

Miami Al said...

There is NOTHING magical or supernatural about the business side of the Yeshiva.

You have agreed deals with clients, you send our tuition bills. Some people prepay, they get a cash discount. Others get a bill and pay over time, those are called receivables... the billed amount differ on a per-client basis, because the scholarship committee has agreed to a different sum.

Of your receivables, some percentage will be collected, some will not. We call that amount that will not be collected "bad debt expense." In basic accounting, you estimate your bad debt expense, and book that at the same time you send out bills. Then, as you collect money, the bad debt is already accounted for.

Money comes in over time, that means in some months more than others, while expenses are pretty constant. This is called cash flow management. The difference between your lowest cash flow month and your expenses is the amount you need to keep in cash reserves.

Now, it's hard for the finance office to be perfect, so you keep a slightly larger cash reserve.

If a recession hits and collections drop, I would accept that less tuition came in than expected, and the school needs to emergency fund raise, "eat it's endowment," whatever. Likewise, if the economy starts booming and donations flow in, you can build up your reserves, endowment, etc.

However, if there is ALWAYS a problem, paychecks are ALWAYS bouncing, the the Yeshiva is ALWAYS in trouble, that's NOT because "we don't turn students away," that's not because "some parents pay late," that's because "the Yeshiva is incompetently run and is wasting community resources on bank fees instead of managing cash flow."

There is ZERO excuse for this problem to be ongoing, there are ALWAYS collection problems, you are supposed to plan on it.

Dave said...

If you think that the Yeshivas are in flagrant violation of Halacha, *why* would you ever send your children there.

Surely that would count as "bad chinuch"?

Orthonomics said...

If you are self-employed and you know that certain clients are slow payers, can't you decide not to do business with them?

When I put up with clients that don't budget well and can't pay on schedule (and sometimes I do put up with such clients), I do so on my own cheshbon! If I had employees of my own (I don't), it would be completely improper for me to expect them to absorb the risks of my decisions.

Ortho, I do know that in some yeshivas, the day you get your check you race to the bank to cash it or it WILL bounce.

Even worse than simply not issuing a check in my opinion. Let's leave aside the fact that purposely writing bad checks is criminal. When a person cashes a check and then spends that money and the check bounces, they will get soaked financially. . . worse than if they never had the check to begin with.

Our city employees were just given pay cuts. The city does not have the money to pay the former salaries. The city workers cannot rely on the salary to increase.

I'm really uncertain why you are bringing the city into the discussion. There is nothing unjust about this situation, even it is stinks. One should never count their chickens before they hatch. The city is cutting salaries so that they CAN pay. This is one normative step that a business (or govt) that is overextended can take. Another would be to lay off or furlough workers. I've been on the decision making side to cut salaries. It stinks, but it isn't unjust even if the fallout is yucky.

Not a Rabbi said...

I am a little late to the game, and a bit on the RW side for this site, but as someone who attended a Choshen Mishpat chaburah (group learning followed by shiur) for weeks on the topic of late payment, we came to (unfortunate) conclusion that most yeshivas are NOT violating the halacha as is spelled out in Shulchan Aruch and later achronim. It is despicable, and if the executive director is paying himself but not the rabbeim he is a jerk, but one can NOT compare this to eating trief.

For the guy who keeps saying "look at Rashi in Vayikra" please stop. Jewish law is much too complex to think you can know the answer from a four word Rashi.

To the commenter who said he/she would draw the line at McDonalds - that is a good call, since making cheeseburgers is likely a Torah prohibition, unlike garbage collecting which is 100% allowable.

rosie said...

Dave, I send my children to yeshivas so that they will be knowledgeable Jews and marry Jews. I have married off several children BH, all to frum Jews, so I got my money's worth.

Dave said...

So what do they learn? That it's important to talk about observing Halacha, but observance is unimportant if it isn't one of the Halachos that the community cares about?

Expensive lesson, but if you feel you got your money's worth...

pete and repeat are on a boat said...

Dave - continuing to say that the yeshivas are violating halahca does not make it true.

DAG said...

Not a Rabbi, did your "Chaburah" consider Lo Sashock or just the paying workers on time?

What assumptions did you make about the payment systems in Yeshivas? Did you discuss new hires when owed money is till outstanding? Did you discuss a biz model that presumes that payment will not be made?

If you want to claim explicit dorisas do NOT apply, you have some explaining to do.

In your mind, is this what the yeshiva world is reduced to? A gross violation of the spirit of the Torah even if they can be excused from Issurim Doiraisha on technicalities?

What's worse according to the Torah, a woman leading kabalas Shabbas or a yeshiva not paying on time?

Miami Al said...

DAG,

But that's what the Yeshiva is. It is the study of legal loopholes. Because the penalty for violating a commandment can be severe (death), the Halachic process is designed so that one never actually commits it.

Academically, this is fine, we draw wide fences to not cross, but define away actual problems.

The problem is, this system in the hands of ivory tower academics with no moral grounding results in terrible immoral and anti-Torah positions becoming normative.

While the Halacha is such that this behavior doesn't violate, according to Halacha, a biblical prohibition, it obviously violates what is the clear cut meaning. The inability to distinguish between a legal fiction so we don't have to run around killing everyone and actually proper behavior is a terrifying problem.

Not a Rabbi said...

Let me be clear - I find the lack of paying on time despicable. All your questions are valid, some were discussed in the chaburah, and I strongly urge you to spend some time studying the appropriate sources (that go beyond 4-word Rashi's) with someone who can answer your questions.

Nevertheless, no yeshiva opens its doors with a plan of "we won't pay on time". Stuff happens - much of it caused by people who unfortunately can not even pay their fair share. (By 'fair share' I simply refer to taking the Rebbe and teacher salaries and dividing by the number of students in the class plus adding a bit for principal pay, some electricity, insurance, etc. We've seen posts moaning about paying $3,333 per kid tuition; a number that is not even close to 'fair share'.)

The school referenced above that always paid on time but now was having trouble was likely caused by parents losing their jobs mid-year and being unable to pay tuition. While their receivables are enough to pay their bills, what can they do now?

Comparing this situation to a school dean who eats traif is unfair and wrong.

Miami Al said...

Not a Rabbi,

If the school always pays on time and has a problem suddenly, that's a failure to plan, but not a plan to fail. That school did not INTEND to not pay on time.

If a school does NOT pay on time and has made no structural changes to change that fact in the next year's budget, then they are planning to pay late the next year.

One of the schools down here has a non Jewish Dean, so he obviously eats Traif. His school is WAY more Jewish than a Yeshiva that opens planning to pay late.

Most of the late payers are habitually late, and are not fixing the reasons that they pay late. That is ABSOLUTELY planning to pay late.

If their receivables less expected bad debts is enough to pay their bills, then they had bad luck... fine, no worst case planning.

If receivables > their bills BUT their receivables are NOT bigger than their bills + historic bad debt levels, then they planned to do this.

DAG said...

Not a Rabbi,

Miami hits it straight one. A one time occurrence where there is no money MAY be Halachikly excusable, BUT when late payments are the norm...and nothing serious is being done to change that, it IS part of their business model.

If people spent as much time trying to solve this problem as they do excusing it...

Not a Rabbi said...

I am not excusing it; I hoped the word 'despciable' summed it up.

As an aside, I have a friend who quit a yeshiva mid-year when they told him they were not going to pay him the months of pay they owed him. (This was 10+ years ago; I am pretty sure the school has closed it doors. The dean died, and I gagged at the beautiful write ups about his life in chinuch knowing how many rebbes were still owed money.)

But if I had a choice to send my son to a yeshiva that pays late or to a yeshiva where a rebbe or dean eats traif, no, I would NOT choose the latter. I guess we willa vhe to agree to disagree.

Of course in the RW world I live in I would likely discuss the issue with an impartial talmid chochom who knows more about the topic than I do. (uhh...not someone who runs a yeshiva.) Unlike the MO world where so many of my friends are Rav and posek for themselves (and who know halacha from 4-word rashi's).